Friday, December 11, 2009

the longest few days of my life


I have been in non-stop, keep working until you pass out mode for the past week or so. I think I have taken on too much, but since there is nothing I can do about it now I just have to keep on slugging through.

Drones, the film I co-directed with Adam Busch, got into the Slamdance Film Festival. We've known for about a week and it's been really rough not to scream the news out to everyone in the whole world. Now, the cat is out of the bag, so I can finally scream, but I'm so damn tired that all I can do is give a quick "yip" of happiness.

Did I just use the word 'yip'? Yes, I did.

Anyway, Adam and I have been cutting a trailer for the film and working on the poster and the website and on top of all of that my step-grandmother passed away. She and I were never particularly close (she married my grandfather when he was in his 80's) so it wasn't like I knew her my whole life. Still, it was sad that she died ad I felt bad.

I put the whole Drones world away for the day yesterday so I could go with my dad to the funeral. It was the first time that I've ever really experienced the wall-crypt phenomena up close and personal. It was strange to sit in a white plastic folding chair in the middle of all these wall-crypts filled with dead people, the sun in my eyes, as the Rabbi officiated the memorial. I want to say that the experience put my life in perspective, but honestly, all it did was make me want to work harder.

There is so much I want to accomplish before I get lifted into a granite covered wall-crypt and I just don't know how I'm gonna do it all.

I'm going to be 33 next month and I can't help, but feel that a good chunk of my time on this Earth is gone. I know it sounds negative, maybe even defeatist, but that's not my intent at all. I just feel this overwhelming drive to make my mark on this place, something that will live on when I die.

My dad wrote a eulogy that he read yesterday and I will leave you with the last paragraph. It left me strangely comforted, but at the same time it seemed to incite my ambition even more:

"I don't know how the universe came to be, but it is so massive that our Earth and our individual lives seem to be minuscule when viewed in that way. But I know that each of our lives has meaning, even if for no other reason then we bring our genes and our lifetimes of knowledge to the next generation and the next and the next. And we make the best of what we have been given. In this sense, we never really die."


  1. Never commented here before, but I followed your tweet, and I'm glad I did. Really, really needed to hear that today. Thank you, and good luck with the busy week!

  2. I'm deeply sorry for your loss. Eulogy your Father wrote gave me shivers. Because I totally believe the same thing.

    Trailer looks great. Movie looks great... Hope I had some chance to watch it.

    If you need any kind of help poster design ect. please do not hesitate to ask I do my best to help out.

    lots of love

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Very sorry for your loss.

    I share some of your feelings. I'll be 32 next year, and while I've finally made a huge leap in my own career, I still look back at all at that time gone and feel I could've done so much more with it.

    But then I sit and consider that I also have a loving wife and two wonderful kids, and perhaps in the end (along with a incredible job), that's all that matters.

    I doubt I'll ever make waves in this lil' pond we call life, at least, not waves anywhere as big as the waves you've _already_ made, but I've jumped in, enjoyed it, and I'm teaching my kids to swim as well. And I still have a lot of swimming left.

    ...okay, that metaphor got away from me. I hope you get what I'm saying. Essentially; "count your blessings," and specifically you -- you've done so much, and your accomplishments are bigger than many of us will ever achieve. Be proud of that.

    Best to you and your family.

  5. Sorry to hear about your loss, its never easy to lose someone no matter how little you knew them.

    Drones looks brilliant so far, I hope I get to see it in a theater here in Vancouver. Best of luck with the marketting stuff, I know it's gonna be a hit.

  6. I'm very sorry for your loss. Sometimes things that aren't so horrible on the face of it (such as your not being that close to your step-grandmother) find a way of hitting us in our most vulnerable spot.

    As to the rest, I'm 50 and feel much the same way. I'm a writer, primarily non-fiction, but feel compelled to make a mark in the fiction world. Don't know if I'll ever do that to my own satisfaction. Your father's eulogy hit the spot, there.

    I enjoy your work; may you continue to share it with us for as long as YOU enjoy it, too. May you have many years of creativity and prosperity ahead of you.

  7. Faith (Tara MacLeod)December 11, 2009 at 2:05 AM

    Amber, my condolences on your step-grandmother... and congrats on slamdance. I say to you, if there's anything I can do, at all, for you or Adam, let me know. I'm probably not as competent or capable as LW when it comes to web stuff, but I offer my services anyhow.

    I totally dig your thoughts on making your mark, now that you're in your 30's, I'm gonna be 30 next month too... but you knew that :p

    anyhow, I heard James was going to be at a comic book dealie here in the big apple soonish... you planning on popping in, too?

    here's hoping you actually get the chance to sleep and such things sometime soon... :)

  8. I think at soon-to-be 33, you are in prime territory to make a heck of a mark: long, wide, and deep. Me... I'm [a little] older than Joss and I've made my share of marks. True, most of them are chalk on a sidewalk, but as long as it doesn't rain they'll be fine.

    Anyway... you've learned most of what you need to know--and still have the joy of learning yet more. Now you are entering the stage where you get to mark away. Have fun! As for the rest, it is/will be what it is/will be.

  9. Wow Amber, the movie looks great (just checked out the trailer)and your feelings about growing older and accomplishments and death and everything else really reverberate with me. Thanks for an awesome blog post... glad I'm not the only early-30-something who feels that way about time and age and making a mark and everything else...

  10. I'm going to be 33 next month and I can't help, but feel that a good chunk of my time on this Earth is gone.

    I'm 51 and I really feel this way. Plus, things don't look any better in the near future. But I greatly admire your drive; this is how stuff in the universe gets here.

  11. I know how you feel with the whole "chunk of life thing" just gone. It's pretty sad that I feel that way too and I've just turned 15. Yet somehow I feel like I could have used the past 15 years more practising for what I want be when I leave school and not doing pointless stuff I know I'm only doing to please other people.

  12. Amber,

    My condolences on your loss. It's never easy to lose someone, no matter how close the relationship.

    As long as the work is making you happy, continue - when it ceases to be a joy, stop.

    Leaving one's mark isn't always about a piece of film, a book or a beloved character. It's about the love we leave behind.

    I loved Tara...she was my introduction to you. But Tara wasn't and isn't the reason I remain a devoted Amber Benson fan. It is Amber Benson I remember for her dedication and loyalty to her fans. For giving not only money but time to a worthy cause - you donated the Triangle Taras to raise the money...then upped the ante by offering the time...YOUR will take to personalize them and ship them out.

    I turned 43 this year and found myself, much to my surprise, in the middle of a weirdspace mid-life crisis. But whereas you find yourself driven to work harder and leave your mark on this place - I find myself slowing down and doing things that make me happy.

    Every year on the birthday of the people I love, I call them up and sing happy birthday (really badly and badly off key). Oddly enough, they look forward to it, especially my nieces and nephews - despite their grumblings and groanings as they reach the "I'm too cool for that" age. But the one day when I called later than normal, my 12 year old nephew was worried I'd forgotten.

    In thirty, forty, fifty years - when I've shuffled off this mortal coil and my nieces and nephews are going through my "junk" and finding the stories, poems, videos of my creation...the tie-dyes and bandanas and my "Buffy" baseball hat...the yin-yang pendant - they won't think about what I "did" for a living or the gifts I gave mark will be the first time they pick up the phone to call someone they love and sing happy birthday because "Aunt Laurie always did it" and I always did it because that's what my grandmother always did.

    Believe me when I tell you - your mark is well and truly left in the girls who were helped by your portrayal of Tara, the homeless who ate this Thanksgiving...and the fans who will continue to follow you because of how you make them feel, regardless of the work.

    As long as the work is making you happy - work hard. But don't forget to play and love just as hard and find your bliss along the way.

    Just my two's more like a rambling nickel at 6:35am.

    Much love and admiration,
    (aka WillowsPromise)

  13. That is a beautiful eulogy. I can see where you get your writing skills from, your father definitely has a way with words. I am sorry for your loss, especially coming at the end of the year.

    I hope it is some form of condolence that in the 33 years you've been on the planet, you've touched countless crazed BTVS fans, both with your acting and your writing. We've followed you to your other projects, purchased your books and will continue to support you for as long as you are the wonderful person you are.

    I am looking forward immensely to Drones. Both watching it and telling everyone I know to watch, as well.

  14. Hi Amber.

    Firstly, please accept my condolensces over the death of your step-Grandmother.

    Secondly, congratulations once more on getting Drones into Slamdance. The film looks really good and I hope it wins you lots of prizes and positive press and attention.

    But I think you are slightly wrong to say you have accomplished nothing of significance. Firstly, your work on Buffy kicked open a few doors and there are many people, gay people or terminally shy like myself, who found comfort and hope in that character and in you by extension. And that is a legacy in and of itself.

    But I also think of the person you are - kind, considerate, passionate about the world and wanting to do something to make it better. Thing is, you already have been (as your recent LA Food Bank drive shows) and you will keep on doing so as you have the compassion in your soul to not stand idly by.

    As an artist you ahve touched a whole generation with one performance and your continued and vast range of work as both actress, director, screen writer and author will continue to grow and impress. Why? because you don't sit back and expect life to be good. You work hard to make it so and that is an admirable quality.

    So I would say that your impact on this world is already a positive one and will, I have absolutely no doubt, be even more so in the years to come. Your greatest legacy will be that the world you leave behind will have been made better than it was when you arrived by your presence, dedication and compassionate spirit. Not many people can be such a legacy, but you are and will be all the more.

    I await the next part of your life story with interest, because no matter what course it takes, it will be one built on hope rather than destruction.

  15. I am sorry for the loss of your step grandmother. As to your life at 33, it hasn't quite begun. Good luck on your ventures.

  16. Amber, your father's eulogy was just gorgeous--especially apropos, since I just found out about a colleague's sudden death.

    Stay ambitious, keep creating and you'll continue to be amazing!

  17. at 33, you've been doing what you love professionally for half your life.

    You've got at least twice as long to go to make an even bigger impact on the world.

    Once you're done with all the things for this movie, have a great holiday season, take a break, and enjoy life.

    Good luck.

  18. Your post makes me think of the difference between making a mark in big ways and making a mark in small ways.

    When I was 20, I was a political activist, putting full-time work into making a big difference for a lot of people. I wanted to leave a Big Mark on the world. And I got to be a small part of groups that did just that.

    Now, at 40, I am a school counselor, doing my best to help people one at a time. It is difficult and often thankless work, and you don't get your picture in the paper (unless you really screw up) but I know without a doubt that I will go to my grave having made a difference.

    Amber, you may very well eventually make a Big Mark on the world with your films and books. You appear to have the talent to do so,

    But you have already made a difference for a large number of young people. One of the times I met you (at a "Bronze" posting board party in LA) I saw a teenage girl crying as she told you how your work as Tara had affected her coming-out process. Take it from a school counselor, your work really has touched her life, wherever she may be now. And I suspect she is only one of hundreds who were teenagers at that time on whom you had that effect.

    Just something to think about.

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Baruch Dayan haEmes, sorry for your loss.

  21. Glad I found your blog! I followed your tweet today as well.

    At 33, I hardly think your life is even remotely close to being over...but, given your line of work and being a woman in Hollywood, unfortunately you have to work twice as hard as a man.

    Keep up the good work! I love following your adventures!

  22. It's me again Margret! hehe!

    I think most have said what's on my mind, that you've already left a deep mark on the universe in waking up every day doing the thing you love, thus people fall in love with you and the things you have created can't be erased.

    What creators don't usually understand is that not everyone wakes up and wants to create, most are happy sucking up the things that are already placed before them. So being the rare breed that wants to create something, anything and actually have a way to accomplish this with recognition, and pay back, (not just monetary) is a brilliant accomplishment on it's own.

    Oh dearest Amber, stop over analyzing and sit on the little tinfoil thrown you have created for yourself, that sits on top of your accomplishments with pride. (maybe also a bit of a big head, at least in private! hehe.) Don't stop being YOU, the warm hearted, witty, intelligent, talented, person you are. Keep having fun with what you do in your life, the rest is just gravy.

    Plus this is what fans are here for, the pick you up and patting you on the back to get through the horrid "I'll never get through this." moments. Love from friends and family is one thing, and love from total adoring stagers is another breed on it's own, but with both? You've got nothing to worry about.

    I'm off topic here and random, but what the hell do I know? I'm just a twenty three year old stranger form Newfoundland, Canada. :P <3!

    -Mel a.k.a Dorkchops.

  23. Amber--

    I can't express to you the mark you have made. I know so many people in my own life who have been deeply moved and touched by your work and it has driven them, and myself, to push even harder for our own dreams. The biggest mark you can make in this world is to affect another person, and I think I speak for all of your devoted fans when I say, you have done that en masse. Keep moving forward and be oh so very proud.

  24. Amber, the folks above me have said better than I could how you've made a mark already.
    And my condolences on your loss; your father's words about his step-mother are very true.
    And I just turned 54. Almost 9 years ago the end of bad marriage elft me and my ex both cleaned out, and I haven't come back very far, since I live in an $80-a-week room. But I'm still holding to myd reams, my lifelong one of writing seriously and the continuing proccess of learning new things. And I realized soemthing about 12 years ago.
    In one snes, you and I and evryone else ahve the same amount of time to accomplish things in. Nobody gets one single second more than the rest of his or her life. I'm sure you'll do well with yours.

    PS: Thanks for accepting my Friending you on Facebook.

  25. I kind of get what you're saying about leaving a mark in this world. I think to some degree we all want to do just that. I'm only about to be 20 but even then it seems i could have contributed more to the world that i have. But you, Amber, have done so much already whether you see it or not. I, like many others, first became a fan when you were introduced to us a Tara on Buffy and trust me I needed that. But it's not just Tara that has me saying you're my favorite actress, it's the rest of your work as well. It's good to know that there are actors/actresses out there that do what they like and not just for the money. By writing/producing/directing your own stuff you've become an inspiration for so many of us who in turn will more than likely tell others of you, including our children and grand-children (hopefully great-grand-children too xP). I know that whatever it is you do it will definalty leave a mark. All we can do is not dwell on what has been and as Walt Disney said "Keep moving forward"

  26. My condolences to you and your family, obviously, but I am concerned about your wanting to make a "permanent mark" on the world. I realize you suddenly feel more mortal than ever before (trust me, I've gone through this sort of thing many times before...both parents and both sets of grandparents, and both of my sisters aren't too healthy at present -but I digress), but please don't go out of your way to make that mark. It'll come in its own good time. It may have already been made. As I frequently remind my best friend, just pace yourself...

  27. I think you have made more of an impact than you realize. In my opinion, just having met you has made my life better. You are a continuous inspiration, both in your philanthropic and your professional works. Your life's not half over; it's only begun. Mazel tov! May you live to a hundred and twenty.

  28. just so you know, you changed my life.
    all throughout high school i had absolutly no idea what i wanted to do with my life, and i felt like i was constantly being pressured to find out because college was on its way.
    your the one who got me into film and directing and ive never loved doing anything more.
    im going off to film school next year and couldnt be more excited to take the next step in my life.
    so, thanks :)

  29. My thoughts are with you & yours.

    You do so much, you've done so much, and you have so much more to do.

    Make sure to take breaks when you need to, and to rest, recover, and relax.

  30. Sorry about the passing of your step-grandmother.

    I know what you mean, it put things in to perspective and makes you think about your own mortaility.

    You have already made a mark on the world!

    Your dad's statement really sounds spiritual, what a lovely view of the universe.

    A x

  31. Congrats on the film. I watched the trailer, it looks really good! When will commoners like myself be able to see this movie?

  32. Congrats to your film!

    And trust me, as a previous-scared-closeted-lesbian, you already have made a mark on this world! You're a gay icon that I love to look up too...especially during the time in my life that I was terrified of people finding out about who I was, I was able to watch you and your character in a completely normal relationship which in turn helped me realize that it's ok to be gay. And since coming out, i've been super proud and confident in who I am and I've been motivated to be an LGBT activist. i'm sure you've heard stories like this all the time on your work with Buffy, but i'm telling you again from my perspective. Amber I think you are full of awesomeness and I just wanna say thank you.

    I'm sorry for your loss, and congrats again for your movie...I so can't wait to see it!


  33. Wow. Two huge life moments coming at the Holiday's. As Crazy as my life is right now it does not even come close.Be strong and know we're all behind you!

  34. Very impressive trailer. I'm especially pleased that you're using Dr. Venture in a live action role.
    And I have to say that the eulogy written by your father for your step-grandmother was beautiful.

  35. Hi Amber,

    Really sorry to hear about your step grandmother's passing. :(
    Try to take a break from working over christmas, I think you deserve it. The trailer for Drones is awesome! It looks like a great film - so congratulations on getting it into the Slamdance film Fest.

    Take care,


  36. That's the kind of sad event that really does give a person a sense that they need to get going on what they want to accomplish in life. That is, in effect, a kind of putting things into perspective, wouldn't you say?

  37. OMG I just received my signed Tara!! I love it Thank you.

  38. I'm only 16, and maybe my opinion or insight isn't that significant. But I can tell you that your work will resonate with me. I am a HUGE BtVS fan, more so a Tara fan. And your performance as that stuttering woman was incredible. I've gotten my friends into that show, and your work recieves a collective nod from all of them. Your work has hit the next generation, in a positive manner.

    On top of that, The Ghosts of Albion series provided some well written and thought provoking quotations that I memorized and will always remember. Basically, I follow a lot of your works - and I won't forget it.

    In the life of a young, still maturing're immortalized through your art. Writing, acting, directing and just being an all around awesome person. (From what I can infer.)

    So thank you for helping me basically understand myself a little better. You've made your mark, as stated previously.

  39. Sorry I haven't kept up with your blogs recently, so my belated condolences on your step-grandmother.

    As for turning 33, I have no doubt you will be around for quite a while to accomplish much, much more. I've enjoyed your work to date so much and am looking forward to seeing Drones. Your talent is amazing.

    As someone soon to turn 53, at least you didn't wait like I did to write my first story. Just want you to know that your encouraging posts and kind words do touch people and did play a part in my finally putting my book on-line. I'll try to check for your blogs more often.

  40. Happy Birthday Amber!
    I hope you have a great day, and finally get a bit of a break.
    I am a massive fan of Buffy and of you! My school recently put on a production of Once More With Feeling in which i played Willow.

    I cant wait to read Deaths Daughter, i am just currently trying to find it here in Australia.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your step great-grandmother

    Love Brittany

  41. Hi Amber,

    Tons of Amazing People sprinkling wonderful colors & love in your life, more fantastic Life & Love experiences to enrich your being, all your hearts desire coming true, this and more I wish for you...

    Hope you’re having loads of birthday wishes coming true!!


    All the best,

    PS: My deepest condolence about your step-grandmother…

  42. Happy birthday, Amber. The best present you can give yourself is a smile, so indulge yourself frequently.

  43. very blog............

  44. Firstly, let me welcome you onto the final rung on Maslow's Hierarchy of Need. Enjoy the view, cuz lot of folks never have the privilege.

    My thoughts on the subject of the elusive "Mark" on the world- realize this is coming from a 30-yr-old in the midst of her own premature midlife crisis, so it may sound like something out of Avenue Q's "BA in English/It Sucks To Be Me" at first...

    I'm a doctor and have spent the last 24 years of my life in school/training, the last 8 years of which have been so consuming that they precluded any other activity (up to and occasionally including basic hygiene). My mark on this world has yet to occur, though I fully intend to make it happen (what I lack in optimism, I try to make up for with persistence). Like delayed gratification, I've been clinging to the possibility of delayed significance.

    One thing that you see in medicine is people at some of the hardest moments in their lives. You'd think that this would reinforce my feelings of the importance of the work I do, but instead it has taught me something entirely different. Healing the body is fine and dandy, but it is in healing the heart that you make a true difference in a person's life. No disease can cripple someone's life as thoroughly as that person's perspective on their condition.


  45. Continued from above-

    Why this philosophical blather? Because, in addition to all that the people (esp caughtnthequiet and Ronnie_ASA) above have pointed out, you are in the almighty business of Entertainment. This does not impress me (the readers gasp- sacrilege!). What _does_ impress me is that you seem to have an appreciation of the responsibility that this entails. You had a trial-by-fire in that concept through Tara (handled marvelously), and I find it unlikely that you will forget that experience in your own creations. A story can change the way a person views the world around them. Some stories are felt by more people, some by less- sometimes they work in aggregate... would you be the person you are without the myriad authors you've read? The groups of people who create the movies/TV you've seen?

    I guess the thesis of this is that you have the potential, at the ripe old age of 33, to influence more people than I will ever treat. Make the most of it. Whether your name is immortalized in history is not really up to any individual- it is a confluence of opportunity, action, and (sadly) outside recognition of that action. Keep up the good work and maybe that confluence will present itself. I'll be doing the same.


  46. I know what you mean about losing someone. I lost my parents which is a little more extreme, but still the same on a basic level for anyone that loses someone they know.

    Our world uses a common denominator of money, power, and control. It is destined to fail to help the needy and underprivileged as a whole. If you really want to make a mark help shift this focus to one that uses the total earth's resources which should belong to, and be shared, by every living thing on earth. Otherwise your just pissing in the sand of virtual uselessness in regard to the big picture.

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  48. I know what you mean. I'm a few years your junior and I still feel that everyday that goes by where I haven't done something extra-ordinary in my life is a waste. I think it might be a very common feeling and it's great that you've been able to use it to motivate yourself.

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  51. wife and I turned 33 this year, too. It's a weird feeling isnt' it. I no longer feel young even though I know we are, really. I think this is the point where you start living it up, because before we know it, 40 will be sneaking a peek around the corner. Sheesh! That's a scary thought. My little bro died at 17 from Juvenile Diabetes, so this isn't really an accurate statement, given we can all go at any time, but at 33, I think I'm coming to a better understanding that we're not exactly immune to mortality now. Well, that's a morbid thought. Yeah, let's just live it up!

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