I arrive at the premiere, meet our publicist and producer rep, and begin greeting actors as they arrive.
Getting ready: our publicist Kim, Me (Jon Stokes), Valerie Azlynn, Alicia Ziegler
We sold out the theater the day before, and now everyone’s clamoring for tickets. Even actors can’t get a seat! I do the best job I can to handle everyone and deflect people onto Adam, Kim, Chuck, Jay and anyone who can help.
The crowd arrives and I’m thrilled to see so many friends. My best friend Jordan surprises me at the premiere – he flew out from New York! This makes my entire night.
The audience lining up to buy tickets
Beautiful people arrive…
David Wachs, Gary Cairns, Jennifer Ann Massey, Hakeem Kae-Kazim
I join the red carpet photos. This takes practice. Which way do we look?
Jon Weinberg, Ravi Patel, Jon Stokes, Randy Wayne
The filmmakers get their picture taken…
Chuck DeRosa (Cinematographer), Jon Stokes (Me the director), Jay Trautman (Editor, Post-Production Supervisor)
The screening starts a good 30 minutes late. The Dances With Films staff struggles to pack in every last remaining seat. We turn away a crowd at the door.
I stand in the back of the theater with my producing team and the festival directors. It feels good. There is excitement in the air.
Jon Stokes (Me the director) and Valerie Azlynn (the female lead)
I’ve never seen The Last Hurrah on a full size theater screen. What will the picture quality be like? As soon as the movie starts, I breath my first sigh of relief. The picture looks better than I’ve ever seen it. When my name appears on the screen I get butterflies.
With each of the first five scenes in the movie I breath a little more relief – the laughs and momentum are there. The movie is underway, the audience is with us. Once we finally hit the Act One break I turn around and give a big thumbs up to my team: We Did It.
Sarah Scott, Jon Stokes, David Wachs
The audience response is amazing. Better than I ever imagined. They gasp, they cheer, they laugh, they clap. They root for the characters. When Will has a serious moment they are silent, when Jason gives Will advice they are on the edge of their seats, when Steve breaks up with Tara they laugh and applaud, and when Will finally kisses Nicole they cheer. It works. Finally seeing the movie with a live audience is transcendent.
When the movie’s over we get applause after applause. It feels great!
Zack Bennett, Alicia Ziegler, Valerie Azlynn
After the credit roll I’m called down for the Q&A. I invite all the actors and crew to come down as well. There is a lot of energy on stage and we all get some good laughs during the Q&A.
The first thing I always need to do when I walk out of a theater is find a bathroom. Code yellow! But it takes me 15 minutes to walk to the bathroom with the outpouring of congratulations. For a writer who spends most of his time toiling alone, hunched over a laptop, this night is a tremendously gratifying experience. The screening over, we all head to Libertine for the after party. It is packed and jumping and a great finish to a great night.