When It Comes to Your Pitch, Moor Is Sometimes Better
After my son Rick died, as a way to communicate with him, and to pretend he was still here, I would ask him to help me find my glasses. What’s so funny is that eventually they would turn up in a place I could have sworn I looked.
In September of 2007, I traveled to New Zealand and I specifically remember packing my rhinestone reading glasses. I had flown to Auckland to give a $3,000 award to the best pitch in the DOC NZ film festival.
One of the filmmakers in my pitch class was Jeannette Howe who had the most heart and courage of any filmmaker I had seen recently. She wanted to film a group of teen-age actors doing Othello. Doesn’t sound very interesting, does it? That’s what I thought when she practiced her pitch in a pitch class with me the day before the major funding award session. I hoped she was a better filmmaker than pitch maker. My son Rick was an incredible actor who taught me that taking risks makes for interesting performances. Wasn’t a pitch a performance? I suggested she try bringing the actors on stage with her when she pitched her project in front of the judge the next day.
When Jeannette nervously walked on the stage the next day to give the judge her final pitch, a little voice said to me, “Give her the money.” I was shocked. I had just heard a fantastic pitch from a woman that I’m sure the judge wanted me to choose. I know he expected me to give her my money.
Before I could even find my checkbook, four entrance doors flew open and eight beautiful male Polynesian teens exploded into the room. They were singing romantic Island songs, spouting Shakespeare, and clowning around with a hand-held video camera. Some played hand-carved native drums and others danced to Maori war chants. They simply stole my heart. I knew I had to give them the award. This was a film that deserved to be made.
The only female on the crew, their fearless leader, said the purpose for recording the play was to get a DVD into schools to introduce teens to Shakespeare, to better their communication skills, and for them to learn to appreciate the Bard’s work. Who wouldn’t be impressed with this mission and the presentation? (Filmmaker’s take note: Judges want to know your film can make a difference.)
Since the judge for the best pitch was giving the DOC NZ award to another person, I had to write my speech carefully for them to understand why I made a different choice. I wrote my speech, printed it out and practiced it. Going out of the hotel room, I made sure I had my rhinestone glasses so I could read it, but I actually never used my notes or glasses. It seems that once I know what I want to say, when it’s time to speak, someone else takes over. This is exactly what happened on award night.
It was so much fun to see the Jeanette’s excitement at receiving my check. She had the most urgent need for the money. It was a great night ending in a wonderful joyous celebration. The young Polynesian actors, known as The Browns, went home feeling like the winners.
Early the next day, I flew to Blenheim in the south island of New Zealand then drove to my home, The Wye Cottage, which is in the Wairau Valley in the Marlborough district. This is the house we used for the writing grant.
Once settled in, I remember using my rhinestone glasses to read something and putting them down on the coffee table when I was done. Awaking from a nap a few hours later, however, they were gone. Being distracted with ideas for improving the house and busy attacking an over grown English garden before my flight home, I just used a spare pair knowing my favorite glasses would show up by the time to leave.
However, when packing my suitcase in a rush to return to Oxnard the next day, I realized too late that I was still wearing my spare glasses and my wonderful rhinestone glasses were nowhere to be found. As the airport taxi’s horn honked for me in the driveway, I knew it was too late to even ask for Rick’s help
Just before dashing out, Jeannette called to ask if she could spend her award money on a good camera. I wholeheartedly agreed. It meant she would save a lot of money on rentals and would have the camera handy to capture all the rehearsals, discussions on funding and how the actors would survive without jobs while making this film. I was elated with her decision and asked that she please name the camera Rick and never leave home without it!
Getting home to Oxnard Shores was a joy. After unpacking, I opened my office desk that contained all my New Zealand home information …. You will never guess what I found. My rhinestone glasses were sitting right in that drawer.
Was this a trick? Did they really bi-locate? Did I imagine using them in New Zealand? Or was Rick there with me the whole time showing me what I needed to see without my glasses? Was he there helping me to see that passion, purpose, and emotion can rescue the most mundane story idea? Or, did I just have really bad jet lag from not having slept for 28 hours?
I would rather think that it was a Hermes-like Rick Dean trick, simply to tell me “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreampt of in your philosophy.”