As I drove to the airport yesterday morning, I got to thinking about my Grandma Droz. This is not unusual. I think about her a lot. She was and continues to be an inspiration for me – most intensely in challenging moments, but there’s not been a day gone by in the ten years since her death that I don’t think about her. She was an amazing woman – a brilliant and kind teacher; an enthusiastic decorator for every holiday season; a fierce negotiator and sale shopper; and the most loving grandma. She never judged; she really liked to listen.
I loved the winter breaks and summers I spent in Rich Hill. The quiet and comfort of her home. The cats we fed on the brick patio. The grasshoppers on the propane tank, the hum of crickets, the lightning bugs. Once I got to town, there’d be a long list of neighbors and friends we needed to visit. It didn’t matter that some of these folks had a lot less than she did - it was important to Grandma that she show me off equally. She never thought we were better than anyone just because she had a chandelier and shag carpet. Everyone got the same handshake and lengthy update on my exploits. It was important that we spend time on these visits, giving everyone their due.
That lesson has stuck with me. We are all equally worthy – no matter what our circumstances. And honestly, that was part of what led us in the current direction with our film. When we first got to town, we visited with just about everyone. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone we didn’t sit and have a conversation with in the early stages. But when you’re making a film – you can’t overpopulate it too much. And at a certain point, you have to start editing and make choices. We did narrow our focus eventually, to three kids and their families. Some might think we should have narrowed our focus to different kids – perhaps more deserving kids– who are excelling at school and are college-bound, kids who are not struggling the way our subjects are.
But the thing is – I have Grandma with me a lot – and she would say there are no bad kids. And everyone deserves respect. And in focusing on the kids we selected –we are giving them voice – to share with us their views on their circumstances, their experience of community, their love of family, and their deepest hopes for their future. These kids are at a crossroads. And if we choose to dismiss them now – what does that say about how much stock we place in their future?
We have all faced – or will face - tragedy and misfortune in our lives. Nobody is superior to that, especially in these economic times. We hope our film will be less about a town on the decline, but more about the promise of untapped potential. The reality for kids and families who right now could use our help and support. Thank you for getting behind this project.