Festival Friends: Gabe Wardell & Paula Martinez

Gabriel Wardell and Paula Martinez.

Gabriel Wardell and Paula Martinez.

During my campaign to fund a new season of Film Festival Secrets podcast episodes, I'm writing about friends I met on the festival circuit. Just 12 days left to check out the campaign at http://GetMoreSecrets.com

For as long as I’ve known them, Gabe Wardell & Paula Martinez have been a team. By their own admission they are very good at butting heads and don’t always see things the same way. Such conflict between these partners, however, is usually in the service of a larger idea and of the film community in Atlanta that they love. 

They’ve both been supportive of me and of Film Festival Secrets over the years (as executive director of the Atlanta Film Festival, Gabe wrote the introduction to the first edition of the book). I have enjoyed watching them produce film events in Georgia’s capitol (my hometown and once again my city of residence) and bumping into them at other festivals. (And as I learned in Vegas one year, Paula has a passion for roller coasters that will not be denied.) 

Following their tenure of several years at the Atlanta Film Festival, Gabe and Paula now oversee the two annual 48 Hour Film Project events in Atlanta. The anything-goes main event just wrapped up with more than 80 teams of local filmmakers rushing to make a short film from start to finish in just 48 hours. Registration for the Fall horror-themed competition opens in August. 

As the last of the award nominees unspooled digitally in front of an enthusiastic crowd, I sat with Paula and Gabe as they caught their breath and nourished themselves at the sidewalk café next door to the local Landmark theater.  In my jeans and sneakers I was a poor match for their flapper-era finery, provided by Norcostco, the costume-rental company that sponsored this year’s event.

A young man walking by the theater spotted Paula and Gabe and hurried over to thank them effusively. He was one of the award winners announced earlier in the evening and you could practically see the adrenaline dancing in his eyes. He was, to put it mildly, pumped

After a few minutes of excited chatter and an exchange of goodbyes, the filmmaker went on his way. Gabe smiled and speared some pasta with his fork. 

“It’s the moments like that,” he said. “They make it all worth it."

Hardly an original sentiment among festival producers, but when those moments happen, it’s a sentiment worth expressing out loud.

Learn more about the Atlanta 48 Hour Film Project.

I'll be writing about more festival friends as my own campaign continues - please check it out at http://getmoresecrets.com .