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I love road trips, so the 10 hour drive to the Grand Rapids Film Festival wasn’t bad. I loaded up my iPhone with some of my favorite tunes, hit the road at 6AM, and rolled into Grand Rapids about 4:00.
Shortly after my arrival, I drove over to the Celebration Cinema to check in and pick up my filmmaker packet. This is where the story turns into a “little did he know”. My excitement quickly waned as the Festival representative shuffled through the filmmaker packets several times and came up empty handed. It was like being in a fast food drive-thru and being asked to “pull forward” while other people race by with burgers in hand. I’m not sure what the cause was, but for some reason my packet wasn’t there. The rep asked me to check back later. After a 10 hour drive, this was not exactly the experience I was hoping for. Just picture me standing there in a crowd of filmmakers receiving their packets …. “No .. but for real …. I am the producer and director … really … LOL …”
So, I found a quiet room and took a nap for about an hour. My packet never arrived. The festival rep reassured me the packet would be available tomorrow but that I could go in and enjoy the festival without the magic packet … So I did.
The Festival kicked off at 7PM with a pretty swanky welcoming reception in the lobby of the Celebration Cinema. I spent some time enjoying some food, and discussion with fellow filmmakers and wrapped the opening event with a premiere of a movie called ‘The Genesis Code’.
After the festival events I drove over to a “friend of a friend’s” where I am staying while I am in GR. We sat on the front porch talking late into the night about film, Guatemala and creative endeavors … great discussion and a wonderful end to a long day … I now consider Paul a friend without the middleman and am thankful for his family’s hospitality.
I really do love road trips. The great thing about a journey is not the destination, but the experience along the way. Upon further reflection, I have decided that this was an absolute perfect way to start my first film festival – not just the great discussion at the end of the day, but also the awkward and somewhat humiliating experience that happened earlier in the day with the “missing packet incident”. I’m not a glutton for punishment. I don’t enjoy being humiliated. But, this was a perfect reminder that this isn’t about me. It’s not about putting me in the spotlight. Its about something bigger than me, something I could never dream or do on my own … A road trip planned by someone with a much better map than me.

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