"None of us suddenly becomes something overnight. The preparations have been in the making for a lifetime.- Gail Goodwin

Shooting Muted was the highlight of my career up to this point!
More like a chair read since there was no table. :-)

We started off with a table read a few days before the shoot and just hearing the words I've written and toiled over for so long come to life almost brought tears to my eyes. *I said almost. I sucked it up!


Chandra Wilson (aka Dr. Bailey from Grey's Anatomy - YES AS A HUGE GA FAN I FREAKED OUT) played my mother and Malcolm-Jamal Warner played my father. Getting Malcolm on board was an unexpected treat that was the icing on the cake. :-)
Tara Tomicevic (Sascha) and Daniele Watts (Crystal)
Jorge-Luis Pallo (Det. Moreno) & Ross McCall (Det. Fitzhugh)

All of the actors were fantastic and getting to act alongside Chandra, especially in some of the heavier scenes, was such a gift. It was like taking a master class right there on set so I tried to soak in every moment. 

Checking constant emails when not shooting
Having to produce and act at the same time was not without its challenges. There were some small fires to put out and some emotional scenes that the baby was NOT happy about (seriously my stomach was rumbling for about 2 hours afterward) but thankfully we weren't shut down, our equipment didn't malfunction, no one was injured and the baby is still healthy so all in all I'd say it was a pretty successful shoot.

Baby bump!
Our crew was AWESOME!!!! Talented, smart, hard working with positive attitudes all the while. I'd hire the majority of them again in a heartbeat and hope to work with them on other projects in the near future. And Rachel Goldberg, our fearless leader, made everything feel easy. As an actor you hope to work with a director who will give you the freedom to make your own choices while still executing their vision and she did exactly that. She may not be well known now but I guarantee she will be pretty soon. She's absolutely a filmmaker to keep your eye on.

I'm happy and relieved that the shoot is over and that we can start to have fun in post but a part of me didn't want it to end. :-( I so wish I could do this (act on a professional set) every week like a "real" career. One day. One day soon.
We start shooting Muted tomorrow.

I am beyond excited (and tired!) and can't wait to share all of the details that led up to this point. But for now I'm just gonna say God is so good and He has already far exceeded my desire for what this short film could have become.

Oh and in baby news, all is well. :-)
Remember this?

After getting into an accident on the freeway back in early 2011 which totaled my little neon, my family and I had been sharing a car since then. 1 car divided by 2 people and 2 little ones who went to different schools over 2.5 years made for 1 tired mommy/taxi driver.

But, praise God, we've been blessed with a second car! This opens up A WHOLE NEW WORLD for us and will give me a much needed break from having to pick up everyone for everything. And the funny thing is that had we bought a car a long time ago, there's no way we would've purchased an SUV because we didn't need the extra space. However God knew there was another baby coming so it all worked out the way it was supposed to. I'm so grateful for this blessing and have named her Patience.

IMAG0760.jpg

In other news, the pregnancy is progressing well except that my hormones are out of control. I've been hit with fatigue and face rashes - yes RASHES ON MY FREAKIN FACE - that I really can't do much about besides try my very best to cover them up with concealer & foundation when I have an audition. So far I've only had to do this once though so hopefully any future auditions will be face rash free. Ah, the sacrifices we make to bring life into this world. :-)

Finally, I've been getting a lot of email from both actors and industry entrepreneurs who have something they'd like me to feature on this blog. While some of it is pure crap that I wouldn't dare share with the world since I don't support businesses that I feel are trying to take advantage of actors, some of it may actually prove to be helpful and/or interesting to some of you. So I've decided to share some of these things with a new blog feature: Share & Support Sundays. If you have an industry business that you'd like me to feature I'll share it or, more importantly, if you're an actor with a clip/trailer/short film/crowdfunding campaign that you'd like me to feature I'll support it by posting. Simply email me with the link, video, description, etc. to brandi (at) brandiford (dot) com.

So with our first Share & Support Sunday, here's a funny and quick short written & directed by Kira Hesser called Character Actors. Enjoy!

2013 is shaping up to be a whirlwind year.

First of all, if you were one of the people who contributed to our Kickstarter campaign or even shared the link extensively with your network: THANK YOU! We raised over $16k which means Muted is finally happening! We are now in the midst of casting, selecting shoot dates and hiring key crew. It's all very exciting and there's a lot of work to be done but we have a great team already so I know its going to be such an awesome shoot. I'll keep you posted on new developments as they arise.

In my personal life, my little one is going to Kindergarten this year. I can't believe it! Next month he'll join his big brother (who is now going to freakin 4th grade!) at the same school. And if that weren't enough, Stephen & I recently found out that we are pregnant. YAY!!!! Well, it was more like WHAAAATTTTT???? when we first found out but now we're very excited. Hopefully I'll get a girl this time but we have a while until we can find out what the gender is. I guess this means I'll be doing a lot of writing as my stomach gets bigger and I'm forced to slow down in other areas. For now I'm just trying to take as many naps and go to bed as early as possible since my energy level is pretty low during this first trimester.

No other news right now, though I really think that's more than enough. Hope you all are enjoying your summer!
For the last 2 weeks I've been consumed with promoting my Kickstarter campaign for Muted. I knew it would be hard but WOW! This truly is a 24 hour job that requires a lot of reminding people without annoying people (or at least trying not to). We're hoping to raise at least $15,000 (just shy of $7,000 to date) and as with all Kickstarter projects if we don't reach our goal then we get nothing at all. Please take a moment to watch our pitch video and if it resonates with you then please make a pledge. The minimum amount is $1 and believe me when I say we are THRILLED when we see those $1 pledges come in because they add up quickly.

We've been shown some Twitter love from a few women who have retweeted our campaign including actress/director Regina King, actress Megan Good, Black Girls Rock creator Beverly Bond, comedienne Sommore, singer T-Boz of TLC and my "shero" herself Shonda Rhimes! We've also recently been covered by Clutch magazine: http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2013/06/new-film-explores-the-muted-voices-of-missing-children-of-color-2/.

I have some other things to share with you, including a new blog feature that I'm excited about, but first I've gotta make it to the 30th and see this Kickstarter campaign through to the end.

Muted Kickstarter
Muted Facebook page
Love her and her show!

If you can't see the embedded video above, click here: http://youtu.be/uJxQB8uyAHU.
It's happening...



Click the photo above to enlarge and go here to RSVP. Hope to see you there!
Thanks to YouTube's easy editor I've added some new footage to my reel and put together a hosting reel. Enjoy!

Acting Reel (Finally got some footage with my natural hair!)

Hosting Reel (Would love to book a legit hosting gig. That would be a cool day job!)
Producing
I'm back in the producer's seat again. Tara and I hired a wonderful talent by the name of Rachel Goldberg to  direct Muted and things have been pretty much nonstop since then. We've posted a breakdown and requested some of the actors to put themselves on tape. We're meeting with DP's (another word for cameramen mom/grandma). We're putting the final touches on our Kickstarter (fundraising) campaign and we're even planning a party to kick it off which should be a lot of fun.

Writing
I finished draft 3 of my screenplay. I'm happy with its progress but I know it's time to get a script consultant to read it. I have a few in mind but my funds are reserved for other more pressing needs right now so unless they're willing to barter their services for some baked goods, I have to wait.

Acting
I filmed a nice procedural scene with my classmate & friend Yvonne. It's still being edited but we were very happy with the rough cut. No audition updates, yet, but I'll keep submitting knowing that my roles are right around the corner.

Headshots
My agents want me to get new headshots and I'd love to but my funds are being saved for another car. As soon as we get a second car (which will hopefully be in the next 4 weeks), then I can start planning my shoot. I've already selected the photographer and my agents were very specific about the looks they want me to capture so I've just gotta book the shoot. In the meantime, my buddy Hugo shot these:
  

Pretty happy with them! Though I'm really giving someone the evil eye in that second one. :-)

Day Job
So already I'm sick of transcribing. It was fine when I was doing it as a supplemental thing but to do it every day for such a small amount of pay is ridiculously monotonous. If I were to go back to working at a production company then the pay would be a lot better but as an independent contractor working from home, it's low (and will be even lower once taxes are paid on them next year). So I'm back in the day job seeking hunt once again. I even thought about going back to waitressing but that makes my soul shudder at the very thought. I love people and I love food but working as a server can really make you hate both and I just don't wanna do that. I've been looking at Event Sales and Event Coordinator jobs lately and I just had an interview today that went really well. I have to do a second interview with the owners of the venue and I'm hoping to knock it out of the park as I'd be coordinating a lot of birthday parties, premiere parties, screenings, wrap parties, etc. - all events that I enjoy working on. So we'll see.


Only one more week left in March and then the first quarter of the year is over. Crazy right?

Well it's been a whirlwind few months for me. In good news I signed with a new commercial agency, Brick Entertainment, and have gone out a handful of times already so yay for that! I was also selected as a mentee for the mentor circles that Women In Film are spearheading this year and recently attended my first mentor meeting. LOVED IT!! The ladies in my group are all intelligent, ambitious, driven and so incredibly diverse that I'm really looking forward to seeing how all of us grow and stretch and accomplish our goals over the next 12 months.

On the personal tip, I left my day job. Well I didn't completely leave it. I still come in on Monday mornings and do paperwork for about 2 hours but I'm no longer an office manager. This is both gratifying and terrifying. It's wonderful because now all of my mental space & energy that was being consumed by this job over the last 8 months has been released! But it's also terrifying because I have bills to pay. Rent's gotta be paid, kids have to eat, a car NEEDS to be bought and let's not forget the never-ending expenses that come with the pursuit of an acting career. So, to make up for the hit to my bank account, I've signed on to work from home with 3 transcription companies. The work is tedious and confidential (so don't ask me which shows I transcribe) but I get to set my own schedule and, more importantly, telecommute. Such a beautiful thing!

In addition to transcribing, I've also launched my home bakery business - Sugar Swag Bakeshoppe - and I'm having SO MUCH FUN creating custom goodies for friends and family. Don't worry, I'm not gonna turn this into a food blog, but you can expect to see pics of any sweet treats I create that are entertainment industry related so you've been warned. :-)

What else? I'm sure there's more to share but that's enough for one post. Hope you're all well and making most of this (fast) year as it whizzes by.
Kate Walsh talks about how age ain't nothing but a number. Love this!
For the last 8 months I've been working on a deal that fell apart earlier this week. The short version is that we (Tara & I) reached out to a well-known actress (she's a series regular who also acts in feature films) whom we read was beginning to transition into directing. We sent her manager the script, she loved it, she met with us (which was SO awesome) and all we had to do was figure out the scheduling. Well since our meeting she's gone on to act in a short, act in a feature, direct her first feature and now her TV show has gone back into production (of which she's recently been offered to direct an episode of as well) so despite all our efforts we just couldn't get around scheduling conflicts. *Sigh* We were SO close! This left me kinda bummed and feeling like last year was a bust until I read this awesome post from my friend DaJuan. Here's a snippet:

"I bet that if you look back to January 2012 you’ll see you are in a much different place than January 2013. Sure you may not be on the tv show you want to be on yet or you did not sign with that new agent you wanted to land — but, it’s COMING. You have to believe that... “REMEMBER THE WINS.” Sometimes we just forget how awesome we are doing and need to be reminded. It helps to keep a list of your accomplishments somewhere visible. Yup, write them down. Call it your 2012 WIN LIST if you like... Anything goes here and hey, it’s your list nobody else has to see it. By doing this you will have a tangible visual to help remind you how far you’ve really come. I’ve said this before, sometimes in our business there aren’t a lot of tangible things to show our accomplishments. This helps calm my anxiety and I can say, oh yeah, I forgot — THAT HAPPENED."
So I got together with Tara and my other friend Danette and we came up with our 2012 wins. Here are mine - mostly career but there are a couple personal ones towards the end as well:
  1. Wrote a short
  2. Wrote a feature (extended said short)
  3. Said feature advanced to the final round of consideration for the 2013 Sundance Screenwriters Lab
  4. Established a relationship with the CD's and associates at one of the top casting offices in town via a weekly volunteer position.
  5. Joined SAG-AFTRA
  6. Met with a HUGE manager with multiple A-list clients 
  7. Had lunch with said A-list client of whom I've been a fan of for years and she was every bit as nice and down to earth as I'd hoped she'd be! 
  8. Learned that anyone in this industry is accessible - we just gotta get over our fear of reaching out (This discovery was huge for me!)
  9. Had 7 auditions
  10. Booked the webseries Math to the Rescue and the training video ABLE with Group 1 Productions
  11. Booked an industrial for Hertz with High Heat Media
  12. Attended 27 networking events
  13. Had two successful table reads of my short. The first I organized on my own and had a bunch of friends help me out. The second came months later and was part of a weekly workshop put on by We Make Movies where writers can submit their work for actors to read on stage. Both reads were incredibly helpful in terms of shaping the characters and refining the plot and I made some new friends from the WMM read which is always nice.
  14. Did 4 cd/agent/manager workshops
  15. Started a monthly goal accountability group
  16. Had 15 coffee/lunch dates
  17. Opened a business account for our pending production
  18. Celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary
  19. Found a great & affordable facial cleanser (as someone who's struggled with breakouts all my life, this makes me very happy!)
  20. Made my first cake pop sale (yeah I'm a budding baker now, a topic for a later post)
Compiling this list helped me feel SO MUCH BETTER about the last 12 months and served as a good reminder that we're usually a lot harder on ourselves (and our PERCEIVED lack of accomplishments) than we should be. Again, Dajuan:

"Finally it also helps to remember that although you don’t see it sometimes you have just laid brilliant seeds for things to come. Which may not look like much, but down the road when everything comes together so wonderfully it will all make sense."

Amen, amen and amen!

What are your 2012 wins - personal, professional or otherwise? You don't have to share them with the world but write them down somewhere to remind yourself.
I haven't blogged consistently in a while but I think this year I'll be getting back to that. Going too long without getting out my feelings & experiences doesn't work for me. It just makes me feel like I'm taking everything in without releasing it back out into the world and letting it go - and my blog helps me to do that. 

So with that said, Happy New Year! 

May this be the best year of your life financially, emotionally, physically and in every other way possible.