Changes of the heart


My old pal Erik heads out West tomorrow for a new future. He’s a shining example of the ripple effect, one pebble in our pond whose ripples continue to touch all around.

seefilmrun.jpgErik has been synonymous with the homegrown film festival, one that’s been around since 1999. But I knew him way back when, back in the days of high school.

This is not a trip down memory lane.

Erik helped launch a film festival, along with other visionaries, dreamers and hard-working individuals who saw something more for downtown than closing storefronts and empty streets. Since then, the festival has become a living, breathing part of Birmingham culture.

It is his legacy.

This is not a tribute to that legacy.

Within that festival, local filmmakers came together as a community. Before, it is fair to say, they were loosely knit strangers with a common interest. Now, they network. They work on each others’ projects. They read each others’ scripts. They greet each other as fraternity brothers.

And in a small way, I am part of that community.

I don’t shoot movies, nor do I have any aspirations to do so. My acting is limited to feigning interest in your small talk. I can’t perform feats of audio engineering, nor can I light an indoor late afternoon shot.

I am virtually useless on set, save for doughnut runs and attending to fussy directors.

And yet, I have wormed my way in, into closed sets and open bars, into loft parties and special screenings. My friends are the filmmakers — I am merely a hanger-on.

This friendly and familiar lot don’t question my presence. I am greeted as though I actually participate in moviemaking. I drink with them, I secondhand smoke with them. I even do their PR dirty work for money when called upon.

So I have a soft spot in my heart for film geeks. I would likely have met none of them if Sidewalk hadn’t happened. This community has helped me become more comfortable talking to strangers, lying about movies and being myself.

And their ways have rubbed off on me. Last week, I found myself helping with a video shoot, adjusting the “set” (a conference room), working with the talent, praying the camcorder battery would hold out for one more shot. I slated the sound, coached the director, timed the scenes and cut the footage together.

Erik, I believe, would be proud.

He leaves tomorrow for the other side of the country. What he leaves behind is a place better than he found it.

And ripples through my life and many more.


About this entry