By Emma Pearson

May 25, 2024

Screenshot Photo my own

28 April 2023

A long, long time ago, back in the last millennium, in the time when there were dinosaurs, and during the 7 month period between 1997 and 1998 where I had a brilliantly exciting expat assignment in Minneapolis, I met a lovely woman called Betsy. She was first a colleague then became a dear friend. Betsy was much more of a cinema-goer than I was (though I bet I have since caught up). She used to be horrified (mock horrified, at least) at my ignorance about actors and films, releasing trademark-worthy guffaws of laughter when she learned which films I had not seen, or which actors’ names I didn’t know. I have become more educated in the intervening decades. Marginally.

Anyway, one thing I learned to do, while going to see films with Betsy, was to stay to watch the credits, at least until we saw ”Dolly Grip”. After that we could leave our seats. That I had no idea what a Dolly Grip was, who a Dolly Grip was, or what a Dolly Grip did, was neither here nor there. We sat patiently, watching the film’s credits roll up, long after 99% of the audience had left, then pointed and exclaimed, “Dolly Grip!”, and finally we could leave. I did know why we waited to see “Dolly Grip” – that much I did know. Betsy had two dachshund dogs, one of whom was called “Dolly”, and that is why we stayed and waited. For Dolly the doggy. (The other dachshund was named Kirby – but we didn’t wait to watch for any Kirby Grips but I presume some films had some).

Those experiences marked me. Perhaps not enough to go and research what exactly a Dolly Grip did (though I do now know – just about – they roll bits of camera equipment around on tracks, right?) But definitely in terms of staying to watch the credits.

Only months after my Minneapolis experience, I moved back from Minneapolis to London, then on to the Geneva region. Once there, I found that I was pregnant. By about two weeks. Mike joined me just a few months later, and when we’d go to see films, we got into the habit of watching the credits – not just as far as the Dolly Grip, but right to the end. We watched the credits initially so as to have “baby name” inspiration.  We didn’t ever want to find out if we were having a boy or a girl, so we had to keep our options open. We’d sit back in our comfy cinema seats and watch the names roll, roll, roll up… sometimes for well over five minutes. SO many people are involved in making a film.

We maintained this practice throughout our Ben, Megan and Julia pregnancies. And the times in between when not pregnant. Because delightful and fun as it was to see all the names, to imagine and toy with and taste the names alongside Mike’s surname “Kemp”, it also struck me, being pregnant and hormonal, “Gosh – all of these people – these hundreds of people involved in making a film – are someone’s son, someone’s daughter, someone’s child”.

It touched me to witness their names. It felt like a necessary honouring, to witness the work of these gazillion “behind the scenes” people. Not just the stars and co-stars, but the Dolly Grips and the special effects team and the musicians and the stunt artists and make-up artists and on and on. 

It is a practice I maintain to this day. I watch ALL of the credits. I spy Bens and Megans and Julias. I spy names I like. I always see the Dolly Grip and have a nod in my heart for Betsy. I take special note of the musicians and composers. I always want to know where films were shot – particularly if there is stunning scenery. I get to see any funny outtakes, which, if they are anywhere, are after the credits – sort of like a “special bonus” for those who stay. And I notice if there is a special honouring of a person who has died during the production time. There often is.

It can be a very moving experience, to stay to watch all of the credits. That everyone has left the cinema by the time they finish doesn’t much matter to me – though I sometimes feel a bit self-conscious, sitting “in the middle in the middle” where I like to be, if I am totally alone. Almost invariably a staff member has started to check the aisles for left-over rubbish while I am still sitting there.

Medjool also now partakes in this practice. He understands the notion of “honouring” all those people, these “sons and daughters” of someone. I think he understands too that watching film credits is helpful if you lack inspiration for naming an unborn child. I might even have told him about Betsy and her dog, Dolly. And if I hadn’t, well, he might now find out.

And so this morning, it was enormously moving for me to receive, from my middle child, Megan, a link to a music video that she has had a hand in creating, while doing an internship in London for Set Sisters, a duo of two women who do Set Design and Production Design – for short films, music videos, and more.

I captured a screenshot of the credits with Megan’s name (“Art Assistant”! Woohoo!) and immediately sent it to Medjool and Helen – Mike’s sister, and the person who has to “be Mike for me” on all of these “proud mum” occasions that make me so wish he were still alive to witness his elder daughter’s accomplishments. I wrote, “Notice what you notice”. Medjool saw her name and immediately wanted to see the rest of the video and to write to her and congratulate her. And Helen… well, she said, “I see light, music, cars, people”… (so I asked her to READ the credits! Which she did, then responded equally appropriately).

So yes – it’s a moving experience to see and read your child’s name in film credits. Mike would be so proud. Tickled pink. It’s always someone’s child. Every single one of them. And one of them is my precious middle one.

PS – the music is LOVELY – Matt Maltese – stunning voice. I now have him on repeat, on my laptop and on Spotify.

Here’s the video in question. About 25 mins. You can even see Megan early on – up on the balcony –watching and listening and, I am sure, loving it all.

PPS – Oh – and by the way – none of our three children was named after someone whose name we saw in film credits. How they were all named are stories for another time.

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