Recently, I was under mandatory evacuation here in the Houston area because of Hurricane Harvey. The thing is, I came to Houston as a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from New Orleans. This all felt very familiar, yet it’s also something that you never get used to. Knowing how bad it can be can even make everything worse. Read about my recent experience in the Washington Post here. It was an honor to be published in the newspaper I grew up reading as a DC native despite the painful subject matter.
Now that ACID TEST premiered in the film festival circuit (more news on upcoming screenings soon!), my thoughts are going to the “what’s next” question. Over the next two years as the short makes its rounds in the festivals and we look to distribution options on platforms such as Seed&Spark, I want to keep the work and efforts we all put in together going. So I’m crowdfunding to expand ACID TEST into a feature film!
Recently, Seed&Spark announced a “Hometown Heroes Rally” – an initiative where they’ve partnered with the Duplass brothers to help feature films find their audience, funds, and recognition. In order to qualify, filmmakers need to crowdfund for their scripted feature films over 30 days between September 12 and October 13 to raise at least $7500 and gain at least 500 followers. Finalists will pitch their projects to Mark and Jay Duplass for the chance to have them executive produce the film and up to $25,000 cash for production! The focus is on regional filmmaking and here in Houston, we’ve got that in spades. Texas is one of the chosen production areas, which makes sense since both brothers attended UT Austin.
I already have a draft of a feature adaptation of ACID TEST but it needs a lot of work. I jumped at the chance of raising development funds through this Hometown Heroes campaign.
In the midst of planning this crowdfunding campaign, Hurricane Harvey hit and I thought about cancelling it. How can I ask for money for a film when so many people need money just to survive? But I know Houston will recover, is already recovering, coming together in such an amazing way to help each other out. This campaign is one step toward bringing the larger film industry to Houston, creating jobs and opportunities, and I feel like if I cancel the campaign, I’m letting Harvey win.
I want this to be an opportunity for all of us. Incentives include film consultations and interviews with the heroes we have here in Houston. This is a Hometown Rally for Houston with an eye toward a stronger future.
My short film ACID TEST will be in competition at BendFilm Festival this October! So excited to attend, and it was great, welcome new in the midst of Hurricane Harvey when I was under mandatory evacuation. Luckily my house escaped flooding, but my heart goes out to everyone effected by Harvey and now Irma. Fingers crossed that Jose and any others keep their distance!
Read more at http://acidtestfilm.com!
I recently went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to view the Ron Mueck exhibit. As I walked in, there was a piece by another artist that consisted of an LED panel scrolling text like you might see in Times Square. I don’t know who the artist is or where the phrases showcased come from, but as I passed, the phrase “A MAN CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE A MOTHER” scrolled by and I had a multitude of visceral reactions that stuck with me as I went on to the Mueck exhibit.
So my short film ACID TEST premiered last Sunday as part of Literally Short Film Festival’s “Local & Fresh” Selection of Texas shorts and I think it went really really well. A short write-up on it is found on the film’s website blog and includes a post about our cast-crew-contributor screening that occurred the week before. So I thought I would use this opportunity to express the anxiety of launching into festival season.
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! As a filmmaker, it’s hard enough just to get your film off the ground and into production. Then it’s another beast to get it through post. Then you have this thing, this video file, that you want people to see and you look out into the vast ocean of content and opportunities and you realize you are but a molecule of H2O. And while getting your film picked by a festival is completely out of your hands, there’s all this strategizing and connection-making to get noticed, to get a waiver or a discount…
I feel like I’m in high school all over again trying to get noticed by the popular crowd. Trying to catch the eye of the kid I like. Strategizing how I’m going to lose my virginity. Do I just get it over with? Or do I wait for someone I love? And what will people think of me once I’ve done it?
ACID TEST has been selected to play at the Literally Short Film Festival here in Houston as part of their Local & Fresh selection of Texas shorts. We are honored and excited to launch our festival season by premiering at a festival where we can celebrate with our family, friends, contributors, and community at large. The Festival Director and fellow filmmaker friend Lorís Simón Salum is a supporter of ACID TEST and I’m so pleased to be included in a festival that celebrates its Mexican roots since the mother character in ACID TEST is Mexican-American.
Making movies is telling a story through pictures, performances, words, and sounds. I began this journey into movie-making through visuals first when my father taught me how to develop photographs when I was in 1st grade. No, before that, I started ballet like many pre-schoolers and started learning about physical movement and performance timed to sound. Eventually, I began writing and falling in love with the written word. I would rewrite and rewrite letters to pen-pals until they were perfectly worded and that the words fell on the page in a visually interesting/impactful way. I began taking piano lessons.
But learning all these techniques does not give you story. For story you have to live. You have to understand, or at least seek understanding. You have to engage in relationships and the world around you, expand what you know and try to look through another’s eyes…It’s a never-ending quest to find story, to write story, to tell story because you are constantly learning and experiencing and framing…
Add to all that the variables of performance, location, crew, equipment, luck, and making movies becomes a miraculous feat when one is completed. A study in controlled chaos. You have to tell a story using the visuals you capture, supported by the sounds you captured and/or design.
So here is a story of how I started discovering my eye.
ACID TEST got the green light on Seed&Spark meaning we received the funds raised in April to get us through post-production. More to come!
Thank you to everyone who contributed and followed, tweeted and posted. We couldn’t have done it without you!
And if you want to support ACID TEST but didn’t get a chance to during our Seed&Spark campaign, you can still make a tax-deductible donation through our fiscal sponsor SWAMP!
So proud and excited to share the news that the band Giant Kitty, featured in my short film ACID TEST, asked me to direct their music video for the title song of their debut album “This Stupid Stuff.” The song is about microaggressions in our language and actions today that perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices in our world. The lead singer came up with the concept, which I formalized and structured for shooting/editing purposes.
“The new video, directed by Jenny Waldo, is one of those combination concept and performance videos that’s a throwback to the ’80s, when music videos had their own dedicated television station and the politics of hate weren’t as overt as they are now. With the clever use of the most basic of props, sticky notes and a Sharpie, interwoven with footage of the band performing the tune on stage, ‘The Stupid Stuff’ exposes the absurdity of the politics of hate and fear and its reliance on stereotypes and labels to feed into the ignorance and prejudices that adversely influence your actions and interactions with others.” — Examiner.com