Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Filmmaker John Shackleton

 John co-wrote and Produced PANIC BUTTON and now WE ARE MONSTERS, which he will also direct. John has directed a number of short films and TV documentaries. Broadcasters include BBC1&2, ITV, Channel 4, Discovery, Sky One, Sky Sports, Extreme Sports Channel, S4C, MTV & CNBC. Short films include BALANCE, ONE OF THE CROWD, FIXED PENALTY, SLEEP TRACKS and GHOSTS OF ABERCWMBOI.

Follow @MovieMogulLtd to keep up with John's latest projects.

Why did you decide to create Movie Mogul Ltd?

I was a freelance producer/director in Cardiff when I hit upon the idea of creating a ‘community generated film fund’. This was before filmmaking had entered the crowd-sourcing arena in the early days of Sellaband. MM was set-up on the back of a Technium award to help pilot the idea. Movie Mogul Fund (MMF), garnered much press interest and support, but sadly failed to generate sufficient funds to take the winning film into production. This was a film called RETREAT, which later went into production on a much higher budget with Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton & Jamie Bell.

MMF’s commercial failure cost me personally and facing bankruptcy, I was forced to review the direction of my company. Re-aligning my own personal filmmaking career with the objectives of MM, and with the help of a modest injection of private equity, MM became a film production company. The business plan was simple – to make commercially oriented feature films for the lowest possible price point. Everything turned around with PANIC BUTTON.

How has the horror genre changed since you started your company?

The Horror genre is becoming increasingly hard to categorise. There are so many sub, sub-genres and widely differing takes on exactly what constitutes horror that just about anything within the low-budget realm with the odd scare, token reference, or splash of blood seems to qualify nowadays. This is a good thing, you only have to look at the diverse range of emerging films that Film4 Frightfest showcase each year to understand that horror is more a place where you can have fun and let your imagination run riot - without fear of too many reprisals!

What is the current project you are working on?

Our next film is a Sci-Fi / Action movie called WE ARE MONSTERS. It nods to many of the horror sub genres, such as vampires, werewolves, alien invasion, mutants, survivalist, but it is also a hearty rites of passage of tale with a pertinent hook, surrounding the difficult financial times in which we now find ourselves.

How did making "Panic Button" prepare you for making "We Are Monsters"?

Panic Button was always a very ambitious, concept-driven project. With the exception of making TV programmes and numerous short films, making PB was my first personal opportunity to test the theory behind filmmaking, and to see if I really did have a grasp over what it takes to make a commercially successful film.

It wasn’t a simple or straightforward process by any stretch, but as a company, myself and producer Gareth I Davies took great reassurance from the fact that the company knowledge and business approach wasn’t too far off the mark, and we chalked the rest up to experience. This gave us confidence as a company to remain concept driven and to keep punching hard above our weight, safe in the knowledge that provided we have the passion project – we can and will make great things happen.

Why do you think the crowdfunding goal for WAM was tripled?

I guess it was kind of inevitable that at some point MM should have a dabble in crowd-funding, now that it has become more established as a viable, alternative means of audience building and fundraising. The truth is that nobody knows or fully understands the mechanics of crowdfunding - who exactly is backing and why? So it’s very much a ‘spray and pray’ tactic that you must undertake, staying on your toes and reacting as you go, it’s hard work for sure.

We actually ran two campaigns – the first was very optimistic with a £100k target. Using the Kickstarter ‘all or nothing’ platform really added to the stress of the 60 day campaign, which closed at around £35k – meaning we received absolutely nothing, despite the masses of support and interest WE ARE MONSTERS garnered. The toughest aspect of this is that the project then carries an ‘unsuccessful’ stigma, which feels counter-productive to all PR efforts!

We rebooted with a sure-fire strategy for success, with a 30-day campaign and a £5k target – which we smashed within 24 hours. We raised a further £5k over the next 27 days, and the final £5k came in largely within the very exciting final 24hrs. We clearly lost the interest of several of our early backers, but 300% funded did wonders for the films image, not least company morale. It wasn’t just the people and project however, a lot of the campaign success  was attributable to the relentless efforts of our campaign/social media manager - Justin Tagg.

Why do some campaigns fail?

Most campaigns succeed when they can appeal directly to an existing fanbase, take Veronica Mars or the BBC Micro Elite video game reboot as prime examples. Most independent films seeking finance however, are new and (hopefully) original ideas, so they have to work a lot harder to convince people to take a punt of them.

Named cast and crew of course can help with this, but not always to huge effect. The old saying that people invest in people is proving to be very true, so filmmakers who cower behind glossy showreels are less likely to find crowdfunding success than those who really put themselves out there and try to infect others with their genuine passion for their project. This is counter-intuitive to many of us, who made a firm decision to stand BEHIND the camera (many with good reason) a long time ago. Unfortunately it’s all part of the process now, so this is no time to be shy!

How did Doug Jones and Maisie Williams become attached to the film?

We’ve taken a conventional approach to casting and have a wonderful agency in Jeremy Zimmermann’s, who love to embrace a bit of lateral thinking as we do. So both Doug Jones and Maisie Williams responded brilliantly to the screenplay and the key antagonist and protagonist roles respectively offered to them. We’re really thrilled to have them onboard, and we have more cast members shaping up now too. WE ARE MONSTERS is becoming a very exciting property!

What is the independent film industry like where you live?

There’s a thriving independent film scene going on in Cardiff right now, and people just seem to be going out there and getting on with it. A few years ago this wasn’t so much the case but the indie ‘get out there and do it’ ethos seems to be riding strong now. You only need to attend nights like Cardiff Mini Film Festival to see how popular the scene is.

Who are your favorite up and coming filmmakers?

Gareth Evans is a really exciting talent to watch, THE RAID just blew me away. In the US, Evan Glodell and the BELLFLOWER guys I find exciting too.

But there’s so much UK talent out there at the moment struggling to break out of their local film scenes that it’s difficult to point at anyone in particular, safe to say that we’re living in exciting times where more and more filmmakers can, and do come from nowhere and achieve a decent level of commercial success.

That’s mainly why we got the short film challenge ‘666 Short Cuts To Hell’ off the ground with Horror Channel and Frightfest. There’s £6,666 prize money up for grabs, Horror Channel, Frighfest and professional jury exposure and a mentorship with us here at Movie Mogul to be won.

Filmmaking competitions like these can be a real leveler that help so many people progress in their careers - not just the competition winners. We’re all very interested to see if this will introduce even more sub-genres to the world of horror too, mix things up and murky the waters that bit more!


Thanks for doing the interview John. I look forward to seeing WAM.  Let me know if WAM and the Movie Mogul crew ever come to Boston.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Actress Libby Pierson

[caption id="attachment_3068" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Libby Pierson-Photo by Clyde Blunt[/caption]

Libby has a real passion for writing and acting--for storytelling in general.  Love of the craft bought her to Los Angeles to attend The American Musical and Dramatic Academy.  Her mantra has always been that hard work and persistence pay dividends in time.

Her other interests include fashion, modeling, reading, French New Wave cinema, supporting independent movie theaters, and walking.

Click on the links below to find out more about Libby:

What is the current project you are working on?

I'm working on a short script that I'm adapting from a Chekhov play. Also, I just worked on a Cold War Kids music video for the song "Miracle Mile" which should be coming out in the next month or so.

How do you define success?

Making the life one has the reality one wants it to be.

How do you handle rejection?

I try to remember that it's not personal, move on, and focus on the next thing.

Did you always want to be an actress?

Yes, it was always my favorite daydream as a child.

 What inspired you to become an actress?

Definitely classic films and reenacting them with my friends.

 What is the best thing about being one?

Having a reason to be someone else for a little bit.

 What is the worst thing about being one?

Rejection.  Ageism.

 Who is is your favorite actress?

Carey Mulligan, Michelle Williams, Kristen Wiig, Marilyn Monroe, Tuesday Welds

 How has your life changed since you became an actress?

I have a better understanding of who I am because of acting.

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to
make it in the movie business?

Don't be scared to do your own projects.

What do you like to do besides acting?

Write, read, troll blogs, watch old movies in theaters.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become an actress?

I'm also a make-up artist.

What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?

Breathless, The Misfits, Some Like It Hot, A Woman Is A Woman, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, The Royal Tenebaums, Community, Awake, How I Met Your Mother, 90210, Annie Hall, Chinatown, The Virgin Suicides.

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

I live in Los Angeles so it's everywhere, ranging from the largest scales to the smallest units of independent artistry.

How has social media changed the independent film industry?

It's much easier to get the word out about one's projects.  On the other hand, you have to enhance your marketing skills--be good at updating, communicating, and having finished products to show.

How does independent film differ from the mainstream?

It can be more creative and open-minded.  People are freer to be strange.

 If you could go back in time and see and film being made. Which film
would it be and why?

There are SO many I would choose but if I had to pick one it would be The Misfits.

Do you believe in life on other planets?

haha most definitely

 What is your opinion on movie remakes and sequels?

I'm not really wild about remakes..Why would you want to recreate magic over and over? If someone has executed a movie beautifully already, leave it alone and think of something new.

What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?

If it's adapted well, go for it.


Thanks for a wonderful interview Libby.  I wish you all the best with your script. I'll be sure to check out Cold War Kids video for "Miracle Mile." If you get a chance check out an episode of "Doctor Who" called "Blink". It features a great performance (IMHO) by Carey Mulligan.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Writer Liz Shannon Miller

A versatile and experienced writer, with experience including live television and sketch comedy (G4's "Attack of the Show"), online video news and analysis (the tech blog GigaOM) and theater (including the critically acclaimed "Lights Off, Eyes Closed").

Liz knows how to use a semi-colon and has an in-depth understanding of the web content world dating back to 2006. She is hoping to find an opportunity that makes use of at least one of those things.

To find out more about Liz go to

What is the current project you are working on right now?

Right now, I'm working on a number of freelance projects, mostly playing to my understanding of the online video world. I've been writing about YouTube and web series and whatnot since 2006, and observing this industry evolve over the past several years has been fascinating, and has also left me capable of everything from serious journalism to profanity-filled rants to actual scripted content.

I am also (just like every other writer in Hollywood) developing more traditional material, sitcom pilots and screenplays and the like. As Avon Barksdale says, "The game is the game. Always."

What is your favorite film of all time?

If they could figure out a way to combine "The Matrix" and "Casablanca" into one movie, I'd be a happy happy dame.  This question is kind of impossible, though.

What was it like writing for "Attack Of The Show"?

Hilarious and weird in equal measure. You'd come in every morning with no clue what the day would hold -- what ridiculous sketch you'd end up seeing on the air at 4 PM Pacific time -- and we were lucky to work with an incredible roster of talent who made everything we wrote better.

I think my major takeaway was a real love for live television; going live brings a level of spontaneity to the proceedings that made magical things happen. (It also occasionally led to less-than-magical things happening, but such is live television.)

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The same advice I'm trying to follow myself: Always be writing. It doesn't necessarily matter what, as long as writing is happening.

These days, I feel like my job isn't writing -- my job is coaxing myself to the keyboard, by whatever means necessary. Sometimes, this means bribery ("Finish responding to this email interview, and you can watch that British miniseries you downloaded two months ago!"). Sometimes, this means self-denial ("If you don't finish responding to that email interview, then you don't get any coffee"). A lot of times, this means deadlines ("Seriously, Liz, get off your ass and finish responding to that email interview TONIGHT").

Also, breaking big projects down into small pieces makes them much less daunting. A screenplay is hard to write. A fun scene from Act 2? That's easy. Write the fun scene from Act 2, and then the next scene, and the next scene, and eventually et voila -- screenplay.

I do find it really helpful to have a bunch of different projects going on, because there will be days when that book of essays is your enemy, and that sketch idea sounds like a fun thing to play with, and days when the reverse is true. I try to be gentle with myself when the work's not coming, and celebrate the days when the words pour out of me. But above all else, I try to write every day, because a day without writing isn't much of a day at all.

Are you a fan of paradoxes?

I like them when they're well thought out -- which is rare of paradoxes.  My favorite kind of paradoxes are predestination paradoxes, where everything falls into place because of what's come before and after.

What are you most excited to see when "Doctor Who" comes back on the air?

Something new! I love the show, but after two and a half seasons of Amy and Rory, I'm really enjoying what a fresh companion brings to the proceedings. New companions always make "Who" work a little harder, and I think Clara, the new girl, is just what the show needs.

Who is your favorite doctor from the series?

Always will love Eccleston, but the 10th Doctor really does rock that suit.

Are you more a a fan of Kirk or Picard?

Kirk belonged to my mother, so I'm probably more a Picard girl. That said, I love Chris Pine's interpretation of ol' James Tiberius.

Can you explain what exactly is "LizTellsFrank"?

Can and will!  "Liz Tells Frank What Happened In..." ( is a project that began several years ago, when my friend Frank asked me to tell him what happened during the first season of "Bones," and I complied by writing him long letters for a message board we both belonged to.

A couple of years ago, I started telling Frank about films, TV shows and books unrelated to "Bones," and "Liz Tells Frank" has become a blog of nearly 150 posts, the web's number one resource for which "Doctor Who" and "Farscape" episodes to skip and/or watch, and a book.  Actually, TWO books!

It's essentially an opportunity for me to make fun of various pop culture standards, while also providing a valuable public service in preventing Frank and others from having to watch stuff like "Showgirls" or "Madea's Family Reunion." I have never made a profit from "Liz Tells Frank," but I'm having too much fun to care.

How awesome is Michele Martin?

SUPER-AWESOME. That much talent and heart in one person ought to be illegal.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Just that I'm pleased to have been included in this interview series! Thank you for having me.


Thank you doing the interview Liz.   I'm glad we agree Michele Martin is awesome. She's a super classy lady and I'd like to thank her for introducing me to all the greatness that is Liz Shannon Miller.

We'll have to disagree on Doctors. I think Eccleston is great. However, Tom Baker will always be my favorite.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ben Hock Lead Artist Unsinkable Studio

Ben Hock

Ben was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, where he first cultivated his love for drawing and cartooning. Ben spent his childhood and adolescence doodling and soon wound up earning a BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Shortly after graduating, he started Unsinkable Studio, a multi-media animation studio that specializes in advertisements and explainer videos for businesses. Ben loves experimenting with all forms of animation, including paper cut-outs, paint on glass, 2D, 3D, stop-motion and pixilation.


What is "Mile High"?

"Mile High" is an animated web series about 2 friends who are struggling to get things right in high school, a time in their lives when pretty much everything goes wrong. The episodes are based on stuff that actually happened to me or a friend at that time in our lives. I think as you get older you realize that everybody was awkward at that time, even the jocks and prom queens, so everyone should be able to relate to it. The show is called "Mile High" because I grew up in Denver, the "Mile High City," and it just seemed to fit with the high school vibe.

Why did you decide you create this animated web series?

I graduated a couple years ago from art school and since then I've watched myself and friends struggle to find fulfilling work in the animation industry. There are next to no jobs out there, and budgets are tight. It's hard to see really talented people being forced to give up on their dream because the industry is so closed off. Since graduating, I've wanted to start my own little studio that could eventually get bigger. The idea was always to support each other as artists and join forces to make great work. "Mile High" is the first step toward that goal.

Who will be animating and voicing the characters?

I've wrangled a couple of my friends and former classmates to help out with the show, and they both bring a lot of talent to the table. I've designed the style and characters for the show, but I'll be animating each episode with the help of Jean Yi and Kody Roman. Jean will be helping with the character animation, while Kody is our After Effects master. I'm pulling a Seth MacFarlane and voicing most of the characters myself, but I've brought in a few actor friends to voice a bunch of characters too.

What is the key to a successful crowdfunding campaign?

I think the key to having a successful crowdfunding campaign is to have a lot of generous friends, especially if your idea is new. You see a lot of campaigns getting a ton of attention because it's an existing property that people are familiar with and love. It's a little harder when you're asking people to jump on board and give you money for an idea that's new to them. It's harder for people to visualize the project's success. It helped that we had the opening of the show for people to see, but most of the pledges we got were from friends. Since the show is about me and a friend from high school, I used Facebook to let all my high school connections know about it, and we got a huge response. I'm still kind of flattered by how many people that I haven't talked to in years gave money to the show. Then again, maybe they just wanted to see how much of an awkward mess I really was in high school... Either way...

What is your favorite animated series of all time?

It's hard to pick a favorite animated series because there are so many that I love in so many different genres. "Batman the Animated Series" from the early 90's stands out. "King of the Hill" and "Spongebob" are also favorites. I think the one that always gets me, though, is "South Park." The animation is rough, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone would probably be the first to tell you that, but the writing and characterization are just so spot on. I love it because they are never afraid to make fun of absolutely everyone. The show might seem totally crude to some people, but it's incredible how honest it is about what's going on in the world. Plus, there are always bonus jokes that only a Coloradan would get. Friends who watch the show are always flabbergasted when I tell them that Casa Bonita is real and I used to go there all the time as a kid. I love pretty much everything about that show.

Why did you name your company "Unsinkable  Studio"?

I named my company Unsinkable Studio for a couple reasons. I wanted a name that felt strong and hopeful. Kind of like an outcry, "We aren't going to fail and you can't stop us!" The other part of it is to pay homage to my home. The "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, the Titanic survivor, was from Denver and has a museum named after her and everything. It seemed like a more subtle way of reminding myself of where I'm from. Are you starting to see a theme here?

If you could animate any celebrity who would it be and why?

If I could animate any celebrity I'd choose Rex Ryan, the coach of the New York Jets. I know it's kind of a weird answer, but really I'd love to animate any celebrity I just can't stand. Bill O'Reilly and any of the Fox "News" crew, Ann Coulter, Kanye West, Ke$ha... They all stand out. Animation is all about the subtleties of movement that are specific to certain characters and pointing those out. I think because I dislike all of these people so much, I notice all of the annoying things they do that others might miss. They all make my blood boil. On the flip side, there are some celebrities that I love who are so quirky that they are a blast to animate. Last summer I spent a few weeks doing an animated sports show for fun featuring Charles Barkley, who I voiced and animated. His voice and the stuff that comes out of his mouth kills me! I love Sir Charles.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Thanks a lot for your interest in the show! I can't wait for people to see it! The first episode comes out mid-May and will be on our YouTube channel.


Thanks a lot for doing the interview Ben. "Mile High seems like a funny series. I can't wait to see the show. I think you are right I think people will relate to the characters. I know I can.

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)