Thursday, March 28, 2013


Daniel Sollinger is a graduate of New York University's Film School, and the Producer of more than 350 commercials, music videos, and short films for clients including Pepsi, Warner Brothers Records, CBS, Sony, and Comedy Central. His work has won awards from New York University, The American Film Institute, The Accolade Awards and the American Motion Picture Society.

After working on numerous rap videos for artists such as Will Smith, LL Cool J, and A Tribe Called Quest, Daniel teamed up with Oscar and Emmy nominated director, Peter Spirer on "Rhyme & Reason," a feature film documentary on hip-hop culture. It was distributed by Miramax Films and played in 280 theaters nationwide, garnering $1.6 million at the Domestic Box office and a certified gold soundtrack. Later that year, Hollywood Reporter listed it as one of the year's top 15 most profitable films of the year.

Daniel also served as an Executive Producer on the feature film, "Six Ways to Sunday" directed by Adam Bernstein and starring Adrian Brody, Deborah Harry, and Isaac Hayes. It was released theatrically by Stratosphere Entertainment, and is now available in video stores.

Also available is the feature film, "Love Goggles" which Daniel produced and which won the Jury Prize at the Hollywood Black Film Festival. Daniel's other feature credits include being the sole producer on "God's Forgotten House" starring N'Bushe Wright, "Age of Kali" starring Taylor Nichols and directed by Rafal Zelinsky, "The God's of Circumstance" starring John Schneider and the upcoming "LA Slasher" starring Mischa Barton, Eric Roberts, and Danny Trejo.

Daniel's line producing credits include the recently released, "Without Men" starring Eva Longoria, "Day Zero" starring Elijah Wood, Chris Klein, and Ginnifer Goodwin, "The Alphabet Killer" with Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, and Timothy Hutton, as well as Toronto Film Festival selection, "Day on Fire" starring Olympia Dukakis and Martin Donovan, directed by Jay Anania. He also recently line produced the thriller, "In My Sleep" directed by Allen Wolf and "Downtown: A Street Tale" starring three time Oscar nominee Genevieveve Bujold and Oscar nominee John Savage.




What is the current project you are working?

I just wrapped a movie called, "LA Slasher," with Mischa Barton, Dave Bautista, Brooke Hogan, Eric Roberts and Danny Trejo.  I am also prepping a movie called, "Baden" which we should be shooting this winter with director Jordan Barker.

What was it like working with Austin Chick?

Austin is one of the most talented directors I have ever worked with.  He is very focused and has a clear and compelling vision.  He is tireless in his pursuit of excellence.  He is awesome.

What is your opinion on crowdfunding?

I would say crowdfunding is the future if it wasn't already the past and the present.  It is not for every project, but it can be used in a lot of interesting ways.  I have seen movies entirely financed through crowdfunding, but I have also seen crowdfunding used only for post production or promotion.  I am attached to a movie called "Lesson From Violet" where we are crowdfunding the development money, but will be using more conventional financing for the actual production.  I think that is smart way to go, because it takes the risk out of development process.

Why do you think it's important to mentor the next generation of filmmakers?

I personally enjoy mentoring because I like to see and hear what is on the minds of the uninitiated.  The longer I work, the more I see problems instead of possibilities.  I have encountered too many things that went wrong and mentoring is a great way to keep it fresh.

What is the best way to make it in the film industry? 

Don't let anyone tell you you can't.  Never give up.  When I was in film school, there were a lot of other students with richer parents, more famous parents, or they were just more talented than I.   But in the end of the day, I am here making movies and many of them are not because I refuse to give up.

How do independent films differ from Hollywood films?

I wish I had more experience from the Studio side to tell you about that.  What I would say is that If Hollywood films follow the laws of gravity, independent films are like quantum mechanics.  Everything is different and weird compared to the way things are done at the studio level.

What is your favorite film of all time and why?

So many....  Off the top of my head Children of Paradise because I realized film was an art form.  Apocalypse Now because I realized film making can be grand.  Contact because I realized film can be deep and spiritual.

Would you consider working on more films in Massachusetts?

I shot a movie on Cape Cod years ago called, "April V."  I loved it.  I loved the people and I had a great time.  When I shot "The Putt Putt Syndrome" in Maine, we drew a lot of crew and equipment from Boston, and I was very satisfied.


Thanks for doing the interview Daniel. If you ever shoot a film in or around the Boston area, please let me know.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Author Andrea Portes

What is the current project you are working on?

Well, there's a couple, actually. My second novel, BURY THIS, is coming out this winter. Soft Skull press is publishing it. That's literary fiction, like HICK.
Soft Skull is nice and dark. That's why we like each other.
Then, there are two comic book series I created and wrote, called SUPER RAD and UNTRUE GRIT, that are being published this fall by Dark Matter.

So, those are all done, actually.

The book I'm editing right now is actually a Young Adult novel, called STUPIDFACES, which my agent Katie Shea, at Donald Maass Literary Agency, will be in charge of getting up and running. She's great. I really like her.

Would you want your next book to be turned into a film?

Sure. However, that's all up to Josie Freedman, at ICM. She is my book-to-film agent and she's amazing.

Why did you allow your book to be made into a movie?

Ha! I think most novelists would "allow" their books to be made into movies.

How involved were you in the production of the film?

I was there, watching Derick work his magic.

It was exciting being on set, of course, and incredibly grateful.

What was it like working with Derick Martini?

He's great. Just really smart and witty.

He's absolutely obsessed with the performances and I think that shows.

What do you say to the critics that say that scenes in the film adaptation of your book "Hick" exploit the underage actress?

I'd say they don't know what it's like to be a 13-year-old girl.

What inspired you to become a  writer?

I can't remember any moment when I proclaimed, "I'm a writer!" I was always writing, as long as I remember. Most of my 5-year-old stuff was pretty bleak. All about how the Russians were going to kill us...

 What is the best thing about being a  writer?

Imagining little worlds. Making up characters and then watching them come to life, do their own thing, surprise you.

For instance, in HICK, I remember sitting in front of the computer writing Luli's line, "Glenda, do you go to church?"

And I had a line worked out, but then all of the sudden Glenda said, "Church is for brunettes."

And I just laughed, and wrote it down.

I love Blake as Glenda, by the way. She really knocked it out of the park.

 What is the worst thing about being one?

It's a solitary activity. You have to go in your little cave and come out.
I do a lot of procrastinating before I go in.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

And live.
Get into trouble.

Are there things in the book that you wish made it into the movie version?

Absolutely. But, you know, the writer is just kind of a bastard step-child.
That's just the nature of the business.

What do you like to do besides writing?

My favorite thing to do is to make my baby boy, Wyatt, giggle. It's bliss.

 Who is your favorite author?

Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates

 What are some of your favorite books?

BLONDE is my favorite book of all time. I keep it by my bedside.


SULA, Toni Morrison.

THE PAINTED BIRD, Jerzy Kosinski


 How would you describe the writing "scene" where you live?

We keep in touch. Usually through social media.
Writer's are a funny breed, so when we are together, in human form, say at a reading or a conference, it's usually comforting to meet the other writers.
We tend to find each other and bond over whatever is happening.

 Did you ever run away from home like the character  Luli?

Not really. I think I ran away for a day once.

 How has social media changed the publishing industry?

I think I'm gonna plead the 5th on that one.

What is your thought process like when you're writing?

I just try to get quiet and listen.

 You could have any super power. What would it be?

Reading minds.

What is your first love?

My son, Wyatt. Then, my writing.

Everything else is kind of just noise...

What do you think about the cult following of HICK?

I absolutely love it. I do. And I, especially, love that people are getting to see the incredible performances of Chloe, Eddie and Blake.

I just love their acting in HICK. And I'm fond of them, too, as people. They're good eggs.
I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see things like Eddie on the cover of W, or Chloe, or Blake.  I'm just excited for them and giddy for the world to see the amazing talent there.

The cult following is just the best. I love interacting with the fans on twitter and tumblr.
The kids really get the movie. They just do.

For instance, that feeling, the feeling of being simultaneously attracted and repulsed by Eddie Redmayne as Eddie... that is what you are supposed to feel. Why? Because that's how Luli feels. And the film is from the POV of Luli. The kids get that. Especially the girls.
And that makes me very happy.


It was a pleasure to interview you Andrea.  I will be on the look out for "BURY THIS", "STUPIDFACES",  "SUPER RAD" and "UNTRUE GRIT".

Readers can learn more about Andrea and her work from the links below: Andrea's IMDB Andrea's Twitter

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Filmmaker Ted Fisher

What is the current project you are working on?
We are right at the beginning of a feature-length documentary on the life of Jason Escape, an escape artist living in Boston.  We previously made a 15-minute film about him, which is now screening at film festivals. Based on the warm reception that film received, we've decided to look deeper into the many fascinating aspects of Jason's life, including the challenge of being both a street performer and a family man.

We think the title will be "Escape/Artist" -- based on that duality of work/life, and street performer/artist, that we see in his experience of the world.

Why is the documentary being shot in three different cities?

In Jason's show, he says "Ladies and gentleman, my name's Jason Escape. I travel around the world doing this show …" So it made sense to us to go along with him on that journey, as much as possible.

Boston is Jason's home, and we need to show him there. He has an amazing life-work balance, performing not that far from where he lives. But as with most performers, going on the road is a challenge. Beyond just being away from his wife and child, Jason's type of performing also requires gaining the attention of an audience he encounters on the street. That's incredibly tough in the context of a performance fair in a far-off city.

He's performing in San Diego, a city that contrasts greatly with Boston, so we want to make sure we film him there. Then in Boston, on home ground. Then, we hope, we'll go along with him for one additional road trip. We think this will give us a chance to see all aspects of his life, and to see both what he does and how he sees the world.

Why did you choose Jason Escape as the subject of your documentary?

[caption id="attachment_2985" align="alignleft" width="199"] Jason Escape[/caption]

Jason's positivity is a key reason we're making this film. The first short documentary revealed a theme of facing a challenge and overcoming it. In a way, that's what an Escape Artist does. But we were amazed to see how this connected directly to Jason's view of the world -- positive effort overcoming the negatives in life.

Also, after we finished the first doc, Jason got married, and now we get to meet Baby Escape, Jason's son. So we think the challenge of Jason's intense career meeting his new family life is something everyone will relate to -- and we think it will make a compelling story.

What is it like working with your spouse?

Well, just like Jason, we face the challenge of balancing life and work. Karen is finishing her Ph.D. in the History of Photography, so that balance includes work, school, and everything else -- in a moment of change. Adding the creation of a documentary into the mix is a crazy idea, but our collaboration on the first documentary showed we can make it work.

[caption id="attachment_2988" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Karen and Ted[/caption]

In a way, documentary production is often the effort of small teams -- and lately we've discovered that many married teams thrive in the field. If you are going to be stuck working closely with someone, often working for a long time without visible reward, maybe that shared sacrifice works well with couples.

Why do you think your crowdfunding campaign was successful?

Well, we watch a lot of documentaries. So we know there are all sorts of different approaches that can be very appealing -- a film might connect to an important social issue, or it might present a great mystery, or it might be very funny. Almost always, though, introducing an amazing character is key. And that's the strength of our project at this point. Jason is a fascinating guy, what he does is amazing, and the idea of balancing work and family is something most people can relate to. So we think that people clicked with the project once they met our main character -- they want to know more about his life, and they want to go along on his journey.

Beyond that, however, we felt we gave really enjoyable and valuable rewards -- and in a timely manner. For example, many people supporting our film will get the new film as a download -- but that's obviously a long wait. So we made sure that our backers would get to see our original 15-minute documentary, and that we'll be delivering that quickly. We think that's going to give our backers a chance to really engage with our project -- they can watch the original film and really have a sense of where we are going with the feature.

Why do some campaigns fail?

We don't see ourselves as crowdfunding experts -- we have a lot to learn. But we have looked at a lot of projects, and have backed some. The positive experience we've had has been the feeling of getting involved with a project, and making a connection to the filmmakers. So those projects which had every reward off in the distant future, or priced out of our reach, just made it hard for us to be supportive fans. You can buy a DVD or Blu-Ray or get a film on Video-On-Demand. Crowdfunding has to go a step further toward that personal connection. Let us peek behind the scenes, let us talk with you, open up the process. That's what can be given in independent production, and that's something fans (and other filmmakers) might support.

Who is your favorite up and coming independent filmmaker?

We were really impressed by Danfung Dennis and the way he adapted the tools of photojournalism into a filmmaking approach in "Hell and Back Again." That model may be the future of documentary production.

Do you know any magic tricks?

None. But there's a connection between performing magic and editing that goes back to the earliest days of film. Directing, or misdirecting, someone's attention works in the same way in both fields. So, whenever we hit an edit that actually surprises the audience, or provokes a laugh, or has an emotional hit -- that's a lot like pulling off a magic trick.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Because we both have a background in the arts -- fine art and art history -- we think that's going to be the direction for us. We've always been attracted to films that have some connection to art or performance. Sometimes, though, we've seen things where we thought the filmmakers oversimplified, or maybe even missed the point, or just didn't have the background to make the best film possible. So, that's what we hope to do -- bring our background in the arts along as a tool to help us make great films about the arts.


Thanks so much Ted for doing the interview.  I'll be following  "Escape Artist" as shooting progresses. I look forward to seeing the finished film.

Checkout the following links to stay updated on all things "Escape Artist" (as of this interview the campaign only has 63 hours left) (The documentary that started it all)