There are an awful lot of very interesting and exciting quiddities going down in my little corner of the Borderlands, of late. Keeping up with it all has become something not unlike a circus act. There’s a lot of juggling and acrobatics, some tightrope walking, animals in need of training and let us not forget the clowns. There are always clowns…
After a very productive trip to the New Mexico Film & Media Industry Conference in Albuquerque the week before Halloween, Borderlands Media is stronger than ever and the official launch at the beginning of the year is moving ahead according to plan. We met a lot of very nice people and made some important contacts in the industry up north. Our reception was even better than expected, with many congratulating us on taking the plunge and bringing a fundamental component to our growing film industry in New Mexico.
There was also a lot of discussion about filmmaking in general during the trip. For me – and I believe for my partners in this new endeavor, as well – this new enterprise has been a much-needed shot in the arm. Knowing that we have the support of the film industry and the potential to make a very big difference in the way local films are distributed once they’re made, we are all feeling very positive and that, in turn, has gotten our creative juices flowing.
Currently in the works for PRC Productions is a meeting with KRWG to finalize plans to bring Platicas to the local PBS station. Made in conjunction with the Mesquite Historical District, as a way to capture the oral histories of those who have lived extraordinary lives, Platicas has become a series of 23-minute reflections on life in and around the Mesilla Valley. A perfect fit, I believe, and Troy is very happy to finally have a platform on which to present what has been a project five years in the making.
As expected, Glen Cerny, Executive Director of Broadcasting, was very excited when I told him about the project and the fact that 13 episodes were already in the can and ready to roll out. Basically, we have a full season to present and if the response is acceptable to the bean counters, there is a possibility of having the series picked up for a second season. As I wasn’t involved in the making of the series, I can only involve myself in post-production, but if that means getting the series in front of an appreciative audience, I feel I have done my part for the cause.
In addition, two casting calls have been held for PRC’s next feature film, Sidwell, a gritty drama written by local filmmaker Cody Dalton, who wrote and directed Anti-Minute. I’m excited to work with Cody. I like his style and he is very personable, which makes my job that much easier. Should be meeting with him soon to begin talks about getting the word out about the project and marketing schemes to keep it in the public eye throughout production.
I have also been asked to produce a student thesis film for one of my young filmmakers, Jesse Walden. Years ago, Jesse attended a Film Las Cruces meeting and brought with him a copy of his first feature film, written and directed when he was 16-years-old. He was new in town and had a very earnest desire to learn everything he possibly could about the film industry. That meeting stuck with me and I have followed his work as a student at CMI, ever since. Now I have the opportunity to help him take the next step and I am thrilled to be invited along for the ride.
Plans are also underway to get the Missing Reel Project off the ground. I’m working with some of my favorite local filmmakers – Kent Harkey, Autumn Gieb and Troy Scoughton, Jr. – to bring it all to life. So far, I’ve written scripts for several short films and offered them as fodder to launch this new endeavor, which would, if all goes according to plan, set the stage for us to release one short film a month throughout 2016.
Kent already has one film wrapped. Autumn is working on another. Troy is interested in bringing one of my scripts to the screen. If we can be underway and seriously invested in the project by the end of the year, I’m hoping to set up a crowdfunding site at Patreon to help fund it. All in good time, but it is already November, so we’ve got a ways to go. The next couple of months should be insanely interesting.
All of which brings me back around to the clowns. After a lot of soul-searching and a couple of road trips to help clear my head and allow me to think outside of the shoebox I’ve built for myself here in Las Cruces, I’ve made a decision. I have spent the better part of my adult life doing marketing and public relations work for other people. Some are private concerns, in which I’m helping one person bring his or her dream to life. Some are organizations with a track record. Rarely am I given any kind of recognition for my work, beyond a hastily negotiated paycheck that often falls woefully short of compensation for the actual work rendered. It’s a living, but not a great one, if I’m to be completely honest. Don’t even get me started on those clowns who seem to get their kicks out of working my last nerve, even when it has nothing to do with them.
Occasionally, I break out and do something of my own devising, just to shake things up a bit. Or, at least I once did. The last project like that was the founding of Soul Invictus in 2005. Before that, it was organizing the Blue Ball and helping found Artists Theatre Project in 2004 and before that, it was the launch of Blue Food in 2000. Along the way, I’ve had a couple of plays produced and a handful of short stories published in anthologies. Oh, I’ve kept my hand in, but my volume has dropped considerably in the last few years. I’ve grown somewhat complacent – a situation which now requires attention.
I won’t go into the details of the toxic implosion that brought me to Las Cruces. No sense in dredging up the past. Let’s just suffice to say I’ve been slowly rebuilding over the past seven years and I am not the same person I was before this chapter in my life began. I’d like to think I’m a lot less naïve and a little more grounded than I was before. I’m a lot more focused on the things that I enjoy doing, too. I write every single day. Stories, scripts, articles, blog and journal entries, there isn’t a day when I’m not jotting thoughts down in some way or another. I’ve also rediscovered my love of cinema.
I have the local filmmakers to thank for that. Their enthusiasm for the craft of filmmaking is infectious. This isn’t a new thing for me. I grew up on movies. One of my dreams, from the time I was old enough to understand there were people responsible for creating the visions I saw on the screen, was to take my place among those names scrolling via the credits at the end. Throughout the 90s I explored those options, becoming involved in marketing and PR for Paramount Pictures, then parlaying that into further experience with every major – and quite a few independent – film company, for just over a decade.
The events of 9/11 put an end to all that, mainly because I didn’t want to move to Los Angeles and that was my only option at the time, if I was going to continue my work for the studios. Instead, I concentrated on my writing and parlayed my experiences in the “real world” into other projects, some of which I already covered above. I really never thought about returning to the film world, because I guess I never really admitted to myself that I had left it. I still love movies and am fascinated by how they are made. I guess it was inevitable that another avenue would open itself up when I was ready.
And that’s where I find myself today. With news that the Las Cruces City Council has made a historic leap and approved the creation of a true film commission here, with money to hire a film liaison to do the hard work, the excitement is building again. Film is the buzzword again and expectations are on the rise. Becoming involved is inevitable. This time, however, I am content to do so from the sidelines. By concentrating on Borderlands Media, the Missing Reel Project and the few film projects associated with them, I can fulfill my own destiny and help the cause at the same time.
In order to do that, I have made the decision to let the other work go. Yes, it’s money that I can use, but it isn’t a lot of money. Mostly it’s a lot of work with very little by way of recompense. I could use the time spent on those frustrating “side” projects to better effect. The marketing and PR work for other people has not been very fulfilling for a while now. The clowns are just going to have to find somebody else to help them with their tired routines. I am officially out of the clown business.
It’s not nearly as scary to admit that as I thought it might be. There’s something about putting a thing in writing that gives it power. Contemplating that thing while walking through the woods or staring into a crackling fire is the easy part. The real test comes with the admission. From there, it’s just a matter of doing and that, for me, has always been the easy part.
That said, I’m ready to do this again. Safety nets have never been my thing. I love being the impresario. Taking chances on creative ideals, making something out of nothing at all, bringing life to the unexpected; these are what I thrive on. The only way to do that is to go all in. Believe in the dream and make it a reality. Failure is not an option. Falling is only something that happens when people allow themselves to forget they can fly.
I have a very long memory…