This entry should have been posted in March, 2008.
A huge, heartfelt thank you THANK YOU to the Cleveland International Film Festival for giving me a "Someone to Watch" award. What an auspicious beginning! I'm honored, proud and humbled to get this recognition. Although I still cannot imagine finishing JUMP! completely or moving on to my next projects, this award definitely renews my desire to continue. Thank you, CIFF, for believing in me.
Now onto a recap of our experience at the fest... which began with them booking 2 extra screenings of JUMP! because advanced tickets were selling so well. This brought us to 5 screenings -- 3 public + 2 Film Slam (a special program for students). We were psyched that there was great word of mouth building already and strong demand for the film -- at this point, we're considering our festival run to be our theatrical release.
Upon arrival, I was greeted with a fleet of nice festival volunteers. All for me?? Not really. Turns out there was a gi-normous blizzard and tons of other filmmakers' flights couldn't get in. The snow was major! I did not go outside for 4 days. The strange part was that I barely noticed. We were having so much fun and staying in one of those mid-western super-malls that is like a contained village -- the hotel, movie theater, jump demo area, restaurant and bars were all there under one roof.
The weather also made it tough for audiences -- though die-hards still came in droves. Tori, her cousin Brooke (who also jumps and is an all-state soccer player), and Tori's mom Rochelle braved the storm, driving in from West Virginia, to do interactive jump rope demonstrations on Saturday. Sunday, they were joined by the Heartbeats of Ohio (based in the greater Cleveland/Akron area), Tori's cute older brother (who's training to be a professional soccer player and also learning jump rope tricks from sis), and loads of her teammates on Jump Company, who chartered a huge tour bus to come in!
Our weekend screenings and interactive jump rope demonstrations before & after each show were such a hit that we were asked to do a 6th screening the following weekend! Yay! I couldn't stick around in Cleveland, but Tori was able come back to do a post-screening Q&A -- which by all accounts she rocked. And then 450+ people gathered to watch our final interactive jump rope demonstration! They were surrounding the jumpers on the mall's ground floor and also crowding each of three floors overhanging above.
LOCALS: if you want to start a new team, join an existing one, or book a jump rope performance, contact the teams linked above and also USA Jump Rope! They will help you. Also -- a couple of people asked us to do special event screenings in Cleveland in the future. Please sign up for our mailing list for updates.
Another cool thing: for our final school screening, Emily and Coach Mod came to see the film and perform with their new jump rope group. It was great to catch up. They all loved the movie and kept saying how accurate it was. As some of you probably remember from the film, Em and Mod were key peeps on the River Valley Skippers, same team as Tori. Before the world competition showed in the film, they decided to dissolve RVS and focus on performing and teaching jump rope instead of competing. Tori then spearheaded the formation of a new team, Jump Company. (Side note: editor Scott and I lovingly and jokingly describe Tori as the CEO of Jump Rope, so we think this team name is perfect!) Mod & Emily's group is called High 5; they're interested in spreading the sport all over the mid-Ohio Valley region (and the world, of course!).
+ Nice, nice, nice staff and volunteers
+ Overhearing people say JUMP! was hot.
+ Reconnecting with a former boss and mentor, Morgan Neville, who's film "Cool School" was also playing at CIFF.
+ Seeing a diverse other docs, especially "Up the Yangzte" and "Spine Tingler"