Saturday, December 31, 2011

Playing it SMART in 2012

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday break. I've really enjoyed my week off and am slowly getting ready to go back to work. I didn't want to get close out the year without writing a blog entry that helps me put things into perspective for 2012.

This is the time of year when many people make resolutions. Some resolve to loose weight, save more money, to be more productive, or just be happier.  One of the problems I find with New Year's resolutions is that they loose their thrust by the end of March. People tend to get back into the usual routine and the resolutions don't yield that sense of urgency as we make it through another year. One of my goals for 2012 is to maintain that sense of urgency .

When I look back at 2011 I can say I made some significant strides in a variety of areas in my life. I started my second master's program with Gonzaga University, began house hunting (and if all goes well Karim and I will close on our first home in a little over a month), and tackled some new projects at work. However, there is one area that didn't get my attention. That would be screenwriting. I won't make excuses for not writing, instead I will accept the fact that I dropped the ball on this front. As this year quickly comes to a close I realize that screenwriting must be a priority that I focus on and am actively working at.

In the past, I've talked about winning contests and screenwriting fellowships or getting an agent. Before any of those things can come to the fruit I want, I just need to write and be consistent. Rather than worry about the crops I want to see, I need to make sure I'm tending to the land and building a solid foundation.

I read a discussion thread in my Independent Filmmakers and Screenwriters group in LinkedIN that put my screenwriting goals in 2012 into perspective for me. I need to play it SMART.

S = Simple
M = Measurable
A= Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

As part of playing it SMART my goals will be to:

1. Read a script a week.
2. Watch a new film a week.
3.Writer a page a day.
4. Spend five hours a week prepping story ideas.

Playing it SMART is not just about making a resolution for the new year, it's about changing the pattern of how I work as a screenwriter. I have four simple goals for 2012. If I stick to these goals I will have read 52 scripts, watched 52 movies, and have written two feature-length scripts. I like the sound of that.


Wishing you a Happy New Year and hoping that you also play it SMART in 2012 whatever your goals in life are.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's a Wrap: Reflections on my First Semester with Gonzaga

Today my first semester with Gonzaga is officially wrapped . It feels good to write that sentence. So very good. At the moment, I want to coordinate a flash mob dance routine to celebrate, but instead I will write this blog entry. This semester was rough at times. I had my fair share of ups and downs.

Although my coursework was pretty comprehensive and took over my life for 16 weeks, I can say I feel better as a result of it. I just completed a course entitled the Social Dynamics of Computer Technology. In this course I looked at technology and its social and cultural impact in our daily lives. I have to admit that before this class I didn't really think about how my life has been impacted by technology. Questions like "Who are the winners and losers in technology?" or "Does computer technology drive me or am I driven by technology?," pushed me to be more critical about the role it plays in my life. I also looked deeper at how technology has shaped and influenced all the messages we get on a daily basis. Despite the Utopian ideals that we have come to accept with the Internet and new media technology I was reminded that we must remain critical of the information we receive and the ways in which we receive it.

During my second course I managed to squeak in some time to participate in the 2011 Action on Film (AOF) Screenwriters Invitational. I was the head writer of my group and we were charged with writing a six page comedic script. I was a little nervous about taking this project on, but in the end it worked out. I realized that I can be funny on paper and according to my team of screenwriter (which by the way is a very talented group) I was a good leader that kept my team on task. The short we produced is called This is It, which is now in the judging process. Next year I will find out if my team is a finalist.

The AOF Screenwriters Invitational gave me an opportunity to put my script hat back on. I'm thankful for it because I've really missed writing. During the break I plan get back to it. I'm looking forward to that and catching up with T.V. shows and films I missed. Netflix here I come!! I'm wrapped and ready to unload, watch out folks!!

I wish you all a safe and fun holiday season and the very best in 2012. I'm looking forward to it and hope all of you are too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Emerging Women in Film Series profiles Caitlin McCarthy

Hello followers,

I'm glad to be getting back on track with my Emerging Women in Film Series. This week I'm pleased to share my interview with Caitlin McCarthy, an award-winning screenwriter who was recently named by Imagine magazine as a "Women to Watch." They're right. Caitlin inspires me. I am thankful our paths crossed back in 2009 at the Action of Film (AOF) International Film Festival. She's a tenacious, determined, and talented screenwriter who always keeps her eye on the prize.

Caitlin McCarthy
Bio: Caitlin McCarthy received her MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, which is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best graduate programs in the country. An award-winning screenwriter at international film festivals and labs, Caitlin has two features in development: RESISTANCE with Populus Pictures and director Si Wall; and WONDER DRUG with actor/producer Alysia Reiner. In addition to screenwriting, Caitlin serves as an English teacher at an inner-city public high school.


Interview
Miller: Congratulations are in order for all your hard-earned accomplishments. Achieving success as a screenwriter is no easy task. What have you done to distinguish yourself as a writer?
McCarthy: Thank you for your kind words!
I believe writers have to be of two minds these days: an artist and a businessperson. It's not enough to create scripts. You have to create a name for yourself through an official website; IMDb page (or IMDb resume, if you don’t have produced credits yet); social media; professional organizations like IFP, WIF, and Shooting People; interviews (online, print, and TV); film festivals (don’t just attend – network!); participation in screenwriting labs and pitch summits; you name it.

If you do at least one thing every day to advance your writing career, it will add up over time. When people Google you, they should see YOU first – not some guy or gal with the same name who works as a dentist in Montana. The competition is fierce in film and TV. Make it impossible for someone to say no to you.

Miller: What kind of stories speak to you? Do you have a preferred genre?
McCarthy: I have always had a soft spot for the underdog. My favorite protagonists are the ones who must fight for what they want. I'm not married to one particular genre. In fact, I've purposely gone out of my way to demonstrate my versatility by writing about history, science, sports, romance, and the world of education. I've also branched out from screenplays into teleplays. I love a good challenge and will write about anything and everything that interests me.

Posing with Caitlin at the staged reading of Wonder Drug in NYC.
Miller: How long have you been screenwriting? Do you find that the process easier today than when you first started?
McCarthy: I started writing screenplays in 2002, after meeting Oscar-nominated director Matia Karrell through her cousin, who worked at my school. Matia read my unpublished novel CAPE COD LITE and asked if I could turn it into a screenplay. Whenever you're asked something like that, the answer should always be YES! I ran out to the bookstore that day, bought a “How To” book, and the rest is history.
The screenwriting process was painful at first. I made every mistake you can think of, like telling instead of showing. But over time, I've become a stronger screenwriter. I won't ever say that writing is easy. It's hard work. But it's hard work that I enjoy. If you don’t love it, don’t do it.

Miller: What is your favorite film festival and why?
McCarthy: The Action on Film International Film Festival (AOF) is essential for writers starting out. Its founder Del Weston truly cares about building a "family" of filmmakers. He also gives you the tools to build a presence for yourself. If you’re a nominated writer at the festival, you get a professionally shot interview that can be uploaded to your website and social media pages. A five-minute scene from your script may also selected for interpretation on camera by AOF and shown as a "mini-movie" during the festival. There's also the AOF Writers' Room Invitational, where assigned teams of five writers create an original scene. All scenes are filmed and screened during AOF. The members of the winning group receive awards and prizes at the AOF Black Tie Dinner and Award Show. And then there's the inaugural AOF $100,000 Writers' Challenge, where the "challenge" is to write a winning script that AOF can produce utilizing a $100,000 cash and sponsorship prize package. The package includes cash, equipment, equipment rentals, and sponsor provided services such as post production, music, graphics, deliverables, etc.


How much do these offerings from the AOF cost you? Nothing. You just pay the entry fee for the screenplay competition!

For more information about AOF, check out the blog post I wrote about the festival for "Women and Hollywood" on IndieWire: http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/guest_post_women_filmmakers_and_screenwriters_at_the_action_on_film_film_fe


Standing room only at the staged reading of Wonder Drug in NYC.
Miller: What advice or tip can you share with others that you wish someone would have shared with you earlier in your career?
McCarthy: For starters, don't waste your money on competitions with no return on investment. Writing can be death by a thousand paper cuts, meaning filled with numerous costs that sneak up on you. You must be careful with how you spend your money.

Next, don’t worry about getting an agent or manager right away. You won’t be able to get a good one until you have a project in production. What should you be focused on getting? An entertainment lawyer. The great ones in Los Angeles and New York City are expensive – sometimes $350 an hour. But you’re paying for protection. Do not EVER sign anything without having a legitimate entertainment lawyer review it first. And listen to that lawyer’s advice. Don’t be desperate. It’s better to have no deal than a bad deal.

Lastly, network with fellow writers and support your friends – but watch out for the “vampires” and “frenemies.” Some people will be thrilled for your successes, because they know their turn is coming. But others will try to tear you down once they sense you pulling away from the pack. Develop a thick skin. You’re going to need it for this business.

Miller: What's up next for you?
McCarthy:RESISTANCE is scheduled to start principal photography in 2012. The film is attracting A-List talent in front of and behind the camera. I can’t wait to go public with the details soon.

Producer/Actor Alysia Reiner and I are plotting next steps for WONDER DRUG. Alysia’s amazing! We became friends after she starred with Steve Guttenberg (THREE MEN AND A BABY) in the live staged reading of WONDER DRUG at the 15th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival, co-sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

I'm currently having meetings with top producers about my TV series idea "Free Skate" (www.freeskatetheseries.com). I'm also shopping around my other projects and starting a new script, all while teaching full-time.

No one can ever accuse me of being lazy! My motto is: Work conquers all. I also love the saying: Early to bed, early to rise, work real hard, and advertise.

If you want it, go out and get it. Nothing can stop you but you.















































Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Fellow Writer Guest Blogs for Maria Shiver

Anne's book cover
Hello everyone,

Winter is my least favorite of the four seasons because I hate the cold, but it looks this weekend gave me an early taste. Snow at the end of October is not good, not good at all. Sorry but I felt the need to gripe.

On a more positive note I'm thrilled to share some wonderful news about Anne Witkavitch, an award-winning writer and fellow alumna of Western Connecticut State University's Master of Fine Arts Creative and Professional Writing Program.

This past week Anne was featured as a guest blogger for MariaShriver.com. Anne's inspiring post entitled "Practice Patience to Achieve Your Goals." In the post she gives tips and advice that have helped guide her as a writer. The post channeled some positive energy and thoughts for me. It also reminded me that achieving my goals as a writer is not out of reach if I can remember to practice patience. One of the things I love about reading other blogs is that it provides me "food for thought." Sometimes I process the information instantly, but other times I let what I'm reading marinate and I come back to it. With Anne's blog I did both.

I really hope you enjoy reading it too! If you do, make sure you post a comment and share it with a friend via email or your social networks. It's important for us to share the works of others that we find beneficial. I'm all about getting the word out.  Stay tuned for an Emerging Women In Film profile later this week. I will be interviewing the talented award-winning screenwriter Caitlin McCarthy. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Whew! I My First Course is Completed

Hello everyone,

I know it's been a while since my last blog entry. Between work, writing assignments, and group projects I really haven't felt like blogging. I just didn't have the energy although there was plenty to talk about in the world. Since my last entry Steve Jobs has passed away, Herman Cain is now considered a serious contender with his 999 plan, and the Occupy movement that begin on Wall Street continues to grow (Yeah!!).

I'm pleased to report that my first course officially ends tomorrow. A heavy load was lifted when I uploaded my final paper late last night. It felt so good. After I posted my final paper on my personal communications philosophy I then logged onto Blackboard to review student presentations and provide feedback on their work.

When this course began, I was worried about how I was going to be able to manage the course load with work.  It wasn't easy, but I did it. I spent some nights staying up late and other days waking up early to catch up on readings and complete writing assignments. I also had a lot of help from the hubby who proofread my papers. I can't thank him enough. He's been a very big support these past eight weeks. Husband your rock!

I've learned a great deal about the fundamentals of communications theory and how it can be applied in research, messaging, and used to problem solve issues in society. In my final group project and paper we were asked to pick an issue in society, apply a communications theory to analyze it, build on that theory and also suggest a solution to solve the issue. Our group project was entitled Operation Reintegration: Applying Communication Theory to Meet the Mental Health Needs of Post-Deployed Military. My partners on this assignment were Libby Weber and Stephen McFadden. They both were phenomenal and brought 110 percent to the work. It was a great collaborative effort.

Now, I get to celebrate and enjoy the weekend. I plan on playing bingo at Foxwoods Saturday morning and then catching up on some reading and assignments for a master's level writing course I'm also taking. No rest for the weary, my next course begins on Monday. The cycle begins all over again, but this time around I have some idea what to expect and will plan accordingly.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Out of the Box is an "Official Selection" at the 2011 Urban Mediamakers Film Festival

Hello everyone,

I know I've probably come off slightly overwhelmed and frazzled in my last blog entry. There have been some positive developments on that front. I can report that while the amount of work I need to do for Gonzaga has not slowed down, I'm getting better at my time management and organization. Kudos to me.

In other good news I'm thrilled to share that my short script, "Out of the Box" is an official selection of the 2011 Urban Media Makers Film Festival (UMMF).  Founded in November 2001, the mission of the Urban Mediamakers is to promote and support a diverse independent media arts community in the Southeast and worldwide. Their signature event is the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival (UMFF), showcasing independent films from around the world. Check out the screenwriting selections here.


I received the good news this past Friday and thought I wait to until Monday to blog about it. Now I need to figure out how I'm going to get myself to Duluth, Georgia to attend the film festival and network with emerging screenwriters and filmmakers while also getting my coursework for Gonzaga done. I would hate to miss this opportunity, but school has to come first.  I will keep you informed on my decision making progress. Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Getting My Study Groove Back

Labor day has past, our days are getting shorter, and the trees in new England are beginning to change from a bold green to vibrant yellow, brilliant red, and provocative orange. Kids are also back in school, which may or may not be a relief for parents. Like the kids in my neighborhood I'm also back in school. A few weeks ago I blogged about gearing up for my studies in Gonzaga's online masters program in Communication and Leadership. I am about two weeks into the program and am feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work I need to get done. Be careful for what you wish for, cause you might just get it.

I knew the program was going to be intense and that time management and organization were going to be crucial. I thought I was prepared, however, I really under estimated the amount of time I need to set aside for course readings. My first course is theorizing communications and I'm learning about many of the theories that have been developed in the field over the last 20 years. I'm also learning how to cite in APA style versus MLA and do research on a graduate level through mostly online databases; Google or Wikipedia will not cut it at this level in the game. On a positive note, I do find some of the reading on communication theory engaging and am learning how it applies to my work and life. I also like reading my classmates reflections and responding to their work through the school's online dashboard.

I still feel like I'm racing against the clock to get my assignments done, that's probably because I am. This brings out a more pessimistic side in me. I think I've set my expectations high and am afraid of missing the mark.

In the end, I will get the work done because I have to. I also have to remind myself I'm not doing this alone. I have a great support system named Karim HadjSalem and my mom. Thank you for being so supportive and keeping me grounded. I may not always seem appreciative of what both of you do, but I am. Week three is about to be in full-effect  and my number one concern is I'm getting my graduate study groove back. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Starting My First Week of Classes at Gonzaga

Hello everyone,

What a weekend we had. I'm glad hurricane Irene is behind us. I know many areas of the the northeast were hit pretty hard and are dealing with problems such as flooding, no power, and delayed travel. Lucky for me, I don't have to wrestle with these problems. I didn't lose power during the hurricane.  Karim and I also managed to drive to and from Wrentham, Massachusetts for a friends birthday party during the day of the hurricane. We also made it back home late that night.

During my drive in this morning I heard stories of people who were seriously impacted by Irene listening to Morning Edition on National Public Radio (NPR). I also went on to facebook and saw posts of folks complaining about no power. Another reminder of how lucky I am not to be dealing with the aftermath of Irene.

While many of my fellow north easterners are cleaning up from this storm, I'm gearing up for my first week of online classes. I actually was able to go online and check out my Blackboard dashboard this past Friday, the dashboard is where I go to get information regarding my classes, view my syllabus, have course discussions, and post my assignments. It is a one-stop shop for my coursework while I'm pursuing this degree.

After I read my syllabus and perused the dashboard, I felt a bit overwhelmed about what my life will be like for the next eight weeks. It is going to be pretty intense balancing my course work with a full-time job. I've been down this road before and know I am up for the task, but it still doesn't stop me from feeling some anxiety. I will have to come to grips with this anxiety and just buckle down and get it down. That is my only option. In order to this I will have to follow a strict schedule and block of times for reading, writing, and more reading and writing.

Usually in the fall I look forward to a few of my favorite television shows kicking-off their season premiere, but the reality is I don't think I will have time to watch many of them, not with all the readings I have. I knew something would have to give so I'm not going to get all emotional about it. I've accepted that for the next eight weeks I will be delving into theories of communication and analyzing the relevance and impact in the field today. Wish me luck and stay tuned.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's official, I'm Going to Gonzaga

Education is more than a luxury; it is a responsibility that society owes to itself.--Robin Cook

Last week, I shared news with my social networks via twitter, facebook, and now Google+ that I was accepted to Gonzaga University's masters program in Communication and Leadership. It's time for me to blog about it.

Looks like I'm going to be a bulldog yet again in my life. I was thrilled when I received the call from Jeff Wadley, program manager at Gonzaga University's, School of Professional Studies. Jeff has assisted me throughout my application process and he and his team are awesome. After he told me the good news and I told him how thrilled I was, I took a pause because the real work to prepare to go back to school now begins.

I've been down this road before and I know what it entails. I can't believe it has been two years since I graduated from Western Connecticut State University's Master of Fine Arts Creative and Professional Writing program. Like back then, time management and organization is going to be essential so I don't short change myself, my course work or my job responsibilities. That is going to mean less time watching and trying to catch up of past seasons of my favorite TV shows and films. More time spent reading and writing. My increased travel with work is also going to complicate how I manage and allot time for the work I need to do. It's going to be hectic at times but I believe this degree is going to be worth the work I put into it.

I'll spend the next few weeks tying up loose ends like getting my financial aid together, setting up my online accounts, buying books, introducing myself to Gonzaga's academic staff, and mentally preparing myself for what I believe will be an challenging but worthwhile two years back in school. I'm looking forward to this new chapter in my life and glad to be sharing it with all of you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Emerging Women in Film Profile Series: Velvet Rhodes

Official Poster
This month I'm pleased to highlight Velvet Rhodes, a very talented screenwriter, producer, and actor. She's a triple threat who has a passion for screenwriting and filmmaking.  Next week, her webisode series Room for Rent will be screened at the 2011 Action on Film International Film Festival in Pasadena, California. Room for Rent also won 'Best Dialogue' for a short screenplay at the 2010 Action on Film Screenwriting Competition.

Bio: Velvet Rhodes is an actress who hails from London, England. Beginning her career in music playing and singing alternative rock music in several bands and then going onto theatre in London, England. As well as music, film and writing, she is an avid painter of fine oil paintings. Acting since the age of 3, acting is her passion and film making is her joy. She recently starred in and produced The Purple Zone, wrote, directed, produced and starred in The Cell Phone and now is in pre-production for Ticket to Ride. She is also in full production for Room for Rent the Series. Rhodes writes, directs, produces, and acts in all of her productions.

Velvet Rhodes

Miller: What is your favorite genre to write and why?

Rhodes: I love comedy. It is far better to try to create laughter than tears. It just always flows for me, when I start writing something, I see the comedy in most life situations. I would like to try some sci-fi, but I think it will always have a comic twist because that is the way I see the world.

Miller: What is one challenge that you've faced and overcome as a screenwriter or filmmaker?

Rhodes: Balancing a full time job with the creative aspects of life, it is an ongoing day to day effort, but it does seem to be working, although sometimes.........incredibly difficult.

Miller: Where did you get the idea for the webisode Room for
Rent the Series? How have you raised money to produce the project?

Rhodes: The ideas are all based upon my experiences with room mates. Many of the characters are people I have actually lived with. All of the funding has come from personal fundraisers at my home and Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

Miller: Congratulations on your recent acceptance to the 2011 Action on Film Festival. When will your webisode Room for Rent The Series be screened?

Rhodes: The episode will screen on July 23, 2011 Saturday at 8:00 pm Academy 5. I was also recently informed by Del Weston , founder of Action on Film, that we ae having The Velvet Rhodes Show at 10:00 pm that night. The AOF is screening Room for Rent Series, The Cell PhoneThe Purple Zone, Ticket to Ride and The New Purple Zone as a special event to show all of my shorts. I am absolutely thrilled!!!

Miller: How else are you promoting Room for Rent The Series?

Rhodes: I have an event spot on Facebook, Twitter and personal emails.

Director of photography, David Bacon and sound engineer,
Ben Chan prepare to shoot scene.

Miller: You have a wealth of experience in a variety of areas. How do you balance your roles as screenwriter, producer, actor, etc. in a project?

Rhodes: I love doing it all. I love acting and have written most of these pieces for myslef to act in. Then producing is something I find incredibly easy to do. It is much like cooking, take the ingredients you have to work with and make something fabulous out of nothing. I love directing as well, it is so exciting to see a great performance come into being with a talented actor.

Miller: What other projects are in development for you?

Rhodes: Fire Sign Girls is the next one. It is about three ladies who have astrological knowledge, magical powers, astronomical knowlege, and psychic ability and are a Leo, a Sagittarius, and an Aries who help people. Again another comedy which empowers women.

Ticket To Ride is a comedy about the middle east where the women take over and turn all of the war sites into amusement park rides, the men are so busy selling tickets to tourists (i.e., the wailing wall ride, the gaza strip ride, etc.) that peace is achieved in the Middle-East.............a comedy that empowers women and is very funny.

The Purple Zone is in development as a full length feature, wherein the Goddess takes over and ends all of the wars.

The Cell Phone is still out there and hopefully will be a comedy series about what people talk about on their cell phones around the world, one week we are in LA the next week in Paris. So, far only one episode is complete.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ready for the Final Potter Film, But Not in 3-D

I've been in Baltimore all week. It's been a long week for me. Finally heading home tomorrow. YEAH! I'm looking forward to being home this weekend. I miss my husband and the activities that usually make up my at at home routine. I'm also ready to see J.K. Rowlings' final Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two. It's still hard for me to digest that this is the last one. I've really enjoyed the series.

The last film has probably been on my mind for about a month. Last week, the hubby and I talked about going to the screening at midnight. I was ready to be a part of Harry Potter mania until I remembered I wasn't going to be home.

I will still be part of the mania in my own way. Karim and I will see it on Friday night when I get back in town. I'm counting the hours. We decided not to see it in 3-D. Karim is not a fan of Hollywood's gimmick to get people back into the theaters and neither am I. I'm sure you noticed that pretty much any high-concept action movie is shown in 3-D these days. I saw Transformers:  Dark of the Moon in 3-D last weekend and thought the extra cost for 3-D wasn't justified. Luckily, I used a gift card to my local Rave theater. To date Avatar is the only film that has been a worthwhile 3-D experience with the ticket price.

Today in my media scans I came across an article where Matthew Lewis, who plays Neville Longbottom, said "he dreaded the 3D version of the last installment.View that article here. The Baltimore Sun blog, Mike Sragow Gets Reel also echoes the 2-D sentiment.  The Harry Potter fans Mr. Sragow has talked to prefer to see the film in 2-D. Check out the comments at the end of the blog. Many aren't kind.


If you plan to see the final Potter film I encourage to pass on 3-D, but if youdo still plan to see it in 3-D despite this blog, let me know your opinion of it in the comment section. Have a Potter weekend.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Emerging Women in Film Series: Sarah E.

Happy spring everyone. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but here in Connecticut spring has only somewhat sprung. While it isn't as hot as I would like it to be. I'm proud to profile Sarah E. who is heating up the film season here in Connecticut with her documentary Swan Day CT. Thanks for your interview Sarah.

Bio: Sarah E. took her first formal screenwriting course when she was 18 years old and a student at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2006, she received a B.A. in Fine Arts from Eastern Connecticut State University; and then spent a month at the New York Film Academy to pursue filmmaking.  In April 2008, at the age of 23, she founded her own production company, Hells Bells Productions, LLC.

 
Miller: Please tell our audience about your documentary Swan Day? How did you get involved? Why did you decide to produce this film?
Sarah: I first got the idea to make "SWAN Day CT" when I was looking at Jennifer Hill’s MySpace page around fall 2009. She is the organizer of the CT chapter of SWAN and she had a few photo albums of the previous two years of the festival. SWAN stands for Support Women Artists Now, so it was this incredible mesh of female-fronted bands, female visual artists, jewelry-makers, sculptors and burlesque dancers. Being a female artist myself, I wanted to get involved, so I started thinking a documentary of the whole process and the show itself would not only spread the word about SWAN, but it would make a very inspiring story. So I contacted Jen, who I had never met before this, and told her about my idea. When submissions for the third annual SWAN opened in January 2010, she and I met for the first time and I brought my camera along with me. We talked a lot about the whole backstory, how SWAN is an international celebration – founded by WomenArts – and how Jen had first gotten involved. At that moment, filming was officially underway. When Jen put the word out to the artists that a documentary was being made, I received a huge response from those who wanted to be a part of it. It meant a lot to me, because as soon as I saw what this festival was all about, I couldn’t NOT be involved. It can still sometimes be very hard to be a woman in the arts, and to have one day a year where we all get together and put on an explosion of music, art and everything in between is something we should all want to get in on – women and men.

Sarah talking with an artist from SWAN Day.
Miller: What was your production timeline from pre-production to post-production?
Sarah: In October 2009, I first contacted Jennifer Hill, as well as WomenArts. I had my first phone conversation with Jennifer Hill in December 2009. She gave me the green light to do the film and we decided to meet the following month. In January 2010, Jen and I met up for the first time, which I filmed. Also that month, she sent out a mass e-mail to the artists in the show that year to let them know a documentary was being filmed, and to contact me if they wanted an interview. In February 2010, I interviewed artist Kerry Kozaczuk, vocalist Rachel Borovik and artist Laura Fitzpatrick. I also filmed Jen’s work with promoting and going through submissions. In March 2010, I interviewed the bands EULA and HannaH’s Field, singer/songwriters Sarah LeMieux and Cori Presutti, performance artist emilyis, and artists Jennifer Klepacki, Marisa Copley and Christina Cirillo. I got footage from the meet and greet, as well as a confrontation between Jennifer Hill and one of the owners of the venue. In April 2010, SWAN took place on the third of the month. I filmed the setup and the entire event, and later that same week, I wrapped up filming with an afterwards with Jennifer Hill. Through May-July 2010, I compiled and sorted through the footage, audio was balanced and put through noise reduction, and editing begins. In August 2010, editing wraps toward the end of the month, and it’s announced that the film is officially complete!

Jennifer Hill working on promoting SWAN Day online.

Miller: How much footage did you shoot and how long did it take you to edit the film?
Sarah: When filming wrapped I had 15 hours of footage, which I edited down to two and a half hours. I first began editing in May 2010 and wrapped in August that year. Both very tedious and very rewarding.

Miller: What was one of the most challenging experiences you have had making this documentary?
Sarah: The most challenging part was cutting all this incredible footage down into a two and a half hour film. I ended up getting much more than I ever expected, because as I found out, getting the show off the ground was much more dramatic than anyone had expected. Through my camera lens, I got to watch first-hand as the venue signed a contract with Jen, only to take away everything they promised her. I watched the owner belittle her on the day of the show, and try to shut the whole thing down. It was blatant sexism, the very thing that we were all trying to put an end to. So it was very difficult at times to just sit there and watch it all unfold. But the main thing I knew I had to show in this film was that these women still managed to put on an awesome show in spite of all that, and that all the drama that was going on was not caused by the artists, but by the male owners who apparently felt intimidated by a group of strong females.

Miller: Have you submitted Swan Day to film festivals? How has the process gone?
Sarah: I’ve been submitting to wide range of different festivals, and I’m thrilled to say that it has been selected to screen at the next International Film Festival Ireland in September this year. It blew me away when they told me it had been accepted, and now I’m eager to hear back from the other festivals. I’ve submitted to Citizen Jane Film Festival, which I would love to get into because they are such an advocate of strong women in the arts. I’ve also submitted to The Indie Gathering, which I’ve submitted to in the past, and I’d love to work with them again. I want to reach as many new audiences as I can, and if I can do that and spread the word about what SWAN represents, then I’ll know I’ve accomplished something.
  
Miller: How did you go about organizing and coordinating the world premiere screening you have coming up on Saturday, June 18, 2011 at The Lutz Museum in Manchester, CT?
Sarah: I spoke to Alexander Andriulli of the Connecticut Film Industry Mixer and he put me in touch with Christiane O’Brien, the President of the Manchester Arts Association. I told her that I’d been hoping to premiere the film for some time now, and she was immediately able to secure a night with Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester. Once she told me we had a date set, I jumped right into creating a flyer, putting event listings on Facebook and Eventful, sending out mass e-mails, and I even got to promote it in an upcoming episode of “Jaki’s Buzz.” I’m excited and nervous, and I’m hoping for a decent turnout. Jennifer Hill even volunteered to play some music for us that night!

Miller: In addition to film festivals and your upcoming screening, what other vehicles are you using to promote this film and expand the audience for this film?
Sarah: I started a facebook page for the film at www.facebook.com/swandayctfilm, which has developed a strong following. Also, I had submitted to a festival called NewFilmmakers and they provided the film with a page on their website at http://www.newfilmmakersonline.com/, where it is now available to download, watch online, or burn to a DVD, for just $10. Anyone who wants a copy of the film can just visit their site and search for “SWAN Day CT.” Jennifer Hill also has a page for the annual event at www.facebook.com/swandayct.

Miller: What's up next for your production company Hells Bells Productions, LLC?
Sarah: We’ve got quite a few things lined up at the moment. We recently finished editing another film, called “Rides,” that I wrote and directed. We’ve also just finished up the film “Stalemate,” written and directed by Tina Parziale, and “Alien Sensation,” written and directed by Patrick Clark. Patrick and I are also developing a new TV series and a monthly web series, which we plan to release in the next couple months. In addition to the projects above I'm also co-producing a new film festival with Duckie Emory Flemister of Molotov Angel Productions, called the Dreamland Film Festival, scheduled for October this year. So there’s a lot on my plate right now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope everyone will join in on the madness at http://www.hellsbellsproductions.com/ and www.facebook.com/hellsbellsproductions.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ready to Go Back to School

It's hard to believe that it was just two years ago that I received my MFA in Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University. Time flies. Since graduating from the program I've been slowly but surely working on screenplays and enjoying the free time I've gained back. However, the free time I've come to enjoy is going to get ready for another hiatus. Why? Because I've decided to go back to school.

Even though continuing one's education can be tough at times, I believe the benefits I will receive will make the overall experience worth while. And though I still dream of the day when I option (sell) one of my screenplays or have the money and the connections to self-finance a film (I'm not giving up on that dream either) I have to live in the here and now. Lately, I've been thinking about specific things I can do today that will impact my life tomorrow.

I'm blessed to work in the field of communications. It's work I truly enjoy and not everyone gets to do the work they enjoy. I know a few people who went to college and majored in a degree program but weren't able to find work in their majors upon graduation. After I received my BA, I didn't start out with a job in my field either. I was a teacher's assistant, gymnastics instructor, high school cheerleading coach, and waitress at a country club. Thankfully that changed. I attribute that change to persistance on my part. My work in communications includes jobs in radio, television, film and video as well as public relations (which is what I currently do). The skills I've acquired and enhanced throughout the years have helped me to grow both professionally and personally. I see going back to school as part of my continued professional development.

Currently, I'm looking at a handful of schools and have actually started the application process for one. This will be a new chapter for me and I'm glad to be sharing it with you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Emerging Women in Film Series: Deborah Correa


Official poster of Little Black Dress
The next profile in my Emerging Women in Film Series features Deborah Correa. She secured a deal where she sold her short film, Little Black Dress to IndieFlix, a website that showcases independent features. Viewers are able to buy DVDs or rent streaming films to support the work of indie filmmakers. Today is Deborah's official launch date with IndieFlix and I'm excited to share my interview of her with you all. Kudos to Deborah.





      
Bio: Deborah Correa graduated from Emerson College with a B.F.A. in Writing and Film, where she produced a short documentary about Colombia.  This Little Old Town was sold and premiered on PBS’ FRONTLINE/ World.  Since graduating, she’s worked on PBS documentaries. Deborah was also accepted, out of hundreds, to participate in the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, where she directed Little Black Dress, which premiered at the LA Shorts Fest and was recently sold to IndieFlix. Deborah is working on developing two features.

Miller: Tell us about your short film Little Black Dress and what inspired you to write this comedy?
Correa: Little Black Dress (LBD) was inspired by a desire to challenge myself to create a commercial, glossy rom-com with a message - on a shoestring budget. I wanted to create a fun fashion-film that resonates with what I see around me, in my friends’ lives and in my own: the desire to be the master of your world with an ideal partner at your side, all the while looking the part. We’re so caught up in fantasizing about our ideal life that we miss the moments and the people that can become our reality. Besides the obvious great fashion and romance films like The Devil Wears Prada and Bridget Jones; I was inspired by the old classics like Bringing up Baby and Philadelphia Story. The elegant restraint in those films is sexier than the overt hyper-romantic content of today; creating that tension on-screen was one of my challenges and one of my favorite moments in LBD.

Camera slate for Little Black Dress
Miller: How long have you been a filmmaker?
Correa: I've been pursuing filmmaking since I was twelve but technically I've been a filmmaker since my freshman year in college.


                        

Miller: Can you share one of your biggest challenges during production?
Correa: One of the biggest challenges during production was learning to focus solely on directing. As a woman and an amazing multi-tasker I kept taking on producing responsibilities, that I should've left up to my team. After the first day or so I realized what I was doing and put blinders on to any other task other than directing and working with the actors and my DP.

Miller: How have you promoted the film? Has it been successful?
Correa: I have gone to every festival where LBD screened; I come prepared and network as much as I can. I also carry copies of LBD with me and hand them out to people I think would be interested in acquiring or promoting it. So far so good, I just sold LBD to IndieFlix!

Miller: Did you plan on trying to find distribution for this film?
Correa: Yes, I did plan on trying to find distribution but I felt like getting LBD out there was the best way to go about finding distribution; whether that be with festivals, community screenings or special screenings. IndieFlix ended up reaching out to me.

Anne Leighton, lead actress and Chris Jarvis, the handsome
stranger enjoy a moment on the dance floor.













Miller: What do you hope to gain from your recent distribution deal?
Correa: I hope to gain exposure along with some revenue and I hope to expand LBD into a feature film and I believe that distribution helps push that along.

Miller: What director has had an influence on your work?
Correa: I love the work of filmmakers like Ken Loach, Paul Greengrass and Andrea Arnold; they all have this very naturalistic, hyper-real social realist directing style. I love the hand-held approach to very human stories. I mean there're so many filmmakers and artists that have influenced me but lately I am really drawn to realism.

Miller: What is your next project?
Correa: Beyond fleshing out LBD for a feature I'm working on a true-story drama about a girl growing up during the troubles in Northern Ireland. Though I'm still in the development stage for both I hope to be moving into pre-production very soon!

To order or view LBD, visit IndieFlix.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Big D

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. --Jim Rohn

Last night, I did something that was long over due. I read a script. You are probably thinking I probably read scripts all the time, after all I am a screenwriter. And while my goal was to read a minimum of a script a week since we rang in 2011, I wasn't following through with the task. I was reading a script about every 6 weeks, if that. I'm happy to report I'm ready to change this pattern.

I had the pleasure of reading Auntie by Deirdre Patterson. Deirdre is a fellow screenwriter in the Connecticut Screenwriters group that meets on the last Wednesday of each month at the West Hartford Public Library. Auntie, her feature length script was a top 10 finalist in the 2010 Emerging Screenwriters Competition.

Before I got to the script I was busy doing my usual tasks like cooking lunch for the next day and then getting myself ready for work. These tasks tend to derail me and by the time it's time for me to read I don't have the energy to upload a script and read it. I could have easily slipped back into that pattern again, but something pressed me to break my pattern last night. I'm glad I finally did. By the time I finished the script it was close to 11 o'clock, not bad. I've stayed up later to watch a favorite show like True Blood or Sons of Anarchy.

Reality check. I'm half-way through 2011 and have not made the progress I outlined for myself in the beginning of the year. Last week, I read an article about discipline and it's link to an individual's success. Long story short, the people who are most success in life have to be disciplined. It isn't enough to have a dream and a plan to achieve that dream. One needs to show the discipline to tackle the hard work that will turn a dream into reality. After I finished reading the article, I let that author's advice sink in. It was hard for to accept the fact that one of the main ingredients I've been missing in my screenwriting is the discipline to do the work. I think I've subconsciously known it, but reading the article made it concrete for me.

Discipline is my big D. I need it in order to write. It's something I have to internalize and make a priority. There in lies my work. I feel like I'm on a path to be more disciplined, however life makes it so easy to get sidetracked. The good thing is I know what I'm working towards, now it is up to me be disciplined to do the work.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Emerging Women in Film Profile Series: Patty Richardson

I'm really excited about this entry. This is my first profile in a series I will post for the remainder of 2012. I'm looking forward to highlighting, sharing, and promoting the work of emerging women screenwriters, directors, and producers. My hope is that this blog not only acknowledges the hard work of the women I profile, but will also inform readers of the challenges women in film face and despite these challenges the women in this series continue to strive to achieve their goals and pursue their dream. Today's profile features screenwriter/director Patty Richardson.


Patricia Richardson
Bio: Patty Richardson is a licensed physician's assistant (PA). She worked as a PA for fifteen years. She was also a Captain, in the United States Air Force Reserves, for eight years. After realizing an interest in law enforcement, she became a campus safety officer with Union College in Schenectady, New York. Richardson has always had an interest in writing. Four years ago, her work experience converged with an idea she had for a screenplay. She wrote the script for Detour and decided to produce and direct her first feature film. Detour screened at the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival. Richardson is also the founder of Lavender Hill Productions and resides in Woodstock, New York.

Miller: Tell me about Detour and why you decided to make this film?
Richardson: I was living in Manhattan and working as a Physician's Assistant, in Surgery. I often took cabs. One day, while sitting in the backseat of a Gypsy Cab (an unlicensed livery vehicle), I thought....What if
he didn't take me, where I wanted to go? The driver could easily pull into a garage, anywhere.... in or out of the city! It could happen quickly, before I realized what was happening! If the car had child proof locks, I wouldn't be able to open the doors! Thus the idea for Detour was born! I then began working on Detour, as a book. I wasn't thinking about a film, at that time. I honestly had no intentions of making a film, until I met Professor Joann Yarrow, from Union College in Schenectady, NY. She inspired me to make the film!

Miller: How did you go from being a physician's assistant to writing, producing, and directing your first feature film?
Richardson:  I left New York City and relocated to upstate New York. After having worked as a physican's assistant for 15 years, I had developed an interest in lawenforcement. I decided to accept a job as a campus safety officer, at a local college. It was at that time, that I also realized how much I enjoyed writing dialogue. I then decided to write a film script. I went to the library, "on line" and to bookstores, to learn the format. I spent a year writing the script. I also read every book that I could get my hands on, about filmmaking. Once I finished the script, I enrolled in an acting class, with the intention of networking, with others interested in filmmaking. That's when I met professor Joann Yarrow. She read the script and encouraged me to make the film. Since I was the writer, I felt I knew the story better than anyone else. I couldn't imagine anyone, other than myself.....directing the film! As for producing, Ruth Martin, the lead actress, and Tony Grocki, the film's editor were both instrumental, in helping me to secure locations and additional actors for auditions. I also placed ads on Craig List and contacted local theatre groups in my area. Ironically, we had actors respond from New York City and the Utica/Mohawk county area.

Miller: What were some of your fears as a first time director?
Richardson: I had no experience, just a vision for the story! I knew where I was going, just wasn't 100% clear on how I'd get there! Given my lack of experience, I was fearful that I would not be taken seriously. Detour is my first feature film. Most people begin by making a short film first! What I lacked in experience, however, I believe I made up for it in determination and vision!

Actors:  Zeshan Bhatti and Ruth Martin
Miller: Can you share one unexpected challenge during the production of Detour? Richardson: Continuity and scheduling were an issue. We shot off and on part-time, over a period of two years. Hairstyles changed, actors gained & lost weight. I had agreed to use one of the actor's apartment, as an established "on going" location. It would be used throughout the film. We shot one scene, returned a few weeks later to shoot the next scene and the walls of the apartment had been painted over and the furniture changed! I quickly realized, that I would need to shoot the "apartment scenes", in my own apartment.....in order to maintain continuity.

Miller: Can you share two important lessons learned from the production process?
Richardson: I plan to shoot my next film, in a shorter period of time, to avoid any issues involving continuity and availability. Time is a significant factor! Organization and execution are critical, during the production phase of your film! It is also helpful to have a name attached to your film.  Investors all ask the same question...."Who's in it?" The shot is in the frame only. The extraneous surroundings, not visible in the shot, don't matter! Example: One of the scenes was to take place in an upscale bedroom, belonging to someone of great wealth. We rented a hotel room, in a high end hotel to shoot the scene. It was a close up of the actors and the bed, one of them was lying in. It could have been shot ANYWHERE!!!! The surroundings of the room were visible to the cast and crew only!

Actors:   Ruth Martin, and Lezlie Dana
 Crew :  Shawn Schaffer and Tony
Miller: What are your hopes for this film?
Richardson: I am currently "four walling" the film. It's a grassroot's approach to self distribution. I'm taking the film from theatre to theatre. Ticket sales are split with the theatre owners! With gas prices as they are, I don't expect to make the money back that I spent making, Detour. My hope is to show the film, to as many people as I can, in an effort to have my work and the talent of the actors and crew seen and appreciated! DVDs are available for purchase, on Detour's website at http://www.detourthefilm.com/.

Miller: What is up next for you?
Richardson: I have four projects that I am currently working on. I plan to start auditions this summer for a dramatic, short film. Once completed, I hope to enter film festivals, in an effort to create buzz for the film!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Promoting Emerging Women Directors in Independent Film

When Kate Bigelow was the first woman to win an Oscar for best direction I was excited and felt that a chip was made in Hollywood's glass ceiling. but the reality is that women directors, producers, and screenwriters are still a scarce commodity in Hollywood. Less than 10 percent of films with a theatrical release were directed by women.
In the report,The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 250 Films of 2010, Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D found that, "In 2010, women comprised 16% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents a decline of 1 percentage point from 1998 and is even with 2009 figures."

I'm not writing this blog entry to be a "Debbie downer," it's a reality check. Besides, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the wonderful professional film organizations for women that  are committed to recognizing, developing, and actively promoting the unique visions of women in film, while also providing educational and networking opportunities that seek to advance the professional status of women. My short list includes, New York Women in Film and Television; Reel Women; Women in Film and Video; Women Make Movies; and Women in Film (Los Angeles).

While I was at the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival I met emerging women filmmakers and screenwriters struggling to crack their own glass ceilings. One of my biggest takeaways from the festival was that it gave women filmmakers a venue for our films and an opportunity to network with one another. I didn't want the connection I made to stop there. I met some really driven women who believe in the power of story and thought to myself  that we should have other outlets to highlight our films. As part of my blog, I'm going to profile a women film director. The profile will include a short bio and interview with the director.

I want to promote the women I know who are working their dream in film and look forward to sharing their stories with you. My first interview will be with Patricia Richardson. We met at this year's Los Angeles Women's Festival. She's a driven and motivated woman filmmaker who produced and directed her first feature film. I don't want to tell you to much so you'll have to wait for my profile of her feature film Detour in my a future blog. Stay tuned....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Posts for a Purpose

Hello all,

In the world of social media, it seems like a lot of people want to get out what's in their head and share it with the world. And while sharing is caring ( the Care Bear's slogan), sometimes people disseminate TMI, too much information. I  know we've all seen it in our facebook or twitter threads at some point and have thought to ourselves, should we unfriend this person.

I want to change that dynamic for myself and post for a purpose. I feel like I've already begun that with my facebook and twitter accounts, but even I stray and may over share at times.

Some of you've may have seen my fact of the day, online petitions, and numerous articles that reflect news that interests me.  In addition to these main posts I want my status updates to reflect a theme. I realize I can I can cut back on my own, "I'm going to workout," or "This is where I'm at," posts.  I may still write these status updates on occassion but my goal is to significantly cut back on that and be more meaningful about what I share with my network of friends, colleagues, and associates. 

From Monday through Friday each of my posts will follow a theme. Here they are:
  • Mondays - I will post my fact of the day
  • Tuesdays - I will post my inspirational quote of the day
  • Wednesdays - I will post my "old school" or "throw back" hip-hop video
  • Thursdays - I will post a tip of the day
  • Friday's -I will post a "throw back" or "current rock/alternative video
I'm going to take a break on the weekends and make time for the writing and less posting. I'm sure I will still be sucked in at times, but my goal is to social network with more of purpose and encourage people to learn something that may not know.

Check out my latest statust update on my facebook page. Note: If you're not a friend, you won't be able to view this link, so make sure to request if you're interested in checking out my posts for a purpose.

Thanks for reading. I'll be back with another post this weekend. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Highlights from the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival

Sunset 5 Theater, West Hollywood, CA.
I flew out to Los Angeles on Friday, March 25, 2011. I was looking forward to sunny skies and warmer temperatures, unfortately that wasn't the case. I didn't get the sunny, Beach Boys California weather until my last day there. Instead I got rain and cloudy skies, but I guess it beat whatever was happening on the east coast. Luckily, I wasn't in town for the weather, I was there to attend the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival.

For those of you who neglected to read my last blog entry, the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival is a non-profit 501c(3) organization established by Diana Means to empower women filmmakers to create diverse roles for women. Each year in March the festival showcases narratives, documentaries, animation and student short films. The festival’s programming reflects Diana’s commitment to educate and inform audiences of social political and health issues impacting women globally.

I was both honored and excited to be a part of a festival that solely focused on films written, produced, and directed by women. I was in the company of some fantastic women filmmakers. Many thanks go out to Diana Means, her volunteers, and the attendees who made this year's fest a worth while event. Below are my "top seven" highlights from this year's festival.


Posing with Richard Riehle after the screening
of Head Over Spurs in Love.
 7. The Screening of Head Over Spurs in Love: In this romantic bro comedy, directed by Ana Zins, Joe runs into the love of his life, the one that got away, visiting home for the holiday. The kick is, it's on the eve of his wedding nuptials to the girl he's settling for. Now, Joe has one night to find out if Amy still loves him before he marries Daisy with no regrets. After the screening there was a great Q&A with the director, producer, and cast. Getting a photo with Richard Reihle was an added bonus.
6. The Screening of Atomic Mom:
This feature length documentary produced and directed by M.T. Silvia tells the story of two lives, two mothers, affected by the atom bomb - that of a scientist involved in the post-war development and testing of the bomb and the one on whom it was unleashed. M.T.'s film like many documentaries is a true labor of love. It took her six years to complete this story, of an American Scientist and a Hiroshima Survivor finding peace decades after the bombing, empowers individuals and communities to work toward global unity. The film inspires dialogue about human rights, personal responsibility, and the possibility – and hope – of peace.


5. Networking with Fellow Filmmakers: One of the main reasons filmmakers attend festivals outside of promoting and getting their film in front of an audience is to network with colleagues. It was great to see the film's of other women filmmakers and know hear our universal struggles as women. I met some people who are great visual storytellers. I plan to stay in touch. Ladies you know who you are.

Poster of Finding Jenua outside of the theater.
4. The Screening of Finding Jenua: This is the feature film debut of screenwriter and director Alison Mason. It's a poignant story about love, loss and finding one's place in the world. A drama with mystery that's told in an unconventional way, unraveling like a memory and tying us back together with the simple beauty of human connection. The film will screen next at the 2011 Newport Beach Film Festival. Congratulations to Alison and her cast.
3. Attending the Distribution Workshop Luncheon by Akua Boyenne: It is so easy to forget about the business side in the film business. Classes aren't really taught on it, instead screenwriters and filmmakers are charged with honing their craft and learning the aestitics behind the process. To many artist don't know what to do when they finally get to a point when they're ready to ink a distribution deal. Luckily, we had Akua Boyenne, an entertainment lawyer to school us on the main points and terminology within a theatrical distribution contract. She gave two phenominal workshops on Negotiating The Theatrical Agreenment and Self Distribution- Exploring Alternative Distribution. While I won't need to use the information at this time, it is something I can go back to and always have when I'm ready to start talking distribution for my script idea or film.


2. The Screening of Real-Life Mallory: This was one of my favorite shorts of the festival.It's a powerful short film written and directed by R.L. Maynard that humanely deals with the subject of euthanasia.When Mallory, the lead charater finds out some devasting news about her health, she makes a life changing decisision. She must overcome her friend's denial, anger, and depression at a good-bye dinner. I was drawn into Mallory's story instantly and felt the rollercoaster of emotions the characters were grapling with.  I look forward to seeing more films written and directed by Renee.


Renee, Aaliyah, and Cynthia posing for a picture
before the screening of After the Headlines

1. The Screening of After the Headlines: It was great to have After the Headlines in front of a new audience and the Q&A by Diana Means with the other filmmakers in my program was a memorable experience I won't soon forget. A special thank you to Renee, Alison, Cynthia, Shannon, and Patty. You ladies rock!!

I had many positive takeaways from this festival, but my biggest is that women screenwriters and filmmakers need to keep telling the stories we want to tell. There are film festivals and communities that will embrace our stories.There's an audience for the films I want to write despite what industry insiders say. Getting to this stage is hard work and getting your film onto a screen for a general audience is even harder work, but I'm encouraged and reengergized about the creative process. I also have my business lens on too. Time to get back to the work. I'm ready.