If today is your very first visit or you’ve just stumbled across the blog, two things you should know up front. One: I’m blind. Two: I’m the one guy out of 6 billion on the planet who’s blind *and* directed a feature film.
Back in 2001, I went to the movies successfully (you’ll see why momentarily) for the last time. Shallow Hal. Not a terribly auspicious send-off as my sight dwindled and the lights eventually went out for good. Still, better than how it *could* have turned out—a few weeks earlier I’d seen the remake of 13 Ghosts, which I wouldn’t sit thru again even if it meant getting my sight back tomorrow.
Over the past six years or so, I’ve tried—many times—to go to the movies with Pam. Every time, it’s been a failure. Every. Single. Time. We’d drive half an hour, only to find the showtimes listed on the web site were not correct. We’d go only to find out the staff had confused descriptive audio with open captions. This, despite me being quite clear about my needs. Being blind, open captions are as useless to me as a driver’s license. And yet… there is no kind way to say it. Everyone from new-hires to assistant managers and even top dogs, continued to get it wrong. Pam and I once got back not only our ticket money, but the concession money *and* the manager handed us $40 because we’d driven back to the *same* theatre in Miami twice in the same week, 25 minutes each way, to see Batman Begins, and both times, the equipment did not work and had not (as I’d been guaranteed) been tested.
I never wanted to make a profit going to the movies. Heck, all I wanted to do was sit there with my wife and *enjoy* one.
Last night, I called the Regal Gulf Coast theatre in Florida, and the person who answered told me that the film Bridesmaids was both open captioned and audio-described. Promised me the equipment worked. Told me to come to the movies—this time, I’d be happy.
Now, several months back (I blogged about this at the time), at a closer Regal theatre, I went ballistic because I’d been told the very same thing. My wife and I hauled on over, and of course the movie was *not* audio-described, and I sat in there for five minutes trying to hear anything but the standard audio through the headset. Nope, another yahoo had gotten it all wrong. Yeah, if I was freaking *hearing impaired*–the equipment worked. But I’m blind. A hearing disability and sight disability are not interchangeable.
I was furious. The manager was a sweetheart. More refunds, offers for free passes. Concessions on the house. But I was livid. I called back the next day and ripped somebody apart, and then I started calling corporate and leaving messages. Several, in fact, asking for somebody to call me back, as they said to do on their recording.
Nada. Nobody *ever* called. I torched Regal Entertainment in my blog and my final message was less than polite.
Bridesmaids. A 9:55 showing at a theatre roughly 40 minutes from our house. With only a promise that the effort would be worth it.
“What the hell?” I said. I knew it was a chick-flick, but I didn’t care. In fact, I didn’t care what the ticket prices were. I didn’t care if popcorn cost $8 bucks (which it did). I didn’t really care about anything, so long as what was promised, was delivered.
I met a manager named Joseph, who I’d spoken to last Friday when I first called about this week’s schedule, after the showing. I stopped to speak to him because, not only did he know what he was talking about, he was the first person I had dealt with in person at Regal who was worth a damn. And, he wasn’t standing there making apologies and giving Pam and I our money back and offering to make it up to us if only we’d give Regal another shot. No. I was talking to him to say thanks, because this time, the equipment *did* work, the tech finally delivered, and for the first time in a decade, I’d gotten to take my wife out to the movies.
Ten years. Think about that. I now write and direct films. I have a feature due out this fall. I have always loved movies, and yet, I’ve been shut out for roughly a quarter of my life because despite the promises made to me previously, nobody—not Regal, not AMC—not anybody, held up their end of the bargain.
Regal reclaimed my business tonight. Joseph ought to be up in corporate, because he’s sharp and he knows the tech and went out of his way—even running up into the booth with a headset on when the movie began–to make sure things were working right.
The movie? Hey, I don’t care if you do have a penis, it’s hysterical. Guys? If you’re dreading taking a date? Relax. Good, raunchy fun. Sure, as mentioned, it’s a chick-flick. You know from the thirty second mark what’s going to happen, and to who, and how things are going to turn out in the end. Doesn’t matter. The trip itself is worth the time. Lots of fun dialogue, off-color banter, sight gags, you name it. Not quite a Farrelly Bros film, but no shortage of laughs nonetheless.
Ten years. My moviegoing drought has ended. Regal? Congratulations. I don’t give many people or companies multiple chances. Tonight, you won me back.
Give Joseph a raise, he’s the reason all that equipment you invested in that hardly anyone uses will be getting more of a workout in coming months.
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Currently listening to: Rip Her to Shreds by Blondie
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