Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Inspirational Country Music and NBA Accolades

The last few weeks have definitely been a whirlwind for our post production marketing team as we keep pushing forward in sharing our story of Spirit of Love with our family, friends, and the rest of the world.

I know you are probably wondering WOW! Is that still going on? Wasn't that last year? Simply put the answer is YES! That is how it happens in the world of filmmaking. Some films never even make it to the editing room let alone a directors cut DVD in this time frame. One year ago this month we began filming with all of our incredibly talented teens. Some who are now embarking on new adventures like College, and High School. All of the crew has gone on to work on many new projects yet we here at Film It Productions & Spirit of Love continue to promote our film and message of acceptance and inclusion.

While the film continues to receive accolades and awards at festivals we continue to look for the right distribution opportunities. Even this week there have been offers for distribution however it is about more than just getting distribution. Its about getting the right distributor who desires to share the message and work of our gifted and talented teens. Audiences love us. They love your Courage for jumping in and attempting things which most of you had never done before. That is why the right distributor must be Courageous and not Fearful of this groundbreaking opportunity to share our

We have received accolades from Senators, Mayors, Pastors, Teachers, Coaches, Parents, Authors, Professional Athletes and dignitaries such as the Commissioner of the NBA David J. Stern.http://www.newswire.net/newsroom/financial/76185-nba-commissioner-hails-filmmaker-of-inspirational-teen-basketbal.html We have received two proclamations declaring it "Spirit of Love" day. Even news stories produced about the film have received accolades and nominations for awards. But what sticks with me the most is other deaf & hard of hearing teens who come up and say Thank you! They say tell the cast that they have empowered them to try new things too. Tell them the message makes people see deaf & hard of hearing teens in a positive light and not negative. The other thing has been "hearing" people who say I had no idea. Thanks for making me aware. Thanks for Inspiring us. Thanks for changing how we see others who are different from ourselves.

Even now we wait to see if we make the top 5 nominations by ICM out of Nashville this week. We were nominated for the top 10 in the category of Best Inspirational Film against some giants in the industry which include Warner Bros.  "42" and 20th Century Fox's "Parental Guidance" Everyone should be very proud of your work.http://www.newswire.net/newsroom/financial/75306-icm-faith-family-country-award-nominates-spirit-of-love-for-semi.html

I must admit that it was very surreal to read our name on the press release and ballot with names like Laura Dodd,Tim McGraw and Dolly Parton sent out by ICM (Inspirational Country Music) of Nashville. The top 5 nominations will be announced this Thursday in Nashville August 15th at 1pm MST by Inside Editions Megan Alexander.

Congratulations to everyone on the Spirit of Love team! Spread the Love and Spread the Word.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock proclaims May 6th Spirit of Love day for movie cast and crew

On Monday May 6th we had a sneak peek premiere for cast and crew in Denver along with members of the media and distinguished guests at the SIE film center.

To kick off the evening we received a Proclamation from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock making Monday May 6th, "Spirit of Love" day.The Mayor had been invited but was out of the country and he asked the Director and CO-Director of his commission for persons with disabilities to present the award on his behalf.This was a very nice surprise since it was something initiated by someone in Georgia and Colorado who recognized the importance of our film.A true blessing.

We had a packed house and received great accolades and congratulatory comments from everyone
in attendance.

Comedian  Dan McGowan said "Spirit of Love is one of those rare films that goes beyond the art of film making and touches the heart. You can't miss the message that each of us, while appearing different, are really quite the same - we ALL need to be loved, and to show love to one another!

One of the things I loved about the film was how what most view as a physical limitation was viewed as something normal - as opposed to over sensationalizing the topic. The metaphor of sports is great because, as one coach says in the film, "...anyone can play basketball..."

Spirit of Love will give you a new way of viewing those who, on the surface, appear different. And you will be challenged to show love to others in a brand new way."

Former Denver Bronco Kenny Walker  attended to show support for some of his students in the film  said, "Spirit of Love is a movie for all to see.One that advocates and educates about the deaf."

When interviewed on camera Award Winning radio personality Jennifer Wilde said. "I don't like sports films,but I loved Spirit of Love. Although it is a film about basketball, it’s not about the sport. It’s a film about working hard, perseverance and acceptance. And the way to create acceptance of others is to find the ways you are like them. That’s what the film teaches. Whether we are black or white, deaf or hearing, we are all, our own unique person, and that makes us great. Great work!”

As a director,producer,and writer it is always fun to see a live audience laugh or cry in response to something that you and the cast and crew were able to bring to the screen.

One of our teen actresses responded, "Now the movie is done" which many of us who know the business remarked "We've just begun."

We are setting up various key screening events to get the word out and increase support of releasing "Spirit of Love" into theaters with open captions just as it is.That way everyone can have the same experience with our amazing ASL performance by Aaron Kellogg and MJ Williams who beautifully perform in support of Laura Dodds amazing vocals with captions.So there really is something for everyone.

Remember to visit http://spiritoflovemovie.com/      and spread the love.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Running Hurdles how about you?

Forgive me Father its been over a month since my last confession,I mean Blog.One follower asked me this morning hey how come you haven't blogged lately regarding the film.Truth is that social media can be somewhat over whelming and more so when you realize that everyone else is over whelmed with social media themselves.Fact of the matter is that as an indie filmmaker you are generally a staff of one.Not complaining but when you're in the trenches people have no idea,because in reality I have no idea what goes on in the life of others.

So here goes.....

I wrote the screenplay.Held auditions.Traveled to Georgia and filmed footage from the actual camp.Rewrote script to fit our kids who showed up at the auditions.(Who am I to say they couldn't be in the film) They stepped up and raised their own bar of expectations.They deserved the chance to shine, and shine they do.We shot the film over 14 days.We did a rough edit and layout in 1 week.We handed off the rough edit and all files to our LA editor and composer in Denver last week in August.Worked full time in constant communication with both our kick butt editor and composer.

I flew out to LA a second time to do some tweaks before handing off the finished film to our distributor in Nov.Don't get excited about LA I slept on an air mattress in a friends 12x12 studio apartment.Not as glamorous as it sounds.  :) )  3 1/2 wks later he passed away from Pancreatic cancer.(He thought he was on the mend from a bad case of the flu)

So I started to try and make a new plan.Then I was invited to screen at the Tx Christian Film Festival in Feb.Meanwhile working to get the captions correct by sitting down with two interpreters to go over captions transcripts,then back to LA with editor to make some tweaks to support with the captions,
and finalize credits which was complete on Feb.4th,2013.A few of us attended the film festival on Feb 17th and we came home with an award.(audience loved our work) Oh I forgot. got posters laid out and printed.

Write press releases and trying to find time to take a breath.So while we are still getting press out I developed a free discussion guide which will be given away with an ASL chart for alphabets with every DVD purchased.(This is available on the website.) This came about after watching the dialog and questions that followed the festival screening.The ASL chart came about when I read about a deaf young man getting attacked because nobody could determine he wanted a bottle of water blessed,and that he wasn't there to throw it on the speaker.
Even finger spelling could have kept this from happening.I was appalled.

So I spent hours and hours working on schedules and ironing out details in order to set media screening events.The cast and crew get to attend as well,and yes seating is limited.(sorry about that)
The purpose is to get the right exposure and support and fan base,and media quotes to reach out again to distributors.Theater spaces are not free,so we had to negotiate the best cost and it had to coincide with Mike Glenn's professional schedule as well as the theaters schedule.Plus an angel came forward to cover the cost of the theater.Not just a case of not wanting to show the film to anyone.

As a result of great exposure and applause and cheering and audience response at film festival another angel came forward and paid for the MPAA rating(Hoping for PG).The paperwork alone took 5 hours.Then you have to label 2 DVD screeners and they can only be delivered to the LA organization between certain times each day.Our film is now in the Que to be rated.Once they screen and rate it those DVDs will be destroyed.

Simultaneously I spent 3 days going through all production stills and had to make it work within the boundaries of the template for the artwork design for the DVD case,and then the design for the actual DVD disc which will be a nice treat.(Then spent 1 more day working with my graphic artists to make it all work perfectly.)Now it took 4 more days to get the initial DVD order negotiated and order placed and then they have their own work flow process and all of the artwork had to go through their art dept for proof of color and design.Then we shipped two master copies overnight for them to create a glass master.Now the order should hopefully start production tomorrow.

Then I had to sit down and provide info for selling on the website which includes pricing and bulk orders including shipping and taxes and many other details which I won't bore you with,that is if you are still reading.

Meanwhile we have to follow up with potential guests for RSVP's for screening in Denver and Atlanta.Also we are reaching out to non profit groups who have an interest in screening the film and selling DVDs as fundraisers for their organizations.

Then we are going to flood the office of distributors both theatrical and television/cable and VOD
to raise the awareness of this great story and film.

People ask how can I help?Or can I help?

Everyone can help by spreading the word and asking your friends to join the fan page or to tell others
who have non profits who would like to raise some easy money for their organization while supporting the Mike Glenn camps.

I tell you all of this because I get emails or calls asking what is going on with the film? Do you realize how many hurdles there are to get this far just since August.There are films which never even get this far,let alone get in line to be rated by the MPAA or even released on DVD,etc.Some films take 2-5 yrs to even get this far.Some with huge budgets and others with relatively no budget.We are the latter.

I worked as an actress on a friends film 2 yrs ago and its not as far as we are with Spirit of Love.
My point is the Journey is not over Its just Beginning!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Laughs,Tears,and Cheers in Houston

This past Saturday a packed audience for the first US public screening of "Spirit of Love",the Mike "Stinger" Glenn story  http://youtu.be/Iga_dcMggGA  was filled with laughs,tears,and cheers in Houston at the TX Christian film festival.

Sometimes its difficult for people to understand the process regarding marketing and selling and promoting an indie feature film.It is not about just showing it anywhere.Its about strategy.Its about getting distribution.Its about putting this open captioned film on the big screen so that both deaf and hearing people can enjoy it side by side.Its about finding the right strategic distribution partners who understand our project and the bigger picture and demographic of our targeted audience,which happens to be very broad.

We were invited to screen at the festival and as I was gently reminded today "Sometimes you have to dance with the one who brought you." In other words they invited us with a full court press.

The film was well received with great positive responses from both Deaf,HOH,and hearing audience members of all ages.Actually the age range started at age 5 thru 90.Part of the process for us included providing comment cards for feedback.We wanted to know what people thought and felt regarding our film and our story.

The film screened during the NBA Allstar weekend and the traffic from those activities spilled over into our successful screening.It also was the cause of many with reserved tickets NOT being able to navigate traffic to the screening.So we apologize to those people and hope they get a chance to catch us on the rebound.TX Dot closed frwy exits due to overcrowding capacity at the famous Houston Galleria.

Those who were able to screen it were overwhelmingly grateful,thankful,and inspired by our amazing cast.
As a filmmaker I have never experienced the applause and cheers at the end of the credits like we did this weekend.It was very touching.

One audience member stated that our film has a "Sweet Innocence" lacking in todays films and may be the "Feel good" movie of the year.Its definitely early in the process but we will stand on that tasty morsal.

We participated in a Q&A following the screening with interpreters.All audience members were animated and engaged in an hour long discussion.

It was a wonderful experience for all of us from the Spirit of Love family who were able to attend.

We were awarded the "Best Inspirational" film by the festival committee. We are truly grateful for the opportunity and the experience.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Prejudice,Lessons,and character

I sat down with some words scribbled by me on paper which I felt were inspired from above this week along with our films editior Barry Kolsky, and  music inspired from above and scored through non other than Mr. Alex Grant to create the Official Theatrical movie trailer for Spirit of Love.

Barry and I sat and pulled clips and and audio and images that we felt inspired us. Oddly enough they seem to fit. So much goes into the making and marketing of a film that you can lose yourself going and coming.It was like I knew something was percolating in my brain but it just wasn't quite there yet.
I knew we needed an Official Theatrical trailer but it just wasn't time.

The words and outline started to come slowly but they weren't quite right.

I scribbled and crossed out,and scribbled more and more ,but not until I was
 flying 30,000 feet up in the sky on my way to Los Angeles did it come pouring out.
THIS SEEMS TO BE A WAY that God uses to get my attention or to give me insights and lessons.
(Perhaps he knows I don't like flying) :)

Can't really explain it but it's not the first time a vision for a creative project became clear on a plane.

In the past we have posted teasers and trailer footage which were being used for other purposes regarding the film,but nothing had the right vision of what we wanted to convey for the film and our tremendous teenage heros,and the great call that has been on the life of Mike Glenn to impact teens through his character and actions. We are truly grateful and proud for all who have been a part of this film project.

However I hope everyone will enjoy the new Official Theatrical trailer which features our amazing teens who are not actors,and most all  had never made a film before. But that doesn't take away the fact that lessons were learned and taught by all on set, and even through the editing of this film and now the final trailer and ultimately the finished film.

I believe there is a greater and bigger purpose for this film and its message.

Words like Racism,Prejudice,Hatred,Anger,Bitterness,which are present in our film, can all teach lessons. What You Do with the Lessons,Determines the Character of a Person.
Enjoy the Official trailer and share and comment on FB and youtube to spread the word about our film. http://youtu.be/Iga_dcMggGA

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Big D or Little D Controversy

I say it time and time again. "Every time I make a film ,I get a new education", this time is NO different.Yes that is a Big N.

When I made my first feature film "The Goal" I learned about TBI and SCI.(Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury along with Quad & Para, and what it means to be on Quad time or to work your program).With the 2nd film Dandy Kids, I learned about DWS & DWM, Hydrocephalus, and shunts,and on and on.(Dandy Walker Syndrome,and Dandy Walker Malformations)The 3rd  feature was a different genre altogether,so lets move on to the current and 4th feature film project "Spirit of Love".

In the process of making this film I learned about Big D and Little D.While our film may not be Big D it is Little D with some Big D moments.Big D is Deep Deaf Culture, no exceptions.Our film is not steeped deep in Deaf culture.It is a film that raises awareness of the differences that exist within the deaf and hard of hearing communities to educate the hearing communities.It is a film that promotes and inspires teens or anyone who has ever felt different or lacking in skills to "Just Do It" try it,dream it.  It is a film that opened the door for many deaf & hearing teens to have an experience of a lifetime.

Just like the differences that exist in each American there are numerous differences within the deaf & hard of hearing as well.I have even been told Deaf encompasses Hard of Hearing, but even that brings controversy.

I made a clear decision that I wanted to use deaf teens to tell our story and not hearing teens.However what I soon learned was that there are many variations of deaf. Most of the teens who auditioned for our film grew up with different levels and types of hearing loss for a wide variety of medical and non medical reasons.It was anticipated by me that all of the kids who showed up would be fluent in ASL.They were not.I learned that most have grown up with a combination of different modalities which work for them and their families.Some use hearing aides,lip read,have implants,and some of their signing is not true ASL.Some use English signing while others use something in between.Even my own nephew uses hearing aids and without them he hears nothing.

Obviously when you have adults who grew up learning sign language over 50 years ago they are more English and not ASL.Even adults or children currently suffering recent hearing loss will not be fluent in ASL overnight.

As a director and producer and teacher I learned a long time ago to focus on the positive of what each actor,teen or person brings to the table.If I chose to cast all hearing teens then I would not adequately be representing the story.If I refused to use the teens who showed up and discriminate against them because they were from the Little D world, then I would be hypocritical to the message and purpose of the film.

The teens and adults in our film represent the modalities of communication which are right for them.It works for them.Their accents are authentic.How they speak is exactly how they speak.They are not like actors in some productions, who fake a deaf accent to emphasize hearing loss.
Its inevitable that no filmmaker anywhere is going to make a film that everyone agrees on and in the case of "Spirit of Love" I am no different.
At the end of the day I am proud of our film and all of our "Spirit of Love" family who brought their amazing gifts to the set each day and delivered a truly inspiring film and story.Our film is causing discussions and inspiration so we did our job.
Here are some recent quotes recently received.
The coaches from the movie inspired me. It's a good movie, very encouraging.

The movie tells us that deaf can do anything and it's a really inspiring story. It shows us that we can work hard and suceed.

"Always play hard no matter what and don't back down no matter what". This quote from the movie hit me. Thank you for the movie - Kentucky boys.

The movie seemed to inspire our boys from Kentucky. In my opinion, I'd like to see more signers in the movie so it will impact Deaf children more and tell them that we are capable to do anything.

The positive aspects of the movie: it showed a diversity of deaf individuals (deaf, hard of hearing, signing, oral, disabled, mixed races), emphasized discipline, good feedback and reinforcement shown by the coaches in the movie.

The negative aspects of the movie: too oral, not much ASL usage, not culturally Deaf.

I feel the movie showed too much of an "hearing attitude" to Deaf.

 Signed English not ASL was the dominant language.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Essence of the story

The purpose of our film, the Essence if you will for "Spirit of Love" is to Bridge the Gap between the Deaf and Hearing communities with the Hearing, through this inspirational film.It's not about changing one or the other but about acceptance and working together.

I've been so busy preparing for next week in Los Angeles, and in 20 days I will be attending the first public Film Festival screening in Houston.This is always a nervous time for a filmmaker.You get to see live reactions of audience members.We get to see if we did our job first hand.As a Producer and Director I often forget to stop and enjoy the journey.

This week I was asked to pull production stills and actual film clips from Spirit of Love along with B roll footage and interview clips which were shot in Georgia this past June at the actual 33rd annual Mike Glenn camp for the DHH.The clips and info are being sent to a very large organization that can help promote our film. (More news on this coming soon)

In doing this exercise I discovered some diamonds in the rough and gems along the way.This story and film began a long time ago.Watching the interview clips which haven't aired anywhere reminded me of why I did this film and want to share it with multitudes.

It's about the teens, and the kids.It's for everyone who has ever been told they can't do something.Or for everyone who has negative false beliefs about themselves.This film can and will heal deep wounds of the heart.It  has a purpose and a place.Watching this clip I remembered I'm living my Dream and you can too,even if others tell you that you can't.http://youtu.be/2_lSXk9LSOk