an irresponsible jury
The Gimli Film Fest Pitch Contest was a great experience, but giving $10,000 to a pair of barely legal youngsters was frankly foolish. You can see a mix of excitement, bewilderment, and terror in the various photos from the event, and from the shoot following. In the pitch I remember saying "I hope to look back on today as the day that we pulled ourselves up a notch" and thinking that it would be hyperbole. It was not, in any way, hyperbolic.
That pitch contest funding snowballed into way more money than we knew what to do with. More people were on set than I'd ever had, there was more at stake, and the cheques I was writing were for numbers I would faint at if it was personal funds. Looking at the before and after photos it looks like we were strapped into that life-sucking machine from The Princess Bride. From optimistic youngsters to world-weary travelers, back from war.
That said, this movie is the reason I dropped out of film school. It was the best education I could've hoped for. A lot has happened since then but most, if not all, can be traced back to The Debut.