I'm finally ready to release the final version of Maudie to the world. It didn't get a whole lot of traction in the film festival circuit (although it showed multiple times at LA Women's International and won the audience award for Best Film in the category we showed in at San Luis Obispo International). I think there are several reasons for this, outside of the fact it's a little long to play before feature films and is a little imperfect in scope due to the fact we originally just set out to make a small film for The Germ. I never had the time and budget to get the pre-production exactly right, and definitely didn't have the support getting the post-production where I had hoped. I can't tell if it feels too heavy-handed to me in hindsight, or perhaps not heavy-handed enough. But, at it's core, I think the message is still pure of heart and relevant, even a few years later. Guess that's what happens when you use something classic like To Kill A Mockingbird as an inspiration. Regardless of content or lasting power, the process of making this film was a great learning experience for me as a director (and a producer, for that matter) and it marks the first time Kyle (my DP) and I did something together outside of commercial work. We've worked on multiple projects together since and I think our creative relationship has continued to blossom and develop to one where, as we both grow individually, we evolve as partners as well. (We worked a couple things in the past few months that should be out soon, in fact.) So many other people helped make this film possible, including cast members and crew who came out a year after the original footage was shot, and friends who helped provide location options, props, and other support. I am grateful to all of them, and can't express how good it felt to have a full crew of talented folks supporting me on this film, after spending many of my first film projects multi-tasking in several roles while the few friends I could convince to help out did the same.
Anyway, enjoy! And stay tuned. Something else should be poppin' up in the next month or so.
This story was mentioned in a book I am reading, so I took to the interwebs to see what it was all about. I don't remember hearing about it at the time. I didn't know Twitter was capable of such beauty.
Make sure you have kleenex on hand. It's staggeringly poignant and moving and heart-wrenching:
NPR's "Weekend Edition" host, Scott Simon. live tweets the final days of his mother's life, here.
I am studying tattoos as an art form, particularly how they relate to healing. If you have a tattoo in honor of a deceased love one, use tattoos as a healthier alternative to cutting or other self-inflicting pain acts, or just want to talk to me about how your tattoos have healed and evolved over time, please reach out. I'm also studying the historical context of tattoos, so if you'd like to speak why your ancestors are emphatically for or against them, I would be interested in hearing about that as well.
Happy to announce that Maudie won a jury award in it's category at San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. I had a great time at the original showing and Q and A. The audience members were wonderfully supportive and gave me lots of lovely feedback.
Tonight, Maudie shows tonight at 6:00 PM at the Women's International Film Festival in Los Angeles. Details are here.
I'm sitting in a bustling coffee shop overlooking the bay in Port Townsend, WA. My grad school residency starts today, and I'm nervous in a way I don't remember feeling back when I was seventeen and moving into the dorms at California Lutheran University. Back then I was so desperate for independence from my (lovingly) overbearing parents that I think excitement easily trumped any feelings of discomfort.
This is different somehow, though I know many people probably don't understand why I'm investing time, money, or energy into an MFA program that takes place primarily online. All I can say is my gut knows it's what I need right now. I am the type of creative who does best with loose structure. There is a massive appeal in the idea of deadlines and semesters and study plans packaged in a format I can ultimately micro-manage myself- especially since I have such a clear idea of what I want to study. Zora Neal Hurston wrote in Their Eyes Were Watching God, "There are years that ask questions and years that answer". I am seeking so many answers right now, on both personal and universal levels, that regardless of what career opportunities the piece of paper may or may not afford me upon graduation, taking the time to delve in and get the answers I'm seeking is well worth whatever price tag the process may require. I say all this with a deep understanding and appreciation for how lucky and privileged I am to even be in a position to choose what I want to do with the next few years of my life .
My art has always veered toward the political, even in my younger days of charity benefits and anti-war protests. My decision to study art explicitly as a transformative means through grief, to me, feels more revelatory, more specific, more necessary than any of the causes I've championed before. For lack of a better word, it feels like a calling. And because of that, getting started (though exhilarating) is terrifying.
The other major difference is I'm no longer young. At some point over the last 20 years I went from being a Miss to a Ma'am, though I don't remember how or when that happened. I look in the mirror and it's not necessarily that I see someone old staring back out at me. I see someone bone-tired, with emotional baggage evidenced in the permanent bags under her eyes and the bloated curves of her cheeks. College in my youth felt like those cliche graduation speeches- I was on the verge of opportunity, a whole lifetime of decisions at my feet. Now, on the brink of my 40's, the decision feels less hopeful and more crucial, like there is somehow more at stake if I end up being wrong. If my friend JJ were still alive, this is where he'd say, "Suck it up, buttercup. You're younger 'n me! You've got time." But last week, as I walked through the school aisle at Target, picking out composition notebooks and thumbing through folders and binders, I couldn't help but feel like I'm running out of time. That there's still so much I want to say and do and create and help others with that I really need to buckle down, once and for all, or I won't ever come close to getting it all out of me.
That being said, I'm going on a self-imposed break from Facebook for the semester. You may or may not see me back on there between breaks. I spend most of my time on Facebook writing out and deleting comments/posts about my frustration with the current administration and America's media spin against ethnic and poor people. I would use social media more as a political tool except it all seems so ultimately unproductive and frustrating whenever I do go that route, and yet to use it otherwise seems complicit in a way I am not comfortable with, either. So instead of the negative energy I feel it brings to my life literally most part of most days, I am going to see what happens when I block it all out. This does NOT mean that I will not stay informed of world events or not take to the street when necessary (like if Mueller gets fired), but every individual can only do so much and I truly believe my version of "being the light" I wish to see in the world will best be realized when I can create art without such distractions. So if you need me over the next few months you can contact me via email or via my phone number, which has been the same since I was 18.
One of the first things I'll be working on during grad school will be playing Allison Bechdel in Fun Home with StageWorks Fresno. I can't think of a more perfect project to apply to my studies. Not only because of the obvious themes of processing grief, but because she's a character I think will sit comfortably in my bones because of our similar journeys with frustrating parental relationships . I won't be on Facebook to market it, but stay informed about tickets here. It's the first time I've had a lead in a musical ever, so that's also new territory that is simultaneously exciting and scary.
I guess that's all I want to say for now. Except for one last story.
When I got off the plane and got in my rental car and started the gorgeous two hour drive from Seattle to Port Townsend, a radio playlist on my Spotify channel started inexplicably playing a run of songs I associate with my mother- Michigan by The Milk Carton Kids, Rivers and Roads by The Head and The Heart, Dearly Departed by Shakey Graves. And a few more. They just kept coming, one right after the other. It felt like she was sitting next to me in the car, like she would whenever I'd drive her to the beach or on other longer trips. Her seat leaned back, her feet on the dashboard, singing along to the sporadic lyrics she had memorized by heart.
It probably sounds cheesy to say, but it felt like she was giving me her blessing.
And then, an Avett Brothers song that I've heard a million times before but never really listened to, came on. For the first time, I heard the lyrics:
I went on the search for something real.
Traded what I know for how I feel.
But the ceiling and the walls collapsed
Upon the darkness I was trapped
And as the last of breath was drawn from me
The light broke in and brought me to my feet.
There's no fortune at the end of the road that has no end.
There's no returning to the spoils
Once you've spoiled the thought of them.
There's no falling back to sleep
Once you've wakened from the dream.
Now I'm rested and I'm ready
I'm rested and I'm ready
Yeah I'm rested and I'm ready
I'm rested and I'm ready
Yeah I'm rested and I'm ready
I'm rested and I'm ready
I'm ready to begin.