Perseverance and Other Items in an Indie Filmmaker’s Toolkit by Theresa Pickett


While wrapping up exams this week, a lady in my grad school program at Vanderbilt University Peabody College asked me a question that was important to me because it made me examine my intentions. This lady who we can just call “F” was looking at my photos and acting clips at Ryan Pickett Productions Dot Com when she said, “You’ve already found your passion for acting, right? So why are you in grad school going through all this when you know what you want to be?” I looked out the window of my urban townhouse. I paused to look at the pictures on my desk. Some pictures are of my husband award-winning director Ryan Pickett when he was earning his top 5 finalist spot in the showcase event in the USA for Global Entrepreneurship Week film entrepreneurship competition The Race to BE hosted by media mogul Russell Simmons at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles. Another picture is of Ryan and I tying the knot in sunny St. Augustine, Florida, where I finished college after I took a break from my formal education to freelance in film. Some of my pictures are of the beautiful, thoughtful 21-month-old daughter who Ryan and I are passionate about raising to be the best human being she can be. Every picture reminded me of why I am in grad school instead of trying to become a professional actress.

Founding of Ryan Pickett Productions

When I moved to St. Augustine, Florida with director Ryan Pickett to attend Flagler College and earn my BA in history, Ryan found out that he won an Accolade Competition Award of Merit for short film Look, which was shot on the Red ONE 4K and that featured some of my best on-camera work. The Accolade Competition was the first festival that Ryan had submitted Look to, and it was rated a top 25 festival by MovieMaker Magazine. News of this win came when Ryan and I were devastatingly broke. St. Augustine had no film industry. Orlando and Miami were too far for a daily commute for freelance work. Ryan signed up for a domain name at Ryan Pickett Productions Dot Com. News of Ryan’s latest win was uploaded to his website. Ryan and I talked each other out of applying to more festivals to save money, even though Look showed significant potential.



After graduating, I moved back to Nashville, TN with Ryan and our daughter. Money was still tight. I had a realization when Ryan was helping to build my parents’ house that I had to help him live his dream. Ryan had talent that was important to me, and he needed to have his talent shown to the world. I was uncomfortable just giving up my dream of being an actress. I did not want Ryan giving up his dream of being a film director. I am a driven person who typically could never advocate giving up a dream. Sometimes dreams just have to be slightly adjusted to make them attainable. One of the best things about being married to the director of the most recent movie I was in was that if Ryan had help living his dream of being a film director, I could get a step closer to living my dream of being an actress. I begged Ryan to say that I could spend some money entering a few more festivals before Look became too outdated to be entered. Entries were expensive, which is why I recommend to aspiring filmmakers to choose film competitions carefully. Many film competitions are out there that offer little in return for money. Perseverance paid off for Ryan and me. While peeling open an envelope, Ryan and I found out that Look won an Award of Merit for experimental films in the Best Shorts Competition.

Hard Work

Publicity for Ryan’s wins was created with hard work. Ryan started working overtime building custom guitars in Nashville, TN the summer before I started my graduate school program at Vanderbilt. I utilized all my free time to promote Ryan’s film career and his award winning short film Look. I created Facebook pages for Ryan’s films and I made a twitter page for @Look_the_Film. Twitter helped me connect with some writers whose focus was to honor indie filmmakers. I began e-mailing owners of websites who write indie film reviews. Seven online publications, including Film Threat, reviewed Look. Two online publications reviewed another of Ryan’s films crime drama short You Only Loved Me Twice. I self-published press releases about wins that Look had received, and I e-mailed them over to owners of publications, such as Student Filmmakers and Film Snobbery. After I built a relationship with a few writers, I asked if they would be interested in publishing interviews. Soon Ryan and I had five interviews to add to his website in addition to an interview he had with Nashville Business Journal when he competed in film entrepreneurship competition The Race to BE. I saw another opportunity for a win when Nashville Scene ran its Best of 2011 Reader’s Choice poll. I entered Ryan into Nashville Scene’s 2011 Best of Nashville Reader’s Choice poll where he was rated one of Nashville’s top Visual Artists as well as The Best Filmmaker, while I was rated one of the Best “Real Housewives” of Nashville.


The Original Question

I can return to the question that “F” asked, “Why am I going through grad school at the #1 rated school for education Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education if I already know that I want to be an actress?” First, I’m not sure that I want to be a professional actress when I am raising a child and trying to be the best wife I can be. I like doing interviews about why I love to act, and I admit that I still check my IMDb STARmeter. When I was little, I never had a picture in my head of a marriage where I would leave my family for long days on set. My place in my family is at home where I can make a difference with the support I give my husband and child. I support my husband to become the best filmmaker he can be, and I support my child to develop a love for her interests. When I earn my Master of Education, I will have a sense of accomplishment that I could never have achieved if I was a freelance actress with no degree.  I want to do something meaningful with all of the interesting experiences that I gained when I freelanced. The background I have in the filmmaking industry will certainly not go to waste. I have plans to encourage media literacy in the classroom as well as to work with Ryan on another film some day. I am learning some of the top methods of teaching elementary school children, and I will utilize my education to make a meaningful difference in the world.


Biography for Theresa Pickett:

Theresa Pickett is an Italian-American actress who appeared in several films and print work as well as commercials. She hails from Williamson County, Tennessee although she was raised on the archipelago of Sumatra, Indonesia by mother Judith Biondo Meeker and father Dr. William Meeker MD. She studied film and television acting at Michael Howard Studios as well as Larry Singer Studios in New York. She spent some time in Los Angeles before she decided to get serious about her education. She received a BA in History from Flagler College of St. Augustine, Florida and she is currently pursuing a Master of Education in elementary education at Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education with several scholarships. She lives in the Hillsboro Village district of Nashville, TN with husband award-winning director Ryan Pickett and their 21-month-old daughter.

Learn more about Ryan Pickett Productions here.