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The Zen Filmmaking Tribe Just Got Smaller

Sadly, Julie Strain passed away a couple of days ago. She died from complication from dementia that she had been suffering from for the past several years. She believed she got dementia from a traumatic brain injury she incurred when she was in her early twenties from being thrown from a horse. Scary… Julie was four years younger than me and I too suffered a traumatic brain injury when I was in my early twenties when a car hit me while I was riding my motorcycle fracturing my skull in numerous places.

I always liked Julie. She was one of those very nice, very fun people. We spent a lot of time filming Zen Films at her home in Bel Air when she was married to Kevin Eastman. It was a great place. We used to call it the, “Turtle Mansion,” as Kevin is the co-creator to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There was this gigantic painting of Julie that hung on the wall of the living room. I think that painting and its placement truly depicted who she truly was.

Julie was a talented person full of all kinds of fun and even crazy creative ideas. She was pretty much high all day long. She would get up, wake and bake, then smoke dope periodically all day long. I never smoked with her. I don’t like the high, though she always offered. But, some of our cast and crew did partake from time to time. Then, come eight o’clock, she was off to bed. Had to get her beauty sleep.

Her house was always filled with the famous and the beautiful. The list of friends she had was astonishing. When I was there we would be sitting around with some of the A-list of Hollywood royalty or prominent porn stars.

During the time I was working with Julie she had a very high-end publicist. Via this pathway she invited Don and I to be on a couple of big TV shows she did. I remember this one time she was at an event called, “Dragonfest,” back in the late 90s. This was a martial arts meet and greet thing. I was invited, as obviously I’ve written a lot of stuff on the martial arts and have been involved forever but Julie and Kevin also had a signing table there that year. It was crazy, sure people knew about the Ninja Turtles and were waiting to get a signed photo of Kevin with the Turtles but most did not even know what Julie had or had not done but there was a mile long line to get her autographed photo. She was quite a presence. This, when just the year before, Kevin and I walked around the event and I had to tell people who he was. Kevin is also a great human being!!! I was always so thankful for what they both brought to our productions.

Julie was truly a one of a kind individual. With her passing, gone is one more piece of the puzzle to the original Zen Filmmaking troupe. First was Don, (Donald G. Jackson), then Karen (Black), Z’Dar, Conrad (Brooks), and now Julie. There is almost none of the original team left. Very sad! Julie was a great, beautiful (inside and out), talented individual and will truly be missed.