Updated: Feb 15
Family of Filmmakers with 2e Children Produce Documentary, “O’Kelley Legends: 2e Behind the Scenes”
Tell me a little about your background? Where are you originally from and how did that journey lead you to where you are located today?
I’m originally from Miami Florida. My college journey took me through majoring in education and psychology, before finally landing in Communications, Television, and Film at Cal State Northridge.
My husband’s journey was similar, but his passion for filmmaking led him to graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin. While he wrote and directed a pair of award-winning student films in grad school, I focused more on the business end of the entertainment business, thinking I might end up as an entertainment attorney.
What did you and your husband do before you became a family of filmmakers?
Both my husband and I have always worked in TV and films— I worked as an actress first, then as a script supervisor, eventually writing and directing my own projects. My husband, Brian, worked his way from PA to 1st AD.
What inspired you and your family to be actors/ filmmakers?
While we are all inspired by watching movies, we are all a little different in our motivations and passions. I’m inspired to create movies that make you think, where my husband has more of an appreciation for the art and craft of films. My son, Jordan, is more into film criticism and the study of film. My daughter Macey is a writer and storyteller; her twin sister Rachel likes bringing all of the elements of making a film together as a producer.
As it works out, I’m the only actor in the group.
What are some of the things your family loves about filmmaking? We all love the collaboration and community that comes with creating a film, and the opportunity for individual growth that comes with accomplishing something bigger than yourself.
What are some of the struggles and hurdles that your family has encountered as filmmakers?
One of the biggest struggles has been to find internships for minors on professional film sets. We wanted to create our own productions to provide opportunities for them and their friends to learn and to bring in mentors to support them in acting, casting, writing, script editing, producing, lighting, audio, and set decoration.
You have a unique family of filmmakers. Can you tell me about what makes your family so unique?
What makes our family so unique is that we are all “2e” or “twice-exceptional.” We all have our strengths, but we also all have disabilities that we have to constantly overcome and work through.
Are you involved in anything that will help bring awareness to your unique family unit?
Our documentary, “O’Kelley Legends: 2e Behind the Scenes” looks at creating a twice exceptional-friendly theater production experience for 2e students. Besides bringing awareness to what being twice exceptional is, we wanted to explore how we could take the anxiety out of auditioning and performing for this population by supporting these students in the process of putting on a show.
Tell me about each family member and what role do they play in creating your films?
What other things is the family involved in? How does your family overcome challenges together as a family unit?
Our involvement is a little different for each project, as our kids are still learning different aspects of filmmaking. For the documentary, Rachel did outreach, social media, and was our line producer, while Macey was our utility PA during filming and then more of a creative producer during post. Both were ages 12-14 at the time. Jordan was the subject of the documentary, and he and I wrote and directed the monologue show we were documenting, at age 13.
I directed the documentary, shot some of it, and was one of the executive producers. My husband shot, produced, and did a lot of the final editing as well. There were other crew and mentors who helped us and the kids in the show along the way. We filmed before COVID, but the post-process was all during the pandemic.
This past summer, the girls and I worked on location in Pennsylvania on Actor/Writer/Director Daniel Roebuck’s film, “The Hail Mary.” The girls were both PA’s, with Rachel interning in the costume department, and Macey in production sound, and well as taking still photos on the set, while I was in front of the camera on that film.
I think our love of visualizing, writing, and then creating a film as a family makes for a natural progression to problem-solve any challenge that comes our way. Our kitchen table often feels more like a writing room or a production meeting, with a lot of humor. Exploring in that creative space together helps keep our day-to-day lives more positive.
Now that we’ve talked about struggles, let’s talk about the opposite of that. What are some of the high points you’ve had in your journey so far?
I think one of the high points was when Jordan was 10, and he decided to write a book of funny short stories about our family, in order to get out of doing homework in 4th grade. We sat around the kitchen table cracking ourselves up over some of the ridiculous situations that we as parents put our kids through. He had a blast writing his own stories, and his plan to avoid writing weekly book reports worked! Plus, he ended up with a book of his own by the end of the year. We had no idea that that book would result in a second book, a monologue show, a podcast performance, a documentary, and two production companies. You never know where following your child’s lead will take you.
Does your family plan on creating films forever?
I’m sure our family will continue to make films for each other— It’s too much fun finding the humor in a little film for someone’s birthday or a Mother’s Day spoof. For us, it’s easier and more personal than buying a gift.
What are the family’s future plans regarding your filmmaking/acting? We are currently playing the film festival circuit with our documentary “O’Kelley Legends: 2e Behind the Scenes,” and spreading the word about 2e supports with our resource partner, the non-profit gifted organization, SENG, Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted.
We also have another short film that I co-wrote with actress Milda Dacy, which she stars in, called “It’s Another Season.” I directed it, Kevin W. Walker did the music, and Rachel edited and produced it.
Because of COVID we are mostly playing virtual festivals, but we look forward to our next in-person screening at the Borrego Springs Film Festival on January 14, 2022.
What project is your family working on right now, and when will it be released? We have many projects in different stages. Macey and I are currently writing, Jordan is writing and publishing articles, all three kids invest their money earned from peer tutoring in indie films to build their resumes as producers. And dad continues to work in commercials and TV as an assistant director to pay the bills.
If you could give advice to someone just starting off in the movie industry, what would it be?
My advice to someone just starting off in the movie industry is to find your strengths, your collaborators, and to follow your passions.
Meet as many people as you can and make as many different connections as possible. Try not to worry so much about getting paid when you start out because what you will learn and the people, you’ll meet can be much more important in the long run. Enroll anyone you can in your vision and dreams. Always be in gratitude and thank the talented people around you for their support and opportunities.
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