Friday, January 21, 2011

Kathryn Coombs. 1953 ~ 2011

19th + Wilson has some very sad news to share—Kathryn Coombs, the wonderful Unit Production Manager of Ghosts Don't Exist, passed away on Sunday, January 16th. It was just three months ago that we learned Kathryn was bravely battling uterine cancer, and she seemed to be doing well with her treatment. So to lose such a talented, vibrant colleague unexpectedly makes the loss that much harder to bear. If you visit Kathryn's Facebook page, you'll get a sense of just how loved and respected she was. The messages being left on her wall are touching, heartfelt, and legion.

Sadly, we at 19W only knew Kathryn for a short time, and Ghosts Don't Exist was the only fi
lm we had the pleasure of working on together. Her tireless efforts contributed heavily to the success of GDE—our first feature film—and suffice it to say, we had planned to work with Kathryn for a very long time to come.

Because Kathryn leaves behind so many friends who knew her longer and more closely, this is by no means a formal eulogy. we did, however, want to take the opportunity to highlight some of the fond memories we have of this very special and unique woman. I asked some of the gang here to share their thoughts.

AARON GOODMILLER, CEO / executive producer
"We met Kathryn in 2009 when she was applying for production designer for GDE. She wowed us so much that we hired her as UPM. She had a Rolodex full of crew members from the area; if she hadn't been on the film, we wouldn't have had as great a crew as we did."

ERIC ESPEJO, writer / director / executive producer
"I would say that my fondest memory of Kathryn was when I first started working with her and we (me, Kuni, and Kathryn) went location scouting. We had to drive all over Loudoun County to house after house and eve
ntually to the last stop to meet with Don Aros. Kathryn was so patient and so enthusiastic about finding a place to shoot GDE, you could tell right then that when she worked on a project she gave it her all. The funniest thing about that day was that we were all in separate cars following one another. Kathryn had all the directions so she was the lead car. She drove too fast and Kuni drove too slow—I was in the middle trying to make sure I could see both her and Kuni!"

"I was always impressed with how Kathryn could find a solution for almost anything. We were on a tight budget with GDE but it seemed like Kathryn could always pull a rabbit out of a hat somehow. She was very kind and wonderful to work with. We will miss her dearly."

RICHARD FRIEND, producer / 2nd assistant director
"One of my favorite moments was during a night shoot; Kathryn, Aaron and I were upstairs in the Travis Garner House while a crucial scene was being shot downstairs just below us. We had to be especially quiet in that old house, as the floors would creak loudly with even the slightest shifting of your weight. Several moment
s into a take, Kathryn—who was an AVID smoker and prone to extreme coughing fits—HAD one of those legendary coughing fits. She tried her best to stifle it, but the sounds coming from her hand over her mouth were at least as bad as the coughing itself! Aaron, meanwhile, was threatening to make even more noise, as he was literally in tears from laughing. Sure enough, 1st AD Gavin Peretti yelled "CUTTTT!!!" and promptly reprimanded "whoever was trying not to cough and laugh at the same time." I couldn't resist snapping a photo—and just as I did, Kathryn looked right at the camera and smiled. Even after nearly coughing out a lung, ruining a take, and working at 4AM on zero sleep, she still had that smile. :)

The photo in the memorial banner was taken by Sarah Baker, during an impromptu moment on set; and I used that image because that's exactly how I'll always remember Kathryn—sitting at her computer, completely approachable, and ready to help in any way she could."

Memorial Services Announcement for Kathryn Coombs:
Visit Kathryn's Facebook page for more information on a Cleydael celebration of life ceremony coming from her friends at Cleydael Farm. Funeral mass with communion for family and close friends will be held at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 1132 North Ivanhoe Street, Arlington, VA 22205 on Friday Ja
nuary 28th at 1:30 pm. Private interment to follow at Columbia Gardens. A memorial service at Pat Troy’s Ireland’s Own Restaurant & Pub of Old Town, 111 N. Pitt St. Alexandria, VA will be held Friday January 28 from 5 to 7 pm. Memorial contributions can be made in Kathryn’s name (please so note on any donation) to the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) 1156 15th Street NW Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005 or the Fredericksburg Christian Health Center (FCHC)1129 Heatherstone Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22407-4828 or the YR Alumni Network, 1101 30th Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20007 to fund a scholarship in Kathryn’s name.