Behind the Scenes at Traverse City Film Festival

When you take a seat to see a film during the Traverse City Film Festival, you expect it to go off without a hitch.

But organizers spend a lot of time pre-screening films to make sure your experience is flawless.

9&10’s Michelle Dunaway and Corey Adkins take us behind the scenes.

When the audience sits down to see one of the more than 150 movies screened at this year’s Traverse City Film Festival, chances are, they won’t be thinking about this.

That’s because these people have done their jobs.

“We have a crew that does just the inspection and prepares everything and we prepare a report on every movie every title that the projectionist uses for format, sound and any other anomaly what might be in that print.”

But even that description makes this job sound kind of easy. It isn’t, and Bill Hill has been doing this since film festivals actually used just film.

This year there is just one in the “old school” format, 35 millimeter.

“We check every frame we go that’s hands on with the film. We check every inch of it. If there’s splices, we make sure the splices are still OK and again we’re looking for what the aspect ratio is and sound format.”

And now that technology has taken over, things are even harder.

“A lot of people think now in the electronic age is you know all you have to do is push buttons or something but it’s not that simple and it’s really gotten to be more complex. You have a variety of formats a variety of electronic equipment and that all needs to speak to each other and still its’ the timing a projectionist has to have the timing to make that look real nice out there.”

And with so many films coming from so many different places, hill and his crew never know what they’re going to get.

“The crew drive is standard, which has a curtain case with a hard drive in it that’s the standard, but people are sending things on thumb drives and formatted incorrectly or these tiny little drives we get them in all shapes and forms now.”

They even get DVD’s and it’s not something anyone here likes to see.

“They work real good at home but you spread them up on a 40 foot screen, and that’s not going to look so good not like film that has that depth.”

The crew painstakingly goes through every film to make sure everything is in order, and the movie will screen the way it was meant to.

Then they put a green sticker on the board and follow the film, to make sure it gets to where it needs to be.

But for Bill who hasn’t actually watched a movie yet, this is all worth it. Providing a quality experience for the audience.

And from Sundance, to Toronto to Telluride, he says TC is special.

“The audiences up here just are so enthusiastic about these movies and everywhere you go, every screening you go to, it’s full. This will be year 10 of course and I’ve never seen a small audience in any of the venues ever in all these years.”