I’ve taken two classes at SAIC with Rick Paul (production designer) and Pat Hart (costume designer). They met thirty years ago while in the theater program here* and they’ve been working and teaching together ever since. In their mask-making class last fall, Rick commissioned me to make a set of about sixty silk Moon Flowers for a movie he and Pat were working on called Hannah Free. Knowing Rick had added my name to the credits and that the flowers were guaranteed a little screen time, I wanted to make sure I got to see the film while it was playing in a theater. As fate would have it, while figuring out what to do last weekend, I saw that the film was playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center.* * Even though I was a little put off by the trailer (it looked really sad and really intense- not usually my thang), I walked to the theatre and bought my ticket for Monday night.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by the movie. Yes, it was sad, but it was also really sweet and funny. The story wasn’t the most interesting thing in the world (think Fried Green Tomatoes meets The Notebook), but I imagine a lot had to be left out when it was converted from a play to a screenplay. I would’ve liked to have seen the play just in case it delved into some of the off-shooting story lines that were alluded to in the film. That’s the thing about movies based on other sources. Not everything can be fit into a feature-length film, especially when they’re so darn expensive to produce.
The cinematography was really beautiful and the actors were great, lots of whom are hot shots in the Chicago theater scene. Sharon Gless was absolutely sensational as Hannah. I hope to see her in a play sometime.
One of the coolest things about seeing the movie was hearing the discussion afterwards. It was so cool to see the people who’d come together to make something. They kept talking about how the film was a “labor of love” and how it was “a real Chicago-based film made by real Chicagoans.” Most of the people (about fifty percent) that worked on it were women, which was also really neat.
The people-watching opportunities were good too. There was a guy sitting in the front row that had one of the strangest bald heads I’ve ever seen. It looked as though he was wearing a very shiny loaf of bread as a hat. There was also a lady who had a similar head shape and haircut as Sloth from The Goonies. Another guy had a laugh that echoed through the theatre every time he got weak, which, in turn, got me weak. * * *
Seeing my Moon Flowers on the screen was pretty freaking cool. And even though they started bringing up the lights while the credits were still rolling, I got to see my name. Woo hoo.
* SAIC used to have a partnership with the Goodman Theatre. Check it out.
* *All you SAIC-ers should go to the GSFC. Admission is only $4.00 for students and faculty!
* * * An expression we use in the Nasty to describe someone who is laughing so hard they’ve become physically weak. An “h” can be added for emphasis.