Monday was a sad day. Realizing that Castleton Arts was really closed. Dione has been gone for a couple of weeks, and that kind of set things in motion, but it wasn't until Monday that it hit like a ton of bricks. And yesterday, AMC was to turn over the keys to the building to Simon. It's tough. This building has been a part of my life for the past 7 years, and it's tough to think that I'll never set foot in the building again. People who know me, know that I don't deal well with change. And the fact that this has to change, is really hard for me. My "career" in Film Exhibition began in this building in December of 1998. Jason L. Maier and I randomly ran into each other one night, because of my friend Brandy, who was friends with Jason's friend Joe. All of us hung out, and Jason and I decided to try hanging out some more. Eventually, I started coming up to Castleton Arts, where Jason was working. From the beginning, he started teaching me how to thread films, build and tear films, and I just soaked it all up. Then, in January, he got me a job at the AMC Clearwater theatre. I still spent a lot of time at Castleton Arts, hanging out with Jason, and sometimes working for them (off the clock). I got to be really good friends with Dione and Dave (the two managers) and formed some bonds with people that I'll have forever. In the fall of 1999, Jason and I began writing a script that would turn into "Consternate" in the booth of Castleton Arts. On that same day, GWAM Guys was formed - in Castleton Arts. So, my "career" in Film Exhibition was started in that building, and my "career" as an indie film maker started there also.
This is a picture of Jason and I going over the script, and getting ready to film in the Men's Bathroom at Castleton Arts. In the spring of 2000 through the entire summer, we spent many nights, after closing, filming out film. Some nights we had as many as 15 people running around inside and outside, doing things for the film. The entire opening scene of the film takes place in Castleton Arts, as well as three or four more scenes throughout the film. We'd film a couple hours one night, a couple hours another night, and just constantly go back and film when schedules allowed. In the film, if you watch the posters on the walls, you can see the span of time it took to film. In almost every scene the posters are different, and sometimes change between shots and angles. Continuity was not something that was high priority back in the beginning... We used the lobby, the men's restroom, Cinema 2, and a couple of outside walls. Jason L. Maier even hung over the side of the roof, to get an overhead shot for the film.
In December of 2000, we premiered our first film "Consternate" at Castleton Arts! The same theatre that we spent months filming in! We had close to 160 people show up, and had a very successful response to our first attempt at a film. As proud as I am of the film, I am glad to see how far we have come in our productions. But still, I'll always remember the night that GWAM Guys packed Cinema 2 to show their own film! It was an amazing experience.
Over the years, we used parts of Castleton Arts for locations in numerous films. For "Consternate" we used basically the entire theatre (as it was the backdrop for the scenes). For Ryan Tungate's "The Chrome Lady", we used the upstairs hallway, some close-ups of the doors, and the stairwell going upstairs from Cinema 3. In "Escape" we cleaned and reorganized one of the upstairs storage rooms, and turned it into Little George's office. Kristen and I spent a couple of hours on two seperate days, moving and reorganizing items in the room, to make it look like an office. I'm really happy of how it turned out looking in the film. For Jason L. Maier's "To Change the World", we used the upstairs hallway again for some of the key scenes between Lee Vidal and Drew Stafford. The thin hallways and tight corners worked perfectly in the scenes. Although we never filming in Castleton Arts for "Crazy About You", we did use the lobby to hold our auditions for the film, as well as our cast read through. The lobby provided a nice large and open space for us to gather a large group.
Many Thanksgivings I found myself spending some time at Castleton Arts. Even before we started our annual poker game, Jason and I would still hang out on Thanksgiving night, and he often was working at Castleton Arts. So, I would find myself there, before we found someone to hang out until Best Buy time (often Denny's). Dione and I shared a passion for the Christmas Season, and I can remember at least three years that I helped her put up the Christmas decorations in Castleton's lobby. I remember shopping with her at Target for all kinds of decorations to use. The Castleton Arts Christmas Party was also one of my highlights of the season. Spending a night in the lobby with a large group of friends, exchanging presents, and enjoying the season. I still remember the night I changed my mind about Troy. It happened one year at the Castleton Arts Christmas Party (up until then, I didn't care for him... something about his attitude, we didn't click right away... probably because of how much alike we were), so anyways, after the Christmas Party, Jason, Zach, Troy and I decided to play football in the lobby. Jason and I against Zach and Troy, and I don't remember exactly what happened, but at some point I just realized: Troy is pretty cool. And we've been good friends ever since. In recent years, I didn't spend as much time at Castleton Arts as I used to, and that's been my fault, and I kind of have regrets about it. I never really realized it wasn't going to be there.
Now, I can't go sit in the office with Dave Lichty, and talk for HOURS about films. I can't go sit on the couches and talk to Scott Grow, while playing Scrabble. I'll never get to help Dione decorate for the Christmas Season. We'll never get to show another film in Castleton Arts, or shoot any part of any film there, ever again. Now, all I've got is 7 years of memories about how that place changed my life, and turned me into the person I am today. So many late nights were spent hanging out at Castleton Arts. So many years of working the Heartland Film Festival at the theatre. I remember working it in 1999, when it was close to nothing, and watching every year as they expanded and got more and more screens of the theatre, until they finally took over the theatre for an entire week. I wonder what's going to happen with Heartland next year? There's no more "Let's meet at Castleton Arts and just take one car..."
It's a tough time right now. It's too big of a change. And I feel like I've lost so much. Growing up SUCKS! I wish things never had to change. I guess this is just one of many things going on that need to force me to move on in my life... I can't live in the past. No matter how good that past was.