For the past five years a small photo of Keith – his headshot – was pinned to my computer monitor. It served as a reminder of how this all began and who I was working for. Keith has been gone for almost twice as long now as the time we were friends. It was inevitable that a day would come when it was time to take the picture down. That day has come.
A confluence of circumstances make this a perfect time. Any opportunity to take it down was going to be wrought with emotion. Somehow picking a time that is practical and symbolic makes it easier.
I am moving. My monitor is not making the move with me. Indeed I’ve already switched monitors – just a few days ago. I’ve kept the old monitor with Keith’s photo on it on my desk waiting for this day.
Yesterday was the cast and crew screening of the film. Nearly 200 of us gathered together at Pacific Cinematheque.
Craig and I made a quick pair of announcements, welcoming everyone and thanking them for the gifts of time, talent, resources and effort that they provided, and then we retreated to the eighth row. (The eighth row is - possibly apochryphally - the place that cinemas are optimized for, and in theory that films are ‘tuned’ for... but that’s probably bullshit.)
No doubt, this was the crowd that was destined to love the movie. And by all measures they did.
It was the first time I really got to watch the movie on the big screen – the mix at Sharpe last month was cool, but disjointed. I was amazed at how much I missed on the small screen – little details. Micro reactions mostly. But almost as much as I watched the film (I know how it ends, so paying close attention wasn't a big deal) – I enjoyed watching the crowd. David Nykl was sitting down the row from me. He was chowing on his fingernails for the first ten minutes until he satisfied himself that he was actually doing a good job on screen.
The couple in front of Craig and I (and our lovely ladies, Elaine and Jodie, respectively) were fantastically emotive. It turned out that it was Bronwen Smith’s (who plays eco-scientist Leslie Morgenstern) Mother and step-father. They were a delightful barometer whose reactions matched nearly everything that any other sub-set of the audience responded to.
When I used to tour with The Juanabees - the real Juanabees, not the faux-group referenced in the film – we regularly found that by the time we were doing our first performance we would have forgotten that many jokes were ever funny to us. Well, same thing happened with “Beast...” and that is delightful. Jokes that I had forgotten or decided simply weren’t funny got laughs – sometimes BIG laughs. My favourite line in the film got a huge laugh – and I think that with wide enough distribution for the film, Roger Haskett (the actor who delivers it) and I may be responsible for adding a new epithet to the lexicon.
The audience moaned sympathetically as one at a poignant moment from Gordon May, whose performance is heart breaking. I could not be happier.
There are a few secrets in the film too. One is an outright twist that elicited delighted gasps (Win!) and another that is an easter-egg in the plot that rewards those who are paying really close attention. The latter occurred to Bronwen’s mother three or four seconds into the scene that follows the last piece of the puzzle. It may seem odd, but I love the fact that not everyone is going to “get” the connection – and that they don’t absolutely need to in order to appreciate the film. Indeed, one of the key actors involved in that plot thread revealed to me yesterday that he didn’t get it until he was watching the movie.
Once the film was done Craig and I took an opportunity to make some special “thank- you”s – specifically to the post-production teams and a few MVPs from pre-production and production, as well as the investors. I’m told that we made a few of them cry.
And then we headed out to On the Edge Pub. It’s a new pub on the far east-side of Gastown who offered to host our after-screening party. They treated us fantastically. A BIG thanks to Terry and his staff! We had an excellent time there, they had great finger food for us and we stayed well past midnight before heading home to our hangovers.
All in all it was nice to be able to show people that their efforts were not for naught.
This morning the next stage begins. I took down Keith’s photo just before writing this. A fitting way to move on.