Give It Your Best & No Less – Part 2

Finding My Place

Before I took on the website, I looked at what was happening in the organization to find where I could be of value and help. Initially, I thought I’d use my graphic design skills to help develop posters, flyers, direct mail campaigns, newspaper ads, etc. However, another graphic designer was already involved, Todd McVey.

Don’t Overstep

I thought this might be a great chance to partner up with another graphic designer and learn from someone else working in the field longer than I have been alive, but our first interaction reminded me a lot of the training scene from Dodgeball. I was introduced to Todd as the other graphic designer, and he immediately responded with “Oh, so you’re the guy who didn’t like my logo”. This stemmed from someone else’s professional critique of the logo, which he assumed was mine because it’s my field of work as well.

It wasn’t.

We’ve come a long way since then, but ultimately I learned that it was best to stay in my lane when working with other volunteers.

This became even more clear to me when I started experimenting with Facebook and TikTok…

Stock Photography? No, No.

Our first immediate need was to find talent for live performances during the Saturday event. I thought this was a great opportunity to create image ads on Facebook, so I went to Unsplash, found some great images, used some clean text and submitted them to the group for review. Initially, I avoided the use of the logo for a couple of reasons:

  1. The original logo had a style that didn’t match the imagery well. Using the title “Treasure Coast International Film Festival” was much, much cleaner.
  2. The new logo for the festival was a massive chunk of visual real estate. It’s more like a poster graphic, not designed for the purpose of branding, but for grabbing attention and visual interest on a poster or billboard.

The group critiqued the ads and wanted a logo, a change in the type, and also… didn’t want stock photography.

I agreed to all the requests, however, I couldn’t find suitable photographs in the festival’s archives to represent what we sought. I argued against the ban on stock photography for this reason. It breaks down to basically this: people are attracted to other people in advertisements, and relying on just copy or illustrative work for this I don’t believe would have resulted in the same number of responses.

While these images got the opportunity to see the light of day, my TikTok experiments did not…

A TikTok Stripper Show?

Video from Cottonbro on Pexels.

I wanted to advertise the performances we expected at the festival, but we hadn’t booked any acts at the time, so I opted again for stock images. It just made sense that video was a proper medium to advertise a film festival, right? So, I searched for videos that could help communicate our event and discovered a few on Pexels. I found a video that, given the youthful appearance of the women and the hip-hop moves, I felt would appeal to the young Millennials and Gen Z’ers that we wanted to attract to the festival.

Once posted, it gained many views, then was eventually shut down as I was told that to some age groups this appeared to be advertising strippers.

I couldn’t believe it. This opened up a discussion about the sexualization of women in videos and brought us back to the topic of stock photography/videography in the absence of original, commercial quality imagery.

In hindsight, a video like this partnered with other festival features like food trucks, artists, bands, and kids having fun would have perhaps framed it a bit more in the direction that I was attempting to achieve. I consider this a lesson learned.

However, I decided to not involve myself with the social media advertisement development any further. I felt myself stepping on too many toes of other volunteers and facing a lot of criticism for each move, so I confined myself to the website.

The Brooklyn Cafe Show

Christel Jules, a major contributing volunteer for the festival, invited me to join her at the Brooklyn Cafe Show down south in Boca Raton, FL to promote the festival. It was a show that I had never heard of before that apparently has quite the following. I agreed, and for the next couple of weeks I was her chauffeur to and from the show. We went a total of three times together, plugging the film festival and, unexpectedly, the Lil’ Feet of SLC organization thanks to a mention about my 2021 Boot Art auction submission.

The studio for the show was set-up inside of a storage space. It was rather impressive and very inspiring to see how Freddie and Dawn turned this space into a live-feed, broadcasting station. The staff were all laid back and very friendly. As much as I hated being on camera, I didn’t mind it with them.

The first time we were there, I focused so much on the portion of the event that worried us the most, Saturday’s Outdoor Festival Activities, that I neglected the focus of the festival – the filmmakers. After the show aired, I spoke to a young man that was a part of the show crew, Vaughn. He relayed his desire to be a filmmaker and wanted to learn more about it, which made me realize my folly. There was much more information worth sharing about the filmmakers conference, and workshops, and opportunities for networking. It also highlighted an inherent problem with this year’s festival design – we were too spread out.

Angie Tabio, The Angel

Though I was more of an on-set prop at the show than a participant, it did bring new opportunities to me. I met a woman there named Angie Tabio that introduced herself in the second show as a mental health advocate and a women’s life coach. I was immediately drawn to her, as if something within her reminded me of a feeling of someone I used to know and was once close to. I knew she would be playing a role in my life somehow, but I wasn’t sure how yet.

Upon my second time meeting Angie, she asked me to be a guest on her radio show, Brain Flow (WNN 1470 AM). I had never heard of the show before and I didn’t feel like I knew enough about mental health to speak on it, but I accepted her invitation and told her that I felt that this was something I’d like to get my mom involved in. My mom has battled with mental health issues ever since she was 12-years-old, and I felt like this could be good for her to be involved in.

She accepted this and a few days later, it became vividly clear what Angie’s role in my life was going to be…

Rest In Peace, Cheryl

Cheryl Anita Hutchinson

September 24, 1977 – October 5, 2021


On October 5, my mom’s cousin, Cheryl Hutchinson, committed suicide.

We were all shocked and surprised by the action, and I was worried about my mom and her own mental health following Cheryl’s death; she was my mom’s favorite cousin. Cheryl didn’t show any symptoms or signs of depression or mental illness that would have lead anyone to suspect that she was contemplating suicide. She simply made the choice, and her family and friends will forever be left wondering why.

Only further proving that even when we are connected, you never really know how a person feels unless they want you too.

I communicated with Angie what happened and my concern for my mother’s mental well-being. As fate would have it, my mother substituted in for me to chauffer Christel to the Brooklyn Cafe Show one Friday. Angie was there, saw my mom having never seen a picture of her, yet immediately knew who she was. They bonded that day have been talking daily every since.

My mother took the opportunity with Angie to share her story on October 24th and dedicated the segment to Cheryl.

Brain Flow Radio hosted by Angie Tabio featuring Alicia Vega and Nolli

One End Offers A New Beginning

The tail end of the Treasure Coast Film, Music, and Art Festival turned out better than we expected with a turn out of about 2,000 people at the outdoor portion of the festival, though I missed it to be with my family for Cheryl’s funeral. The funeral made us realize that we had become estranged to this part of our family. I had a cousin with a son that was 17-years-old, yet I didn’t know he was ever even born. We decided to make greater efforts to be more present in each others lives given everything that happened.

It shouldn’t take a tragedy to wake us up to our lives and our relationships, yet it did.

If nothing else came out of my experience in volunteering with TCIFF this year, it was the importance of relationships. The observations of how love and support can help us reach our dreams and achieve incredible goals or how the lack of them can lead us to dark places that we may never return from. People will come into our lives and bring with them the capacity to help us or require from us a little love to help them get up and make it through. Either way – give them your best, because why else are we here if not to love and overcome all the barriers that keep us from it?

Just one moment longer, and something beautiful always appears.

To Be Continued in Part 3…

1 Comment

  1. […] for the Treasure Coast International Film, Music, & Art Festival (Give It Your Best: Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3). During the same time, I appeared on the Brooklyn Cafe TV Show and BrainFlow Radio […]

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