Thin Line Fest 2017: A Festival Where "Run, Don’t Walk" Takes on a Literal Dimension

When I learned my documentary What Happened in Vegas, about police corruption in Las Vegas, had gotten accepted to the Newport Beach Film Festival, I was happy—for about 14 seconds.

Because I realized I had a problem: My movie had also been accepted to Thin Line Fest and was scheduled to screen at two film festivals on the same day: April 22. Was it possible to be in Newport Beach, California and Denton, Texas on the same day to attend both screenings?

Maybe. My Newport screening ended at 4:15 p.m. and my screening at Thin Line started at 11 p.m. Fortunately, the theater in Newport Beach where my movie screened was only six minutes away from Orange County’s John Wayne Airport—and there was a flight to Dallas that left at 5:40 pm on April 22. 

I told Thin Line Fest Director Stanton Brasher of my plan to sprint out of the theater and go to the airport after my Newport Q&A ended. “You’re crazy, my man,” Stanton said. Maybe so. Maybe I wouldn’t make it, but I wanted to try. I had a very good vibe about Stanton and Thin Line, so I wanted to be there.

I literally did sprint out of the theater and through the airport. I boarded the plane to Dallas, sweating profusely. When I got to Dallas, I was picked up from the airport by a friendly Thin Line Fest shuttle driver and we made the 35 minute drive to Denton. The truck pulled up to the theater at 11:07 p.m., so I only missed the first seven minutes of the film!

Thin Line Fest takes place in Denton, Texas, which has a burgeoning reputation as a music and culture hub. Photograph by Ed Steele

After a very energetic Q&A session with an enthusiastic audience, I headed back to Thin Line headquarters and had a couple of beers with Stanton and projectionist Jonathan Gartman. We hit it off and talked well into the night about our favorite films. I called it a night around 4 a.m. and headed back to my very nice (and complimentary) hotel. After eating one of the biggest burgers I’ve ever seen at LSA Burger Co., we went to an awesome Raelyn Nelson (Willie Nelson’s granddaughter) concert, then Stanton and Jonathan showed me around Denton. I even had time to check out the main festival photography gallery. I really enjoyed this awesome little college town. Every time Stanton came across a Thin Line filmmaker that night, he checked in with them to make sure they were happy and having a good time—it clearly mattered a great deal to him, and to Thin Line founder Joshua Butler.

Great festival! Great hospitality! Glad I made the crazy decision to try and be at two different film festivals in two different towns on the same day—and glad it worked out! MM

Ramsey Denison is the director of What Happened in Vegas.

Thin Line Fest 2017 ran April 19-23, 2017. This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Summer 2017 issue. Top image photographed by Ed Steele: SNWBLL the yeti, from the band PPL MVR, makes an appearance at Thin Line Fest 2017.

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