I just got the words “generosity” and “kindness” tattooed on my right and left wrists, respectively. A few years ago I had a stained glass image of a dove flying out of a sunburst tattooed on my right shoulder blade. I had never dreamed of getting a tattoo prior to that because I thought it would silly on me – I was way too boyish looking to pull something like that off. But I had been robbed at gunpoint while walking a girl to her car one night in L.A. and even though I had talked everyone (muggers included) down and through the situation, I had a very clear realization of how fortunate I was that “kids” were holding that gun and mugging us and not some hard core type that would’ve shot us just because.
So, I saw this reproduction of a stained glass window from a church in Illinois, I believe, and the image kept returning to me. You know, like that phoenix rising from the ashes kind of thing. And so it seemed right to have that image on me, with me, a part of me – permanently.
So, why do it again? And why those words? And why in that location? Well, there is a lot going on in my life right now that has great, great potential to send me on my way to a life I’ve been inching toward for a very long time. I’ve taken a somewhat long and circuitous route to get to this place that is so close and over the last year or so because of my experiences with the film festivals, with AFI, with the movie and the people I have dealt with and those that I work with everyday those are two things I thought I should make sure are very close to being first and foremost on my mind as I proceed from this point on.
I will very easily fall into earnestness – maybe that’s the Midwestern Indiana part of my background – and this certainly smacks of that, I know. But after 40+ years of some successes, but many more near misses and almosts, I was both fortunate enough to find someone in my wife Justina, that flipped every expectation I had about my future romantic prospects by being the first woman whose very company I felt was a “reward” for all the other crap I had done over the course of the day, but also shared and/or complimented damn near all of my dreams as to how I wanted to live the next fifty years. Therefore, I had my very pretty Japanese Irish dark humored and twisted sensibility techie dream girl and I got someone that from the word “go” pushed me with praise to really go after everything I had always wanted to career-wise. All kinds of wins. And yes, I meant fifty. That’s what we agreed to when we got married, with an option to renew.
GENEROSITY AND KINDNESS.
You would think that those two things are pretty simple. And they are. But I’m often astonished at how easily they are ditched by people on a daily basis. So, I thought I would remind myself to temper the moments that might be going by really fast and to put those pressure situations into a greater perspective, to “give” maybe a few times more than I would if the damn word wasn’t right there in front of me, and yes, to work harder to put aside the anger and frustration that is so easily piqued doing what I do and operate out of just a little more kindness each day.
Okay back to business…
So – I’m still on the hunt to secure people for the DALLAS International Film Festival, either as DALLAS Star honorees, or panelists or jury members or just to support their movie that we’ll be playing. And I’m calling and emailing a lot of publicists that I used to work with a few years back when I was at ID PR.
On one side of the scale I’ve got the publicist that was my bestest buddy and partner-in-crime while I was there that sent me a terse reply after I IM’d her on facebook just to make sure she got a message I had left with her assistant (since she was in the thick of Oscar weekend with her nominee client. And, I understand, it was a huge weekend, she probably hadn’t decompressed yet and she read more into the IM than was intended. It happens. Then again, she never did return my call. So, there’s that.
Then there is Craig Bankey. I was always a fan of his at ID because he’s both smart and he’s not a panic-first guy. And you look at his clientele and they are people like freshly minted Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, Michael C. Hall, Djimon Honsou, Cillian Murphy and freakin’ Muhammed Ali. No tabloidy or shallow cover babies in there. No, look-at-me types. And I believe there is a very good reason for that. He’s just come off of a great Golden Globes/Oscar combo and I couldn’t be happier for him. So, I call him up to ask about three of his clients. And I get three “no” responses from him. But the three strikes not in my favor were delivered with real justifiable reasons and what followed was an offer to speak in my favor to the other publicists at his firm that didn’t know me that well.
That rarely – RARELY – happens. And I’m pretty sure he didn’t pull a muscle during the phone call. And my guess is that it didn’t really “put him out”. But no one does that. Just does not happen. But it does with Bankey. So no surprise that he’s balancing multiple award winners and really no surprise that Michael C. Hall (with Craig’s assistance) maybe had the least newsworthy celebrity bout with cancer in recent memory. Because the standard operating procedure there is smart, pragmatic, calm and tasteful.
And Wolf Kasteler looks pretty smart for getting him to set up camp under their roof right now…
What’s Actually Happening – March 3
I feel bad. I feel guilty. Because I started this blog about a year ago at Justina’s (my wife) urging and I was into it and writing fun stuff that was behind the scenes and naming some names and taking some artistic licenses and people were starting to follow it and pay attention to what was actually going on in my life with the stuff that I do.
Then I kept getting busier and busier. Which you would think would make it more and more interesting except that I stopped the actual blogging stuff and just posted press releases and interviews and movie reviews. Which I want everyone to see but that isn’t the point, is it? If I’m asking you to check into this damn thing then I should make it worth your while.
So, I’m taking another stab at it. Because there is A LOT happening and a lot happening with me wearing various different hats. So I’m going to try and stop being a perfectionist with the prose and just start delivering some goods – rough on the edit edges or not.
So, here’s some stuff to look forward to:
DALLAS International Film Festival. I’m into it BIG TIME. We’re like five weeks out or something and there’s great, exciting stuff and there’s “what the hell?!” stuff and there’s a lot of praying – to uhmmm…no one in particular. Because that’s how it works in film festival land. AND, this is the first year with no AFI involvement. Training wheels are off, baby! And I just might throw in some thoughts later as to why I believe that was a HUGE mistake on their part. I’ll give you a hint: It’s the “vision” thing. Or lack of it.
SXSW (or South by Southwest Film Festival for those of you that need this shit spelled out – literally). I’ll be covering the film festival for Movie City News, like I just did for the Sundance Film Festival. And once again, I’ll try to write about every damn thing that happens to me so you’ll have an idea of what the experience is like. Of course, you’ll have to go to Movie City News to read it, since Dave Poland promotes the fact that I’m reporting/writing/reviewing for him, so he’s kind of like you to read it on his pages instead of mine. And since I would kind of like him to pay me for doing that…it works for me.
FESTWORKS. At Sundance, Rose Kuo (Artistic Director), Robert Koehler (Director of Programming and film critic extraordinaire, David Rogers (Festival Producer) and myself joined forces to form our own version of a film festival super group. Hopefully, less like Asia and more like Derek and the Dominoes. But with less heroin and more staying power. Anyway, we all left AFI after beating the odds and the house with AFI FEST last year (if you know what I mean and if you don’t….well, I’ll talk about that at some point too, I’m sure) because we love film festivals in a way that we want them all to be the best damn things ever. And we think we can help various ones do that. Sometimes, it will be just some simple consulting, some times it will be us recommending some kick-ass person we know would be great for the job and a great fit and sometimes will swarm the place, roll up the sleeves and bust our asses side-by-side with the teams in place to make something work. Anyway, I’ll be announcing the first “official” project soon and it will be very, very cool.
STRIPPED. The movie. My first feature film as a director. And the first feature film for Justina and myself as producers. It’s a post-feminist horror film. Three guys on a birthday outing talk their way into the wrong house with the wrong women inside. Think TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or THE DEVIL’S REJECTS with a “family” of women orchestrating the proceedings…
We are scheduled to shoot this thing at the end of May going into June and as much experience as I have doing various jobs in front of and behind the camera and watching as many films as I do and working with as many filmmakers at the film festivals as I do – well, there is a HUGE learning curve with this thing every single day. Producers on the film include one of the guys responsible for THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake and the other producer has cool-ass films like David Lowery wonderful ST. NICK and current SXSWers EARTHLING and AUDREY THE TRAINWRECK under his belt. We already have the horror dynamo known as Tiffany Shepis on board as well as Samrat Chakrabarti, an Indian actor that despite an amazing international filmography we’re getting on the ground floor with because various dumbasses haven’t cast the guy in some weird-ass network sci-fi series where a strange incident has tied a group of random hot people together in a world where truth is false and pretend is sexy….or something like that.
Anyway, Justina and I actually bought the house we’re shooting this thing in. Which I’m living in right now. I’m sleeping in the room that will be inhabited by ‘Crystal’ a hot little sociopath that like the color pink, scrapbooking and uhmmm…cutting things. Our friend Marc Lee is staying in “the killing room.” Fun! So, I’ll clue you into the process as we hurtle along toward the shoot not too unlike one of those test rockets they show in stock footage that would freak you out if you were standing anywhere in the vicinity while it blasts off the blocks and careens not entirely toward its destination.
Here are some fun things about the house: It’s in South Dallas. Which is not a “great” area. But it is a cool two-story four-bedroom place with close to two acres of land and a freeloading horse named “Money” that is taken care of by an old black rodeo guy named “Peewee”. Oh, and we are surrounded by Baptist churches. And a train. One final thing, when we cut the chains that had kept the garage closed since we bought the place we found an old cabinet that had in it (among other things) a bee keepers outfit and smoker, random mason jars with weird stuff in them and two chainsaws! Made to order for Justina and John, the couple that gets romantic when they’re watching OLDBOY.
After that, new stuff that has just come up include doing some stuff with the Texas Frightmare Weekend screenings at the end of April, working with the Las Colinas Studios on a couple projects, possibly the Vision Awards benefit and definitely the Feel Good Film Festival.
I’m sure there is – and will be – more. Because that’s how things have been since January 1st. A very strange year and a very cool year so far.
So stay tuned….
Following are a few interviews that I wasn’t able to complete in time to include with my other coverage during Sundance and Slamdance.
First up is Emma Bell, who along with Shawn Ashmore and Kevin Zegers, stars in Adam Green’s chiller, FROZEN. I really liked the film – thought it was a straight-up tension and suspense-fest and aside from Adam Green’s leap forward as a writer/director on the project, he chose wisely (as they say) with the casting of that threesome.
After making the film, are you now permanently a “warm weather person”?
Emma: Absolutely. I told the producers the next film they want me to do has to be in Hawaii.
Seeing as how FROZEN was actually filmed in the mountains and not on a sound stage, how much did your snowboarding or skiing skills improve over the course of the shoot?
Emma: I went from atrocious to awful! I had never done either before and had about a two hour training session. My incompetence is pretty apparent in the film. I hope it at least makes people laugh.
Between you, Kevin Zegers, and Shawn Ashmore, who was the “iron man or woman” and who had to come down off the chairlift for more pee breaks? Or was it actually Adam Green?
Emma: Shawn had a few brutal days in a harness, so maybe him. And there were no pee breaks. We all held it, including Adam!
You’ve been a TV force to be reckoned with over the past couple of years (“Dollhouse”, “Ghost Whisperer”, “Law & Order”). Any difference in approach as an actress in doing episodic TV versus a feature film?
Emma: Wow, thank you. I don’t know about being a “force” in TV, but I have been very lucky over the years. Episodic TV is interesting because if you come on to a pre-existing show, like all of the above mentioned, there are already relationships developed between people, and a lot of times you are only coming on for one or two episodes. So it can be challenging to connect and for me, therefore, more of a challenge to create a character. When you are a lead on a film, you become part of that family from the get-go, and in my experience, have a say in the over-all creation of the film and character you are portraying. Acting in both forms are pretty amazing experiences though.
I also asked her what was scarier, wolves or sharks, but she didn’t answer that one – possibly still traumatized from the shoot more than a year later. I didn’t ask but my guess is that the publicists decided they would omit that question so we wouldn’t know the movie has wolves in it. But I do know the movie has wolves in it. So, there. If you didn’t know before you do now. And they’re scary. So go see the movie and see the scary mystery wolves already.
Next up are the two directors of the Slamdance comedy DRONES. I enjoyed the film quite a bit and was curious about the directing dynamic between Amber Benson and Adam Busch. They seemed to have distinct personality differences during the Q&A following the film and I’m always curious as how that stuff shakes out and settles in on the set and in the editing suite.
You both have been acting for quite sometime and Amber has directed solo a few times, so why team up on this particular project at this particular time?
Amber: We had been working on a couple of music videos together (for David Garland and Sufjan Stevens) and really enjoyed collaborating. When DRONES came along, we felt it would be the perfect feature to co-direct together. We felt our disparate strengths would lend well to the very specific tone that the story needed in order to be told correctly.
Adam: Amber had a very specific vision of how the thing should look and I felt very strongly about what kind of cast we would need and how the comedy should play out. Jordan Kessler had seen the mopey lil’ music videos Amber and I had done. He felt if we could apply the sadness and somber tone of our music videos to Acker & Blacker’s script the story would come alive.
During the Q&A at the Slamdance screening I saw, you described a pretty clear separation in directing responsibilities. Can you repeat that here and explain how it turned out to be that way?
Amber: I love working with the crew, drawing storyboards, framing shots and bossing our DP, David McFarland, around. Adam is an ace at directing actors. He casts really well, knows what approach best suits each individual actor and works really hard to create a safe environment so the actors feel free to experiment without judgment. I think our two styles intermesh really well together – and when you’re shooting a film in 14 days, two heads are always better than one.
Adam: We wanted to make it clear that “aliens” could be anything or anyone “different”. Anything that would keep people apart. Whether it’s religion or sexual preference or ethnicity. Saying “I love you but my parents don’t approve of you” is the same as saying, “I love you but I’m going to destroy your planet.” It feels the same when you’re on the receiving end.
There is a madcap arch tone to the film that pretty much flaunts its ridiculousness for the audience. Is it more or less difficult to do something with that kind of high style?
Amber: Creating the highly stylized world of DRONES was a true collaboration between Adam, me and the entire cast and crew. We used costume, acting style and a muted-color scheme in the production design to begin creating the world then our DP incorporated the same theme into the visuals via the lighting design and shot composition. We chose to do a lot of moving masters reminiscent of the screwball comedies of the 30’s and 40’s rather than relying on heavy coverage, giving the film more of a timeless quality. In the edit process we focused on performance and letting the drama/comedy within the dialogue play out in its own time.
Adam: The dialogue is very clever and I think it’s important that none of the characters acknowledge that in any way. Sometimes when people work together or are in a small space for a long period of time speech patterns develop. Cadences and songs and nicknames become part of your vernacular and you can’t place how they started or when. I think you’ll find unique little sub cultures in offices and factories all over the world.
Was there a particular actor that brought something to their part that either of you hadn’t really planned on, but were thrilled to incorporate (and then take credit for after it was all said and done)?
Amber: Unlike most of the other actors, Tangi Miller had never worked with the writers, Acker & Blacker, before, so she had no idea what she was getting into. They have a very stylized way of writing dialogue that can be difficult for an actor to wrap his/her head around. I’ve seen it throw even the most accomplished of actors. But Tangi came in and just brought a real humanness to the role of ‘Miryam’, something that was a real achievement, in my mind, because that character had the propensity to become a caricature if it had not been handled correctly.
Adam: Marc Evan Jackson felt the most comfortable improvising. He knows how to make an entrance and exit. He knows how to stay memorable. He is a true comedy star in the classic sense. I remember hearing how in scripts for “The Carol Burnett Show” it would just say, “Tim Conway does something funny.” Then he would. That’s how Marc Evan Jackson operates.
Okay, look in the mirror and be honest here: Who would manage better if directed by the other on a future project? And who would be the bigger on-set diva?
Amber: Adam takes direction better than I do, so he’d probably easier to direct. As far as divas go, I think we both just love being on sets so much that we err too much on the humble side of the spectrum. We just love what we’re doing and are happy to have the opportunity to do it.
Adam: Amber’s right. I handle the process of receiving direction better than her but she can deliver what the director wants with a deliberateness that can only be described as athletic. She has a much better batting average than I do.
Suck ups. But they make a great team (going by what they pulled off with DRONES), and I would easily be coerced into the theater to watch their next one. As well as encourage anyone that enjoys the silly and won’t get hung up on budget issues to seek it out.
Next are some questions I sent to Laura Silverman, who starred in CUMMINGS FARM which also screened at Slamdance. I wasn’t the greatest fan of the film but really liked what Laura did. She gave a very nice performance of the kind of character that usually gets a few joke lines written at their expense during a sit-com – the non-ambitious, maybe not-so-bright young mom. And she actually made that person real and sympathetic.
How did you become involved with the project?
Laura: My manager called me with the offer. It was at the slowest time of the year and I was going crazy not working, so I pretty much said “yes” based on getting to go to Louisiana for a couple weeks and have some kind of new experience with new people. Then, I looked at the script and got really excited- I just don’t expect things to be great like that. Oh- and, of course, the money. I framed it, actually- it’s adorable!
Did your perception of what it would be like to participate in an orgy change due to working on CUMMINGS FARM?
Laura: No, not really. I mean, I didn’t even try to understand wanting to do that, I just have a hard time believing that that could be a good time. I mean, sex for me is about a person- someone with whom you know you have at least above average chemistry- maybe a little light spanking if you want to go nuts. But any kind of group sex- swinging parties, whatever, I just don’t get the appeal. To me it’s just a lot of spit and strange skin and unpredictable smells made by glands and things. I mean, we’re people- we’re pretty gross- so it takes having that rare thing where you just aren’t at all icky to each other for it to really be enjoyable.
What would be more frightening to you personally: Being a mother or being in an orgy?
Laura: I think being a mother would be great- but, I mean, if either were to go horribly wrong, you’d want it to be the one that was over in one night and that you could be super high for- you know, and not have people look down upon you for it. Being the orgy baby sitter would be a nice compromise, I guess.
Was there a fair amount of improvisation involved or was everything pretty much in the script?
Laura: It’s pretty much all scripted. A couple things were improvised and you can sort of tell what they are- the part where I say all the things that are wrong with me, and this little bit- kind of in the background where I’m all high and yammering about high school chorus… I liked that when I saw it, I forgot about doing it and I was glad they put it in- just kind of makes me laugh. People are so boring when they’re high!
Before filming, did you know how to make a proper mojito?
Laura: Neither before or after. I know there’s rum in there, and mint. I learned that at catechism.
I’ll just say here that not many things make me happier when someone turns out to be as fun and delightful or at the very least possessing a personality in person or in print as they were onscreen or via their directing. So, thank you Laura Silverman. Whew.
Because sometimes it can go horribly wrong and you ask these questions and you think to yourself, “Did your Amish Mom answer these for you? Or do you just have the latest in self-serious technology at your disposal to suck the very life out of me as I read your answers?”
At least that’s what I do.
However, in this last little interview. Not a problem. AT ALL. Clark and Cassidy Freeman are a brother and sister team that have so much personality that for years they were banished to the wide open spaces of Montana because heavily populated urban centers couldn’t handle them. At least not together. So they were Executive Producers and in the cast of a cool little F-with-your-brain-fest called YELLOWBRICKROAD, that also played at Slamdance (because apparently all the cool kids were there this year). Anyway, I tried to adopt these two years ago in a maneuver very similar to what those Idaho people tried to scam on Haiti. Same result, save for me skirting the whole incarceration thing…..
Knowing your mutual sordid pasts with The Sight Unseen Theatre Company, and knowing how YELLOWBRICKROAD easily falls within the style and themes frequently explored in the stage productions that company has been responsible for, what were your first impressions when the idea for the story was presented to each of you.
Cassidy: I’ve been acting Andy’s words since my first show at Middlebury College when I was 18. And before then, I’d gone to visit Middlebury to see Clark in shows Andy had written. I’ve always been enamored by his writing and maybe more so, by his storytelling. When he and Jesse teamed up, it was like yin and yang. I loved the influence that they gave/continue to give each other and when I first read the script, I was very impressed. It was a screenplay that didn’t really read like your normal screenplay. I didn’t immediately think about the brother/ sister team, but once it was discussed, I was really excited to be able to work with Clark. It’s not often that siblings love each other because they have to AND because they want to. All three of us are close, and I will always jump at an opportunity to work with Clark or (my brother) Crispin. The fact that everyone else connected to the project thus far were artists that I had worked with before and respected immensely was even more icing on the cake.
Clark: Well, it’s true that Andy, Jesse and I have been working together for quite some time. Andy and I actually founded The Sight Unseen Theatre Group, so needless to say, as a writer/director, I like his style. I had read a bunch of the earlier drafts of YELLOWBRICKROAD, and was just excited to give my input and thoughts as a friend. It wasn’t until a year and a half into the script process before we even started thinking about Cass and I playing ‘Daryl’ and ‘Erin.’ At that point, I had fallen so in love with the script, and Andy and Jesse’s ability to be open to every and all ideas without losing their sense of story-telling or aesthetic, that I was nothing but excited. They have an amazing talent at taking two disparate ideas (woods and 30s music), tying them together, and making a whole so much greater than it’s parts.
You mentioned during the Q&A at the Slamdance premiere that it was the first time the two of you had co-starred in a production together since a school mounting of “The Wizard of Oz”. What did you each play in that production? And how much did you draw upon that experience for this one?
Cassidy: Clark was the cat’s meow his senior year in high school, and so he was The Illustrious Wizard…though I thought he could have played the lion, too. He has a great singing voice. I was the Munchkin Lawyer. I was also in 5th grade. I bet you didn’t remember that there was a Munchkin Lawyer…I didn’t either. But I played it with gusto. I don’t think that the role of ‘Erin’ had much to do with Munchkin lawyers, but I did realize that my bro has my back, no matter what. It’s a blessing to be able to share this kind of stuff with a sibling.
Clark: It’s crazy how things come full circle, isn’t it? In that production I played the Wizard, and Cass played the Munchkin Lawyer. She was tall even when she was young, so they definitely had to put her on a stool to roll around with on stage. I was also definitely probably one of the largest Wizards that that show has ever seen. . .I kinda wanted to be the Lion, to be completely honest. I wouldn’t say I drew upon that production for the movie. I think we were just lucky enough to be so close in real life that we have a wealth of experiences to draw on together, and also professional enough that, during tougher scenes, we didn’t bring any of that animosity home. Honestly, it was a dream experience for me.
You both share executive producer credits as well as being co-stars in the film. What exactly did you do as executive producers beyond writing a check? And, had you not written those checks, do you believe the film would have been made?
Cassidy: Before this, I hadn’t had much experience producing things, except as Clark’s wingman. And it was something that I was pretty excited about doing. The part I think I liked the most was being a bit of a den mother, and making sure that people were being heard and that all sides of the production communicated well. I’m still learning how to do this, and I hope I get more chances. I believe this movie would have been made with or without me, I’m just glad I get to be a part of it.
Clark: Executive Producer is one of those credits that can mean a variety of things. In this case, I’d say, our investment in the picture was probably the most mundane thing. Like I said before, Cass and I were tapped by Andy and Jesse early in the process as trusted friends to read many of the iterations of the script, and give thoughts and notes. I got to watch them work out each draft, and we even got to do a reading of it up in Vancouver, all together. Having produced a bunch of other short films and theatre with them, I’d say at the beginning I was much more another producer than an “executive”. Once we got to set, Cass really stepped it up as a producer as well. Andy and Jesse had such a strong drive and clear intent in making this movie that it would have been made with or without us. I just consider myself lucky to have been a part of it.
What was more irritating or the set, bickering between your co-directors, Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland? Or the black flies?
Cassidy: Black flies for sure. But MORE irritating was the corn syrup blood PLUS black flies. Ewwww!
Clark: This question is easy. The black flies. Andy and Jesse shared a brain for the entire process. There was no bickering.
What is your favorite horror film?
Cassidy: Probably THE SHINING. Horror films really scare me though. Clark taught me this great trick where when a scary scene comes on, you don’t close your eyes…you cover your ears. The scariest part is the sound. I’ll tell you what is NOT my favorite horror film…all those Chucky movies. Gave me nightmares for years. No dolls for this girl’s birthdays.
Clark: Ooohhh. I have to throw ALIEN in there, but that’s not your average horror movie. THE EXORCIST is fairly quintessential, but I also have to say THE SHINING. That’s three. Deal with it.
“THE VIOLENT KIND” AND “LOVERS OF HATE” PRODUCERS
UNVEIL “STRIPPED” TEASE
PARK CITY, UT (January 26, 2010)—Jeffrey Allard (THE VIOLENT KIND, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) and Adam Donaghey (LOVERS OF HATE, ST. NICK) announced plans to produce the horror feature STRIPPED with Tiffany Shepis (THE VIOLENT KIND, NIGHTMARE MAN) confirmed for the cast.
Written by Justina Walford and John Wildman, the film will mark Wildman’s feature directorial debut after recently departing AFI as the Head of Press and Public Relations.
Described as post-feminist horror, STRIPPED follows the events surrounding a birthday outing with two brothers and a friend which turns into a horrific fight for survival after they become trapped in a house with a “family” of malevolent women.
Along with Shepis, negotiations are also underway with Samrat Chakrabarti (FINDING GRACELAND, KISSING COUSINS) to join the cast. Financed independently, filming is set to begin in Dallas, Texas in late May following Wildman’s work as the PR Director for the DALLAS International Film Festival (April 8-18).
“Adam and I have been looking for the right project to team up on,” said Allard, “And this script immediately got my attention. It’s exciting that this has all come together at the same time we both have films at Sundance.”
Donaghey agreed, adding, “Justina and John have not only created some iconic female genre characters that jump off the page, but Jeffrey and I were also impressed with John’s directorial approach to the material.”
President and founder of Indie Entertainment LLC, a film finance and production company formed in 2002 and located in the SF Bay Area, Allard produced THE VIOLENT KIND with Producers Malek Akkad (HALLOWEEN II, HALLOWEEN), Andy Gould (HALLOWEEN II, HALLOWEEN, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES) and Directors Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores aka The Butcher Brothers (THE HAMILTONS, APRIL FOOLS DAY). The film made its world premiere Monday at the Sundance Film Festival. He executive produced (with Michael Bay) THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING.
Upcoming projects from Allard include A DARKER REALITY, starring Daniel Baldwin with several projects in development including GROO THE WANDERER, an animated feature film with Marc Toberoff (PIRANHA, BOTTLE SHOCK, I SPY) and THE PRODIGAL, a SF based dramatic thriller with Paul Zaentz (THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, GOYA’S GHOST) and Brad King (TECHNOLUST).
President and founder of Zero Trans Fat Productions, Donaghey produced Bryan Poyser’s LOVERS OF HATE and Clay Liford’s short, MY MOM SMOKES WEED, both of which screened at the Sundance Film Festival, with LOVERS OF HATE making its world premiere on Sunday. Previous projects include David Lowery’s ST. NICK, a Grand Jury Prize for Texas Filmmaking at AFI Dallas, and Francisco Diaz’ EL REGRESO WAY.
Donaghey’s upcoming releases include Frank V. Ross’ AUDREY THE TRAINWRECK and Liford’s EARTHLING. Donaghey is a film columnist for Houston Bay Area’s SCENE Magazine and produces the Houston, Dallas and Austin Film Races.
Wildman currently serves as the Director of PR for the DALLAS International Film Festival, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and the Feel Good Film Festival (Los Angeles). He is also part of the film festival consultation group FESTWORKS (along with former AFI FEST top liners Rose Kuo, Robert Koehler and David Rogers) that was recently announced at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition, he writes about film and film festivals for outlets such as Movie City News, Moving Pictures Magazine.com and Envy Magazine, as well as his popular blog at wildworx.wordpress.com.
ROSE KUO, ROBERT KOEHLER, DAVID ROGERS
AND JOHN WILDMAN
ANNOUNCE NEW FESTWORKS VENTURE
PARK CITY, UT (January 24, 2010)—Four former principals of the AFI FEST Los Angeles International Film Festival have joined forces to create a partnership that will offer a wide range of consultation services for film festivals.
Their new venture, FESTWORKS, will seek to provide consultation and services for film festivals of all sizes in the areas of festival operations, development, programming and communications.
Kuo (AFI FEST Artistic Director), Rogers (AFI FEST Festival Producer) and Wildman (AFI Head of Press & Public Relations) all announced their departure from AFI earlier this month. This announcement confirms Koehler’s departure as AFI FEST’s Director of Programming.
The fledgling company’s website states, ”As the film festival world grows more complex and mullti-dimensional, with greater demands placed on festivals to present exciting and relevant events to audiences while serving the interests of filmmakers and sponsors, there is a growing value for precise and informed services and solutions to the many needs that occur during the execution of a festival. FESTWORKS provides a one-stop service for festival operations, development, programming and communications.”
Kuo adds, “This collaboration allows each of us to have more creative freedom and is the best way for us to continue our commitment to artistic excellence and innovative film programming.”
Koehler added, “”We believe that the multi-faceted mission behind FESTWORKS reflects the current and ongoing changes in the film festival world, above all the need for exciting ways to devise, organize and execute festivals.”
“This partnership came together as a direct result of our experiences working together on this past edition of AFI FEST,” said Rogers, “And as the culmination of what each of us has identified as a need in the film festival community.”
Wildman concluded, “The four of us share a great passion for the art of film, for filmmakers and especially for the unique film viewing experience and interaction with those filmmakers that film festivals offer the public. It’s our hope that through FESTWORKS, we can help enhance the way things are done that will benefit both film maker and filmgoer and improve a way of seeing films that we truly love.”
Kuo, AFI FEST’s Artistic Director for the last three years, was recently named as Co-Executive Director of the Sante Fe Film Festival with Michael Hare and brings a wealth of experience in leading film festivals as well as film production. The architect of AFI’s successful “free festival” in 2009, Kuo is widely credited with the critical turnaround of AFI FEST. In December 2009, the International Film Festival Summit honored her with its prestigious IFFS Excellence Award. Kuo has worked for Mill Valley, San Francisco and Santa Barbara film festivals, as well as renowned directors such as Michael Mann, Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese. She is an occasional contributor to Movie City News.
After a celebrated career as Daily Variety’s film critic, Koehler joined AFI FEST as Director of Programming in a move that inspired a new round of enthusiasm within the film festival community and began a trend with other notable film critics following suit over the course of the year. Having returned as a critic and contributor for Variety, Koehler continues writing film criticism for Cinema Scope, Cineaste, filmjourney.org and the Christian Science Monitor.
Following a career producing film, music videos and commercials, Rogers joined AFI FEST as the Festival Village Producer in 2006. He subsequently became Director of Production at AFI DALLAS in 2008 prior to becoming AFI FEST’s Festival Producer in 2009. Along with successfully navigating the festival production and logistics of new venues in Hollywood and the festival’s move to Santa Monica during AFM, under his stewardship, AFI FEST enjoyed record crowds with remarkably smooth production details despite extremely challenging economic circumstances.
After his prior work with AFI, AFI FEST and AFI DALLAS, Wildman currently serves as the Director of PR for the DALLAS International Film Festival, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and the Feel Good Film Festival (Los Angeles). He has also headed up the PR for past editions of the Lone Star Film Festival (Fort Worth) and the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. Wildman has produced, written and served as the publicist for the Vision Awards (which benefits Retinitis Pigmentosa) for the past four years. In addition, he writes about film and film festivals for outlets such as Movie City News, Moving Pictures Magazine.com and Envy Magazine, as well as his popular blog at wildworx.wordpress.com.
ROSE KUO AND DAVID ROGERS
ANNOUNCE DEPARTURE FROM AFI FEST
LOS ANGELES (January 11, 2010)—On the heels of the successful 2009 edition of AFI FEST including the unprecedented offer of free screenings to all films for the public, Artistic Director Rose Kuo and Festival Producer David Rogers have announced their departure from AFI.
Head of Press and Public Relations John Wildman has also exited AFI.
Kuo joined AFI FEST as the Artistic Director in 2007 and presided over a rebirth of the venerable film festival that featured a distinctive programming philosophy and personality. The result was immediate critical praise regarding the new direction. The addition of former Daily Variety film critic Robert Koehler as AFI FEST Director of Programming in 2009 inspired a new round of enthusiasm within the film festival community. Kuo also was the architect of the free screenings initiative for 2009 despite a challenging economic year for all non-profit arts organizations.
Rogers successfully navigated the festival production and logistics of new venues in Hollywood and the festival’s move to Santa Monica during AFM. Under his stewardship, AFI FEST enjoyed record crowds with remarkably smooth production details despite extremely challenging economic circumstances.
Regarding her departure, Kuo said, “It has been a privilege to lead AFI FEST and work with the exceptional members of the festival team. We have succeeded in reshaping the festival and, I hope, reaffirming its place among leading festivals. Now it is time for me to go in a new direction.
“AFI FEST 2009 was the culmination of some really innovative ideas regarding what a film festival could and should be and of course, a lot of hard work. Given the hurdles presented us, it was also something that could not have been achieved without our core group. It was great to work with each of them,” said Rogers.
Wildman added, “While I am very proud of the work I was able to do press-wise on behalf of AFI FEST and several AFI programs, including the AFI Life Achievement Award (working with a wonderful team at TV LAND) and the Directing Workshop for Women, I am very passionate about promoting and assisting filmmakers through film festivals. This move will open up that landscape.”
THE FEEL GOOD FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES
CARLOS MENCIA AS OPENING NIGHT GALA HOST
FESTIVAL ALSO ANNOUNCES AWARD NOMINATIONS
FILMMAKER PANEL PARTICIPANTS
LOS ANGELES, CA August 4, 2009 – The 2009 Feel Good Film Festival (FGFF) announces that Carlos Mencia will serve as the host for the Opening Night Gala festivities at the Egyptian Theatre on Friday, August 7 prior to the presentation of Chris Dowling’s ROCK SLYDE.
The star of Comedy Central’s “Mind of Mencia” will entertain and start the proceedings by introducing the film and filmmakers at the Gala event.
The Feel Good Film Festival also announces the nominees for the new award categories to be presented at the film festival’s award ceremony on Sunday, August 9. The nominees for those award categories are as follows:
Michael Flynn from FRIENDS FOR LIFE
Barry Hilton from FINDING LENNY
Joel McCary From JESUS PEOPLE
Anthony Natale from UNIVERSAL SIGNS
Dustin Seavey from TRUE BEAUTY THIS NIGHT
Patrick Warburton from ROCK SLYDE
Elaine Hendrix from ROCK SLYDE
Patrizia Hernandez from LOVE SIMPLE
Sabrina Lloyd from UNIVERSAL SIGNS
Edi Patterson from JESUS PEOPLE
Sarah Paulson from WHOSE DOG IS IT ANYWAY?
Antoinette Valente from KATE WAKES
Ann Calamia from UNIVERSAL SIGNS
Cindy Chupack from WHOSE DOG IS IT ANYWAY?
Chris Dowling from ROCK SLYDE
Jeff Hare from BITTER/SWEET
Jacob Medjuck from SUMMERHOOD
Michael Spence from FRIENDS FOR LIFE
Cale Finot from HIS GOOD WILL
James Liston from SUMMERHOOD
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom from BITTER/SWEET
John Radel from DANCE OF THE DRAGON
Jake Ures from THAT’S MAGIC!
Daniel Watchulonis from UNIVERSAL SIGNS
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Lacey Anzelc and Amy Maier GRANDE DRIP
Ewen Dickson from SUMMERHOOD
Carlos Espinoza from ROCK SLYDE
Bill Johnson from THAT’S MAGIC!
Meghan Rogers from DANDELION DHARMA
Jenna Sanders from CHARLIE THISTLE
FGFF also announces details for the Feel Good Filmmaker panel on Saturday, August 8 at 10:30AM in the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian. The subject of the panel is “Exploring the Limits of Feeling Good at the Movies,” with topics including the issues of current boundaries of language and racy content in comedies, as well as the responsibility of “truth in advertising” for films marketed to age groups the films are arguably inappropriate for.
Panelists will include actor, comedian, and Emmy Award winning comedy writer Rick Overton, Andy Dick (ROCK SLYDE), Frank Conniff (Mystery Science Theater 3000), Jacob Medjuck (director, SUMMERHOOD), and David Sleven, (Manager, Comedy Development, FOX Broadcasting). The panel will be moderated by John Wildman (Director of Press & Public Relations, FGFF and Head of PR, American Film Institute). Admission for the general public, space permitting, is $10.00.
Musical performers on the Audiorents Feel Good stage in the Egyptian Theatre Courtyard will range from rock to pop to bluegrass featuring several performers with songs nominated for Best Feel Good Song honors at the festival this year.
Performers include: Blonde Jersey, Poorgood, Land of Deborah, The Mysterious Ticking Sound, MeryKid, Sons of Jack, Kingsley, Doron Diamond, Ballroom Madness, Babylon Saints, Skyebat, Lee Whittaker, Jason Manns, ModelK, Freddy & Francine, and Sarah Sharp. Also performing will be the Goddess A Go‐Go dance troupe and Improv performers, Woodshop Improv.
My job (or jobs – depending on how you look at it) for the American Film Institute, AFI FEST, AFI DALLAS, the Indian Film Festival, Lone Star Film Festival, Feel Good Film Festival and last, but certainly not least – The Vision Awards has required me to increasingly to take on the role of spokesperson. Which honestly, I am happy and sometimes relieved to do because I know exactly what I want to say and what I think people need to know about each of those film festivals, events and organizations. Of course, I’ll hear or watch myself afterwards and appropriately loathe myself for opening my mouth and preaching my happy version of the movie gospel like that too loud guy standing in front of you in any line anywhere in Los Angeles or worse – like that roommate or co-worker or ill-chosen boyfriend or girlfriend you just can’t escape well enough.
And, yet – after the handful of television, radio, and print interviews, panels, Q&As, there is much more to say. And even after hating listening to the sound of my painful earnestness and in the worst cases – obviousness, there is still so much more to say. So now – after a lot of prompting by my wife (a dedicated and much more prolific writer, herself) to begin writing and blogging about what I’m doing and what I’m seeing – from my perspective – well, I’m gonna give it a shot.
And while I won’t always be writing about “work”, a good amount will be about film, filmmakers and the film festival world because the films and filmmakers I give the largest rat’s ass about need as many voices singing their praises and alerting everyone as to their existence as they can get. David Redmon and Ashley Sabin and their wonderful, intimate documentaries like KAMP KATRINA and INTIMIDAD, Jacob Medjuck’s SUMMERHOOD, Johnny Asuncion’s FLOAT, Daniel Stamm’s A NECESSARY DEATH, pretty much everything Bill Sebastian (MIDLOTHIA) has done since I’ve known him, Mo Perkins’ A QUIET LITTLE MARRIAGE, Sabine El Gemayal’s NILOOFAR – there are so many more, but I’ll stop this list for now.
And film festivals – well, in these tough economic times – they are under siege in more than a few ways. Sponsors are going away, and there is a lot of fair weather support out there that is hanging by a thread by small groups of people in each case that see their film festival as just that – theirs. And so they work harder and harder to keep it going and make the next edition better than the last. And they deserve someone shining a light on them too. So here we go….