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The day started off with a nice boost to my ego: another filmmaker and fellow blogger had recognized the masterful wit in my first blog entry and approached me about it. He noted that he was normally the funny one, and would now step up his game. I am competitive by nature so this was music to my ears: bring it!  Only now I have to be funny again, which may be easier said than done.

We began the day with the standard fare – introductions with a filmmakers’ twist: we were tasked to name our craziest venture as a filmmaker.

Confident I had this one in the bag, I described a time when I worked literally 24 hours a day over a four-day stretch in order to fund and shoot my spec commercials. Let me make this clear, it wasn’t just four days awake, it was four days running back and forth between tending bar and shooting. The human brain begins to hallucinate after three days. Being fellow humans, I imagined they would all grasp the Herculean effort of my feat. Therefore, when the “oohs” and “ahhs” I expected were met only with cricket song, I was a little tempted to tap an imaginary mike and ask if this thing was on.

Following my lukewarm reception, other filmmakers stood and regaled us with harrowing stories of facing down the barrel of a gun while being held up for their films. At which point I felt like the kid who brought in a mouse for show and tell next to the kid who brought in a 20-foot boa constrictor. A boa that ate my mouse. And breathed fire.

Naturally, I thought of another amazing story of my daringness as a filmmaker, but this happened hours later. I hate when that happens.

Next we headed off to a talk by Doug Liman, who was an amazing speaker as always. He’s an inspiration and offered great advice for us going forward in our careers. This was  followed by introductions to our mentors. My mentor was Julia Loktev who directed a wonderful film entitled Day Night Day Night — you should probably watch that one on Netflix too, after of course, watching my film. Remember? August the First. I’m serious. Watch it.

Julia, my co-mentee Danielle Lurie and I quickly discovered that we all seem to share a deep love of films with a dark subject matter. This in and of itself is unremarkable, but given the fact that the three of us are some of the happiest people you’ll ever meet, it begs the question: are we hiding something? You always hear the neighbors say, “Johnny was such a pleasant boy,” after Johnny was found with 57 pinky toes in his armoire. Hmmmm. Food for thought.

Then we met with the wonderful documentary director Joe Berlinger and afterwards the feature film producer Jon Kilik. They both gave us a wonderfully insightful master class in how to succeed in the business. Joe from the documentary world and Jon from the narrative one. While Jon was speaking, I actually realized that I have seen 18 of Jon’s films 18!!!!!!!!!!  And I liked every single one of them. Now that is a dude that I want to work with some day. AMAZING. Wait, am I gushing? Let me stop that right now.

The day ended with the pitch session and of course, my heart was pounding. Naturally they chose to do this at the VERY END of the day when my nerves were nearing the fight or flight stage. I was one of five directors chosen to pitch their projects in front of Dan Cogan, Pamela Koffler, John Sloss, Lucy Stille and the rest of my peers. Needless to say, the pressure was on. I think I did okay. I think I sounded fairly competent, and not like an idiot with his thumb up his nose… but that is difficult to gauge when you are in the hot seat.

At the end, the moderators offered me some wonderful advice on moving my project forward. I am humbly grateful to them, to the IFP, to RBC and to the Film Society for setting it all up. Hopefully in 20 years or so I can come back and give back as all of these wonderful people have done. My one regret is that I did not get to attempt the Jedi mind trick.

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