It’s birthday month! On the 17th I will turn 37 years old. I expect big things out of this next year of life – first and foremost to make my first feature film. I want to blow it out of the water. I can feel in my bones that this is going to happen. We are hovering right over 60% as we enter our last week, so there’s still work to be done. You can check out our campaign here.

I won’t linger to long on the film as I know it’s all I’ve been sharing for the last three weeks. There is big news on the horizon though and I can’t wait to share it with you all. In fact, several things could be coming to fruition by the end of the month. Please send all the posi vibes – we are giving it our all.

In my 37th year I’d like to write another feature-length script worthy of being made into a film. I want to enter into a whole new realm of my career as a filmmaker. I’d like to keep my freelance game going strong too, for that allows me the financial freedom and flexibility to pursue my dreams no matter where I am. I’d like to take advantage of the ability to work from anywhere by going to as many places as I can. I work hard, and I want to play hard.

I know I’ve said it before, but the mountains call my name. Something about being in a quiet place surrounded by trees, serene landscapes, and endless beauty grabs at my soul. I am attracted to opposites however, as I also love the vibrant energy of people and never-sleeping cities. In the end, I guess it’s about balance. If I were to paint a picture of myself in the perfect setting, it would be in a warm RV overlooking Mt. Hood covered in snow, but with a laptop within arm’s length to stay connected to the rest of the world. ;) I can’t live without the internet. I’m a true Aquarius in that respect.

I feel like a lucky human. But as a mentor and friend told me this week, the secret to good luck is hard work and perseverance. The more opportunities that you line up to work out in your favor, the more likely that a few will strike gold. It’s all strategy, determination, passion, and hope.

We leave for our first film festival for The New Orleans Sazerac on my birthday. I think that’s a great way to kick off my 37th year. Thanks to all of our supporters who came out to the secret screenings that we recently had in New Orleans, Atlanta, and Birmingham. The feedback was very promising, and we are hopeful for a strong future for the film.

Hopefully by the next time I write we will have had a successful crowdfunding campaign for Electric Bleau! Thanks to everyone who is joining us on this journey.

In case you missed it, I am documenting weekly project updates on the official Seed&Spark blog. Here are my posts so far:

Puzzle Pieces
Moving Forward with Mentors
Ride of your Life
Eye of the Beholder
What is the color of Electric Bleau? Identity and beyond.
Electric Exposition

In parting, here is a happy moment from last weekend.

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Happy 2016!

I’m feeling good in my bones, y’all. With each passing week my life gets busier, but I know in my gut that I’m cruising down the path of my dreams. I know what lies ahead is a tremendous challenge, one that I can only imagine the size of at this point. As I put one foot in front of the other, I know I’m on my way.

Not to say things aren’t scary as hell. This Thursday (tomorrow!) we launch our development funds crowdfunding campaign for Electric Bleau on Seed&Spark. We need to raise $28,500 to get us on our way to the bigger next steps. That’s an ambitious number, and that fact certainly isn’t lost on me. We’ve been working for weeks to make this a fun process, so hopefully it will at least be interesting… and of course successful! Also, if you wanted a sneak peek at our campaign, there might just be a soft launch link in this week’s post from Seed&Spark. :) If you’ve supported us in the past you will also have an email today with everything you need to know (if you have gmail, it will prob land in your promotions tab b/c it was made in MailChimp). If you’d like to receive emails, then join in here. We aim to make everyone proud. As most of you know our ultimate goal is to find funding for 1.8 million, but that larger component will be done through private partnerships. UPDATE: The campaign is now live: bit.ly/electricbleaufilm

This week we also wrapped production on Within Grasp, a short film that I was invited to write and direct by the Atlanta Film Festival, which will play for a year starting in April in the Atlanta Airport International Terminal. Be sure to swing by to see all of the artist’s work next time you are there, as I was part of a collective asked to participate in this.

For those of you who helped us make The New Orleans Sazerac, be on the lookout for an invitation to the Atlanta and Birmingham private screenings this week! Those will be a lot of fun, and we can’t wait to hug your neck in person. These events are meant to celebrate those who made the film possible. James should start hearing back from festivals in February, but in the meantime he’s already gotten two acceptances from the Oxford Film Festival and the Chattanooga Film Festival! We can’t wait to enjoy the life of this project.

I think 2016 is going to be a positive year. I fully expect that obstacles will come our way, and that there will be sad times. However, I’m ready to charge head-first into the chaos and make the best out of these opportunities… with a big fat grin on my face in the process.

Lastly, if you haven’t had the chance to like our Electric Bleau Facebook page, please consider it! That’s a very helpful way for us to start showing that we have an audience. I’ll give you guys another update next week.

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The end of 2015 is upon us, and while it certainly had its difficult points, for the most part it treated us really well. Here are a few quick things for which I am grateful:

  1. The welcoming of Dorito the kitty into our home.
  2. The completion of The New Orleans Sazerac.
  3. The strong beginnings of Electric Bleau, my first feature.
  4. The partnership with Seed&Spark to document my journey of making Electric Bleau.
  5. Winning an award for Little Cabbage at the Flyway Film Festival.
  6. The overall good health of my family and friends.
  7. Claiming our home as our own with James.
  8. Enough (great) freelance that allows me the flexibility to pursue my dreams.
  9. Being an integral part of the formation of New Mavericks here in Atlanta.
  10. Invitation to create a short film that will play in the Atlanta Airport International Terminal from April 2016 until April 2017.

This year also saw the passing our sweet Azza kitty. She will always be missed.

What do I want in 2016? Glad you asked.

  1. I want to find funding for Electric Bleau (1.8 million) and make it. There are a million goals I could add on to this, so “making it” will have to suffice for now.
  2. Beyond making this film, I want to pioneer a new kind of transparency behind the process of making such projects. I feel like there is so much people don’t share, especially the hard lessons.
  3. I want to train to climb a mountain. Not just any mountain… Mt. Hood. It’s actually a goal for spring of 2017, but I would have to start preparing in 2016. Did I mention that I’m also addicted to mountaineering movies on Netflix? I might need an intervention.
  4. I want to continue traveling as much as I can.
  5. I want to write another feature script to have waiting in the wings once Electric Bleau is completed.
  6. I would love to make a music video for a band that I feel passionate about.
  7. I want to have a style. :D I feel like I’ve said this before in prior year-end goals. I am oftentimes so focused on my career and creating things that I don’t pay as much attention to my visual identity. Does this even make sense?
  8. I want to OWN IT. I want to be proud of who I am, what I am doing, what I’ve done, and where I’m going. I want this to beam through me like a bright light.
  9. I want to take time to explore and just be in places that make me feel alive, especially in the Northwest.
  10. I want to go camping and hiking more often. I like the simplicity of surviving and being on your own.

I’m excited about the year ahead, and honestly a little bit scared. I think that’s a good sign that I’m moving in the right direction.

Happy New Year to all of you!

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Life is happening hard and fast these days. I’ve realized that our timeline for Electric Bleau is quite ambitious (surprised?), but I think we will get there. As Stacey Davis, our entertainment lawyer, said, “You can do this, but you don’t get off days. Not even holidays. Every day there will be work to do.” She was speaking to the fact that we’ve gotta put our serious pants on and start as many conversations as we can to locate funding. We’ve got all the resources we need to make it happen. Since so much of my life right now is this film, you can read more about Electric Bleau on a weekly update through Seed&Spark, which they are pushing out to their entire audience! This is very gracious of them. I will work hard to make those posts as insightful and fun as I can. I’m excited to expand our audience!

There’s been a lot of traveling lately. We went to Cucalorus in mid November, which was a grand time. James organized the first-ever Cuctales event which was a big success. It’s a division of the film festival where attendees can explore and try a variety of cocktails. We also had a secret screening of a short doc you might have heard us talk about this year. :) It was thrilling to show it in front of an audience for the first time.

We also just got back from New Orleans, where we had a private screening of The New Orleans Sazerac for everyone who helped us make it in town. It was super fancy! Thanks to Ann Tuennerman of Tales of the Cocktail for organizing the event at Arnaud’s French 75. A very special weekend for us. We hope to do our Atlanta and Birmingham private screenings in January.

This Thursday evening through the following Monday we will be heading to LA to start pitching Electric Bleau. I haven’t been to LA in soooooooo long, and it will be James’ first time! Dear friends of ours are also shooting a feature film during that time, so it will be fun to visit them on set (go Jason & Annette!). We have so many people we want to see. First and foremost though is nailing down some meetings. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

I’ve started doing some writing and social programming for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Access Atlanta (a division of the AJC), which is really exciting. It’s a freelance ongoing position that requires 4 – 6 hours a day at the moment, and I can do it from anywhere. The flexibility is a dream come true. Thanks to those of you who helped me get this opportunity (you know who you are!).

Thanksgiving was wonderful. We spent it a week early with my family at Callaway Gardens. We ate well and loved on each other… just what I needed. I wish we had gotten a family photo! Luckily the gang will be together again for New Years, so there will definitely be the annual beach pic. James’ parents came down from Cincinnati for the actual holiday. We made a big bird, sat by a big bonfire in the backyard and played disc golf.

Last bit of news – one of my dearest and best friends just moved to Atlanta! Rebecca Pugh will stay with us for the month of December as she looks for a place of her own (hopefully nearby). She starts work at The Weather Channel tomorrow. It’s so great to have her in the same city.

As most of you know from my last post, we are still very sad about the passing of our sweet Azza. In her honor I am writing a short story in the AJC on services that help with the passing of a beloved pet. I will be sure to share once it’s up.

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I looked into her eyes as the strong sedative took hold of her tiny, sick body. I stroked her furry cheek and said sweet words in her ear. Candles were lit, piano music was playing, and everyone she loved was by her side. I knew she could hear me as I read her a poem we had written earlier in the day, called Our Little Happily Ever After. She may not have understood the words, but she knew I was professing our love for her presence in our life. As the vet administrated the final injection that would take her life, I could visibly see her spirit leave her broken body. No longer sick, no longer trapped.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve experienced a beloved pet die, but it was the first time it was by choice through euthanasia. I lost my precious Kitten almost four years ago at the young age of three in the middle of the night, and she died in my hands of an unknown killer. I was so unprepared, I didn’t know anything about what would happen next. Her body was taken away by my sweet parents and given to the Humane Society to be taken care of. If I had known better, I would have had a death plan in place for her. I would have kept a snippet of her fur, I would have had her cremated. Everything about her life being taken away from me so abruptly hurt to the core.

This time around, we knew something was wrong early. Azza has always been a sick kitty, fighting off and on with upper respiratory infections since she was very young. She was probably a runt, only clocking in at 6.5/7 pounds on her best days. Her immune was undoubtedly compromised, which made her a prime candidate for what eventually took her life at 2 1/2 years old – FIP (dry). There is no cure.

Beyond sickness, Azza was a beautiful soul that brought us tremendous happiness. She was spunky, independent, silly, and gorgeous. Her bright green eyes would light up at seeing her daddy, her favorite person to ever walk the planet. Even I couldn’t be mad about it, as their connection was something truly special. I was just lucky enough to bask in her glow on a daily basis. She was also a special sister to our other animals, all of whom loved her in their own unique ways.

With Azza’s passing, we were so fortunate to have options. Our vet, Dr. Simmons at Decatur Village Vets, was a rock as we faced hard decisions that were a lot like shooting at a bullseye in the dark with a crooked arrow. Once we all decided that it was time, he told me about a wonderful organization called Lap of Love, a hospice provider for pets that also provides at-home euthanasia. We decided this was the best option for us as Azza hated car rides and especially hated vet visits. We wanted it to be done in a place that felt comfortable for her, and for us.

We decided to be present for the passing, and I looked at her square in the eyes as it happened offering as much comfort as I could. Not everyone chooses to be present for that final moment, and I can see why. It’s something that will rock you to your core. But neither James nor I could imagine not being there. So we did it. I think it was a peaceful experience for her.

I miss her so much. I miss her tiny meow, her fluffy coat, her little soul that was bigger than life. I know people have their own beliefs about what happens after we leave our physical bodies, and I don’t normally share my personal opinions. However, I truly believe that we all have an energy or spirit that occupies this shell we move around in, that lives on once our body dies. It’s not the end. I don’t dare assume to know what that afterlife is or what it’s like, but I have a feeling that it is beautifully complex and beyond our wildest imaginations. I hope Azza is with all of those we have loved and lost, waiting on us at the rainbow bridge.

Please check out #azzakitty on Instagram for an exploration of her life with us.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

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These last few weeks have been crazy. First and foremost – Little Cabbage won the short film award at the Flyway Film Festival presented by Seed&Spark!! That’s an amazing honor. We had just arrived to the awards show straight from the airport, and 10 minutes later we were brought up on stage to receive a Flyway Axe (their hand-crafted award made by a local artist). This is really great for us as we head into creating our pitch book for Electric Bleau.

Speaking of which, major headway is being made on that front. Since Electric Bleau will be my first feature film to direct, we want to make every move with sincere thought and intention. There are four big goals to achieve before the end of the year: 1. Create a badass pitch book. This is a massive undertaking that requires a lot of pre thought and strategy before diving into it.  2. Branding. We are SO EXCITED to be working with our friend Christine Walker of Verse Brand Strategy to map out elements of this film that we’ve never considered before. With her branding guidance we are establishing rules, colors/visuals, audience insight, and copy that will represent what we want to create. After we complete the process at the beginning of December we plan to launch our Facebook page and a few other marketing items. 3. Initial entertainment lawyer items. This includes forming a LLC for Electric Bleau, writing the Operating Agreement, and creating initial contracts for investors/talent/crew. We are very lucky to have Stacey Davis on our team to help with these items. 4. Start pitching to investors. More on this soon.

We’ve also informally attached a name to the project for the character of Bleau, which we will announce as soon as we can. I hope to make a connection with an established casting director here in Atlanta before moving forward on other casting decisions. It’s highly important for us to attach a few bigger names, and we want to do that with the intention of them being perfect for the part as well. With that being said, I equally want to cast talents that I already know and believe in. Good news is that there are 10+ characters with significant parts to find.

Later today James and I head to Indie Memphis, for one of the last festival screenings of Little Cabbage. It’s had a great festival run, but I’m still sad to see that part of the adventure come to an end. Hot on the trail of that will be The New Orleans Sazerac, of which we should start hearing about festivals for in December. I think this film is going to bring us to places we’ve never been before. I’m excited to see what happens. Next weekend it’s our annual trip up to the Cucalorus Film Festival, where James is heading up a cocktail program for them called Cuctails. Should be a lot of fun! I’ll share more about that on the flip side.

We also made a special trip to Portland before the Flyway Film Festival for James to take part in Portland Cocktail Week. Portland is one of my favorite places to visit, especially in the fall. One thing we always do together is take a trip up to Mt. Hood and Mirror Lake. It’s about an hour outside of the city and a beautiful drive. I have something crazy on my radar… I’m considering climbing Mt. Hood in 2017! It has a true summit that you can reach by multiple routes. If I decide to do it, then I will definitely opt for the easiest/safest one, which still has a few technical aspects (aka you need an ice pick and crampons). It’s not as wild as it might sound, but it is something you have to train for. I think that would be a very special experience for me, especially in the 2017… which contains all of my lucky numbers in one special year. ;)

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Portland!

Portland!

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Mt. Hood Adventure Day

Portland

Portland

Portland!

Portland!

Two dear friends that we miss very much.

Two dear friends that we miss very much.

Street art.

Street art.

A good day.

A good day.

Flyway Film Festival 2015

Flyway Film Festival 2015

Our cozy cabin in Stolkholm.

Our cozy cabin in Stolkholm.

Kathy <3

Kathy <3

Portland kisses.

Portland kisses.

Portland

Portland

Flyway Film Festival

Flyway Film Festival

Apples and a boo.

Apples and a boo.

I see you.

I see you.

Our mini house in Stockholm for the Flyway Film Festival.

Our mini house in Stockholm for the Flyway Film Festival.

Cilantro was a lion again for Halloween.

Cilantro was a lion again for Halloween.

Flyway Film Festival

Flyway Film Festival

Flyway Film Festival

Flyway Film Festival

Flyway Film Festival

Flyway Film Festival

Halloween

Halloween

French kiss & Zebrah

French kiss & Zebrah

Martin West Dart & Rest on Halloween

Martin West Dart & Rest on Halloween

White Salon holiday party with Wendy!

White Salon holiday party with Wendy!

Portland

Portland

Flyway Film Festival

Flyway Film Festival

October is always one of my favorite months of the year. Fall is officially here, holiday excitement is creeping in, leaves are turning electric shades, and cool breezes send shivers down your spine. Things smell and taste of warm pumpkin (for better or for worse) and spices. Horror films saturate Netflix. It’s also the start of fall film festival season!

This evening we fly out for Portland, Oregon until Wednesday for Portland Cocktail Week (James will be attending that… I will just be floating around!). On the itinerary is visiting Mt. Hood, one of my favorite places on earth. Wednesday we leave Portland and head to Pepin, Wisconsin for the Flyway Film Festival. James and I did all of their branding/design this year! On top of that, they are screening Little Cabbage and Bottomless. Little Cabbage is also playing at the Orlando Film Festival that same weekend… wish we could be in two places at once!

The New Orleans Sazerac is in the hands of its first festivals for consideration. That’s a really great thing to be able to say! We’ll have some news on that front later in the year/beginning of next… for now we keep applying and wishing on lucky stars.

This week I got my last round of notes back from two amazing readers for Electric Bleau. I hope to have the new draft completed over the weekend. I’ve had some exciting conversations with potential talent as well that has left me so excited that my head might pop off! Things are moving a little faster than I originally thought, and that’s a big positive. Now we just need to catch up on some other key elements so everything is on the same page. While I’m in Portland I plan to do just that. By the end of November we should have a strong hold on what this film looks & feels like, art, the beginnings of a marketing strategy, and a killer pitch book. I’m eager to start talking to potential production company partners.

Someone was just saying the other day that they wished someone would actually talk about the struggles behind filmmaking, that a lot of the community only posts good news and happy high notes. It’s true – most of the rejection and judgement that I get in my life comes directly from being a filmmaker… and I often don’t share that stuff. It’s hard out there. Like any other thing in your life that you love and nurture, you want other people to appreciate it too. It’s a representation of yourself, in a lot of ways. The reality is that NO ONE likes or loves the same things, especially in entertainment. Also, there is a great deal of strategy that goes into the success of a film. On top of that, everyone’s definition of success is different. It’s hard to get into festivals when you haven’t created relationships (and even then, it’s still difficult!). Festival rejections are something you just have to get used to. And when you finally get into one that you’re really proud of, you want to scream it from the rooftops! Someone does like you. Someone does appreciate your work. Someone does want you to succeed. Finally, people get to see what you’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into. it’s a big deal.

If you’re an indie filmmaker, these hardships are by no means unique. They’ve touched us all. I am fortunate that I manage to have an optimistic (and realistic) attitude most of the time… both on the inside and the outside. 97% of the time my belief in my own abilities is much greater than the sadness of a rejection or harsh comment. It makes me happy to create films, and I want to keep getting better at it.

I ain’t no chicken, y’all.

A chicken (and me) in 1981.

A chicken (and me) in 1981.

Vero & Clint

Vero & Clint

My talented friend Rebekah Suellau, at the play she directed call Deathwatch and The Maids.

My talented friend Rebekah Suellau, at the play she directed call Deathwatch and The Maids.

Cilantro wants that stick, please.

Cilantro wants that stick, please.

Four x pumpkin :D

Four x pumpkin :D

First Film Fatales meeting in Atlanta

First Film Fatales meeting in Atlanta

New Mavericks board meeting :)

New Mavericks board meeting :)

Netherworld Haunted House in Atlanta

Netherworld Haunted House in Atlanta

Sloss Fright Furnace, annual tradition!

Sloss Fright Furnace, annual tradition!

Dinner!

Dinner!

Coffee & Mirrors

Coffee & Mirrors

I’ve come a long way since my last post 2 1/2 weeks ago.

First – I’ve gotten two very critical sets of notes back on Electric Bleau from film writers that I respect – Jonathan Hicks and Ruckus Skye. Both forced me to think about things that I hadn’t yet. This script is interesting because while the pieces are all there, when rearranged it can become more effective. Also, I realized that my original logline was fatally flawed as it lacked a goal and failed to imply the stakes at hand. I’ve fixed that, but will share in my next post as I might still revise. What’s the importance of a logline? It’s literally the foundation of what the whole screenplay is based on. So in my script, I was lacking a goal for my main character… as crazy as that sounds. While I was telling a full story, the main character was being pushed by events, instead of making events happen (passive vs. proactive). I’ve now fixed that problem. Yesterday I sent my most recent version of the script to my friend Jeremy Burgess, who will hopefully be my last round of notes for a while. I think it will be in a good enough spot to proceed with other items after his feedback. Hopefully. :)

In this exploration, my friend Ruckus asked me a question that I hadn’t considered. What films are similar to Electric Bleau? You’ve heard the pitches before where writers/directors describe what they want to create in terms of what’s already out there. It’s “such and such” meets “such and such.” I always thought that was cheesy. But it actually serves a great purpose in setting up tone and intention. So, I’ve come up with my own for Electric Bleau: The Ring meets Beasts of the Southern Wild, with hints of Interview with the Vampire and Practical Magic.

Second – I’ve had some inspiring and forward-moving conversations with some critical people. I was lucky enough to have a lunch with Autumn Bailey, a successful producer here in Atlanta. She’s working on several high-profile films here in town and enlightened me to some things I didn’t know when embarking on a large project. She also gave me a great idea for the lead character in EB. I left feeling inspired and energized. My other conversation was with Stacey Davis, who we hope to bring on as our entertainment lawyer. We’re starting the process of putting together investor packets for EB in the very near future, and the general picture is unfolding of what the structure of this film is going to look like. By the end of the year we hope to be pitching this film to production companies and other interested parties, in Atlanta and beyond.

Third – It might be obvious by now that I’ve made a definite decision on what script we’ll be pursuing as my first feature. Electric Bleau is the winner. I think in a moment of insecurity (which happens to us all), I was doubtful of the scale of the project and our ability to take it on as our first feature length. That fear has turned into confidence. I know we can do it, and I can’t wait to give it my all.

Fourth (& unrelated to film) – We celebrated my mom’s birthday on the 16th! My mom, Jamie, is my whole heart. Because of her vulnerability, compassion, and empathy, I feel like I’ve become a better human. I hope this is your best year yet, JamieJean916! :D You deserve the best.

Fifth – The New Orleans Sazerac was submitted to its first film festival! James, Joe, and the entire post-production team have worked incredibly hard, and the end result is a fascinating and fun film. It’s not 100% done, but definitely 99% and counting. Congrats guys!! I am honored that I got to be a part of it.

Sixth – Little Cabbage was accepted into the Orlando Film Festival! We are so excited. We also received word today of another big acceptance that we can announce next week. We already announced a month or two ago that Little Cabbage was an early acceptance into the Flyway Film Festival, which is in a few weeks in Pepin, WS (yay!!). LC will have a solid fall festival run, and maybe one or two in early 2016, then we are going to see how she does in the online space. As of Cucalorus in November (where we did a secret screening last year), Little Cabbage will have been doing festivals for one year. Time flies!

Seventh (and final) – Bottomless, a film I produced and Vero wrote, directed, & illustrated, has been accepted into the Cucalorus Film Festival and the Flyway Film Festival! Hooray!

Maybe I should start writing more often again as to avoid such long posts. If you got to this point, thanks for your time and patience!

Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade

Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade

James writing down Sazerac notes.

James writing down Sazerac notes.

Me and The Bug!

Me and The Bug!

Mom & Lucy

Mom & Lucy

Christy & Anna at the Zoo

Christy & Anna at the Zoo

Owen & Jack

Owen & Jack

Dave, Owen, & James

Dave, Owen, & James

Cats in a box. :)

Cats in a box. :)

The Birmingham Zoo!

The Birmingham Zoo!

Me and the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of the United States of America

Me and the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of the United States of America

Dorito is questioning my Halloween pumpkin tastes.

Dorito is questioning my Halloween pumpkin tastes.

For the first time in my life, I literally forgot my age. I spent a good day and a half questioning whether I was 36 or 37… even when the math said that I was definitely 36. I finally buckled and asked James just to confirm. 36. This proves without denial that I focus entirely too much on the future. I’ve been thinking about the year to come, and beyond, a lot lately. If you’ve read every post in this blog, then it’s quite apparent this is a general theme.

I’ve been reevaluating lately what it means, to me, to be a successful filmmaker. What do I need to do to cross into the next level? So far in my career I’ve focused on shorts, mostly for practice and because of budget restraints. I think it’s been the best medium for me across the board. Stepping into feature territory has felt a little like crossing into a whole new world. You can’t film a feature in three or four days, you need two to four consecutive weeks. It’s a bigger commitment. It takes ten times the amount of money (even on a shoestring). I think my anxiety comes from lack of definitely knowing which story I want to make first, and the concrete dates in which to do it. At this point, it’s still a moving target.

The fact that I’m not certain about which story to make next may come as a surprise to some. I’ve been talking about Electric Bleau for the past two years, polishing it to a ready-to-shoot state with dedication and passion. The truth is that it’s a super complex period story with a mind-numbing amount of locations. I’m not saying that it won’t be my first, I’m just considering my options. I have another story, which I’ve teased you all with in the past few months, that might be a better project to shoot first. Since i don’t plan to film until late summer/early fall of 2016, I’m going to wait a month or two to make the final decision. In the meantime, I will finish a new draft of Electric Bleau in the next day or two, and I almost have a completed outline of my other concept. I will start writing that by the end of the week. The second story has its own set of challenges, but might be the logical film to do first. I’m going to be intentional about keeping the number of locations as low as I can.

Back to the question – what does it mean to be a successful filmmaker? For a long time I thought that meant making a living off of my craft, and being marketable enough to be hired for studio projects. While that would still be a dream/stretch goal, ultimately my focus should be on just creating good films. I want to make projects that are genuinely meaningful, thought-provoking, and a little bit different from the norm. I need to focus on that. I think once I have some concrete shooting dates in 2016, I will feel more at ease about everything.

The Sidewalk Film Festival happened a few weeks ago, and was a surge of inspiration. There are several more coming up this fall that I know will continue to propel us forward in state-of-mind. The New Orleans Sazerac is coming along beautifully, and I have a strange feeling that it will open some new doors for us. It’s a special film that will hopefully allow us to step up our game.

I’m really excited about the fall. I think some unexpected surprises are in store on a professional and personal level. I recently died my hair dark brown again in preparation of a new season. I hope to travel to the mountains, wear comfy cool-weather clothes, and tap into my creative reserves. Most of all, I hope for a clear path and vision as I embark on what will be my biggest film to date.

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Alan & Erik - two big reasons I became a filmmaker. Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Alan & Erik – two big reasons I became a filmmaker. Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

James and my bro. Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

James and my bro. Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Photo from the WELD article on Sidewalk shorts. Photo by Brad Lovell.

Photo from the WELD article on Sidewalk shorts. Photo by Brad Lovell.

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Channing & Bill! Two favorite people.

Channing & Bill! Two favorite people.

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Sidewalk Film Festival 2015

Celebrating Vero's first year as a filmmaker!

Celebrating Vero’s first year as a filmmaker!

Robyn & Jonathan during our quick adventure to Serenbe!

Robyn & Jonathan during our quick adventure to Serenbe!

I think one of the most valuable skills anyone can possess is the ability to ask for another’s critical eye, then turn that feedback into something that makes your project better. Another valuable skill is the ability to never give up, even when you know that you’ll probably never be completely finished with something. If you are a creative-type, then you know that nothing is ever truly completed–just abandoned. But abandoned isn’t the right word either… maybe allowed to let live in it’s perfectly imperfect form. It’s a balancing act of knowing when that time has come.

All that to say, once I think I’m close to being done with Electric Bleau, I learn that I’m not. You hear of some people cranking out scripts super fast, and while I think writing speed can be learned with time, that’s certainly not the boat I’m sitting in. I sometimes feel anxious to get the ball rolling and set dates in stone on when we will shoot this thing. But here is how it should, and will, play out: This month I aim to push out another draft based on the recent (and invaluable) feedback I’ve gotten. I’ll let it rest again in September, and during that time I’ll ask a few others I respect to give me notes. Before the end of the year I have four goals: 1. To find a music collaborator to help find the voice & soul of Bleau. 2. To find potential talent to attach to the project. 3. To find an investor/angel or two that might be interested in helping us make it (this also includes figuring out our budget). 4. To continue submitting the script for festival & competition recognition.

I also want to start work on another feature script that I’ve been sitting on for about a year. I plan to start on that next month, during the 1-month Electric Bleau breather. It’s a special story and a little less complicated (but certainly not less interesting). I will share that synopsis with you all soon!

Next year I will make a feature, but it won’t be until late summer/early fall. This will happen.

I’m really enjoying my new job with MotionMobs! It’s a challenging and rewarding role as the pioneer into the Atlanta market. It’s my responsibility to make MotionMobs a name people know, which will be a fun task since they do excellent work. You can read more on my thoughts about our expansion here. I also recently wrote about an app they created for Autism Avenue that helps those with problems communicating on a daily basis. It’s great to be a part of something that changes the lives of others for the better. My big writing assignment this week is to take a look at women in tech in the south. I’m especially looking forward to that, as I feel like the startup world is very similar to filmmaking in that regard. Plus, MotionMobs has a female President whom I admire as a leader. As a female who also leads in another world, I respect her ship.

This is a good time in life, and I’m appreciative for all that I have.

Friends make the world go 'round.

Friends make the world go ’round.

Post run hang time with my mom.

Post run hang time with my mom.

James is a jumper.

James is a jumper.

The Indie Grits Roadshow in Atlanta. Bubble was part of the program!

The Indie Grits Roadshow in Atlanta. Bubble was part of the program!

Wendy is always on board for an adventure.

Wendy is always on board for an adventure.

Me & Jenny!

Me & Jenny!

Wandering the neighborhood with James.

Wandering the neighborhood with James.

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