20 years ago, this month, I had my first internship in the film industry. Twenty. Years. Ago. For what it’s worth, I wanted to put that journey down into words because I have no idea what to make of this amount of time and what I’ve been able and unable to do within it, but I recognize it as a milestone and an accomplishment.
When I entered Oberlin College in 1995 – still seventeen years old – I thought I would be a math and dance double major because I loved them both but I had NO IDEA what kind of a career I could make or would want other than the fact that I didn’t want an “office job” and I had a strong anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment streak coupled with a desire to do something “important.” At the time, Oberlin’s recruiting posters boasted a picture of the globe and their tagline “Think one person can change the world? So do we.” And so that was what I was there to do, without any form to that desire.
I recently went home to DC to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. It had only been a year since my last visit but overall my trips back to DC have grown infrequent in the last few years. For some reason, this visit felt different. Everything FELT different. And everywhere that I turned I not only saw what was in front of me coupled with visions from memory, but visions of what could have been. Visions from my past dreams of what I thought my future would look like overlaid on the reality of that now-future.
My dad and I rode bikes down to the Potomac River and stopped off at a stark wintery sight at Fletcher’s Boathouse. The boarded up rental house. The beached row boats. All useless and waiting to be used. Hibernating but empty. And this metal ball chained to a tree. Everything felt like a metaphor.
Maybe this is what a mid-life crisis looks like for a writer/filmmaker? I’m constantly envisioning lives, characters, scenarios. Everywhere I look is a possible story or scene. As I walked past the Smithsonian castle on the way to the Hirshhorn, I looked down the walkway with all the flowers and vaguely remembered a time I had walked through and sat there and that merged with a dream/thought I had had years ago when I envisioned what my life would be like to live and work in DC. In my younger years, I had done research work down at the Library of Congress and I used to think about what life would be like to live on Capitol Hill and go to the Eastern Market. And suddenly, I was seeing the future that never was, like my own Sliding Doors movie.
I’ve had the benefit of living and visiting in many different places all over the country and abroad and each has a multitude of dream-mes walking around somewhere in the ether, but the emotional impact felt different in the place where I grew up. The sense of loss greater, and I’ve been thinking about what that actually means to me.
Twenty years ago, I had the extraordinary privilege of meeting the screenwriter William Goldman, who passed away today. His death reminded me of the generosity and respect he afforded a completely green writer and left me with that sense of loss from what could have been.
The latest in my collaboration with Houston Riot Grrrl band Giant Kitty, the music video I directed for “Disorder Girl” has premiered! It deals with a difficult topic – domestic violence – and the mental prison that so often goes along with it. Thanks to Houston Press premiered the video with a short write-up!
Thank you to everyone who participated in the project:
And thank you to Anna Tran, Kristin Massa, and Darla Doshier for their work on the production.
It has been a busy busy busy busy spring semester. I’m teaching extra courses in Filmmaking at Houston Community College and guest teaching screenwriting again at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts. My short film ACID TEST has continued to have an incredible run in film festivals and its adaptation into a feature film is moving forward with an upcoming table read of the script!
I’ve had a blog post about female anger rattling around in my brain with all the recent developments in the industry and political news, but it’ll have to wait until I’ve got more room in my brain.
In the meantime, stay up-to-date at acidtestfilm.com or on social media!
It’s been a whirlwind couple of months working on the Seed&Spark crowdfunding campaign to develop ACID TEST into a feature film while also screening the short in festivals like BendFilm in Oregon and the recent Austin Film Festival!
Crowdfunding for the second time around was a whole new adventure, especially given that Hurricane Harvey (and other natural disasters) hit all in the same timeframe. I was invited to contribute a guest blog on Seed&Spark about my experience. Read it here!
As we move into the holiday season, I’m looking forward to diving deep into the feature script and workshopping it in the New Year with my actors.
And make sure you check out ACID TEST’s website for all the latest info on the festivals and reviews!
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.