2020 was a long blur.

For those of you who were affected by Covid-19 in any way, I send my sincere condolences. I was a spectator, like most people, enclosed in my bubble watching this history from the comforts of my home. My husband was able to keep his job, moving his office into our second floor home office. He is still there today. My children and grandchildren weathered the storm fairly well with only one little unit contracting Covid, none requiring hospitalization, and everyone maintaining their jobs. My mother, who I have not seen since January 2020, made it to her 95th birthday unscathed. My siblings and extended family remained healthy. We are all so lucky. Most of us are now fully vaccinated or half way there and are beginning to see a light at the end of this long and winding tunnel. With boxes of masks at the ready we will soon begin to re-enter society and have some long awaited reunions.

2020, for me, was to start with a number of private screenings of my film which were all cancelled due to Covid. It was easy to accept as I was in a very large boat with crowds of people also on hold. My plan, after a successful film festival run in 2019, was to screen in as many places as possible while researching distribution opportunities. Everything stopped. Watching the news about Covid and the political shenanigans took center stage. Before I knew it we were headed into the last quarter of the year and I hadn’t even cleaned out a closet. I did bake bread though!

Then one day, out of the blue I got an email from a filmmaker/producer/distributor at Rolling Pictures asking me what I was going to do with Beyond Sixty. I lamented about stalled opportunities to distribute and he asked if he could take on the task. He had seen the film at Washington West Film Festival in the fall of 2019, liked it a lot and felt he could help. I was comfortable with him and was encouraged by his enthusiasm so I said yes. We managed to get all the legal contracts in place quickly, just in time to take it to the American Film Market where buyers/distributors peruse thousands of films in hopes of finding the right ones to complement their offerings. I tried not to get too excited as my film is a documentary about older women, not at all as exciting as so many of the films being made by incredibly talented filmmakers.

Then it happened.

Gravitas Ventures, a film distributor, called Mark at Rolling Pictures saying they were interested in picking up Beyond Sixty. We would have a couple months to meet all requirements on the deliverables sheet (I am talking pages) and if we could do it we would see a Spring 2021 release date. I overnighted the hard drive to Rolling Pictures (critical to address things on the deliverables list) and it arrived 3 WEEKS later after being mishandled by the US Post Office. Time was running out for the deadline and my anxiety level was rising. I called in my Expressway Productions Team, who were now closed for Christmas holidays, and made two separate trips into Philadelphia to pick up adjusted hard drives and drive them to an off road location between Philly and Washington DC to hand them over to Mark. This is the short version of the events.

A month ago we were told by Gravitas that Beyond Sixty had a release date: April 6, 2021. That’s tomorrow.

Full circle. It has taken years to get here. It takes patience and persistence to wait this long. A lot of it. I have always been pretty good with persistence when it comes to creating and launching projects, but not so much with the patience end of things. I like things to move quickly. This has tested me and I believe it has been good for me. When I started this I was 65, now I have passed the 70 mark.

What an incredible learning experience this has been. I am in love with the filmmaking process and know I want to continue to bring stories to life through film. I am working on another story idea now hoping it comes to fruition.

I am so grateful to the women in my film. Sara, A’Lelia, Susan, Karen, Celeste, Peggy, Paula, Pat, Greta and Gloria; I could not have done this without your stories. The fact that you were willing to open yourself up to a total stranger and trust me with your story is staggering. I learned from each of you and will always remain in awe of your stories. I must also shout out to the young women who graced the film at the beginning and end. What great conversations we had.

To Mark at Rolling Pictures, we both know the same bartender in Burbank, CA. That was our initial connection. Who would have thought that years later you would be representing my film. I am a big believer that paths cross for a reason. Thank you for being the kind soul you are and for seeing something in my film that encouraged you to contact me when you did.

To Expressway Productions/FormatTV including all of the crews, thank you for the years of collaboration, counseling and instruction. I learned a great deal from you and have missed our regular interactions. Our film is ready for public consumption.

To all of the podcasts, radio shows and print interviews promoting the film, I am forever grateful.

To my dear friends and family I thank you for sticking with me and encouraging me along the way, especially when things got hard and I became discouraged. There were a few of those instances.

It feels really good to be here on the eve of release. I hope you get the chance to watch Beyond Sixty and are inspired by the stories you will hear.

Full circle.

Peace and Love,

Melissa

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