I originally intended to gloat and boast of my adventures in Telluride in the form of daily digests fast tracked from the magical mountains.
Alas - it was impossible, the student symposium is an intense program packed with film screenings, discussions and Q and As that made sure my every waking moment over those 5 days were consumed with film and cinema. And when it wasn't, I was usually stuffing my face then scrambling breathlessly after everyone else to the next venue.
So unfortunately what little hours I had to myself every night was spent passed out on the hotel bed instead of composing posts of profound life lessons and insightful festival gossip.
But. I think this experience was something that deserves at least one extremely detailed (you could say self-indulgent but hey it's my website after all so everything already is by design) post to give it justice (because it's also likely that after such a quick whirlwind trip and severe sleep deprivation my long-term memory of the symposium may eventually falter).
11:30 27 AUGUST 2014
There's never a splendiferous journey without the customary delayed flight to start it off. I flew Melbourne to Sydney then literally walked out of one boarding gate into the next for the 14 hour leg to Los Angeles. It was the most turbulent ride ever - proven by the fact that eventually all the passengers basically said 'meh' and headed for the toilet with the seatbelt sign still on....a couple of hours after take off.
On the flight I met two gentlemen who kept chugging cans of VB, but to their credit they were nice and eventually offered to swap my aisle seat for a window one so I didn't have to be at the mercy of their bladders.
I saw quite a few films on this trip that I missed at MIFF, one was Jodorowsky's Dune, post is here: JODOROWSKY'S DUNE
I also caught Searching for Sugarman - a heartwarming and cute doco about a musicologist and enthusiast in South Africa trying to track down American folk musician Sixto Rodriguez who was hugely popular in South Africa but practically unknown in the States. The way the journey of the search unfolds is clever and unexpected, we're drawn in to this enigma of a person: who was he? where did he live? what did he do? and throughout the film's accompanied by a soundtrack similar to the style of Bob Dylan. Not bad at all.
11:00 27 AUGUST 2014
After 18 or so hours of airports and planes I had travelled back in time and arrived in LA. There I met fellow Film Finances sponsored students Xixi and Rain from China and a little later Gasan from South Africa. I spent the afternoon walking up and down Hollywood Blvd trying to roast my Vitamin D-deprived skin and getting out of other tourists' way. I realised I had trouble paying attention to the ground where the Walk of Fame is and kept forgetting to look at names I knew. But I'm absolutely certain I saw someone's name twice on opposite sides of the road. Unfortunately I have no physical proof but you can't fool me Hollywood, I see things like that.
In the evening we had dinner with the lovely team at Film Finances and finally met Sharon - who had been coordinating our trip via email. Kurt, whose name I recognised as the one signing off on all the Film Finances completion bond contracts in Sydney also dropped in and said hi.
4:30 28 AUGUST 2014
Airport bound once again - Colorado. Coming into Grand Junction airport was an interesting view - the left side was dry, rocky and mountainous. Out the right-side windows were lush green fields.
We had about 3 hour ride into Telluride - and there was a couple with three adorable little children who shared our shuttle bus - it turned out to be director James Gray (The Immigrant) and his family. But we didn't know! Good thing too, because we kept our cool and could hold a conversation.
We were dropped off at a hotel with a beautiful view on the side of the mountain that required taking a gondola into town where most of the festival was held. This pleasant little journey quickly became the source of all our distress and panic for the rest of the festival - it's a relaxing 20 min ride only if you're not 20 mins late to where you need to be. And poor Gasan was battling altitude sickness every time he got off.
16:30 28 AUGUST 2014
And the symposium begins! 50 students from all over the States - and good ol'Canadia introduced themselves. Over the next few days I managed to speak to only about half of the students - and remembered the names of a handful, thank god we were all easy to identify because of our orange lanyards. Everyone was enthusiastic and conversation was easy when it came to films. Gasan and I have both lamented the fact that our industries in South Africa and Australia aren't large enough to foster more young filmmakers with programs and opportunities like these, American kids have access to such a deep and rich well of talent and resources.