Six Gals Talk About the Movies, Making Movies, and the Movie Biz at the Gasparilla

My Thursday entry at Tampa’s Gasparilla International Film Festival would be an Industry Panel Discussion. It was called For the Love of Movies/Women in the Industry.

The venue was the Channelside Cinemas, once a 10 theater cinema hall, until they closed in the fall of 2012. The building remained closed and dormant and has re-opened just for this festival.

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Over the five-day period of Wednesday to Sunday, March 25th – March 29th, 130 films will be screened. 70 shorts and 60 feature films.

Four of the film makers who have films showing at this festival formed the core of the panel.The Moderator, a last-minute fill in) and panel member, was Actress/Producer Mary Rachel Dudley.

Her film, which she both produced and wrote, In Lieu of Honor, would have its World Premier tonight. Have a look at the trailer:

Here’s a short precis of what the film is about –

Frank Chapman…a man and a soldier. He finds himself surviving another day…a day all too familiar that tortuously repeats itself with the stench of failure. Each step spirals him out of control. He might be back home, yet he was left behind…somewhere in a desert of painful illusions.

The second panelist was Film Director Lindsey Copeland. Her film is called Girls Night. Lindsey not only produced it, directed it,and wrote it, she also was the cinematographer. That’s wearing a lot of hats isn’t it?

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Girls Night is about five female college friends who reunite for a concert in Boston. When one of them loses the tickets, the group must take on the task of retracing her steps to find the missing tickets, encountering a series of characters along the way.

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The Sarasota Film Festival 2015

The Sarasota Film Festival will start in about two weeks. Beginning April 10th, the festival opens its doors for the 17th time. Celebrating the art of film making while showing the best in new cinema in the categories of narrative features, shorts, documentaries, and even kid friendly film fare – the festival is a key event in the world of movies.

Tonight I attended the Press Kick-Off Party held at the fabulous Selby Gardens. on S. Palm Avenue in Sarasota.

So,e millimg about merged with socializing - an all in one photo op

After a lengthy session of milling around also known as socializing, imbibing drinks, and dabbling in finger foods,

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others engaged in marketing until Mark Famiglio took the stage to welcome the gathered folks and then he turned the festivities over to Mark Dunaway, the new SFF Creative Director.The full schedule of more than 180 films was released tonight with the Sarasota folks in attendance, being the first of any people in the world to get the news. Dunaway told us that when Indie Wire called him today, they were told to call back tomorrow. When the New York Times called today, they were also told to call back tomorrow. The announcements today came out just a few days after the festival’s Opening and Closing Night Features were announced.

The Opening Night film, to be screened on April 10th at 6:30 PM at the Sarasota Opera House at 611 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota will be Time Out of Mind. This is a story of a homeless New Yorker who will struggle to find stability and purpose to his life, all while attempting to restore and rekindle a relationship with his estranged daughter.

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The Surface – Opening Night Film at Tampa’s Gasparilla International Film Festival

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Director Gil Cates Jr.:  It was a lot of work, and even more to consider logistically given the 20 day shooting schedule. We had to think about anchoring the boats, tides, sunlight, wind, and the rise and swell of the lake…

Actor Chris Mulkey: It was a tough schedule – 20 days seemed almost inhuman

Actor Sean Astin on the Red Carpet

Actor Sean Astin on the Red Carpet

Actor Sean Astin: Twenty days? – It seemed more like six months! Every day from before sunrise until after sunset. It was like Lawrence of Arabia on Lake Michigan…

Comments like the above or almost like the above were spoken by the people named after the showing of The Surface, which opened the 9th annual Gasparilla International Film Festival – Tampa’s oldest and biggest film festival.

The Tampa Theater on a non festival day

The Tampa Theater on a non festival day

The Festival’s Opening Night Reception Party, at the Tampa Theater got things started at 6:00 PM. There was a red carpet, some strong lights, and some VIP cars arriving for valet parking service. This party looked like Tampa’s best and most beautiful people were all on hand.

After which the theater doors opened to the general public and the seats were quickly filled. After an introduction by Tampa newscaster and TV personality Gayle Sierens, and a short speech by Rachel Feinman, the President of the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF), and a short speech by a spokesperson from Suncoast Credit Union (the main sponsor) – Director Gil Cates Jr. and Producer and screenwriter Jeff Gendelman came out to briefly introduce the film..

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First Day in Oslo, Norway

So it is Saturday afternoon, of the 14th of March. I’ve been shown the where’s and the hows of this apartment in the Grunerlokka section of Oslo, and soon enough, the host leaves. So let’s have a look around –

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IMG_0759The living room is set under a triple skylight.

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The dining room is next to a wall of windows and has a nice hanging lamp over it. This will prove to be invaluable, if and when I need to do something on my laptop.

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I know what you’re thinking. Is that a bathtub sitting outside on the balcony?

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It sure is. Not quite the right season for a soak under the stars – but knowing one could, at the right time of year – is a major plus.

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The balcony walls are kind of high, but the views aren’t all that special anyway. But who rents an apartment for a short stay, based on the views from a balcony.

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It’s Saturday, I’m Leaving Stockholm, & Oslo Is On My Mind

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Singer Michael Buble made the song Georgia On My Mind, a great standard written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, and long known as a classic song of singer Ray Charles, from the 1960’s, – popular once more.

Georgia, Georgia
The whole day through

Just an old sweet song
Keeps that Georgia on my mind

James Taylor did the same thing with his own composition Carolina In My Mind which first appeared in Taylor’s debut album in 1968.

In my mind I’m going to Carolina. Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind? Yes, I’m going to Carolina in my mind.

And Willie Nelson made the song Always on My Mind into an evergreen. His version in 1982 won a Grammy Award.

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Maybe I didn’t love you
Quite as often as I could have
And maybe I didn’t treat you
Quite as good as I should have
If I made you feel second best
Girl I’m sorry I was blind

You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

The above are all about feelings and places, songs, song writers, and the singers of those songs. I am none of the above. I am just a traveler.

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On Saturday, March 14th, a little more than a week ago, I had the city of Oslo, Norway on my mind.

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Final Thoughts on Stockholm, Sweden

Yes, the sun has set over Stockholm, at least for me. Time to move on. But before I make the rail travel to Oslo, in neighboring Norway, I’ll offer some last thoughts about the front half of my journey.

It was easy getting into Sweden as it was leaving. Flying over to Oslo from Orlando, Florida took just a few minutes less than 8 hours. Mucho tailwinds accompanied the flight, pushing  the speeds of the plane to the 640 mph range for much of the journey. I didn’t know it at the time, but the strike by the Norwegian Air pilots that ran for 11 days was settled on the day I flew with them. Guessing the International service wasn’t affected, but on that day, March 10th, 160 domestic flights within Norway were cancelled.

Anyway the arrival was painless, passport control was a breeze, less than three minutes, and I didn’t have to deal with the luggage because it was routed straight through to the airport in Stockholm. I had another fight ahead of me, and from Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport to Stockholm’s Arlanda takes about 45 minutes in the air, and no passport control upon arrival.

At Arlanda airport I was able to purchase a 72 hour travel card, which would get me through three days, and a ticket for the Arlanda Express, a train from the airport which zipped me to the Stockholm Central Station. There I bought a sim card for my unlocked HTC phone. I handled the navigation to the apartment without undo stress.

Luckily I missed the snow in town but not too far out of the city, there was some snow still on the ground...

Luckily I missed the snow in town but not too far out of the city, there was some snow still on the ground…

My thoughts about Stockholm are simple to describe – I liked the place. Most everyone spoke English and the folks who worked in restaurants and coffee houses, Tourist information centers, train conductors etc, were all a fairly cheerful lot. As were the people you met on the street. The Swedish are a tall people and there was an interesting mix of foreign emigres in Sweden. Many North Africans, Middle Easterners, Indians, and other assorted Asians. I did notice many people soliciting ‘spare change’ in the T-Bana (subway) and they seemed to all carrying placards that read Sofia 2015. Many were possibly gypsies – but in the main they were passive rather than aggressive.

i also missed seeing crowds of people flocking to the dockside for some boating.

I also missed seeing crowds of people flocking to the dockside for some boating.

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Gamla Stan – Last Day in Stockholm

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When you take the Red Line Southbound from Stockholm’s Central Station – the first thing you notice is that the train leaves the underground and rises to the surface, a necessity to cross over the water by a bridge for a train. Actually there are three bridges. One for the T-Bana or subway trains. The second is for the commuter, regional, and inter-city rail lines, Of course the 3rd bridge is for automobiles.

So the very next station from Stockholm Central Station is Gamla Stan. I think that in the film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as well as the 2nd film in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire – when you see the shot of the train out under the sky – that’s what I’m talking about.

The recorded woman’s voice announcing the next station says Nasta Gamla Stan – only when she says it, it sounds more like Gamla Stawn (like lawn), At least that was my impression, and however it is said, it means Next [is] Gamla Stan.

So I exited the T-Bana at Gamla Stan. I was near the front of the train, so I took the south exit (utgang) and found myself on a waterfront park. It wasn’t the best time of the day for shooting across the water toward Sodermalm. I wanted to shoot that big apartment house, high up on a hilltop – it looked like the highest point across the water and it is the building that appears on the cover of Rick Steves‘ book called Stockholm – Snapshot. But likely I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time of day and the sun was behind the building – so I couldn’t get the shot I wanted. i took the shot but it should have been better.

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So I abandoned that plan and followed along the waterfront promenade. There wasn’t a lot of people about – mid-late afternoon so most folks were still working, But there were some couples strolling or sitting, some younger people who had finished school for the day, and some unemployed just killing off another day.

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Uppsala, Sweden – 40 minutes from Stockholm

After Wednesday Night’s long and refreshing sleep – I was already to see some of Stockholm and some of Sweden. The plan called for walking about in Gamla Stan aka Stockholm’s once and forever Old Town. As the center island of the archipelago that makes up Stockholm – it was worth seeing. That is after Part One had been accomplished.

Part I of the day plan was to visit the town of Uppsala pronounced like the oo’s in hoops – ooops – Sah – Lah. Uppsala is a college town about 40 minutes north of Stockholm and is an easy ride on a commuter train. More recently, Uppsala was a location mentioned in The Millenium Trilogy.

The Apartment on Tellebruksvagen

The Apartment on Tellebruksvagen

So I left the apartment on Tellebruksvagen, made the 90 second walk to the entrance of the Midsommerkransen T-Bana Station.

The Midsommerkransen T-Bana exit on Tellebruksvagen

The Midsommerkransen T-Bana exit/entrance on Tellebruksvagen

How close was the station to the apartment house? You could see the apartment building to your right when you stepped out onto the sidewalk from the Midsommerkransesn exit.

I had a Starbucks breakfast in Stockholm Central Station. Coffee and a slice of the blueberry cake. I might just as well had a similar breakfast at the Expresso House – they looked similar.

The northbound train was sparsely populated. If you decide to make this trip on your own – buy a Second Class seat = 1) because there are no reserved seats on this train, and 2) It is only a 40 minute ride.

I just got off this train at Uppsala

I just got off this train at Uppsala

Uppsala is an old town notable for the University and for having the tallest church in the country. Having seen Cathedrals in New York, Paris, Rome, Milan, Sienna, Pisa, Venice, Lausanne, Barcelona, and Montreal – I wasn’t in all that much of a hurry to see this one. I settled for seeing it from a distance as the train approached the city of Uppsala.

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Florida to Stockholm Sweden – Getting There Can Be Fun

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Departure Day was Tuesday the 10th of March. I would soon depart from sunny and warm Sarasota then Orlando for the North Countries, Norway and Sweden, on the other side of the pond.

The plan was to leave in the afternoon. Make the two-hour drive from Sarasota to Orlando, take in a movie, then have dinner, then a short drive to Orlando International Airport. This enable me to avoid almost all of the driving at night. The drive went off without a hitch. The GPS navigated perfectly to 9101 International Drive where I had chosen to see The Second Best Marigold Hotel movie at the Regal Theater. Review will be posted separately. I then had dinner at the Copper Canyon Grille.

Off to the airport. The North Parking Lot (The Blue Lot) is the first long-term parking lot you come to and is the closest to Terminal A. Short walk to the van and minutes later I’m at the check-in counter of Norwegian Air. The process was flawless and after I had waited for the lines to thin out a bit, I passed through security, with a minimum amount of stress (Are you sure you don’t have anything in your pockets? Back out and come through again.) it was about 9:15 PM. only an hour and a half before boarding at 10:45. Take off was scheduled for 11:30 PM.

The 787 Dreamliner is a pretty large plane and the flight was completely booked and filled. I had Row 8 Seat G – an aisle seat – in the second row just behind the Business Class seats. While not spacious, I had ample room considering I am just under 6’4″,

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The cabin crew was almost entirely Thai, This crew worked a triangle of long hauls – Bangkok to Oslo, then Oslo to Orlando and back.The service was excellent as was the entertainments provided. Individual screens all operated via touchscreen on an Android Platform. No need for a bulky and awkward controller. Movies, TV, Games, and Music all available. I had to buy the audio earpods for $3 US dollars but I get to keep them, One might also use the same system to turn on the reading light, call for the cabin attendant, or order from the snack bar. I had opted for the flight with meals and that meant a hot dinner, then later a wake up meal. While no one is a fan of airline food the chicken with mushrooms came with green beans and a tasty pumpkin squash as a side, plus a salad and a dessert, and it was very good.

Well the best news is that at 11:31 PM,we pulled away from the gate, and 10 minutes later we were in the air. We were lucky enough to have tail winds most of the way. The route was to fly over the Eastern Atlantic states passing Charlotte NC, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. With the favoring winds we were over Hartford, CT in about two hours. Next came a lengthy stretch of Canada’s Eastern Provinces before heading over the North Atlantic.passing south of Greenland then Iceland, then north of the UK before making land fall over Bergen, Norway. We glided in to Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport in just under 8 hours.

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