My initial reaction to the possible axing of film/entertainment offices and tourism groups in Florida. 

Last night I attended Tampa Bay Film Society’s general meeting and the big topic of discussion was HB 7005 (formerly PCB CCS 17-01). If passed, this bill will cause our industry to have a tax increase as well as abolishing Film/Entertainment offices directly effecting tourism/jobs. I haven’t been in the film society for very long, and I know I have a lot to catch up on before I can really discuss things. But today, I researched a lot on this topic, and now, I am speaking out because it is so important for the future of film in Florida. Here is my take on what I have read thus far and took notice of:

First of all, the person who is responsible for wanting to pass this bill and kill such things, seems to have nearly the same mindset and agenda as our now, well, leader. With having said that, the first line of business I see is that [he] wanted to get rid of is VisitFlorida after a certain event. I dug around the Internet for a while to read on this, and truth be told, I am highly disappointed in the VisitFlorida people. Here’s why:

A while ago VisitFlorida hired Pitbull to do a music video. They wouldn’t release details nor the amount of which he was paid. And, he was paid a LOT… to produce such a…well….let’s just say, to be fair here, I do like him, but VisitFlorida—really? Like, really? The video and the lyrics were ridiculous. Suuuuuure, it pictured Florida beaches up and down the coast and mentioned Florida. But… really? And they say they were trying to get Millennials to come to Florida.

I’m a Millennial—a different kind of Millennial—but still a Millennial and there’s no way that video would’ve convinced me to come here if I lived somewhere else. This is where I direct it to the film part…. If VisitFlorida wanted a tourism video or something about Florida, why in the world didn’t they reach out to film makers across the state? They could’ve shown the rest of the world that the state of Florida (aka a tourist-based company from Florida) supported local film makers by hosting a contest where they could’ve won portions of the money they spent on Mr 305. I mean, really. That alone would’ve been so good for the talent in this state, and maybe we’d get noticed again. I could see them splitting up and having a competition for each area where they’d find the best photos and video to put together in either one large video or several shorts and have some sort of documentary where they point out not only the best beaches, but the best local retailers and food of all of the area. Do you guys know how important that would’ve been? Had it been produced, and found by people either on Netflix, Hulu or even YouTube? If people of other states heard the stories behind certain locations (say mom&pop shops) or secrets to the hidden gems of Florida… I mean, not only would we support our own people, we’d get even MORE tourists here.. but, no.

Which brings me to the next point—I have learned in these general meetings that Florida isn’t very friendly towards the film industry due to having 0 incentives, which means, almost no production company wants to produce movies here without having something like that! According to Wikipedia, in 2006 our state used to be #3 in having movies produced here, and now, we’re not even near the top. This is sad. This means: lack of jobs for any one involved in the industry. Not only that but people are losing the chance to be enticed by seeing scenes of Florida in the movies/shows, and that’s one of the many things that drives tourism. Shortly after Dolphin’s Tale was released, it is very well known that Florida saw a rise in tourists. This is what Florida is all about—tourists—that’s what keeps money flowing in our state so why aren’t we being supported?!

Not only am I involved in as much of the arts side of things, but my other industry is the boating industry. Florida has a loooooot of beautiful beach towns, central locations, attractions and events that build up the audience to come here—among those—are having really large BOAT shows all throughout the year in several locations. People from other countries visit Florida just to go to these conferences that we have, the boat shows, or just to boat! They make money here, but they also spend it. So there are a TON of ways to get people here—but to take away certain avenues that might help—isn’t exactly the best decision.

My other alias is “BoatShowGirl” and in the near future I am going to want to use my film knowledge to develop a show about going to the boat shows in order to attract potential employees to the industry as well as future buyers of boats. Bringing newcomers into the state to fill empty jobs, creating more jobs because we can, and having a booming economy could develop from things such as these! Do you think that I want my dream (or someone else’s) to be killed over something like this? No, no, and no. We must fight to keep what’s right for us and the state of which we live in!

To play the devil’s advocate—I will confess that in a way I understand why some of this is going on—in certain people’s minds, they think that money is being hemorrhaged, and tax payer’s money shouldn’t be going towards one person’s paycheck (or things that doesn’t help the economy or community in a big way). I get that, and agree, however, is killing something so important going to do more harm than good? Probably, and that opens a whole other mess of where will all of that ‘saved’ money go? Does it get transferred into another one person’s pocket, or will be it be sent into the community to boost things there? These are the questions we have, as well as what will become of the film industry’s future, will we ever be supported again, and how well will tourism be over the next few years if such avenues disappear?

If you are interested in saving the film industry and reading what’s going on with this bill, you should look up HB 7005 (formerly PCB CCS 17-01) and read on it. I will definitely be doing more research as the days go on, and write more as I see fit.

Karen Maeby takes a vacation detour through the south prior to the Miami Boat Show.

The weekend before vacation. 

Since I started taunting the dudes about my vacation starting early on Friday, one of them found this voice translator and they’d type “Shut up, Karen” in response to my ‘only a few more hours until vacay!’. It was sooooo entertaining and it ended up being one of the best days. Sunday was the last of Modigliani and, as we put props away, I had all of the feels from the ending just like Summer One Acts.

Vacation started Monday, February 13th.

Monday was nothing to write home about. I had every intention on going to Matlacha but it ended up being a bust because I left home too late, and with it being a true beach town during busy season, it was nearly impossible finding a place to park. I drove through the town, seeing what I could see, turned around and left.

I decided to head on to Fort Myers Beach where they were doing construction in the middle of the heat of the traffic, so I drove around, and then went to check-in where I was staying.

One of my long time fears is having roommates or staying with strangers (and having to share common areas), so I overcame that by staying at an Airbnb place. They were a nice couple that had things in common with me, and a few cats so it was cool staying with animals. Bed was super comfy, in a purple room (which reminded me of my room back at my parents) and lots of TV channels which I took seriously since I don’t have cable!

Happy Valentine’s Day 

TREAT # 1

I went to bed watching Golden Girls and woke up to I Love Lucy, so it was already a great start to the day. A little before 11am, I left for Bealls in Fort Myers to go see Leoma Lovegrove. I barely made it to the entrance when I saw her car, walked in and saw all of her stuff right in front of the doors. No joke—there were {what seemed like hundreds} of people there! I purchased a ton of her things: 3 shirts, 1 jacket sweater, 2 fish purse things, and a scarf. There was a guy behind me that walked up to the cashier pretending to my grandpa, so I’d get a discount. That was hilarious.

 
 

Leoma came out, painted, and then people lined up for autographs. It was an amazing random experience, and I say random because I didn’t know about her for more than a week before I left on my vacation….and now, I am a huge fan!

TREAT # 2

A little bit in the afternoon, I left for downtown Fort Myers. I walked around in the Repertory Theatre shops that I saw when I was there last year for the Fort Myers Boat Show. I went to one of the shops and talked to one of the ladies that I remembered from the visit.

By that time, I walked up the guts to go into the tattoo shop that I passed in fear (I did extensive research on who had the best reviews)expecting to get another ear piercing (or tattoo, shhhh) but came out with my nose pierced.

I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone I really wanted a nose ring but I’ve wanted one for a long time, and I’m glad I did it. I was fearful for the pain I was anticipating, but it was so quick it didn’t really hurt at all. However, I did pass out for a second—I lost color in my face, had to drink several tiny cups of water, had a wet towel on my head, and then, a few minutes later I was fine. (I do this after an initial shock of something like this, so I warned the lady.) 

 Me wearing Leoma’s “Mozart” parrot shirt.

Afterwards, I walked back down town looking at some more shops, then to Ford’s Garage and had some food. This is where I found an amazing beer, banana bread beer. Yum!

 

    

 this is a really pretty ring I found but didn’t purchase.

TREAT # 3

Then, it was time. I saw the play To Kill a Mockingbird. Between reading the book when I was in school and watching the movie, I had forgotten some of the details, so I had so many feelings going through my soul at the very end.

    

Older Scout was the narrator telling the story, and when it was time for the actors to act it out—she would stand there and just watch her past unraveling. Everything about TKaM from the acting to the scene design—all of it was amazingly done. Seeing this as a play and seeing a play in the Rep Theatre were both dreams of mine that I was able to check off my list.

It was one of the best (if not THE best) Valentine’s I’ve ever had.

Wednesday, February 15th

From Monday’s traffic to Tuesday’s busy day, I was just so exhausted that I didn’t do anything that day but watch Lifetime movies, relax and pack up.

Thursday, February 16th

I get out of my Airbnb at a reasonable time, and hit the lovely Miami traffic, all the way to Marlin’s Park where I rode a bus to the main boat show site. I realized my badge was at the YMB, so I went there, spent very little time at that location, and headed back only to find out I needed to purchase a ticket for the main location. So I pretty much lost a day between all of the bus riding.

I was hangry at that point, so I went through downtown—and major traffic shock—I ended up just finding a Publix with a NORMAL parking lot and I got some food. Headed to my 2nd Airbnb place to check in and stayed put for the rest of the evening.

 This was on the wall in the room.

That Airbnb room was simple yet elegant. The bed was so cozy it hugged me. The house was super quiet with not really a lot of things in it except for the power of positive and happy music vibes (the owners are musicians, of which, I did not get to meet). They had a small bookshelf of books in their kitchen and I sat down to read a few of them. One of the books was a poetry book O Miami, here are a few favorites out of there:

 “I wish I’d even seen more Spanglish in the poems.”

Friday, February 17th

Just like Valentine’s day, this was an EPIC-ammmaazing Day. Got picked up by my Canadian friend Graham, went to Bayshore to ride the water taxi which ended up being a large yacht, had an amazing time looking around, met up with several people, and we ended the night having a banana daiquiri at Bayshore while listening to live music. You can read full details about my highlights from the boat show and see photos on boatshowgirl.com.

Saturday, February 18th

I leave Miami and head towards Naples where I bought a ticket to see AMADEUS!

I have been obsessed/in love with Mozart’s music ever since I was in 7th grade sooooo yeah, being able to see this play live—another dream come true. Amazingly well done. Simple set, all talent. Starts out with Salieri in a weird voice as an old man telling the story then he transforms back into a younger Salieri kind of looking back telling the story, then goes back and fourth. Mozart and Salieri were both spot-on with casting. I love the vulgarity of the play, and there were a lot of hilarious moments. I’m glad to have seen some of the funnier movie scenes in this play, as well.

 

I must mention: I sat next to some of the most annoying audience members ever. The lady next to me kept falling asleep and snoring then her and her dad would cough and cough—enough to make me want to find somewhere to take a shower real quick. During act 2 a lady in front of them got so pissed that she got up, yelled “IF YOU ARE SICK WHY IN THE HELL DID YOU COME HERE? YOU SHOULD BE IN THE HOSPITAL!!” and she stomped out one side and came in another to sit on the opposite side. Yes. The mom/dad/adult child sitting next to me had so many manners. *eye roll 

Headed further south after the show was over, and went to Cape Coral to see some jazz. Only stayed for about an hour, then I was back on the road again towards home. (I only have video of the jazz so I will eventually post those along with all photos on Facebook.) 

Sunday, February 19th

Overall, I checked off so many dreams of mine that I feel that I need to start a ‘dreams’ tab on my main website. I did a lot of soul-searching as well, and being near the water once again, well, that helped so much too since my soul’s connection is there. I am—after all—soulfully connected and my heart is anchored down like treasure in the bottom of the Sea.

So, of course, I am home and life resumes… I have so many important decisions to be making in the next few weeks and life-changing ones at that. I am refreshed and ready get focused once again.

An Ode to Modi (the blog entry + poem)

Normally I would wait until after the play is over to write something up, but I feel as if I need to do it right now–at this exact moment–as my feelings are very present.

I don’t know if it’s because of the way we have three stages set up, or that it’s at the Gulfport Player’s home base, or that it’s a different kind of play (about art with nudity and language and just different), or that we almost break a 4th wall in there somewhere, but my gawd, I am so glad that I ended up working this backstage!!!

There is just something magical about Modigliani being performed at GP’s Backstage theatre. I just can’t express it enough.

I’ll be truthful here–I’m very much into art but I’ve never really been into artists, per se. I know what I like when I see it, but I couldn’t really name some artists if my life depended on it. But I can appreciate the hell out of a play about an artist that I didn’t really know much about, if anything. It’s almost like watching one of those old PBS TV shows a looooooong long super long time ago about composers when I was very much into music. And, I LOVED THOSE! So much! Which isn’t a surprise when I say I love a good play about an artist!

We artists (painters, writers, creative folk, etc) we go through lots of crazy things and crazy feelings and chaos and just everything in the world to become good, to become something, to get noticed, to live life the way we want to before life just takes over and all the craziness ensues. This is exactly this play, regardless if it really happened or not–this is how it usually ends up. And the person ends up going half batshit crazy right before something magical happens that they get noticed, or they’re noticed after they’re dead. Unfortunately. It is the life of the artist.

I took in watching from the audience’s point of view a few nights–before I had to be backstage–and the liveliness of the play (and the characters being put to life by our wonderful actors) is just pure magic. I just can’t say it enough. I love the three stages set up, and being so close to the audience. When I sat in the audience, I sat in the front row and I felt like I was a friend to the characters, or I was someone at the park just watching all of this happen.

Pure crazy, I say! I don’t want to say what happens in the play because I want to encourage EVERYONE to come out to the Backdoor Theatre in Gulfport and see this…

THURS, FRI, SAT @ 8PM AND SUNDAY AT 2PM. Tickets $18 online, $20 at the door.

SEE YOU THERE!

Oh, and a poem:

An Ode to Modi
by Karen Maeby © 2.1.17

chaos ensues
at the rupture of color—
thin lines, thick lines, painting, sculpting. 

a sick individual’s soul
dies within his own art,
as he never lets a bottle leave his hand.

an apron:
finding the need to be draped around
his neck, her neck, someones.

his friend:
withholding a chicken
to squeeze a little art out of his cheeks.

he’s no longer suited
to be the one who represents
and he sets himself up for—

truth be told
in the midnight hour of two a.m.
a song bursts out in flames.

emotions emerge from the dinner
where a proper gentleman sits,
interrupted by the king.

art is art is art!
but his—it takes an eternity—
to only be bought to be replaced.

she packs her bag
and leaves,
blowing his last candle out.

chaos ensues
leaving him to nothing
but himself, a masterpiece within.