Childhood Dreams

Heidi at Southern Connecticut State’s 2017 Graduation

Heidi at Southern Connecticut State’s 2017 Graduation

You know how sometimes a child can have really weird dreams about what they want to be when they grow up? The careers children wish to see themselves in can sometimes be comical. For instance, growing up I had so many different dreams, but the three I always went back to were these: I wanted to be a chef and work with ice-cream, I wanted to work at a candy factory, and I wanted to tell stories. Sounds realistic enough, right?

Sometimes, childhood dreams can be super vague, often odd, and they’re not always practical. Looking at my own I would instantly just assume that these three dreams would relate to me training to be a chef, owning a candy factory, or attempting to be a widely successful author.

 If you noticed, not once do all my assumptions lead to these dreams co-existing together. Once a person finishes their education and enters the real world, it’s easy to forget about those childhood expectations. I know that I did.

But then the other day I had a realization that I may have accomplished those dreams without even knowing it.

For instance, my first job ever was at Popey’s Ice-cream Shoppe in Morris, CT. I spent many years there serving people ice-cream and even ended up cooking in the kitchen. I had a second job in college too, and this job was at a local chocolate factory that produced and sold their own chocolates. And currently, I do tell stories. I write on this blog and I tell other people’s stories through film with Little Tree Farm Productions.

I somehow without even realizing it accomplished my childhood dreams, but why did I not notice this before? Why did I not notice when I actually had those two other jobs? Why didn’t I appreciate it and see it as accomplishing one of the dreams I always had?

The answer to this is simple and direct. I didn’t notice this before because the previous jobs I had were jobs that society deemed to be minimum wage positions that are unable to produce a realistic income. Those jobs are also positions that do not require a college degree, which we all know just screams “not successful” for some reason.

This one realization made me see my dreams completely different. Dreaming big is important and it is often what gives people drive. However, dreaming big does not have to mean you’re making large amounts of money. Obtaining success does not mean you need to be making large amounts of money. In fact, the only way money should be seen as is really just a tool that is needed for survival not success.

So, the next day you’re feeling a little down that you may not have followed your childhood dreams… reflect back in a different way.

Maybe you did achieve those dreams without even realizing it?

Perhaps it happened in a way that you didn’t foresee?

Overcoming Instant Gratification

We live in a world in which we are constantly receiving instant gratification. Everything that we want or need is at our finger tips. Need to buy something? Order it online, and it’ll come within a few days. Need a new TV show or a movie to watch? There are so many different internet streaming services that are available, the entertainment options are endless. Need research information? The internet is literally accessible on smartphones. All of these options above don’t even require you to leave your house.

 Isn’t that crazy? We live in a day of age in which you can literally get prepared meals and groceries delivered to your house. When I was a kid, I never would’ve thought that this would be possible!

Now to be clear, I am not saying that this is a bad thing. Things are supposed to change overtime, and the fact that so much information and tools are easily accessible is beyond amazing and it helps a lot of people. However, the downside to this is it’s changing our mindset on other things that cannot happen instantly.

For instance, losing weight doesn’t happen immediately. That takes time, patience, and a lot of hard work. People may try diet fads or nutrition supplements to “speed” up the process, but that process alone is not instant what-so-ever. So what does that do to a person’s mindset that is used to instant gratification in almost all aspects of their lives? It puts them down, and might make them feel like they’re doing something wrong.

The same goes to success in any field or profession. Success does not happen overnight, and neither does building a business. One of the biggest struggles Jesse and I have had to overcome is to remind ourselves that it does not happen overnight. Having a widely successful business does not happen in the blink of an eye, it can sometimes take years.

On set with Ratatouille & Co. - August 2018

On set with Ratatouille & Co. - August 2018

Jesse and I started Little Tree Farm Productions in the December of 2017, and we’ve been steadily growing since the beginning. When we started we were scared because we were jumping into the unknown. All we knew for sure is that we just had to work hard and to never give up.

For instance, we didn’t have clients right away. In fact, our first big production day took two months to happen, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t try. Landing a first client is so difficult, and you have to get used to hearing the word “no”. Yes, we had experience working for someone else. We had the resume, but as a company what did we have as proof?

Any professional goal you set for yourself does not happen overnight, but we live in an age in which people receive instant gratification in almost all aspects of our lives. How did that make us feel? Terrible. There’s nothing worse than hearing a thousand “no’s” before landing the first client. Is that normal?

Abso-freakin-lutely.

When we landed our first client, it was the best feeling in the world. The whole project itself was a huge success. Then after that, we had more clients, and all of those projects were successful. In the summer of 2018, just seven months after starting the business, Jesse and I went to Uganda to film a documentary.

Heidi & Jesse in Uganda - July 2018

Heidi & Jesse in Uganda - July 2018

Jesse Manning at an event in Scarsdale, NY - May 2019

Jesse Manning at an event in Scarsdale, NY - May 2019

Now? We have numerous clients, we were mentioned on the news, we have a studio space, we’re teaming up with other professionals in our field, and we’re finishing editing our first full feature documentary. If someone told me these facts when we first started that this is where we would be now, I would say they’re crazy.

It’s not that I didn’t expect for us to grow, but the way we have grown in the past two years is completely unpredictable. In the beginning, all we heard was the word “no”, but we kept pushing forward and kept learning. Instant gratification doesn’t exist with everything in your life. Many things still require hard work, perseverance, and drive. Sometimes, I still remind myself this fact.

So the moral of all this? If you have a dream, do not give up. I know you might hear this from so many people, but really… never give up. Whether it’s landing a new job, starting a business, or reaching that personal goal of yours, hearing the word “no” is preparing you for the moments in which you’ll hear “yes”.

The Key to New Adventures

“Taking a risk, living life to the fullest, no plans, ‘don't think just do’. To be spontaneous is to be the most relaxed go with the flow and have fun person; you would never get mad if plans changed, you would get excited because then it would become spontaneous.” – Urban Dictionary

In my life I find it important to remain spontaneous. Which can be difficult sometimes because life can get a little repetitive and that’s when it can get boring. We’ve all been there! For me, it usually happens when things get too planned out or if I’ve remained in the same place for a long period of time. For example, I don’t travel much in the winter, and sometimes driving down the same street to work can really get boring. How do I spice it up?

Random Highway somewhere in Texas 2017 - Heidi Reinprecht

Random Highway somewhere in Texas 2017 - Heidi Reinprecht

I take a different road.
I don’t think too much on it, I just act and find another way.

And honestly, that can be a weird metaphor for life. When life gets a little boring, just take a different road. You can use this concept anywhere in your daily life.

When a job gets repetitive and dry, switch up your commute and look at your work through a different lens. This can help you branch out from the pack and make you think in a creative way. Act on those initial ideas and thoughts; don’t think too much into it! In writing, we call this concept “word vomit”. Scared it’s not a good idea? No first draft is perfect, but what happens after the first draft can be amazing. By acting on your ideas without fear, this can lead you to coming up with concepts that you may have overlooked before or make you discover something about yourself that you didn’t know existed. You may even conquer a hidden fear you may have had.

If you exercise often and that gets boring, switch up your workout routine. See what happens and push yourself. You may discover a new technique that benefits you or you may even overcome a fear you had and surprise yourself.  

Bored in the kitchen? Branch away from your comfort zone and just try different kinds of foods, recipes, and cultural styles. Don’t think too much into this, just do it and see what happens! This is honestly how I became such a fan of Indian and Lebanese cuisine, which I used to be afraid of trying because I was scared I wouldn’t like it.

Why did I choose these three examples?

Most people need to work to survive in this modern world; to provide for ourselves and our loved ones.
According to healthcare professionals, exercising is essential to a healthy way of life and diet.
And… we need some form of nutrition to survive, which in most cases come from eating food.

In all these examples, one common outcome from being spontaneous is overcoming fear. Being spontaneous is about not overthinking the situation, it’s just acting on natural impulse. Feeling bored? Just change it. Do it. Do not think too much into, just try a different route.  When you don’t live life to the “plan” amazing things can happen.

In my life, there are plans and then there are the actual outcomes. For me, I often just use plans as an outline. If everything happens according to the plan and nothing else but the plan happens… then that was a boring day for me. So, when I plan, I just make goals, and I leave room for the spontaneous adventure that I hope happens.

On one of my most recent trips, an amazing adventure happened. In my previous post, I talked about how Jesse and I went to New Mexico to train for our work trip to Africa. While in New Mexico, we did an insane amount of hiking and tried to see some natural wonders on the way. One of those natural wonders was the Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch. We didn’t research the area beforehand, we just knew that this area had some amazing trails and some beautiful sites. To our amazement, just outside of Ghost Ranch was this beautiful lake, Abiquiu Lake.

Abiquiu Lake, New Mexico

Abiquiu Lake, New Mexico

We ended up spending a lot of time there and it was gorgeous. It was everything that we didn’t know we needed. It made us take time to relax, de-stress, and spend some time at the lake to go swimming and have lunch. When you truly be spontaneous, life gives you things that you didn’t know you needed, and you overcome some sort of fear.

What was our fear in that situation? Overworking ourselves and over stressing about being fit for our upcoming work trip. Abiquiu Lake was our opportunity to sit back and to reflect; to realize we were as prepared as we could be for our trip to Africa.

So, when life gets boring or when you plan every second… let yourself be spontaneous. You never know what fear you can overcome, what adventure you’ll find, or the people you could meet along the way.

A 7,000 Mile Journey Begins with One Step

H.E.L.P International Primary School in Masese Uganda

H.E.L.P International Primary School in Masese Uganda

This past summer, Jesse and I had the amazing opportunity to work a long side H.E.L.P. International to create a documentary about the primary school they established in Masese, Uganda. Not only is this documentary our first feature film as a production company, but we came across this opportunity the same year we began our business.

We were humbled and amazed. We were also a little nervous.

Why? Because after crowd funding and getting funds from producers we came to the realization that we would only be able to travel with two people.

Long story short: we had to produce this film with a two-person production team.

If you ever made a film before, then you’re sitting there reading that a two-person production team created a documentary feature, then I can only imagine your reaction is somewhere between amazement and “you guys are crazy”. And honestly, those were most of the reactions that we received from our peers.

Chris Martin (left) & Jesse Manning (right) collaborating in Masese, Uganda

Chris Martin (left) & Jesse Manning (right) collaborating in Masese, Uganda

Luckily, we had friends in the organization that were able to help with the interviews and give a helping hand. For instance, Chris Martin (not the lead singer of Coldplay) was able to take charge with most of the interview questions and became an important asset to our team. He helped with planning the narrative and connected us with amazing people within the organization.

The months before leaving for Uganda were spent creating shot-lists, researching, planning the narrative to the film, meeting with people in the organization, and training. Yes, you read that right. We trained for this.

Getting prepared for this documentary knowing that the numbers were against us, Jesse and I began a training schedule.

When we began the pre-production process, Jesse and I had a realization that there were other aspects that we needed to work on to ensure a successful production process. We put aside the technical aspects of the production for this film because we were confident in our abilities. We know the technical stuff; we’re an adaptable team and we didn’t want to overthink and over-stress about knowing our equipment. What we needed to do was get ourselves physically prepared to handle the demanding work schedule. This might be a trait that most people may overlook, and it’s easy to because we almost did ourselves.

This aspect was easy to overlook because Jesse and I met in college and we’ve worked together for years, so we understand how the other person works. For instance, when we’re getting “on the fly” b-roll and there’s a lot of spontaneous movement involved, I usually know when to move and what kind of frame he’s looking to capture. This is super important because there’s nothing worse than a boom pole or another camera accidentally in the shot to ruin a moment.

Sometimes when a team has been together for so long, it’s super easy to overlook the aspects that the team should be focusing on. Regardless of the field you’re in, knowing the weaknesses of the team is essential to creating an effective workflow and overall success. And in our case, we discovered our weakness was that we needed to get physically prepared for this adventure.

What did we do?

Well, we began our own work-out schedules and focused on weight training. We figured out the weight of each of our bags and discovered our backpacks would both be somewhere between 30 – 50 pounds. Thank goodness we didn’t overlook this, because can you imagine having 30-50 pounds of weight on your back for the majority of a day? The months prior we started to get into the best shape of our lives; we ran nearly every day, lifted our weights, and even put on our sweat bands and followed along to “Richard Simmons-esque” type workout videos.

Abiquiu, New Mexico

Abiquiu, New Mexico

Another thing we realized was the climate difference. The southern region of Uganda is much different than the northern part of Connecticut. How does one prepare themselves to work in such a contrasting environment than what they’re used to? We planned field test training and headed for New Mexico. Luckily, we had family in New Mexico that we were able to stay with, and we hiked our hearts out. We packed up our gear and hiked for hours in the desert and trained with our equipment.

So you might be wondering what the result of all of this training is?

Well, we went to Uganda. We met some of the nicest and kindest people in this world.

We interviewed over 25 Ugandans.

We worked for 8 days straight and assembled over 45 hours of footage.

We developed relationships that will last a lifetime.

Worked with an AMAZING organization H.E.L.P. International (seriously go check them out).

And now?

We have a documentary that we will be releasing in the Summer of 2019. Be on the look out for our second trailer coming April 1, 2019. We are so excited to share what we have and couldn’t be more grateful for everyone that has supported us throughout this journey.

The moral of this whole story is do not be afraid to acknowledge your faults.

You can strive to better than before and create something amazing.

To quote FDR, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Richard Mugeni (left) & Heidi Reinprecht (right) in Masese, Uganda

Richard Mugeni (left) & Heidi Reinprecht (right) in Masese, Uganda

Until next time,

Heidi Reinprecht

Winter Motivation

People often complain about winter because of the cold, dreary weather. They’ll stay inside their homes on the dark days and try to stay cozy while binge-watching a television series or having a movie marathon. The occasional snow-day is something that I look forward to, but that snow day cannot last the entire winter season.

IMG_5974.jpg

If I had a snowed-in season… then nothing in my life would get done. I spend most of the year traveling and being outside - why would I stop that trend just because of the snow and cold weather? If I halted my hobbies, then everything else in my life would halt too. Therefore, I force myself out of my comfort zone and go on a hike on the coldest day. If I can overcome the elements, then I can overcome any challenge that the new year can bring.

For some reason, I’ve always loved this time of year. Why? You see, winter time can be a season of reflection; a time to better yourself and plan for the upcoming year. Many others do this too, usually once the new year begins people do that whole “new year, new me” thing… but then everyone kind of falls off that bandwagon once February rolls around.

Why not just start the moment the winter months begin?

The moment it begins getting cold outside, I begin the process of preparing for the new year. I reflect on the previous months and begin working on a budget.
I have a mental checklist for things I want to figure out:

  •         Places to travel

  •         Creative outlines

  •         Hiking spots

  •         Personal goals

  •         Business goals

Once I’ve thought about it, then I put the goals and ideas onto paper. I often to refer to that paper throughout the year. One important thing to note is that even though almost anything can be planned out, sometimes life can throw a curve ball. This is often why I usually don’t create a time-frame when it comes to travel ideas or even hiking challenges. I love to be spontaneous and adventurous… and I love discovering new places that I stumble across on my travels. Those kinds of days can never be planned out, they can only be discovered.

That concept alone is how this video, “Looking For You” got created to begin with.

Jesse and I literally just pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones to film on the coldest, wet days to capture some amazing stock footage. Our friend, Paden Dickinson, tagged a long for the ride and we hiked the Litchfield Hills together.

It was random, spontaneous, and adventurous.

My three favorite words and two of my favorite people.

Click the image below and check out our adventure!  

LTFP Jesse & Heidi
LTFP Jesse&Paden

*This video was not planned and was filmed on different days; it’s literally just ironic that Paden and I were wearing the same jackets and hats.*

Stay tuned for my next blog post,

-Heidi Reinprecht