What inspired you to pursue this area of interest?
I was born the eighth child to a loveless married couple. My parents’ relationship was extremely abusive and very dysfunctional. By the time I entered the world, my father had already left my mother emotionally, and she suffered from severe depression. Their relationship shaped who I was as a person and left me favoring men just like my father. When I was in my late 20s, I became a flight attendant at a small start-up airline named ValuJet. The all-powerful company president lauded the airline as being safe and on the cutting edge of airline travel. I trusted his word (his demeanor was just like my father’s) when while at the same time working on old planes that constantly malfunctioned which resulted in a slew of emergency landings. While I was on a flight headed to Florida, shrapnel from the right engine penetrated the fuselage and the right engine main fuel line and a cabin fire erupted a few seconds prior to takeoff. I was seated on the rear jump seat and ended up engulfed in flames. I was severely burned. After several years of recovering from the burns, I obtained a master’s degree in counseling (trying to figure it all out), which led to my relationship Q&A website, Heyrachel.org. As a counselor and expert in spotting the BS in relationships, I decided to put my advice together in a book titled “Hey Rachel! Real Talk. Real Relationships. Real Advice.” I was told that I had a strong voice, so I decided to write a script. The script led to the development of my short film, “Raggity Anns”, a film about three Atlanta women who tragically emulate their parents’ dysfunctional relationships.
What key advice would you share with readers that are interested in your industry?
Book: If you want to write a book, just sit down and start writing. Don’t worry about sentence structure, punctuation, etc. Many editors will edit your book for a reasonable rate. Write about something that you are familiar with. My familiarity was with really dysfunctional relationships. We all have enough life experience to write at least one juicy book. There are tons of resources on the internet, creative writing classes, etc., to assist you along the way and so many sites that will allow you to sell your book. Self-publishing is more profitable in most cases than being signed by a publishing company!
Film: Let me start by saying that throughout all my endeavors, I held a full-time job, and at one time, I worked two jobs while singlehandedly raising a son, so time should never be an excuse for not attempting to do what you are passionate about!
There are many different aspects of filmmaking to consider: Are you going to write the script? Are you going to film a script that is already written? Do you want to produce? Determine where your strengths lie and choose your path. It takes a lot of passion, some serious research skills, ingenuity, and an abundance of perseverance to go from concept to finished product in this business!
What is next for you and your business this Fall?
I am in the pre-production stage for my next short film based on my childhood titled “1319 Squash Street” and developing a “Raggity Anns” web series. I’m also working on my next book, “Man Drama.” In this book, readers will see some of their worst, yet somewhat humorous relationship nightmares (mini man dramas) unfold, and I offer interpretations and solutions for those nightmares.
How can readers connect with you online & through social media?
Hey Rachel! (Book Website) www.HeyRachel.org
Short Film Website: www.RaggityAnns.com
Business Website: www.RabranEnterprises.com
Featured News Articles:
Atlanta Journal – Constitution: https://www.ajc.com/lifestyles/douglasville-author-short-film-starts-get-attention-festivals/PPsht42lzf8ORmwyNj9N3N/
Daily Press: http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-nws-rachel-neal-0728-story.html /
LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/dp-nws-rachel-neal-0728-story.html /
Working Woman Report: http://workingwomanreport.com/years-terrifying-plane-incident-rachel-neal-promoting-book-short-film/