Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Year End Wrap-up: The Things I Am Grateful For

Hello all,

I know, it's been a while since my last entry. I'm going to be honest, I just didn't feel like writing or sharing. I was working on a couple of projects and really needed to focus on them and only them. I'm glad to be back and with the year coming to a close, I'm excited about my year-end wrap up.

I'm a lucky girl. I got married thrice and not only did I keep my job during this horrible economy, but I also managed to continue to write (mostly revising older scripts) and promote After the Headlines at a couple of film festivals this year. Of course it wasn't all a win. The GOP took back the House, the financial recovery is as slow as molasses, and I did receive more rejection letters than I would have liked from both film festival and screenwriting competitions. But with all that said, I still have to consider this year momentous. I continue to expand my network of professional colleagues on the screenwriting front and my writing is getting better, that is when I sit down and write.  To wrap up the year, below are my top five highlights for 2010.

5. The Kent Film Festival: I was sitting in the Barnes and Noble in Waterbury, CT working on a script when I received a call from Frank Galterio, co-founder of the festival, to let me know that After the Headlines was accepted into Kent. I was thrilled. The fact that he took the time to call me with the news meant a lot. The festival was great. Frank and his wife, Patrice, the Kent Film Festival staff did a phenominal job of making filmmakers feel welcomed and supported. You two ROCK!

4. My Rejection Letters: I'm sure you are all surprised about this. I decided to add it, because the rejection process has helped me to take a hard look at my writing and filmmaking. I 've seen the areas where I need to grow. The standard rejection letter irks me. I really appreciate the film festivals and screenwriting competitions that also provide throughful and encouraging feedback with their thanks but no thanks.  It's great to get praise and nothing beats the feeling of acceptance, but as a artist who wants to also make a living as a screenwriter, I need to listen to those who offer hard critisim. I may not like it, but my work will be better off for it if I see the positive in it.

3. My Profile in the Republican American: Once I knew After the Headlines was accepted into the Kent Film Festival, I knew I had to drum up some local publicity. I drafted a press release and sent it out to Connecticut newspapers. Most local papers weren't interested, but I did yield one major result. My local paper, The Republican American responded to my press release with a call back and interest in interviewing me. Timing is everything. I think it helped that the paper just ran a local story on The Kent Film Festival and I capitalized on it. I expected a small write up, but instead was the front cover of the Arts section. Friends, family and people who I haven't talked to in years either emailed me or called to congratulate me. This cover story reminded me that local news is the heartbeat of our cities and towns and that my hardwork can pay off.

2. Screening After the Headlines at Casey: When the story about After the Headlines hit the papers, I wasn't expecting the buzz that I received. I didn't mention it to many people. I was suprised when a colleague stopped by with a copy of the article. Throughout that day, I received a bunch of emails and people stopping by my office to congratulate me. They also told me they wanted to see the film. About two, myabe three weeks later, their was a screening for the film. It was attended by all the staff in the office. I was taken back by that. It was a moving moment for me. The comments I received from folks was so supportive and encouraging. That day, I was reminded of the power my writing can have on an audience and that I need to continue to work on my dream of being a filmmaker and screenwriter.

1. Attending the 2010 Action on Film Festival: In 2009, I was estactic when my script After the Headlines was nominated for 'Best Dramatic Scene.' I was completely caught off-guard when I won the award. This year I felt extremely privilege to return to the fabulous city of Pasadena to once again attend the Action on Film Festival (AOF), http://www.aoffest.com/. Not only was my short film an official selection, but it was also nominated for 'Best Produced Screenplay.' My short script Out of the Box was also nominated for 'Best Short' and 'Best Written Word.' I didn't win 'Best Produced Screenplay,' but I did walk away with an award for first runner-up in the 'Best Short' category and also took home the '2010 Hollywood Scriptwriter Written Word Award.' I had a great time at both awards show. Outside of the film screenings, I deepened my connections with fellow screenwriters, attended some really good seminars and expanded my network with other professionals in the film industry. I have to shout out Del Weston, founder of (AOF), Josh Neufeld, (AOF) film festival director, and the AOF film festival staff. This team of people give 110 percent to the screenwriters and filmmakers who attend the festival. I'm privileged to be a part of this festival family.

Thoseare my highlights for 2010. A big thank you also goes out to my family and friends who continue to support my creative efforts. Thanks for the proofreading, feedback, and tough words when I need it. I look forward to capitlizing on more opportunities in 2011 and will lay out my plan in my New Year blog entry. Next year, I want you all to be a part of my goal planning. I also want to cover more topics outside of film and get you more into the mix of things I'm doing or pursuing.

Signing off for now. Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2011. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Revise, Revise, Revise

Hello all,

This weekend my task is to revise my feature length script Finding Patience for the six or seventh time. I'm not quite sure, but every time I revise a script it feels like a never ending process. That's probably because it is in some respects. I will keep this entry fairly short because I need to get cracking on it asap if I'm to finish act two and three of the script and have it emailed to my mentor come hell or high water Sunday night or maybe even early Monday morning.

The devil is definitely in the details. Lately, I've been procrastinating.  I know it isn't helpful to my writing process. I use procrastination as a creative crutch, but if I am to be the writer I know I can and need to be I have to break free of it. This blog entry is my kick in the butt to get to work. 

It's not easy to go back to a script and analyze what went wrong. It isn't easy to find pick out the exact page where your protagonist lost her way and her story arc hits a wall. Keeping a story engaging is hard work. In a few short hours I will be up to the challenge of figuring all that out. I'm going to do my best to push through.

I've heard a lot of screenwriters say that it's the rewriting process that shapes and enhances a story. Screenwriting is a craft that must be honed. While I know this to be true it is still hard to embrace the practice, but I will try. I have the coverage as my guide and and very much want and need to get through this next revision. So for me my mantra is revise, revise, and revise. No excuses.

I will check in on Monday and let you know how the weekend turns out.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rallying to Restore Sanity: My Personal Take aways

I am proud to say that Karim and I woke up at 4:27 a.m. (we were actually supposed to be up at 3:30 a.m., but I messed up with the alarm), brushed our teeth,  got dressed quickly, and hit the road for Washington D.C to be apart of the Stewart/Colbert Rallies to Restore Sanity/Fear.

We made pretty good time and didn't hit traffic until we were in Baltimore, Maryland on route 295 going into to D.C. When were arrived in our nation's capitol, www.clubquarters.com/loc_washingtonDC.aspx
we checked into Club Quarters, and then met up with Gorman, a friend of Karim's who also was looking forward to attending the rally.

It was a great day for a rally. The tempature was on the warm side for the end of October. When we hit the mall and saw hundreds of people heading toward the front of the mall where the stage was set up, I was taken back. The John Stewart show demo tends to be geared toward males, ages 18 to 35, but what I found at the rally was people of all ages, ethnicities, and religions in attendance. I also have to mention that the rally was family friendly. Lots of people brought there kids with them which included infants, toddlers, and even a few tweeners and teens. Seeing the families together put a smile on my face.
Karim and I leaving the mall.

I did my best to nudge my way through folks and get as close as I could. I didn't do to bad. Karim and I made it to the media trucks which put us in view of the screens (when I was on my toes). From where we were, we actually had fairly decent sound. It wasn't perfect, but we did get to hear and see most of the show. However, we did lose Gorman in the crowd. Sorry Gorman. It was a tight fit, so if you don't like close quarters, you might have freaked out.

I'm glad Karim and I got as close as we did, because I'm not sure how much of the rally we would have seen or heard if we were any further back. I do wish that more attention would have been paid to the audio/visual needs of the crowd, but from what I've read online, I don't even think the folks who planned the event expected a crowed of 200,000 people.  The event was also put together in less than a month, so when I put that lens on, they did a pretty good job.

Two signs I tried to capture. Not the best photo but you can still read it.

Outside of the rally, I think people were really happy to get together to share their common ground and say, "We are fed up!" While Stewart and Colbert rally didn't talk politics, it was clear that many in the crowd came to share their opinions about the status quo on politics and what they believe is at stake for our nation. Colbert showed a great clip of how our media outlets play into the fear tactics that seem to be entrenched in our politics.

The event wasn't perfect, but not much is in life. I do believe some of the goals of the rally for attendees were met even if they didn't get to hear the whole show. I'm so glad that I was a part of this event. Like Stewart, Colbert, and the thousands of Americans in attendence I want to see sanity restored in our nation's political discourse.  Stewart and Colbert  have illustrated that there are a lot of people across the nation willing to come together and say "We won't be silenced or overlooked."

I thought this signed deserved to be captured.

I know there is going to be a political shake up tomorrow. I won't be happy with the GOP taking back the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate, but I also know that there are a lot of voters like me who are watching closely and are ready to rally for change and to restore sanity when it's warranted.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Incantation: Don’t Miss the Magic

During the summer I alluded to rehearsals for a show I was performing in. Well, d-day finally arrived and this past Friday, October 8, 2010, Incantation opened for audiences in the greater New Haven area. I literally jumped back in for opening night, having been on a 10-day hiatus from rehearsals due to my pre-planned honeymoon with Karim in Panama.

Lyric Hall, a small theater restored by John Cavaliere, owner of the Lyric Antiques and Conservation, located at 827 Whalley Avenue in New Haven, Connecticut is the home for the production. Incantation is a choreopoem that is a litany for relationships in present time. It was written and produced by Gerene Freeman and directed by Edi Jackson, both residents of New Haven.

The play builds on the issues, conflicts and concerns surrounding the central characters, five black women who have experienced heartbreak, yet still linger onto hope. The cast of local actors includes Ebony Benton, Parris Marie Cannon, Porsche A. Edmundson, Tyler Hyde, Tangier Pritchette, Malish Stanley and Peaches Winston.

If you live in the New Haven area the cast and I would love to get your support. This blog entry is my personal plea to get you to come check us out. Local artists need local support to survive. Tickets are only $15. To purchase tickets contact Gerene Freedman at 203.507.5940. The next show will be Friday, October 14, 2010 at 8 p.m.

Look out for the article on Incantation in the New Haven Independent's online newspaper this Monday. I will add the link when the story posts.

For more additional show dates and more information, visit the Incantation fan page on facebook , where you can also see photos of the cast.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Greetings from Panama

Hola... I mean hello...actually I mean both,

To be honest I wish I could type this blog entry in Spanish. I'm enjoying the honeymoon that much. I attended my blog entry to be a rant about how unhappy I was that Bridal Trousseau did none of the alternations on-time and that I had to get my dress the day before the ceremony, but due to all the stuff that I needed to get done last minute, I never got to that entry. Right now, none of that matters.
Map of Panama

Today is my third day on the beautifully picturesque island of Panama. For the first couple of days Karim and I did nada. I needed to rest and recuperate. The day after the wedding I began to lose my voice and as I boarded the plane at Logan airport, I was as squeaky as Mickey Mouse, just not as cute. I'm proud to report that Mucinex, green tea, Ricola, and Allegra-D have helped me recover. I am at about 85 percent, I almost sound like my old self.

Karim and I visited the Panama Canal and got a personal tour of the city by Marta. She was really cool and bi-lingual, although you will find that most Panamanians who work in tourism are. I learned a lot about the canal and history of the city from her. She was a walking encyclopedia. I also made a point to share some facts about the U.S with her over a great Panamanian lunch.

Panama Canal 1914
 I should clear up a few things. The Coronado Golf and Beach Resort is actually 75 minutes from the hotel. The road signs aren't that great either, which is why it took us nearly three hours to find the place. It didn't help that we picked up our car rental on empty, luckily Karim and I found a gas station right outside of the airport. I will say this, even though many of the folks didn't speak English, they really did their best to assist us. Kindness to strangers is universal. 

The official inaugural voyage on the Panama Canal.
Tomorrow we plan to hang out at the resort, rest up and then hit another excursion. I believe we are going to their tropical rain forest to hike and zip-line through the trees. Can't wait!!!! By the way, Panama uses the U.S. currency, so another plus to vacationing here is that you don't have to worry about changing money, but there are tolls.

Stay tune for my honeymoon top-ten which will include photos from the trip, not stock shots from the net. Sorry but I forgot to bring a USB. Ciao!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Intolerance: My Emerging Issue

Hello all,

Today's entry isn't going to be about screenwriting or film making. I'm going to tackle a different subject today. Lately, I've been disturbed by the media coverage of the Islamic community center near Ground Zero. I know this may seem like old news, especially with the media now focused on pastor Terry Jones, who plans to burn Korans on the anniversary of 911. While these two stories are separate issues, I don't believe the fact that these events are happening a few weeks a part is an accident.

If you've checked out my facebook page, you know where I stand on the issue of the Islamic community center, but just in case you aren't on facebook, I support the building of the center. One of the reasons I support it is because it's for everyone, people of all religions will be welcomed and even those who atheist and agnostic. Opponents of the mosque have made the argument that this building disrespects the memories of those who have perished in the Twin Towers. It's been called insensitive and those on the right have jumped at the opportunity to make this issue political for their benefit. Here is some questions to the opponents of the center. What about the Muslims who also died in the attacks? Did you know that the Twin Towers had a mosque already in one of the buildings? What about the families of the Muslim victims on 911?

According to the polls, most Americans don't support the building of this center. I think that is a real shame. It's not just about the center, it is an issue of freedom of religion and civil rights. I feel like my country is at a very negative crossroads. The intolerance that is building in our nation is disturbing. The fact that politicians and right-wing pundits on Fox are capitalizing on intolerance. I wonder if this movement will spread like the wild fires in Colorado.

I'm going to switch gears again and tell you about a recent experience I had at the Clam Digger, a fried seafood restaurant that recently opened in my hometown. My mom and I decided to check it out because they were running special deals for the grand opening.

I was at the counter and had given the man my order. I think this man was the manager and maybe even the owner but I'm not sure. After I had given him my order he asked for my name. Now most people make assumptions about the spelling of my name and 9 out of 10 times those assumptions are wrong. I was getting ready to encounter one of those times. He proceeds to spell my name and after he gets to the second letter, I try to tell him he's wrong. I get ready to give him the correct spelling and then he tells me he will spell my name the way he wants to. I let it go. My mom comes up to see what's going on and then the guy tells me I have a wacky name. He must have figured that my mom was my mom and proceeded to ask her why she gave me a wacky name? I couldn't believe what had just happened. I could have made a scene, lord knows I had a few choice words, but I decided to let it go.

Obviously, I really haven't let it go. That's why I'm blogging about it. I guess names like Mary, Michael, John, Steve, Joanne, Beth, Nicole aren't wacky. I love my name and I'm glad my mother gave me this wacky name. It means, to ascend or to rise up in Hebrew and Arabic. I know I live in a diverse country, but diversity is not at the hearts and minds of all our fellow citizens. My incident at the Clam Digger is proof of that. The United States has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go in respecting people of different ethnicities, colors, religions, and sexual orientation. Intolerance is my emerging issue. I'm going to do my best fight it, because intolerance only breeds intolerance. Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wonder Drug: The Power of Words

On Tuesday evening I had the privilege of attending Caitlin McCarthy's staged reading of select scenes from her feature screenplay in development Wonder Drug.  As much as I would like to be out there attending festivals, staged readings, and other networking opportunities for screenwriters, I don't always get that opportunity, so it was a thrill to be in the audience for Wonder Drug.

Caitlin's screenplay Wonder Drug is a scientific drama about DES (diethylstilbestrol), the world's first drug disaster. Before I get into talking about the reading I have to mention that this screenplay has nominations in over 20 international film festival screenwriting competion and labs, most notably: Action on Film International Film Festival Winner, "Most Likely To Be Produced" Screenplay Award; the Hamptons Screenwriters Lab Participant; Woods Hole Film Festival Winner, Best Science Screenplay; and Illinois International Film Festival Screenplay Competition Winner. You can check out the full list of screenplay honors at: www.facebook.com/wonderdrugthemovie.

Before attending this screening I was not familiar with DES (diethylstilbestrol), a toxic and carcenogenic synthetic estrogen that was prescribed to millions of women from 1938 until 1971 in the United States; and until the mid-1980s in parts of Latin America, Europe, Australia, and the Third World. The currently proven effects of exposure include a rare vaginal cancer in DES daughters; greater risk of breast cancer in DES mothers; abnormal reproductive organs; infertility; and high risk pregnancies.

How could something like this happen in the United States? Those questions were answered for me at the staged reading and in the Q&A that followed. The selected scenes that Caitlin presented weave together three stories of a Big Pharma executive, a feminist doctor, and thirthysomething newlywed who were impacted by DES over three decades. Under the direction of Tom Gilroy, Spring Forward, the cast does a phenominal job of illustrating the distastrous effects that DES had in their lives.

Caitlin's script Wonder Drug is inspired by true stories, she brings her personal connection as a DES daughter to the script. This isn't just another story, it's her story along with countless other women who have been exposed to DES since 1938.

Wonder Drug is currently in development. I look forward to when Caitlin and her producers get this story to the big screen because it is a story that needs to be told. We need to question pharmaceuticals companies that test drugs like DES and the FDA who goes on to approve them. What happened with the Wonder Drug DES is still happening today. Just think back to when Viox was recalled. This story needs to be told and shared with the world.

In closing, I want you all to know that not one drug company has ever apologized or accepted responsibility for the DES tragedy. Nevertheless, they have paid out millions in out-of-court settlements. Caitlin, thanks for sharing your work with me and others, it is not lost.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Finding My Focus

Have I found my focus? No, but I am getting closer to it. Last night, I was supposed to buckle down and get to my treatments for Finding Patience and Ego Tripping. Instead, I ended up watching the latest episode of True Blood. I must say it was a great episode, but I realize I probably should have not watched it. Howevery, it was so much easier for me to break fasting with an episode of True Blood, rather than dig deep to find the writer in me. I know, I've got to get my priorities together.

It wasn't a complete lost, at around 10 p.m. guilt began to set in and I decided to at least grow through my file folders of scripts, script notes, and articles on screenwriting. As I was reading through some of the papers I came across coverage for Finding Patience. The coverage was of the first 20 pages of my script. The contest I submitted to wanted to see your first 20 pages and if the story pulled them in then they would look at the full script. I did not make the cut. Ironically they also had a checklist of 20 things your script should have to make their cut. I only had four out of the 20. On first glance I was sort of depressed by this, but then I picked up the screenplay and began to read it. I would stop and look at the check marks I didn't have and then go back to the script. I stopped on page 10 and realized I had missed the mark in the setup of my screenplay.

It was around 10:30 and I realized that it was time for me to go to bed. I would have to be up in a few hours to eat an breakfast before the sunrise. I didn't want to go to bed, but if I was going to function tomorrow I needed to. I put the script down, realizing that I had a small break through. I saw the flaws in my writing. I have to revise it because it can be better. My job is to make it better.

I wish it didn't take me all night to come to that conclusion, but at least I did get to it. I My train has left the station, but the speed is very slow at the moment. I have faith it is going to pick up, but for now I've got to pace myself and not lose track of my goals.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coming Down from a Festival High and Getting Back to Work

Last week, I was in a celebratory mood. I was still getting a lot of kudos from colleagues, friends, and family for my recent screenwriting awards at the 2010 Action on Film Festival. Since my return I've been slowly coming down from the accolades and trying to get back my focus. It hasn't been easy. The shift from promoting and networking to getting back to the core of my writing is hard.

I know the hubby would tell me I need to stop putting so much on my plate. For once I won't argue with him, cause he's right. I need to do a better job at prioritizing my work.

I've had a lot of time to think about where I want my screenwriting to go. Am I really going to try and make this my career? The answer is yes, With that said, I need to exert a deeper dedication to the written word. At the end of the day it is about the writing. Writers write. I realize I have to do a lot more writing and I don't just mean my blogging either. I have to put in long hours to cultivate the characters and stories that are in my head.

I have a tall agenda to achieve if I am to stay on track. The journey will not be easy, but despite all the other things I have going on in my life, writing has to be and stay my focal point. If it doesn't, the only one I can blame for my lack of writing is myself. The pressure is on.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The 2010 Action on Film (AOF) Fest: My Top 10 Highlights

Although I've been back in Connecticut for two days, I'm still trying to adjust to the jet lag while also jumping back into the thick of things I left a little over a week ago. The adjustment is tough, but I'm hanging in there. 

I'm really excited about this blog entry. Part of this feeling is because I have yet to come down from my high of taking home two honors at the AOF Writer's Award Dinner. The 2010 Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival was a great experience for the screenwriter and filmmaker in me. I'm not just saying that because I won an award either. Instead of going on about how wonderful the festival was, I've decided to condense my memorable moments into a top ten list. To be more specific, I'm going to give you my top 10 highlights for this year's phenomenal AOF Festival. 

My Top Ten: 
10. Getting to AOF and receiving a warm welcome from the staff, Del, and Josh. The AOF team knows how to make you feel at home. "You may be independent, but at the AOF you're never alone."

9. It's nice to get to a festival and see familiar faces. AOF is festival where you connect with old friends and have an opportunity to network with a plethora of directors, producers, screenwriters, and actors from across the globe. Shout out to, Ron, Bob, Matt, Michelle, Steve, Caitlin, Laura, Dominic, Stan, Kely, Pascal, Michael G., and Raymond. All of you made my second year at AOF a memorable one.

8. I love getting a goodie bag. The AOF goodie bag included an official program, AOF t-shirt, perfume samples, other promotional items as well as screening postcards for most of the films screening at the festival. 

7. Attending the Free Sunday Brunch Symposium and Speakers Series on Sunday, July 25, 2010 at El Portal Restaurant from 11am to 1pm.  The fantastic seminar had a panel of incredible filmmakers and industry leaders who are making a difference in the field of film, video, and technology. Speakers included, Mike Flannagan of Video Symphony; Raymond Forchion, award-winning actor, writer and producer; Matt Sconce, director and 2010 AOF nominee for 'Best Horror;' Kely McClung, veteran actor, writer, producer and director; Matt Furman, screenwriter and co-founder of Triskelion Films, a production company with the goal to make CG Movies affordable to any filmmaker; and last but not least, Stan Harrington, a multi-award winning producer, writer, and director; he manages the World Famous Stella Adler Theater.

6. Attending the screening of Confessions of a Thug, a Hip-Hop musical that follows the life of a drug dealer. The film was produced by Raymond Forchion and starred writer/director Daron Fordham. I really enjoyed the Q&A with Raymond and Daron. 

5. Meeting Mark Ruffalo after the screening of Stan Harrington's film Small Days, written by Tim Mc'Neil. Mark was sitting in front of me at the screening and I didn't even realize it until after the film. Mark hung out with the cast of with his colleague's from Small Days and even made an appearance at the after party.

4. Attending the screening of my short film After the Headlines. While my audience was small, it was full of heart and made up of fellow screenwriters and filmmakers who gave me their word that they would come check on the film. Thank you for a fabulous Q&A after the screening. Shout out to, Ron, Pascal, Bob, and Claire.

3. Getting nominated for 'Best Produced Screenplay and attending the 2010 AOF Film Awards Dinner. Although I didn't win I was honored to be in the company of extraordinary screenwriters, filmmakers, producers, and actors. It was a great way to spend my last night in Pasadena.

2. Attending the Writers Dinner for a second year in a row. The fact that I was once again nominated was big kudos for me. Events like this one are one of the few acknowlegements I get as a writer so it means the world to me.

1. My number one highlight from this year's AOF Festival is winning the Hollywood Scriptwriter 2010 Written Word Award and also being first runner-up for Best Short. Throughout the year I get my share of rejections, so to come home with two awards illustrates that I continue to make progress as a screenwriter.

As you can see, I did a lot in the week. It was a real privilege to return for a second year. I'm looking forward to the AOF in 2011. I guess that means I've got my work cut out for me. Back to the writing. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

And the Winner is....Out of the Box

In my last blog entry I said let the fun begin. The fun times at the 2010 Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival, www.aoffest.com  did unfold and part of me is really sad that the screenings, seminars, and networking is finally coming to an end.

I still can't believe that my week here is almost over. Tomorrow night will be final night for the 2010 AOF, time really does fly by when you are having fun.

Yesterday evening I had the privilege of attending the 2010 AOF writer's awards dinner. My short script, Out of the box was nominated for 'Best Short' and the 'Hollywood Scriptwriter 2010 Written Word Award,' (and I wasn't aware of the latter). Being nominated for a second year was a great honor in itself. I know a lot of the writers in this fest and the competition is tough.

To my surprise I was awarded first runner-up for 'Best Short' and won the 'Hollywood Scriptwriter 2010 Written Word Award.' When my name was announced as runner-up I couldn't believe it. I walked to the podium and graciously accepted the honor. This time I didn't cry, but when I heard my name announced as the winner for the 'Hollywood Screenwriter 2010 Written Word Award' the tears began to swell and I cried tears of joy. I did recover a lot quicker than last year and managed to get a coherent thank speech out.

Even though the awards ceremony is a few hours ago, I still feel elated. Part of me is still in shock. Moments like these are few and far between. A night like last night, is a night that all screenwriters dream of. We endure so many rejections. It has taken me fives years to get here and I still don't believe I've cracked the service of my screenwriting iceberg. My journey and career are just beginning.

The script that won tonight was conceptualized five years ago with Lawrence J. King, the co-writer. We initially came up with the story for a BET screenwriting competition looking for scripts that were about HIV/AIDS. The winning short would be produced by BET. Lawrence and I submitted, but were not chosen. The script follows the lives of five African American women who are HIV positive. Their lives intersect as they cope with untimely demise of a group member, which in turn forces them to face their own personal demons. I continued to submit Out of the Box to a ton of contests and when I got coverage I would revise it to make the script better. I've been doing this for four years.

Last night, was a pay-off and testament to the many rewrites I've done throughout the years. I feel validated and believe my stories are worth telling.  I don't expect to win every contest. Rejection is part of the process, but I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Action on Film International Film Festival has been my light. One day a producer or production company will option my script or offer me a job on spec. Until then, my job is to keep writing.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

2010 Action on Film (AOF) Festival: Let the Fun Begin

I have safely arrived in the Pasadena area. My flight arrived late last night around 11:30 p.m. I headed over to Budget to get my car rental and then off to Sierra Madre (a small suburban town outside of Pasadena). I'm actually staying in Sierra Madre, with my friend and fellow screenwriter Pauline Gray. I made all the necessary calls to the hubby and my mom as well as updated my status on Facebook and twitter.

I feel well rested and an ready for the day. This morning I power-walked for about 45 minutes while going over my lines for Incantation (my next theatrical project). In about 15 minutes I plan to finally head to Pasadena and register for the 2010 Action on Film Festival. I'm really excited and looking forward to potential networking opportunities. I've already started building relationships with some of the filmmakers in attendance via twitter.

I'm really looking forward to being out here for a week. If you read my last blog, you know why. If you haven't read my last blog, then give it a read. When some exciting and memorable things happen I will be sure to blog about it after I take a moment to process. In the meantime, check out my twitter handle at dirtywater22 and the After the Headlines Facebook page,  http://www.facebook.com/pages/After-the-Headlines/195595142834?ref=search for updates on the 2010 AOFFest.

Thanks for your support and reading this entry. Stay tuned....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The 2010 Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival: A Screenwriter's Retreat

I'm just one day away from flying out to Pasadena. The anticipation for this trip has been building for me and I'm ready to get away. I need to. I have a lot on my plate right now. I'm in rehearsals for a production entitled Incantation (I will have a blog about the show when I return), planning a wedding celebration (since I'm already married), and also getting ready for the 2010 Action on Film (AOF) International Festival, http://www.aoffest.com/. While part of this trip is business, I also see part of this trip as a personal retreat from the world as I know i
Preparing for AOF has required a lot of time and I don't have much of it these days. I've had to order two movie-sized posters for the film to display at my screening and relabel post cards to promote the film. I've also been constantly posting on my social networks, handling my traveling accomindations, and a bunch of other little tasks I can't remember at the moment. I'm glad that I was able to use my Delta reward points for my flight. Boy did those come in handy. Also, due to my tweets I linked up with a travel agent who got me a great deal on a car rental. I also want to shout out Pauline Gray, who is letting me crash with her once again. Thanks sista.
A lot goes into making a film and when you get accepted into a film festival, you continue to have to put in time, money, and sweat to promote the hell out of your film. If this seems like I'm complaining, I don't mean to come off like that. I just want people to realize that when you make a film, the amount of energy you put into can seem never ending.
I'm so excited to have another opportunity to promote After the Headlines. After all it is nominated for 'Best Produced Screenplay." My short script Out of the Box is also nominated for 'Best Short' in the screenwritng category. Both nominations are real blessings, but while I'm out in Pasadena I also need to take stock of where I'm at and where I want to be two or three years down the road. I've been at a stand still with my writing and I think this trip will give me the mojo I need to recharge my engine. I plan to read scripts when I'm not at screenings and also will set time aside to work on the treatment for the feature length script of After the Headlines. I am long over due. Who knows maybe I will get lucky and get some ideas for other stories. At this point I am game for anything and open to the possibilities that will flow my way.
My trip out to Pasadena is definitely business, but it is also a personal retreat for the screenwriter in me and I can really use that time for myself.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Media Advisory: Connecticut Screenwriter’s Short Film, Receives ‘Best Produced Screenplay’ Nomination at the 2010 Action on Film International Film Festival

Media Advisory                                                                For Immediate Release

Connecticut Screenwriter’s Short Film, Receives ‘Best Produced
Screenplay’ Nomination at the 2010 Action on Film International Film Festival

JULY 15, 2010, WATERBURY, CT – Aaliyah Miller, a resident of Waterbury, Connecticut, short film, After the Headlines has been chosen as an official selection for the 2010 Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival. In addition to being an official selection, the film is also nominated for ‘Best Produced Screenplay.’

Miller’s film was selected from thousands of entries and follows Clara Dumont, a guilt-ridden mother who struggles to stop blaming herself for the death of daughter Alexis. The poignant script takes the reader on Clara’s emotional journey of as she seeks personal redemption.

“I’m ecstatic about this year’s acceptance and nomination. I consider it a real privilege to be back for a second time.” says Miller. Last year, the script was nominated and won “Best Dramatic Scene.”

After the Headlines was also screened at the 2010 Kent Film Festival, Kent, Connecticut, a premiere film festival for independent filmmakers looking to showcase their work. The film has received the Accolade “Award of Merit” and the Skyfest Film Festival "Certificate of Excellence."

The film will be screened at the Academy Theater, 1003 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, California in the four p.m. film block on July 26, 2010.

A premier showcase for the world’s independent filmmakers and screenwriters, AOF provides industry professionals and audiences with an opportunity to discover new and innovative films. The festival runs from July 23 to 30, 2010, in Pasadena, California. The complete list of films and scripts can be found at http://www.aoffest.com/.

MovieMaker Magazine names AOF one of, “The Top 25 Festivals Worth the Fees for 2010. AOF will award nominated filmmakers and screenwriters more than $75, 000 in cash and prizes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Great News from Action on Film (AOF)

I know my last entry had a tone of frustration. Since then the level of stress I was feeling has subsiding a  bit. I feel better having got some things off my chest. It wasn't just what I wrote, I also received some really encouraging feedback from a fellow screenwriter as well as words of encouragement from others who read this blog. Thank you.

I'm please to report, actually I'm more than pleased, I'm completely ecstatic. This morning, I received the earth shattering news (earth shattering for me) that After the Headlines received a nomination from for Best Produced Screenplay at the 2010 Action on Film (AOF) International Film Festival, www.aoffest.com. I was happy when After the Headlines was accepting into the festival but getting nominated really sweetens the deal. I am really looking forward to the trip out to Pasadena in a couple of weeks.

Out of the Box, a short screenplay about five women of color living with HIV/AIDS was nominated for 'Best Short' in the screenwriter's category. I co-wrote the original script with Lawrence King, founder of Dark Embrace Films about five years ago and have been making revisions to the script over the years. It is true when writers say a story is never finished. The amount of revisions I have to my other scripts is a constant reminder.

I really needed some good news and I got it. I have a little bit more pep in my step. I actually have the energy to want to write and I need to capitalize on it. I want to shout out to the folks at AOF for opening a door for me. They gave me my first shot last year and I will never forget that. Getting accepted and winning made me believe that the impossible is possible. Screenwriting and film making are tough careers to pursue, so when you get into a festival and get nominated for an award it's a big deal.

I'm really thankful for this great news and plan to make the most of the opportunity. For me, part of making the most of this opportunity means getting back to the writing. I'm ready.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wedding Unbliss

Lately, I've been tired. Too tired to do things I should be doing and when I am working on something, I'm hustling to get it done. I'm in reactive mode instead of proactive mode. It's not a good place to be because, my creative output is low. I really don't like feeling this way, but since I control my destiny, this is my own doing, I'm not sure how I got so off track.

When I talk to folks, people are asking how I'm coming along with the wedding. I smile, and tell them things are moving along and they are. I finally have the invitations mailed out. Getting that task done was like lifting a boulder off of my back. I had my first fitting of my wedding gown, my mom and two of my bridesmaids, Catherine and Matie joined me. It went well. I felt good in my dress. I continue to check off tasks on the to-do list which is great, but the wedding celebration bliss I expected to be feeling isn't here at the moment. It's more like a Wedding Unbliss.

I don't know if it is because I'm in a creative funk and that funk is trickling into other areas of my life. Is it that I have to much on my plate and I can't enjoy the moment? I have questions, but no firmative answers. It helps to get this off my chest. Now I need to think of ways to rejuvenate the feeling of wedding bliss and enjoy the moment. Suggestions welcomed. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Black Obsidian Media Group is Back with ResurGENTs

I know I've been a little laggy lately. My apologies, between changes at work and tasks for the wedding I'm spent. I was very happy that I finally had a chance to relax and rejuvenate this holiday weekend. I have to shout out Jackie and Everett for a great weekend in Waltham, Massachusetts. The low-key time with friends is just what I needed although I did manage to squeeze in a little work here and there.

I'm glad to be back blogging. I'm long over due. This entry is for my theater lovers, especially those who frequent the Off Off Broadway circuit. This entry is for you.

Last year, I blogged about the production of Black Man Rising, the award-winning New York Production took audiences by storm. Winner of four AUDELCO Awards, for "Excellence in Theatre," inclucing Best Director, Patricia R. Floyd, Best Choreography, Juson Williams, Outstanding Ensemble Performance and Dramatic Production of the Year. The production was produced by the Black Obsidian Media Group, a group of talented writers, actors, and directors pushing the envelop for Black theater.

The team is back with ResurGENTs: The Reappearance of Hope, written by Lawrence Floyd and Damian Sanders. ResurGENTs is a part of the 2010 Midtown International Theatre Festival, http://www.midtownfestival.org/. The play is a new millennium Choreopoem that explores the rise of the Black Man in the geo-political era of President Barack Obama. Through poetry, monologues, singing, and dancing, five Black men speak about life, love, and freedom. They take us on a spiritual journey from the present to slavery, in his relationships as well as his politics. “There is nothing new about Life and Love and Freedom. We make them original.” ResurGENTs is a resurrected love song.

Helmed once again by Patricia R. Floyd and Juson Williams, ResurGENTs features a talented cast including Neil Dawson*, Leopold Lowe*, Lawrence Saint-Victor, Samuel Smith, Roderick Warner and Juson Williams.* (*Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association).

Make sure you check out ResurGENTs! Make your reservations now for as low as $18.00. Purchase your tickets with a credit card online at http://www.midtownfestival.org/ or call toll-free: 866-811-4111. Group discounts are also available. Contact Jajmi Robinson at 646.554.5528.

Performance dates are: 2010 Midtown International Theatre Festival- July 12th @ 8:30pm, July 17th @ 7:30pm, July 22nd , July 23rd and July 31st @ 6:00pm and August 1st @ 1:00pm.

I hope to see you in the audience.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rejection Isn't Always a Bad Thing

Hello all,

This week I've been thinking about what I was going to blog. I want to make sure I stay on track and write a blog entry a week.

When I got home I checked my email. As I was scanning through my junk mail I came across an email from the Central Florida Film Festival. My gut told me it was a rejection, but I had to look at it anyways.

I was right. After the Headlines wasn't accepted. However, it wasn't the standard rejection email thanking me for submitting and telling me the competition was so strong this year. Bob Cook, the festival director, http://bobcookfilmdirector.blogspot.com/, was matter-of-fact on why After the Headlines wasn't chosen by the five judge panel. I won't go into the details, but I will say that I found this rejection letter to be inspiring. I know, that has to sound weird. Mr. Cook told me not to take the critique personal. He reminded me that film is art and art is subjective. I really appreciated his words. I found them comforting even though I know this is another rejection to add to the list.

Mr. Cook also reminded me that filmmakers need to have a thick skin.  He's right. He closed his email hoping that his comments will help me be a better filmmaker. I can honestly say that they will. There is always room for improvement. Like Diddy says, "Can't stop, won't stop."

This was probably the best rejection letter I have received thus far. Mr. Cook let me know what didn't work for the judges and when I make another film I will keep his comments in mind. While I'm not happy After the Headlines was rejected, I learned that rejection isn't always a bad thing. There is a lesson to be learned from it. My lesson is to keep writing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's Important to Read the Fine Print

This Sunday I was thrilled. I had finally finished editing my audition tape for Oprah's Next TV Star. I had spent Memorial Day weekend shooting footage of a trip to the Finger Lakes I took with my sister Dawn. My idea for the video was to do the standard introduction but then also showcase my skills with a camera and being on camera.  I took a look at some of the interviews online and thought my idea was different and would help it stand out.

I submitted the video at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday night. I was all set to do my social media blast. I created an event in facebook and posted the link, but when I clicked on the link I noticed the video wasn't up. I go check my email and see an email from the contest staff at Own. I click on it and read the message. My video was rejected. I was at a loss for words. How can this be? The email advised that I take a look at the rules and regulations. I go to the page with the rules and regulations and start reading again. Half-way down the page I see that there must be no mention of alcohol or showing of alcohol along with no products and a bunch of other stuff. I thought to myself, "How did I miss this the first time?"

My whole concept for the video was to highlight my road trip to the Finger Lakes, which is a wine producing area in upstate New York. The video is about our trip but is completely centered around wine and the wine trail we visited. I realized I made a major miscalculaton on my part. I think I must have been so excited about my idea that I neglected to read the fine print. 

Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfI0OqXvWSM. I would love to get your feed and see what you think. I've decided to scrap redoing the tap and submitting it. I just don't have the time to develop another concept, shoot, and edit  it myself. The editing was the hardest part. Kudos to all the editors out there, I have an even greater appreciation for the work you do. Editing is really is an artform. Another reason I'm not submitting is because I don't want to be on a reality show competing against others for a show on Oprah's new network. I actually have a few colleagues pursuing the opportunity. I gladly will throw them my votes.

Even though I'm no longer pursuing Oprah's competition, I have another competition on my plate. My photo has been accepted in MovieHatch for the Times Square "Your Face in Lights" Contest. I can use your support, better yet I NEED YOUR VOTE. To vote click on this link: http://www.moviehatch.com/index.php?option=com_moviehatch&task=TimesSquare&Itemid=104&f=7e587f1688cbeaea3a1ed1a8922dd497

The lesson that was reiterated to me is always read the fine print. I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort. I''m not going to let the video footage I shot go to waste, instead I'm going to reedit it and make it the highlight video I want audiences to see. When it is done I will make sure to share it. Thanks for reading and thanks for your vote.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

After the Headlines is an official selection at the 2010 Action on Film International Film Festival

GREAT NEWS!!! After the Headlines is an official selection of the 2010 Action on Film AOF International Film Festival. This film festival is listed as one of the top '25 Film Festivals Worth Their Fees' by Movie Maker Magazine.  I'm really excited to be a part of the film festival for a second year. Last year, I attended AOF because After the Headlines was nominated for "Best Dramatic Scene." If you're a regular follower of In the Mix, you already know that I won. One year later, the film is being shown. I call that progress.

Right now, I'm looking for a small contingent of folks from the cast, crew, fans, and supporters of the film to come out to Pasadena with me. AOF is an awesome film festival that has a great track record for the filmmakers and screenwriters that submit their work. I think it would be a great networking opportunity for those interested in careers in entertainment and would love to have a strong presense at the festival. If I end up going it alone, that is okay too.

Times are still very financially tough for most Americans and that has to be taken into consideration when I think about my cast, crew, fans, and supporters. I work with people who love to make film, but the reality of independent cinema is that it doesn't pay. Instead it costs. I'm a screenwriter and filmmaker because I'm passionate about the process and really enjoy doing it, whether it pays or not. Of course I still want to make a living at it. Getting into festivals costs me, but it also provides me with an opportunity to get my film in front of audiences and network with professional in the film industry. That's priceless.

I want to thank all of you who have supported me this far. I really appreciate it. It makes a big differenc in my grassroots efforts as a screenwriter and filmmaker. Make sure you check out the AOF film festival website at http://www.aoffest.com/. You can check out last year's winners, film trailers, interviews, and see my writing scene performed by actors. I had to plug it. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Getting away for the Holiday Weekend

I know, I am long over due for an entry.  I needed a break. I still think I need more of break and then I remember that my time is limited and it is time for me to get myself back in gear. I hit a slump. It happens. I'm not sure what lead me to my recent slump, but I think it has to do with a feeling of stagnation. I haven't felt like my progress needle has been moving forward.

I think I'm over this slumpy period. Last night, I finally worked on a script. It was a revision to a short I've revised at least 20 times, but since I've been reading John Truby's, The Anatomy of Story, I have a deeper appreciation for all the elements that go into making a good story. Writing is simple, but writing good can be complicated, especially if you miss a beat. I feel like some of my stories have missed the beat and then they miss the mark. It felt good to look at my dialogue and analyze my characters actions and motivations. I ended up cutting back on some of my character's dialogue and tried to simplify the language because some of it didn't ring conversational to me.

Now, I need to take this rekindled energy and focus on the specs spcripts and new feature script I was supposed during the month of April an May. It's time for me to get cracking. I'm long over due for some first drafts.

I'm glad that Memorial weekend is approaching. I actually can't wait. My mind and body are in need of a break. Lately, I've been stressed with my lack of progress, wedding details, and life in general. My answer to to the stress is a road trip with my sister Dawn.

Dawn and I are going to head to the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. It will be nice to get a way and spend time with her. I don't get to see her as much as I would like. We will check out the vineyards, some musuems, and hit up the Waterloo Outlet. I'm going to bring my laptop for some late night writing. I get my best ideas at night. I'm also going to bring a camera to document some of the road trip. I plan to edit the footage for my wild card submission for a host position on Oprah's new Own network. It's a long shot, but I'm all about long shots. 

Have a good weekend and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Highlights from Kent

The Kent Film Festival. Where to begin? Let me start off by thanking Patrice and Frank Galterio and the Kent Film Festival staff. They ran an awesome festival that felt good from when I went to their offices to grab my festival passes and goodie bag until the last film was screened. Frank and Patrice make you feel like family, for the weekend I was part of their filmmaking family.

This past weekend I enjoyed some good films, talked with fellow filmmakers from all over the country, and had a few celebrity spottings, but at Kent even if you are a celebrity, you don't bring that Hollywood vibe with you. Kent is to chill and laid back for A-list egos. There are many memorable moments, but if I typed them all, this blog would go on for to long. Besides I figure you, like me, have lots to do in your day and reading this blog may not be your first choice. In lue of that, below are my highlights from the 2010 Kent Film Festival. The order is fashioned like Letterman's "Top Ten."

10. Getting a goodie bag: The Kent goodie bag came with, a festival program, festival promotional items, a  gallery magazine, a peace stick to promote a peace day event in the fall, and samples of make-up (which was my personal fav). I almost forgot to mention that the goodie bag has the festival and is reusable. I'll be showing it off next time I go to the supermarket.

9. Filmmaking Workshops: This year, Kent hosted a documentary workshop with director Sandra Cosentino and producer/director Joseph Consentino. I missed this one because it ran the same time as my screening of After the Headlines. The festival also had a workshop on the the Red One, a revolutionary new camera that provides a 35mm scope on a digital budget. Adrian Correia, a cinematographer that uses Red one is his work led the workshop. It was a bit technical for me but I still had some great take-a-ways.

8. The Screening of Company Retreat: Company Retreat is a mockumentary written by actor/writer/director Campbell Scott (currently on TNT's Damages). Before the screening they had a meet and greet with Campbell and afterwards there was a Q&A. I made sure to introduce myself before I asked my question.

7. Seeing Baghdad Diary: This powerful documentary follows taxi drive Fadil Kadom's and NBC cameraman Craig White's story of what life was like leading up to the war with Iraq as well as the aftermath, videotaped by each of them, you get a keen sense of the personal risks each men took. You also the Iraq war from a humanistic, not political perspective.

6. Seeing Bakhtiari Alphabet: This documentary took me to Iran, where I learned about the Bakhiari people, a nomadic tribe that has seasonal migration. The director of this film is a fellow Connecticut who happens to live in Bethelem, CT. She is just a few towns away from Waterbury. The film took her eight years to complete. Now I call that dedication.

5.The Networking Parties: These special events allowed filmmakers, screenwriters, directors, and producers to talk shop, float around our business card, and really get to know people on both a professiona and personal level.

4. Spending Saturday with Karim: It was great to have the hubby by my side on Saturday. He was with me all day Saturday and it was a very long day. I take comfort in knowing that he supports my film and writing endeavors. Making films is a lot of hard work. Karim has had my back from the beginning of this process.

3. Patrice and Frank Galterio: This husband and wife team are the co-founders and directors of the Kent Film Festival. They go out of their way to make every filmmaker feel welcomed and supported. They gave After the Headlines it's premiere, of course they were going to make the list.

2. Seeing Mow Crew: Karim and I checked out this feature at the Saturday night screening. I believe Taylor Toole, the writer/director won best film (check Kent's website to be sure). An honor that is well deserved. The musically driven story follows  a young landscapper from Martha's Vineyard, who struggles to maintain his lifestyle and relationship after he and his girlfirend are offered an unexpected music recording contract in Los Angeles. I got a copy of the soundtrack and have been playing it since I got in the Q&A after the screening.

1. The Screening of After the Headlines: I don't mean to be an ego maniac, but the best highlight of the festival was when I sat down with the audience to watch the film. It was nice knowing I had friends and family in the audience. I'm glad Jaye Maynard, the lead actress in the film was able to be there. I received a lot of local press leading up to the screening which was also nice.

In closing, I just want to say I had this feeling like "I arrived." I know it is going to take a lot more work to stay around. It's time for me to get back to the foundation of filmmaking, the writing. I had a great time at Kent and hope to back again next year, even if I don't have a film to screen.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Last Day at Kent

I'm a little sad about this entry. Today is the final day of the 2010Kent Film Festival and it's a rainy day. The rain puts me in a somber mood.

Despite that, I would like to thank all the folks who trucked it all the way up to Kent to check out the screening of After the Headlines. I'm honored to have your support. It is was a small group of people, but I know the folks who were there really wanted to be there and that means the world to me. Indie screenwriters and filmmakers make the films they want to make, we tell the stories that we know the studio system isn't interested in. For the most part our films aren't high-concept, which just means that have a simple plot set-up and can be mass-marketed to large audiences. Basically, keep it simple stupid.

Yesterday, I had the chance to check out some really good shorts and feature length films. I was really impressed by the other films in my short block. I also attended a workshop that was on the Red camera. That was pretty informative. I can't really rehash all the things I learned in the workshop, but I definitely want to consider using a DP (director of photography) that has experience with the Red. The picture is pretty amazing and it's digital, no tapes! Over the last year I heard production people talk about how great it is, but I saw it first hand. It's a pretty sweet camera if you have the budget for it.

Today, I'm looking forward to checking out the documentary Bakhtari Alphabet, by Bethlehem's Cima Sedigh and Reza Ghadyani. The film chronicles the season migration of the Bakhtiari tribe through Southwestern Iran. The film took eight years to make. I learned that the most documentaries take an average of seven years to make. I wasn't aware of that, which gives me a greater appreciation of documentary films. All directors endure the trials and tribulations of filmmaking, but documentarians really have a heavy weight to carry, because the chances of finding commercial success is even smaller.

I'm also looking forward to seeing another short block of films that includes a film called Outcomes: LGBQT. Outcomes is a documentary that draws from a series of interviews with an array of LGBTQ people who have come out of the closet.

It's time for me to get ready and head back up to Kent.  Next entry, will be my personal highlights for the film festival. Stay tuned....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gearing up for Kent

The 2010 Kent Film Festival officially kicked off yesterday. I wasn't able to make the first night of the fest because my allergies were kicking my butt. I also think my travel for work this week also had me spent. I had a night to recuperate and am ready to go.

Wednesday night, I attended Campbell Scott's screening of his film Company Retreat. Scott wrote, produced, and directed the mockumentary film that looks at the world of reality television. The film is definitely quirky and has a lot of funny parts, but the ending threw me for a loop. After the film there was a great Q&A with Scott. He explained how he came up with the film's ending, which I still sorta don't get, but that's okay. Scott is a veteran actor that has been in a bunch a really good films, he is also a resident of the area. You can currently see him on TNT's hit series Damages. It was interesting for me to learn that he also has a passion for storytelling wearing the screenwriter and director's hat. I mustered up the courage to ask him a question about how he balances taking paying gigs and doing projects he wants to do, regardless of it's successful in the eyes of Hollywood marketers. In short, his answer was that you have to find balance. His acting projects are his bread and butter, but he writes and directs projects because he really wants to do them.

I look forward to the point in my career when I have the opportunity to work like Mr. Scoot. But for now, I'm in the building stage. I take pride in the fact that I made After the Headlines not because I knew it was going to bring me fame and fortune (it hasn't, I'm still in the negative) but because I really wanted to tell this story. Making films is about telling the stories we want to tell as artists.

I'm really looking forward to checking out the other films at Kent and meeting other filmmakers. I feel like this just may be a weekend that changes the rest of my life  Don't forget you still have time to get tickets to the screening of After the Headlines. The film is in block 9 at the Town Hall and starts at 11:15 a.m. I couldn't end this blog without plugging my film. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Republican American: Behind the Scenes

Hello all,

I'm thrilled to share the link to the local story on After the Headlines in the Republican American. Click on the link for the article. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for the down low on the 2010 Kent Film Festival.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting Local Press for After the Headlines

Hello all,

I planned to write this entry much earlier in the week, but I just couldn't seem to find the time and focus (a problem I seem to have, but if you read this blog on the regular you already know that). If I would have written my entry on Thursday like I planned, the title would have be Seven Days and Counting.

The 2010 Kent Film Festival, http://kentfilmfestival.org/ is just six days away, five if you count the private benefit screening of Company Retreat”, written and directed by acclaimed actor/director Campbell Scott. The screening will take place on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at the Kent Community House, the evening before the start of the 5th annual Kent Film Festival, a celebration of aspiring independent filmmakers.

I'm really looking forward to attending the festival and the screening for After the Headlines.It's my first film festival for After the Headlines, and the fact that it's taking place in Connecticut makes the honor of being accepted that much sweeter. There is still time to get tickets, just visit, http://kentfilmfestival.org/tickets.html. After the Headlines is in block 9. The screening begins at 11:15 am. This means you have plenty of time to party it up on Friday night and still make the screening. Just kidding, but it would be nice to see you there.

Earlier in the week, I sent out media advisories to Connecticut newspapers. The list includes the New Haven Register, the Hartford Courant, the Connecticut Post, the New Haven and Hartford Advocate, Torrington's Register Citizen, and my local paper the Republican American. I lucked out and received a call back from Brynn Mandel, a reporter with the Republican American. I had my interview earlier this afternoon. It went well.  I felt honored sharing the story of why I wrote the script to telling her about the filmmaking process and what it means to me to be showing the film at Kent. I also was photographed for the story, which was icing on the cake. 

Like the Kent Film Festival, the Republican American is another first for me and the film. I'm glad to be getting local press coverage. The truth is I'm ecstatic! It makes me feel like if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere. Next up, look out for the website (thanks to the hubby, he built the framework and I just need to fill in the blanks). My goal is to have the site ready by the end of this weekend. It will be another tool in my arsenal to promote the hell out of this film. 

The feature story should be in Wednesday's paper. I will post it as soon as it hits the web. Thanks for listening.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I'm tired, But That Is No Excuse

This week I was pretty tired. I still am. My fatigue has definitely hindered my writing process this week. I did not write a word outside of my sporadic morning pages. I'm pretty disappointed in myself. No forward movement on my spec script and I'm almost half-way through the month. Not good and all. I need to get my buns in gear.

I'm looking for divine inspiration, but I know that isn't the answer. I've not put in the work. The divine inspiration will come when I get to writing. Even if I think it's crappy I need to get it on paper and then on the computer screen. On a more positive note, I have some new writing exercises to try.

Tomorrow afternoon I have a video shoot with some alumuni of foster care. Their interviews will eventually be edited to short clips for the web. I'm looking forward to capturing their stories. I'm hoping that it will energize me so when I come home I can capture my own.

I let you know if I make progress.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Becoming the Writer I Know I Can Be

If you have a talent, use it in every which way possible. Don’t hoard it. Don’t dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke. - Brendan Francis

I thought I'd start of my entry with this quote. I read it today on the Daily Screenwriter, http://screenwriterdaily.blogspot.com/2010/04/screenwriting-just-screenwriting.html, a blog with motivational advice from Michael David Jensen, who currently serves as the executive producer and director of the groundbreaking documentary MAKING BETTER DOCTORS (http://www.makingbetterdoctors.com/). I think this quote really fits me today. It's a reminder that I have to do the work and when I do the work I need to put it out there.

It's been easy for me to rest on my previous accolades and make excuses for why I'm not writing. However, there are no good execuses, because if I'm going to master this craft, I have do what all writers do and that is set time aside to write. I finally feel like I'm in a place to get that work done.

Last week, I drove to the city to attend a panel with comedic writers who work on the following shows, SNL, Jimmy Fallon, and The John Stuart Show. The all male panel discussion took place at Fordham University. It was informative, funny, and best of all free advice from writers working in the business. I left the panel discussion knowing I wasn't going to be developing writing samples for shows like SNL and the John Stewart show. Although I enjoy watching them, that is not where my heart is as a writer. I still want to focus on stories about women with a focus on young adults.

I had one really good take away that I received from the panel. It is that no matter what my writing interests are, I need to write and write a lot. If I'm going to pitch the showrunner or executive producers of shows like True Jackson, 10 Things I Hate About You, or Nurse Jackie (hint, hint), I need to show them that I know their shows and have an arsonal of scripts to prove it.

I also attended a meeting for Connecticut Screenwriters at the West Hartford Public Library last Wednesday. The meeting provided me with an opportunity to meet a new group of writers who also have a passion for storytelling and film. I'm looking forward to meeting with this group on the last Wednesday of each month. It will be another tool for me to capitalize on.

The next two months I will be building my writing arsenal. At the end of the month, I will have another spec written and that will also be a goal for May. In order to become the writer I know I can be I must write.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Onward and Upward: Trying to Stay Focused

I'm long overdue for a blog entry. My apologies on my lack of earnestness, but the last two weeks have not been very productive for me. I think it's because my head is in a lot of places and I haven't buckled down and focused on the writing. The stories that are in my head have not made it to paper or onto my computer screen. Trying to move onward and upward has not been an easy task for me.

I hope to change that this week. Writers write and since I haven't been doing that, I don't feel much like a writer. I don't want this blog to come off completely negative, because I do have some things I'm looking forward too. I'm estactic that After the Headlines will have its premiere at the Kent Film Festival, http://www.kentfilmfestival.org/, April 22 to 25, 2001. I give myself goosebumps knowing that the film will be screened at Kent. I feel so honored. It's my first and hopefully not my last film festival. I plan to do a grassroots publicity blitz, which will require sending out press releases to local media and hitting up local business to see if they will let me display the poster (which I still have to get made). There is no rest for the wary.

Trying to stay focused is a continual struggle for me, but I will need to overcome it in order to move forward. If I don't do the work, I will not have a product to pitch and promote and I need more scripts to get out there in the world. Yesterday, I went to the local library and picked up John Truby's, The Anatomy of Story. I hope this book will help center me and give me some tools to master my art of storytelling. I know I can't expect the book to fix my focus problem, but I do hope that it will point me in the right direction. I'm also reading QBQ: The Question Behind the Question. This book has been assigned for me to read on the work front. It's about practicing personal accountability at work and in life. I can use that too.

Onward and upward folks. Thanks for listening.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Glass Ceiling Cracked, But the Reality Remains

The Oscar hoopla is finally over. The feat to win a Oscar is no easy task. Some of the industry's best can go a lifetime and still never get the honor, so kudos to all the winners. I didn't watch much of the Oscars, but what from what I did see, I did notice there were a lot of firsts last night. The one I will focus my blog on today is the Best Director award that went to Kathryn Bigelow.

Bigelow cracked the glass ceiling last night when she won the award of Best Director for The Hurt Locker. She is the first woman in Oscar history to receive this honor. While Bigelow is the first woman to win the Best Directoring Oscar, she is only the fourth woman ever nominated. With the impact that women have had in the industry throughout the years I find it hard to believe that until last night a woman has not won the Best Director award. That was probably wishful thinking on my part, because when I looked at the hard stats, it becomes very clear that women writers, directors, and producers have not gained that much ground in the last 30 years.

Women make up 51%of the U.S. population and that number does not crossover to jobs in the film industry for women. According to Martha M Lauzen, of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women accounted for seven percent of the directors and eight percent of writers who made the top 250 grossing American films in 2009.  A new study released by University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which was conducted by professor Stacy. L Smith found that actresses nabbed only 29.9% of the 4,379 speaking parts in the 100 top-grossing films of 2007.

I'm not trying to take away from Bigelow's momentous moment, because it is a great accomplishment, but as I think of the role of women in society, I think we do ourselves an injustice when we don't acknowledge the inequities that we face as women. Once we acknowledge the problem, we must actively work to change it.
Hollywood is just one of the many industry's where women face an uphill battle in the fight fore equal pay, recognition, and the opportunity to be given a chance.  I think it's an important field because the visual stories we view can change our perception of the world around us. Sometimes for better, sometime for worse. Last night was a Hollywood first, I just hope it doesn't take the industry another 80 years before a woman is recognized in this area again. There are women writer, directors, and producers putting in the work and making great films.

Bigelow has done many interviews, but the following statement has stuck with me the most, "Don't give up on your dream - I mean it quite literally. Be tenacious, but work on the stories you truly, truly believe in."

I'm going to heed her advice, because at the end of the day, whether you are a woman or a man, it is about having a good story.