Thursday, March 26, 2009

Baton Rouge Tree Branches!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2009

This is my first time visiting Baton Rouge, Louisiana!  I've driven through the city before via Interstate 10 but was happy to stay and get to know the state's capitol.  I stayed with the wonderful parents of my Charlotte friend, Samara Foxx, and the in-laws of Samara's husband, future Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.  The Ryders were extremely hospitable and gracious and distinguished and kind and as they happily repeated during my stay: "RETIRED!"  The Ryders and I talked for hours and hours about everything you could imagine before that night's screening and upon returning home after the screening we talked and talked for hours more again.  I love talking to wise, experienced parents and long-time married couples because I learn so much from them (I've only been married 15 years so I still have a lot to learn!).  They took me to dinner, I enjoyed very authentic Louisiana cuisine and then prepared for my second screening on the tour.

Our All About Us screening was very well attended and the Manship Theatre was very impressive.  The buzz around town was about top-notch vocalist Patti Austin performing at the Manship the following evening.  I must admit we have screened our movies for maybe over 200 different audiences around the country over the past 10 years and this audience gave me one of the most memorable post-screening discussions that I've had in years.  Their numerous, numerous questions for me after the screening were so pointed and fantastic.  Their engaging questions gave me the unique opportunity to respond with very long and detailed answers.  I was thrilled!  I love making movies and discussing the process and all of a sudden I felt like I was teaching this in-depth graduate filmmaking and film business course all rolled into one for this eager and curious audience.  I loved it!  I loved that they got so much great information out of me and they pulled such detailed advice and insight from me.  Our Q&A probably lasted about 45 minutes and the ONLY reason we had to wrap it up was because we had this Whole Foods reception waiting for us in the lobby.  That didn't stop me though.  I announced before handing over the mic that I would keep it rolling in the lobby.  Very great audience!  Manship Theater movie projector system was not very great though.  Too bad for such a wonderful and otherwise state-of-the-art venue. 

When the Ryders' and I returned home we chatted for hours more, this time while nursing full-bodied glasses of red wine and enjoying delicious "wine cake" (Samara, your parents rock!).  THEN, all of a sudden we hear roaring winds outside!  Then we hear tree branches falling and things being turned over.  Then the house lights flicker a bit.  Then they flicker more.  Then they go completely off...for about 4 long seconds and come back on again.  Now, I have never been in a hurricane or tornado before but the Ryders knew exactly what this outside mayhem, loud thunder, lightening and that indoor spooky light thing could all mean.  Baton Rouge and the Ryders experienced first-hand the recent devastating hurricanes while the rest of us watched in horror on CNN.  So the Ryders were concerned with very good reason.  I was a bit less concerned because this was all new to me and perhaps the wine made me simply too optimistic: "This is probably just your typical Chicago style thunderstorm," I reasoned to myself.  Eventually the violent winds passed our neighborhood and about 2 AM we decided to call it a night...and wake up in the morning to see what damage was done outside.

Tomorrow the Ryders will give me a driving tour of Southern University and LSU, we'll have lunch at another favorite restaurant of theirs and I will then drive west to Lake Charles, LA for my next screening tomorrow evening.  I will never forget my first visit to Baton Rouge.  -Michael Swanson