Film Stories: Away We Go

I remember seeing Away We Go in the movie theater with my husband. We were catching an early matinee while the kids were in school, and at 10:30am on a Wednesday in Union Square most of the seats were empty. The few people that did join us were older, the color already drained from their hair. 

The movie started, and we laughed. And no one else did. That's such a strange feeling. I leaned over and whispered to my husband, Why aren't they laughing? 

At first I tried that thing where you hold the laughter in, only to have it erupt out of me a few seconds later, by which time it was truly inappropriate. 

After that, I just let myself go, to laugh or to cry or to be however I was in each moment. 

There have been maybe a handful of movies over the years that have not just moved me, but rearranged me, as though some internal tumblers shifted and fell into a new place. This was one of them. 

I felt choked up as we left the theater and I fumbled for words. 

If I could do that--make a movie that leaves people present to the beauty of life and the possibility of love--then I might actually consider writing one. 

It wasn't because I wanted to get into the movie business--in fact, it was despite my desire to stay out of it. That moment, that feeling or experience was what I wanted to give someone--where the gratitude of being alive crashes over you and the miracle of having one another hits you in the chest and you grab the hand next to you and hold it just a little tighter. 

Something moved from background to foreground that day. A dream took one big step closer. 

Indie Kindred: The trailer is here.

Email readers: click here to see the video.

Are you ready? The Indie Kindred trailer is here, along with a website. And the Coast to Coast Summer Tour is coming together, with dates and cities coming soon.

If you're as excited about this project as we are, here's how to show your love and support in 30 seconds or less:

These small things help more people find and learn about this project.

Sharing this kind of work feels like wearing one's heart on the outside. Thank you for being good companions for my journey--your encouragement means more than you know.

A Video Hello, and a Quick Film Gear and Process Q&A

Before I dive into our very early Spring Break, I wanted to jump on and say hello. Here are a couple clips--the first is a brief update about how things go in my world these days, and the second is a quick Q&A about film gear and the process I'm using to build the documentary I'm working on, Indie Kindred.

I forgot to mention that I also sometimes used a Blue Snowball Microphone on older videos shot with the Flip camera. If you have the time and inclination, I think the best way to increase the quality of your short videos is to record the audio separately from the built-in camera microphone and then synchronize the audio and video afterward.

Missing you all like crazy, and my head is spinning with ideas of things to share with or make for you. Those things are going on a list, though, while I do my best to focus on the work at hand. 

Your patience and notes and comments mean so much to me--these things take work, and it helps so much to know you're reading and watching and traveling alongside.

I covet your feedback. Which do you most enjoy or find useful: personal story and journey updates like the first video, or practical behind-the-scenes tips like the second video? Or are you enjoying a mix of the two?

And here's the part where I get quiet.

photo by Bella Cirovic,

photo by Bella Cirovic,

This is where I am, right now. At my desk, in front of my laptop. I've wrapped shooting for my short documentary project, Indie Kindred, and now the editing is full-on. In case you're wondering what this looks like, there are a whole lotta media files to catalog, file, convert, rename--all that jazz. A lot of getting all the parts and pieces in place so I don't spend more time looking for them than necessary when it comes time to assemble.

The metaphor I most often think of with wide projects like this one is quilt-making.  My mind loves this kind of puzzle--laying out all the squares and figuring out how they fit together: which ones go in, which ones have some other future, and in what order the ones that go in should be placed.

So I'm neck-deep in quilt-making. There's a physicality to the work, as I transcribe all the audio by hand in a journal with my right hand as my left hand is poised above the pause button. I've gotta have around half a journal of handwritten transcription by now, and if it's been awhile since you did that kind of thing in school (do kids even hand-write their class notes anymore?) I'll tell you--one's hand can be remarkably out of shape. I've woken with sore fingers, and one day the joints in my first finger were a little swollen so I had to take the day off from it.

But hand-writing every word helps really cement in my brain what the verbal squares are, and I can hear as I write what to pull out and I can picture in what part of the story arc it might best fit. (The same happens with the video clips and photos as I go through them one by one, taking notes and filing them.)

Next I'll put together a script (for lack of a better word) of the story, start to finish. This will help me make sure that it all makes sense--that all the smaller stories unfold in a clear manner and that there's an arc overall to the whole.

Then I'll use the script to pull the audio and video clips together and start trimming things, then dropping them in place.

On one hand, it is super tedious work and is taking lots of time and attention. But on the other hand, I have these moments where there's this swelling feeling in my chest and I think, What is this? Is this what it feels like to be the happiest you've ever been?

Maybe. Or maybe it's joy. I keep noticing it, popping up more and more in my body, and there's a way--in this season--I can feel joy remaking me. Like in some program running in the background, all my parts and pieces are being put back together in a new way.

So that's how things are going over here. In the meantime, I'll probably get a little quiet in this space. There will be a new Retrospective interview in February with Caren McLellan Gazley, the author of Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care. If you want to read her book before it airs, there's time to do that and you can order it here.


I'll also be residing, starting on Monday (2/4), in the virtual classroom with Phyllis and fellow soul travelers over at The Iconic Self Online Experience. There's still room for you to join us, and we would love to have your presence in the community and your voice in the conversation.

If you want to stay tuned to my shorter online updates, you can follow me on Twitter or on Instagram (@jenleedotnet). Hold me in your thoughts, and I'll be back with words, stories or news when I have them.