J E Z E B E L
The time had come. A pressing sensation that spoke now or never was descending on me. Over the years many signs pointed in that direction, but I didn't follow through. This time the signs and the decision were not to be denied.
I'm making my first feature film.
Those of you who have read this journal and then still hung around while I abandoned it for some time - ok over a year- thank you. I started this journal to train myself on the discipline of writing again and to reignite my love for it. The more I wrote the more whole I felt. I also felt more exposed than ever. My professional and personal life were colliding in ways that I was terrified to share. Each journal post became harder to be honest. I shared more of the past because though the past could haunt, it could not hurt. Sharing my present became a level of vulnerability that I could no longer embrace. Turning away from being vulnerable also shut me off from being nourished. I'm back because I need that nourishment again. I need to write. I need to be heard.
Making a feature film requires support. Physical and non physical. You need angels in all forms.
So I have this story. My true story. About the time in my life when I lived with my sister, her boyfriend, her toddler son, and our brother in a studio weekly rental apartment in Las Vegas. It's very difficult to describe the transient lifestyle of people who gravitate to Las Vegas from all walks of life and quickly spiral down to the desperation of week to week survival choices- but here you have it. That was me and a segment of my family in the last days of our mothers life. It was a moment in my world that I hadn't seen drawn out to me like other moments have been. But it was very real and an absolute formative moment. My older sister suggested that I try out "internet modeling" for quick easy money and I did it. And I liked it. And it contributed largely to my perspective on sexuality, fantasy, and the texture of the emotional intersections of loneliness and deviance.
No script. No movie.
I had 16 pages. Those 16 pages Tribeca Film Institute selected for their Through Her Lens program aimed at diverse women. I submitted it as a short film, though it was really the first chapter of my feature. This was by far one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. A clicking moment that resonated with me 100 percent. The mentorship was beyond generous. When it was over I said I would go work on the feature. But I didn't. I worked on other things. Not that. People checked in with me. I gave excuses. I talked and said I would. I didn't.
This was depression. This was fear. This was distraction. This was being dumb as hell and taking my life and its purpose for granted.
Then just weeks ago I was presented with an opportunity to travel abroad, South Africa to be exact and represent Black&Sexy TV and our partners Aids Healthcare Foundation. It was to be a great outreach trip and a celebration of the side by side work we have done together for years.
But a voice told me no. Don't go. Make your movie. I describe it as a voice, but it was a sensation. A clear one. I sat still and quiet and felt/heard it again. Translation: Do it now.
At that point the mission began. I made a call to my business partner, Dennis, and asked if he wanted to go on the trip instead. I explained to him that I wanted to make my movie. It was time. He wanted to go and our partners at AHF were happy to have him as well. Handled.
Still no script. No money either. Hadn't even thought about that.
My sister had called me to come see her, she was having an elective surgery and wanted me to be around for her recovery. Surgery and hospitals trigger me. I spent years being a pseudo nurse to my mother and I was full of apprehension. But then it hit me. Go be with her AND WRITE YOUR SCRIPT. all of that down time in recovery is ripe for it and I would be bonding with my sister and able to ask her questions about when we lived together way back in Las Vegas. Details I couldn't remember she would.
Flights were booked to Miami for me and Rockwelle and off we went. I wrote ten pages on the plane. Another ten pages the next day. And I wrote ten pages every day until it was done. My family cheered me on as I closed my bedroom door to them every day for hours. My daughter (Rocky) cheered me on sitting on the bed next to me on her iPad as I crouched over typing on my damn keyboard that sticks.
In between writing I sent messages to people who I wanted to come work on the film. My pitch to them went something like this - hey I'm making my first feature in Las Vegas in a few weeks. Do you want to work on it - it will be 110 degrees - literally - I can promise you that. are you down?
Everyone I asked said yes. Everyone I asked was enthusiastic. Suicide mission or nah? They were game. Cap ou pas cap?
My sister said she would give me the majority of the money. In small staggered installments but she would do it. We would together find a way. It's our shared story after all, and I would be playing her. I found a stunning newcomer Tiffany Tenille to play me as a teenager, and every other actor I wanted was saying yes. Every behind the camera artist was saying yes.
Damn it we are making a movie.
I sent out the first draft. Got deep notes from trusted ones. Wrote another 20 pages on a second draft. Scheduled a table read. Started booking accommodations in Vegas. Just full blown production. Everyone stepped up with whatever they had to help with. My passion drove their passion. We filmed a week in Las Vegas and are about to film the second week in Los Angeles. After that we will be wrapped. Editing has already started. The train is full speed ahead.
Very few people if anyone tried to slow me down. I heard a few doubtful questions here and there or even those who didn't really get the script on a deeper level, or thought I was moving too fast. No,no,no, I had been moving too slow. Their words and actions didn't deter me at all. If anything they helped me slip into the next gear.
I'll be back to share more as we keep moving. You can also follow the movie here.
I want to encourage everyone who has started a few pages and has left it in a spiral notebook or in a desktop file - press on. Write. Writing summons voices - most of all yours. Then that voice guides you on and and on. It's the articulation of your providence.
special shout out to Winter, Frannie, Amanda, Brent, Gray, Kevin, Von, Tiffany, Stephen, Bobby, other Bobby, Rockwelle, Sabrina, Tangier, Dennis, the Budget Suites of America, Alexis Park Resort, and the Hard Rock Cafe Hotel & Casino for the first leg of this shoot.