Monday, November 9, 2009

Mahler's Mondays: Kicking Off the Starz Denver Film Festival

I've only been writing for INDenverTimes for a month now and my life is already 36% cooler. I have the weekly column that I've always dreamed about, I get to write about fantasy football on Fridays, and starting in December, I will be writing more about the ins-and-outs of what's going on in the television industry (believe me, I was doing all of this already. Now I just get to do it for a real website).

That's not to mention that after my Denim Dilemma column a few weeks ago, Lee Jeans contacted me and asked if I would try out their jeans if they sent me a few pairs... for free!

(So basically get ready for a string of new columns about other products I'm having "problems" with in the near future.)

But the coolest thing that has happened so far was an opportunity that presented itself the very first day I was posted on this site. I received an e-mail from a representative with the upcoming 32nd Annual Denver Film Festival asking if I, or anyone from the site, would be interested in the covering the event for INDenverTimes.

Since this was my first day and all, I immediately thought that the site would have someone that was better equipped for this kind of undertaking, so I forwarded the e-mail along to my editor. He responded saying the job was mine if I wanted it and I didn't think twice.

(For the rest of time, I will never know why the Film Festival representative contacted ME. In that first post, the only movie I mentioned was a quick Back to the Future: Part II reference and then proceeded to blab about cell phones and laptops. There wasn't anything in particular that was screaming, "I'm your guy!", but hey, I'll take it.)

Now in this moment, I felt like Big Shot Bob (three quick points: (1) sorry, but I'm still completely engrossed in Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball right now so expect a bunch of historical NBA references for the next few weeks. (2) Why NOT pay tribute to Robert Horry whenever possible? (3) As we move into the 2010s, can't we all just agree to replace "Mr. Big Shot" with "Big Shot Bob"? They both mean the exact same thing and giving Mr. Big Shot an actual name - "Bob" - just feels more 2010ish. Thoughts?). I started texting and calling all of my friends and family and in that moment, I felt totally justified for packing up the Camel back in January and moving to a brand new city with no real connections or a clue of what I was going to do once I got here.

But then a wave of terror crashed over me as I went to the Film Festival's website. I suddenly realized the magnitude of just how legit this festival is (I'm from a small town in Virginia, remember?) and more importantly, I had no earthly idea how to cover ANY film festival, let alone a prestigious one being held in one of the nation's top 25 largest cities.


I'm not going to lie, there was a little sweat, some dry heaves, and I may or may not have blacked out for a while (I honestly don't remember). But then I pulled it together and reminded myself that this is exactly why my Wife and I moved out here and this was the type of opportunity I've been chasing for the past few years.

Last week, I went to a Film Festival media-only event downtown to hopefully get some more information about the event and get a better idea of what I was getting myself into. I noticed a couple of obvious facts instantly. First of all, this Festival is going to be pretty cool and will feature some quality films that are getting some big-time buzz across the country (more on that tomorrow). Second, the local media seems to love this event, love covering this event, and love getting together to talk about this event.

Everyone was way friendly and one conversation really stood out to me. I was talking with Gil Whiteley from the Denver Daily News and Mile High Sports 1510AM and he said something I can honestly say I will never forget. He ended a particular thought with the statement, "films teach us how to act."

There are so many movies that are just used to entertain or escape, but every now and then you watch one that makes you feel like you actually learned something from it and are a better person because of the experience.

And that's what a good film can do.

You can learn something about yourself, your place in this world, or even the world around you. Obviously it would be ridiculous to base every life decision based on a movie, but it's not absurd to notice certain life lessons from a film here and there and put them into practice.

So that's what I want to do. I'm going to channel my best William Miller and figure out how to cover something a little bit bigger than me for all of you; and find the movies and the moments that teach us how to act.

We've all read event coverage before but I want to do something a little different. I'm going to tell you the stories that I experience but let me know what you want to know.

There are some big time movies playing at the Festival this year that will be released nationally in the next few months. Do you want to get the inside scoop on those if you are unable to attend the Festival? Do you want to know about the smaller independent films?

In the immortal words of Jerry Maguire, help me help you.

I'll be back tomorrow with more logistical info on the Festival (dates, times, places, etc.). The festivities kick off this Thursday (the 12th) and run through Sunday, November 22nd.

Feel free to post your thoughts and suggestions below or you can email me at Can't wait to hear from you and let's get this thing started...

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