You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘The Jen West Quest’ tag.
I’m back! I don’t think I’ve taken this long of a hiatus from my blog since I started, but it was really nice to be out-of-pocket for a week and a half. Since I last wrote on August 19th, the Sidewalk Film Festival has taken place and we’ve returned from our epic Northwest vacation to Portland and Seattle. Also during that time, we’ve adopted a new baby kitten named Azza! We found her before the festival in Atlanta crossing a street, and pulled over to see if she belonged to anybody. She was roaming with a few of her siblings and some other relative cats…none of which were really being taken care of. A man who was the closest thing to being her owner said we could take her home. She is a darling kitten, and I can’t wait for her to meet Baby Kitty next week.
Bubble’s premiere at the Sidewalk Film Festival went better than we could have ever imagined. We were both nervous wrecks leading up to it, as usual, but the crowd responded well and we got lots of positive feedback. We hope in the coming weeks to announce some more festivals that it will be shown at in the near future.
While in Portland, I finished up the third draft of my feature script! It is in the hands right now of the next round of proofers and should be returned any day. After this I want to let one more group of folks put their eyeballs on it, then I think it will be ready for competition and grant submissions. I am very happy with where it is.
As for our vacation, we stayed five days in Portland, and one day in Seattle. Portland has so many restaurants/breweries/shops that it was impossible to even scratch the surface in almost a week’s time. The temperatures stayed in the 60′s and 70′s, perfect fall weather! I can’t wait to return. When we do I want to explore more of the outdoor activities it has to offer. We did make it up to Mt. Hood, which ended up being one of my favorite days of the trip. I love mountains, especially in the Northwest. We didn’t spend nearly enough time in Seattle to come close to understanding its vibe or culture. Our filmmaker friends Mike Harring and Kirsten Barber picked us up from the train station and showed us the sights (personal geek-out moment – getting to see the Singles apartment complex!). They were great hosts. I hope our films get into more festivals together in the near future so we can spend more time with them.
Thursday I will share with you some of our favorite things/restaurants that we did while on vacation in case you ever make a visit yourself. Until then, you will find me watching marathon episodes of Portlandia.
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! What a big week!!! This Saturday, Bubble will premiere at the Sidewalk Film Festival at 11 a.m. on the Carver Theater screen. If you plan to come, get there early so you have a seat! This block usually fills up. So many filmmaker friends will be arriving in town as early as Thursday for the whole weekend, just like a big family reunion. It’s one of the happiest times of the year. I hope to see you there.
I got some disappointing news on Friday regarding my feature screenplay. It knew it was a long shot – but I didn’t progress to the second round of the Sundance script competition. I spent a day or two thinking about what that really meant… and honestly, it doesn’t mean anything. The entry was based on five pages of the script, an artist statement, bios and cover letter. I really think they are looking for projects from higher profile writer/directors, which means I just need to keep on trying. So once I was done feeling down about the disappointment, I started to plan my next steps. Of course, I am going to continue refining the script. It is really getting to an exciting place that I feel energized about. After talking to James, I am going to wait a few more months before submitting it to any more writing competitions to get it to a more completed place. Also, there is the idea to make a short film out of a segment of the screenplay as a sample of what the longer piece would look and feel like. If that happens, it will more than likely be late winter/early spring of next year. That might be a smart thing to do… and I know just the part of the story I will use. Also, James has been working on his own short film project that we hope to execute in the near future as well. We will swap roles for this – he will direct and I will produce. Should be a lot of fun, and I’m excited to see what he ends up creating.
I find myself questioning what makes a good film director… is it the person with the most overall knowledge of technical and creative techniques? Or is it the person with the most passion and ambition to see a project to completion? Like any other profession, there are always variances in approach. But what kind am I? I feel like I have a lot to learn, but there is plenty of will there to keep moving forward. Would I be happy just writing? I wish I could be, but I think I love the whole process too much. I really, really need to start shadowing people on their own projects and reading more about things I am less familiar with. I want to take workshops on how best to work with actors. So much to learn, I feel. But isn’t that the the best part of something you truly love?
What a week… so many things up in the air, and still waiting for some of the cards to fall. It’s an interesting thing to watch yourself (and others) in slow motion, which has been my experience in the past few days. I’ve thought several times that I had no control over events to come, but that was never really the case. Last night I spoke to someone who became an unlikely mentor. She strengthened my spirit and perspective, which I am forever grateful for. This morning I woke up with a new attitude, and therefore, new opportunity. That drastically changed things. You know who you are – thank you.
I am still waiting on some big news this week about my script. I know ultimately I will be fine either way…I can still make things happen with or without that boost (though, that would be a pretty big boost!). I will know by Friday, so literally any minute. Please send the posi vibes my way! I am almost done with the revisions from Charles and Carrie Beth. Those two put in a lot of work editing it up, and I’m enjoying making the upgrades. This weekend it will go to three more people for notes.
Through challenges sometimes comes our best gifts. They can be the push we need to take action where we otherwise might be too comfortable to do so. I am a great believer in the master plan…whoever and whatever is in control of that. Maybe we are ultimately in charge without ever even knowing it. It’s hard to say. There may still be a dash of fate and chance mixed along in with the map of our lives. Sometimes crazy things happen. Sometimes amazing things happen. All I know is when I feel happy and fulfilled, the tougher times are worth it. 100%. I hope you feel that way too about your own life. Onward & upward! Always.
I had an unexpected happy moment this week when I decided to ride my bike down to Avondale Park after work on Monday. I wasn’t biking for the exercise, just for the enjoyment of being outside. Once I arrived at the park, I took a seat in one of my favorite places in Birmingham – the Avondale amphitheater. I got out my blue notebook that’s reserved for ideas only and started to scribble. I had Arcade Fire Pandora playing beside me, and also a little line of marching ants nearby. I sat there for a while and thought about what I wanted, then wrote it down. I watched people walk back and forth by the pond, and the ducks swim peacefully. It was a great moment. Quiet time is good.
Monday I met with my dear friends Charles and Carrie Beth, who had just finished up reading my feature script. They both marked up their own copies and returned them to me full of ideas and notes. Today I am going to take a stab at going through them and organizing my game plan. Charles is a magazine editor by day, and also wrote a book last year called Fading Ads of Birmingham. Carrie Beth is an English teacher and avid reader. They were perfect for the job, and I can’t thank them enough for the time they put into helping me out. My goal is to have a revised draft by early next week, then it’s off to a few more select proof readers.
Since the last time I wrote, Bubble’s been accepted into two more film festivals – the Orlando Film Festival and Cincinnati Film Festival! The truly remarkable thing is that these have been based on rough cuts so far. Bubble will be completely finished early next week, just in time for Sidewalk. This Sunday we are having a private cast & crew screening to thank them for all of their hard work. I am so proud of how it’s turned out, and I can’t wait for people to start seeing it. And today we’ve officially launched the website for Bubble, which was created by James Martin and Dan Gavin. It is absolutely fantastic. There you can see our festival acceptances as they happen, and also our IMDb page.
This past weekend I had the privilege of watching St. Paul and the Broken Bones again, this time in Atlanta. It’s inspiring to see any artist succeed in their own medium, which they are definitely doing. Pretty soon they will be a household name, and we’ve been lucky enough to see them front row & center two times now. I screamed so much that I thought I was going to be hoarse the next day. Their music is full of passion and feeling….which is always the best kind of art to make.
This week something big happens: Bubble will be finished! Well, except for the color correction and a few bonus special effects that are just additional icing on the cake. It’s been heavily worked on for several months now, all to get us to this very moment. We have a pretty big post production team (five people not including James and myself), all working on their own bits and pieces individually and as a whole. Not to mention we are about to launch a website this week as well, so there has been a lot going on behind the scenes. I’m so excited to have this project in one pretty little package. What an awesome team… I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve done.
I’ve been thinking about what I will do with my time once Bubble is officially in the festival circuit, and my feature film also written. I definitely have several drafts left of my feature script left to complete, so that will take another month to iron out. I guess a lot rides on whether or not my script gets recognized in any competitions/labs. There are a few that I will submit to in the coming months, and I have a big pending one out there (should hear back between August 1 & 15). I also have another really great idea for a feature, but I don’t think the time is right just yet to start devoting energy to it. There are still other things left that need my time and focus. Maybe by the end of the year I can start thinking about that new script. The ultimate goal is to be a strategic and effective filmmaker, because the purpose of it all is for people to actually experience these stories in their intended medium.
So many components go into being successful at something, especially personal pursuits. Besides being good at what you do and having passion for it, I believe branding/marketing is the next most important thing. How are people hearing about your project/initiative/idea? It needs to be aggressive enough that people know about it, and thus interested, but not too much that it turns them off. You need to find your audience and voice, then use it often. It’s unfortunately true that what’s out of sight is out of mind. There is a lot of trial and error that goes into marketing, with the ultimate goal of finding the right balance and technique. Brand your project, and maybe even more importantly, brand yourself. The good news it that it’s fun work. Once you establish your brand, then decide your plan of action – both short-term and long-term. It’s ok if you have to modify as you go, but you at least need a initial map to get from point A to point B. Most important of all, be excited about what you’re doing! Because if you’re not, no one else will be either.
So far I’ve been failing at my commitment to bike to work twice this week. That really only leave tomorrow & Thursday, so I better start getting with the program. I know I would love it if I would just DO it. James has already started biking more to meetings & events that are close enough from his house. I know that me-time would add so much to my quality of daily life. Plus, burning those extra calories never hurt anyone. Be looking for a confirmation photo tomorrow on my Instagram feed to see if I can live up to my goal…
Happy Friday! I am excited about the sunshine and weekend. Vero and Melissa are coming up to ATL tonight through Sunday for a little vacation time, and tomorrow James and I head to Columbus, GA for the day to celebrate my sister Christy’s birthday. In our family, hardly a month goes by with someone turning a year older. That’s the beauty of having a large family, so we always seem to have a reason to get together.
I would love to start biking more. Next week I want to commit to riding my bike to work for two days. I am about four miles away, but the real issue is the hills (and therefore sweat). Also, do I wear my work clothes? Where do I put my bike once I get here? These are all excuses I’ve used in the past for not doing it, plus the fact that I would have to get up a little earlier in the morning (and I’m a sleeeeeeper). I think I would enjoy making the effort, so I am going to give it a shot. Plus the exercise always does my spirit good. There is something about a nice bike ride to get your mind in the right spot.
Last night I took on a little mini art project – I drew James’ face in crosshatch. I love doing any kind of fine art, it is relaxing and gives my brain something fun to focus on. I don’t really do much hands-on art anymore other than film work or computer driven activities. I’d like to change that though as nothing really compares to making something manually. I love precision and trust. There is never a time when I’m creating something that I don’t question if I’ve ruined it at several points…which to me is a great exercise in perseverance. Even in mediums where you can’t erase a mistake, there is usually a way to make it work. (Make it work!! – Tim Gunn)
I hear myself saying this phrase a lot: “If only ____ would happen, then I will be completely happy.” If only, if only, if only. The biggest load of crap statement out there. I have every reason to be super pumped about the way things are right now. This way of thinking is an easy trap for those of us trying to attain goals or dreams. Yes, I do want to one day make a feature film. Does that mean I am incomplete until that happens, absolutely not. Wanting more for yourself and others that you love is a fantastic trait…but it doesn’t mean that you aren’t already experiencing wonderful things. To evolve and change is to be human. But to appreciate and become aware, those are invaluable acquired skills.
So many things to write about today! First, it was a lovely weekend in Atlanta. We didn’t do anything too terribly exciting, just hung around the house and did some work to spruce it up a bit. It’s nice to get things in order… I’m a firm believer that if your energy is off at home, then it will send other things off course in your life. Right now I have two places I call home – Birmingham and Atlanta. I feel like I am getting the best of both worlds at the moment, which I have no complaints about. It’s actually kind of cool that they are only 2 hours apart from each other. Sometimes I don’t even feel like James and I have a long distance relationship, maybe it’s because it is all we’ve ever known. I just feel really lucky to have him in my life, even if I don’t get to see him every day. I know one day that will get to change though, and it will be the beginning of a new chapter.
Speaking of James, he has already given me back notes on my feature script! I feel really good about his reactions to it as a whole, in fact, he didn’t have much criticism at all. I chose him to read it first for several reasons, the main one being that I knew he would give honest feedback. So to get such a positive review really made me happy. He did have several suggestions that would give it more meat, and I’m already knee-deep in incorporating those ideas. I plan to pass off the second draft to my friends Charles and Carrie Beth Buchanan tomorrow, and have a solid third draft by next week.
Yesterday I got to meet an accidental hero of mine – Erika Napoletano (Redhead Writing). My friends Jonathan and Shelby heard her speak at a New Orleans conference in January, and they came back raving about her. I already knew so much about Erika without even hearing a word from her mouth. It just so happened that yesterday I volunteered at Y’all Connect, here in Birmingham, and she happened to be one of the main speakers. Once I finished my early morning shift, I quickly went up two flights of stairs to listen to her first talk. I luckily caught the intro, where she explained a big motivating factor in her passion for life – the loss of her true love. It made me cry to hear her talk about the beauty he brought into her life, only to leave it so fast. But don’t get me wrong… this chick isn’t about the sweet and sappy. She drops the f-bomb about every other word and preaches about the power of being unpopular. You should really check her out, and if she’s ever speaking near you… make it a point to go and see her. She is hero status for me because she is not afraid of being 100% Erika, even if you don’t like it.
This week Bubble will have an official website! Thank you Dan & James for making that a reality. The film itself is almost done as well… so close we can touch it. We also have some fun ideas for the Four x Productions blog, which I’m excited to kick off later today. We are going to feature different people from our cast and crew on Bubble, because each of them is fascinating in their own way. They all shared very specific gifts to make this project a reality. Check back later today to see the first post!
Today’s post is already on the long side… but I didn’t want to end it without first throwing out a mention to my friend David Graves. This guy is super inspiring, especially if you love running like I do. Further Faster Forever named him athlete of the week, which you can read about here. You should also check out his blog, he is always sharing inspirational stories. A few years back he made some significant life changes that were against the odds. I am so proud of him for the person he has become today. Check him out!
I’M DONE!!!!!!!! After years of talking about writing this story – first as a book, then as a film – it finally exists on paper. Once I transitioned it to a script, it only took a matter of months. It is printed out and ready to be marked up by James, who has gladly stepped up to the plate for the first round of edits. I am so curious to see what he has to say about it, how he feels about the structure and dialog. I actually feel like this is a pretty solid rough draft. I should hear back in the next few weeks about whether or not I progress to the second round of that screenplay competition that I applied to a few months back. If I don’t make the cut, at least I have a brand new story ready to go in whatever direction I choose to take it. It’s a win-win, honestly. If I do make the cut, I’ve done some considerable research on next steps for round two. I guess we will see what happens very soon…
More good news from this week: Bubble is an official selection of the Sidewalk Film Festival!! It’s our first fest announcement of several coming in the near future. We will be playing on Sunday at 11 a.m. (sharp, we are the first in the block!) at the Alabama School of Fine Arts on August 25th. If you live in Birmingham, please mark your calendars and come share this experience with us! The programming this year is especially epic, and I’ve already blocked off several films that I want to see.
Vero came back home this week from Belgium, and I’ve spent time with her every night since she’s returned. It’s been a real treat. One of the highlights was getting to partake in some crêpes that she won in a race while overseas! She stuffed them with Belgium chocolate, roasted pear and liquor. Soooo delicious. I’m glad to finally have her back safe and sound.
I’m exhausted this week. I have no idea why… other than being a little more excited than normal. I can’t seem to catch up on my rest from our weekend in Louisville, despite going to bed really early each night. I’m glad that we don’t have much planned in the coming days… just some low-key chill time in the ATL. I hope your weekend is spent doing whatever it is your soul needs most.
Our whirlwind weekend in Louisville lived up to its expectations. If you love music festivals, I can’t recommend Forecastle enough for the price and experience. They have fantastic programmers that deliver a sweet line-up each year…and if you buy your tickets at the right time, you spend only $100 to see three days worth of excellent music. I’ve been two years now in a row and plan to make it an ongoing tradition. Louisville is a special city, and I always love getting the opportunity to visit. It has a similar small southern city charm that Birmingham possesses, and also like Birmingham has amazing places to eat/drink and see. There are a ton of creative folks there doing interesting things. I can’t wait to go back!
We also did a brunch style Twelve while we were at it at my friend Lee Ann’s house. We didn’t end up with a full twelve like we normally do because of the music festival happenings around town, but it was well worth the experience. My word was “triple,” and I made avocado three ways: mango guacamole, crispy avocado fries and eggs baked in avocado. Oh my goooooooodness.
Before we headed out-of-town, we enjoyed a FUN evening at Woodrow Hall to kick off Jones Valley Teaching Farm’s Good School Food program. They are hoping to raise $100,000 to expand their program to more kids in the Birmingham area. Watch the video to get the full scoop, which was created by Bob Miller. It is a beautiful piece, and will make you understand the full impact of their work with this campaign. I also got to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones for the very first time, literally 4 feet from my face. It is going to be very exciting to be able to say I saw them in such an intimate venue before they completely blow up. And believe me, it’s gonna happen.
This week I wrap-up my feature-length script first draft… a monumental moment in my life timeline. I have spent years and years trying to make this story exist in a format other than my head, and now it is finally so. I am excited to see what kind of life it will have…there are several routes it could go. First and foremost though I need to get a polished version in my hands, which will happen in the next few months. That will basically be where I spend my free time this week. Today Vero returns from Europe, and I pick her up from the airport mid-afternoon. I can’t wait to see her! Tonight is a big Sidewalk kick-off event where they will announce the full line-up. Should be very exciting… dun dun dun!
Some really exciting things happened this week… first and foremost, I made some serious headway on my feature script. I expect to have a full first draft by next weekend! I’ve put a lot of time and energy into it in the last few days, and it’s really paid off. I probably knocked out a good 20 pages alone in the last four days. Being near the end really excited me, and fueled the additional energy I needed to push it over the top. All that’s missing at this point are a few holes that require additional research, and the final few pages of the ending. I plan to take the weekend off though to rest my brain, and to give it some much needed breathing room. Once I get the first draft, I will probably go through it one more time before presenting to anyone else for proofing/feedback. I’d like to take it through several rounds of revisions before submitting to any screenplay competitions.
Speaking of this weekend, James and I are heading to Louisville early tomorrow morning for the annual Forecastle Music Festival, and to see my dear sweet friends Lee Ann and Jenny Faye! It should be an awesome time. Sunday we will do a unique Twelve, this time over brunch. Can’t wait to see what Louisville brings to the table. Tonight we will be attending a special launch dinner for Jones Valley Teaching Farm here in Birmingham for their new online fundraising campaign, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones will be performing. I’ve never seen them, which I am very ashamed to admit! They are about to blow up in a big way.
We got two pieces of great news on the Bubble front this week that we hope to share very soon. Also, our full website will be live by the end of the month! There are so many people right now working behind the scenes to make some special things happen. A lot of announcements will take place at the beginning of August, so stay tuned! But there will be one special thing to say next Thursday… I promise to keep you posted.