Have yourself a Merry Clayton — Day 1 FFF 2013

SunnyStefani Interviews Merry Clayton Opening Night of the FFF 2013

SunnyStefani Interviews Merry Clayton Opening Night of the FFF 2013

I’m exhausted

I normally have time to prep for staying up all night and getting no sleep during the Florida Film Festival. But this year with it being so close to the busy Easter holiday season where I’m the Office Administrator at Florida Dream Homes, it kind of just fell upon me. In previous years I’d look over the film guide and plan out all the movies I wanted to see. I didn’t do that this year, mainly because I’ve been so busy; but really because in the past two years I’d plan to see a film, get side tracked and end up at something else. So why not just wing it? Spending almost my four years in college focusing on production and editing, I’m always intrigued to see what each film festival I go to has to offer.

The opening night film of a festival really sets the tone for the whole thing, or at least it should. Since I wasn’t impressed with this years film, once again, I’m hoping that’s not the case.



Tonight’s films started off promising with a memorizing short film entitled Combustion. I’ve always been one to enjoy the beauty of a fire so this short was perfect. What started off with a simple campfire turned into a fiery music harmony. It was abstract and difficult to describe, but the photo to the left gives a good feel for the movie.

That lead us to this year’s opening night film, Twenty Feet from Stardom, which is about the life and experiences of back-up singers during the past 50 years. Although I find myself a little young to be listening to all the music from a generation ago, I’m still captivated because music holds a place in my heart, like it does for most people. The audience seemed to really enjoy the film (except for the gentleman behind me who was snoring rather loudly though almost the whole film.)

I always find myself just as confused at the beginning of a documentary as I do at the end because I keep asking, “Exactly what was I supposed to take out of that?” So here’s what I have . . . you need to perfect the gift you’re given. Throughout the whole film, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love and all the back-up singers expressed their passion and that there’s nothing more heavenly than a voice. People who sing together, come together.


Director Morgan Neville with singer Merry Clayton

During the opening speech, the president of the Florida Film Festival, Henry Maldonado told the audience to make sure and stay for the Q & A session that was going to happen. Being the opening night film, it could have only been with a director or someone from the film. We lucked out to not only be able to speak with the director, Morgan Neville, but one of the stars, Merry Clayton, as well. She even sang us a 6 minute song which we’ve uploaded for you to view in the event you couldn’t make it to the opening film. Please Enjoy:

As always, following the opening night film is the opening night party at the Enzian Theatre. Usually after working 9+ hours and viewing the first film of the FFF, I’m not overly excited to party. However, this year seemed to offer more food which I could eat. (Unlike people who have dietary restrictions or are vegetarians–like LanceAround–I don’t eat a lot of foods simply because I’m super picky.)


Yummy Cupcakes

This year, the FFF did not fail me. Ethos Vegan Kitchen based out of Orlando had amazing chocolate Oreo crème cupcakes that were to die for. Literally, with the whole tower they had, your arteries were just waiting to be clogged.

At the party, I was able to grab a quick interview with Merry. When I asked her if she was happy with the outcome of the film she replied, “Yes, it was wonderful.”

The Florida Film Festival has officially begun it’s 10 day course so make sure you don’t miss out on all the amazing films this year has to offer.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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