On Dec. 1, Bayview Retirement Community (11 W. Aloha St.) featured a mystery film screening. Little did resident Stanley Rosenberg know, but it was the film “Stanley” he had starred in months earlier.
Rosenberg, 94, met director Emanja Alleyne, 25, and her aunt, actress Chelsea Day, 31, when they were visiting relatives who were residents at Bayview. Alleyne, a film-school graduate, wanted to make the film to enter the Canon and Ron Howard “Long Live Imagination” film contest.
Contestants were asked to create a movie based on one of the inspirational images provided by the contest. Alleyne was drawn to a photo of an older person. In the semi-scripted, 10-minute film, Day is having an existential crisis about turning 30 when she bumps into Rosenberg, who imparts his wisdom on her.
“I sort of realign my values,” Day said of her character. “Stanley and I become friends.”
Over the three days the trio filmed, the women took Stanley all over the city for scenes.
“Stanley reads a lot of books,” Day said. “He remembered lines better than I would.”
Rosenberg even noticed continuity errors between the different days of filming that Alleyne didn’t catch, she said.
Alleyne hired an editor on Craigslist and ended up with a version of the film she wasn’t happy with. She didn’t win the summertime contest, but she got something even better, she said: a new friendship with Rosenberg. Still, Rosenberg hadn’t seen the movie until that weekend, when Alleyne secretly set up a screening for a newly edited version of the movie.
“He’s just wanted to see it for so long, and I’m just so happy he did this for us,” Alleyne said. “And we kept saying it would be so amazing to see it on the big screen.”
On Sunday evening, Alleyne and Day told Rosenberg they were taking him to a movie, but it ended up being “Stanley” shown to a packed house at Bayview.
“He was really shocked, but then he’s always too cool. He was like, “OK, that’s cool,” Alleyne said.
Rosenberg said he had a difficult time hearing the screening.
Alleyne made a big movie poster, and now he has it taped to the door of his Bayview apartment.
“I was really surprised,” he said.
A ‘genuine’ friendship
Any other senior person wouldn’t have put up with their antics — including almost sending Rosenberg rolling down Queen Anne hill — and tedious filming, Day said. But Rosenberg was laid-back and totally willing to participate.
“Based on the residents here, I’d rather be friends with young people,” he said.
“Stanley is so special,” Alleyne said. “He was down to do whatever.”
Day’s dogs, Rocky and Buster, also participated in the film and run away during the climactic scene. That part led to one of Day and Alleyne’s favorite lines, when Rosenberg says: “Oh, sh--! That’s the trouble with dogs…should have had a cat.” Rosenberg came up with the line himself.
The film was only partially scripted, and the scene in which Rosenberg gives Day advice about getting old is very genuine, Rosenberg said.
“My mother always said, ‘If you don’t want to get old, die young,’” he said.
All three say they’re not opposed to working together again on another cinematic adventure.
“If I’m alive,” Rosenberg said. “You better catch me before I go.”
Until then, they’re OK with just being friends. The women invite him to lunch when they visit their relatives.
Rosenberg gave Alleyne a bowl from the Philippines as a gift after filming ended. He’s prone to leaving endearing voicemails in his thick East Coast accent, one the women often imitate.
“Imitation is the best form of flattery,” he said.
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