From Aris with Love, Music, and Film

Losing a loved one is unthinkable. Knowing it could have been prevented makes it even more horrific. The people responsible not taking responsibly is unacceptable. There are no words to comfort someone who has suffered such a loss, there are no actions that can bring a loved one back but there are ways we can help to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. If you don’t already know him, I want to introduce you to my friend, Aris Ziagos, and I would like to share his story and the story of his mother, Virginia.

I met Aris after the loss of his mother and from what he has told me of her, I’m sorry I never got to meet her. She was an interesting, kind, loving soul and someone I would have LOVED to interview! I know she was amazing because she raised one amazing son. I’m so proud of him for taking on this latest project and I want to help him to make the film a reality.

In his words:

“On October 29th 2012 Bellevue Hospital was crippled and left without power in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. My mother was a patient in the ICU, and died in the aftermath of the storm. In the midst of the worst tragedy that has struck my family, the biggest storm ever to hit NYC changed our lives forever and revealed cracks in our emergency management and health care systems. This documentary is so important, for learning from the lessons of these events, for grieving and healing.”

You all know I have always felt entertainment and social media are best when we are telling stories that help others and this is definitely the case here. Please enjoy our interview and visit the fundraising page if you can help. Even one dollar can assist and hopefully prevent this tragedy from happening to others.

Q: Your project, From Virginia With Love: A Documentary, is a labor of love and the story of your mother. Can you tell us a little about your mom?

Aris Ziagos: Yes, thank you! My mother was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and travelled around the country a lot in her youth as the daughter of an army family. In her 20′s and 30′s she toured as a belly dancer across America, finding a home in New York City. It amazes me that an Irish American girl from Ohio taught herself Greek, how to dance and sew, and made a career out of it. As she approached 40, she went on to real estate work and had me. I grew up around all these amazing photos of her from her belly dancing career, and it definitely influenced and inspired me to find my own way to the stage. When I made this choice and at every step along the way afterwards, my mother was my biggest fan, attending every show and offering any help she could.

Q: You suffered such tragedy during hurricane Sandy, and it seems like it could have been avoided if the hospital was better equipped to deal with natural disaster. Is part of the motivation behind the film to try and correct this for others going forward?

Aris Ziagos: Yes, that’s exactly what sparked my desire to make this film. The hospital (Bellevue Hospital) where my mother was an ICU patient did not make the necessary modifications to their emergency power systems or infrastructure for a tropical storm or hurricane in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Worse yet, because the hospital is run by a corporation and the city, they worked in lock step to keep their failing infrastructure out of the news, until the entire hospital was unable to function with doctors unable to wash their hands, medication not reaching patients, toilets not being able to be flushed, no food for anyone. It was an absolute nightmare. We can’t change the past but we can learn from our mistakes by addressing exactly what happened and what could and should be done differently going forward. Anyone who lives in a coastal area should be thinking about ensuring the safety of the vulnerable in emergencies like this.

Q: We hear so often that “it gets better” but that surely doesn’t happen all on it’s own. Where did you find the strength to go on after all of this? What advice would you give to people who are grieving right now?

Aris Ziagos: My biggest motivation has been living in a way that would make my mother proud, and also finding a way to transcend the tragedy and find a way to honor my mother’s legacy of love. Her passing was so tragic, and I got stuck in that for a while in deep depression as could be expected. A big motivator for my life moving forward from that was to make sure my mother was remembered by her amazing spirit, not just by her passing. That’s been the inspiration for a lot of my music, and definitely for bringing this film to the world. The arch of tragedy to grieving to healing to finding purpose is one everyone can take something away from, and it’s one that plays out during the documentary.

Q: Since you have gone public with the story, what responses have you been getting from fans and friends?

Aris Ziagos: Everyone has been very supportive, encouraging and sympathetic. A lot of people were surprised to hear about the events surrounding my mother’s passing, because very little of the information made it to mainstream news. It was a week before the 2012 Presidential elections, local elections, and the entities that hold New York City together were very careful to present the story in a way that would not cause public outrage.

Q: Has anyone from the hospital contacted you since you started the campaign?

Aris Ziagos: No, not a peep. The hospital’s official story is they triumphed through the disaster with no loss of life. In spite of a great deal of independent reporting, and some good mainstream reporting exposing the hospital’s faults, there has been no accountability for the choices made. They have made some improvements to their infrastructure as defense against a future Hurricane Sandy, but we’ll have to see how thorough those defenses are in a future hurricane.

Q: How can people help you to get this story told?

Aris Ziagos: I’m raising funds for the documentary on IndieGogo:

I’m offering some really cool merch, like vintage photos of my mom’s belly dancing years, original music, tickets to advanced screenings and fun experiences, as well as pre-selling the documentary.

Q: What are some of the greatest lessons your mom taught you that you can share with us all?

Aris Ziagos: So many things! Love can move mountains. Never stop believing in yourself. You can achieve anything if you keep trying and learn from failure. Be of service to others and give back often in different ways.

Q: I know you have other projects you are working on as well. Can you tell us about some of those?

Aris Ziagos: I’m finishing up work on a few new songs and remixes which I’ll be releasing on the deluxe edition of my album “Pulse” in a few months. I’m also excited to finally release my collaboration with Paula Cole as a single in 2018.  It will be a year that will also see me focused on completing this film, and some new music to accompany it. I have a lot of other songs in the works for future releases, so there’s a lot on the horizon for the next 24 months.

Q: Where can we find you, your music, and your projects online?

Aris Ziagos: You can find me on my official site at

and on social media at -

Q: Do you think you will be doing more film work in the future? Would you stick to the social good theme or perhaps branch out into other genres?

Aris Ziagos: I can definitely see exploring film more in the future, a short film, more documentary work. I tend to put my heart into things that inspire me that I can get fully passionate about, who knows what the future will bring?

Q: I always ask people to give me one thing they absolutely cannot live without and one thing they wish we could all live without.



Q: What’s up next for Aris the artist?

Aris Ziagos: Next up is the deluxe edition of my album “Pulse” and some new singles in 2018!

I want to thank Aris for taking time to talk to me and for being a part of my NYC family. Take my word for it, he’s one of the good ones. Here is the Indiegogo page if you can make a donation:

And, for your enjoyment, here is the video for his song ‘The Music’:

Falling to Pieces but Finding Balance

Last week I was at the Kickstarter Film Festival in Brooklyn with my friend Dana Jacoviello and we were enjoying the films, food, as well as the surrounding neighborhood when FATE literally jumped in. We were walking through the crowd when we were approached by Cristina Marques about a new film project by Elisabeth Jamison and Chris Connolly called “Falling to Pieces“. The film is a short comedy about the universal theme of grief and it’s effect on us.

I was so thrilled to meet Elisabeth, Chris, and Cristina and honored that they spent so much time with us to discuss the film, social media, life, filmmaking, and so much more. It was truly the highlight of a wonderful night experiencing many different films but very special because I got to see firsthand how passionate they all were about their project. I, of course, had to ask if they would allow me to do a little interview so I could bring the story to all of you.

In researching more on the film, I read Elisabeth’s blog and came across this gem:

“There is something deeply beautiful about the place that we find ourselves when everything else has failed and we can’t pretend anymore.  We know that not only do we not have the answers, we barely have the questions.  It is the place where we give up our excuses and possibly even our responsibility…. We finally get that we are not driving this car and if we were, we’ve driven it off a cliff, so our driving skills are no longer applicable anyway.  We better just pray.”

I do encourage you to visit her blog to read more about the film, more about Elisabeth, and more about her life. I also encourage you to visit the Kickstarter Page for “Falling to Pieces” to give a donation if you can. Check out the perks, I’m sure you will find something interesting at a comfortable level for you to contribute. Trust me, there is something satisfying about helping someone to make a film, especially one that will help so many others. You can also head over to “like” their Facebook Page to find out even more!

Here is an official description of the film:

“When a young widow seeks out her dead husband’s organ recipients, each meeting is more hilariously disastrous than the last.”

I hope you enjoy my interview with Elisabeth as much as I enjoyed doing it!

Q: Falling to Pieces is a film about the universal theme of loss. What have you learned about others and how they handle loss so far?

EJ: It is super cliché but everyone handles grief differently. That being said, the universals seem to be that it comes in waves and that when you are going through it, you feel like only those who have experienced it themselves understand…

Q: Have you found that the film resonates with people and helps them open up to you?  

EJ: We have had wonderful feedback particularly from those who have gone through losing someone they loved. One person told me it hit close to home. Another said she could have used this film when both her husband and daughter died within a span of a year and a half.  Another who lost her father recently said on her FB page, “Our family, like many of yours, has had our share of grief in recent months and I am definitely excited to see a funny twist to a sad topic!”

Q: The idea to make the film a dramedy rather than a straight up drama is something I think will make it even more relatable. Do you find that comedy helps in dealing with stress, depression, and sadness?

EJ: Laughter is a true healing tool. It changes our body chemistry.  And when you get down to it, there is nothing more powerful than love, friendship, & laughter (maybe with a little wine thrown in).

Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing Indie artists and projects today? Has it gotten easier as time has gone on and people have become more familiar with crowd-funding? 

EJ: The joy of community is amazing. The ease in which to crowd-fund is astounding.  You don’t have to snail mail letters and hope your distant uncle writes you a check, he can jump on KS and do it seamlessly and you can watch it in real time.  So it levels the playing field & gives you instant feedback in terms of if your project and message resonates. It creates community in the EXACT moment we have all begun to lose that feeling… of being able to ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar or to watch your kids. The internet is great for information but not always for creating real community. More people feel lonely than ever before… Crowdfunding is different.  There is nothing more touching than having a stranger or your friend or family member believe in you and/or your project so much that they donate money to it.  It is incredibly humbling.  The last few weeks have filled us with such gratitude and awe.  Every donation (big or small) is a little miracle in and of itself.

That being said… that just means that there are MORE indie films out there. ;)

Q: The entertainment industry has changed so much in recent years. With these changes, fans and audience members are able to voice their opinions in ways they never have before. Do you think filmmakers enjoy the same privilege by being more accessible to their audience? 

EJ: I’m not sure whether it is good or bad, but we certainly can get feedback instantaneously.

Q: Where can we find out more about the film online?  

EJ: Facebook and KS link will keep being updated with announcements of cast and crew.

Q: What have you learned about yourself through the process of making this film?

EJ: I’ve learned that my dream of always collaborating & creating art with my very talented friends was a good one:  A really good one.  This is home.

Also … there is never enough time or money. ;)