Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Movie Event Rated 'A Huge, Huge Success'; the Buzz among Budding Filmmakers Is That Jacksonville Is the Place to Be -- Pampered

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Movie Event Rated 'A Huge, Huge Success'; the Buzz among Budding Filmmakers Is That Jacksonville Is the Place to Be -- Pampered

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, The Times-Union

It's the fountain of chocolate at the Saturday night gala that sticks in filmmaker Tennyson Bardwell's mind. Bardwell, whose comedy-drama, Dorian Blues, was a big hit at the Jacksonville Film Festival, e-mailed several of his friends the next morning, extolling the wonders of that fountain of chocolate.

For his wife, Mary-Beth, executive producer of the movie, it was the white stretch limo that picked up the Bardwells -- and their three children -- at the airport.

"I was saying: 'Kids, kids, get in the picture. Get in front of the limo!' I didn't care how dumb I looked," she said.

It's just part of the attention lavished on the filmmakers who come to the film festival, which ended Sunday after a series of sell-outs and crowds far bigger than last year's first festival. "It was a huge, huge success," said co-director Sharon Cobb.

For audiences, the festival was a chance to meet filmmakers such as the Bardwells. For the filmmakers, it's a reward for years of work.

The Bardwells said they were pampered, driven around, taken to parties and put up in the Omni Hotel. The festival even arranged a baby-sitter for their children, a 7-year-old and 3-year-old twins. Their film was shown before appreciative audiences full of praise for them.

"You feel like a rock star, really," said their movie's editor and co-producer, Ann Marie Lizzi, who came to Jacksonville as well.

"We're all Quentin Tarantinos here," said Bardwell. "People might get used to this eventually. But I can't see that happening to me."

The Bardwells are a friendly, down-to-earth couple in their 40s (he's 44, she's 41) from upstate New York. For them, being feted like this is all new -- and a long time in coming.

He'd never made a film -- not so much as a short -- before, so the couple worked for three years juggling their children and raising enough money to make Dorian Blues, on the strength of their perseverance and his screenplay. …

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