I love a good disaster movie. To be honest, it's one of my personal favorite types of movies. Why? Well, because they ask some interesting 'WHAT IF" questions that bend my thoughts about reality. I suspect that most of us like a good disaster movie for the same reason. Also, much like a horror movie, a disaster movie allows us to face something scary while sitting in a safe environment.
For me, the best disaster movie is made up of the predictable formula: the scientist warns everyone, but is ignored. Then the disaster begins and the main characters unite to survive. And, of course, there are the people who panic and then get swallowed up by the earth. In the safety of a movie theater, it's an enjoyable experience.
What's happening for all of us right now, however, is not a movie. We are living in a rather challenging situation. There is no formula, and we cannot simply get in our cars and drive away. Things are changing around us and they are doing so at an alarmingly rapid rate.
One of my colleagues always tells me that when we have a challenge, we need to begin by taking stock of where we are and what assets we possess. That falls under the old cliche of "count your blessings" but it is a philosophy that works and one that I embrace. So I wanted to focus this blog on what positive things we have right now.
First of all, we live in a world that is more connected than it has ever been. Right now I am reaching out to you. Earlier today, I had several great conversations with people around the globe. We are not alone. We are not isolated.
Second, this down time may give us all a chance for a much needed self-correct. We need to think about the environment. We need to think about our lives. For too long humanity has rushed around too busy to notice the world, and we are long overdue for downtime. But here it is for us all. Right now is your chance to simply just catch your breath and think.
Third, we have the opportunity to tell some amazing stories. We may be feeling out of control at times, but we always always always have the right to tell our own story. We here at Three Socks love stories. Every day we encounter new ones and we stand amazed. Right now I challenge you to think about the fact that you are living in an historic time period and you have the opportunity to tell this story in an amazing way. You can give hope to others. You can be a positive force even from your own home. You can choose hope over panic. As the mother of two daughters, I am constantly reminded how much they look to me for hope. What we say and do impacts others and there is absolutely never a situation in which negativity and panic is productive. This afternoon I was deeply saddened to see a woman I once greatly respected using her voice to instill panic in others. She claimed she was "keeping it real." To her I wish to say, "Do you know what else is real? Hope. Kindness. Love. Our future." The only thing she is "keeping real" is her fear.
We here at Three Socks will be posting new things on this site to instill hope in others. Help us. Go ahead and comment below and share some hope with others. Together we can outshine those who wish to fill that awful role in the disaster movies of "panicked crowd". Together we will be just fine.
In the past year, Three Socks has traveled a very long way. In the fall of 2018, I met up with an old friend. I'll call him Marc. He is a wonderfully warm, eternally youthful person despite having retired from his professional life about ten years ago. He constantly tells me that he feels that he has his best work ahead of him, and I believe him. He knows everyone....I kid you not. EVERYONE. Together we have had many adventures in this past year, most wonderful, but some not so wonderful.
You've all heard me say many many times that I do not believe in focusing on the negative. I see no reason to tell a story that keeps me stuck in the past, especially a past that didn't always work out so well. The story I want to tell here is one of realizing when to follow the same path as someone else and when to diverge. Also, when to forgive.
People can come into our lives and be a huge help, but that doesn't mean we should ever stop thinking for ourselves. And the only person who has the answers for your life, your projects, your story is YOU.
This old friend provided some wonderful insights, but reached a point where it became obvious it was time to say goodbye. While we are all deeply-saddened by this, the circumstances surrounding the situation have only served to make our vision stronger. We know who we are. We know what we are. We know where we are headed.
Thank you to all who have aided us in this journey.
All of you know how important it is for me that my company stay focused on the positive and continue to dream big. Nothing has changed there, even in the face of recent challenges. My mentor used to say that if you really want to know the character of a person look at him/her during a time of stress and see who they are in the crisis. With that in mind, I want to share some challenges that we have recently encountered at Three Socks and how we are addressing them.
In October we landed a major investor. We are enjoying a marvelous relationship with that investor, which has caused some people to ask, "Why aren't things moving more quickly if things are going so well?" The answer to that is that first of all, things take time. You'd be amazed at how banks will put holds on transactions, even simple ones. Due to new bank regulations intended to prevent scams and terrorism, many activities that should take 24 hours can now take up to 20 days or more. This has required everyone at ThreeSocks to take a deep breath and patiently go through the process. It hasn't been easy for us at times, but we are making the best of it and using this time to do planning.
Another challenge, which has been far less tolerable is that we have become aware of another production company that has been blatantly spreading lies about us. They had hoped to own the project we currently have in production. This has both frustrated and saddened us. I do not need to go into the ugliness of some of their actions, but I want to issue our official statement right here that ThreeSocks has and will continue to always operate at the highest level of professionalism. We have honored all of our relationships and commitments and will continue to do so. We also once again extend to this other company the offer to work together rather than in competition, but we will not under any circumstances lower ourselves to negative behavior.
If you hear anything negative about any company, do the right thing and find out for yourself. Investigate it and don't simply allow little minds to dictate what you do.
So going back to how we are going to react during this time of stress....we will do what we always do: Think big, seek solutions, and strengthen our resolve to create an amazing project. And for those of you who are newbies and following this blog to watch our progress while you are getting started, please know that no one can walk on you unless you first lay down. ThreeSocks Media will not be laying down.
Three Socks Media, LLC. has gone through some extraordinary changes in the past few months. I realize that we've been quiet on our blog and I appreciate all of you who have contacted me noting this silence. I am so flattered that you missed hearing updates!!! So, let me get right into things.
Before the end of February I will be off to London to meet with investors and then we begin production within a few weeks after that!! Keep checking back and join us on social media....also, your comments are very welcome here on this blog!
Okay, it's been way too long since I posted anything and for that I deeply apologize. I realize it's been almost a year and that is completely unforgivable. But here's the thing...the intern graduated (yes, I did my best to stop it, but you can't keep a good woman down!) Oh, and I've actually been working. My dear loyal readers, things have been popping around here. First of all, I've finished a few new scripts. Second, last fall I met up with one of my heroes from long ago. David J. Willett, president of Associated Newspapers, owned the newspapers that I read when I was in high school. He also wrote a column that I read often. He also has produced Detroit television programs. Well, last fall we met and immediately realized that we shared a love of storytelling....I mean we both REALLY LOVE STORYTELLING. We love it so much that if we're not stopped we will literally tell stories for days on end with no food, water, or rest.
So, where did this lead? David has agreed to be a consultant and a producer on the first project. That means our family has gotten bigger. David brought with him some wonderful people such as Director Brad Graham and former Detroit Free Press Writer, Keith Gave. (In addition, together he and I had lunch with Jane Goodall, an amazing experience! And that's just the start of the adventures we've had.) We've had a wonderful time developing our plans for the company and you're going to be amazed at what we do in 2019 and into 2020.
There are only great things ahead and I promise that I will keep you all updated from this point forward on a more regular basis. I'll start sharing more details over the coming weeks. :-)
Today I was contacted by someone telling me about a young man named Noah who is very eager to be a film maker. Specifically, I believe he is doing animation, which is not quite my area of expertise, but still he is telling stories. There's something truly amazing that happens when a storyteller finds his/her medium and has wonderful people supporting him/her. I remember the very first script I ever wrote. For years I had been telling stories, but I had never created an actual script. Although I knew very little when I started, that didn't stop me from jumping. I had found my medium and although I made my share of mistakes initially, I didn't care. That's what passion does for a person. It drives him/her to keep going no matter what.
Whenever you are tempted to say, "I don't know what to do next" stop. Just stop right there. Take a deep breath, clear your head, and remind yourself that the next step is always there when you are ready. Sometimes you're not actually ready yet, but in most cases you are and that next step is indeed there. Have you ever been looking for a lost item such as a shoe, a pen, or a book and no matter what you just can't see it? Then amazingly the item turns up in a place where you swear you already looked. What happened? Well, you were so convinced the item was lost that you convinced yourself and your mind obliged. I know this may sound crazy, but the next time you "lose" something, sit down for a moment, close your eyes and say, "I know where it is." Then just release it for a moment. Stop being panicked. Stop focusing on the problem. The same is true of film making. You will encounter challenges. You will lose things and you will feel like you've hit a brick wall at times. But the thing is there is a solution. There is a way around a challenge or through it. Stop focusing on the problem.
This week I also spent some time talking to Dov Siemens, yes, the online 2-day workshop Dov Siemens. He is a firm believer in finding solutions and in the power of storytelling. I promote his classes on this website not because I get any financial gain, but because his classes were my solution early in my journey as a film maker. (I have a firm belief that when someone helps you, you need to be grateful and help in return.)
Noah and Dov were both inspirations to me this week, but I'd be remiss if I didn't add one more name to the list of people I worked with this week who shared their passion. John Gerds, the director for ThreeSocks' production of Traunik reached out to me this week as well. If you ever need to talk to someone who has found his medium and is on fire, talk to John. He has passion to spare when it comes to film making. I am truly honored and very thrilled to have had contact with such wonderful people this week. They are this film maker's greatest resource.
Many of you coming to this site are very new to film making while others are the friends and supporters of THREE SOCKS MEDIA. We're on a journey together telling our stories and I want to take a moment to thank two sources that taught me so much: Dov Siemens who teaches the 2-Day Film School, and John Mashni, an entertainment attorney in Lansing, Michigan. It's important to have great resources, folks, and I plan to devote upcoming blogs to just this subject.
But back to the business at hand...
Coming into 2018 we've gotten a bit off focus, so I want to go back to making a movie. First of all, a few tools:
In my last post, I shared my story. Thank you so much for all of you who contacted me regarding how my story touched your life. I am so grateful to have had the chance to share it. Now we get back to film making. I'm fairly new to the film making community, but I have to say how amazing everyone has been. I've really enjoyed meeting people for coffee, brunch, and late night chats. What strikes me about all of these people is their commitment to storytelling and their unique perspectives.
In a few weeks, I'll be holding an auction of movie/TV memorabilia to raise funds for my next three movies. I'm current reaching out to Michigan celebrities for these items, although I may go beyond, and I am looking forward to a really amazing event. Keep checking back for updates.
For now, I want to talk about the idea of labels. Normally, I tell people not to label themselves and I've got a great story about someone I know who has been wearing a label of victim and failure due to being fired from her dream job, but before I tell that story, I want to share a new twist. In his workshops, Dov Siemens (if you don't know him GOOGLE his name because he is definitely well worth knowing) immediately tells students to label themselves as producers, directors, writers, whatever role you plan to play in film making. I loved that idea and when I took his course, I jumped on it right away. The problem was that I didn't actually believe it. It actually took me a few years before I felt like I could claim the title of executive producer and an encounter this past week has made me wonder about that process. You see, I, like many other people, easily adopt negative labels. It's easy to call yourself a failure. A loser. The list goes on and on. But for now as you are working on your film career, I want to challenge you to take a cue from Dov and call yourself something positive and really mean it.
This past week I ran into a woman who had been my supervisor many years ago before I went out onto my own. She hired and trained me at the company. After working with her for almost three years, I heard she had been fired as a part of a "mass blood-letting" by the company. I want to be extremely respectful to her here, so I'm going to be a bit vague and I'm going to use a fake name, but there is a very important lesson to be found in my recent encounter with her and it's been on my mind all week, which is why I am sharing this.
She was let go, and I was promoted. I was not a part of the decision making process, so I never knew very much, but a few days after she was fired I ran into her. To say she was angry would an understatement. She tried to be kind to me, but I also got a sense that her anger rain over onto me. That was fine, though, because I could easily see where she'd be upset. We chatted that day and I shared my dream of going out onto my own and offered to share the resources I was gathering for my big move. She declined. We parted ways.
I hadn't given her much thought until this recent encounter. There was still a tinge of anger obvious in her, and her life had not progressed significantly from where she was when we last spoke. Hearing this sent a chill down my spine. I remember hearing a quote a long time ago that said something to the effect of having problems means you're human, but having the same problems year after year means you've got a full-blown crisis. I'm not saying it as eloquently as the original quote, but the point is the same. (Hey, if you know this quote, please contact me!)
Hearing the tinge of anger and seeing that she hadn't progressed seemed heart breaking to me, but I understand. I've been there. Years ago I read the book "Forgive for Good" and began to work on the art of forgiving myself and others in my life. Pain can hold a person in the same spot for years...even for a lifetime. The irony is that we get angry at someone or something for ruining our lives and then we make a commitment to this vision and live it out. Getting fired is unpleasant, and the actual firing was possibly out of your control, but how you handle it and how you proceed is 100% in your hands.
I've really been thinking about that lesson this past week. Now, I'm not in that woman's shoes and I can't tell her what to do, but if she would hear me, I'd love to tell her that she is amazing and my time working for her made me a better person. I believe she is capable of great things, but you know what? The only person who can make the decision regarding what she is capable of is her. That's true for us all.
Tony Robbins has taken some heat lately for making a statement about not defining yourself as a victim. I see his point. Being a victim is terrible and I would never want to minimize anyone's pain or struggle, but at the same time, I know for a fact that negative labels limit. So, I will leave you here with the words that my favorite writing teacher used to say to me at the end of class: Get the hell out of here. Go and be amazing. (He was a bit rough around the edges! LOL!)
This company is all about telling stories and here's the thing, I can't recall if I've ever told any of you MY story. I have always said that the heart of ThreeSocks Media LLC is stories because they matter and recently a friend told me that to tell a good story, I need to know MY story first. Is that true? I'm not sure, but I do know that I decided it was time to gain some clarity on my story and share it with all of you.
I was born a story teller....oh, and the youngest of seven children. (It was a crazy zoo, but as the youngest I eventually got my own bedroom and in time was able to be an only child in the house...at least for a few years.) Early in my life I gained a fan club at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. I was kind of a big deal there because at 18 months old I stopped breathing and was apparently "technically" dead for a little while. I was originally told 6 minutes, but over the years I heard figures that ranged from 2 minutes to 45. I seem to recall actually hearing a doctor say 6 minutes after he looked at my chart, so that's the number I stick with in my version.
That makes me a miracle...that and the fact that my parents were in their 40's with very little privacy, quite frankly makes my conception and birth outright Ripley's Believe It or Not material. Then, as I said, I had some health problems and during an emergency room visit just outright stopped breathing. (I've had some "unique" experiences throughout my life and a psychic once told me it was due to my death experience....I kid you not a woman came running up to me in a restaurant to tell me this news randomly. Somewhat scary since I hadn't even been talking to her when she felt moved to yell this out. Scared my lunch companion, but what the hell.)
I went on to totally amaze the doctors at Beaumont as I made a miraculous recovery years later, and then despite initial predictions that I wouldn't live to be an adult and I certainly would never have a "normal" life, I got a clean bill of health at age 14 and never looked back. Okay, I should probably add that I haven't had a "normal" life, but that's what miracles are all about and I'm fine with that. LOL! I have lived a healthy life and that's what really matters.
My story gets hazy for awhile, however, because though I started out my professional life strong and focused, doubt brought me to my knees and took me way off course. Though I love both of my parents, it took me many years to be able to say the following line: I am the daughter of a man with mental illness, a man who fought off paranoid delusions and his family all paid the price for them. My siblings paid a higher price than me, since I was the youngest and was able to be sheltered by them, but it ultimately drove a wedge between us all.
I'm not complaining. It made me who I am and I'm really proud of myself. However, I honestly cannot remember a time when I was a kid that a trip to the local Kmart wasn't a traumatic thing. You see, my father believed that someone from his early adulthood was after him and, in fact, Dad thought this guy had a poisonous spray that he used on our family. So, my father always made at least one of my brothers stand watch at the car and if while we were shopping, my father felt like he was being sprayed, we had to drop everything and run out to the car and leave. I remember once picking out a pink Easter dress that had to be dropped so we could run and when we returned it was nowhere to be seen.
But, nonetheless, I made it. My siblings made it as well. We all survived and went on to lead pretty good lives and all of us are fairly sane....knock on wood. LOL! But one profound effect it had on me was that I was very big into playing it safe and not drawing attention to myself. My career has had many stellar high points, but until recently, I was always fairly eager to get out of the spotlight and thus turn down a promotion, give someone else the chance to lead a project, etc. I worked as an English teacher much of my life all the while writing. A few years ago my daughters asked why I didn't do anything with my writing and initially I replied that it was due to not having Hollywood contacts. I said, "The deck is stacked against people like me." Then it hit me. That was my father's favorite line...it was his WHY when people suggested he get a better job so that he could support his family, it was his go-to for how he and my mom ended up in a bad neighborhood with little to show for it all.
So here's the thing: I have come to realize that the deck is stacked the way you stack it. Yes, there are some things out of our control, but we always have control over our mindset and how we approach the world. My father had an illness, which was out of his control, but the option to take meds or ignore them were his. So were other things like his decision not to allow other people to help our family.
I am a miracle. I survived my father. I survived a heart valve problem. The heart problem was supposedly a death sentence. Yet here I sit with a Ph.D., two children, and a very full career. I don't define myself by my early illness or my father anymore. Nor do I define myself by fears and the belief that things are stacked against me. The rough times only made me realize and appreciate the incredible nature of my life. This is my story...I am a miracle.
My current plan is to make five movies. They're going to be great, and if you're reading this blog, it means you're a part of this whole process and I thank you. The deck is not stacked against us, but we do have an adventure ahead of us. Are you ready?
Getting funding for a movie or accomplishing any major life goal for that matter, can be challenging at times and even overwhelming. We begin with great excitement and then we lose steam. Doubt finds its way into our lives and when challenges come up, it's easy to mistake them for signs that we need to quit. In fact, I was raised to believe that when things become challenging God is telling you to back down or find a new direction. I no longer believe this. Life is an adventure and it's in our hands how we decide to pursue it. Challenges make us stronger. They define us and show us what we can truly accomplish. They are not an end, but a beginning.
I recently had an extremely empowering situation that was all about challenge. A local charity asked if I would participate in a "Dancing with the Stars" type of show. Now, right up front I want to tell you that I've never danced. I did not take ballet lessons as a child nor did I ever engage in any type of lessons--formal or informal. The charity asked for my help and I agreed. This involved my first ever dance lessons all geared towards a competition that would involve competing against people who have had lessons and some who had even competed in this event previously. There reached a point where I felt overwhelmed. There I was stomping about with two left feet while this very graceful (and I might add extremely patient) dance instructor walked my partner and I though steps that I just couldn't get to move from my brain into my feet. I wanted to quit. Actually, I wanted to scream, tear up something, scream some more, AND THEN QUIT. But I didn't. After a few more weeks, things began to feel better and I saw progress. Then last Saturday I competed. I didn't go home with a trophy, but I got a standing ovation, and I went home with a sense of achievement. I had learned a dance, performed it in front of a group, and most important of all, I had pushed past the challenges.
During the past few months I've put a few projects on hold because I'd reach that point of feeling overwhelmed. To be quite honest, I'd reverted to my old mindset of God closing the door. But at the height of my frustration about the dance competition I had a flashback to turning point earlier in my career. I had been walking down a hallway about to turn a corner when I heard two colleagues talking. They were just around the corner and couldn't see me when one said, "Lynne has so much going for her. Why doesn't take charge and really do something for this project?" The other person replied, "She doesn't have it in her." That was a defining moment for me back then and I continue to use it now. The truth is that we all have what we need inside of us, but we let doubt get into our heads and we stop.
Are you going to stop? Am I going to stop? NO. The music is playing, the dance floor is ready, and if we just let ourselves free, we can dance with the best of them. So, it's okay if you're overwhelmed. It's not okay to stop because of it.
My dear readers, that means all of my projects are back on the table.
Lynne M. Smelser is an executive producer and scriptwriter. For more than 20 years she has been an active writer who has won many national awards. She also holds a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University.