MM: Walking Away

Today was my last day at work for the Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) as their Program Coordinator.  It’s the first job I’ve ever quit without some other reason like “I’m moving to another state.”  Moreover, unlike my predecessor in the job, Michelle Mower, who left the position because she was pursuing full-time filmmaking, I’m leaving for a full-time job that’s not in my field.  It’s the proverbial day-job and I guess I had hoped that through my work at SWAMP I would eventually be able to leave the day-job behind.

But life happens, schedules change, finances shift, and I couldn’t work at SWAMP and work my flexi day job and take care of things like…my kids. It was too much.  And what was going down the drain?  My creative projects: my writing, my films.

So I’m walking away from a job in my field that I enjoyed having, that put me in touch with the larger filmmaking community and taking a risk that I will balance my life and focus once again on my own creative juices.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple of years fostering everyone else’s.  And I enjoy that immensely, but I also need to foster myself.

Truth be told: I’m scared.  It’s all on me, no hiding anymore.  Time to see if I can make things happen.  I don’t expect overnight inspiration.  I’m looking for day-in, day-out work building toward something I can be proud of.

Thanks to SWAMP for the support and inspiration I needed these last 7 years.  Not just the 2 I worked as Program Coordinator, but the 5 I was a Board Member.

I never really thought I’d make this kind of decision.  It’s kind of like when I decided not to move back to Los Angeles after my divorce.  It was the right decision, it was the necessary decision, but it was also just a bit bittersweet.

WW: Ode

I really do love smoking
Though I no longer do
Pre-packed or loose
Different rituals
Same love

Firm, edged, rectangular body
Smacking against the heel of my palm
Crinkle crinkle the plastic unwraps
And – oh!
The lovely indent at the tip

Spongy filter pressed against lips
Flick flick the flint sparks
Light burns yellow to orange
A cherry alive
Going up in smoke

Rolling is
The epitome
The dedication
The perfection

Not too much
Not too little
Just right
The moist strands pulling across
There’s no smacking here

Rolling is

Paper sticks to my lips
The end crushes beneath them
Flick flick the flint sparks
Smoke and sting
The bitter syrupy taste

Gone too quickly
Only to begin again
I miss you my love
But I know you would only break my heart

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FF: The Human Eye

foto_fridaySometimes cameras fail us.  The human eye is a wonder.  We can see things clearly and at the correct “aperture” despite multiple differences in stops, color temperature.  Cameras can create amazing effects, but every once in a while, no matter how hard I try, I cannot replicate what I see with my human eye.  Above is a picture from inside a log house in Wyoming.  I was stunned by the light that day.  The warmth of the wood, coloring the inside.  I could see everything inside clearly, fully lit by the daylight.  Then, through the windows, I could see the beautiful expanse of land, the house down the street, the mountains, the sky.  I wanted to take a picture of it, capturing the balance between these two images as I saw it: the foreground of the interior and the background of the exterior.  But my camera would either overexpose the windows, blowing them out to white, or underexpose the interior, making it darker than it looked.

This happened again this morning as I walked the kids to school.  I was shooting into the sun, so I wasn’t surprised that the building and the kids were silhouetted, but I was surprised at how well I could see them.  How perfect the lighting.  It was as if I could “zoom” in with my eyes as I watched the kids walk up.  And my camera failed me.  kids_school

I am a very visual person.  What I see before me, every day, effects my mood, my thoughts, my actions, and my inspiration.  When I was a teenager, I had my camera with me always.  Nowadays, with smartphones, we always have our cameras with us, but back then, it was unusual to carry around a 35mm camera everywhere.   But I would see things on the street, in my daily life, and wish I had a camera.  I was constantly looking for the perfect shot to every moment.  In a way, it distanced me from being in the moment because I was always analyzing how I would capture it.  I would despair over forever losing a particular shot if I didn’t have my camera.  I relied on it to document life around me.

Today, I live in a city where there is not much visual aesthetic, but I have found the secret places of beauty.  More importantly, I embrace the moment and the images I’m seeing with my own eyes, not just through a lens.

WW: Writing Coverage

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 10.07.19 PMPeople often ask for sample Coverage.  It’s an employable skill in Los Angeles, and a great way for a writer to strengthen their own writing.  I worked for 3 years as a Reader in Los Angeles for various production companies and I’ve come up with the following information from that experience, which I taught at the Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) recently.  Writing Coverage is a ton of fun.  Good luck!

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MM: The Business of Filmmaking

movie_mondaysSince March/April of this year, I’ve been putting together the program for the 9th Annual Business of Film Conference presented by Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) and Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA).  As the Program Coordinator for SWAMP, I organize this event (contact speakers, create panel lineups, coordinate travel…etc), with the advisement of a small committee and the help of my Executive Director, Mary Lampe.  This past Friday and Saturday, all this hard work was realized.

There were about 75 attendees, 33 speakers, and 10 volunteers/staff.   And while Houston isn’t known for its filmmaking, there IS a lot of filmmaking going on and I know a ton of people who make films but were not at the Business of Film Conference.  I would love to know WHY.  I know that life can sometimes get in the way and people have other obligations.  But there just seems to be a disproportionate number of people who don’t come for other reasons.  So instead of hammering into people why they should come, I’ll explain what I get out of this particular Conference, and why it’s important for me to attend.

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On Selfies & Teenagers

Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about the so-called “selfie” pictures, especially when it comes to teenage girls.  Two moms of sons wrote contrasting blog posts about girls posting inappropriate pictures that they took of themselves in suggestive positions or with sexual innuendo.  The first mom who started this off commented that she was disappointed in the girls because she knew they were bright, well-rounded, beautiful girls and that these pictures degraded them and turned them into sexual objects that boys couldn’t “unsee” or ever stop thinking about.  She also went on to say that as soon as one of these inappropriate pictures showed up on her son’s Facebook newsfeed, her son would have to “unfriend” her because there were “no second chances.”  The second mom, in response, was concerned about some of the first mom’s attention to the girl’s photos that may have actually encouraged the son to view the girl sexually.  The second mom also questioned the true validity that the son would never view that girl as anything other than a sexual object.  And most importantly, the second mom also raised the point that in her own life, she has needed second, third, and really infinite chances to learn from and correct her mistakes and stumbling blocks throughout her life and encouraged the first mom to be more forgiving.   These two moms couch their posts in their Christian faith and support their different perspectives in that faith.

It reminded me of when I was thirteen and taking roll after roll of self-portraits with my 35mm camera.  I wanted to add my thoughts to the discussion, reflecting on my desire to take selfies, and as a mom to both a son and daughter (and step-mom to another son and daughter).

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