Funeral Homes, Cemeteries, Hollywood, and The Movies

Funeral directors and the funeral industry have never came across real good in Hollywood.  The last funeral home related movie that I saw was “Bernie” based on the Cathage, Texas, funeral director Bernie Tiede – portrayed by Jack Black – who was convicted and sentenced for murdering a wealthy widow with whom he had an affair.  Black portrayed Tiede as a bumbling, but sincere, funeral director.  The portrayal of Tiede, which may have been correct for all I know, did not portray small town funeral directors in the positive light that I know them.

In the last couple of days I came across a couple of articles pertaining to funeral homes, cemeteries, Hollywood, and the movies and I thought this would be a good time to share them with you.  It appears that in both instances a positive light is aimed at our industry.

The first article comes from an “NFDA in the News” release about the feature film, “Getting Grace”.  The film, which was filmed in NFDA member funeral homes in Bethlehem and Allentown, Pennsylvania, portrays Bill Jankowski, a funeral director, and his relationship with a 16-year old, Grace, who is dying of cancer.  The film has already won four awards in film festivals and is getting rave reviews.  you can read more about it and see a movie trailer here.

Secondly, I read a recent article in Parade which featured the events known as Cinespia.  Cinespia was started in 2002 by Los Angeles native John Wyatt and consists of showing outdoor movies in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  The article explains that over the last 15 years, Cinespia has became a Los Angeles staple and now has progressed – complete with fireworks – to year round programming that even has the stars and filmmakers coming out.  Wyatt and Cinespia have now partnered with Amazon Studios to even make it bigger and better.

Funeral Director Daily take:  First of all, I’m excited about the movie “Getting Grace”.  I’ve seen the trailer and I think the movie accurately portrays not only a funeral director, with all of his business issues and worries, but also may be pretty on topic with the questions a 16-year old would have about death, dying, the hereafter, and mortality.  From what I’ve seen, I think it could have the makings of a very good film and a positive image builder for funeral directors.

As for Cinespia — what a cool thing.  Outdoor movies are all the rage now and it is interesting to see how the idea got started with the idea of using  beautiful cemetery space.  I would suggest putting some thought into if you have a beautiful cemetery in your community that might be willing to be a host for a night like this in your community.  It is one way to expose a cemetery as a friendly place and a potential way to promote your funeral home in a different light.

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