Sunday, January 11, 2009

Some Fun Facts About Dialtone

Here are some fun facts about Dialtone, our first short film and one of only 42 films selected from 250 entries as a semi-finalist entry at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival:

1. Some are calling Dialtone the "Filmmakers' Choice" at the film festival. Several of the directors and producers of the other entries (including 2 of the feature films) said it was the best film they saw at the festival.

2. The SAICFF is by far one of the biggest and most competitive film festivals with the largest cash prize of any film festival in America, secular or otherwise.

3. The audience response at both of the festival screenings of Dialtone was overwhelming.

4. Dialtone was the most talked-about short film at the SAICFF, and was referenced as an example of how to make a professional-quality film with the most basic equipment.

5. At least 3 influential people at Vision Forum stated that if Dialtone had been submitted at last year's festival, it would have won at least one award.

6. Dialtone did not win any awards at the SAICFF.

7. A lot of people, including several other filmmakers, were shocked at the fact that Dialtone did not win any awards at the SAICFF.

8. We did not make Dialtone with the purpose of winning awards at the SAICFF.

9. It was an indescribable honor to have been selected as a semi-finalist entry at the SAICFF.

10. It was an even greater honor to have worked alongside Brian Lohr, Daniel Bittner, David Craig, Daniel Craig, Sam Young, Stephen Bittner, Jacqueline Bittner, Natalie Lohr, Kaitlin Lohr, Matt Lands, Michael Goulet, The Bradricks, The Munsons, Andrew Lee, The Gravers, Randy Gross, John Wright, Rita Fletcher, Howard Lohr, Chris Lohr, Benjamin Berkompas, Jimmy Sizemore, Jeff Spohn, The Rowlands, The Pollocks, and countless others.

11. God is not finished with Dialtone.

12. I am, above all else, grateful.

Friday, January 9, 2009

All I'm Getting is a Dialtone

An employee of Vision Forum (the main people behind the film festival) said today that Dialtone is the most talked-about short film at this year's festival. WOW. And we are up against some great films. One surprise hit for me was "Wars of Humanity III." Imagine a movie that makes you laugh so hard, milk shoots out of your nose. Mix in the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. Now add a parody of everything you can think of. Okay, now make that movie using nothing but Legos. Now go clean up that milk because that's disgusting. I mean, seriously. Anyways, the audience LOVED that movie!

And I'm thrilled to report that the crowd loved Dialtone as well! The applause during the credits just went on and on. People were whistling and doing that "Whoo!" thing. We had a crowd of about 400 people at the showing, which was VERY encouraging, especially considering the fact that Dialtone was being shown at the same time as a very popular feature-length entry, The Widow's Might, as well as four other films.

The evening ceremonies were GREAT. Stephen Kendrick (Producer of Fireproof) spoke, as did Kirk Cameron. And Dean Jones was given a Lifetime Achievement Award. Very cool. We also saw 3 short films based on the Biblical accounts of Abraham and Isaac, The Widow and The Oil, and The Rich Man and Lazarus. And the Von Trapps were back with music from The Sound of Music, including that one yodeling goat song I can't stand. Don't get me wrong: I am a HUGE fan of yodeling goat songs as as well as yodeling sheep songs and even yodeling squirrel songs. Just not that particular one. Wow. It's late again, isn't it?

Okay, I'll cut this blog short. Blog you later! Go Dialtone!!

A live post!

For all those those skeptics that claimed I would never post, I have now proved you wrong. But you see, the biggest part of my job as producer is to find other people to do things for me and I think Gary has been doing a very good job at that.

I'm sitting at a table in the Rivercenter food court after a quick lunch in between films. I saw three this morning and am about to watch The Other Son followed by Dialtone. I am very excited to see the improvements in production values on lot of these films since the last festival.

My voice is a bit hoarse after talking to so many people yesterday and this morning. I had forgotten how many people I knew down here and have been surprised to meet many others that I didn't think would be here.

I look forward to posting reviews of todays films later this evening.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

God Bless Texas

Okay, let me just say it: I love this place! The weather is great, the people are wonderful, and the Mexican food is the real deal. Sure, it's flat out here... if your dog ran away you could still see it 3 days later; but I just love being here.

Dialtone is creating a major buzz at the festival! It seems everyone has heard about it or plans to see it. I was at a restaurant eating lunch when a family wearing festival badges came and sat at the table next to me. I walked over to say hello and recommended that they check out Dialtone. They all immediately chimed in that they had heard all about it, had seen the trailer, and just couldn't wait to see it! I've overheard several people asking when Dialtone was showing so they could plan to see it. Very encouraging!

Got to see the Craig Brothers(TM) and the Craig Sister and the Craig Mother, a couple of Bittners, and I got to meet the Riddells, who are just amazing, wonderful people who are probably reading this blog entry so I figured I should say something nice about them. But seriously... great people.

Now onto the festival! I saw a film called "The Sword" which is in the Young Filmmaker's category. GREAT story, and a very ambitious effort, especially for a young director. I was impressed. And I got to see "Click Clack Jack," which was PHENOMENAL and is the only film that I worry about losing to at this point. As a counter measure, I slipped all of the judges a crisp $1 bill with a wink and a "I think Mr. Washington would like to cast HIS vote, Wink, Wink!" Maybe I shouldn't have actually SAID "Wink, Wink." In retrospect, I think that may have hurt our chances.

Got to meet a lot of filmmakers today, and hung out with Daniel Bittner a lot because he was the only one who got to wear the "Semi-Finalist" ribbon on his name badge. Coattails, people. It's the secret to getting ahead in this industry. That, and that trick with the dollar bills.

Opening ceremonies were great, and lasted approximately 37 hours. But it was great. George Sarris performed a very artistic narration of the biblical account of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho using a red scarf and his amazingly awesome voice(s). And we heard the famous Von Trapp Children sing. Sadly, they did not sing the yodeling goat song, despite the many shouts from the audience as they screamed, "Do the Yodeling Goat song! Wooo!"

Wow. Maybe I shouldn't blog at 2:30 in the morning.

I'll check in tomorrow! Go Dialtone!!

Germane Productions Reporting Live from the SAICFF

Well it's official, the judges loved our film, the audience loved it more, and by popular vote we have received not only the Jubilee award and the best short, but the coveted Audience Choice award to boot. And the festival hasn't even started yet.

OK, not quite, but we are very excited on the first day of the festival to see all of the films that are on the docket to start showing here today. It is interesting just looking at the broad spectrum of films that have become finalists. From the introspectual feature Sounds of a Dirt Road that was shot in less than two weeks on about $900 to the epic film Pendragon that took more than four years and $180,000 to produce; from a French film on fetishism to a pistol packing pencil, the variety here is amazing.

Of course, the $101,000 Jubilee award winner is the question on everybody's mind, and many are positive that either Fireproof or Expelled is going to be a sure winner. Personally, I think the judges are going to pick somebody a little less predictable than that. I do believe that the winner will be one of the eight feature finalists, but probably one that could use and appreciate the award more like Secrets of Jonathan Sperry or The Widow's Might.

As far as Dialtone is concerned, we are all very optimistic about its ability to place. I personally was very excited when Issac Botkin actually mentioned our film at the Christian Filmmaker's Academy earlier this week when discussing the ability to create a superior product on a relatively cheap camera.

All in all, it is absolutely thrilling to see all of the films brought in this year that have all been made for the glory of God. I know some that are calling 'no fair' because of the acceptance of some 'professional' films, but we must keep in mind that ultimately films like Fireproof and Expelled are an example that the festival is hoping that everyone will eventually follow. Please keep both us and Dialtone in your prayers this week, it's going to be a long, grueling, and, win or lose, absolutely fantastic week!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Deep in the Heart of Texas

I'm sitting here in our room at the Crockett Hotel, listening to the soothing sounds of Sam Young's laptop keyboard clicking away. It's 8:07pm. And today was an awesome day.

I flew in a day early to take in San Antonio a bit. I was wondering how I would get around until I realized that EVERYTHING is within walking distance from the hotel. The Alamo is literally right across the street. The Convention Center is 5 blocks away. I'm liking it already.

Let me just say that if you ever get the chance, go visit the Alamo. It is an incredible experience, and will help you understand why Texans are so patriotic, not only about America, but about Texas.

Don't tell anyone, but I got a bit teary-eyed in there myself.

We'll keep you posted as the week progresses. The festival starts tomorrow! Go Dialtone!!

-- Gary Voelker
D.P. and Editor, Dialtone