Moving Along

Recently I have been going through a lot of life changes, I couldn’t bring myself to write about them because it was too painful to solidify it on paper. In the last three months I have left the life I knew behind and took a leap towards doing what I love everyday. Breaking up with the man I had been with for four years and leaving my beloved dogs with him as I packed my car with everything I own was beyond painful, but I did it – even when it hurt too much to admit to and I put myself in a different place mentally. I did it.

Working in film production, it was difficult finding enough work to survive in Florida. Unfortunately our tax incentives had run out and our legislators would not put more into the program which residually boosts the local economy. Instead of continuing to make myself miserable by serving tables on a daily basis to make ends meet, I chose to leave and go to a more lucrative state.

A little background on how difficult this was for me: not only did I live with said man for four years, but we lived together broken up for three months before I left. It was the longest three months of my life. There was no malicious behavior but the tension was incredibly high and naturally there was fighting. My dogs were a huge part of my life and the more I ran the logistics of my move I realized there was no good way for me to bring them. Now one dog, Arabella, I have had for about five years and I wanted her to come with me so badly but she is a rescue and doesn’t fare well in crowds. She shakes and cowers when strangers come near her. My other dog, Jupiter, was already agreed upon that he was my ex’s dog. Luckily my ex was gracious enough to keep the dogs together.

15002328_10157721635675440_133635098230312552_oBack to the move. I decided that New York City was beckoning my name. A large potion of my family lives there and offered help during the transition, there is also a myriad of productions filming here pretty much all the time. After packing my car, I chose to leave on my 27th birthday – a new year and a new beginning. My lovely friend offered to come along for the ride so we made it an adventure. Stopping in Asheville, NC to spend a couple nights in a 136 sq ft. tiny house, we enjoyed the nightlife and hiking around that area. We found a fabulous coffee shop in a double decker bus and I saw three waterfalls hiking up the side of a mountain. It was the perfect trip – I needed the clarity that the seclusion of hiking allows for.

If you are ever in that area I highly suggest checking out Wicked Weed Brewery and going to Sky Bar for sunset – it is a bar that is set on three levels of a fire escape. Seems simple enough right? The views topped the charts of amazing things I have seen. Everywhere I looked there were mountains. The drinks were a little expensive but we only had one and watched the sun set behind the mountains then moved on to a sushi and sake dinner before hitting the brewery to end our night.

My older sister has been amazing during this life transition of mine and offered me a place to live outside the city. Her husband built me a Murphy bed to make the office transformed into bedroom feel larger than it is. I cried when I saw it all. As of today, I have been in New York for two months and have worked on five different sets with one more scheduled for this coming weekend. Two of my employers have hired me for second projects and I am getting some great feedback.

So far I have not gotten the chance to direct any of my own projects but I am confident it will come in time, for now I am enjoying paying my dues and meeting new friends in production. Every single day I am here I start to feel more confident that I made the right choice in believing in myself and my capabilities. Sometimes it is necessary to make a big change to prove to yourself that you are worth it and you are capable of achieving your dreams.
Have you ever taken a leap of faith even if you were afraid to do so? Tell me about it, I would love to hear about your adventures!

Robots, 3D Printing, & Stop Motion Film

As a company we are taking a long, sleepless endeavor down the road of stop motion animation for our upcoming project Robotica: Changes In The Air, a story about a lonely robot who leads a mundane life in segregated Priceville with his pup Kurbis when he falls in love with his human neighbor, Zucca. You are probably asking yourself how they are neighbors in a segregated town. In Priceville the robots live on one side of the road and humans on the other, they have to walk on different sides of the sidewalk and some businesses will only serve one or the other. Robotica and Zucca live at the end of their cul de sac with a bunch of fences between them – although the fences aren’t enough to keep troublesome Kurbis out of Zucca’s yard completely. Nothing can stop Kurbis when she smells a pumpkin.

Robotica is a character I have been working on since 2010 when I first dreamt him up while doodling at work. I knew his personality and how he looks but I wasn’t 100% dead set on the storyline. Finding an artist that I trusted with my lil’ nugget was the hardest part but I’m happy to say that six years later I found the perfect artist and visionary who came with her own character – Kurbis. Kelsey has been working with Kurbis for over ten years now and really felt that she deserved to be in a movie. Putting our characters together and seeing how they would interact is how we developed the storyline and collaborated to create Zucca, our love interest.

LtoR: Robotica, Kurbis Zucca

It was fascinating to see how Kelsey was able to take my early sketch of Robotica and utilize the technology of 3D Printing with a sprinkle of ingenuity and create our first prototype last month. We brought him out to the Sunscreen Film Festival‘s first Film Market hosted by Indyoh and set him up on the table, showing people how we plan on keeping costs low by utilizing magnets to attache certain pieces and move them. We got a lot of great feedback from some wonderful people and had a great time unveiling him to the community.

Stop motion is a tedious style of filmmaking that is very time consuming because it is about stringing together still images to create the illusion of movement with the knowledge that the human eye sees 24 frames per second. That is equal to 24 still images in a single second and every image needs to be staged perfectly to have fluid, continuous movement. It is exhilarating and exhausting. The long hours of focus will be rewarded with an amazing finished product.

Now we are entering the crazy world of crowdfunding with Seed&Spark in an effort to bring together a larger budget than our own pockets (which is what we have been using so far) to give this project all the materials and attention it deserves to be something you will want to watch and share with your friends. We are even holding a contest! You can learn about it here:

The contest gives you, the audience, an opportunity to be a part of the film by sketching up a design for a robot and sharing with us on Facebook before Saturday May 21st and we will put your name into a drawing for every dollar you contribute to our campaign. So if you contribute $25 you have 25 chances to see your robot in the movie.

Will you be a supporter of Team  Robotica? Show your love by giving us a share on Facebook or a follow on Seed&Spark!

 

Making Dreams Reality

The Beginning

It all started in film school, I had a dream of a production company with the name of Just The Spinach Entertainment with so many ideas of how I wanted the company to be. I dreamed of a cultivating environment for people of all arts to collaborate and put themselves out there. After years of doubting myself – I am a creative after all – and working on anything and everything I can get my hands in while still paying my bills and writing my scripts, I found myself in a position where I could take the first step in fabricating my dreams.

The Next Step

Through meditation, writing, and positive affirmations (and lots of coffee) I built the confidence I needed to commit to myself; I bought the camera. I bought some lenses. I even bought a tripod and shoulder mount. Immediately, I started taking pictures and short videos to get to know my Canon and where it’s limits are. I became proud of my pictures and the footage I was compiling. I didn’t like the sound though, it felt boxy and canned. I invested in some sound equipment. With my office turning into an equipment shed, a few projects already in pre-production and a logo in hand I decided it was time.

Becoming Legit

After holding meetings with many reputable people and getting all my questions answered, I drew up a business plan and built my team with clear roles declared. I finally did it, I submitted my application for our LLC. Now Just The Spinach Entertainment LLC is a thing – it’s my thing and I couldn’t be more proud. I even own Justthespinach.com although though a website is still under construction, when it is complete I will share for your viewing pleasure. As I am sitting at my computer editing Monday’s footage for our upcoming web cooking show, Creative Culinations, I am in awe of the progress I am making. 

Whoever said create your own opportunities was right. Life is too short to wait for opportunities to come to you, you need to grab life by the balls and run steadily towards your dream. If you think life dealt you a bad hand and you don’t deserve it or it is too late to start working on your dream I am here to tell you that is false. It is never too late and anybody willing to put in the hard work and dedication can see their dreams come to fruition. A professor of mine whom I recently had coffee with gave me this great advice and I’ll admit that at the time I was skeptical. I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck hoping things work out for years, to be at a point where I own my own equipment and production company with multiple projects in the works is exhilarating – especially knowing where I come from. I won’t give up now, I can’t give up now.

Just The Spinach Projects

Creative Culinations premieres on Youtube and Facebook the first week of April, like our Facebook page for updates, recipes, budgets and cooking tips/facts. Just The Spinach is also working on two short narrative films as well as a short claymation film based on a passion character of mine named Robotica. Well, back to editing for now. Tomorrow will bring more filming for Creative Culinations and storyboarding for Robotica. Stay tuned!

The Ultimate Goal

In the future, Just The Spinach Entertainment LLC will have won awards for various projects in festivals across the world and have a studio space with a coffee shop attached that has a performance space for live shows. We will cultivate the arts in everything from dance to theater to martial arts and display them for the world to see. When our coffee house holds shows we will have a live feed for our audience that was unable to attend. 

What is your dream? What are you doing to make it a reality? Share your trials and tribulations as well as your success stories.

Video

The Poet of Havana

Me On The Red Carpet

The Poet of Havana‘s world premiere at the Gasparilla International Film Festival was an incendiary, sold out, production. Yes, production. The theater quickly filled with a sea of filmmakers and film lovers high on the festival buzz. Ron Chatman, the director, was introduced and proceeded to introduce the film itself. The lights went down and the opening frame hit; a perfectly shot view of waves rolling into the shore. The music that accompanied it had a soulful feel that you didn’t even need to understand the story to appreciate the emotion.

Carlos Valera sings the music of the people, he was born in 1963. During Cuba’s rolling blackouts in the 70s he would go out on a terrace with some friends and play music for his family and neighbors until the power returned.Benecio Del Toro says Carlos plays music that is grounded in truth and passes a message that makes you think. The phrase that resonated with me the most from his songs was:

“there can only be freedom when nobody owns it”

The images were crisp and equally as beautiful as Varela’s powerful songs. The final shots of the film were of the Havana skyline in the distance past some water and the Carlos and his guitar sitting on a sea wall. It was beautiful because to me it emphasized the theme of change in the film. Not just Valera’s transformation as an artist but also the political and social change that his songs speak of.

After the film there was a question and answer session with both director and talent. Everyone was happy to have the film in Tampa and touched by his words of love and Varela’s obvious passion. Later in the evening at the Bacardi Party, Carlos performed live. It was a beautiful performance, I don’t understand Spanish but I recognized the songs from the film and was moved to hear them performed live. Carlos is quite the performer.

Let The Festivals Begin!

Welcome to film festival season 2015! This year I will be working the Gasparilla International Film Festival as a volunteer which is very exciting because not only do I get to help continue a beloved Tampa film community tradition nine years in the running and learn more about how festivals come together, I also get to attend a plethora of screenings, Industry panels, and maybe even a party or two over the weekend. Festivals are great because it brings people from all over to a local community who are all like minded to network for new opportunities; festivals are also great learning experiences with workshops and conversations analysing films and what works in today’s market.

The last day of April marks the first day of the four day Sunscreen Film Festival for the tenth year. This festival is very special to me because it was the first festival that I had a film premiere at. In an effort to give back and reconnect with the film community in the Tampa/St. Pete area I will also volunteer to help with this festival as well, and in turn get a day pass to attend workshops and screenings. Festivals are such an exciting time it is easy to forget all the year round work that goes into them to create the magical experience (and economy boost) we have. I think that it would be such a dream to work on a festival every single year – even all year round. My goal in these next few months is to learn as much as possible about putting together a festival, who knows maybe I’ll be hosting one of my own one day!

What’s a Pilgrimage?

The meaning of a pilgrimage through the eyes of a pilgrim:

The journey takes many forms, there can be a religious aspect to it however it is not a requirement. For me, it has more to do with a personal journey and growth. I don’t subscribe to any particular creed. Be happy, be honest, and be kind. That is my mantra. Finding your true soul is a journey that starts inside of you, therefore any one person’s pilgrimage will not match any other. It starts when you allow it to.

Although the Camino De Santiago is largely rooted in a catholic background, the pilgrims on the route of Saint James are of various backgrounds. Any pilgrimage begins when you allow it to, traditionally from your front door. However the traditional route of St. James starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and ends in Santiago, Spain. Spending, on average, thirty days walking from France through to the tip of Spain is not an easy feat for anyone. Especially not when you stick to the true path of a pilgrim, relying on the way to support you through your travels. Breaking down both your physical and mental being and building you up again – much like daily life.

You see, a pilgrimage does not have to be some set trail that has been walked for centuries. A pilgrimage can be you getting up from your chair, going out your back door, and walking to another town or through the woods. It may not have much significance to an outsider however on said walk through the woods you may have reached a personal ‘aha!’ moment that alters the way you view your life forever.

I can’t wait to have a pilgrimage of my own, to travel and reach a true transcendental state must be absolute bliss. Although I’m not so sure I can wait until I find my way back to Europe to complete the Camino. That goal will never leave my mind but I think that some preparation is required. Some cultures and religions believe in yearly pilgrimages; so why can’t I take multiple pilgrimages throughout my life? I can and I will!

I want to call myself a citizen of the world and travel across our earth however when looking at my list (I keep a list of places I have been before) I realize that my focus has always been out of the Americas and I never took the time available to explore the land on which I was born. The land that my parents fell in love in and travelled across both together and alone. I need to experience the Appalachian Mountains and the Continental Divide. I need to see what the Rockies look like and the West Coast. I need to know what it is like to breathe in higher altitude, to truly be cold in the winter, and to see Redwood trees that I can’t wrap my arms around. I wish to hike and camp and build fires in as many states as I can. I want to simulate parts of the Oregon Trail and try to understand what the Gold Rush was like. Stand on old battlefields and put myself in the shoes of the people who fought there.

I am a firm advocate that seeing is believing and believing leads to true understanding. Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” I feel that he uses the term experiment precisely because they are meant to be learned from. Scientists create a hypothesis and then conduct experiments to prove their hypothesis is correct or debunk it. But no matter what, any good scientist will always try the experiment.

xxx
Sam

Aside

Flashback: Poetry Compilation 2010

I pray you be not greedy

But enjoy every moment

As if the last you shall know

My heart you stole at first glance

Never again shall I be the same

My soul has not felt ‘til now

The true beauty of the world

Without you why shall I live?

My hands in yours, intertwined

Your chest, my eternal rest

Forever I lay in your eyes

Nevermore shall I need again

Our hearts bound ‘til the end

Your love I always hold near

Without, the sun doth not rise

Darkness settles in my bosom

-Untitled by Sam Francisco

 

 

I’m sick of all the bullshit

I’m sick of all the lies

Wake me when its over

I don’t wanna watch it die

Just skip to the end

Spare me the pain

I’d rather it just be done

There’s nothing left to gain

-Sick by Sam Francisco

 

 

Oh green tree, once you held my attention and inspired me.

What happened to that fascination?

Now you are dull and average green tree,

your curves and holes don’t leave me in awe struck.

Is it you green tree, or is it me?

Did your colors really fade or is it my mind that has dulled out?

I am no longer compelled to ascend upon your branches, weightless, above the world.

-Green Tree by Sam Francisco

 

I’m so scared, everyone’s life continues only mine left me somewhere in the dark.

I look in every corner but to no avail, its gone and the darkness is closing in.

I once was treading water but now I am sinking, drowning deeper and deeper –

the surface has disappeared completely.

The ground below looks sturdy and safe so I head towards it.

Finally within my reach, my foot sinks into the ground – forever stuck.

-Oceanography by Sam Francisco

 

What do you see when you look at me

Is it the same as the broken mirrors show

Seven years of bad luck, when will I be free

As the years build up my brow furrows

Life is more than who you are

The outside shows whats within

In my case, its not a pretty fare

Yes the toll is high, I cannot win

Oh how I wish the mirror lied

But I know that  fallacy is only within

In this thought something inside died

So away I stay, tucked neatly in a bin

-Mirrors by Sam Francisco