Last night I had the great privilege of attending the MY NAME IS JERRY test screening in Muncie, Indiana.
As most of you know, MY NAME IS JERRY is an independent film from Clothespin Films and Ball State University - the first time ever a university has developed a commercial film. The star of MY NAME IS JERRY is Ball State's distinguished thespian alumn (and GDT film veteran), Doug Jones.
As webmaster of DelToroFilms.com, I keep a close eye on Doug's film career - a lot of GDT fans are Doug Jones fans as well, and hey, you can't help but love the guy - he's a hoot. But when I heard he was filming an independent film in Muncie, IN, I knew I was in a unique position to cover this project as I only live about an hour or so away. I was lucky enough to make a set visit a year ago, and finally, last night, I got to see an early cut of the film, along with 800 other lucky people.
Ball State sponsored a test screening, which was meant not only to get feedback from viewers, but to raise funds to allow the film to be submitted to various film festivals and such. It is clear that the city of Muncie, IN - which serves as the backdrop of the film and is host to Ball State University - is fully behind this film. The event was sold out, and it was shoulder-to-shoulder in the VIP area. Attendees were decked out in their finest film premiere attire, and for at least one evening, it was "Hollywood in the Heartland." With attendees sipping wine, enjoying appetizers, and rubbing elbows with the cast and crew, I could tell this was a special night for Muncie. Folks were giddy with excitement - most notably the director of the film, Morgan Mead. Morgan was so impressed with the turnout, and knowing how hard he worked on the film, I couldn't be happier for him.
Morgan Mead at the premiere
And Doug was definitely in his element - he was like Mick Jagger - working the reception floor like a rock star (only with more hugs and without the surliness). He was definitely the man of the night, as he signed every autograph and took every picture before and after the film, up until the very end of the evening (I didn't last that long, but I'm sure security had to "encourage" him to leave!)
Doug signing autographs...on the floor
The screening was in the auditorium in the Horizon Convention Center. I had an assigned seat, which made me feel important until I realized that so did about 300 other people!
Doug spoke to the audience and the sense of community at this event really came through - not only did the residents of Muncie cheer Doug, but it was clear that friends from every part of Doug's life - high school, college, internet (he gave a special shout-out to the Fan Sapiens) had come to support him in one of his finest career moments.
You see, Doug has had a lot of fulfilling moments - most notably PAN'S LABYRINTH and HELLBOY I'm sure, but he has never had such a commanding role in commercial film before - he is the lead actor. He is JERRY. His dream role.
Jerry is a man unhappy with his life. He is a salesman. He has an estranged daughter. He is lonely. But something snaps - he makes a decision to make a change in his life - his first step is to walk into a music store and buy a punk rock album. This begins a chain of events that will change Jerry's life forever.
I will save my review of JERRY for another day - but for today's blog, I just want to describe what a special night this was for Doug and the community of Muncie. I will say that all the Fan Sapiens out there (Doug's fan community) will love him in this film. It really is a perfect role for Doug and he plays it beautifully.
Will it put the town on the map? No - not any more than Ball State University already does, but it will make any resident of Muncie feel, if only for a couple of hours, a little more special about themselves.
Just as Mr. Jones does with everyone he meets.