Last Saturday I was lucky enough to spend time in the picturesque village of Montauk, New York for the latest BMD Event, Meet Me In Montauk. Sponsored by the Alamo Drafthouse, Focus Features, and Casper, a small group of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fans were treated to a day of chasing memories in honor of Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry’s heartbreak-masterpiece. Following in the footsteps of Joel and Clementine across sandy beaches, our day was filled with special moments I’m certain none of us would ever want to erase.
The event kicked off with our small group of about seventy people (tickets sold out in a flash) meeting up at Montauk Brewery Co., where there was plenty of beer and excited conversation about the day ahead.
Next up we spent the afternoon touring some of the movie’s memorable locations, beginning with a short walk around town past the diner where Joel spots Clementine’s "Blue Ruin" hair from afar.
Then it was on to the beach where Joel discovers two years of pages missing from his journal while sitting on the steps. Sadly, we discovered that the steps are no longer there, having been erased by the tide.
After a trek through the sand we were shuttled by buses forty minutes away to Wainscott beach, where we spent a highlight of the tour in front of the beautiful beach house where Joel and Clem’s first memory becomes their last. Although we couldn't go inside, we did learn that the house is for sale—ya know, in case anyone has a cool $55 million to spend.
It was at this spot that event photographer, Heather Leah Kennedy, had pairs of us take turns reenacting the scene where Joel and Clementine run toward the house. And the photographs are mementos I’m sure we'll all cherish for many years to come.
Standing on the nearly isolated beach with the overcast sky and the threat of rain seemed to fit perfectly with the wintertime tone of the movie.
Too soon the time had come to walk back to the shuttles and head to Gurney’s Resort where an open bar and a Top Deck reception overlooking the beach were waiting to blow our minds. Seriously, I can't stress enough how much the sponsors went out of their way to make this a truly unique and special occasion. We were so spoiled and we enjoyed every single second of it.
The buffet of food was phenomenal. A kickass Alamo ice sculpture was the centerpiece for a seafood bar complete with lobster claws, lobster tails, shrimp, and oysters. There was also a pasta bar serving up fresh gnocchi and another with beef tenderloin. All was sampled and all was delectable.
Wine, beer, and spirits flowed as we feasted and mingled while waiting for nightfall.
Lacuna Inc. postcards were provided and filled out. Family and friends of attendees should keep an eye on their mailbox, as you may be receiving some very specific instructions soon.
Focus Features also gave us all a tote bag filled with goodies, including a coffee mug, magnets, a t-shirt, and the pièce de résistance, our very own orange hoodie just like Clementine’s. We put these on immediately, of course, and they were so warm and cozy we wore them for the remainder of the night.
Unfortunately, the threat of thunderstorms prevented the beds on the beach portion of the event, but Gurney's and Drafthouse’s own, Henri Mazza, rallied to set us up in a safe and comfortable space indoors. It was a sea of tangerine as we settled into Casper beds and loungers for the moment this already unforgettable day had been leading up to.
But before the screening began there was popcorn up for grabs and vinyl copies of a Focus Features soundtrack were given to those who had traveled the farthest—one group having come all the way from Panama. The bar remained open and servers were on-hand to take drink orders during the movie since we were obviously all too comfortable to move.
Like every Alamo Drafthouse experience, once the movie began there was no talking or texting from this respectful crowd. However, there were a few eruptions of applause whenever one of the locations we’d visited earlier that day arrived on-screen. And those were the moments when the impact of the whole experience really kicked in.
Watching Eternal Sunshine in this setting, having just been on the beach where Joel and Clementine meet and share their last moments together, made Joel's insistence that they simply "enjoy it" resonate deeper than ever before. And by the time Clementine whispered “Meet me in Montauk” in Joel's ear, the room was completely still. Even for those who may have seen the movie numerous times the events of the day had changed it, by allowing them to become part of it in a way they never were before.
When I first heard about Meet Me In Montauk, it struck me as the best way anyone could ever conceive of to screen this particular movie. BMD Events continue to go above and beyond the expectations of even the most avid film fan. Despite the weather not cooperating, the sponsors worked hard to create not just a mere movie screening, but an immersive cinematic adventure. Endless thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse, Focus Features, Casper, and everyone in Montauk and at Gurney's Resort for making this adventure possible. Thanks also to Heather Leah Kennedy for the amazing photos (check out the full album here). I don't know that BMD Events has plans to revisit Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in the future, but one can only hope that—just like Joel and Clementine—they'll meet in Montauk for another try.