Friday, April 18, 2014

Write About What You Know: A Message From Ricky Gervais

Yesterday I was speaking to a friend of mine Jason Sackel on Facebook messenger. At some point he sent a link about writing. It was a video of Ricky Gervais about how he writes. After watching it, it donned on me that perhaps I had gone about this whole writing thing the wrong way.

I don't have a degree. I'm rather close to a few of them, psychology, sociology, business, you name it. I've been going to school off and on for about 20 years. My tastes and interests change or so its known. I had always loved writing. The idea that I can sit down with paper or a laptop and create something that didn't exist before is just exhilarating. But I'd be misleading if I didn't mention it was hard.

I'm not afraid of "hard", as a matter of fact it's a common thing for me to say anything worth having isn't easy. That being said, I felt like I couldn't really get into my groove. I've been doing this blog for awhile now. I write about anything from soul searching, family, motherhood, society, film, ambition, motivation to writers block. No real subject matter just thoughts that have meandered into mind.

I couldn't help but believe that there was in fact something I WAS supposed to be writing about. But darn if I could ever discern it. Then along comes Jason.  A person that has been nothing but helpful since the day we met in Preston's acting workshop.

He sent me the video and it made perfect sense. Ricky states that he took a writing course and was received poor grades as he was writing things he thought were exciting. The teacher kept saying, write about what you know.

So Mr. Gervais decided to write about his grandmother cleaning. Something he did tongue in cheek to torture his instructor with the mundane boring details of a British woman's daily duties. His teacher gave him back his paper with the first A grade he'd received since starting the course. After that the light went off in his head. I have to say it went off in mine as well.

If anyone asks me what I do, the first thing that flies out of my mouth is full time mother. Then I casually mention that I'm a film producer, a talk show host and a writer. It's the truth. I am all those things at the moment. But the fact never escapes me that I am a mother first. It's what I know best, it's what I've done the most. Yet, why don't I write about it?

That answer isn't easy but it needs answering. Especially since that feeling that I'm supposed to write has never left me. Funny enough it was motherhood that stopped me from writing over two decades ago. At the time my writing subject was very self-indulgent. Self-indulgence isn't really feasible when you become a mother.

Yet I had all the material I could ever ask for day to day. Now I'm taking some friendly British advice from Mr. Gervais and I'm going to write about what I know best and that is my family. I hope its contributes positively in any way. It's going to be a bumpy ride. I'm about to be honest and try to make the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Episode Four of Art & Soul: A Calm Resolve

I first met Chris Leto the first day of shooting on Syntax the Movie. We had spoken on the phone prior to our meeting. All I knew of him, I had gathered from his cinematography reel. At the time I was just relieved he'd be a part of the project as many other filmmaking elements were competing for my attention at the time.

That first day of filming was very exciting for me. Waiting for the camera's to be set up, for everyone to arrive, going over checklists in my mind I was all over the place. Joe looked at me and asked if I could get some things that were left at my house just up the road from our location. I happily obliged as Joe went one way and I went another. We would divide and conquer. Chris had gotten a ride with Joe to the location and I assume wasn't too thrilled with just waiting in the parking lot.

Chris looked at me for a solid 2 1/2 seconds and then said about three feet from my car, I'm going with Trina. As he jumped into my car I thought, this guy is cool, we could have fun. I could tell right then.

He wasn't in my car 10 seconds when he started asking me questions about how and why I wanted to be a producer and filmmaker. I told him my story and he sat and listened. As I would glance to make polite eye contact I could see in his eyes, this guy pays attention. Not in a googly-eyed desperate stalky way, but in a quiet deep understanding kind of way. As I finished up my story his gaze never really changed. It stayed as calm and receptive as when I first started. After I was done talking he looked down at me and nodded in a way I can only describe as pure understanding and then said in a quite sincere tone,Well I hope you stick with it. I really do. And that was that.

I'll never forget that moment as I count it as the first time I met Chris and his demeanor left a lasting impression on me. To put it bluntly, he's the kind of guy I'd want as a friend and be honored to call a colleague.

Working with him is nothing short of a blast. He's hard working and focused, always ready for work. He tirelessly endures the most painful of situations with calm resolve. THIS is what I love about him as a person and admire as a professional. He's never tiresome to me.

The other remarkable thing about Chris is his selfless desire to help all filmmakers. He generously bestowed me with all his knowledge of budget filmmaking. He offered the services of his friends and resources with glee and optimism.

Chris is subdued when he's unsure or waiting. But watch his face when he talks about making one of his films or catch him as he gets a really great shot. This giddy awe struck young man shines out of him. Any time I see it I get a dumb smile on my face because it feels like I just saw a really great secret and only I know about it. It's just plain cool.

Talking with Chris for our preliminary interview was fun as we had to Skype it. I prefer to do it in person in order to feel people out but he was just too busy, as was I. As we connected he sat on what I assume was a couch and we jumped right in. I'd be lying if I said it was "easy", it wasn't at first but Chris has layers and sometimes they have to fall on their own. I respect that.

I went through my standard questions, took my notes and kept on talking. Next thing I knew it was an hour and a half. I knew I had all I needed to do the show. He had countless tales from the films he'd done and trying to pare it down to half an hour was painful. In the end I decided to keep it professional since that's how he kept it for the preliminary. I would have loved getting more personal details but something tells me he's a moderately private person.

My second favorite thing about Chris is when I ask a question that skitters near the realm of personal, he gets a look on his face and then says in a cool, collected, slow way...You really want to go there? It almost sounds like a thinly veiled threat but I know it's two things, a warning and a preface. It's to be kind and not anything else, in the end he's trying to spare me the details. One day I aim to get them and keep them as any good friend would. Mr. Leto you are warned.

As the interview displays adequately, Chris is all too happy to share his ways and means to other filmmakers. This guy LOVES what he does and he wants to HELP others that love it too. He's not the kind of person to deny someone the same joy he lives for. That alone makes him a great person to me. His generosity, fervor and affability make me want to work with him again.

It's no wonder all the people that I've met that have worked with him would work with him again. In this business it is about who you know and what you do. Lucky for him he can make quite an impression and it doesn't hurt that he loves filmmaking.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Emotional Intelligence: Guide #1

I've decided to start sharing some things I've learned about how to navigate the inner verse.

As women we feel our way around. I'd love to know a male perspective on this. If you're a male and would like to have this conversation with me please comment to this post. In the mean time ladies, come with me for a second and see if any of this makes sense.

When we meet someone new there are a number of ways we respond to the situation. One is when we look with our eyes from behind the walls we've learned keep us safe. This is a good tactic since we use time to be the ultimate proof.

When we do this we have multiple conversations where we ask questions, listen to answers and watch for what I call red flags.

RED FLAGS #1: whenever the thought, "That's strange", occurs and we file away that moment till more information comes through that lets us know where to file the answer.
RED FLAG#2: Happens when we sense or feel something weird and we hear the thought, "OKAY what was that?" This one can be tricky. Depends on how strong the feeling. The stronger the feeling there's a chance that we may feel bad that we "judged" them harshly or are "confused". I've learned when I feel this to take two or three steps back and add more TIME to vetting process.

This post is mainly to define and identify the different ways we process our impressions.

Lately I've been meeting a bunch of new acquaintances. Some of these ladies are a pure joy. But some I've heard have been having a hard time networking or knowing who to trust in a work related way. This guide I hope will serve to assist them.

When someone asks you to go out to talk about work, do you feel A.) This is a good opportunity B.) this feels weird C.) this doesn't feel right D.) Somethings off  E.) Hmm I'm not sure.

Ladies we all know this is the majority of what we feel. Looking at the answers it's pretty obvious what's going on. That's right unless its A.) this is a good opportunity DON'T DO IT.

The brain processes information at such a rate, it's hard for us to know what we're seeing till it's too late or something "too heavy" or "weird" has occurred.

So lesson number one is unless it's a solid, THIS IS COOL opportunity DON'T DO IT YET. No opportunity is so great it's worth abandoning the trust we need to establish with ourselves. Trust me if the situation is REAL it'll be there when you're sure.

That's it ladies! Let me know what you think or please share your personal experiences below!

As women we used to wash the laundry at the local watering hole and would discuss our feelings together. With the 21st century these opportunities have all but disappeared so lets use the internet to rekindle this in a safe honest way.

THANKS for your time.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Episode Three of Art & Soul: Jennifer Lander - Pain Begets Artistry and Opportunity

It's another bipolar day in central Florida. Nothing new as the morning had rain and the afternoon is now blistering, the evening was chilly, what can I say?

I met with Jennifer Lander at the Riverview FL Starbucks. She's been there for a "few" minutes. I check my phone and see no text. This lets me know she's a patient woman and doesn't like to be a burden or too pushy. I already like her based on her apparent humility.

I excuse myself and order a small passion tea lemonade lightly sweetened. I tap my credit card on the counter waiting for my drink, casually looking over where Jennifer is seated. Her posture is unassuming, natural and yet pulled in. She is 5 foot nothing, yet some how she makes herself smaller in this moment as she waits for our preliminary interview to begin.

I get a text. Zelda's "Secret" chime is my text tone. I hear from behind he counter a shout of recognition and glee. The male barista is impressed by my text tone. Good for him, now we have that in common. I make the statement, I FOUND A SECRET! Oh how true this is.

I get my tea, exchange a few more jokes and comments with the staff, a past time I learned from my father and sit down in full attention. I put my drink, phone, glasses and keys on the table between us. I sit and realize I had not greeted her adequately. I lean over with my arms open and hug her, something I do frequently to most people I meet when I feel a connection. The deeper the connection the more I hug. I try to be aware of individual reticent's but really there is no guarantee of that, just so you know.

As I sit down turn on my phone and open my Notes app and get ready to take notes as we speak. I begin, So tell me how did you get into photography.  She begins with the same story she shares on the show about a woman she had met from other film acquaintances and so the story goes.

I ask more and more questions, she's a curious blend or super open and very dodgy. I get it, I understand. There's so much in their honey it's hard to know what to share and what's okay. I've struggled with that all my life as well. Where do you begin when you see all that's happened to you before and how it got you where you are now? What if they see that over-grown path to a time long ago filled with pain and shame? What if I take that road and look around? What will I think? I look down and it's been 15 minutes and her story is so gripping I've already finished my drink. I excuse myself again and order the largest size they offer, something called Trenta. I scurry back and apologize. She jumps right back in but she adds, You know what I'm just going to tell you everything. My eyes widen and I hold my heart and hear her tale.

I know all too well what it's like to have endured the sum of any one of my mistakes. I'm not about to encroach on the path of pain without compassion. Forty-five minutes go by and we are talking like we've been best friends for years, old souls that have crossed paths again. To be more accurate we were more like two soldiers who fought in the same war, had won the same battles, only her scars are more numerous and less her fault. My emotional scars are like something Forrest Gump would have endured and just as "foolish". Jennifer is the Lieutenant Dan of the emotional growth experience, they were not of her reaction, instinct or design. These circumstances befell her.

It's been an hour and our conversation is like a reunion with two childhood best friends that have been separated for 30 years. We both wiped a few small tears away and kept on talking. Neither one of us all too comfortable with "feeling vulnerable"yet we handle one another's moment with discretion and kindness. I am grateful for it.

She traipse in and out of how she became a photographer and her experiences of filmmaking. She sounds unsure and in awe at any given moment about her craft. One thing I have garnered in the time we had, she's a damn hard worker and will give all that she has for the opportunity to create something of service to another.

That kind of generosity and effort is rarely seen. She wears her battle scars in her brown eyes, but when she smiles it all melts away for a moment. This may not have been visible in the episode but trust me it's all there and I'm sure it colors all she does.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Episode One of Art & Soul: Katelyn Studer A Whim Shows The Way

Last nights episode of Art & Soul with Trina Fallon aired on Talk Wad Studios at 10pm Eastern time. On the show I interview various creative professionals in the local Tampa Bay Area as well as mention any local charities, fundraisers and philanthropies.

Philanthropy has always been a passion of mine. When I was in Germany on Ramstein AFB I heard the story of Andrew Carnegie and was instantly aware that I wanted to one day be a great philanthropist. The idea of helping people appeals to me greatly and it drives me to persevere with Art & Soul.

My goal is to be in a position to help others. With Art & Soul I intend to help the arts. Last nights guest Katelyn Studer was a joy to talk to, the insight into her craft was nothing short of enthralling. It was easy to ask her questions and her answers were revealing. Making a connection with her is easy to do while the watching the show.

Hearing how she discovered what acting methodology was best for her to perfect her craft, had to be the highlight of the show for me. Emotionally raw and insightful was just the beginning as she recalls the tale of being the lead actor in the play The Sweetest Swing. In the play she has to take on being an emotionally-unstable artist who's failing at her craft. After being institutionalized it's discovered that she is well enough to leave. Whereupon the character then pretends to be mentally ill and dons the personality of Darryl Strawberry in order to stay.

During the show she describes what it's like to slip into method acting as well as the pitfalls and hardships of that particular acting method. Her answers are very enlightening. I look forward to hearing more tales from other actors about their own pitfalls and how they overcame them as Katelyn did in her experience. To think this journey began on a whim is incredible.

The human condition is not without moments like Katelyn's, but it's how we conquer and overcome them that allows us the ability to move forward and share that experience with others.

I met Katelyn at the Manasota Film Festival here in Sarasota Florida. The Sarasota Film Society has created a venue for up and coming artists and filmmakers. Their generosity and sponsorship of the arts perpetuates a feeling of camaraderie, support and creative endorsement. These elements make it possible for other local filmmakers to meet like minded people and possibly find new projects.

Since I started attending the Manasota Film Festival held monthly at Lakewood Ranch Cinemas in Sarasota, I have met a slew of incredible filmmakers, actors, composers and more. I have had the exceptional experience of meeting only positive, welcoming, and supportive people.

I look forward to attending more film festivals in Sarasota, if you'd like to become a member and help support the thriving community of new filmmakers here in the Tampa Bay/Sarasota area please click here to join.

Meanwhile please stay tuned Thursday nights at 10pm Eastern time at Talk Wad Studios to meet more creative professional and how they found their calling. Art & Soul with Trina Fallon is also on Facebook click here to like the page and get updates about the show, see trailers from independent filmmakers and news from other local creative professionals.

Episode Two of Art & Soul: Better Late Than Never: Battling Regret With Courage and Inspiration

Last nights episode 2 of Art & Soul was exciting. Speaking with Tracy Roese is always effortless. She's candid, open, honest and relatable. Her story of walking the straight line and taking the road most traveled, resonates with a large number of people. At some point we can all relate to listening to those that have the best intentions for us when all along we've had the answers within us.

Her tale of pushing herself aside for others and trusting what the world wants for us is a common battle growing up in America. I say that as it's the only life I know and to be fair it's the only one I can reference with any confidence.

She goes into detail of how she first discovered she wanted to act and then the consequent denial of those desires from her mother who truly only wanted what was best for her daughter. As Tracy grew up she fell in love and began a cycle that would keep her distracted from her real love of acting.

Circumstances befell Tracy and she had to over come incredible odds not to mention abuse from her trusted boyfriend. One evening she finds herself locked in a basement keeping her children safe until her boyfriend went to work where then she planned her escape and never looked back.

Her father came to aid in her rescue and assisted her and her children get on their feet while she pursued a degree in what her father advised, accounting. She obtained her first degree and went on to pursue two more, rounding out her experience with business, international business and science.

After her onslaught of degree acquisition she sought out another degree in teaching which she currently does for steady pay as she pursues her acting career.

It wasn't until her daughter introduced her to Lost that she finally got the courage and inspiration to run down her dream. Watching five years of episodes in just four days she was enthralled to say the least. In the interview she recalls the moment that effected her most. Michael Emerson's monologue had enraptured her and she was sobbing on the floor, completely effected by his performance. That's when she realized THIS is what she wanted to do.

She looked at her life, seeing the controlling relationship she had been tethered to, being 80 pounds over weight and unhealthy she decided to make a change. With her dreams at her chest and inspiration at her back she set off on an incredible journey of perseverance, struggle, and goals.

“At any given moment, you have the power to say that this is NOT how the story is going to END" ― M.H.S. Pourri

She enrolls in Johnny Casablanca's school of modeling and acting to see if she in fact had the chops. Turns out she did. She graduated that school and then took off to audition at several venues before meeting Mr. Domonic Smith who was looking for an actress for his 48hour Film Challenge project. He shook her hand, a detail she lovingly shared with me and the rest is history.

I look forward to seeing what Tracy will do, I'm an avid fan of her story and as a result also of her work. She's a poster child for women that have put their lives aside for family and for the straight and narrow, but her tale is one of victory because as she says, It's better late than never.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Don't Lose Sight of The Shore

Let's talk about my long term goals. Simply because I don't want to forget them. I want to create entertainment that is thought provoking. Not in the shock and awe sort of way, there are plenty of people that do that better than me. If I had to say what my voice, my gift or talent would be, it would be the ability to make people think.

Today I watched the interview between Oprah and the zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. In the interview he mentions deep listening. It was great to learn the definition of this, since it's what I strive to do when I engage with someone. He states that when we deep listen we help alleviate the suffering one feels. I have seen this to be true.

Deep listening is a gift we give to ourselves and the people we are with, it's a state of being completely present with them. Great things happen when we do this, I never knew it had a name.

But back to what this post is about. My goals, are to one day have the experience, the clout, and the resources to film my documentary. It's what started me on this journey to become a filmmaker. My first film Syntax the Movie is a science fiction short about the choices we have ahead of us in a technologically progressing world. It poses important questions for all of us. It's why I wanted to make the film.

Later this year I look forward to working again with Mr. Chris Leto on another film he's working on called Medal Of Honor, the story of Captain Lance Sijan. This was the first Air Force Academy graduate to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his acts in the Vietnam War Conflict.

Right now I am focusing on a few things. One, my show called Art & Soul with Trina Fallon, where I interview creative professionals to discover how they've chosen their field, how they've overcome any obstacles and what they're doing now. It's a deeply personal show for me since I am genuinely interested in how individuals in the creative professions do this, most everyone I meet has an interesting tale of how they ended up in their field.

My next focus in the interview is how they overcome obstacles, I explore this in the hopes of sharing these skills, and opportunities with others that may be encountering the same problems. This is a cross pollination of experiences if you will. Lastly, I ask what they're are doing now,  to see how they've taken these skills and put them into practical use.

I've learned a great deal over the last three weeks about how to prepare for an interview, formatting, staging, and much much more. I enjoy meeting with new people and recent friends about their journey. I love trying to create an interview that best displays their talents, and interests. As I work long hours completing my production outline, going over questions and looking over notes, I begin to see where this could lead.

My imagination is not without consequence. For fear of getting distracted I write this now. I don't want to abandon my goals. In order to prevent that, I'm conducting a hard look inward to question myself. I love filmmaking. I love helping filmmakers. I love facilitating creativity, organization and resourcefulness. It's what I do best. I need to stay grounded and positive as I move onward and I'd like to give back to all those that have helped me along the way.

In order to do that I must be clear about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. Hence this blog post. I need to remember that this is just another stepping stone. It doesn't have to be my identity but it can be a part of my identity. These moments do not define my life but they are a part of my life. In order to be present I need to be aware of why I'm here and I'm here to learn as much as I can and to help as many people as I can, because in the end we really are in this together.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Courage and Self-reflection:Tools for Motivation

What is courage? I'd say its knowing you're afraid and doing something anyway. If it's not that then, well, I need to find the word for whatever that is, because I do it all the time.

Say it Nelson

I guess I have one of those faces that looks brave all the time. Well that's not true, I look pissed, thoughtful, determined and sometimes brave. Truth is, I am not pissed, when I'm mad it comes with an omnipresent feeling of electricity or so I've been told many many times. Admittedly, I'm not an angry person. No husband your opinion does not count here, you're an exception. Marriage has its benefits, one of which is my best and my worst. I love you. :)

I think all the time. I look at myself a great deal, I've found find that if I don't, things go unnoticed and feelings get hurt, or I miss things. I don't like missing things, it's okay if it happens but really I like to see things that are coming, it's a coping strategy. Getting the sense that I can see things coming makes me feel more secure most everywhere I go. I walk taller, with a smile and greet anyone I meet because I'm ready for it.

I'll just put this right here.

I am embarking on a new journey, one that I am wholly unfamiliar with. That comes with many questions. Questions that, have recently been brought to my attention, sound like I'm beating myself up. I was surprised by this. But it's important to know.

Here we step at a time.

I am not in fact beating myself up, I'm taking into consideration things I hadn't thought of before, again to become familiar. It sounds like doubt, its consideration. My self-doubt? It's self-reflection. I feel, very deeply in fact and when I feel the under currents ebb and swirl, I talk to them like Calypso by the rocks.

Why hello Calypso, what are you doing here?

This may seem like self-doubt or flagellation, but I admit, it's how I conquer fear, and the unknown. By already determining what drives me, pushes me and scares me I can name it, tame it and hold it's domesticated hand into battle. It's how I do things.

Back fears, BACK!

This blog is called Ponder This, for the simple fact that it is what I do, I ponder. When I ponder, I pose questions to myself and others. From family, society, to self, I go over the ground. Honest? Revealing? I'd like to think so. For about a minute after I post anything I think, should I have written those things, then I just sigh and let it go. No Frozen song here please. No offense.

Hmmm I wonder...

But I felt like I needed to qualify my previous posts after getting some feedback that made me want to go back and read what I had written that could have given them that impression. I see it, without my tone to set the stage it does sound rather sentimental.

Play it a little louder now.

So I'd like to set the record straight, I'm not giving up. On this or film production, I've found  my people and I love them. Some of the most interesting, helpful, creative, down to earth people that make me laugh and proud to say yeah, I'm a film producer.

Love these ladies.

Don't get me wrong, I've met people here and there that make me see what people are talking about in this industry. But let me tell you, those people, they're everywhere you go. Everywhere, from the service industry to corporate to contracting, and yes I've done all of those in the past. These personalities are present on a person to person basis, not an industry basis. So take some solace in that fact.


You cannot run from them, the abide everywhere. Like air they fill the spaces. Take heart there are plenty of life giving, breath's of fresh air too. I've met dozens upon dozens since being here and working in this business. People are nice or they have baggage or both. As long as you know that then you're fine, don't take it personally, they do that stuff to everyone everywhere. Trust me.

The Dude Abides

That being said, I'm not going anywhere, I'm staying and I'm making this happen. I hope to make Art & Soul with Trina Fallon a place where the audience can tune in to see new and veteran faces of art and entertainment. A place for charities, fundraisers and philanthropies to share their goals and inspirations for the benefit of others. I'd like to shed some light on creative professionals everywhere so the general public can gain insight and get questions answered. Lets abolish some common misconceptions and revel in the accurate perceptions. Learn about methodologies, muses, inspirations, journeys, and the bramble paths we all walk to get where we are now. Let's face it, we've all seen things....

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...