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    Introducing Samantha Payne

    Two weeks ago, my daughter was born.

    It’s a pleasure to introduce you to Samantha Payne for the first time.

    There’s a lot of stuff to share but a very limited window in which to write, work, and post in these early weeks. With little sleep, lots of tending to the little one, and adjusting to life as a family of three humans we’ve got our hands full. I’m so very grateful that we’re surrounded by kind, loving, and generous loved ones to make this time in our lives so enjoyable.

    Please stay tuned. I’ve got a few baby-related posts in mind for those who are interested in following along. As always, we’ll get back to more film-related posts soon enough.

    Hug your loved ones and treat them well, my friends.

    Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu

    I’ve listened to this audio so many times.

    When David Shiyang Liu put out the typographic video of Ira Glass talking about storytelling, I got a little obsessed. I wasn’t the only one; it got shared and shared repeatedly a few years ago.

    Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu. Watch here.

    Today I rediscovered it, and wanted to share again with y’all. Because the message is still really relevant and the video is (to me) timeless in its design.

    Glass talks about our ambition, taste, and skill level. When we first start out, our work isn’t so good. But that’s why we need to keep creating, so that we can improve.

    Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

    — Ira Glass

    If you’re getting started as a film or video maker, keep going.

    Even if your work disappoints you, that’s a sign that you’re improving.

    Don’t quit.

    Every time I make a movie or video, I use the opportunity to continue honing my craft. I want to be a better storyteller and leader. It’s a fearless, exhaustive pursuit – even after 10 years of making movies.

    I’m figuring it out and fighting my way through it, too.

    Want to keep listening? There are four videos posted here. The quote in this post is from the third video.

    Reminder: TriFilm Society Fall Social on 9/28

    Reminder! The TriFilm Society Fall Social is on Thursday, September 28th. I’m so excited about it.

    The TriFilm Society is an organization I started in 2009 with the goal of helping film and video makers in the Triangle stay connected to the resources, connections, and opportunities they need.

    TriFilm socials are unique networking opportunities that happen once per quarter in the spring, summer, fall, and winter. We provide food, drinks, and door prizes for guests. Announcements about what’s happening in the film and video making industry are shared about halfway through the event.

    Read through the FAQs:

    Want to attend?

    Advance registration is required since we provide food, drinks, and door prizes. Tickets are $25 for guests, and free for members of the TriFilm Society. (Not a member? You can join now for $20 / month.)

    Get tickets here or use the embedded form below:

    Want more info?

    There’s plenty of info on the TriFilm site about socials, what to expect, how to prepare, and where to find us that night. It’d be such a pleasure to see you there!

    Sign up for free email updates from TriFilm:

    A few of my favorite films

    People often ask about my favorites.

    I struggle with the answer, to be honest; it’s a tough call.

    It’s kind of like picking my favorite color. I love all of the colors that are in the water. But it’s tough to narrow it down to only one.

    What makes a movie one of my favorites?

    Every time I watch them, I fall in love all over again. There’s something that draws me in, even though I’ve seen the movie hundreds of times.

    What are five of my favorites?

    Here are five of the movies I’ll watch on repeat without hesitation (in alphabetical order):

    • Dumb & Dumber (1994)
    • The Fifth Element (1997)
    • The Princess Bride (1987)
    • The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
    • When Harry Met Sally (1989)

    What do these films have in common?

    They’re well crafted cinematically. But they also have depth and complex characters. I can watch them again and again but still find something new.

    Most (not all) of them have a strong female lead. The Fifth Element is one of my favorites because of Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). She’s a warrior, but she’s also a little vulnerable. Leeloo’s just fascinating.

    The Fifth Element is one of my favorite movies because of the strong female lead.

    There are also comedic elements to each movie, which I appreciate. Dumb and Dumber, a comedy, gets slammed a lot by some for being too simple or stupid.

    But I happen to think Dumb and Dumber is a smart movie about dumb people. I think it’s quick-witted and hilarious. Yes, I can quote an embarrasing amount of lines from the original, but confess that I haven’t seen any of the sequels for fear of it ruining my memories / fondness for the movie.

    It’s interesting, too, that most of my favorite movies are from the same era – even though I didn’t watch them when they were released. They slowly became some of my favorites over the years. I’ve watched them on TV, VHS, and DVD, but not in the theater.

    It’s evidence of the changes in the movie industry around that time. VHS sales created a new market for movies and changed the course of some cult classics, including The Princess Bride.

    In the book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes talks about how the film didn’t do well at the box office. Some of that is attributed to confusion in marketing the movie. Was it an action, fantasy, or romance? It was hard to tell until it was released on VHS and everyone fell in love with the movie. (I love reading books about what happens behind the scenes.)

    These movies have taught me a lot about how to tell a story. The Shawshank Redemption, for example, is such a cinematic delight to me. The way each frame reveals the story is so beautiful – especially considering the setting is a prison.

    I could go on and on about each one of these movies, breaking down exactly why I love them so much!

    What didn’t make the list?

    There are movies that have come out more recently that I have really enjoyed. But putting something on your favorites list feels like a big commitment. If I had a top 10, I’m sure some of those would make the cut.

    You’ll notice there aren’t any documentaries on this list, which is odd for a woman who’s made docs for the past 10 years. Yes, I love documentaries and definitely have a short list of favorites, however, I haven’t watched those movies on repeat.

    Some of my favorite docs were really tough to watch the first time. I don’t know if there’ll be a second time. As I previously mentioned, I defined my favorites as something I could watch on repeat without hesitation. Ergo, no docs on this short list.

    You know I’ve been talking about Wonder Woman a lot lately. That’s because I’m so thrilled to watch a movie with a strong female character who gets to fight in awesome action scenes, it’s directed by a woman, and it’s breaking a lot of ground in Hollywood (among so many other things). WW is not on my list yet, but that’s only because I’ve seen it once. I’m waiting to buy the DVD / Blu-Ray version to play it on repeat. And, yes, I’ll probably watch it about a thousand times.

    What are your favorites?

    What are some of your absolute favorite movies? Use the comments to gush about why you love them! I’d love to hear from you.

    Why I wear a triangle necklace

    I wear a necklace with a triangle on it.

    Since some people have been asking about the triangle and what it means, I thought you might be curious, too.

    I bought the necklace in 2016 to celebrate milestones in running the TriFilm Society. It’s important, IMHO, to celebrate your accomplishments because life itself – never mind chasing your dreams – is incredibly challenging.

    The TriFilm Society Fall Social was held at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in 2016.

    The TriFilm Society is something I started in 2009 as a way to support my fellow filmmakers. I’ve been hosting networking events, collaborating with local organizations, developing new programs, and supporting my peers for years. It’s a lot of fun. Learn more at

    For those counting, that’s eight years of running an organization – while simultaneously working full time and learning to make my own movies. I also adopted a dog, bought / renovated my first house, got engaged, planned a wedding, moved a bunch, and had some additional huge life-altering things happen in those years.

    Yeah, it’s been a busy few years!

    At the same time, I think that’s the new normal. Life moves quickly. We have family, friends, jobs, dreams, responsibilities vying for our time and attention. It’s the way things go.

    That’s why I personally believe every step counts, no matter how small it may seem at the time. And that’s why I believe in celebrating those little victories, especially if you’re overcoming significant challenges. Gratitude goes a long way, eh?

    This also leads us to the notion of taking action.

    Are you dreaming about something big?

    If you’re also dreaming about something big I highly recommend simply starting. Take action now. Yes, as in, today.

    No, really. I mean it. Start anywhere.

    Your action may be confessing that dream aloud for the first time, signing up for a class, joining a member organization like TriFilm, adding the next TriFilm social to your calendar or buying a ticket to attend, etc. Don’t over complicate things. But do take action.

    There’s the another thing: it really doesn’t matter if your dream is too big. It doesn’t matter if the thing you’re dreaming about is still messy, ugly, less than ideal, not ready for primetime. Don’t use your age, background, lack of connections, doors getting shut in your face, and life experiences as excuses.

    None of that matters in the end.

    What matters most is taking action.

    It’s really powerful stuff.

    What about you?

    Do you wear something symbolic? Or do you have another way to celebrate milestones? I’d love to hear from you! Use the comments below to tell me how you’re taking action on your own dreams.