I’ve only lived in Hamilton, Alabama, for around a year and a half now, so I guess I’m still relatively new to small-town living.
I was born in Los Angeles and moved to Long Island, N.Y., when I was 9. I was raised by my parents, Louis and Andrea Mellini, with my older sister, Brittany, and younger brother, Chris. We grew up on Long Island in a “small town” (it wasn’t small) called Farmingville.
My father was a preacher and my mother was a singer at the church we grew up in. My mother and her siblings have always been involved in music since they were children. My father’s side of the family have been producers and directors for TV and film for years before my father began preaching. I grew up with artists of all different types in my family, but didn’t really have an appreciation for it until after my first year of college.
I had originally gone to school for criminal justice; I was good at it, but my heart was never really in it. I discovered a passion for art simply by starting to go to the movies once a week. It was the perfect blend of visual and musical production that gave me a new obsession and, ultimately, I decided to change majors and go to college solely focused on cinema studies.
From there I began to take every opportunity to get my hands on a camera and experiment with different techniques and styles of cinematography. I ended up taking a media position at the church I grew up in and I also began taking opportunities to travel and film for various projects, one of those projects being for the One World Play Project, a company that has made an indestructible soccer ball for children in poverty-stricken countries.
After an event I had been filming for in 2015, I came into contact with a family friend who had been living in Hamilton for some time. My now very close friends, Tegan and Hershel Tainter, were visiting New York for the event and began telling me about a ministry called The Ramp in a small town called Hamilton. I came to a Christian conference organized by The Ramp in March 2015.
It changed my life. I had grown up in church in what I thought was a small town, but I have never been in such a community-driven place where everyone knows everyone (for better or for worse).
After the conference, I remember everyone asking me, “So are you going to move here?” to which I responded, “Never, absolutely not.”
Lo and behold, I finally decided to move here to Hamilton two years later and I became part of a small but incredible community of people.
From the moment I arrived, everyone I’ve met has been incredibly welcoming and the same could be said about my arrival to the Journal Record.
I look forward to telling you all about what’s going in our area and hopefully, I’ll get to meet a few of you along the way.