This past weekend Opening Ceremony rented a bus (which may we add were quite the popular commodity to find) and headed on a field trip to D.C. for the Women’s March. Unless alcohol is involved, rallying the crew on a weekend can be tough, but last Saturday was much different. Our family came together at 5am to take the four hour bus ride to our nation’s capitol. Wishful thinking led us to believe we’d be able to meet up with OC-fam Jer Robert Paulin, but no cell phone and thousands of people make that a little tricky. Luckily the young filmmaker caught the day all on camera—Watch his video below and read Jer’s personal testimonial of the day.
I've never been to a protest before. I know how that sounds. Truth be told, I don’t do well in big crowds, so I tend to avoid them at all costs. My initial plan was to go down to Washington D.C. and shoot a short form documentary comprised of footage and some on-the-fly interviews. I got to D.C. a couple of hours earlier, and didn't really consider that when a lot of people get together in one place, phone signal becomes abysmal. So, I started shooting what I thought would be essentially B-Roll, like the kind you see on the news with a corny reporter's voice-over accompanied.
But as soon as the crowd formed I was jolted into the reality of the situation. Being part of a protest is dramatically different than seeing one on YouTube. A "No shit." moment and a "shit just got real." moment wrapped into one. At ground level, everything I wanted to ask, and every reason to be there was being slapped across my face a million times over in a beautiful and chaotic way.
It was like one of those passionate slaps you see in an old black and white movie. I realized, that my interviews (part of the original plan) were in the signs and the booming chants that bursted out like machine gun fire every 5 minutes. You study a sign, and then the arm attached to it, and then the person attached to the arm. The writing and their faces said it all. Some of the chants are sung and jovial. Others, you can hear the pain, then you feel it. For the first time in my life, not only was every color, race and religion on the same page, but we said what was on our minds freely. It was louder than anything.
And when those red hats appeared sporadically, a wall was made (no pun intended), a defensive "LOVE TRUMPS HATE." It was mechanical in a way, like when the Batmobile's armor goes up (If POTUS can reference The Dark Knight Rises’ villain Bane in his inaugural speech, I can put one in this too).
When the sun went down, we ate at a Portuguese Restaurant that had a 6 foot sign on the front window with a laundry list of every kind of customer they accepted. Everyone was on there. I ordered my food. Two Middle Eastern women shared a meal at the next table over. I kept staring at them, and then they noticed. I got up, walked over, leaned in and asked "Were there regular fries on the menu?" They were sharing a plate of them. They pointed them out and I ran back and ordered again.