The Experience: Jess

P R E - M E N T O R S H I P

"I am in a season of feeling the need to grow. [To] lean more into the power of my intuition and who I am as a person and filmmaker."

Jess is an artist and creator at heart. She has been creating wedding films for 6 years but when she reached out for a mentorship, she longed to grow her vision to encompass more than just wedding films. She wanted to step into a new space as a filmmaker.

As a wedding videographer, Jess has found herself to be a unique feminine voice amongst an industry crowded by the masculine. She desires to bring a new perspective to the table by learning more about emotion and her individual voice to bring her client’s dreams to life.

"I want to harness my intuition as a woman and as an artist to connect with people and brands all over the world — to create work that's about how life feels, not just about how epic it can look."

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During our pre-mentorship phone call as I was getting to know Jess and her business more deeply, she said something that immediately caught my attention and I thought: There it is. There’s your gift. That is what we need to unpack. She shared:

“(In school) I was doing a study of learning to listen to people without bias. I love that part of getting to know people beforehand – I can hear what they’re actually trying to say.“

I was fascinated. This is an incredible gift and one that not only provides value for others, but it sets Jess apart! When we try to define our individual voice or what really makes us unique - it sometimes takes an outside listener to catch it because it comes so natural to us. We may fail to recognize or notice it, assuming it isn’t anything special. Being in tune with my mentees’ needs allows me to get to the heart of what they are capable of. I can push and grow them when they are here, beyond the place they currently are. My desire is to truly transform them; it won’t happen overnight, but I've set a space to plant that seed.

After our phone call, I decided to incorporate an ‘interview’ portion for Jess’ mentorship. This meant getting together with my mentorship muse, Elizabeth Grace (Liz), and creating a ‘backstory’ for a character specifically developed for who Jess’ ideal client might be. YES — as in develop an entire backstory and be ready to be asked questions by someone you don’t know. That’s the brilliance of having a professional actress as a muse, she completely embodied this character.

M E N T O R S H I P

Our days always begin with a classroom setting to evaluate homework and core values, learning to create a vision board, and creating a shot list with intention. During the mid portion of the day before we began filming, Jess interviewed Liz. It was captivating. Jess came up with questions that excited me because I could already picture their interpretation in the film, especially with the story that Liz illustrated with her words. Watching Jess in her element was rewarding as an instructor and mentor. Once we completed the filming, directing, and exploration portion of the day, we shifted into post production. The afternoon was filled with developing an editing workflow that is all about saving time, creating space for the story, and reducing the stress of an overwhelming edit. We reviewed one of my client projects, discussed essential story elements, and had a Q&A discussion as well.

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P O S T M E N T O R S H I P

Mentorships offer a deep understanding of who you are and where you create from. One of the things I love about the classroom portion is that I have my mentee's create an "intuition guide" so when they leave this space, they continue to be guided. After her mentorship Jess shared with us how she felt:

"I feel so nourished and refreshed. I feel more clear and confident in why I'm doing what I'm doing, validated in my abilities and heart, energized by the afternoon of creation that happened — the physical energy of Ale's space and Phoenix itself."

Without further ado, you must watch Jess’ film below — her interpretation of this day, character, and setting. If you’d like to join me on this intimate, transformational experience where we uncover your giftings in a deeper way and bring them to light through your work, hop over to this page and apply. Hope to see you soon :)

Ale Vidal - Behind the Scenes Video

I have never felt like a behind-the-scenes video has more accurately captured my direction with women. It's a dance. I don't lose connection with her, I guide her, and most importantly - I listen. It truly is a partnership of trust. This is our dance...

Over the past year I have been developing a really special project - a mentorship for creatives that incorporates lessons on video, storytelling, and the art of direction. In this education experience, I create specific characters for my students to practice filming and directing with intention. By creating a backstory for the subject we are filming, it allows students to tap into something deeper, meaningful, and emotional.

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I decided to tap into this pull I've been having towards dance and my culture and develop that character. That Spanish/Latin bullfighting-dancing movement I've been seeking. Not a specific dance form, just the movement. Leading and directing someone who is not a dancer, to embody these characteristics and portray that strong woman. 

Quick back story on the song: I have 1.5 year old son, Luca, that we only speak Spanish to. I made a playlist on Spotify with all Spanish songs, including some with a beautiful guitar because he's obsessed with those sounds. One day, I made a radio station out of one of those songs and this one came on - Gypsy Moth - and every bit of my body knew that I HAD to create to this piece. That song commanded my attention. It felt so, so, so me

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I teamed up with Diane Aiello, a stylist to incorporate a very specific look for that character. I made a visual board for our model, and she pulled from her own personal story to bring this character to life. Clothing was going to be very important because this was not about a specific dance - this was about the type of person who embodies that kind of dance form. Given that our model Elle is not a dancer, I knew setting the mood would be that much more important. 

The space we filmed in (The Abbey) already set a tone. I arrived early with my assistant Brooke and we walked around so I could test the light. Brooke filmed me while I was practicing the moves that I would direct Elle with. The movement was inspired by dance, but I communicated it as if it was a female bullfighter that was dancing with a bull. Commanding, feminine, and mysterious. 

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I filmed and directed Elle while Brooke captured me. When I came home with all of the content and sat down to edit, I was originally just going to make the piece on the character. But when I saw myself in this environment, directing something that feels to the core like me - the narrative changed. I had to present the dance that happens between my subject and I by weaving my content of Elle with the behind-the-scenes content of me. I felt incredibly excited to see my spirit captured on video when often times I am capturing the spirit of others. Brooke had been with me for 3 years, and it was very clear how she became an extension of my vision - truly understood me in the clips she captured of me. It was almost ceremonious. That was her last month with me as my studio manager and she gifted me with content that I cannot capture of myself. A nod of what is to come after a beautiful season of what was. And I hope that is what you get to see - a piece of me, a piece of the incredible women I get to work with, and my desire to guide and lead women to create meaningful content. 

The Paperback Princess - behind the scenes

This all began with a vision in London during Ponderosa & Thyme's workshop. I was there filming Katie for my Intuition Series but was also capturing content throughout the workshop. Katie's workshops are a complete embodiment of her spirit and her process. She showed me a vision board of a young girl's transformation from her youthful, curious spirit to the bride she would become, but what it turned into was more than we could have hoped for. Watch this tiny story, one of my all time favorites, and I'll share the full story of how it happened afterwards:

First of all, the space. Just to paint you a picture of what it felt like walking in - we were staying at Butley Priory, a medieval monastic house in the country side of England. You are surrounded by stone walls, delicate carvings, and a history expressed through textures that made the space simply magic. Now imagine a girl by the name of Mary Siagie with short, deep red hair, and the most expressive blue eyes walking in - ready to embody the story and character. The clothes Katie selected for her and just her presence alone made her look straight out of a story book. You guys, I can't tell you how captivating Mary was. An utter definition of muse. I could not wait to work with her.

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India of Vervain Flowers created the scene for us - an open window tangled with greenery, spilling from the frame. Literally as I walked in, I thought: this is her secret garden ... when she sneaks out of this window, magic happens. I described this idea to Mary so that she could interpret that character. I illustrated how she would sneak out of the window with her piles of books, collecting and foraging from the garden and tucking it into the pages of her stories. This was not intended to be a story, but the space, the vision, Mary, and the ideas that were screaming in my heart -- there had to be something done even with the tiniest fragment of time that we had. When Katie walked in as we began filming, we looked at each other and when I said "It's like Peter Pan" her eyes teared up and she nodded. It was exactly what she had imagined -- an idea that lived in her head and was now in front of her, alive. 

The best BEST part? Nora's voice. When I was back in Oregon filming Katie again, I met the rest of her family which included her oldest daughter Nora. Oh, Nora. The second I met her, I could see the curiosities that her mother grew up with - tucked away in her eyes. When Katie and I work together, we are taken back to our childhood connected by our uninhibited imagination. We are children again. Nora is a beautiful embodiment of Katie's sprit. So when we sat down and talked about this "Peter Pan" short story, I knew we needed to connect it with something a little more tangible. Like I said, this was never meant to be a story. I found a poem by Erin Hanson that I still cannot believe exists, mostly because it is almost a literal translation of what happened in London at that window with Mary. And I came across this poem I had pinned a year ago while I was in Oregon talking with Katie. When we finished filming for Intuition, we decided to record the voice over for this Peter Pan story. After doing a few takes with Katie, I asked "what do you think about using Nora's voice?" Katie's eyes lit up and we both excitedly asked Nora to come record with us. I told Nora to pretend that there were little people that lived inside the microphone who wanted to hear this story. She had to tell them about it, imagining this paperback princess. 

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All of these things... every element is what made this so incredible. This messy yet brilliant alignment of things planned and unplanned. "She didn't quite belong here.. lived a life within her head...." this reminded me of young Ale. Always living in her head. I think that's why this meant so much, because it spoke to something deep within me. I am such a strategist and there's a lot of hustle in me that was wearing me down last year. I am shedding myself of that in order to make room for the part of me that is curious and listens to her gut - even when the picture is a little gray at first. Open. Trusting. That's when I create my best work. Work that is meaningful.

-xo

Ale

Behind the Scenes with Noir and Luckyleo Dancewear

This project was a true collaboration of handcrafted work. First of all, Chelsea and Heather of Luckyleo Dancewear created two custom dresses to highlight a ballerina’s movement. Their company specializes in custom ballet leotards and bodysuits. I began brainstorming specific details about the dress (aside from fabric) and imagined some type of cape along the dancer’s shoulders. And usually my train of thought goes like this: emotion… movement… FLOWERS. Haha.

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I've worked with Malori of Hoot & Holler many times before. Now Malori created a new sister company that specializes in custom floral work: Noir Floral Styling - which was a perfect fit for our vision. I originally wondered what it would look like to create a bodice with fresh flowers. After meeting with the ladies of Luckyleo Dancewear and Malori, we started exploring a shoulder/cape piece.

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We had the unique opportunity of creating a Behind the Scenes film that shows you glimpses of us creating a vision for the floral, shoulder component of the dress in Malori's studio and what the executed piece looks like in motion as I captured these stills. My studio manager Brooke assisted in filming me, and I directed the ballerina, Lilyana for both photos and video. Chelsea and Heather who are both trained dancers played a huge role in communicating specific dance moves that highlighted the movement of the fabric. I focused on movement that communicated emotion, such as her pushing through the fabric, hiding behind it, or becoming entangled by it.

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I don't know what it is about dance - but I've always had such a strong connection with it. It was truly an inspiring project to be a part of and I only hope to continue creating more pieces like this. And with that... the film :)