Approximately a billion people lined up [see photo below] outside Telluride Colorado’s Michael D. Palm Theater for the premiere of Red Gold, a venue that seats only 600. Needless to say, hundreds were turned away. With the quarter million dollar HD projector warming up in the booth, Mountainfilm’s festival security staff opened the doors and began confiscating weapons and real estate licenses. My eyes widened the moment the film filled the screen. Seeing it bigger than life amongst a standing room only crowd was the moment I had tossed and turned over for months. I gave Travis a squeeze on the leg that probably summed up about twenty emotions in one gesture. A solid year of our work had been compressed into 54 minutes. Short of a freak projector explosion, it was finally time for some hot Red Gold action.
To see a crowd of that size sit still, for that long, without so much as a fidget and gaze upon what you’ve poured your heart into was a humbling experience. When the credits rolled the applause began. It felt like it lasted forever. Festival Director David Holbrooke invited Travis and I onto stage after the last credit had passed and something happened that I didn’t anticipate at all. My heart broke as I walked down the dimly lit aisle with Travis and realized every person in the theater was on their feet. A standing ovation with an energy that left me trembling. I held my hand against my eyes, trying to hold back the tears and peeked through my fingers at the crowd. My arms and hands were tingling. This was one of those moments that will probably define my life I think. No matter what happens next I’ll always have this memory. This was the best night of my life. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, I remembered that my Dad was there.
Two days later, after another sold-out showing, Red Gold won the Mountainfilm Festival’s Audience Choice Award and the Festival Directors Award. I hadn’t been thinking about what I’d say if we actually won something, so my portion of the acceptance speech was a gaping hole of things not said. All I remember saying was that Red Gold was the most important thing I’ve ever done. I guess that sums it up well enough. The Telluride Mountainfilm Festival is the reason I picked up a video camera and started editing in the first place. The impassioned people who gather here and share the work they create is the single most inspirational thing I can imagine. I used to be a “slide projector bitch” for Mountainfilm so I could get a free pass and meet my hero still photographers. For 13 years Mountainfilm has drilled into my head how powerful photographs and documentaries can be. Winning those awards has blown my mind. I really can’t believe they’re sitting here in my room.