This past weekend, we had the pleasure of showing Lights at the Geneva Film Festival in Geneva, IL. We were selected as a student film because it was a project for my senior capstone and my undergraduate degree.
Other films included in the student category were Alzheimer’s: A Love Story, Spark and Fade, A Slice of Life, Looking for Trouble, and The American Dream. While I didn’t get a chance to see all of these films, I did get a chance to speak with some of the other student filmmakers. A lot of the films in the student category were thesis films for MFA programs or made from media specific trade schools. Some of the films were even made with budgets of nearly $7,000 in grants and crowd funding.
Compared to these films, Lights was pretty low in production value. The films with a higher budget were filmed on very nice cameras. They looked absolutely stunning. Due to the equipment that we have, Lights was visibly different. Our visual effects also didn’t translate well onto the projector screens. We spent maybe $200 on the production of Lights, and this mainly went toward food and travel expenses. The difference in budget definitely shows.
Regardless of the production value, I think I can honestly say that the story behind Lights definitely held its ground. It had an effect on the judges who chose what films made it into the festival, and it definitely had an effect on the guests who came to watch it. We had so many people coming up to us after showings, saying how much they liked the film. We received a lot of really wonderful feedback.
Our Friday screening was a completely full house. Every seat was filled, and we even had people standing along the walls. Saturday’s screening was not as full, but still rewarding in many ways. I’m not going to lie though. It’s still hard to see myself act. That’s probably not gonna change.
One of the most rewarding parts of the festival was the “Behind the Scenes Q&A” on Saturday morning. The filmmakers separated into different groups, and people who were interested were able to ask a lot of questions. We were in a group with the director and composer of Spark and Fade and the directors behind Looking for Trouble. It was nice to have people show interest in our film, and to be able to answer questions about the process of filmmaking, as well as how we feel during the process. It was a good time.
When all of the festival screenings were over, the filmmakers were invited to a wrap party where we had more chances to talk with people about our film. During this time, I got some feedback that really stuck with me. A woman told me that my work reminded her of Hitchcock’s. She also told me that what made Lights stick with her the most was its subtlety, and I should try to maintain that subtle touch in my future work because it’s so memorable. Several people even inquired if I would be submitting something new next year.
We want to thank everyone who came out to support Lights during its run at the festival. Words can’t really describe what it felt like to be included with the other fantastic films selected. We had a great time, and we’re so glad that we were a part of the 9th annual Geneva Film Festival.