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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Doeville Under the Stars

It was a perfect night in every way... except our movie star was missing.  

On September 20th, we screened the "fine cut" of DOEVILLE, a 97-min work in progress cut of the film for a crowd of about 100 people at Gail Rose's Deauville Farm.  The screening was followed by a delicious dinner catered by Shaffers out of Woodstock, Virginia.  It featured a gorgeous salad from Gail's garden, sustainably raised, barbecued chicken, a squash casserole that was positively to die for, and the best mac n' cheese in the Shenandoah.  Dessert included a berry cobbler and smores around the campfire.  Wine was from the nearby Cave Ridge Vineyard.  Neighbors Robert and Jackie contributed a keg of beer.
In the weeks leading up to the screening, Gail and many friends worked like trojans to clean up and restore the deer barn interior and exterior.  Rats had chewed the electrical cables up to the barn, so those were replace by next door neighbor, Robert, and Gail's NY friend, Eric.  Robert & Jackie moved round bails of hay out of the deer barn.  Rocky, Jerry, and a crew of friends cleaned up seven foot tall weeds in the forest and deer pasture, filled in gopher holes and moved downed branches and stumps aside.  Robert mowed the "perfect acre" and organized it as a parking lot, allowing guests to drive there via his and Jackie's property.  Jerry & Adam made a path to the barn, and lined it with lights.   Jerry also built wooden benches and a special fire pit.  Robert built and suspended a special shelf from the roof of the deer barn to accommodate the projector, and received delivery of the screening equipment.  Tables, chairs, wildflower arrangements and candles finished off the scene.  A popcorn machine was contributed by the caterer.   Everything was ready.  Perfect.

But about a week prior to the screening, Gail suffered two silent heart attacks.  Four days after the second attack, she had experienced sleepless nights and was having trouble breathing, so finally consented to go to the hospital.  Adam rushed her to Mt. Jackson hospital, and from there she was moved to Winchester.  5 days later, she was released.  Although they checked for a blockage, none was found, and the doctor declared her heart attacks a mystery.

Though her absence was heart-breaking for me and all of the folks who'd worked so hard to plan the screening, Gail insisted the show must go on.
Adam made a short, poignant speech explaining Gail's absence and I said a few words just prior to starting the film.  Then, munching on popcorn and sipping wine and beer, the audience of Indiegogo crowd-funding contributors, friends, and family loved all 97 minutes of DOEVILLE, laughing and crying in all the right places.
Immediately following the screening, Adam phoned Gail at the hospital and held up the phone
to the crowd -- they yelled "we love you Gail."  And then he put the phone to the microphone, and she responded, just so thrilled that everyone enjoyed the film.  The next day, I brought footage of the screening shot by my friend Birgit to the hospital to share with Gail.  It wasn't as good as having her there, but at least she got to enjoy a bit of the fun.

Next steps for the film -- cutting 2.5 minutes to get it to a final length of 95 minutes.  Fundraising for final post production -- sound editing, sound mix and color grading.  Output to a digital cinema package.  Film festival submissions.  And testing the waters for international distribution at Wildscreen Film Festival starting this Sunday!