FILMING IN SEATTLEby Samuel J Granillo on 08/13/12
Well hello there fellow followers, supports, friends, family and newcomers! Welcome to another lovely blog post to catch you up on where we are on our journey.
The past couple of weeks have been really intense and draining for all of us. July 20th affected all of us and on a personal level kicked me in the gut of my soul. Many innocent people lost their lives, even more were injured and every single individual, having been there or not, will be left with mental scares that will last a lifetime. It reminds us the importance of the healing, counseling, therapy and a better solution for the future. The tragedy happened just 3 days before our trip to Seattle, which changed the entire path of production.
The plane ride out there was pretty classic. There was a man on the flight who we dubbed 'casual flight man' who stood in the isle facing backwards talking to the person in the seat behind him for the entire flight! Nice to see that he flies SO frequently that he can casually do whatever he likes. On this trip I went with Benjamin Garst (camera op) and Anne Banister (field producer). At one point we decided to watch the first episode, season 2, of Louis C.K. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but the punch line left us laughing so hard that everyone on the plane turned around to look at us, and we also woke-up a man sleeping a few rows back. I needed a good laugh.
DAY 1 was pretty packed. The plan was to meet up with Kristina, set up some lighting in her apartment, grab some food, go do an interview at Fox Q13 and then head back to her place to do a formal interview. What I hadn't planned on was calling Kristina and then quickly being invited to meet up at Cafe Racer to be introduced to and injured survivor Len Meuse, who Kristina hadn't yet met either. 2 months ago, there was a horrible shooting rampage in Seattle, and out of everyone who was injured, Len was the only survivor. I don't want to get into the details, but you can read about it more here: http://goo.gl/muVnZ
I was beyond amazed to learn that Len was already back to work. He told us his story, we shared hugs and tears, but before we were on our way we decided that it would be good for the both of us to try and meet up later on in the week and have a chat over a couple of beers. The community that supports Cafe Racer is like a family I had never scene before. It seems that everyone knew each other, and it felt exactly like hanging out in someones house that happened to also have a cafe in it. I found out that the grand reopening was on July 20th. It was pouring buckets of rain, and of course the media was there. Everyone expected that there would be media there for the reopening, but the first question that came out of their mouth was unexpected. Instead of "Congratulations on the reopening of the cafe," they asked "What do you think about what happened in Aurora today?" Completely caught off guard and unprepared, I can only imagine how intense that must have felt. Things are still way too fresh over there. They had been really preoccupied with reopening, so they actually had no idea what had happened in Aurora. I can't believe that they would put that kind of weight on them during such an important step in the process of healing. Maybe I can.
It was amazing meeting Len though, I hope that we stay in touch over the years.
After hanging out at Cafe Racer for a bit, after traveling, after having the longest weekend of my recent life, my brain was melted. On top of that my emotions were drained, and my energy was artificially powered. Now it's time to head over to Fox to do a LIVE interview with Kristina. We got some sweet behind the scenes footage, but you can watch the video broadcast here: http://goo.gl/NiyCi
I'm pretty sure you can tell how drained I am by looking at my eyes...
After the live interview, we headed back over to Kristina's house and sat down for a more formal interview. Both of our nerves were pretty high strung, so we decided to have a glass of wine with our interview. She told me her story, which was more than I could have ever prepared for, but I was in a comfortable space with great people, and I'm glad I learned more of what happened at Virginia Tech. Up until now I have denied myself full exposure to everything that happened because I wasn't sure I ever wanted to know the full details. I knew it would just be too much. Fortunately this was the right time and place to finally learn the event at my own pace. We talked for hours and finally wrapped up or first day of filming around midnight. Quite the first day.
DAY 2 was a bit more relaxed. We got up early and filmed Kristina going out for her morning run, taking care of some business for the Koshka foundation, and prepping for the fundraiser that is taking place later in the evening. Kristina awesomely took it upon herself to throw a fundraiser just for me and my film. It was unbelievably touching and we raised about $2,000! At the event, we shared our stories, talked about Columbine: Wounded Minds. and showed people some of the raw footage from our day before. Len came to the event too which made me really happy. I don't know what it was like for him to experience us opening up, but I hope that it helped him somehow. A couple of friends from Columbine and some others from Colorado, who now live in Seattle, came to the event. It's always great to see a familiar face and I'm beyond thrilled to have had them there. Fox Q13 did a follow up which you can watch here: http://goo.gl/wf87m and KING5 also did a piece: http://goo.gl/oQLRa
We raffled a bottle of wine at the end of the event and the winner, Marlis DeJongh, instantly decided right then and there that she would throw us yet another fundraiser later in the week. She is a victim of gun violence and our event inspired her to start her very own support peer group. It's amazing to see the changes in action and that we are inspiring others to make a difference.
As the night winded down and everyone left, we had realized that we hadn't eaten since breakfast. We went out to a great restaurant called 'Palace' and had a terrific late night meal. After that, we stayed up until about 2am discussing the project and everything that has come our way so far this week.
DAY 3 was pretty amazing. We filmed a bit of a recap of the fundraiser, walked and talked through a local city garden, and explored different parts of Seattle together while continuing our conversations from the past couple of days. The night came way too fast, and Kristina had to part ways with us to attend a family event across the country. It was sad to see her go having shared so much with each other over a short amount of time and invading her house with our busy bodies and equipment, but I'm really happy to know that I have a great new friend and an inspiring individual who is making a difference in the world in my life.
DAY 4 we hung out with and interviewed Christine Bell, a Columbine graduate who now lives in Seattle. We had some really great conversations as she too showed us around town. We got some great B-roll of the city and in the evening we re-met up with Len and we had a chat over some beers. Kristina knew that him and I loved fancy beers and she bought us each a specialty bottle. We decided to take these to some steps outside of an apartment complex and crack them open. We cheersed and shared a few more bits of life experience under the glow of a streetlight. As the bottles emptied, and as the night got late, it came time for us to part ways. We had a solid hug and went along our way. He's a great man, and I hope to stay close with him. I'm so happy that I was able to connect to Len and the Cafe Racer Community. Originally I was hoping to try and connect to that community, but was unsure how to even go about it. It wasn't in my plans before I came out to Seattle. I had dropped the idea because I didn't know if it was even possible to get in touch with someone, or if it would even make a difference to anyone if I did. I guess it was fate that brought me to Cafe Racer, but more specifically it was Kristina who made it happen. Thanks Kristina, you have already become more of a friend than I could have ever imagined.
DAY 5 we tied up a few loose ends filming wise and Ben and Anne headed back to Denver. Later that evening was the second fundraiser held at Marlis's residence. We talked, laughed, cried, and karaoked. It was great to yet again meet new faces and raise a few more bucks for the film project. Thank you for your hospitality and kindness.
DAY 6...I confidently headed to the airport. Drained from the week, mind gone to mush, but overall happy to know that everything was a success and that I was heading home. I checked out of our hotel, returned the van, and walked up to the counter. With a big smile I told them my name and flight number. They said, "Um...that plane left yesterday." I can not begin to explain the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I heard this. How could this happen? I never mess these kinds of things up, especially travel arrangements!! I somehow gathered myself enough to say, "So what happens now?" I also managed to tell him about the week I had just had and that my mind must not be in the right place. The man behind the counter asked me to wait just a minute while he goes to speak with his boss. He comes back a few minutes later and says that he can take care of everything at no extra charge. I was promptly put on a plane back to Colorado, but not before the obligatory lecture from the man behind the counter telling me to be more careful in the future. I felt much more relaxed knowing that I was going to get home okay. The plane ride home was great, but as soon as the wheels touched down in Denver, I thought to myself how much I need a vacation.
Thanks to all who have been supporting the project to make this happen. Every person, every voice, every dollar and ever bit of support is what keeps this going and I am so grateful to have the support behind us that we do. This adventure to Seattle was a critical piece of the puzzle and will look amazing in the final film. Please continue to support this project as we have quite a ways left to go. We're still waiting for those one or two individuals to come forward and tell us that they'll take care of everything financially until this project is done, but until that happens we really need your help to continue. Please share this project, share the story, and share the love. Remember, this is for us all. Our hearts are with all those who are in healing, there is light at the end of the tunnel for all of us.