Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Watkinsville, GA: Heart and Humor

"Humor is a great way to get conversation going..."

Day 7: November 18th

The audience at Oconee High School in Bogart, Georgia was a small but loyal crowd of about thirty. At the discussion following the film, someone asked, “Is there such a thing as a good decaf tea?” And Scott replied that in his experience, you lose the flavor when you decaffeinate tea. However, “in some black teas, if you brew it for one minute, then pour it out, then brew it another time for a little bit longer, you can actually take out 60-70% of the caffeine while retaining the anti-oxidants in the infusion."

Another viewer asked, “What got you so interested in tea?” Scott responded that he always liked tea. The idea for the film also arose from his long-standing interest in Eastern thought. His interest deepened when he got turned on to Oolongs, a type of tea that is popular in Taiwan. Then Scott went through the six types of Chinese teas. This time when he got to white tea, he recounted, “It is said that white tea can only be harvested by virgins wearing white gloves with golden scissors. And it’s very difficult these days to find white gloves and golden scissors.”
This got quite a laugh from the college crowd.

Someone else pointed out that there is a lot of humor in the film, such as the segment when the tea sensei tries the instant bottled green tea, and the sequence with Earl Okin, the quirky “tea-contrarian” who talks about tea as being “namby-pamby, sort of nothing-y”. They inquired, “How did you make the choice of when to go for the humor?” Scott’s response was straightforward: “I’m always in favor of humor. When you’re making a film, you don’t want to preach too much. Humor is a great way to get conversation going; it is a way to appeal not only to the head, but to the heart.”

Immediately after the film, I found myself in the outside hallway with a local named Nina Lamson, who had attended the film with her husband. When I asked her how she liked it, she enthused, “It was really great! It had so many different dimensions to it.” When I asked her to elaborate, she went on: “It had three dimensions. One was the spiritual dimension; the second was the pure celebration of the beverage; and the third was the contrast of the old and the new, young versus old, and how that’s experienced globally.” I think Scott was elated when I relayed her comments to him, because this woman was really touched by the film. She understood innately what the message was, and hearing her feedback was one of the truly gratifying parts of having this experience and engaging directly with our audiences.

Following the film, there was free tea, courtesy of Jittery Joe’s, and we mingled for a bit, chatting with Rusty Haygood, our youthful host, before heading back to the gorgeous Ashford Manor Bed and Breakfast. We found out at the screening that the man who decorated this B & B used to design costumes for Prince! Scott stayed in a room that was Japanese themed, and so it was an ideal match, thanks Rusty!