WEEK IN WEEK: 1 tiny story from 2017. by Love You Back Productions

 On Thursday, Julia spent the day photographing her 2 best friends, Zensuke Omi and Ryuta Dutah Iwashita Suderman, for a New Year's postcard.  Not pictured are Zen and Ryuta's gorgeous kimonos.  Head to toe traditional.  Of course, we stopped in a corner store.  Check out the Sly's reaction! - Julia Elizabeth Evans 

On Thursday, Julia spent the day photographing her 2 best friends, Zensuke Omi and Ryuta Dutah Iwashita Suderman, for a New Year's postcard.  Not pictured are Zen and Ryuta's gorgeous kimonos.  Head to toe traditional.  Of course, we stopped in a corner store.  Check out the Sly's reaction! - Julia Elizabeth Evans 

This WEEK IN REVIEW is a tiny story.  While Weenta and I run the last stretches of 2017,  we've had ample time to reflect on the future.

Just kidding!  

Amidst holiday cheer and New Year's resolutions, Love You Back Productions has video proposals to finalize, 2 more wedding films to complete, all of our kickstarter rewards to create and send out, and I have holiday thank-you notes to stamp.  All in a day’s work, ay?

In between all of that, I'll at least take this blog space to look ahead. For 2018, I am personally resolved to be more GRATEFUL.  Here's a tiny story for why?—

Over the holidays, I spent a week with family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Tarheel country.  On my first night home, I jinxed UNC. Tar Heels suffered its first at-home loss to an unranked team during a non-conference basketball game in over 10 years. 

[That's all quite technical.  All I need to say is UNC lost to Wofford.  Ever heard of Wofford? Nope. My point, exactly.  It was a very big upset.]

When the game ended, my father, a UNC alum and die-hard North Carolina basketball freak, looked down and turned off the TV.  No words, and his head stayed down.

My father then turned to bed.  He moved like a silent arrow in the direction of general darkness.  Sensing the effect Carolina’s tragic defeat was having on my father, I thought to say something.  Thank goodness, it spilled of me, jeez.

“Thank you for staying up and watching the game with me, Pa. That was great," I said.

For a man, always working to culture his kin on Tar Heel fandom but never quite succeeding, he was stunned.  Generally, if someone stays up to watch the game, it's only upon his urging.  Or "better yet," he might say, "let's all drive to Dean Smith Stadium..." At first, this man didn't really hear me.

“That was memorable,” I added. 

I guess my father did hear me. At that point, disappointment flowed into a sudden feeling of affection.  His silence begot a teeny, weeny; tiniest of smiles.  

Upon that note, he went to bed.  That was that, but allow me to speculate, I believe my dad slept better after hearing my "thanks."  Therein, from that night forward, I decided to say “thank you” more often.

  • “Thanks, Pa, for cooking dinner!” 
  • “Thank you mom for helping me find the scissors.” 
  • “Thank you, Grandma, for your dinner conversation, re: the perfection achieved in the last 5 minutes of Casablanca."

Quickly, this little intention started to fly out of me like rapid-fire. “Thanks; thank you; thank you so much,” to whomever I came across. Family and strangers, alike. 

After a few days, however, I grew melancholy, feeling like no one was hearing my "thanks."  No one seemed to heed my enthusiasm nor care about my overtly, copious gestures of gratitude.  "Thanks" after "thanks," family went about their business. Holidays were as usual. Nobody's demeanour towards me changed, at least, not as much as my father's did on that first night, home.  

On my final morning in North Carolina, in the car ride to the airport, I rounded the trip out with, “Thanks, Dad, for hosting me this past week."

A man of few words, my father smiled.  Except this time, he smiled big and bright. “Julia, you don’t need to say that.  This is your home."  I nodded.

"But, Julia, it has been so wonderful to have you this week.”  The sincerity of his voice was deeply moving.  This last interaction with my father speaks to the effect small gestures of gratitude can have on individuals, over time.  Later on, my mom quoted my dad as saying, “Julia’s stay at home was magical.”  She then added, “everyone else thought so, too.” 

Huh? Interesting.  “Thanks for sharing that, Mom.”  Better still, my gratitude affected everybody! 

Writing that tiny story to y'all and reflecting on small experiences over the past week, I realize my New Year’s Resolution is about gratitude. 

Rather than, keeping to a business tone of defining my New Year’s Resolution according to a set of parameters or list of measurable goals, I will focus on idea of gratitude, generally.

Thus, for 2018, I personally resolve to let gratitude into my life.  Check out this elucidating NYTIMES op-ed about how to really keep New Year's resolutions.

Thanks all for reading!

Love you so much,

Julia 

WEEK IN REVIEW: Ay! When's the deadline, again? by Love You Back Productions

 "...a smidge more on edge." Photograph taken at Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans.  Art installation is part of  Propsect 4 The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp . 

"...a smidge more on edge." Photograph taken at Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans.  Art installation is part of Propsect 4 The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp

It's important to point out, right now— early December, right before xmas and the new year, we're all a tad more stressed, a smidge more on edge.... If that sounds about right, then hell yah!  

For this WEEK IN REVIEW, it's timelines timelines timelines and what else? Deadlines.   Y'all get what we're saying, ay?  Before the holiday, everyone gets crammed, smushed and revved up with project DLs.  Well, to remedy holiday busy-i-ness, winter time stresses, we've got the medicine— solidarity.  We're all in this together. 

First, checking in about our Kickstarter because....well, it's been awhile.  (Spoiler: this info was sent as Kickstarter update earlier this week.)

LAST FRIDAY, Julia, "Corner Stores" Director, trudged through the cold New Orleans sleet to meet with Darcy McKinnon at New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC).  Together, Julia and Darcy hammered out a 2018 timeline for "Corner Stores" production:

January - Collect interviews, cinéma vérité footage

Late January - Connect with y'all!, send Kickstarter rewards with love

February - Organize footage, create rough edit of "Corner Stores" 

Late February (Post Mardi Gras) - Present rough edit of "Corner Stores" to Story Incubators, receive feedback on documentary

March - Revise rough draft, add music score

Early April - Finalize documentary

April 18 - "Corner Stores" documentary finished and submitted to the New Orleans Tricentennial Story Incubators

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To give you the feel of— Julia at a meeting.  Here's Julia shaking hands with Zensuke Omi (camera operator for the "Corner Stores" Kickstarter video).   Julia and Zensuke basked in all the inspiration at the New Orleans International Contemporary Artist Exhibition: Prospect 4.  This photo was taken at the Contemporary Arts Center, on December 3rd, 2017—

Julia hanging out with Zensuke Omi (camera operator for our Kickstarter Video). Julia and Zen take in all the inspiration at the New Orleans' Prospect 4 Exhibit, Center for Contemporary Arts. All very exciting!

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On WEDNESDAY, Julia had a wedding documentary deadline.  She had 3 days and 9 minutes of video production to complete.  It was a rodeo.  Fortunately, the wedding documentary entailed the marriage Love You Back Productions' most eccentric, oddball couple—Mario and Rebecca McDonald.  The day of the wedding was Friday the 13th in October, nonetheless.  I'm sure y'all can guess the wedding's theme...

I'll give you a hint.  One word: murder. 

(If you're reading this, you're bound to be thinking, Huh??? Watch the video and you'll understand.)

Understand, now?  As the lovely, witch-ly bride, Rebecca, explains it, "he embraces my weird side, I embrace his weird side."  Put a smidge more succinctly, Mario responds, "we're weird-ass people." Now I only wish every wedding was as dark and magical as on this year's unforgettable Friday, October 13th.

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One of our inspiration videos: A video by Zagat published on May 27, 2016.  "Army ranger, Darling finds that providing sustenance for his community through farming is an honorable way to continue to serve his country - and perhaps change the way the average American views dinner."

On THURSDAY, I held a 3-day old baby lamb.  (No photos, YET.)   Again, if you're reading this, I'm sure you're having another, Huh??? moment.  Here's the context:  Weenta and I will produce a short commercial for our favorite Crescent City Farmers' Market farmers, Our Family Farm! 

Regina and Daniel Wadsworth of Our Family Farm have been selling us eggs, hydroponic lettuce, and meat bones to us for the past 2 years.  So, we know these farmers, personally. Finally one day, Daniel proposed a collaboration.  In the spirit of saying "yes," we wholeheartedly agreed! Here's an excerpt from our short commercial video treatment:

"Love You Back Productions will create a short video that takes viewers on an energetic journey from Our Family Farm in Amite, LA to the Thursday Crescent City Farmers’ Market in New Orleans, LA. The central focus of the 30 second video will be Our Family Farm’s humanely raised lamb and goat meat."

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 Photo courtesy of  Jordan Blanchard Photography .

Photo courtesy of Jordan Blanchard Photography.

Today is FRIDAY.  Weenta and I have 4 more weddings to finalize, export, package-up, and send out before December is over.  After a November full of fundraising, we couldn't feel more relaxed and happy to be doing the work we do!   

I must say, the business of wedding films and videography is truly gratifying.   There's no better experience than sending a finalized wedding film to a bride and receiving her reaction.    I'll just say this—we receive tons of emojis and plenty !!!!!!!!!.

Memories and storytelling, it's what we do.   Thanks all for tuning in to our WEEK IN REVIEW.  Talk next week? :) 

 Photograph taken at Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans.  Art installation is part of  Propsect 4 The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp . 

Photograph taken at Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans.  Art installation is part of Propsect 4 The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp

Happy holidays!

Julia

WEEK IN REVIEW: Re-Centering Ourselves by Love You Back Productions

 An oldie, but a goodie: Julia and I re-focus ourselves in our business and set our intentions.

An oldie, but a goodie: Julia and I re-focus ourselves in our business and set our intentions.

The past month has been a flurry of fundraising and Kickstarter updates. Now that we're through the Kickstarter campaign, Julia and I took a moment to re-center ourselves and re-focus our efforts toward the commercial side of our business.

We scheduled a sales meeting where we went over our short term sales goals for short commercials in the next 3 months. 

Before we got into the nitty gritty of what our sales strategy would look like, we asked ourselves this: 

What is our intention for the commercial side of our business?

This is a question I learned to ask myself from listening to Oprah, the all-time guru of intention setting. 

This is what we came up with:

  • To tell more distinctive stories
  • To be proactive, open and productive

What does that mean for Julia and I?

  • Say "Yes!" to everything
  • Get clients excited about the product we're creating for them

It might sound radical to say "yes" to everything, but we're clear that our yes must be for work that we're excited about and follows our intention to tell more distinctive, compelling stories. We'd like to release ourselves from feeling bound to our budgets and lean more toward making work and fulfilling our creative selves.

For the past year, I've especially been ardent about making sure that we charge what we're worth. Understanding the cost of our services was one of the main lessons we learned from the 2017 Women in Business Challenge. Charging what we're worth sometimes meant discovering our services were out of budget for potential clients, and that was ok with us. We were setting boundaries and expectations as women in business.

Now that we're trying to attract more commercial clients, our thoughts and views have begun to shift.

One of the reasons for this shift was a conversation I had with a more experienced female video producer. I asked her all of the questions I had about sales and managing crews and productions. One of the last questions I asked was the most enlightening.

If we charge less for our services in order to get more work, are we compromising the value of our work? 

She said absolutely not. Our business is still growing and still trying to figure itself out. We should only say no if we are over-run with opportunities. 

 In the mode of YES! 

In the mode of YES! 

That conversation changed everything, and it influences how we look at our sales now. Oprah would call it "an ah-ha moment." 

In the next 3 months, we'll be following our intention to say yes, and seeing what possibilities that "yes" brings with it. 

WEEK IN REVIEW: Love from our Kickstarter, Update #1 by Love You Back Productions

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Shout out to Jazz & Heritage Foundation's Community Partnership Grant.  With the support of Jazz & Heritage Foundation, I get to hire my best friend to produce an original film score! Woohoo!

This WEEK IN REVIEW reaches you from our metaphorical KICKSTARTER newsdesk.  For the next month, we will be reporting with LOVE from our kickstarter page.  

This week, we did some calculations.  Weenta and Julia keep thinking, thinking....how do we achieve KICKSTARTER VICTORY?....beep boup beep [robotic sounds]...

$200 a day x 30 = $6,000

That means, Weenta and Julia need— 

20 FRIENDS PER DAY to donate $10. 

or   

10 FRIENDS PER DAY to donate $20. 

We got a lot of friends.  So, this is no probs. Easy peasy.   Would you like to join the celebration? Come out of woodwork! Donate today. Woohoo. 

Have an amazing weekend!

-Jules and Weenta

WEEK IN REVIEW: 2 weddings and a Kickstarter Video by Love You Back Productions

 Pap, the cook at the corner store, sneaks in to say hello while we prep for a scene in our Kickstarter video.

Pap, the cook at the corner store, sneaks in to say hello while we prep for a scene in our Kickstarter video.

This week, Weenta and Julia make a Kickstarter video. We also split up and filmed 2 weddings on the same day!

Julia and I have been preparing to launch our Kickstarter campaign for our "Corner Stores" short documentary on November 1st. One of the most important parts of a Kickstarter campaign is a Kickstarter video! We happen to be lucky enough to be video makers, but we had to call in help to shape the concept of the film.

We knew the video would be filmed inside a corner store, but that's about all we knew. I enlisted the help of my cousin, writer, comedian and actress, Eritria Pitts to come up with a treatment for the video.

Our new friend and video maker/editor Zen offered to help us film.

 Shout out to Zen: the most amazing camera operator and production assistant. 

Shout out to Zen: the most amazing camera operator and production assistant. 

 Hair and makeup.

Hair and makeup.

 This was right before I dropped Julia's favorite glitter makeup and spilled it all over the floor. 

This was right before I dropped Julia's favorite glitter makeup and spilled it all over the floor. 

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 Werking it in the corner store aisle.

Werking it in the corner store aisle.

So what exactly is the concept for our Kickstarter video? Well you'll have to wait for our Kickstarter launch to find out... 

Meanwhile, Julia and I had weddings to film. I took the lead on a very special wedding. A marriage between Anna and William, a couple who work for the United Nations. Their wedding brought together 90 friends and family from all over the world. 

 Anna and William with the caterer planning out the dinner for the family gathering the night before their wedding.

Anna and William with the caterer planning out the dinner for the family gathering the night before their wedding.

Anna and William currently live in Dakar, Senegal, but have a home here in New Orleans. 

Among their most special family members in attendance were Ndeye, and her daughter Fatou. Fatou is 10 years old and this is her first trip to the United States. With the help of Anna's friend Emilie, Fatou made a scrap book detailing her travels to the US and her time in New Orleans.

 Fatou and Emilie working on Fatou's scrapbook. 

Fatou and Emilie working on Fatou's scrapbook. 

 The voyage of Fatou and Ndeye to the United States of America, #heart in Anna. 

The voyage of Fatou and Ndeye to the United States of America, #heart in Anna. 

 Ndeye writing Anna and William a heartfelt wedding note.

Ndeye writing Anna and William a heartfelt wedding note.

This has been my favorite wedding to film to date. It was a chance to tell a unique story about two diverse families coming together.

Anna and William are two very laid back people. William is French, Anna is a French-speaking American. Their wedding party was a mix of French speakers from France and Senegal, English speakers from the United States and the UK, and all kinds of nationalities and accents and places in between. 

I don't know French at all, but I was really wishing I did. People were excitedly speaking French all the time and I kept thinking: I know they're saying something good, I just don't know what it is! I'll be needing help from Anna and French speaking friends to translate some parts of the video we captured in order to put together their full story.

We came up with 4 story keywords to guide us in the making of this wedding film:

1) Family

2) Blending

3) Reunion

4) International

This is a strategy we learned from following Stillmotion, a production company that made phenomenal wedding films, but has since branched off into commercial work. For inspiration for Anna and William's film, I re-read a Stillmotion blog about pre-production on a destination wedding in Ireland.

After reading the blog about the Ireland wedding, I knew what would make this film special would be filming family time before the wedding day itself. These events were:

-a day spent with family baking wedding cakes

-a Skype phone call with Anna's 3 children who live in Senegal

-a party the day before the wedding with all 90 international guests 

I'm excited to watch back the footage and create a memorable and heartfelt story. It's going to be the best wedding film we've made yet. 

Julia and I have lots of editing to do in this next month, we'll be promoting our Kickstarter to our networks, plus my birthday is coming up! 

Can't wait to take on what's coming next.