All posts by tt_films


Our team of actors and I have been developing our next feature MARCIE’S over the pandemic months.  It’s been a longer timeline than expected, and we’re excited now to be putting all the pieces together for production.  Producer Beth Farnham came on board, we’ve found our primary locations, we’re finishing casting additional roles, and we’ve set dates in May to start filming.  We’ve also made progress on funding, and we have less than 50% of the budget left to raise to begin production.

We’re excited to share with you that we have a matching grant starting today through December 13!  We’re grateful to anonymous donors who are matching all contributions up to $20,000.

If you can contribute, this is a key moment to move the project to the next phase.

To contribute go to and click the Donate button to make a contribution through our fiscal sponsor Northwest Film Forum, a 501(c)3 non-profit.  Thank you so much!

On the website there’s a list of incentives at every contribution level.   And we’ve cooked up some unique incentives just for this match period:

Special incentives with the MARCIE’S team, available Nov 29 – Dec 13.

  • $700 – SAMBUS WITH SOPHIE: Join Miski Ali, who plays Sophie, for a live lesson in how to create Somali Sambus (Samosas) with basbaas (jalapeno and lime dipping sauce) – meat or veggies and herbs all wrapped in triangle tortillas and fried!  Zoom on a date TBD.  (limited to the first 4 at this level)
  • $400 – HOMEBREW:  Murph (played by Ryan Sanders), Marcie’s main squeeze, discovers a love of brewing his own beer.  Join Ryan and director John Helde for a Zoom research session as they put a batch of homebrew on the stove.  Sit back and await the results.   Zoom on a date TBD.  (limited to the first 5 at this level)
  • $300 – BARTENDER SCHOOL:  Jenn Ruzumna, who plays Marcie, is learning bartending for her role.  Receive your own personalized video cocktail lesson direct from Jenn!  Date TBD.  (limited to the first 10 at this level)

MARCIE’S is a truly independent film.  It’s the creative work of a group of local actors and film professionals, collaborating to tell a story that matters, with no big entity behind us.  This is how these stories get told, through the collaborative efforts of everyone, the filmmakers, the cast, the crew, and you, the audience.

The staged readings really solidified my love of this story.  It is funny and authentic, and it’s about people of different backgrounds coming together to confront real issues:  how we find our true calling, how we sustain community, and how over-development threatens our survival.

Having raised over 50% of the production budget, we can pay all our cast and crew, and that feels great.  Now, we just need to fulfill the rest of the budget that covers essentials like food, equipment, costumes, props, location fees, and the like.

So, THANK YOU so much!  Your support means the world to all of us.

Natalie Gee/NYC Indie Film Fest narrative curator interviews John Helde

Re-posting this interview with Natalie Gee about the origins of PHOEBE’S FATHER…

NG: What gave you the idea for the script and why did you want to explore a broken relationship between a daughter and a father?

JH: Phoebe’s Father is about a young woman cyclist who has to face her past when her father comes back into her life. The very first image I had for the story was of Phoebe living a kind of isolated life, and then having to suddenly deal with her father, and issues she thought she had left behind her. Honestly I’m not sure where this image came from. I wanted to do a film that revolved around a family relationship, instead of a romantic one, as many of my previous scripts had. And although it’s never happened to me, I know people who have experienced major breaks with family. I wanted to explore the complexity of the family bond – our conflicting desires for isolation and connection.

What gave you the idea for the cycling to be a major theme in the movie?

Marie Lazzaro, who plays Phoebe, was a friend of mine and she was commuting by bike to her job at REI in Seattle. I’m a runner and cyclist myself, and I love that feeling of propelling yourself forward. We have a thriving cycling community in Seattle (as you do in NYC), and lots of women cyclists. I was a big fan of Breaking Away, but that was a long time ago, and it occurred to me I’d never seen a movie with a woman cyclist at the heart of it. Because I knew Marie was already cycling, it seemed like she would be up for that, and it would be fun to explore a character for whom cycling becomes catharsis.

What was your biggest challenge with the movie?

One of my producer Lisa Glaze’s biggest challenges was locating a pedicab for a crucial scene late in the movie when Phoebe takes Meg for a ride. This was probably the only element of the script I had no idea how it was going to happen, and it turned out to be really tough to find a pedicab when it’s not tourist season. But Lisa’s tenacity paid off when she discovered a beautifully preserved pedicab from India owned by bike collector Jeff Groman. He brought it out from Bainbridge Island and it was more amazing than we could ever have imagined!

How did you and the actors develop character relationships? Did you rehearse?

When I had the idea for the movie, I kept thinking, I know a lot of really great actors in Seattle, how can we do something where we get to work together intensively? I wanted to try developing character and story through improvisation, inspired by the way the director Mike Leigh works, and fortunately the actors were excited by this as well! The four lead actors – Marie Lazzaro, Lawrie Driscoll, Eric Jordan, and Betty Campbell – and I worked together for about five months before I wrote the script. I started with a framework of relationships, but all the details of who these characters are, and what their lives have been, both together and individually, came from the work we did in improvisation. Almost all of the script, except for the supporting characters, is a version of something that first happened in improvisation. It’s very exciting – the characters become very real to all of us, long before anything’s written down. Then it was my job to shape this material into script form. There was flexibility and some improvisation on set, tweaking lines, that kind of thing, but mostly we worked from the script when we shot.

What scares you the most about filmmaking?

In general, and I’m sure this is true for most filmmakers, it’s the anticipation of getting all the pieces to come together – people, locations, equipment, story, weather. There are so many moving parts. That said, what I absolutely love about filmmaking is seeing so many different people bring their talents to bear on the story. For Phoebe’s Father, one of the most scary things for me was how short the writing period was between the improvisations and when we started shooting – only about six weeks. The good news was I didn’t have time to overthink it!

What’s your favorite scene / moment in the film?

So hard to answer because there are so many scenes I love, especially since I first saw them occur in improvisation. I’d have to say my favorite big scene is when Whit, Phoebe’s brother, brings Phoebe to her father’s house and the family sits down and tries to have a meal together for the first time in years. The actors did an incredible job and there are so many subtle dynamics going on. Of course, things do not go so well! I also really love the moment near the end of the film when Phoebe returns to racing – in a pretty dialog-driven movie, it’s totally visual.

Describe filmmaking in 3 words

I’m trying to adopt a philosophy of “Love what is”.

What excites you about family dynamics that you like to explore?

I think there’s such richness in family relationships. It’s something we all know and can relate to. The movie revolves around the fact that Phoebe can’t escape her relationship with her father, even though at one point she thought she could. And so much of the tension between them is really because of her mother, who left the family when Phoebe was ten. Events happen that color the dynamics and affect families for years. There’s a lot of emotion – and humor – to explore there.


PHOEBE’S FATHER comes to digital screens

Among so much else, it has been a year of copious streaming: movies, series, podcasts – how would we have isolated without them?

PHOEBE’S FATHER, my 2015 film, joins the streaming fray this month. Some have seen the film during its festival run, but I’m incredibly happy for the film to now find a wider audience!

PHOEBE’S FATHER starts Friday April 30 at Northwest Film Forum’s virtual cinema for 2 weeks, as well as on Amazon and iTunes platforms indefinitely.

Grab a sliding-scale ticket here and support independent cinema.

And check out the brand-new trailer here.

Phoebe (Marie Lazzaro) is a budding competitive cyclist who has to make peace with her past when her estranged father (Lawrason Driscoll) comes back into her life. The cast also features Eric Jordan, Betty Campbell, Jenn Ruzumna, Lisa Every, Ryan Sanders, David Friedt and Sara Thiessen.

This is a project that, like BROWN’S CANYON, the cast and I developed through improvisation. We shot in familiar Seattle neighborhoods. A huge thank you to all the amazing cast and crew and musicians who contributed their talents to the movie.

Sadly, we lost Lawrie Driscoll and Betty Campbell in 2019. This virtual cinema run is dedicated to their memory – both brought richly layered work and a spirit of joy and play to their characters and to our set – I miss them both deeply.

Thanks for taking a look at the movie, and please consider rating and reviewing it on the streaming platforms and/or IMDB. You can also find PHOEBE’S on Facebook @phoebesfathermovie.

a new story takes shape

Back in February (eons ago, that is, in our current reality) I wrapped up several months of improvisation work with a team of fantastic actors, developing the story for a new feature film.  The next step was to write the script based on that work.  I’m grateful I’ve been able to delve into that work these last months – the writing has really kept me focused during this time.  As I progressed through summer and fall, the actors and I gathered on Zoom to read drafts, and the script for the new movie has taken shape!

The story of MARCIE’S revolves around the denizens of a small town dive bar, and their bartender and den mother Marcie.  Marcie has a dream: to finally become the owner of Ed’s Tavern and build a stable life.  But when an endangered owl and a developer with big ideas begin to unravel her plans, Marcie has to rally her people to confront the forces of big money and save the community.  

I love this story and its rich themes, and I’m getting cautiously excited for moving into production!  We look forward to filming when it is safe to do so in 2021.  I’m grateful to the actors for their work creating a world and cast of characters that feel authentic, funny and heartfelt.  

Movie theaters are really struggling now, along with so many of the performing arts.  But many arthouse and independent cinemas are streaming new and classic releases from their sites, which are an amazing complement to the usual platforms.  Here in Seattle, I support Northwest Film ForumSIFFthe Grand Illusion, and here’s a great map of North American Arthouse Cinemas – check them out and support one near you… or, anywhere!

CUDDLE is live

Thank you all who came to our CUDDLE launch party last Thursday – what a fabulous evening, with a sold-out house, lots of cast and crew, and There Is No Mountain playing songs from the series!  It’s always a treat to see the work in a room with a real live audience, and your comments made it clear the characters and story really connect with you.

Critic and blogger Marc Morin says:  

Series creator and writer Adeline Colangelo absolutely gets it right … Hope Shanthi has the perfect personality to take on a role like this and what she creates is a character that is ambitious, flawed, optimistic, a little misguided, and very much well intended.

This is just a quick reminder that CUDDLE is now live!
YouTube channel: – don’t forget to subscribe!

Many of you asked what’s next – we’d love to make more of the show, and the way we’ll be able to do that is by reaching more audience, so… if you like what you see of CUDDLE, you can help by rating,  commenting, subscribing, and sharing the link. These things really do make a difference.  THANK YOU! 

BROWN’S CANYON streams Jan 29

We’ve had a wonderful year showing BROWN’S CANYON at festivals and independent cinemas.  The reaction to these screenings from audiences, and critics, has been heartwarming.  People have mentioned the compelling performances, the way the landscape of the Wasatch Mountains is another character in the film, and how “real” the characters feel. My cast, producers and I are thrilled that audiences find both humor and poignancy in this story of a mindfulness retreat gone awry.

I wanted to pass on the great news that Freestyle Digital Media has acquired distribution rights to BROWN’S CANYON, and the movie comes to digital screens on January 29! Needless to say, we are thrilled that the movie will now be able to be seen more widely.

The release has been featured in VarietyVimoozScreenanarchy and more. 

Many of you supported the production of the movie and/or followed along with us from inception through filming, post-production and festivals, and we’re truly grateful for your support and enthusiasm along the way!  If you haven’t been able to make our screenings, this is a great opportunity to see the film.  

We hope you’ll check it out, and share the movie with your friends.

BROWN’S CANYON is available immediately to pre-order on iTunes by following this link:

more on BROWN’S CANYON at

CUDDLE: the series at Stareable Fest!

We’re elated and honored that the pilot episode of CUDDLE is an official selection of Stareable Fest 2018 taking place July 20-22 in Tribeca! Stareable is the largest community of web series creators and fans, bringing amazing series from around the globe together under one site.  And we’re doubly flattered to discover that CUDDLE is nominated for Best Comedy and Best Actress (Hope Shanthi)!  

We can’t wait to share our first episode and meet all the other series creators and presenters.

We know you’re eager to see all the episodes, as eager as we are to share them — we’re hard at work on editing and look forward to releasing the entire season of CUDDLE: the series in the fall.  

Stay tuned, follow our progress on Facebook, and THANK YOU again for all your support and love!


Excited to announce that Phoebe’s Father will premiere at NYC Independent Film Festival in October!  We shot Phoebe’s entirely in Seattle neighborhoods in the early spring of 2014 with a wonderful, talented cast and crew.  I’m thrilled to launch the film into the world in NY this fall!  Come join us…

Buy Tickets here

Thursday, October 15, 2015, 8 pm
Producer’s Club Theatre
348 West 44th Street, NY, NY 10036

Get Phoebe’s Father updates on Facebook

Phone Calls

I’ve had a blast these last few weeks working with BASH Theatre people to make a film version of actor-playwright Cristopher Berns’ new short piece Phone Calls.  This is one of the more unusual and wonderful projects I’ve had a chance to do lately, and I’m excited that both the theater and film versions are on the bill this Saturday, June 27 at 3:30pm in the final show of On the Boards’ Open Studio Series.

Phone Calls is a glimpse into the lives of five people aching for love, acceptance, and connection.  With an unconventional use of time and space, this nine-minute short piece experiments with text as a kind of musical score, challenging both actors and audience to listen in a different way.

I invite you to join us for Open Studio as BASH members and friends of BASH perform original works, including short theater and dance pieces, exploring our search for love, connection and a sense of belonging.

Saturday, June 27, 3:30pm (Arrive early – tickets are first come, first served, no advance sales)
On the Boards Studio Theater
100 W Roy St, Seattle, WA 98119

FIELD WORK on Iowa Public Television

In 1909 my great-grandfather Cassius Marcellus Forbes purchased 120 acres of Iowa farmland. He was a school teacher, not a farmer, and he deeded the land in my grandmother Erma’s name. Perhaps he was looking to the future, or maybe he liked having a stake in the agricultural community that surrounded him. Regardless, that piece of farmland stayed in my family for generations, even after my grandmother left Iowa. Since the 1930s, the land has been farmed by multiple generations of the same family, the Swansons.

This is how I came to meet the central subjects of FIELD WORK: A FAMILY FARM. We had no relatives in Iowa when I was growing up, so I had never had much contact with the farm. In 2008, I decided to visit the current generation of Swansons. I’d heard a lot about how we’re losing family farms in this country, but here was a family who had a clear vision of staying family-sized. Their dream, they said, was to bring their two sons back into the operation and farm as one extended family. That year, I started shooting FIELD WORK, ultimately following the Swansons through the recession years as their sons grow up and set out on their own, and they work to pursue this dream of farming together. Meanwhile, the financial crisis hit, and crop prices and expenses were a roller coaster. Unable to afford more land, the Swansons had to get creative about what direction to go. I had the opportunity to be in the field with the farmers through several growing seasons, observe their challenges and joys, and see farming first-hand through their eyes. I met and talked with other farmers in the area, bigger and smaller, as I began to put together a picture of one farming community.

Old friends Lauryn Shapter and Dennis James, the Iowa-based duo Truckstop Souvenir, joined in to create amazing, heartfelt score and songs that capture the feel of the landscape.

FIELD WORK: A FAMILY FARM debuts on Iowa Public Television this week, Sunday April 12 at 1pm statewide. I’m thrilled to bring this story back to Iowa where it all began.

Huge thank you to all the farmers and folks who took time to appear in the film, as well as to Humanities Iowa, Seattle Arts & Culture, 4 Culture and Artist Trust for making the documentary possible.

Follow FIELD WORK: A FAMILY FARM on Facebook