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TLD is DONE. Wow, I said it.

I want to officially proclaim this puppy to be a full-fledged dog. In fact, it feels like I’m about to send my child out into the world, letting it take its first steps into preschool, then 1st grade, and then COLLEGE (this child is apparently doogie howser to the nth degree). I have no idea what kind of mix of pride and fear and excitement and anxiety, must run through a parents’ heart, but I’m experiencing at least a taste of this intoxicating cocktail. I mean, feedback from classmates is great, working with other artists to see your vision through epic, but allowing others to see your film, interact with it, judge it (judge you) and ultimately take a peek inside your everloving soul…wow. Same as sending your kid to her 1st day of school, right? Meh…

I think the rational part of me knows that that is way too dramatic. And… the other bits of me are waving nervously at a small kid with a too-big backpack, walking toward a building that seems so vast and impersonal. But I have been assured that the festival route is important, eye-opening, and dare I believe it, rewarding. Also, having been a doc pre-screener at a well-known fest, I realized that everyone has to start somewhere, the big SEND. For most people the byzantine rules and sheer number of film fests is already daunting, but I’ve already psyched myself out without having submitted a minute of footage.

But all gnawing reasonable and unreasonable fears aside, I am still trying to move forward. Am I convinced that this film needs to be out there in the world? I think every filmmaker has to ask him/herself that question. And for so long I’ve held the belief that this film needs to be made, not just for myself but for the many stories that are simmering and brimming over from the status quo of silence and shame. To consider not putting the film out there would go directly against the reason of its inception. Yet now I am at the point where the film is not just my own creative and personal endeavor. It could have its own life beyond what I could imagine for it, if only I’d allow it to leave home one day at a time.

(Is that what it feels like to be a parent???)

Anyway, I can’t wait to show the film to my Kickstarter supporters, to my friends and colleagues, and I guess to a wider world. Thanks for sticking around and moving into the next phase with me.

THE LAUNDROMAT DOCUMENTARY COMING TO SOME KINDA SCREEN NEAR YOU. PLAN ON IT. 😉

Ready for my 1st day and I couldn't be more ridiculously matching. d

Ready for my 1st day and I couldn’t be more ridiculously matching. d

 

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Someone recently asked me, “Vanessa, what are you going to do once your movie is done??”

I responded in half-jest, “I’ll probably have an identity crisis.” …Oh, irony, you certainly have my number.

Yet the truth of the matter is, what will I do with my evenings if I’m not rushing off to a meeting or an edit? What could I possibly fill my weekends with if not this long-due project/child/monster? Probably a MILLION other things. But after you have lived with something for so long, it’s hard to imagine your life without it.

At the same time, I am not kidding myself. The work is never over, and in some ways, the hard part begins now. I understand the process of writing, shooting, editing, sound mixing, coloring, but the thought of showing this film to the world is a teeny bit terrifying. Every artist needs to take that risk, yet how can I be strategic about my approach AND strong in my conviction that this film needs to be seen? What are my next set of goals and when do I get to take a break? All these questions creep on me as the post purgatory comes to an end and the hell of festival submission and exhibition begins.

Still, I’ll try not to cheat myself of the satisfaction of completing something, of taking this idea that was so vitally important to me and bringing it to life. I’ll also try not to stop being grateful for those who have helped me along the way. This includes my newest collaborators: Lucas Mireles, my amazing post supervisor; Different by Design, my online facility; Battiste Fenwick, my post sound supervisor; Mike Simpson, my re-recording mixer; and Jason Knutzen, my colorist. Without the patience and talent of these folk, I would not be mere centimeters away from having a finished film. (If it sounds like I’m preparing for my Oscar speech…I promise that was NOT intentional.)

Either way, The Laundromat may be coming to your faces so soon. If you have any ideas on how to do one big Thank You screening, I’d love to hear them. For now I want to leave with you some magnificent imagery that Ms. Akemi and I have been working on for the the film.

Image

Oh yeah, bumper sticker fun!

So…I almost didn’t write this entry. I almost censored this from my public account about the making of the doc. But there seems to be something awfully lopsided if this blog only reflects all my triumphs. Every journey encounters obstacles and disappointments. Now at the end of summer, I feel slightly beset by those little beasts.
The first incident to punch me in the face was a form-rejection from the Princess Grace committee to tell me that I was not selected for the Princess Grace/JUSTFilms Documentary award. Perhaps this one event is not something so earth-shattering, but the grant-writing route for my documentary has been one filled with a lot of work and not a lot of reward. Anyone will tell you that this is a common experience. I have heard that you have to try at least three times for any application will reap rewards. So far I think I’m 0 for 10.

The next event to rock my small documentary world was that I was a victim of theft. Last week I went to work on my movie at school, and as I went to pick up my external hard drives, I discovered that they had completely disappeared. I called everyone I knew that could have possibly have any inkling about their whereabouts, but it was a practice in futility. Filing a report with the police has also produced no promising results. But almost as soon as I saw my empty bag, I had already assumed the worst. I am baffled that it could have happened. I am angry that someone has my friends’ personal stories in their possession. And I wish so much that those drives would come back intact.
Yet the impulse to keep moving forward is irresistible. Throughout both disappointments I had friends and family who still supported my project (and my emotional well-being). When I interviewed one of the experts for my doc, the first thing she asked me was, “Do you have good social supports?” As another artist she knew from experience the strife involved in this kind of undertaking.

So here I am, using many of my nights transferring the backups I made of my movie to a new drive. And I’m looking for alternative routes to funding or finding more economical ways to get things done. Meanwhile I am venting to my friends, talking them through my process, and trying to stay afloat as the waves of the unexpected batter at my hulls.

If I emerge at the other end of this process alive and with a movie, it will not be because my ambition and determination made me impervious. It will be because my social supports gave me the ability to get back up and get moving again. Thanks peeps.

Saving the world, one jump kick at a time

Over the four years I’ve been in film school my head has been stuffed with knowledge that heretofore had been completely foreign to me: The Method style of acting, Fisher dollies, story beats, and what the heck a producer even does. But within the last year of making my thesis, I feel like the amount of knowledge I’ve had to acquire to make a feature-length doc is exponentially greater. I’m even considering purchasing an extra hard drive for my brain. I think 8 terabytes might be enough (currently my personal collection of hard drives now numbers in the 15-20TB range, which is basically 15-20,000 GB).

But the best way to stop your head from exploding while making a movie is…*drum roll please*…finding the BEST collaborators. If you’ve ever had a great partnership, or just a bad one, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a very obvious statement, but to a lone-wolf documentarian type like me, it’s hard to entrust your work to others. I mean, the ever-talented JPhu set the bar high for my expectations for all subsequent collaborations, but as you may begin to hear a lot, I got so dang lucky with the people who I ended up working with. from on camera to behind the camera to before the camera even began rolling, there were people either stepping up and volunteering or people who i contacted that responded and gave in ways i could only imagine.

So similar to the 4 C’s you have to look for with diamonds, I think I can summarize my gleanings on collaboration to these 3 C’s: communication, clarity, and candidness.

COMMUNICATION be everything. That’s where it all starts and ends. You set the tone and punctuality of your correspondences. If you hate emails and meetings, quit filmmaking! Or, quit civilization. haha No, but seriously, my ability to communicate professionally started with my first corporate job. I’m thankful to KCS and Judy Mcmillon in making me into a lean, mean liaising machine.

CLARITY in communication and in your creative vision is also something essential. you can still have a couple of the details not figured out, but clearly knowing what you want and communicating what you need is the difference between good product and… poop on a stick. granted, not everything will be perfect, but many of the times, i didn’t get the thing that i asked for (right gfx, right shot, useable interview answer) because i didn’t lucidly communicate what i needed. in fact, if you do not ask for what you REALLY need from someone, please expect to get an empty box instead of that golden retriever puppy with the ribbon on its neck.

CANDIDNESS is one of the other things i needed to work on. of course, it wasn’t that i was lying to people’s face, it was more that i needed to be real about what i could offer people, or as mentioned before, you need to communicate what you really need from someone. in other cases, when someone needs feedback on something they did for you, tell them when it’s what you want or don’t want. it doesn’t help to hold back, because most times collaborators are there to help you continue figuring out how your vision can come to pass.

PHEW. all that blabbering made me tired. with my website just DAYS from being launched, i would like to introduce some of my stellar collaborators:

AKEMI HONG: graphic designer, artist extraordinaire, corgi-lover –responsible for the slick, streamlined look and feel of AtTheLaundromat.com, Akemi is a sassy gal who’s sensibilities range from the abstract & beautiful moving image to the commercially-viable designs and lines she seems to make with ease.

CHRIS DOMINO: 1,021st level programmer, manly bike rider — responsible for all the plumbing and waterworks that help my little site exist. His wizardry can be seen on many professional sites, but he’s lent his skillz to making my site super interactive and ready to dialogue with the world.

APRIL BALOTRO: chief content manager, canine-loving high school friend — responsible for editing and helping bring fresh, grammatically-correct, and interesting content to my site. April came and asked me if she could help put her passion for these issues and her managing editor expertise to use with AtTheLaundromat.com. I had no choice but to say yes (or I’d fall over with my lack of knowledge).