Many people deserve thanks up front for Saturday’s Sixth Annual MorristownGreen.com Film Festival. But I want to start with a back story.
A few days ago word went out that we needed props for a little skit we were planning for our “indoor beach party” at the Hyatt.
Chef Melody McGinley Whitelaw, who has catered events for some of the biggest names in show biz, scoured her closets for Hawaiian shirts, leis and dancing hula dolls. Maureen Denman of Grow It Green Morristown and Mary Dougherty, Morristown’s First Lady, came up with grass skirts, inflatable palm trees and a wading pool.
And on Saturday morning, Chris Merzatta rolled into my driveway with what looked like two Olympic vaulting poles protruding from his car window.
Like everyone involved with the Film Fest, Chris and Danielle Merzatta are busy people. They make fine handcrafted jewelry and travel constantly to craft shows while raising Laurily, age “two and eleven-twelfths.”
Somehow, they found time to fabricate a moon and constellation of cardboard stars–”I made this one!” boasted Laurily, holding up the prettiest star– and to rig them between two enormous PVC pipes. So our indoor beach party could be moonlit and starry.
The pièce de résistance sat in the back seat: A portable campfire, complete with real logs and fluttering cellophane flames.
It only got about three minutes of stage time. But no campfire ever burned brighter, or warmer.
Public thank you’s are tricky; inevitably, someone important gets overlooked.
So let me start by thanking everyone who came to Saturday’s MG Film Fest. At first, I worried that our terrific entertainers, The SteppingSTONE Band, would be warming up an empty ballroom. Many folks had sent apologies, explaining that they were vacationing or taking kids back to college.
The turnout was overwhelming! Standing-room only. A crowd with enthusiasm and respect for the filmmakers. We blew through 400 programs.
Congratulations to the winners of our Diversity, Critics’ Choice and People’s Choice awards, and thanks to all the filmmakers. You can’t have a film festival without them!
Cliched as it sounds, it’s true: All who entered are winners. They triumphed over inertia and doubt to lay it on the line, and share their vision with the world. Bravo!
Some spectators offered constructive suggestions for next year, if there is one. (More on that in a moment).
Filmmakers had good observations about improving the People’s Choice voting process. They will be invited to join that conversation if we go for Year Seven.
A reader also noted that our inaugural Critics’ Choice panel appeared short on diversity. While efforts were made in that area, more will be done in any future go-rounds.
Briefly, here are a few more back stories. And then I will do my best to properly acknowledge everybody who helped get the Sixth Annual MorristownGreen.com Film Festival onto the silver screen.
MG contributor Marie Pfeifer is recuperating from surgery–a real back story. Didn’t keep her away. Despite a family emergency and pressing work commitments, our MG Kids editor, Sharon Sheridan, turned in her usual stellar performance reporting and photographing the festivities. Carol Lindskog wrangled a mountain of shoe boxes–no small feat (feet?), essential to the balloting. Berit Ollestad, in the midst of moving her family, took time out to help with video.
On a personal note, my Dad, brother Keith and niece Kara made long trips to lend moral support. Much appreciated.
Over the last six years, the MorristownGreen.com Film Festival has showcased approximately 120 movies by local people of all ages and technical abilities. For some of them, the MG Film Fest may be the only time their work ever is shared on the big screen. For others, it’s only the beginning. We hope the experience has been memorable for both groups.
The Festival has tapped into our community’s abundant talent, and found an audience willing to nurture and embrace it.
What’s next? One of my dreams is to expand the MorristownGreen.com Film Fest to a full day, or weekend. It would not try to duplicate the Montclair Film Festival, already a national and international event.
Rather, our scope would remain regional and continue to celebrate grass-roots productions. There would be more categories, with how-to sessions and talks by area filmmakers. With the right partners, the MG Film Fest could keep the cellophane campfire burning for years to come.
On behalf of the Sixth Annual MorristownGreen.com Film Festival, let me now express my deep gratitude to:
The Hyatt Morristown, Manager Tom Blundell and Catering Director John DiLorenzo, and Tina, Calvin, Denroy, Calvin, Nicole, Mario and Paul of their staff. One again, they reminded us why it’s called the hospitality business.
The Advertisers in our Festival Program, who made the MG Film Festival possible. Please thank these civic-minded professionals, merchants and restaurateurs by giving them your business.
The Prize Sponsors who rewarded the creativity of our winning filmmakers:
- Rios Engraving, supplier of the trophy coveted by our annual People’s Choice winner;
- Dillard Kirby, who generously contributed money for gift certificates to Sandrian Camera;
- The NY Film Critics Series, which furthers the cinematic education of winners through its excellent eight-week series;
- Sandrian Camera, which contributed two digital cameras to this year’s winners;
- The Morristown Partnership, which donated gift certificates to help the winners celebrate locally;
- The Mayo Performing Arts Center, which donated tickets to next month’s Don Felder concert;
- And the 23 South Boutique and Ginty’s Irish Gifts for gift certificates.
The Building Cross Cultural Communities Committee of the Morris County Human Relations Commission, sponsors of our first Diversity Prize. The committee is chaired by Denise Lanza of the Morris County Parks Commission, and co-chaired by Lashone Murphy of the Morristown Neighborhood House. Special thanks to David Walker, former director of the Neighborhood House, for introducing MorristownGreen.com to the BCCCC.
The BCCCC panelists who screened entries for the Diversity Prize: Kadie Dempsey of Morris Arts, retired chemical engineer Harshad Anjaria, and Charles Lamb of County College of Morris.
Sustainable Morristown, sponsors of our first Critics’ Choice Award, and co-founder Paul Miller.
The Critics’ Choice panelists who screened entries for this category: Christian Schuller and Christopher Henze, filmmakers; Jonathan Collins, former film teacher; Chad Leinaweaver, assistant director of the Morristown & Township Library; and Paul Miller, representing Sustainable Morristown.
Glassworks Studio, creator of the Critics’ Choice plaque.
The Presbyterian Church in Morristown, and Debbie McComber, for the Critics’ Choice screening venue.
EmbroidMe and George Zaciaracha, printer of the smart-looking t-shirts worn by MG Film Fest volunteers.
Linda Brooks, designer of our MG Film Festival Program and promotional materials.
Headquarters Audio Visual Services, and Lori Donnelly, Linda Siudmak and Ryan Oakley, printers of our MG Film Festival Program.
Summit Soundz and Mike Fusco, for projection and sound at the show.
Our Publicity team, Ben Burgess, Adam Casadevall, Brianna McGraw and Rachael Moore.
The Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival, Mayor Tim Dougherty, Promoters Don Jay Smith and Linda Smith, for promotional considerations.
The Morris Tourism Bureau, for its promotional help.
Our Hula Division: Chef Melody McGinley Whitelaw of The Main Event, Maureen Denman, Mary Dougherty and Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman
Morristown High School teachers Mike Butler (broadcasting), Brian Kievning (photography) and John Madden (English) for encouraging contestants.
Barbara Reuther of Morris Arts shared helpful hints.
Last, but far from least, the wonderful volunteers of MG: Sharon Sheridan, Carol Lindskog, Marie Pfeifer, Bill Lescohier, Berit Ollestad, Adam Casadevall, Ben Burgess, Rachael Moore, Carl Hausman, Paul Hausman, Katrina Langer, Leslie Raff, Audra Stowers and Meiling Chin.
Oh nuts! As feared, I forgot to list some very important people on our Film Festival Program thank you page.
Thank you, Danielle, Chris and Laurily.
Stay tuned for more…