My award-winning short film, But I Do, portrays the true story of an insecure girl longing for romance who learns that she cannot be loved until she loves herself.
The storyline arose from a letter I received. A girl was traveling in Europe when she read my book and used it to change her life. The concerns she had before getting the book are shared by many of today’s young women. As a writer, I’ve done several university events. Each time, girls confide that they feel like they have to look and act a certain way to attract the men they desire. I always find this troubling, and explain that every girl has worth and appealing traits. What matters most is that she has confidence and is true to herself. Several girls asked me to convey this message in one of my videos. I was also asked to dance, so I combined the two requests.
Since there is no budget for my films, But I Do was unfunded. I stepped in as the creator, producer, director, choreographer and editor. I got all these positions because I had one stellar qualification…I was free! A talented composer donated his skills to create the music especially for it, and I helped. Some girlfriends who dance thought it would be fun to join in, and – once we got going – 92 volunteers came forward to generously donate their time, talents and venues.
Filming had to be done when businesses were closed, and on specific dates. This meant that the shoots went forward regardless of the challenges. There were many. For the ballroom finale, the fiancé of one dancer had just been killed, a principal dancer had a fever of 102, and I had a torn muscle in my back. Still, we all worked until the sun came up. When we were done, no one wanted to leave, and the dancer who was suffering the loss said that there was nowhere else he would have rather been.
When But I Do was completed, I put it on my YouTube channel and everyone agreed that if it only got two views that didn’t matter. What did was the great time we shared making it.
We were surprised by what happened next. But I Do won the Royal Reel Award for Film Excellence at the Canada International Film Festival.
Then I was honored at the Los Angeles Movie Awards for directing it…and joined a group that has included Ron Howard, Samuel Jackson, and Hayden Christensen. Besides the fact that they’re famous, there is one minor difference between the other winners and me:) Their staffs, from crew to catering, were experienced professionals. Mine consisted of friends who volunteered, and catering was when I shared a bag of mini Milky Way candy bars.
After that, But I Do was chosen for opening weekend at the Toronto Independent Film Festival…“A headline event for micro and no-budget films.” With our Milky Way candy bar budget, I’d say we fit that description! This festival runs alongside TIFF, a star-studded extravaganza. But I Do won Best Music Video.
Here’s a video I made that captures the adventures I had while in Toronto for both festivals.
Shortly thereafter, But I Do was showcased opening weekend, and won three awards at an international film festival supported by the U.S. and French cultural centers. The initial screening was in Jakarta. One award was for the overall film and the other two were given to me as best producer and best actress.
And here’s a behind-the-scenes video of the making of But I Do.
I cannot thank my cast and crew enough. I love you all!