In A Society That Has You Counting Money, Carbs And Steps, Be A Rebel And Count Your Blessings…
We are all fighting our own battles. Many of us want to be thinner. The majority of us want to be wealthier. For my inmate wedding clients though their wish is to be together. Separated by glass, isolated with loneliness, exhausted from long drives to the Unit and expensive phone calls it should be noted that loving an inmate requires tenacity, dedication, resilience, strength and stamina. Big journeys begin with small steps. The Prison wedding planning process is a series of steps.
I have several clients on my books who will not have the luxury of a contact wedding. It’s something neither they or I can control. Why? An inmates status warrants contact or non contact ceremonies. The glass is a permanent fixture for “lifers.” It’s also present for a G4 or G5 inmate in Texas. The glass can be broken on the base or edges from the fist of an inmate who became angry. Such cracks or marks bother me. I always wonder why or how someone became angry at a person that drove miles to a visit? Usually, I’m bothered to such an extent that I ask the officer to move the inmate to another cube. If the glass is dirty, I also request a move. It’s a wedding and I want everything as close to perfect as I can get it ESPECIALLY if the ceremony is non contact.
The phone won’t work or the inmate cannot hear me? A request to move. Correctional Officers are always helpful and pleasant to me because I’m respectful to them. No one likes the glass. We accept the things we cannot change.
Contact weddings are structured. Two closed mouth kisses. Hand holding. A brief embrace.
I was driving from Huntsville to Livingston Tuesday when someone from a production company called me. This isn’t unusual. Not knowing anything about my beliefs and compassion regarding my clients? Also not unusual.
People “find me on the internet.” Whether they are reporters or production companies though the one thing they have in common is lack of research. You don’t know anything about me or my journey and yet you want to pitch me on a show concept or idea or interview me at YOUR convenience? How convenient.
Last year, I was sent a message on Instagram during the height of wedding season by someone claiming to be casting a prison based show. This person was fairly demanding and assumed that doing his job for him at his convenience was “my luggage and my trip.” It wasn’t.
I demanded a contract. The contract gave me everything I asked for. What? Stay tuned because this guy was a Charleton, a chameleon, a con artist and an opportunist. Chris and his phony contract were a first for me. I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was a teen. It’s tough to shock me. Chris did. He also didn’t sign this “contract.”
Why was he playing me? Because trying to find people in a relationship with an inmate is difficult. They are a very private group. They don’t trust strangers and over the past few years, I’ve been contacted by Love After Lock Up to find people interested.
Unlike Chris though, Love After Lock Up producers were not demanding of my time or leading me on with a carrot. I had asked my clients if they were interested and shared the producers information to them rather than vice versa. A few of my clients have even applied to Love After Lock Up.
Chris wanted my clients and was attempting to use me as his gateway to get to them. He was willing to fabricate a phony contract to do so. My dislike of liars is well known.
Chris thought he had found a hillbilly in Texas to do his job for him. At his convenience and at his demands. A contract giving me the moon and the stars he didn’t bother to sign? Check and double check. During my busiest window of the year, Chris wanted me to find him the talent he couldn’t find on his own. Humph. I’m not a paid talent scout. I’m also not a casting producer. What I am is a very busy person who works seven days and week and doesn’t have time for smoke and mirrors or bullshit. Chris was full of all of the above and consistently demanding.
I wasted a week of my life last March answering his phone calls, texts, and emails. During the same window, I was scheduled to marry Mary Martin to Lester Butcher, orchestrate a camouflage themed wedding and 9 other events.
The worst time for a casting producer or journalist to “hit me up” is “in season.” Chris and his unsigned contract became an email suggesting that if he cast any or one of my clients for his “show,” he would pay me $1k. Sure he wouldn’t. This email offer was sent to replace the previously emailed unsigned contract. More smoke and mirrors. I blew him off after a week of being told my clients weren’t pretty enough or interesting enough.
Chris was picky. So picky in fact that his prison based show never came to fruition. Go figure. His promises of fame and fortune to my clients behind my back through Instagram messages are why I no longer tag anyone.
The last thing my clients need are a carrot on a stick or false hope. I protect my clients from “industry people” attempting to use them, their story or their journey for their own tag lines or log lines. These people are already fragile. These people are like my children and need to be protected from anyone “leading them on with promises of fame and fortune.”
Casting producers are always looking for “the talent.” It’s their job not mine. My job is to protect my clients.
At about the same time last year that I was contacted by Chris, Elena Lindemans contacted me. Unlike Chris, Elena was straightforward and honest. I met Elena in Houston a few months ago with Cindy. Her project is far more interesting to me. Why? Because she’s passionate about sharing love stories of pen pals and women married or planning to marry an inmate.
A few months ago, Jannette with the BBC contacted me. Cindy and I Skyped with her regarding a show concept. We discussed frankenbiting and creative editing. We discussed why protecting our clients and their journey is important to us. I also discussed the fact that a large percentage of our clients are LBGT and asked about whether documenting my diverse client base would involve clients from not only inmate bookings but also bartering bookings and traditional bookings? Why? Because stateside production companies think our diversity is “controversial.” To whom?
Cindy and I liked Jannette off the bat as we did Elena. Honesty and candor go a long way with me.
Everyone is looking for a story. A pitch. A concept. Aside from Elena and Janet as well as investigative journalist, Ella who spent the day traveling to Units with Cindy and I a few months ago, finding anyone willing to accurately describe ourselves, our clients and our determination to make Dream Events a reality for anyone isn’t easy or cut and dry.
For our clients being contacted by a “producer” or “director,” we encourage you to ask questions before sending photos or sharing your story. Protect your heart and know that there are people who will pitch you who are credible but there are others who may tell you what you want to hear while leading you along with a carrot. Know the difference. Don’t believe everything you hear ladies and gentlemen because Chris was the first person I’ve ever encountered who was willing to send me an unsigned contract and believed I was dumb enough not to question it. Chris underestimated me.
I’m more than a little familiar with both contracts and liars who will use anyone to get what they want. Ask who has the green light? Which network? If someone tells you they are casting a show, don’t take their word for it.
Protect yourself from wolves in sheep’s clothing because I can assure you that not everyone contacting you or even me are “casting a show.” Many of them are pitching a concept that may never get picked up and are wasting your time. Chris wasted mine…