Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I think a writer spends most of their life in two stations, waiting to hear good or bad news, or creating. Often the only way I can handle the waiting is by creating something else. Moving on to the next project. Letters to Daniel was different in that it kind of took off without much effort on my part. I think I’ve said this before, I expected to maybe play a few small festivals and then self-distribute at scifi cons.

I say this next part not to brag, but to give some context. I’ve been writing since I was five years old. Looking for publication and representation since I was 18 and finally, through the small press found myself on the path I am now. I am thirty-nine. Given the hard work and the trial by fire I’ve been through I’d say through the power of this blog Letters to Daniel has given back to me more than I have ever given to it.
People have responded to these letters offline. People in business, those who suffer from bipolar disorder, and those who know or have loved ones who battle this disease every day. To say some have a harder road than others is not an understatement and probably is an oversimplification of just how difficult it is to go through the healing process.

Because if you have bipolar disorder you’re hit from all sides. First there’s the illness itself. It hits each person who has it differently. It’s almost as if you’re on a spectrum. The symptoms, when left untreated slowly rob you of everything you have and are. Some can become addicted to the grandiose highs that are often associated with the illness. Some, in a psychotic state will believe they are God or some other religious entity.

It never got to the point with me, but here’s my experience. Fifteen years ago people weren’t talking about mental illness. Bipolar disorder was still called manic depression and my only sources of information were Maurice Benard interviews where he and his wife talked openly of their struggles and triumphs and the internet.

Well I just got my first rejection where the film is concerned. Well, I’ll keep the business card of the entity involved. I never expected for this person to show any interest but she kept the door open for possible future projects. I’ll save her business card. I sent her a thank you email. I’m nothing if not professional. And she got back to me quickly. And even if none of the other leads pan out I can still play festivals and self-distribute as first planned.

Am I disappointed? A little, but I never expected to have the opportunity to begin with. Fifteen years ago, as I struggled to just get out of bed, to take care of myself, to do little more than to go to bed hungry and wake up hungry and get proper sleep, I never dreamed of the day when I would have put together a blog, a bestselling memoir, or even willed a documentary about my journey with the help of some wonderful people wasn’t even on my mind.

I am hopeful I will find an easier way for people to see my film. To get my message out. But as Marcel Cabrera told me, documentaries aren’t really about making money. And if you’re expecting to well, you’re in the wrong business. Mitch Gain at FILM-COM echoed those sentiments.

Here I am, in a much better place than I’ve ever been emotionally and professionally. So one person said no. If that is the worst thing someone says to me about my documentary then I consider it a win.

For everyone who is struggling with Bipolar Disorder, or knows someone with it, know that with medication and therapy recovery can be had. And in the end that’s the point of this film, for people to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s not an oncoming train, it’s hope for a stable future. And it can be had. I’m living proof.


Amy McCorkle

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dear Daniel Craig

Dear Daniel,

I’ve always wanted to be mentored. To make contacts. To move up the ladder. That’s not why I started this blog. I started this blog as a way to heal. It was an incredibly personal thing, that just sort of took off like a shot. I know when executives are looking at numbers that maybe 9K sound like a whole lot. For someone in my shoes it is.

I wasn’t looking for followers. I wasn’t looking to sell books. Not with this blog. It just sort of grew in that direction. What started out as a place for me to come and connect with my emotional truth. Or to vent. Or basically just show what a day in the life of someone with bipolar disorder is like has suddenly become something much bigger than me.

I wanted you to know that your work was like this light at the end of a very dark tunnel. And coupled with psychiatric treatment and therapy it became a way for me to feel along the dark walls and move forward even when I didn’t feel like moving forward.

As the light became brighter I had to trust that it was better world than the sickness had to offer and that it wasn’t a train of more of the same heading towards me. Things began turn around for me in 2011. When my first book Another Way to Die was contracted by MuseItUp Publishing it was inspired in part by Casino Royale and in part by the book The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. With a hero which at least physically looked like you. The character itself was completely of my imagining and not the least bit like you given I don’t know you and only know your work.

I went on to write and contract for 25 books. 13 are of them are out. 1 is due out this summer. All since 2010. I have been fortunate to win awards. 8 Preditor and Editor awards over the span of three years. A Moondance International Film Festival Semi-Finalist for 2012 and 2013. 2013 Fright Night Film Festival Best SciFi Screenplay Award Winner for Bounty Hunter. A double finalist for 2014 Fright Night Film Festival Screenplay Competition in both SciFi and Fantasy categories. (Will find out the weekend of Fandom Fest about whether or not I am a winner in either category.)

7x Amazon Bestseller with 5 different books, including the memoir based on this blog which hit #2 twice. And was the inspiration for the documentary I hope to find distribution for. The books are Bounty Hunter #9. Gemini’s War(Gemini Rising) first time #24, second time #9. GLADIATOR (The Gladiator Chronicles) #43. BLACKOUT (An Aurora Black Novel) #15.

And now I find myself with lots of hooks in the water for distribution and a mentor after Film-Com. Life is pretty damn sweet. Next Monday I find out if one of those distribution leads plays out. And that Tuesday I find out if any of mine and Missy Goodman’s scripts win or our Letters to Daniel is selected to screen or win at Indie Gathering.

FILM-COM is only in its fifth year and is growing by leaps and bounds every year. I got in near the ground floor. I would love to go again if I have a project. And save up enough so I can stay in the Hilton. (AS IF!) When you’re living on a $766 dollar a month budget and pull off a film and a trip to a big deal thing like this is something of a small miracle and is due in no small part to donations from friends, and family. The trip and packets and banners were all done on a $512 budget. And I have to say it was well worth it.

The people I met, Erica Wester you are so going places, people who were drawn to my documentary thank you so much. All this from a blog where I used you as my silent witness. To make it okay to open up and share my journey with bipolar disorder and abuse.

And Joel, thank you for everything. You made Film-Com worth the headache of Nashville traffic as Pam and I commuted from a hotel in Franklin to Nashville everyday and got lost except for the very last day lol.
I wish one day that I get to meet you. Not as some googly-eyed goofy fan, but as someone who has a cause. To show where your work has inspired me in my work. And has inspired me in how to unlock the creativity within, to heal the scars of mental illness through use of books, movies, television, psychiatry and clinical psychology.

These things all served a part in saving my life. As your work provided the key to finally unlock all of my dreams.


Amy McCorkle

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

Film-Com has come and gone and let’s just say. IT. WAS. AWESOME. From the panels with industry professionals to the expo where I really shined to the pitch where my anxiety got the best of me. It was all incredible. Except for the really shitty Nashville traffic. But even then the drivers were accommodating.
Unfortunately Missy couldn’t make the trip with me but Pam as usual was a great partner in crime who managed to work a little magic herself, for herself as well. And let’s not down play the adventures we had on the roadways through Garmin.

The panels were fantastic. Meeting Joel Eisenberg in person at 6:40 in the morning was fanfreakingtastic. The man had a low bullshit threshold and it was wonderful. He took the packet. Which included the documentary Letters to Daniel, a data disc with books, scripts, and treatments on it. A one sheet with the synopsis of each book. And two one sheets for Pam’s work and data disc with her work on it. He also took the memoir on which the documentary is based.

He was frank, fresh, and open and wanted to know about us. He let us talk as long as we wanted which honestly was nice because after coffee in the morning I can get a little chatty. Which led to the conversation about Bella Morte and he wanted me to talk to his editor at the time. Which was really awesome. And after I have some time to digest just what this last week really means to my career I’ll get on emailing all the people who gave me their business card. Which was A LOT.

Documentary distributors en masse it seemed came to my booth at expo and took a packet after pitched them Letters… Even people standing close by would somehow take a packet. TV people took my packet. I won’t name drop because well, it’s tacky. People liked my story of coming back from bipolar disorder and abuse. At the booth I was totally in my element.

Going up to Gary Badderley after the panel was intimidating but I knew I had to do it. My nerves were horrible. But then standing in front of someone who can get your message out in a much bigger way than you can be intimidating for anyone. Most everyone who said they were going to come by the table came by the table.

The actual ‘pitch’ was a disaster. CRICKETS. With the exception of one person asking questions. And asking if I had a booth. I know if she came it was after lunch break and after they went back in to hear pitches again.

I had to leave and breakdown at 2:30PM. Because honestly. I had worked it out with my psychiatrist that I pushed all of meds forward so that I would stay awake during the day. So I could do basically Wed 5-4 Thursday 6-4 Friday 9-2 and I pushed it out until 2:30. I still had 4 packets left. I took a gamble took the banners down, made sure the number 47 was still up. Left business cards and the packets.

I really wanted to stay, but the all out panic attack I had standing on the stage in front of the queen and king makers made the pitch total crap. The guy in charge I think pitied me and shook my hand and said, ‘it was a very nice pitch’. Who knows. Joel came in and said some very nice things about me. Which I really appreciated. But I felt like I had just blown my big chance. I mean everyone else was coming out saying we rocked it. We kicked ass. I wish I could say the same about the official pitch.

BUT. In just meeting people and encouraging them to come to my booth that’s where my real  comfort zone was and that was where I really shined. I felt like I was on top of the world there. Of course that could be the bipolar talking but, when the one executive who had responded in the pitch session to me had not come by 2:30 I had to go I could really feel the effects of my meds being pushed forward for that length of time. Erica Wester, wherever you are, thank you so much for taking on our table and looking for the executive with the hat and sundress on.

The anxiety was really strong and what I hope comes of this visit to FILM-COM are lots of things. Distribution first and foremost because it makes my second point all the more salient, I want people to get help. To not be afraid of the psychiatric community. To educate them and erase the stigma for those of us who have bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. And let those like me out there know that there is indeed hope, that you don’t have to live in darkness. And that help is indeed out there and joy and happiness can be had.


Amy McCorkle

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

As I sit here pushing ten o’clock in the evening east coast time I am less than 48 hours away from the official start of Film-Com. I have been busy prepping packets to hand out. Doing laundry to get packed. Getting banners and business cards ready to go. I even cleaned my room finally to make way for some possible hardware this summer and fall. Who knows, right?

Choosing to go to Film-Com was hard. As ecstatic as I was at the invitation I was paralyzed by fear. So I went back and forth as to whether or not to go. It was a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. People might want to buy or market my documentary.

Honestly when I decided to make the film in January I didn’t think anything would come of it. I thought I would show it at a few small to medium sized cons and film festivals. Never in a million years did I dream it would blow up so fast.

I just wrote on this platform how I felt, what I was going through, how I was getting there. And people responded. The blog became hard work in that after the first two months of writing virtually every day I felt burned out. I was promoting Gemini’s War, the first book in the Gemini Rising series. Getting ready for Fandom Fest last year.

Yet the blog was the one place I could go and be honest about how I felt about things. And as excited as I am to meet the executive and author at Film-Com I am scared that the whole thing could blow up in my face.
I have a completed film. A documentary. Where it was just me on this blog in the beginning I feel like the book and film were an exercise in different people in my life coming together to make a dream of mine come true.

Especially the film. My co-director, Missy Goodman also a producer and editor on the film Pamela Turner. A producer, editor, and all around Jill of All Trades on the production team. My Aunt Debbie and Uncle Frank for driving me to Lexington to record the sound files. My parents who provided their car for me to drive to the editing studio. To Mysti Parker, Tony Acree, and Ellen Elridge for all playing their role in getting me to Film-Com.

To think I would be entering the film world with a documentary? Not in a million years.

But now as I sit here less than 24 hours away from heading to Film-Com I have to thank those, at least anonymously who made my road infinitely more difficult than had it been something of an easier path.
Because of you I have a better movie. Because of you I am less dependent upon the past. Because of you I know sometimes people will let you down. But I also know that because of my therapist I don’t have to let these things define me and that ultimately my success is my own and that those I celebrate with truly deserve all of the accolades I heap upon them.

So many go without praise on my blog, but it’s not because they haven’t done their part in this.

Still, there are teachers along the way. Mrs. Vickers, Ms. Pompeii, Mr. Lee, Mr. Birdwhistle. And so many others I can’t possibly thank enough for being there when the world was eating me alive at that age. Then college. Richard, my debate coach for the first semester. I can’t remember your last name but I remember going to Lawton, Oklahoma and going to the all you can eat steakhouse. I remember you being shocked that I could ‘write’. Still I liked you. Making us sing on the trips we took.

I doubt you remember me, but I will always remember all of you. You all touched and saved my life in increments. If this film makes it I hope your memory is jogged and you come see it. Until then I hope you are content to know you saved this woman’s life.


Amy McCorkle