While Joss Whedon was still working on Avengers: Age of Ultron, he came across a Kickstarter campaign that intrigued him. Shawnee Kilgore, a ridiculously talented musical artist in Austin, TX, was raising funds to record her fourth studio album, and Joss was enchanted by her Kickstarter video.
Joss donated funds, but he also wrote a song that he hoped Kilgore might be interested in putting to music. Kilgore was delighted by his lyrics and the two artists started collaborating, writing songs together via email.
Their first single, “Big Giant Me” was released in August 2014.
“Big Giant Me” was the first of six songs the duo wrote together.
Last night at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse cinema in Austin, Kilgore and Whedon celebrated the release of their six-song EP, Back to Eden, and premiered the music video (starring Ashley Johnson and Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins) that Joss wrote and directed for the title track.
In attendance were 250 excited fans. Some were fans of Kilgore’s music. Others were there to see Joss. All were blown away by the songs Kilgore performed and the heartbreaking and beautiful video.
Following a Q&A session and the premiere of the video, Joss, Kilgore, and fans retired to the lounge next door, where Kilgore and her bandmates (including Kilgore’s partner, the incredible William Wallace, on guitar) performed, and a good time was had by all.
After the concert/party, fans were invited to join Joss for another surprise. It was described to me as an opportunity to see something few people had seen before. I returned to the auditorium to find that the theater was running Serenity. Joss introduced the feature, recalling the fact that back in the day, he actually got to make decisions when directing a movie.
I realized that many people in the audience had never seen Serenity on a big screen, either because of their age, or because they had yet to become Browncoats at the time it was released, or both! I was a projectionist when Serenity came out, so needless to say, I’ve seen it a few times in a theater! I was still sorely tempted to stay and watch the movie again, but I had to be back at the airport this morning, and I knew I’d regret staying up until after midnight.
Although I have been running the JWFC for 10 years now, last night was the first time I had an opportunity to meet the man. I finally had the opportunity to tell him that he changed my life. I finally had the opportunity to shake his hand and let him know that his work and his talent and his values have inspired and strengthened me.
It was the number-one item on my bucket list. It was a dream come true.
Of course, there were several hundred other fans there who also wanted to tell Joss the same things. They wanted to take selfies with him and ask him questions, and as much as I wanted to talk to him all evening about writing and superheroes and geeky stuff . . . and writing . . . I did not want to – nor did I have the right to – monopolize his time.
Joss Whedon is a brilliant storyteller. He is a craftsman – a creator – an artist.
He is a master at breathing life into characters we can identify with and fall in love with.
He writes stories that say so much more than the individual words they’re made out of.
Joss Whedon is also humble, kind, generous, and gracious.
He treats others with respect.
He genuinely cares about the advancement of a world in which women are empowered. And safe. And free to choose their paths without facing ridicule, harassment, or abuse. He recognizes that men do not have to be weakened in order for women to be strong. He approaches feminism from a perspective of love rather than hate.
His work is worth celebrating. He is worth celebrating. He is the kind of person we should all strive to be and to surround ourselves with.
Also, I owe Alex Tinsman, pictured here with me shortly after the Q&A, an eternal debt of gratitude for allowing me to interrupt her busy evening and for introducing me to Joss. Thank you, Alex, from the bottom of my heart. If you ever need anything, and it is in my power to deliver it, you have but to ask.