Revelations and Realizations

So Sam’s movie has been done for a while.

As I had planned, I submitted the film to several different film festivals. One, was even faith based. One by one Amazing Grace and Dad was rejected so I set out to compare what I had done with other recently released documentaries. I realized something. While I am happy with HOW the story was told, technically the film looked…….. Amateurish. When I say technically I mean the look of it.

The day before yesterday, after looking around the internet and my normal gadget nerd sites I decided to Google the woman who we hold responsible for Samantha’s injury. This woman, when we crossed paths was a Major in the US Air Force. Through her actions as well as inaction, she holds the bulk of responsibility in our eyes and that will never change. This woman has not only been promoted once, but TWICE and his now one step under Brigadier General.

I lost it

I absolutely lost it

I drank more booze in one sitting than I can EVER remember drinking and lashed out and anyone moving. This included people like Glenn Beck, and Billy Hallowell. Now I’m not going to get into certain particulars but to lash out like I did and yesterday, in my massively hungover state, I had a few revelations and realizations all rolled into one big dose of reality.

First: The military and their practice of promoting to get rid of people? Why? Why get rid of someone who has such a botched birth on their record by PROMOTING THEM?!?! This woman should be in a jail cell and not a commander of ANYTHING.

Second: Myself, and booze, don’t get along too well. Maybe I should pick up stakes and move my family to a marijuana legal state? Ok, maybe that’s drastic.

Third: This cant be the end of it. I didn’t pour everything I had into trying to tell Samantha’s story only to get a brief bit of spotlight on it and alot of sympathy well wishes. Over 2 million if you search the photo used on The Blaze and Today Show websites. The end goal was ALWAYS to create a legacy for Samantha. The goal was ALWAYS to go the festival route and hope and pray someone liked it enough to pick it up and do something with it. EVERY DOLLAR was to go into a foundation in her name. I wanted her name to live on in some fashion until the rapture.

Finally, I used some of the money raised in the IndieGoGo campaign to consult an attorney about the legality of telling part of Sam’s story. While I did tell the story pretty much in it’s entirety I left names out. That was a mistake. For ten years the person responsible and prospered while Samantha suffered. Since our son was born, he has missed out, on having the experience of being a typical little brother. While I couldn’t be more proud of Wyatt and how he has adapted, as his dad, it will ALWAYS weigh heavily on the experiences he has missed out on, not just Sam. Anyone who takes the role of being a father seriously would feel the same way. So, I’ve decided to correct that mistake.

I am going to remake Samantha’s movie. No fundraiser, no trying to get press for the project atleast until it’s finished. The story will be told in it’s ENTIRETY which INCLUDES YOU Colonel Yates. That attorney advised me that as long as I stuck to the absolute facts and didn’t deliberately lie, I can tell the story with names included to whomever will listen. I OWE IT TO SAMANTHA and ANYONE who has ever taken pitty on her to get her story told COMPLETELY. I have always said that if Sam’s story ever got made into a Hollywood movie absolutely NONE OF IT would need to be embellished to make the story more appealing when the truth is damning enough.

No timelines

Just taking my time and doing it right. I owe it to the people who backed the original movie. I owe it to people like Glenn Beck, NBC News, and Billy Hallowell, Bill Goldberg, Shawn Michaels, and many others who helped shine a light. When I set out to do this project I had a righteous fire in me. After the fourth and final rejection I lost that fire. Now… I believe I found a match to light that fire again

Most of all I owe it to Sam.

I am after all, her dad.


Amazing Grace and Dad is finished – Now what?

Well after almost two years and a spell of me almost meeting my maker, Amazing Grace and Dad is finally finished. Over the next week the film is going out digitally to all of the people who backed it on IndieGoGo. The hardcopy version will take a little longer as I have to design a cover and secure a company who will print a low run for a reasonable price. I expect that to be complete within 30 days.

Now what? Well, the plan all along has been to take the film on the festival route. Problem is, the film raised $17,005 but went OVER budget by a tad over $14,000. I have ALOT to learn about documentary film making and dealing with others in the industry. Several of my investors have indicated they would like to donate a little more to help offset the added costs and I can’t thank them enough. If the film is successful and gaining entry into these festivals and gets legs I will likely do another fundraiser for travel costs. I’m in debt enough as is. Who isn’t right? If anyone reading this would like to donate, you can click on the button to the left. Anything would be appreciated.

For now, over the next month I’m just going to hope for some positive feedback from my backers and take it easy


With one little exception

With ONE little exception, Amazing Grace and Dad is done. Ready. I just need one line re-done by the narrator, Billy Hallowell, and we’re good to go. I sent out a newsletter that should be getting to all of the backers over the next few hours about the preferred method of viewing the film.

I plan on cutting a few “teasers” in the meantime.

Exciting times for yours truly.


My hero, My wife

Followers who watch the Facebook page and receive the newsletter know I went through a very dangerous and scary medical event with my pulmonary embolism. 

Being Samantha’s parents has prepared us and enabled us to stay level headed in the face of a medical emergency.  Without my wife Carlene ‘s level head I would be having a funeral probably today or close to it.

13 years ago today I married this
woman. Through ups and through a lot of downs she’s always been there to lean on. Even though it’s corny I’m gonna say it any way; now more than ever before she makes me want to be a better man.


I’m still here….. But almost wasn’t

In my ICU Bed


Since Sam was born, I developed quite a sedentary lifestyle for a variety of reasons. Being paranoid over taking Sam out around other people; It being cold and flu season; Back bothering me; And pure laziness. Part of taking care of Sam involves alot of sitting and being there “just in case.” At my size that isn’t healthy and this past Friday night/early Saturday morning that caught up to me.

The day was no different than any other. Carlene and Wyatt had started back to school and I went back to my normal role as Samantha’s primary care giver. Went to bed at a normal hour and thought there would be another day tomorrow. There almost wasn’t.

I woke up about 2am with a weird feeling in my chest. Almost like heartburn that sneaks up on you. No big deal, it happens to the best of it. The problem is, my next memory is my wife shaking me, asking me if I’m ok and telling me that the EMT’s were on the way. I felt EXTREMELY sleepy and remember thinking, “Why? What for.” Before my thoughts could go anywhere else, she said I had two seizures. Things went downhill from there. I have vague memories of the EMT’s helping me but I have a VIVID memory of not being able to breathe. The best I could do was quick shallow breaths. My wife tells me I fought with the paramedics while screaming I couldn’t breathe. My next memory is being transferred from a stair walker onto a gurney, and a few fleeting visions while in the ambulance. I remember hearing the EMT talking to the hospital and the word that stuck out was “Cardiac.” Immediately I thought I was having a heart attack.

Once in the ER memories are still very vague. I remember what had to be 6 people trying to help me, and asking me questions. I remember being very frustrated because I didn’t want to talk, instead I wanted to rest. Then I remember, thinking I’m dying and looking around at the corners of the room for the “Light” coming to take me away. Yes I know that last part is corny but it’s what I went through.

I have a vague memory of someone telling me I had a massive blood clot in my lungs and to take deep breaths, it would subside soon. Turns out I had been given a super clot busting drug that can kill you as easy as it can save you. Wasn’t given a choice, but then again, what choice was there? My next memory is being much calmer having the ER doctor explain to me that I was within five minutes of cardiac arrest, which likely couldn’t have been reversed. I remember calling my wife and trying to explain as best I could and then my wife being there and walking me to my room in the ICU.

The official diagnosis is a Massive Bilateral Pulmonary Embolism affecting both sides. The main thing that was driven home is how close I was to not surviving.

I’ve been home a little more than 24 hours. The doctors explained to me that I have a “new normal” when it comes to physical activity and to not try and do too much or I could run out of breath very easily and possibly pass out. I’m finding it isn’t as bad as they described but it is still VERY different than before the event. My kidneys briefly went into failure, and my liver took a hit. Over the next few days that corrected itself. The doctors explained that when you are dying that the body diverts blood to the brain leaving other organs starved. During the event my body from the chest up turned grey and purple from the chest down.

Other than the new normal I have to get used to and overcome, the only ill effects I have is massive bruises from the clot busting drug. I’m writing this update to give everyone who supported the film. I’m not announcing a delay because I just don’t know. I just want to be upfront with everyone. If this was going to happen to me I just thank the good Lord upstairs that it happened when my wife was home and not while at work. If not, I wouldn’t be here.

The bruise on my left arm before it spread.

The bruise on my left arm before it spread.


Home again, home again with a really nasty bruise.

Home again, home again with a really nasty bruise.



Due to my wife watching too much MMA and getting rowdy in her kickboxing class the last few scenes have been delayed. We cancelled our trip to Asheville which is where a big chunk was to be filmed. The diagnosis is a torn MCL. We’re waiting for the final MRI read but thats the way it’s looking.

I’m not too torn up about it since many of the festivals I had targeted for entry aren’t accepting entries at my “ready” time. I still hope to be ready for the Hot Springs festival in October but it will be close.

I’ll keep everyone updated as to when filming resumes and the target wrap date. I’ll be headed to Atlanta for a meeting on Monday and will hopefully have some news about her knee that will help facilitate completing the film.


An update

I had put the movie down for a while after it became obvious that it was consuming me. My wife even pointed out how I hadn’t left the house in two weeks but rather spent most of the time editing footage that I had shot. This all happened about three months ago. She was right. Creatively I was stuck and in a way, I still am.

I have the beginning that covers Samantha’s history, my history, with a little thrown in to fill in the holes. I have the ending that I think people will really like. My problem is the outline that I had laid out for the “lessons” that Sam and I could teach viewers just seemed to fall apart. After taking a break I’m back at it. I still think I will meet my end of August deadline. If I think I will go over I will send out another update detailing why.



1st official for the film.




Welcome to the new followers

I’ve noticed a dramatic uptic in visitors here and on the Facebook site. I just wanted to say welcome to the new folks following our project.

I’ve been using the Facebook page to provide most of the updates to the project but I guess I need to make sure I update the website as well. Filming has not stopped but it’s kind of in a wait and see moment as I’m waiting for a MAJOR piece of footage to be shoot back in Arkansas where my parents live.

That major piece is an interview with my parents on everything they remember about Sam’s early days just after she was born, to the first few months of her life. I know I could have shot that interview myself but I took the advice of some people who have been advising me on making this documentary and arranged for someone else to do the interview. Why? I have a HUGE emotional investment in the subject seeing that I am Sam’s dad and went through all of this first hand. I’m still haunted by the birth as I was in the room for the entire thing. I did not want to inadvertently lead the conversation in any way. I wanted their answers to be completely their own and un-coached. I can say, I wouldn’t coach answers but when it comes down to it if they didn’t remember something the way I did, I might try and get them to remember it my way. I did NOT want that. So, Bob Ketchum at Cedar Crest Studios out of Harrison, Arkansas will be doing the interview.

With it being cold and MAJOR flu season here in North Carolina I have not been doing ANY filming outside of the home. Over 20 people have died here in North Carolina from the flu and while she has received her shot, we don’t take any chances. We do go on our roadtrips but they are exactly that – Roadtrips. 🙂    If all goes well, we will be riding the ferry out to Ocracoke this weekend and then drive up the Outer Banks.

I’ve been asked by many new visitors how to donate. The best way is the donate link on the page through PayPal. As it says, that money will be held for the end of filming process and any money not used will go towards what we hope to be Samanatha’s foundation. A few people have said I am a horrible person for trying to make money off of my daughters pain – My answer to those folks is simple; EVERY DOLLAR that this movie makes, if it makes even $20 will go into a foundation that will be in Samantha’s name. The ultimate dream for me, is for this project to somehow find distribution and enough funds be raised to provide scholarships and equipment for families with special needs children who cannot afford such. Look around the internet at how much adaptive equipment costs and it will blow your mind how expensive it can be.

So….. With that out of the way.     Until next time.


Brief production update

Had my folks here all last week. Was able to get some interviewing done that will enable me to consider a few scenes shot, done, ready for music and narration. Problem is still locking down a narrator that I’m happy with. Not giving up on hiring a “name.” Waiting on one possibility to get back to me. Thankfully I’m not dealing with an agent or “people” but able to communicate directly with the person.

Will be hiring someone to interview my folks about their earliest memories of Sam’s hardest days after she was born. I didn’t want to do it myself because I didn’t want to “lead” the conversation in any way. I want those comments and memories to be as fresh and “real” as humanly possible. I hope to have all of that done and shot by the first of the year. If Sam’s health allows and we get to go back to Arkansas for Christmas I’ll be shooting what I’ve learned is a “zero ending.” God willing and if Samantha allows, this will be the ending of the film. I want to do it in the winter because it is all outside and my thinking is that the footage will look more “crisp” without the summer haze. I am from the north central part of the state which is very country and rural.