Life after MIFF…

To be perfectly honest, I quite enjoyed complaining to people about having to attend MIFF. No sleep, no food, too many films, I would whinge. Although, I didn’t really care! It’s all part of the fun and adventure! I’m used to working in the entertainment industry, so my stomach is already minute, and I have the fantastic ability to be able to happily manage my sleeping pattern. So I’m basically the perfect candidate for attending MIFF. The look on peoples faces when you tell them you’ve just been watching film after film after film as part of your university course is priceless. What a great life I lead! While others at uni are reading pages and pages on highly complicated and technical mumbo-jumble, doings tests, exams, projects, and all other kinds of hard work, I’m just sitting back at staring at the big screen. But now that MIFF is over, I have to say I’m pretty depressed. I can now imagine why people who make films spend so long just going on the festival circuit. It’s such an amazing atmosphere! The amount of times I had to run from venue to venue (as I booked continuous sessions – no time to waste!), wide eyed and ears ringing, scoffing down a no-doubt week old 7/11 meat pie, only to realise that there are another four or five sophisticated looking people behind me doing exactly the same thing! It was great to see all these stylish people eating complete and utter crap, just so they could make it from film to film. MIFF brings together a whole lot of things that I’ve never experienced before in the one event. It’s pretty much a military campaign. You have to plan well in order to survive! I spend hours and hours reading up on all the movies and wanted to see, and spend a huge amount of time designing my non-stop timetable. Unfortunately, the three weekends in which MIFF runs over coincide with my brothers and two of my closest friend’s birthdays, so I had to count out weekends from my schedule. Never-the-less, I still fitted in a lot of movies. Some of them were crap, but, hey, that’s the price you pay! One of the best things about this festival was that as there are seventy or so of us first year film and television students, there was always someone in the theatre or in the lines that you knew and you could chat to about what you’ve seen and what you will see. I was kind of selfish and anti-social in planning my schedule, as I just decided what films I wanted to watch, didn’t allow for any social time, and didn’t really plan to meet up with anyone specific. But, it worked out great, because I still got to meet up with heaps of friends in the short time between films. I also had some really interesting conversations with random people in the MIFF queues, about various films. I made a special effort to see a wide range of films, from local to international, comedy to action, animation to documentary. I also decided to see most of the documentaries, to give me a better idea of what sort of film I would like to make this year. I’ve never seen such a hugely wide variety of different films! It was fantastic! I feel so more educated in cinema, now that I’ve successfully survived MIFF. What’s scary though is that after reading an article in “The Pundit”, a free independent guide to the festival, I realised that I had become, what the author described as a “MIFF Zombie”. I had become one of those people who had “taken it too far”. The only conversations I was having were about films. The festival guide became my bible. I was one of those people who could be found “leafing painstakingly through the festival guide, looking confused” as I tried to work out what day it was, and what I had planned to see next. I was one of those people who “shovelled in food absently and ignored dining companions as I pondered what to see”. I reached the “second stage of zombification”, as I sent out a mass e-mail listing what films I was going to see, and noted that if people wanted to see me, you’ll find me in the appropriate cinema. As the author put it, “The mass e-mail is terrifying proof that MIFF zombies have lost all interest in any social plans that don’t involve seeing films”. Admittedly, I even reached the final stages of “infection” towards the end of the festival, as I was “stripped of all social skills beyond primitive mutterings about genre, auteurism and mise en scene”. But you know what, it was worth it. I quite liked being a temporary, MIFF zombie. I felt like I was part of something special. I felt as if I belonged to a group of likeminded “film geeks”, who survived off the love of cinema, McDonalds and train station vending machines for a couple of weeks. But, despite the fact I loved it, there were some moments which were tough. Catching the last train out of Flinders Street every night, changing at Ringwood station, and then driving home everyday was a struggle. It’s always packed of tired people who just want to get home. Friday nights are the worst however, when all the drunken idiots are coming home from the footy. I hate public transport at the best of times, so that was a bit of a struggle. Another thing that was challenging was staying awake to write a bit about the films I saw each night. The last thing you want to do after watching films all day, and catching the last train home is sit in front of a computer and attempt to type relevant notes! But I’m so glad I had the self discipline to do it. Reading back over my notes is the only way I can remember the vast amounts of films I saw. Also, writing at the early hours of the morning, when I was desperate to go to bed, means that everything I typed was straight from my head, giving a very accurate and honest view of what I thought of the film. Overall, I’m so glad I came to university, if only because it forced me to attend MIFF. It was such a terrific experience, and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

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