Jan Term 2013 Sundancers, Jazo Moises and Erik Strand joined me at the premiere screening of FRUITVALE written and directed by Bay Area native Ryan Coogler. I worked as the script supervisor on FRUITVALE which we shot in Oakland in July 2012. Based on a true story, the film is about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant who was shot and killed by a BART police officer just after midnight on New Year’s 2009. The cast of the film includes: Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights), Octavia Spencer (The Help), and Melonie Diaz. Erik, Jazo and I arrived at the theater at 2:00pm to stand in line for an hour and a half for wait-list tickets (#12, 13, 14) in hopes of scoring a hard ticket to the 5:30pm premiere screening. Although I worked on the film, only a limited number of tickets were given to the director and producers to distribute to family, friends, cast and crew. Many other crew members like myself had to take our chances in the wait list line. I was thrilled to make it into our premiere screening which turned out to be a huge success. In addition to receiving a standing ovation, many members of audience expressed high praise for the film. This was the third time a film I’ve worked on has premiered at Sundance (In the Bedroom-2001; La Mission-2010), and the first time that the entire crew was invited to join the director, producers and cast on stage for the Q&A. What a thrill it was to be a part of that! Many tears were shed during the screening as many in the audience were deeply moved by the film. The most touching moment for me was when Oscar Grant’s aunt and uncle – several from his family were in the audience – stood up and shared their reactions to the film and thanked the cast and crew for our work on the film. Later, at a private premiere party on Main Street, I had the chance to meet Forest Whitaker, our Executive Producer, and thank him for producing the film. Forest and Nina Yang Bongiovi, his producing partner at Significant Productions, were the first to support Ryan and made it possible to shoot and finish the film in less than a year’s time – which is an impressive feat especially in the indie film world. Ryan Coogler spent his freshman year as a St. Mary’s College undergrad on a football scholarship but had to transfer his Sophomore year to Sac State when the SMC football program was terminated. He credits SMC english professor Rosemary Graham for encouraging him to pursue a career as a screenwriter and filmmaker, and treasures her presence in his life as a mentor and friend. How cool is that!!!
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