Producer-Director’s Q&A | C.Kimberly Toms

Escaping Fed | Investigation Journal Kimberly Toms | EscapingFed.comQ: Where are you “from?”

A: I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in Southern Baptist Hospital and to a residence on lovely Versailles Boulevard. My father was a medical student graduating that spring from Louisiana State University. During my childhood I lived in Woodbury, New Jersey; Corpus Christi, Texas; and graduated from high school in Greenville, Texas. I adored Woodbury and Corpus Christi but felt Greenville was not for me. I left right after high school. 

My family heritage includes northern Louisiana farming. My maternal grandmother’s family owned and farmed lands in the Red River bottoms around Plain Dealing, Louisiana, Shreveport and Bossier. Sadly, those farms are now residential subdivisions.

My paternal grandparents farmed in Jonesboro, Louisiana. Family farming operations for both sides of the family also included North Carolina and Virginia, since the first American settlers in Jamestown. I’ve moved around so much as part of my “good American” life that New Orleans feels most like home, to me. It is my history. I do enjoy Jamestown very much now, near my present home. I feel a real connection there.

Philadelphia feels like a second home. That is where I was during Hurricane Katrina, despite being scheduled to be at Hotel Monteleone for some writing in New Orleans during the storm. I lived in Center City, Fairmount and East Falls neighborhoods of Philly and consider it to be my Yankee city. Watching “Parking Wars” Philadelphia episodes calls me home, ha! The Philadelphia Art Museum is my dream residence. If I could just live there among the art, among some of my favorite paintings, sculptures and the incredible Medieval armor, I would in a second. 

Q: In the film, you talk about your patriotism. Can you tell us about that?

A: This is a “loaded” question because it makes me so emotional. My patriotism is at the very heart of my victimization and made the cuts I experienced through bureaucratic red tape and law enforcement rejection seem even more painful. I’ve always been quietly patriotic, believing in my country based upon first-hand experience as a Navy doctor’s daughter during the Vietnam Era.

I remember the pride in holding my father’s Navy dress white officer’s cap in my hands, as well as the pride in holding a 1776-1976 silver dollar. I’ve never been someone to run around shouting, “USA” loudly or waving flags at parades. But I have carried my country so closely in my heart, in my own way. I felt like my country’s child, even more than I felt like a person’s child. I felt parented by laws, rights and conscience.

All of this patriotism was solidified during my 14 years as an Air Force wife. I lived overseas during the first Gulf War and in Alaska for over four years. I remember the special procedures we had to follow in Europe, including bomb searches under our vehicles and other stepped-up security as part of daily life. I recall the sadness of Germans thumbing their noses at us, as we drove by in our “United States” license-plated vehicle.

I remember just being terribly alone, having babies, taking care of babies, shoveling two family vehicles out of major snowfall in sub-zero temperatures while holding an infant and trying to stay the course with my college classes. I was terribly unhappy, but I felt it was important to be strong, stay the course despite struggles and present a good image for my country. I always thought that being a good American was important because America takes care of its citizens.

Sadly, I learned the hard way that – when it comes down to it – individual Americans really do not matter. Help doesn’t arrive in the form of horseback posse. That only happens when a whole village is being threatened, not when a few fair maidens are lost to an egotistical gunslinger with a brass star on his vest.

My eyes are sadly opened to the reality of America now. But America is the lesser of the evils. America has just forgotten that our citizens matter above all else. Without individual citizens, there is no tax revenue, economic growth, voting turnout or military might. One plus one, plus one, plus one…that is how you build strength. The “one” matters.

After everything that happened with Fed and the investigation, I couldn’t look at a flag or hear an anthem without tears. Now I can see those things without going to a sad place. But talking about America makes me so sad, still. In many ways, I feel like I was a naive little fool. I believed propaganda, although I kept telling myself during residency in Germany that Americans couldn’t fall to propaganda like Germans once did. I was wrong.

Q: What is your hope for the film?

A: I think my biggest hope right now is to get a serial rapist who was once shielded by his gun and badge off the streets. He just offended Victim 6. I feel incredible urgency to stop him through appropriate channels before there is a Victim 7. 

Let me rephrase that, to a certain degree. There are six reported victims at this point, the latest reporting in November 2017. There are many more I know of and the federal investigators know of, who didn’t report. So we are at reporting Victim 6. We need no new offenses, no new victims.

I also believe that the offender Fed is a serial killer in the making. There is definite salivation when he discusses killing [me]. The night he set out to murder me and frame me for my own death was incredibly surreal. He had meticulously planned it over a few weeks and I felt he was quite sure of himself. He wanted it to happen. He’s ready. He has the traits of serial killers. He has the lack of conscience. When you are around him, if you pay attention, you sense his hunger for it. So I want the film to prevent that line from being crossed.

For the film itself and aside from what I hope it accomplishes for victims and anyone crossing his path in the future, I want it to be a quality representation of a true story. I want it to be effective, launch discussions and foster change. More than anything, I want it to be worth the viewer’s time and attention. But isn’t that the case for any filmmaker? You want the viewer to feel it was worth their time. However small that value is after watching the film, I want the viewer to feel it had value to them, as a human being.

Q: What are your hopes for the future?

A: That’s another big question. For the longest time, three full years, I couldn’t see a future. I only saw black space that I would not likely reach. Now I see a future. That, in itself, is an accomplishment.

For my immediate future, I am working on several new productions and projects. Roulez Media is producing an episodic series, another biographical documentary and we’re moving into scripted feature work. That feature is a major project for us, one I am incredibly excited about – a psychological thriller. It is not a horror film, as that is something I could not even be present for, on set. My gore days are over, thanks to post-Fed fallout. But psychological crime is workable, since I am writing the script with a collaborator and control the thrill. 

I think beyond current projects, I want to thrive within a realm of somehow gracing the screen with goodness, versus challenging darkness. I need to do some uplifting work within the positive head space, where I exist now. That said, it is a balance of goodness, for my future. I cannot be too “fluffy,” as I’ve seen how dark things really get. I aim for a realistic fluffiness in my work, warmth, human compassion and thought provocation.

Q: But what about your personal life? What is your future, there?

A: I’m open-minded and open-hearted about my personal life. But I only welcome proven people into my personal realm. I can’t have the chaos and madness of surrounding myself with too many people at once, like a bone collector. You’ll never, ever see me with 1200 Facebook “friends.” I keep it calm and peaceful at a hearty few I really care about. The same is true in my personal space: I am slow going, but very open hearted.

I don’t feel obscured or marred by what has happened to me at Fed’s hands, as I see the psychopathy behind what happened. I trust honest, balanced people who are good to me and let me be good to them. If I am pushed too quickly, I tend to just shut it down. If I see signs of someone being deeply mentally ill, I cannot be around them for my own good. Of course, it has taken four years of ugly, sharp-edged, terrifying pain to get to “healthy.” The odd thing is that I feel like a better person, a better human, and I think I have a brighter, better future ahead for me. 

There is beauty in everything, eventually. Even the ugliest of moments eventually fosters positive growth, if you open yourself up to it. 

C.Kimberly Toms’ Instagram

Help build awareness about Escaping Fed