Friday’s Featured Writer: Rayvell Snowden, Sr.

Happy Feature Friday, everybody!! As promised, I have a very special written piece to share with you today that is sure to touch you deep down in your heart. I am delighted to present our inaugural guest writer – my dad. Please, leave your comments and encouragements below!

Grandma Winnie and Daddy

Mom and Me
by
Rayvell Snowden, Sr.

Sitting there watching her and listening to her shallow breathing, I was reminded that she was only fourteen years older than I.   My mind took me back to my earliest memories of the two of us.

I guessed that I must have been three or four years old.  But the memory seemed as fresh as the day it happened.

“Rayvell, sit down baby. Momma don’t want you to fall off.”  I was standing on the end of her cotton sack in the cotton field.  She was pulling cotton, and as she pulled up to the next group of cotton stalks to pull the cotton bowls and put them in the long cotton sack that was strapped over her shoulder, I sat or stood on the end of it pulling what cotton was within my reach.  I’m sure, looking back now that I was no help to her at all but it kept me busy and out of her way.

Funny things that I know now as I sit here reflecting on those moments that had no meaning for me then…  As an example: I would learn as we traveled around following the cotton harvest that there is a difference in pulling cotton and picking cotton.  In Oklahoma we pulled cotton (taking the entire bowls) and in California we picked cotton (taking the cotton out of the bowls).  Looking back now I’m sure that was a hard time in my mother’s life, but I never remember her complaining about it.

Now as I sat watching her laying there not able to speak or to move I felt such overwhelming love for her.  I also realized that I had never made a point to tell her in unmistakable terms how much she had always meant to me.  I wanted to tell her and hold her.  Why hadn’t I ever told her?  I tried to convince myself that in my thirty three years I must have told her, but why couldn’t I remember? I did remember that on a very few occasions she had hugged me and told me that she loved me, but in my embarrassment I pulled away from her.  I always knew that she loved me and I assumed that she knew that I loved her too.  However, sitting here now, I couldn’t be sure that she knew.  I experienced such pain in that moment, because until that moment I never really believed that she was going to die.  Oh, yes, the doctors had told us that she didn’t have much time left but we kept seeing improvement in her and I convinced myself that the doctors were wrong on this one.

At this time my siblings and I were taking turns sitting with her.  We didn’t want her to be alone.  I remembered that earlier in the day when most of us were there with her she opened her eyes and looked at us.  I knew that she wanted to speak to us but she couldn’t.  I saw a tear form in the corner of her eye as she looked at us.

Convinced now that the doctors knew what they were talking about, I watched her very closely. Several times during the night she stopped breathing for long periods of time.  I called the nurse in a couple of times to check on her. The nurse told me that at this stage, patients sometimes would stop breathing for long periods of time and then start up again. I didn’t want to see my mother suffer and at the same time I wasn’t ready for her to go. There was so much that I needed to tell her.  Why hadn’t I told her when there was time?  She was only fourteen years older than me.  Too young to die, and yet I knew that it was not in my power to stop it. I was thinking, she has been so good to us. She gave all she had to us.  Did all she knew to do for us and we could do nothing for her.

I sat there with all of these thoughts going through my mind and then I felt myself conceding to that old fear that I’d had in the past.  I remembered that my grandmother had died at the age of forty-one.  Now my mother was dying at the age of forty-six; maybe we were all going to die in our forties.  That’s about the time that life was starting to make a little since, but then it was over and we would die.  Why?  I just could not get my head wrapped around that concept.  What was the purpose of life anyway if we had to die as soon as life started to get good?  Were we just supposed to get married, have some kids, get a good job, buy a home and then leave it all for someone else?

My heart hurt; I was afraid and confused.  There had never been anyone in my life that I knew of who had beat those odds.   No one had ever gone to college or had a job, (aside from working in the fields). I didn’t know who to cry for — my mother, myself, or my younger brothers and sisters.

My attention was drawn back to my mother.  She was quiet but her breathing was ragged and labored.   I would be with her until morning when my sister would come and sit with her.  I found myself (to my surprise) wishing that she would not linger any longer.  I just didn’t want to see her suffer anymore.  I would stop being afraid and recognize that this time was precious.   There were no one else there and this time belonged to Mom and me.

About the author: Anyone who has had the privilege of a conversation with Ray knows that he is a well of wisdom. A lifetime of sometimes unbelievable but always amazing experiences has served all who know him very well — family, friends and strangers, alike. Although he is retired from the field of college education — he ran the Industrial Technology Department at Allan Hancock College for almost thirty years and his time there is decorated with countless accolades — Ray continues to teach one class each semester in order to continue imparting his life and work experience on the next generation. He is currently writing his memoir.

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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.
Love,
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
here.

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

#creativevision #creatorup #runnerslane #makingmoves #artnusproductions

“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)

When it rains, it pours: My Recent Interview and other Blessings =)

“…when things once start going right they often go on getting better and better.” – CS Lewis

Well, I’ve been trying something new in my life: actively trusting God. That is a moment-to-moment decision that I have to continue to make. This journey of trying to find a home for “thE rEAsOn” has been an interesting one. Every single person who has watched the show says how much they love it and how much we need more shows like this on the air which is absolutely wonderful, because that just proves that there is a very real audience out there who loves the project! Yet I’m still in need of that ONE person who will take a chance on me and this great project and everyone involved with it. BUT… I’m trusting God to work it out because, just like every other awesome thing that has happened surrounding my film work, none of it is in my control.

Speaking of… A few weeks back I returned from the New York Television Festival and had a sit-down with my Film Studies department chair at Moorpark College. I was telling her all about my experience in New York and she expressed immense excitement for me. I thought nothing else of it until about two weeks later, she emailed me that the Moorpark Student Voice (The college’s online news publication) had requested to conduct a featured interview with one of the Film professors who was currently working on any projects. As it turns out, to my knowledge, I’m the only instructor in my department who is actively working to make film projects. Well, the video interview was released on Tuesday and I would love to share it with you! I am not at all comfortable being in front of the camera but I have learned to embrace these opportunities as primers for what is to come. I have to believe that all of this is coming together for a very specific, very GOOD reason!

You can watch my interview with the Moorpark Student Voice here:

In addition to this interview, I have had an influx of interest and order for my metal artwork! I literally prayed last Thursday that somehow I would be allowed to use my artwork to raise funds to finance my projects until someone else — preferably a network executive or independent financier — comes along and offers to cover my overhead. Well, lo and behold, the very next day, the orders started coming in! And I am even working on my first commission for a pretty successful business as well! It was as direct an answer to prayer as I can remember receiving! So now, I’m back in business and actually teaming up with a fabricator to start cutting my materials because it’s more than I can comfortably manage on my own anymore. (Stay tuned for a separate blog update on my artistic welding progress! =)

So today, I’m especially thankful. I’m thankful for my God-given gifts and that He has endowed me with the tenacity to use those gifts to bring glory to Him. And I’m most thankful that He is showing me how to trust Him to take care of the details! Thanks for sticking with me; it means so very much!

Always love.

Lauren C. Snowden (The Filmstress)

If you have not yet fallen in love with thE rEAsOn, it’s not too late! The first 3 of 4 parts have been launched and are available to view now via YouTube! I will even make it extra accessible for you and embed them right here in this blog post =)

Episode 1 “31 Candles”

Episode 2 “Boom, Baby!”

Episode 3 “A Very Sucky Engagement”

It’s about that time! Episode 3 “A Very Sucky Engagement” is LIVE!!

Quinn flashes ring - very sucky engagement

Sometimes things just don’t go the way you plan…

And Maya O’Neil seems to be enduring one upset after another. First, her college sweetheart shows up at her birthday party after ten years, with his fiancée in tow. Then she’s nearly run over by a cyclist — albeit an extremely gorgeous cyclist — in the park, and he expects her to pay for the damage to his bike that resulted from him being hurled off the side of the bike path after she darted out in front of him. What else could possibly go wrong? Well, the episode title should whet your appetite just enough to make you want to find out for yourself!

Happy Friday to all of my faithful followers and to the newcomers! thE rEAsOn, Episode 3 “A Very Sucky Engagement” has launched and is available for you to view. I sure hope you have been enjoying the show thus far. This is part 3 of my 4-part pilot presentation. What happens after episode 4 remains to be seen. But you helping to spread the word is going to go a mighty long way in helping us to get the rest of the show filmed. So, please, continue to tune in and let’s see if we can’t dazzle you!

Blessings,

Lauren, AKA The Filmstress

Watch and SHARE Episode 3 “A Very Sucky Engagement” here:

In this episode: Dinora Walcott Alexander Nandini Bapat, Norman A Snowden, Michele Martin Gossett, Jeff Hohimer and Loren Lillian

“thE rEAsOn” Episode 2, “Boom, Baby!” is LIVE!!

Maya and Salina - Boom, Baby

HAPPY SUNDAY!!! Great news: The next installment of my TV pilot “thE rEAsOn” is up and ready to be enjoyed! Please, go check it out and PLEASE, continue to share it, tweet about it, Instagram it to everyone you know! Thank you so much for your support! And please, do let me know what you think about the show! You can comment here, you can tweet to me @LaurenSnowden; find me on Facebook and follow our show page The Reason Series, or drop me an email!

Click here to view Episode 2 “Boom, Baby!”

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-4tG1kuqXAY

Insert from Memory Box - Boom, Baby