Last year, the girlfriend and I attended the 8th Annual Flyway Film Festival, after learning one of my favorite independent actors/writers/directors, Christopher Soren Kelly (of Ink, The Frame, Chasseur) had a short film (Monkeys) submitted to the event. It was the first time we had heard of the film festival, there seem to be so many these days, and luckily it was only about an hour and a half away near Red Wing, MN (technically Pepin, WI)... In case I've never fully divulged where I live (I never keep track).

Being we were completely oblivious to the film festival beforehand, we were also unaware of the Kickoff Gala at Pepin's Villa Bellezza Winery, which is a beautiful location to host the event. While I was lamentive about that, I was just thankful for the fact that we made it out there to begin with, catching Monkeys — a feature of the festival's Late Night Short Films, which I did a brief review on (not my best, but I tried).

If I thought my anxiety about whether or not we should go to the event was bad, I wasn't prepared for how hardcore it would kick in when the opportunity to meet and greet Christopher Soren Kelly and his IRL partner (and Monkeys castmate) Jessica Graham presented itself. I was hitting fight or flight levels. I'm not exactly sure who I would have got into a tussle with, but I was sure as shit ready to bolt out the door! With some gentle coaxing from the girlfriend, I eventually managed to muster up enough courage to talk to the couple.

It was an amazing experience! Chris was kind enough to take a picture with me after we briefly talked about one of his upcoming projects, The Tangle. I had hoped to talk with Jessica more, and take a picture with her as well, but she had since been distracted elsewhere and socalizing with others. Despite an offer to continue discussions at an after party, the girlfriend and I declined being we had a long drive a head of us.

I distinctively remember worrying about various things on that drive home: Should I have gone to the after party to talk with them more? Was the invite merely a courtesy thing? Who cares, when would an opportunity like this ever come up again?! Did I offend Chris by bringing up certain aspects of Monkeys that I felt may have been inspired by his previous works?! I could go on and on and on...

Regardless of my ability to constantly dig myself into a bottomless pit full of regrets and "what if" scenarios, our time at the Flyway Film Festival was a blast! There were many great films, each having their own unique style and appeal (even the "odd" ones), and it was a shame we could only make the one night.

When I was trying to think of what my "F" post for I, Jak should be, my girlfriend blurted out the festival. What a great idea! It's definitely something I want to attend again, maybe even catch the Kickoff Gala! After a quick search, we discovered that the dates for Flyway Film Festival 9 have been announced and submissions were open. We are pretty stoked!

And you never know who may have their submissions selected!

Have you ever attended the Flyway Film Festival or any other film festival? If so, which and how was your experience? Do you have a favorite actor, writer, and/or director? Have you ever participated in a Q&A and/or Meet & Greet session with an individual(s) whose work you were a fan of?