Hello Friends! As we all say goodbye to another year, I like to reflect on people and things that took place over the year to offer not only praise to huge influences, but also lessons learned, sad loss and great memories. Tomorrow I will release another writing to feature new plans for 2016! For now, here is my 2015 in review…
In my business world, 2015 saw my film festivals & entertainment branch into new regions. We debuted the Horror in the Hills & Smoky Mountain Film Festival in Gatlinburg, TN. The events were small, but we did break ground and generated some new interest leading into the new year. One upset for the year was the Afterlife Paranormal Conference & Film Festival that was to take place in another new region for us, Gettysburg PA. Unfortunately, we were forced to do an online awards only festival due to lack of people able to make the event. We have taken a great lesson from this situation and are implementing new ways to prevent that from ever happening again. The Chicago Paracon & Film Festival had a double booking issues on the part of the venue, but we were able to downsize the event and reschedule in order to keep it going. On the brighter side, all other events went well and we proudly put over 200 independent films on screen and provided over 100 awards to deserving filmmakers! For this alone, I call it a successful year. It was also a true privilege to induct Wolf McKinney, Anita Nicole Brown, Michael Schmid and Dragon Alexander into our Breaking Fate Hall of Fame this year.
I also held open auditions in Gatlinburg, TN for the very first time back in February and met many amazingly talented individuals from the area. “Did I Scare You” became my first film produced in the Smoky Mountains area as well. It was great to work with some already established film family from Chicagoland as well as some new faces from the Smoky Mountains region. This year we world premiered “What in the Sam Hill”, “Guardianship” and “A Woman And A Gun”. Several of our films were selected by various film festivals in different parts of the country and we even brought home a good number of awards. The award I’m most honored to have this year was presented to me by Randy Lee Beasley at The Smokey Night Film Festival for Best Actor in the film “Gordon Finn”. This is my very first time winning a Best Actor award and it is the first time I’ve really ever received any major acknowledgement for my work as an actor. A very close second was a simple Thank You award presented to me by my dear friend and actress Anita Nicole Brown to honor my commitment to the Indie Arts. With all of that said, the absolute biggest efforts in our film work have been in the production of my feature film “Sister of the Wolf”. Over half of the film is now shot and man was getting that accomplished a HUGE undertaking. We have yet to get it completely wrapped up, but we have been working on plans for that to happen in 2016 finally and for good.
This year I signed with Talent Trek Agency in Knoxville, TN in effort to get more acting work in television. TTA is a great organization that I unfortunately haven’t been able to take great advantage of yet. I was in Chicago filming “Sister of the Wolf” through much of the busy season. Hopefully 2016 will see more things from my new relationship with TTA.
PERSONAL / PEOPLE
I’m a guy with thousands of acquaintances and few truly close friends. Both of which I truly appreciate greatly and can never express enough gratitude to. I’m going to take a moment to acknowledge just a few individuals who have had some kind of major impact on me either personally or professionally in 2015…
Dixie Belle & Bethany Madison – My daughters. You both give me purpose in ever single day, when I would feel I have none otherwise on many of days. You are my heart and soul and always my number one above all else. I love you both so much and take great value in every moment we have together. I thank you both for simply being the sweet, understanding, passionate, loving, creative and beautiful girls that you are. You make me so very proud every day and I tear up writing this because of how honored I am to be your father. You are both by far the best thing to ever happen to me in my life. I love you both.
Mikka Rosen – We somehow managed to make 7 years together this year. It is amazing to think we have been together that long… Time just slips away. I know we have seen our struggles, as any relationship does, but I have to thank you for making sacrifices along with me and continuing to stand by my side through both the good times and the bad. I love you very much and can’t imagine you not being my family. Thank you for sharing in moves, holidays, family events, financial headaches and creative projects. I love you!
Clarisse Behr – We have known each other for a few years now and it has been awesome to see our friendship grow so much in 2015. I easily call you one of the closest people to me right now even tho we are hundreds of miles apart. Thank you for being there for me so much this year and dedicating so much of your time and heart to making me happy. I love you!
Wolf – What a hell of a year we have shared. I think you and I both will agree that 2015 has been a hell of a challenging year and it is easy to say good riddance. Regardless of the people lost, health battles and major struggles, I know damn well that it would have been 10 times worse without you to share the battles with. Thank you for being family. Much love brother.
Britney Gavin – Bitch, I love you! Thank you for being the best in bestie this year! I’m excited to have you living much closer again and hope to see more of you in 2016.
Suzzanne & Alex – Thank you for letting me be the star of the new series “Living in Suzzanne Monk’s Basement”! I was made to feel like family as I invaded your home for two months and I’m forever grateful for your hospitality and wide variety of wigs & accessories! Much love to you both and Happy New Year!
Nicole Rose – RIP Beautiful… You were such a huge personality in a little body. I have always had the upmost respect and love for you. I’ve shed many tears for you this year both before and after you left this world for a greater place. Watching you battle for so long was a true display of the strength that you have always possessed. You made such an impact on my life and that of many others who also loved and adored you. I look forward to seeing you again one day. RIP Love.
Michael Wexler – Thank you for the several years of random phone calls and text messages in effort to simply brighten my day or make me laugh. Thank you for being in my directorial debut film. Thank you for sharing the screen with me. Thank you for hosting my festival event. Thank you for going the extra mile to benefit what I do. And thank you for being a very positive person in my life offering nothing but the best in laughter and friendship. RIP Wex.
Ann Sheehan – I think this year we truly learned a lot more about each other and things we never knew we had in common. It has been a great experience to know I’m not alone with some things and that you can be called on anytime needed. It is even more an honor to be able to offer that same support to you. I wish you nothing but joy and happiness in the coming year. Much love.
Chuck Winstead – Thank you for being the one person to truly help me find my place here in the Smokies. I appreciate all of your efforts in my film and festival work here in TN. I would have not been able to pull off the things I have here without your help, support and friendship. I thank you repeatedly for the friendship and projects that we share. Happy New Year to you and cheers to another year of films, festivals and friendship to come!
Dragon Alexander – Forever the most helpful, thoughtful, ever-giving and selfless person anyone could ever know. Thank you so much for not just being a part of my life and career, but for being a true friend. Warm wishes for a better 2016 full of friends, films and fun!
I could really go on and name off 4 or 5 times as many people.. But I am just going to highlight these great individuals and send my blessings to all others as well. Tomorrow I will make another blog post about plans for the upcoming year including films, festivals, business, adventure and more. With that, I wish you all a very Happy New Year! May it be filled with all the love, enjoyment, life lessons and entertainment you seek. ~ Willy