Sunday, April 30, 2017

First place at Twister Alley

Now this is kind of of cool: In the first-ever film festival awards ceremony we ever attended, videographer Kenneth Linn and I took home the first-place trophy for Best Documentary Short Film last night at the Twister Alley Film Festival.
The film, of course, was "Out Here In Kansas," which screened right after Kenny and I arrived in Woodward, Okla. Saturday afternoon. We spent the rest of the day watching narrative shorts. (My personal favorite was "Doug and Walter" while Kenny's was "American Paradise," and neither of those trailers really do their movies justice.)
It's just as fun to meet the filmmakers themselves, of course, and we certainly did that - directors, producers and actors from Chicago to Austin to Milwaukee to Los Angeles. The festival, started three years ago by Josh Hope of the Windy City Film Festival, was just named one of the Top 50 Film Festival Worth The Entry Fee by MovieMaker Magazine.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thanks to JCCC

I failed to do this publicly last night, but I'd like to thank Johnson County Community College for screening "Out Here In Kansas" in Overland Park last night. JCCC's Emily Behrmann made it possible, and the college's contribution of the room, equipment and staff made for a terrific event.
The screening came at the urging of Judy Dutra (pictured in the teal top), who is the mother of the documentary's main subject. She introduced the film, which was surprisingly attended by a couple of people I went to high school with.
Producer Jon Pic (pictured, top left) and I also had a nice visit with the representative of the Kansas City chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family, Friends of Lesbians and Gays).
Jon even tried to do a Facebook live feed from our Q&A, which you can (hopefully) check out here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

KU to screen documentary May 7

"Out Here In Kansas" will be shown at the University of Kansas next month.
KU Filmworks is hosting a screening of our documentary at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 7 at Oldfather Studios, 1621 W. Ninth St. in Lawrence. Our documentary will be teamed up with Savannah Rodgers' six-minute short "Sketches."
Savannah is a producer for "Out Here In Kansas" and, even though she's still an undergrad at KU, is already an accomplished filmmaker.
You can find more details of the screening on our Facebook event page here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Our biggest honor yet

This won't be the largest event in which we've been invited, but I speak for our entire team when I tell you what a tremendous privilege it for "Out Here In Kansas" to be a big part of the inaugural Gilbert Baker LGBTQ Film Festival next month.
Our documentary will screen 7:30 p.m. Sat., May 6 at Labette Community College in Parsons.
Baker was a gay rights activist, famous for having created the rainbow flag after meeting Harvey Milk. He grew up in Parsons, where he said he endured a lot of bullying and pain for being gay. Actually, we were just starting to learn about the festival, and Baker, when he unexpectedly died in his sleep a couple of weeks ago.
Major props to producer Jon Pic for putting this festival on our radar, and for producer Savannah Rodgers for taking care of the rest. This is a festival that doesn't even have a website yet, and suffered a major blow when Baker passed away, but I for one would like to do everything I can to support it. (Based on my correspondence with the organizers, they feel the same way about "Out Here In Kansas.")
You can read more about Baker, and the festival, here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Emotional night at Wichita State

By my count, last night was the 12th public screening we've had for "Out Here In Kansas." It was by far the most emotional, for me at least. Our emcee, Greg "The Hitman" Williams (left) had my eyes swelling with tears before the movie even started with a heart-wrenching story about his gay daughter.
Several of those in attendance were representing WSU's Elliott School of Communication, of which I am a graduate. The entire night I was thinking of Les Anderson, a WSU professor who advised me in college and mentored me for the rest of his life.
To top it off, my friend and WSU schoolmate Jeff Guy asked a question in the Q&A session about whether or not making the movie had helped reaffirm my Christian faith. It was a completely legitimate question, since I've written about my hope to do just that.
Nonetheless, it was the first time anyone has asked that question, and I rambled on with an answer that I hoped I had made a film that Jesus would approve of. I don't even remember exactly what I said. But I do encourage you to read Jeff's account of last night on his own blog, which you can find here. I think it might be my favorite thing I'd read yet about "Out Here In Kansas."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Smiling through the pain at K-State

Our latest screening was Thursday evening in Manhattan. It was a nice event, and I'd like to thank David Jones from ECM and K-State and Holly Nelson from the Kansas State LGBT Resource Center.
That's me in the middle of this picture at the ECM, with my daughter Stellar on the left and my nephew Josh (a proud member of the K-State marching band) on the right.
Side story about this trip ... I woke up with stomach pains on Thursday, and they only intensified that evening in Manhattan. Friday I went to my doctor and - long story short, my appendix was starting to burst and I was sent into surgery to remove it.
So now I'm on the mend, and I do expect to be at our screening Wednesday at Wichita State.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Kansas City FilmFest is in the books

Thoughts from the Kansas City FilmFest, which was held last weekend at Cinemark on the Plaza ...
* Our screening led off an 8:30 p.m. block, and proceeded a 90-minute documentary called "Woman On Fire" about the first (and so far, only) transgender firefighter in New York history. What a fascinating movie about a complicated issue. I wish the director, Julie Sokolow, would have been there, but I did reach out to her afterwards.
* There were plenty of other filmmakers there, of course, and it's always great to visit with them. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the screening of "The Grand Illusion," a documentary short about one of the most famous plays in college baseball history - which happened to come at the expense of my friend Phil Stephenson.
* That's me in all three of these photos, with producer Savannah Rodgers (top left), producer Jon Pic (top right) and executive producer John Stephens (bottom left).

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Rest in peace, Jinx No. 8

Southwestern College has had many black cats named "Jinx," but this one will always be my favorite, because he appears in our documentary. I just saw him last month on our visit to Southwestern, and took delight in explaining to my two guests where he lived (the basketball gym) and what his job was (to serve as an unofficial mascot and maybe catch a mouse or two).
But Jinx was sick, and he reportedly died over the weekend. Southwestern wasted no time in going to the Humane Society and replacing him with another Jinx yesterday. That's Jinx No. 9 ... they think.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Our busy month ahead

Here is a list of where "Out Here In Kansas" will be screening in April.
* 8:30 p.m. Thur., April 6: Kansas City FilmFest, Kansas City, Mo. Details
* 6:30 p.m. Thur., April 13: Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas Details
* 6:30 p.m. Wed., April 19: Wichita State University, Wichita, Kan. Details
* 7 p.m. Wed., April 26: Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kan. Details
* 2 p.m. Sat., April 29: Twister Alley Film Festival, Woodward, Okla. Details