The first screening of The Messengers: A Podcast Documentary was held on February 24, 2017 during the Third Annual Podfest Multimedia Expo in Orlando, Florida.
To say that the final push to get the film ready for an audience was tumultuous is an understatement. Just four days before the screening, and with a majority of the edit still incomplete, Niel Guilarte’s father-in-law suffered a massive heart attack and passed away.
With Niel sidelined making funeral arrangements, Willie Harper stepped up much as he had done during the all-night road trip to from Ohio to Kansas, and began editing the film for nearly 48 hours straight!
With only two days to go, Niel was able to get himself and his editing gear to the hotel in Orlando, and he and Willie worked virtually round-the-clock to get something to show the audience that Friday.
The screening was set for 7 p.m., and Executive Producer Chris Krimitsos was already in the hall, introducing the film to the sold-out crowd of over 400 podcasters, family and friends when Niel brought down a working print to show. The filmmakers decided that rather than show rough, uncut footage, they would just show the polished first half instead. After all, this was just a first look, and not the world premiere.
To the amazement of everyone in attendance, the film received a standing ovation! Talking later with the crowd, the overall consensus was that the filmmakers had managed to capture the essence of what it means to be a podcaster.
During the Q&A that followed the film, an emotional Niel, with his wife’s family seated in the first row, told the story of his father-in-law’s passing and mentioned that the family was facing some financial difficulties with the funeral arrangements. By the end of the next day, the community of podcasters in attendance raised over $2,000 to help Niel’s family bury their beloved “Monce”.
Niel Guilarte was flying his beloved drone ICEMAN over the water in Puerto Rico. Just as his drone cleared the water, the winds picked up, and elevated ICEMAN above the tree line and into an emergency landing on top of a palm tree. Twenty feet up and on a tree leaning precariously over a freshwater river that emptied into the ocean, the chances of recovering ICEMAN seemed grim. That’s when James Van Prooyen saved the day by clambering up the palm tree and saving Niel’s drone. This was one of many close calls where the crew almost lost ICEMAN.