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March 27, 2007


Tom Hall

Wow... That is a CRAZY article. Never EVER go public with that stuff. ever ever ever,

The issue is; Festivals manufacture a process for handling all of this stuff and each one is different, but the staff often forget that when you're not buried in the process every day for six months, it's all new to you and arbitrary decisions made months in advance may or may not have a practical application when the festival starts running.

For example, here in Sarasota, our guests all like to stay on or near the ocean, but the Festival's HQ and screenings are all centrally located downtown, a 10 minute drive away. Events are also scattered, so our Guest Services Department knows in advance that we'll be working overtime with our drivers (with whom have a retention rate at about 90%) to get everyone to and from everything. Patience and understanding on both ends is always ideal, but a driver saying their shift is done and abandoning you and your bags miles from your hotel is beyond the pale.

To then alienate a guest for requesting proximity to the festival and events is crazy. Putting that in the newspaper is even worse, in my opinion. It's not like a guest knows about your sponsorship agreements or cares that the hotel you gave them is free one. They don't care that your driver is a volunteer; If you don't want to do the complete job, don't volunteer for it.

This stuff happens ALL THE TIME behind the scenes of every festival, but that is where it should stay. I know Cleveland is a great festival, so I doubt this will hurt them (nor should it undermine all of the terrific hard work they put in year round there), but I would be pissed if I worked there. This article helps no one.

See you when you get to sunny FL, AJ...

AJ Schnack


I think that what you wrote is right on. I will also add, from my perspective, that filmmakers sometimes forget that we are not the only people arriving on a certain day, or that ours is not the only screening going on at a particular moment. Sometimes we lose perspective, but again, (and perhaps this is because I come at it from this perspective) I feel like if you invite someone over, you have assumed a level of responsibility for their care.

Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks...

Rich Drees

YIKES! While it certainly makes for interesting reading (I'll admit to my voyeristic streak), I think that airing one's dirty laundry like that may ultimately come back to bite them on their ass.

BTW- I've noticed that ABOUT A SON is screening at the Philly Film Fest in a couple of weeks. Will you be attending?


Tom and AJ, I agree completely. However, I don't think the opposite is true, necessarily. I might consider "outing" the rude, inconsiderate and unprofessional film festival that you mentioned, AJ. The thing is, they are charging filmmakers money to apply, inviting filmmakers and, apparently, showing no level of hospitality whatsoever.

If, as AJ mentiones, the fest is just extremely stretched at that moment, then say something. Say: "I'm so sorry, but it will be about 30 minutes until we can get you to your hotel, why not have a drink on us and we'll get you there asap?" How hard is that?

However Tom, I think fest guests SHOULD care that the hotel is a comp one and that another hotel is not and that the drivers are volunteers. I know not everyone is going to be as magnanimous as Werner was last year, but moving from one hotel to another, apparently w/o notice is bad bahavior. Of course it shouldn't have been in print, either.

Hey, I would love to be on the beach in Sarasota, but I know how hard these things are to schedule, and to be honest, I'm not there to go body surfing, I'm there for a festival.

See you both soon!


Really interesting. I agree that if the staff had any control over the article, it was a poor decision to "out" the star. And let me say, running a much smaller fest for less time, I've had plenty of folks ask for car service to LAX.

That said, I believe in a certain amount of accountability for these situations. I've actually been wrestling with how public to be about a pair of filmmakers who were supposed to attend T/F, got wasted the night before their flight, and bailed completely, leaving us w/o guests, and stuck for a pair of plane tickets.

Your thoughts? Part of me really wants to warn other fests, etc. And part of me thinks that discretion is the better part of, well, not valor, but something.

Anyway, I'll see folks in Sarasota if Tom and Holly will hurry up and kick down that first class ticket I asked for . . .


Britta Erickson

Hey there,

I know, I never comment but I just had to on this one. Ron brought The Plain Dealer article back from Cleveland for me to read as he thought I might be amused.

Rather, I shuddered. In fact, it caused me to have a nightmare in which, over my morning coffee, much to my surprise, I was reading my own fest's "war stories" (all of them) on the front page of The Denver Post. Angry personal publicists and studio heads were calling me and screaming that I'd never work in the biz again and the fest could count on never getting another guest. Luckily, when I awoke from this nightmare and grabbed the paper, the front page coverage was about the Marine ban on lower-arm and leg tattoos. Phew (and, huh? but I digress).

I, like the rest of you, find it very surprising that a reputable and long-running fest like CIFF could have allowed such a p.r. blunder. In fact, as I read it a 2nd time in disbelief, I thought (and hoped) that maybe Magyar was in on it (some perverse media strategy perhaps)? But Mr. Rettenmund seems to debunk that theory.

BTW - AJ, since you have repeatedly demanded and since we are tired off hearing from your agent, we will put you at the Ritz with your own butler in November when you are here BUT you'll have to share the room with Rabbi. He snores (but please don't print that part, it's off the record).

AJ Schnack

Responding briefly to the Rabbi's thought that "fest guests SHOULD care that the hotel is a comp one and that another hotel is not". I completely agree, but must add a however. At Cleveland, guests were stabled at several different hotels of vastly different quality. And the hotel in question, the Renaissance, was one of the hotels where some guests were put up, so it's not out of the question that Derek Magyar thought that it was no big deal to switch to a closer hotel, particularly if he met other filmmakers that were staying there (or at the Ritz Carlton, which was also in the same complex).

Mark Rabinowitz

And how do you know that I snore, Ms. Erickson, hmmmmmm? But I digress....

AJ, I agree. However, we can all agree that a guest switching hotels w/o clearing it with guest services it just pretty much stupid, no?

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