Saturday, September 23, 2006

100% Humidity

100% Humidity. That's today's weather report here in Beaufort, SC. I'm feeling wilted and parched and it's only 9am. Which is why I am in the local air-conditioned library to revive before getting a look at the outer islands.

http://www.penncenter.com
[The Penn Center - the site of one of the country's first schools for freed slaves and one of the most significant African American historical and cultural institutions in existence today.]

Last night's screening at Technical College of the Low Country had okay attendance, although the large auditorium was not as full as expected, given all the advance press. Of all the host organizations on the tour, The Arts Council of Beaufort County has done the most aggressive job of getting word out to local publications. The film was featured in several local papers (with my picture no less), and a followup story will appear later. There's even a display here at the library with The Southern Circuit films prominently featured. But it was a Friday night, and "Learning to Swallow" is not exactly the first choice for a date flick.

That said, the audience questions were terrific. One man, who I believe is married to a board member and got dragged along to the screening, mentioned he was pleasantly surprised at how much he was engaged by the film. "I didn't fall asleep" he said with a sly grin. Thank you for that sir!

Earlier in the day, 100 students from Bluffton High School grilled me about what it is like to be a filmmaker -- how much it costs, what was it like documenting a friend's descent, and what kind of camera did I use? I love talking with high school students because they're always so bold in their question-asking. An astonishing three of them were already thinking about attending my alma mater Columbia College in Chicago. One kid had already raised $8600 for a narrative feature! I nearly asked him to produce my next film.

Yesterday's drive from Columbia to Beaufort was a bit disturbing unfortunately. I passed through Branchville SC where they were setting up some sort of train festival. But it appeared to be more of a Confederate flag celebration. They were freakin' everywhere. One vendor even had baby "one-sies" emblazoned with Confederate flags. Ick. I was further distressed when I tried to save a lost beagle running down a desolate stretch of Highway 21. I turned around and went back to get him, but he bolted into the thick woods. I called and waited, but he never came back. Later today I will drive the same highway back to Orangeburg. I'm going to be keeping an eye out for him.