Saturday, September 10, 2011

Looking For Love on 9/11

By Mike Gillis

It’s a beautiful morning on September 11, 2001. On the 70th floor of the World Trade Center, a stockbroker is on the phone ordering tickets to that night’s Yankees and White Sox game. A newly hired executive assistant clutches a small peace lily plant, a Coach bag stuffed with family photos, and a desk lamp from home for the late nights ahead, all destined for her new desk on the 90th floor. An analyst on the 79th floor wakes up on a couch, as he often does after a rollercoaster day in the emerging markets, and remembers he missed his son’s football game again. A courier meets a new friend on the stairwell of the 88th floor. Her friend will admit, finally and suddenly, that their friendship means much more.

While none of these stories may be real, they are likely. There were thousands of similar stories unfolding within the walls of the World Trade Center on 9/11 in the moments before the first plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, at 8:46 a.m.

For most of us, the story of 9/11 begins after that attack. The stunning and important accounts of survival, rescue and tragedy continue to be told on the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. They should be.

When we set out to make our short film, “Tuesday Morning,” we only knew we wanted our story to acknowledge the thousands of stories that will never, can never, be told. Those stories unfolded simply and without attention, as do most moments in our lives.

During a question and answer session after a screening of the film at the Red Door in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Lars Trodson, who wrote the film, said, “We had heard from the survivors. We had certainly heard from people on their cell phones to loved ones after the plane had hit, which are terrifying to hear, and we heard from the police and fire departments, which is completely appropriate. Those moments dedicated to life before anyone knew what was happening, we haven’t heard, we wouldn’t hear. We knew there were moments of grace and happiness in the building that day. We thought we would try to capture that moment.” (You can hear the entire question and answer session with the filmmakers here:

Our story, which began as a stage play by Trodson, changed in many ways over the two years that culminated in the film you see here now. However, the reason the film exists remains its constant:  to celebrate those stories of grace and happiness that will never be told.

Of course, we wouldn’t have been able to tell a story that demands such grace without two actors who understood that goal from the beginning. Whitney Smith and Teddi Kenick-Bailey breathe life into this picture. Their performances are simply beautiful. Real. I say “breathe life” because this is a story about life, foremost. It also suggests that life is meant to enjoy, savoring those moments that define us, because life can end abruptly.

In addition, we had a small but spectacular cast and crew to help shape our story: Jonathon Millman, Stanton Barker, Christine Long, Jason Santo, David Steffen, Alex Knuuttunen, Andrew Bohenko, Judy Levine, Mark Dearborn and Casey Mitchell.

So, as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrible attacks of 9/11, we wanted to share our own small tribute to the untold stories of that day. We hope you find a little love and happiness here, amidst the wreckage and destruction.