Many things leading up to the Joedance Film Festival were the same as years previous, despite the new virtual platform in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. We judged and selected the films. We stressed over the viewing schedule for the three days. We ran promotional material and participated in interviews and sent out press releases.
We had planning meeting after planning meeting.
We sold tickets.
Business as usual.
Despite the familiarity of the work, however, it was unnerving doing it during lockdown. Trying to keep the familial, community-based feel of the festival alive and thriving on a virtual platform is some sort of new, bizarre oxymoron. The juxtaposition of these two ideas was like trying to hang something upside. I found myself stuck on this point while recording my welcome speech I give at the opening of the festival every year.
I had to set myself up in our family room, which doubles as my office and my husband’s closet (he knew my problem with buying shoes when he married me; he should not expect that to change just because we downsized to a smaller apartment). I had to prop my laptop up on some books and take the video on armrest of my couch cause for some strange reason I decided that was the best place to make the video.
It took me forty-five minutes to record a two-minute speech. A good chunk of that was just me trying to get good lighting and trying to figure out which a side was my good one. How do people know their good side? What in their life had led to the necessity of that information? Did I miss a lesson on this at some point in the past?
It took me five attempts to make a usable version of the video.
The first one, I kept trying to figure out why I was having such a hard time reading my speech that I finally just gave up. Only then did I realize that I wasn’t wearing my glasses and in my scatter-brained state I hadn’t put in my contacts. The only good thing from that moment was being glad I wasn’t going completely blind just yet.
The second take failed cause my hair wouldn’t cooperate. That was it. That was the only reason. I was recording, and I couldn’t stop staring at the strand of hair twirling away from my head. Like it had decided it was done with this and ready for a drink. I didn’t disagree, but I needed it to fall back in line.
The third take went really well, I thought, until I played it back. Did I always do that flappy thing with my hands? Like those pigeons in the park that flutter their wings when you get too close but don’t ever actually take off from the ground. Just announcing, ‘I’m here! This is my space!’
The fourth take I didn’t even say a word. I simply stared past the green light of the camera and looked at where, on any other year, there would have been a crowd of people. I thought of how strange it was to be speaking to people who weren’t there about my son who was no longer here as well. A speech to ghosts about a ghost. A ghost Ted Talk. A Caspar Chat? I snorted at the absurdity of it all.
On the fifth take, I sat up straight, spoke clearly, and got it done.
Sometimes that’s all you can do…
Diane Restaino, Joe’s Mom | Joedance Founder & President