FFF Day 7 Disney and Number One Daughter


Number One Daughter is in for a Rough Night

2:30pm The Bad News
I had to skip the FFF on Day 6 to attend a benefit for a dear six year friend from the Montessori School who was diagnosed with a brain tumor six months ago. Please include him in your thoughts. I will tell you about him in a later post.

Today is Day 7 and I pick up Number One Daughter a half hour early from the Montessori School so she can assist me, once again, at the FFF. She is furious. There is nothing worse than being dragged to the FFF and forced to be a pack mule with the computer, cameras, clipboard and business cards. There is no way she is going to have fun tonight.

4:00pm Up First–Shorts
“Shorts Program 3: Smolder”

“Ana’s Playground” is a chilling portrayal of children playing in war torn city surrounded by gunfire. Annoying use of handheld and sophomoric ending makes this short unbearable. Poor Number One Daughter.

“The One Last Time”–am I just in a bad mood or are the films today just pointless? Bank heist by “Wizard of Oz” characters thwarted by “superhero robbers.“ The ending was ridiculous. Number One Daughter says she liked it until the shooting started. Oops, did I just spoil the ending? No worries, you’ll want to skip this one.

“Daughters” is a tale of arranged marriages and population restrictions laws creating disharmony in a rural Chinese family. Depressing and beautifully filmed. The first good film of this shorts selection.

“Cigarette Candy” Depressing, well made film that brings home the realities of war. Emotional and disturbing. This one’s real. Things are picking up.

“Waiting Room” is a black & white dark thriller. The attempts to capture a mood made it a little difficult to follow the action. It was a 5 minute movie stuck in a nine minute film. Things go back down.

“Love Bug” is a wonderful, charming and sweet short that captures the bumblings of one’s first true love. Number One Daughter says it’s a cute little short that has you awaiting an answer,” as she smiles for the first time.

“Tired of Being Funny” is a very well acted, heart wrenching portrayal of dealing with the emotional impact of Alzheimer’s and family memories. Would have been powerful as a 10 minute short, was really starting to drag in a 30 minute film.

As the shorts program comes to a close, there’s a brief Q & A with the filmmakers from “Waiting Room.” This is Katharine O’brien’s second film while studying at Columbia University. She was influenced by “Dark Crystal” and “Twilight Zone” episodes. “I’ve always been interested in aging,” she announces. [At this point, I had posted a photo of Katharine and Ellyn during the Q&A. However in June 2015 Katharine emailed and asked me to remove the photo. Since it was not a particularly flattering photo, I was happy to comply with her request.]

Ellyn Stern, the lead from the movie, spoke of the difficulties of being an aging woman in film.

5:45 Anticipating “Waking Sleeping Beauty“
As we leave the theatre, we are warned by the House Manager that the next movie is almost sold out and we might not be allowed in the theatre. There is a long line around the corner so we decide to interview people. The upcoming film is a documentary that chronicles the rebirth of Disney animation from the lows of the 1980’s when the entire department was kicked out of the animation building in the Disney Studio to the phenomenal success that is “The Lion King.” In this Disney infested community of Central Florida, I suspected this film would be big.

“I’m a film fan and I’m a Disney fan. I write for ‘Celebration Magazine’,” states Glenn Whelan, referring to a magazine for the Disney created town of Celebration, FL.

“I am new to film and I don’t want to be interviewed,” responds Hayley S. who is in the 7th grade. “I’m the one who’s taking mom to see this movie,” she goes on. I get permission to quote her while mom’s the one who made sure she didn’t give her last name. If you read this, Hayley, please write me a comment to let me know how it feels to have your name on a blog. And be sure to NOT put your last name on your comment! (Better check with mom before you hit “send.”)

Ryan Elliott was pretty far back in the queue. “I’m a big Disney fan. I’ve been wanting to see this movie for quite awhile. I heard about it through Apple trailer. I’m a big fan of 2D animation and Disney renaissance–the period of time where Disney hit a rough stage and made it though.” He’s from Lakeland, FL and drove an hour and half just for this film. He brought his dad and a friend named Byron to watch the movie with him.

Jennifer Dorsman, the girl with creatively purple hair (who wanted me to identify her as the girl with the beautiful smile instead of the hair–but you can see the hair all the way from the front of the line!) says, “One of the sponsors [of the FFF] is Deeb Studios who did the ‘vegetable film,’ the 30 second FFF promo that plays before each film. I am an associate.” She goes on to say she has only seen “Cleanflix” and “Watermelon Man.” “I really enjoyed them, they sparked quite a conversation–it was almost an argument–with Kupfer” (This is the guy who did the music for the 30 second promo and is standing next to her but seems confused that he would argue with the purple headed woman who says she has a beautiful smile.)

Nancy Heaton was almost at the end of the line. (She corrects me and insists she‘s closer to the middle–wishful thinking, Nancy!) “It [the movie] seems interesting. I have a lot of friends that work at Disney. It’s a curious thing to see what’s going on. What happened. It’s interesting.”

Tony, Audrey, Jennifer and Hugo are together. All of them, except Audrey, have worked for Disney Animation. Although they worked in Florida, this film is from California. Audrey sold comic books–Yes, some of them to the other three. They seem a little giddy with excitement about seeing this film.

“This is one of the busiest films so far,” confirms the House Manager.

By now there’s a large group of volunteers hovering around the theatre hoping to gain admittance. The rule at the FFF is that Press and Volunteers can only enter a movie once all platinum pass holders and paying patrons have gone in. Often, there is plenty of room for them. But there is a nervous energy as people are anticipating they might not get in. At 6:02pm there were only 11 tickets left and a standby line was beginning to form. The movie starts at 6:30pm. The theatre is packed. At the last minute, the House Manager gives us permission to enter and Number One Daughter and I find seats in the very first row of the theatre. I can feel the enthusiasm beginning to rise in Number One Daughter. Is it possible she’s starting to have a good time? With her father (uh, oops) with her LanceAroundOrlando co-worker?

The mood is electric.

Reactions to “Waking Sleeping Beauty”
86 minutes later, I sit and contemplate what I just saw.

I cannot be objective about this film. I suspect that if I did not live in Central Florida with the knowledge and closeness of Disney, I would have found this film only mildly amusing and a little boring. However, like most of the audience, I was aware of the story and enthralled by the background information. I laughed, clapped and even teared along with the rest of them.

Number One Daughter was having a great time. “A captivating movie of the drama behind the cute animated movies of Disney,” she says. “You cannot watch this movie without crying first, and having the need to watch a Disney movie afterwards. If you do not, then you are a heartless person–because this move speaks directly to it,” she continues. Inside my heart, I am ecstatic that she is having such a good time. (I love you, Amber!)

We check in with some of the patrons who saw this film.

“That’s the only film that made me cry during this entire festival. As a 30 year Disney Cast Member it touched me on a level I didn’t know I had,” says Jeff Johnson who is obviously very moved. “It was exceptional and objective documentary filmmaking.” He pauses for a moment, then requests I do not quote him further. He allows me to summarize by saying he was touched by the truth in the film.

“It was very, very good,” chimed an anonymous movie goer, as he strode past.

“I loved it. I was actually an animator at the Burbank Studio,” says Broose Johnson. I ask him how accurate it was. “Very, very accurate. I know Don Hahn and Peter Schneider personally. They were very interested in telling the real story–the good and the bad. I was rank and file at that time. I recall watching some behind the scenes stuff in ‘The Lion King’ and I remember thinking, ‘wow, Jeffery’s really promoting himself in a way we hadn’t seen before’,” he muses. I ask him if he was in the movie. “Yes, there was one very fast shot of me making a face in the mirror. Very quickly.”

8:15pm Number One Daughter Begins to Chatter
By now, it’s clear that Number One Daughter has turned completely around. We drive the 1.5 miles from the Regal Cinema to the Enzian in preparation for the 9:45pm showing of “Dumbstruck.” She is chatting away about how much she enjoyed “Waking Sleeping Beauty.”

As we sit at the Eden Bar and I finish this post, she quietly draws animated characters–ones that may show up in a documentary 40 years from now about the second renaissance of Disney animation.

I quietly smile to myself, lean over and give her a kiss on the forehead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: