Interview with Director Jody McNicholas

Congratulations! Why did you make your film?

The idea for this film first came to me when I met the folks at Metta Theatre in Taos, NM in May 2013. I witnessed something unique and beautiful happening in this little black box theatre. Originally I went there to take weekly acting classes (from Eb Lottimer) for one year for myself but I was invited to drop in and watch a young artists workshop run by Bruce McIntosh, the director of Metta. Seeing young people learning acting tools (that were also tools for life) that were based in inclusivity, connection and a supportive environment sparked something inside of me. “This is a film” I thought.  

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?

If you need a dose of creative inspiration, come watch LONGSHOTSVILLE! You’ll get in some good laughs, but you will also flow along with these young characters and
their mentor Bruce McIntosh of Metta Theatre through all their trials and tribulations. And you’ll come out of the theatre with a smile on your face (and maybe more energy for the creative dreams of your own!)

LONGSHOTSVILLE - Group shot after the Taos, New Mexico Premiere. (L to R) Ashleigh Grycner, Jody McNicholas,

Jacquelyn Cordova, Bruce McIntosh, Janelle Cordova and Tammy Stackpoole.  

How do personal and universal themes work in your film?

Much of this project has been about capturing the essence of what Metta Theatre really is. This is a place where these young people, against all the odds, are really striving for something big, their dreams! What we discover as an audience is that their inner yearnings really aren’t for fame and fortune at all. Rather, they wish to find themselves through connecting with each other in meaningful ways and creating a community of true support.  

How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production? 

It has been quite a ride! A year following 5 young artists was so exciting and a whirlwind. Plans changed constantly with the young cast and that created constant change in the film as well. This was a great gift for me personally to witness how free they felt to pursue their passion and to shift gears at a moment’s notice. They seem to be guided by a different set of rules than my generation and it felt liberating to me to be around. I was “along for the ride” trying to keep up.  It was awesome!!!  I have never enjoyed a filmmaking experience more.

The smartest thing I did was to hire a story consultant from day one, which is Jilann Spitzmiller from DocuMentors. http://www.howtomake-a-documentary.com   I really wanted mentorship and support during production on how to maneuver all the changes that the film was going through organically. She was there for me through the entire editing process as well.

What type of feedback have you received so far?

We had our Taos, New Mexico premiere this past June and it was great!  Sharing it with the people we love and the community we love was one of the highlights of this entire process.  Taos was the audience I most wanted to share Longshotsville with.  There was so much laughter in the audience!  Taos is a quirky place and it was a celebration of our community and our town.  We have also received “Official Selection” in ten film festivals so far.

LONGSHOTSVILLE - Cast with Bruce McIntosh (Metta Theatre Founder and Director) about to get on stage. (L to R)  Jacquelyn Cordova, Ashleigh Grycner, Michael Bozzuto, Bruce McIntosh, Janelle Cordova and William Hall.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?

Yes, some of the feedback was surprising.  From sadness around the criticism to gratitude for folks that really got the film and the essence of its message.  I learn so much about myself as the receiver of certain criticism.  I’m not going to make everybody happy and that’s something I am finally accepting.  I believe film can be a collective vision and inspiration.  I made several changes based on feedback during my rough cuts. I feel the feedback made LONGSHOTSVILLE a stronger film. 

What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?

I would like the craft of acting to be more visible to young people as a tool to engage and inspire our youth.  I work in substance abuse prevention and have been in the addiction field for over twenty years.  My experience at Metta Theatre watching the interactions that occurred on stage with no cell phones, no alcohol or drugs, just two or more young people on stage interacting, is one of the most powerful preventative medicines I have seen for our youth.  So YES, I WANT this film visible for that factor alone! I think the film puts out a strong message to our youth and adults.  Follow your dreams!

I would also like to convey a glimpse of the love that is created in this black box theater and have that inspire more people. One of my favorite quotes from the film is from Syndesi who shares early in the film about his alcoholism and suicidal past:

“I finally came to the understanding that my path is not to destroy but it’s to create. So that’s my new path. You have to go and you have to do what is in your heart, if you don’t do that than what are you doing? Your neglecting yourself, your neglecting your talents your abilities... your love.”

I want the youth today to know that they are SO MUCH MORE than they think they are and life can be awesome!

Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?

I would love to see Longshotsville in middle schools, high schools and colleges.  We need all of the above to get the word out on this film.   

LONGSHOTSVILLE - Metta Theatre (black box theatre) in Taos, New Mexico.

What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?

Of course, we would love to get this film out to as many people as possible! In particular, though, we would love it if it could reach young actors who can relate to the very real-life characters and be inspired by their journey.

What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?

I can see a key question for young people which would be:

Do you think that dreams really do come true? How do you think a person can best make their dreams come true?

For adults, it would it be:

Is it important to express to our youth enthusiasm to follow their dreams or is it more important to teach them to be “practical?” How can these two paths coexist?

Would you like to add anything else?

Thank you for supporting filmmakers!  Thank you for this interview.   If your audience would like to know more about Longshotsville please visit our website at www.Longshotsville.com

What are the key creatives working on now?

Well, I’m really excited that I have recently received a scholarship to attend Santa Fe University Art and Design in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I hope to refine my skills and possibly take a try at a fiction film. I have had a screenplay brewing for a few years so now I can really work on that. Of course, working on Longshotsville has been a big catalyst for me going for my own dreams as well!

Jilann Spitzmiller recently finished STILL DREAMING a beautiful and heart-felt film (with her husband Hank Rogerson) www.stilldreamingmovie.com  “STILL DREAMING takes us on a very special journey to the heart and soul of creativity.  This story shows us how important it is to explore, grow and express ourselves at every age.” STILL DREAMING is already a multi-award winning film.  Definitely a must see film!


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