THE OTHER F WORD
Student Caytha Jentis’s Show Available on Amazon Prime
The show The Other F Word is a comedic web series following the lives of four women forced to rediscover themselves after their kids have all left the nest. Click here to check it out on Amazon or get more info at www.theotherfwordseries.com
Click below to listen to her interview with Jake!
Monda Webb ProTrack/Retreat
Yehudit “Judy” Mam Meditative Master Class
Josh Steinbauer Write Your Screenplay
George Strayton Studio FacultyGeorge’s film Alive Inside won the 2014 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
In March 2014, Monda saw a photo on Twitter of a little African Girl in a Human Zoo. Immediately, a script unfurled in her head. She resolved to shoot a short film. Toward that aim, she attended our Costa Rica Screenwriting Retreat where she wrote what she called “a good story but a bad screenplay.” With the help of Jacob Krueger and her ProTrack coach, Linda Roberts, she was able to put the script in her head onto paper and then onto film. The resulting short, Zoo (Volkerschau) has won an Excellence Award at The International Film Festival for Women, Social Issues, and Zero Discrimination, an Audience Award at The South Carolina Cultural Film Festival Audience Award, and was featured in the marketplace in the Palm Springs Short Festival. Way to go, Monda!
“For the last 4-5 years, I would make little outings around NYC and set-up the tripod. Usually I’d just sit there for 10-15 minutes while the world did it’s thing. Sometimes these little time-lapse sketches would turn out super cool. Sometimes not. I finally turned some of the cooler bits into a little meditative film (a la Powaqqatsi). It’s under 2 mins and features my friend Nate Kinsella’s Birthmark song ‘swing’.”
Check out the video HERE.
Co-written by George Strayton, Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory, which won the Sundance 2014 Audience Award and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize, releases in theaters across the country on July 18th. The film explores a music-based breakthrough that was achieved in the treatment of dementia patients.
Carly Simon says, “I’m excited to see Alive Inside again when it hits theaters. It’s an incredibly important documentary that everyone, young and old, should see. It’s an intensely moving, beautiful depiction of the power that music has, in so many different ways and for so many different kinds of functioning.”
Additionally, In the past two years, George has had three spec scripts (two features and an hourlong TV pilot) place in the Austin Film Festival. Check out the Festival’s Website for a list of 2014’s semifinalists.
– STUDENT INTERVIEW –
DAN LEVINSON Pro-Track
Dan’s debut novel, written in our ProTrack program, will be released by Jollyfish Press this June. Launch event at Barnes and Noble in NYC on July 19th!
David Mandel Masterclass
Puy Navarro Pro-TrackPuy’s first screenplay, Life Is a Dream, was a finalist at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.
Emma Barrett Pro-Track
Jonathan Lapoma Write Your Screenplay
Two of Jonathan’s feature-length screenplays won the two highest honors possible in the 2015 Las Vegas Screenplay Contest.
– STUDENT INTERVIEW –
LAURA GOMEZ Write Your Screenplay
Writer/Actor Laura Gomez wins Best Student Film Award from NYU & books recurring role on Orange is the The Black!
Karl Jacob Write Your ScreenplayKarl Jacob’s film Pollywogs had its NYC Premiere at the Big Apple Film Festival.
Sandy Garfunkel Masterclass
Sujay Pande MasterclassSujay won the 2013 Royal Reel Award from the Canada International Film Festival Screenplay Competition.
Ciara Lacy Pro-Track
– STUDENT INTERVIEW –
ADRIAN MANZANO Meditative Writing
Adrian’s award-winning film Sex, Love & Salsa had its official release.
AM: The film is about a salsa-dancing womanizer who gets a taste of his own medicine. It’s loosely based on my own experiences dating in NYC in my 20’s. I basically took my worst, most embarrassing experiences and character flaws and put them into a dramatic story with lots of salsa dancing and music. JK: And what was your process like as a writer? AM: It came together very quickly when was home alone, heart-broken from a recent break up. I wanted to watch Annie Hall, but couldn’t find it, so I found Manhattan instead. And then that night I started writing the story with the idea of making a New York film inspired by Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese… but on the Latino tip. The three women were inspired by women I had dated, and some were amalgamated composites of women. Once I had the characters defined I, often let them just talk to me. Character dialogue is one of my strengths in writing. Structure is not. So the three women are for the most part three separate narratives and only intertwine at the very end. I’m very much a great believer in “good artists copy, great artists steal.” So I “stole” some structure from films such as Manhattan and Saturday Night Fever. JK: What was it like acting in and directing your own screenplay? AM: I’m not an actor by profession. I’ve done years of theatre in high school and college and even won a few awards. But it was always a hobby. When it came time to cast the lead, the actor I had in mind was in LA. And paying his flight for a three week shoot was not possible. My producer convinced me that since it was already so personal in nature, that acting in it would be interesting. Unfortunately I took her advice, and I now found myself performing the most embarrassing, gut wrenching anti-hero… despicable. I even had to be naked for a sex scene. But on the positive side, she was right. I didn’t have to do much other than be myself and be truthful in the moment. Also by being the actor. I was able to rewrite my scenes in the moment. But this in large part I owe to my amazing cast. I got mostly New York theatre actors to join the film. Gabi Ruiz, our lead, was working on the Tony Award-Winning musical In The Heights. So she brought a professional work ethic to the character and she was delighted to be working in film for the first time. In fact all the actors were eager to work on a character driven screenplay with some meaty moments. Every character showed vulnerabilities and had moments to shine. And shine they did, delivering magical performances. As a former actor I know the director types who over direct. I’ve been one. So this time I was extremely hands-off, and just let them fly. I agree 100 percent with the Robert Altman quote that most of directing is in the script and casting. The writing and the acting. That’s the 20% that will give you 80% of your results. The camera, that’s all details. People don’t go to the movies to look at dolly moves. Sorry DP.
We shot it as a mocumentary so many scenes were hand held or POV style. giving it a very real sense. And as the film progressed we played with it, breaking the 4th wall and heightening emotions with color correction. In one scene with Susan Quinn playing Ingrid, she asks me to help have a baby. We shot that POV style, with no crew, just two actors half naked in a bed with a camera. That’s it! I don’t know if anyone has ever done anything like this before but it brought a level of realism and
intimacy to the scene that energized me to keep going. And it was moments like these where we improvised off the script that really led to the magic. The budget was embarrassingly low. No one got paid. And we never paid for a location. We stole every night club, shooting incognito with the hacked GH1 lumix camera and the 20mm 1.7F lens that let us get close and wide in low light situations and have automatic focus… which
wasn’t the best decision in retrospect. Live and learn. So for one year we shot nights and weekends. Saved up money, shot, worked, etc. 2 years of post, also doing most of the editing myself and then getting Patrick Morris to help me with dialogue scenes when I had lost all perspective. I edited most of the musical scenes. I’m a musician at heart… JK: What mistakes did you make? And what advice would you give to other writers who wish to produce their own work. AM: I overdid it with the hand held. I should have studied Paranormal Activity, because they have taken that style to great lengths. I admire those guys. But I’m not a horror fan so I can
barely sit through them. But I could have “cheated” more and made it less realistic and more easier to watch… Hire a DP. My producer was a DP because I couldn’t pay anyone. But now I know a
bunch of DPs that would have done it for credit. I just need it. Acting. I get mixed feelings about this. I know the film would be totally different with another actor. But I also know that I gave a very personal performance for what was a personal story, and it shows. But its hard to watch myself, all my ticks and facial expressions, for 90 minutes… I’m actually quite shy and self-conscious. But the response has been good… I actually won an award for best actor at the Reel Independent film festival. Advice. Write write write and write some more. And then shoot a short. I like the fast method of being a filmmaker, which is, make 10 short films in year. Make them fast. Short and
cheap, and the best one is your voice. Sometimes I wish I did that. It’s so cheap to make films now. There really is no excuse. You live in NYC or LA, there is so much talent here. You just need to hustle and hustle some more. It’s work. But luckily it’s not a lot money. For the price of a used Hyundai, you can make an award-winning feature film. I know because I did.
Hector Carosso Pro-Track
Charley Scalies Pro-Track
Claire Ince ProLab
Jay Stern ProLab
– STUDENT INTERVIEW –
MICHAEL WOLFE Write Your Screenplay
Michael’s first feature, Maybe Tomorrow, wins over 7 Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor & Best Screenplay at Golden Door Film Festival.
Talie Melnyk Write Your Screenplay
Larry Hassman Write Your Screenplay
Fritz Donnelly ProLab
Alexandra Eaton Write Your Screenplay
– STUDENT INTERVIEW –
MARCO AGUILAR Masterclass
Marco created the film project, Zombie Parkour. The film has received over 3 million YouTube hits and counting!
Matthew James Thompson Pro-Track
Martin Chavez Write Your Screenplay
Samantha Marine Master Class
Matthew James Thompson Pro-Track
– STUDENT INTERVIEW –
JT Arbogast Write Your Screenplay
JT wrote, directed, and starred in the feature film Angel’s Perch, starring Joyce Van Patten (Grown Ups).
Jacob Krueger interviewed JT about Angel’s Perch. Here is the transcript of that interview:
JK: How did the idea for the film come about?JT: The inspiration for the film came from my roots in West Virginia and my grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. My family is from a very small lumber town turned State Park in Pocahontas County named Cass. 50 years ago, after the lumber mill shut down and the industry left, my grandfather and a small group of locals worked their tails off to convince the state bring Cass Scenic Railroad State Park to life. They believed this little town and this little community was something special… something that should be shared with the world. I spent much of my life trying to figure out a way to carry on that legacy and, after my grandmother’s passing with Alzheimer’s, I knew I had found my inspiration. Watching my family struggle with the difficult challenges and decisions that come when faced with this disease, I started to see a way to both carry on that legacy and write a story that might address Alzheimer’s in a way that we don’t normally see on screen.
JK: What was the writing process like for you? What were your biggest challenges? Were there things you learned that were helpful in overcoming them?JT: This story wouldn’t let me go and I knew I wanted to write it…but, I honestly had no idea where to even begin. I was living in New York at the time and started searching around for a class. I had read books but, ultimately, there is something about a class experience that is so much more fulfilling than any instructional book could every be. And something about Jake’s class caught my eye…it wasn’t about an end game, it was about the process. The class kept me on a weekly schedule that helped me get into the routine of writing. It’s just like going to the gym…you may not want to do it sometimes, but you have to exercise the muscles every day. There were lots of exercises that I took from class that helped me get “unstuck” when I came to a crossroads. But, honestly, the biggest takeaways for me were: 1. Turn off the editor side of my brain and just write – It can feel impossible, but it is essential to actually being able to write. 2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint…don’t set yourself up to fail – Writing a little each day is much easier than writing everything all at once. Sitting down and saying, “I’m going to write for 4 hours today,” for me, was just asking for failure. Sitting down and saying, “I’m going to write 4 pages,” or “I’m going to write for 20 minutes,” was much more manageable. If I wrote more, awesome…but, if not, that was okay too. If you set the bar too high, you could find yourself easily discouraged. 3. Seven act structure – I appreciated Jake’s approach to form and breaking down the script further than the traditional 3 act structure. Again, it makes the script and story much more manageable and, ultimately, allows you to focus on characters and story rather than getting lost in 45 – 60 pages of a “second act.”
JK: How did you go about producing your own work?JT: Both my wife and I are actors, first and foremost. As an actor in this business, you can spend a lot of time waiting by the phone for someone to call you and say you get to do the thing you want to do. And, even then, it’s often brief. This was really about taking control of the career and telling a story that we wanted to tell. we had both produced theatre in the past, but this was our first foray into filmmaking. Prior to moving to L.A., I spent six years in New York working as the Associate Director of the National Comedy Theatre and also produced a successful run of the musical Love Jerry at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. My wife was working as the Director of Operations at a Haitian non-profit and had also produced a play that she wrote (touring New York, Los Angeles and Florida). Had we known what we were getting into when we decided to produce a film, I don’t know that we would’ve done it…then again, that’s life, isn’t it. We read as many books, case studies, interviews as we could and surrounded ourselves with a team of people who knew the things that we didn’t know. And we were never afraid to ask questions.
JK: How did you arrange financing and distribution?JT: Our project began with a very successful Kickstarter campaign in early 2011. After that, we initially were headed down the traditional route of finding investors but found that, in the current economy, getting people to invest in an independent film with no stars attached was going to be extremely difficult. Even though we had a cause and a subject that folks would rally behind, independent film is an inherently risky proposition and we just weren’t able to connect the dots. We had reached out pretty early to the Alzheimer’s Association, West Virginia Chapter because it was important for me, as a writer, to ensure that we were giving an accurate depiction of the disease. As the partnership grew, we realized that there may be something in working with them on multiple levels. They came on board as our fiscal agents, which allowed us to apply for grants, sponsorship and take donations to raise the money needed to make it happen. Though we didn’t get all the way there, this provided us with a significant portion of our budget. Partnerships with other local WV organizations like the NRAO, Snowshoe Ski Resort and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau helped us slash our costs in housing and equipment and tax incentives through the WV Film Office helped us to pay for post production and distribution. In terms of our approach to distribution, we initially imagined going to festival route to drum up interest and press but, as we looked at the landscape of what is currently being programmed at festivals, we realized pretty quickly that we were not a great fit. The great thing about being a filmmaker right now are the tools that are developing that allow us to get our film to an audience. Through our partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and a fan base that we’ve been developing for the last 3 years working on this product, we’re utilizing a new service called Tugg that empowers our audience to bring the film to their town! People can go on our website and request a screening. They become the promoter and, through social networks and word of mouth, gather an audience to come to a one night only event. We provide them with posters, postcards, social images, press releases and whatever else they might need and work with them to ensure the success of the screening. So, really, we are crowdsourcing our theatrical distribution which is incredible. We’ve had about 25 screenings so far, over half of them sold out, and we’ve got another 25+ on the books with more rolling in each week. Beyond that, we aim to leverage the success of the screening series into a T.V./VOD deal.
JK: What advice do you have for other writers hoping to produce their own work?JT: So many things! It all starts with the script…do not move forward until the you feel great about it. Build a team of people who believe 100% that the project you are working on MUST HAPPEN! You are going to spend so much time and energy on this thing that there is no time for someone who isn’t on board. Identify your audience and get them involved early. Obviously we built a following through Kickstarter but, beyond that, we’ve been talking to and building our audience from the very beginning of this project…and we got very specific about who that was so that we could target them early. It will be all the more important when you are finishing the project. Constantly be thinking outside the box. Every day we were asking ourselves, “What if we tried this?” Take great joy in the small successes, there will be times that it feels you aren’t moving the ball forward at all and you need to remember those moments. Much like Jake’s approach to screenwriting, breaking the project down into attainable tasks will help get it done, bit by bit.
Heidi Nunnally Write Your Screenplay
Isaac Woofter ProTrack
Karin Partin TV Comedy Master Class
George Petersen Meditative Writing
Bill Gullo Write Your Screenplay
Angela Page TV Comedy Workshop
Carolyn Keating Meditative Writing
Los Silva Write Your Screenplay
Laura Gómez Write Your Screenplay
Raymond Alvin Write Your Screenplay
Raymond’s short film, Sid’s New Glasses, premiered in 2015.
Sheila Robinson Write Your Screenplay
Gina Angelone Seminar
Cafe Antoinette is about an independent, intelligent woman, and her journey through the mine fields of modern marriage, autonomy, and desire. It’s about the narratives that go on in our heads (some reliable, some not) and how every choice we make defines us for better or worse.
To learn more, check our Gina’s website.