Most people have memories of high school they would just as soon forget.
Not Regina Crosby.
The writer and director, now living in Los Angeles, used her four years of teen-angst at Coeur d’Alene High School as the backdrop for her first film, “Teenage Dirtbag.”
The movie, filmed on location in Coeur d’Alene in 2005, finally landed on the big screen Thursday for a one-night screening at the Garland Theater.
The Indie flick is being screened in several large cities, including Los Angeles and New York, before being released Tuesday on DVD. It’s available on demand for some cable customers now.
“This is the little movie that could,” Crosby said Thursday from Los Angeles, where she was preparing for the premiere there. “This movie has been propelled completely by word of mouth…there’s not a big marketing budget behind it.”
The movie was in post-production for several years, largely because it was produced on a “shoe-string” budget, Crosby said.
Thought it is a work of fiction, the film is loosely based on Crosby’s experience in high school in the Lake City. She graduated from CHS in the late 1980s, and then North Idaho College and the University of Idaho before moving to California.
She hosted a TV show and began acting before she came up with the idea for “Teenage Dirtbag.”
It follows the story of a popular high school cheerleader named Amber, played by Noa Hegesh, who is harassed by a social outcast and delinquent, Thayer Mangeras, played by Scott Michael Foster. The two are placed in the same creative writing class together, and through their writing they develop a bond, friendship, and love. But the social pressure of high school and the need to “fit-in” ultimately gets in the way of any lasting bond.
The story has a tragic end, and doesn’t subscribe to the usual good girl and bad boy get together high-school story plot.
“It definitely talks about the pain you go through in growing up,” Crosby said. “You have a lot of regrets that you take into adulthood from high school, and you almost never get the opportunity to make corrections on those regrets or reach out to somebody you didn’t reach out to at the time.”
On Thursday, several eager local fans attended the showing of the movie at the north Spokane discount theater, including Julia Duquette, formerly of Coeur d’Alene, who was 16 at the time she was cast as one of several extras in the film. She brought her mom, Cadee Duquette, to Thursday’s premiere.
“This is going to be the first time I’ve seen the entire movie, so I’m very excited to piece it all together,” Duquette said.
There was also small screening in Coeur d’Alene in 2008, before the movie underwent final editing.
Kristin Gorringe, who went to high school with Crosby and was involved in cheerleading with her, heard about the film after connecting with Crosby on Facebook.
“I am excited to see if I recognized any of the characters,” Gorringe said. She said she was curious to see how true to the story and drama of their time in high school Crosby stayed in her recreation.
She also knew Mangeras, whose name was not changed in the film.
“I don’t think the name justifies the wonderful move, and story that it is,” said Denise Haskin, who came to watch her daughter, Jamie Anderson, 20, who was an extra and had one line in a classroom scene. Haskin also graduated from CHS in 1981, and knew Crosby.
“What I took away from it is depending on what side of the tracks you are on, that’s who you’ll end up with,” Haskin said. It’s sad but true.”
Crosby hopes anyone who watches her film will learn this:
“Treat people well,” she said. “Because it matters; you the significance of your actions lasts forever and you can’t undo things; you don’t get a do-over.”