“Through BIG, we can do anything.  We can tell any story that we want to.”

I didn’t have to  quote that.  Those were my words.  And I truly mean them.

It’s been a few days since the premiere of Somewhere Only We Know, and I think I am in the perfect spot to reflect upon this journey.  We have to start at the beginning.  You know the feeling you get as a small child on Christmas morning where you have so much excitement that you wake up at 6:30 AM and are a ball of energy because you’re a kid and its Christmas?  That.  That was the feeling of waking up on Friday May 18th.  I don’t know if I would go as far as to say I was a ball of energy at that point, but after coffee I sure was.  I was so ready for this day.  We started preproduction in August 2017, and we were about to hit the peak of it.  On the way into BIG, Hannah Eckley (Producer on Somewhere, dear friend) tuned into AM Radio.  I hope your asking why two teenagers are listening to AM Radio.  (Hannah took a solid moment to comprehend what AM radio was)  Shawn Cornally, our project mentor, teacher, friend, and founder of Iowa BIG, secured a morning show spot on AM 600 talking about all of the amazing work happening at Iowa BIG.  And we were one of them.

My friends arrived at Geonetric (the building that Iowa BIG is hosted in) at 10 with bagels (the official breakfast/carb of the SOWK team).  We ran through the day and ate bagels, and got ready for the wild day that lied ahead.  It mostly consisted of Shawn and Willow (Event Planner and friend) telling me to calm down.  I truly was just excited.  And I think I had good reason to be.

We went through hell and back to make this film.  This was the first thought in my head every morning.  And this was the last thought in my head every night.  In the middle of the biggest blizzard I had ever seen in the month of March, Shawn and I drove to Geonetric for this.  I put my literal blood, sweat, and tears into this film.  This was my art.  This was my everything.  And today was the day.

We ran around the corridor all day picking up last minute things for the premiere.  We all split up, and met back at the library in the afternoon.  There was a bit of chaos right before the “doors opened”, and it consisted us setting up as much as we could while still allowing the library to be open.

Another unique thing about this day was the last minute partner and their involvement on that day.  At BIG, projects happen because of the support of partners.  Students work alongside these partners to create real change in their community.  We were approached the week of by a very unique partner who wanted to be apart of the event – XQ America.  XQ America is an organization based in Oakland, CA that is leading the nationwide movement to rethink education.  Iowa BIG was recognized the prior year as an XQ Super School and won a $1,000,000 grant.  You could imagine the shock when XQ approached us (through Twitter of all outlets) to be apart of our event.  They pitched the idea of us taking over their Instagram story and broadcasting a behind the scenes look at the premiere.  We jumped at the opportunity, thinking about how cool it was that XQ not only believed in us and our mission, but also believe others should believe in our mission.

The red carpet celebration started, and everything was set up perfectly.  And people started coming.  And coming.  And coming.  I was in shock by the amount of people who attended.  So many of my own peers came and told me how cool this experience was that they were about to see a film that I created.  My dear friend Janice who I had the pleasure of interviewing and getting close with throughout the experience came and was so thrilled with the amount of people.

5 PM rolled around, and it was time.  The film played in the beautiful Whipple auditorium, and my team and I sat in the green room adjacent to the stage.  Shawn was instructed to send me text updates if anything was notable wrong with the sound or lights.  I got a text from Shawn that had me very surprised.  No one is on their phones.  They’re hooked.  In our time, I don’t know if there is a more humbling comment.  The film ended, and the audience cheered as we walked across the stage.  The amount of praise and cheer in the room left me in awe.  The amount of support we were given on this project was so gratifying. The second showing repeated similarly to how the first one did, but with a bigger crowd and a bigger applause.

When I got home, I started really thinking about this experience.  I was in a sort of euphoria, and I felt as if even though everything hadn’t been going how we wanted it to until today, everything magically fell into place in a perfect way.  This, although it wasn’t at all how I thought my senior year was going to, was exactly what I wanted my senior year to be.  This is what I want for every senior.  Every high schooler.  Not to make a movie, but this sense of Wow! I did it! And everything fell into place.  And even though I am super confused about what’s next, this is where I am supposed to be.  Iowa BIG opened my eyes to this in a way that I don’t think I could have done at my age on my own.  I felt empowered.  I felt a sense of I did it.

“Through BIG, we can do anything.  We can tell any story that we want to.”

much love.  talk soon.