Harness the force within

 “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine,” Obi-Wan

Star Wars The Force Awakens opens today and I’m not going to see it…not yet at least. I remember playing with a Princess Leia action figure along with other Star Wars action figures that could fit in my small hands, and I remember loving Yoda and never understanding his backwards speak until I reached mid-20’s, but seeing a strong woman like Leia choking the life out of her captor with the same chain he used to enslave her was impressionable even at 5 years old.

As awesome as Star Wars is, in all of its capacity – including the dreaded Jar-Jar Binks, who I think is an extremely power Sith as how it’s explained thoroughly in this video here. This post will not be about the light or dark force and how it’s captivated an audience and reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world. No, this post will be about what I’m doing to ensure my dreams are achieved.

Sometime last week I launched a Patreon page to encourage people to support my work as an independent filmmaker. As I explained during my recent appearance in The Dr. Vibe Show – it’s a way to involve the audience in supporting the films they would want to see. With their support I’d be not only doing what I love, but ensuring the content that’s being produced is of amazing quality to reach a broader audience that might now know about the things that I’m focusing on. With the choices of support there comes rewards to those who choose to donate, from a ‘thank you’ to their name in under the “executive producer’ title and invitation to VIP screenings there’s a lot to gain from it.

Even though I haven’t gotten any patrons as of yet, I’m still moving forward with the part of production I can complete. As I continue mapping out the areas where I’ll be snorkeling soon in order to start production at some capacity, I’ll continue updating this site and Patreon in hopes that the support starts coming in at some point or another.

“If you’re not careful, you’ll begin to focus on the unmet expectations and the disappointments, allowing them to affect your attitude…” Victoria Osteen in Love your Life.

Having had difficulty in the past with crowd funding, I have to say that any other person would seem more discouraged to continue with this type of resource. I however, keep knocking on the doors until one is open….or until I have the tools to make my own door, or pry open that window. I (maybe naïvely) believe that patreon will lead me to having the tools to make my door, or window and subsequently a nice little production house where I can help others, who like me, have had a harder time making it in the business.

It’s important to focus on what you can do. In this particular case, I can start filming quietly at local beaches. Hoping that no one will realize what I’m doing and I’m fined for not having the proper permits. The good thing is that I’m a “one woman team” and people are rarely suspicious of a woman and a dog going to a beach alone – with so many athletes recording their tricks in the water (surfing, body boarding, freestyle diving, snorkeling) it’s hard to tell who is doing it for a larger audience, and who is doing it to attain sponsors to be able to live off their chosen sport. So, I’m really lucky that people go in the water with selfie sticks and water proof cameras.

In the podcast I mention working on a “sugar string budget” the kind of budget that if you’re not careful it’s will cease to exist – and that’s what happens when you’re not backed up by any sort of producer at any capacity. There is no funding, and you’re scrambling to make a film. I’ll use Forever Boogies as an example. Forever Boogies was a documentary that I made with virtually no money. As a freelance journalist it’s hard to make money – and if your focus is somewhere else other than in the attempt to sell your articles to publications your already unstable income will be non-existent. That is a risk I consciously took when I decided to go into filmmaking. I knew it was going to be hard, but dove in anyway – but I digress.

RIFF audience
with Julio Cabrera Assistant Director & Director of PR Affairs of the RIFF Photo by: 3 Lil’ Sisters Productions

Forever Boogies cost me about $1,000 to make. Adding up the travel expenses (tolls, gas), money on food spent while on the road, the additional equipment and editing software I had to purchase and the entry fees for the film festivals (non-refundable if you’re not selected) it’s about that amount. The quality of the film was okay – good enough to take me into the 2015 Rincón International Film Festival (RIFF), but according to Doug Lantz, Festival Director and Programming Director of the event, it was more due to the content of the film – and that’s always good. You want to get the content out there, but without any financing it’s hard to distribute at a platform that’s not digital (i.e. other than YouTube and/or Vimeo). I remember registering my film on IMDb and having to check the “this is correct” box several times because the amount was too low according to their standards.

Often times as a filmmaker can hear the phrase “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing” quite a bit. Then, you’re (and your team is) being called to come up and speak to an audience about the making of this particular film, or being called to be a guest on a podcast about what it takes to me a filmmaker. While I stood alone in front of that audience at the RIFF alone, because I had no team to help me out, a wave of accomplishment washed over me. The same thing when doing the podcast, or when being asked to consult on what turned out to be an award-winning short film, or when I was recently commissioned to produce a series of digital poems for a local pastor.

FB RIFF
Forever Boogies in the catalog and my passes!

The idea is to focus on what one has accomplished and hope that at some point others see your hard work, determination, passion for the art and begin to support you through it at any capacity. Be it by donating $1 to your cause, or spreading the word with their friends and social networks.

Honestly, I can go on about the frustrations that not being recognized for [my] work, advice or passion and how it’s all crippling my career. But if I do that I’ll be cheating myself from what I have accomplished with the less-than-basic equipment and LARGE quantities of passion and drive to accomplish my films. Also, these difficulties aren’t just faced by me, they are faced by anyone who is in this business – even the well known and already established producers, directors face challenges in making films, in getting others to believe the worth of their stories and then bring it to the screen for the people to see. It can take years to make a film happen. However, with the online presence and how audience and artists are so accessible to one another these days it’s easier to make one involved with the other.  That’s where crowd funding comes in – a platform that has served so many to bring films into fruition.

With that, I’ll close the post with this other quote from Victoria Osteen’s book:

“If you are going through stressful times today, keep an attitude of faith and victory…remind yourself of all the great opportunities you have, it will make those tough times seem much easier, and you will rise to new levels.”

If you’re worried about the ‘keep an attitude of faith part’ think of it as “I have faith that one day I will walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards and that same day I will get my first Oscar for best anything [in my case film/screenplay/director/film].

As I struggle with current funding, I keep the eye on the prize; my ultimate prize is that first Academy Award nomination – waking the force within me, making me more powerful than anyone could have possibly imagined when it comes to storytelling.
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