Thursday, March 4, 2010

IFP Alum Kim Reed Blogs about PRODIGAL SON's opening day!

It’s hard to describe the anxiety surrounding the opening day of a film’s theatrical release. After three years of making PRODIGAL SONS, where so many elements are in your control, or at least within your ability to respond to surprises, on opening day there are so many things out of your control — the dark science of ads, the slippery impact of media coverage, the Wild West of reviews.

Then you wake up on opening day and look out the window to see the biggest snowflakes you’ve ever seen, and they’re piling up into the fourth largest snowstorm in New York City history.

It’s probably good that we didn’t know at the beginning how bad the storm would be. We had too much work to do, including many calls to Delta airlines to get my mother Carol and aunt Kathy, two subjects of PRODIGAL SONS, into town for the premiere and Q&A sessions.

We were reassured by a NY Times Critics’ Pick, a New York Magazine Critics’ Pick, and a glimpse at the script of At The Movies (the Ebert “Thumbs Up” show) that told us we’d get “See It!” exhortations from A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips. And Outreach Producer Pamela Cohn had lined up great opening day co-hosts (including IFP/Filmmaker Magazine!). But on opening day one becomes acutely aware of how hard it is to translate critical acclaim and community outreach into lines in front of the theater. We even had the surreal, unimaginable exposure of a full hour on the Oprah show behind us, but our producing team (comprised of Israel Ehrisman and Jason Evans) was still hitting the snowy ground the morning of opening day. We left postcards in high traffic spots, and tossed carpenters a ten dollar bill to let us hang posters in the windows of a business under construction.

The first Q&A I did was smack dab in the middle of the heaviest part of the storm, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in the turnout. Then I realized that I recognized two people in the tiny crowd — David Duchovny and Téa Leoni, and they were asking great questions, not to mention generous with their praise. PRODGIAL SONS is a very emotional and personal journey, and after a year and a half of festival circuit Q&As I’m used to the emotional, personal connections our film inspires. But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the intimacy of that first Q&A, during the heaviest part of the worst storm in the snowiest NYC February ever. This little Cinema Village snowglobe made for a nice microcosm of the documentary film world: a small percentage of discerning film lovers, harboring away from the noisy Hollywood Movie storm, riding someone else’s emotional rollercoaster for an hour and a half, then bonding with strangers over how they’ve all been moved. Moved. It’s such a wonderful idea, that we can walk into a cinema as one person, and walk out someone different. That’ll keep you trudging through the snow to hand postcards to strangers — who knows who might actually come to your next screening?

Kimberly Reed
Director/Producer, Prodigal Sons

How did the rest of opening day go? PRODIGAL SONS sold out the two opening night screenings, had a great Q&A session with Rick Moody (author of The Ice Storm), and got held over for a second week at Cinema Village. A national rollout starts this weekend, with San Francisco, Berkeley, and Seattle.
For more information visit
Upcoming screenings listed at

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