As summer ends, Westport teens flock to final flik
Published 2:04 pm, Saturday, August 28, 2010
Westport's teenagers are busy.
Take Doug Russ, 15, who will be a sophomore at Staples High.
Just Friday, he got back from Florence and Rome. Before that, he took a summer chemistry class at Staples High.
"To get a course out of the way," he explained. "So I don't overload with A.P. biology this year."
Reflecting on recent months, he said his summer was "like three weeks long," which is why he's not entirely sad it's almost over.
"It's not like I'm coming back from camp," he said.
With one week left before school starts, though, he had two plans for maximizing what's left of vacation: One, meet with old camp friends in Long Island this weekend. And two, enjoy the film "(500) Days of Summer," which was ready to start Monday evening in the Westport Public Library's McManus Room.
Unfortunately, with its cold, wet, windy weather, Monday felt more like the middle of October than the 64th day of summer, which kept the final flick of the teenage movie series from being screened outdoors at the Levitt Pavilion, as originally planned.
Even so, about 70 teenagers arrived for the movie, co-sponsored by the Westport Public Library, Toquet Hall and the Westport Youth Commission, a group of 15 teens and 15 adults that meets monthly to discuss how Westport can better serve its youth.
The "Teen Flix" series, as it's dubbed, is the response to a survey conducted by the commission about six years ago. In the survey, the town's young people complained that Westport doesn't have a movie theater, said Elaine Daignault, the town's coordinator for youth services.
So the outdoor film series at the Levitt Pavilion began. The series has grown in popularity every year, said Bobbi Crocker, a co-chairman of the youth commission. The films are selected each year by a separate committee chaired by students. The screenings are then free to all residents.
The movie on Monday told the tale of a romantic twenty-something named Tom who falls in love with an unromantic twenty-something named Summer.
Summer shows feelings for Tom, but not nearly as strongly as Tom shows feelings for Summer. For Tom, one week with Summer -- or a week without her -- can seem like eternity.
By the movie's end, Tom grudgingly accepts that his days with Summer are up. Then he meets another girl before a job interview.
"Nice to meet you," the girl says, reaching out to shake his hand. "I'm Autumn."
Inside the McManus Room, the 70 or so teenagers chuckled. Then the credits began scrolling up the screen and a few people clapped. The rest stood up and made for the door.
Smith has come to terms with the end of her own summer. "I'm ready to get back into the school routine," she said.
The decision to move the screening indoors was not easy, Daignault said. She needed to decide by early afternoon. And the forecasts then were calling for storms.
Though the storms never materialized, there was some consolation in the fact that the pavilion's grounds were certainly moist.
"But that's why you bring lawn chairs," Daignault added.
But she learned her lesson last summer, when lightning bolts started crashing halfway through "Slumdog Millionaire." The movie was stopped and the teenagers were soon climbing on top of the inflatable screen, trying to close it up.
"It's just like a sporting event," Daignault said. "If there's lightning, you've got to call it."
Which was fine for P.J. Syrrist, 15, another incoming sophomore at Staples.
Syrrist attended all three Monday-night movies this August, including "Up," which was shown last week, also in the library.
Asked of any advantages to indoor movie-watching in late summer, he thought for a second.
"No bugs," he said.
Still, his favorite movie this season, "Avatar," was projected outside. That was on Aug. 9. And Syrrist, who's a first-year member of the Westport Youth Commission, helped set things up.
"You see how much work goes into it," he said.
The outdoor screen, for example, is roughly 7-by-11 feet, and doesn't set up on its own. But when it's ready to go, it provides for a good movie experience, Syrrist said. This, perhaps, is why more than 200 residents went to the Levitt Pavilion for the showing of "Avatar." And not all of them were teenagers.
The good turnout funneled cash into the commission by means of its snack stand, which sells candy, popcorn and soda during movie showings. The proceeds go toward covering the licensing fees required to show the films in the first place. The films can cost between $200 and $1,000 a piece, Daignault said.
While "Avatar" was the highlight of Syrrist's August, the month-long music camp he attended punctuated his summer, he said. Syrrist plays violin.
This weekend, he'll head with his father down to Balitmore for one final summer escape.
Then it's back to school Wednesday.
And what'd he think of Monday's movie?
"It was good," he said. "But definitely more of a chick flick."