From Wendy Keeling To Marilyn Parel On Bounty Momma

Marilyn,
    I have been following the spirited conversation closely. Thank you again for doing the blog on my project Bounty Momma. It is interesting that this has sparked into a heated debate about my other project Self Offense. The one commentator obviously has been following some of my other interviews. It seems this woman truly dislikes me personally for some reason. Ironically if she actually knew me or watched any of my full interviews she would know that I am a victim myself and grew up in Illinois the child of school teachers. So unfortunately for me, I have never been “privileged”. I now live in the Nashville area and have been an active part of the film community for several years. I was a part of the group that lobbied the government to pass the previous film incentives that unfortunately we have mostly lost. I am a pre screener for the Nashville Film Festival and also a member of Women in Film locally. I say this because I have been accused of being an outsider and that I don’t support the strength of women filmmakers in the south.  I also have not “attacked” anyone. I mentioned that someone had negative comments and invited people to read the article and comment if they wished. I do believe that is the entire point of the blog.
    So regarding the film that has gotten so much heat in this blog. Self Offense was a labor of love for so many. Most of the actors and the crew involved in were also victims of abuse or had someone close to them who was a victim. Everyone involved felt so strongly about this film that they donated their time to make it happen and continue to support the film. As for myself, I am a full time actor, filmmaker, and artist. I spend most of my days counting pennies to try to continue to travel to talk about the issues surrounding this film. I basically took a year off of my life to travel with the film on my dime and I am still traveling with it until September.
   As to the stories, these are actually very honest stories that were based on others experiences. None of these women were “privileged” except for the women who had lost everything running from an abusive husband. BTW the actress Carla Christina Contreras is Hispanic so also not all “white”. We chose to stray away from the stereotypes that all victims are poor, drug addicts, living in the ghetto, and not Caucasian to address the very point that this woman is making. We wanted to bring the conversation into the room in a very personal way for the audience to relate. 1 in 3 women are a victim. They are your mother, sister, the woman who lives next door, the clerk at the store, and the business executive in your office. Victims are rich, poor, middle class, Black, White, Asian, and Hispanic. So the how someone could not have ever met a victim is shocking to me. It is the secrecy and shame that often surrounds these issues that keep people from getting the help they need.
   Our goal with this film was to encourage conversation and that seems to be what it is doing. Obviously we could not hope to discuss such a huge and complicated topic in one 15 minute film. Our hope was to tell different stories than the stereotypical ones you hear every day. We wanted to create a film to draw the audience in to the characters. We also wanted to make the point that not all abusers are men. We are not suggesting in any way that a self defense course will solve the issue of abuse. It is a place woman can go to learn some skills to protect themselves and also an active step many take to acknowledging their desire to heal. It is a simplified narrative to be sure, but we wrote it to start conversations and that seems to be what is happening. The more comfortable people are discussing these issues the less they will feel they have to keep abuse and violence a secret. Both men and women have come to me at festivals to share their stories. I have even been able to direct some people to a safe place to find help. So I am pretty sure we are actually helping people contrary to the belief expressed in the comments.
   So far Self Offense has been accepted to 22 film festivals internationally, won 5 awards, been nominated for 2, and will be screening on TV for the XFINITY Film Festival Collective in 15 states for free. So we have the potential to reach an even greater audience than just the film festivals. So whether you agree with the message of the film or not it is reaching people. People are discussing the film and the issues. That has always been my goal. This is my personal way of trying to make a difference. Even when the critique is not flattering it is still someone discussing the issues.  So thank you for your comments and I hope you are able to find your own way to reach out to someone that may need help.
    As for Bounty Momma, the project that got hijacked by the conversation about my other film, this project is a much needed comedic break from the serious content of Self Offense. Not everything has to be a social commentary. I am sorry that the viewer did not think it was funny but it seems many other people do. We screened the film in the web series competition at the Nashville Film Festival to a sold out audience that laughed very loudly. They even added a second screening to allow people a chance to see it again. We have a couple more film festivals coming up and Bounty Momma has been nominated for best comedy and our actress Judy Jackson has been nominated for best supporting actress. It has been said the show is a combination of Reno 911, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Dog the Bounty Hunter. Bounty Momma is meant to be a parody of the reality shows that are over populating our TV screens. Oh, and we are an equal opportunity comedic basher. It truly is a parody and takes its punches at all stereotypes as the series proceeds. Our future shows are not shy about creating comedic moments around colorful characters from all walks of life so be ready for more fun with the Dollarhides!!

Thank you again for supporting my work!!! I wish you amazing success with your blog!

Wendy Keeling

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