We had a whirlwind trip up to Washington, DC, for the world premiere of High Heels & Hoodoo at the DC Shorts Film Festival. Our sister Joanna – paparazza, cheerleader, and nerves-calmer – joined us for the road trip. Although we’ve made the trip up I-95 many times, we had never stopped at the super cheesy South of the Border before, so we decided to take our first pit stop there. We couldn’t believe it when we pulled in and spotted this giant high heel – what a positive sign for our adventure!

Huge High Heel

Once we arrived in DC late Thursday afternoon, we jumped right into festival mode with a Filmmaker/VIP reception at the Gibson Guitar showcase. It was a low-key event, so we didn’t have to shout over music to talk to people, and we ended up meeting filmmakers from Sweden, Norway, Venezuela, and all over the US. It was fun to chat with so many fellow filmmakers about their adventures making their shorts.  

Friday was a full day of workshops packed with helpful information: from finding grant money to casting to behind-the-scenes secrets of festivals to making the jump from shorts to features. By the end of the day, our heads were spinning, but it gave us a lot of ideas for how to proceed with future projects. We also managed to fit in a lunch with Brian’s best childhood friend even though she was so pregnant she had her baby the very next day – congrats Emilie

On Friday night, we attended the City View Party, which was held on a rooftop with gorgeous views of DC. As the party was winding down, Jon Gann (the director of the DC Shorts Fest) spontaneously invited the remaining filmmakers to his apartment for an after-party. One of the highlights of the festival was meeting Jon – the passion he has for short films and supporting filmmakers is inspiring. And this spur-of-the-moment party with filmmakers jammed into his apartment and talking shop was the embodiment of Jon’s generous spirit that makes the DC Shorts Fest such a success. Here’s us with Jon and our pink high heel mascot.

Brian Rish, Jon Gann, Jocelyn Rish at DC Shorts Film Fest

Saturday was finally our big day – High Heels & Hoodoo was scheduled to screen at four at the US Naval Memorial. It was another good omen that we were screening there, since both our dad and our grandfather were in the Navy. We were also lucky to have more friends in town to help distract us from our nerves. Jocelyn’s best friend from high school came out to support us, as well as one of Brian’s close friends from college (who also came to the world premiere of Saying Goodbye). Thank you so much to Jill and Tori for the support! 

It seems to be a tradition to rain at our world premieres, and the torrential downpour started right before our screening. We even noticed a strange “tick-tick-tick” noise during our screening block, which turned out to be water dripping from a leak in the roof onto the stage in front of the movie screen. Now that’s some serious rain! So thank you to all the audience members who braved the rain to attend our block of films! 

Jocelyn Rish and Brian Rish in front of Washington MonumentDespite the damp conditions, our screening went extremely well. People laughed in all the expected places, and we heard a number of gasps at the end (which means at least some people understood the ending – thank goodness), and they burst into enthusiastic applause right after, which made us heave huge sighs of relief. Seven other films screened with High Heels & Hoodoo – an interesting mix of comedy, suspense, drama, and a documentary – and there were representatives from two of the other films on stage with us for the Q&A at the end. It was interesting comparing notes with the other filmmakers in response to the audience questions. 

That night there was another rockin’ party, and then on Sunday there was a delicious awards brunch with all the filmmakers. While we didn’t win anything, it was gratifying to see some of our favorite films honored (yes, in between all the other exciting happenings, we also managed to fit in watching many wonderful short films). And with that, it was time to jump in the car and start the long trek home. The DC Shorts Film Festival was a wonderful experience, and we highly recommend it to the short filmmakers out there!

If you’re interested in seeing more pictures from our trip, click here.