I remembered what I left off my prior post… we had an amazing write-up from MovieMaker on the making of Call Me! Thank you to our friend Andy for calling it his favorite music video of 2014! He caught our screening at the Cucalorus Film Festival last November. Goes to show that even if it’s online, it’s important to submit music video work to a few festivals too. Thanks to Cucalorus as well for screening our work, and allowing us to open for I Believe in Unicorns.

This past weekend I attended the Ozark Foothills Film Festival with my dear friends Robyn and Jon. They premiered their new short film Nirvana there, a fest that’s close to their heart. Little Cabbage screened in the same block, which was a huge honor. Nirvana is a very special film as it’s written from Jon’s unique perspective of having lung cancer. It’s even more significant because Robyn plays the main character who is inflicted with this disease. I read an early version of the script sometime last year… and have been eagerly awaiting seeing it on screen ever since. It was just as beautiful as I hoped it would be. On top of that extraordinary experience I got to spend hours upon hours of one-on-one time with them both over the weekend. I love them so much. Conversations with them are like talking to kindred spirits. You should follow them on their journeys through Robyn’s blog! She’s a great writer.

Big news on the Electric Bleau front! It’s now in the trusted hands of a few select others for feedback/notes. I’m scared, and excited. I’ve been working on it for so long… so it’s hard to know where it falls in the grand scheme of actually being finished. Notes can be overwhelming for me, because notes inevitably mean edits and rewrites. The obvious positive side to that is that with each draft it becomes better and better. I don’t know if I’ve posted it yet, but here is my official logline:

An African-American punk rocker from New Orleans in the late 1970’s is given a cursed musical instrument that’s been wreaking havoc on her family for generations.

Ah! There is A LOT of music in this film. My hope is to collaborate with a respected musician on the character of Bleau and the music that she writes. I have someone specific in mind, but not sure how realistic that it is at this very moment. I am about to start working on more casting options, as I feel that process is soon to be upon us. For those that don’t know, our short film Little Cabbage is a prologue story to Electric Bleau, with the harmonica being the shared element.

James is 5 pounds away from his weight-loss goal! I am getting closer, too. I think by this time in May I will be done. We’ve been going strong for over four months now! I think maintaining is going to be a different story for me this time long-term. With James as a health partner, we can keep each other in check. We have a solid plan moving forward.

May is going to be a very special month. Two of my best friends will be getting married (separately, haha) – Vero & Brandi. I will be performing the ceremony at Vero & Clint’s wedding (I’m over the moon!), and I will be in attendance for Brandi & Jim’s in Key West. Both have found wonderful partners. I couldn’t be happier for them both. <3 You can also read Vero’s engagement story here. 

Little Cabbage at the Chattanooga Film Festival.

Little Cabbage at the Chattanooga Film Festival.

Little Cabbage at the Ozark Foothills Film Festival!

Little Cabbage at the Ozark Foothills Film Festival.

Brunch stop in Memphis on the way home from Arkansas to see our friend Brighid!

Brunch stop in Memphis on the way home from Arkansas to see our friend Brighid!

James on Lookout Mountain. :)

James on Lookout Mountain. :)

James taking flight on a swinging bridge.

James taking flight on a swinging bridge.

James and me with our friends Brian & Chris at the Chattanooga Film Festival!

James and me with our friends Brian & Chris at the Chattanooga Film Festival!

Chattanooga Film Festival!

Chattanooga Film Festival!

Elevator shot.

Elevator shot.

See Rock City y'all.

See Rock City y’all.

Me, Jon, Robyn, Judy & Bill at the Ozark Foothills Film Festival!

Me, Jon, Robyn, Judy & Bob at the Ozark Foothills Film Festival!

It’s been a busy few weeks since I last wrote. Little Cabbage had its world premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival, I was in a car accident that totaled our car (I’m ok!), and a million other things seemed to have occurred. The car accident sucked… I hit a telephone pole going about 20 mph and my airbags didn’t deploy. I banged my head really hard on the steering wheel and bruised my knees pretty bad against the dashboard, but luckily that was the worst of it. I get attached to objects like cars and houses. I was sad to say goodbye to the silver Mazda that also once belonged to my brother. She was good to us. You can mark eras in your life sometimes by the things you own or the places you live in. That Mazda lived through some big moments.

The world premiere of Little Cabbage was really special. We had the honor of opening for a feature called Rosehill (also their world premiere), directed by Brigitta Wagner and starring Josephine Decker and Kate Chamuris. We had a great slot at 4:30 on a Saturday of the festival’s second weekend. Even though we’ve had two cast & crew screenings, I was still pretty nervous going into it. We played on the BIG Plaza main theater, a size we’ve never experienced before. Little Cabbage looked and sounded perfect, and we had a great audience reaction.

Today James and I head to the Chattanooga Film Festival for our next screening! LC played last night, and will play again this Sunday in a block at 1pm. Next weekend is the Ozark Film Festival in Arkansas, then we wrap up for a little bit the following weekend at Indie Grits. Yay!

I love where we live in Atlanta. It’s the perfect spot for us right now. A lot of people think that living in Atlanta must be really terrible with what they perceive as around the clock traffic and general chaos. When I lived here 12 years ago in my first adventure, I did live in a place that kept me away from the areas that are so wonderful. I didn’t have many friends and I generally thought this city sucked. Now that we’re in the heart of what I call “the neighborhoods,” I couldn’t be happier. Everything is close by, including the city itself, and we rarely have to fight traffic. There is so much art, life, and happenings that it’s literally impossible to keep up. And the best part… it’s only a little over 2 hours from my real home in Birmingham. I take advantage of that often with short & long visits. For those of you in Birmingham & beyond, come visit us sometime and we will show you all there is to love! I felt like I was cheating on Birmingham for so long by loving this city, but I’ve come to learn that it’s ok to be happy in more than one place. And I’m pretty happy.

Progress Report: James and I are almost on day 100 in our lifestyle changes to reach our goal weights! I think I have roughly 5 weeks left and I will be finished. I still haven’t weighed in… and I’m not certain yet that I ever will. I can become obsessed with the scale, and it’s been liberating to just go by measurements and how my clothes fit. James is weighing in, and he is down about 30 pounds. I am probably about the same. Some days it’s easy, some days it’s hard. Glad the finish line is in sight! We will continue to count calories for three months when we are done (raising our daily consumption, of course) to help establish good habits.

I feel like I’m leaving off something important in this post. If I remember, I’ll add it in next time! My feature script Electric Bleau is making progress. I hope to report some new happenings this month other than writing updates. She’s almost ready to present to others! That will start a whole new process and timeline, officially launching us into preproduction. Bottomless, the short film I’m producing and that Vero’s writing & directing, should be completed for the most part this month. Joe Walker is busy putting together the final scenes as we speak. All very exciting!

Lastly, one of my FAVORITE things that I saw at the Atlanta Film Festival was Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. Obviously not an indie film… but amazingly well-done. It premieres on HBO May 4th. There is also a limited theatrical release starting on April 11th.

11

Game of Thrones Season 5 Sneak Peek, as part of the Atlanta Film Festival! (Also – HAPPY BIRTHDAY Wendy!!) Set design by Molly Coffee.

Atlanta Film Festival with friends.

Atlanta Film Festival with friends.

Jon, Robyn, me, & James on opening night of the Atlanta Film Festival.

Jon, Robyn, me, & James on opening night of the Atlanta Film Festival.

Me and o'Fella!

Me and o’Fella!

Friends at the Atlanta Film Festival.

Friends at the Atlanta Film Festival.

Photo with Brigitta, director of Rosehill!

Photo with Brigitta, director of Rosehill!

Us on stage with the cast & crew of Rosehill, the feature that Little Cabbage opened for.

Us on stage with the cast & crew of Rosehill, the feature that Little Cabbage opened for.

Little Cabbage World Premiere! Photo by Josh Carples.

Little Cabbage World Premiere! Photo by Josh Carples.

Lane, Robyn, & me at the New Mavericks Atlanta Film Festival brunch.

Lane, Robyn, & me at the New Mavericks Atlanta Film Festival brunch.

James and me on opening night of the Atlanta Film Festival.

James and me on opening night of the Atlanta Film Festival.

Azza daydreaming.

Azza daydreaming.

Me & the Bean!!

Me & the Bean!!

My new Alabama shaped earrings from Naked Art!

My new Alabama shaped earrings from Naked Art!

First glass of wine at the Atlanta Film Festival.

First glass of wine at the Atlanta Film Festival.

Top porch livin'.

Top porch livin’.

Cilantro & Lucy!

Cilantro & Lucy!

People say that the girls in this mural look like me.

People say that the girls in this mural look like me.

The Filminism panel at the Atlanta Film Festival.

The Filminism panel at the Atlanta Film Festival.

James and me after the world premiere of Little Cabbage!

James and me after the world premiere of Little Cabbage!

THE SUNSHINE, WARM TEMPS, give me all of it!! While I love a floor heater, white powdery snow (that never came this year), and warm beverages…the spring-like weather this week has been very welcome.  I just couldn’t take another cold, wet, overcast day. I’ve never been a sun bunny (transparent skin to prove it), but I dared to venture out in a summer dress today, soaking up the rays. It was heaven-sent.

James and I are over halfway to our weight goals! At this rate, we will still be finished by the end of April/beginning of May. All we’ve really done is calorie count, cook at home more, and incorporate foods that are more filling (while still enjoying things that we love). We are adding in exercise to our weekly routines (I’ve been doing a good job at strength exercises, hopefully allowing me to run longer distances in the near future). I feel really good about my health and well-being right now.

I finished the first presentable version of Electric Bleau and passed off to James a couple weeks back. Since then I’ve completed a newer draft, and I’m about to start on the next. James is a great sounding board. Just when I think I have all of my elements together, he presents ways that it can be even better. Right now I am really focusing on the structure. Electric Bleau is a complex and complicated story… much like the short films that I’ve done in the past. One thing that I want to do this time around is be clearer, while not spoon-feeding my audience. There is a fine line. I want to be less abstract and more forceful with my intention, while retaining the magic and mystery that I love. My next goal is to get the green light from James by the end of March to start showing it to other people for notes. I am working really hard to get to that point!

The coming weeks are going to be a lot of fun, and mark the beginnings of festival appearances for Little Cabbage. First on the docket is the Atlanta Film Festival where we open for the World Premiere of Rosehill (3/28, 4:30p at the Plaza Theatre). Then in rapid fire we head to Chattanooga, Ozark and Indie Grits. We hope there is even more good news to share soon.

One thing that I live for is the possibility of opportunity. This year I’ve put my name & work in the hat for a few select things that I hope come back around. I am starting to realize that this feature might take a little longer than expected to be completed (but faster than I anticipate, I’m sure), so in the meantime I want to continue creating.  One of those projects is producing Vero’s first animated short film, called Bottomless. We first talked about doing this last year in Wilmington over Creme Brulee. Next thing we know, Vero’s created a fantastic storyboard and Joe Walker has signed on to help. Complete with an original score on the accordion by Carrie Hill, this little film is going to be pure joy.

Before I go – I have a few shout-outs! First – check out my friend Stacey Davis’ Seed&Spark campaign for her upcoming short called The Sibling Code. I’ve known Stacey for many, many years. Not only has she served on the Sidewalk Film Festival board for as long as I can remember, but she also helped me on my first short (Piece of Cake) in 2006 as our entertainment lawyer. She’s as legit as they come. I know this film will be absolutely brilliant. Second – I am working with a couple of talented female filmmakers in Atlanta to expand a supportive/creative collective called New Mavericks (as a branch of the Atlanta Film Festival). If you are interested in learning more or taking part – find us here. Third – we were on NPR, y’all! Listen to our segment talking about Little Cabbage in Harmonicas and House Fires.

We have a new baby - meet Dorito!! She hails from a bush in Midland, Georgia.

We have a new baby – meet Dorito!! She hails from a bush in Midland, Georgia.

ATL NPR!

ATL NPR!

Cilantro smiling in the sunshine.

Cilantro smiling in the sunshine.

Check out James' new website housing all of his beautiful design work: iamjamesmartin.com

Check out James’ new website housing all of his beautiful design work: iamjamesmartin.com

Electric Bleau pass-off!

Electric Bleau pass-off!

Art from Bottomless, written & directed by Vero.

Art from Bottomless, written & directed by Vero.

Art from Bottomless, written & directed by Vero.

Art from Bottomless, written & directed by Vero.

Spring cartwheels.

Spring cartwheels.

BK is a Birmingham baby.

BK is a Birmingham baby.

3 year anniversary ferris wheel ride!

3 year anniversary ferris wheel ride!

New Mavericks supports women involved in various aspects of the Atlanta film community to achieve a strong voice in the local industry.

New Mavericks supports women involved in various aspects of the Atlanta film community to achieve a strong voice in the local industry.

For those of you who missed it, I now have purple hair. :) I’ve done purple several times before… but never quite this vibrant. I have friends of all ages who sport fun rainbow colors on top of their head with grace and style. However I still find myself passing by mirrors doing double takes, forgetting that I’m the color of a Grapico. It’s a very complimentary color to my skin tone (which tends to be on the red side). I’m sure most of you would agree that in the next 5-10 years (or even less) hair of any color and style will be the norm. It won’t be seen as a rebellious statement anymore, but rather a thing of beauty and as a personal identifier. I certainly didn’t do it to rock any boats… I just love color. I am actually pleasantly surprised at how many people genuinely like it, too. Big thanks to Shelby McDonald of Beauty Shock, who always makes me a more attractive person. ;)

Good news!! If you haven’t seen Bubble, or would like to see it again, it is joining the Film Festival Collective in March! That means that if you have XFINITY/Comcast, you can watch it ON YOUR TV AT HOME through On Demand. This was made possible because we screened Bubble at two Film Festival Collective qualifying fests – Indie Memphis and Indie Grits. Thank you for showing our work! Also, Seed&Spark just announced a partnership with iTunes which will lead to distribution options for S&S funded films (like Little Cabbage). The way in which we watch film and our access to independent work is changing at a rapid pace.

Little Cabbage got more exciting news: we are official selections of the Atlanta Film Festival and the Chattanooga Film Festival! Heart explosions. It’s pretty hard to get your films screened in any festival, so we grateful when we are granted the opportunity to show our work. We do not take it for granted.

I didn’t accomplish my goal of having a finished presentable draft of Electric Bleau by my birthday (Feb 17). However….it is going to be ready to pass on as of this Sunday, March 1st!!! I needed a little more time, and I’m glad I allowed myself to extend the deadline. I am trying to practice a little bit of patience, which is hard when the next steps of the process are so exciting.

I have a few things up my sleeve that I can’t wait to share. One is a collaboration that is coming to fruition (yay!) and the other is in story development (potentially my second feature). I’m doing exactly what I have always wanted to – juggling various projects in different stages of production. This is what I love, and I want to be doing it all the time…which requires balance, responsibility, determination, and grace.

I had a really wonderful birthday. I kept it on the quiet side, which is what my soul craved this year. I did get to see some dear friends in Birmingham one night that left me on a high for days. I feel loved in both cities. It’s nice to have two places to call home. James took me out on the town for birthday low-calorie adventures, included a vegan pop-up dinner at Sound Table that changed my LIFE. It was so amazing. If I had access to vegan food like that three meals a day, I could easily make the swap. Vero also took me thrift store shopping (I have so many awesome new things!) and made me a delicious veggie dinner. I am lucky. I haven’t gone vegetarian or anything, but I definitely don’t eat meat every day.

The coming weeks will be full of writing and polishing for me, while keeping some other projects in motion for the future. My freelance work is still coming in, and very rewarding. Grateful for everything I have – the people, the work, and the passion projects.

Birthday Tour de Chocolate w Vero & Clint!

Birthday Tour de Chocolate w Vero & Clint!

Jump Zone with my brother Dave, Amber, Lauren & The Bean.

Jump Zone with my brother Dave, Amber, Lauren & The Bean.

Purple hair. :D

Purple hair. :D

Birthday wish: Jeni's Ice Cream for dinner.

Birthday wish: Jeni’s Ice Cream for dinner.

The Abi-do!

The Abi-do!

Atlanta filmmaker friends.

Atlanta filmmaker friends.

It’s birthday month!!! We are officially t-minus 4 days until I turn 36. There is even the small possibility of snow in Atlanta!

I set a goal for myself about a week ago that I would finish a presentable version of my feature script Electric Bleau by my birthday, and while it’s gonna be tight, I think I will make it. On that day, I want to pass off a printed version to James…the first person ever to set eyes on the full story. There will still be work to do after that point with revisions and rewrites, but in my mind that’s entering a whole new phase of the process. My second big goal is to read James’ notes and make the appropriate updates by the end of February/early March. At that time I want to pass it off to 2-3 other people for additional notes. The ultimate foreseeable goal is to have an accurate picture in March of when we might be able to film it. I am hopeful about the timeline at this point.

Starting this Monday we will have some exciting news regarding Little Cabbage! We will have two festivals to announce next week, then another at the beginning of March. This week we completed the official LC website, many thanks to James. We are so excited to start enjoying the festival circuit and savoring the satisfaction of audiences watching our film.

James and I are still on the calorie counting boat, doing really well. Some days are harder than others, but overall time is going by pretty quick. I may have said this before, but I never did an official weigh-in to start off with…only measurements. James is going to do his first weigh-in this Saturday (tomorrow) and I think I will wait until March. We are officially having the occasional adult beverage. We have also started incorporating moderate exercise. Results are starting to show! James and I have started a new funny habit of watching Survivor in our down time. They too have limited consumption habits, and it’s comforting (in this situation) to watch people worse off than you are. ;) We like to pretend we are living on an island campaigning for a million dollars.

A few quick things before I go! If you love cocktails and you don’t follow The Sipologist (James’ blog), you should! He just started an Instagram account this week as well. Speaking of tasty beverages…if you live in Birmingham and love craft beer, then you should definitely check out Eat / Drink Birmingham. Not only can you enjoy all kinds of craft beer from Alabama brewers and local bites (to your heart’s content), you will be the first to enjoy the brand new St. Stephen’s Stout. It’s a collaborative craft brew by ALL of the statewide members of the Alabama’s Brewers Guild. This group is the force behind the craft beer movement in Alabama and 100% of the profits benefit your ability to enjoy local brewer’s products. Not to mention that this event is being put on by Amber Schreckbach, a dear family member of mine & mother of The Bean.

See you guys on the flip side of 36!

fireside

Roasting our feet by the fire.

Happy

Happy birthday to my niece Anna Banana! Photo by Christy Schreck.

J&J

Inside a tree selfie.

jentree

Photoshoot outing in North Georgia. Photo by James.

james

Photoshoot outing in North Georgia

mixology

Vintage cocktail guide from my grandmother to James (belonged to my great grandparents).

I am feeling good as month 1 rolls off the calendar. January was externally quiet, but internally loud. Insecurities lurked in the darkness as we awaited news from several fronts, toying with my confidence at times. While we are still waiting for what’s to be Little Cabbage’s journey in the near future, I now feel a strange calmness and sense of excitement.

Electric Bleau’s second draft will be complete for sure in the coming weeks. I have a feeling that once that draft leaves my hands, the pace is going to pick up at lightning speed. Sometimes I look at other filmmakers I admire and wish that I was more like them, but I have to remember to be myself. They are successful because they’ve embraced their own style and continue to polish their voice. I have my own style too, and it’s ok to be a little different. Every indie filmmaker has their unique way of living day-to-day while still pursuing their passion, their own journey full of obstacles and successes. The more filmmakers I come to know personally, the more beautiful the individual struggle truly is. I am certainly not alone in what I’m trying to do. There are endless levels of what can be perceived as a successful indie career – and it all lies in the eyes of the beholder.

I go into birthday month with great enthusiasm and hope. I intend to focus hard on getting the ball rolling on several fronts. I want to push my comfort levels and personal perceptions in writing, directing and ultimately storytelling in general. Electric Bleau surprises me each time I pick it up. I think it’s a really good script… I’m already proud that it will be my first feature.

James and I are still doing great in our efforts to become healthier! We are now about 5 weeks in, with no signs of slowing down. I am still not drinking alcohol, which is a huge food trigger for me. I don’t intend to give it up for much longer, but I have to admit, the momentum feels good and I honestly don’t miss it (not too much, anyway). :) I’ve certainly lost weight in the past all on my own, but it sure is nice to have someone to do it with. I am really enjoying cooking together and planning weekly meals. I think we are close to breaking the habit of eating out for 75% of our meals – which saves us a lot of money and ultimately pounds. I am trying not to think too far into the future, so we are taking it week by week, day by day with the full intention of seeing it through to a comfortable place.

Also- HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all of my January family & friends! Damn, there were a lot of you.

My mom & dad on an afternoon walk in Birmingham with the pups.

My mom & dad on an afternoon walk in Birmingham with the pups.

Beltline walks are in season.

Beltline walks are in season.

Happy birthday Grandma!

Happy birthday Grandma!

Birthday decaf coffee for James!

Birthday decaf coffee for James!

Birthday walk with James to feed the turtles.

Birthday walk with James to feed the turtles.

Tour de Chocolate with Vero! Always a favorite. <3

Tour de Chocolate with Vero! Always a favorite. <3

January – the first month of the year, and for most people the month to initiate great change in their lives. January can also be a very sad time as some of your expectations either don’t start off or gain momentum as you had hoped. It’s a month to keep your wits about you, as it will test you more than any other month of the whole year. As a serial and experienced January goal-maker, I have started to redefine how I look at a year. I’ve also come to realize that almost any goal will need to be reevaluated and redefined multiple times before the final outcome occurs. The real question is – are you going to stick with it? Is it important enough to ride the roller coaster for? All big dreams and goals take sacrifice, usually more than you could have originally imagined. But you wanted it for a reason, so don’t give up under the pressures of a moody month!

This month for me is the equivalent of being poked continuously in the ass by pins and needles. This month will set a tone for Little Cabbage, especially in the few weeks to come. We’ve had a few big wins already – we are a finalist in the well-respected Hammer to Nail competition for the winter quarter (huge!) and we’ve already gotten our first festival acceptance (to be announced very soon). We were also nominated for the “People to Watch” category for the Georgia Entertainment Awards. With that being said, there are a handful of pending festival notifications that are hugely important to us that should arrive before the beginning of February (and a few after that). Please please please send us all of the posi vibes!! I know we will need serious momentum going into the feature Electric Bleau later this year.

I am happy to report that James and I started eating better in late December, and continue to follow through with that commitment. We both cut out alcohol until James’ birthday (which is this Thursday!). I might go even longer as my skin is looking really great, and alcohol is an eating trigger for me. I’m pretty sure that I will cut out red wine forever from my diet because of the reaction it causes to my rosacea. This is a sad, sad fact in my life. However, I look forward to finding other drinks that my body agrees with more without the negative consequences. :)

In other news, I’m keeping busy with a lot of great freelance work and writing. My freelance mostly consists of design and video work for some amazing nonprofits here in Atlanta. I am looking to add a client or two potentially in the coming months, so keep me on your radar if you hear of something fun! I really, really want to have a solid second draft of Electric Bleau finished by the end of January/early February…so that’s high on my radar. Once that’s complete, then I can start getting some notes from a few respected peers as well as starting the conversation about how to get it funded. I also want to start early this time around on casting. I already have some big ideas!

Special night out with some long-time best friends - Jenny Faye @ Susan!

Special night out with some long-time best friends – Jenny Faye @ Susan!

My mom having a tasty beverage in Destin!

My mom having a tasty beverage in Destin!

Family pic for 2015! I need to photoshop Amber's head in. :)

Family pic for 2015! I need to photoshop Amber’s head in. :)

Welcoming in a new year surrounded by peace & love.

Welcoming in a new year surrounded by peace & love.

Happy Birthday Jeffrey!

Happy Birthday Jeffrey!

A slumbering BK.

A slumbering BK. Photo by James.

Sunset

Sunset

The Bean has endless energy.

The Bean has endless energy.

Happy New Year from Abigail Rose!

Happy New Year from Abigail Rose!

Annual cornhole tournament.

Annual cornhole tournament.

We live the best neighborhood full of amazing murals.

We live the best neighborhood full of amazing murals. This one is by our friend BlackCatTips!

Georgia Entertainment Gala

Georgia Entertainment Gala

Walk on the beltline w Pam, James & Cilantro!

Walk on the beltline w Pam, James & Cilantro!

2014 was a daring, rewarding, and fun year. There were certainly challenges and sad happenings, but overall it leaves me with a sense of pride and gratitude. I will attempt to name some of the high points:

On the passion project level, we killed it. I finished (for the most part) a feature script that I hope to start making in 2015 called Electric Bleau during a creative residency with the Cucalorus Film Festival. I spent 2.5 months in another city focused on this alone, leaving my normal day-to-day life. James helped make this possible – and for that I can never thank him enough. Speaking of James, together we made a music video for St. Paul and the Broken Bones (was it a dream?) and we tackled the massive short film project that is Little Cabbage. We learned lessons that we will take with us into 2015, and shared experiences that we will remember forever. Damn – we are a good team.

Professionally I took some risks. I left my 9-5 in January for the creative residency, then relied on freelance for the remainder of the year. I’ve done fulfilling marketing/design/video work for places like Piedmont Park, Historic Oakland Cemetery and Zoo Atlanta. I also did some writing that I am proud of. Because of this freedom and flexibility, I was able to step back and take a look at what I really want in the short-term and long-term. There are still questions that need answering when it comes to money-making possibilities in 2015, but I am actively pursuing several options. Ultimately I want to do work I love, that financially enables me to keep following my dreams in film.

Experience-wise, 2014 was full of new places and people. Bonnaroo remains a high point for us each year, and we plan to go again in 2015. My trip out to California in April for the Sonoma International Film Festival was a remarkable one, and just so happens to be where I met our Executive Producer on Little Cabbage. James and I have met & made so many new filmmaker friends this year…and each one of them inspires us to be better. Speaking of friends, my pool in Atlanta continues to grow. I feel like I am part of a community here of like-minded folks, which is more than I could have ever asked for after leaving Birmingham. I really, really miss Birmingham. I see her growth from afar, and it makes me proud. I go back as often as I can, and it fills me with a happiness like nothing else. Several dear friends got married this year, too. Those were very special moments for us.

In 2014 we lost and gained some people in our lives. My remarkable Aunt Shirley passed away in January. She was a strong woman who always stood up for what she believed in, and was a true fighter for love and life. I remember seeing her last Christmas, and our final hug goodbye. It was as if she knew. The service was packed for her life celebration, there was a special magic in the air. She is missed and remembered by many. In July we welcomed my newest niece Abigail Rose, born to my sister Rachel and brother-in-law David. A highlight from this year is playing future game for her on the beach the day she was born, predicting all of the wonderful things she will do in her life. She is a sweet little girl full of hope & promise.

This is my last paragraph, I swear! I do want to state a few of my intentions for 2015. I know not everyone believes in resolutions, but I thrive on visualizing the future. I want to make my feature in the next 365 days…at least have it in the can. I want to do more short form pieces – maybe another music video, maybe a commercial or two, maybe an actual short film. We will see what opportunities present themselves. I want to be healthier, and in a weight range I am happy with. We’ve already started making steps towards this. I want to spend quality time with my family and friends, creating more memories and appreciating them. I want to keep exploring, keep having fun, keep dreaming even bigger. I want to take challenges, failures, and disappointments with grace and turn them into something positive. I want to embrace being in my mid-30’s. I want to release hate, fear, anger and resentment when they arise. I want to forgive easily….including myself. I am ready for 2015 and everything it brings.

Dad & Owen

Dad & Owen

O'fella's first birthday!

O’fella’s first birthday!

Lily loves James' snowman cheese ball.

Lily loves James’ snowman cheese ball.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones in Atlanta, playing at the Fox ballroom!

St. Paul and the Broken Bones in Atlanta, playing at the Fox ballroom!

Christmas selfie.

Christmas selfie.

Sloss Furnace + James

Sloss Furnace + James

Sloss Furnace

Sloss Furnace

Anna & Lucy at ZOO Atlanta!

Anna & Lucy at ZOO Atlanta!

Hanging out with cute animals.

Hanging out with cute animals.

2014 selfies in print form from James.

2014 selfies in print form from James.

Cilantro has a new best friend named Cincinnati Fred.

Cilantro has a new best friend named Cincinnati Fred.

Lots of amazing food explorations with James' family! This is an awesome burger joint called Terry's.

Lots of amazing food explorations with James’ family! This is an awesome burger joint called Terry’s.

Brainstorming 2015 dreams & goals with James.

Brainstorming 2015 dreams & goals with James.

Eeks! It’s been a hot minute…and you know what? I’m ok with that. Four years ago I posted every day for over a year (I still don’t know how I did that) and have consistently managed to post on the regular ever since. Actually… my blog will be five years old in March! I am quickly approaching 1,000 posts to The Jen West Quest. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but when I think back on everything I’ve written about since then I realize it’s been quite a quest indeed. There have been major life changes across the board, multiple times. A lot of you have been reading from the very beginning too. I know who you are. Thank you for your friendship. 2014 has seen a shift in posting less often, but I anticipate that changing in the new year. I have new goals and new journeys to share. I wouldn’t want to embark on anything significant without including you.

Speaking of 2014 – she has been very kind to us. I know it’s been a rough go for some, but when you get the good you have to recognize and embrace. We’ve made some big projects happen and I’ve taken some significant risks that were impeccably rewarding. The biggest one being jolting off to Wilmington, NC for a creative residency where I spent 2.5 months writing Electric Bleau (companion feature to Little Cabbage) and living very minimally in order to make it happen. I’m so glad I took advantage of that opportunity. I consider Wilmington a home away from home, and the people there have supported me as an artist in ways that I can never repay.

2015 brings challenges that I can’t wait to take on. I am chomping at the bit to start preproduction on this feature (but taking my time polishing the script, first) and I also want to reclaim my health. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I fluctuate with my weight…but that never means that I’m ok with being complacent. It’s time to get moving again. I will not let my knee be an excuse anymore for abandoning one of my greatest loves – exercise. I miss miss miss endurance challenges like triathlon and longer runner events. I know I can do them all if I put the strength work in. As my brother-in-law says (PT pro), I will have to condition and train in order to run again. I am also going to focus on bringing my weight back down a bit. I’ve decided to not be ashamed about this, but to be excited. Only positive things to look forward to! I’m ready to put the work in.

This weekend we are heading to Birmingham for my family Christmas celebration… PLUS the private screening for Little Cabbage! If you were a part of making this film happen in any way and haven’t gotten the details, please let me know. We hope to see all of you there so we can thank you in person.

We got some big news recently that was announced yesterday: James and I, as a duo, were nominated for the “People to Watch” category for the 2015 Georgia Entertainment Awards! This made my brain explode. What a huge honor to be recognized in a city that houses so many types of filmmakers and creative innovators. We hope to continue to make our communities proud (including my hometown of Birmingham) as we go forth and make more films. Looks like James will be taking on his first directing project soon, too…

Bubbles, blue skies and Brandi Baker in the ATL!

Bubbles, blue skies and Brandi Baker in the ATL!

Me & Vero in Miami - enjoying her success! Congrats!

Me & Vero in Miami – enjoying her success! Congrats!

Thanksgiving in Cincinnati! Always a fun time.

Thanksgiving in Cincinnati! Always a fun time.

Dipping our toes in the Miami scene.

Dipping our toes in the Miami scene.

Vero and her dream avocado!

Vero and her dream avocado!

James made me a surprise 6 course dinner one night. <3

James made me a surprise 6 course dinner one night. <3

Fish fry in Cincinnati. I live for this!

Fish fry in Cincinnati. I live for this! Photo by James.

Private screening of Little Cabbage in Atlanta at the Plaza Theatre. Amazing night!

Private screening of Little Cabbage in Atlanta at the Plaza Theatre. Amazing night!

Vero and me in Miami! She won a free trip as a winner of the Seagram's calendar art competition. Thanks for inviting me to come along!

Vero and me in Miami! She won a free trip as a winner of the Seagram’s calendar art competition. Thanks for inviting me to come along!

Where to start? I feel so fulfilled, inspired, energized and emotional…in the best possible ways. James and I just returned from the 20th annual Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington, NC, where I was fortunate enough to spend a 2.5 month residence earlier this year. There isn’t anything else out there quite like Cucalorus. It’s hard to explain, and can only truly be understood once you are deep into its web of spectacular weirdness. I saw so many amazing pieces of work over the course of four days – filmmakers who covered a broad range of talents and voices. I also finally watched Joy Kevin after missing it at Indie Memphis, which turned out to be one of my favorite films of 2014. As luck would have it, it’s been released to the public as of this week! Carve out a few hours in your schedule ASAP and then click here to watch. It’s the story of two married creatives, navigating the ever-changing balance of art and co-habitation. It’s funny, real, dark and magical. Beautifully written, and brilliantly casted. Go, watch!

I am so proud to say I’ve witnessed the birth of a powerful filmmaker this year – Mandi Edwards. She was my Cucalorus creative residence partner in crime, hailing from England. She created a short documentary called Guns in the House – a statement piece about violence and the surrounding politics in Wilmington. It’s so good that a local paper named it the #4 short film to see out of a pool of 140 short narratives & docs. She bravely stepped into a controversial conversation armed with definitive research and questions for the community. Remember her name in the years to come!

Our screening for Call Me went amazingly well – we had the honor of opening up for Leah Meyerhoff’s I Believe in Unicorns! Ah! I’ve been dying to see her feature, and it was well worth the wait. It’s identifiable, haunting and visually stunning. A huge heartfelt thanks to everyone at Cucalorus. Speaking of which – CONGRATS to several in our festival family who made a very important list this week! Flyway Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Festival, Indie Memphis and Cucalorus all made MovieMaker Magazine’s 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World. That’s pretty amazing.

Outside of the film universe – my parents had their 36th anniversary this week, and The Bean turned 4! We head to Jacksonville, FL this weekend to see my sister Rachel, David and baby Abi-do. I can’t wait. We have a tremendous amount of traveling coming up in the coming weeks, which is a tad overwhelming but also exciting. Each trip has an important purpose. I am grateful to have the opportunity to do so many beautiful & amazing things.

Happy Birthday Bean!

Happy Birthday Bean!

Happy Anniversary to my mom & dad!!!

Happy Anniversary to my mom & dad!!!

Mandi in Q&A for Guns in the House.

Mandi in Q&A for Guns in the House.

Happy!

Happy!

Cucalorus funny faces.

Cucalorus funny faces.

Reunited with Hannah Cheesman, and new friend Mackenzie.

Reunited with Hannah Cheesman, and new friend Mackenzie.

Sitting with the filmmakers of Joy Kevin for their screening, along with my friend Stephen Cone.

Sitting with the filmmakers of Joy Kevin for their screening, along with my friend Stephen Cone.

Joy Kevin Q&A

Joy Kevin Q&A

Cape Fear

Cape Fear

Hannah & Mackenzie Q&A with the fabulous Ingrid Veninger

Hannah & Mackenzie Q&A with the fabulous Ingrid Veninger

Mandi & James

Mandi & James

Hannah & Mackenzie during quick beach trip!

Hannah & Mackenzie during quick beach trip! Check out their new web series Whatever, Linda – their trailer went live this week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guabFCtG9qQ

Special female filmmaker friends.

Special female filmmaker friends.

Airport shenanigans.

Airport shenanigans.

My dear friend Mandi Edwards.

My dear friend Mandi Edwards.

Play-doh at Jengo's.

Play-doh at Jengo’s.

At the screening for Call Me before I Believe in Unicorns with director Leah Meyerhoff.

At the screening for Call Me before I Believe in Unicorns with director Leah Meyerhoff.

At the Cucalorus secret screening closing film.

At the Cucalorus secret screening closing film.

Film Fatales Wilmington

Film Fatales Wilmington

Birmingham's Best Blog 2011

Birmingham's Best Blog Finalist 2012

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