Keep the faith

The past year has been rough for me, in terms of navigating my career. I’ve been struggling with finding avenues to get film financing for my feature and my latest short documentary has not been getting love from the 2017 film festival circuit.

Now, I know people have it a lot worse. I’m not comparing. I’m only saying it’s been tough for me within this context.

Many times when I meet other indie filmmakers/writers, we ask each other, “what do you do for money?”

See, it’s incredibly difficult to make a living as an independent filmmaker, especially for those of us who have opted to live in Los Angeles, which in my opinion is the epicenter of filmmaking. Rents are high and competition is stiff.

But this is not my first time at the rodeo. I’ve been making short films since 2006 and have toured the festival circuit for many years with various films. Some of my films have earned distribution. Some, not so much. Regardless, I’ve put my heart and soul into each and am proud of them.

But this year has been tough. Competition is fiercer than ever, especially with iPhones being capable of producing quality work. The barriers of entry are opening and that is great but there is a glut of content and it is growing increasingly difficult to have one’s voice and work heard among all the noise.

So, where does that leave us? The artists of the world who have something to say and are trying to figure out ways of getting it heard….

Pretty much left to our own devices.

But in my opinion, now is a time of innovation, fast moving technological growth and change. A shift in power is emerging and the monarchs are falling from grace, as blunt talk and transparency prove them to be the false leaders that they are.

I’ve learned it’s best to plant one’s own seeds and tend to them until they grow instead of putting your seeds in another’s basket.

Personally, I have been planting seeds all over. The dry spells have been insanely difficult and I have a long way to go but I plant, nonetheless.

And suddenly, some of the seeds are starting to sprout. Some are ones I planted years ago.

I’ve found if one heeds nature, and listens, answers will arise.

Just as I was starting to think about if it was time to switch gears and go after a more stable gig like copywriting or something, I received an acceptance for my feature film script to a popular film festival screenplay competition (I can’t say which one yet!) and one of my article pitches was accepted from a website I currently write for.

I won’t go on but my point of all this is to say that it is always worth it to keep trying for what you want because you never know when your seeds will become plants of their own. So….

Plant those seeds.

Tend to them.

And believe.

Because they will grow….

#neverletanyonetellyouotherwise

 

 

Structure

As a freelance writer/filmmaker who waits tables three nights a week, my schedule is all over the place. I find myself working at random hours, any day of the week, and the line between work and play is often blurred because of this.

This morning, while on a walk at the beach thinking about the changes I want to make in my life and myself, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I need more structure.

This minimal-schedule of mine that changes weekly is no longer working for me. And it’s time to change that.

So on Monday, I’ll be starting a new job.

In my home office.

My hours will be 10 – whenever I have to go the restaurant M/T/W and 10 – 8 TH/F. (yes, 10am because come on, there are perks to working from home.) Weekends will vary but I will try to use that time for errands, a second yoga class, seeing family and friends and well, anything else I want while balancing work occasionally.

My loving husband is fully onboard, which is great because he also works from home…. (perhaps that will be a future blog…hehe)

Isn’t it interesting how we change over time?

I once thought the lack of structure in my schedule kept my creative juices flowing and allowed me to work whenever and wherever I wanted but I don’t think that any longer. In fact, if I’m being honest with myself, it has likely hurt my focus and attention.

Stay tuned for more info about my new job. Will I love the schedule or hate it? Will it help my focus and work productivity level? Will it help me break bad habits by no longer blurring work and play? Will it overall make me a better person?

Will it make me happy?

I don’t expect to find answers right away but please, join me as I share my discoveries in future blog posts. And feel free to come along for the ride with your own changes and keep me posted in the comments!

 

Why I’m happy my husband and I waited five years to become Facebook friends

I met my husband, Don, on Labor Day 2012 and sparks flew as we walked for hours around Manhattan Beach, talking and getting to know each other. This was followed with a drink by the pier and a couple more hours of conversation.

Talking to Don was like talking to an old friend who suddenly came back into my life. It was like we knew each other but didn’t. And he somehow made me believe true love did indeed exist.

So when a few months into our relationship I asked Don to be Facebook friends, and he declined, let’s just say I was most certainly thrown for a loop.

“How dare he?!” “What in the hell!” “That’s it. It’s over.” 

These are a few things that ran through my head when he told me he didn’t want to be Facebook friends. And then a big one sank in….

What in the world is he hiding?!”

Now, up to this point, Don had not done a thing to make me distrust him and in fact, he did a lot of things that made me trust him, so this was mind-boggling.

The next night we were together, probably within fifteen seconds if I know myself, I unleashed on him. I questioned him and our entire relationship.

I simply couldn’t understand how we could date and be falling in love and yet he didn’t want to “friend me” on social media.

Then, he said something calmly and uncomplicated.

“I don’t want to get to know you through Facebook.”

My inner rage was jolted. And as though it was controlled by a gas-stove dial, the flame went from bursting to barely there.

He had a really solid point. And I liked it. I respected that he didn’t want to learn about me through a social networking service.

So I agreed. We would not be Facebook friends until we were ready.

There was one stipulation though – I would be able to see his page whenever I wanted to, under his login. Come on people, I’m no fool. But he not only agreed, he also invited me to do so right then and there.

Which, of course, I did. But after that, I’ve probably asked him to look at his page maybe five times in the five years we’ve been together. And that was only to see pictures.

Now… flash forward to last week.

After being married for a year and a half, I turned to Don while we were grabbing a drink before dinner and said, “Babe, you think it’s time we become Facebook friends?”

He gave me one of his adorable side-tilted smiles and said, “You want to? Let’s do it.”

He sent me an invite ten seconds later.

And then I realized, after all this time, it’s really fun to suddenly get to see each other’s Facebook life. Not that it’s much different from non-Facebook life, but it is its own entity and I’m not sure Don realizes it, but he discovered a whole new way for us to get to know each other.

Flow of Flying

rushing, packing, night before if smart, morning of it not. time is key. unless you travel with parents. then them against you. three hours early or ten minutes before boarding… rushing regardless.

drop-off war zone. luggage wheels flexed. lines. security. lines. questions. gates figured out. sometimes after a few tries.

check-in. phones out. id’s ready.

sitting. waiting. relieved. anxious. technology or sleep?

flight delay. wtf? or boarding. yay! lines. pushing. rudeness. smiles.

seats made for children. uncomfortable. taxi’ing. time moves slowly.

take off! finally. reading. time check. sleep. time check. uncomfortable. time check.

landing. 10mph. phones out. claustrophobic. bags everywhere.

wheels flexed. lines. attendants.

people in all directions. gift shops. phone calls. bathroom time.

baggage claim sometimes. hopeful. waiting. eyes peeled.

taxis. uber. friends. family. chaos. exhaust. cars and you.

till next time….

 

 

 

Bluntness

I sometimes get in trouble with people when I answer a question honestly and it’s an answer they don’t like or agree with.

Anyone else ever have this problem? Sometimes, I really get where Larry David is coming from but this isn’t the time to review his show….

I’m blunt. Many of my readers have figured that out by now and some I think even like me for it. My friends, my good friends who know me deeply, tend to really appreciate it and call on me when they need a blunt, honest answer that won’t be sugar-coated. I like that I can offer that but honestly, it’s not the reason for my bluntness.

Being blunt comes naturally to me. It always has. As far back as I can remember, I’ve had the mindset that time is precious so why waste it? Sugar-coating something or not being honest until it surfaces is to me, SUCH A WASTE OF TIME.

And one thing I’m not willing to do is waste my time. I don’t know how much of it I have, so every second is going to be worth it.

Back to straight-forwardness always coming naturally to me… One story that comes to mind is when I was 22 and a cop bothered me about smoking a cigarette in broad daylight in a place smoking was allowed. I couldn’t help but ask him if he thought he was protecting and serving by carding someone minding their own business and enjoying a cigarette before work when people were getting raped and molested? To his credit, he smiled and told me about “the problem” of underage smoking.

When I see people lie or sugarcoat things so as not “to offend” or “be rude”, I can’t help but wonder, isn’t it more rude not to tell the truth? Why let someone feel good based on a lie or puffery? Can they really feel good about that? And when did one person’s opinion need to be politically correct or adhere to another’s set of rules to be valid?

Black and white is my language. If I have to decode what you are trying to say, chances are our friendship will remain on the surface. And God forbid if I have to call you out on what you’re pretending not to say, all hell will break loose and somehow I become the devil… It perplexes me….

But to show that this is not one-sided, allow me two honest-to-God true stories:

At 18, a college freshman, I was dating a boy in my dorm who I had a major crush on. I had broken up with my high school boyfriend two months prior – I had been with him for three years. Dating wasn’t something I was great at, not to mention my HS boyfriend was the popular senior and I was the loner sophomore.

A few weeks into dating this new boy at my college dorm, I get upset for some reason and get jealous and wanted him to sweep me off my feet. The girl across the hall from me, who had become a friend of mine as much as one could in a few weeks, told me some things: “Wake up, girl. You’re not his fucking girlfriend, so don’t act like it. You’re being jealous and needy. You need to go with it. Grow up.”

She nailed it. I’ve loved her since and she’s a big part of my life now, a girl I love and will adore forever.

At 20, a girl I met at my sorority came over to my boyfriend’s house (the boy mentioned above, whom I ended up dating for four years) and while we were hanging out, I said something stupid, like I asked where something was and it was right in front of me. This girl, who barely knew me, said, “Open your eyes fuck head.”

I fell in love with her. So blunt. So true. I laughed out loud.

These two girls are my best friends in the whole world and have been, going on twenty years now.

My point is with all this is – I love bluntness. Maybe it’s not for everyone but it’s for me and as long as it’s the truth and nothing but, why do I keep coming across people who give me shit for it?

One of my favorite authors/philosophers, Jean Paul Sartre, once said, “Hell is other people.”

In my twenties, I thought he was on to something.

In my thirties, I think it’s sad.

But as I near being forty, I realize hell is other people only if we let them be.

My sister told me that being blunt is part of my personality but with it comes the understanding that people will react as they see fit.

Great point.

Being blunt is a choice and perhaps a way to live a more honest life. Try it…..

 

 

Start Small, Grow Big

I’ve been thinking lately about the difficult things. We as humans all face challenges, some much larger than others, quite a few of our doing and many in the face of adversity, but that’s where we define ourselves really, if you think about it…

I’ve made short films for the past ten years. Most have played the festival circuit, a couple have distribution, but I have yet to hit my stride and earn a living from filmmaking. I’m far from giving up though. That simply won’t happen but my philosophy is to see things as they are and take it from there.

At the beginning of this year, frustrated with the lack of securing the budget to get my first feature film produced, I decided to take the script I wrote (along with a wonderful contributor) and turn it into a book. I haven’t written about it in this blog yet because then it becomes real. Out there. So please, hold me accountable for it.

Allow me to add some facts. I adore books. I’ve read them professionally as a paid book analyst for film production companies and writers for a decade now and read about one book a month for pleasure. I’ll pretty much read anything, though I must admit I’m not too into comics and graphic novels but I have given them a try to be fair.

Once I started writing this book, I started to wonder what took me so long to get here.

But then, who cares? I’m here now.

As I prepare Part I of my book to give to my father, who always provides me with an honest, critical analysis of my work, I can’t help but think about my path here.

I began telling stories when I was seven, filling my neighbor friend’s ears with my thoughts. I then wrote my first script at 12, a tv show titled “Roommates” (true story, I called The Roseanne production office, posed as a teenager “doing a homework assignment and would love a real script to see” and asked for a script, which they sent and I studied for days but I digress…) and then went on to college, unfortunately not as a straight-A student by any means. In fact, I was on academic probation. Twice.

The one class I excelled in happened to be Screenwriting 101. A bunch of my friends hated the teacher and thought he was difficult and I kid you not, some were even getting Ds and failing, unlike any of their other classes. They bitched about him constantly. I, however, found the class to be the easiest one on my schedule. I would often do the assignments the night before and get A’s on them. At the end of the semester, I gave the professor a postcard so he could send me my grade and when I got it in the mail, I smiled. It read, “Are you kidding me? Tops in the class. A++++!!! Have a great summer.”

I channel that when I start to doubt myself.

It’s time for me to write the book I’ve been thinking about for perhaps all my life.

So here I go…

Please wish me luck!!

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
-Benjamin Franklin

Two Strangers

I was waiting in line at a store today when I heard a lady behind me talk loudly to the gentleman she was with. She smiled at a child who walked by with a giant painted decorative Easter egg and exclaimed, “That’s a big egg!”

She caused a few stares. And her clothes made one wonder if she lived on the street. The gentleman she was with answered her questions calmly as she looked in awe at the candy selection near checkout. Her face looked like a face of a forty-year old but her behavior was like that of a ten-year old.

“Oh! Can we go to Best Buy after this?” she asked the person she was with.

He looked into their cart and said maybe they should’t today with all this already. He said they wouldn’t have much room. She agreed and moved on to checking out the chewing gum.

“Your purse is open.”

I turned and realized she was talking to me.

“Oh, thank you! I didn’t realize,” I replied, zipping up my purse pocket.

“You know, you’ve got to be careful. People can get near you and take something and you don’t even know it!” she said, warning me.

“Yes, you’re right. Thanks again. I appreciate it,” I said, smiling at both her and the man she was with. He just stared at me before she continued.

“The other day, someone had some money on a table and another person tried to take it. I saw it and I told him not to do it.”

“Really?” I asked, as the line moved up.

“Oh yeah. He tried to grab it when she wasn’t looking. And you know what?”

“What?” I said, getting into her story.

“He called me stupid.”

“What? Why on Earth…”

“I know. He said I was stupid for stopping him.”

I looked straight into her dark black eyes and said, “You know what? You are not stupid for stopping someone from stealing. In fact, you are very smart. What you did was great. He’s the one who is stupid.”

She looked at me and gave me the biggest smile, feeling very proud.

“Yeah. He’s stupid. Not me.”

My husband, who was shopping in a store next door, came in and asked for the credit card because he forgot his wallet. I quickly handed it to him so he could get back to the register.

When he left, my new friend asked me, “Is that your brother?”

I laughed. “No. That was my husband.”

She looked at me in awe and exclaimed, “No way, you’re too young to be married.”

I’m not going to lie. As I near forty, comments like this one put a smile on my face.

It was my turn for the next register. As I left the line, I told my new friend to have a great day.

“You too!” she said.

Just two strangers, making each other feel good.