Sooooooo I am more than happy to say that it feels pretty good to win an award especially one that was of the people! Doc Sunback Film Festival and Art Crawl in Mulvane, Ks was such an incredible experience. Having been to other film festivals I can say this one may be one of my favorites outside of obvious reasons. The interaction was just genuine and felt like a town full of love and not just this class structure of pretentiousness that can rear its ugly head in any event involving the arts. It felt like all those days in school where a random moment in making art turned into a discussion of moments.
Wifi at Rock Bottom : Something About Meth and Evolve or Die both played at this festival and both I believe hit their marks in places I intended and both had something special happening in its own kind of way. Evolve or Die showed a very obvious style and pace that in contrast to Wifi at Rock Bottom looks like a jet plane. David Rickels even showed up to talk to the people who live in that every 4 months he performs on one of the biggest stages in the region live on TV. The people love him and its admirable from the moment he walks into a room. Wifi at Rock Bottom is different. Wifi at Rock Bottom hurts.
Much of the experience exist inside the book version of the documentary but watching is both a beautiful and insecure feeling wrapped up in one. I believe so much in how good it is that I often find my self in fear of it being hated. It was so many first time moments making . First time using a DSLR, first time technique in shooting , first press kit , and so many other bits and pieces that when put all together it hurts to think about someone walking away thinking it sucked. I love it and it means everything to me. I have read every comment on Wifi at Rock Bottom, replied to every email, read every review, every acceptance letter and rejection letter but i have never been there while others watched . The response is always welcomed but to watch the mood and body language and those moments where the viewer doesn’t know if its ok to laugh. Those moments of frustration where Amancha laugh in what can feel like the most painful experience. For three days I was able to see that. It was everything.
It was validating and that was the biggest reward. To have so many people want to talk about pain was surreal. We hide so much of it in social media post and selfies that for me seeing how so many people wanted to talk about pain was mind blowing. SO many people struggle with addiction directly or indirectly and that openness to share was thrilling. I want to create conversation as long as I make documentaries. I love ugly subject matter because it takes alot of work to see beauty in it. The conversation never stopped for me. Once one person stopped sharing their story another started. Deep inside all i could think is how blessed I felt in the moment but also feeling the fear of letting people down when its time to talk about the subject. I felt like it was my duty to try to help them talk about their pain and heal it which is a responsibility I know I cant fulfill no matter what. What I could do is what I did for Amancha is listen and be honest. One couple was telling me about their daughter who was struggling and there was the “moment “. The moment that I look for in every documentary I make where the words are just sounds hiding behind expressions. You could see the pain and heart break of the realization that maybe just maybe their child is gone but the fight doesn’t stop. There is no doubt in my head that Amancha resonated with their child but as Amancha said “its going to be up to you to get clean”. Every story I heard had a line in the doc I could point to or a anecdote from the book I could assign to it .
Geez this has already been longer than I intended it to be but before I go on I need to make sure I say Lucianos Italian Restaurant in Mulvane was so amazing! Im still thinking about how great that meaty pasta sauce was . I digress. I won the Audience award and gave all the credit to Amancha for opening up to make this happened and I have talked about the process in the past on here and I revealed some updates on her condition that I am not publicly saying until I have determined the second edition of the book and how I want to roll it out but as I was typing this blog things changed. That audience award went from a trophy to a symbol and if I never win another this one will mean so much more. So I’m wanting to type a entry to show appreciation for the award and just share my feelings on the festival and all that has happened such as a name check in sports writer Adam Knapp documentary “Out, Here in Kansas” and how good it is , and watching an amazing short called “Congratulations” instead while typing this a friend of mine I have known for many years and recently butted heads with in the past (hmmm I think that just canceled out each other) just sent me a text that reads.
” congrats on the success I know its been a while since we talked but i just watched your film on meth addiction and I too have struggled with abusing it the last several years…..”