Thursday, August 4, 2011

Remembering Susan...

Holy Crap. Summer is two thirds passed.

No time to blog what with all the corporate video work, family stuff, little trips here and there and finally.....

I am so close to finishing the film, I can taste it. While it is tasting good, it is a bit daunting to finally put it out there.

It has been five years since I started it and have been blessed with getting extremely talented, dynamic people to be in it as well as to work on it.

I can't wait to showcase the stories of these inspirational women who I have had the honor of training with and getting to know as friends. I know they will be in my life forever and for that, I am grateful.

On the other hand, I am nervous about revealing my own personal story since I "went there" and am being completely honest about some events that happened in my life that most people don't know about. Also, about certain feelings that I have that I am not proud of.

Yes, almost all of my work contains autobiographical elements, but it's still difficult to separate myself from the story enough to put it out there...if that makes any sense. I suppose the amount of time that has passed while putting together the film is helpful in this regard.

My last film, "Stripped," took seven years to make so I suppose I am getting faster as a filmmaker.

I was forced to revisit that film and that time in my life last week. One of the girls in "Stripped" went missing the day after I interviewed her. That was 15 years ago. Her name was Susan Walsh and all of the cop shows, Unsolved Mystery shows and even talk shows did stories on her disappearance.

Susan was a writer who was stripping to pay the bills, support herself and her son who was twelve at the time. She had just lost twelve years of sobriety because she found it too painful to "dance" without the alcohol. She was also bipolar, off her meds and flirting with extremely unsavory characters - drug dealers and people who claimed to be in "the mob." Basically, she was on a downward spiral that ended the way most downward spirals do. The fact that they never found her body has always bothered me.

There is a new show on the Discovery Channel called "Disappeared" and they wanted to do a story on this 15 year old cold case so they called me in for an interview. I have not had to talk about this in a very long time. In one way, it was great to remember my experiences with Susan, how smart she was, what a talented writer she was, and how funny she was. On the other hand, I could feel her pain of having to work as a stripper when she was completely over it. My theory is that you can have your journey with that kind of work. You use it until it uses you. When it starts to use you, you need to get the hell out. Otherwise, bad things happen. In this case, it was a really bad thing.

During the two hour interview, I realized that while time has passed and the pain of losing her has subsided over the years, I could still feel her spirit and remember the way she draped her body over a chair when she sat, how she gingerly lit her cigarettes or laughed shaking her hair out of her eyes. In a strange way, it was kind of like a visit with her.

Documentary films are time capsules filled with people and events. While they suck as a business, real stories keep drawing me in. I don't know what I'll be interested in next. Right now, I still love boxing, female fighters, teaching little girls how to box and getting to know all the personal stories of those involved in the fight biz.

Being attracted to the extreme has its setbacks, but the rewards of getting to know the people in these subversive worlds is priceless.


  1. Such a heartbreaking story. Poor Susan.

    On a lighter note, if your film work shows the same passion and compassion that you've shown in your writing, then I don't doubt it will be great.

  2. What a painful story...

    And as I mull it over, I find myself feeling grateful that there are people in the world like you who are telling those stories, with all their points of beauty and pain.

    I'm very much looking forward to hearing about your newest film. Please don't hesitate to let me know if I can help by publishing information about it!