By Greg Kiernan
So there I was walking stiffed-legged through the frigid cold, down Elizabeth Street to a dark building I had never seen before that night. My breath forms a stinky mist through the scarf wrapped around my face. My eyes tear from the harsh wind and my normal rosy complexion turns a strawberry red. Not to mention my cheeks are numb. Why in God's name am I doing this to myself?
My question is immediately answered as I step inside -- the best things in life are worth the suffering. The interior is warm and bright, with beautiful paintings decorating the studio. Old pieces of scenery reminisce of past glory days and a pretty little kitchen gives the place a homely feel. Forty folding chairs sit arranged before a huge white screen as the audience mingles: the cast, the crew, their family and friends, investors and other supporters of Blue Damen Pictures. The crowd falls silent and the room gets dark as the curtain finally rises on the "underground" preview screening of "Dark Before Dawn", the latest endeavor of Blue Damen Pictures.
I immediately notice a difference from the earlier, unfinished version of the film I had previously viewed; the former choppy sound plagued with loud background noise and overpowered by ambience was now crisper, cleaner and lead by a nicely flowing score. I am currently developing my screenwriting skills and hope one day to be successful at it; when I heard that this project had no script I felt skeptical at best. But I have to give a lot of credit to the actors, Pete Garlock and Amy Karen, for playing their parts so well and I must give props to the director, Gwydhar, for her amazing shots that make Elgin look more beautiful than I had imagined.
The lights come on and the applause finally dies; the director thanks the audience and hosts a Q&A session (filmed by yours truly). The audience gives it's approval, asks questions about certain points in the plot and make nice suggestions how the film can be improved. They give compliments to the actors on their on-screen chemistry and how the story develops well. When yours truly hands out questionnaires, I am surprised to find almost everyone is eager to fill out the form; some quickly scribble their opinions on the page while others thoughtfully stroke their chins in thought. They give honest feedback and helpful suggestions that the director takes into careful consideration. It just goes to show you what a strong support base Blue Damen has grown for itself, and how considerate everyone is of each other.
So then I found myself on the same street in the familiar cold, marching like a penguin back to my car a block away from there. I climb inside my car and start the engine; I had made plans to go drinking with my friends that night at some bar, and I didn't want to be late. But then it hits me; Gwydhar and her entourage were getting food and drinks two blocks the other direction. Drinks with friends? That's exactly what I had planned anyway. The rest can wait. So I turn off the engine, climb out and head for the after-party. And suddenly the Chicago weather doesn't seem so cold.