A “new” spot to create, express and inspire!


“They are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither–whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:3 [image courtesy of one3productions]

This is that new-new! We may have overhauled the look of the website but Cotton-pickin’ Blogs still lives here! This is the new headquarters for Art -N- Us Productions, where you’ll find links to the various facets of my creative endeavors. From filmmaking and artistic welding, to education and speaking engagements, this hub will be the place to keep you informed of the latest and greatest from yours truly.

We are excited about this renovation! Please be patient as we continue to enhance the site and check back often for awesome new content!

Always love.

Lauren C. Snowden
(AKA The Filmstress)


Prayer for Artists

“Bless the creators, O God of creation, who by their gifts make the world a more joyful and beautiful realm. Through their labors they teach us to see more clearly the truth around us. In their inspiration they call forth wonder and awe in our own living. In their hope and vision they remind us that life is holy. Bless all who create in your image, O God of creation. Pour your Spirit upon them that their hearts may sing and their works be fulfilling. Amen.”
(From “Prayers of Our Heart” by Cobb Andersen)

The most AMAZING thing happened today… (Friday September 18, 2015)


Okay! So my new Life Group just started up and I am so excited about this new group of ladies I get to grow with over the next 10 weeks. It’s amazing enough how I got linked up to this group but that’s fodder for another blog post. This is the thing. I found out on Sunday what the book was that we’d be reading in group and bought it immediately that morning after church service. The book is called All the Places to Go: How will you know? by John Ortberg. The book is about opportunities and how to know when to move on one and the metaphor for opportunity used throughout the book is a door…

Well, exhausted from a very full week and still beaming about my birthday that just passed on Tuesday (September 15th) I lay in bed, reading chapter 1. Here are the highlights directly from the book that lead me to the amazing thing that happened today.

  • “…it is an open door, symbolic of ‘boundless opportunities. Of unlimited chances to do something worthwhile; of grand openings into new and unknown adventures of significant living; of heretofore unimagined chances to do good, to make our lives count for eternity.'”
  • “And open door is the great adventure of life because it means the possibility of being useful to God.”

Okay. SO last night I fell asleep with the prayer on my heart that I would be able to recognize opportunities to bless others when they are presented to me. Salt and light. This morning, I woke up at 9:30 to an alarming Facebook post from one of my oldest friends, sharing that her mother, who is already battling cancer, suffered a stroke while still at the doctor’s office. She’d been rushed to a hospital in Santa Barbara by helicopter and was taken into surgery expeditiously in order to remove the blood clot that caused the stroke. By the time I read the message the thread had been adorned with comments of well wishes and promises to pray for my friend’s mom and that touched my heart. But I felt I could do more. I’ve tried to be intentional about posting a prayer in the comment thread whenever I read about a friend or loved one suffering through a trial because while I have every intention on praying for them as I say I will, life often gets riddled with busyness and, though I’m ashamed to admit it, I would sometimes forget to pray. So with that thought on my mind I typed out a prayer asking God to send His healing touch to my friend’s mom and comfort to my friend and the family. But I still didn’t feel like I’d done all I could. All of a sudden, I felt compelled to drive up to Santa Barbara and see about them. I didn’t know anything except the hospital where her mom was and I knew that my friend would be there because…well, where else would she be??

With that, I hopped out of bed, got dressed and rushed to Ralph’s to buy some food for her and her sister, whom I was hoping was there, too. Got out of Ralph’s and headed to the freeway with my GPS giving me a good report that I was “on the fastest route available” and that I would arrive at my destination in 1 hr and 17 minutes. But wouldn’t you know it — the moment I merged onto the freeway I saw smoke up ahead. NOOOO!!! A fire?? You’ve got to be kidding me! Oh, and traffic is completely stopped? Of course it is. The ONE day I actually have some place important to go and there is a stinking fire! And I can’t get off the freeway because I live off the last exit before the 118 grade into Simi Valley. So I had no choice but to sit there. And wait. Furious. Agitated. Claustrophic and trying not to have a panic attack. I tried to pray but even that didn’t come out right. All I could manage was , “Jesus, I really want to cuss right now!” I refrained. Barely. Had to make myself take deep breaths and calm down and accept the situation for what it was: A big fat thorn in the side of my day! I had been on the phone with my mom when I ran into the fire traffic and proceeded to start dragging her down the road of my misery so decided to drop her off before things got any worse. But another good friend of mine called soon after and took my mind off the four-lane parking lot.

(I’m almost to the good part. This all comes together, trust me!)

After what felt like a short eternity (oxymoron? I think, yes) I arrived in Santa Barbara and as I got close to the hospital I started to pray: “Lord, please let me be able to find her. Please let her be here.” So I pulled onto the street and drove slowly as I tried to spot where to park, and who do I see just ahead, walking with who I was pretty sure was her sister, whom I hadn’t seen since I was in about the 6th grade? It was my friend! I rolled down the window and called to her and she recognized me right away (I forgot to tell you that I had only seen her one time since maybe the 10th grade and that was two years ago, Christmas, for a 5-minute reunion in Target). I found parking, grabbed my grocery bag of food and rushed out to meet them. She gave me the best hug and we held each other for a long time. I could feel how grateful she was that I’d come and that really blessed me. And it was such a joy to see her sister after so many, many years, too. I told them that I just wanted to drive up and bring them some food and they said “Oh, wow, we were just on our way to go and get something to eat. We haven’t eaten anything all day”. And I said “Man, God is so good! Let me tell you what happened on my way here…” And we all agreed with how perfect that timing – God’s timing – was.

We stood out there talking and visiting for about 20 minutes before they got a call that they were needed in the hospital so I told them I would leave them to go and see about their mom. “But before I go,” I asked, “Can I pray for you?” They both said yes, so we huddled right there on the sidewalk and I prayed for them. It was an overwhelming moment and a beautiful one as well. And before I said goodbye I handed my friend what I like to call a Faith Stone (my superintendent at the Christian school where I worked for the past 8 years had them made for us to give to people as we felt led, just as a small token of encouragement). The stone had 1 Peter 5:7 printed on it, which says “Cast your cares upon the Lord, for He cares for you.” She thanked me and we said goodbye.

– Epilogue –

When I got ready to leave I couldn’t figure out where to pay for my parking so the attendant instructed me to go and get it validated at the hospital. While there I decided to find out what room her mom was in just in case I ended up going back tomorrow or Sunday and the lady said “We don’t have a patient in our system by that name” I was like, “What??” She asked if my friend’s mom might be under another name and I had no idea what to tell her. So what I realized then was that if I hadn’t gotten caught in that fire traffic and arrived when I did to see my friend and her sister walking down the sidewalk, I would have driven all the way there and not even been able to find her because I didn’t even have her cell phone number!

So, the moral(s) of the story: 1) When you feel compelled to act on behalf of another person, please do it. It’s not just for them; it’s for you, too. 2) If God can work tiny little details together like what happened today, He can heal my friend’s sweet mama. And He can meet you where you are, too! He cares about the things we care about and sometimes He has to do something EXTRA awesome in order to remind us of that. And 3) I’m so glad I walked through that door!

I hope this story encourages you today.

New Beginnings, Finding My Place and an Update

I found this in my mailbox the day after I realized I was going to have to jump. #grace

I found this in my mailbox the day after I realized I was going to have to jump. #grace

As a storyteller I find that I tell stories the way I experience life – through sporadic vulnerability, woven with levity. I like to call it situation-dramedy. Growing up I admired writers and filmmakers such as J.J. Abrams (circa Felicity) Cameron Crowe, John Hughes, Charles Shyer, Nancy Meyers and Edward Zwick for their mastery in weaving authentic stories in humorous and sobering ways. At the time, I could not articulate that. All I knew was that their films and television shows touched me deep in my heart, and I knew I wanted to tell stories that would compel us to search for Truth. But what God has been showing me on a more personal and urgent level just recently, is that if I am going to continue to compel viewers to search for Truth, I must, myself, be compelled in the same way. Arriving at that realization and then accepting it has been the scariest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.

I had never been a seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. And what I mean is, I would go hungry for a day before I showed up at the grocery store without a shopping list. Order. It’s the way I had always operated because I couldn’t stand the idea of not knowing what was coming next. From rent to relationships, I needed to know where I stood in the “big picture”. But this year, 2015, has been marked as the year I truly accepted my own Call to Adventure; the year God compelled me to step out in faith and pursue the gifts He has instilled in me with the same conviction I write into my characters.

The past few years had grown increasingly more difficult. I’d been stretched between two teaching jobs, trying to make ends meet and not ever even considering stepping out. The reason? Fear, plain and simple. I had no back-up plan, after all, and no time to create one. How would I pay my bills if I left my full time job and went to part-time? Ironically enough, I had stopped trusting the One who had given me my creative vision in the first place. Once I realigned myself with His plan and stopped trying to share control, things just started to fall into place. And now as I look back, I am amazed at the chapter that is currently being written in my story. It is transformative, truthful, convicting, relatable and inspiring – the very same qualities woven into any impactful narrative that has ever stuck with us. I want to tell those kinds of stories!

There are just too many mind-blowing moments that led up to my finally taking the leap and I think I might take time to highlight some of them in a later entry. But for now, I thought I would share with you the letter I sent out to my school family. Their support — from my administrators to my parents — has been overwhelming. I have been blessed beyond my imagination, and I look forward to being salt and light wherever I go.

Hello loved ones,

It has been my heart’s prayer, for the past couple of years especially, that God would take me deeper in Him, show me how to trust Him with every aspect of my life. In fact, I think it is safe to say that Trust has been my greatest challenge lately. In the fall I heard the song “Oceans” for the first time and I remember thinking how beautiful it was, how intentional. Since then I’ve sang it several times a month between chapel and weekend church service. I’ve often found myself in tears, aching and longing for the kind of intimacy with God that would take me deeper than I could ever go in my own strength, my own understanding, my own self. What I didn’t realize was that every time I sang that song, I was not only worshiping God; I was also calling out to Him with a fervent prayer from the depths of my Spirit. Well, over the course of this school year, I have felt the Lord — even heard Him — calling me to step out on faith and trust Him with my purpose. So now, even though it is the scariest thing I have ever done in my life…even though I LOVE my family here and the ministry I am blessed to be a part of… even though I LOVE these kiddos more than words can describe… I am going to step out on faith and watch what God does. Because when it comes down to it, it is always best to be in the middle of His will than in the comfort of my own.
I want to say THANK YOU to everyone for being so awesome. I can safely say that I have very specific, very special memories with each one of you that I have been collecting over the past eight years, and that makes me feel really good. I just hope that I have been half the blessing to all of you that you have been to me. It is a privilege to call you my family! May God bless you and keep you always.
Lauren Snowden

So, this is what I’m into right now. I was accepted into a 4-week accelerated production program through an aweome company called CreatorUp​, based on a short documentary I pitched about one of the awesome people in my life and her impact on her corner of Los Angeles. I am overwhelmed at how much my project has resonated with people. In fact, I was especially honored to be chosen for the blog post about the launch of the Accelerator Program. You can read the article

Thank you so much for sticking with me through this transition. More posts, more often, to come!

#creativevision #creatorup #runnerslane #makingmoves #artnusproductions

Grandma’s House: Less Than Two Minutes of Your Time for an Awesome Cause! =)

Hey, everybody! I am proud to share an uplifting and inspiring tidbit with you and ask for your quick “click” vote! My aunt, Flora Johnson (pictured below in the sharp red blazer), has an amazing not-for-profit after-school tutoring program called Grandma’s House, and she is competing for a very important money grant. Grandma’s House, located in Tulare, CA, is striving to make a difference in the lives of children who need help but can’t afford to pay for tutoring, and they have made a tremendous impact in the community.

Her credentials are so extensive that I can’t begin to rattle them off for you but I will tell you that she retired from a fulfilling career as a secondary principal, only to continue educating in a way that would allow her to cater specifically to the needs of her town. I have seen this facility with my own two eyes and it is beyond outstanding! This grant will provide the capitol for her and her team to expand the facility and will enable them to service many more children. We can help by simply clicking this link and voting. Please click, vote and share via social media for as many days as you are able; you will be doing a huge service for a needy community of young people! On behalf of Grandma’s House, and on behalf of the children and families who will benefit, I say a huge THANK YOU!!!

Vote for Grandma’s House Here!


“thE rEAsOn” Comes to the LA WEBFEST April 4 & 5!

2015 Official Selection

Hello, my faithful followers!

It has been a while since my last update — on thE rEAsOn or otherwise —  but I hope this exciting news makes up for it!

By now many of you have had the opportunity to experience thE rEAsOn and some of you have even shared it with others, greatly increasing the traffic to the episodes. Thank you for that! The latest update is that two weeks ago I received word that thE rEAsOn was accepted into the LA WEBFEST, and that it has been nominated for four awards, including:

“Outstanding Actress in a Drama” (Dinora Walcott)
“Outstanding Actor in a Drama” (Desean Kevin Terry)
“Outstanding Theme Song in a Drama” (Brad Bettis)
“Outstanding Directing in a Drama” (Lauren C. Snowden)

This festival will be LA-local, right here in Universal City, and it runs from Thursday, April 2 to Sunday, April 5. In addition to the two screenings for thE rEAsOn on Saturday and Sunday, I will also be featured on two panel discussions — one Saturday and one Sunday. Here is a rundown:

Saturday April 4:
12:00 – Featured on panel “How we made our webseries”
2:00 – “thE rEAsOn” screens
8:00 – Awards ceremony at 8:00

Sunday April 5
4:00 – Featured on panel “How we made our webseries… as minorities in control”
6:00 – “thE rEAsOn” screens

I am so proud of everyone involved in bringing thE rEAsOn to life, and I want to especially congratulate Dinora, Desean and Brad for their nominations!

It would be so wonderful to have you there to share in the fun if you are able to make it. But even if you aren’t able to be here physically, I wanted to thank you all for your support and for believing in this vision and in me. Please email me or comment below if you want more information on the festival, to let me know that you will be joining in the festivities, or just to say hello! I would love to hear from you =)

If you want further information on the other events happening at the festival, the website is lawebfest.com. I have no doubt that there will be many wonderful series to enjoy and a wealth of invaluable information being given. And please, spread the word!

May the Lord bless and keep you in His care, ALWAYS!

Always love.

“The Filmstress” aka Lauren C. Snowden

2015 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama.Nominee

Dinora Walcott

2015 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama.Nominee

Desean Kevin Terry

2015 Outstanding Theme Song Nominee

Brad Bettis

2015 Outstanding Directing in a Drama.Nomination

Lauren C. Snowden

“thE rEAsOn” Episode 4 “Back to the Past” is LIVE!! =)

Hello, everybody!

Just a quick line to let you know that the final installment of my pilot, thE rEAsOn is live and ready to be enjoyed. I would love to hear what you all think of the show and I pray that I will be bringing you the next installment in just a few short months! Thank you so much for all of your support; for accompanying me on this crazy journey and for trusting me with your time.

Merry belated Christmas to you all! I trust that your day was wonderful and pray that your New Year would bring with it lots of hope and promise. God bless and keep you ALWAYS!

Always love.

Lauren C. Snowden (The Filmstress)