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

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“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)

“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

“thE rEAsOn” Four-part Miniseries Premiers on YouTube

SCREENSHOT - Opening

Hello to all my faithfuls!

I pray this email finds you well. I have been updating you on the progress of thE rEAsOn over the past few months and now it is time for me to show you what all the fuss is about! And here is a little insider information that I’m only giving to my subscribers: I have cut my TV pilot into four mini episodes and will be leaking one part every week and a half from now until the New Year, with some special featurettes sprinkled in for flavor. It is my hope that you and everyone else who watches the show will love it so much that you can’t wait to tell your friends, family and even strangers! I want to cultivate a great following for this gem of a story so that I can continue with the telling and have an audience to tell it to! I truly hope you enjoy it and maybe even see a little bit of yourself from some stage of your life. For me, it’s the stage I’m currently in, which makes this entire experience extremely ironic!

So! Without further delay, I give you part one of thE rEAsOn – Episode:”31 Candles” . Please, like it, share it and subscribe. But most of all, ENJOY IT! =)

Click here to watch: http://youtu.be/LQBLDsIiodw

Always love.

Lauren C. Snowden, AKA The Filmstress

The Filmmaker’s Journey: Ryan Richmond on the Grind

It takes real gumption to pack up your necessities and replant your roots in a new city clear across the country where you barely know a soul. But that’s exactly what Ryan Richmond did when he relocated to Los Angeles from Washington D.C. He believed the next step to move his career forward as a director was to be in LA.  He has every intention of making a life out here, and he hasn’t looked back.

For the past ten years, Ryan has worked as a cinematographer. His work is currently airing on HBO in the documentaries We the People: The Election of Barack Obama and Sing Your Song.  To date, his most widely-recognized accomplishments have come from the success of his feature film, Money Matters. The screenplay for the film won “Best Screenplay” at the UrbanWorld/ HBO Film Festival and was selected by Tribeca Film Festival’s Tribeca All Access Program. The feature won “Audience Favorite” at the Roxbury International Film Festival, was nominated for “Best Director” at the Pan African Film Festival and screened at several other festivals around the country. The feature started out as a short film that he did while at film school at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

“It was originally about the meeting between two people from totally different walks of life. This young black girl and this older white male meet at a confessional and realize they are somehow connected. A simple concept for a school project that I really poured a lot into and it turned out well. I did the festival circuit with the short and got a good reaction. The consistent response was ‘I want to see what happens next.” So that’s the story Ryan set out to tell.

Money Matters, the Process

Between the two characters in the short, the one that compelled Ryan the most was the young black girl. “One of my favorite films is Fresh. I wanted to show the female version of Fresh – not necessarily the drugs and prostitution of Fresh but the gritty environment of the inner city that young people have to navigate—and see that environment through innocent eyes.” He created a world laced with current issues and scenarios of some of the struggles that a young mother might have to endure growing up alongside the child she brought into the world.

Contrary to what many may think, storytelling does not all happen in the creative mind of the storyteller. Authenticity is engineered through a thorough examination of the issues that will be explored, from the characters’ occupations and personalities to the milieu that makes up the world in which those characters live. Money Matters is no exception, a microcosm of any major city, USA, with culturally-specific tones reflecting Ryan’s hometown, Washington DC. “The aspect that I wanted to show about DC was its unique vernacular and its style. I think you get to see a city’s culture best through its young people and I really wanted that to shine through. I allowed the girls to inject themselves into the roles.”

The prevalence of AIDS in the Black community was a topic Ryan found to hit close to the heart of the film and the city he called home. “I did background research on AIDS in DC, and a lot of the elements in the film — [for example] the mother contracting AIDS — made sense and were relevant. I catered it to the statistics that existed after I roughed out the concept.”

 

Getting Your Work Out There

The world of independent filmmaking can be  difficult, whether you’ve been in the game for two years or two decades. There will be times when the story you choose to tell might just not fit into the major money-generating genres. When that happens there are exactly two options to choose from: give it up or push it through by any means necessary. Ryan was faced with this dilemma on his quest to bring Money Matters to life. He made the choice to push through and finance his own movie.

“I met with a few producers. The bigger production companies said it wasn’t commercial enough, and the smaller media hubs said that it was too commercial. I fell in this very unique crack. I got angry and I said, ‘I know production; that’s my home. I can get it in the can.” So I just rubbed my two nickels together and did it.”

One of the first adages we learn in film school is “Never make a film using your own money.” But what they fail to tell us is that in many cases, the only way to get our work out there in the beginning is to dig into our own pockets. Of course, that’s not the ideal but on the flip-side, if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect someone else to believe in you? I asked Ryan about his experience making a self-financed film and this is what he had to say: “It was good, it was bad. There is no substitution for lack of money. Could it be more? Sure. Could it be better in some ways? Absolutely. But, I am very happy with what I was able to accomplish with having nothing but the will to accomplish this goal.”

The Filmmaker’s Journey

 The struggle is a necessary part of the filmmaker’s journey and for 99% of us, it is also inevitable. Most aspiring creatives do not have any substantial amount of control over when we get hired, the size of the job, or even the esteemed professionals that we meet and partner up with (although Ryan is privileged to have been mentored over the past few years by Academy Award-nominated editor Sam Pollard). But we do have control over ourselves, and that is truly where this journey begins and ends. We are defined by the type of person we are. Are we, as individuals, people who take and hinder, like crabs? Or are we the types of people who offer our shoulders for someone else to stand on with the expectation that when their opportunity comes, they will do the same for another? These character traits are the threads that comprise the fabric of our existence and Ryan Richmond is setting a stellar example of the way we should be, offering up his time and his resources to fellow artists who may need them. He hasn’t been here very long but Ryan has already shot a film, a sizzle reel for a pilot and helped out on a couple of friends’ sets. He is now in pre-production for two shorts of his own, which he plans to shoot in the next few weeks.

“At the end of the day I’m very blessed to be able to be walking, talking, breathing and healthy, doing what I want to do or something close to it. Whether I’m where I want to be or not, things could always be worse. You put out negative energy, it’s gonna come back. You put out positive energy, hopefully that comes back to you as well. That’s kind of how I like to live.”

Money Matters is available for purchase and trailer is online at moneymattersmovie.com 

— Lauren C. Snowden