The Bentonville Experience

We premiered Lez Bomb to two sold out audiences at Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival last week. It was an incredible experience. About 20 of my nearest and dearest flew in for the premiere and we all got to celebrate in the charming town of Bentonville. I had no idea what to expect dropping the Lez Bomb in Arkansas, but Bentonville was straight up charming as hell, and at times mystical. The audiences were rowdy with laughter, supportive, and had a ton of questions. I’m pretty sure a handful of them thought they were seeing a french film called “Les Bomb,” but they were pleasantly surprised by our dysfunctional family ensemble comedy, Lez Bomb.

First and foremost – the food! My wife has celiac disease, so we were ecstatic when we discovered The Preacher’s Son, which is a restaurant inside what used to be a church. The ENTIRE menu is gluten free. The food was fantastic. So fantastic in fact, in the week we were there I believe we went a total of 4, some of us 5 times. In the basement of the restaurant is a speakeasy, where I had the chance to drink and chat with Geena Davis. Every bit of my A League of Their Own dreams came true!

Lez Bomb ended up winning the best narrative film jury award, which was an amazing experience in itself. But the entire week – I was overwhelmed with gratitude for meeting many inspiring and passionate people, and getting to share the experience with so many members of the Lez Bomb team, along with family and friends. It felt like a second wedding!

We released a clip of Lez Bomb last week on DEADLINE:

I look forward to sharing more information regarding the film in the near future.

Dream Big

“Dream Big” has been circling my mind. One of hashtags the Bentonville Film Festival is using is #DreamBigBFF.

As actors, writers, directors, artists, all who reach for the unknown looking for ways of expressing the depths of the imagination, the phrase “dream big” becomes an endeavor; in dreaming big, artists try and take that dream, and actively translate it to an audience with their medium of expression.

These dreams and expressions hopefully reveal truths. Once those truths reveal themselves, we can let go of that particular dream, which is sometimes more difficult than the actual creation of it in the first place.

On this springtime Friday filled with dreaming, I’m rereading Prospero’s speech in Shakespeare’s The Tempest:

Prospero:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Being “…such stuff As dreams are made on…” one of the trickiest things to learn is having the passion to dream, the perseverance to take that dream and turn it into reality, and then the discipline to let go of that creation that will, like our life, dissolve.

Bentonville Film Festival

Lez Bomb will premiere at the Bentonville Film Festival the first week in May.

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A few weeks back I had coffee with a mentor. She asked if I could remember being excited about Lez Bomb. Finishing the script, getting funding, attaching cast, shooting the film, finishing the edit, getting accepted into festivals. The opportunity for excitement and the victories along the way are endless. But so are the hurdles. It’s often the hurdles that blind us and prevent celebrating the victories. Then we forget the victories even happened. Our perception becomes blurred by stress, holding on to the negative, instead of celebrating the small wins along the way. This mentor told me she thinks she missed the opportunity to enjoy the big moments as they happened; she was too wrapped up in anxiety.

The conversation with her was a gift, a reminder, to take each step with presence. Otherwise it’ll all blow by and be a mere memory. A memory colored by anxiety instead of gratitude.

I think endlessly of story and our innate ability to script our life’s authentic narrative. As Lez Bomb begins its festival journey, I hope to script the journey grounded in presence. Making the festival run about connecting with people, visiting new places, enjoying new experiences, and telling stories along the way while hearing others. I’d hate to miss this story, because I was too wrapped up in the pressures surrounding the one already filmed.

Intentions

We’re getting ready to show Lez Bomb at festivals.

Holy sh*t, people are going to finally see this thing. 

And with that, fear creeps in. At lighting speed. “I’m fucking terrified.”

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As my teacher so succinctly put, I had/have an intention. And I’ve stuck to it. That’s the grounding root of this tree, reaching far below the unpredictable surface of this industry.

Having a clear intention provides stability when externalities come flying into the equation. Another teacher of mine once said when he teaches a yoga class, after class, when people say “I enjoyed your class,” he always responds in a way that takes it away from himself. “I’m glad you enjoyed class.” There’s a subtle difference, but in putting the enjoyment on the other, (vs. “‘I’m glad you enjoyed my class”) it takes his ego out of the equation. He teaches with intention. Whether or not the students enjoyed the class is outside his control.

We can’t control responses. We can control mindfully taking each step forward with intention. I have to remind myself daily. With the weekend upon us, I encourage one mindful step at a time. Happy walking.

Fair Lila Films

There’s a quote from the Bhagavad Gita that reads [accordingly to this particular translation] “You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.”

With intention and effort we work and strive. But there are countless externalities that come into play that determine the results of our actions.

I’ve spent the past few months coming up with the concept for my production company name, logo, and animation with the fantastic [I could not recommend more] Zoe Filutowski. I bounced the name “Fair Lila Films” around with my lawyer, wife, family, friends, managers, whomever would listen. The word ‘fair’ in the title is taken from the motel my grandfather built and my mother’s run for the past 27 years. I like the word ‘fair,’ because there’s karmic implications within it. And Lila, well – it’s my favorite sanskrit word, which has many meanings, but to keep it brief – “divine play.” Seeing this world as a divine play, where we’re all playing our part.

Here’s the animation we landed on, music done by the amazing PT Walkley, who also was the composer for Lez Bomb.  In creating Fair Lila Films, I hope it always serves as a reminder that energy put into work & storytelling can only be done with focus, intention, and aiming for the stars. But in the release of the arrow, we have to let go, and trust the dust will settle as it should.

Eight Years of Lez Bomb

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After eight years, my first feature was completed yesterday afternoon. EIGHT YEARS! I realized I drafted the first version of the script that long ago, and it’s taken a near decade to make the film a reality. The editor, the sound mixer, and I listened for any last minute sound adjustments before we printed the mix. I was reluctant to say “Okay. We’re done.” But the moment came, and we finished.

Looking back at the eight years, I can see the many miraculous dots it took to connect in order to reach this moment. There were countless seemingly random encounters that led to relationships, that led to miracles and doors opening. But I think the most important factor in the eight years, was in fact, the amount of time it took to make Lez Bomb. Had I made the film eight years ago, it would have been a very different film. The first draft was confused, emotional, in turmoil, and jam-packed with all the emotions of coming out. What the eight years allowed was the necessary time it took for me to settle into my sexuality with comfort, pride, a sense of ease, and the ability to look back at the process through a comedic lens.

Coming out seemed one of the most difficult things I had to navigate. Dealing with expectations, my own being the loudest, and my future not matching with what I had imagined, was a challenge. But it ended up being the greatest gift. It’s through experiences that force us to confront who we are and what happiness personally means to our own unique soul that force us to grow into the best version of ourself.

Over the past eight years and well over a hundred drafts of Lez Bomb, I can most certainly say that coming out may have took some time, but was well worth the wait and reflection. It’s given me the strength to tell a story and hopefully spread a bit of love and laughter.

Girl Night Stand

Girl Night Stand

The internet has been a crazy landscape these past two weeks for one of my projects. About a week ago we released my short film GIRL NIGHT STAND on After Ellen and had some incredible feedback. Everyone loves an awkward one night stand. Sexuality aside, those confusing emotions are universal. It’s the universality I’m interested in exploring. At the core, we’re all humans trying our best. And through comedy, an audience can be united in laughter.

After another featured article on Bustle, and then getting featured on Elle.be, I have to say – I’m just floored.  I’m beside myself with gratitude for the amazing support I’ve received from complete strangers helping and encouraging my feature Lez Bomb and the Lez Bomb team’s endeavor to get the film made.

Girl Night Stand from Jenna Laurenzo on Vimeo.

As most things in my life – this adventure started in a yoga class. I was deeply conflicted about directing Lez Bomb. Instead of focusing on my breathing and my practice on the mat, I was mentally going back and forth about whether or not I should direct the feature. I had gone through many conversations with potential directors, and there was always some reason that got in the way. I finally had to ask myself – should I just direct the piece myself? I had written and produced so much content in the past, and I had directed before.  But a feature?! My feature.  That’s scary.

My yoga teacher asked us all to grab two blocks and then asked us to kick up into handstand on the blocks.  I found myself afraid of kicking up.  But why? We were against the wall. Then I realized I didn’t want to fall – in front of who? The teacher? The class? “Oh my God, I’m afraid of falling! I’m afraid of failing!” I kicked up into handstand on those two blocks – successfully. I just sucked it up and mustered up the courage – who the hell cares if I fall?! And that’s how I decided to direct my feature. And short. I realized I was the only one holding myself back.

Thankfully I found two blocks, a handstand, and a little boost of courage. I’m terrified of directing an entire feature.  But sometimes we just need to confront fears – especially when they are self created, and kick upside down to gain new perspective.

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#Hiking and #handstand. Happy fall day. @aineod8

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