I've thought a lot about what drives me to create...what drives artists to push themselves so hard and give up so much of their mental/physical/financial resources with no promise or expectation of tangible reward. I put so, so much into something fully aware that not many people will experience it. Hell, I may be the only one to ever see/hear the finished project. And I fully accept those terms. And everything I do is still worth it to me.

Five years ago, we released our very first creative project online under the banner of Dual Tape Deck. It was a podcast. For a year, Stephanie Campbell and myself would record an episode every week and sit down with bands we liked and force them to play their songs live in front of us and talk about things we loved. We talked about the passion and drive of creative people and why we do what we do. That foundation of seeking out other creative types and collaborating and telling stories together is at the heart of everything we've done. And everything we've done since then would not have happened if not for Stephanie saying "Sure!" when I asked if she wanted to start this journey with me.

2013 was a banner year for Dual Tape Deck. We started producing scripted pieces. We bought a nicer camera. And we started reaching out to more and more creative folks in the Austin community. We met actors who introduced us to other actors who introduced us to sound guys who introduced us to cinematographers and so on and so on. Our circle of collaborators grew.

By my estimation, 89 different people have worked on Dual Tape Deck projects. 89. That's an insane number to me. That's 89 different people who said "yes" to my invitation to collaborate on a project. 89 different people who, for whatever reason, wanted to create something with us. 89 different people who, like me, are driven to create things and express themselves and tell these stories with us without any expectations attached. They do it because they HAVE to. Something, some intangible thing inside them drives them to do it.

I've written a couple long-winded paragraphs now, but I realize I'm unable to properly express what Dual Tape Deck means to me. We're artists, we encourage and enable each other, but more that anything else...we're friends. My best friends, in fact, are people I've randomly met from working with Dual Tape Deck. My favorite memories are being on set with these people.

Cassadie Petersen has been involved in every film project that Dual Tape Deck has done (which, if you're keeping a tally...is 3 feature films, 5 short films, and a web series). She's my creative partner and the best collaborator I've known. She makes up for my shortcomings as we're making films. There are many, many things that I'm not good at. Tons. But she naturally excels at them. It's effortless for her. Everything that we've accomplished as Dual Tape Deck would not have been possible without her.

Matthew David Rudd has been a part of us for over 2 years now, and I can't imagine doing any of this without him. He's a voice of reason and a great problem solver. When I'm all out of ideas and frustrated and ready to give up...he's there to offer a solution, to encourage me, and give me (and everyone around him) a much needed laugh.

There are many, many more people that I could talk about. I could talk about how much of a mentor Christopher Kim has been to me and how much I've learned from him as a storyteller. I could go on about how Saige Michelle Hilton is literally always available for even the smallest part and is incredibly positive throughout the whole process. Or about Brian Villalobos and how much he inflates my ego when he (an actor I greatly respect and was a fan of before we met) compliments my writing. Or Lisa Marie Mejia and her organization that kept me sane filming our first big feature film. Or Jordan Taylor and how her acting as brought me to tears in the edit bay.

I could write for days about all these people. But just know that Dual Tape Deck and the community we've built together is probably my greatest artistic endeavor. I love all of you so much.

So happy birthday! Here's to five more years of love and life and creating together.

-Randall LaRue (11/12/2016)