Sunday, October 25, 2009

Director Interview at Arpa International Film Festival, Los Angeles



CHARISE STUDESVILLE, writer/director/producer


Screens: Saturday Oct. 24, 4:45 pm – Emerging Stars: Filmmakers on the Edge program

The Hands is a story of the love between a father and daughter that can’t last in its original pure state. As the grown-up daughter now sits at her father’s bedside in his final hours, she becomes fixated upon his hands and how they have come to represent all of who he was, as a man and as a father.

The Hands

1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

I have spent most of my life in the midwest, growing up for much of my childhood in Madison, WI, and returning there to attend the University of Wisconsin. Since graduating from college, I have lived in Chicago. For the past two years, I have split my time between Los Angeles and Chicago.

I was born a multi-cultural baby before it was chic. Coming from different worlds on either side of my family, I learned very early on to look beyond the surface to view who people really are, at their core.

While there were definitely times when my being culturally different from the blond-haired, blue-eyed standard of beauty that defined the population where I grew up, I have to say that I always felt my mixed-race status was a bonus. From the very beginning, I loved and was loved by very different people from very different worlds. It’s funny, but no matter where I go in the world, people assume I am one of them, a member of their cultural tribe. I really think this has informed my filmmaking. I have always been able to hone in on the humanist element in people, and in the characters I create in my writing and filmmaking. You can’t learn that in school. You either have the sensibilities, or not. I am thankful for all of the nations that live within my heart, and I think the world is finally catching up with my view.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

I was trained as a journalist at the University of Wisconsin School of journalism. I went on to use my writing skills within politics, the law, non-profits, etc., but always circled back to fiction writing.

A few years ago, I began studying screenwriting and filmmaking, first during my graduate studies at DePaul University, and then at the Iowa Writers Workshop. I subsequently wrote several screenplays that won awards in various writing contests. After learning the production side of the business during an internship at Martin Chase Productions (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Cheetah Girls, The Princess Diaries), I knew that the one piece left to learn was directing. I was accepted into the USC/Warner Brothers Directing & Producing Program, where it all sort of came together for me. I was able to come out of the program and head directly into production of my directorial debut, along with executive producing another film.

My instructor at USC really helped me in placing a template of organization over the already-honed film aesthetics that came from studying the craft for so many years.

With all of that said, I still feel that my most useful training came from the year I spent as a young girl in a body cast, literally forced to watch the world go by. My imagination served as my friend all of those months, and now it serves as the basis for my career.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

One of the screenplays that I wrote is a modern version of The Big Chill, but populated by a multi-culti cast of women friends. Each woman has a complicated and sometimes haunting background story as they come into the present.

The Hands is one such back story. It is based upon the real-life experience of many women I have met, myself included, who idolized their fathers as little girls, but who as adults had to come to grips with the reality that Daddy was just a man, a flawed human being. It is a pivitol moment for both daughters and fathers, and I wanted to look at it up close. I also wanted to explore the ideas of memory, loss, and forgiveness within the confines of the father/daughter relationship. This story seemed the perfect way to do just that.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

It’s the last spoken words of the film: Joy and sadness are not exclusive of one another. One can be happy to be free of the imprisonment, but still long for the familiarity of the captor.

It applies to a lot of different kinds of relationships.

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

Room With A View was the first film I remember seeing and thinking that I would love to create something that could transport the viewer so completely to another place and time, and relay the longings and experiences of the characters to the viewer, both visually and emotionally.

Daughters of The Dust and Eve’s Bayou left a longing in my heart for the experience of actually becoming a filmmaker. Both of these films drove me to begin the dig, to figure out how story and picture become one.

The just-bold-enough move | Crain's Chicago Business

The just-bold-enough move | Crain's Chicago Business

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The Hands had the honor of being given a slot on the 2009 Opening Night roster of films a few weeks ago.  That, in itself, was an honor.  Then the countdown whirlwind began with everyone within a hundred mile radius trying to get their hands on a ticket for this event that was basically soldout before the programs were even back from the printer.  After sending out more "sorry" emails than I ever wanted, the reality hit that I was really bringing my project back to my home crowd.  Butterflies in my stomach doesn't begin to describe the nerves I was feeling.  After I figured out what to wear (I am a girlie-girl to my core), I was on my way with my dates--she who gave birth to me, and she to whom I gave birth.  

The Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago was buzzing with energy and excitement.  It was the 15th Anniversary of the Black Harvest Festival, and there was a reverence in the air for what had been accomplished during that time.  Awards were bestowed.  One went to actor Hill Harper, who joined the festivities via a humorous and heartfelt recording, as he was stuck in NYC taping his hit show "CSI:  NY."  The other went to maverick local journalist Hermene Hartman.  The latter was given out by Chaz Ebert, noted Chicago attorney, and wife of Roger Ebert.  As I sat there in the room, witnessing these powerhouse women with whom I was sharing stage space, I was completely humbled.  As Chaz noted, this was an especially special night.  The festival has become known for launching and fostering wonderful new talent.  We were sitting in the house that Siskel and Ebert built watching films that were born of fresh, new voices...and then my film cued up to play.  When I was called up to the podium to speak about my project, I left my body and began to watch from  above.  The words I spoke were coming from the mouth of a new director who had somehow found her way to living and making good upon a dream that once had seemed only remotely possible.  The faces in the audience were engaged.  The energy still palpable.  I still don't recall what I said as coming from my own mouth.  I remember it as being from that woman up on the stage.

A few minutes later, The Hands was on the screen, in living color.  Thanks to the unbelievable technical powerhouse that is the projection and sound of the Siskel Center, I saw my film as it has never been seen before.  Crowd smiled when they were supposed to smile, winced when they were supposed to wince, and cried when they were supposed to cry.  Doesn't get much better than that.

Followed up the screening with a too-much-fun radio interview later in the week with the ever wise and ever funny Brian Babylon,  We had so much fun, in fact, that he has invited me back to do some adlib media-talk.  Brought back the good 'ol days in the basement of the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism where my friends and I spent a summer running a daily radio news show.  Fun then.  Fun now.

Finished up the week with a little birthday celebration.  Thirty-three is a good place to be.  I think I'll stay.


The L.A. Shorts Fest was a great festival.  The Hands screened on the opening Friday night, in the block after Demi Moore's directorial debut.  It was partnered with some really great films, which is high compliments for our work.  Very cool.  Got great feedback, and a few requests for screeners (screening copies) by a couple of studio people.  Always good.

Here's the part I wasn't expecting.  I received a little email with a pictorial gift that I could have done without...someone who felt the need to make his privates, well, public.  I have a friend who is an anchor at CNN who has been dealing with a few oddballs (no pun intended) of her own, and it all just leaves me perplexed.  I just don't get it.  Is this supposed to make someone more appealing to the recipient?  WTF?!  I have found new ways of screening my mail that will hopefully keep that from happening again.  One friend joked that receiving the x-rated fan mail means you have hit a new high in popularity.  I'd rather have a golden statue.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Meeting In the Ladies Room

A few months ago, I was invited to join a women’s networking group.  There are periodic gatherings in person, but, for the most part, our contact with one another is via emails and “the boards,” a virtual bulletin board where we can access any and all info one could think of having to do with the entertainment industry.  I wasn’t expecting much.  I have, however, become completely enamored with this wellspring of intelligence, insight, and can-do-ism.  Members will often post a note that they are looking for a contact for a specific company or person, but it goes deeper than that. 


In these most difficult of economic times, there are many women in the industry who are having a really tough time keeping a roof over their heads.  One of our members, new to Los Angeles, was days away from being put out of her apartment, with no where to turn.  She posted that she was looking for a service-for-trade situation.  She is now, thanks to leads from our membership, living with an elderly lady with a home with room to spare, for whom she cooks dinner and does errands, in exchange for her room and board.  This has allowed her to keep her industry job in the early mornings.  All thanks to a continuum of women.


I responded to a call for members who might be interested in a “brainstorming group,” even though I wasn’t sure what that would mean.  Much to my surprise, and pleasure, I met with three other women the first night at a health-food restaurant in Hollywood.  We were, respectively:  a stand-up comedy sketch artist/graphics designer; a marketing person for an online greeting card company; a television/music producer; a writer/director/filmmaker.  The ground rules were that we would each bring a project or idea that we were working on, at any stage of development, to share with the group and receive feedback regarding how to expand and further it.  In the span of two hours, we traded stories, each allotted five minutes to introduce our project, five minutes to receive feedback, and five minutes to then discuss.  At the end of each our time allotments, we each came up with what we would pledge to accomplish by the following meeting.  We each also told the others exactly what we needed from the others in terms of encouragement and support.  One woman was so clear on what would feel best for her, she gave us a kind of script:  “When I post on our page that I have done X, it would really feel good for you guys to say Z.”  We laughed about the fact that all of our relationships in our lives could be served by such frankness and clarity.  Even though I walked in with the start of a nasty migraine, I left feeling buoyant.  The genuine care that we all showed for one another’s passions and journey was so refreshing.  As women, we are often pitted against each other, or choose to see ourselves as such.  In this town, and in this time, where so many view their little corner of the universe as a zero sum game, here I was in a place that was only to support and nurture me.  And that’s the way it was…

Five Dollar Footlong + Entourage=FUN

Was under the weather on Friday, so I missed the opening night at the International Black Women’s Film Festival.  After having to cancel all of my travel reservations, I re-booked, switched hotels, and was back on my way Saturday evening.  It’s a short plane trip from L.A. to San Francisco.  Just as we entered the Bay Area, I was treated to the most incredible sunset I have ever witnessed.  An orangey blaze across an aubergine sky.  Felt otherworldly.  Checked into the Clift Hotel…just in time for the party, apparently.  It made me wish I could travel with an entourage.  I so get why folks who find success in the entertainment business often bring with them their closest friends.  For one thing, it gets lonely.  And, then there is also the fact that inside jokes without an accomplice are a little pathetic, as they are only inside your head.  Plus, if you are only in a place for a night or two, the kind of connections that are there for the making are not normally of the kind that a happily married woman wants.  I have never had a problem taking myself to a movie or dinner.  I learned at the age of sixteen that solo movies can be quite a treat.  But, there are times when you just want another human who knows you to bear witness to what you are exploring and experiencing.  My oldest daughter was with me for a festival in Lake Arrowhead, CA a few months back.  The sheer white-knuckled terror we experienced heading up the mountainside to 6000 feet above the rocky valley below is now fodder for us to laugh about until we are doubled over.  We must have looked like a really bad Thelma and Louise meets Twin Peaks smash-upand speaking of Twin Peaks (and that is where it was filmed), we were convinced that the woods held the most treacherous of mass murderers, just waiting to make furniture and clothing from our body parts.  (We are avowed city people.  It’s official.)  And who else would have had a mutual attack of the juvenile sleep-deprived giggles over the suddenly funny “$5 footlong” Subway song.  Point is, you had to be there…with someone. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I have now been on the festival merry-go-round for three months.  The line that keeps coming to mind is, "Be careful what you wish for."  And, I don't mean for this to sound as though I am ungrateful.  I am anything but that.  I am simply experiencing what a lot of newbies discover.  You make this film that you are passionate about.  You hone the best writing you can muster.  You choose the most talented people to work with to make it shine.  You get on set, and the ups and downs are incredible. Passions flare, urging one another to do work that is better for it. When post-production time arrives, the excitement of dissecting and melding the initial vision with the reality of what was captured is at hand.  Editors call this part "polishing the turd."  Not very eloquent, but it must be what it feels like to be given hundreds, sometimes thousands, of tiny pieces to make one coherent whole.  It is said that a movie is written three times:  the screenplay by the writer, the shooting by the director (and cinematographer), and the final meld by the editor.  I always understood this.  The part I didn't really consider, albeit naive of me, is the running around the world to talk about it phase.  But it has to be done, especially in this age of YouTube.  Everybody and their brother, twice removed, feels that they are a filmmaker.  I have talked to folks who claim that they have done 8, 12, 20 movies.  Then I find out that they turned the digital cam upon themselves going to the loo, and called that "film." But, legit movies with rich stories and characters are still competing for the same viewers' attention.  And to do that, you have to run around the world talking about the film you put your heart and soul into.  All of the people who gave time and effort to the film deserve for me to give it that effort.  And, I owe that to myself so that I can continue to tell stories that otherwise wouldn't get told...kind of the mantra of Lotus Girl Films.

So, my days have shaken out like this:

•Joining a women's brainstorming group, as an offshoot to a networking group of women in the industry.  (More about this in the next post.)

•Research at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on my next project, a political thriller

•Watching old suspense/thriller/political films as inspiration and research (maybe the best perk of the job)

•Supporting other women directors...go see "The Hurt Locker" directed by Kathryn Bigelow!

•Polishing a script for a table reading next week with actors

•Trying to make the moments that I spend with my kids happy and connected ones

•Trying not to rely too heavily on caffeine, even the green tea kind

•Trying not to freakout when my four-year-old lands us in the ER with a "broken chin" on the 4th of July  (four stitches and a few days out of the pool, and he's fine; mommy is still re-living watching the numbing of the wound--oy!)

•Talking to other writers and story people about new projects

•Talking to folks about money for the next projects

•Getting ready for two festivals coming up in the next 10 days

All in all, it has been a good couple of weeks.  A good night's sleep, or two, and I should be ready to talk it up some more.  At the end of the day, the whole scene is just a heap of "high level problems."  Like I said, be careful what you wish for.  You will probably get it.  And then some. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Someone asked me so long ago, why was there even a need for "Black" film festivals.  I answered that the film market still seems to forget that the world is made up of many stories, and that universal stories can be told from the vantage point of any human capable of experiencing it...thus making it universal.  We need places where it is alright not to be one of the boyz in tha hood, no disrespect to those who are.  In so many festivals, a brown face on the screen means marginalization, generalization, and the assumption that whatever story that brown face portrays couldn't possibly be one to which the average non-brown face could relate.  Sometimes, white festival programmers and directors just don't see us as individuals.

Just before I left Chicago, I received a photo from the director of a festival I screened The Hands at a couple of months ago.  The envelope was addressed to me...the only Black filmmaker at this particular festival.  To my surprise, the envelope contained a picture of the only other Black women to attend the festival besides myself and my daughter. I will post the pic of the women and a pic of my daughter and I when I get back to Chicago.  I will let you be the guest as to how far we have come in truly seeing each other...or not.

Hollywood Black Film Festival

Yesterday, sat in on sessions with "The Guilds"--SAG, WGA, DGA.  Tons of info, especially helpful for indie filmmakers who may utilize the low-budget agreements.   Also loved the panel with Antwone Fisher (Training Day 2),  Preston Whitmore (This Christmas), Rockmond Dunbar (Pastor Brown), Brett Dismuke (VP-Acquisitions, One Village Entertainment).  Lots of talk about the changing face of distribution due to the folding of major video sale outlets such as Coconuts and Blockbuster, and the move to digitization of film download as the consumer-driven way to view film at home and on the go.  There was also a very important lesson for filmmakers, as shared by a screenwriter who, early on in his career, chose to negotiate his own distribution deal...only to lose out on all of the international revenue for his film, which was also the only real revenue that his movie had.  I doubt anyone in the room will be repeating that one, thanks to his willingness to share his bumps along the way.

I stopped today to tell Tanya Kersey, the Director of the festival, what an incredible job she and her staff have done in organizing the festival.  Everyone is so happy to be here, and thoroughly enjoying the panels, the films, and meeting other filmmakers.  She responded that the filmmakers are the stars of the HBFF.  It's a treat for folks like me who love what they do, and appreciate the appreciation.  I am getting really excited and nervous, anticipating Saturday's screening.  I hope people show up!

Almost forgot!  I will be taking The Hands to San Francisco July 17-19 for the International Black Women's Film Festival.  Sooooo honored to be one of only four shorts chosen for this wonderful, necessary film festival.  Stay tuned...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cannes Recap

Now that I have had a minute or two to sleep off Cannes, the jet lag, and the French wine that is required in order to be considered polite, I am considering what the take-aways were for this festival.  I have come up with the following, as a start:

1.  Creativity in funding and distribution are the new games across the land.  The old studio method of thinking and doing are really becoming archaic.  Thinking outside of the box is now a survival requirement.

2.  Violence, and more specifically, violence towards women, just never seems to go out of fashion.  The coveted premieres were blood, guts, and torture.  I suppose that fact that we are a world constantly at war, somewhere, will always make this so.  I am not against all violence in film.  I love a good cutting off of the ear when needed.  If the story warrants it, full-speed ahead.  But lengthy scenes of genital mutilation as torture?  Seems like lazy storytelling and filmmaking to me.

3.  The Asian market is about to take over the industry.  The infusion of huge capital alone will make this so.  Should be interesting to see the effect on "Western" product.

4.  American filmmakers need to organize themselves as a group, in order to take advantage of the European short film market.  In a big way.

5.  Hilary Swank knows how to work a red carpet.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cannes De-Virginization Complete

Last night in Cannes, we were hanging out in the American Pavilion, and I run into a guy hawking his own short film.  Unbeknownst to me, he is a USC grad, knows my entire crew, and even worked on the film I Executive Produced, Kwame.  Sometimes you have to fly half way around the world to meet folks from your own backyard.

Later that night, we made our final pilgrimage to cáfe-land on La Croisette, where I had the distinct pleasure, not, of walking into a basement to use the toilette...only to find a Frenchman in the dark, with only his cigarette lighting the way.  Yeah, didn't stay for that show.

Last day of hustling the Short Film Corner.  We screened The Hands in a private screening room.  Not a big audience, because we were relegated to an early morning slot, but still respectable.  Note to self:  By the time folks are into the Cannes groove, fewer and fewer bodies are there in the morning hours.  It was still amazing to be there, though.  Not one person who had a part in making this film was left out of my brain in those moments. Everybody remembers their first time...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tidbits overheard...

This is some of the best people-watching, and convo eavesdropping I have ever experienced:

1.   "Eli Roth was talking about smoking with  Quentin Tarantino, and dude, I was like, can I hang out with you cuz you are for sure smokin' the good shit."

2.   Guy #1:  Have you met many people yet?
       Guy #2:  Yeah, dude, I went to a party last night, and I woke up on the other side of Cannes with two people in my bed.  I think I met a lot of people last night.

3. While waiting in line for the bathroom:  "I am totally ready to bend over and spread the cheeks to sell this movie, dude."

Dude, I'm just the messenger.

Take the good with the bad...

So, after a night of listening to drunk people racing their scooters and singing drunken French songs just outside my window, I got up to prepare for my Le Pitch filming for ShortsTV.  Very odd.  You know when you think you are prepared, but you don't get the response you thought you'd get?  Yeah, well that pretty much sums it up.  Understandably, because I am in France, the excitement seemed to be saved for French writers and directors.  Whatta ya gonna do?  Well, I went and got a croissant, and started my work for the day.  Funny how the sting of a lukewarm reception can be eased with a lovely pastry.

Today, I will be working to target the foreign sales agents and distributors for short films. In Europe, short films are truly respected as an art form, and they have many outlets to market them and share them with a viewing public.

I saw a couple of well done productions in The Short Film Corner yesterday--The Coup De Grace was my fave.  Today I am going to see one called Le Quota, which poses the question, "Is France racist?"  It is supposed to be a thought-provoking piece.  It is definitely an interesting component of this film market.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cannes Days

So it has taken me a couple of days just to figure out the maze that is the Festival De Cannes. Obviously, there is the jet-lag...7 hours difference between Chicago and Cannes.  That alone has made an 8am wake-up call interesting.  But, even bigger is the absolute vastness of this festival and market.  It is a several football fields long in white-domed tents behind a Coliseum of a building, with every language under the sun being spoken, and the Mediterranean sea as its backdrop.  It can be overwhelming, until you start to break it down into manageable parts.  It felt a bit like freshman year in high school.

The first day was just getting registered, and trying to get the lay of the land.  We had a comical "Where's Waldo" episode going as we were on the hunt for electrical outlet converters that we forgot at home...only to find that the business center at the festival sold them for 20 Euros, right next door to where we had just registered.  Live and learn.  We honed our French a bit on that excursion, along with our sign language that we felt was helping our translation.  There was an invitation-only premiere that night, which caused us to cross paths with Quentin Tarantino, who is a freakin' rock star in these parts.  Seriously, he was just walking down the closed off street with his tux on, waving at people screaming his name like he was one of The Beatles.  A little surreal.

Yesterday, I went to the Short Film Corner inside the Marche Du Film at the Palais.  I found my film, The Hands, and the film I was an Executive Producer on, Kwame, among the screeners. That was a very cool moment.  There was a time, not that long ago, when I was overwhelmed at the thought of how to put together a movie production.  So, sitting here on the French Riviera with a production that I wrote and directed, felt like a tremendous milestone.

We also hit La Pizza for lunch.  Just as promised by a friend who is also a disciple, it was a religious experience.  Who knew that the best pizza a Chicago girl would ever have would be eaten on the French Riviera?

Today I snooze-buttoned my way through my alarm too many times.  I rushed to the shuttle at the apartment we are renting.  Got to my appointment just in time, including stopping off to burn a copy of my official trailer to hand over...and was then told they were running so far behind, would it be possible to come back tomorrow morning?  Of course.  No worries.  I used the downtime to make more movie posters/handouts.  My other Executive Producer, aka Husband, became the Ultimate Street Team today, driving folks to screen my film, and handing out fliers and postcards.  Got my first positive review here today.  It was in French, but from what I could decipher, it was very complimentary.  (Haven't quite finished my Rosetta Stone course).

I will check in tomorrow after my Le Pitch appointment.  It is for Short Film TV, a European entity that buys and distributes short film content.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Boston International Film Festival

Screened earlier today at the Boston International Film Festival.  It was a great time.  People really responded well to the film.  We were paired with another film, Mississippi Damned, that also explores the issues of families, secrets, loss,  and memories.  The thing I found most interesting about looking at these two films together is the enormous unspoken toll families exact upon their own, all in the name of love.  In both films, girls were harmed most by the ones they loved most.  It speaks to the power of those we love on our lives.  Also worth noting is the fact that the stories, although both dealing with African American families, shined the spotlight on families with completely different socio-economics, levels of education, concepts of sexual identity, etc.  I found that to be a huge leap in a dawning realization that African Americans are not some monolith, but have lives and stories as different and as universal as any other ethnic or racial group.  Seems obvious to say; but still a fact not represented in mainstream media.  

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day 2-Lake Arrowhead Film Festival

So today was a day of movies that went straight for the heart, for the entire crowd, but for me personally, as well.

The first film I watched was 'Older Than America' by Georgina Lightning. It tells the story of the atrocities done by the Catholic Church via Reservation Schools aimed at "civilizing" Indian "savages." It was a atrocity that was still sanctioned by the church and the government as late as the mid-70s. It touched me personally on several fronts. My family has roots deep within the indigenous experience in this country, but much of that experience is unspoken. The reasons for the silence ring true also for the black members of my family...we share the history of holocausts that have altered the current state of both populations. This movie brings the discussion to one side of this equation by framing it in an incredible drama. When you see the title showing somewhere around you, go see it!

The second film was 'Reach For Me' directed by LeVar Burton. It focuses on the relationships of a group of people living their final days and people working in a hospice. It is a beautiful story that plays heavy on the heart without ever becoming maudlin. I had the privilege of spending my grandfather's last few days of his life in hospice. Much like in the film, I learned that death brings new life experiences that give another layer to our understanding of both. In the end, death isn't scary, it just is. Once again, go see this one. (Have to say, also, Adrienne Barbeau lent a beautiful performance in the film...and was gracious enough to pose for a pic for me to send to my father, possibly earning me a spot in heaven.)

The last film I want to mention, 'No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos, covered the professional lives of two of the greatest cinematographers in the game. If you love movies, you have probably seen their work. Check it out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lake Arrowhead-Day 1

So, the first greeting I received here at the Lake Arrowhead Film Festival was from one of the official screeners.  He told me how much he loved, loved The Hands, and how it had touched his heart, and how the story has stayed with him still.  It doesn't get much better than that for a filmmaker.

We screened first thing this morning.  My travel companion (Ashley) and I were the first ones in the room.  I was more than a little nervous about that.  I mean, what's your worst nightmare if you are screening your film?  That no one shows up, right?  Well, a few minutes later, we had a little crowd.  It was received well by the audience and the other filmmakers.  Pretty cool.

Saw a film (Jackson) last night directed by the guy that wrote Pretty Woman, J. F. Lawton.  It was a wonderful example of what an indie film can be, and why they are so important.  As Lawton noted, the combination of homeless men as lead characters and a storyline interspersed with operatic arias, studios would not know how to market, or pigeon hole, it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On the countdown to Lake Arrowhead.  Hoping you will check out The Hands and the other films in Shorts Program 1.  I am looking forward to meeting the other filmmakers and checking out all of the wonderful films.

More good news:  Kwame, directed by my editor Edward, executive produced by yours truly, garnered Best Student Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009 Best Dramatic Film

Very cool news!!! Talked to one of the Directors of the Wildwood Film Festival, a showcase of films/filmmakers with ties to the state of Wisconsin. They have chosen The Hands as the Best Dramatic Film for 2009. No matter where you go in the world, it is a great freakin' feeling to be recognized for your work by the place that gave you your start. For the record, I grew up for most of my childhood in Madison, WI. We moved away, but I came back to go to the University of Wisconsin, aka "Mad City." Ahh...good times.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The road to festival-land...

I am working again on mailing out press kits to film festivals that we have been selected to screen in. It's funny how the absolute euphoria of getting that first acceptance is soon replaced by the busy work that will get us seen once we are there. There is much to this process. It's starting to make more sense than ever all that the studios do for their films. If this little film can take all of this

It has been really cool getting feedback on this project that began as a one sentence idea on a page. It soon grew to a full page, and then a screenplay. But all along, the image of a daughter, haunted by the father of her past, fixated upon the man laying dying in front of her, is what kept coming to my mind.

People who see the film can't help but personalize the story to their own lives, wondering if they would react in the same manner as this daughter. I don't want to give anything away. But check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think you would have done.