Amber McGinnes on INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Obstacles and Opportunities

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Self-producing your first feature film takes a Herculean effort. I mean, just getting the darn thing financed and FILMED feels like a major accomplishment. But then getting it FINISHED, getting it OUT into the world is a whole other thing… that’s where I thought you left the art behind and just started to focus on the business: Sales. Distribution. Marketing. PR. All the things I’ve forced myself to learn through this process. And somehow, through this unstoppable effort you lock in distribution, and not only that, but distribution with a theatrical release! My film has a life on the big screen beyond the festival circuit! People will buy tickets and POPCORN and watch the film we made! We will do a premiere and roll out the red carpet in LA! This, THIS! This is what the child inside every filmmaker dreams of happening!

Then a pandemic hits. The world in crisis. Suddenly there are much more important things to think about. And slowly you see things slipping away. Movie theaters close, premiere canceled, the red carpet rolls up, and you find yourself locked in your house facing so much uncertainty.

Then unity: we are all in this uncertainly together. Suddenly social media becomes our way to connect, commiserate, and support. Then it dawns on me: finishing the film doesn’t mean leaving behind the art and focusing on “the business.” No. In the same way we had to artfully use every obstacle as an opportunity in making this film, we must step up and do that now. Business is about numbers. Art is about expression and connection. And THAT’S what the world needs.

ONLINE PREMIERE PARTY. INSTAGRAM LIVE Q&A WITH ACTORS. Suddenly, there’s something to look forward to again. HIT PLAY. Pop the champagne, Pop the popcorn. Walk the well-loved, not-red carpet to your couch and connect with the outside world once again on social media.

This is how we got through the loss of our premiere. This is how we got through last week. I’m not sure exactly how we get through the next one, but I feel like I’ve learned an important lesson: the real art behind the art we create is the human connection it makes. Whether that happens in a theater or online, it’s valuing and connecting to one another that’s most important.

ABOUT AMBER McGINNIS: Writer/director/producer Amber McGinnis is best known for International Falls (2019), The Company We Keep (2014) and Management Gaps (2018).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Read Amber McGinnis on INTERNATIONAL FALLS, an interview by Betsy Bozdech from the 2019 Bentonville Film Festival.

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