Being Ginger in Dallas
I have never been so nervous in my life.
I had been though six screenings of Being Ginger going into last night, and the audience reaction has always been nothing but positive. But this screening was different. My parents where there.
One night back in 2001 I called my parents to tell them I had decided to change majors from Mechanical Engineering to Film. And in the last 13 years, I’ve never shown them any of my work. I think in my mother’s case she assumed I didn’t respect her opinion, but the truth is exactly the opposite. My parent’s opinion was so important I didn’t want them to see anything less than my best work, and frankly, it took me 10 years of producing garbage to learn how to make something I thought was good enough for them to see.
On top of that, the film is intensely personal and I didn’t know how my parents would feel about me sharing that much of myself with the world.
Last night I found out.
We sold out the Dallas screening two days early and got bumped up to a bigger theater which came just shy of a sell out. I was there, as I am for every screening, taking people’s tickets as they come in. (That’s actually lots of fun because some people don’t realize that I’m the filmmaker.) I was overwhelmed by the generosity of some of my fans. Several people bought extra tickets to the screening just to make sure it would reach the threshold before the deadline. I can’t begin to tell you how that makes me feel. On top of that, they told me I was welcome to sell their tickets on to other people. (I’ve been told I’m legally not allowed to do that, but if it had been a sell out, I could have let someone else in for free on those tickets, as I did in Austin.) Still, the fact that they would not only buy a ticket they knew they couldn’t use, and then invite me to resell it to make some extra cash is amazing.
It was also great to meet a few people I’ve been trading emails with for months and finally put a face and voice to the name.
After saying a few words of thanks to the audience I decided to sit down next to my mother for the screening. This was the only way I was going to know what she really thought of the film.
She reached over during the opening credits and the pictures of me as a young boy to hold my hand. She left it there for the duration.
There were a few points where I was especially nervous. In the scene where I talked about having seen too many romantic comedies I referred to “romantic bullshit.” I think that was probably the first time my mother has ever heard me say a “bad” word (not counting when I was five and came out of a public toilet and wanted to know what certain words written on the walls meant.) That scene passed without comment or reaction.
The real moment I was dreading was the joke about religion that Lou makes. It always gets a great reaction from audiences, as it did again last night. And even my mother laughed, which was a surprise.
As for the heavier moments in the film, she came close to crying, but said she held it together. When it was over and I gave my parents a hug before going up for the Q&A my mother told me it was “beautiful.” That might be the best review I’ve had yet.
The rest of the night was amazing. I was very lucky that there is a brilliant Irish pub right next to the theatre, and not only did they help me publicize the screening, but they hosted us and had a wee discount on 2 Gingers whiskey. There were about 40 redheads in all, 23 stuck around for a photo afterwards:
Now that Texas is complete, I’m on a plane Monday morning for Seattle. I’m supposed to have a radio interview with a national NPR show when I get there, but I’m still waiting for them to confirm. I also haven’t had any time to really celebrate because the clock is ticking on my other screenings. The deadline for San Francisco is in two and half days and I still need 21 tickets to be reserved. Los Angeles, which is the most important stop on this four week leg of the tour is 48 tickets short of the threshold, and I have four and a half days to fill it. So I have a long weekend ahead of me trying to make this thing spread.
So I’m going back to work, but I want to say one last thank you for everyone who made last night so special for me and my parents. Especially all of the people who came up to them to say how much they loved the film. After keeping my work hidden from my parents for so long, I can’t say how grateful I am to you all for giving me a way to show it to them, and to show them what total strangers thought of it.