While there had been a cast and crew screening before, this was the first public showing of the film and the first time I had personally seen it as I had not been able to attend the aforementioned cast and crew event. Despite most having already seen it, a large amount of the cast and crew were there to celebrate and meet up with old friends. Everyone who worked on this movie truly felt like family.
The celebration of the acceptance of the film into the festival, as well as the premiere event, actually started the night before. There was a party at the Midtown Loft in DC hosted by Ghosts Don’t Exist. I went and was happy to see some faces I hadn’t seen in close to a year. We filmed in May of 2009 and I had yet to see many of those I worked with since. The party was a good atmosphere with cast, crew, fans and family alike joining to have some drinks and bask in the completion of a project that was a long time coming from start to finish.
But I digress.
The screening was a bit late to open to the public, but the anticipation was hot in the lobby. There was a line stretching all around the lobby and got so large that it ended up clumping together in one chaotic mess. It didn’t help either that Executive Producer and Washington Redskins Tight End Chris Cooley was in attendance drawing the appropriate amount of cell phone pictures and autograph requests for an NFL pro-bowler. We finally got in and I took a seat with a fellow crew member and friends and saved one for my good friend and cinematographer Kunitaro Ohi.
The two shorts played before hand were both highly enjoyable. One was almost an animated stand-up routine of Frankenstein as a Joe Schmoe personality (“You know, I was in heaven, but that’s ok. Thanks for bringing me back to life…”). The other portrayed a mysteriously apocalyptic landscape in which a man buries himself with his already dead wife. Despite my enjoying the films, I was glad they were short as I had been wanting to see Ghosts Don’t Exist. It was the first film I worked on and so it would naturally be the first one I would see.
The short films screened back to back and finally the opening titles for Ghosts came on with it’s ominous score and ghoulish lettering. I was disappointed, however, that the projectionist/festival projected the film in an incorrect aspect ratio. The film is at a 2.4:1 aspect ratio but was stretched vertically to a more 1:85:1 causing every character to look slimmer, yet awkwardly taller. My first thoughts when the picture came up were the aspect ratio is off and that Kuni wasn’t going to be happy about it.
However, despite that technical fopah, the film played nicely and was enjoyable to watch. It felt good to see the final product of something that I know I had worked so hard on, and that everyone else had too. I think everybody on that film was very proud of their work. As they should be. The audience applauded and there were a few shouts of “great film!” after the lights came on. I know it scared some people too cause I had a woman next to me who kept gasping “mmmhhmm!” every time something scary was foreboding on screen.
Afterwards, Eric Espejo, the director, took questions. I thought about asking “who his favorite crew member was” or “what his favorite song was that camera department sang on set,” but I already knew the answers: probably the script supervisor and, for the song, “it’s the final countdown! Do-da-doo-da!” Eric also ended up winning the DC Filmmaker award from the festival, so congratulations to him!
All in all, I thoroughly was happy with attending the premiere. Seeing my name on screen was a nice affirmation that this is a job I love and that I couldn’t be more invested and proud of my work. I wish to extend my congrats and thanks to those I worked with, especially Eric Espejo for creating a wonderful set atmosphere that was professional but friendly at the same time, and to cinematographer Kunitaro Ohi for giving me my foot in the door and letting me get away with Dust-Off freon gags.
One last thought, I think the best quote of the evening goes to a very observant beer drinking audience member who will remain anonymous: “I liked that they only drank Yuengling the entire movie.”