Watch out, Hollywood: The seniors from Bayview Retirement Community (11 W. Aloha St.) are giving show business a run for its money with their new movie musical “Going My Way.”
Director Scott Jackman and 25 Bayview residents — in their 70s to 90s — spent 12 weeks creating the 10-minute musical. The movie made its debut at a “star-studded” premiere and after-party for participants and residents on Nov. 13.
Jackman teaches film camps to children, teens and seniors. It’s difficult to get senior homes to agree to the project, but Bayview’s director of resident services, Nancy Weinbeck, is a “yes” person, Jackman said.
“In my experience, the less open-minded they are, the more [seniors] find very few activities, and it’s a lot of sitting around and loneliness and boredom,” Jackman said.
The Bayview seniors wrote the story, the script and lyrics, designed the set and acted and sang in the musical.
Resident Colleen Long wrote the script “in dibs and dabs.” Long started writing plays after she retired and wanted to include some positive senior humor in the film.
“A lot of what I do see is kind of slapstick and put-downs of older people,” Long said. “It’s not bad to make fun of yourself or anything, but it’s the way it’s done: kind of the standardized old-person thing — we’re not standard.”
In the musical, a group of senior women are headed to Las Vegas but run into trouble in the form of some crooked bus drivers. The women show them who’s boss and then kick up their heels in Vegas. The film has plenty of senior humor, including some bingo and cards jokes that were well appreciated by the audience.
Resident Bill Laythe has always wanted to be a set designer and identified locations throughout Bayview where they could film. Laythe portrayed one of the bad guys who drove the bus in the film — ironically, Laythe has never driven a car.
“The hard thing is getting everybody to get together,” Laythe said, “but once this got going, [we] were having fun.”
The actors did grumble about some of the long waits, Jackman said, but they were great throughout the filming process. Resident Anne Norris said she felt like she got a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood through the experience.
“I was curious about Hollywood — the technical part,” she said. “I didn’t realize there was so much sitting around. I said, ‘Remind me not to go to Hollywood.’”
Resident Dottie Neufeld had never sang or acted before.
“When [Jackman] asked if we had talent, I said, ‘No, I just have a good attitude,’” she said. “But I sort of came out of the experience going, ‘Hey, maybe I have a little talent.”
At the premiere, the participants and other residents got to view the movie twice. Many of the stars were nervous for the premiere.
“I was cowering in the corner,” Bea Granen said.
“I thought we might all look horrible,” Norris added.
“Well, we are old,” Jan Eisenman quipped.
‘Just getting started’
Jackman and the Bayview staff would like to see the movie go viral — in part, to combat the idea of ageism, Jackman said, “to really [show] seniors in a different light than people may expect to see them in.”
As the film concludes, the timeless “The End” pops up on the screen before quickly switching to say, “This is not the end; this is only the beginning.”
The ending resonated on premiere night, winning a collective “aww” from the crowd. Jackman and Weinbeck came up with the ending as they watched one of the cuts of the film. To Weinbeck, death is not the end: “We’re just getting started, and that’s such a positive message.”
This idea is extra poignant, as the credits start to roll and a dedication shows the film is in memorial of three Bayview residents — Ron Collecchi, Patricia Lee and Marian Corbin — who participated but passed away before the premiere.
After the screening, Jackman estimates interest has doubled now that the residents have seen their peers’ work. He’d like to see more men in the next movie: Only two men had speaking roles, and a few others participated as audience members in the film.
Lucky for those interested seniors, Jackman and Bayview are already planning their next collaboration. They plan to do a one-week intergenerational movie camp next summer with residents and children ages 5 to 12.
“I think we are going to get a lot more participation,” Weinbeck said. “And bravo to the folks that kind of stuck their necks out because it took courage to do that, and they did a great job.”
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To view "Going My Way" vist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00W9O1aUxDc&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1