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  • Writer's pictureJenny Waldo

20 Year Anniversary

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

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 had come from the Washington, DC area where I’d been in public school my entire life until I fell in with the “wrong crowd” so my parents sent me to private school at Sidwell Friends for the last 3 years of high school during the Clinton years when Chelsea attended. It was a wild time, one for a different blog post, but Sidwell was able to pull me out of my nonsense – at least academically – and inspire a love of learning, an internal drive to produce content, and with its Quaker silent worship, it gave me some much-needed peace within my turbulent teenage mind. It was a world of privilege and ambition and when it came time to look at colleges, no one was looking at anything other than the top schools in the US and barely anyone was staying in the DC area for college, which is how I found myself at a top-25 liberal arts college 45 minutes outside of Cleveland, OH in a tiny – TINY – town with no car in the days when cell phones and wifi were nonexistent.

After nearly failing my post-Calculus math class and not liking the Dance Department at Oberlin, I needed to change my degree plans. So I opened up the (paper) catalogue, trying to find a department that had enough classes that caught my interest and could give me the credit hours needed to graduate and decided I would now be an English major. I was also pursuing pre-med requirements because I had loved the movie Gross Anatomy and I was attracted to the stress and challenge of a degree and career in medicine.

As my Math/Dance-now-English/Pre-Med plans showcase, I was pulled between two strengths: the analytical and the creative. I’d aways been involved in both, inspired by both, and my biggest struggle with answering the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was the fact that I didn’t want to pursue a career that only engaged in half my interests. My strongest grades academically were math and science but I’d grown up dancing in a professional ballet company, playing piano, and doing black-and-white photography (read more about adventures in photography HERE), and I wrote and journaled, obsessed with word choice and style of writing. While I hadn’t ever been the strongest reader, hated it as a child in fact, Sidwell and my summer reading choices had forged a love of the written word. So what kind of job or career could I carve from that?

In my Film & Video page, I summarize how a sophomore English class incorporated film theory in our reading material and the lightbulb in my brain exploded. I’d grown up watching movies, obsessed with television shows, MTV, but I’d never thought to “read” the moving image for content, theme, structure the way I would the books I read or even a photograph I took. In another case of absolute contradictions in my life, I’d grown up watching the mainstream sci-fi movies my dad loved – Star Wars, Star Trek – as well as the Czech New Wave and other films of the 60’s that my Czech-born mother had loved before she emigrated from the country in 1969 – Closely Watched Trains, Firemen’s Ball, Blow Up, Red Desert. Imagine Darth Vader meets mimes playing tennis matches! I loved blockbuster popcorn movies as much as I loved arthouse foreign films. A favorite of mine in high school was Agnes Varda’s Vagabond.

That summer, instead of writing down a photograph image I had in my head, I thought about what the story might be behind that photograph – who was this character, where had she just been, where was she going, what was she feeling? It became my first attempt at a screenplay.

I spent my junior year abroad – the fall semester in London, the spring semester in Prague – and immersed myself in living life, exploring the world, pushing past my comfort zone,  but this idea of filmmaking had taken root and for the first time in my life, I had a direction to follow in pursuit of the future.

When I returned for senior year, I spent my winter term interning at Mandalay Pictures on the Paramount Lot. It was my first time on the west coast. I was staying with an Oberlin Alum who I’d never met. Every day was Christmas reading scripts, talking to people in the office, walking around the lot, getting free tickets to premieres, wandering around Los Angeles. During that time, a close family friend suddenly died. We’d been visiting her and her family over the holidays and the last thing I remember of her was her singing “Hooray for Hollywood” as we said our goodbyes – wishing me well in this new adventure. And now she was gone.

That was January 1999 – 20 years ago.

When I came back after that month-long internship to finish up my degree at Oberlin, this new direction I’d flirted with had only grown stronger. As I defended my Honors Thesis on viewer obsession, using my love of the movie Say Anything as the starting point, one of the reviewers asked me why I didn’t analyze the cinematography of the movie and how it contributed to my emotional involvement with the film. It was like a smack in the face. Not only did I need to analyze movies for their story, but I needed to consider the other factors that go into the experience – the cinematography, the editing, the sound, the music…There was more to learn and I was eager.

I moved out to Los Angeles 2 weeks after graduating Oberlin with honors. I bought my VERY FIRST CAR, found a sublet, brought my boyfriend, signed up for a summer course in Chemistry (continuing the pre-med flirtation) so my parents would support this adventure, and got my VERY FIRST CELL PHONE so that my parents could reach me. I figured that the people I’d met in January would help set me up with a job. But the person who had been the intern-coordinator no longer worked at Mandalay, and the assistants to the executives I had met changed, no one was returning my calls or emails, and I didn’t know anyone else. No one else. My boyfriend left to finish up his last year at Oberlin and as I signed a lease on an apartment in the UCLA area that I didn’t know how I’d be able to afford, I started to panic. PANIC. I didn’t know how to do this adulting thing and I was far far away from the people I could count on and I had no money.

I wonder what would have happened had I stayed. Found a job, outside of the industry, temped, whatever…and faced my anxiety.

But instead, I returned to Washington, DC, lived with my parents, and immediately found PAID WORK in the documentary/educational industry there. I had had research and corporate jobs during my college summers and I’d just been a student, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to do research for documentaries and along the way start learning some of the needs, skills, and jobs required for filmmaking. At the end of the day, we were still filming stuff and putting it together. It wasn’t Star Wars, but it was a start.

I remember talking with the crew members – technicians who felt pigeon-holed by their craft – and I worried that if I didn’t take charge and start pursuing a chosen direction in the field, my circumstances would start dictating my choices. (This was before the word “intentional” became popular for life choices.) I liked and respected documentaries, but they weren’t my passion and they weren’t my first choice. I needed to know more about filmmaking in general and I also desperately wanted to get out of DC. When my boyfriend graduated from Oberlin in 2000, I thought we could move up to New York City together because it A) wasn’t as far as LA, B) had a film industry, and C) had lots of friends. But after spending another summer driving up and back from DC and staying with friends, I was looking at making $25K per year in a very expensive city where you couldn’t find an apartment without guaranteeing $80K per year and it was difficult to couch-surf as a couple. We also didn’t love NYC the way our friends did. So I spent another year in DC working for local production companies and lucked out on finding one that was branching out into fictional feature films so I was able to get back to my Development roots and gain more experience as I applied to film schools to get me out of dodge and into the industry.

As I mention in the Film & Video page, I applied to several top masters programs in film and was rejected everywhere but USC and the London Film School. I’d only applied to USC because my father had suggested that I at least apply to the best school in the field (I also applied to NYU but was rejected) and I’d only applied to the London school because I loved London and wanted to live there again and I also loved Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies, Naked, Topsy-Turvy) and thought anywhere that he’d gone would be amazing. My two main bosses in the two years I was in DC had also been USC Cinematic Arts alums. In the face of making an actual decision, I wanted to think ahead to this ephemeral career I wanted to build and thought that being in LA, the center of the film industry, where I could start building a network of people while learning the craft, would be my best shot at one day finding work. As a non-citizen, I also wasn’t sure what I would do for work in the UK during or after the program and USC was bigger and better funded with more resources and the “name” to go along with it, so any job would be easier to attain.

My boyfriend decided to move to LA with me and the cruel irony is that this last-minute decision ended up with him entering USC at the same time on a FULL RIDE with a PAID STIPEND as a teaching assistant to pursue his Masters in Geology. It was April and he hadn’t even applied for the program, was simply inquiring about a job, and they rushed him through the process. So…for anyone still reading…SCIENCE PAYS BETTER THAN ART when it comes to education and most likely after too.

I spent the next three years with one foot in my MFA film studies and one foot in the industry itself, one foot still in documentaries and the other in fiction. I knew that film school was neither a guarantee for a job nor a necessity for a career in the film industry, but it was a vehicle that got me back to LA and opened doors. I got a work study job in the film department researching for Doe Mayer, Jed Dannenbaum, and Carroll Hodge, 3 faculty members writing a book on Creative Filmmaking, which was an honor and an education in itself. I also started interning in the Development department at the now-defunct Intermedia Films which had opened an LA branch off the success of its London-based films like Sliding Doors and went on to do films like Adaptation, The Wedding Planner, Terminator 3, and K19 – The Widowmaker while I was there. Eventually I found paid work as a Reader, writing Coverage for submitted material for a couple different production companies including National Geographic Films when they still had an LA office.

I gave myself 1 year to explore USC and LA and decide whether I wanted to continue going into significant debt to stay at USC or jump ship and work full-time in LA. By the end of my first year at USC, I’d won one of the three annual scholarships they give out for directing – overhearing one of my male counterparts console another who had clearly been “robbed” – and while things were going well with my industry contacts, I had a good thing going overall and partial payment for my second year at USC.

I was shocked to discover that all my years of photography didn’t mean that I was a good cinematographer. I could find my frame, but I couldn’t necessarily keep it as people and objects moved across it, especially if the camera was moving too. I also had been more of a photo-journalist, using available light, and knew nothing about how to properly light anything. I was pleasantly surprised that my years playing piano made me a good music editor, but I had no desire to go into sound – though I’d been told it was the most secure career path. As a writer/director, I wanted to edit as my “job” while I pursued my dreams, but as I went into my second year where students are required to crew on a thesis-level project that is funded by the department and produced under the purview of a course and faculty members for each production role, I found no one wanted me as an editor. All the upper-level directors already had editors in mind, but no one had producers. One of my friends in the program mentioned to someone that I had producing experience from my two years prior to USC and suddenly I was in demand. No one wanted to produce, I think because it wasn’t considered “creative.” Fearing being pigeon-holed, I resisted, but in the end decided to produce a documentary thesis film Unsyncables At Any Age.

Producing was exactly the job I needed to take to get over my lingering fears and insecurities over pursuing filmmaking. Taking the producing course with Lisa Leeman gave me the knowledge and the confidence to pick up the phone and ask for things, to make the production happen, instead of waiting for the work to come to me, instead of waiting to be picked. I didn’t need permission anymore.

There were people at USC who were on their fourth or fifth year there, taking 1-credit courses to finish their thesis films, and I didn’t want to do that. 3 years already seemed like a long time to be back in school for a career that didn’t require it, so I limited my course choices to pursue the thesis track. My only regrets were never taking an editing course with Norm Hollyn and the advanced directing course with Jeremy Kagan. Highlights were the Visual Aesthetics class with Bruce Block, the screenwriting course on sequence structure, and the relationships I developed with my professors like Doe and Jed, Liz Gill, and Wendy Apple – who hired me to research and eventually segment produce on the feature documentary The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing. I also built a solid group of friends and peers, producing the super 16mm thesis film The Fist of Iron Chef and another independent short before putting together my own 35mm thesis film Searching for Angels.

Shooting my thesis film was a highlight of its own. There was a pre-thesis film Jenny and a post-thesis film Jenny. It was definitely transformational in ways I’m not sure I can totally describe. It’s like testing yourself and your ideas without much of a safety net and getting through to the other side is not only a learning experience but it provides a confidence that in-class projects never can.

In pre-production, I don’t remember sleeping. At all. I would spend the entire day pulling together everything needed for the shoot, and every night, my brain would be racing with ideas and energy. It was the start of my long-lasting coping mechanism: binging on content. I had never seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer. By 2003, it was near the end of its reign and I was interested in the hype so I rented the DVD for each season at my local video store and would binge-watch episodes all night before passing out for a couple of hours and then getting up to do it all over again. Luckily, my boyfriend was in Australia on some Geology trip and I didn’t have time to get jealous because I WAS MAKING A MOVIE ON 35MM FILM! I had an amazing cast and crew and wonderful friends who supported and helped out. There were only 2 hiccups. One was the 1st AC hired who kept talking about how he’d turned down a lucrative AC gig for MTV in order to do my project and was such a diva on set – slowing us down, being disrespectful – that I ended up firing him. The other was my post-sound guy who asked for money once he had started working on the project, held my hard drives of the footage hostage, and when he showed me the “work” he had done it was beyond sub-par so…bye bye.

And then my expectations of the film were wildly unrealistic. I didn’t have much of a plan of attack for distributing the film because A) there were fewer resources for indie distribution, especially shorts back then, B) they don’t teach distribution or even festivals in film school, and C) I was relying on my brilliance and the USC brand to get me into Sundance. Or bust. If it wasn’t Sundance, it would be nothing; so when I didn’t get accepted to Sundance, I didn’t apply anywhere else. And that is probably one of my biggest regrets from film school.

I’m always wondering whether I did enough, made enough out of each opportunity, and I know that I could have done much more during my time in LA and at USC. I could have worked on more projects, built my network more. I’ve always been selective with what I worked on and who I worked with and there were many people I wanted to work with and never had the opportunity to for one reason or another. The social aspects of the film industry are wily and hard to navigate. And the partying…leads to many questionable choices, especially if there’s a power dynamic. In some ways, having a boyfriend who wasn’t in the industry helped me with a work-life balance and in some ways kept me from fully engaging. The same was true with my internships and part-time work – I didn’t place as much value on my peer network as I did on the people I thought could get me a job. But eventually, your peers become the people who can hire you.

I ended up in a very strange situation where I was promised a job to replace someone who didn’t know that they were getting fired. Everyone else in the office knew that this person was getting fired, and everyone knew I was supposed to take the job after. Months went by in this weird limbo and it did not feel good. But it was the opportunity I’d been working towards for over a year and it was the best option I had. By the time winter break rolled around, though, nothing had changed and I didn’t trust the executive who promised that “great things were coming” and another contact had put me in touch with a woman newly hired by one of the studios to head up their Story Department (the studio version of Development) who needed an assistant. I was hired immediately and said my goodbyes to the other company. But this new boss of mine was stressed from trying to fix a struggling studio’s project lineup and we ended up not being a good professional match. It was one of those iconic industry relationships where the assistant gets screamed at all the time, questioned, belittled and by the end of my first week I was fired. FIRED! I was blindsided by how badly things went over such a short period of time. Literally, stunned. I know I made mistakes, but after working for a lot of different and difficult people in a variety of jobs, I know it was really her and not me.

Still, it was a psychological blow.

I’d been carefully cultivating and evaluating each step I was taking, each choice, and I ended up with nothing. I couldn’t go back to my previous company and the shock of getting fired after a whirlwind week with a psychotic boss left me adrift. There were things that needed to get done – my thesis film was in post and I was planning my July wedding. So while temping and watching too much television and trying not to sink into a deep depression, I finished my film, produced my friend’s 35mm thesis film Pebbles, and planned to get married in July.

Right before graduation, my soon-to-be-husband got a job with Shell Oil and let me in on a little secret: he was in serious credit card debt from graduate school. Even though he had no tuition to pay, his stipend didn’t cover housing and other school/food/living expenses and while we weren’t frivolous, LA isn’t cheap, and we were enjoying our time there. I wish wish wish, if I could go back, that I could hit pause on this moment – get some therapy, get some couples counseling, put a hold on the wedding, and think about what I wanted to do professionally and personally after 3 years of hard work at USC and in LA. But after getting fired by the crazy lady, I wasn’t in the best head space and I liked finishing my plans, so marriage in July was it and then I would stay in LA to look for work and figure all that other stuff out while my husband would go to New Orleans to try out this Oil and Gas life.

And then I got pregnant on the honeymoon. Stupid hormones! Stupid mindset! Stupid love! If you ever want to throw a bomb on your life, take a tenuous and confusing situation and add a baby.

How could I look for production work knowing in 9 months I’d be having a baby? How could I have a baby at this moment when everything I’d been working towards was about to become a reality? No one has babies in the industry. People treat their dogs like their infants and I have literally spent an afternoon with a friend at a cafe – me holding my newborn and my friend’s dog at her feet – and every passer-by made a coo-ing comment TO THE DOG and ignored my baby. True story.

And then there was the credit card debt, my school loans for USC…

I’d learned a lot about filmmaking, but not enough about life itself. And life was about to kick me in the ass many times over for the next seven years. My year in New Orleans, pregnant and then with a newborn, is worth its own post. I did zero filmmaking other than pretending to all my LA contacts that I hadn’t left at all, freaking out that my thesis film didn’t get into Sundance and not knowing what else to do. I felt like I had a split personality: one personality that was still pursuing my film career in LA, the other as an expectant mom and newlywed in a new city with a lot of debt to pay off. After my son was just born, I screened my thesis with other USC thesis films at the DGA. The DGA!!! After my Sundance rejection, this was my next big hope to getting representation and getting my foothold in the industry.

The day of the DGA screening, I drove from Marina Del Rey (where I was staying with my in-laws) to West Hollywood for the tech check then back to Marina Del Rey to nurse my newborn because he didn’t take a bottle or formula and then back to West Hollywood for the actual screening! That’s almost 6 hours in the car for the 2 round-trips!

Only…nothing happened after the DGA screening. This is not uncommon. We can’t all be outliers. Very few get those out-of-this-world opportunities and many are worthy. And there are many not worthy who just get ridiculously lucky. And what I have seen over the years is that even those who got these amazing opportunities…if you weren’t white or male, it didn’t necessarily mean much. A woman I met recently, Maria Giese, who’s interviewed for the documentary This Changes Everything, was one of these film school darlings, who got representation and a feature film – with STAR talent – that was selected for Cannes (fucking Cannes!)…watched her career get sidelined by sexist hiring practices and no one willing to change the system.

It’s stories like those that make me somewhat grateful I got out of LA before it broke me.

And then Hurricane Katrina hit and we ended up in Houston. More on hurricanes later.

It wasn’t all bad, there were some wonderful moments, but the depression that had started with getting fired turned into a full-fledged identity crisis as I found myself a stay-at-home mom to two young children in the far outskirts suburbs of suburbs of Houston – a city that had little filmmaking going on, and while it had some really interesting elements, it was visually very very ugly. Sorry Houston. There are people who hate Los Angeles, hate the urban sprawl, the traffic, the pretension…the worst that it has to offer. But even when you’re stuck on the highways, the scenery around you is interesting. It tells a story. Some is iconic – like the Hollywood sign, or the Canyons/Hills. There is very little that’s aesthetically pleasing in Houston. Very little interesting architecture, very little natural beauty (in the city), and zero topography.

I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences and opportunities in my life and I’ve grown to recognize the privilege I’ve benefitted from, and this is not a post about my own personal traumas. There were many reasons why I struggled with adulting ranging from a soon-to-be crippling anxiety, family, environment, culture, genetics…but Houston ushered in the birth of my full-realized adult self. I couldn’t run away; I couldn’t go back home to my parents. I mean, I could…but I was tired of that version of myself. The version that expected to get into Sundance and couldn’t deal with the rejection. The version that felt traumatized and victimized, even by my own choices.

I hated Houston for seven years. During that time, I hunkered down and put one foot in front of the other. I joined the board for Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP), a now-41-year-old non-profit dedicated to supporting independent filmmakers and films. I offered my filmmaking skills to a non-profit educating families on pregnancy and parenting options, creating the documentary Everything Begins At B.I.R.T.H. to help with their outreach. I produced 13 similar outreach videos for a local Montessori school that my son went to. I’d film in the various classrooms while a hired babysitter would watch my infant daughter – on site – because I was still nursing and she also didn’t take a bottle or formula. So I’d take production breaks to nurse her and then go back to filming interviews and b-roll of students learning. 13 videos over a year span.

And I felt like a huge failure. I didn’t know how this was all going to come together into anything resembling a career let alone the career I had once thought I was going to have. I remember talking to a friend of mine from USC who DID have a film go to Sundance and she said she felt like a failure because she didn’t have children, and I felt like a failure because I didn’t have a film go to Sundance. It seems that we can’t win, at least not without readjusting what “success” meant.

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to make films anymore. With two little kids, it was a whole lot of work with unreasonable hours for a risky if not usually unrewarding venture. On a desperate whim to do something creative that I could do at home with the kids, I wrote a novel as part of the NaNoWriMo novel-writing challenge that takes place in November and found my inspiration again. I’d been terrified. I didn’t think I could write 50,000 words in 30 days, but I had an idea and I prepped and come Day 1, I’d written over 11,000 words. I’d end up at over 80,000 by Day 16 when I finished the book.

I wasn’t willing to completely abandon filmmaking yet. I’d gone into approximately $80K in debt going to the best filmmaking school in the country using loans I would be paying off until I was over 60 years old. I may have felt like a failure, but I hadn’t given up.

My friend and Program Coordinator for SWAMP, Michelle Mower, was putting together her debut feature film The Preacher’s Daughter and as I helped her in any way that I could, she helped produce a short film experiment for me. An experiment to see if I still liked filmmaking. I honestly expected to hate going into production again. I’d been fairly burned out doing a video each month with a nursing infant at home during the Montessori work. But documentary had always been work for me. Fiction was my passion. So I wrote a short film that I thought would be easy to do. I wanted to collaborate with my close friend from Oberlin, the actress Hannah Cabell, so she came in from NYC for a 2-person film about sisters going through a shift in their relationship over the course of a morning jog. Michelle helped find a crew willing to work for free and we shot over 3 days.

Why did I think that filming 2 people TALKING WHILE RUNNING IN THE OUTSIDE would be easy?  The first day was bright and sunny, by the third day it was stormy and overcast. Luckily, we were shooting in sequence and the dramatic lighting worked with the narrative arc. Sound sound sound…ugh.

But I got through production and…I loved it. Loved it! I felt right, in my place, and I wasn’t going to walk away again. Even when it took me almost 3 years to complete it because of technical difficulties. I didn’t expect Sundance. That wasn’t the purpose of the project. And I didn’t need it.

Unfortunately…life was kicking me again as my marriage fell apart and I got a divorce. I tried to stay positive and realistic. I needed to adult…hard. The reality of finding a full-time job in film in Houston was slim. I interviewed for a couple but didn’t get either. I figured it was my time to get back to LA, where I could get a job. Where I had friends. Where I could reclaim some sense of identity. Where my time stuck in traffic would at least be more aesthetically pleasing.

I spent a week in March out in LA meeting with friends, interviewing, scoping things out. Checking out schools and apartment options. By the time I was flying out, my soon-to-be-ex told me he had taken a job in Long Beach and would be leaving Houston at the end of April. We had a house to sell. The housing market, while not as horrific as other places in the US, was suffering after the bubble burst. We had 2 young kids. While being in LA would technically be close enough to Long Beach to have some kind of joint custody, that was clearly not a top priority for my ex. While being in LA would get me back into the industry, the reality of office work was a 10-12 hour day with an LA-sized commute. No schools had after-school programs open past 6pm that I found, so I’d have to hire a nanny (that I couldn’t afford in an already expensive town). And then there was the socializing – the after-dinner drinks. And the Weekend Reads. And the movie going.

I didn’t think I’d ever see my kids. And as a single parent who was bearing 100% of the parenting responsibility at the moment, that was not something I was willing to do. My kids needed at least one of their parents. They were barely 4 and 6.

I tabled the decision to focus on the necessities of adulthood and in the process discovered all the things that I had going for me in this city that I thought I hated. I had friends I could count on. Fall apart with if needed. Go out and have fun with. My kids had friends, a good school, a safe place to live. It was affordable and family friendly. I’d met tons of people through SWAMP, people I respected, people I could count on. I found full-time work, from home, through my father’s company, and when Michelle Mower decided to leave SWAMP to pursue filmmaking full-time, I found part-time work at SWAMP as their new Program Coordinator. Eventually, I started teaching at Houston Community College, where I am now a full-time faculty member in their Filmmaking Department. Things also settled with my ex and things are good with the kids and the co-parenting. I eventually remarried in a Brady Bunch moment and have 2 step-kids who add to the crazy.

I feel like I’ve found a measure of success. And a large part of that is because I did a lot of work on that pesky anxiety and found inner happiness.

I produced a couple of local shorts – Next Exit and Meggan’s Journey which played festivals. Next Exit screened as part of the Cannes Short Film Corner, which brought the next light-bulb moment in my career. Watching the short films and other films screening at Cannes, I realized that I couldn’t play it safe anymore. All of those films, at the highest level, required some kind of risk. Blood in the water.

I left Cannes ready to focus on my own voice as a filmmaker.

To write and direct again.

To not do easy.

To not expect Sundance, to pursue all the festival options.

To say yes and be open.

I started with the short film Acid Test. And even when another devastating hurricane came through the city I lived in, it wasn’t going to kick me down. You can read more about it on my guest blog post at Seed&Spark. And I’m not just interested in my own career as a filmmaker. I’m dedicated to the Houston film community, to my students, to being part of changing the landscape in front of and behind the camera.

I wonder what the next 20 years will bring.

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