Friday, July 11, 2014

Episode Twelve of Art & Soul: Film Producers; Robert W. Sterrett III, Flying Car Productions, Scott Sullivan

Since starting this show I have met some incredible people and have learned countless things about my craft as a producer. I've met directors, actors, photographers, makeup artists the list goes on. On my journey to create content and entertainment I find viable, I have interviewed people of all forms of creativity. These people are driven, focused and innovative. One thing they all have is determination.




The producers featured in this episode have that in spades. Robert W. Sterrett III came from Los Angeles to Tampa years ago with many feature films under his belt. Then we have Sherrie and Austin McKinley both graduates of Ringling College who started Flying Car Productions. In their spare time as working creative professionals they also make short films in Sarasota. Then on to Scott Sullivan, whose day job is an educator, he's also the assistant principle. During the summers he's a filmmaker extraordinaire taking on 24 and 48 hour film projects whenever possible. These individuals know how to get things done.

Robert got his start in L.A. With hopes of writing and directing his own films, he started out helping out on set. Next thing he knew he loved being a producer. I met with Robert for his preliminary interview. He is a busy man in high demand. He was very generous with his time and expertise. He shared with me how he chooses a film and all the elements that are essential in filmmaking. The most striking thing I had learned from Robert during his interview was how long it takes to make a feature as a producer. According to Robert every feature takes two years of your life. After I picked my jaw off the floor I asked him How?



In detail he started at the beginning with time estimates for each step. No kidding it takes two years. Having learned that from him, I have decided to be more careful in obtaining projects. I then asked him how he chooses a film. His number one reason, the story. He has to love the story. Robert cares about
the entertainment he produces. He takes into consideration how his films could effect and influence a great number of people. His sense of responsibility as a producer is admirable to me. I am glad to know him in any capacity.

Then I met with Flying Car Productions of Sarasota Florida. This husband wife team won my heart at the Manasota Film Festival when they showed their film Mop Up Crew. It wasn't their work that captured my eye in the beginning. For me it was they way they introduced the film to the Manasota Film audience. Mark Troy, the MC of each event,  gives each filmmaker an opportunity to introduce their film and tell the audience more about the project before it is viewed. Sherrie and Austin were candid, humble, and endearing when speaking about the film. They shared their inspiration for the script of Mop Up Crew. It all started with a friend who worked at a place that looked like it would be a great stage for a story. So Austin began working on the script and then they both started getting all the costumes and actors for the film. They shot the film, edited it and finally presented it to the festival. It wasn't long after this that I got to work with them on the set of Caster's Blog: A Geek Love Story.



I cannot express with any accuracy how much I learned from that set, let just say it was a great deal. I got to speak with Sherrie as she was the producer and I was a production assistant. I never miss a chance to pick the minds of any producer I meet as that is the profession to which I aspire. Sherrie had some great insights and warnings. As do most producers I have met thus far, Robert included. Sherrie and I spoke at length about that production as well as other's she'd done in the past. What I admire about the McKinley's style of filmmaking is that it's feasible in the sense that they take into account that there are cast and crew members that have lives, jobs, and dreams. They're careful in how they approach each project. They take into consideration a myriad of messy details such as work schedules, lack of money, tenuous locations and crew members. Their collective ability to plan and handle numerous contingency scenarios in what looked to me, like a flash, was impressive. I know now that they have running contingency plans for their contingency plans. It's like Inception but for film production.



Flying Car Productions will make it happen, either with or without a big team. They decide and then they ride until its done. Personally, I find this combination formidable. Since they're both artists and graduates of Ringling College being creative ain't nothing but a thang. They know they have it covered if all else fails, which in the past it has and they just pick up the pieces and keep carrying on. I look forward to seeing what they do next and more than that I want to know how they got it done.



Scott Sullivan and I met on the set of Domonic Smith's film, Waves. I was brought on as a script supervisor. I had never done this position before so I was nervous. However, I did what I always do and took heart that as an apt student. I can learn anything and rather fast if I out my mind into it. Never underestimate a highly motivated pupil. Scott was the DP on the film and was very inclusive. His gentle voice and rapier wit caught my eye early on. After filming all weekend long, Scott had invited me to help on his feature film that would be shooting this summer, I eagerly agreed. We kept in touch a bit here and there, when I had finally approached him to come on Art & Soul as a featured producer. Scott was an easy choice once I'd learned he'd won Best Picture on two different short films. One that he produced, written, acted and directed all on his own. Using his own words he "Ben Afflecked that thing all the way" on Serum. I love his humor, it tickles my funny bone.




I met with Scott for his preliminary meeting at The Oxford Exchange. We ate and talked about film. I started asking him how he chooses a script when he informed me that so far he's written everything he's produced, save one. That film was Eye Of The Storm with Domonic Smith. Scott was the owner and camera operator for the film and as the project went on it became clear to Domonic that Scott's current film credit was far from being sufficient and then gave a producer credit to Scott for all the work he'd done on the film. It went on to win Best Picture as well. Domonic, Matt Tremendous, and Scott are an incredible team.

While on the set of Waves, my film partner Cindy Krapfel and I had noticed the closeness of Dom's team. It made being on set a thrill ride of moments. I couldn't wait to work with them again. I had asked Scott during the interview how he goes about getting funding for his films. His answer just blew my mind. Understand that his answer may not be that earth shattering to anyone else but to me it readjusted my whole way of thinking. His answer was simple. He doesn't ask for funding on short films. He considers short films a guilty pleasure where he gets to play and learn at the same time. He doesn't find that it's fair to have someone else foot the bill for him learning on the job. Also he stated that he personally doesn't like asking people for money when they have no hope of getting it back in return.



Wrecked my brain that did. I stopped and thought about it and I was impressed for a whole other set of reasons. This man, as it became clear to me, was responsible, un-entitled, humble, and honest. Not only with himself but with others. His consideration for other peoples time and money was a breath of fresh air. I am not implying that other short filmmakers are not. I'm just saying that his was rather blatant to me as he point blank stated it as a consideration. I began to respect him deeply as a filmmaker right then and there.

My next question to Scott is how he'd go about getting investors for a feature film. His answer was simple yet again, he stated a few things. One was, It's easy to make the greatest film in the world. The hard part is getting anyone else to see that it's great. I could not agree more. His objective is to make a product that people want to buy in for, straight up that's it. Write a film that when people read it they say shut up and take my money. He has many objectives when making a film. The top three most important in his book are make it look incredible, collaborate through camaraderie and tell a great story.



From Robert's practical true blue Hollywood experience, to Austin and Sherrie's homegrown production adventures to Scott's disciplined experimentations on set, these producers have great advice, understanding and knowledge on how to make a film and then show it to the world.

Shooting will take place later this month, stay tuned to Art & Soul with Trina Fallon at https://www.facebook.com/artandsoultrinafallon or subscribe to us in youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdbZZARAoZ4tv3c3TwC-uIw or sign up for direct emails to get our blog posts and videos sent directly to your email at www.starcombstudios.com

Friday, June 20, 2014

Episode Eleven of Art & Soul: Owner of Elusive View Studios & Aerial Cinematographer, Aaron Barnes

Elevated Emotion Drives Aerial Cinematographer


Aaron Barnes is the owner of Elusive View Studios, an aerial cinematography company based out of Bradenton Florida. Aaron served in our nations military when a defining moment overseas made an impact on him. Aaron was stationed in Afghanistan when a fellow soldier received a care package from home. In that package was a polaroid camera. They were on post when Aaron's friend took a picture of an Afghani family. It was a picture of the man, his wife and his children. Aaron's friend gave him the photo. When the civilian saw the picture he immediately broke down and started crying.




This man had never seen a picture of his whole family together. The man was so overwhelmed by this precious gift he just wept while he held the photo in his hand. Aaron began reflecting on how Americans take for granted how we can take 15 pictures of ourselves before we even leave the house and think nothing of it.

That moment would inspire Aaron to become a photographer. He tried it for awhile and although he was terrible at it, he never stopped trying to integrate his desire with this new found passion to bring people moments that move them. Aaron had seen the power of photography and wanted to continue showing people views that are immersive or touching.



Aaron came home from leaving the military and started exploring different realms of photography until one day he met a man with a radio controlled car. This would eventually lead him to aerial photography and then aerial cinematography. He would later buy equipment, use them, reengineer them and so on. He is self-made, self-taught and self-motivated.

When I first met Aaron it was on the set of Caster's Blog. He had an numerous black boxes of various large and imposing sizes. Each filled with a quad-copter more impressive than the next. We were standing on the pier when some of the crew were chatting about inanities. Aaron started on a tangent about some peoples clothing choices. This spurned a conversation between him and I about our differing opinions and perceptions. He politely listened to mine and I in return, listened to his. I knew then that although we don't share the same sentiments about such things, he was still a rational, logical, and intelligent person who definitely has a mind of his own.



Over the course of the shoot we spoke of various things. Eventually I had asked him what his job was on set. That's when he began to light up and show a different side of himself. Until then Aaron was funny, witty, and downright humorous. Now with the topic of aerial cinematography he just lit up, as he was telling me about his craft. I began to ask him more questions. With every answer he gave, I knew I wanted him to share that passion on the show.

Aaron's professionalism, drive and thirst to bring breathtaking moments on film to the general public will be the key to his success. It's plain to see how his motives shape how he maneuvers the small craft upward and onward into the sky. His choices are mindful, always taking into consideration the needs of the client and how best to display his new found artistry.



Despite the fact that he's only been doing this for six months, his shots are careful, steady and artistic. I look forward to seeing what this young entrepreneur will bring to the table for any project that has had the fortune of hearing about his services.

Aaron Barnes can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/elusiveview He can also be reached at abarnes282@gmail.com and at (941) 301-4288. Give him a call or subscribe to his youtube channel at https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCS9RRwdefSb-PnO9zlgui7g



Friday, June 13, 2014

Episode Ten of Art & Soul: LIVE Radio Show Hosts, Cranial Emissions


Dedication, Humor and Brotherhood Reveals Passion

I first met Cranial Emissions at the 2014 Tampa Regional Talkie Awards. I had been invited as a presenter for Best Empowerment Show. I readied my speech and was aiously awaiting my queue to approach the stage. I had asked one of the moderators when I'd be going up. I knew I had at least 20 minutes before show time.



I turned to April Comstock-White to assist me with delivery. April is a marketing specialist. She graciously accepted my request and joined me outside the awards hall. As we're going over my speech, she critiques my delivery and gives me great advice on what to do. I'm about to practice my speech again when I see a tall, dark and handsome man walking towards us. He's obviously headed to the same gala. He's well dressed in a suit jacket and white button down.

Ben sans suit jacket.

I cavalierly state, "Oh my, are you famous? You look familiar. Do I know you?" I'm some how able to discern this man has an incredible sense of humor. There's that small talent I've mentioned before in Leon Salem's post. He smiles and lets out a humorous chuckle under his breath and says to us, "As a matter of fact, I'm a live radio show host. I'm Ben Charles, good to meet you." We share more quips and continue talking. As we're joking I can tell he's sharp, fast on his feet and a straight shooter. It's in the way he forms his sentences, his carefully chosen tone and the subtle way he changes his posture. He's good, this I can tell. Not someone I'd want in the opposite corner, however  I can see it's also easy to have him in my corner. I know then, I want to get know him better. I can also tell it's not easy to win his trust. A discerning challenge that I eagerly accept.

Ben Charles in the wild.

Finally I get my queue, approach the stage and give my introduction. Afterwards I step outside for some fresh air and go to find Cindy Krapfel. Cindy is meeting me at the awards ceremony. She's about to arrive and I have her ticket. As I head for the doors, I see Ben Charles again, each time I see him I burst into the same greeting of, "Oh hey, don't I know you?" We laugh and joke each time we see each other. I take a glance around him and see two other men. Trying to be aware and yet not intrusive I take note. There's a quiet gentleman to his left wearing a tartan golf cap who is very aware of his surroundings and extremely reticent. There is also a rather rowdy fellow with amazing pork chop sideburns wearing a jet black button down and blazing white tie just around the other side of the table.

The quiet Joey T and Ben Charles

I do this another five times throughout the night. Finally, I can see the awards are coming to a close. The last four categories are up and it's getting late. I turn to Cindy and ask if we should go. She nods her head, we grab our purses and get up. As we head for the door one last time I hear from the stage, The nominees for Best Live Show are: Cranial Emissions...." As I'm walking towards the back I hear this great name for a radio show and immediately start wildly cheering. It just so happens that I'm passing Miguel Hito, the man with the great pork chop side burns. As he hears my hearty holler for their show he turns to me and states, " Who are you? I love you! Hey, where are you going? Stay here, we're about to win!" I'm impressed with his confidence and stay by their side.

Miguel Hito and pork chops.

As their show is announced as the winner of Best Live Show, an eruption of cheers, claps, screaming and running breaks out around us. The hosts of Cranial Emissions high-five each other, pat and hug all the way to the stage. It was incredible to witness. I knew right then, I like these guys and I want to help them period. Call it whatever you want, but when I saw the level of closeness and camaraderie these men had for each other it was clear to me that what they do is truly a labor of love. It was obvious from their entire demeanor.

After that award they went on to win the next two categories. They took home awards for Best Host and Best Co-Host as well. They were just beside themselves. I waited for them to come off stage the last time and offered to take pictures with their phones on the red carpet. Later that evening we invited one another to be guests on our respective shows.

The Triumvirate

Over the next few months we kept in touch, became friends and even helped each other on different projects. Finally it was time to have them on Art & Soul. I had been nervous about this since I left the studio. I knew I needed a sound guy, better sound equipment and a crew for their show. I had been able to bare bones produce some of my shows. It's easier when it's one guest, one host and two camera's. However, three guests with big personalities and a professional live radio show history that spans across three years and numerous platforms, well that's another story.



I finally have a solid crew, great sound equipment and time. I invite them on and they make plans. I met two of them at O'Tooles in Brandon. I had to conduct a phone interview with Joey T as he was on vacation. I drive up and see Miggy and Ben sitting at the bar, eyes fixed on the sports programming provided by the bar. I grab my phone and head to where they're seated.

We open with light 'how have you been' conversation. They offer me a beer, as usual I decline. After a few minutes of conversation I state we're ready to begin. I go over how I think we should conduct the show. The men will be seated by seniority on the couch and then be individually addressed. I start with Ben Charles, the show progenitor. I go over each of my questions and ask Ben and Miguel individually. Each time Ben says Mike in an answer it takes me a second to know who he's referring to, it's Miguel. I forget that Miguel Hito is Mike Parot's radio name.



Each answer is carefully thought out and yet filled with intimate insight about the show. I can see from their approach and their process of making Cranial Emissions just how significant the show is in each of their lives. Cranial Emissions isn't just a radio show, it's a life long passion fueled by the friendship that each of them have together. I'm amazed by their singular purpose and concentration. It's easy to see what will be the hallmark of their success. That hallmark is friendship. Real, foxhole surviving friendship. None of these individuals holds one any higher, more important or significant than the other. This alone is a feat.



As we finish up the questions we discuss one another's plans for our respective shows and share concerns and ambitions. It's nice to have colleagues that respect the efforts, trials and tribulations of programming. As we commiserate issues and episodes we finally wrap up our conversation and start to leave. Miguel brings my plate into the restaurant as we had been sitting on the back deck outside. He clears the table in no time. I watch him out of the corner of my eye and cannot help but notice what a generous, humble, concerned and considerate person Miguel really is, I say that since his radio persona is the boundary pusher. It's now clear to me why he's so good at his job. One must know the boundaries very well in order to be an effective tester of said boundaries. I call this the Will Ferrel effect. Will Ferrel is very aware of what is absolutely appropriate. It just so happens that he finds being inappropriate extremely humorous. Hence his humor. Miggy is a boundary pusher, a tester and he'll put you right on the line to see how you squirm and then poof he releases. He does all this in good humor delivered with a child like grin.



Finally it's time for the interview. I'm scrambling for sound and framing. I offer refreshing beverages which they accept and start making themselves comfortable. Ben falls in love with my rat terrier as Joey is being held hostage by her. They call Joey T the animal whisperer. Joey T is a quiet, mild mannered, cerebral fellow who's main job on Cranial Emissions is the voice of reason. Joey is known for his incredible way of summarizing whatever topic they're currently discussing on the show. His knack for insight and his calm delivery makes him stand out. Ben is the antagonist, the driver and the dry wit. Miggy is the quintessential character, bringing to life more than 60% of the personalities that pepper their show. Joey keeps them on point, in check and back on topic.




Each of these men are great at their own thing, but what makes them great together aside from their friendship is they fact that each of them is aware of what the other one brings. They honor and respect one another's strengths and all of them know that without one or the other it just wouldn't be the same.

Interviewing Ben, Joey T and Miguel was easier than I had anticipated. At one point the sound card had gotten full and had stopped recording. We rewound the clip and Ben was quick to troubleshoot. When we started back up, he picked up right where the clip had left off and it was seamless. It was great to behold. Before we had started up again I had asked him if that would be okay, he gave me a wry expression and calmly stated, "Please, we're professionals. We've got this." I smile and wait to be surprised.



Throughout the interview I ask each of them individually what they bring to the show, what they do to get the show ready for broadcast and yet each of them is quick to incorporate how the other members contribute. At no point is any one of them inflating or elevating themselves. I was simply in awe of this fact.  Their professionalism, humility and respect is so great, no line of questioning was ever going to make them forget one another. It was a true expression of real friendship. No man is left behind or forgotten among these three.

The Cranial Emission Show centers around brotherhood, sports, and conversations that anyone of us with close friends would engage in, they pepper these moments with characters, stories and good ole fashioned radio humor. Tune in every Friday night on TalkWadStudios at 7pm LIVE from ESB Brewing in Tampa. Come see what happens when three best friends with a love of sports, humor and broadcast have two hours of radio programming. They make their own commercials, racy skits, and character acting. It's safe to say that nothing is safe or sacred when it comes to the show. Tune in and be ready to be shocked and entertained.





Friday, June 6, 2014

Episode Nine of Art & Soul: VFX Artist/Filmmaker, Matt Jimenez

In Creativity & Kindness Lies Adventure

I first met Matt on the set of Waves, a Shooter Production. I had heard from Domonic Smith that they could use some help on their production that coming weekend. I signed up immediately. I had been looking forward to working with Domonic since seeing a few of his films. The moment I had a chance I was going to take it. If for no other reason than to see if my assertions were correct about Domonic. Yes, I do this.



A few Facebook messages later Domonic mentions how Matt inquired as to whether or not I was cool.  Well that is the question isn't it? I'd like to know that myself. In any case, Domonic had assured him I seemed cool enough and I was invited to assist them. 

Matt was brought on as a producer for Domonic's segment of Waves. Matt is usually Dom's 1st AD. A role he is quite fit to do. I would be the script supervisor, something I had yet to do. I was nervous but willing to prove myself and learn as quickly as possible what the role entailed. I arrived at the radio station 88.5 WMNF of Tampa and had introduced myself to the crew. No Matt Jimenez yet, I was looking for him. I needed to introduce myself.



I went to Cindy Krapfel my compadre on film sets and asked if she'd met him yet. Negative. No Matt for either of us yet. Domonic hands me the script and gives me some highlighters. I pull out my clip board and start breaking down the script. Not sure if it was up to industry standards but I was gonna give it the old college try.

Moments later Matt and several other crew members enter the room. Dom introduced us to everyone. Finally I meet Mr. Jimenez. He's wearing baggy pants, a graphic tee, his hair is in a bun-like pony tail and he has the warmest eyes. He gives a pleasant smile and shakes my hand and bounces out of the room.



Now when I say he bounces, he didn't do a few jumps, like if he were doing b-boy hip hop moves, No. He bounces like Tigger. He has an energy that is real, palpable and filled with purpose. Much like Tigger. He is on the go and he's gonna get there quickly. Man is on a mission. 

For the next few hours I would casually observe him while desperately trying to fill the role for which I was invited to do. Between takes, Scott Sullivan, Domonic and Matt would crowd around the tiny camera playback screen. Scott Sullivan the DP for Waves reaches out to me and with a calm, comforting and inviting tone says to me, "Come, come, it's snuggle time. Come snuggle and see." His hand reaches out and pulls me in. I feel like I've been invited to a family meeting. I crowd around and stare with all intents and purposes to check for continuity.



This would happen for the rest of the night. Amidst all the cuddling and shooting, I notice at one point that Matt is trying to listen to Dom give direction from the other room. Matt is 100% present and listening. When all of a sudden he's startled and jumps back from the control desk where we are all seated for the shot. He looks down and muffles under his breath, Wha the... he notices it's Scott's 1st AC Julia. She is under the table with markers and she is drawing on his foot. Julia is a student of Scott Sullivan's, she's only 17. Scott is a professor and assistant principal at Millennium Academy where he teaches science, math and film. He brought her to get experience and assist him as his 1st AC. 

Julia is giggling under the table and marking Matt's feet. She draws some vines, a flower and some other standard juvenile graffiti on his foot. He doesn't seem to notice or mind at all. He just goes with it. He doesn't ignore her but he also doesn't give her any undo or any inappropriate amount of attention.



This impresses me a great deal. For many reasons, one he's being professional and maintaining focus on his job despite numerous distractions. This is a wildly attractive trait in my opinion.  My husband possesses this trait and I challenge it anytime I can. I have yet to win. I love and I recognize it in Matt. Plus one for Matt.

As the night continues, there is some light playful flirting between other crew members and Matt. He does not reciprocate. He maintains his course and I think I know why. He knows it's inappropriate and instead of being opportunistic he has chosen professionalism. Plus two for Matt.



Throughout the night I saw Matt be the producer, the 1st AD, the PA, the 1st AC and a frenetic ball of action. He inspired us all to stay on task, to mind our posts, and to help Domonic in any way possible. He did this all while being impressively kind, positive, gentle, considerate and professional. How? How was this possible? He anticipated what Domonic wanted at every turn. There were moments when Dom would say, "Matt..." and Matt would say, "Yeah Dom?" and then without Dom having to finish a sentence Matt would say, Oh yeah... and bound out of the room returning with whatever it was that Dom needed. 

Now I would like to add that Cindy and I are a team on set. She has a bachelors degree in hospitality and it shows. Cindy is my Matt. She anticipates others needs before they're asked. Myself, well I'm a mother of 5, my life is anticipating needs, problems and solutions. I always have a contingency plan. My contingency plans have contingency plans, just ask anyone who knows me. With this in mind, let me now state, that Cindy and I felt like we were doing next to nothing. We usually show up to set and do three different jobs each. It's how we try to be. We aim to be re-invited to set and the only way to do that is to prove yourself and be invaluable.



Matt made our plan harder than usual. He was doing what Cindy and I do. We made a few comments to each other about it. We were beside ourselves. This came up throughout the weekend we were shooting. Matt was ubiquitous and hard to beat. We respected it. 

Domonic and Matt's friendship is hard to miss. Domonic's friendship with everyone is hard to miss. It was obvious to Cindy and I that this team is very tight. Matt and Dom exchange inside jokes and whispers on set. Matt nods his head in agreement and leaves the room returning with intel and solutions. 

At one point during that weekend. Matt needed to get something out of the work truck. Cindy and I had acquired an entry code to the radio station. We were the only way in from the outside. I followed Matt and got some water out of my car while he retrieved the tools Dom needed.



We were talking when Matt turns around for a moment and states, " This is cool. I like you. I like this. I wasn't expecting this. It's nice." These simple words meant the world to me. I wasn't all together sure why at first until Cindy and I talked about the shoot later that evening at my house in the hot tub. After our discussion we realized what a special crew this was and that we were lucky to have been a part of it. 

We talked till 5AM and the shoot ended at 1AM. That's four hours of rehashing. During our talks Matt came up more than a few times.  Each reflection ended with a resounding, I LOVE HIM. I often say that Cindy Krapfel is covered in fairy dust. Something about Cindy makes you love her. Matt is also covered in some endearing substance. Perhaps it's loyalty, hard work, competence, and humility. Whatever it is, it's working for him. More importantly Matt works to fill a need, to be part of a team and do the one thing he wants more anything, a life that can be described as a grand adventure.



I talk to Matt before the shoot ended and asked him what he hoped to do for a living. He said make films. I clarified my question and asked him if he could be known for anything what would it be? What job did he want to do more than anything? He said, VFX artist. This was great news for me. I want to have different types of artists on Art & Soul and I had not yet interviewed a VFX artist.

I invited him on the show. Matt was flattered and excited and joyfully agreed to come on. I set up a preliminary meeting the following week. I show up a bit late since I had to make and finish dinner and muscle through 6 o'clock Tampa traffic.

I arrive at his apartment building and send him a text. He comes out to meet me and we start talking. We discuss the shoot, how much fun it was, what our week was like and what we're about to do. I inform him that during the preliminary I go over some standard questions and ask him about his life and craft in general. As we walk up the stairs and into his house I sit down and open my phone.



I ask how he knew he wanted to be a VFX artist. He starts with his time at the Art Institute of Tampa. He goes on to explain how he pursued a degree in film production and wasn't satisfied with his tutelage. That he felt that he was still ill prepared to be a filmmaker. So after he got out he started teaching himself VFX.

As I go through my standard questions and write down notes on his answers one thing stands out. Matt is incredibly kind. All his answers and statements point to this one glaring beautiful trait. This man is genuinely kind through and through.



At one point I ask him why VFX? His answer demonstrated to me just what kind of person he is, he stated, I saw a need that I could fill. These were his exact words, verbatim. His verbiage reveals much about him and his motivations. This man wants to be of service, to be needed and to be a part of a team. It's all right there in those seven words.

His hard work and desires are now a reality as he's teamed up with Domonic Smith and they are one hell of a team. Their camaraderie, closeness and understanding of each other makes it obvious why these two continue to work together.



Alas it's Friday, I've decided to treat Jared and Matthew to pizza at my house before the show. Matthew and I go to pick up the pizza with my two youngest children. As my children play in the back seat, Matt looks comfortable and makes a few pleasant observations about them. He notes how happy they are and even laughs at some of their comments overheard from the front seat.



On the way home, pizza and children in tow, I call my husband Joshua. I notify him that I've purchased his favorite pizza, Hawaiian. His lack luster response lets me know he's not doing well. After I hang up I address Matt and state, "uh oh, My husband is not happy." Matthew being the concerned person that he genuinely is asks, "Oh, why...why is that?"

I tell Matt that whenever I make Josh's favorite dinner he always says, "Yaaaaaay", but this time his response was anything but enthusiastic, which lets me know he's not happy. Matthew states affirmatively, "Well then, I'll have to hug him. I'll give him a hug."



His resounding solution is just another cool piece into the psychology of this generous spirit. As we arrive at my home. Matt is carrying the pizza's. I bring in the rest of the groceries. Josh has been scrubbing the pool. Covered in a sheen of perspiration and donning what I affectionately refer to as "his little white dress" AKA his wife beater, I introduce the two. "Josh, this is Matt Jimenez, Matt this is Joshua." Matt puts down the pizza's, Joshua extends his hand, Matt goes around my kitchen island and says, "Come here, I want a hug." Josh smiles and lets out a hearty laugh as they both meet and hug. I can already tell that Matt's unique medicine has worked. The haggard shadow of the days hardship has washed away from Josh's face and now he's happy again.  They begin talking while Jared is plucking away at his computer.



I offer everyone refreshing drinks while we wait for the oven to preheat. Jared hasn't stopped working on his project for AIT. Moments are peppered here and there of Jared muttering under his breath about his general dismay regarding the work he is trying to complete. The men hang out in the kitchen making conversation about computers, film and technology in general.

After we eat we get the set finalized. Matt's patience and cooperation are right on par with everything I've stated about him thus far. He's wearing baggy black jeans, a graphic tee from Infinite Nightmare. It's worn and looks like he's had it since high school. His hair is in another bun-like pony tail. Those warm brown eyes still shining and of course his signature smile. He looks happy to be here, which makes it easier for me to get everything ready for the show.



Jared does a sound check, Joshua is helping him. We get in our places. They check our frame. Joshua wrangles the animals and gets them in place. I take a deep breath, look over to Matthew and ask him, "Are you ready?" He looks back at me, nods his head and says, "Yes. Lets do this. I'm ready."

I grab my iPad and look over the format. Jared asks about clips and photos, I go over the details. Matt asks to takes a quick look at the format one more time as well. It's time and now we're all ready. I take another deep breath and begin.

As we begin the interview, Matt looks comfortable and quite natural. He's unintimidated by the camera. I go through my questions, having to start over a few times, pause for a few more, change out a battery, and dump a sound card. Matt is a picture of bliss. Not an ounce of impatience or frustration. Nothing phases him. He's on point, patient and natural. He was great to interview and he has incredible instincts. Either he's very observant, empathic or both. He knew when I was about to start, he knew when to pause, we were on the same page the whole time. This was different.



I'm not sure if it was him being a gifted interviewee or myself for getting better at my craft of interviewing. Whatever the case is, it was obvious this interview was more in tandem. Which makes sense. During the interview Matt uses the word collaborative numerous times. Although he'll say on the one hand that he likes working alone, it's also obvious to me that he loves collaborating. Obtaining a sense of belonging in an endeavor is tantamount to finding meaningful work.

Matt is practical about his craft. He doesn't want to waste anyone's time or resources. He's good at assessing the work needed, the time and the cost. Considering the fact that he's been doing this for such a short time respectively, I find it interesting that he can already do this well. I attribute this to his ability to be real. He has no problem taking into account the current state of his abilities, the time it takes given the resources at his disposal and the demands of the client. This will lead to his success.



At one point I ask him, how these clients find him. He mentions that they've found him through word of mouth. Ahh, yes! Casie Lucas was right. She stated in her interview, You have to be good at what you do, then professional. Word of mouth is how she stays busy. People refer her to clients and other opportunities. It's worked for her for over 17 years.

I can see that Matt stands a good chance of experiencing the same amount of success as Casie and for the same reasons.  Casie is fun to be around. Matt is as well. I know I'll always want them to be on my set, along with numerous others such as Jared. Jared is fun in a completely different way. First of all there's the impenetrable wall of mystique that surrounds him. I've never in my life found someone so hard to read. One thing for sure, if Jared doesn't want you to know something, you're not going to know it. That's a new one for me. Once Jared has decided to let you in then it all becomes obvious, good luck until then.



After the interview I offer drinks and we all sit out on my back patio near the pool and just talk. It's what I look forward to every week. Sitting out back talking to Jared, Casie and my guests is easily one of the highlights of my week. We talk about getting into the industry, artistry, art and films. I'm half tempted to record them but then I fear they'd become impersonal. Our conversations are anything but impersonal. I enjoy my time creating Art & Soul. I love meeting new artists and creative people. I'm honored to hear their stories. I'm invited into their lives if only for a few hours. I look forward to sharing that joy with the world at large. What could be better than seeing into the creative souls that bring us the very entrainment and art we all crave? Their art promises to help us escape or elevate our current way of thinking or feeling. That my friends is why we all need creative people in our lives. They open their hearts and minds and weave a spell of interest and intrigue that challenges they way we think, what we know and what we love.



Matt's entire impetus is to create a grand adventure. One where we can all sit around, what he affectionately calls the glowing box. We are cordially invited to a world of adventure. How could you decline such an invitation. I know I couldn't and I won't. Only now I have font row seats to whatever world he chooses to create. I can hardly wait. How about you?


Friday, May 30, 2014

Art & Soul: Revisiting the Visited - A Season Recap Thus Far

This week has been hard for many reasons. Editing can make or break a film and it should not be rushed. Therefore it isn't. Patience is something acquired and being a mother of 5 I know a little about patience. As Jared Miller injects his expertise into my episodes I am comforted knowing I'll have nothing to worry about in the finished product. One thing for sure, if I ever make a film on my own, I'll have him edit it.

Jared Miller and his girl 
Crystal Colón

The other hard thing about this week would be the fact that one of my daughters is leaving for the summer. I've been busy with various film projects throughout Tampa and Sarasota. From helping on Caster's Blog via Flying Car Productions or script supervising on Waves a Shooter Production. Not to mention countless networking events and parties. One thing that can be said about this industry, we don't lack opportunities to get to know each other. I haven't missed many if any at all.

Nova 535 TTSN Networking Event

Now the summer is upon us parents but for a blended family that means someone's leaving. This prospect is the other ugly-headed side of the coin. Don't get me wrong, I want no sympathy. I'm merely pointing out the obvious here. Happiness has it's consequences and one of them is sharing the progeny. My daughter's other family surely and sorely misses her as I will this summer. I guess the hardest thing about it is here we have little to no fun. It's school grind and Leave It To Beaver week end week out. I cook meals every night and crack the proverbial, "Have you done your homework and chores?" whip every single day. This while essential, is everything less than fun. And now, I don't even get to plan any fun with her.

Mother's Day 2014


I am no stranger to sacrifice. I never have been. I've maybe sacrificed the wrong things, or not enough of others, but hey, hindsight is 20/20 am I right? In any case, the prospect of not being able to make pleasant memories with her is saddening any way it's cut.

So I canceled attending a launch party and had to back out of a Caster's Blog filming date. This is also hard. I want to be on set, helping move the production along, anticipating the needs of the producer, director, and crew. But alas no, I know that being here with her this weekend is my last chance for fun and she's worth every second.

I was a PA for this project!

Today I'll be looking back at the guests I've had thus far in season one of Art & Soul. With that I start with Katelyn Studer. When I first met Katelyn it was at Manasota Film Festival. She was talking with someone. As I introduce myself she mentions, "you're the one with the talk show." This took me by complete surprise. I had only started talking about it on Facebook. I hadn't done any interviews yet. I was just floored that she even knew.

The elegant Katelyn Studer


I started explaining the show and what I had in mind. I asked her what she did, she told me she was an actor and a costumer. Hey a double tap, nice. Excited I asked her what she was working on. She mentions she's also a part of a charity event called iConcept. Change that to a triple threat! I immediately ask her if she'd be my first guest. She smiled bright and her eyes widened and she said YES!


I have to mention that when I first met Katelyn, it was hard for me to talk to her. Blame it on the stress of starting a new show or me double fisting beers but it's true. I was already concerned with how hard it was for me to talk to her or connect initially. I get her contact information and promise to call her tomorrow. As I walk away from the interaction I'm already troubleshooting what happened and how to fix it. Years of being scrawny and different has prepared my mental faculties for such things. I run down each moment and determine I need a preliminary interview.

Edna Mode: I love her.


Since Katelyn was technically my second interview, Preston being the first, I had a feeling that winging it wasn't going to work. Preston's interview was already stilted from a number of things not to mention all I had prepared was a list of standard questions that I would ask each guest. This was not going to work for the show. Katelyn made this clear to me and I'm glad she did.

I met her at Starbucks. It was rainy, dark and a bit cold. I run in damp and ready to go. We talked for almost two hours. Once we got started it took about an hour to really connect with her. But once it was established I knew I was good. I knew right then, I'd always have a preliminary interview just so I can connect with my guests on a personal level. I find that it helps drive the show and helps me to know how to prompt and transition more smoothly. Add this step permanently.

Oh myy


Katelyn is a gem. She's a hard working breath of fresh air. She's unassuming, confident and completely present. You won't be seeing her drift off on set. Even when she checks her phone she looks around first to make sure nothing needs to be done or can be done to help first. HOW can you not love that? Yes, Katelyn I did notice that about you. Muahahahahaha. Nothing escapes my acumen. Try me. :)

I love her personality, she's witty and fast on her feet. I can tell she can improv and memorize lines, we have mini quote wars and she's prolific. A must, to be in my inner circle. I simply adore her. Getting to know her, one would never guess how young she is, she carries herself like Audrey Hepburn, classy, positive, kind and warm. Her hair always looks nice, her appearance clean and simple. She's always smiling and never has a harsh thing to say about anything. Just a beam of positivity on set. Cannot get enough of this lady I tell you.

So classy

Then I had Tracy Roese as my second guest. Our prelim was at Panera. When I arrive I see her Rapunzel like long hair free and kept tamed by a small tasteful barrette. She's holding two coffee's in her hands and dumping cream and sugar into each one. She smiles and lets out that infectious laugh that can be heard in her interview. We hug as she asks me if I want anything. I wave off the drink as we step outside to start our interview.

Tracy Roese 

We begin with what's to be expected. I can tell by her questions she turning pro right in front of me. Her eyes and face change, her expression is professional and her questions are right on point. I answer them and we begin.

She starts at the beginning of her life. She goes into detail about all the wrong turns she made that finally lead to where she is now. Happy and finally an actress. My jaw drops at least three times during her interview. Her story is gripping. The stuff that mini series are made of, let me just say her E True Hollywood Story would be enthralling and win awards. Yet she somehow has the temerity to be infectiously happy.

That effervescent smile. 


Tracy holds four degrees, one in accounting, one in business, one in education and science. She teaches high school Biology during the day and at night she's an actress. This double agent of talent and ability is humble and kind. Nothing is going to stand in her way now. If you've seen her interview you can tell, when she puts her mind to something it happens.

Next up is the photographer Jennifer Lander. All I have to say about her is in my blog post about Pain Begets Artistry, but if I could recap anything about Jennifer it'd be her strength. She has no qualms about heading forcefully in a direction. She's fearless and determined, yet humble. How she can do this is a paradox and a mystery yet I'm telling you straight, that's her. A complicated mix of hard work, tenacity and self-doubt. Her energy is strong and I love making her laugh. I feel like I've won an award any time I do it. I only wish I had more time to spend with her.

Yes, she is as strong as she looks.


After Jennifer came Chris Leto. Chris is an enigma, a tall, quiet, filmmaking enigma. I get the sense that when this man is at home there are times he looks around his house and thinks, how did I do this? He's in awe of where he is and how he got there and he's even boggled that it's working. But the best thing about it? It never goes to his head. I love that about him, he has no illusions of who he is, he stays grounded and down to earth. He's a straight talker when he likes you and if he doesn't... well he's as silent as the grave. I miss him, his humor, his voice and is unique way of playing with people he respects. Chris and Casie should have a bowling team with matching Rob Zombiesque bowling shirts. They get each other.

Chris Leto happy as a clam on set.


Speaking of Casie Lucas, she is guest number five. Chris Leto was my last guest at Talkwad. Her interview was the first at my home studio. There were a number of things that went awry, from my dogs wandering into camera view, to the cat jumping on her to the horrendous sound issues. Jared tried his best to salvage the interview but alas it was daunting. I went ahead and bought all new sound equipment and scheduled a reshoot with her and Kenneth Kall, the author.

Casie on set at Art & Soul


Casie Lucas is an amazing person. Good luck ever knowing that since she guards that part of her like Professor Snape hid his involvement with Dumbledore. Yes, that is in fact a Harry Potter reference. She lets a small number of people in and I have whittled my way into her life. She's quick witted, funny, sassy, and crude. But under all that she's tender, loving, honest and strong. In a bar fight, I'd want her in my corner. In a fox hole, I'd want her underground with me. If we were soldiers, we'd Sijan our way in and out of that mess, broken legs and all. She's a true friend.

The first episode with her.


My favorite thing about Casie are too many in number for one shared blog post but I'll let you in on a little secret. When she has something serious to say she lowers her voice, her eyes get eerily clear and bright blue. She takes a short curt breath and just for a moment the air gets calm and everything becomes silent. It's as if the universe has conspired to help her deliver the message and her face changes completely. Like a force of nature she tells you straight that which you need to know. Yeah, I'm gonna roll with her till wheels fall off. Love that girl. Oh and she's a total professional with a brush and some pigment.

Casie working on Kenneth Kall on the set of Raised On Media

After Casie came Brandon Hyde the cinematographer. Brandon is quiet and carries an air of seriousness. Whenever he's around I can almost feel how deep his thoughts are and trust me he's a deep thinker. He strikes me as an individual that can see under the veil. Yet he never lets on that he can do this. I can tell by his answers and the look in his eye that nothing escapes his view. He's reserved, professional and madly in love with his wife and craft. When he smiles it changes the entire landscape of his demeanor and this gentle accepting man just opens up. He's one cool dude. Can't wait to work with him one day. He's tireless, prepared and hard working. All things coveted on a film set.

Brandon Hyde on the set of I Am Super


Next up is the author JR Kennington AKA Kenneth Kall. Kenneth was a great person to interview. His experiences were so different than anyone else I'd already interviewed I couldn't wait to dive into his literary world. His approach waxes and wanes between extreme professionalism to childlike wonder. He does this in person as well. One moment he's a man with a master's degree in education and the next he's giggling like you've known him since grade school. He can shift from the esoteric to girl talk in a matter of nanoseconds. He's intellectually adept and easy going. It is pure joy to spend time with him.

Kenneth Kall shoots straight about writing.


Finally we are at episode eight with Leon Salem. What can I say about Leon that I haven't already said? He's a class act. Yet his demeanor would never indicate that he's aware of this fact or of anyone's opinion of him for that matter. One thing that stands out is how willing he is to help new filmmakers. This will surely pay off one day, my hope is that he gets his one wish. To see his name attached to a film that's being played in New York. I'd like to see that too Leon.

Leon's work in lights.

My crew consists of six people right now. Jared Miller as DP and Editor, Casie Lucas as key makeup artist, and Joshua Fallon on sound and as animal wrangler. i also have the help of my daughters, Kierstyn Fallon my production assistant whom I will refer to as eldest and BriBri my second oldest. They are indispensable, from helping pick up the kids, walking the dogs and any number of small things that allow me to bring this whole thing to fruition. Together with our sponsors TTSN and WordScape we bring to you all that is Art & Soul, where creators take center stage.

The family part of my crew.

If you or anyone you know in that Tampa Bay Area and or Sarasota would like to share your story or details about your craft hit us up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/artandsoultrinafallon or Twitter at https://twitter.com/StarcombStudios or email us from here or at starcombstudios@gmail.com
Until then, stay happy Tampa.