Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Taking Stock During the Holidays



It's been a while, yes I know. Things in my life have been a little hectic. I should have joined the circus, because for the last couple of months it seems like I've doing a lot of juggling. I'm still adjusting to married life, which is different, yet the same. Although I don't celebrate Christmas, not in an official sense, like going to church, but I do appreciate the holiday season.  After Christmas, I will take some extra days off of work to catch up on the personal life stuff. This will be my perid of "taking stock." At the end of the year I like to look at where I am, versus where I was a year ago.

2009 was a good year for me. I've grown in so many ways and finally feel like I'm making progress as a screenwriter. I say that despite the fact that I received my rejection email from the ABC/Disney Screenwriting Fellowship yesterday. I'm bummed out by it, but I realize that the program is highly competitive. I will have another chance to apply next summer, God willing. Next up, is the Nickelodeon Screenwriting Fellowship. This fellowship is also highly competitive, so I have to come with my A game, which means I'm really going to have to delve into writing mode and pump out a couple of spec in the new year. It is going to be grueling, but it will have to be done.

After the Headlines (ATH) is almost done. I'm really in the home stretch. I picked up the final mix of the film and trailer Monday night. I'm just waiting for some changes to the DVD case cover and then I can get copies made for cast, crew, friends, and supporters. I'm glad to be done with this part of the production. I really didn't envision it taking this long, but that's what happens when funds are low, and one has to take a piece meal approach to the project. I learned an important lesson. Don't start the project until Ihave the funds in place and map out every potential set back. ATH has been submitted to about 30 film festivals and counting. In 2010, I hope to promote the film at some of them. However, time will tell.

Plans for the wedding celebration slated for September 24, 2010 will  beging to kick into high gear. I have a wedding dress, a lovely wedding dress. Thanks mom, (she bought it for me). This weekend I will meet with my bridesmaids to select their dresses.

Earlier this week, I found out that Maria Karolidis, a former classmate and highschool friend passed away. She was 31 years-old. Life on this planet can be cut short at a moments notice. Some of us may have signs, but some of us may be completely caught off guard when death offers the final curtain call. Everyday I wake I count my blessing, because as crazy as this world is, I know I'm privilege to be living in it. That sounds weird, but I think it's true.

As I continue to move forward I realize the imporatnace of "taking stock" in my life. The process allows me to see what I have achieved as well as remind of what still needs to be done. I wish all of my readers and followers the very best this holiday season and in 2010. Don't forget to take stock in what is important to you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

In Awe After Or: My Take Away


It's been a while since I've posted an entry. Life has been crazy. I've been juggling work, getting married, and moving Karim into my mom's place. I know what you're thinking, still at moms. Yes, in spite of  the claims that the recession is over, I don't buy it. Karim are taking advantage of the opportunity to save, but that's another blog.
Lately, I haven't felt the need to blog, not until now. I'm going to do my best to keep this short and to the point (which is sometimes hard for me).
Last night, I saw the play Or, produced by Women's Project, written by Liz Duffy Adams and directed by Wendy McClellan. I was really looking forward to the production for two reasons. The first is that I can't even remember the last time I saw a play in the city. Needless to say, I was long over due. The second was that I was supporting women in theater.
Back in September, Halima Flynn, a colleague, fellow thespian and theater director told me about a meeting called 50/50 by 2020. The 50/50 by 2020 is a collaborative of professional women writers, directors, and actors proactively looking for parity in relationship to our male counterparts in the business of theater. After attending the meeting I felt energized and knew I needed to be a part of this cause. I personally believe that this movement will not just affect women in theater; it will have an impact for women across the board. I took my first step in actively supporting this movement by joining Women's Project as a professional member and attending the production of Or.
Or, is a fantastic play. I think I'm going to try and see it again before the extended run ends on December 13, 2009.
The production casts Kelly Hutchinson (Desire Under The Elms), Andy Paris (Laramie Project), and Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men). Although each actor gives a strong performance, I have to give it to Kelly and Andy for the backstage jostling to play multiple characters. Good acting, direction, and writing are fused together to give the audience a thought provoking comedy that shows the talent and complexity of Aphra Behn (Maggie Siff) a former spy who wants to get into show biz. If she can only write her play without interruptions from her love life—celebrity Nell Gwynne, King Charles II, and double-agent William Scott, among others. While war rages and Aphra and her friends celebrate free love, cross-dressing and pastoral lyricism, the 1660s start to look like the 1960s.

If you have the time I highly recommend checking Or out. For more information, visit their website at http://www.womensproject.org/on_our_stage.htm or become a facebook fan at http://www.facebook.com/WomensProject?ref=ts.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Keeping My Dream Alive

I can't believe November is here. It all seems to quick for me. I'm not ready to face the fact that there is less then two months to the end of the 2009. Yikes! Every year I tend to get a little frantic as the end of the year approaches. I think it's because I begin to look at the year retrospectively and analyze my progress or lack there of. Even though I'm at a stand still now, the second half of this year has been good to me. I earned my MFA in Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University, got engaged (By the way, I will be married this Friday, officially off the market), and my short screenplay, After the Headlines, managed to get recognition by the Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival (www.aoffest.com) and recently, The Urban Mediamakers Film Festival (www.urbanmediamakers.com ).

I'm very proud of the achievements I've listed above, but for the past two months I've been at a standstill with my screenwriting. When I came back from the AOF in July, I was suppose to start the feature length script of After the Headlines. Some how I got distracted with other things in my life (I accept that is my fault). When I went to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico I had every intention of coming back with the treatment done, I started, but it is still not finished.

The responsibility falls on me. I have to step up to the plate and be consistent. While I'm always ready to step up to the plate I lack consistency. It's not just my screenwriting either, my journal entries also suffer from my consistency issue. I need to find a way to be better organized and goal focused when it comes to writing. It's an area that I realize is a weak point for me. It's easy to make accuses but I don't have that luxury. If I'm to keep my dream alive, I have to write and write everyday.

I know that success doesn't come easy. It takes tons of effort, heart, and due diligence. I'm old enough to know that an "overnight success" is not real. It's an ideal that we've been made to believe exists in our society, but it doesn't. Those who obtain success have given all of themselves to obtain their dreams. A lot of folks equate success with money and fame. While it's part of the equation, true success comes from doing what you love.

I love the feeling I have when I finish a script. I have a sense of accomplishment. I could use that these days. Right now, I'm caught in the mix of trying to take myself to the next level, which requires me to get my scripts in the hands of agents. I don't think I've accomplished enough for the next level.

I hold the answers to the issues I've raised in this blog. In order to keep my dreams alive, I have to write. My writing has to speak for itself and in order for it to speak, I have to write.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Showing Up


Last night, I had the privilege of attending the Silk City Flick Fest's opening night gala. I still have a sense of shock and feel honored that they accepted my short film, After the Headlines.


Today, I read The Daily Screenwriter, by Michael David Jensen. The Daily Screenwriter is a daily motivational blog where Jensen offers insight on things writers can do or should be doing to step things up in there creative process. Today's daily reflection was, "Success Means Showing up."


Considering I've been at a stand still on the writing front, I really needed to read that. My work starts with putting down words on a page or typing them on a screen. I can't expect to get very far if I'm not showing up with an attention to write. That is what I've been lacking lately. The same point was echoed to me by a producer I met last night. I won't put the producer on blast, but he is an industry veteran who has worked on classic films like The Stepford Wives (the original), Kramer vs Kramer and a bunch of others I can't remember. The list alone could fill up my blog. I told him a little bit about myself and my ambitions as a screenwriter. I also mentioned that I don't think Hollywood will want my stories. His retort was, "Are you a good writer?" I hesitated, I think he took that as a no. He then asked me, "If I wanted to be a good writer? I said, "Yes!!" His reply, "Well if you write a good story, then your job is done. Hollywood wants good stories. Your job is to become a good screenwriter.


We talked a little more, actually a lot more. He gave me the verbal kick in the tush that I needed. He reminded me that I'm too young to be so jaded and that writers are always writing. I say that, because although I'm heading to Mexico for a vacation, I won't be taking a vacation from my writing. I think that is a good thing.


A lesson I already knew was reinforced. As many times as I've heard it before I needed to hear it again and read it again today. Last nights opportunity would have not presented itself if I didn't show up at the gala for the Silk City Flick Fest. There is something to be said about showing up and doing the work. The reason I'm even a filmmaker at the 2009 Silk City Flick Fest is because I sat down and wrote a story. I need to get back to that. It starts now.

Monday, October 5, 2009

After the Headlines Screens at Silk City Flick Fest


I have some good news and I have some not so good news. I'll start with the good news first, After the Headlines (ATH)will be screened at the 2009 Silk City Flick Fest (October 8-11, 2009), www.silkcityflickfest.com, on Saturday, October 10, 2009 at Manchester Community College, 4:45 p.m., its first film festival. I would like to shout out all the folks who are hard at work to open the film festival this Thursday. Thanks for giving a Connecticut screenwriter and filmmaker a shot. Many thanks.
Are you wondering what the bad news is? Maybe I shouldn't say bad, it's more like unfortunate. I will not be able to be at the screening this weekend. I'm going on a family vacation, which was booked long before I submitted the film to the festival. My plane ticket is nonrefundable, so the show must go on without me. I'm disappointed, but my hope is this will be the beginning for the film. I continue to submit to a plethora a film festivals, but alas, there are no guarantees in this business. Time will tell on that front.
In the meantime, I've let cast, crew, and ATH supporters know the good/bad, I mean, unfortunate news. I hope some folks will make it to my screening. I'm looking forward to opening night festivities at Silk City Flick Fest. I will have my postcards in had and will be ready to network.
I hope to have a trailer to post by November. Yes, it is still on my to-do list, my constantly expanding to-do list. I really need to get the ball rolling on that. I have a bunch of things I really need to be doing, but I won't go there in this blog. For those of you who, who have supported me in the past and plan to see attend this weekend's screening, this is an early thank you. I appreciate all the continued support.
Remember, the best way to predict the future is to create it!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back to Basics

Stagnation, it happens, sometimes I put to much on my plate and then I have to take a few steps back and look at the whole scene, as if I were watching a film. I ask myself, "Where did I go wrong?" or "What do I need to change?" For a few weeks I've been writing about how I need to get more focused and back into my writing, unfortunately I'm still lagging on that front, but I'm ready for a change. If I want to progress I have to change.

Since August, I've been talking about writing the feature length script of After the Headlines, which won't get written until I write the treatment and then an outline. After some failed attempts, I realize I have to do the first two in order to make it through a first draft. I'm not one of those blessed writers who can take it off the top of their head and crank out a script in a few weeks. I tend to self-edit as I write and that typically halts me in between the second and third act. The outline comes in handy at this point, because when I'm about to go off-track, I have my outline to remind of my original intentions.

I've gotten as far as pulling out the articles and carrying them around. No that isn't helping me write, but it reminds me that I have a project to start. Tonight I'm finally going to take some initiative and reread the articles that will be the basis of my story. I will also look over some articles related to mental-health needs. I try to forget that this work is important, but then I read some articles from screenwriters making a living at their passion, I am reminded not to skip over the basics if I want to lay down the right foundation. Since a screenplay is the blueprint for directors and actors, it's in my best interest to take the time to flesh out my story (beginning, middle, and end). I only cheat myself when I don't do the work.

So for the next few weeks, I will not think about contests or queries. From where I'm sitting, I have a lot to do before I hit that stage. It's time for me to step up to the plate and write, it's all about getting back to the basics.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Contest Frenzy and Other Things

I wish I could report that I've gotten some screenwriting done, unfornately that is not the case, but I'm back to writing my morning journal entries and I've been finally tackling the mess that is my office. Over the weekend, I finally organized my receipts. I had a pile on the floor that went back to the month of January. It was made up of gas, grocery stores, retail, dry cleaning, AAA, and a bunch of other places. I still have to finish organizing my receipts from the production of After the Headlines. At least I have them all in one place, the production binder. It's a start.

One of the reasons I have haven't written down a word is because I've been busy looking for screenwriting contests for Finding Patience (I've done a mini revision) and film festivals for After the Headlines. Every couple of days I get an email blast from the folks at Withoutabox, a website that lists film festivals across the globe, http://www.withoutabox.com/ about potential festivals I should enter. A lot of times I pass, but lately I've been getting film festivals geared toward short films and even a couple geared toward female filmmakers. I believe that to be my niche and trying to work that angle.

The business of writing and trying to get discovered is just as much work as the writing itself, maybe even more. When I think about it, I have three jobs, there's my public relations gig (the bread and butter), the screenwriting gig (my part-time passion), and now the publicist gig(promoting myself and one of the reasons I write this blog). I wear a few other hats like actor, consultant, and mentor. It all depends on the time of day, day of the week, and the project I'm interested in.

In closing, I do have some good news to report, After the Headlines will be screened at the Silk City Flick Festival http://www.silkcityflickfest.com/, coming to Manchester, Connecticut, October 8 to 11, 2009. It's my first festival and hopefully not my last with all the entries I've mailed out this last month. If you live in Connecticut, please check out some of the films and support local filmmakers like myself. We really would appreciate it.

I have lots to do, some where in there I will find time to write, but right now I'm focused on the promotional stuff. The writing will come, it always does.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Anticipation for the Second Season of SOA


I'm going to take a break from writing about me, truth be told, this has been a weekend of more procrastination than progress. I shouldn't make excuses, but it is so hard to stay inside and write when the weather is so nice. There weren't be many more of these days in Connecticut. Truth be told, I have probably spent as much time watching TV late at night as I've spent enjoying the weather.

Watching television is very easy for me to do, it becomes that much easier when I anticipate the return of one of my favorite shows. Earlier in the summer it was the second season of True Blood, but now with that getting ready to wrap up on September 13, 2009, I have switched gears. The labor day weekend may mark the end of summer, but for me, it also marks the beginning of season two of Sons of Anarchy (SOA). FX's promos and trailers have been my fix, keeping my level of anticipation up for most of the summer. Now, the moment I've been waiting for is almost here. Tomorrow night at 1o p.m. I'm going to be glued to my television ready to see where Kurt Sutter will take us in the second season.

I really like Sons of Anarchy (SOA), so much so, that I decided to write a spec script as my MFA thesis project. I have watched season one about 5 times, analyzing the characters and story lines. I wasn't an instant fan of the show. I didn't get into it until about half-way through season one, but then I was hooked. It probably had something to do with the sexy lead, Charlie Hunnam (Jax Teller). SOA's cast also includes, Ron Pearlman, Kim Coates, and Katey Sagal.

I also want to shout out my fellow fans at the Sons of Anarchy forum, http://www.sonsofanarchyforums.net/. These die hard fans have kept and continue to build interest in the show, while also providing some entertaining conversations. It's nice to have a place to go when I just want to talk SOA. The next 13 weeks will keep us busy, but for now I continue my countdown to the premiere of the second of season of SOA.

To find out what you've been missing visit, www.fxnetworks.com/shows/originals/soa.

 

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Letting Go, Moving Forward

I'm not ready for summer to be over. I know we still have til' September 21, but with evenings in the 40s I have to accept the fact that the summer season is slowly slipping away. My body sure let me know this weekend. All the rain on Saturday, sent my allergies on attack and my body is currently battling a sinus affection. The fact that I'm also fasting makes it a little tougher, but I'm hanging in there.

As we approach the fall, I'm reminded that there is a little over four months left to this year. I start to think about all the good and bad things that have taken place within the year. I'm in that reflective phase. So far I feel like I've made some good strides in 09, especially as a screenwriter. I finished After the Headline (still working on packaging the film for cast & crew), achieved my first film festival win at the 2009 Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival, attended a Script Writer's Review Sponsored by Nickelodeon, graduated Western Connecticut State University (West Conn)with my MFA in Professional Writing, and am engaged. Not, bad, but then again I try to be an over achiever.

On a sadder note, I did lose some people in my life this year. My grandmother passed and although we weren't close, it's sad to lose the last living matriarch between both my parents. That generation is gone and I only have photos and stories to refer to. I also lost a close friend this year. I won't get into the details, because that can take a blog in itself. It's hard for me to accept that I'm no longer a part of this person's life, considering we were friends since high school .

Letting go of things, people, and places, has always been hard for me. The fact that I'm an emotional junkie makes it that much harder, however, if I'm going to continue to make progress in my personal and personal goals, some people fade out of the picture that is my life. It's never an easy transition, but a must if I'm going to continue to move forward.

My work continues, I'm looking forward to forging a new relationship with a female student in West Conn's MFA program as I mentor her in the Reading in the Primary Genre course this semester. I see the work as an opportunity for both of us to grow as screenwriters. In helping others, I help myself. I also have a few scripts that I need to start cranking out, and maybe if the stars are aligned, I'll get into one of the festivals I submitted to.

Letting go, to move forward is easier said than done, but at the end of the day, it is the move I need to make.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Getting Back to the Writing

I can't believe summer is halfway over, even though its been 90 degrees most days this week, I still feel like Connecticut hasn't had much of a summer. The weather this summer has been a wash, luckily my life is not. Some really good things have happened to me and I consider myself blessed.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a screening for After the Headlines at Western Connecticut State University. That was a major accomplishment for me. Right now, I'm submitting the film to some festivals. To date, I think I've submitted to about seven. I will probably add one or two more by the fall. I have no idea if I will get in, but I'm crossing my fingers. In my mind it's a potential opportunity that is worth a shot. For a few of the festivals, I've submitted in the student category. I've gotten a few confirmations that the film has been received. Now the waiting game begins, but it will be months before I now. I'm trying not to focus on that, instead I need to get back to my core. My writing.

It was nice to attend a film festival, but that would have not been possible if I didn't take the time to focus and write the story that was in my head. It's time for me to reconnect with the writer in me. With all of the things going on in my life, I've neglected my core, but I still yearn to sit down with pen and paper.

This weekend I will attend the Pilot Pen and audition for a short film. I'm looking forward to both back activities. It will be a nice change of pace for me. But come tomorrow morning, back to my morning pages and when I return from my tennis match on Sunday, my goal is to finishing my weekly reading, which includes two scripts, and then I will write. Even if it is just random thoughts of characters and scenes I will write.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2009 Connecticut Film Industry Mixer Interview

Hello all,

Earlier this summer I had the privilege to participate in the 2009 Connecticut Film Industry Mixer. The link attached is my interview, where I talk about After the Headlines, my passion, and Western Connecticut State University's MFA program among other things.

Here is the link: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=62105318

One thing I can say, is that I need to work on my ums.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mr Reflection for This Week

I've had a pretty good week. I want to say thank you again to all the folks who came to the first screening of After the Headlines (ATH) on Tuesday at Western Connecticut State University's student theater. PJ Moretti gave me a wonderful introduction. I was really nervous about showing the film and I'm sure it came across as I introduced the premise of the film and told the audience why I wanted to direct it. I know I said one to many ums. I'll try to work on that. After the introduction, I left the theater. I didn't want to watch and audience watch my film. I probably should have stayed, but I had seen it many of times. I think part of me was worried that people were going to hate it. I was wrong.

Grant it, ATH isn't the next Citizen Kane, I'll have to work up to that. Do I think the film could be better? Yes, but I will stop being so critical of myself (which I have been), because I can say I got it finished. Back in May, I had the great opportunity to meet Mira Nair, director of films such as The Namesake, Mississippi Masala, and Amelia (to be released this fall). She told our group that you have to push on and be proud of your script, film, or whatever work you produce, because most people don't do that. She also made the point that it is easy for others to be critical of films, plays, songs, or scripts, but if the artist gets it done, good or bad, they should be commended for finishing something they start.

To be honest ATH still isn't finished. I need to create a trailer, create a special features menu for the DVD, finish the artwork for the DVD, and the DVD case cover. When that is all done I can make copies for the cast and crew.

Due to my win at AOF, I have an agent who is interested in the feature version of the script. I need to get cracking on that, because it is going to be a lot more work. I'm shifting the voice from the mother to the daughter. That shift is going to require additional research on my part and I will have to give the story an enhanced plot. This will be my major writing project for the months of August and September.

In addition, I will continue to look for festival to submit the film in. Right now, I think I'm up to five. I won't worry about getting in to the festival, because that's not in my control. I have to look ahead and build on the good work I've done. The creative process doesn't end it just continues. Thanks for reading:)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

And the the winner is....After the Headlines


Hello all,

Some of you may have read the tweets, others may have seen my facebook thread, but for those of you who haven't I'm hear to share that After the Headlines won the award for 'Best Dramatic Scene' at the 2009 Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival, http://www.aoffest.com/. I think I mentioned before that AOF was my first acceptance into a major film festival.

The way they gave the award was pretty cool. They read the names and titles of the nominees and the winner would come to the podium once they heard their script being read out loud. It was exciting to hear my name among the nominees and I felt like a winner for being in the company of the festivals best screenwriters, but when I heard the words from my script being read, I almost didn't believe it. I ran to the podium and was handed a mic to give a thank you speech. Tears of joy ran down my face and I cried as I accepted my award! I sort of wish I didn't break down in tears, but people came up to me after and said I was cute and that they were moved by my speech. I was somewhat relieved, but still embarrassed. I forget how emotional I can get when I'm happy or sad.

I thanked the AOF Festival coordinators, Del Weston (AOF creator), Josh Neufeld (AOF Festival director), and John Hogan (AOF Festival senior director). John presented me my framed certificate. I gave him a big hug as he whispered another congratulations in my ear. It was my first Oscar like moment and I'm so grateful to have been apart of this festival. If you're a screenwriter, actor, or director and you do the numbers game, you get used to rejection. The fact is, you get more of those than acceptance letters. It's a necessary evil in the business of entertainment. I've learned to develop a thick skin and to brush off the rejections as part of my screenwriter's journey. I think that's what makes my win feel so sweet. I'm going to enjoy it whle it lasts. I don't know when I will be here again. Thanks AOF!!!!!

Although this win feels great, I know I still have my work cut out for me as a writer. I have to continue to hone my craft. I can't allow myself to think that because After the Headlines won the AOF award for 'Best Dramatic Scene' that my work is done. I know it's not. AOF has given me a great opportunity to further myself and I plan to capitalize on it. I'm so glad I came out to Pasadena to attend this festival. The AOF staff go out of their way to make the filmmakers and screenwriters they accept feel at home. I'm glad to be part of the AOF family. The pressure is on....I can't wait to submit again next year.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Update from the Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival



I've been really enjoying the California sun since I arrived in Seirra Madre and have been attending the Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival, http://aoffest.com/. I think I enjoy the weather even more as I hear about the on and off rain back east. A big thank you goes out to Pauline for letting me crash at her place.

I flew in late Friday night and missed the showing of my taped scene from After the Headlines. I'm a little bummed by that because it would have been cool to see the audiences reaction to the scene. Before they screen the films, screenwriters who have been nominated have a scene from their script performed by actors and recorded for the audience. After the Headlines has been nominated for 'Best Dramatic Scene.'

So far, I've been enjoying (AOF) International Film Festival. I've seen some interesting short and feature length films. Not all of them have been to my liking, but I have to credit all the filmmakers who have been accepted.

Last night, the screening series I attended kicked-off with a writer's scene, then Secret, a music video directed by Alex Gimenez, and Eyeborg, a feature film directed by Richard Clabaugh. Both projects were pretty impressive. Secret was a video of a Swedish rock band and Eyeborg, was a dystopic film that examines a future where everyone is under constant surveillance by mobile robot cameras known as Eyeborgs. An agent (Adrian Paul) begins to suspect a plot to assassinate the president.

When I think about the numbers of screenwriters and filmmakers out there and the chances of finding success based on the Hollywood studio system, it is enough to make you say, "Why bother?" The odds are so stacked against me. However, I continue to write and recently finished post on After the Headlines because I believe I have a calling for this work. The AOF fest and filmmakers Gimenze and Clabaugh reaffirmed that you can get a film good story out there on your own. It won't be easy, but it can be done, with the help of friends who are willing to take a chance.

Clabaugh made Eyeborg in his home state of North Carolina and got friends and family members to invest in the film. The film took about 3 years to complete, but he did it without the help of a Hollywood studio. That is amazing to me, because most industry people will tell you indie films can't be made that way today. Eyeborg needs distribution and that is what film festivals like AOF are about for directors and producers. I think the film will find an audience and will be on Netflix, Blockbuster online, or in a Redbox in due time.

Even if a bad film gets made, it's a miracle, especially considering the state of financial affairs in this country and in the global market. As I think about my upcoming screening for After the Headlines, I can tell you that I think I could have made a better film, but attending AOF has allowed me to appreciate my gift as a screenwriter. I'm proud to say I finished a film, because film making is not an easy feat.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gearing up for the Action on Film Festival


In two days, I'll be flying out to Pasadena, California to attend the Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival. Part of me still can't believe that After the Headlines was selected for 'Best Dramatic' scene. It feels surreal, probably because I've submitted to countless screenwriting competitions and film festivals. Getting in is a make-good to the rejection letters I've received earlier. I'm a person who saves the rejection letters and emails, I do it because I looking at them every so often reminds me that I still have a long way in becoming a viable screenwriter in the industry.


The acceptance into AOF reaffirms that I'm getting better as a writer, I'm making progress. AOF is my first acceptance into a major film festival. In 2006, Moonshine, an indie feature I worked on as a production coordinator was accepted into Sundance. Theo, an actor from the film and I flew out to Park City to attend the screening and enjoy the thrill of the moment. It was great to be part of the magic of Sundance, but it wasn't my moment. I regret not staying long enough to go to other screenings, panel discussions, and workshops.


This time it is different. I'm the contender, an even if I don't win my category, the fact that I'm at the festival is a personal win for me. I will be in Pasadena for the whole festival. Unfortunately, I won't be able to see the scene from After the Headlines acted out. I'll be in transit, hopefully I can get a copy. I think all the networking I'll get to do and the films I'll get to see will make up for it (as a nominee I get a free all-access pass, but it doesn't include the VIP parties).


Even though I'm all about AOF, I realize my work as a screenwriter and filmmaker continues. This week I've been working with Jeff, the editor and Mike, audio engineer on finishing the final cut for After the Headlines. They're helping me enhance what I've shot. It's amazing what goes on behind the scenes in post-production. Kudos to those who do this work for a living, it's a real art form. When I get back from California, there will be a screening for the film on August 4, 2009 at Western Connecticut State University (thanks Brian) Student Theatre. The program begins at 7 p.m.


I really feel like I'm in a good place and this opportunity can open other doors for me. It hasn't been an easy road to get this far, but I see the fruit on the trees and that makes all the difference for me. I will try to post a blog when out west. Thanks for reading and take care til then.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

For Immediate Release: After the Headlines Becomes Official Selection for the 2009 Action on Film International Film Festival


For Immediate Release: Contact: Aaliyah Miller
(203) 232-3712 or amiller_12@hotmail.com

Waterbury Screenwriter’s Script After the Headlines Becomes Official Selection for the 2009 Action on Film International Film Festival

JULY 21, 2009, WATERBURY, CT – After the Headlines, a short screenplay written by Aaliyah Miller, resident of Waterbury, Connecticut, has been chosen as an official selection for the 2009 AOF International Film Festival. Her screenplay was selected from thousands of entries. The 2009 Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival announced their line-up of film and scripts selected from a record number of submissions submitted nationally and internationally.

AOF Screenwriter's Series' is the only festival to take the written word submissions and create short scenes that will be showcased at the festival on the big screens at various theatres in Pasadena. After the Headlines is one of more than 50 scripts nominated.

The screenplay follows Clara Dumont, a guilt-ridden mother who struggles to stop blaming herself for the death of daughter Alexis. The poignant script takes the reader on Clara’s emotional journey as she seeks personal redemption.

“I’m ecstatic about my acceptance into Action on Film International Festival. I consider it a real privilege,” says Miller. “MovieMaker Magazine 2009 names AOF “One of the Top 25 Festivals worth the Fees.”

A premier showcase for the world’s independent filmmakers and screenwriters, AOF provides industry professionals and audiences with an opportunity to discover new and innovative films. AOF will award nominated filmmakers and screenwriters more than
$75, 000 in cash and prizes. The festival runs from July 24 to 31, 2009, in Pasadena, California. The complete list of films and scripts can be found at http://www.aoffest.com/about.html

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Man in the Mirror: My Thoughts on Michael


Hello all,

I did not think I would be writing a blog entry about Michael Jackson (MJ), but with his public viewing on CNN all day, the many facebook (fb) postings, and the tweets, MJ is on my mind and has been for a few days. I know it probably may seem like a cliche at this point, but that is not my purpose.

I'm a fan of MJ, have been since childhood. I remember when I could do the Thriller and Beat It routine from beginning to end. I don't think I can move that quick these days. Although I'm a fan of his music, I did have some personal grievances with him, like his transition from being what I defined as a black man to the way he looked at the end. They way I feel about what Michael did to himself throughout the years doesn't matter, or does it?

He was a profound individual. Many words, both exemplary and not so have described the King of Pop. However, when I think of all the pressing issues in the world, I wonder if so much media attention should have been paid to him. Do I really need to be writing a blog on MJ? But then I have to admit that Michael is a global phenomenon. Like Princess Diana, he touched the lives of individual in a multitude of ways. Michael's music will be his legacy and future generations will be inspired my his musical genius.

Despite the greatness Michael encompassed, I feel it was also a curse. The very thing that made him a celebrity to the world, destroyed him in the end. Like many celebrities, MJ showed us that all the glitters isn't gold. I believe that is the true tragedy in his death. MJ's tribute today, reminded me of his goodness, his skill, his lost innocence, and the ability to touch so many people through his music. I'm a believer in the power of words and MJ was a great illustration of how one can use words to change the world. Unfortunately, it is not enough just to say powerful and meaningful phrases in a song. I believe it was Ghandi who said, "We have to be the change, we want to become." I wonder if Michael knew of that quote when he sang the song, Man in the Mirror.

Man in the Mirror is one of my favorite MJ songs. Below are my favorite verses in the song.

I've been a victim of A selfish kinda love It's time that I realize There are some with no home Not a nickel to loan Could it be really pretending that they're not alone A willow deeply scarred Somebody's broken heart And a washed out dream (Washed out dream) They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see 'Cause they got no place to be That's why I'm starting with me I'm starting with the man in the mirror I'm asking him to change his ways And no message could have been any clearer If you wanna make the world a better place Take a look at yourself and then make a change

MJ's life and death will mean many things to many people. Whatever his legacy is to be, I take comfort in the fact that he wanted to make people happy through music. He made mistakes along the way, but most of us have also make mistakes in life. So many of us dream and don't end up achieving the goals we set for ourselves. I think Michael achieved many of his dreams and goals, that is not easily done in this world. I pay tribute to that accomplishment. After the media on Michael fades, I will still be working on me and trying to change the girl, I mean woman in the mirror.

In loving memory of Michael Jackson, rest in peace.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Reflections After a Long and Hectic Weekend

Last week was like a flash of lightening for me. I was on the go until Sunday afternoon when the youth conference I worked concluded. The American Black Film Festival was great (wish I could have experienced more), but my main reason for being there was to attend the Nickelodeon Script Writer's Review and that alone made the 1.5 days in Miami, Florida a worthwhile trip. I'm pleased to report that the youth conference was also a good event. The lack of sleep paid off in the end.

The highlight of the weekend was the evening performance from Young Legends. Young Legends is a group of foster care youth with my agency's Bridgeport Division who write, dance. produce, and perform songs that reflect their thoughts and feelings on growing up in foster care. The four songs they sang were profound and inspirational.

I find Young Legends so inspiring because they are wonderful storytellers. They let me and an audience of about 100 people into their world. While their tales are heartbreaking at times, the fact that can "spit it out" aka rap in a confident manner illustrates that they will not let their hardships and struggles hold them down. They still see their opportunities. I admire their perseverance.

I began with this story about the Young Legends because reinforces how much effort is needed to maintain in this crazy and sometimes unfair world. I think most of us want to be successful and have good lives, but how do were get there if the odds are always stacked against us? For me I can say it takes countless hours or work, staying consistent, believing in yourself, and having a strong support system. In achieving my goals and dreams, I've always had a support system. It's been my mom, sis, family, friends, my finance, and some of my coworkers. When one group may have their doubts another is there to say yeah you can do this.

I think the support is so crucial to success. Keen advice and having people around you who look out for your best interest is also needed. I can't help but think of Michael Jackson. As talented as he was, who really had his best interest at heart. I think that is one of the tragedies in his death as well as other celebrities. It is so easy to slip and if you don't have the supports in order to catch you, the world can be a very mean and lonely place.

As I strive for my goals, I realize I still have such a long way to go in cracking the door or opportunity as a screenwriter. The competition is fierce. It's not just about being good. My writing needs to be exceptional. That's a lot of pressure, but in the grand scheme of things I know I can deal with it. Young Legends reminds me that people in this world have other pressures in life, some gut wrenching hardships that they may or may not be overcome. Their stories are just as important as the celebrity deaths that have bombarded mainstream media lately. More so, because they are still here among the living.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Celebrating my Birthday


Hello all,


Today's my birthday. I'm happy to report that I made it through another year. We live in a crazy world, where life can change in an instant (for better or worse). The older I get, the luckier I feel to have the blessing making it through another year on this earth.

This year, I decided I not to go all out. 31 just doesn't seem like I need to party like it's 1999. Maybe that will change for next year.

This weekend, I celebrated my birthday with Natalie Roy (her birthday was June 21st) at the Portuguese restaurant O'Porto, located in Hartford. The food was good, but our service was not. We had one waitress for 17 people, yes, hot mess! Later that night we found out the restaurant also had a party of 60, which is probably why our food took so long to come out, but I feel like the management should have been better prepared and informed of us the issue first hand. Since they did not, I have to say I won't be returning. Despite the lackluster service I still had a good time. It just goes to show you can make lemonade out of lemons.

Although I planned for a low-key birthday, my birthday week is anything but that . On Friday, I received word that my script After the Headlines was selected in the Action on Film (AOF), International Film Festival (as part of their screenwriters series), http://www.aoffest.com/. AOF has been tauted as one of the 25 best US film festivals worth the fees according to MovieMaker Magazine. The Festival runs from July 24 to July 31, 2009. Scenes from my screenplay have been filmed and will be played at the festival. I want to be there. Now I have to figure out how I'm going to work it into my already packed schedule. I need to find out when they are actually screening the scenes and try to get the time off from work.

On Thursday of this week I will be in Miami, Florida at the Nickelodeon Script Writer's Review. The review is part of the 13th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), http://www.abff.com/, a premiere festival for Black filmmakers, writers, producers, and directors. Major sponsors include Allstate and HBO, Inc. The festival offers a variety of panel discussions, workshops, gala screenings, and networking opportunities. I will only be there for a day and half, but I hope to cash in on the networking opportunities. I feel so privileged to be a part of this event.

My writing is finally starting to take me places, I couldn't ask for a better birthday gift. It's proof that I just have to keep on writing. While I haven't written anything new or revised anything old in the last few weeks, I know I have to get back to the work. It's the time I spend alone creating stories, that makes the above opportunities possible. I can't forget that, I won't. Thanks for reading and the well wishes on my birthday:)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Black Man Rising is Back in NYC for an Encore


Around this time last year I was asked to support a small Off Broadway production called Black Man Rising, the stellar play is written by James Chapman. When Lawrence Floyd, a fellow acting colleague, who was cast in the show asked me to contribute I wasn't familiar with the plot, theme or other cast members in the show. Lawrence is a professional actor who is serious about honing his craft, I knew he wouldn't be part of a half-ass production, so I was happy to donate. As a gift I received to complimentary tickets to the show.


I asked my girlfriend Catherine to attend with me. It was a hot and sticky New York City day and the air conditioning (AC) in the theatre's hallway wasn't working. There was a long line of people waiting to see the play. We all were profusely sweating. It was a long wait because another performance was wrapping up in the same theatre. I was a bit peeved, but told myself "I should be used to this, ish happens all the time in theatre world." It was a relief to get into the theatre because the AC was working. It was a packed house, not one empty seat. Production staff had to bring in a few extra chairs to squeeze some folks in.


Like many Off Broadway theatres, it was a small black-box stage. There was no set, just a few blocks. It was plain, but the stage didn't need the immaculate set dressings that come with big budgets and wealthy investors. The actors brought the drama and engaged me from the first line spoken and had me on the edge of my seat until the end of the play. Kudos go out to the director who let each actor shine in his own unique way, yet bring sustenance to their role. I don't want to give the story away, but Black Man Rising is a dynamic play that looks at the lives of Black men and puts you in the middle of their struggles, heartbreak, and triumphs. It's a history lesson on the Black man; you see where he has been and follow him on a journey to where is going.


The play was a hit and received great acclaim and won four awards from the Audience Development Committee, Inc. (AUDELCO). AUDELCO was established in 1973 by the late Vivian Robinson to honor excellence in New York African American Theatre through presentation of Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition Awards. Black Man Rising reinforces why I love theatre and do what I can to be a part of it whether I'm on the stage or behind the scenes.


It is with pleasure and excitement that I report that the production is back in NYC for a second run beginning July 22, 2009 and ending August 1, 2009. Tickets are only $18, that's a steal. To purchase tickets got to http://www.theatremania.com/ and for more information on Black Man Rising, visit the website at http://www.blackmanrisingtheshow.com/. After the NYC the production wraps, the production will move to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the National Black Theatre Festival.


This play will be talked about for years to come, so don't miss the movement, be a part of it.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Engaging News

I made it through the hectic and eventful weekend. I'm still recovering, but I feel good about my participation in the 4th Annual Connecticut Film Mixer and the Cab and Lunch Actors Showcase. Both events had a solid turnout. The wonderful, warm weather was an added bonus for me after a week of mostly cloudy skies and rain.

Before I get into my take aways from the events, I feel the need to share some good news in my personal life. I think most of you probably know do to my posts on facebook and twitter, but for those of you who aren't part of the social networking world, Karim and I got engaged! Even though I've been off the market for five years this June, it's now official. I'm really off. No date has been set and details still have to worked out, but I can assure you it will be low-cost and small, but still nice. I'm past the days of when I envisioned the fairy tail wedding. For one fairy tales aren't real, and I refuse to go into debt over the special day. Our day will be special, it just won't cost Karim and I fortune....lol.

Back to my weekend events.

At the mixer I kept myself busy at the registration table making sure registration volunteers were handling guests needs. They did an awesome job managing the tight space we had to work in. I didn't get a chance to be part of the various networking opportunities, but occasionally I walked around and peeked my head into a few panels and other events like the fashion show and open mic for actors. Maybe next year I'll sign up and perform a monologue. The highlight of the event came for me at the end of the night. I was one of the VIP interviews. I was interviewed by Denise Johnson, a multifaceted actress. Denise and I have worked together on a few projects throughout the years. I think the fact that we know each other helped with the interview. She asked me some really good questions about my projects and where I want to go with them. Somewhere down the road I will probably get a copy of that interview. I will definitely share the interview when I get it.

The Cab and Lunch Actors Showcase came and went quickly. I was running late, city traffic on a Sunday caught me of guard and made me about 15 minutes late. Luckily, I didn't miss too much, and Terri, my scene partner filled me in on what I did miss. We had a good audience, and their where some casting people in it. This was my first showcase. Personally, I think I could have had a stronger performance. However, I can't harp on it and just need to move on and move on I shall.

Next up is finishing After the Headlines and gearing up for the first official screening on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at Western Connecticut State University. I will have more details in another posting. I'm so thrilled about it, despite the fact that I need to finish the post on it. I'll be meeting with the editor in a couple of weeks to see his edits. Yeah! I have much to do between now and August 4. It's going to be a busy summer, I just hope I don't miss the magic of the season.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Next Weekend


Although I should be thinking about this weekend and how nice it will be for the sun to finally come out, instead my head is all about my planned activities for next weekend. Having graduated last weekend (note the pic:)), you would think I'm ready to relax and try to catch up on my sleep, no, not me. Next weekend, I have two significant projects on my plate. The first is the 4th Annual Connecticut Film Industry Mixer, June 6, 2009, 5 to 10 p.m at the Holiday Inn in Danbury (tickets are currently on sale via the website at http://www.filmindustrymixer.com/). This networking event offers producers, directors, actors, musicians, photographers, and other artists from the state the opportunity to network with their peers as well as promote the film and entertainment industry within Connecticut. The industry mixer is in partnership with the Connecticut Film Festival, http://www.ctfilmfest.com/, June 2-7, 2009.


I will be the staff manager for the event. My job will be to assist registration staff, photographers, panel moderators, interviewers, and act as a liaison between Neal Thomassen, the event coordinator and the hotel staff at the Holiday Inn. It's a lot to juggle, I didn't realize how much until recently, but I figure I can handle it. I have my production and event planning experience to be thankful for. It's funny how things eventually connect for you down the road. My goal is to keep myself organized and those around me just as organized. I'm looking forward to working with and meeting fellow Connecticut artists and professionals.


My second event puts me back on the stage performing. I'm extremely excited about my participation in the Cab and Lunch Actor's Showcase at the Players Theatre on June 6, 2009 at 1 p.m. For more details and to rsvp, visit the website at http://nycsas.ning.com/. The event is being coordinated by Sheree Kren, who I must compliment for running a tight ship. She is invested in helping actors who are serious about stepping up their game. As a nonunion actress I feel that this is a great opportunity for me to be scene by agents and casting directors.


I will perform a two-minute scene from the 10 minute short play The Next Mrs. Jacob Anderson, written by Ann Wuehler. My character's name is Lisa, I'm the other woman. My scene partner, Terri Greene, plays the current Mrs. Jacob Anderson. In our scene, Terri confronts me at the local farmers market. I won't give out any more details. Come check me out in action!!!


Having the opportunity to get back on the stage feels good. My last performance was in Theatre 4's (http://www.t4ct.com/) fall production of Anton in Show Business. That play was both challenging and a lot of fun. I miss the cast. I would love to do another play, but I think I need to fall back and enjoy the time, really enjoy it.


So while I'm all about what's going on next weekend I have to remember to let myself have time to myself as well as my friends and family. It's hard because I still have so much to do, so many goals to accomplish and the next steps in between are constantly changing. Some how I'll manage, I always do. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Graduation: Looking to the Future


The sun is finally out, I just hope it stays for more than a day. I'm feeling good. On May 22, 2009 I will be graduating. Yes! I can't believe I made it through the MFA program. I take it back, I can believe it, considering all the hard work that has been put in, but it still feels surreal to me. For those I haven't told, I received an A on my thesis project! I need to give special thanks to Catherine, John, and Karim, for helping me review my thesis.


While I'm happy with the present, I can't help but think about the future. What's next?


I have a few answers to the question. Number one, I've been accepted to the American Black Film Festival's Script Writer's Review, sponsored by Nickelodeon. The event takes place in Miami on June 25 and 26. While I have a conflict with work, I'm crossing my fingers that I will be able to work it out so I can attend. So far it looks promising. Number two, On June 6, 2009 from 5 to 10 pm I'll be working at the Fourth Annual Connecticut Film Industry Mixer. The event is being coordinated by Neal Thomassean. See his facebook page for more details. Number three, the next day, June 7, at 1 pm I will be performing in the Cab and Lunch Scene Actors Showcase sponsored by Red Rock Productions http://www.nyccasting.ning.com/. This Sunday, I auditioned with Terri, my scene partner. I couldn't believe we were chosen. It felt really good when Sheree Rainbolt Kren, the casting director for the showcase told us we were in and that we were good actresses. The compliment made my day. Number 4, I'm going to finish post on After the Headlines. That short film is my baby, it's far from perfect, but I put a lot into it and want to see it completed and then submit it some film festivals. Right now, I'm waiting on Jeff Um, my fabulous editor friend and colleague to finish the cut. I also have to shout him out because he did me a big favor when he agreed to edit the film. If you are looking for a top notch EFX and graphics professional for commercial television and film projects, I highly recommend him. Check out his reel at http://www.umjeff.com/.


I realize that this Friday will be a day of achievement for me, but I can't stop here. Last week, I listened to President Obama's speech to the graduating class of Arizona State University. He is a great orator. So many things he said stuck with me, but I think the most important message he gave was that we cannot be complacent with our achievements, there is always work to be done and we must always push ourselves to do better and not only for ourselves but for those who come behind us.


This chapter in my life is coming to a close, but where I go from here and how I impact the world remains to be seen. I'm still writing that story. I know it won't be an easy journey, but I look forward to the ride and the challenges that are before me.


I'll close with a verse from Ice Cube's, Today was a Good Day. While I'm no G from South Central L.A. I feel that today is a good day:


Today was like one of those fly dreams

Didn't even see a berry flashing those high beams

No helicopter looking for a murder

Two in the morning got the fat burger

Even saw the lights of the Goodyear blimp And it read ice cubes a pimp

Drunk as hell but no throwing up

Half way home and my pager still blowing up

Today I didn't even have to use my a.k.

I got to say it was a good day.


Thanks for reading:)



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thesis Done: Next Up

On Monday I handed in my thesis. I had a great feeling of accomplishment as I drove to Western Connecticut State University to drop it off. This past semester challenged me in many ways, now I just hope the thesis committee accepts my two spec scripts. I wrote a spec for Nickelodeon's True Jackson VP and the other was for FX's Sons of Anarchy (SOA). I really struggled with the SOA script, but thanks to the help of my David and Leslie, my thesis advisers, and Karim I came up with a story. Next up, I plan to submit them to teleplay competitions and some network fellowships.

Last night I watched the final season of the L Word. I finally can catch up on some of my favorite shows. I have to agree with my sister Dawn and say that I was somewhat disappointed by the ending. Oh, well. I also saw the film American Violet. Loved it and highly recommend it. It's going to be nice to once again hang out with my friends, see movies, and watch television on a regular basis. The watching TV thing I will probably curb because although my thesis is done, my work isn't finished. I still have scripts to revises and new ideas to develop. Remember After the Headline (ATF), it's the short film I shot in the fall, I need want to finish the post and get it into some film festivals.

I had my doubts about finishing ATF. I get into these moods where I get down on myself for not doing the perfect job. A few weeks ago I had the privilege to meet the director Mira Nair, she reminded me that it's not about making the perfect film, it's about completing the project. Directing is a craft that is improved by each effort if you learn from your mistakes. I won't give up on the film, I only fail if I do. For now, I eagerly await the edited footage from the editor and in the meantime, focus on my next steps.

I hope I walk on May 22, 2009. I have to continue to hone the skills I gained in my MFA, seek opportunities, and network like my career depends on it, because it does. It will be nice to unwind for two weeks, do some spring cleaning and get myself organized. It's a must if I am to handle the next items of business on my "to do" list.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Thesis: The Last Lap

Hello all,

Right now I should be tackling yet another rewrite of my Sons of Anarchy (SOA) spec script. I took a look at it during my lunch and finally made it through to the end. It was grueling. I can't believe all the typos and missed words I had....hot mess. And although I know I'm in my last lap, for some reason I feel the need to pass the baton, however, no one is on the receiving end. I'm tired. Tired of reading, rewriting, reading some more, and so on and so on.

Despite the fatigue I feel at the moment, I can truly say I'm amazed that I'm here. I started the Western Connecticut's Professional Writing MFA program two and a half years ago and the end is almost near. I go through periods of excitement and then moments of blah (my current momentis blah). I think I'm a little blah right now because I know writing is work. Like most things in life, in order to excel at it, one has to stay at it and not become complacent.

A couple of weeks ago I stayed home and cranked out my first draft of SOA. It totally drained me but I did it, even though it took me a lot longer than I anticipated. I was freaking myself out over my treatment, the characters, and the story's arc amongst other things. I finally finished rereading my first draft and realize that I still have a lot of work to do to streamline the story. Am I dreading the work, yes, but it is still work I have to do. Not only does my degree depend on it, it's about my future as a screenwriter. I have to have the will and tenacity to follow through my projects.

This helped to pick me up. Now, I have to ground myself. I'm in the final stages, racing against the clock. My last lap has begun. I hope to finish strong.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Could of, Would of, Should of,

Hello all,

I should be sleeping. I have to be up in less than 6 hours, but since my weekend lock down also known as ass in chair or for the PC crowd AIC, I'm suffering from bouts of insomnia. I want to sleep by just can't. I guess that happens when you write for 8 hours at a time (with little sleep in between) after a day and a half of writer's block. Well, at least I got my first draft done. That is a major accomplishment.

That's not what I really wanted to talk about. I'll save it for another blog entitled, "The Reward is in the Work."

Last Thursday, I was walking home from work like I usually do at around 5.pm. and I was making my way through some folks that had just got off the city bus. I little girl caught me eyes. She was being pushed in a stroller and was crying up a storm. I know it's common to see kids crying with their parents, but there was something sadly different about this case. The little girl, who I say was either two or three was being really stubborn and holding her feet so her mom couldn't push her. The mother was no doubt frustrated, I probably would be to. But the mother's reaction to her child set me back. The mother told the daughter to "stop acting like a fucking asshole." My apologizes for the foul language, but I feel I need to write to get that image out there.

I'm not sure how old the mother was, but my guess is that she wasn't over 30. When I heard her comment to her daughter I stopped, I couldn't believe what I heard. It's bad enough when adults talk that way to one another, but to hear a parent talk that way to a child, a small toddler, threw me for a loop. I thought to myself what chance does that kid have if that's how she is being spoken to at such an early age. It doesn't take a scientist to know that human beings are creatures of habit and that we learn from those around us. If our settings are negative, more than likely our behaviors will be as well.

For the smokers out there who don't what their kids to smoke, studies show that kids with parents who smoke are more likely to try it then kids who have parents who don't smoke. It's not be because they don't know the facts about smoking being unhealthy, they will try smoking because the have seen their parents smoke and it is an accepted behavior. Our young people really pick up on the good and bad things we do. That's really scary. I feel for the parents out there.

This episode is still on my mind at 12:58 a.m. because when I heard the mother's words to her daughter I wanted to say something and I didn't. I took the stand that it is not my problem and kept walking. I've played the episode back in my mind at least a dozen times, I think I should have said something. I could have said, "Excuse me, but I don't think you should use that language with you daughter." I know, I would be getting cursed out next, but at least she would have had someone tell her that her behavior with her daughter was wrong. I would have taken a stand for the sake of the child. Maybe it could have been the first step of acknowledging her anger management issues. I realize I pose a lot of what ifs, but I can't help but think I could have done something more.

Our society tends to look the other way on a lot of issues. It's not our problem or that's not my business. It's not our business that Madonna got rejected from her Malawi adoption or that Jennifer Aniston broke up with John Mayer, but we still read it. I'm sure we've all seen the TV segments on The Today Show, or Good Morning American, when they show people committing crimes and 8 out of 10 people do nothing and go about their day. We are so desensitized by the crazy and hectic world around us.

I know I can't save the world, but I believe I can make a difference in the lives of individuals. Next time, I see something wrong and if it doesn't show the potential to put my life in danger, I don't want to have the regret of saying could of, would of, should of.

Night or should I say morning.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Meeting Mira Nair

Today, I had the privilege of meeting Mira Nair, an acclaimed filmmaker, who has directed films such as Amelia, The Namesake, Mississippi Masala, The Perez Family, Monsoon Wedding and many more. The cozy lecture took place in a conference room inside the Haas Library at Western Connecticut State University. I've been thinking about the lecture all week. I had a feeling I was going to take away some great words of wisdom and advice. I did.

I was asked to ask the first question to get the dialog with Mira flowing. I had no problem with that. I asked a two-part question, the first part was "How she defined success for herself?" My follow-up to that was, "Did success mean different things for female, writers, directors, and producers in Hollywood.

Mira graciously smiled and jumped into her response. She said, "To me, success is privilege of doing what I want to do." As she went into detail I felt a genuine sense of sincerity, her words rang true and came from the heart.

It wasn't your general elevator speech. I did submit my questions earlier in the week, so maybe she had a general idea and prepared some remarks, although I didn't notice her looking at notes. What I took away from her response to the second question was that Hollywood has a built in sexism lens that is very much a part of the studio system. It will forever be there and that you can't let it stop you.However, proceed with caution. According to Mira, one should be humble about what they don't know and speak proudly about what they do know.

Mira is a veteran independent filmmaker, 20 plus years and counting. She gave a lot of nuts and bolts advice that I found valuable in the short time I spent with her. She reminded the group that in order to succeed, one must cultivate their stamina to embrace rejection and with that rejection still have the will to persevere. Constant rejection can be a lot to handle, but time and time again I hear actors, writers, and directors who have received acclaim for their work say it's part of the process. I'm all about the process, cause I have to be.

I'm still freaking out about all the writing that I need to do this month, but Mira's words remind me that success is in doing what I want to do. I'm luckily to have that option and even when the crafts I love challenges me, I'm not ready to throw in the towel.

I just can't give up. Mira thanks for keeping my fire lit.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Back from Aruba and Trying to Get It Done

Hello all,

Yes, I'm back from the sunny shores of Aruba. Boy, was it nice to get away. Dawn and I had a really good time (stay tuned for pictures on my facebook page). The downfall of vacation is that it eventually comes to an end and you have to get back to life as you know it. Now that the week is almost over I'm finally feeling like myself. It's a good thing because a sista has a lot of writing to do.

In less than five weeks I will have to submit my thesis for graduation from Western Connecticut State University's Professional Writing Program (http://www.wcsu.edu/writing/mfa/). I can't believe the end is almost near. It's sort of nerve racking. I would have like to done writing for my spec script while I was on vacation, but I just didn't. I know I only have myself to blame. I did do some reading and some of it was related to scriptwriting so it wasn't a complete loss. Nothing ever is, at least that is what I like to think.

Last night, I had an epiphany as I was reading Ellen Sandler's, The TV Writer's Workbook (if you are interested in writing for television I highly recommend it). I realized that I haven't taken off on the script because my foundation isn't solid. While I've written a treatment, it's not solely focused on Jax, the show's central character. In order for me to move to the next step (my outline then script), I need to get my treatment right and plug the holes. Ellen gave a bunch of tools that I will use this weekend to plug the holes. I feel more confident that I can do this, I know I have to, but I actually believe in myself and I think that is half the battle.

Family, friends, the boyfriend, and all the extra curricular activities I enjoy will have to take the back burner until I finish my thesis. Writing has to be my central focus right now. I apologize in advance, but I have to sacrifice for the greater good which is my future as a screenwriter. It's not going to be easy, but I will take the advise of my thesis advisor, David Rich (a seriously talented screenwriter) that I'm blessed to be working with this semester, "Sit down and write and don't stop until your done." I will. I also want to shout out my other advisor, Leslie Dallas, she's also been a fantastic advisor to me for the past two semesters. Kudos to you both:)

From this point forward no excuses, it's about getting the work done.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Greetings from Aruba


Hello all,

Bon Bini (hello/welcome). Bon Bini is Papiamento, the predominant language in Aruba spoken by the locals. Papiamento and Dutch are the official languages in Aruba. Papiamento is a language that has been evolving through the centuries and absorbed many words from other languages like Dutch, English, diverse African dialects, and most importantly, from Portuguese and Spanish.

Aruba's slogan is "the friendly island," and I can honestly say it is true. The locals make you feel like you're at home. It is very easy to embrace oneself into the culture which is a mix of Dutch, Spanish, Arawak Indian, and African traditions. I find the Spanish and Dutch influence to be the most prominent. Aruba is a desert island, not much grass, but plenty of cactus and palm trees.

So far my vacation has been both relaxing and fun. My only shortcoming has been with my writing for Sons of Anarchy (SOA). I plan to do catch up over the last couple of days here. I've done my morning pages (journal entry) every morning since I arrived, but no work on SOA. I've been to busy exploring and enjoying the island. That will change today.

A couple of days ago I went to a bar/restraurant, called the Black Hog Saloon. The Black Hog is a place that offers a bunch of activities, like minature golf, go-cart racing, riding a mechanical bull (which I did and lasted 8 seconds, applause!!!), plus a bunch of games for couples and adults. It's a place where you can let loose and have good ole time. The decor of the Black Hog is a lot like Friday's or Applebees with signage everywhere, but the signage is all biker oriented. Can you say Harley Davidison? Being there reminded me that, while you're here to enjoy yourself, there is a biker story with your name on it.

The weather has been a sweet 85 -90 degrees during the day and drops to the 70s at night. It is going to be so hard to leave and go back to chilly New England weather. I have a couple days left.....:(, but while I'm here I plan to make the most of it. I'm glad I had an opportunity to check in. Thanks for reading and see you when I get back home.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yes, Finally a Vacation, But No Rest for the Writer in Me


I'm finally taking a vacation. At times the day didn't seem like it would ever come, but it is almost here. In four days I will be on a flight to Aruba with my sister Dawn. I've been looking forward to the trip for a year now. Last year, Dawn and my mom went to Aruba. I was a tad bit jealous of them. I really wanted to go but couldn't because I was in the middle of course work for my MFA and in conference prep mode at work. While they were there, Dawn got lucky and one a free-trip for another week at the resort. Dawn took pity on my, since I couldn't join them the first time and invited me to tag a long this time. Thanks sis.

I can already feel the 85 plus degree sun on my chocolate skin. In my mind I'm walking on the beautiful beaches in sandals embracing the laid-back culture where the slogan is "No problem." And even though I know the locals have problems (heck we all do), I can appreciate their attitude that they don't let their problems get the best of them. I see that as one of the strengths in island cultures. Living in a deadline and success driven society is taxing.

Part of me is going to kick back and chill, but the writer in me is not on vacation. I don't think I want her to be either. I know many of you may be thinking all of me should be on vacation, and part of me agrees with those of you who may hold that opinion. However, I have good reasons for why I can't. One, writers should always be reading and writing. I know I get lax when I don't and right now I need and want my writing to be fresh. Two, I'm on deadline for my thesis, which is due in about five or six weeks (not sure at this point). I have finished one script which makes me feel good, but the script still needs to be tweaked to get it at the professional level I need it to be at. Plus, I still have my one-hour spec to write for Sons of Anarchy (SOA) and this is going to demand everything I've got creatively.

I plan to write first thing when I wake up. That will ensure I stay on track. I will set my alarm on my cell phone and free write my morning pages (journal entry) and then focus on my scripts for a couple of hours. I know my mind set is going to want to change once I get off the airplane, but if I plan to stay on track with my writing I can't afford to take the liberty.

I'm glad I got that off my chest. Thanks for tuning in. See you next week from Aruba.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Getting in Sync

Life is constantly testing us. It can be our friends, our co-workers, school, work, deadlines, etc. I think most people on the planet experience a feeling of inadequacy and frustration at some time or another. I also think the current financial situation: a dire economy, lay-offs that seem never ending, banks and car companies still looking for bailouts, all the while the stock market continues to fall and our 401(k)s lose value faster than we can snap your fingers. It's a mess...a hot mess. Everything seems out of sync.

With so much negativity out in the world it's hard to see the silver lining. I have a couple of friends who are seeing cuts to their benefits and salary. Their managers are telling them they should be happy they are employed. And while that may be true, can it also be said that you should be happy you have an employee who has a strong work ethic and values the contributions they make to your business or organization? Why is it that so many people only see what they can get, rather than what they can give? If everything boils down to a bottom line, I would think companies would access the value an employee brings to an organization and compensate them accordingly. While there needs to be cutbacks, I wonder if a lot of of the cutbacks businesses and government will make are in the places we need them.

I don't profess to have answers, I wish I did, but when everything feels like it is closing in on you I think that is when you have to go against the grain. You have to take a leap of faith and work on the silver lining that isn't there. Make it yourself. It may not always pan out, but ask yourself, "What do I have to lose versus what I can gain?" In life, there will always be some battle to fight. It's just the way it goes. I think it's how we strategize for the battle (getting in sync) and how we execute our plans that makes all the difference in the outcome.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fifty and Fabulous: Meeting Candance Bushnell


Hello all,


I can't believe it, I'm actually writing a second post this week. It's not that I think I catch up on the writing time I lost, cause I can't! I just have a few things I'd like to share about the New York Women In Communications (NYWIC) (www.nywici.org/) event, 'New Year, New You.' Considering we are almost into March, I would have gone with a different title, but I get the sentiment they wanted to achieve. The event's keynote speaker was Candace Bushnell (www.candacebushnell.com/), bestselling author of Sex and the City, Lipstick Jungle, and Off Fifth Avenue.


Yesterday I trucked down to New York City (something I don't get to do as often as I liked to attend what I expected to be a chic networking event for women professionals of all ages. I asked my girlfriends Catherine and Matie to join me. This was my first NYWIC event. We all looked forward to the event and hanging out in the city afterwards (Last night was what I envisioned my twenties, being like. I'm 30 and finally doing it, but I digress.)


We all met up at Diane Von Furstenburg's studio on 14th Street. There were over 200 female professionals in attendance. After about 40 minutes of so-called networking, Candance was introduced. She stepped onto the small staging area looking like a Barbie, pretty in pink. It was hard to believe she was fifty years-old (something she was proud to put out there). Maybe Botox isn't that bad. I won''t hate because if I look that good in twenty years I'll be doing the same thing. Candace gets two thumbs up.


Her speech was short but she said some really interesting things about the career choices she made. One that stuck with me was that she knew she wasn't going to get married and settle down until she published her first novel. She put her career first - no ifs, ands, or buts. Today, so many everyday women struggle to balance family responsibilities with their jobs and careers. Candance's road to her success was to forgo the latter. I wonder how many other female ceos, producers, and business executives put off having families to be at the top of the food chain. Is it a prerequisite?


Candace also told us she didn't marry until she was 43 (and to a man 10 years younger than her). She also weaved in some comments that all women professionals need to be more supportive of each other. I thought that was good to put out there, because it is common place for women to hate on other women and hinder each others progress.


There was a short Q&A after Candace talked. I asked Candace what her common thread was in her success from transitioning from a freelance writer to becoming a bestselling novelist and executive T.V. producer. She told me, "Sharpening pencils." It wasn't the answer I was expecting or looking for, she further explained that a lot of her success had to do with being good at whatever task she was given. "People need to see you can work well with the simplest of tasks and if you gain there trust you'll eventually move up and get better opportunities (paraphrased)." I got what she was driving at, but both Matie and Catherine felt she could have given a better answer. I think they're right, but I was still able to take something good away from her response.


I think about what the top will look like for me. How will I define my own success? All I know is I have a lot of work to do, but I take pride in knowing that if I put in the time and continue to work hard that one day I will persevere and eventually reach some of my goals as a screenwriter and beyond.


By the way Candace isn't the only women who makes my fifty and fabulous category. I would be remiss if I didn't mention my mom (the women who made my life possible).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Realized...I'm a Social Networking Addict

Hello everyone,

I've missed you all, boy has it been awhile. My apologies. This blog is supposed to be a weekly to do for me, but I lost my focus trying to stay on top of my course work, updating my facebook, playing dotblu, following the passing of the stimulus package, that wretched octupulets mother (yes it is harsh but I find her scathing), the Chris Brown and Rihanna mess, as well as trying to stay informed on other current events and celebrity drama. Oy vey, I'm overwhelmed.

The reality is I have a problem. I'm here to tell you all the I'm addicted to social networking. Like many addicts I didn't see it coming. I thought I was going to on just a couple of times a week and then before you know it, I'm doing the damn thing everyday. Just one more post...I'm only going to check out one more album, then it's two, then three, and before you know it I'm on for about three hours. How did I get here? I don't know, but I'm looking for help to cut back on my addiction. I don't want to quit cold turkey, so I'm looking for methadone to slowly but surely to ween myself off.

It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have a job, or wasn't working on my thesis, if I didn't have books to read and responses to write. This thing called life gets in the way of my social networking.

I can't wait to receive my next note from a friend, at this point I would read one of a foe. or have a life to live. If I didn't have such drudges I really wouldn't have a problem, but alas life never gives us what we want when we want it.

This may seem extreme but if I continue at the rate I'm going, I will be headed for disaster. Everything I've worked hard for these last two years, down the tubes. I can't let that happen, I have way to much work to do and not enough time to do it in. I'm going to follow the thinking of the fiscal conservatives and cutback. As of this blog I will begin self medicating, which means I will not respond to facebook comments, postings, or make updates until Sunday. I will go down to once a week. I will miss facebook, but for now I must be in rehab.

P.S. If you see me on before Sunday....tell me to get my butt off. Thanks.