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: