Recently I found my way through the archives, looking for a photo for the TriFilm Society blog. I stumbled across so many great things from my past and it made me so grateful. Here’s an accidental look back at my filmography.
Years ago I started making my first feature-length film, Abandoned Allies, a documentary about the Montagnard people and their loyalty during the Vietnam War.
Abandoned Allies taught me so much. It was my film school. I learned about our nation’s history, politics, and foreign policy. I barely scratched the surface on Montagnard history, culture, and current affairs. And I learned life lessons about love, honor, kindness, bravery, loyalty, and keeping promises.
While making the movie, I met our nation’s heroes. We talked, wept, ate, and drank together. There are memories of making the movie that I’ll cherish the rest of my life.
To this day, making that movie was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
The school of hard knocks is a beast, especially for someone as ill-equipped as I was at that time. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. True story.
During the five years it took to finish the film, I hit some of my lowest low points.
I questioned everything – not just my desire to make movies, but the meaning of life and my reason for being. It was a dark, heavy, and soul searching time in my life that was simultaneously filled with beauty.
That, in fact, was one of the greatest lessons of all: even in the midst of so much darkness, there is light.
Out of those serious struggles, so many amazing things happened.
Each time I faced a new challenge, someone showed up to help. Because of those challenges I met some of the most fun and generous people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Most of us still hang out and work together.
As a result, I swore that I would not just repay their kindness but pay it forward.
This is how the TriFilm Society began in 2009.
The first socials were my way of saying thank you to the amazing people I’d met while making Abandoned Allies.
Few of them knew one another, so I made it easy to hang out and meet new people. Those introductions have led to new collaborations and paid opportunities for so many people, and I’m really happy about that!
The TriFilm Society has changed a lot since the early days in 2009.
It’s evolved over time and is growing into one of the best places to find resources, connections, and opportunities to succeed. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together, and especially thrilled about where we’re heading. (Sign up for emails at trifilmsociety.com if you want to follow along.)
That’s not the only great thing that came out of the challenges I faced making Allies, though.
Those struggles also strengthened my resolve.
Not only was I going to finish the film, come hell or high water, but I knew it was just the beginning. After we promoted Abandoned Allies on WRAL and premiered at IMAX Raleigh, I knew that this filmmaking dream could actually stand a chance – without necessarily having to leave my beloved home state.
Although I desperately wanted to go to grad school, I found it really tough to leave North Carolina to attend one of my top three film schools. I was so busy making movies that, honestly, I couldn’t stop long enough to learn how to make movies. (The irony doesn’t escape me.) So I stayed in Raleigh, N.C., and swore that I would “grow where I was rooted” as it were.
We eventually finished Abandoned Allies in 2012. Since then Trophy, Landfill Dogs: Behind the Scenes, and Brewconomy have been made. That’s a total of four films, two of which are feature-length documentaries.
All four are micro-budget, self-distributed films. Each one taught me so much. In fact, I’ve always wanted to tackle a new version of Abandoned Allies with what I’ve learned along the way.
The big challenges I face right now are time and money. I’m working really hard to create space to make movies without working 24/7, while seeking funding for new projects that are near and dear to my heart.
I’m so in love with directing and telling stories that make the world a better place. It makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world. It’s not easy work but it’s so rewarding!
With four films under my belt, I’m now charting a new course.
The adventures will certainly continue. I promise to share plenty of info on this blog but you’ll get even juicier details in my monthly email updates. (Sign up here.)
It’s an exciting time. I’m so thankful you’re sharing the journey with me. It’s truly a humbling and wonderful thing to have your support, and I never take it for granted. Thank you so much.
Please let me know if you have questions or want more info. It’d be a pleasure to hear from ya in the comments below!