I'm sorry we don't talk much. That's pretty lame. I want you to be a part of my life, so I thought I'd take a minute to write to you and tell you what I've been up to this past year. Does that sound okay? You're still reading so I'll take that as a "yes".
2017 started with a bang. I directed my MFA thesis film, The Stranger, in January. I had some phenomenal people on my creative team. We filmed in this historic house and dressed it up like a second Christmas - but shot a thriller movie - and had snow (via a snow machine) in Florida. Needless to say, it was a dream come true.
After that, I got to work on each of my friends' thesis films. We traipsed all over Florida shooting horror films, Western films, films on stadium rooftops, films in morgues. . . I worked as a gaffer, production designer, first a.c., and first a.d.. I ate way too many oreos, caught several lizards, and spent a lot of fantastic moments with talented, fun people. Don't get me wrong. It was exhausting. But we made stories we're incredibly proud of.
Then Barry Jenkins won Best Picture for Moonlight at the Oscars and the whole school went nuts (cause Barry got his BFA from FSU). It was pretty exciting to have that heritage behind us.
As our thesis cycle continued, I designed and built a futuristic set on our soundstage using insulation materials and 2x4's. The people at Home Depot recognized me on sight. Thankfully, I had a lot of wise people consulting me on the best way to make ten walls form several different locations for the film. It remains one of my proudest accomplishments to this day.At the end, I got to kick through said walls which was equally as satisfying.
After we finished shooting a Western in Tampa, my sister visited me and we discovered Goodwill's bookstore. We acquired stacks of books and then galloped off to Disney World for a brief siesta where we got to hug Chewbacca.
I had the honor of being nominated and winning a leadership award with FSU. I flew a drone for the first time. And we finished shooting our last thesis film! I scampered up to NYC to visit my sister; she got me tickets to see Jimmy Fallon tape his show since she was finishing her internship there. Then she and I swooped to KY for her graduation where I got to shoot off confetti canons while my dad took pictures - in the rain. Why does it always rain when you have something epic planned? I returned to Florida, learned to stand up paddle board, shot my first roll of 35mm film, and rock climbed A LOT.
In May/June we started post-production on our films. In the meantime, I worked on writing a feature script, did some fantastic metaphorical, blacklight/neon, and afrofuturistic photoshoots. We edited The Stranger then moved onto sound. I spent many hours in the foley room by myself recording breath and coat noises like a mad scientist. Somewhere along the line, some friends convinced me to take up training for a half-marathon. We didn't complete the training, but I ran eight miles at once - which is more than I'd run EVER.
Then, with a free weekend, I shot up to NYC for an internship interview. Andrew (le boyfriend) surprised me with Hamilton tickets. We went to Coney Island with friends and I decided it's one of my favorite amusement parks ever. I visited San Diego because a friend's film got into Comic-Con and she took her crew along for the ride. It was QUITE an experience. I've never seen so many people before in my life! We spent a day in LA to scope out our future land.
We came back for the last few week of school and attended a film loading workshop. I finished the first draft of my feature film and found an epic dress for graduation. The school hung our films posters in the hallway and we gawked. And then, suddenly, all our families were in Tallahassee, we walked the stage, screened our films, and said goodbye. I was shocked to learn I'd won a scholarship for Professionalism. It was surreal. The main people I'd existed with for two years - who had come to be a sort of family - dispersed. It took some getting used to. To punctuate the evening, I found a frog. In my evening gown. I picked him up for a picture. It felt like a good ending.
Okay, August. Andrew and I embarked on a road trip to Atlanta where I caught up with old friends and made a solemn vow to scuba dive with the whale sharks in the aquarium. When we got to KY, I learned how to replace the rotors on my car. I left Andrew, made my way to Chicago to see grandparents - grabbed my sister - and drove on to Missouri to see my aunt and her horses. Then we dipped down to Texas to see my brother and father before heading to New Mexico to see my mom.
That was a hard road trip. Realities were setting in, and the future was turbulent.
Once I returned to the desert, I dug through my room at home and packed it so I could be ready to move to LA after my fall internship (at Protozoa Pictures, Darren Aronofsky's company). Then, with two bags, I moved to NYC for a few months. It was a wonderful experience. I had the chance to attend the mother! premiere, saw my favorite band (Oh Wonder) in concert, experienced my first escape room, ice skated at 30 Rock, wrote in the New York Public Library, finished NaNoWriMo, took photos, read books, made friends, got lost, etc. The Stranger even screened at a film festival there and I was able to attend and answer questions.
But it was overwhelming. I missed the sky. I missed space. So I stuck to my plan to leave NYC and move to LA. I packed up, and flew to Chicago for Christmas. It was a nice enough holiday - my wish for snow came true - but my mother was in the hospital the whole week due to complications from an earlier procedure. That's still a bit open ended so please keep her in your prayers.
So now what, you may be asking. After all that, what are you up to now? Well, I'm moving to LA in January. I'll be interning with Kennedy Marshall and working on some sets. I will be attending NAB and the Florida Film Festival in April (and hopefully climbing some real rocks in Nevada). Then in May, I have the honor of co-directing a feature Asbury University is producing.
What follows that is to be determined. I'm always working on new projects. We'll see what opportunities present themselves. Several years ago, not knowing would have seized me with terror - but I've seen too many wonderful things come from open space, that I'm looking forward to seeing what comes. I'm truly grateful to you for sticking with me through the haphazard moments and celebrating the victorious ones. You've made this year worth remembering.
Some photos from the aforementioned moments:
Facts from 2017:
Photoshoot Images from 2017:
A little over a week ago, I graduate from Florida State's College of Motion Picture Arts with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Production, specialty in Directing. Two years of the most challenging undertaking I've ever endeavored came to an end.
The day was a fantastic event as it involved screening all sixteen of our thesis films for family, friends, and the local community. We exchanged our steel-toed boots, and bleary editing eyes for heels and mascara. I've never been so proud to show a film I've made before, and I'm so grateful to each person who came up to me afterwards to tell me how my twelve-minute psychological thriller caused them to feel. More so, however, I'm indebted to every single person who gave a part of themselves to make it happen.
If you would like to see the film, please contact me.
I was awarded the Augustus B. Turnbull II Professionalism Scholarship, which I'm certain I do not deserve, but I'm humbled by those who believe I do. It's an award given to students who are rated after each project/class by their peers and professors as having exceptional professionalism in their demeanor. The award will allow me to be able to take the next step in my career: NYC.
I'll be spending the fall semester in New York where I'll be interning with a production company. I'm very excited to learn and help them with the projects they're working on. Following that semester, the current plan is to move to LA and begin working there.
I'm not adequately able to articulate my gratitude to each person who has supported me on the wild ride that was graduate school. I would not have been able to do it so successfully otherwise. Thank you.
I've recently been exploring 35mm film photography to better understand light and the process. It's been so exciting no knowing precisely what will happen and learning from the results. Furthermore, film handles saturated color beautifully. Here are some of my favorite images from my first three rolls.
Picture is locked on The Stranger, my thesis film. We're currently in sound design. A friend of mine compared the stills of the storyboard images to that of the final product and challenged me to do the same to see how much variance I had, keeping in mind that change can often be for the better.
I was happy to find that most of the shot my DP and I planned were 99% the frame we shot. There were subtle deviations of angle, often to better emphasize the moment or find more depth in the frame, but our ability to visualize what we were looking before shooting felt very strong. that pre-visualization came through the edit - there was only one or two frames I wished I could have adjusted slightly for story purposes. Overall, I was very happy with what we planned and what we ended up with - two very similar products.
Below are two examples of my comparisons. The first is one of the the most varied shots in the film. The top image is the storyboard, the bottom image was captured on set for the final cut.
Below is a good example of how most of our shots lined up with the storyboarded images. Again, the top frame is the planned image and the bottom is the final version.
If nothing else, I'm proud of how our two years studying film has taught us to be efficient, economical, and exact. We're flexible on set if a better idea presents itself, but we're also able to speculate in advance to save ourselves precious time when shooting. Comparing that skill to what we accomplished on our first projects here is day and night!
I had the unique opportunity this semester to help some of our international students with their scripts for their second short films at FSU. They're brilliant story tellers who were looking for a second pair of eyes to make sure the English within the script (particularly the dialogue) flowed.
I loved learning the deeper intention behind their stories and helping them find a way to bring it to life a different culture. The films will hopefully turn out beautifully and speak to deep, human truths as the writers hoped they would.
It also reminded me how easy it is to get stuck in my own perspective and how valuable it is to pick up someone else's point of view and try it on - especially when telling stories.