Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Chair

For the fifth summer in a row, some friends and I made a short film in a weekend as part of the 48 Hour Film Project.  We were, and are, pretty proud of last year's effort (The Smell), but didn't think we'd be able to live up to it, let alone win any awards from the festival.  We do this for fun, after all, and because we love the process.

The Chair:
http://48hourfilm.com/minneapolis-mn/films/37166
(Watch before reading; spoilers below.)

Well, we did win some awards.  Including the big one, Best Film!  We were thrilled and genuinely shocked.  It still feels surreal.  Since that wild night, we have been accumulating stories like this one, pasted from a multipart text message Mike sent to the rest of us:
I was filling in as an usher tonight at work... a guy who's a bit distracted walked up to me to have his ticket torn. He looked up at me and blurted "the chair! You're the chair!"
It was really busy and there were people all over the place in the lobby. I smiled and said hi, yes I was in The Chair. The dude lost his mind! He was like... " I love that movie! You're hilarious! Holly Cow! you work here?" I was like... thanks yeah, I work here. He then told all these strangers in the lobby about how I was in this "funny movie that just won an award"

Well that piqued the interest of everyone waiting to get into Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This guy is telling the lobby of people all about our film and the puppets and how they have to go out to the 48hr film project website to see it. Then two other groups of people step up to say hi and to tell me they had seen the film and loved it! Then!!!... two actors from the runner-up film who lost to us are in the lobby and they come to say hi and say how great they thought the our film was! Needless to say I a little overwhelmed by all of this! What a wacky night! It's really fun that this film is connecting with people 😊
We've had some time now to detach from the movie and examine it, and think about why and how this really strange little film of ours has resonated so well.

Perhaps I've thought about this too much, but here's what I've come up with:  For such an outlandish movie, there's a lot of relatable honesty in The Chair.  Life, metaphorically, is constantly putting chairs in your bedroom door while you sleep.  You can't understand it; problems you've already solved keep coming back.  Wouldn't it be fun if the nonsense that gets in your way was caused by some misfit puppets?  And speaking of, they just want to put on a show, to take their shot and make their mark.  That's all they ever wanted, but they never got the chance.  What percentage of human life does that describe?  But say you get lucky, and you're offered a deal, a map for moving on.  Build the stage, do the show, and life will quit haunting you with recurring obstacles.  So you do it, you put in the work.  You even find some joy and pride in it.  Then what?  Well, it's never enough.  You're stuck with that metaphorical chair.  Forever.  But if you can let go of the anger that comes with that, there's still charm to be found, and fun to be had.  Embrace the nonsense, sing an ad-libbed song, stumble towards harmony when you can, and have a laugh before life fades out.

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