To Ang Lee with love, Terry Cyr

This is part of a letter I wrote to Ang Lee when I discovered that he was making one of my favorite short stories Brokeback Mountain into a film about 200 miles north of where I lived:

Dear James Schamus and Ang Lee

My name is Terry J Cyr, I was born in the paperback section of the Mineral County Library in Superior Montana in 1961 and raised on a cattle ranch in the western mountains of Montana. I first read “Brokeback Mountain” while I was photographing the Jazz singer Eden Atwood in Singapore. Her mother (the daughter of AB Guthrie) and a friend to Annie Proulx and had sent us a preview copy of the story. We sat, one afternoon, in our hotel having tea and reading the story, by the end we were both sobbing. It is one of the few pieces of literature that has moved me so deeply that I bought copies and gave them to all my friends. To me it’s a poetry that I understand, was raised in, and soars within my spirit.

I have spent the past seven years back in Montana working as a personal assistant to a very dear friend. He was an extraordinarily, kind, gentle, older gay man who had a great passion for the arts, especially movies, but was afraid and tormented by his homosexuality. He owned a great deal of real estate and had one of the most remarkable gardens and Victorian houses in the region. Two years ago he developed a brain tumor and we were able to keep him home until his passing last June. I have since spent the past year helping to close out his professional and personal affairs. The bulk of the estate goes to 4 major arts charities in Montana.

I am now open to go in a new direction, on to another remarkable adventure. So I began researching your “Brokeback Mountain” project and would love to work on the film crew. I have a vast amount of experience with this kind of work. I worked in professional theater for 10 years as an Equity stage manager touring with productions of “Romance/Romance”, “The Real Thing”, “The Glass Menagerie”, “The Heidi Chronicles”, and “Lend Me a Tenor”. I have managed many different theatrical production companies. I am efficient with scheduling and keeping a production on target. I am a good arbitrator and communicator between the technical departments and acting members of the crew. I am good at textural analysis and understand the structure of scripts. I have an extensive understanding of lighting, sound, costume, hair, makeup, and even construction (I spent a year in Dallas building skyscrapers). I have lit, photographed, and designed several student films. I am currently working part time as a professional free lace photographer focusing on Arts and Entertainment. I love shooting theatrical productions and now do it for the entire region. I do a lot of work documenting the process of theatrical production for lobby displays. I am most interested in the Pictorialist portrait movement of photography. I have enclosed some of my images.

The past five years, Cinda Holt (one of the original organizers of “The Sundance Film Festival”) and I have organized a film festival here in Missoula called “The Five River’s Festival of Film”. We choose a theme and then select a weeks worth of feature films and documentaries to screen. We generally bring in two to three professional filmmakers for each film: cinematographers, directors, art directors, costumers, and gaffers to talk about their process. We recently have begun to draw national recognition and had Kenneth Turran host our last festival titled “Native Americans in the Mythic West”.

It would be a dream come true to get to work on a film. I am interested in any part of the process. I am very congenial to work with, adapt and learn quickly, and can handle the stress and pressure of long hours. My favorite part of theatre was tech week. I would love to work on “Brokeback Mountain” if at all possible because of my strong connection to that story, but if not it, keep me in mind for other projects. I love your style of filmmaking and story telling. The dialogue on “Ride with the Devil” was so fantastic.

Please contact me if you need references or would like me to come for an interview. I will be in New York City April 22 through May 3

Thank you for the consideration.

Well I did not get a job on the production, but I did get a call from Ang Lee who said he was very moved by my letter. He had recently lost his father and identified with my loss. He was sorry but he could not hire me, because they where shooting in Canada and they were not allowed to hire outside of that country and that perhaps I could with him on another project in the future. Thank you Mr Lee for doing justice to a remarkable story and making it into an extraordinary film.