I’m finding the older I get the more “anniversaries” clutter up the memory banks. Seriously, I have anniversaries for everything. Or maybe it’s just a way for me to keep track of things. A mental filing system, if you will. With that in mind, this year is a big one. Apparently threes and eights are significant in this old impresario’s life. In increments of five. Which is weird, no matter how you look at it. Examples?
Ten years ago my husband and I decided to call ourselves a couple, 25 years ago I started doing marketing work for Paramount Pictures (more on that in a future post), 35 years ago I had my very first article published (in New Mexico Magazine), 40 years ago I had my very first play work-shopped (by veteran actress Kathleen Freeman, better known as Peg’s mom on Married With Children) and so on and so forth. It’s exhausting keeping up with it all. And yet, nobody’s forcing me to do it. It’s just sort of a way to keep things in perspective, I guess.
Which is just another long-winded way of saying, hey, I just realized another anniversary has crept up on me! Yep, five years ago this past weekend (which just happened to be Film Weekend here in LC) I, and a small group of friends, shot my very first short film, The Baking Dead. A month later it made its premiere on the big screen at the Rio Grande Theatre, as part of the Film Las Cruces showcase. Only five years? Seems a lot longer than that.
My memory of the experience is already getting fuzzy, which is why I tend to write everything down. Here’s what I remember: In late February 2013, I was invited by my friend Kent Harkey to attend a meeting of the group calling itself LC52. Organized by Kent and a few of his fellow film students, the concept was ambitious in that it purported to create one short film a week for 52 weeks. A quixotic task, to be sure, but I was intrigued. So I dragged Donny along and we sat in on what would turn out to be the last real meeting of the group.
What developed from that Panglossian meeting, however, was serendipitous, beginning with a request by Kent for a screenplay. It had been years since I’d written anything even remotely resembling a script and that had been for the stage. Still, I took it as a challenge and said ‘sure, why not?’ A few days later, Donny and I booked a room in Truth or Consequences for my birthday weekend and spent several days in a muggle-induced haze, soaking in natural hot springs until we were prunes. It sounds like I’m digressing, but I’m not. Stay tuned.
On the second night of our quiescent retreat, Donny and I were winding down into torpidity. He had already drifted off, but apparently my brain had other ideas. Creative ideas, it turned out. I sat up in bed, pulled my laptop over and opened it up to jot down some notes. Two hours later, I had the entire script for The Baking Dead written. Two weeks after that, on March 9th, I had cast my boyfriend Donny and bestie Eric, along with newbie Ardy, and we were shooting it. Just like that, a new phase in my life began – that of filmmaker.
Oh, I fought that term for a while. After all, making one short film does not a filmmaker make. Following it up with another, Blunt Offerings, in close succession still wasn’t enough for me to accept the title. Making Perfect two years later still didn’t convince me. It wasn’t until I found myself on the set of the feature length anthology Lady Belladonna’s Night Shades in 2016, as writer and director, that I decided it was time to accept the inevitable. These days I don’t even flinch when the epithet is applied. Just one label among many, after all, and one of which I admit, I’m pretty proud.
So much so that I revisited The Baking Dead to re-cut it into what I call the Director’s Cut. Not that the first cut was bad, but it had been a bit rushed and I was never really satisfied with the pacing. Re-editing it myself gave me the opportunity to bring out some of the humor that had, inadvertently, been buried or glossed over. The result is far superior, though I doubt it would win any awards. Still, it’s anniversary worthy, in my book. If you have about 12 minutes, check it out.