Dear Dad

My Dad and his dad
20171123_093852

Dear Dad,

They’ve passed. The first two weeks of my life without you. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you are gone because we talk about you all the time.

Somebody was tailgating me last night around the round-abouts. I decided that I’d had it, and I started going slower and slower and slower. And you know what that tailgater did? They just got closer and closer until it was like we were one car.

I told Mom about it and she laughed and said, “Dad would be proud.”

But she would’ve said that whether you were here or not. So I’m wondering if we’re talking about you more because you are gone, or if I am noticing how much we talk about you because you are gone. Maybe it’s both.

I tried to call you last week, but it went straight to voicemail and it was that computer voice that doesn’t even say your name. What’s up with that, Dad? I’m gonna plug your phone in and change it, I swear.

Did you ever lose somebody like this, Dad? Did your chest hurt with the loss? Did you sit and wonder why, stupidly, it couldn’t have been someone else, someone less awesome, less important, less loved, less talented, someone expendable, why couldn’t it be someone expendable? But no one is expendable.

You did all the things, Dad. I still remember when we took down the shed in the back yard with a sledge hammer. One minute I’m thinking, “my dad couldn’t get any cooler” and the next moment you’re swinging that sledge hammer at the wall and I was like, “I take it back.” That shed didn’t stand a chance against you.

And props to you for dealing with the weird kid who had to have a knife all the time just in case she needed to whittle some sticks. Those were some ugly sticks, I tell ya. Props to you for spending several early morning hours combing a field for that tiny, finger-sized flashlight that I lost in the dark when I was 9. You even found me a belt hook for it so I wouldn’t lose it again. Almost 20 years later, Dad, and I still have it.

I took a fancy flashlight from your office last week. Mom said it was okay. It’s like the best flashlight ever. A snob flashlight, dude. Ain’t nobody touching that flashlight but me from here on out, you hear me?

Everybody keeps asking me how I am. Dad, I don’t know what to say. What would you say if your Dad died? I know you talked to him like every day.

I had a really good weekend, Dad. Better than I’ve had in so long I can’t remember. I was the cinematographer for a short film. Mom was in it as part of the crowd. She was so happy to be a crowd person and hold a stupid sign for 2 hours. Mom was happy so I was happy and maybe she was happy because I was happy, I don’t know.

It’s getting easier, the other grief, Dad. I know you would say, “Good.” There finally seems to be light in my life, again. I wish you were here for this.

I’m gonna go boarding now. I promise if I get hurt that I won’t call Mom all hysterical. I’ll call D instead and she’ll be my paramedic for you.

I miss you.

Love,

Jessie

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12 Months of Movies: December

I guess you’ve probably noticed the gap between September and December.

Life. As it happens. Is rarely the way that you planned.

Actually those are song lyrics, but they’re good song lyrics. We have filmed a movie every month since September, but we haven’t finished editing them. October’s movie will be in post for a while, and is titled Fail the System. November’s film is an art piece that lacks a few imperative components. It has a crazy story of its own.

But this, this is December. And we finished a fun little film that I am very proud to call my own. We had some notable awesome help. We had a great location given to us by Officeworx, downtown KC.

So here it is…Three Single Guys.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, critique or projects of your own!

12 Months of Movies: September

In September we made a film that turned out a lot longer than I first anticipated. We worked with a fantastic new actor, who continuously went out of his way to be helpful, offer suggestions and step out into the street to make this film special.

When I wrote this script I was thinking about one of my best childhood friends who was deployed during some of the really bad parts of the War on Terror (not that any part is good, mind you). I am also married to a veteran, my brother is a veteran and my grandfather fought in WWII.

So here is SPC Lisa.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, suggestions or projects of your own!

12 Months of Movies: August

August happened…A while back.

I think I’m losing my momentum. It’s been a rough summer. The fall is turning out very well, and I have little good reason to be delayed in making or posting my films, but I am. I am.

This is something that turned out maybe not like I wanted. And I’m not exactly surprised, but I shall let you decide how you like it.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, suggestions or projects of your own!

Fail the System: A short film with a long process

I’m working on the short film for October. I’ve been working on the short film for October since…June 12th. Originally I wanted to write a short about a very controversial subject that I have never seen in a film. But when I started writing Working_Title Red I realized that I had to have a primary storyline that was more accessible to a general audience.

I wanted to write a drama. So I started doing research on dramas, especially dramas that were dialog-driven, which is not the way I have been writing for years. The above show was recommended to me. I watched A LOT of it and found that the representation of family drama is the best I’ve seen onscreen.

This show, Broadchurch, was also recommended to me as a quality drama. It’s about a small English town that experiences the murder of an 11-year-old boy and struggles to come to grips with the reality. It is one of the most cinematically beautiful stories I have ever seen. The editing is superb, the acting is flawless and the writing is arresting.

It’s also one of the most depressing things I’ve ever watched and I had to take it in parts to better deal with the emotions it brought on (I don’t like watching things that make me that sad, but it was very good).

The following images I found as a reference for very good cinematography composition. The DefineFast Productions film will employ this kind of style.

So what is Working_Title Red about? Well, it became Fail the System, and it is about a sister and brother who work together to outwit a devious college professor and deal with some serious relationship issues. Yes, a drama. With dialog. Although it is not as dialog-driven as something like Gilmore Girls.

Since Your Sister Sent Me, a short film DefineFast made in 2013, I have not made anything this intense as a large-scale project. The cast and crew is currently being assembled for this and I am excited to see it become a reality.

Just a little info into the process of making a short film. As always, feel free to comment with feedback, critique or projects of your own!

12 Months of Movies: July

I know it’s been a long time. I’m sorry. I got involved in a project in July that turned out to be a bigger commitment than I realized, along with a lot of other things (Like moving. Which I did this weekend).

Since I wasn’t the writer, producer or director of this project, I was hesitant for it to count as my July film. And it happens to be a web series, so that’s a thing. BUT, I was brought on board as the Cinematographer, which was HUGE. I’ve never been the cinematographer for anyone else’s project (Except commercially and for the TV show JDtR, of course).

So I really enjoyed working with the people from Masked, a modern retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I do have my own short films planned for August, September and October. 🙂

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, suggestions or projects of your own!

12 Months of Movies: June

The unsinkable DefineFast Productions has struck again.  This time to bring you a short film about co-workers.

This film was unique in that it takes place entirely in 1 location.  We tried to vary the shots to emulate the movie Buried, which is cinematically fabulous and also an incredibly disturbing movie.  Our film does not compare to Ryan Reynolds being locked in a coffin under ground, but that was the inspiration.

Here is Marketing & Numbers.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, critique or projects of your own!

12 Months of Movies: March

We set out to make a short drama, but that got put on hold.  So we made this other thing.  I came up with the idea, Cody wrote the script in about 30 minutes, then I revised it.  Paul and I came up with a rough shot list, mostly just coverage.

Then we filmed for about 3 ish hours.  We shot the barest minimum I’ve shot of any film since 2007.  That includes films made for the 10-Hour Film Competition and the 48 Hour Film Competition.  That made editing interesting.

Special thanks to Jeremy Wood, who allowed us to use his office.  And had grace with us when…well, you’ll see what we did.

Enjoy the tiny story that is night.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or films of your own!

12 Months of Movies: January

A truly collaborative project is unlikely.

Seriously.

Pixar does it.  Game design companies do it.  I suppose the Coen Brothers do it all the time.

My husband and I made a film.  When we filmed the majority of it I didn’t even know the ending.  Here’s some advice:  if someone wants to film something without a script and just wing and don’t even storyboard, don’t.  Don’t do it.  You’re gonna waste a lot of time and get frustrated.

That being said, this project worked.  In part because Joshua doesn’t really know what he’s doing.  He listened to me, he filmed, he set up shots the way I described and let’s face it, we are pretty happy together no matter what we’re doing.  That’s why people get married, isn’t it?

So here’s the film.


Special thanks to my dad for some props.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, film suggestions, or movies of your own!