NLC, THG and the Mystery of 11/11

11:11 has been haunting me for about five years now.

I do not tell you this story because I expect you to believe it. It’s unbelievable. I wouldn’t believe it if it was told to me. But it happened to me, so I have to believe it. I also have friends and family who have been witness to it and the effects.

I will tell the story as succinctly as possible.


It began in 2011, shortly after the completion of “No Lost Cause.” I am, admittedly obsessed with clocks, but what began as a simple odd coincidence morphed into a freaky occurrence, and then finally to a reassuring signal.

You see, it was around this time (no pun intended) that when the urge to check the hour of the day came over me, and I would glance at my phone, or bedside alarm, or some other digital form of telling time, that the display would read 11:11. (both am and pm).

Obviously, I would look at the clock at other times of the day, but this time began to become more and more frequent. It started happening so frequently, in fact, that I began taking screen shots. At it’s zenith, I counted 45 screen shots in a single month. I was not cheating and waiting for that time to hit to take the screen shot, nor was I actively pursuing the oddity.

On the contrary, it was beginning to freak me out.  Especially when I began getting receipts where my check out time was stamped 11:11, or the total of my order was $11.11.

Why did I keep seeing this time? This amount? This number? What did it mean?

I did some internet research, and depending on your belief system 11/11 could either be a signal from Someone supremely evil, or supremely divine. Of the two, naturally I was hoping for the latter.

Finally, one day, about three years later, when my poor, frazzled brain thought this would be the new normal of my life, I looked at the clock, and it was 11:12. Then, the  next day, it was 11:14, and so on. Whatever it was, it seemed to be over.

But what had it been?

It was a few months later that I found out that our film, “No Lost Cause” had been acquired by TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) and would be broadcast on their station. The day the film was approved?

11/11.

Was this a signal? Were the numbers tied to the film? It remained to be seen.

Because it began to happen again.

I saw the numbers, over and over, for several weeks, and then just as suddenly, I stopped seeing them. I did some research, and found out that “No Lost Cause” would be playing on the television station again.

This theory would be proven over and over during the coming two years. The numbers would occur, over and over, for days, sometimes, weeks or months….and then they would stop. And every time, it was connected to something positive for our film.

Meanwhile, our second film, “The Hepburn Girls” was completed quite a while ago. We have been working off and on since it’s completion seeking distribution.

I tell you all of this, not because I’m looking forward to the ridicule that will surely follow, but because it has happened again.

The past few months, I’ve been seeing my old digital friends.

On October 1st, I uploaded the film to Vimeo. A few days later, I was emailed by two filmmakers who noticed it and wanted to know if I was interested in entering their filmmaking contest, where the grand prize was a distribution contract.

After doing some research on the company (because, be smart) I liked their concept, the way they ran their website, and I thought I’d give it a shot. As I’ve been prone to say many a time before….”Why not?” (It is, after all, how I ended up with two films). Plus, I’m a sucker for a good contest.

I originally was under the impression I’d be entered into their “Winter Season” competition and that the film wouldn’t premiere until February or March, but when I was emailed my premiere date, I stared at the computer, dumbfounded.

The date of the premiere?

11/11.

Beginning tonight at 7pm (CST), and for the next 20 days, our film will be available completely for free. If you like it, you have the opportunity to “become a fan” and donate $3 to this competition. We get $1, and the rest goes to help continue to make this contest available for other independent filmmakers. At the end of the competition, the film with the most “fans” wins.  Pretty straightforward!

I hope you have an opportunity to watch it. While a distribution deal would be a wonderful answer to prayer, even more important to me is the opportunity to give as many people as possible the chance to see my story.  I hope you find some value in it, and in the message, which is based loosely on events that have happened to me in my life. It was very cathartic to write, and even more cathartic to act out.

The film focuses on the life of Katherine, a woman who is her own worst enemy, who uses humor as a defense mechanism, and who pushes away all possible paths to happiness under the misguided notion of self-punishment for an accident she never speaks of. She has locked herself in a PTSD cage of her own making, and it takes her newly discovered half-sister Audrey to help her figure out the way to mental and emotional freedom.

It is also powerful testimony of Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Will this contest work together for my perceived good of a distribution contract? Or will it simply be good for someone to see my story, and know they are not alone?

I don’t know…truly, only time will tell.


Link to “The Hepburn Girls” (Free until December 2nd, 2016)

https://fandependentfilms.com/films/348/the-hepburn-girls/

Five Years Ago Today…

Five years ago today, a small gathering of people snuggled down on a plush sofa in my Mother’s living room and watched the fruits of our combined labor of love come to life. We were small in number, but we were mighty in passion. “No Lost Cause” was the film, and it was created on a budget of $7,000 (4K of which was buying the computer to edit the film on).

We watched ourselves and as we did, we laughed, we cried, and we had all the feels. When the film came to an end, we did a brief interview with the cast & crew talking about how we felt about the film and the future.

The future.

Two words, and yet so much possibility.

How could we know that that evening was just the beginning. How could we imagine that our little film, in our little town, and on our little, tiny, minuscule budget, would win awards in film festivals, leading to us meeting our distributor, leading to the film being sold internationally, leading to it being seen in over 37 countries around the world?

Here is part of a blurb I posted on the one year anniversary of that viewing:

“Today, we are nearly finished with our second film, and looking forward to the fall when NLC is released world-wide through our distributor. God has done some truly remarkable things in our lives, and I stand humbled and in awe of His constant provision and love. Thank you, dear friends, for believing in us and supporting us.”

That second film, “The Hepburn Girls,” was created with another small group of people, and it would lead me to meeting the people who would reignite my dormant passion for theatre.

In turn, those people would form a third, small but mighty group with a giant passion and a dream to create a community theatre in a rural county.

This same group would work and work and work, and then “Beauty and the Beast” would happen, and we would have a show less than a year after our theatre’s conception that would pull in over 400 people per performance.

And then we would win multiple awards for that show.

How could I possibly have known all of that sitting on a couch in a living room five years ago.

But it did.

Every bit of it happened because of that first film. Because of that first moment of saying, “Why Not?  Why can’t we do this?”

Tonight, we are screening the second film at the place where my two loves converged.

You should come. Not because you know me, or know the film. I’m no one special. I’m not more gifted or more intelligent than anyone else. I’m not extraordinary. I live with anxiety and fear just about every day of my life.

I just don’t let that fear and anxiety stop me.

You should come because when a group of people come together to support each other and their dreams, things happen. Magic happens. Perhaps seeing our dreams come to life will inspire you to pursue one of yours.

Who knows if this could be the genesis of your “Five years ago today…” story.

What a wonderful possibility!

———————-

“The Hepburn Girls”
Henry County High School Auditorium
New Castle, KY
7:00 pm.
Tickets available at the box office.

For Hannah, on her 18th Birthday

There is almost no real way I can put into words what I feel today, but I’ll give it a try. I can hardly believe it has actually been eight whole years since you appeared in our lives, a mere whisper of a girl. Your easy smile and sweet, (but incredibly sassy spirit) captured our hearts and we quickly adopted you as our own.

When we created a Christmas play and needed a child actor, you were the first person we thought of; not only did you have talent, we genuinely enjoyed having you in our company. Your infectious giggle, and eagerness to be with ‘the big kids’ was endearing, and your work ethic (at such a young age!) was remarkable.

When we decided to jump off this crazy peak of insanity called filmmaking, again, you were one of the first ones we called. You had more than proven yourself on stage, and we wanted you to be a part of this process, however far it would stretch us.

And stretch us it did! We learned, we cried (a lot) and we experienced so many things. You saved the film on the very first day by catching the camera before it was knocked over by a gust of errant wind. You would go on to save more than just the camera as the months, and years, progressed.

On the second film, you saved my personal sanity. You were there, every filming day, helping me load the car, talking me through my lines, picking out my costumes, helping me choose my hairstyles, and sitting up with me til 1am, reviewing footage and making notes for the next day, when, at 7am, we would do it all over again.

During shooting, I was perpetually on the cusp of a nervous breakdown, and you talked me down from more metaphorical ledges than you should ever, at your young age, have heard of. You held my hand, and told me it would all work out.

I remember looking in on you one night when you had finally collapsed in the guest bedroom, and you were sound asleep, holding your teddy bear (Sadie?). Seeing that nearly destroyed me with how precious you looked. I knew that this moment was fleeting, and that before I knew it, you would be a grown woman, too old for teddy bears, and crazy pseudo-adopted sisters.

And today, here we are.

Today you are everything I wanted you to be and never was at this age. Beautiful, accomplished, confident, brilliant, and with the world at your feet. You will never, ever be less than a champion in my eyes, and I can say with utter honesty, I could not imagine my life without you.

So forgive me if, sometime in the future, I look at you and get a little emotional.  You see, I will still see traces of that little girl, hugging her teddy bear, smiling up at me with that infectious grin, and giggling.

I love you, and wish you the happiest of birthdays.

Snowpocalypse Part Deaux

It’s been a week since my birthday and so much has happened! The book was published, millions of copies were ordered, it became an international best-seller, and I got a personal invitation from Steven Spielberg to the premiere of “Jurassic World” because of the sheer amount of times I mentioned John Hammond’s name in the pages of our story.

Also, none of that is true. Actually, I did the opposite of what I should have done upon releasing a new book; I took time off. I was starting to play a game called “old age or exhaustion” and decided to rest instead of press. I had a lot of work to catch up on for our theatre show anyway. (which opens on the 19th if any of my readers live in the vicinity!)

In truth, during the last week, more copies were sold than I anticipated, but I’m not exactly international….yet. If only I knew someone, say, in the United Kingdom, that could buy a copy. Then I could truly call myself international!! *cough*James*cough.*  😉
Continue reading

Now what??

Now that I’ve had my family birthday lunch, the celebrations are subsiding. Also, my 35 day blogging challenge is over, and while I don’t have to write a blog every day anymore, I wanted to at least finish out the month.  What happens now that the book is complete and released out into the wild?

Obviously, the bulk of the work is done and I can move on to the next project/book without another thought about those 35 intense days where I nearly lost my mind publishing my first book. Right? Right?

No.
Continue reading

35 Days to 35: We have an E-Book! (Today is my birthday!)

After the triumph of last night, I could barely sleep! I woke up this morning early, and laid there for a few minutes, thanking God for making the deadline. My grumbling tummy forced me to get up and make breakfast before I went to work on the e-book. I had sausage, eggs, Dr. Pepper and thin mints.

Because it’s my birthday. 😀

Since this journey just isn’t a journey unless something goes screwy, the e-book took about three tries before I got the margins presentable, and the photos where they should be. I re-watched “Bringing Up Baby” to keep me company.

I think that the indention on the paragraphs is too far, but, I’m sorry, I just didn’t know how in the world to fix them. So I submitted it. It said it could take up to 12 hours to appear on the site, but as I sat down to write this entry (about three hours later) it appeared!

I can now officially say that I completely made my deadline of publishing this book by my birthday. It went from rejection to publication in 35 grueling days. When I committed to blogging about this process, I had no idea what I would talk about every day, or if anyone would be interested in reading. How wrong I was on both counts! The support from friends, new and old, has been incredible!

I’m a Pisces, so now we’re going to get to the inevitable sentimental part of the story. I think back to what my life was like 10 years ago, and it is staggering the amount of changes that have taken place.

In February of 2005, I was still trudging through college, one class per semester at a time. I had just been asked my one of my instructors to make a list of my ’10 year goals’. Ten years seemed like an eternity away. I don’t remember everything I wrote down, but I know the top three were:

3. Write/ act on stage
2. Act in a Movie
1. Write a book

At the time, I was also in rehearsals for my very first Coffee House at my local community theatre. I had written a show, and it was the first time one of my works was really seen by a large audience.  I had a good job, great friends, and a theatre I loved more than anything. But my life was very small. I don’t say that with a trace of snark or meanness. It was lived in a 16 mile radius of work, home, theatre. And it was a very good life. So I thought.

Then, three years later, in May of 2008, I lost everything. I mean that in a very ‘first world’ sort of way. After reaching the pinnacle of my career at my beloved theatre, things spiraled out of control very quickly. My very, very, very best friend in the world decided she no longer wanted to be my best friend. I lost the job I had held for 8 years, and I had a earth-shattering break with my theatre home.

No, I’m not going to name any of them, or divulge details. That is not the point of this. The point of this is to say that I was beyond heartbroken. So much so that I almost immediately came down with a combination of mono and strep throat. I felt, emotionally and physically, like the world was ending.

But it didn’t.

I can say whole-heartedly, that God was moving. It was in May of 2008 that my friendship with Rachael and Candy began. That summer, I went outside of my comfort zone to another theatre in another town, and met a group of wonderful, kind, and giving people, two of which (Hannah and Tim) would end up becoming a huge part of my life. That fall, I created a traveling theatre group with Rachael and Brian and we were active for a couple years. This is how I met Ben, who has also become a significant person in my life.

Because of Rachael, in 2009, I had my first part as an extra on a movie set, and a year later, in 2010, I was hired as a Production Assistant, where I met Tyler. It was with the money I earned that summer that Rachael and I pooled our resources and began the “No Lost Cause” journey.

We all know what happened then. Or at least, you will if you read the book! 😉

That is a very truncated way to tell you that Life, for me, has never, ever been easy or simple or uncomplicated. Every time things seemed to be looking up (We got book publication!) the bottom would drop out. (Never mind!)

But you know what? With every change, my world kept expanding. After having a life long irrational fear of flying, I had to fly in a plane to get to my first film festival. There, I met Joel, the man who would distribute my first film, and open my life up on a world-wide scale.

Because of him, I came home and made another movie. I wrote and directed and played the lead role. One of my pivotal scenes needed a high school, where I met Russell (and then Jill) who have taken me in with open arms and given me a theatre to call my home. I started this blog as a way to bring awareness to our films and projects, and I’ve ended up making new friends in other countries! (Hi Josephine and James!)

People have floated into my life at just the right moments, and in just the right way to help me through a particular time or experience. (Kristen, your compassion during the days of Sammy and Deana will never be forgotten.) Some of them floated back out, but others have stayed and taken root.

I’m sure I’m telling all this very badly, because I’m on a semi-cloud of happiness, and I tend to write better when I’m morose. I’m saying all the above to say this. If you read this hot mess of a series from the beginning, you know that I did not reach this goal because I’m particularly smart (in fact, had I been a bit smarter, I probably could have done this faster!) I’m not tech savvy, or arrogant enough to think I could do it on my own.  I asked for help when and where I needed it,(Rachael, Jillian and Josh!!!) and I cried when I didn’t think things were moving fast enough or the right way. (Thank you, Mom and Nancye for the endless encouragement).

But I never gave up. I can’t believe how similar the process of actually printing this book has been to the process of making the film. Spoiler alert. We made a movie almost the exact same way as I got this book printed. We never, ever, ever gave up and we pressed on until we reached our goal.

Was it easy? No, but nothing really worth having ever is.

So to you, my friends and readers I say: If there is anything, anything, that is weighing on your heart right now, that you want to do, but are scared of….do it. Please do it. If things turn out badly, or they don’t turn out the way you think they should, keep going. Keep working. If your life falls apart, maybe it’s what needs to happen before you can really have a break through. It was for me. Heartbreak was the catalyst that catapulted my life into another dimension. One that I love more than anything.

Now, I sure don’t want to relive the heartbreak, but I can say that I’m very, very grateful that it happened. It won’t be the last one, I’m certain of that, but I know enough now to trust that God is working it all out for my good. (Rom. 8:28).

It has taken me ten years, but today, I finally get to mark off my number one life goal.

I wrote a book.

If I can do it, I’m really, really certain that you can too.


http://www.amazon.com/Why-Not-Philosophy-Learned-Raptors-ebook/dp/B00U1M2QKO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424977605&sr=8-1&keywords=ashley+raymer-brown


Right at 35 days before my 35th birthday, Rachael and I found out that a book we wrote about our experience making our first film “No Lost Cause,” was being returned to us by the publisher after a year of waiting for it to be printed. Instead of wallowing in our collective misery, I committed to blogging every day while I searched for ways to overcome this perceived rejection and obstacle to our goal. I currently also have about three other projects brewing at the same time, and write about the progress of each of them. This is the final entry in that series.

Read the first entry here: https://ashleyraymerbrown.com/2015/01/23/35-days-to-35-dealing-with-rejection/

35 Days to 35: The Last Gift (1 more day)

Today is my last day as a girl in her ‘early thirties’ and it promised to be a long one. It’s also one of my six toilet days, so after the alarm went off at 6:00 a.m., I immediately grabbed my phone to see if the review process had been completed yet. I had gotten an email at 1 a.m. inviting me to proof my book again.

I knew I needed to get ready for work, but I REALLY wanted to go submit the book. I hurried through my shower and breakfast in order to submit it before I had to leave. The cover looked GREAT. Nothing was cut off, and I quickly flipped through the other pages to make sure they were all still okay. They were.

I submitted the book with more glee than I care to reenact at this time. I was then directed to the Kindle page, where I had to fill out a bunch of information and was again informed that even the e-book wouldn’t be an instant process.

Fearing I’d be late for work, I closed the file and vowed to finish up tonight.

Throughout the day, I kept checking the Amazon site to see if they had posted the paperback book yet. Even though they said it could take up to 3-5 days, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done earlier? Right?

It wasn’t.

Mid-way through the work day, I began to feel sneezy/yucky. I decided it was probably stress (from what, I can’t imagine) and I decided that right after I finished uploading the e-book tonight, I should turn in early and actually get some rest.
………..
Let’s all share a quiet chuckle together, shall we?
……….
I submitted the e-book, and when it came time to preview, some of the photos showed up, while the others just had a giant red X instead of a cute dinosaur. I noticed it was only my Mom’s illustrations.

I texted Rachael, who asked:

“Are they all in .jpg format?”
“Of course! I made sure of that! Why would it be incorrect in the e-book format if it worked in the paperback format?”

(We all know why. Because why. not.)

“Hmmm..that doesn’t make sense. Double check.”

So I did.

They weren’t in .jpg format.

I had accidentally saved the photoshop files instead. So I flattened them, uploaded the book and previewed it again.

Now the margins were off on my quotes. I sent it to a couple friends, one who assured me it was fine, another who said it was definitely off-putting.

😦

As I was waiting for various things to upload, and to hear back from texts telling me if the margins looked okay, I decided to begin this blog. I’ve been writing it off and on for about an hour now. I got halfway through and noticed that it was 9:45 p.m.

I sighed. Way too late to get an ‘early’ night sleep. I decided to finish this blog and work on the e-book tomorrow. Before I shut down the work computer, I refreshed the Amazon page…

It’s there.

The e-book may not be done, but the paperback is online. It counts.

I made it. The last gift of my 34th year is that I made it. I made the deadline. With one day to spare.

I sat silently for a few minutes, thanking God for the phenomenal feeling of accomplishment. I also may or may not have cried a little.

Friends, for those of you who have followed me through this journey, I thank you. If you could, please do me the gigantic favor of visiting my Amazon page.  Even if you don’t buy the book (but I’d really like it if you did!) bask in the glow with me of knowing that within 35 days, my book went from cancelled to published.

Lest this ‘published author’ become too prideful, Henry came up to me, meowed, and promptly sneezed on my leg.

Somehow, that’s so fitting for this triumphant moment.

😀

http://www.amazon.com/Why-Not-Philosophy-Learned-Raptors/dp/1508557004/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424912517&sr=8-1&keywords=ashley+raymer-brown


Right at 35 days before my 35th birthday, Rachael and I found out that a book we wrote about our experience making our first film “No Lost Cause,” was being returned to us by the publisher after a year of waiting for it to be printed. Instead of wallowing in our collective misery, I committed to blogging every day while I searched for ways to overcome this perceived rejection and obstacle to our goal. I currently also have about three other projects brewing at the same time, and write about the progress of each of them. This is part of that series.

Read the first entry here: https://ashleyraymerbrown.com/2015/01/23/35-days-to-35-dealing-with-rejection/