Real-Time Distribution Case Study & 30-Week Challenge

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Here it is, the challenge that awakens all my nerves and makes my synapses squirm, spark and run for cover. My numbed brain demands, “What the *&^% are you thinking?”

For the next 30 weeks, February 1 until August 31, 2019, I will write one blog post per week documenting my personal journey releasing our 4th film, Phoenix, Oregon — a real-time case study with all the bumps, joys, embarrassments, successes and stumbles. None of this “case-study-after-the-fact” business. I have big aspirations but no idea if we will succeed. As a filmmaker, I wish this type of guide existed.

I’ll post weekly on Tuesdays. In next week’s first official post (of 30), I’ll share the current status and our goals, hopes and dreams for the release.

To many, this challenge may be ho-hum and silly, less interesting than the dark winter campouts of challenge #1. But for me, camping is a breeze beside this absolutely monumental task. A bear in the woods looks like a kitten compared to the dangers of online exposure. I might spend a lot of time “ under the covers” these next six months, recovering from an introvert’s vulnerability hangover. If I’m missing, you know where to look.

My last 30 week challenge started as a birthday present to myself, a gift to get back to nature. Little did I know that the real gift would be in the act of making & keeping the commitment.

This new challenge will end on my birthday, a reverse birthday present if you will, when this ordeal ends.

I enter this challenge with faith and trust. A large part of me absolutely does not want to write, but within the fear and uncertainty, I suspect a true gift lurks waiting to be discovered.


For weeks, the idea of this challenge has been chasing me, running up behind me, clawing at me, racing up from my guts, wrapping electric adrenalin tendrils throughout my brain.

Scaring me. To. Death.

Yet not letting me go.

Until I face it.

Damn it.

The fear started as I documented a few of my camping trips.

I wrote. And people read the posts. It felt weird, vulnerable, unexpected.

So I stopped writing.

Then came that niggling in the back of my brain to lean towards the fear…


Gary & Annie on-set. Photo credit: Mary WilkinsKelly

For 25 years, Gary and I have been striving to make and release art. Many of you have witnessed and come along side us in our endeavors. Sometimes there is great joy. Often we push a boulder up the hill, and it comes tumbling back down on our heads.

I’m not afraid to be transparent or document our struggles.

It’s more a fear of sharing our private journey releasing art into the world.


writing about art
 is personal.
 it delves into feelings about
 god, beliefs
 how i feel people should treat each other
 personal convictions
 inner soul

words cheapen
and don’t do justice
not even to a small degree

i’ll document the release
as we go
and out will come my fears
and my joys and excitements
of which there will be so many

i operate on a roller coaster

this is much more personal
and private
than a camping trip

the nights spent camping fill my soul.
as much as art.
but they are without the vulnerability

most can agree on the beauty of a sunset
or the moon dipping into the blackness of a mountain lake

yet not all agree on the heart strings of art
the melancholy tears


sometimes people tell me i’m brave
i do believe that often i am
it’s a core value i treasure
along with hope and kindness

yet my bravery grows from deep fear,
an earned bravery

because i value courage,
i find myself pulled towards my fears

sometimes it takes years and years

as with facing public exposure,
or facing the release of a film, a piece of art.

i am a behind-the-scenes,
behind-the-camera type person
never public

i keep my thoughts to myself
i lead in silence or by doing

in leading the release,
in sending the film into the world,
i face some of my biggest fears

let’s be clear

i am scared
shaking-in-my-boots, butterflies-in-my-tummy scared
heart-pounding, brain-numbing, blurry-eyes scared
frozen, easily-shaken, hiding-under-the-covers scared

in case you might protest,
i’ll admit i’m less scared than at any time in the last 10 years
after all, i’ve made the 30-week challenge commitment
so something is certainly shifting

there will be a point later this year
where people tell me i am brave.

and i’ll point them back to this moment
and remind them where i started.


Whatever comes of this, I will grow. I will face fears. In the end, that might be the gift. Happy half-birthday to me.

♡ Annie


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