This past Friday we screened our documentary, American Wine Story, for some of the film’s subjects. It was bit of a nail biter as you always wonder how folks are going to react, especially to a film that’s largely about them. The reception was very enthusiastic. This is an inspirational flick about the American Dream in a bottle, not a hatchet job, so the folks involved were bound to enjoy the fact as they’re being positioned in a somewhat favorable light. Now the question remains: how will outside audiences respond? If we take it beyond wine people will the audience find something to pull them into the story?
So while the test screening audience may have been to folks who are already in our corner, it still is great that they responded so well. After all, this is their lives, and there was some worry that we’d do a less than professional job with the story. The fact that they want to see the film travel far and wide is an excellent sign.
There are lots of cuts ahead, and more test screenings as we prep for festivals and take our shot at distribution, but a major threshold has been crossed: getting it to the point where we can show it to someone outside our crew.
One thing about making a documentary is that you get so attached to every shot that it becomes a bit like a home movie. You can watch your own vacation photos for hours while the same experience with the same images would put most other folks to sleep.
Still, with the aerial shots from Slipstream Cinema and Kegan, Justin and Truen’s visual craftsmanship, we know that the film looks good. And with an inspiring cast of accomplished folks opening their lives to share stories of their success or struggles, we’ve got a lot going for us. Now it comes down to the storytelling and the distilling of 100 hours worth of interviews into 90 minutes of feature film. And along the way I’m learning quite a bit about this strange, wonderful and messy form of storytelling. A documentary film is like several tons of drift log that gets hauled in, dried out and whittled down to it’s tiny and essential spine, a sampling of that marrow that is just enough to hint at the weight of that great mass that was once dragged along by the tides. The only question now is if I’ve found the true heart of the story, or if it still lies out there in the mass of discarded shavings.
Okay, maybe the metaphor is starting to ramble on a bit too long. In any case, there’s still a whole lot more to do on this project, but before too much longer we’ll be out combing the beach for more logs. Or somesuch.
Anyway, here’s the trailer: