2015 Year in Review

2015 Year in Review

hey friends,

normally this sort of post would be called my “2015 Top Ten”, but the hard fact of this last year is that some of the most impactful moments were not “good” ones… so let’s just call this a year-in-review that just so happens to include ten items. (here’s last year’s.)

on the surface, this is an action packed, post-apoclyptic chase movie. it’s got colorful characters, awesome cars, fantastic stunts, and one of my favorite soundtracks in recent memory. but as impressive those things are, these reason I think this film is important are the themes it contains. characters take responsibility for their futures, there is redemption, and compassion triumphs over coercion. it’s inspiring to see a genre film that has so much to say!

I’m not sure how much of that is evident here, but it’s one of the more creative edits I’ve seen.

this year I finished editing THE LAND BEFORE TIME and went directly onto a new project, HARMON QUEST. on both projects I’ve gotten to work with very talented people, and each has had it’s own challenges and learning opportunities. and my continued work in animation inspired me to try my hand at directing a short. making HAWKWARD tested and improved my skills as a filmmaker. as well as instilling the confidence to pursue more cartoon work.


as someone who works as a “creative professional” I hear a lot of “no’s.” film festivals, grants, screenplay competitions, book agents, literary magazines… the list goes on and on. I know this is part of the process, but it does wear you down. so when the Taliesin Nexus group invited me to their Apollo Workshop it felt pretty great. over the weekend I got to hear from and interact with a bunch of established creators as well as become friends with a new cohort of ambitious peers. you can read more about the weekend here.

when I set out to make my first book, “Found in Kitsap”, I never imagined it lead to another. but in hindsight the process of taking a group of random photos and making a collection out of them was perfect training for taking a pile of poems and organizing them into a cohesive whole. spending that much time with poem’s about Alzheimer’s wasn’t an easy task, especially when the person with the disease was as important as Cece was to me. as hard as the project was, it was even more rewarding. for the whole story read part 1 and part 2. or buy the book here.

The First Year

it’s been several years since I made CERTIFIED and it was time to make something new. I knew that I wanted to make a film that could reach an international audience and one that advanced my skills as a filmmaker. making TIME TO EAT was a struggle, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of many friends and colleagues I was able to make the film I set out to.
of course there’s a blog about it.

last year making “drinking vinegars” made the list, so it’s fitting that I’d have another Troy and Tony cooking adventure. this time we made the classic Italian dish, porchetta. it’s basically a pork cinnamon role, just replace the sugar filling with savory spices and the dough with meat. we started the day off with a trip to the old farmer’s market butcher for the pork belly. then returned to cook, drink more coffee, and listen to music. and that same day we also made our first patch of bitters! it was a great way to spend a fall weekend.

porchetta in progress


the year saw the end (hopefully) of the drought that has plagued California for the last four years. one of the first rains was the result of a tropical storm that had hit Mexico… and it happened the weekend I was having my birthday BBQ. walking around during summer rains is one of my favorite childhood memories from growing up in Washington… but after ten plus years in LA, I think this was the first year with any significant rain during July. getting to spend the day with some of my closest friends, eat great bbq, and experience the fun of a warm rain was definitely a highlight of the year.

rainy bbq

due to the fact that I’ve been gainfully employed, my time in Mammoth has been a bit limited. but on one of my trips up I got to experience something really incredible. it was a couple weeks after one of the only major storms to hit – and the desert had blossomed with life. literally and figuratively. all across the Mojave wildflowers were in bloom. huge swaths of color shot out in all direction and covered the rolling hills that surround the 395. on the way back to LA, Angel and I got off the freeway and drove down a frontage road. I rolled down my window and the fragrance of the flowers floated in. I’d never experienced anything like it. we stopped and took a few pictures. wow. I’m still amazed by it.

Angel & wildflowers


this is the toughest one on the list, but I don’t see how I could leave it off. my Grandfather’s battle with cancer came to an end this year. he’s been sick for quite some time, but he was tough old coot, and hung on. even though he was in a tremendous amount of pain, his personality and sense of humor remained. he’d joke, laugh, and tell stories to anyone who would listen. hospice meant a steady stream of new people coming around the house, and while that was a bit dizzying at times, it also provided him a whole new group of people to chat with.

on one trip home I told him about a book I was reading – Blind Man’s Bluff. it detailed the secret history of submarine espionage in the cold war. Grandpa thought this sounded really interesting, so I got him a copy. he tore through it. I think it’s the only book he and I ever discussed at length. after he passed, I had the honor of delivering the eulogy at his memorial. it was one of the hardest, and most rewarding things I’ve ever done (you can read it here). my Grandpa was a loving, kind, and hardworking man. I miss him terribly.

this last year my Grandpa gave me his camera, a 35mm Canon AE-1. the past years I’ve really enjoyed shooting film with disposables and my Holga, but this is the first “real” camera I’ve used in quite some time. the experience of using it is so much more nuanced then the point and shoot photography I’ve done for the last ten plus years. I really enjoyed metering the light then adjusting my shutter speed to get the f-stop I want. it really feels like I AM taking the photo – not a computer inside of my phone.

taking photos with this camera let me connect with my Grandpa before he passed, and every time I use it – I’m reminded of the many gifts he’s given me.

here are a few of my favorites.



Jackson & Kevin


so those are some of the things that stood out to me most in 2015. what about you? any moments or films or meals that made your “best of” list?


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