The Movie Palace and the Broken Elbow

Last week my short video about the reopening of the historic Parkway Theatre played to an audience of supporters of the theater, and its new proprietors, The Maryland Film Festival. It was a really great evening with lots of smiles and excitement. Baltimore celebrities, David Simon (The Wire) and John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Cry-Baby, Hairspray) were there to show their genuine support. It was a great night.

Back in 2015, when the theater restoration was still twinkle in everyone's eyes, the festival reached out to me and their creative partners Post Typography (a brilliant design firm), to produce a short film about the restoration, and generally raise interest and funds.

The budget was tight, but I pride myself on being able to produce excellent work on small budgets. And so off we went.

Two years later, and the theater is incredible. I'm so excited that starting next week when the 2017 Maryland Film Festival opens, you'll be able to see it for yourself. I highly recommend you do.

But enough about that. Let's talk about my elbow.


Bleeding for Your Art

During the course of the 2015 video production, I had an idea for a really cool shot. There's a vacant building across from the theater, and it would make a really great timelapse. I decided it would be a good idea to scale said building, grab the fire escape, pull it down to ground level, and walk up to the roof with my gear. No problem!

And so I did. I climbed the side of the building in record time. My wife and colleague were impressed. Things were going just as planned. Until I took hold of the fire escape, more than 12 feet off the ground, and realized it was bolted in the up position. It was going nowhere, and I was exhausted from my illegal climb. “I'm just going to drop down and roll,” I said. “No! You'll really $%#* yourself up! Try to climb down,” they said. And so I did.

I let go of the fire escape to grab the side of the building, and promptly lost my grip. It all happened so fast, all I remember is making contact with the ground. I landed on some old liquor bottles someone had thoughtfully left there to break my fall. Somehow, I didn't receive a single cut or scratch. I was unbelievably lucky.

Across the street where some kids had been watching this crazy man climb a building, we heard a shout I will never forget: “That guy almost died!” They were right. It was reckless, painful, and embarrassing.

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, the fall left me with a broken elbow. To this day I can no longer straighten it all the way, and when I do pushups (something I could not do for more than a year after the accident), it sounds all crunchy in there. An audible reminder that art should hurt emotionally, but not physically.

When the project was complete, no one noticed that there wasn't a timelapse of that corner. No one said, “Hey. You know what's missing here?”

But I also know that I gave my all to that project—and then some! See the original video here.