John Landry’s Short Film Honors Casey Goodson’s Life

“Standing in the Blink of a Night” chronicles the protests that came after Goodson’s killing by a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy.

Brittany Moseley
Columbus Monthly
A still from John Landry's film "Standing in the Blink of a Night: For Casey Goodson Jr." Goodson's mother Tamala Payne is pictured second from right.

John Landry didn’t intend to make a documentary. When he attended local protests after the death of Casey Goodson Jr., his initial plan was to shoot some photos and videos for himself. “Sometimes you capture stuff, and nobody ever really sees it, and that's what I thought that moment was going to be,” says Landry, who, outside of his full-time job in IT, runs his own media company, Top 5ive Photography.

Landry was out of town last December when he heard the news that Goodson, a 23-year-old Black male, was fatally shot by Franklin County Sheriff's SWAT deputy Jason Meade. Landry says he was shocked to hear about Goodson’s death, especially on the heels of last summer’s racial justice protests, which Landry attended. When Landry’s dad told him he was going Downtown for the protests after Goodson’s death, Landry decided to go with him, assuming he would take some photos and videos for his growing archive of protest footage.

“But it ended up turning into something larger,” Landry says. It became “Standing in the Blink of a Night: For Casey Goodson,” a short film that chronicles the protests immediately after Goodson’s death. It took home the Jury Prize at the Wexner Center for the Art’s annual Ohio Shorts. It also received the award for Best Social Justice Film at the New York International Film Awards and was selected for screening at the Toronto Documentary Film Festival.

On Thursday, the Wexner Center for the Arts, in partnership with South Drive-In, will show “Standing in the Blink of a Night” at the drive-in. The film, which comes in just under six minutes, will play before the Spike Lee classic “Do the Right Thing.”

“For our screenings at the South Drive-In, we wanted to pair a locally made short with each film,” says Wex curatorial assistant Layla Muchnik via email. “Much like ‘Do the Right Thing,’ ‘Standing in the Blink of a Night’ considers questions of justice and who is truly protected by law enforcement in the United States.”

More:The simple but complex life of Casey Goodson

The film’s most striking moment is a conversation between Goodson’s mother, Tamala Payne, and Jamita Malone, the mother of Julius Tate. Almost two years before Goodson was killed, Tate, a 16-year-old Black teenager, was shot and killed by a Columbus Police SWAT officer during an undercover investigation.

“Keep your eyes open sister,” Malone says to Payne, “cause we are living a life that our ancestors fought for.” Landry filmed the two at a close angle, bringing the viewer into the intimate conversation. Goodson family attorney Sean Walton is also in the shot, his arm around Payne. In the background, a protestor holds a sign bearing a picture of Goodson.

Landry is good friends with Walton, and he says their friendship made it easier for him to closely follow the family as they marched in protest through the city. “I stuck really close to him and the family as they were moving around. So by the time we got to that point where the mother of Casey and the mother of Julius were talking, at that point, I had invisible clearance,” Landry says. “Being able to capture that moment in the way that I did, and then [share] it [with] the audience in the way that I saw it, I think was something that was, in my opinion, very powerful.”

When audience members watch “Standing in the Blink of a Night” on the big screen this week, Landry hopes they realize that victims of police shootings are more than what they see in the news.

“These aren't just faces in pictures,” he says. “I just want them to look at it from a viewpoint of what is actually going on. What can you do to assist in either sharing this message or helping with the cause of what people are standing for, and the injustices that other people may be going through?”

“Standing in the Blink of a Night” will precede “Do the Right Thing” Thursday at 8 p.m. at South Drive-in Theatre. wexarts.org