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!