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“It’s a Wonderful Life”: What This Almost Forgotten Film Teaches About Resilience and Success

“It’s a Wonderful Life”: What This Almost Forgotten Film Teaches About Resilience and Success 2560 1706 Alicia East

Every year during the holidays, my mom starts hunting for a movie companion. The memories around this ritual stand out to me because my mom is allergic to sitting still. This, of course, presents an obstacle to family movie nights. For my mom, that meant that as she was setting up “It’s a Wonderful Life,” she was also setting up an ironing board and some baskets of clean clothes to be folded and pressed. Having a task to multi was her only way of making it through. Still, make it through she would.

By the time the film had reached its climax, the piles of laundry would be stacked neatly and she’d finally sit just long enough to shed a few tears and have a sentimental moment about the sweetness of life. The film was a staple of the holidays in our house, which is why I took extra interest in a podcast episode from The Journal that details how this beloved film’s journey to fame was paved by failure.

The film’s journey offers a lesson in how apparent failures can pave the way for enduring success. As a testament to resilience, it makes it that much more fitting that it remains my mom’s favorite holiday tradition.

A Not so Wonderful Start

Upon its release in 1946, expectations were high. Director Frank Capra had some successful films under his belt and the lead actor James Stewart was already a bonafide star. Still, critics gave it mixed reviews and it faced accusations of being overly sentimental. The film lost half a million dollars (a large sum for the time) and quickly faded into obscurity. It seemed destined to be a forgotten piece of cinematic history.

Finders Keepers

The film’s resurgence began in the 1970s, almost by accident. Due to a clerical oversight and the very fact that it had been so forgettable, its license was not renewed and “It’s a Wonderful Life” fell into the public domain. Television stations began broadcasting the soon-to-be-classic frequently during the Christmas season because they didn’t have to pay the usual fees for the rights. It became a staple of the holiday rerun factory and reached millions. It found its way into my mom’s living room (and heart) just as she was starting and growing her own family in the 1970s and 80s, so its message of hope, community, and the value of each life rang especially true to her. And so, what was once seen as a failure transformed into one of the most beloved and enduring films in American cinema.

Life Lessons From “It’s Wonderful Life”

The story of “It’s a Wonderful Life” mirrors its own narrative – the idea that value and success are not always immediately apparent. Its journey from a forgotten film to a cherished classic offers lessons about patience, resilience, and adaptability. So as we get ready to head into another year, we can remember what the film’s journey demonstrates: 

  • Success may not come immediately. Time can provide a new perspective and opportunities for appreciation.
  • Initial failure is not the end of the story. It can be a stepping stone to greater achievements.
  • Adaptability leads to rediscovery. The film found a new life in a different context. Sometimes, success comes from adapting and finding new ways to connect with an audience.

The Bottom Line

This film exemplifies how apparent failures can be reframed as opportunities for future success and encourages us to persevere through challenges, remain hopeful, and believe in the enduring power of our contributions. This holiday season, grab some laundry and have a (brief) seat: It’s a wonderful life indeed. 🌟🎄

5 EASY Ways to Improve Your Life in The New Year

5 EASY Ways to Improve Your Life in The New Year 2560 1702 Alicia East

There are scores of folks getting ready to join CrossFit, go vegan, or relocate in an attempt to make some drastic, life-altering changes in the New Year. That’s not what we’re doing here. We’re talking small. We’re talking manageable. We’re talking low commitment with BIG results. To finish out 2022, we’re talking about some things you can do to improve your life without getting a gym membership or a moving truck.

  1. Learn a Skill: Whether you want to up your game in your career with some basic coding skills, learn how to garden, or try your hand at improv, you have several options. SkillShare and International Open Academy have a wide range of classes for everything from graphic design to herbalism. MasterClass has the most recognizable instructors and the highest production value.
  2. Start a Hobby! In addition to being a therapeutic outlet, having a hobby can reap benefits in your career! While there are of course paid classes where you can dig deep to learn new skills, you can get the benefits of so many hobbies by simply taking to YouTube or getting a library book or two.
  3. Daily Gratitude Journal: You don’t need anything fancy here. You can simply use the notes app on your phone or  write out a list of things you’re grateful for in a basic journal. If you want a little more structure or a daily reminder, there’s an app for that! There are many apps that will provide prompts and exercises to help you get to a grateful state of mind and there is cold, hard science to back up the benefits.
  4. Walk it Out: We’ve heard a lot about the benefits of getting into nature, getting exposed to sunlight, and exercising, so if you’re ready to commit to a regular practice of getting outside to do all of the above, then great! Still, you don’t even have to go outdoors to reap some of the benefits of walking regularly. You can just take a few laps around your office building or up and down the stairs. It’s a low-commitment way to get some of the benefits.
  5. Invest in Your Financial Literacy: Whether you want to get a better handle on your budget or just learn more about investing, these apps can help. In keeping with the “easy” theme, we’re not talking about putting yourself on an austerity budget or tracking where you spend every penny. While some of these apps can do that should you choose, you can also just take steps toward greater financial literacy by playing games. Easy, right?

The Bottom Line

Major New Year’s Resolutions have never worked for me. They’ve always turned into a source of frustration a few weeks (maybe even days) after a fired-up start. But small changes? I can do that. They’re much more sustainable and they can make a big difference. Sometimes they even snowball into bigger changes. Here’s to the coming year!

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10 ideas to put a social-distancing spin on Memorial Day Weekend

10 ideas to put a social-distancing spin on Memorial Day Weekend 2560 1745 Alicia East

Memorial Day Weekends of old boasted barbecues, parades, and oodles of red, white, and beer (🤔) everything. The holiday recognizes those who have fought in the armed forces while also unofficially kicking off summer. This year is bound to look a little different even as restrictions ease up. Large gatherings, parades, and public fireworks displays are canceled. But you know what can’t be canceled? Kindness. The outdoors. Watermelon. We’ve got all that and more in our list of suggestions for how to celebrate and connect in a different way this year.

10 ideas to put a social-distancing spin on your summer kickoff

  1. Host a watch party with yourselves as the stars: You picked your friends for their shared sense of humor and values. Now’s the time to create entertainment only you and yours can fully understand. Use all your stupid inside jokes and shared experiences to create a satirical mockumentary (like this one for the theater crowd), a commercial for a fictional product, or a music video. Decide ahead of time what the prize will be and how the results will be judged. Everyone should be encouraged to participate: Don’t let production value weigh too heavily in the judging. To get extra fancy and provide a space for all the snark you’d expect from your tribe, host a watch party. If you’d rather not create your own entertainment, conduct a poll and pick a favorite flick to watch “together.” Bonus if you make it 80s-themed and add a costume party to the mix!
  2. Have a virtual experience: Everyone from The Bash to AirBnB is offering experiences you can take part in online. If ever there was a time to learn to do magic or cook Spanish tapas, it’s now! You’ve probably had a lot of hot dogs and watermelon in your life. Why not mix it up and go Greek for one of the most patriotic holidays around?
  3. Learn the history: I know I can’t be the only one who has celebrated a holiday without having any real idea why it exists, right? Whether you just want to find out for yourself or you want to turn it into a lesson for your kids, brush up on your Memorial Day trivia.
  4. Host a virtual game night: Incorporate all your new knowledge into a trivia night or coordinate your outfits (a must) for a round of Family Feud or Pictionary. You could also play some improv games like the one where you make up a story by taking turns adding one word or sentence at a time. This one is extra fun because kids can participate (likely with hilarious results) too. However, you choose to virtually gather your tribe and have everyone throw in for a cash prize or something silly. I remember a jar of long-expired homemade jarred pickles that made its way through white elephant gift exchanges for decades in my parents’ group of friends. Every year, it showed back up. I can still the seedy green slop now. You never know what beloved traditions could come out of this time.
  5. Virtual bake-off: In one of the most wholesome side effects of stay-at-home orders, people are suddenly baking all the things. Selfies in exotic locations have been replaced by bubbly sourdough starter in jars and glamour shots of crusty, drool-worthy loaves of baked perfection. Honor this new pastime with a doughnut or cake-making contest (if you can find some flour, that is) where everyone sends in a picture of the final product. Assign the judges (the younger, the better) ahead of time and let all participants watch the judges’ live critique. Take the feel-good factor up a notch by having a $5 buy-in where the winners get to pick a charity to donate to. Thanks, Krisi Olivero of Live. Laugh. Film. for this idea and for donating the winnings from your bakeoff to Frontline Foods (a Colorado charity that donates meals to healthcare workers)!
  6. Take a vacation from electronics: I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but I do think we are leaning on technology now more than ever. After all of those virtual gatherings, spend a little time electronics-free. We’re all attached to our devices at the wrist, so it will be a worthwhile challenge. Go for a long walk. Grow something. Have a distraction-free conversation. Even if you think you have nothing left to talk about with those people you’ve been around 24/7 for the last 2.5 months, step into it. Sit with the discomfort of not having something to reach for and see what kind of magic comes from it.
  7. Take a road trip: There’s a weird phenomenon that happens the longer I live somewhere. Colorado was my home for most of my life, but when I was packing up to move, I mourned all of the many attractions that were always a drive away and on my “someday” list. Somehow the longer I live somewhere, the less likely I am to get out and see it. Because life. But with life as we know it on hold and the current state of air travel, now is the perfect time for a weekend road trip to some outdoor attraction where you can still practice social distancing.
  8. Teach your kids (even the littles!) to make their own breakfast: I’ll be tackling this challenge this weekend with my 4-year-old at the helm, her little brother in tow, and the newborn in a carrier. And then, with a little luck, I will move on to one of my most prized holiday weekend activities: a nap.
  9. Make the food anyway! Of course, like so many holidays, food takes center stage at most Memorial Day celebrations. Take advantage of cooking for a smaller crowd! Instead of lining up a bunch of generic patties on the grill, up the ante with some extra special burgers: think homemade sauces and caramelized toppings. There are some stellar vegetarian options, too! And what’s Memorial Day without watermelon? There’s something for everyonefrom the vegans to the meat loversat this Memorial-Day-themed Food and Wine page. Wash your hands a lot while you cook and then deliver some baked goods to a neighbor. Bonus if they’ve served in the military!
  10. Share a thank you card or video: Along the same lines, take a little time to thank someone who has served in the armed forceswhether they’re close to you or just an acquaintance. Some people are really suffering during this time and the little acts of gratitude can do a lot for recipients as well as givers.

Bottom line

I’ve heard from a lot of friends that they’re getting back to some of the simple pleasures of life—sitting down to a meal as a family, dance parties in their pjs, and growing something under the warm summer sun. Get outside, eat some food, and enjoy your family or the quarancrew of your choosing. You may find yourself a little slower to jump in on “business as usual” even when the opportunity comes back around.

Christmas Gifts - Payreel

Last-minute gift guide for the self-proclaimed geek in your life

Last-minute gift guide for the self-proclaimed geek in your life 5897 3937 Alicia East

From Star Wars Arcade games to everyone’s favorite force whisperer: Everything old is new (or in the case of baby Yoda—young) again. We work with self-proclaimed geeks both inside and outside the office every day and these are some of the gifts causing a buzz in our corner of the world.

  • One of the most beloved Star Wars characters of all time upped the ante by going back in time to the very cute and cuddly past. There will be some PJ-clad Star Wars fans (and maybe their kids) wishing for their very own Yoda merch as soon as they can get their hands on it. Truth be told: much of the official merch isn’t ready yet (here’s why). Next best option: an outing to the movie itself (it officially opens tomorrow!). This checks two boxes: giving experiences over the things that could become future clutter (✅) and enjoying time together (✅).
  • Coffee lovers have been foiled by one nemesis since the beginning of time: a tepid cup of joe. Believe it or not, these mug heaters are popular enough to warrant their own top ten list. Compare features and ensure you get the hot beverage experience you’re looking for over and over again—sans the microwave.
  • Whether you’re going for the sleek and stylish bluetooth speakers or a retro turntable with an updated twist, this time of year will be bringing the latest in smart, stylish speaker systems into many homes. Here’s another top 10 list to help you decide.
  • For the super tech-forward home, consider lighting that pretends you’re home when you’re not, refrigerators that’ll order you a six pack, and thermostats that learn your patterns and adjust accordingly. Smart everything is supposed to make your life easier. Just be sure to do your due diligence to make your devices as secure as possible.
  • If all the technology has you longing for a renaissance of good ol’ pen and paper, this Bullet Journal might be the ticket. Like pen and paper, the journal has been around awhile, but judging by its fans’ enthusiasm, it ain’t going anywhere. The journal itself isn’t the revolution, it’s the system. Paired with a favorite pen, it promises to increase your productivity. It’s enough to convince even a dedicated paperless fan to reconsider. According to some millennials, it will change your life.
  • And if you just need a laugh and a break from the hectic season, check out some of this year’s gifts designed just for laughs (and warm feet in the case of heated corgi slippers).

Whether it’s smart and sustainable technology or pizza socks just for fun, stock up on gifts for your favorite techie or for yourself. While you’re in the shopping mood, you can visit Wirecutter for a full-on glut of options for every category of human (everyone from your favorite toddler to the technology disinclined parent) in your life. Go ahead, put something for yourself under the tree while you’re at it. Say it’s from Santa. We won’t tell.


Looking for payroll options for your independent contractors and freelancers? You can depend on PayReel to assume all of the risks that are associated with worker classification because we make sure every worker gets paid quickly and easily. We even have Client Relationship Managers on call around the clock to answer your questions. Call us today 303-526-4900 or email us. We handle payroll solutions for video production, live events, media, and entertainment.

Give Thanks - Payreel

From glee to gratitude, here are our 10 emotions of Thanksgiving week

From glee to gratitude, here are our 10 emotions of Thanksgiving week 6024 4024 Alicia East

Once a year, a holiday whose very name specifically calls to mind all we have to be grateful for rolls around. And every year, we think of you–the clients and customers who make our work possible. We also think of pie, every form of potato, and stretchy pants.

Here are 10 emotions of Thanksgiving week


On Monday, with a short workweek ahead and the comforting knowledge that nobody’s calling a meeting on Wednesday.


On Tuesday, when we realize that if the year keeps going at this speed, 2020 is basically tomorrow.



When we count the days and conclude we still have 26 shopping days between turkey and ham days, respectively.


When it’s finally Thursday and for the first time all year, nobody’s in a hurry.


As we strategize our meal–knowing we need to leave room for Aunt Ida’s corn soufflé and Grandma’s cookies with the “secret” ingredient (everybody knows it’s almond extract).


When the conversation inevitably turns to politics and we have to decide whether to body slam Aunt Ida or hand her a drink and gracefully change the subject.


When carpool karaoke comes on and gives us something we can all agree on. Even Aunt Ida.


When we eat the first middle and last pieces of pumpkin pie and then opt to plop down in front of the football game.


Did someone say stretchy pants?


For family, friends, and a little time to just sit and be.

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Must-see movie this Halloween

Must-see movie this Halloween 3872 2581 PayReelUser

When it comes to the terrors and haunting images of Halloween, we visualize witches, ghosts and goblins. But sometimes the real monsters are people.

My Must See Scary Movie Pick for Halloween 2019 is He’s Out There.

First time director Quinn Lasher delivers a horror masterpiece on an indie movie budget. This smart and frightening film, which slipped through the cracks in 2018, stars a very familiar face whose superb acting combines with Lasher’s talented directing to deliver a truly terrifying experience.

You know her as the butt-kicking spy from Chuck, the devious killer from Dexter and the barren Serena Waterford in The Handmaid’s Tale. Yvonne Strahovski does not disappoint in this edge of your seat twisted thriller about a family tormented by a demented murderer at their isolated lake house.

The premise, like most horror films, isn’t anything new. Unsuspecting victims being terrorized and toyed with by a psychopath hell-bent on destroying their lives is something we’ve seen a hundred times. However, the writing and execution of this film catapults it out of the mediocre “slasher flick” zone and into new high-quality horror territory.

Horror films are mocked endlessly for the poor decisions their scantily clad characters usually make (my favorite GEICO commercial is a prime example). However, Strahovski’s character, Laura, is intelligent, strong and scared for the lives of her two young daughters (portrayed by real-life sisters Anna and Abigail Pniowsky) so she makes many of the choices a mother in her situation might realistically make. This allows the film to go beyond a simplistic gore fest and hit home with the feels. Feels like,“Oh my god, this could actually happen to me. Let’s deadbolt the windows and never sleep again.” It gives the impression of being possible, which is enough to haunt any parent’s dreams.

The human element resonates with the audience and creates a foreboding tension that far exceeds basic jump scares and nightmarish violence; tricks typically employed by horror directors. The stellar acting from Strahovski and the two young girls mount the tension and really drive the fear home. The stakes are high. Is there any way they are getting out of this alive?

The villain in the film is also next level scary. He is something out of a nightmare, or worse, a Mindhunter episode. Cold, calculated and committed, he has accepted his fate in this world. He is evil incarnate and therefore he must fulfill his role. His last line, in an already well-executed and frightening film, is one of the most fear-inducing lines I have ever heard in a scary movie. I won’t ruin it for you, but think Walter White “I am the one who knocks!” if WW were a deranged serial killer and you’re a 7-year-old little girl hiding under the bed. Chills.

If you’re a film nerd like me who delights in the horrors of scary movies, you are going to love the jump scares, surprise twists and turns, and the relentlessness of the human will to survive against the face of pure evil.

I recommend triple checking the locks after watching this one.

Post by Dani Lyman


At PayReel, we minimize the time and effort it takes to get you ready for your project. Rely on PayReel to assume all of the risk associated with worker classification and get back to the business at hand. We make sure everyone gets paid quickly and easily and have Client Relationship Managers on call around the clock to answer your questions. All you have to do is call 303-526-4900 or email us. The PayReel team makes video production, live events, media, and entertainment payroll easier, faster, and seamless.