Long story short, in about a week's time, God had worked out all the details and I had my plane tickets to Orlando! I can't even tell you how huge this was for me. My heartfelt thanks go out to Rodney and Lori Marett, who run the festival, for making this experience possible.
Rodney, Lori, and my friend Nate
Okay, now to tell you about Gideon...
First of all, I flew into the wrong airport. Haha! In my defense, the airline that provided the cheapest flights from VA to Orlando only flew into Sanford International, and I didn't realize there were TWO international airports in Orlando. But once again, the Lord provided! A taxi was going to cost $80 to the hotel (about as much as my flight!), so I called a friend at the conference and he asked around to see if there was anyone with a car who could come and get me (32 miles away). No one could get away, so I put myself at the mercy of the nice taxi manager who had been so helpful to me, and right after I got settled in a taxi, my friend called back with good news. A lady had been sitting at his table and overheard my plight, and her husband was out getting supper with their little girl and would be able to drive down and pick me up. Yay! The taxi driver was very accommodating and let me back out (I kept apologizing - I felt so bad!).
When Mr. Davis came to pick me up, he asked me where I was from. The crazy thing? He lives 40 minutes away from me! He and his wife just started a community theater, and I came all the way to Florida to meet them! So even though I was feeling like a complete idiot for landing at the wrong airport and needing someone to pick me up, God was working in the details.
The next four days were amazing. Truth be told, I was sick in my room almost every morning (thanks to some health problems we're working on figuring out), but every afternoon I was able to go downstairs and talk to people and attend a few workshops, including:
How to Build Your Communication Platform - Gary Zelasko
Screenwriting: Maximum Emotion - Gary Voelker
The Virtual Audition - Katrina Cook
Marketing for the Actor - Jenn Gotzon
Gary Voelker teaching about maximum emotion in screenwriting
Saturday night, I attending the screening of "My Name is Paul," a feature film made by my friend Vanessa Ore and her husband Trey. I had a lot of friends who worked on this project and I was glad to finally see it! Great job, everyone!
Trey and Vanessa Ore doing a Q&A after the film
Sunday was the big day for me! At 4:00, we screened "Touched by Grace." I did a Q&A afterwards, which was a lot of fun! I enjoyed being able to answer questions and interact with the audience. I'm so thankful to everyone who came out and watched the film! (And honestly, I was just so excited to see it again because I've only seen it once in the two years since we filmed it, and that was 13 months ago.) Watch the recently released official trailer and get ready to buy your DVD on August 19!
My friends Allen and Grace drove down from Jacksonville to attend the screening!
Romans XIII reunion! (Sincerity, Jason, and Ariana)
Sunday night, I attended the late-night screening of "The War Within". Producer/co-writer/actor Gary Varvel did a Q&A afterwards. The film was incredible! It's no wonder it won 4 awards at the Christian Worldview Film Festival in March. I've never seen a Christian film like it. DVDs will be available on August 19 (the same day as Touched by Grace)! Meanwhile, I urge you to watch the trailer.
I didn't get any pictures on Monday, so we'll fast-forward to Tuesday...
Brazilian actor/writer/producer Regis Terencio
Christina Lee Storm gave the keynote address at the awards ceremony. Christina is an international independent producer who has collaborated with filmmakers from around the world. She was Production Supervisor for the highly acclaimed, 2012 Oscar-winning film The Artist. Currently, Christina is Executive Director of Act One, Inc. where she provides leadership and vision for the 15 year faith-based, innovative training and incubator for writers and producers in film, television, and digital media.
My new friend David Helling won the best screenplay award for "In the Beginning"!
After the awards ceremony, I managed to get pictures with most of my friends...
Casting Director Katrina Cook, of KatzKasting
Actor/Comedian/Writer Torry Martin (My Name is Paul, Skid)
Producer/writer and editorial cartoonist Gary Varvel (The War Within)
Actress Francine Locke (Stand Your Ground)
Director Gary Voelker (coming down to "my level", haha!)
Actress Jenn Gotzon (Alone Yet Not Alone, Doonby, God's Country, etc.)
Actor/director/writer Nathan Jacobson (Wanted, Polycarp, Princess Cut)
Producer Del Baron (Adrenaline)
Gideon president, Isaac Hernandez
Tuesday night was so bittersweet. It was hard to say goodbye and realize that the festival had come to an end. I am so thankful for all the connections I was able to make in my short time there. I was even able to start outlining a new feature film with Nate, my collaborative writing partner, during some down-time. What a blessing to spend time with old friends, meet new friends, learn from the workshops, swap story ideas, watch films, and enjoy the sweet fellowship of other believers who are passionate about making films that honor the Lord. I truly hope I will be able to attend Gideon again next year, and I encourage all of you to do the same!