Thursday, November 20, 2014

a long time coming

It's been awhile. I know. I live and breathe this every day and there is no time left over to write about it. I suppose my focus has been elsewhere -- mostly on taking care of Miranda and working towards making my feature. Also finishing up the short MUCK I co-wrote and co-produced with my husband (which I am excited about).

I have met a boatload of female filmmakers in the last year, the Film Fatales. It has been so amazing to find a community of like-minded people. Truly mind-blowing and inspiring on so many levels. From that group, Kim Spurlock and I created a writing group. We meet monthly at the Writers Guild and turn in 60 pages every other month. There are 12 members, each incredibly smart, insightful, funny and warm. I have a deadline with my script and a real community. We had the first of what will hopefully be many writing retreats this September on Shelter Island. We did writing exercises, yoga, read excerpts from Save the Cat, wrote, cooked, ate, drank, walked, biked, swam, talked, talked some more, and laughed. I am so grateful for this community.

I also recently met another group which is an offshoot of the Fim Fatales, the Documamas (not all documentarians :)) They also meet monthly. It has been difficult for me to make those meetings, as many of them are in the evenings and my husband works 5 nights a week. They recently did a daytime workshop in collaboration with Chicken & Egg Pictures. It was called Balancing Motherhood and Filmmaking. There were about 25 of us there, all in the same boat. Amazing. A woman named Amy Hilbrich Davis who has a company called Family Life Success, and also has 7 kids, spoke to us about putting our family first, and how that success will translate over into every area of our lives. There are several cornerstones of family success. The first is personal well-being. The second is our relationship with our partner. She said these first 2 are more important to the happiness of our kids than any of the other cornerstones. Mind-blowing, right? She also talked about our job as parents. It is to keep our kids happy, healthy, safe and cozy. I love the simplicity of this. There were so many more amazing things she shared, and I am still processing them and integrating them into my life. It is a mind-shift. It was a gift to be there, and I am again so grateful.

The next step for me is to make my first feature. Between my husband and me (me being DEEPLY involved in each project), we have made 4 shorts. We have ideas for web series, etc., and will work towards making these happen. But in the meantime, I am singlemindedly focused on my feature Gun Club Road. I have just completed my third draft. Now it is time to go in for the dirty work - tightening dialogue / making it more specific with each character one by one; putting more New Mexico, 1980's and South Valley references into the script; strengthening each a and b storyline; outlining the script (ack! something I have always avoided!); putting in all the little idiosyncratic thoughts I've had about this script which will make it unique; etc. etc. etc.

The idea is to shoot this next October. In less than a year. I have to think big - that's the only way I know how to make things happen.

I have another film which is close to my heart which I want to make, but it is a larger budget film. I started daydreaming about films with lower budgets and Gun Club Road has overtaken my mind and heart at the moment. One day I will make Buckle My Soul. I must spend time each day that is devoted to these dreams. I truly believe in making dreams reality. I believe in prayer. I believe in hard work. I believe in willing something into existence through a combination of both.

It has taken me all this time to figure out a way to work every day. Last year was Miranda's first year of full time school and it took me the whole year to figure out how to harness the time. Perhaps I was tired and needed to catch up on my sleep. I was also helping make MUCK, which definitely took hours of each day. Post on MUCK has just been completed and I think it has an exciting future ahead. A lot of talent surrounding that project from the acting to the producing to the cinematography and beyond. During that time I also worked on a few different writing projects of my own, finally coming to Gun Club Road with a first draft literally flying off my fingers.

That is all for now. I will try and post more regularly.

I will leave you with an image of the true life inspiration of GUN CLUB ROAD. My sister Cassie Goodluck and myself.

With love,
Emilie Blythe (but you can call me Blythe)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

filmmaker mama.. uh-huh.

Filmmaker mama... uh-huh. I think that's what it means when you have been working your buns off on a film for over a year and it is the first day of shooting and... you are at home with your sick child. Miranda is asleep on the couch right now. She has a virus which has to run its course and usually lasts a week. She can't go to school until she has been fever-free for 24 hours. It is Wednesday and we are shooting through Saturday. She has had fever since Saturday night. Her fever is still at 101. At this point I know I won't be on set tomorrow either. We shall see about Friday and Saturday. Of course, if I was directing, I would be on set and Bruce would be home with Miranda. But since I am co-writer and producer of this one.. and also a mama.. I am at home looking at pictures on my cell phone of what is happening on set. I am trying to be Zen about it. Things have been criz-azy the last few weeks preparing for this moment. And now things are.. ever so quiet in our apartment. I am thankful that Miranda is in good spirits. And I am thankful that it sounds like things are going well on set. And also very thankful that our 2 week Kickstarter campaign was funded before it ended last night. The film is called MUCK. I am very much a part of the fact that this film is filming right now. I can only practice letting go now. And perhaps can take a moment to think about the next project I will direct.

With love... filmmaker mama Emilie.

 on set - Tallie Medel as Mel, photo taken by Janice Erlbaum
at home - Miranda as herself, photo taken by her mama

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

filmmaker papa

Hi there --

Have been wanting to write awhile about my dear husband Bruce.  He works 60 hours a week and doesn't have as much time as he used to to act, write, make films... He is an amazing talent which I knew from the very first moment I met him when he was doing a one man show about 5 New York characters at the Zephyr Theater in Los Angeles. He is incredibly supportive of my choices to both stay home with Miranda and to make films.  And this must be acknowledged as all of this would be EXTREMELY difficult to say the least without his support.  It is hard enough as it is to do something meaningful with one's time.  But without support it could seem like an unclimbable hill.

Bruce is constantly sending me ideas of things to do with my films, people to contact, creative ideas, things to remember, and more.  He not only acted in "Crossing the River" (his role of Ted was described as a "slovenly middle-aged white man" - "Thanks" he said - he does not fit this description at all btw), but he spent most of the prep and shoot week in South Carolina hanging with Miranda so I could solely focus on directing the film.  He is an amazing father (truly), as anyone who sees him with her comments, but to be with a 4 year old full time and not be used to it is not a straightforwardly easy task.  They went to the zoo, movies, gardens, museums, and even a birthday party.  The car when I saw it each day was a mountain of food wrappers, dirty clothing, crumbs, and other trash.  I had to simply accept it and smile at the great effort that was being expended.  In the middle of all this he played the role of Ted and did a marvelous job.

Now we are once again co-writing a short (we co-wrote the short film "My Elena" a few years back and also our feature script "Buckle My Soul") which is grounded in the NY underground comedy world.  We plan to shoot in August.  I am excited.  We grab the little time we can with his cri-zazy work schedule.  The 2 hours when Miranda is in school.  Late at night.  On the phone.

Bruce is there when I need him with presence, attention, and smarts.  He has been for years, and continues to be.  This means a lot.

Thank you for your love, passion and support, filmmaker papa.  You are my warm light and I love and appreciate you so very much.


Monday, March 4, 2013

If I won the lottery

What would you do if you won the lottery?  What if money were no object?  Within this seemingly superficial question are answers that are closest to a person's heart: one's deepest values, inner dreams and desires.

For me, here are my thoughts in answer to that question.

I would continue to do exactly what I'm doing.

I would continue to spend time with my daughter and make films.

However, I would be able to make exactly the films I wanted to make without having to wait around.  There would still be no way around the process of writing.  But knowing that once the writing was complete and the crewing up was done that the film would be made would be a freeing feeling.  We could shoot films in other locations and spend months there in research, rehearsal, and pre-production.  I could hire a lovely person to help watch Miranda while on set.  There are many things as far as the quality of the filmmaking that could be helped.

But as I said, the basic process would be the same.  Write a good script.  Keep working at it.  Then get people excited about helping to tell that story.

Other things to do with the lottery money?

Help my Mom and other family members, donate to worthwhile charities close to my heart, own a place to live for my own family (preferably one in the country and another lovely place in Greenwich Village or Brooklyn), and take our whole extended family on a tropical vacation (a dream for a very long time).

I am probably forgetting some things, but to me those are the most important.

Truly, I have everything I need.  A loving husband, an incredibly special daughter, an amazing family, true and dear friends, a roof over my head and food to eat.  And the ability to write and create films.

Oregon, 1970's

Monday, February 25, 2013


As February comes to a close, and the hint of spring is in the air, I get a certain feeling inside that is familiar.  As spring awakens, there is a sense of what has taken place in the past and what will take place again.. and a certain feeling of an irresistible pull towards my true path.  I feel a greater connection during yoga.  To God.  To my inner truth.  To who I've been, who I am, who I am meant to be.

I have spent a lot of time, money, resources, and energy, as have friends, towards making "Crossing the River".  It has been a labor of love.  I hope the film will continue to screen and be a blessing for those who were involved in it, and those it was inspired by.

I am moving towards creative expression once again.  I am working on something with my husband Bruce, a short he has been working on for awhile now that we are rethinking/reimagining.  It will be gritty, raw, a doc-style narrative.  It is exciting thinking about it and working on it.

I am working on something else that is based on my life in my early 20's, but also bringing in elements of poetry, memory, dreams... More on the experimental side than anything I've worked on since college (which was all experimental, Maya Deren-inspired type stuff).

There is still my feature about the doctor I knew as a child, near and dear to my heart.  Co-written with Bruce.

I am beginning to edit a music video I shot for a friend in the fall.  Experimental.  Lo-fi.  Exciting.

I feel the desire to do different creative things.  Sand squishing through my toes, running, arms out, salt water on my skin, a huge goofy smile on my face, free.  Broad strokes of paint with all different materials on a HUGE canvas, no worries about being in the lines or making a mess.  Peeking in on interesting characters with a still camera, an i-phone, a movie camera and not worrying about the outcome or the audience, just exploring, intuiting, dreaming, expressing.

I would love to act in someone else's piece, something that stretches me.

Want to get outside now that spring is coming and see the trees and flowers and hiking trails.

Miranda continues to be a joy and an inspiration.

I'm going to keep it short and sweet.  Wishing everyone a beautiful end of winter/beginning of spring.

Monday, January 28, 2013


(From 2003)

I can smell the moss lit by the water on the treetrunks coming down from the mountain the moss wet and dark like my insides not fully lit in this sunlit summer of rain.  I walk down the path looking for a sign that I’m going the right way.  I can’t figure it out but the moss but the moss I smell it so strong and it takes me to that place that nobody can take away.  When will I be free?  When will I let myself be me?  I am tired of this constant struggle my feet are sore from trying to hold up this fa├žade I am a human being strong and free but I wear the mask of the day-to-day, taking trivialities too seriously, giving my energy over to the rush the ride of the streets clamoring through to find my way more quickly to the place that sucks my insides like sap.  I will grow again I will shine through I will find my way to the hidden spring in the forest and the moss she will cover me like a soft green blanket, cool in the summer sunshine, beautiful oh so beautiful to feel her softness covering me, protecting me from the thick layer of skin I have developed.  It is time to let it go take it off unzip it rend it from my body I want to have my own skin now, marred and delicate as it may be, that’s what I want to face the world with, taking in all stimuli that it wants to give me.  Plunge into the waterfall with my arms spread like wings, drinking in the rush of the water, throwing my head back in ecstasy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Can one be a balaboosta and a filmmaker at the same time?

A question I was pondering today.  A character based on a true person in a feature script I've been working on for years was described thusly: "Housekeeping was not her strong suit".  Things were dusty, out of order, sometimes chickens presented themselves in the dining room during dinner parties.  However, this woman and her husband worked respectively as a teacher and doctor and did incredible work for the community on a daily basis, and raised 5 children.  Housekeeping wasn't the first thing on her list.

Yes, it feels good to have a clean bathroom (did this today), a vacuumed living room (did this today also), and a sparkling kitchen (not done yet).  Undusty corners, no piles of papers, a clean stove bottom, a really cozy-feeling bedroom would all be lovely additions to my (and my family's) life/ves.  However, there are a limited number of hours in the day.

A typical day might look like this: Roll out of bed, get Miranda ready for school, take her there, come straight home, work for 1 1/2 hours on the computer, go back to get her, go to a playdate or ballet lesson or museum or trader joe's or to visit Bruce at work, come home and make dinner, do homework, do our own "home school pre school" (yesterday we did Inuit people, historically and present-day), play, dance, read books, talk on Skype to family, write thank you cards... You catch the drift.  About once a week there is time to clean, and to REALLY do a good job cleaning it would take about 5 hours I'm estimating.  Hmmm..... Which of the above would I limit in order to be able to do that?

It's all a balancing act.  I do make homemade meals a few times a week.  I mend from time to time.  Have a sewing machine given to me by my mother in law which has never been taken out of its box.  Have boxes of knitting supplies which never really took off in my household.

When Miranda goes to sleep and before Bruce gets home from work, it is my time to consider, think, reflect, dream.  And work.  Festival submissions, emails, writing, etc. flow from my fingers to the computer.  It is valuable time.

My mother-in-law complimented a dear friend of mine at my wedding that she was a "Balaboosta".  Highest compliment possible from her point of view.  My mother, upon hearing the definition, instantly said "Emilie is a Balaboosta".  How kind of her.

Here is the definition (from Balaboosta (n.)(bah-lah-b00-sta) A Yiddish term meaning the perfect housewife, homemaker, wonderful mother, cook, and gracious hostess. She does it all and does it well.

Can one be a balaboosta and a filmmaker at the same time?  Perhaps one of these lovely women who are able to juggle multiple things and do them all well.  I am not quite that.  I am a decent cook and hostess and wife.  Housewife/homemaker, maybe not a 10.  But as far as a mother, I strive to do the best job I possibly can, at the expense of perfectly dusted picture frames and a sparkling white stovetop.