Thursday, November 24, 2016

Prayers for the Equality House

If you've seen "Out Here In Kansas," you'll remember we introduce you to The Equality House, the rainbow-colored cottage directly across the street from Westboro Baptist Church.

I don't mind telling you how sad I am this morning to learn that our friends at Equality House have been the victims of several recent hate crimes. I have heavily cropped the top right photo here, but I think you get the idea.
The president of responded with this message on Facebook ...

Before painting the Equality House, Davis and I thought it would only be three weeks before the house was burnt down.
We even set forth escape plans. But something beautiful happened over the course of the last three years.... Nothing.
With roughly 150 visitors a day, the Equality House had never been attacked.
Then, in late 2016:
- Our Little Free Library was covered in feces.
- The KKK knocked on our door and told Davis and me that we would be killed if Trump were elected.
- Then, a few weeks ago, I was awakened by the sounds of 5 white guys spray painting "f__ fags" along the exterior of my house. They also left 7 bullet holes in my window.
I spoke with the Southern Poverty Law Center after the Equality House was shot, and they confirmed hate crimes are on the rise.
I've seen more swastikas in the last couple of days than I have seen in my lifetime outside of historical references.
But what scares me more than the bullets nailing my window and swastikas popping up on street corners around America is the absolute silence from far too many. This is no time to be complacent my friends. We must act.
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
- Aaron Jackson

Monday, November 14, 2016

Silent partner

I've used a fair of space on this blog talking about Kenny Linn, our editor and cinematographer, Mostly I've sung his praises, but every once in a while I'll post something about him that I find funny. Like this. Or this. Or this. Or especially this.
But this picture, taken by Melissa Fink at the Kansas International Film Festival a few days ago, makes me smile the biggest.
That's Kenny on the left and producer Savannah Rodgers in the middle. Of the four of us on the team (Jon Pic is not pictured), Savannah probably loves talking the most. Kenny's more of an introvert.
Kenny, bless his heart, has willingly taken part in most of our Q&A sessions. But as you see here, he's never too crazy about being handed the microphone.

Evening with the Episcopalians

Saturday evening saw our second screening in a church, St. Thomas The Apostle in Overland Park. It was a special evening for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, it is the church of Judy Dutra, whose son Burt Humburg is the main character of "Out Here In Kansas." (Judy herself makes an appearance in the movie.)
It is led by the Rev. Gar Demo, a man with whom I share some amazing connections, although we're both pretty sure we hadn't met until Saturday. Gar and I are the same age, we grew up about 10 minutes from each other, we both went to Wichita State and our mutual friends range from opera singers to sports talk show hosts.
And it was great because the crowd was such a terrific mixture of complete strangers, people I'd met the night before and dear friends I hadn't seen in years, including my former newspaper colleagues in Missouri.
I grew up First Baptist, but for a long time I've considered myself an honorary Episcopalian. I'm told a fair amount of the crowd had reservations about watching our documentary, but they came anyway. If I can find more people who will give it a chance for 30 minutes, "Out Here In Kansas" could be well on its way to big things.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Feeling the love in KC

We just returned from Kansas City, and let me just start this post by thanking two of our executive producers, John and Jennifer Stephens, who really spoiled us. Eating, drinking, lodging - they made sure we wanted for nothing during our two night, three-day stay.
They finally got to see "Out Here In Kansas," which was shown on the big screen Thursday night to finish the Kansas International Film Festival. We were the only documentary in a block of other local films  - my personal favorites were "Hoyt," "Corvalo" and "For Sale," which was a speechless, minute-long narrative created by our own producer, Savannah Rodgers.
I wish we'd gotten Savannah in this picture (that's me on the left, cinematographer Kenny Linn in the middle and producer Jon Pic on the right) because it was the first time the four of us had been together in awhile. Nonetheless, it was great to hang out and we were even treated to a first-class after-party when the festival ended.
Kenny and I did a little work on Friday - we're still poring over a short list of what our next projects will be - before John and Jenn threw a celebration party for us in a private room at a club called The Levee.
That brings us up to the hazy wee hours of Saturday morning. But I'll save that for another post.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Once more at Roxy's

We had an encore screening at Roxy's Downtown last night, an event that was considerably more laid back than our world premiere last month.
Trying to shine a little spotlight on fellow Kansas filmmakers, I asked Doc Sunback Film Festival director Nancy Faber Mottola to be our emcee. We opened things up with a trailer of "Wifi at Rock Bottom," made by our friend Lester Rowe, who won the audience appreciation award at this year's festival.
We then showed the sweet-hearted sci-fi short "Franklin," which won best Kansas film at the inaugural Doc Sunback last year. That was directed by Anthony Bradley and stars Naythan Smith, a talented director himself who was in the audience last night.
So thanks to everyone who came - gosh, we nearly filled up Roxy's again - and especially to those who shared their stories about the meaning "Out Here In Kansas" had for them.