Being Ginger in the Pacific Northwest
People are amazing.
I think I watch the news too much sometimes; the news is always full of the worst bits of humanity. It can make you question basic human decency. But then you go out, and you put forth a little effort (or maybe a lot of effort) and your reward is a seemingly never ending stream of kindness.
I flew up to Seattle on Monday. It was my first time in the Pacific Northwest. An old friend gave me a brief tour of the city, and I was able to grab a pint with another old friend from high school I hadn’t seen since 1998.
I spent the night in a backpacking hostel, and woke up early to do a radio interview for NPR that would be broadcast nationwide. I was really excited about the interview as this was my first chance to do anything with national coverage in the US. I’ve done a number of interviews now, and the thing they’ve all had in common is that the good interviews were done by people who had watched the film and knew what to ask. The bad interviews were conducted by individuals who hadn’t actually watched the film and spent the whole time asking silly questions that didn’t have much to do with the film. The gentleman who interviewed me had not seen the film.
I spent the rest of the day in the hostel emailing people about the different screenings I had coming up, trying desperately to get some press coverage.
Then at 3:00 I headed to the theatre, the Landmark Varsity. When I was walking up the street I saw this:
It was the first time I’d seen something of mine on a marquee, and I won’t deny that I got really excited about it.
When people started arriving for the screening I was there taking tickets, which I thoroughly enjoy. The young woman who worked behind the concession stand turned to me at one point and said, “Everyone who is coming to your screening is so nice. Usually people are grumpy and mean when they come in here. Are all redheads that nice?” It was noticeable to me as well that everyone who came through was extremely excited about the screening. One woman told me she drove an hour and half with her two 14 year old daughters just to see my film. A few people even drove up from Portland to see it, and they also had tickets for the Portland screening the following night. I found myself trying to lower their expectations, there’s nothing worse than being super excited to see a film you’ve been waiting on for a long time, and then it doesn’t live up to expectations. Sort of like Star Wars: Episode One. (Yes, I just compared Being Ginger to Star Wars.) One gentleman actually brought me a gift, a book he thought I should read. And he included his card so I could let him know what I thought of it.
We sold 96 tickets, and I think there were about 90 people in attendance. I sat in the first row, which was a mistake. I need to sit in the back so I can see if people get up to leave. (Even now I worry that the audience will walk out in the middle of it.) But they laughed and gasped at all the right moments, and when it was over they gave me a standing ovation, which is always humbling.
The Q&A was fantastic, one of the best I’ve had. The redheads said they related, and even the non-redheads said it was very much a story about being human.
My favorite part of the screening, as it always is, was when we gathered to take a photograph under the marquee and I stood around and talked to different people one on one. There were so many wonderful people who just wanted to say a kind word, and I’m grateful to all of them. The highlight was a beautiful redheaded woman who asked me out, but sadly I had to leave after the screening for Portland. But still, having any woman ask me out will NEVER get old. I also talked to a gentleman with dark hair who told me he loved documentaries and watched them all the time, and he said that mine was the best he’d seen in years. His friend, another gentleman with dark hair added, “I hate documentaries and almost never watch them, but I absolutely loved yours.” I consider both to be high praise.
At the end of the night I headed south, in a car driven by Rusty Weise, the organizer of the 2013 Redhead Event in Portland that saw over 1,200 redheads gather back in August. Rusty has been an incredibly strong and generous supporter of my film, and I credit him with the success I had getting such a great turnout for both the Seattle and Portland screenings. We had a long drive down and didn’t get in until past 2am.
Rusty let me crash on his couch, and the next morning I set to work writing as many emails as I could.
My Portland screening was not actually in Portland, but in Vancouver, Washington a few miles north. None of the theaters in Portland were willing to screen my film because it is already available on my web site and they had rules against showing a film that was already out “on demand.” But still, I was lucky enough to land at an independently owned theatre, which is really my favorite kind. It had a single screen and my film was the only one they were showing that night.
For the first time on my tour I didn’t get to take tickets, but I was there to greet as many people as I could.
We sold about 100 tickets for the screening, and it was again very warmly received.
Afterwards I headed to a local Irish pub with Rusty and a few others, and was home at midnight.
It’s now the next day and I’m on a long overnight train to San Francisco. It should take over 17 hours.
I am extremely tired, which is not a good sign for so early in my trip. But I don’t have another screening until Monday, so hopefully I’ll be able to relax a little in San Francisco, the city I was born in. Money is a bit tight, but I think I’m going to treat myself to a massage when this train ride is over.
Rusty told me he’s planning various fundraising efforts this year to prepare for another Redhead Event in 2015, where he hopes to break the Dutch record for the most redheads gathered in one place. (Putting on an event like that is not cheap.) I wished him luck and said I’d try to make it back. If you have any interest in taking part, I recommend you email him at[email protected] and get yourself on his mailing list so you don’t miss it.
In closing, I just want to say again how overwhelming I find all of the comments and letters of support. I wish I had more time to talk to everyone and to write back. As I’ve said before in trying to describe my experiences at The Redhead Days and The Irish Redhead Convention, we really only talk about our hair for about ten minutes. After that, it’s just a bunch of nice people talking about life and becoming friends. That has been my favorite aspect of the large gatherings, and I’m very happy to report that my screenings have that same spirit.