Beggar Girl Goes to Washington

The state of Washington, that is.

I am excited to announce, after a great reception on the east coast at the Garden State Film Festival in New Jersey, Beggar Girl has been invited to screen at the 11th Annual Rainier Independent Film Festival!

RIFF-Logo-E-2She is certainly the traveler traveling from coast to coast!

Now, the decision whether to book a flight, figure out my travel and lodging, decide what to pack, and attend the festival, or whether to not spend the money and time and have a garage sale that weekend.

It is common among filmmakers to ‘talk amongst ourselves’ regarding the experiences we’ve had at film festivals. If you don’t know for sure whether to go to a festival, it is helpful to get some insight from someone who has attended previously.

I inquired with a filmmaking friend, whose wife and he have traveled quite a bit to different film festivals with several award-winning documentary films. I knew they’d screened at the Rainier festival.

He shared that he’d had a good experience and added that if I go, I should be sure to “check out the mountain.” Mount Rainier.

There are many different reasons to go to a film festival. Sometimes it is looking to connect with other creatives, maybe even to collaborate on future projects. There is always the dream of randomly being ‘discovered’ by a big producer whose car happened to have broken down in the city and they are looking for something to do while it is being repaired, so they stop by the fest, just in time for my film’s screening. (Just me? I think not.)

Sometimes you go to watch your film with an audience and see how they react to your story, your creation. I’ve known people who have gone to festivals simply to explore the town it is in. Or perhaps it is in a place near family or friends you can also visit.

Quite often, in the least, it is to get a fix. To stand on a stage in front of an audience and be recognized as a director.  Validation, something all creatives need.

During the months since making Beggar Girl, I’ve had a lot of personal struggles with health, (It isn’t fun when two different doctors tell you, “I’ve never had a patient with those symptoms.”). And I continue to grieve deeply over missing Daddy.

Plus, I’ve received some rejections from film festivals that hit kind of hard, which doesn’t help my frame of mind.

There are so many factors that can go into why a film isn’t accepted. If it is a short film, the length by even a couple of minutes can make the difference. Some festivals look to program similar films in blocks, so if your story doesn’t fit its theme, it’s out. There are festivals that want name talent. There are festivals that are afraid to program anything that isn’t family-friendly or that might actually raise an eyebrow. Or, maybe they just don’t like your movie.

Regardless, I’ve been on the rush-of-the-climb-then-drop-so-fast-it-makes-you-want-to-vomit roller coaster.

Some days I am able to confront the challenging forces and tell them, “Fine! I’m going to go write my next film no matter what you throw at me!” And off I go to a coffee shop with my laptop and allow myself to be swept away by the writing process and a skinny caramel macchiatto.

But some days, like today, I feel more weary. Defeated.

It was a tearful afternoon of looking at Daddy’s pictures and feeling overwhelmed. Feeling that he must be looking down on me feeling a bit frustrated, just as I am.

An afternoon of long hold times on the phone with the insurance company and the IRS (don’t worry, I got my taxes in on time, it is another issue).

Hours of ineffectually going through all the piles of papers and receipts and books and ‘stuff’ on the floor of my home office in an attempt to clear space so maybe I’ll finally start that exercise program I invested in weeks ago.

An afternoon that almost depleted the excitement of a northwestern festival honoring my film, basically saying, “We like your movie so much we want to share it with our audiences.”

Almost.

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Lyrics for Up To The Mountain courtesy of AZLyrics.com

When my friend said to make sure I “check out the mountain”, immediately Patty Griffin’s song, Up to the Mountain came to mind.

I’ve often found solace in Griffin’s music, particularly in the time since Daddy’s passing.

This was the inspiration I needed. Daddy was telling me to pick myself up off the floor, literally, and go up to the mountain.

“Sometimes I lay down
No more can I do
But then I go on again
Because you ask me to”

I’m told the audiences at Rainier are wonderful, and I look forward to sharing my story with them. And I’m excited for the journey to a beautiful place I’ve never been.

And as is necessary with every journey you have to find the courage to take, no matter where it leads me, I look forward to going up to the mountain.

BEGGAR GIRL World Premieres Today at Garden State Film Festival!

Congratulations to the entire crew, cast, and everyone else who supported the making of the movie, Beggar Girl! In just a few hours, she will have her World Premiere at the Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City.

Wow, what a crazy, wonderful trip it has been to get here.

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Beggar Girl in the Garden State Film Festival Program

Of course, when I say ‘here’, I mean for this dramatic film to get to this point where she will have her first public showing.

Geographically though, for me, I mean a different here. See, I am at a film festival, but not in Atlantic City for the screening of my film as I had planned.

A screw up in my airline ticket and a few other wrenches in my plans meant the Universe was telling me I wasn’t going to be in New Jersey for this special event.

At first I was absolutely crushed. I sobbed. I screamed. I threw things. The airline made a mistake, so I blamed them. I didn’t catch the mistake, so I blamed myself.

And by the point I knew, flights were sold out, or so ridiculously priced. I thought about it though. I thought about spending money I don’t have. But I knew.

Somehow, as much as I resisted and fought to go, I knew I wasn’t intended to put myself into that kind of debt, which, on top of hiking up my credit card, would mean missing days at my day job.

Incredibly disappointed I would not be at what looks like a fantastic festival to share the first screening of my film with Kenneth Wajda (writer, cinematographer, and editor of Beggar Girl) and Malena Lubbert, a talented, young actress who is in the film, who are both in attendance, I had to find a release for the tension and sadness that was in me.

“Okay, Universe. If not there, then where? Where am I supposed to be this weekend?!? If I can’t be at this unique occasion of a premiere to see the film on a big screen with an audience, where do you want me? Tell me!!!”

I eventually stopped screaming, let the tears out, and then gave up. I was miserable.

And, of course, a day later when I let myself breathe, then I was calmly, quietly, led to where I am right now. Sitting at a coffee shop two and a half hours from home, where the Vail Film Festival is going on.

The focus at Vail’s festival this year is on on women filmmakers, and women’s stories. Which is why it was a bit of a let down that Beggar Girl wasn’t accepted.

But, you know what? The town is filled with the wonderful energy of women whose movies are screening. Some premieres, some movies that have made their mark at other festivals too.

And where I can, I will attend some of the movies, and support those women and their stories. In the meantime, I get to sit here in a windowseat, the sun shining through, filmmakers with badges coming in to get their coffee drinks and chat about their showings (I’ve met a couple), and begin working on my next script. Something I know I wouldn’t be doing this weekend otherwise.

Thank you, Garden State Film Festival for programming the powerful drama that Beggar Girl is.  Regardless of not being there in person, I am so honored to have you host her World Premiere.

And hopefully I will have the opportunity to attend your festival with the project I am writing now.

 

 

Fasten Your Seatbelt – It’s International Women’s Day

It’s been a while. I know. I’ll admit, I’ve been in my cocoon. Occasionally I’ve come out for some daylight, and to go to work, and enjoy time with friends here and there.

popcornFor the most part, though, I’ve been in hiding.

I know I will continue missing Daddy every single day. However, I really thought after a year it would be better.

In some ways it might be and I don’t realize it. But I swear there are parts of me that feels the pain even more of him not being here than I did last year. Maybe some of the shock has worn off.

AllAboutEveOn top of heavy grieving, I’ve received several rejection emails from festivals for my newest short film, Beggar Girl. There are a number of factors that go into it why a film is not accepted, but when you make something you feel is so beautiful and that others have contributed their talents to, you want her to fly.

And getting a rejection email from a small women’s festival on International Women’s Day doesn’t feel like she’s getting her wings. She will though. She will travel and explore, in whatever way the Universe wants her to.

In the meantime, I have the perfect medicine–inspiration from Bette in All About Eve on the big screen.

Better fasten my seatbelt. Making movies and sharing your stories makes for a bumpy night.

Not the Betting Kind…Or Am I?

One film festival doesn’t define me.

Which is why it’s easy to get over not getting into a huge festival like Sundance.

However, a film can define a filmmaker. Which is why I’ve been on pins and needles since I began the submission process for my film, Beggar Girl. There is no way of knowing the who, what, and where of getting accepted to a festival.

Beggar Girl is not a lighthearted comedy. She is political. She is controversial. She doesn’t spoon-feed the audience. She challenges them.  Goes against conventional thought.  Maybe even makes some people mad, with what she has to say.

As proud as I am, I think my film is smarter than I am, and I like that about her.

But that makes waiting to hear from film festival programmers especially nerve-wracking.

The fruits of the creativity and efforts of so many talented and passionate people, she’s beautiful and strong. She can’t wait to find her audience and show off all their work.

But when you send your unique child, who doesn’t sit quietly in the corner, off into the world, you have no idea how the world is going to respond. And you hope that one teacher, one friend, one coach, one person at least, will understand their unique qualities. That one person will appreciate the things about them that others might not see.

And until that happens, you continue to take deep breaths as necessary, and believe that no matter how the others respond, your child will be okay.

I am excited to announce, my baby, our baby (for all those who helped bring her to life) has received her first acceptance, in what is hopefully just the beginning of her journey.

Beggar Girl will screen at the Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City, NJ, as part of their 2017 program.

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What that means? At least one person in the world, besides me, her mother, ‘gets’ her.

And though I didn’t create this film with an audience in mind–she mainly told me what she is and I helped make that happen–I am grateful to know that she does have an audience.

And if I were a betting woman, I’d bet she probably has more good news to come.

For now, thank you Garden State Film Festival.  We’re headed to Jersey!

A Hug and A Breath

One year, two days, a million thoughts of you, just as many tears, and a hug and a breath ago, you were still here.

Did you hear the soft voice then from across the room as her words wavered between a statement and a question to me?

My answer, I slowly nodded. Yes, I did know. Though I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t admitted it even to myself. But in those few minutes, yes, I knew.

You signaled me with each odd breath.

I’d never heard you breathe that way. Not easy sounding. But not a painful struggle for air. But different.

You were letting me know it was time.

And though she had good intentions and was trying to help me, I immediately came back over to be with you.

I told you over and over how much I love you. I reminded you one by one, by name, what you mean to each of your children and grandchildren and how much they love you, too.

I held your hands and gave you ‘Princie’ kisses. I gently squeezed you and lay my head on your chest rubbing against the softness of your favorite cozy pajamas.

Did you feel me hug you as your breathing changed even more?

I must have been preparing myself because everything tightened inside my lungs and my head, just as they are doing now. My eyes let go of the tears as they streamed down my cheeks and dropped onto your heart, absorbing into the flannel.

I slowed my breath so you would feel calmness. As much calm as I could muster. I squeezed your hands and whispered in your ear promises that I would be okay, wanting to believe it myself.

Assurances of the amazing man you were, and how well you took care of your family and how much you taught me and have always been there for me.

I love you, Daddy. I love you so much. You are the best Daddy ever. You are such a beautiful person. With that twinkle in your eyes you made a difference for everyone who was lucky to know you. With every hug you made things better. You were a good and genuine and loving part of this world.

I love you.

Slowly. Breathing slowly. Both of us unsure of what was happening, but knowing it was happening. You saw. Then you saw.

And for that one moment you and I hung there, just the two of us together, neither of us breathing.

 

Somehow the next moment came.

I love you, Daddy.

I know I promised I’d be okay. And you see from where you are that in many ways I am.

But sometimes it hurts so much that you aren’t here and I feel my breathing change like I’m trying to find you.

Trying to reach that instant we shared. That place between here and there where I could give you kisses and I could hear you breathing good-bye.

When Is It New Year In Heaven?

I wish I could leave 2016 with profound words.

But I don’t have it in me.

Though I don’t feel empty, I feel overwhelmed. Overloaded to where my body hurts.

My intention for today was to finish up a few things, clear some items off the to-do list, clean up some space in my world (like my office) in preparing for the beginning of 2017.

And to write a post that would be inspiring, motivational, uplifting.

Instead, all I could muster was to put on cozy bottoms, Daddy’s favorite red pullover, my fuzzy slippers, and laze on the couch having my comfort, healing snack of open-faced peanut butter bread and orange juice, and watching movies.

For the past thirty years or so, on this day, I made a point of knowing what time it would be in my time zone when it was midnight in Ohio so I’d know what time to call Daddy.

And after I’d call him then, I’d sometimes call back when it was midnight wherever I was.

As soon as he’d answer, I’d burst out “Happy New Year!”  He’d laugh, thank me for calling him, and tell me, “Happy new year to you too, Princie. And I wish everything good for you in the new year. And that you’ll get your movie made and get your name out there.”

My heart aches so much I cannot recall last New Year’s Eve. I  do know that we weren’t thinking it might be our last holiday together. We didn’t know it would only be a couple of weeks before we’d be saying good-bye.

Wish I could say something cheerful like, “It’s always New Year’s Eve in Heaven.” It might be.

But that sounds like a party, and I’m not sure I have that in me.

I want Daddy to be happy. And I know he doesn’t want me to be sad. He wants the best for me. And as I linger on the couch, I want to believe that it will come.

Guess it doesn’t matter that I didn’t do the clearing out and organizing today that I figured would help me get ready for the new year, because how much are we ever really prepared for what comes?

Looking at yesterday, today, tomorrow, it’s frightening how frightening so many things in the world are at this time.

Be careful. Love one another. Give a darn. It matters.  Life is sacred.  And sometimes too short.

I wish everything good for each of you in the new year.

You know what I’ll be doing–I’ll be getting my first feature film made like Daddy always encouraged me to do.

I can’t call Daddy on the phone, but I know he’ll be wishing me Happy New Year at midnight just the same.

And at midnight Cincinnati time, (10PM Mountain Time) where he was for almost every New Year, I’ll take a deep breath and send him a special hug.

 

I Scream

Daddy passed away this year.

A ridiculous number of people who entertained us, brought us joy, and enlightened us have died in 2016.

Carrie Fisher and her mother, two amazing, inspirational women, left us within a day of each other.

Nothing makes sense to me right now.

Hence, today’s breakfast…

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