Back in 2011, when Jon Bon Jovi opened his restaurant in Red Bank, NJ, media FLOODED the internet and newspapers with articles about the Soul Kitchen. Basically, once you read one article about it, you really didn’t need to read someone else’s version of the same facts within a few days of each other. It was a headline overload on the same topic.
What did I do? I waited. I waited until the restaurant had been open for a few months and THEN I went in, did my interviews, took photos, and asked how the Soul Kitchen was doing AFTER its grand opening. I had some new information to add to the pot. My perspective was fresh, and not buried between 50 other stories about the singer’s endeavor.
Similarly, I apply my Bon Jovi strategy, now.
Within a few days of the Garden State Film Festival every year, social media is similarly flooded with photos from the event, and you’ll catch many articles online about the same movies and people. There’s only so much you can absorb at one time.
Me, I’d rather stand apart from the crowd, just like I did in 2012 with Jon Bon Jovi. Plus, if you consider going to the Garden State Film Festival THIS year, (which, I think you should) you’re a lot closer to the event, than before. It’s a win-win situation.
I’ve been attending the Garden State Film Festival for a few years now. I used to live in New Jersey, and as such, I went to many star studded events regularly in the tristate area. The film festival always features prominent people from the Garden State, and actually all over the country; so for me, it was like going to a family reunion. It still is. There’s something to be said for the feeling of family as this long weekend of movies unveils itself in Asbury Park. That’s why I flew 2000 miles last year, and will do it again this year, from my new home state, New Mexico, to go again. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
It’s more than about watching movies. Sure, there’s an appreciation for that, alone. But the red carpet cocktail party on the first Friday night of the festival is not to be missed. The after parties are so much fun; and when you meet the directors, producers, cast, and crew associated with the hundreds of films shown over what’s now FIVE days, they are approachable, enthusiastic, genuine, and friendly, even if you’ve never met them before. It’s a great way to meet up with entertainment industry people, old friends, and make new friends, too. It’s kind of like eating, drinking, and watching movies, for an extended time.
Let’s backtrack one second. I said the Garden State Film Festival is in Asbury Park. Some of you may be shaking your head or wondering if I just forgot where I was in New Jersey. Nope. Last year was the festival’s second year in Asbury Park, since it returned to the city by the shore in 2018. It was held in Atlantic City for a few years, but it decided to return home to where it all began. And, it’s actually a great idea, because Asbury Park has been undergoing some rejuvenation and renovation. Besides the historic Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel (which was remodeled in 2018), you can also stay at The Asbury Hotel. This year there is an additional choice: the Asbury Ocean Club Hotel . Don’t worry, you’ll still get to experience the iconic venues like Convention Hall, the Paramount Theatre, and the Wonder Bar… they aren’t going anywhere.
A few of my favorite highlights are: attending the meet the filmmakers night, held on the Thursday evening of the weekend, the opening night gala cocktail party on Friday night along with the screening of the opening night feature film, the screenplay reading held that Saturday, one of a few after parties held at the Wonder Bar, and attending a screening block with the films closing the festival on that Sunday. There’s also a black-tie awards dinner on the final night of the film festival that’s fun to show up at, too. In between all of this, there are the films, films, and more films at various venues, and the socializing, eating, drinking, between walks on the boardwalk and in the salty air. This year’s honored attendees include actress Linda Hamilton, actors Robert Patrick, and Matthew Modine.
You don’t have to go to all of these events. You can pick and choose where you want to go, which of the 247 films this year you want to see, or what day(s) you want to be there. Rather than me babble on about this year’s fest, let me sprinkle some photos here (below) for you to see for yourself what last year was like at a glance; and what a great gathering this truly is, thanks to the Founder of the Garden State Festival, Diane Raver, the Executive Director Lauren Concar Sheehy, Chairman of the Board, Eric Ascalon, Vice-Chair Heather O’Scanlon, former Chairman of the Board, Nick Falcone, and all of the other board members, volunteers, VIP’s, photographers, press, attendees, and a myriad of others who devote their time and tireless energy to making this one of the not-to-be-missed events in New Jersey.
Come join the family - the GSFF family! See you there!
March 25-29th 2020
Asbury Park, NJ
Tickets & info:
Photo Credits: Patrick Zehr, Manda Madsen, & Laura Madsen
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