Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Is there Injustice in Justice?


It doesn’t register, nor does it ever seem important the background of the person deciding your fate when you step into a court of law. My ignorance of the process has always led me to think that judges are highly qualified and can objectively look at a case based on their experience as an attorney.

Magistrates I always looked at them as the street smart judges. Not always attorneys, but have the smarts to make quick and sometimes compassionate decisions.

It wasn’t until I started looking into things that I said, “Whoa, hey, wait a minute.”

Now I speak only for what I have learned in Pennsylvania, specifically the Fifth Judicial District. – I am not a lawyer and I never took Civics, this is based on my observation as a layperson so correct and educate me where I am wrong.

If you want to look up for your state I caution you that it’s a rabbit hole of WTH moments.

It’s mind baffling. It literally sounds like something you’d read in a dystopian, totalitarian society novel.

How many of us really, really look into the background of judges when they appear on the ballot? Maybe you do, maybe you just trust the system. Because those on the ballot are heavily vetted by the judiciary committee of the bar association.

“A well-rounded field of candidates to fill seats.” A quote from an article said.

Judges are elected and seated for a ten-year term – yeah, that needs to stop.

But did you know, at least in this county, once elected, it’s anyone’s guess where they go. Why is it that way?

There are four areas in the Common Pleas court system: Criminal, Civil, Family, Orphans.

One person, the presidential judge makes the decision who serves where ( I think). And by looking at the backgrounds, there’s no rhyme or reason to it.

Why are these judges not elected to specific benches? When we vote, why aren’t we voting on Family Court Judges, Civil Judges and Criminal Judges?

We want former pubic defenders and prosecutors in the criminal court, Real estate and personal injury lawyers in Civil, family lawyers in Family Court.

No instead we have a former personal injury, eminent domain, and defense attorneys deciding the fate of our most precious commodity … our children.

They say in custody cases, the courts favor the mothers in 72% of the cases, In Allegheny County is it any wonder?

45 judges preside in the Court of Common Pleas. 46% are women.

YET, of the eighteen judges that preside in Family court, 72% of those judges are women.

Of the 12 judges in civil, 90% are men.

Criminal – 69% are men.

What is this saying? Male judges aren’t competent enough to make decisions in Family court. Or maybe women aren’t level-headed enough to make decisions in criminal or civil cases?

With 61% of all female judges in the Fifth Judicial System serving in Family Court, to me, it makes sense why it is so biased.

And look at the cases, go on, they’re public. One judge. Judge X, when a case was filed, ruled the mother could not withhold the child from the father. Yet, four weeks later the father filed an emergency petition because he still hadn’t seen his child.

Denied.

What? Wait, didn’t Judge X just say a month earlier the mother couldn’t withhold? Four more weeks later, the father wanting to see his child, another petition … denied. Three months since originally filing, the father has filed again. Still hasn’t seen his child. This is what happens, they don’t care.

Judge X is out of family court now, bet she never gives the case a second thought. Yet that father feels hopeless, missing his child, over a decision she didn’t blink to make.

Sometimes I think being assigned Family Court is a punishment, clearly, you can have an open criminal case to run as a judge and decide the fate of a child, yet with that same record, you can’t work in a school cafeteria.

In reading over 30 cases, I have found in the last three months 90% of all emergency petitions were DENIED. Mother or father … it didn’t matter … denied.

The defendant is not innocent until proven guilty, this isn’t a criminal case. This is a child’s life, and the judges need to view it as such, look into the facts, and to the point that most of these emergency petitions aren’t filed out of spite, they are filed out of genuine concern.

The judges don’t see it that way because most didn’t start in family law.

In fact, only four of the current Family Court Judges have a background in family law. I'm talking about where they started, not tenure on the bench.

But whose fault is that? The people that elected them? They elect from the choices they are given.

The Presidential Judge makes choices on what he or she has.

Old habits are hard to break and it’s time for a change. When the people elect a judge they should be choosing which judge goes to which bench.

How can a fair and balanced fate be delivered when the process itself is not fair and balanced.

When a former public defender decides the fate of a child and a personal injury lawyer decides the fate of a criminal.

They are sworn to uphold the law … yep, I get it. But those who uphold the law should be experts in the law of the area they serve BEFORE they take that bench. Until that happens … unfathomable rulings will be made, unjust sentences handed out and true and fair justice will never be served a hundred percent. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

BookBub's New Releases for Less - My Experience


Every author knows Bookbub as the Master of Advertising. If you are picked for a feature you’re all but assured of a great sales day and residual bumps. (Most of the time) Heck, I remember when they started and I was one of the first dozen or so authors to get a feature. But note, that didn’t give me any special privileges. I still get rejected by them.

Recently I was able to try the latest feature, ‘New Releases for Less’. Googling this didn’t breed many results. I only read people stating they heard ‘mixed results’. I couldn’t find one dedicated article, so I decided to write one.

I read a comment on a post that they accept everyone. Not true. I had two rejected for new releases for less. That being said, my latest novel, The Black, was accepted under horror and here’s what I learned, but I didn’t just watch my book.

It’s important to note that they base their decision on your release price, so doing a Countdown deal of .99 won’t work unless you contact them ahead of time.

The email

An email is sent out in the early afternoon (EST). It targets readers who subscribe to those categories. In my copy of the email, there were three books. Mine and two others. I tried to reach out to these other authors to get their opinion, but one was like trying to contact a mythical creature, no FB or website. The other just didn’t get back to me.

Anyhow, let me start by saying my book was at a disadvantage going into this ad campaign. A recent Amazon glitch caused my book to be without a rank. For ten out of fourteen days it was not listed in any categories and therefore unsearchable other than by my name. Yeah, that sucked. So it started out pretty bad compared to my other new releases.

RESULTS

There were three books in the email.

The Black – by Me (2.99 – Horror)

The Signal - Philipp Calvert and Joshua T. Calvert (0.99 – Sci Fi)

Not Like Yesterday – Ava Strong (4.99 – Psychological Thriller)

Here is how I charted the ABSR (Amazon Best Seller Rank)

 


Now for the breakdown.

To be fair I used the KDP Rank Calculator to estimate sale. Even on mine, which by the way, if I break down page reads as book sales (Divide by KENP #), it comes pretty close to the calculator.

 

The Black – Release Price $2.99

Est Three-day unit sales – 104

Cost of ad -                 $260.00

 Est. Royalties             $208.24

Loss/Profit                  -$51.76

Opinion – Not great, but not bad. I really think the glitch put my book at a disadvantage, but only the next several days will tell. Like all books sales go up and down. The difference in rank wasn’t grand, but hopefully, it will make a difference.


Not Like Yesterday – Release Price $4.99

Est Three-day unit sales – 29

Cost of ad -                 $700.00

Est. Royalties              $101.30

Loss/Profit                  -$598.70

Opinion – While the massive jump from a rank of 238,000 down to 18,000 is super impressive, as authors we know to go from 238K to 50k takes only a couple sales. Her hardest jump wa from 33k to 18k. I wish the author would have replied to my email, I really wanted to know what she thought.

 

The Signal – Release Price $.99

Note this was not a countdown deal so the author royalties are $.034 a book.

EST Three-day unit sales – 610

Cost of ad -                 $400.00

Est. Royalties              $207.40

Loss/Profit                  -$196.60

Opinion – Impressive freaking jump in best seller rank. However, setting a price of 99 cents with a 35% royalty was risky. In order just to get the money back on the ad the author needed to sell 1200 books roughly in 3 days, which is possible. But not with this type of ad. Even though they took a hit, I’m gonna say the ad worked for them because it’s a book one.

In Conclusion

So what does this tell me. The ad can work if your book is at the right price. I don’t think $4.99 is a new release for less (Unless you’re Stephen King), I think $4.99 is a new release for an average Indie Author Price. The Category has 1.4 million subscribers, you have to wonder how many opened that email and were like, ‘not for less’. I wonder how many she would have sold had she priced it at 1.99

The .99 book rocked as far as sales go but profit margin was lost, however, the strategy for a first book in a series paid off. The thing they did was think it through, come up with a plan.

In looking at the stats I didn’t do too bad. Would I do it again? Yes, but I would plan it through with a strategy to at least break even, and hopefully wihtout another horrible glitch throwing me behind the 8 ball.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Italian Hoagies - Best in the South of Pittsburgh

Whether you call it a sub, hero, hoagie… it all means the same. A delicious sandwich on a long bun filled with meats, cheese, veggies …. Sometimes hot, sometimes cold.

I am a food person, I take pictures of food. I’m weird like that.

I decided since I love Italian Hoagies to embark on a test of who makes the best and who are my favorites.

Now I excluded the local legends like Triangle Bar and Primanti Brothers (Over rated) and I picked the subs I felt were my favorite and took nicely dissected photos s you can get a deep view.

Disclaimer: I live in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, so these places are to the south of the city. Some of the restaurants I tried and while good, were not in my top list. Trust me I have tried almost every hoagie in this area.

You may disagree, but if you haven’t tried these places, it’s a must. Perhaps the photos will temp you.

Honorable Mention – Jersey Mike’s


I know it’s unfair they’re a chain, but no food in the world smells better or leaves a great scent in your car. Packed with meats and veggies, they’re made fresh on spot. They aren’t hot, but I am waiting for the day when I can get the Italian cooked like they make the  Cheesesteak.







6 – Loose Moose – Baldwin


This sub packs a bang for your buck. A  super-size sub, heavy on veggies and not thick with meat, but it’s a deal at 13.00. And it’s pretty tasty.







5 – Toss


I love this little sub. The bun is NEVER over done, it has just the right amount of meat veggie balance. Just an amazing little sandwich that is never bad and always good.









4 – Danny’s


I would have ranked them higher but the bun is never consistent. Sometimes it’s too crunchy. But the hoagie is outstanding.  And the dressing .,... excellent.









3 – Donte’s (Brownsville Road)


Look, if you want a good sandwich at a great price, go for lunch. Half hoagie, fries and beverage all for 7.99. I love this place and the people that work there. You know when you eat this sandwich it’s made by people who enjoy making the food. The owners are also awesome.




2 – The Trolley Stop


Oh my God, I have loved this hoagie from the first bite in 2001. And you know what? It hasn’t changed. It is consistently always the same. They have this mayo dressing they put on. Get an extra, you’ll want to dip. The bun is never over done and it’s priced right.







My favorite …..

1 – Nick’s Pizza (Castle Shannon)



The genoa salami pops in your mouth. That makes this hoagie so grand. I was eating one of these hoagies 30 years ago when I went into labor with my twins, but damn it I was gonna finish it. For a span of a few years, when Nick the owner sold this place, the hoagies kind of lost their luster, but they are back. The bun is seasoned and the balance of veggies and meat is perfect. 

Those are my favorites, I’d love to hear about yours.

I think I'll do an egg roll challenge next.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Writers Series One: In Perspective


I’m an author of many books. I do what I love and love what I do and get to do it for a living. Ten years ago, I would have never imagined that I would be paying my bills with my imagination. Now, granted some months are more fruitful than others. Some months it’s bountiful and others dying lemons. But you take the good with the bad. That’s a blog for another day. Today, I write about perspective.

Not perspective as in storytelling, but rather perspective in writing. Nanowrimo has come to a close, the month is up. If you don’t know what that is, it is a yearly challenge to write a novel in 30 days. Or 50k words. I have done this challenge every year since 2004 and hit the mark every year. My best was nine days and my worst time was three minutes to midnight. In my defense, that was a hard year all the way around. I had just gone through a brutal divorce, was raising my infant grandson, working at a nursing home while living in a slanted four room crappy apartment. Writing is/was my escape, and that year was tough to escape anything.

But I finished Nanowrimo and that was the year that taught me that Nanowrimo is my writer’s reset. Some view it as so much of a challenge that they fail to enjoy how charged the creative process can be. When in fact, it gets your writing. It doesn’t matter if you finish, as long as you write. As writers we get into these ‘slumps’, not writer’s block, but rather the drive to write escapes us from daily dribble, to holidays, good times and bad. We pause a day and it turns into a week.

Nanowrimo, at least for me, resets me. It focuses me on one story, one thing and that is the book I am writing. It keeps me so focused, I don’t check my books and ranks on Amazon. I don’t get caught up in what other authors are doing on FB that annoy me (Another blog in the series). It puts everything back in perspective when it comes to writing.

It reminds me that writing is what I do. And I am much more productive when I focus on that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Me, Shawn, and the County PD


 Let me start by saying that I rent a county house. Or rather a county park house. A home located smack dab in the middle of a public county park. I hate telling people I rent a county house because they think it’s subsidized housing or HUD. It’s not. It’s super hard to get a Park house with the county. They are basic homes, simple but expensive. You pay for the land. I basically live in the forest.

Anyhow, one of the perks of living in a county park house is it’s like living in the world’s smallest tourist town. Scores of people come through every day, strangers that litter, act like idiots, yet those of us that live in the ten houses know each other.

We are in a borough, but we aren’t part of that township. We are our own entity. Down to paying utilities to the park. We have our own police force. The  .. county police are our jurisdiction. You get to know them, they know you, they watch you and keep an eye out for your home. I love it.

I love the country police.

I can’t speak for anywhere else, but I can say our Allegheny County South Park police … rock. They are so patient, kind, and no matter what you ask them, they never make you feel like a bother. I bring them cookies. They’re laid back. And most are pretty hot.

They know me. They know I am a filmmaker and writer, that I’m always filming.

And recently I learned they realized how strange I was.

I stopped by the station to ask a question. Again, I wasn’t made to feel like a bother.

The officer said, “You live in the M house, right? You’re the filmmaker.”

“Yeah, that’s me,” I replied.

“We’ve been there a few times.”

“Hmm.”

Won’t get into that.

“You’re the house with the basement,” he said.

“Yes, I have a basement.”

“No … the basement.” Then this handsome, strapping young fellow said, “Did I ever tell you about the time I had to go into your house?”

I was baffled and asked what he meant.

And apparently so was the young trainee officer with him. He was curious as well.

The officer explained that about a year earlier, he was doing his patrol, rode by, saw no cars in the driveway and the front door wide open.

Stop.

I learned that they ride by the house a lot, watch it, make sure all is fine. I think that’s cool. Then again, my house is the only house in that area and about a quarter mile from the station.

He continued, “Yeah, the door was open. I was worried someone had broken in. I went inside. It was clear, but then I went into the basement. It nearly killed me.”

Wait. What? Now, it’s a basement. It’s not dark. It’s well lit, and while my son treats the one corner like his own private storage unit, the rest is pretty clean. Did he go into the secret room (Yes, I have one) and discover my bar?

“Go on,” I said, apprehensively. Waiting for him to say I lived haphazardly. I didn’t expect what I heard.

“I go down the stairs, right?” he said. “Turn the corner, step down and … my heart sunk. I thought, oh my god, this is it. I immediately thought I would never see my kids again.”

“What?” I asked.

“Yeah, because as soon as I stepped into the basement, all I saw was this big guy with long hair, looking like he had a gun. I thought, I’m dead. I don’t even have my weapon pulled. This guy is gonna shoot me.”

At that second I squealed and stifled my laugh. “Oh my God.”

“Dude,’ the young trainee said. “Who was it? What happened?”

The officer replied, “I realized after I freaked out for a second, it was a life size cardboard cut out. She had cardboard cut outs in her basement.”

“Yeah, that was Shawn Michaels the wrestler,” I explained in a rambling manner. “In his hot days. Not that he’s not hot now, but then wow. I love him. He’s my Hal Slagel.”

“Who?” the officer asked.

“Never mind.”

The picture with his post is of the cardboard cut out he saw.

I got a good chuckle out of it, and so did he. He said he never told that story to anyone else but said I was welcome to share it. I’m glad he did and glad he didn’t shoot my life size Shawn Michael’s cardboard cut out.

It was also a good thing it wasn’t a couple years back when I not only had Shawn, but Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Will Smith and Will Farrell’s Alf all down there. Poor officer would have thought he was gonna get ambushed by a weird basement party.

It was fun story. I appreciate the officers in our park. They’re the best.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Post 48HFP Funky Blog


I’m in a funk, and as a writer the best way for me to get over it is to write it out. So here I am. It’s been a while since I stepped on a ranting soapbox, so here I go.

Maybe I’m in a horrible place because I still am not recovered from lack of sleep, or the fact that my right shoulder is in so much pain from being in one position for eight hours while I removed multitudes of clicks, clips, and blips in an audio track. Maybe it’s a combination of everything.

Bottom line is … I failed. I failed as a writer, filmmaker and team leader. Most of all, I failed myself.

It was the second time in my decade and a half of 48 HFP that I woke up the next day asking myself, what was I thinking? I’ll tell you what it was. I was thinking of making my team happy. Trying to please everyone. Truth is you can’t please everyone especially when in a 48 hour film competition.

The last time it happened, our team was heckled and booed in shame. It was then, as well, I didn’t follow my gut.

We made the wrong film that year. We made the wrong film this weekend.

Period. Not that the film this year is bad, it’s not, it’s just not what it should be. And that’s disappointing.

Before ten pm I had written two comedic scripts. Neither idea was met with overwhelming enthusiasm. I understand they probably didn’t think the ideas were funny, but any filmmaker knows, funny doesn’t translate well on paper. It can’t show the shots, or expressions.

If I’m being honest I wasn’t thrilled about ANY idea I came up with, but I am blessed with a  knack that once on set I can make anything funny.

In previous years no one saw the script until I sent it out, nor did they know my ideas. I should have said what I have said in previous years, “This is what we are doing. I understand you don’t like it or feel it, but can you bring the performance, if not … I’ll get someone else.”

Instead, I wrote a third script. A serious theme. I know that’s what they wanted. But newsflash, I do comedy best. Funny books, funny movies. I don’t do serious well. Last year was a fluke.

The story I wrote was good, but it needed more time and attention than a 48 hour shoot can give.

Maybe I should have offered up those other two scripts to another team. They were done before I bet anyone else had written anything.

But okay, we’re doing 'serious'. Everyone was happy. That was sign one.

Sign two … we got a very late start because of traffic and the loud landscapers. It then took 35 minutes to set a camera (Wasn’t mine), and I couldn’t get the first shot I wanted because the area was too narrow for a tripod, actors, the camera man and boom person. The black magic was  far too heavy and big to be handheld.

Right there, when 90 minutes post start time had passed and I hadn’t called ‘action’, I should have scrapped it and did comedy.

Lighten the mood. But we trudged ahead. Each change of scene requiring yet another 35 minute delay to set the camera. Unknown to my team (Now they do) I timed it. Three hours and thirty-four minutes were spent adjusting camera settings.

Ya know … many make fun of my Canons G30s, both of which east cost me over 1200 brand new. But never once have they taken 35 minutes to set up, never once were they too big or heavy to get the craziest shot, and never once did they deliver a bad, blurry or dark shot. If the shot was bad it was on me.

This year though ….Although EVERYONE worked hard, if it hadn’t been for the superior performance of my cast, I probably wouldn’t have submitted the film.

It was plagued with eighty percent useless footage and audio that … hell, I don’t know what happened.

I blame myself for everything technical.

I should have taken the headphones and listened to the audio.  I should have trusted my eyes instead of the camera’s display, I should have double checked and triple checked the camera person after I yelled ‘action’. It’s not the cameraman or the audio person's fault. It was me.

I’m the team leader.

See, that’s issue with it.

A leader is supposed to consider what’s best to represent the team, not always what makes everyone happy.

If the president’s administration convinces to make a decision and it turns out great, then the entire administration is smiled upon. But if the decision turns out bad, everyone blames the president, because ultimately it’s his final decision.

Same goes with team film making.

If I relent to the wishes of a team member and it turns out good, then the team looks brilliant. If I relent and the project falls … no one remembers the team players, they look at the leader and say ‘what was she thinking’

And the cast and crew will watch it and be polite, then say, “well … maybe if this or that …”

Whatever.

Again, let me reiterate, the CAST saved the film. I can watch the film a hundred times, they can watch it a hundred times, it won’t make it any better.

They worked hard and they are given something far less than they expected.

And to be honest, I really don’t want to hear about the mistakes in the film. I wanted them to have something they could be proud of not embarrassed by.

I’m tired, I lost three days or writing and I am pissed at myself for not standing my ground and following my gut and doing what I as a filmmaker do best.

I don’t do this for awards, I do this to entertain. I don’t do this for others to acknowledge me as a filmmaker and say ‘wow, what a brilliant emotional film.’ I wanna hear, “Oh my god, I couldn’t stop laughing.’

That is an award to me and NEVER have I felt this way after turning in a funny movie, production mistakes or not.

Granted I will pick myself up and make another movie. A funny one. We will laugh during production and post. It may not look like Breathe did, but I can promise …. People will smile. They’ll laugh and in this day and age that is so important.

For now, I step off my soapbox, tuck away this year’s 48 as yet, another learning experience, I thought I was done having at this point in my career.

 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Racing with the 48 Hour Film Project

 


My fifteenth year.

This year will mark the Crystal anniversary of my participation in the 48 Hour Film Project. One would have thought I’d given up by now. I thought about it, but 48HFP is as much of a yearly addiction for me as pickle juice, bourbon and HoHos during the National Novel Writing Month.

I remember in 2018, a young cameraman posted he was looking for a team. After a lengthy FB message exchange over days (Him interviewing me BTW), and a few days of him ghosting me, he declined because he wanted to work with a serious team.

Wait. What?

Ironically that ended up being the year we lost all our footage and the 48 became the 24 when we had to do a second movie.

Anyhow … that exchange and, of course, coming up on a milestone, got me to thinking.

I took the 48 HFP very seriously, however, I realized, no one really took me seriously. At least it seemed that way to me.

Why?

Because for 11 out of fourteen years, we made the audience laugh. Then again, it could have something to do with the one year we tried to be serious and dropped the ball. We were literally booed, heckled and publicly humiliated on social media.

It was so bad, I thought of never doing 48 again. Even though the producer shut that sh*t down, the damage was done.

If that sort of behavior is that of ‘serious’ teams, well, then, I’d rather not be serious. That behavior isn’t what 48 is about.

It’s about making the impossible possible, and yes, at the expense of cutting corners.

My mindset has always been I was going to make a movie that people remembered and do something new. I never go into competition with the mindset I’m entering to win. Maybe that’s why I never won ‘Best Film’. But I have won because I finished the project every year.

I was late one time and it wasn’t because the film wasn’t finished, it was because I sat on the Liberty Bridge for 35 minutes because The Dark Knight Production shut it down. For the record, I refused to see that movie … ever. Yeah, I’m still bitter.

So on this eve of my fifteenth, which is just days away, I thought I’d reflect on  a few things and asked myself if I had to name the three biggest mistakes I have made, what would they be? I came up with these.

 

ONE - SKELETON IDEAS

Technically, thinking of things isn’t really rule-breaking, I mean, how do you stop the creative mind from blasting out an occasional, “Dude, if we pull this, we should do …’ But one of the things I have seen teams come up with a skeleton idea. That is an idea that can be molded in any genre and the character/prop/line can be dropped in. (BTW most of us can spot this within 45 seconds of your film) Anyhow in 2008, I was brought on as a writer for a team. The team wanted one writer … cool. But that wasn’t the case. They needed someone to pen the script.

They had multitudes of meetings beforehand to discuss "ideas", things that could fit multiple genres. When the time came, they told me what to write. I brought up the ethic of it, and they didn’t see it as cheating as long as the ‘script wasn’t written’. We didn’t win anything that year. It made sense to me. Anyhow, the problem with these type of ideas is you get so pigeon holed into doing it, you force it to work a genre and the other required elements. Plus, seriously, it really takes away from the fun and in my opinion … is cheating.

ONE B – SKELETON LOCATION

The same can be said for locations. Find several and don’t set your sights on one really cool location. You end up forcing the story to fit the location. The audience sees and feels that.

TOO AMBITIOUS

We all have visions of grandeur when it comes to our films. But when you only have a limited time, that can be a hinder. Look at your idea … is it ambitious. Will it take too much post production time and side work. One year I spent sixteen hours in post in one position doing special effects. We won special effects, but still …. Erg.

 There are some genres you don’t have a choice, like Musical and Science Fiction. They require those extra steps. But keep it simple and remember this advice, it was the best advice I have ever gotten, ‘Write for the shoot and shoot for the edit’.

LEARN YOUR STUFF

It took me until 2012 to learn this, but as a team leader there should be no aspect of filming you don’t know or can’t do. Writing, filming, editing, music … you, as a leader should be able to do any role required. Even if you don’t do it well, you need to know it.  You never know. The editor may walk out, your sound may be crappy and you don’t’ have countless hours trying to find the best royalty free music selection, because let’s face it … music sets the tone.

I learned this the hard way when I discovered our 2011 editor was editing for another team as well and did theirs first. Yes, he finished ours on time but it was unnerving and came down to the last minute. Never again, I said. Even if I had to use Windows Movie Maker, I’d make sure our film was done hours before drop off.

LASTLY … COMEDY

I know I said three, but this isn’t a mistake I made. It’s what I have done right. I have heard way too many people say, ‘Try not to do comedy’. So let me say this, there is nothing wrong with making a funny film. Again, I repeated. NOTHING WRONG WITH FUNNY. Despite what people say.

Comedy doesn’t win? Bull. Over half the winning films I have seen were comedies and did you know a 48HFP comedy won an award at CANNES in 2016. Not to mention, on set and in post you continuously laugh. I have never had a freak out moment or anxiety when filming comedy.

The ability to make people laugh takes as much talent, if not more, as it does to make them cry or think. It’s a craft and an art and to hear the audience laugh is an amazing reward.

After all these years, I learned … that people remember the things that made them laugh.

If you are participating this year, be safe, good luck … and most of all … have fun. It’s not about winning it’s about making a film.