Wednesday, May 21, 2008

JUMP! gets props in Boston

We're psyched that JUMP! won the Marketing Award at the Independent Film Festival of Boston! And we were the first runner-up for the Audience Award for Best Documentary.

With the help of jump rope teams all around the country, we've been volunteering to do an extraordinary amount of educational and community outreach at just about every festival we've attended (20+). Thanks to IFFBoston for seeing the value in our approach and for validating our efforts and abilities. As an indie film sans distribution and working a grassroots campaign, this award is especially meaningful to us. Distributors keep telling us that this film is a huge challenge to market, thus they pass. Though there are understandable obstacles, based on the reactions we have received from audiences around the country, we think that there is broad base that would watch JUMP! if given the opportunity. Viewers are wanting fun, energetic, family-friendly movies like ours, which make viewers feel as good. That's my rant.

Moving on. IFFBoston has only been around for a few years, but it already packs a huge wallop, in large measure to their own ingenious marketing efforts and the tireless efforts of program director Adam Roffman (pictured with me at right), who works his tail off on big budget movies most of the year so that he can take 3-4 months off to plan this fest.

There's a lot to love about the main venue for the IFFB, the Somerville Theater. Here's some of what strikes my fancy: they host town meetings, you can buy a beer there and bring it to your seat!, and they have great old signage.

Boston is also filled with smarty pants people, which might explain the Boston Globe's story headlined "Marquee Geek". You can find the full story here. Excerpt:
"Geek culture is the thing that drives popular culture," said Nancy Campbell, an IFFBoston managing director. "Anyone who's ever been a geek knows at some point the mainstream co-opts it." The festival's film-selection committee comes from that culture, she said. "Being a movie lover, you're relegated to the not-norm. You see seven to 10 films a week and you're [not considered normal]."

This not-normalcy gets expressed as geeky folks obsessed with acquiring specialized knowledge or mastering odd pursuits. There's the doc "JUMP!," directed by Helen Hood Scheer, which explores the world of competitive jump roping…. Lives in these movies revolve around infatuations. The trick, say some filmmakers, is not to pass judgment or make fun of their subjects, no matter how seemingly dorky or trivial their pursuits."
I love it. We got another nice press mention in The Boston Metro newspaper -- they called us one of "the fest’s most intriguing prospects." Nice to be selected along with Werner Herzog!

Other highlights of our short but sweet time in Boston:

+ Seeing "At the Death House Door", directed by the great Steve James and Peter Gilbert (of "Hoop Dreams" fame and more). This moving documentary offers an intimate look at the death penalty in the state of Texas through the eyes of Pastor Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain in Huntsville -- before being the former director of the jump rope league my doc follows. Stunning coincidence, no? During Pickett's remarkable career, he presided over 95 executions, including the world’s first lethal injection. After each execution, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of his trip to the death chamber. Pickett's wife was a jump rope coach and they describe driving off after their wedding with beaded ropes tied to the bumper. No doubt jump rope brought much needed joy to their lives after witnessing so much hardship. Incredible story.

+ Seeing Art in Bloom at the Museum of Fine Art. About 100 garden clubs all over Massachusetts were invited to make flower arrangements inspired by paintings & sculptures in the Museum and display them by the works of art. Some were abstract and some had very clear depictions. What a fun way to see the collection. The one at the left is inspiring what I want to make for my pal Anya's wedding bouquet.

+ Delicious Seafood

+ Seeing Prince Paul spin at the closing night party. PP's own song "Showdown at the Hoedown" is featured in the film and is on our soundtrack. He's also a major hip hop producer for the likes of De La Soul's "Three Feet High & Rising" album and tons more.

PS: Thanks to teams that came out to do jump rope demos: Forbes Fliers from Torrington, CT and Brewster Bayside Skippers. Rumor has it that some new teams will start up in Boston thanks in large measure to you guys!

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