Marathon: a long and arduous undertaking, running one would be considered a life goal for almost anyone.
“From beginning to end, an independent filmmaker is involved in every aspect of making a film: from finding the story, to securing the financing, shooting the film, doing the publicity, to securing the distribution for the film. Being an indie filmmaker is being a 100% committed, dedicated and persistent. It’s having think skin and being able to motivate yourself through any obstacle that may come your way and most importantly… never stopping” Tim said.
Tim spends his days focused on his film and pounding down the coffee. The only luxury he allows himself, is watching his beloved football team, the Minnesota Vikings. “I haven’t missed a game since 1982” he proudly shared “even at the Mammoth Film Festival, I watched the game. I had to skip the first half of our film screening, I wasn’t about to break a 27 year streak!”
This is the kind of stick-to-it attitude that is the makeup of an independent filmmaker, and it is only fitting that Tim VandeSteeg lives by his motto: “Be Powerful, Be Unstoppable.”
I met Tim VandeSteeg, CEO and founder of Indiewood Pictures, Inc back in 2006, while working as a product sponsor for the independent film, Fall into Me. I recall Tim being engaging and approachable. His passion was inspiring and I knew right away, he was the real deal. He already had several projects in the works, and was getting noticed for the way he used marketing to promote his films. During a meeting, he told me about his next project MY RUN; the story of a Minnesota man who had suffered the loss of his wife to cancer and overcame incredible odds as a single parent raising three children. This man did the unthinkable; he ran a series of marathons covering 2000 miles from St Paul to Atlanta, to bring awareness to the 23 million children being raised in single parent homes.
I left his office that day wondering about the story he shared. What would possess a 57 year old man, with bad knees and bum heart to run 75 consecutive marathons in 75 consecutive days? I also knew if anyone could tell this story, Tim was the one.
Fast forward…fall 2008.
I was attending an event celebrating a local networking meeting and had the opportunity to an author who was waiting for his newly published book to arrive. I love being around other writers and gleaning from them. I was intrigued by this man, soft spoken, with a gentle spirit. I was drawn in as he shared his story of losing his wife to cancer and then raising his three children on his own. It was then, as he told me how the title of his book: A Father's Odyssey: 75 Marathons in 75 Consecutive Days, the pieces came together and I realized, this was the man of Tim VandeSteeg’s vision, Terry Hitchcock.
I went home that evening and reconnected with Tim through email and shared my chance meeting with Terry. Thankfully, he remembered me and sent me a link to view the promotional trailer of Terry’s story.
MY RUN is the award-winning inspirational documentary of Terry Hitchcock and his incredible story to bring attention to the challenges of raising children in single parent homes, by running into the trenches, literally.
His 2000 mile journey was riddled with pain and heartache, but he never quit, through driving rain storms and unbearable heat, he kept going. Even though most of his crew quit by halfway through the trek, Terry kept going, knowing he was doing something beyond himself, something of purpose. Terry is a true over-comer, more than that he is an encourager, a shining example that nothing is impossible, when you have faith to follow it through.
The story was very close to Tim’s heart, having been raised in a single parent home in the 1970’s.
“My mom thought she would be always be married” Tim shares, “she loved the thought of staying home to raise the kids and take care of the home” until the marriage dissolved. Tim said “then, my mom had to do what she needed to do, which was everything to provide for my brother and myself. We had to make some sacrifices as kids, if we wanted something we had to work for it.” Proudly Tim shared, “My mom is my hero”.
Tim could relate to Terry’s story and knew he could bring it to the screen from a familiar place, reality.
The MY RUN teams also includes Producer, Mark Castaldo (an award winning producer and CEO of Destiny Pictures) who is also serving as the Producer for Pushing Life, the feature motion picture, based on Terry Hitchcock’s story, now in development. Christine Redlin is an Associate Producer on the film, as well serving as the voice of Sue, Terry’s wife in the film.
A chance meeting landed Academy Award Winner Billy Bob Thornton on the team. Graciously lending his voice as the Narrator for the film as well as Billy Bob’s band the Boxmasters adding a special rendition of their song “Every King Wears a Crown” for the film. Billy Bob believes in the film stating: “If we could all be 1/10 the person that Terry Hitchcock is”. I thought I heard a crack in his Tim’s voice during the interview, (or perhaps he was only sipping a cup from his 3rd pot of coffee that day) how he was humbled by the gift Billy Bob had given to the film by being its Narrator. Tim told MCFE my mom would say: “You have been blessed”
Marketing a film whether it’s an independent or Hollywood is a lot of work and takes savvy financing.
Marketing through social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter is where marketing make sense for films with smaller budgets. “It is vital to capture fans before the film is even released, it gives them something to be a part of. They are excited to go along for the ride with us the filmmakers” Tim said “plus we get instant feedback, which is an encouragement for us too. Viral Marketing has been a win/win for us.”
MY RUN promotional partners like the Minnesota Twins and Sun Country Airlines have also contributed to spreading the positive word about the film. Terry, a diehard Twins fan had the honor of throwing the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game last fall, where they showed the trailer of MY RUN during a break in the action on the huge screens in the Metrodome.
Now that’s exposure! It’s working too; word is getting out about this inspiring documentary.
MY RUN has already begun winning prestigious awards. First, The Dove Foundation, which promotes films that are family-friendly, saying “It's truly a story of endurance and faith. Dove is proud to award "My Run" the Dove "Family-Approved" Seal.
In October, the world premiere of MY RUN was revealed at the 2009 Austin Film Festival , where it won the “Audience Award” for Best Documentary. “Our reception there proves that documentaries like ours, ones that capture the profound tragedies of life and the amazingly resilient nature of the human spirit in a simple and straightforward manner, can be powerful and inspiring. This award is special because it’s the festival audience who voted for MY RUN” Tim said.
The Mammoth Film Festival brought rave reviews, again becoming an audience favorite and earning the award for “Best Documentary”. “We are honored that our film and Terry’s story has made the audiences tear and cheer” Tim said.
MY RUN has been chosen as an “Official Selection” of the 2010 Sedona International Film Festival. “It’s a film festival that really celebrates filmmakers” Tim beamed with pride as he shared “What’s especially exciting is that MY RUN has been chosen to screen in association with the festival during the Sedona Marathon, what an honor for ‘MY RUN’ to be showcased with this event”
The Official MY RUN TRAILER is available at