When I ran into Denise Yavuz at a Bellevue Club Zumba class, it’d been eight years since I had last seen her—since we trained together at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She had recently returned from a study abroad program in Turkey, where she was on an acclaimed ballroom dance team, and I had just come home from a publicity tour for my debut book.
I had made some video skits as book trailers, and when a reporter wrote that I once danced, readers asked me to add a music video to the collection. Denise offered to help.
The two of us went to work practicing in the BC aerobics studio. When classes were in session, we danced anywhere we could—a racquetball court, the yoga room and even behind some stairs.
It wasn’t unusual for a spontaneous audience to form.
Club instructor and dance aficionado Lynelle Vandenbos coached us, and the project became a BC affair.
After I finalized the storyboard and choreography, "But I Do," the little video I once envisioned, had turned into an ambitious endeavor with six locations, including a private jet, a ballroom with crystal chandeliers and a grand piano meant for dancing.
But we didn’t have funding or staff, so Denise and I spread the word, and 92 volunteers stepped in to help. Dancers, actors and extras all came forward. Venue owners agreed to let us use their facilities free of charge. One explained, "I’m investing in the future of Northwest creators."
We were thankful to have so much support.
Once filming wrapped, I edited the footage and posted the video on my author website. We all agreed that whether it got only two views or, if lightning struck, two million, it wouldn’t matter. What meant the most to us was how much fun we had making it.
We never expected what happened next.
"But I Do" won the Royal Reel Award for film excellence at the Canada International Film Festival, was honored at the Los Angeles Movie Awards, and was featured opening weekend at the Toronto Film Festival.
I was able to squeeze in a trip to Toronto for our screening. When I stopped by the theater before the festival began, the manager was putting up a 27-by-40-inch poster of our short film, in a lighted glass case at the entrance. That was the beginning of an incredible experience.
I attended world premieres and saw stars arriving in stretch limos. I made friends with other filmmakers, fell in love with the city and watched our music video debut on the big screen.
It’s amazing that a project beginning with two friends reuniting at the Club turned into an event at a prestigious international film showcase over 3,500 miles away.
➸ If you would like to see "But I Do," as well as a short video covering my Toronto festival experience, visit KatherineChloeCahoon.com.