Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hao Wu, The Road to Fame - West Carolina University, Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, & Hapeville, Georgia

From Filmmaker Hao Wu of The Road to Fame:

I guess it could be depressing when an audience came up to you after a screening of your film, and told you that your film made him depressed. The stories of young people struggling to make it in showbiz was too close to home, he said. He was a college student studying filmmaking at West Carolina University (Cullowhee, NC) and the prospect of becoming a successful filmmaker was looking remote.

I quoted a line from the veteran musical director featured in my film - "Only those who really want this can survive" - and wished him good luck in figuring out the industry, and himself.

And then I was elated. I had done my job right, I thought, that I could move an American youth this way with a story about Chinese kids feeling the same stress in the faraway Beijing. What more could we ask for as filmmakers telling stories close to our hearts?



In Madison GA, much younger audiences watched the film. Fifth graders. They were into performing arts and couldn't stop talking about the film after the screening at the beautiful Madison-Morgan Cultural Center. They had a long road ahead of them, and their optimism was innocent, and pure.





In Hapeville, Georgia, the city held the screening at The Historic Christ Church Building & Carriage House. The atmosphere felt like a cozy community party. One audience said afterwards that The Road to Fame was his first time watching a subtitled film. Now he realized that he'd missed out on a lot of good foreign films.




The Southern Circuit Tour was an intense experience with lots of flying, driving and meeting different people from different states. But for an independent filmmaker, it was such a rare opportunity to see the beautiful land in the south, to meet curious and engaging audiences who embrace good storytelling regardless of differences in language, culture and geography. Many asked me during the tour when I could be back with my next film. I replied soon, hopefully soon.

Upward and onward on the road to storytelling!



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hao Wu, The Road to Fame - Robinson Film Center, Union College, & Ritz Theatre

From Filmmaker Hao Wu of The Road to Fame:

The first leg of my Southern Circuit tour was intense; two flights each day, and one to two hours of driving to get to most screening venues. Exhausting, but what a trip! As an immigrant who had lived in six American cities over fifteen years, I had never stepped foot in the south. Not that I didn't want to - kids of my generation grew up in China reading Gone With The Wind, but somehow I never managed to. Now I'm able to have a fast and furious immersion of southern hospitality, all thanks to South Arts.


Meanwhile, I'm hoping my The Road to Fame is bringing a little China to the south. Most of the audience members have never been to China. So naturally, I was apprehensive about how the audiences would receive such a subtitled film from a faraway land.


Surprisingly, however, many came up to me after the screenings, saying the characters in the film didn't feel foreign to them. At the Robinson Film Center and Union College, students completely identified with the dreams, the anxieties over potential failures, and the pressure from family and society that the Chinese students experienced in the film. Those with ambitions in the arts felt the resonance the strongest.



Meanwhile, older audiences tended to be more interested in what China is like and how it is changing. At the Ritz Theater in Sheffield, AL, several audience members had visited China a long time ago, and it was eye opening for me even to learn about the country they knew that had been erased by recent developments. After the screening, they queried me about the one-child policy, the performance arts industry in China, and what I thought where China is going. It was extremely rewarding for a filmmaker to be able to move audiences with a universal story, and to act as a cultural ambassador for his home country at the same time.




All three screening venues so far - Robinson Film Center in Shreveport, LA, Union College in Barbourville, KY, and the Ritz Theater in Sheffield, AL - are beautiful. No hustle and bustle of the big city or the local multiplex. Stepping inside them was like being transported back in time, when film watching was once cozy and communal. My hosts - Meghan Hochstetler in Shreveport, Diana Mills at Union College and Jim Berryman in Sheffield - lavished their attention and care, for which I'm immensely grateful. I'm eagerly looking forward to the second leg of screenings in North Carolina and Georgia, and will report back soon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

On the Road with Michael Glover and Robyn Rosenkrantz from Go with Le Flo

From Michael Glover (writer, director, musician) and Robyn Rosenkrantz (producer, musician) from Go with Le Flo:

We’re so grateful to have shared our new film Go with Le Flo and our Bright Blue Gorilla music on the Southern Circuit tour. Our film was shot in Berlin and is a German & French romantic comedy with English subtitles.  Right before we landed in Atlanta, we had a great 3 month tour doing concerts and screenings all around Europe. We were curious to see how the film would play in the South.  Some of the audiences had never seen a Foreign film. The audiences were enthusiastic and many left very inspired. Here’s what happened…

 - Robyn and Michael


November 5, 2014
Clemson University
Clemson, SC

Before we drove from Atlanta, GA to our first show at Clemson University in South Carolina, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to try some Southern food! We stopped off at the Flying Biscuit and got our fill of the creamiest grits we’d ever had. We had a great vegetarian breakfast of fried green tomatoes, veggie sausage, eggs, whole wheat biscuits with apple-cranberry butter and super tender collard greens. We don’t get this type of food in Los Angeles!

Great restaurant in Atlanta, GA

Michael and Robyn enjoying the Southern Food!

Eggs, Veggie Sausage, Fried Green Tomatoes, and the creamiest grits ever!

We stopped off at the South Carolina Welcome center and were inspired by the beautiful fall leaves.


Beautiful Fall leaves in South Carolina

Before the show, Amy Monaghan, a professor from Clemson University met us for a Mexican Dinner to welcome us. Then we headed over to the nice auditorium.  It was an interesting mix of film studies, language, and geography students. They all stayed for the Q&A and asked some great questions. One of the students wrote an amazing Go with Le Flo review on IMDB! We spoke with one young student after the show who had dreams to become a producer. She was very inspired and had tons of questions. We really enjoy sharing the wealth of knowledge we’ve picked up along the way. Our motto is to just dive in and create, learn by doing. No matter how many mistakes you make, if you just keep going and don’t give up, your movies are going to get better and better.

Clemson University has some history!

Outside of Clemson University Auditorium


November 9, 2014
Winder Cultural Arts Center
Winder, GA

Our second show was at Winder Cultural Arts center. We drove some lovely back roads to get there and really enjoyed seeing the farms, Baptist churches with their inspiring quotes (Get Rich Quick…Count Your Blessings!) and wooden houses with their big front porches. Don Wildsmith and Christopher Childs gave us a super warm welcome with real Southern hospitality. The local press ran a half page story with photos, which is always nice. The auditorium was lovely and had a vintage feel to it. They also do lots of theater there, so the stage was perfect for our Bright Blue Gorilla concert before the film. Christopher, being a filmmaker himself, asked intelligent questions as he led the Q&A, he had done his homework, which made it really inspiring for us. The audience had a great sense of humor and were laughing freely during our music set and super loud during the Go with Le Flo screening. We always watch our films with the audiences and the Winder audience had us laughing out loud, even though we've see our film 100 times! Afterwards they had some great brownies and punch, which made for a cozy atmosphere to mingle with the audience. We had our CDs and DVDs with us and also some French Lavender from the real Le Flo store in Berlin, and many kind audience members took some home.

Winder made a nice Go with Le Flo poster

Go with Le Flo pre-show test

Go with Le Flo pre-show test looking good!

We found it!

Bright Blue Gorilla movies and music storefront at Winder Cultural Center

Bright Blue Gorilla on the wonderful Winder stage

Q & A with Christoper Childs

The wonderful Winder staff


November 11, 2014
Morris Museum of Art
Augusta, GA

There was a beautiful entry hall at the Morris Museum of Art right next to the screening room, made us feel like we were in a movie, which was the perfect atmosphere for our concert and screening. We set up a table in the screening room with our Bright Blue Gorilla CDs, DVDs and French Lavender from the real Le Flo store in Berlin. Before we even started our show, a super friendly film professor from the local college came up to our table and bought some French Lavender. Nice way to start off the night! He brought a few of his film students. The rest of the audience were locals. The audience sang along during our concert, which made us feel very welcome. One of our songs, “Napoleon’s Coat” is about a guy who works in a museum, so we had fun singing that one! There were around 27 people, all laughing and enjoying Go with Le Flo. They asked great questions and our Le Flo lavender was just about sold out!





November 13, 2014
Wallace State Community College
Hanceville, AL

Our last concert and screening was at the beautiful brand new auditorium on the campus of Wallace State Community College. It reminded us of the lovely concert halls in Europe. When we walked in we noticed two big Go with Le Flo posters and some really nice fliers. It’s always great when a venue does promo. Kristen Holmes was a great host and made sure we had everything we needed. They had some yummy snacks for the audience and very refreshing lemon water, which hit the spot after our 3 1/2 hour drive. The acoustics were perfect for our unplugged concert. The audience was made up of students and the local community. It was a joy to hear them laughing loudly. One of the students noticed we watched Go with Le Flo with them and she really liked that and found it inspiring. The audience asked great questions as usual and hung out after, made us feel very welcome. They liked that we made family friendly comedies and many hugged us goodbye!









Monday, November 10, 2014

Kathy McCabe and Freda Kelly, Good Ol' Freda - Oxford College

From Filmmaker Kathy McCabe of Good Ol' Freda:

Our first Southern Circuit Tour screening was at Oxford College at Emory University, and we were blessed with a pack house of interested students and a few of their elders. It was so cool to see that Beatles music is affecting new generations. One student referred to herself as a 'third generation Beatles fan.'

We had one of our best Q&A sessions ever with lots of interesting questions from the audience. Freda met so many people after the screening, posted for photos, signed DVDs, and kept answering questions.

We're very grateful to everyone at South Arts and Oxford College for making us feel so welcome.