Foreign Correspondents premiered on February 17, 1999 in front of an enthusiastic audience of approximately 525 people at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Theatre in North Hollywood, California, just a spit from Universal Studios.

Getting the film to this stage was an exercise in suspense until the very end. The film was to start at 8:00pm - the print was finally finished and rushed to the theatre at 6:00pm! Writer/director Mark Tapio Kines (me) and producer Julia Stemock sat down to watch the first part of the film alone in the theatre, just to make sure sound and visuals were adequate. Everything was fine, we wiped the sweat from our brows, and at 7:00 we went into the lobby to meet and greet the guests as they arrived.

The building quickly filled up with eager invitees - cast, crew, friends, families, industry representatives and various Hollywood hangers-on. For the next hour, my life was one big "Hello, so happy you could come, I hope you like the movie." I was nervous about what the crowd's reaction would be to the film, of course but I was so relieved that we even got the film finished and in the projection room that very little could worry me at that point.

When the time came, a few of us went to the front of the packed theatre to give introductory speeches. Associate producers Bill Millsap and Frederick Hess greeted the audience, then Julia gave her speech, then I gave mine. I had no idea what I was saying, but the audience found it touching nevertheless. As the lights dimmed, Julia and I made a hasty departure and each spent the next hour and a half pacing outside the theatre as the audience sat inside and watched the film.

At the end of the film the crowd filed out, all with extremely positive responses. What a relief! According to witnesses, everybody laughed at the right moments, felt bad at the right moments, said "Huh" and "Hmm" at the right moments, and left thinking they had seen a really good movie. So, by all accounts, it was a success. Time for the reception.

The crowd filled the lobby area and chatted the evening away, gorging themselves on food and drink in the process. For many it was a chance to say hello to old friends - I myself hadn't seen most of the cast for over a year - while for others it was an opportunity to meet new ones.

But you want to know who was there. Name-dropping time. Most of the cast was in attendance, including stars Corin Nemec, Yelena Danova, Steve Valentine, Blaire Baron, Douglas Coler, James Michael Tyler and Guy Lewis. Alas, two of the film's main stars, Melanie Lynskey and Wil Wheaton, could only be there in spirit. Mel was in New Zealand (what can you do) and Wil was actually in acting class! Talk about dedication (or shyness). The rest of the guest list includes some interesting figures... "Battlestar Galactica" star Richard Hatch, a friend of many of the crew; legendary diminutive actor Billy Barty (RIP); soon-to-be "Lord of the Rings" star Sean Astin; David "Bud Bundy" Faustino; Jerri Manthey (before "Survivor" made her a reality TV fixture); star of the original "Night of the Living Dead" Judy O'Dea (who wound up working with me on my next film "Claustrophobia"); plus several other blink-and-you-miss them pseudo-celebs.

A great time was had by all. Now check out the photos.

- Mark Tapio Kines