today's the Viacom screening.....and here's how it went! [updated]
... oh boy... lotsa little details to take care of... stay tuned... [updated!] woo-hoo! ok ok, it's saturday. the Viacom screening went extremely well on Thursday and then the following night we had the cast/crew premiere screening in the same theater. so much to talk about! Let's talk about the Viacom screening... this was the fourth time Deployment Strategy has played for an audience. It's played in Arizona, LA, and Cleveland at different festivals, but in a way, i considered this a larger deal than any of those. Why? Cuz it's playing for employees of VIACOM- the media giant, the media elite. Standards are high here because standards are defined here. It could be a tough crowd!!
Many of those in the crowd were friends and coworkers of mine on the Nickelodeon - even the supervisor of my supervisor came by (maybe to see what i was spending the other part of my life doing- Just kiddding, Pier!), but there were also others from MTV, VH-1, etc- the rest of Viacom. But it wasn't until 10 minutes before the screening began that I realized I'd have more than just Viacom employees at this Viacom screening!!
Rewind to three weeks ago when I was planning the screening with Claire from Paramount Promotions. I would tell Claire that she's every filmmaker's fairy god mother except that most fairy god mothers are old with grey hair and that's definitely not Claire! She is awesome though. She told me, "oh you should call so-and-so, ask him to come to the screening. Oh and why not so-and-so-and-so!" Then a week later the phone will ring and it's Claire. "I was thinking about you, try calling so-and-so-and-so-and-so" I had names, no contact info though. Google told me everything about this guy except his contact info. What to do? I prepare a cover letter email to invite this guy and I MAKE UP HIS EMAIL ADDRESS. "firstName.lastName@HBO.com" Worth a shot, right? 10 minutes later, i get a brief, concise email back:
Dude. i could not believe it! So now back to Viacom screening day: I'm waiting in the lobby 10 minutes before the screening. Sometimes things happen, sometimes last minute things come up and people can't make it. Nickelodeon was having a production issue that morning and so several of my friends couldn't make it. So it'd be perfectly understandable if my HBO gentleman caller couldn't make it right? Then I hear, "Mark Cheng! Is there a Mark Cheng in the lobby??!!!" My HBO executive (who as you can see I'm leaving nameless at this time) calling for me at the top of his lungs because I had told security I'd be there to personally escort him up to the theater. Woo-hoo! He showed! And not just that... he brought a half dozen of his coworkers with him. It's awesome and terrifying at the same time!!
ok, ok let's speed this up.. The screening goes fantastic. I've never seen such a good digital projection of the film ever. It was played off of a miniDV cassette and to me looked like it could have been 35mm. The audio system in the Paramount theater rocks and the deep bass of Chris' score hits you at the core.
People laughed at the right points, cheered at the right points. I felt like they "got" the film- knew what it was, what it wasn't, what it was trying to be. And i think they grasped the story thru all the techno-jargon and fast social issue speak. hey, what do i know, they clapped at the end for me and that's good enough :D We had a good Q&A session afterwards, and at the end of screening, Mr. HBO smiled, gave me his card, and asked me to call him on Monday! Wow man, you never know what's going to happen....
Things that burned into my brain which I will never forget:
- howls of laughter during the grotesque conclusion of Diplomat Yanovec's character
- laughter at all sweeet ass parts - when the Major lectures the programmer, when Chavez gets his hand handed to him
- when I first shake Mr. HBO's hand- he smiles, gives me an HBO baseball cap, and says, "you are one ambitious young man"
- when Raven Snook- Nickelodeon editor- tells me she's geek for me & recites all the sci-fi movie references from the film- robocop, aliens, etc...
- when a site director at Nickelodeon tells me that she's happy she didn't eat lunch before the screening in regards to the gore
- when Karen Schrier, Nickelodeon producer and "the woman who turned down Harvard twice", thanked me for making the film
- the genuine smiles from friends and sci-fi junkies as they leave the theater...
- oh yeah, and i found the quintessential Deployment Strategy Fan