Screening Weekend, 28th ~ 30th August, 2009

Laemmle Theater
Encino, CA




(Click on the thumbnails for a larger image)

Lucky me getting to see Doug Jones at today's screening of "Butterfly Circus" at the Laemmle Theater in Encino, CA!

After Webmaster Helen's posted the event on Dougie's message board, I was in a state of agitation figuring out how to rework my weekend plans so I could go. I also felt more than a wee bit chicken--so thank goodness for Helen's encouragement, KateC's kick in the pants, plus the irresistible lure of seeing Dougie, or I'd have missed out on this utterly heartwarming film short.

Despite the triple-digit baking heat of the San Fernando Valley, I'm happy to say the theater was packed with a mixture of cast, crew and enthusiastic supporters for both screenings. While waiting in line among the murmuring crowd for the first showing, I overheard people talking about their involvement in the film. An adorable little boy with red hair told us all, "When you see the boy holding the caterpillar, that's me!"

Not long before we filed into the theater, I spotted Doug's unmistakable profile way up front. I'd brought a camera and notebook in the hopes of pictures and a few words with Dougie to share with dear Helen for The Doug Jones Experience website. I hoped I hadn't missed my opportunity already!

In the blessed coolness of the theater, I found a seat several rows back from Doug and his wife, Laurie. The director, Joshua Weigel, only had a moment to thank everyone for coming and expressed his gratitude to all who contributed their time and talents to the film. He and his wife, Rebecca, both seemed extremely congenial and kind. Joshua explained The Butterfly Circus was part of the Doorpost Competition and eligible for the $100,000 prize if it won.

I certainly hope it does win because it was an extremely touching story about a severely disabled man who triumphs over his despair with the help of his compassionate circus colleagues. The musical score was rich and eloquent, the photography very atmospheric, and the sets and costumes wonderfully done for the 1930's era the story was set within. The acting was emotionally involving and I give my kudos to all the performers. Shot on a shoestring, it looked big budget thanks to everyone's love and devotion to the material.

As Otto, Doug was moody, soulful, and totally elegant as a contortionist and escape artist. He had some delightful screen moments with the red-haired Caterpillar Boy. I realized this was actually my first time seeing Dougie on the big screen rather than DVD! I especially enjoyed seeing him emerge from a small suitcase, then work his way out of a straightjacket underwater in a later scene. He wore sleeveless tops throughout, so we got treated to his willowy, graceful arms whenever he was onscreen.

Everyone loudly and sincerely applauded the film at the end. The man next to me was sniffing back tears. "Didn't expect that," he mumbled to me with a small smile. I noted many people with lumps in their throats, myself included. As we all shuffled back into the lobby, I caught Dougie's eye and waved. He smiled and hugged me. "Anoray, I'm so glad you could make it" My happiness level went up about one hundredfold. "Dougie, Dougie, Dougie!" I babbled rather senselessly from where I nestled my face against his festive shirt. The floral patterns played up the wonderful blues and greens in Dougie's sparkling eyes perfectly.

Nothing like attempting big hugs and eye gazing amidst a moving herd of people! Just then, Nick Vujicic (who was amazing as the disabled man in the film) was wheeling past in the opposite direction, I believe to attend the second screening. Dougie only had a moment for a warm greeting with Nick before the militant ushers pretty much kicked us first screeners outside into the courtyard.

Can I just say how absolutely gallant Doug Jones is? For about the next hour, although he was always the center of an eddy of well wishers, puppies, and colleagues, he was kind enough to intersperse chunks of time to chat with me. I'm fairly sure I showed my gratitude and admiration in a respectful way (even though I certainly felt like drooling several times!).

I expressed how much I'd enjoyed Doug's performance and the film, although I wish I'd asked him more about the shoot itself, like the rigors of doing the escape scenes. He did mention Palmdale and Riverside, CA, as a couple of shooting locations. We were both amazed at how it was only about a month ago Dougie was actually filming The Butterfly Circus -- and already this impressive, artistic project could be enjoyed at the theater.

Doug introduced me to the twin girls who'd played the Siamese twins, to Conner Rosen ( the little Caterpillar Boy), Lexi Pearl (the actress who played a trapeze artist), and Kirk Bovill (the Tatooed Man). Kirk told me a funny story about how he left the corporate world a couple of years ago to become an actor, and he has been playing tons of "bad guys" in various projects ever since. He was happy to be involved in The Butterfly Circus because it was so uplifting--plus he had fun putting a little bit of a "Beetlejuice" voice into his character.

Dougie and I also chatted about the upcoming Dragon.con and I wished him a safe trip and a successful outcome with the various panels, especially the one all about him. "I have one all about me?" he asked bemusedly. Dougie explained he usually shows up at the cons and Derek (his event manager) tells him what he needs to do. Doug eyes lit up when we discussed him soon meeting up with three very precious, loyal DTF Fan Sapiens (Telly, KatyBacon and Rhiannon), along with some newer faces like Michele.

At one point, a very jolly fellow named Clent Bowers enveloped Dougie in a giant hug. I learned Clent and Doug recently worked together in a Jimmy Dean commercial, which should be airing sometime in October. Keep an eye out because it sounds like fun: Clent plays the character "Thunder" while Dougie plays "Lightning!" I can't wait to see what that has to do with sausages!

I also got to meet Doug's best friend, Ken Jones (no relation) and his wife, Jennifer. Ken had the most beautiful golden-brown eyes!

Doug then introduced Kevin and Caroline Rogers (who are both former acrobats) and had a very amusing story. It turns out Doug was Kevin's teacher back when Kevin was a 14 year old student at the Barbizon School of Modeling and Acting in Santa Maria. I looked at Doug in disbelief. "YOU taught at the Barbizon School?" He laughed. "Nobody knows that, so you've got the scoop!" I giggled while Doug admitted he commuted weekly to teach the only two male students the school had at the time. That man is full of surprises.

Best of all, Doug introduced me to his wife, Laurie, who has a very warm and inviting personality. Like her husband, she's charming and beautiful inside and out. We talked a bit about how she's enjoying helping Doug with all the multitude of things related to his career and how much easier it is now to be involved in spontaneous projects. They can also spend their free time together with less chaos. The beginning took a little readjustment for both of them, but it's settled into a very pleasant arrangement. I asked her if she'd be accompanying Doug to Dragon.con, but she said the only con she's attended so far was San Diego Comic Con. Doug's schedule at cons is intense, so he gets worried about her being bored waiting for him to be available. She did enjoy SDCC, plus all of its bizarrely dressed cosplayers. Two standouts she remembered were a family of blood-smeared zombies (including the little children) and a women in a white fur bikini with furry ears and a tail. Laurie has a delightful laugh and smile, which she shared with so many of the people present.

Finally, the cast and crew were getting ready to gather at Chili's in the mall center for a little party, and it was time for me to head home. All during the meet and greets, it had been getting progressively hotter. As I touched base with Dougie one last time, I felt (and looked) like a wrung out mop. Fortunately, Dougie said he was sweaty, too, and he seemed to have no problem giving me some more big hugs. One of Dougie's many well wishers took a couple of pictures of us with my camera.

In those photos, I look like a total grinning buffoon because Dougie softly and sweetly said "You know I love you," then asked me to look at the camera while he took my hand and kissed it. Between the unrelenting heat-- and now Dougie's chivalry--I was now completely puddle-ized. "I love you, too," I managed to burble somewhere along the line. We gave each other fond kisses on the cheek and said our goodbyes.

I pulled my wayward molecules back together (sort of) and sloshed to the parking lot. My car's thermometer read 119 degrees. Big deal. My happiness meter was off the chart.

Los Angeles, 30th August, 2009


Anoray and Dougie


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