Tag Archives: Traverse City

How a Film Can Make a Difference

by Gail Mooney
December 10 2011

I never fully realized the power that is within me to make a difference, until recently.  Last summer, my daughter and I spent time with extraordinary people who were providing homes for orphans, feeding the hungry and curing the ill.  They were all people we met while making a documentary about the change makers in our world – people who are making our planet a better place.

Our goal was to inspire and motivate others as to what they can do to make a difference in their own communities. Our goal was to cause a shift, in culture and in thought – from “what in it for me?” to “what can I do?” We’ve just begun to submit this documentary to film festivals and show sneak previews to small audiences but I can already tell that this film has affected change and the potential it has to move people to action.

From our first sneak preview at the beautiful State Theater in Traverse City, MI to a recent screening at MIS in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I feel the energy in the room and the collective desire to strive for a better world.  I feel the power of film and the power within me as a storyteller and filmmaker. I feel the time for this film is now and that people are hungry for hope.

Many documentaries take the critical point of view and certainly have more conflict. Opening Our Eyes is different from other docs in that it shines a light on what IS being done to create positive change by individuals all over the world.  Somehow by showing the small acts, this film makes all of us believe that we can create change as well. It empowers us to believe in the possibilities and gives us the hope we seem to be yearning for these days.

When I first conceived of the idea for this film, inspired by friend and neighbor Maggie Doyne, I was looking for some positive hope myself.  I was tired of listening to the hundreds of “experts” on TV talking and all of them needing to be “right” – and nothing was getting any better. That was long before the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements. What I was sensing was the rest of the world was feeling the same way I was and decided to do something about it.

Time will tell if the film continues to create awareness and moves people to action, but at least I’m hopeful again.

Please consider supporting our effort by making a contribution to our IndieGoGo campaign, which only has a few weeks, left to go. And it’s tax deductible.

We can’t do it without your help.

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A Perfect Day

by Gail Mooney
July 18 2011

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.

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