This is a guest blog post by Short Kid Stories author Natalie Rodriguez about how, as a working artist, she is coping with the current quarantine. She also has exciting news about not one, but two upcoming releases!
I was at a Starbucks in North Hollywood, CA when the news broke of Los Angeles County going into quarantine. My friend and I were in disbelief, especially when Starbucks informed us that starting tomorrow, the store was going to close down and only take orders or pick-ups. It was terrifying. Like most artists who are in the entertainment industry, COVID-19 has certainly had an impact on my own physical and mental health.
During the first week of quarantine, one of my writing and producing partners moved back home to the east coast, for the time being, considering that living in Los Angeles County could be costly. The following week, my anxiety and stress were at its peak, where I struggled to fall asleep at a decent hour, often lying in bed for 3-5 hours with racing thoughts. Around the same time, I was also amid early promotion for two different projects called “Elephant” and “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” as well as in pre-production with a horror short and post-production on my second directorial feature, “Howard Original.”
Ironically, the pandemic made me realize one thing and that was STRESS.
Due to COVID-19, I felt it was necessary to push back the release dates of my directorial feature film, “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” and my first young adult novel, “Elephant.” The film was originally slated for a May 1st release date, and the book was intentionally made for April 10th. With adjustments to a new routine, including two job layoffs due to my former workplaces cutting back on employees because of COVID-19, I felt pressured and worried about promoting my work in a time of a world crisis.
In the forthcoming weeks, anxiety, depression, and general stress appeared to be the new normal for many people, in general, for adapting to the new norm of quarantine and social distancing. Especially when my anxiety physical symptoms intensified with a racing heartbeat and clammy hands and feet, that was when my own therapist suggested it was time to go on a low dose of anti-anxiety medication.
So far, both my physical and mental health continues to improve, and a lot has to do with acknowledging of taking that step back in the first place and being okay with postponing things. Although it continues to be a process, I feel a bit readier with the new release dates of my two projects that have truly taken years to greenlit.
On Friday, May 29th, 2020, my first young adult/commercial-crossover book, “Elephant,” is coming out. “Elephant” is a story about four childhood best friends who discover a family secret in the summer of 2006, before starting their freshman year in high school. The kindle and paperback versions of the novel are currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Book reviewer, SheySaints, said that “Elephant” was a mix of vibes of “a cross between Christopher Pike and Stephen King. Screen-wise, it was like Black Mirror that didn’t revolve around technology. Truth is, it didn’t feel like it was written by a girl. It was hard to understand because of all the weird things happening, but it was one of those books where you just had to keep reading even if you were clueless about it. All the actions and emotions seemed like they were real, and almost as if the author experienced them herself. You could easily tell she has good visualizations while writing the book. In fact, this is a story that will be more appreciated as a movie, or a television series.”
Later this year on Friday, August 28th, 2020, my directorial feature film which I also wrote and produced, The Extraordinary Ordinary, will be released on video-on-demand through a distributor called Indie Rights.
The Extraordinary Ordinary is a story about three young adults and how they cope with their mental health when old wounds resurface. A few years after a traumatic high school experience, a young photography student moves across the country from New York to Southern California in search of a fresh start. She quickly finds that she is not alone in her struggles with anxiety and depression and learns that the road to recovery is paved with more love, understanding, and community than she ever could have imagined. The Extraordinary Ordinary is a gripping and heartwarming narrative that seeks to challenge the stigmas associated with mental health, trauma, and recovery and recognize the courage of those young adults struggling in silence everywhere.
The film was recently an official film selection at the Awareness Film Festival (AFF), Glendale International Film Festival (GIFF), and the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival (LADFF). We also won the ‘Best Film About Women’s Empowerment’ at GIFF and scored nominations for Best Director, Best Female Director, and Best Feature. Our leading actress, Maddison Bullock, also won ‘Best Performance’ at the LADFF, where we held our world premiere.
Our latest review is by a former therapist and current executive performance expert, Liz A. Garcia: “The Extraordinary Ordinary” gives young people one of the most important things necessary – conversations. Conversations to learn how to navigate challenging and scary moments in life. To see these scenarios on the screen gives the audience an opportunity to reflect on the fact that they are not alone in their experiences and even when it’s scary, they could be understood and get help when they are willing to speak about what they are experiencing. Kudos to Natalie and team for creating such a relevant and impactful movie.”
Below, you will find the appropriate links for each project.
The latest review
THE EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY (movie):
- Promo-Teaser (which is live, released back in October 2018) [Note: it is also the pinned post on our Facebook page]: https://vimeo.com/294028727