Everything starts with an idea. Imagination is at the core of our creative expression. Whether we direct our flashlight of attention toward the wanted or the opposite, our thoughts and focus eventually become real. We think thoughts, and when similar thoughts are repeated, they become a belief we perceive as our truth manifested as our reality—and it is. Consequently, we speak our life story into existence, which, in essence, carries the emotional trace we remember about it. As we say words, we first think about what we will speak. Then we hear our own words back, giving them meaning, which generates the feeling of the story we tell. And finally, we integrate it within ourselves, creating our outward experience.
How aware are you of the narrative you keep telling about yourself?
Native of New Orleans, artist and entrepreneur Frank Monteleone, who founded the production company Full Armor Films and co-owns the emblematic Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, says, “I consider myself a spiritual person. When I set aside all my physical identities, the answer I receive about who I am is imagination because it’s the centerpiece of my thought life. My thoughts and words become what I create and, for that reason, who I am.”
Sameness in experiences would stop our expansion. Variety and contrast propels us to become more. We discover what we want when we experience what we don’t want. This duality is necessary for us to make our preferences. Once we receive the clarity of our desire through a contrasting event, it’s not necessary to stay focused on the unwanted but to shift the focus on the wanted, squeezing the benefits of it into our experience. We can do that by feeling our way through life more unconditionally. In any situation, the only condition we can control is how we feel, which determines how we experience life.
Isn’t everything we desire because of the feeling of it? What if the means to happiness is not getting what you want, but being happy gets you what you want?
“Growing up in New Orleans gave me a sense of family and what we do for our family. We always honor the generations that came before and what they did for us. Antonio Monteleone is my great-great-grandfather, the first to arrive in America, and established the foundation of family longevity as a unit. I always felt part of something special because I am part of my family. Although I have this tremendous duality in my upbringing because I came from a generationally wealthy family, and, yet my father and mother divorced before I even remember them together so I grew up in a single-mom home. Such contrasting elements were an interesting experience, and
Taking the risk of creating freely what we want is often perceived to be restricted by our momentary circumstances. Every life event can be changed. We are energy embodied in physical form, vibrating and oscillating the frequencies we are tuned in through our focus. And since energy is unlimited, we are unlimited beings. When we take out of the equation the ‘how’ and ‘when’ it will happen, we can remind ourselves of ‘why’ we want to creatively express ourselves in a particular way. The answer to that question will bring us back to the core center of our desire, which is to experience the feeling behind the ‘why.’
And what can be more valuable and inspiring to yourself and others than leading by your own example of being what you want to express?
Frank says about his filmmaking company, “Full Armor Films comes from an old scripture about putting on the armor and values; it represents the need for artists to take on their vulnerable ideas and risk expressing them. I always saw my company like a tree that artists can take cover under. Full Armor has its values at its core but creates a covering for others so that everyone we work with can can create freely but still feel protected whether they fail or succeed. And so that’s the intention behind Full Armor Films.”
Everything is neutral in nature. We are the meaning of life because we choose and give meaning to everything we experience. Every story, negative or positive, holds value. Every outer experience reflects our world within—valuable feedback indicating that we pay attention to how we think, feel, and live.
What if every hero, instead of fighting against, would direct their own love towards their opponent? Could then the villain accept and feel the love that is being showered upon? Would anyone who is in love harm anyone?
There may be no such a thing as good or bad, but only love and absence of love.
“We hold values in our stories one way or another. Essentially, there’s good and bad, hero or villain. We can always find something valuable in the human behind each story. Our mantra is to tell stories that unlock the human heart because that’s how we learn from one another. That’s what we look for in our storytelling. And how does it tie in with the Hotel Monteleone? The hotel is a literary landmark. I have always been enamored with the writers who flocked to New Orleans and stayed in our hotel. When we get to do a project in New Orleans, there’s a reverence for those that came before. It’s a very literary town, and it pulls on your impulses as a creative person. The Hotel Monteleone has become a centerpiece of that. The lobby in the hotel has a sense of history, and you to want to hear the walls talk. You want to know the stories that take you through time: good, bad, and indifferent. That’s the charm of it because you feel like you are entering history. Sometimes, when I walk through the hotel, I feel a huge inspiration to create. Even the name Hotel Monteleone sounds like it’s from a movie. So, it only made sense that with my background as an artist and being part of a historical landmark like our hotel, we would do a project here combining filmmaking and the stories this place inspires,” excitedly shares Frank.
Perfect timing is defined by our readiness to create what we want to experience. Meanwhile, we can bask in the unwrapping of the gift boxes we discover while gathering all the cooperative components to become ready. The journey towards everything we want takes the most time compared to the moment of experiencing the manifestation. There is no destination but transition points from one desire to another as we become more. And even desires and their fulfillment, while satisfying, become miniscule to the bliss brought to us by the process of conscious discovery. It happens now, which means simply being and experiencing the present moment.
“When you experience the now, you realize who you actually are. You understand you are the process. Inevitable, eternal, perpetual process of discovery,” extracted from the book We All Are One: The Essence of Everything That Exists, written by Kosta Trifunovic.
Frank says, “I’ve learned a lot working at the hotel while creating a project with Full Armor Films. It has been a journey for us: we’ve known we want to develop something like this for eight years. I really enjoyed that it has brought us into a place of deep research into my family’s trajectory. We traveled to Sicily, Italy, where my great-great-grandfather Antonio Monteleone was from. We learned all about the exodus from Sicily to New Orleans. It created a huge sense of our history, especially when you learn how every generation has added to the family hotel. I am an artist and filmmaker, and with my family, we all run the hotel together. So, I ask myself, ‘How can I add value to our own history?’ I intend to take our story to film or television and tell a story that is specific to my family but also universal because it features New Orleans charm and appeal. Creating something that can last and have its own legacy through storytelling is my version of adding to the hotel’s heritage and history.”
Everything we create, we do so in cooperation with others. There is no creation in solitude. When we energetically align with our desire, the perfect match of people, places, and situations join together like an orchestra, blending the sounds into one creation. Along the way, we get inspired about what’s the most exciting direction to follow. And when we follow our bliss, the result is experienced accordingly.
Are you following your highest excitement? Who doesn’t want to join in the fun?
Frank shares the process of creating a filmmaking project at the Hotel Monteleone, “I invited other filmmakers to join the project, and we felt so much joy researching the show we’re working on. It was so much fun to invite fellow artists and friends from NYC and LA and for me to experience, like in a great movie, seeing the hotel through someone else’s eyes. They were amazed at how grand and beautiful the Hotel Monteleone is in the middle of the French Quarter in New Orleans.” Frank smiles and then continues, “We ended up creating a documentary. It was centered on one of the bellhops who worked there for 55 years. He ended up working at the hotel for 62 years in total. We have quite a few employees who have worked for over 40 years with us. We are not part of a chain, and we care about everyone who works with us. The way we run the hotel is unique, and we cherish people like family, which is a big takeaway in the documentary. We premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival and put on a big red carpet; the employees saw it. It also aired on PBS locally. It was a lot of fun to watch, being able to highlight and put a spotlight on those who have worked at the hotel for so long. We played to the attributes of what we do as a family. I’ll never stop making films and will never stop owning the hotel. So, putting those two together creates uniqueness. And the staff really love it. When we have celebrity guests come in, we all get to have fun and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe who’s walking into the hotel!’ And that kind of experience is fun, too. Obviously, the hotel has a lot of frequent celebrity guests, and the personnel get to talk behind the scenes about how much fun they had meeting a guest and how great they were. I love them.”
Our children come upgraded thanks to the expanded foundation of previous generations. The best legacy one could leave is to be that which one desires to become. About his legacy, Frank says, “I’m a father of four, and I think about legacy often. I always say my goal is for my children to tap dance on my ceiling (smiling). My great-great-grandfather gave us something so special with what he built and what he accomplished as an immigrant. When I look at my children, I do so with a 100-year outlook, thanks to what was handed down to me. There’s a concept I usually use, which is an ‘immovable rock.’ When working on Full Armor Films and the hotel, it’s to create something immovable. It’s something that stands the test of time. For me, this rock can be a word or wisdom, but it can also be an actual standing hotel, a standing production company, a movie-really anything that stands the test of time. But the core values and legacy are literally what my children can lean on and use. Everything I do is through the perspective of adding to this immovable rock-a foundation for my life and future generations. That’s how I decide on projects we do and the route we take on any given day. I’m constantly approaching things through that lens, and it’s because of the gift of the legacy handed to me.”
When our desire comes from the purity of wanting, from our heart center, and our innate good-feeling state, everyone who joins in that desire, in any capacity, experiences a win-win. It creates an infinite ripple effect that reconfigures the Universe’s algorithm, contributing to the fuller becoming of Everything That Exists. It may take many to have a similar idea; it takes one person’s inspiration to bring it into existence.
Are you contemplating and facing reality or consciously creating your life?
“I’m one of the kids who grew up here and had to leave New Orleans to pursue my filmmaking and acting careers in New York. It’s been such a reward to come back and get to make movies. As a kid, I always knew that it was something I wanted to do. But there’s always been a barrier to entry: location. I felt like I had to leave and go somewhere else to accomplish my dream. What we can all embrace in this new generation is that locations are now limitless. We can be anywhere and write from anywhere. But I also wanted to embrace this industry in New Orleans and invest in it with infrastructure and training. We have so many artists here. It’s so culturally rich. And yet, a lot of us leave to pursue those artistic careers. I am excited to add to that by creating professional training for those who want to be part of the film industry here. I grew up in the theater and had to do every job, so it’s also about embracing all the other facets that go alongside being an actor or director or creator. It’s good to explore and understand the other roles that are part of the filmmaking process. Creating a conservatory for film in New Orleans has been a big project. We’re doing everything to lay the foundation so we can see young kids who can come and make their first films here, build their communities here, and find other filmmakers to collaborate with. Also, talking to high schoolers who’ve never seen telling their story as possible. They would never even think to share their story and have that outlet. It creates healing. It creates a whole sense of hope and destiny when you begin to tell your own story. Then, you share your experiences and eventually grow into telling other people’s stories. If we can start that here, we have given them something they never have to leave to pursue. My desire is to disrupt the entertainment industry by moving it to New Orleans, to the mouth of the Mississippi, as I call it. As audacious as it sounds, I think creating a vibrant, multifaceted artistic studio here in New Orleans, alongside growing Full Armor Films’ profile as a content creator, will help lift up New Orleans’ industry in the process. That would make people look at New Orleans in a whole new way, from the perspective of the artists who get to tell their stories here,” passionately says Frank.
Seeing everything and everyone we observe from the eyes of Source is beyond invigorating; it’s living life to its fullest. In that state, we embody our full potential as full-fledged human beings and invite others to join in to experience their full potential, too.
Frank concludes, “I love harkening back to my love for acting. I love my ability to love others, no matter where they are and who they are. As an actor, I learned to walk a mile in another person’s shoes without judgment. It has created the ability to love wherever I am and whomever I’m with. That’s one attribute that I love about myself, but I also love to continue to grow. I love encouraging people to explore and learn through the work they do, as I do myself. I find it empowering and inspiring.”
Like Frank, do you allow yourself to enjoy expressing yourself in different fulfilling ways?
How empowering is it to continually stretch the physical boundaries through your vibrational unlimitedness?
Photography // Paul Gregory