Friday, October 21, 2011

BTTC Newsletter #9: Harrison Ford, Aviation Royalty, Best of Festival & BTTC

Breaking Through The Clouds Newsletter 
Newsletter #9
  October 2011

Welcome to the newsletter about:

Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby. 

Do I ever have a lot of good news to share with BTTC fans and supporters!  With the exception of the premiere of BTTC in Frederick, Md June 2010, I can honestly say this past week has been the best week of my professional career! 

While being presented with the Combs Gates Award from the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, I was honored to meet Harrison Ford and many of today's aviation legends.  To top it off, BTTC won the Best of the Festival at the Chagrin Film Festival in Chagrin, Ohio just 3 days later!  My hope is the momentum will keep building and future newsletters will be brimming with continued good news but for now, read below to learn about the amazing events over the past week! 

As always, thank you to all who have stood by me throughout the entire process and those who are just now joining in and helping to carry the women's legacy even higher. 

Heather Taylor, Executive Producer
Archetypal Images, LLC
In This Issue
Harrison Ford, Aviation Legends & BTTC
Best of the Festival: Chagrin Documentary Film Festival
DVD Available for the Holidays
Upcoming Events
BTTC Tshirts Make Great Stocking Stuffers
 National Aviation Hall of Fame Honors BTTC with Combs Gates Award

"I never imagined that following the dreams of twenty pioneering women in aviation's history would lead to my meeting the quint-essential aviation legends of today."  This is how I began my speech a the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) in Las Vegas on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011. 

I woke at 4:30am that morning with anticipation and eagerness for the day ahead.  By 9:30am, I was in the green room where National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) President Phil Roberts introduced me to Gene Cernan, the last astronaut who walked on the moon.  I turned around a few minutes later and met General Lloyd "Fig"" Newton, the first African American Thunderbird pilot.  Aerobatic Champion Sean Tucker worked the room, filling it great energy.  WWII veteran pilot and aerobatic champion Bob Hoover wheeled in all smiles and FAA administrator Bruce Babbit began exchanging stories with aviation legend Clay Lacey and others in the room as I stood there, soaking it all in.

After several minutes, we all walked towards the stage when I suddenly found myself face to face with actor & pilot Harrison Ford!  I knew this guy could fly as I grew up watching him (ala Han Solo) fly in a galaxy far, far away!  And now he was standing next to me saying congratulations and telling me he looked forward to watching MY film!  HOLY COW!  How does one respond to that!
HT meeting HF
Heather meeting Harrison Ford
Phil introduced the men who were on stage and started talking about the significance of the Combs Gates Award.  Then I heard him start telling a very familiar story; MY story and the journey with the film! As I am being welcomed to the stage, all these aviation legends gathered around me and posed for a picture as we held up a check from the NAHF for $20,000 with my name on it!  What struck me at the time (besides being very cognizant of who is standing next to me) is that I am on stage with all these accomplished men, representing 20 pioneering women in aviation and getting their stories honored and preserved in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.  As I say in my speech, I can only I hope I made the women proud. 
Heather with Harrison Ford & Aviation Elite
Image courtesy of Jack Sykes/Pro Pilot Magazine
L to R: Phil Roberts, Bob Hoover, Clay Lacey, Harrison Ford, Heather Taylor, Sean Tucker, Bruce Babbit, Capt. Gene Cernan, Gen. "Fig" Newton

It's a bit of a blur what happened next as I delivered my speech.  Unbeknownst to be, however, it was all captured on youtube.  While I never like being in front of the camera, I know that I am representing the 20 women of the derby so I swallow my self-consciousness as I attach the youtube video of my speech here:

At NBAA2011 Combs Gates Award Presented to Filmmaker
NBAA2011 Combs Gates Award Presented to Filmmaker
I wrote a brief blog about my five minutes of fame shortly after the event.  Here is the link to that blog if you would like to read a bit more:
Adding to the fulfillment of the day, my father George Taylor attended the ceremony with me.  Dad has been flying for 50 years and is without question an aviation fanatic.  He instilled the passion and wonder of aviation throughout my family.  Of his 5 children, 3 have pilots licenses, one has soloed and one (me) produced a film on aviation.  The NBAA and NAHF graciously invited both me and my father to lunch with all those on the day's panel.  We sat at a table with NBAA president Ed Bolen and Gen. Newton among several other wonderful people.  We had some fabulous discussions. After spending a little bit more time with Gen. Newton, I can say without a doubt that I am a big fan of his.  He has an incredibly positive and contagious spirit and is so genuine and humble.  One can learn so much by just being in his presence.   

The day continued as Dad and I talked to EAA President Rod Hightower, AOPA President Craig Fuller and many other who's who of aviation. I had a phenomenal day and think dad had the time of his life as well.  What a gift! 

My overwhelming thanks to the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the Combs and Gates Families, those who stood there with me physically that day and those who were standing there beside me all along the way.  A special thanks to Phil Robers and Ron Kaplan of NAHF who facilitated so much of the special day and made it flow seamlessly. 

I couldn't imagine the week getting any better, but it did!  Read on to learn what happened next!
A True Honor at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in Chagrin Falls, Ohio

After my amazing day in Las Vegas on Tuesday, I caught an early flight to Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday to attend the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.  Thursday morning I was greeted warmly by people on the film committee and was told over and over again how much they enjoyed  BTTC!  Because this festival is a documentary film festival, there are many filmmakers on the board so it was great to hear comments about techniques and decisions I made as a filmmaker and have them recognized and appreciated by peers as well as general audience members. 

I screened the film Thursday night and had the most receptive audience full of engaging questions with a real heart and spirit to the whole event.  I could tell there was something different about this festival; the whole community seemed involved in something bigger than themselves.  At first I thought it was a quaint little community that just had that small town feel but I soon learned there was much more than that.  It was a community that was healing after a tragedy and turning something truly painful into something hopeful and inspiring. 

The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival director Mary Ann Ponce and her husband, Ed, explained the purpose behind the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival to me.  Their son, David Ponce, was working on a documentary about children with aids in a village called Sparrow Village in Roodeport, South Africa.  David visited the village and was moved to share their story with the world.  He said in a letter to the Director of Sparrow Village "You have created a village that embodies joy and, above all, hope."  Shortly after David returned from his visit, he discovered he had leukemia.  David continued to work on the film and in a letter to the Roodenport Director said, "Nothing is as important to me as producing a work that is true to Sparrow and showing those who have not visited just what the human spirit is capable of when faced with something immensely dark and frightening."  Sadly in 2006, at the very young age of 20, David succumbed to his leukemia.  David left instructions to one of his professors to start the film over and make it his own in order to finish it.  His professor did so and the film, "The Lost Sparrows of Roodepoort" eventually won two international "Best Documentary" Awards. 

Mary Ann & Ed Ponce decided to start a film festival in honor of their son and to help others who are out there trying to inspire and "share with the world just what the human spirit is capable of."   This year marks the second year of the festival and it is growing by leaps and bounds.  As previously mentioned, it seems the whole town is behind Mary Ann & Ed and they are creating a community in Chagrin Falls much like the spirit David admired in Roodeport; one that "embodies joy and above all, hope".  

On Friday afternoon, there was an awards luncheon for the filmmakers. There were a lot of fascinating films and truly inspiring stories represented at the festival.  The committee obviously took their job seriously and really searched out meaningful films.  When it was time for the last award to be announced, Ed Ponce took to the podium.  He spoke of how much the festival meant to him and Mary Ann and the purpose behind it.  He was so genuine and heartfelt that there was not a dry eye in the house.  Then he announced the 2011 David Ponce Best of the Festival award.  I could feel my heart race as he called out Breaking Through The Clouds! I was so surprised, that I could barely stand, let alone think of a comprehensive and meaningful acceptance speech to relay how much of an honor this was. 

I had just come from one of the most exciting events of my life meeting Harrison Ford and aviation's elite.  I did not think that event could be topped.  However, when Ed Ponce called out my film at the banquet, I began to tear up with a feeling of pride and purpose.  This entire town was putting their belief in BTTC.  Sure I was nervous in Vegas, but I was literally shaking in the little town of Chagrin Falls.  I did manage to squeak out in my shocked state just how much of an honor this was and how that as filmmakers, we hope to inspire others as much as we were inspired.  I also mentioned how much I admired everyone coming together to turn a tragedy into something so beautiful and inspirational. 

Ed Ponce told me afterwards that one of the reasons they wanted to have the festival is because they saw so many people producing documentaries with amazing stories but no real outlet for all these films. I couldn't agree more!  To have a film festival with the primary purpose to "capture what the human spirit is capable of" certainly spoke to me and the reason I chose to produce a film on the 1929 derby.  The fact that this entire town recognized that spirit and purpose in my producing the film and honored me with an award that meant so much to this family, this town and another town an entire continent away, well there really is no way to express my thanks, gratitude and humbleness at being chosen. 

I read the letter that David Ponce wrote to the Director of the South African Village six weeks before he passed away and can say without question that he was a truly unique and outstanding young man.  How amazing that his parents could take this tragedy and transform it into a gift that perpetuates their son's vision while at the same time, inspiring others with the same spirit and vision their son had to reach even more people.  As I said, I knew there was something different about this festival.  The entire community is behind it.  I like to think that when communities such as this, or communities like the women formed in the derby, get behind something, then a real healing can begin and make way for more good to come. 

Thank you David, Ed & Mary Ann Ponce.  Thank you to those on the Chagrin Falls Documentary Film Festival and thank you to the town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio.  You made an already incredible week richer and deeper with meaning and purpose, helping me to remember why I produced Breaking Through The Clouds in the first place. 

You can read more about David and the Ponce's inspiration for the festival at:
Quick Links for Breaking Through The Clouds:
The First Women's National Air Derby
BTTC Website:

BTTC Facebook Page has the latest updates as they happen

Follow along on more detailed writings on the BTTC Blog
BTTC You Tube
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Join BTTC Newsletter
BTTC Makes a Great Gift for the Holidays
BTTC New DVD Cover
The DVD is available through the website: 

An inspiring story of 20 women who raced across America in 1929.  

Follow along as headline aviatrixes Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes, Phoebe Omlie, Bobbi Trout and Louise Thaden race across the country during nine amazing days in the summer of 1929.

This wonderful film highlights spunky, gutsy, brave women whose go for it attitudes made aviation history... it should be required watching for anyone involved in aviation.  
Patty Wagstaff,  
National Aviation Hall of Fame Inductee

Breaking Through The Clouds provides nearly two hours of captivating viewing with original footage from the women who flew in the 1929 air derby and from the race itself.

Beautiful aerial recreations place the viewer in the pilot's seat.  Interviews with legendary pilots Elinor Smith Sullivan, Patty Wagstaff, Julie Clark, family members of the original pilots and aviation historians bring the story alive.

In addition, there is over 20 minutes of bonus material included in the DVD such as stories about the women during the race that didn't make it into the documentary, what the women wore and information about the planes & navigation in 1929. 

Available at website:
BTTC Cost $30 plus S&H

*Note:For those who do not like to order on-line or use pay pal, email me at Heather@
to work out other arrangements. If you have not heard from me within a week,  please call 865-242-7551.  My preference is email when possible (so I can keep better track of everything) but sometimes emails have technical glitches.  Thank you. 
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If you know someone who would like to receive these newsletter,s please feel free to forward to them and have them join the  mailing list.
Upcoming Events 

The BTTC website is expanding with pages listing my schedule, latest news, press section and awards.  It's a work in progress but please be sure to visit it for the latest.  The BTTC Facebook page is also kept up to date with the latest happenings. 

There are two more film festivals to attend before the Fall Festival Season is complete.  Below are those details.

This Sunday, October 23rd, BTTC is playing at the Reel Independent Film Festival Extravaganza in Washington, 2pm.

The next screening is the Utopia Film Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland.  Screenings are Friday, October 28th at 8:30pm and Sunday, October 30th at 4:30pm.

This will make a total of 11 film festivals for BTTC.  There are still a few more on the horizon so will post updates as they happen.

Reminder that Heather is available for speaking engagements, presentations and screenings of the film.  You can learn more on my website or email me to discuss options:
       BTTC T-shirts
as Stocking Stuffers! 

I have black BTTC t-shirts and
white BTTC t-shirts available.  Below is what the front of a black t-shirt looks like.  The back has written in the top middle part. 

If you would like a t-shirt, send me an email and we'll work out logistics.  The cost is $20 plus postage.  Eventually I hope to sell them through the website but until then, just email Heather@breakingthroughtheclou 
BTTC T-shirt (black).  White T-shirts with a black Logo are also available.

*PLEASE NOTE: Occasionally peoplel tell me they sent an email & I didn't respond.  This is one of the curses of the electronic age as I am not aware when I do not receive an email.  If you haven't heard a response from me within a week (typically much sooner), chances are I have not received the email.  You can call me at 865-242-7551, though my preference is email first.
What is Breaking Through The Clouds?

Breaking Through The Clouds: The First Women's National Air Derby is a documentary about 20 female pilots, including Amelia Earhart, who raced across the country for 9 days in August 1929 to prove that women could fly.  They chased their dream and encountered cultural stereotypes, navigation challenges, threats of sabotage, mechanical difficulties and endless chicken dinners.  The women persevered and became pioneering legends in aviation.  Their story is inspiring to anyone who has the courage to follow their own dream.

Heather Taylor had a calling to tell this inspiring story in the hopes of helping others to find the courage to search for their own path.  While Heather hasn't had to deal with the endless chicken dinners like the women in the derby did, she does face the challenges of an an independent artist.  By spreading the word and supporting the film, you are helping Heather and other struggling artists reach for the sky in their own way and work towards breaking through the clouds.
Thank you. 

Heather Taylor, Executive Producer
Archetypal Images, LLC

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