Life is funny. My daughter and I have worked on my writing and her acting careers diligently for the past almost nine years now. Just trying to get our work out there. Working 40 hours a week. Writing after work. Acting and keeping a full time job. Writing, producing, acting in and making our own films, webseries and plays. Paying for everything out of our own pocket. Gathering a close knit, devoted group of actors and a director who believe in us and our work and their own dreams and who volunteer their time and talent to make our shows. It’s a hard in this industry. There is little opportunity.
There are so many ins and outs and so many gauntlets to run that it can’t really be put into words adequately. We emerge poor, exhausted, battered and bruised more often than not. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t tired. And, I have had my times when I wondered why I put myself through this. Because it is as vital to me as my next breath. So I persevere. And, God willing, we inch our way forward. Then, when least expected, lightening strikes.
This past week lightening struck for me. My webseries, Dixiewood has been noticed by someone of great repute in the industry and I have been asked to produce a pilot of the show to be pitched to both the regular and cable networks because they believe it is a sound “pick up.” This of course threw us into a complete tizzy of excitement and action. I immediately contacted my actors and director and we are all so very grateful and excited about the opportunity. Will it be picked up? Who knows? But it has a fighting chance. That is golden. Will it be picked up with the cast, part of the cast, none of the cast or will they just pick up the show idea? Will it be picked up with me writing the episodes? Again, who knows. Those things come later down the line, but it is invaluable exposure for everyone involved regardless of where it goes from here. It can only go from good to magnificent, but there is no bad. In order to facilitate the pitching and picking up of the show I am having to learn to do a lot of things on the fly. I find myself tap dancing on foreign soil as fast as I can.
Then two days after that event, interest has been renewed in making a film I wrote three years ago. Those who were originally interested in making the film when the economy bottomed out and the writer’s strike hit are finding solid ground enough to want to grab the project and run with it again. Incredibly, the amazing cast (many actors you all know from film and tv) are still interested and are still committed to appearing in it. That’s amazing to me because these people are so busy and it’s so humbling to see that they love this piece so much that after three years they still want to be part of it. I’m blown away. So, there was my second lightening strike. Will we get the money to make this film? Are the investors going to be interested? Again, who knows, but I do believe we’ve got this one. The people producing the film are just incredible and I have no doubts they will put the deal together. And, just as before, I have no clue how to make a movie, so I’m tap dancing my heart out on this one. But, by God I can learn and I have people who care enough to teach me. I’m learning union contracts, regular time, golden time, schedules, budgets. These aren’t things writers do, but I’ve been blessed with the situation and though I’m a bit of a deer in headlights, I will keep tap dancing ’til my feet bleed to help this happen.
Well, by this time, I’m so overwhelmed I’m about to have a breakdown. Tremendously good things, but I won’t lie, I’m scared crapless, so a breakdown nonetheless. This is a lot to absorb. Then day after the news about my film, lightening struck again. I have been asked by the person who wants us to do the pilot of “Dixiewood” to join her non-profit philanthropic foundation. This really has touched my heart. It is a foundation in support of a cause I believe in with my whole heart and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. It is a foundation that is funded through grants and celebrity donations that will make a difference in our world. I was so honored to accept this position which will begin in June. Then the next day I was told that A&E will be making a weekly, biographical tv series of the foundation and our work so we will be in your living room every week. Well, anyone who knows me, knows I’m very camera shy, however, I am willing to do this because this foundation is so very important and this show can do SO much for our cause. How am I going to handle being in the foreground when I’m so camera shy? You guessed it. I’ll be tap dancing once again with a big smile on my face!
Well, things seemed to settle down then and I was busily and contentedly trying to organize the things on my plate and setting my course for each individual situation. Life was calming down so I could determine my life’s new “normal.”
My week was ending with one of my favorite things. It was time to film a new episode of Dixiewood yesterday. I so love being surrounded by these wonderful people that I love doing creative things and yesterday was special because a couple of industry friends were coming to visit the set. One of my favorite people ever, our friend Elaine Hendrix, dropped by.
And another beloved friend who is involved in the pitching of the pilot and the foundation came by with her daughter, an incredible singer who has just been signed. The two of us are involved in producing a few projects together. They wanted to watch the Dixiewood cast in action. After they watched for a while they asked to talk to the cast and on the spot cast the actors, director and our guest star to act in and direct a stunning new music video/short film. I will be helping with producing. The cast will not be playing their Dixiewood characters, but instead will be taking a dramatic turn in separate vignettes. To say the least after they left the mood on set was jubilant. I am so proud of everyone and so happy for them. This is going to be a major video and they are so deserving of this opportunity. I begin meetings next week on learning to produce a music video (I already know the short film part, lol.) What will I do this week and for the next several months? I’ll tap dance as fast as I can.
So for all of you out there pursuing your dreams and working your butts off! Don’t stop! Stay true to your dream and just keep working. Nothing worth having comes easy. But it will come. Deal with your moments of exhaustion and doubt. Deal with the disappointments and tears, but move forward. Take the word quit out of your vocabulary.
Have we “made it”? My daughter, actors, director and I? Oh, hell no, but we have just moved closer to it and have the chance we’ve dreamed of. We have our foot in the door. Will all these projects succeed? We don’t know, but they have a chance and its a good chance. That’s the game though. There are never any guarantees, but the opportunity serves you very very well. If they do all succeed or if one succeeds, we have won. There’s nowhere to go but up.
One thing I do know for sure is our lives are now changed and I need to buy a new pair of tap shoes.