Toronto International Film Festival 1997 Daily Playback: Tracking – Drive, She Said: Drive garners good audience reaction

Monday night producer Stephen Hegyes was among the crowded lineup of ticket holders at the Uptown, trying to keep tally of the tickets to be saved for buyers and industry pals, dealing with last-minute requests from acquisition people for extra seats,...

Monday night producer Stephen Hegyes was among the crowded lineup of ticket holders at the Uptown, trying to keep tally of the tickets to be saved for buyers and industry pals, dealing with last-minute requests from acquisition people for extra seats, and making sure friends of cast and crew promised a first look at Mina Shum’s Drive, She Said were taken care of.

Shum managed to garner audience reaction right from the film’s opening lines, with lots of laughs right on time, and held them through to the final scenes. No doubt, buyers took due note. A funky animation sequence, storyboarded by Shum herself, sparked praise during the q and a after the screening as did the vivid color contrasts used metaphorically throughout the film.

After the screening, Hegyes, Shum, members of cast and crew and indie film lawyer John Sloss headed over to Bistro 990 where reps from Trimark and Beyond Films trailed in. The international division at Trimark says Drive, She Said doesn’t fit into their catalogue but Hegyes has not heard from the American releasing side. The Australian company Beyond Films showed interest in Shum’s first feature Double Happiness and now want to discuss the possibility of a deal for Drive, She Said. A meeting has been skedded. Mark Ordesky at New Line also wants to talk and a message from Miramax has been left for Hegyes.

An acquisitions rep mingling at Monday night’s Sales Office party says buyers who headed over after the screening had mixed reviews on the film, but most responses fell on neutral ground. ‘No one was very committal, they said it was okay, they wanted to think about it,’ the source says.

This could potentially spell good news for the film. It’s when buyers don’t like a picture they speak up loudly. With their competitors close by and fearful of the ominous threat of a bidding war, it’s wiser to say as little as possible.

As well, when a film sparks initial interest, a buyer often wants to send their marketing people or senior reps into a screening before pouncing on a film. This acquisitions rep says he has seen bidding wars start a week after a screening so the go-slow approach is common.

A promising sign Tuesday morning: Hegyes fielded numerous calls from company reps who missed the first screening; they were asking for tickets. Another sold out screening that afternoon drew reps from Alliance and Sony Pictures Classics. The Backstage 2 is the setting for tonight’s 9:45 p.m. industry screening.