26 October 2011

AFF 2011: Day 0 -- I Have A Dream

Before I embark on what might well end up an aborted attempt to blog my way through a replay of my 2011 Austin Film Festival (AFF) experiences, I think I'll share a dream I had the night before the conference opened. It was Wednesday night, I'd already checked in and had my credentials and IDs and invites and such, had already had some beers in the Driskill, had already had multiple way-cool screenwriterly experiences as part of this year's conference, and already had good times catching up with far-flung friends whom I only get to see maybe once a year at this specific event. So by all rights, I was surely "in a good place," mentally speaking, right?

No, fair reader -- with my brain, no such assumption is ever safe or well-founded.

I doze off to cerveza-stoked slumber in the Stephen F Austin hotel, and somewhere between 4:30am and wakeup time around 7am, I had a dream.

I see the main Ballroom of the Driskill Hotel, the room where many of the biggest and most popular panels in the conference always get booked. It usually seats several hundred guests, but in the dream, it's empty, save for one chair set alone, by itself, in the middle of the huge quiet room.

I'm in the chair, in my cargo shorts and t-shirt, backpack hung from one knee, notepad on my other leg, as I wait to take notes.

On the stage... maybe a dozen panelists -- all the usual suspects of name writers who I've met at Austin and in most cases developed some slight relationship with. I recall seeing Dan Petrie, Terry Rossio, John August, Lawrence Kasdan, Craig Mazin, Shane Black, as well as maybe a half dozen other faces which now are just gray shadows in memory. They are all just sitting there in their tall director's chairs, look down at me well back in the huge room. Some have their arms crossed and have that stern not entirely pleased expression I recall from way too many "talks with the professor" in college.

I recall glancing at my watch in the dream, as if I am anxious about starting whatever it is which is supposed to be going on, and then Petrie leans forward to his microphone:

So, Brett... WHY are you still out there? Why
aren't you up here on this side of the mike?

I... I dunno.

It's not really a question of not knowing
something. We've told you -- all of us --
more than enough for you to figure this out.
What's the problem?

I... I dunno.

Jesus Christ, man. Just fucking do it,
already. Look around you!

I recall looking around the room, as instructed, and recall seeing a lot of open space and nobody else.

And then I wake up.

And I rub my eyes, and I mumble something like "thanks a lot, God. Hell of a dream to drop on me the night before the conference kicks off."

I'd offer that perhaps this last lament was perhaps heard, as I feel I was offered a "make up call" later in the conference, but offering details about that here would be *spoilers*.

Still. This dream struck me as a rather harsh and sadistic fantasy to hose into someone's subconscious at such an ostensibly propitious moment.

At the minimum, somebody owes me a damned fruit cup.

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