I can't believe almost a week has gone by since I was standing in front of a sold-out crowd, introducing my film "Hyphen" for the first time to an audience. Last Saturday, May 30th at the Arts Court Theatre, I watched as my guests filled the room, anxiously waiting for the screening to start. I had spent the day nervously getting everything ready to make sure the event was everything I wanted it to be.
So, of course I made the executive decision to get my hair styled at a salon instead of worrying about it myself. I sat at Jet Black Hair & Studio, let myself relax and tried not to stroke my hair too much after (it was soooo soft!). I then set off to pick up fresh homemade deserts from Rebecca at Café Eddy (she made cookies with little hyphens on them because she's amazing!). After "taste testing" the treats, I packed up the car full of Lug-Tread beer from Beau's All Natural, tasty meats and cheeses from Seed to Sausage and all the goodies I'd prepared for the event.
A BIG thank you to my amazing roommate Catherine for helping me set-up the room for the event. We prepped the wood-panel courtroom at Arts Court as the pre-screening mingling room. I had a playlist prepared for the evening, full of songs that played in my house when I was growing up; some Beatles, some Frank Sinatra, some Céline Dion. I set up a corner with my Artist Statement for the project, a photo album full of photos of my family and a map of the world. I asked my guests to place stickers on the map in the places they identified with. We pulled in 60+ chairs in the screening room, and we were ready. All that was left to do was wait for my guests.
I wasn't even aware of the rain until people started coming in, soaking wet. And then everyone showed up. I have to admit that I am not the best at mingling, but knowing that everyone was there for me made it pretty easy to walk up to a group of people and say hello. Makes a girl feel pretty special!
A definite pinch-me moment was meeting people who had come out because they heard me speak on CBC's Ottawa Morning the day before.
The time came to get everyone to move to the screening room to watch Hyphen. I got my parents and my brothers to go in first, so they would be able to sit in the front, by me. After Bradley Cayford introduced me on behalf of the Ottawa International Film Festival, I made my opening remarks. Seeing the room completely full (we even had to bring in some extra chairs) was overwhelming. I took my seat between my parents, and as the music started, I felt my mom reach out for my hand. And she held it, clammy and shaking, the whole time. I think I must have watched most of the film with my eyes closed, knowing it by heart but focusing on listening to the audience's reactions; I recognized some laughs. I was so terribly nervous to not only show my art for the first time, but to also share my story and be vulnerable to the comments and reactions of a crowd.
But the lights came up and everyone started clapping. With tears in my eyes, I made my way back to the stage to get ready for the Q&A. Despite some "colourful" comments, I think the discussion went very well. I was able to answer questions about the film and my personal experience with the subject. But mostly, I got a confirmation that this film NEEDS to be made. And I can't wait for the next steps!
So what is next? Well, I am so pleased to tell you that we raised $2,010.40 (yes, $0.40!) which will help complete the film. I'm taking the month of June to reflect on the evening and plan my next step. I will apply to have the film shown in film festivals, locally and internationally, which will help in finding future funding opportunities. I will use this first part to help approach other families who may be interested in participating in the film. I am also planning the creation of an online forum for Hyphen, so people can share stories about their own hyphenated identity.
Safe to say, this project still has a long way to go and I am so excited to get to work! I would like to thank The Ottawa International Film Festival for hosting the evening. You can see more photos of the evening, all taken by the amazing Justin Van Leeuwen, on my Facebook page (that you can also follow to get news about Hyphen).
Keep an eye out for news about Hyphen; I am looking forward to the future!