For much of my life, I’ve felt like an outsider. Growing up gay in small town Appalachia, I knew pretty early on that I didn’t quite fit in. Even in college as I found my tribe, I always felt more attracted to contrarian voices in the arts and in life. People like Neil Young, John Waters, or Todd Haynes who figure out how to make unique and challenging work in their own little corners of the sandbox. Working in LA after school, I also realized quickly that no one else I dealt with in the industry spoke like me, and my Southern accent often drew perplexed reactions from people surprised I might know what I’m talking about.
None of this is a complaint – I had a lot of head starts in life that have gotten me through any rough patches that pop up. But being an outsider has definitely informed who I am as a writer and as a filmmaker. While I’m as happy as anyone to curl up with an easy read of a novel or a light hearted romp of a TV show, when it comes to creating my own content I hope to challenge readers and viewers and to champion those whose voices are often overlooked.
I’ve been making films since 1999, when my friend Boris and I shot our first feature, Slick Lily Vs The Grand Canyon. Filmed on a shoestring budget of $2,300 with a cast and crew of amateurs, Slick Lily had a nice run as a festival favorite and was even chosen as an Honorable Mention for “Best Films of 2001” by The Commercial Appeal’s John Beifuss. From there, we co-wrote and directed another feature, Six Days in the Life of Mims, and I then pursued graduate studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). At SCAD I directed, produced, and crewed on several short films including my award-winning thesis “Push”.
After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles where I continued creating work. I wrote a feature script with Ziggy Marley entitled Marijuana Man that was later adapted into a graphic novel from Image Comics. I wrote and directed two festival shorts, Jehovah’s Badass and Push. I got ever so close to making a passion project, Gods and Robots. And I continued writing and developing both feature and episodic content.
I also used the time to enmesh myself in the heart of the film industry. I spent five years at Gersh, a top tier talent agency. As part of the Film Finance and Distribution division I worked directly with top writers, directors, actors, and producers across all phases of development, production and release. In 2012, I left Gersh to help start a new US Distribution Company: Ketchup Entertainment. At Ketchup I oversaw the acquisition and release of our initial slate of twenty plus films, as well as helping to structure our output deals across all platforms. Working in sales and distribution immersed me in actual business of connecting films with audiences – which has in turn informed my filmmaking and my overall approach to the medium.
Since leaving Ketchup in 2016 I’ve been actively producing feature films and directing documentaries. In the last few years, I’ve had six films I produced released theatrically and in home entertainment. Most recently, my film What Lies Below, which Braden Duemmler directed and for which I was awarded the Producers Guild “p.g.a.” mark as the single producer most responsible for production, had a fantastic run worldwide including opening at #1 on Netflix for North America and reaching #5 in the world. And we were thrilled to announce that AMC/Shudder acquired the Vang Brothers film They Live in the Grey and will release it in 2022 as a “Shudder Original”. Other highlights include the horror thriller Bedeviled (also with the Vang Brothers), the documentary Figures of Speech narrated by Chris Pine, and the 2016 drama Avenge the Crows starring Danay Garcia. I also directed the short doc “Conway Pride” which played festivals around the country in 2018-2019 and won multiple awards.
Currently, I’m living in Savannah, GA with my husband Joe. In addition to my producing, I’ve been teaching college for the last few years. After teaching stints at UCLA Extension and University of Central Arkansas, I’m currently mentoring amazing young filmmakers at Savannah College of Art and Design.