Yesterday morning, Opening Our Eyes was screened for the first time. It was perfect in every way.
We had picked the State Theater in Traverse City, MI for a few reasons:
- Our only two North American subjects were from Michigan
- I had a lot of family in Traverse City and I knew they could get the word out and fill seats
- The State Theater is a beautifully renovated theater with state of the art facilities and an old fashioned marquee to top it off
- Traverse City is a beautiful place to be in the summer because of all the water around it
The night before the screening, Erin, Tom and I and our friend and executive producer, Angel Burns went down to the theater to take some pictures of it. There it was on the marquee – right under MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – OPENING OUR EYES– A SNEAK PREVIEW – SUNDAY 9AM. There it was, sharing the billing with one of my favorite recent films. Night theater ErinMVI_0178 As soon as the 10 o’clock showing of Midnight in Paris went in – a 3-man crew started taking down the letters and putting up new ones.
It took them some time but letter by letter up it went. But it was when they started putting up our names that an incredible feeling went through my body. I had done it. I did what I set out to do.
The next morning, I was full of nerves. It has been a long time coming and the day had arrived. My Aunt Ike and cousin Rene had spread the word through town amongst friends, family, co-workers. There was a family reunion also planned that weekend and all those people had come. Angel was outside talking to folks who were looking at the poster of what was playing at the upcoming Traverse City Film Festival next week, and invited them. All in all, I think there were about 150-175 people – not bad for a Sunday morning in a town with a lot going on.
As the curtain went up – yes, a beautiful classic red curtain -and the movie began, it was almost surreal. Even though I had seen this film a hundred times – it was the first time I watched it as a movie – with popcorn and all. But I think the best part was the Q&A when a man stood up to ask a question. He said “Thank you for making this film. It has changed my life”. He had been someone Angel had talked to outside. He hadn’t even intended to go see a movie that morning. That was a big moment for me.
On to Detroit on Thursday, for our next sneak preview. It won’t be as grand as the first screening – because the first one’s are always the most special – but our two subjects Marian and Maureen will be there. Can’t wait.