Saturday, June 16th was declared “Buster Keaton Day” in Los Angeles, and included an entire weekend of festivities. The event I attended on that particular day—a plaque dedication—is one I’ll hold very dear to my heart. Somewhere in Hollywood, on the southwest corner of Lillian Way and Eleanor Avenue, stands a plain-looking movie prop warehouse. Nearly 100 years prior, it was the site where Buster Keaton’s independent studio once graced.
When I first reached out to The International Buster Keaton Society in 2016, asking if there was any way I could be a volunteer for the Damfinos, I never would have guessed that, two years later, I’d have a humble part in contributing to the design of a shiny new plaque for Buster Keaton. When the big day finally arrived, I was joined by my parents and a friend who was able to make it at the last minute. Once we arrived, there was already a small crowd of people gathered around outside. A podium had been set up, as well as a merchandise table (where I bought a t-shirt). I was greeted by Alek Lev, Vice President of the Damfinos, and someone who I have been working closely with for Keaton’s centennial-into-filmmaking last year, especially as a graphic designer.
The speechmaking commenced sometime in mid-afternoon, and guest speakers included Melissa Talmadge Cox (Buster Keaton’s granddaughter), John Bengtson, Leonard Maltin, and David Arquette (presenting himself in Keatonesque fashion)—along with a few others. Towards the end, Alek came up to the podium to discuss more about the plaque and give acknowledgements. When my name was mentioned, I couldn’t help but give a shy wave, still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I had a concrete hand in this project. Once the plaques were unveiled, camera flashes went off in succession and people swarmed in to see the final result.
As I was slowly inching my way over to get a glimpse, a gentleman came up to me and shook my hand, telling me what a wonderful job I did. Then he pointed to the silhouette pin he was wearing on his lapel and said something along the lines of “wearing it over his heart.” Another person walked up to greet me (an Instagram mutual), and pointed to the pin on his lapel too. Once I stepped in front of the plaque, it was larger than I imagined. I saw my silhouette illustration and smiled. The smaller plaque is placed to the left of it, and there I saw my name! I turned to my friend, saying that I’ve reached my pinnacle. He said it was only just the beginning.