Reflections On Quarantine Film Making

Today, I was reminded that art is alive and well. The Hollywood industrial process has been under tremendous pressure. The indie film world, also slowed, is still at work too, even though COVID remains with us. I say this because I’ve been judging the Quarantini Film Festival, a monthly fest founded by Dana Olita that supports and awards filmmakers making socially-distanced short films during this difficult time.

Quarantini Film Festival supports the indie film community during the pandemic with access to online screenings and awards.

I have learned and been reminded of a few things while judging the Quarantini entries:

  1. Art finds a way. I’ve seen some great films submitted to Quarantini Film Festival. Where there’s a will, there is a way, even under un-ideal circumstances.
  2. Sometimes, constraints embolden our creativity. Doing a lot with a little is part-and-parcel of low budget film making, but the constraints indie filmmakers are creating under are unprecedented. I’ve seen amazing creative risks taken on screen in the last three rounds of the Quarantini Film Festival. Some hit and some missed the mark, but when business-as-usual goes out the window, we have to ask what’s possible. I’ve witnessed tremendous creativity under the pressure of the pandemic.
  3. The pandemic has many people committed to speaking their truth, directly or indirectly. I’ve seen heart-wrenching drama shorts, contemplative docu-dramas and wicked comedies that all hit home. All of us have a story to tell that’s part of this larger pandemic narrative.

The truth is many film festivals and the whole culture of film festivals going forward is uncertain. Theatrical exhibition is still difficult and frankly, unobtainable in many areas. Your larger press outlets like Variety, Deadline, The Hollywood reporter, et al, are only really covering the larger festivals that have film markets. That gives sort of skewed picture of the filmmaking landscape in general. Indie filmmaking is alive. Indie films are being shown. It may not be on a large screen, but you can get your work out there on online fests like Quarantini. Seize the moment. You’ll never know what you’ll learn, how you’ll grow or who you’ll impact.

Celebrating Optimism in a Corona World

March is Optimism Month!

The great news is, that if you are reading this, you are ALIVE.  Congratulations.

I feel like “cautious optimism” needs a big comeback moment.  Can we be cautious and optimistic at the same time?  I hope so.

91277127_620186575194918_5112236183006478336_nToday, keeping “safe at home”, I made some simple clay from flour, water, salt and vegetable oil. I’ve never made clay before.  I am used to it looking grayish, in perfectly formed blocks, wrapped in glossy plastic, straight from a box.  Mine was more like a cookie dough, sans the eggs and sugar.

As I worked with the clay, I remembered that I get to shape some things.  I may not be used to what I am working with, but I can still shape it towards what I intend.  I can create hearts and smiley faces, or I can create something less pleasant.  We are all creators, even if what we’re working with is, at times, less than ideal.

What can we create, optimistically, at this time?  Maybe it’s only a new perspective, but that is something.  Maybe it’s a smile?

Here’s the recipe for the dough.

Stay well.  Stay safe.  Stay optimistic AND stay home.

 

Bubbling Over with Body Positive Joy!

When Yi asked me to climb on her conference room table, I didn’t hesitate.

This past week, Yi Zhou, founder of Global Intuition, a fast-rising international fashion brand, invited me to her headquarters in Beverly Hills for a body positive photo shoot.

Yi is a Chinese multimedia artist who has lived in Rome from the age of eight and studied between London and Paris with degrees in Political Science and Economics.  Her innovative work has been shown at Shanghai Biennale, Venice Biennal, Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival.  Global in reach, she founded her creative strategy digital production company, Yi Zhou Studio, in Shanghai and Hong Kong.  In late 2017, she brought her creative vision to LA  as a strategic partner of Cinemoi Network, Royal Yacht. She is currently developing her first feature film as writer and director.

I had the privilege of meeting Yi through What Women Want Show about a year ago as she was preparing her Fred Segal show.  I was extremely impressed by Yi’s drive, ambition and poise.  Yi’s brand is called Global Intuition and I can see why.  Working with Yi, she has a global outlook and also a strong sense of what makes others look and feel good.  My shoot with Yi was fun, collaborative and inspiring.

Here’s your first look–Body Positive and Bubbles!

global intuition shoot

Body Positive and Bubbles.  Photo by Yi Zhou of Global Intuition.

Yi and I discussed what intuition is and why it’s important for women, and really everyone, to trust their intuition .  Intuition seems to power much of what she does and how she works.

Video Courtesy of Yi Zhou, Global Intuition

My biggest take away from spending time with Yi this week was that joy and intuition  make everything we do better!  If you bring a joyful heart to whatever you are doing, and trust your hunches, you can accomplish so much.  Trust your intution and let your joy bubble over!

 

Moviemaking is a Messy Business

If you’ve been watching my Instagram lately, you will have noticed someone has a gripe against a guy named Vinnie.  😉

instagram litch

I was back on the set of James Balsalmo’s The Litch this week and I was again impressed by James’s wizardry, this time with masks, snot fabricated from cottage cheese and blood from chocolate syrup and food coloring. It was a messy, fun, albeit, occasionally odorous time. It’s amazing what creativity we have when we use it and James is a truly creative fellow.

Go For “It” !

What makes you tick?  What makes make you say “That’s IT.”    This past Wednesday’s What Women Want Talk Radio episode focused on finding your “IT”—what makes you tick and feel alive.  I think this show is great for the new graduates out there who may be struggling with finding a personally fulfilling path.

6.14 Going After Your IT social

 

Chaitra Radhakrishna started her career in computer science in Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, but after finding herself unfulfilled, she moved to the US and discovered her talents for web design and marketing.  She founded PinkPot, a lifestyle blog that blossomed into something more.

Jane Bishop spent her early life traveling the globe with her military family, which pushed her to develop a strong sense of self and constantly find her “IT”.  After a corporate job caused her severe burnout, she focused on building her own business and now offers consulting, coaching, public speaking and is the author of the new book, The Bread Box, which focuses on finding the extraordinary in the ordinary stuff of life.

I also opened up about my “IT”, which is the movie business.  I constantly had to say “yes” to my it over the years and still do so today.  I love when Jane mentioned the power of play in our lives, because I think that’s something that so many adults lose touch of when “adulting”.

Listen to the broadcast here.

A Tale of a Block & Other Musings

Who You Gonna  Call?  Blockbusters!

Seriously, the Ghost Busters jingle was echoing through my head all through our latest What Women Want Radio Show broadcast.  We’ve all had blocks.  We’ve all been stuck.  We’ve all had that same issue come back over and over again and smack us in the face (or rear).

colleen

Listen to Dr. Colleen Mullen, celebrity therapist, and Jennifer Longmore, intuitive healer, discuss the many facets of being blocked, and most importantly, how to overcome it on this week’s installment What Women Want Talk Radio.

A Tale of a Block.

Once upon a time, in a summer stock theater troupe in a galaxy far far away,  I was assigned to play one of those obscure Shakespearean characters. This was one of those comedic relief characters in the heavy drama right before the king gets killed.  If you are an actor, you know these characters exist in the Bard’s work and they are hard to nail. Mine was the Duchess of York in Richard II.  In many productions of the play, this scene and this character are cut.

Shakespeare Quartos Project

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Weeks of rehearsal and the director’s input were more about purging the bad choices than discovering the good.  It was trial-and-error and both trial-by-fire AND error at the same time, almost all the weeks of working the scene on stage.   I couldn’t wrap my mind around this quirky character in this equally off-the-wall scene.  People wanted to get to the poetic and tragic death of the king, right?  I was frustrated.

It wasn’t until I owned the character’s block as my block that I did finally break through.

 

Here’s how.

The group I was working with paid special attention to the meter of the verse and had a process of using the verse as the momentum of the emotion.  My meter was irregular.  Great.  Irregular scene, quirky character with irregular meter.  Awesome.  So reading the scene for the umpteenth time, I decided to make her obstacles my obstacles and my thoughts about those obstacles hers.

What was her obstacle?

Getting in the door-literally.  In the scene, the character was locked out of a room.

I decided to improvise using a make-shift battering ram.  Using the sound effect value of the battering ram helped me focus my intentions, beat (literally) the pesky meters and own it.  I made a big, bold choice and it worked for me.

So, not of all of us are going to have to delve into weird characters in the Bard’s world, but we may get handed a sort of surreal set of circumstances.

Tips:

Own the block—cautiously.  Don’t make harsh judgments about yourself.  There’s a language difference between “I am blocked,” and “I am experiencing a block”.  Verbs move you through.  Adjectives might weigh you down.

Identify the most basic part of the obstacle.  What’s your basic objective or intention? Start there and get specific.  If it’s a conceptual block, try externalizing (mind-mapping, modeling). Perhaps it needs to get out of the head and into the body or on paper.

What is not working?  Keep discarding the things that are not yielding the results you want.  Keep at it.  Keep moving.  Don’t let the block weigh you down spiritually or emotionally.

Make a big, bold choice when it makes sense.  If it doesn’t work, discard.