The Jacksonville, Florida film festival director Elizabeth Lawrence and Ashley Mclaughlin were just about the coolest hosts ever. I can’t even begin to say how kind and thoughtful and generous they were to the visiting filmmakers. I have read that small film festivals can be rewarding because you have an opportunity to make friends. It was so true. First they invite us to this great place for dinner and we all get a chance to get to know one another and they refuse to let us filmmakers pay for anything. Since Melanie Shatzky lives in Canada we can be considered an international group of filmmakers and we felt very international – like royalty. This is how it started and it just kept getting better and better and the conversations flowed as we connected about filmmaking and photography.
Jacksonville was affected by Hurricane Erma and Ashley had been boiling water in preparation for our visit. Luckily the power was restored right before my arrival. I saw some of the damage but most of the focus was on the films and filmmakers. Melanie, Michael and I all stayed with Ashley and her boyfriend and so we had a chance to bond over morning coffee and late night film discussions. It was really special. For once the pace allowed for me to see the other filmmakers films and that deepened the connection for me. The small intimate size of the festival really made it special. Other festivals have not produced the real friendships that happened in Jacksonville. Thanks Elizabeth and Ashley!