Businesstime commenced in Rotterdam the day after Thanksgiving. A city of about 600k people located an hour away--by train--from Amsterdam.
Black Soil had promised a hotel room for the weekend at the five-star Westin downtown. Philip, one of the fest's two lead organizers--greeted me and promptly whisked me off to do a radio interview. The host of the show was very professional. Explained that the interview would be conducted mostly in Dutch and that Philip could translate for me. I nodded and cleared my throat just as the red "On-Air" light came alive.
I don't speak Dutch. So I have no idea what questions she initially floated out into the ether. Or how Philip responded. Suddenly, she made eye contact with me and started asking basic questions about the subject of my film and how it was made. In English, thankfully. I blathered on--as I usually do--struggling to spit out soundbytes laced minimally with American colloquialisms. No translation seemed to be necessary. She and Phillip then resumed their Dutch exchange. The red light died for a moment. And we all exhaled, reclining into the backs of our chairs.
The Dutch, by and large, speak both Dutch and English. The latter with a marvelous depth and nuance. Apart from the accent, communicating with them is extremely easy.
The Red Light (LINK IS NWS.) came alive again. More Dutch. Interrupted by my own crude English. Dutch again. Then a softball question about my first impressions of Rotterdam. I remarked that I really admired the graffiti art which decorated the otherwise unused canvases along the trainline. The host grimaced and started taking the piss outta me. We all had a good laugh. Philip and I made the last plugs for the fest and my screening. Said goodbye and set out for next.
Next included meeting Sasha from Black soil and the crew from South Coast—another film screening at the fest. It tells the story of the hip hop scene in Brighton, England. Next also included linking up with Kevin from Freestyle. The definitive emcee movie. And next included watching an 8-hour loop of hip hop films.
(BTW...Kevin and I had the most interesting introduction of ever. Each of us—lying in our own double bed—woke to a ringing phone and the faces of people we only previously knew via email. Each with a hangover and jetlag. Instant comrades in art were we.)
In between, the group told a lot of stories, traded jokes, bonded over our artistic successes and failures. More tribe building than network building. But, as you’ll see tomorrow, the tribe yields similar benefits.
Eventually, we arrived at the moment when my movie screened. Just prior to the lights going down, I felt a great jolt of nervous energy. As if I was about to be completely disrobed for my new tribe to examine all of my bits.
And, really, I was. I own a copy of Freestyle. Which I dig immensely. South Coast—which screened before the okaymentary—is an especially dope, likable and well-made film. So, I found myself among peers—who had become friends—awed and a bit concerned that I would be unable to call myself a creative equal.
I think that’s called performance anxiety.
After the lights did go down, my film began rolling. The audience laughed where they were supposed to laugh. Remained tensely still during the dramatic moments. And all had positive things to say about the film. Rather, the story.
Where I had been concerned with the production value of the movie, the story became the thing the audience was most concerned with. After the last credit rolled, questions focused on the people who appeared onscreen and the experience of using the internet as a social tool—which has been by far the most common reaction to the movie. It seems to make people think about a behaviour that is second nature to them, yet is rarely contemplated at any length by those who engage in it most actively and most matter-of-factly.
My new tribe all slapped their congratulations on my back. We sat in a café and I picked brains for how to improve the film, what ways it could be promoted and the most sound methods of distribution.
Then there was a party. An after party. And an after after party.
I stayed fully clothed the whole time.
Off to London for two days.