Opening Our Eyes - a film about people making a positive difference in the world
by Gail Mooney and Erin Kelly
Finally a Film!
Our dream of making a film about people making a difference in the world, finally became a reality last week. We screened OOE on the "big screen" for the first time at the State Theater in Traverse City, Michigan.
We called it a "sneak preview" instead of a "premier" because of film festival rules and regulations in regards to prior screenings of the film. The well known film festivals want the film to premier at their festival.
And, it really was a "sneak preview" of a film that was literally finished two nights before the screening. Erik Freeland, my brilliant editor had been tweaking it up until Friday night at 8PM when he had to drop at Fedex. We picked up the film Saturday, the next morning at the theater and returned at noon, after their Saturday morning kids show, to spot check it. To see it shown on a big screen for the first time and through surround sound state of the art speakers for the first time was a sight I will never forget.
We chose the State Theater in Traverse City, MI for a few reasons.
1. I have a lot of family there and I wanted to share it with them. I also knew they would be delighted and would fill seats - and they did.
2. Our only two North American subject, Maureen Taylor and Marian Kramer, were from Detroit, MI and we could do another screening there later in the week.
3. The State Theater, which is owned by the Traverse City Film Festival has been beautifully restored. It's a state of the art facility, run by the festival and volunteers. It personified the idea behind this movie.
It turned out to be the best idea I've had yet. Erin and I watched the night before the screening as they took down the shared marquee letters of "Midnight in Paris" (which was another thrill to share the marquee that afternoon with one of my favorite recent films). We watched each letter go up - letter by letter. The title of the film - and then our names. That of course was a treat for the ego.
But the next day, to see the red curtain go up, and hear Jackson Browne's song "Alive in the World" and see our work on the big screen with over 150 people in the audience was the thrill of a lifetime. Oh yes, I should explain the Jackson Browne reference. I have been a big fan of Jackson's music for many many years. The title of our film Opening Our Eyes was inspired by the lyrics of one of his songs - "Alive in the World". It had been a dream of mine - a fantasy really - that I would get his permission to use that song in our film. My good friend, Angel Burns and Executive Producer on this film made that happen. She got Jackson to see the trailer and he liked it and agreed. Now, I should tell you that I am only allowed to use his music for community screenings and film festivals - but not DVD's - or at least right now. It's all about exposure and I respect that. If this film gets picked up for distribution and has a chance of making some money - then we renegotiate for those licensing rights. Jackson and his people are a class act. I'm not surprised - just listen to what he writes about and stands behind.
So, finally the film is finished. Well almost. After screening it for the first time, I got a lot of valuable insight. I see places that I'd like to cut or change and will do that this week. I will also need to do a variation as far as the music used for the DVD's. I have been very blessed with musicians who have generously given me their permission to use their music in the film. One woman Joyelle Brandt wrote a song "One" a few years ago that could have been written for this film and I am so honored to be able to use it in our film. Thank you Joyelle. Other musicans were equally kind - Dominc Brook in Sydney, Australia who founded another remarkable organization Musicians Making a Difference that is helping homeless youth get back on track and Joffry Arthur a talented musican that I met last year at the Connect and Act conference in Amsterdam.
Hopefully before the summer is out - that is my plan anyway - you will all have your DVD's. Many of you will also get prints and/or e-books and I'm working on that as well.
This part of the process is coming to an end but for the project and the film - it's just the beginning. Thank you all for your support and your interest in this project. Without it - this would not have been possible. I was able to hire my editor Erik because of the funds raised here and he really made this movie. It has been and continues to be a collaboration that has been so rewarding on so many levels. Thank you all for making that possible.