Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ryan White - ECU and Hapeville, GA

Two wonderful Pelada screenings so far…
As a graduate of Duke I’d heard a lot about ECU but I’d never actually made the two-hour trek out to Greenville, NC. I’m glad I have now – it was a beautiful little college town and the drive out there I only passed a handful of cars. So nice to be out of LA and back in NC. I miss the trees and the accents.
The screening was fantastic – a self-anointed "super-senior" film student named Morgan introduced me and she couldn’t have been lovelier. The crowd was about 150 which was awesome - Michael Crane had done an amazing job getting the word out to the ECU community and also greater Greenville. The film department took me out afterwards for a couple drinks – wonderful people. If anyone is looking into undergrad courses in film and communications, I recommend ECU – these guys are passionate about their students. One professor told me he never makes it to graduation because he cries too hard on the drive there – we need more teachers like this.
I made the drive back to Durham and then a flight down to Atlanta’s airport. Hapeville is a little town right next to Atlanta’s airport. It used to hold a Ford factory, and now it’s also headquarters for Wachovia and Delta. The population is 65,000 during the day – and 6,000 at night. The town was gorgeous – I grew up in Atlanta so it made a little nostalgic for that old school Southern aesthetic.
We went to a reception beforehand at the town’s train depot. The Mayor (!) introduced me, and I got to meet a very interesting crowd of people. One guy, Ellis, has been collecting 16mm films and TV shows for the past 40 years that he takes around to local nursing homes for free screenings. Another was the local pastor and her grandson was one of the child actors in Cheaper by the Dozen. I am a closeted fan of Cheaper by the Dozen (Cheaper 2 was also good, but not as good. Maybe that’s because I saw it on airplane though.) I made her tell me Bonnie Hunt is as nice as she looks, which she is (duh). I also told her I was recently on a plane w/ Hillary Duff, and I’m pretty sure she’s the only person that’s ever cared about that story.
The screening was one of the most unique venues we’ve had yet in the 50 or so public screenings we’ve had of Pelada. It was in a Methodist church. Like the actual church – people sat in the pews and the movie played on screens that normally play the hymnal lyrics. My Q&A was on an altar. I LOVED this screening. At least half of the audience was over the age of 65 – besides my affinity for senior citizens, it’s my favorite test for Pelada when we have an older crowd watching a film about soccer. I was a little nervous about what the reaction would be, but I was thrilled when it was over. The Q&A lasted longer than ever, and I received more hugs after a screening than I think I ever have.
If you’re in Georgia, go to Hapeville… Charlotte Rentz (the perfect combination of southern sophistication and friendliness) is working hard to put this place on the map, and it’s well worth the visit.