There was a time in my life - and that time was last summer - where I was still really, very afraid about pursuing my own art. First of all, everyone has bills to pay and the amount of time it takes to see a project through from beginning to end laid on top of a day job (and in my case - a part-time job as well,) is overwhelming. Nobody has that much time. Additionally, I didn’t have that much money. What with student loans, and paying off some credit card debt from our time living in New York City (that rent had to get paid somehow,) I didn’t really have the financial freedom to run around all day, every day creating art and changing the world.
But I did love talking about it. :)
Besides, talking about projects is essentially “pre-development.” Even when I wasn’t my happiest, when talking about art made me sad and I felt like a failure, I found I was still a chatty person and always wanted to end a conversation with the other party having some mutual understanding of who I was and what I wanted.
Enter Blank Slate. I started managing Blank Slate about May of 2015. I asked for the job simply because I didn’t want another boss - I have very little faith in managers, and have rarely had one put the time or trust into their staff that is required to really flourish (exception Stacy Chandna, who gave me all the time and patience a person could ever require.) Scott, at Blank Slate, proved another exceptional person/manager - he was interested in ideas, quality, results, and patience - all at the same time! When I heard Blank Slate was looking for a manager for the tap room, I recognized an opportunity to make a difference in my life by engaging in more meaningful work, and I put together an Action Plan that outlined what I believed I could bring to Blank Slate and how I would do it. (PS, I love action plans.) Scott hired me right away (I believe, to this day, that it was because I made it easy to hire me and honestly the risk was very low anyway.) Suddenly, people I didn’t know because we worked together on opposite days became people I needed to get to know, and in a very normal way. I was intent on sharing myself.
One day, this lady named Angela was kickin’ it at BSBC with her then-boyfriend, later-fiance, now-husband Ross. It was a beautiful summer day and the brewery was slow. I had just become her direct supervisor/aka first line of defense/aka rallying team member, and I had never spent a lot of time with her or Ross. I asked them a couple of questions about themselves, and they, in return asked questions about me.
Of course I fell into a conversation about TEXICAN. At this point, the script was written but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. The fact that I had written it at all felt like a huge accomplishment, and the fact that I knew the ideas were cohesive made it a project I was willing to share. I explained the settings, the characters, the event, and Ross and Angela kept politely imploring me to share more.
I’m not sure exactly what Angela said, but eventually she said something like, “I wonder, Ross, if they could film in one of the trailers on the lot.” Ross’ family owns a automotive dealership, and it turns out that they have a plethora of mobile trailers for sale. My little heart thrilled at the thought. That was it - one more piece unlocking on this project. One more nugget to keep in my head, close to my heart, and nurture if I could. I quietly tucked the thought away - after all, this was an extremely generous offer and generosity usually only holds up through time when it is worthwhile. What if Angela and I didn’t like each other? What if they didn’t even have what we needed? What if we never produced the film and then eventually it was irrelevant? I thanked Angela, thanked Ross, and went back to work.
Over the next months - over a year, to be honest, - Angela and I did become friends - really awesome ones, at that. She invited me to her decidedly non-bachelorette party (Girls’ Weekend, where we gave her a bunch of underwear and ate a lot of candy and alcohol,) we worked together on the first and biggest promotional event Blank Slate had ever thrown, and we spent a lot of time at “Ladies’ Tribal Council” meetings - relaxed get-together between us, Brittany, and whoever else was interested in joining where we talked the spectrum of boys, men, movies, current events, politics, feminism, dogs, cars, clothes, hair cuts - whatever our hearts desired.
Then TEXICAN started falling further and further into place. Our Cinematographer - Chris Hagan - continued to encourage me to throw the project together, and I actually was much happier and much more excited about life than I was the year prior. I believed in my ability to solve problems. I wanted more from my Cincinnati life than just my day jobs. I truly began to become inspired by the city I was living in again, and all the current events in the city that were bubbling and boiling under the surface. So when Chris told me he had only July to shoot TEXICAN, that after that he was booked for two features, I took a deep breath, decided to just see what I could throw together and use this as a measure of my current ability, and committed to TEXICAN and TURN WEST, wholeheartedly.
I called Angela first.
I needed help. I knew I could rely on Angela to provide information and ideas I wouldn’t think of myself. I knew she was thorough and efficient, and also had that ever special balance of caring enough/caring very little to be truly effective. She had perspective, kindness, and generosity. When we met to discuss plans, contracts, media plans, storylines, fundraising, and budget, she again brought up the automotive dealership.
Which is where Kristen, Angela, Maisie (Angela’s new puppy!,) and myself found ourselves this past Tuesday at 7:15 PM. It was a gorgeous day, and Ross met us outside on a six-seater golf cart. The sun was setting, and the weather was perfect. We started with a tour of the entire estate - “there’s our mountain, there’s some more land we have, that used to be a koi pond,” as well as Ross pointing out the different automobiles the lot held. Eventually he posed the question, “so what exactly are you looking for?”
“Honestly, “ I said, “I know this is a reputable business, but the worse the trailer looks, the better it is for us.” Ross laughed, “I’ve got just what you’re looking for.”
He drove the cart in a big circle and drove us to the front of the lot, around a corner. There were a series of older looking mobile homes, $8000 and under priced on their windows. “This one should be perfect,” Ross said. He pulled up in front of big, rickety mobile home, and let us inside.
It was perfect. One, medium sized bed on one end. Kitchen, windows, a row of tassels lining the upper shelves. Wallpaper. Wallpaper? Yes. Orange-ish cabinetry. Small bathroom, booth style table, plenty of windows. It was gorgeous, my dream come true.
Ross was beaming. Angela asked to see two more, and we stepped into two others - one that wouldn’t work because of it’s two single beds, and one that mirrored the first pretty closely. We all agreed the first was the best, then began to talk logistics. What kind of power could we get? Where could we find outlets? Should we mention the business in the credits? How many Taco Bell wrappers would we need to bring into the trailer? How many people would be on set? When would rehearsals be? Who would let us in? It was thrilling.
Ross explained that the trailer might sell, and that he couldn’t guarantee we’d have our exact trailer for the shoot, but we understood. We all thanked him profusely, Angela walked Maisie around one more time to make sure she didn’t pee on her in the car, and we decided to go to the Dilly Deli for an evening drink. It was a lovely, exciting, perfect afternoon.