A crowd stared filtering in before 6:30 pm. For the 8 p.m. premiere of a documentary dedicated to the memory of a young New Columbia area man.
“The auditorium holds 900. We hope to push 900,” said Justin Jarrett, 23, of the New Columbia area, who directed and produced the film “For Aaron” along with associate director, friend and next-door neighbor Kylar Krebs, 24.
By 7:45 p.m. Saturday, only a few seats remained vacant in the Milton Area High School auditorium.
The showing was complete with balloons and photographers capturing the moviegoers as they walked along the star-studded red carpet and through ropes donated by the Williamsport Community Arts Center.
Jarrett and Krebs grew up in the same housing development as Aaron Klinger who died in a car crash in January 2009 in Cumberland County. He was 22 and a student in sports medicine and exercise science at Bloomsburg University.
The three had talked about bicycling from Milton to California after graduating from Bloomsburg University.
Jarrett and Krebs did just that — except they started their trek in Santa Monica, Calif., on Aug. 20, 2009, and ended Oct. 24 at Milton High School.
“We had the school band here and 250 people to greet us. Forty-five riders rode the last 60 miles with us including Aaron’s father and our parents,” said Jarrett who raised more than $30,000 to pay for the nearly two-hour documentary about their bike trip.
“The showing happened to coincide with the finishing of the movie almost one year to the day. We were working on the movie as late as Monday,” Jarrett said.
The film also spawned their own film company — jtwo films. James Brown of “NFL Today,” CBS and “Showtime,” served as executive producer of the film. He was unable to attend the showing but recorded a message played at the premiere. Brown’s daughter, Katrina Walker, and her husband, John Walker, of New Jersey, are friends of Jarrett and Krebs.
The Walkers also formed a partnership with their company, said Jarrett.
Jarrett and Krebs showed the film to Klinger’s family Wednesday. Klinger’s family also attended the premiere. “They loved it and took away exactly what I wanted them to take away from it,” Jarrett said.
Jarrett hopes the documentary “will show the length friends and loved ones go for one another and that death isn’t the end of a freindship — if anything it’s the beginning and to feel hopeful to live each day to the fullest. They shouldn’t be scared of tomorrow.”
“We hope people will see death is not the end and they will come away with a sense of peace and hope,” Krebs said.
Proceeds from the sales of tickets, merchandise such as “For Aaron” T-shirts and food will be donated to the Milton High School scholarship in Klinger’s name.
On display for the showing was Jarrett’s 24-speed Giant road bike that made the cross-country trip.
Jarrett and Krebs plan to take the film to festivals across the country and hope to find a distributor for TV or a DVD.