Being a regular is always nice. The sense of comfort and ease that happens when you walk into an establishment or event and someone recognizes you is one of the greater joys in life. That feeling of belonging to a group, whether it’s a regular coffee shop group or a room full of social workers and therapists and family violence prevention specialists, just makes me feel happy. I had that experience recently when I attended the 21st Annual ICAN / NEXUS Training and Conference on Violence Within the Home and Its Effects on Children.

ICAN is the Los Angeles Interagency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect and it is chaired by Executive Director Deanne Tilton Durfee. In the world of domestic violence, she is one of the most gracious, open and dedicated people you’ll find. She and her staff put on the annual training and this was my third year in attendance. It’s a wonderful event that brings together countywide agencies to learn, network and coordinate their efforts to reduce violence in the home and protect the children who are the victims.

The Pasadena Convention Center is taken over by hundreds of caring, giving people who intervene in the most dire of family circumstances – drug addiction, mental health problems, gang violence, and it is their job to stop the abuse. This year Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey gave a keynote, and Supervisor Hilda Solis made a short speech.

I was welcomed by my friend Kenneth Rios who is one of the event coordinators and though I only see him once a year he recognizes me right off the bat. It is great to see a friendly face when you walk in to a room of 400 people.

Contrast that with the experience I had this week at the American Film Market being held at the Loews Hotel. I was the new kid on the block there as this was my first time attending as a member of the press. The hotel is taken over by producers, buyers and distributors of movies from around the globe. There are probably more languages being spoken at any one time here than at the United Nations.

AFM is a huge economic boost to the Santa Monica economy and my experiences this week tell me that this year was definitely a big boon to the local restaurants. I stopped by Bruno’s on Saturday and it was jam packed, which allowed me to have some great conversations with a couple of sellers for insight into what the market is like for them.

Looking for a quick snack I thought I’d forego the Grab and Go at the Loews Hotel and hit up the new Honey Bear Daisy (http://www.honeybeardaisy.com/) on Ocean Ave. Taking over for the defunct Joan’s on Third, it seems to have the same sensibility of precious food in adorable packaging that is a bit pricey. The lines were long though, so long in fact that I bailed and went looking for the O+O Sicilian (http://oosantamonica.com/) which wasn’t open yet. (I was told it was opening Monday the 7th, but I’m out of town so have to miss that!) So I trekked back to the Loews.

One of the awesome things about the American Film Market is your ability to just walk up to people and start talking to them. I knew that a podcast host I listen to, Jason Brubaker with the Filmmaking Stuff Podcast was here with a company called Distriberr (https://www.distribber.com/) that does indie film self-distribution to get filmmakers movies up on Amazon, Netflix, iTunes and many others. I wanted to meet him so I tracked down the suite for Distriberr. He was in the middle of explaining what his company does, and I just eavesdropped on this woman who had shot a short film about bullying and domestic violence – so you KNOW I had to talk to her.

After I met with Jason, I co-opted Rebecca Puck Stair to talk about her short film, The Time That Remains. Turns out her short film had a crew of seasoned professionals who were working with a group of teens to make this movie about a veteran suffering from PTSD and the effects of family violence in the home and how it gets played out with the son becoming a bully. We hit it off big time. I had a slew of ideas for her movie, which I was lucky enough to see. Her film was shot in New Mexico but the story is pretty universal and I think it will be an important movie for helping to educate veterans, teachers and youth about a hard topic to discuss. Who knows, maybe she can do a screening at the ICAN/NEXUS training next year!?!

It looked to me like this was another successful year for the American Film Market and I hope that it will be the start of a new tradition for me to attend. Maybe next year I’ll be running into more friends like I do at ICAN/NEXUS.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

By David Pisarra

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