2017, Year in Review

As the remaining hours of 2017 fade away, I always try to take time to reflect on the accomplishments I had. I don’t typically write them on this platform, but this year, I felt this was the most appropriate place.

This was definitely a long year. It feels so foreign to look at events that transpired in January, and hold them in the same year as events that happened in November. I think this is why it’s such a good idea to reflect.

In the first few months of 2017, I worked with E Leal Productions to finally finish a project that began in 2011. Reborn, a film project that was the launch pad for so many of the people in my network, was finally complete. We held a screening for the cast and crew. It served as a reunion for so many of us who had moved on. It was also a culmination of many years of experience.

Shortly after the Reborn screening, I worked on some employee appreciation videos for Clare Oaks. Through this, we were able to use some of our new equipment. The people involved in this video project were so wonderful and accommodating. It was a great experience.

In the spring, I helped produce Exit Interview for Jason Rugg. It was a submission to the My Rode Reel competition for the year. The shoot day was long and difficult, but as a crew, we were able to finish everything that we had set out to do. The aches and pains were worth it.

Throughout the summer, I worked the Xcelerate summer camps for the 5th year in a row. This was definitely the most difficult year for me for a variety of reasons. The class load that I had this year was the largest it’s ever been, and it covered a variety of topics that really expanded my comfort zone. We’ll see what the upcoming year has in store for me on this front.

While handling all of those summer camps, I finally put together a trailer and poster for my short film, 3:03. I needed to put together these promotional materials in order to start submitting to other festivals. I’m still waiting on word from many of those submissions, but the experience has been a great one so far. The film was actually a semi finalist for Outstanding Female Filmmaker at the Stormy Weather Horror Fest in the summer season!

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In October, I produced another short film for Jason Rugg. This film, titled Pin 5:29, was a submission for a Film Riot competition. For this particular entry, the film was condensed to 60 seconds, but a longer, director’s cut is still on the horizon to show off more of the director’s ideas. It was a fun shoot, and I feel like it went really well. It was a great example of expanding experience.

As the final months of 2017 approached, I found myself heading back to the pre-production plan for my upcoming short film, Return to Sender. My pre-production work for this film began at the end of 2016, but was put on hold for a variety of reasons, mostly stemming from my work load at the summer camps and my personal life. I also got engaged, planned a wedding, and got married this year! It was a big year!

It’s nice to be getting back in gear for that project! I know I’ve said this before, but this time I’m hoping to stick to it.. Let’s hit the ground running in 2018!

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Reborn (2017) Online

After a very long wait, Reborn is finally available to view online! Sitting at 45 minutes, this feature was originally intended to be a pilot for a television series. People have been asking about possible continuations, but only time will tell.

Unlike the other films I’ve promoted on my blog, Reborn is not written or directed by me. I was lead camera operator for this project, and I was a co-editor. There are some scenes within the feature that I did storyboard for, or where I was assistant director or a stand in director of photography, but in the end, for this project, I was a part of a very big and talented team.

Reborn: Cast and Crew Screening

On Saturday, March 4th, 2017, the cast, crew, advisors, and extras of Reborn all gathered to finally see the finished product. After 6 long years, it was finally complete.

Leading up to the screening, I was equal parts excited and apprehensive. So much work had gone into the project that everyone would have to at least like that it was done, right? What if they didn’t like it? I was determined to have the screening go well.

I can easily, and thankfully, say that the screening did go well. Since so many years had gone by, most of the people involved assumed that Reborn was never going to be finished. The euphoria of finally seeing a finished product was very, very noticeable. In most cases, I think the finished edit really exceeded expectations.


Since this was the first project for many of those involved, it was definitely a homecoming of sorts. We held the screening where the project began, at the TV studio at Waubonsee Community College. We were lucky to have 30 people involved in the production be present.

The room was just teeming with joy. It was nostalgic, exhilarating, cathartic. It was everything I could have hoped for. We have since uploaded the film to YouTube in full quality, and the response has continued to be generous.

Reborn is Complete?

I’ve had this blog for several years now, but I’m unsure if I’ve ever written about Reborn.

Way back in the fall of 2011, I showed up to a “Movie Makers Club” meeting at my community college, and a group of people was attempting to make a music video. I didn’t know much about it, so I asked how I could help. I got a pretty simple job at first. They wanted me to press play on the song that the video was for so they could keep time.

During this simple job, I gave some insight that helped solve one of the problems they were running into. This led to the directors bringing me on to do some camera work for the last parts of the video. You can view said video below.

Apparently I made a good impression during this time because I was soon brought into the bigger project that the music video was a precursor to. The project was called Reborn, and it centered around a woman named Luna who discovers the hidden truth about her own dark past. In the beginning, it was meant to be a pilot episode for a television series.

Since most of the people who were working on Reborn were just starting out (most of us were all pursuing the same degree at the community college), we didn’t have a lot of the experience required to know what decisions were good or which decisions weren’t so good. The writers got excited and turned the pilot episode into a 6 episode story arc. The rest of the crew was just as excited at the prospect of doing such a cool thing!

In due time though, reality set in. It’s hard to take on such a big project at any time, but it was even more difficult when everyone was a full time student, some with additional jobs on top of that, and our participation in Reborn was on a volunteer basis. When you mix those type of schedules with the time constraints of filming and locations, it doesn’t take long to realize that you might have to pull back a bit.

We filmed pretty much the entirety of episode one before we realized we were going to have to make some cuts. The writers condensed the 6 episode arc back down into an extended pilot, so they could get to the actual point of the story they were trying to tell. Unfortunately, this ended up cutting some characters, making some filmed scenes unnecessary, and creating some plot holes.

I started off as a lead camera operator for the project, but as the changes continued to happen, I ended up getting more responsibility. Reborn was the first project that I started storyboarding for, and this process has continued on to every one of my projects since. At some shoots, I had to step up as an assistant director or a director of photography. Many of the shoots were very ambitious, especially for the beginners that we were.

I can honestly say that I learned from both Reborn‘s successes and it’s failures. Being a part of this project has shaped my own career in countless ways.

We finished principle photography on Reborn in 2013. This brought us into post production, and that was the next hurdle to cross. By this point, I was heavily involved with E Leal Productions, and both Erik Leal and I took on the editing of the project.

We were still working and going to school, and there were a lot of issues that needed to be dealt with in editing, so it wasn’t a fast or easy task. I believe we finished piecing the story together sometime in early 2014. At this time, I made and released a teaser trailer. I definitely acted on that far too early. There was still a significant amount of work to be done. You can see that teaser trailer below.

We sent the final edit out for original music in 2014. During this time, there were a lot of issues. Nothing ended up getting done with the project for almost two years. There was some discussion by producers about canning the project, and that was shot down. Too much time, money, and effort had been put into the project over the years for it to just be dropped like that.

In 2016, the task of creating the original score was given to Ryan Cwiklik, who composed the music for my short films Lights and ms and me. He was able to fit time in his schedule to supply music for Reborn, and on the first day of 2017, he finished it. This gave E Leal Productions a good push in the right direction to finish the sound mixing, foley work, and color correction. In just over a week, everything was finished.

At this point, we’re just still reeling that after so many years, Reborn is finally done. A concept that was first thought of in 2011, will, at last, be shown in 2017. We contacted the producers of the project to share the good news and got promotions underway, all while planning a special cast and crew screening for all those involved.

With this blog post, it will become official that Reborn is finally complete. Check out the trailer below!