This weekend I met Carl Kurlander, a screenwriter, director and producer. He wrote St. Elmo's Fire. Yes, that St. Elmo's Fire. He was in town promoting his documentary, My Tale of Two Cities: A Comeback Story. Nice guy. Good movie. I helped plan the premiere and post-screening discussion at the Criterion Cinemas. We had a small screening room, but it was packed, so I felt good about my role in the whole thing. After living in Hollywood for years, Carl packed up his wife and daughter and left Los Angeles to return to Pittsburgh and live "an authentic life." This is not to say that one cannot live an authentic life in LA (although I've never tried) but it might be a tough thing to do when you are in "the industry." The movie is about his journey home as well as Pittsburgh's journey from industrial giant to punchline to one of the most livable cities in America. Carl is funny, smart, talented, a little neurotic (aren't we all?) and really passionate about the work. Not the work of making movies, although I have no doubt that he is passionate about film making, the work of making a difference, which movies can do on occasion and this movie definitely did on this occasion. Carl's film resonated with everyone in that screening room on Friday night. The discussion lasted an hour and people lingered after that to talk to him about it. They weren't just asking questions, they were sharing their stories. That's pretty great. The Chief and I spent about two days with Carl, showing him around the Have, introducing him to people, talking up the movie, hearing stories about famous people...it was exhausting (but fun) for everyone.
I had a little one on one time with Carl on Saturday night after the final weekend screening. We had beers at Richters and talked about how the screening had gone. He asked me about my story, how I got here, etc. I told him about my family leaving Cuba, what my Dad had gone through to get us here, how I ended up in New Haven, all that stuff. He said I had a great story and asked if I ever considered writing a screenplay. That's right. The guy who wrote St. Elmo's Fire asked me if I had ever thought about writing a screenplay. Um, no, I hadn't considered it. But it's nice to be asked.