Now, a commuter is taking her tales from the X2 to the big screen. Eulonda Lea, a federal criminal investigator who moved to the H Street NE corridor in 2006, takes the X2 or X1 bus to work daily. And in that time she’s collected enough material from her commute to create a not-so-flattering short film about the equally beloved and hated bus route.
“Ode to Rosa,” an 11-minute short comedy that Lea wrote, directed and produced, tells the story of a Friday afternoon route aboard the, well, X666, bus –“the ride from hell,” as she puts it. One of the opening screens of the film says “Everything you are about to see really happened.”
Lea wasn’t able to secure a Metrobus, so nearly the entire film is set on a Montgomery County “Ride-On” bus with snapshots of D.C. in the background.
The film makes its first festival debut next month at Athens International in Ohio. Lea said she sees the bus as a microcosm of society, with people from all races and socioeconomic backgrounds in one confined space. The fact that everyone is riding it together shows how far society has come since Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement, but, Lea said, the way people can treat each other on the bus shows how far there’s still to go.
Lea said she frequently witnesses people shoving each other to get on the crowded bus, riders failing to pay their fares, and just a general lack of “social standards” on the bus.
“It’s positive in the sense that we are sort of forced to be in this space together and that we are people of various economic backgrounds,” she said. “In terms of how we act in public and treat each other, that’s where we need to still progress.”
In the single route, the film features an overcrowded bus, a woman listening to loud music, flirting, someone who won’t pay his fare, and an angry bus driver who subsequently punches a man who bailed on his fare.
The film cost about $10,000 to produce, with half of that coming from an Indiegogo campaign. This is a second career for Lea, and she said she hopes eventually to turn film making into a full-time one. Until then, she’ll probably continue to ride the X2.
“I prefer to ride other buses,” she said. “It’s always overcrowded.”