Posts Tagged ‘Queen of Cactus Cove’

The Queen Lives On…

July 14, 2011

The Palo Alto International Film Festival (PAIFF) has invited QUEEN OF CACTUS COVE to screen. The festival focuses on the convergence of art and technology in film and will take place September 29 – October 2, 2011. The programming team thinks QoCC would be perfect in their Digital Natives Youth Program.

We haven’t officially submitted the film to a fest in three years, but our producer, Brenda, still gets copy requests from around the world, including from fans in Indonesia, Africa, and Australia!

It’s quite wonderful to be reminded of how special this little film is, especially as I’m busting ass trying to make another film that I know can be just as special. I’m still so proud of QoCC and appreciate this reminder from the universe that I got some good movies in me.



Write, Visit, Judge

August 10, 2010

I’m currently on a week long post hiatus which couldn’t be happening at a better time!  First of all, I welcome the break to do real-life things — hello dry cleaners!  Hey there, dying herb plants! What’s up brown bananas and empty fridge (save for the nail polish which keeps better in the cold)?!?

Also, I have amazing friends visiting: Danielle Ongart and her boyfriend, Drew.  Danielle was my first awesome producer, the other parent to my Northwestern “thesis” film SOCK IT TO ME.  Without that film, I wouldn’t have been admitted to AFI, and without Danielle, that film wouldn’t have existed.  She is one of the most inspiring people I know – so hardworking, hilarious, fierecely devoted to those she loves and, above all else, Danielle has always known who she is. I love being around her because her sense of self and comfort in her own skin make me feel the same way.

On top of Danielle’s visit, I’m back in writing mode. I’m drafting the first pass on the script(s) for the brand-sponsored lactose-free milk cooking show that I’ll direct in the winter, AND I’m doing the first steps on two new feature ideas.  This is the most nebulous (aka scary) time in the story development for the scripts.  It’s also the most exciting and daunting — the plot possibilities are infinite.  The first step is defining the foundation – what do I want to say in these stories! What are the themes!  From there, we can make plot and story decisions that reenforce and dramatize the themes.

Lastly, I’m a juror for the Angelus Student Film Festival! A few years ago, QUEEN OF CACTUS COVE won one of the top prizes at this festival. Ever since, I’ve remained a fan and friend of Angelus. This year, the fest celebrates its 15th birthday, and I’m honored to be on the jury. I’ve been watching the live-action finalists’ films and will join the rest of the jurors on Wednesday afternoon to discuss and deliberate. Just like when I was a juror for Heartland Film Festival, I’m really enjoying watching the shorts with a sharp eye. It makes me think of my own work – how I can improve, what I can learn from these up-and-coming talents, and (on the flipside), what I’m doing (and have done) right with my work.

Bay Area Screening of QUEEN OF CACTUS COVE

April 9, 2010

Bay Area Peeps!

My film QUEEN OF CACTUS COVE is screening tomorrow at 2:30 PM in the Shorts Program at the Windrider Bay Area Forum.  The screening, filmmaker Q&A and reception will be held at the Center for Performing Arts at the Menlo-Atherton High School. I will be there!

In my program is SHORT TERM 12, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. I’m eager to take in this film because I’ve been hearing about it for so long… even before it made a splash at Sundance and made the semi-finalist Oscar’s list.  It’s gonna be a great program so if you’re in the area, scurry your booty on over! You’ll even get to meet my mom and dad who will be there too!

Queeney Weekend

April 9, 2010

In preparation for its first Bay Area forum, the Windrider Planning Committee screened many of the shorts that have been included in previous forums. They loved QUEEN OF CACTUS COVE all over again and invited me as a guest to participate in the three day festival!  I’m so excited to be involved… and to watch QoCC on a huge screen in HD. Haven’t done that more than once and that was four years ago.

About the Forum:

The Windrider Film Forum Bay Area is a unique, three day film festival experience heralding the voice and impact of the independent filmmaker, by creating an interactive atmosphere between filmmakers and film-goers. Windrider Film Forum is showcasing award-winning feature and short length films, over the three day program and inviting filmmakers of these films to host lively Q & A sessions after each screening.

Spawned from the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, John and Ed Priddy of the Priddy Brothers Production Company, Fuller Seminary, and the Angelus Student Film Festival, co-developed the concept of Windrider, as a forum for students and teachers interested in the intersection of film, culture and conversation.

QUEEN OF CACTUS COVE came into the Windrider fold when it won the Priddy Brothers award at the Angelus Student Film festival. QoCC then screened at the Windrider Forum at Sundance — such a fun trip, bonded there with my fellow AFI director and Angelus winner, Barbara Stepansky.

Besides being an honor, the award was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with John and Ed Priddy. The Priddy Brothers have been unwavering with their support of my work and belief in my talent.  As fellow filmmakers, I’ve sought their advice and excellent mentorship with APPOINTMENT IN VANCOUVER. They too produced a sports documentary: PURPLE STATE OF MIND.  It’ll be good to see them this weekend.

Friday night we’ve got a filmmaker dinner and then we’ll head off to the screening of Mark Ruffalo’s SYMPAHTY FOR DELICIOUS,* his feature film directorial debut which won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Mr. Ruffalo and the film’s writer/actor Christopher Thornton will be there for a Q&A afterwards… hopefully they’ll stick around and go to the filmmaker after-party too!

On Saturday, they’ll screen the shorts in the afternoon (an excellent, three-film program even if you don’t dig on QoCC). We’ll do a Q&A (which I love), meet fans/filmgoers of the Forum and refresh ourselves at the “Reception with Filmmakers.” Then we head into THE ANSWER MAN (Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham, followed by a Q&A with writer John Hindman. Lots of movies and lots of fun.

The icing on the cake:

Film-wise – they are doing a sound and picture tech check on Saturday afternoon. YES! So rarely does this happen for shorts.  It makes me so much more confident that the film will play at it’s best.

Person-wise – my brother lives in San Francisco! I’ll be staying with him, and my parents drive in from Reno on Saturday. They’ll all be there supporting me, and we’ll all get to watch QoCC together in premium condition… I don’t know if we’ve ever done that as a family before.

Plus, my college roommate Kara (did her wedding video) lives nearby, so we’ll get to visit.

I’m staying until Monday night to take advantage of the  rarity of all four Christophers being in the same city.

*Acclaimed actor Mark Ruffalo makes his feature film directorial debut and co-stars in SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS alongside the main character and screenwriter of the film, Christopher Thornton. The all-star cast also includes Orlando Bloom, Juliette Lewis, Noah Emmerich, James Karen, John Caroll Lynch, Robert Widsom and Laura Linney.

SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS, which won the Special Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is an edgy rock-and-roll drama that creatively embraces many of life’s issues; the lasting effects of tragedy, the search for meaning and the ultimate power of redemption. But the message the audience will truly walk away with is that “You get the healing that you need, not the healing that you want.”

The Queen Lives

February 26, 2010

My AFI thesis film, QUEEN OF CACTUS COVE, was made five years ago, yet it continues to be invited to festivals and screenings. I love this because I love that film, the people who made it with me, the experience of making it, the messages in the film, and the final product. Lots of love.

The latest love is coming from our dear friends at the Windrider Institute. They have planned an inaugural Windrider Forum event in the Bay Area for April. Their planning team selected four shorts to showcase in the Forum’s Shorts Program. QOCC was one of their picks!  They’ve invited me to attend the weekend of screenings, the Short Program featuring QOCC, filmmakers Q&A, and Filmmaker Reception.

SCREENING DEETS: QOCC will screen on Saturday, April 10, 2:30 PM. The event will be held at the Center for Performing Arts at the Menlo-Atherton High School.

I hope I can attend the event because I’m a big fan of The Priddy Brothers and Angelus Student Film Festival, who collectively created the Windrider Institute in 2003.

I met them all in 2006 when QOCC won the Priddy Brothers’ award from Angelus Festival. The Priddy’s and Angelus then invited me and the film to their Sundance Film Festival Windrider event, where I had the opportunity to participate in the Forum and enjoy the Sundance Film Festival. Since then, the Priddys and Angelus continue to be big supporters of mine just as I am a big fan of theirs.

On the Horizon

July 27, 2009

I’ve been working for a year on a movie that IF in a few weeks all goes as it looks like it wants to go, I’ll be officially writing the project full time.  Yes. Please knock on wood, kiss the rabbit’s foot, say a prayer to whoever you want on my behalf.

I haven’t felt so passionate about a project since QUEEN OF CACTUS COVE. Indeed, I think I feel more passion for this project than QOCC. I want to fully explain this – why I feel this why, why the project is special, how it’s going to be unforgettable, what is known on the horizon and what the potential is of the unknown but…

Until the papers are signed, I don’t want to say more.

Instead, I’ll share some inspiration I found this week.  The following article was sent to me by a colleague.  Considering the vast, challenging and magical “writing a new screenplay” ocean that I’m about to (hopefully) jump into, I thought the timing of this article’s appearance in my Inbox was too perfect.

Words, Camera, Action!

Without the Art of Screenwriting, Hollywood’s Greatest Movies Would Not Have Been Great

By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 12, 2009

On the surface, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “The Hurt Locker” might deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. They’re both explosive action thrillers hitting screens this summer. Both feature young men on a physically grueling quest in the desert, and both even feature robots as their heroes’ unlikely aides-de-camp.

But viewers who happen to see both films will no doubt feel and think radically different things upon leaving the theater. In the case of “Transformers,” directed by Michael Bay, they’re likely to feel pummeled and punched by the movie’s loud, relentless action, not to mention confused by what all the sound and fury was about. Something to do with an ancient robot race extinguishing the sun by way of a sharp metallic dingus in an Egyptian pyramid? Whatever, let’s go grab a Super Gulp and play Grand Theft Auto.

Upon seeing Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker,” the audience is more likely to leave in a rattled but also reflective state, eager to talk about what they just saw. The story of an elite bomb squad in Iraq that follows a reckless soldier (Jeremy Renner) as he walks the fine line between bravery and hubris, the film is a powerfully immersive experience, at once a classic rock-’em, sock-’em war movie and a fascinatingly contradictory profile in courage.

Conventional wisdom would lay the difference at the feet of the films’ directors. Bay (“The Rock,” “Armageddon”) and Bigelow (“Near Dark,” “Point Break”) are each well known for delivering high-octane genre pictures, albeit with profoundly divergent approaches. Clearly each film reflects its director’s distinct visual sensibility and aesthetic judgment. But in both cases the essence of what the movie is — a big, dumb, incoherent car wreck on the one hand and a taut, visceral work of art on the other — can be traced to its founding document: the screenplay. (more…)

Jury Member for Heartland Film Festival

June 3, 2009

I’m a Crystal Heart Award jury member for this year’s Heartland Film Festival!

A few years ago, my film Queen of Cactus Cove screened at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis (see pics below).  I loved this fest because they treat their filmmakers like stars, generate major media exposure (I did a TV and radio interview while there!) and throw a black-tie awards gala with 2500 guests at which I accepted a gorgeous award for Queen from Judy Stewart (James Stewart’s daughter) in front of the huge crowd and on two jumbotrons.  Just thinking about it makes me nervous all over again.  

Heartland stands out in my mind as one of the few fests that spawned  lasting, wonderful friendships.  It was there that I bonded with Frank Kelly.  Our films played in the same HFF program!  Now Frank is spearheading the 140 project which I’m participating in later this month.  It’s also because of Heartland that I met the hilarious guys behind A Man Named Pearl and my favorite tea connoisseur Joel Nassan.

Tonight I’m having dinner with the other LA jury members and Jeff Sparks, the director of the Heartland Film Festival who invited me to join the jury.  Heartland hugs are required.

Alia Shawkat in the LA Times

April 5, 2009

Alia and I rehearsing in the empty pool set.Tony Shawkat, Alia Shawkat‘s dad, just sent me a clip (see below) from the April 2 LA Times in which Alia is profiled for the release of her new film Bart Got a Room. Of course, I could have kept up on one of my favorite young actresses by finding the article myself, but it makes me feel all warm ‘n fuzzy inside to be sent the piece directly from her Pops.  Like I’m a distant aunt or something.  It’s partly “Production Syndrome”  — no matter how big or small a project is, making a film together bonds people.  Together you survive/love the crazy uphill battle/joy of making a film.**

In this case, Alia had the lead role in my AFI thesis film, Queen of Cactus Cove, which meant we spent a lot of time together. And by ‘we,’ I also mean our families.  Both of us have parents who, without being overbearing, insist on being supportive of us.  On Queen, this translated to both our parents bonding ‘rents-style on set.  

Alia and the Mustang... and a giant camera.Alia and I bonded through rehearsals, six days of production, reshoots, ADR, her being a teenage girl/me fairly recently being a teenage girl, AND driving lessons.  Let me explain.   She didn’t know how to drive (she turned 16 on set), but we needed her to drive for a few feet for one shot; suddenly Alia and I are sharing a moment that is usually between parent and kid but now it’s me in torn-up jeans and cowboy hat in director-mode teaching her as ‘Billie’ to drive a powder blue ’60s Mustang.  I cannot wait until the next opportunity to work with the witty, extremely talented and really-good-driver Alia Shawkat.

**It’s never downhill… no matter how smooth the production or how much it looks like it is — those are just the results of when it’s uphill but everyone’s doing their job and enjoying the process.

April 2, 2009 LA Times talks to Alia Shawkat for ‘Bart Got a Room.’

“The Break Up” Selected by the Florida Film Festival

February 24, 2009

‘The Break Up is one of the 26 films chosen for the American Independent Competition from over 500 submitted in that category to the top rated* Florida Film Festival (March 27- April 5, 2009). This will be my second time screening a film at the notable festival.**

The Break Up was commissioned for the launch of Quarterlife’s social networking site in the fall of 2007. FFF is the fourth big name festival to select our super low-fi, $500 budget, made-with-a- crew-of-six-in-two-days movie. Amazing how a little movie about a jerk trying to dump his girlfriend with one leg can have such a long run. PUN INTENDED.

* According to Chris Gore in The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide; it’s also an official Academy Award qualifier for the short film category. Of over 1,950 festivals worldwide, only 47 share this distinction.

** Queen of Cactus Cove shook up the fest’s mangroves in 2006. Dominique and I attended. And sweated. Florida is hot even in March.

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