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.