By Ashley Fordinal – Last Sunday, Andy Michell and I flew out to Oceanside, California to begin production for From Ashes, We Rise. Aside from the setbacks we encountered, each accomplishment was considered a milestone to getting closer to making production a reality. The first setback occurred when we first arrived in California at 10:00pm PST. We received an email from American Airlines saying our luggage has been delayed up to 4 hours. Even though the delayed luggage was our main audio source for production, our first thought was, “okay, we can wait. The shoot isn’t until 1:00pm tomorrow.” We still waited around the airport for a little while, hoping it would come sooner, until a representative advised us that it wouldn’t arrive until the morning, so we head to the rental car counter to pick up our vehicle. The interaction at the counter was a streamlined process, quick and to the point. From there, we were sent to the garage where we were instructed to pick out any vehicle in the Gold section and we could drive off from there. After seeing three rows of empty Gold spaces, we thought there must be another row somewhere else, so we rolled our luggage around the garage hoping to find a vehicle in our class. Still no Gold vehicles, I started walking back up the escalator to the rental counter when I saw the agent coming down. He realized there weren’t any more Gold vehicles and instructed us to take a vehicle in the class above. Out of the 4 vehicles available, we chose what appeared to be a fuel-efficient vehicle. This proved to be true when we drove back and forth from San Diego to Oceanside and around the town and the fuel tank never dropped below ¾ of a tank. Good thing because the cost for fuel was $4+ per gallon. Milestone one, check!
By the time we got to the hotel room, it was 1:00am. This interaction was not as streamlined as they were unable to locate our reservation. Because we used a third party to book the room, they were unable to search by reservation number, so we called the service we used for booking. The automated system couldn’t connect me with anyone right away but assured me they’d call me back in 7 hours, 11 minutes and guaranteed I would not lose my place in line. Needless to say, we didn’t wait for that phone call. I called back right away, and the same automated system connected me with someone in less than a minute. I guess no one else decided to wait the 7 hours for a returned phone call either, because I would have been in line after them. The representative put me on hold while she called the receptionist at the hotel. While it took 45 minutes to finally clear it up, she was very friendly and helpful. After checking in, we grabbed a few snacks from the lobby and upon arriving at the counter to pay, the receptionist said it’s on
him. Milestone two, check! Despite the late night, we still woke up and got on the road at a decent time. Milestone
three, check! Jerry was flexible with needing to push back the interview not once, but twice. Milestone four, check! After the luggage got delayed a couple of more times, it arrived right on time for our interview. Milestone five, check! After interviewing Jerry, we had time for 2 out of 3 scheduled interviews with RAAM representatives. Even though they were packed up and ready to rest, they took their time to share some insight with us. Milestone six, check!
While we experienced several setbacks, we were able to adjust to them, allowing us to complete the first phase of production before heading home. Upon arriving home, I spent some time with my son and prepared for our next trip out to meet Jerry in the Midwest. 2 days after getting home, I received a text from Jerry. He was in a hospital in California with heatstroke. While he is recovering, he will not complete the race. Prayers are most needed right now as he recovers. While I cannot speak for him, I can speak from my own experience, that no matter how strong someone is, there is often a processing period after experiencing hardship. After all, a race like this takes a large crew, lots of support, sponsorships, time and preparation and I can only imagine what grief that could bring. At this time, we are praying for Jerry and his family while he recovers.
Considering this new update to Jerry’s story, our focus has shifted to supporting Jerry through this time and to brainstorming ideas on ways we will creatively pivot. As it is with every film-making venture, the challenges are just that; more milestones to achieve, challenges to overcome, flames to push through. To rise up, to inspire, to conquer. That’s the making of any great story. Because From Ashes, We Rise is a story of overcoming challenges to achieve your
dreams, there is still a story to be told. We expect Jerry to rise from the ashes once again. And just as we’ve done with previous setbacks, we will adjust, once again, to make this film a reality. More details to come on the film later. First, we will await Jerry’s recovery.