The music video we did for St. Paul and the Broken Bones called “Call Me” is officially live on Vevo & Youtube! James and I are so proud. Today our credits will be added as the team behind making it as well. A big moment for us. We will also be posting something fun tomorrow that I think everyone will love.

Speaking of James, I got to see him last weekend for a short rendezvous at the Indie Grits Film Festival! It had been almost a month since I’d last seen him – which was far too long. Indie Grits was a really fun fest. We made a lot of new friends that I hope to see again soon. By the end of summer Bubble will probably see the end of its festival life, which is bittersweet. It’s had a good run – for which we are very grateful. We have several submissions still out there, so we hope to show it a few more times before it goes online.

This week has been a roller coaster of highs and semi-lows. Monday was chock-full of good news…that I wish I could share. But I will say this: our next short film, Little Cabbage, is coming to life beautifully. We are raising some of the funds through investors then the remaining amount via a crowd funding campaign in June. One piece of the good news is that we found a lady who jumped on board immediately as our first Executive Producer! It was pretty fate-like how it all happened too. She believes in me as a female director from the deep south, where she lived for a time as well. We are so thankful to her.

My time here in Wilmington is almost up. I leave on Sunday, May 4th back to Atlanta where my fur babies await. Was my time here spent wisely? Absolutely. I have gotten so much done, and by the time I leave my feature-length script first draft will be almost complete. Have I told you guys the name yet? If not, it is to be called Electric Bleau and it is mostly set in New Orleans. Wilmington has been the perfect place to write it too, since it has a lot of similar characteristics as NOLA. Lots of Spanish moss, spooky historic homes and an abundance of water surround this little town. Doing a nearly three month creative residency is no joke I’ve come to learn. It’s basically like moving to another city short-term, and with that a lot of change and adaptation. I hope my transition back to Atlanta is smooth. I am sure I will have to find my day-to-day routine again and comfort zones. I will miss the new friends in Wilmington who’ve essentially become like family. I will especially miss Mandi, my roommate in the Cucalorus Pink House. She has become like a little sister, and it’s been so exciting watching her documentary (Guns in the House) come to life. It’s going to be damn good.

My next post will be my last from Wilmington, so I will tell you more about what I’ve done here then!

Indie Grits Film Festival

Indie Grits Film Festival

Indie Grits Film Festival - photo by James!

Indie Grits Film Festival – photo by James!

Indie Grits Film Festival

Indie Grits Film Festival

Indie Grits Film Festival

Indie Grits Film Festival

Indie Grits Film Festival

Indie Grits Film Festival

"Call Me" is live on Vevo & Youtube!

“Call Me” is live on Vevo & Youtube!

Petal Heart

Petal Heart

New Wilmington friend

New Wilmington friend

Sunshine & 81 degrees! Yes yes yes yes yes yes. Today = back porch sitting and writing. I need a solid creative day, I feel like I’ve been a little distracted with other things this week. The countdown begins: only three weeks left in Wilmington! I want to use every second towards the ultimate goal. I don’t think I will finish the first draft of my feature film while I’m here, but I should be well along my way.

Since I last wrote, I attended the Sonoma International Film Festival where Bubble had two standing-room only screenings in a venue that held close to 200 people. We were a part of the Humor and Heart block, and we played directly after a comedy short. How’s that for a little contrast? :) Turns out that comedy short (Brunch Bitch) was made by a new dear friend named Hannah. We have a mutual female filmmaker pal named Ingrid, who directed The Animal Project, which Hannah also starred in. James and I shared a house with Ingrid at Cucalorus last year. Always a small world! I also made great friends with several other filmmakers in Sonoma – ones that I feel like I will know a lifetime.

There was something particularly special about Sonoma. It was always a 50/50 chance that I’d actually get to go. We made the final decision about a week out that it was worth the time and effort for me to make it out there. Within 20 minutes of landing in the airport, I met the filmmakers from Taking My Parents To Burning Man – and I got to experience first-hand their film explode over the next few days. Before they left that festival, Pixar requested a private screening at their studios… and they also got three additional sold-out screenings. It was magical to watch from the sidelines. Couldn’t have happened to nicer people, too. I also met a group of ladies that really inspired me as I look forward in my own film career. Meeting them alone was worth the entire trip. Beyond that, the Sonoma Film Festival is pretty epic: amazing staff, endless wine (seriously, endless wine), endless food and endless hospitality. Great parties, talented filmmakers in attendance and tons to experience. A++++++. I hope I get the opportunity to return many times in the future.

Since I’ve been back in Wilmington we’ve gotten some very promising news regarding Little Cabbage (our next short film), which is now set to shoot August 1 -4 in either Birmingham or Atlanta. Keep your fingers crossed that we continue forward movement with this film. This particular piece of news was in regards to potential talent that might come on board (in addition to someone amazing that we already have). I truly believe that if we can build the right team, this film will bring us to a new level.

I am sure some of you are dying to know when the St. Paul and the Broken Bones music video will premiere! Stay tuned to their Facebook  & Twitter feeds, they will be announcing early next week the official day (which is very, very soon). It’s going to be so much fun to finally experience others watching it! I hope you love what we made. I’ve seen it about a million times at this point and it’s still pretty entertaining.

Next week I get to see James, after nearly a month. We will be meeting in the middle at the Indie Grits Film Festival to spend a few days together. After we part ways, I will officially be back in Atlanta on May 3rd! Then I will be making a quick trip to Birmingham the following weekend to see family and friends. I can’t wait to get some face-to-face time with everyone that I love.

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

Sonoma Film Festival

I am so glad that the sun is back out. It seemed to rain for weeks which made my soul crave light and warmth. I miss home a great deal. I miss James, our animals, my family and friends. I have honestly found it hard to concentrate lately on writing, but I’m actively looking for solutions and inspirations. I still have 5 weeks left to knock out as much as I can, and I feel very optimistic on being able to continue meaningful work here. I am not used to this life of a creative resident, not having a 9-5 and the usual schedule that comes along with it. I think one of the biggest distractions I face here is my professional career when I return to Atlanta in early May. I have options – do I continue my long-traveled path of marketing/graphic design for non profits? Or do I strike a new one in the production world and try to find work creating commercials and the like? If option #2, do I do it on my own, or for another business? If I were to answer ambitiously, I’d certainly say that I would love the opportunity to create original work on my own in the production realm. I want to write and direct in the film/video mediums. I think I would benefit from the experiences and enjoy every part of it. Aren’t you supposed to do what you love? I hope I can find a way.

This month will be busy in other ways too. Tomorrow I fly out to the Sonoma Film Festival in California to experience Bubble making its West Coast premiere. James will be attending the Chattanooga Film Festival simultaneously to accompany Bubble at their inaugural event. Then mid month, I will get to see James at a halfway point for both of us – the Indie Grits Film Festival in Columbia, SC. It may seem financially hard to travel to so many places, but festivals like these are so kind in finding places to stay for filmmakers and sometimes covering costs of travel. I am so happy that we will be able to go to each of these as they hold lots of potential… always more than you could ever imagine in the way of like-minded human connections and education. It is important to try your best to attend, especially if you want to continue making films.

We have a small update too on the music video we just completed for St. Paul and the Broken Bones! Looks like the premiere will be towards the middle of April, and I’m sure some cool things will be planned for that release. I promise to keep you in the loop as I can, though I’m sure most things associated with it will be top-secret until it happens.

Also, we have official new production dates for our next short film Little Cabbage! We will be shooting August 1 – 4. The ball is rollin’!

More than ever before, I feel like I am taking the strategic risks necessary to move my career in a direction I’ve always wanted it to go. I know age is relative and one day I will probably laugh at this – but turning 35 was a wake-up call. I need to start taking more action if I want to see my dreams realized. Making any film, even short ones, takes time and resources. Am I choosing the right projects? Am I making the statements I want to make? Am I being creative enough? What is the point of striving to be the kind of filmmaker I’ve always wanted to be? I know sometimes I am too hard on myself and have *almost* unrealistic expectations. I just feel like it is within reach. That I can do it if I try hard enough. I can make a living creating films that have a broad impact – that are meaningful and thought-provoking to many. I hope it is very soon.

Izzie the wonder dog!

Izzie the wonder dog!

#jendi

#jendi

Wishes

Wishes

This is what I made for the Pinterest #nailed it party... hotdog spaghetti. Yuck. :)

This is what I made for the Pinterest #nailed it party… hot dog spaghetti. Yuck. :)

Screen printing at Cucalorus.

Screen printing at Cucalorus.

Cucalorus monster cookies at the #nailedit party.

Cucalorus monster cookies at the #nailedit party.

Wilmington street.

Wilmington street.

Cucalorus party in honor of Jill!

Cucalorus party in honor of Jill!

The winner of the #nailedit Pinterest party - a presidential portrait cake.

The winner of the #nailedit Pinterest party – a presidential portrait cake.

Going places!

Going places!

The Yankee Dixies - a fun bluegrass band out of Virginia.

The Yankee Dixies – a fun bluegrass band out of Virginia.

Sunny days are here again!

Sunny days are here again!

We wrapped our shoot for “Call Me” on Monday, a music video for St. Paul and the Broken Bones. It’s gonna be damn good. Not because of me, as I was only a small part. It is going to blow your face off because of the sheer amount of talent that we had on set that day… in front and behind of the camera. Every single person in that space did something spectacular contributing to what I hope will have been very worthy of their time and talents. All I know is that what I saw being captured on my little viewing monitor was pure magic.

Anyone familiar with the band members of StPBB know that they will inevitably explode into musical history. When I first approached their managers about the possibility of doing this video for them, I did so with pure respect of their talent and potential. I hoped that what we’d done in the past would be good enough to give us a shot. It was, and they did. This was in early January. I remember getting the “proceed” email before eating Mexican food with some girlfriends and calling James immediately to tell him what adventure we were about to go on next. He was on board, as he always is.

Next – who would we partner with to film this? James and I had found a recent friend in Tyler Jones of 1504 Pictures, who has created several music videos for The Civil Wars and most recently Duquette Johnston (which just won the MTVu music video contest for “Dancing Song”). Lucky for us, Tyler and his partners said yes with enthusiasm.

What about the concept? As soon as the label told us we’d be pitching for their first single “Call Me”, James and I immediately listened to the song and put our minds to the task. I am proud to say that the concept of “Call Me” wasn’t my own, it was a stroke of genius by James. It is perfect for their narrative video debut to the world and for the message of the song.

What followed this was no less than 1,000,000 decisions and asks to folks around Birmingham. This video is made by the city for these guys as a gift of love. I feel the desire to try and name each person and business this project touched, so I am going to give it a stab. But before I do – for those who don’t live in the area and just want to know when they can see it – we expect to have it completed by early April. There is still work left to do!

First and foremost – Janelle Issis. The story of “Call Me” wouldn’t have come to life without her choreography and performance. I knew this role was significant… so I let my mind dwell on it for some time before lightning struck. I wondered, has Birmingham ever had someone represent it on the show So You Think You Can Dance? And the answer was yes – Janelle. She is a complete badass too. She brought every ounce of talent she had to the table and shared it with us. We were so very fortunate to have her play the lead female role. Also, thanks to Jessica Bostany who helped Janelle in all areas.

Here are a few other major key players: Jim Roberson – lighting, special effects, editing, shooting… you name it, he is damn good at it. As a matter of a fact, it is in his hands as we speak! Mike Mazer – who let us use his gigantic warehouse in Avondale to build a larger than life set. So generous and supportive of the creative community. Jason Richardson of Richardson & Associates Construction – are you serious?? You built a 30 foot wide, 15 foot deep, 15 foot tall set…with a kind spirit and giving attitude. Damn bro. Andrea West Richardson of Nesting Interiors (yes, she is my 1st cousin!) – who designed the perfect setting for this video to play out. You will see, and it will take your breath away. Mark Slagle of 1504 Pictures – camera operator and all-around great dude. It was a pleasure to work with you!  Steve from Soho Retro –  who let us use some of his best vintage furniture. Scott Pyburn (and David Ytterberg) of Harrison Limited – who made the boys look dapper and dashing! Lily Li – always costume design extraordinaire! Lindsay Garrett of Show Pony Productions (shoutout to Maryjane) – makeup lead and dear friend. Shelby McDonald of Beauty Shock (with a BIG shoutout to Jonathan Fowler!) – lead hair and dear friend. Danny Ray Winter of Crestwood Coffee Company – for providing a delicious breakfast! My mom Jamie West – for making a lunch for 35 people that folks are still talking about!! And for countless other ways you support me. Woody Wiginton of FinerGrind Coffee Roasters – for fueling us ALL DAY LONG with The Dark Side blend! David Crump – for providing us with “The Princess”… a beautiful retro phone that belonged to his wife Sandy! Jeff Nixon – for being the guy that everyone wants to hang out with and for making sure StPBB were happy and comfortable. Jake Slaney – for driving all the way from ATL to do playback for us all day, and also letting us use some amazing lights!!! Michele Forman with the UAB Film Department – for letting us have the opportunity to work with Matthew Henton and for letting us utilize lights! Alison Hulsey  - for being THE first person I reached out to about this idea and helping me get to the right people. Savannah Marie Aaron of Everybody’s Buying Vintage – for providing us the beautiful vintage red dress that will be on Janelle! Susan Held of Belk at the Summit – for always being there for clothing needs of any kind. Good People Brewing – for giving us beverages to toast with at the wrap! Angela Karen – for providing some stellar vintage back-up options. Don Lupo – for helping us find tables and chairs so we could do our work better. Paul Mckee – for always being there for us and being a fantastic grip. Daniel Ruiz – for helping in any way you could with a great attitude! And to Mandy of Hothouse Design Studio – for providing beautiful flower arrangements for the set! Other people who helped are Tracy Pharo, Ward Neely, David West (my dad), Dave West (my bro), John & Carmen Rigrish, Brandi Baker, Veronique Vanblaere (Photography!), Lauren Howard, Nick Michael, Chloe Collins, Josh Vasa, Joy Myers and my beautiful Aunt Betty! And big shoutout to the B Metro family.

You can view some of the photos from the shoot here.

Thanks, y'all!

Thanks, y’all!

Program

Program

Some of the talent/cast & crew!

Some of the talent/cast & crew!

This past week brought several significant changes in plans – all for the better. We haven’t officially decided, but we are seriously considering moving our short film (Little Cabbage) production dates to the summertime. Actually, if we move it, we have two options: either shoot it alone as planned, or roll it into production for the feature film. If we wait for the feature, it would be much later in the year or early 2015. However, I am inclined not to wait. Summer seems like the logical time and will give us several more months of planning & fundraising. I think making this prequel short is also key in us finding funding for the feature itself. But first we have to find a way to finance the short. Always one of the most complicated pieces of the puzzle to filmmaking. There is always an answer if you look hard enough.

My time here in Wilmington is mostly being taken up by two things: the big secret project planned for March 17 in Birmingham, and writing this feature. That is another reason we may move the short film back a few months, as the efforts we are putting into the March 17th gig are substantial. Little Cabbage is very important and deserves full attention, time and love. I just feel like if we proceed with late April, it won’t get what it deserves. And there is no harm in waiting a few extra months – it will only be the better for it. What we are doing in March can also be submitted to most film festivals, which is pretty cool.

As for my feature, I’ve made great progress this week. It has taken more time than anticipated to develop a detailed outline, which is almost complete. I’ve also found that as I create this longer story, some elements of my short will also have to change. Nothing major, but small details for consistency. As far as writing goes I’ve gotten to page 11. Not bad, but not exactly where I wanted to be at this point. I am kicking it in to high gear and dedicating my full creative energy and time to writing this film.

Wilmington has been so wonderful to me. It is a big adjustment being away from home, both for me and James. James could be the true hero in all of this, taking care of our house alone and all our animals. He is always available for a motivational pep talk when I need one too. Speaking of James – our 2 year anniversary is this coming Monday! I won’t be there to celebrate with him on the exact day, BUT I will be there as of Wednesday the 12th for 6 days. Our time will be split between Atlanta and Birmingham during that time.

Hard to believe where I was two years ago, when I first met him. Vero invited me to a dinner with some filmmakers from Atlanta who were profiling her for a documentary. I said yes, no problem. Who knew that my future love would sit right next to me at that dinner… a then beard-less man with adventure in his eyes. I fell in love fast with his spirit and passion. He is my partner in crime in every way – for work, fun and everything in-between.

ALSO- quick thing, as I have gone way over length today. Vero’s visit was just what I needed! I craved for a piece of home and she filled my heart with happiness. And…as a belated birthday present she bought me a nose piercing. :D I have always wanted a tiny one on the side, and I got just that. Thank you Vero for making my wish come true. It hurt like HELL, but it was worth it. This weekend my friends from the Flyway Film Festival will be at a beach only 25 minutes away, so I am looking forward to spending some time with them in the sunshine!

Cucalorus Oscar Party

Cucalorus Oscar Party

I did my face myself... backwards in the mirror!

I did my face myself… backwards in the mirror!

A little breakfast downtown.

A little breakfast downtown.

My new nose piercing. :)

My new nose piercing. :)

No pain, no gain.

No pain, no gain.

Windy!

Windy!

Things are going splendidly here in Wilmington. I’ve already had several epic adventures and have also gotten a lot of solid work/writing done. One of the coolest things I’ve experienced so far is getting to ride down Cape Fear with the crew at Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat. My new friend Allen owns it, and literally built most of it by hand. It’s a little hideaway mini village about 20 minutes outside of Wilmington. I felt like I was entering a unique movie set as we drove up (down a dirt path in the middle of nowhere). The purpose of this specific trip was to take a boat ride on his newest invention down Cape Fear – four boats welded together complete with a grand piano, monster grill and bonfire. About 50 people boarded with food and drinks in-hand for several hours worth of solid floating. It was so freakin’ awesome – a once in a lifetime experience. He puts some of his structures up on AirBnb, so if you ever head this way you should check it out.

Vero came up for a visit yesterday to spend the weekend with me! I was so happy to see her face in person. Once she arrived we immediately hopped a bus to Wrightsville Beach, which is about 15 miles away. It was gorgeous outside – sunny and cool. We discovered quickly though that the bus didn’t actually take us all the way down so we had to walk a good 2 miles to where we wanted to go. That was all good until we realized that I also left the bus schedule on the bus, and that where it actually let us off wasn’t a true stop. So, we were literally stuck. Once we decided to head back we hiked the two miles to our original spot and fortunately for us made a new friend who gave us a ride back to town. Today on our way to breakfast he passed us in his car again… a small world!

Today we are going to explore the historic downtown part of Wilmington. I can’t wait to show her all of the vintage clothing stores and locally owned businesses. Tonight there is a big art walk as well, so that will be a lot of fun. My assignment today is to find an outfit to wear the Cucalorus Oscar red carpet party on Sunday. :)

As for a progress report, there is much to share! I have made a daily/weekly breakdown of what I need to write in order to accomplish a full feature screenplay while I am here. This week I made tremendous progress on story elements. I am excited about the direction it is going in. I am also working very hard on the secret project that is taking place in Birmingham in roughly two weeks. For most of the week I faced a pretty big obstacle but finally overcame it yesterday thanks to the kindness and generosity of others. Birmingham is full of talented and giving folks who want to see things happen.

As for our short film in April (titled Little Cabbage), we are still working on a few key things in order for that to happen. We are THRILLED that a someone who James and I both admire has agreed to be in the film as the principal character. She is fantastic… blows my mind that we will get to work with her.

That’s pretty much it right now as far as updates. I miss James a lot and our fur babies. However, I couldn’t be in a more welcoming city to temporarily call home. It is inspiring here and there is still so much to discover. I am very lucky to be in Wilmington for this time.

Exploring Wilmington

Exploring Wilmington

Boat ride with Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat

Boat ride with Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat

Afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea.

Portrait by Vero!

Portrait by Vero!

Dancing with the sea.

Dancing with the sea.

Happy to be on Wrightsville Beach!

Happy to be on Wrightsville Beach!

Welcome to Wilmington lunch for Vero.

Welcome to Wilmington lunch for Vero.

Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat - four boats welded together to form one gigantic floating device.

Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat – four boats welded together to form one gigantic floating device.

Floating down Cape Fear.

Floating down Cape Fear.

Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat

Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat

Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat

Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat

Friends at Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat

Friends at Walkerworld Organic Artist Retreat

Sometimes I think a week flies by, then when I start doing my weekly post I realize just how many things can happen in such a short amount of time. Since my last entry an ice/snow storm hit our home in Atlanta, Valentine’s Day happened, my birthday was celebrated, and I moved to my new temporary home in Wilmington, NC for a creative residency. At this moment, I am sitting in a little coffee shop on a corner not far from where I am staying watching the rain drizzle down while the sun shines brightly. The wind has been strong since there is a storm coming our way. It is a beautiful Friday morning!

James and I made our journey up on Saturday, and were promptly greeted with a small party that Cucalorus put on. I met my new roommate Mandi, who is working on a gun control documentary during her stay here. She is from the UK and super fun. James and I spent the weekend together for my birthday, then he headed back to Atlanta on Tuesday morning. That’s when it became very real for me that I would be spending the foreseeable future here on my own. This week has mostly been about finding a writing routine, places that I feel comfortable, and establishing relationships. I feel like I am going to be able to get some important work done while I am here.

As most of you know, my biggest priority while in Wilmington is to finish writing my feature. This is closely followed by two other creative projects that will happen during the time of my residency – one in March (still secret), and my short film in April. I will fly to Birmingham for the first, then Atlanta for the second. I had a wish of perfecting my ability to multi-task projects while I am here… and looks like that is going to come true. James and I are double teaming these things from two cities, and I have a feeling I am going to be working my brain to the max every second that I am here. That makes it extra important to schedule my days, to make sure everything gets its due attention. Lots of irons in the fire, and I would have it no other way!

I know I mostly talk about good things on my blog, but just like anyone else, I have disappointments and obstacles to overcome. With bigger projects comes more responsibility too. That’s why I think it is important to celebrate the good things as they happen. I find that if I stay the course and keep hope, things usually work out (and rarely as originally imagined). A big part of each day for me is facing insecurity head-on. Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Can I actually do these things? The answer has to be, YES.

And a last thought – how cool is it to get to live and create in these amazing southern cities? Birmingham, Atlanta and Wilmington. One day I hope to add a few others to that list in the region. New Orleans always has a piece of my heart, and so many others yet to be explored. When I was growing up I had dreams of New York City… little did I know that equal opportunity was right outside my front door as an artist. A chance at greatness can be created no matter where you are.

Every house in Wilmington has a historical plaque and a huge oak tree with Spanish moss.

Every house in Wilmington has a historical plaque and a huge oak tree with Spanish moss.

My birthday, on Wrightsville Beach!

My birthday, on Wrightsville Beach!

Birthday message from my dad.

Birthday message from my dad – referring to the fact that I had jaundice when I was born. :)

Snow in ATL!

Snow in ATL!

Cucalorus Family

Cucalorus Family

Ice skating in Cabbagetown

Ice skating in Cabbagetown

Abominable Jamesman

Abominable Jamesman

Best friends (sometimes). Photo by James.

Best friends (sometimes). Photo by James.

Me! Photo by James.

Me! Photo by James.

Jensicle. Photo by James.

Jensicle. Photo by James.

Azza in the sun. Photo by James.

Azza in the sun. Photo by James.

From my Valentine.

From my Valentine.

My roomie Mandi! She is making a documentary on gun control.

My roomie Mandi! She is making a documentary on gun control.

Main Brain - weekly Tuesday night meeting brainstorming session at Cucalorus.

Main Brain – weekly Tuesday night meeting brainstorming session at Cucalorus.

Bubble is an official selection of the Indie Grits Film Festival!

Bubble is an official selection of the Indie Grits Film Festival!

I’ve been looking for this feeling ever since 1997 – the feeling of fear, change and immense excitement. When I was 18 years old, I boarded a plane to Chicago as a fresh high school graduate to attend summer sessions at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This may not seem like a big deal to most – lots of kids leave at this age for school. But I knew something was different, I knew my life would never be the same. My time as a child, the oldest of four, living in a small suburb of Birmingham was coming to a close. I was following a dream to be an artist… any kind really…and was taking the actions to make it so. In Chicago I interacted with so many kinds of people from all over the United States, and the world. My horizons broadened ten-fold in a matter of days. People teased me for my southern accent, but in a charming way. I knew I was different too, just like these other creative souls surrounding me. I wasn’t a minority any more. In fact it was there that I learned that I would have to work very, very hard in order to stand out.

I find myself with this same feeling, right this very second. Last week I announced on Facebook that I got accepted in the Cucalorus Film Festival creative residency program, where I will spend 2.5 months developing and writing my first feature film. More on that in a minute! Also at this time, two other potential world-changing projects are happening – one scheduled for mid-March (which we will talk about closer to time), and then our next short film Little Cabbage, to be filmed in late April. Big things are happening for both, due to the amount of work that James and I have already put into them. These things don’t happen on their own. They have to be born in the mind, then acted upon, pursued, then fought for (repeatedly). I am ready to take on these monster challenges.

I have a feeling my time in Wilmington, NC for my creative residency is going to start a new joyous chapter. James takes me up this Friday… only four days away! My 35th birthday is also next Monday, signaling a true beginning. What are my plans with this feature? I will submit to the Sundance Screenwriters Lab again (last year I submitted a feature that I later decided wasn’t the right first project for me). No matter what though we hope to make it in the first part of 2015. I also want to develop other concepts that I have for features down the road, start perfecting the art of working on more than one project at a time.

That’s it for now… please send all good vibes our way as we cross your mind in the coming months. Know that James and I are working our tails off to make some big things happen… and we’d have it no other way.

ALSO – Bubble is an official selection of the Sonoma International Film Festival! :D We are so happy!

Cats in boxes.

Cats in boxes.

Visting our filmmaker friends Jon & Robyn in Serenbe.

Visting our filmmaker friends Jon & Robyn in Serenbe.

Celebratory Cucalorus cocktail!

Celebratory Cucalorus cocktail!

Weekend in Bearadise with friends.

Weekend in Bearadise with friends.

Little Cabbage - woooot!

Little Cabbage – woooot!

Sonoma International Film Festival

Sonoma International Film Festival

Can anyone name that quote without Googling it first? It is one of my favorite movie quotes of all time.

Since my last posting, a few big things have happened. Today is my last day with my job in Birmingham, I am leaving on great terms and starting new adventures that I am excited to share soon. All good things… some so exciting that I might jump out of my skin. With any change though there is always a little fear. However, this train is moving in the right direction.

Both cities close to my heart – Birmingham & Atlanta – went through a significant weather event this week. On Tuesday, just as I was about to catch my bus back to Atlanta, my ride to the station called to tell me that the snow falling in Birmingham was quickly turning into ice, and that cars were sliding all over the place. What was supposed to be a dusting for the Birmingham area turned into 1.5-2 inches of snow & ice right in our front yards (as a visual here is someone ice skating the streets and another sledding at almost 30 mph).  The horror stories from friends across the city trying to get home that day are too many to count. I was fortunate in that I didn’t have to move at all… I was safe and sound at my parents’ house (who also hosted my friend Sarah’s family who was stuck in her office downtown – my mom & dad rock). In fact, I made the one mile walk to and from Vero’s house that day just for a little quality snow time with my girl. Atlanta also had a disaster on their hands… while they knew to expect snow, the city officials didn’t properly prepare for it and bad decisions were made. It is all too much to rehash here, and you’ve probably seen the stories a thousand times since then. These events will never be forgotten, nor the giving & courageous souls who went out of their way to make someone else’s life a little easier during that time. I finally made it back to Atlanta late last night.

Before all of the snow – James and I did a whirlwind tour of Montgomery (for a fun film fest!) and Birmingham for his birthday. Earlier that week James had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party in ATL, which was a huge hit. :)  Before he left Birmingham we also did a table read of our next short film. We got fantastic feedback and ideas, which I’ve already started to incorporate. My goal is to wrap up the next draft today and send off to my final round of readers. I’ve already spent a significant amount of time developing this story, and I think it will pay off. It is so important to get this right since it is the lead-in to our first feature. Thank you to everyone who has laid eyes on it already and provided such valuable insights. Our goal is to shoot in April… so we have many things to get in the works ASAP.  We are starting to crew up, storyboard and cast in the coming weeks. We are not sure just yet where we will be shooting this movie, so stay tuned. We have ambitious ideas and a good story to work with. Send us plenty of good vibes as we move forward…. any and all are appreciated.

This week I was honored to be included in the Birmingham 100 project, created by the big-hearted Kenwyn Alexander. Right now it mostly lives online, but eventually will be a beautiful book and also video. Kenwyn’s hope is to capture the essence of the folks who have made an impact on Birmingham in significant ways. I was really happy and surprised when he first reached out to say I was among some of those people in his mind. Thank you for including me in this experience Kenwyn.

View from my parents' window after day two.

View from my parents’ window after day two.

A day in the snow with Vero.

A day in the snow with Vero.

A bad idea.

A bad idea.

My Birmingham 100 photo taken by the talented and big-hearted Kenwyn Alexander.

My Birmingham 100 photo taken by the talented and big-hearted Kenwyn Alexander.

Mimi & her girls.

Mimi & her girls.

Table read for our next short!

Table read for our next short!

The Bean loves the snow.

The Bean loves the snow.

James as a TMNT for his bday!

James as a TMNT for his bday!

Happy Birthday to an amazing man.

Happy Birthday to an amazing man.

Vero and I made a snowman.

Vero and I made a snowman.

Owen's Sip & See.

Owen’s Sip & See.

Gigi's Birthday

Gigi’s Birthday – New Hair by Shelby!

I’ve written a short script that I’m very proud of!! I believe it is my best work yet and it’s a great lead-in to the feature I’m currently writing. It is exciting to work on a project again with DIALOGUE. Both Crush and Bubble were action-based stories with only foley sounds and a musical score (by the badass known as Ted Speaker). It worked well for those projects, but now I want to work with conversations and tone through voice interactions. A valuable lesson however came from working on films with no dialogue: I got to exercise the rule of “show, don’t tell.” Film is a visual medium. It’s more of what the character does, than says, that tells an interesting story. Otherwise you risk insulting the audience, boring them to tears or even worse – losing them entirely. My first short in 2006 suffered from mediocre dialogue. Now with these two “silent” films under my belt, writing in character’s voices is a little bit easier.

Something else that’s helped me in bettering my script writing abilities are technical books. While I have to force myself sometimes to open up my “how-to” literature on screenwriting, I always learn something new by taking a little time to read about other’s mistakes and advice.  My current read is Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat… and I love it. Thanks to James for giving it to me for Christmas.

Speaking of “show, don’t tell,” isn’t that good advice on other fronts as well? I sometimes worry that I talk too much about what I’m going to do (aka, things that haven’t happened yet), but I like to think I have a good track record of doing what I say. Plus, it energizes me to share with others. I also equally love hearing about YOUR hopes, ideas and passions. Ultimately though, it’s what you actually do (and to what degree towards your vision) that really counts.

Our good friend Meg shared these ideas/thoughts below with me from a talk she attended recently. Maybe you can use one or two to propel you forward this week:

In the chaos of transformation, the things we don’t need break away and the things we do stay. Don’t try to hold on to things that inhibit positive change.

Be intentional about what you want. Do not settle.

Be the person you want to be ten years from now, right now.

Refine and define what you want.

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Reynoldstown pup

Stephanie's B'day

Stephanie’s B’day

Beth's B'day!

Beth’s B’day!

Purple house passion in Cabbagetown

Purple house passion in Cabbagetown

Vero & Brandi

Vero & Brandi

Bubble will be playing in Montgomery at the film festival on January 24th

Bubble will be playing in Montgomery at the film festival on January 24th

Bestie with her best man.

Bestie with her best man.

Vero to the rescue!

Vero to the rescue!

A little somethin'-somethin' for Beth on her b'day.

A little somethin’-somethin’ for Beth on her b’day.

Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Happy Birthday Stephanie!

Birmingham's Best Blog 2011

Birmingham's Best Blog Finalist 2012

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