The Minneapolis Underground Film Festival

In July, I finally received the final version of my short film, Smile, Baby. Once I had the final film, I submitted it to several film festivals and created an IMDb page for it.

Then I waited to hear back from the film festivals. I knew that my chances of getting into all five of the festivals that I had submitted to were low, and I was expecting that the first news I heard from any of them would be that my passion project was rejected.

At the end of August, I was surprised to see that I had received a message from the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival. I was expecting to read something like, “Thank you for submitting your film. Unfortunately, we cannot accept it at this time.” Instead, I learned that the festival had accepted Smile, Baby and the film would be screened in early October!

I received the message on Monday and I had to get all of the materials–on set photos, a director’s statement, a screening version of the film–sent to them by Friday. It was a bit of a scramble, as I was working both jobs and preparing to write for the 48 Hour Film Festival that Friday, but I managed to get everything ready and sent it to them in time.

Eventually, they sent me the schedule for the festival, and since it coincided with my day off from work, I decided to drive up for it. Seeing as it was the world premiere for Smile, Baby as well, I figured it would be strange to not be there.

The day before the screening, I drove up to the Twin Cities after work. I stayed with my sister in St. Paul (thanks, JB) and the next day we headed over to the St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis. The theatre is in a cool, historic part of town, just across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis.

The St. Anthony Main Theatre

The St. Anthony Main Theatre

Excited and nervous

Inside, we got our tickets and went upstairs, where I grabbed some programs and posed for a red carpet photo.

 Posing on the red carpet!

Posing on the red carpet!

At my insistence, we had arrived extra early, and at first, my sister, her boyfriend, and I were the only ones there. Shortly before the program started, a few more people showed up. The festival organizer opened up the theatre and we went inside. A couple more people showed up. We all made up an audience of seven people, or eight, including the festival organizer in the projection booth.

Smile, Baby was the second film in the program of shorts, and as soon as it started, I got nervous. Even though the audience was small, it always makes me nervous to share my work, ultimately because I worry that no one will like it or understand the message. Of course, I’m still proud of my work and I think that Smile, Baby is a solid film. After it played, I was able to relax again and enjoy the rest of the films. Some had strong messages, others were funny, some needed a little more development, but they all had some redeeming qualities.

After my film program, I didn’t have any plans aside from driving home, so I hung around the theatre for a bit. The next showing was a documentary, and I was one of two people in the audience, which made me feel a little better about the audience that Smile, Baby got. After the documentary, I hung around again and struck up a conversation with the other audience member. She had a short film that was in the next program, and she had travelled from Chicago to see it. That made me feel better about driving up for one night. Alex, my new friend and I, posed for a red carpet photo together and then headed back into the theatre.


Filmmaker Alex Heller and me

After that screening, I bid Alex farewell and headed home.

Even though I was only there for a short time, and the audience for my film was small, I am really happy that I got accepted into this festival and that Smile, Baby has officially been released to an audience. Going to the festival and posing on the red carpet made me feel like a legitimate filmmaker.

Check back for screening updates. This is only the beginning of Smile, Baby‘s festival run!