A Cup of Coffee (or Tea) with Producer Becca Carroll Guido

June 2020 – I have been following so many wonderful people on Twitter and Facebook. People that keep inspiring me and motivating me, while they work on their own projects and promotions. I’m curious to know who they are, where did they grow up, and how they handle their writing and creative process and their everyday life. I also want to know how did they get to where they are.

I have the great pleasure of presenting another awesome person. I present to you producer Becca Carroll Guido. I met Becca on social media. We follow each other on Twitter, as we are both fans of Hallmark. Yes, another big fan of the Hallmark Channel network and their movies. That’s how I met this talented lady, who has become one of my biggest supporters since I started my blog and my aspirations as a writer.

Producer Becca Carroll Guido

Becca is from Chicago, Illinois, and before being a producer, she was busy raising her family. She met her husband while she attended Knox College, and received her degree in International Business and Marketing from Dominican University. While raising their family she pursued her interest in photography and focused in particular on sports photography. With her husband’s encouragement, she eventually followed up on her original passion and attended Post Grad Film School, with a concentration in Directing and Producing.

She recently served as Executive Producer and Festival Consultant for the movie Homeless Ashes (2019), a project from Marc Zammit, who made his directorial debut, plus he was the executive producer, and protagonist. The movie received great reviews, was nominated and won awards in a few film festivals: Glendale International Film Festival (winner for Best Actor), Overcome Film Festival (winner of Best Actor and Best Feature Film), Pitch to Screen Film Awards (winner of Best Music Composer and Best Cinematographer), Southampton International Film Festival (winner of Best Feature Screenplay), and World of Film International Festival Glasgow (WOFF). (Information retrieved from from IMDb -International Movie Database- movie guide https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4677134/?ref_=nm_flmg_msc_1)

Becky has spent a number of years, behind the scenes, in Production Consulting, more recently stepping back into producing, with a number of films in various stages of production/development on both sides of the “pond” (referring to both United States and United Kingdom). She recently, in 2019, opened her Film Production Company Bcreative5Films. They have several films in development. Becky has written the story and is co-writing the script for their upcoming film Primrose, to be filmed in its entirety in United Kingdom (UK).

I’ve invited her to share a cup of coffee and a nice chat. Here’s our conversation:

Welcome to Full of Coffee, Becky! First, I want to know if you like coffee, and if you do, how do you prefer it?

  • Thank you for having me, Nydia! Sadly, I have not been able to have coffee for years due to health reasons. But I do love waking up to the smell of my husband grinding his coffee beans! I drink a lot of herbal and decaffeinated teas, no cream just sugar. One of my great joys is being in the UK (United Kingdom) where there is always lots of good proper steeped tea!

Ah, I also love the smell of coffee. As children, we helped my grandmothers grind roasted coffee beans. Tell me, where did you grow up? Do you have any siblings?

  • I am the eldest of three, with two younger brothers. We grew up in River Forest, part of the Oak Park River Forest suburbs of Chicago. This is where I was blessed to attend an excellent Performing Arts Program in high school. While there I had several pieces of poetry as well as works of creative writing published in their literary publication.
At the American Film Market in Los Angeles, California

Did your childhood have any influence in your interest in reading or writing?

  • With a mother and a father who were both professors, we were taught in word and deed that life is a classroom. My mother was an English professor and my father was an Economics professor and a University Provost. In the last weeks of his life, though weak from cancer, my father completed creating a new program of studies for the University. My 80 year old mother still takes notes from every book she reads, as if she’s still preparing for an English Class. We are three voracious readers and we inherited our father’s visionary spirit and entrepreneurial soul.

Wow! Well, in my opinion, I think you were very privileged. How and when did you decide that you wanted to become a producer? When did you decide to give professional production a try?

  • I initially attended the Performing Arts Program because I was a classically trained flautist (flute). However, we were encouraged to expand our interests and I chose Drama. The Director of our Drama Program said he saw the heart of a Director in me and he mentored me from that point on. Our program was as well versed in Shakespeare as in big stage musical productions. Many of our alumni have gone on to be Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy and Tony Nominees and Winners. We had three theaters and, when I was a Senior, I was awarded one the two coveted positions as Student Director of my own production. I chose The Diary of Anne Frank, which was highly controversial at the time. I was the only Producer and I oversaw the lighting department, set design, casting and directing. I chose to do the production “in the round” which had not been done before for this play. It just flowed and was effortless. I knew I had an affinity for this, but I also wanted to spread my wings and see the world.
  • I received my degree in International Business and Marketing at Dominican University. While in Grad School, I worked in the University Internship Department, consulting with companies and students to find the right matches for their needs. I had no idea that I was cultivating a skill set that I would use in my future film industry career. I married, raised my family of four now grown children and pursued my interest in sports photography. All the while I was teaching myself about filmmaking. I devoured anything I could read or watch on the process and industry. As the children got older, my husband encouraged me to take a film class. I did not see what the point would be, as there was no way I could envision a new career in the industry at that point in my life. However, I attended Post Grad Film School at Columbia College, in Chicago, and never looked back.

Interesting! So tell me, how has your work affected your personal life?

  • That’s been a bit of a learning curve over the years. When I was primarily consulting, I could wrap my schedule around my family’s needs. Not so with producing. I always say, my best preparation for producing was being a Mom! The work is never done and something always needs tending to. Especially working on projects internationally, the time difference has to be factored in. There can be a steady flow of late night and early morning meetings, calls and work. My New Year’s resolution was to have 2020 be my year of “Balance”! Well, while the world has turned upside down somehow, I have managed to find my groove work-wise and I know my husband would agree.
At the American Film Market in Los Angeles, California

You work as a producer, but also as a consultant. Tell me a bit about that:

  • I began noticing the rise of T.V. productions interacting with their audience on Social Media. With my marketing mindset, I found this exceedingly fascinating. The increased interaction and live tweeting between cast and audience during live shows, was directly linked to increased viewership and higher ratings. With my training in Demographic Specific Marketing, I was tapped into by the influencers and social media marketing consultants to help achieve goals and facilitate various campaigns. This ultimately led to me assisting in crowdsourcing campaigns for various studios and films. Crowdsourcing refers to the practice of obtaining information or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people. The process and results were not only fascinating but were also successful.
  • By this point there began to be a merger in my mind of the world of film production and the world of demographic specific marketing and crowdsourcing. I saw how relevant it was to the Film Industry doctrine “know thy audience” and how important this was to have in play, as early on as the conception phase of project development.As I continued to explore and study this demographic specific marketing/crowdsourcing develop in the industry, my name began to be circulated as someone to chat with about just this subject. This began, not only a new chapter in my life, but a new tangent of learning for both me and those I spoke with. It appeared the more people I spoke with, and with whom I shared my insights and observations, the more I discovered that this area was something that could help and be used in all stages of the production process.

Tell me about “Homeless Ashes”. How did you become involved in its production?

  • I was intrigued with the growing and evolutionary world of independent filmmaking. I wanted to learn more, but I was also at a new place in my life and wanted to seek out filmmakers and projects that spoke to me. I tipped off my network of friends and colleagues, that I was interested in finding projects that were purpose driven and had a message that compelled me.
  • I was also interested in exploring the indie film scene in different countries, in particular Canada and the UK. With all the projects that friends and colleagues forwarded to me, I was able to find projects that matched my criteria. I set about approaching the filmmakers, offering my services on set for free or investing in their projects. This began a steep learning curve for me, while introducing me to the most amazing creative people. I call this chapter of my life “The Gift”, for in putting myself out there, I was blessed tenfold with new friends and colleagues, who have not only become lifelong friends, but with whom I have gone on to make wonderful movies.

Your next project is filming the movie Primrose. Although the COVID pandemic put a pause in the production, you’re the writer, producer, and you’d also be an associate director! Tell me, how you came up with the idea? How’s the project going?

  • In addition to the other films I have done and those I am producing, I am still consulting. However, yet again my husband prodded me to be the storyteller and make my own films. This was echoed by my industry friends and colleagues. Even though I knew I had fully formed ideas in my head, yet again I could not envision how this could all work out. But God has bigger dreams for us than we have for ourselves. Somehow things fell into place and I opened my film production company Bcreative5Films in 2019.
  • Our first one up is Primrose. It’s a period drama, set in the lush countryside of Edwardian England, to be filmed in its entirety in the UK. It’s the story of a young aristocratic woman who supports the women’s vote, not realizing the effect it will have on her family. I’m blessed to have an amazing creative and writing team and the film will be directed by Marc Zammit. It’s an original story that took root in my head and after three plus years of research has taken root in my heart and soul. With the pandemic having shut down and thrown off the industry schedule, we are focusing on doing all the creative work and planning we can do now. We are also being kept infinitely busy with the business legal end of production planning.

Exciting news! Any other future project you want to share with us?

  • I’m doing another film with Marc Zammit and the Aptitude UK guys, called Sitting Under The Chestnut Tree. This one will be filmed in the states and deals with the subject of autism. The lead is being played by a well known actor, who I’m sure will knock it out of the park!
  • At Bcreative5Films we have four films in various stages of development. The first one up is Primrose to be filmed in the UK, as well as a Faith Based Drama Welcker’s Point to be filmed in the U.S. Everything is hinging on safe reentry into to the new pandemic awareness filming process, but meanwhile we have more than enough to keep us busy with the business and creative end of things.

You’ve been very busy, Becca! These are many great projects you’ve been working on!

  • As I used to tell my university students, “never miss an opportunity to work for free”, whether it be for a non-profit or for an indie film. For it offers the most amazing ability to learn through hands on experience, in ways that you never would have in a traditional work environment. As the old adage says, “it is in giving that we receive”.

To check more about Becca, please follow her on Twitter @BeccaTwoPoint0 https://twitter.com/BeccaTwoPoint0. Also follow her new project @FilmPrimrose https://twitter.com/FilmPrimrose and https://www.facebook.com/FilmPrimrose/ on Facebook.

I thank Becca for this opportunity of sharing her story with me, and for her unconditional support and friendship. I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s a great deal for me to get to know all of these amazing people. Becca’s story also interested me as she is accomplishing so much after raising her children. Getting to know her has helped me find my own inspiration and create my own process, and she has given me so much support.

I’ll keep reading, I’ll keep writing, I’ll keep dreaming! Thanks for reading! It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para versión en Español, vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2020/06/22/una-tacita-de-cafe-o-de-te-con-la-productora-becca-carroll-guido/.

Lets Talk Hallmark: The Signed, Sealed, Delivered Series, Episodes 1 to 5

June 2020 – I continue writing about one of my favorite Hallmark series, and a top fan favorite as well, the Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Dead Letter Mysteries. The first movie had a very good reception from the viewers. After the first movie aired in 2013, Hallmark then aired a set of 10 1-hour episodes. I wrote a post about the POstables fan group, an amazing group of people who share their love for this series, for the cast, and for each other. Read here https://fullofcoffee.blog/2020/05/17/lets-talk-hallmark-the-postables-fans-of-the-signed-sealed-delivered-series/.

Those 10 episodes were all packed with emotion, action, mystery and drama. Each episode brings a new lost letter to investigate and deliver to its rightful addressee. But it also brings us to find out more about the POstables team, our efficient group of postal workers, and their personal struggles. Read my first post about the Signed, Sealed, Delivered pilot movie here https://fullofcoffee.blog/2020/05/10/lets-talk-hallmark-introduction-to-signed-sealed-delivered-the-postables-team/.

Since I’m talking about Hallmark, let me remind all readers that, even though I love the movies, I’m only a fan. I have no rights or access to any production or merchandise. None. But if you’re interested, you may visit the website www.hallmarkchannel.com. I check the Hallmark Channel page every day! All pictures/images used are from Hallmark/Crown Media.

I divided the information of the series in two posts, because there is so much to tell you about it! Let me tell you about the first five episodes (all descriptions are summarized from information retrieved from the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries web page https://www.hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com/signed-sealed-delivered/episode-guide/10#listheader):

Episode 1- Time to Start Livin’ – In this first episode, the Dead Letter team is preparing to welcome their new supervisor, the legendary Theresa Capodiamonte (played by wonderful Valerie Harper), a 6-time recipient of the prestigious ‘Dark of Night’ award. Theresa sees the potential in each of them, and encourages them to do better, to get out of their comfort zone and continue trusting their own judgement. For the next dead letter investigation, Oliver selects a letter addressed to ‘Gramma’ from a boy (Spencer Drever) who mentions that his name is now Owen, and wrote that he’s escaping to go visit her. The team finds the Grandma that the letter is addressed to. It’s a lady called Vivian (Christina Willes) who lives in a retirement home nearby. Vivian took some time to agree that it was her, because she knows the family is in danger, and thinks she’s been watched. The team managed to reunite the boy and his grandma, and helped the police capture one of the suspects following the family.

Gramma Vivian (Christina Willes)

In this episode, we see a subtle flirting between Oliver and Shane. They challenge each other as Shane is a modern, outgoing gal, and Oliver is a very proper, old-fashioned, follow-the-rules guy. We can tell he finds Shane intriguing, and she is definitely attracted to Oliver. Oliver has an unique way with words and we’ll see him often, being the leader of the group, using his ways to calm troubled individuals and families.

Sammy (Rami Kahlon) and Buzz (Joel Berg)

Episode 2- To Whom it May Concern – The team picked a letter that is postmarked from four years ago. They find out the letter was addressed to “To Whom It May Concern”, and they find an application to obtain a soldier’s information. Shane tricks Oliver into going to the ARMY’s headquarter offices. While there, Shane realized that the letter would end up in a pile of loose mail, so she pulled Oliver out of there and convinced him they should find the addressee themselves. The letter was written by Samila, known as Sammy, (Rami Kahlon) directed to Corporal Benjamin ‘Buzz’ Parker (Joel Berg), who saved her life while he was on duty in Afghanistan. The team manages to bring them together, giving us a very emotional reunion.

“Bear-thazar”

In this episode, we get introduced to “Bear-thazar”, a grizzly bear that came to the Dead Letter office short on postage, and no forwarding address. Theresa Capodiamonte is ready to complete Oliver’s job evaluation, but she recognizes that the lost letter investigation should be a priority. We see more subtle flirting between Shane and Oliver. She knows he is married, but she is intrigued as to why he still talks as if the wife was to come back any time soon. A spoiler note: Theresa announces that she is retiring from the post office to go pursue her dream as a theater performer. “It’s never too late to pursue your dreams”.

Episode 3- Soulmates – We are introduced to new supervisor Cora Brandt (played by amazing Della Reese), who comes into the office announcing that changes will be made. She finds a box with what turns out to be Rita’s novel manuscript. Rita asks her if she would like to be the first to read it, and from that moment on, Cora can’t put the novel down. The letter to be investigated is from a guy called Sam (Greyston Holt) addressed to a girl named Marie (Emilie Ullerup) declaring that he still loves her, and asking her to please not get married. The team thinks they have to deliver the letter before the wedding takes place, but when they locate the sender, they realize the letter was sent eight years ago. The couple from the letter have known each other since young, so the team takes part in a journey to find them both and try to have them reconnect.

In this episode, Oliver manages to ask Shane to go to dance lessons with him, to be his dancing partner in a performance that will happen as a culmination of the lessons. She agrees to do it. Shane realizes that Rita’s manuscript is actually based on her personal fantasy and the lead guy is based on Norman. This is a glimpse into Rita’s infatuation with Norman.

Danny Barrett (Jeffrey Ballard)

Episode 4- The Masterpiece – Supervisor Cora Brandt is still reading through Rita’s novel. She calls it intoxicating. There’s a package stuck on the conveyor belt and Norman climbs to get it. When they open it, there’s a painting from a guy named Danny Barrett (Jeffrey Ballard) addressed to his father Henry Barrett (Paul McGillion). It was mailed three years ago, so the team goes to find Henry. He does not want to accept the package from his son. They have been distanced for years, and the team goes into trying to find and figure out a way for them to reconnect. Reality is harsh for both parts, but a reunion does happen.

Henry Barrett (Paul McGillion)

In this episode, we get introduced to eccentric, handsome, and may I add fascinating!, Ramón Rodriguez (played by Zak Santiago). Ramón shows up as the new owner of the dance studio. He calls Oliver “Ovilier”, which makes Oliver cringe a little. Then he goes on to flirt with Shane, to whom he says “if you dance like you smile”, which makes Oliver a bit jealous (we know!). Meanwhile, Cora catches on Rita’s secret, when she realizes that the story is based on herself and Norman. Cora even has Norman read a few lines of the manuscript. In this episode, we can finally notice, in a quick glimpse, that Norman does like Rita. Meanwhile, Oliver and Shane are still trying to decide on what song to dance to. Shane picks “And so it goes” by Billy Joel, and the lyrics get to Oliver. He decides to cancel their dance showcase, confessing to Shane that the dance lessons were a gift from his absent wife. He had kept hope she’d come back, so he could show her he did learn to dance.

Shane (Kristin Booth), Ramón Rodríguez (Zak Santiago) and Oliver (Eric Mabius)

If you’ve never heard the song And So it Goes by Billy Joel before, here it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHO6a2H-pqY. The words and the melody are just perfect for Oliver and Shane’s current situation. I do love this song. Just read the first verse “In every heart there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong, to heal the wounds from lovers past until a new one comes along”.

Sisters Caitlyn Atkinson (Kendra Anderson) and Vanessa Doherty (Elise Catien)

Episode 5- The Edge of Forever – The team finds out that Cora has retired. They also find another package with no address. They open it and find a large urn with an envelope addressed to “Maggie” and two letters. They’re able to contact the two ladies to whom the letters are addressed to, sisters Caitlyn Atkinson (Kendra Anderson) and Vanessa Doherty (Elise Catien). The wish of the late mother, Carrie Atkinson (Caroline Cave), is to have her daughters reunited by having then do a scavenger’s hunt together. Their distancing started when their father died on an airplane accident on the unforgettable day of September 11th. Shane and Oliver worked along with the sisters as they confront and reveal their true feelings about what happened between them, and what caused their distancing from each other.

In this episode, Shane is upset with Oliver for cancelling their dance performance. She is also upset because Oliver is still hanging on to the possibility of his wife returning someday. Rita reveals to Shane the name of Oliver’s wife and she goes on the Internet, looking for information on her. When she revealed what she found to Oliver, he gets very upset with her, asking her how she could dare invade his privacy like that.

We also see Rita making the decision to run for Miss Special Delivery pageant and the group gives her the support she needs. But Rita still has to find a talent to present in the contest. She confesses she can’t think of any talent. Rita does have a unique gift: her photographic memory. To find out what talent she chooses, we have to watch the next episode.

As the episodes continue, the relationship between these four friends continues growing. And the relationship between both couples, Oliver-Shane and Norman-Rita, also keeps evolving. There are five more episodes to the series. There’s more drama and mystery as the episodes continue. I have more to tell you about it! So, look up for my next post.

I’ll be writing some more. I have plenty more to add, more to write about, and more movies to watch and love. I love writing, and I love Hallmark movies. It’s time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Since I’m mentioning my cup of coffee, I want to share with you all that we have a delicious coffee product, Puerto Rico Coffee Company, 100% grown, harvested and roasted in Puerto Rico. Please contact Aura (@UbeLouisiana) via email at islanenacafe@gmail.com for more information on how to acquire a bag of this yummy and delicious coffee for you to try (and love!). Salud!

Para versión en Español, vea https://fullofcoffee.blog/2020/06/14/hablemos-hallmark-la-serie-el-misterio-de-las-cartas-perdidas-episodios-1-al-5/.