Beth at my old StandardBlue studio downtown

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This is the first in a series of my absolute favorite photos of Beth. We hadn’t been dating that long. I used to have a studio I rented from StandardBlue in downtown Omaha.

It took me a long time to get these images. First, I had to find the original black and white negatives and scan them all. Next, I wasn’t sure which building was correct (it had been so long ago and I only had the studio for a short time). All the businesses had changed and nothing looked the same.

Also, the business I suspected was the right one was locked inside another business, and I kept putting off trying to figure out how to contact them. Since it was in Omaha, I kept telling myself I’d figure it out, later. So, I kept procrastinating – for more than a year.

I finally contacted a guy that let me onto the roof. I was nearly certain it was the right spot, even though it had changed quite a bit. I explained why I wanted to take some photos on the roof, and told him I’d come back with photos.

A few months later, I finally returned.

Love was still new. I barely knew her family, and we had no idea how far the relationship might go.

It turned out much better, and much more awful, than I ever could have suspected. But, the good outweighs the heartbreak.

And I still miss the hell out of her.

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Beth sleeping, again

beth gozer bedroom IMG_0521sm

Poor Beth. I seem to have taken lots of photos of her sleeping. It must have been annoying living with me.

Today is Nov 7th. This evening, I will screen the “full cut” of my film at Film Streams, in Omaha. I may never show this version at other venues. Time will tell. Film Streams scheduled an encore screening for tomorrow night (Wed, Nov 8th) since the Tuesday night screening sold out.

On a side note, Film Steams is currently renovating the Dundee Theater in Omaha. It’s a classic theater which had, unfortunately, been abandoned and hasn’t shown films in many years. The renovations will be done by the end of the year and it will reopen, soon.

What makes this remarkable is I will be showing my film at Film Streams, and they are renovating the location where Beth and I went on our first date, and the remodeled theater will open only weeks after screening the film. Everything is coming full circle. We saw Akira Kurosawa’s “Dreams” there. It would have been really emotional to screen the film in the Dundee Theater.

Anyone that follows this blog knows it’s an emotional challenge for me to watch the film with other people. I prefer to leave the theater and return later. I’ve seen every imaginable clip, anyway, so I certainly don’t need to watch it, again. I don’t know if I’ll watch tonight, although I wish I could since I’ve never witnessed an audience’s reaction to this long cut. Still, I’d guess I’ll leave the theater for the majority of it.

In essence, this was the original film, or rather, the original idea for the film. It even contains the reason I essentially made the film in the first place. However, since that reason was so hard for me to deal with, I took out the majority of that story, and cut something short, instead. I’m always trying to find a way to make things shorter, and it horrified me when the first cut was an hour long. So, I simply chopped it in half. It felt like I was taking out the heart of the film, even though I knew the real heart and soul was Beth. The art felt more about me, really. One thing I love about the long cut is it actually has video of Beth.

Ted Roach, a filmmaker in Washington, DC, and Edgar Barens, in Chicago (an Oscar nominated director), both said they’d love to see the longer cut. That was back in February, or so. I kept trying to convince myself to do it, but I kept procrastinating. I think Edgar prefers the short cut, I don’t know if Ted has had time to watch the long cut, but Vasco Elola, my filmmaker friend in Uruguay, says, “Don’t change a frame” of the long cut. A shorter cut is more concise and digestible, but the long cut shows so much more. I’m rarely in a position like this, where I can’t decide if I like one cut more than the other.

“Just do it for you. Get it out of your system. You don’t ever have to show it if you don’t want to.” Ted told me. “But I hope you share it with me. I’d love to see it.”

The long cut was intended to be less about the “missing piece” photos, and more about Beth as my muse; Beth as my inspiration. It goes deeper into the missing piece photos. I wanted to put the photos in the context of my art, and her into the context of my life. But the thing is, back when I first attempted the long cut nine months ago, I hated to go into my studio (I still do), so I didn’t want to go back to art. The ending of the film was impossible to resolve. The cut I abandoned was rough and felt impossible, unnecessary, and didn’t focus enough on Beth.

I guess I needed the next nine months to process everything, and to get back to a space where I could think about returning to the studio. Last Spring, I didn’t think I’d ever return to my studio (it’s been nearly five years). But now, it feels like she’s led me back to  art, again, and I honestly didn’t think that was possible.

It’s hard to explain. It’ll also be hard to explain to an audience. My guess is the people who saw the short version might wonder why I bothered with a long version, while the people that never saw the short film might be able to better appreciate the longer cut.

We’ll see.

There’s also a panel after the film. Several grief experts will be there. They want me on the panel, but I’m not sure what kind of shape I’ll be in. I mean, it’s been two years, and I feel like I’ve made so much progress, and I can talk more easily about things, but a night that intense could be a bigger challenge than I anticipate.

As always, I just wish I had Beth to share all my thoughts with. I wish the film never existed, not because I regret making it, but because I wish there had never been a reason for it to be made in the first place. I’d give anything for that to be the case.

Regardless, I’ll keep sharing it; sharing her by showing the film.

It gets classified as a documentary at film festivals. It’s not a mere documentary, to me, though.

It’s my love letter to Beth.

So cute

beth gozer bedroom IMG_0533sm

Some of the very first pictures I posted on this blog were images from this series of photos. It was her first short haircut since she was in high school. She loved it and wanted me to take photos so she could share them with her sisters in Vermont and Massachusetts.

I’m lucky. There was a time when she got sick of me taking photos of her, and would complain if I started. It was a gift when she asked me to take photos.