Friday, May 9, 2014

Production Designer TINK

 TINK is a Production Designer for Features and Television, with a foundation in multi-disciplinary design for clients around the globe.

Born in Canada and having lived in Germany, France, Italy, England, Japan, Australia and Singapore, Tink settled in the west coast of North America, dividing his time between Los Angeles and Vancouver, while often working abroad based on project needs.

Throughout his wide spectrum of work, Tink is acclaimed for his originality, quality and timelessness.

What are the current projects you are working on?

I'm about to start on a wonderful feature produced by the same gang that made Juno and Up in the Air. I can't say too much about it at the moment, other than I think it will be quite special - very much looking forward to this one.

What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on?

There's been quite a few. Spooksville was definitely one. It's a high-quality TV series produced by the inimitable Jane Startz, who has become a great friend, and written with great wit and humor by James Krieg, also now a good friend. Everything about the show was fun, from the design concept, to working closely with James in order to create story opportunities that fit within our world, and of course that world, shot on beautiful Vancouver Island in Canada - gorgeous!

Along those lines, I did a series on Singapore and Australia a couple years ago called Stormworld - created a whole alternate universe for it and traveled to some amazing places in the process. My crews were fantastic and the project was life-changing - so was Spooksville for that matter.

There are other films I have had a great time with, from working with Nic Kalikow, Sean Covel and Chris Wyatt on Concrete Blondes, to both of Tyler Shields' films and also many of the films I designed for Uwe Boll.

What's it like working with Tyler Shields?

I have a deep crush on Tyler, both professionally and personally. He's a pure creative and that fits with me perfectly. Our aesthetic senses are quite similar, as are our work ethic and process. We recently wrapped "Outlaw", his second feature, which is quite beautiful. Keep an eye out for it.

What's it like working with the cast and crew of "Spooksville"?

Love them all. Because we were working in a remote location, kind of in our own "show bubble", we spent a lot of time together and many lasting friendships have come of that. It was challenging budget-wise at times, but the energy and creativity everyone put into it was always exemplary. Big shout out to my Art Director Alyssa King, Set Decorator Terry Lewis, Prop Master Noni Peck, Costume Designer Rebekka Sorensen, plus all our Construction, Paint and Greens crews - they truly did fantastic work.

  How do you come up your designs?

I break down a script and envision the world that it needs to become, then I begin a lot of research and image referencing to build a basis for ideas to design from. Based on that and the practical needs of the script, I then design the required elements. This process is quite satisfying when the projects are creative to start with and the production team allows me to think outside of the box.

What does the old adage "The devil's in the details" mean to you?

Hmmm - I never say that, but obviously it refers to the details are the strength of anything you create and taking care of them is mandatory for a successful project. I pride myself on that work ethic and I work with crew that contribute to that at even greater levels than I sometimes do myself.

Which do you prefer acting or designing?

Sometimes I'm acting when I'm designing :)

I tried acting when I was in university, but realized it wasn't my thing, but I still love being in front of the camera or an audience, as long as I'm able to be myself. I'm actually looking forward to hosting participatory opportunities to promote design and entertainment.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into design or acting

Follow your passion and work your ass off. Research and learn as much as you can - from all different viewpoints. Be great with people, communicate what you want and need, and focus on that. Simple...

What would be your ultimate design be? Assume there aren't any constraints.

Hmm - ultimate always changes, but I would love to design a fully detailed alternate world - complete with a new language in visuals, architecture, costume and word - I've touched on that in some projects, and would love to build upon that.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Filmmaker Sarah Knight and "Vino Veritas"

Sarah Knight is currently developing a romantic drama, In the Land of Fire & Ice, with writer, David MacGregor.  The film will star Academy Award nominee, Shohreh Aghdashloo, as a powerful Kuwaiti CEO who flees from personal and professional pressures to Iceland where she falls in love with a charming Scottish hotel keeper.

Her most recent documentary, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, is a portrait of Nicole Sherry, Head Groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards – one of only two women in that job in Major League Baseball.  Diamonds  premiered at the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame where it became part of the permanent archives.

Sarah’s previous doc, Hot Flash, about Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women, was nominated for a 2010 Blues Music Award, won the Audience Favorite Award at the 2009 Cinema on the Bayou Festival, and was acquired by Shorts International.

Her adaptation of the bestselling novel, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, was featured in the 2007 IFP Market Emerging Narrative section, was invited to the 2007 Film Independent Screenwriter’s Lab, and was a second round finalist for the 2007 & 2008 Sundance Labs.  The film chronicles the saga of three generations of American Indian women.  Q’orianka Kilcher (Pocahontas in “The New World”) and Misty Upham (“Frozen River”) will star.

Sarah has won fellowships to the Berlinale Talent Campus, the Rotterdam CineMart Producer’s Lab, and the Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access.
Short films include Qiana (director, screenwriter, producer), Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (director, writer, co-producer) and the internet cult hit, Survivor in da ‘Hood (director, co-writer).

She directs theatre in New York and Los Angeles.  Credits include An Ideal Wife, based on her adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” (Pacific Resident Theatre-workshop space).
Sarah has assisted directors Taylor Hackford and Mikael Salomon and producers Peter Macgregor-Scott and Robert Shapiro.

What is "Vino Veritas" about?

Our story takes place on Halloween night.  Two couples, neighbors and best friends, meet for their annual pre-costume party drinks.  One of them has just returned from Peru where they picked up a truth serum.  They decide to try it and all the things they really think and feel – negative and positive – come out.

This is a story in which, thanks to the effects of a tribal concoction, the characters are stripped of the carefully composed social masks they have diligently fashioned for themselves. The superficial veneer of what passes for civilization is peeled away, layer by layer, to reveal not just personal quirks and secrets, but the primal core that drives so much of our behavior as human beings. Whether the subject is children, faith, sex, death, or the drives and desires that are hardwired into our DNA, this is, finally, a film about what it means to be human.

Why did you want to make this film?

My mom (who has exquisite taste and who often serves as my unofficial development girl) first turned me on to “Vino Veritas” when she saw the original stage play. She fell so in love with the writing she returned for every remaining performance then enthusiastically encouraged me to read it.

When I did, I was particularly taken with the character of Lauren. Much like me, she is an incredibly forthright person who expects those around her to follow suit. I found the portrayal of her coming to terms with the fact that others cannot and often do not wish to do so quite poignant.

As a filmmaker, the challenge of adapting a play set in one location and making it work and move well as a movie also excited me. For research, I looked to several of my favorite pictures, including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “Deathtrap,” and “12 Angry Men,” which had done so in various inventive ways.

What was the casting process like?

I did not do any auditions.  I had seen Heather Raffo and Bernard White in separate Off-Broadway plays almost ten years ago but they both had such charisma and chops they stayed with me and immediately popped into my head for the roles of Lauren and Ridley.  I was more familiar with Carrie Preston as a film actor from her stand out supporting turn in “Duplicity” and leading role in “That Evening Sun.”  A New York theatre casting director recommended Brian Hutchison to me.

Why did you choose to distribute the film via VOD?

Our distributor, Gravitas Ventures, will make the film available to some 100 million viewers On Demand and iTunes on its launch date of January 15th.  That’s an awfully large number of people who will have access to the picture.  And more and more people I know get most of their film viewing through VOD, Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, etc.  I always prefer to watch movies in the theatre, at least the first time I see them.  But I certainly appreciate the continuously growing number of platforms which offer so much content that might have been otherwise lost or missed.

Do you think the world would be better off if everyone was completely honest?

In general I think open communication would solve a lot of problems.  If people were honest about what they really wanted in their lives and weren’t so quick to fall into social norms or what is expected of them just think how different society would be.  Happier overall, I would think.  And in relationships, if people would be honest instead of just automatically doing and saying what they think the other person wants them to, it might provide some wonderful and surprising results.  Personally, I strive very hard to only say things I really mean but to not to the point of being hurtful to others if I can help it.  I’m genuinely curious in what others truly think – just not necessarily what they think about me as I’m neurotic enough as it is!

How have your previous projects prepared you to make this film?

Very early in my career, I worked as assistant to producer Peter MacGregor-Scott for many years at Warner Bros.  Although he was producing $100 million plus budget films, he always approached them as if they were small indies (his background was “Cheech and Chong” films).  He watched every penny and came up with scrappy, inventive ways to solve problems rather than just throwing money at them as is often done at that level.  That was an invaluable lesson as I also produce all of my own work.  After that I assisted director Taylor Hackford.  Being able to be at his side, watching his process from prep through post was immensely beneficial and many of his techniques I now incorporate into my own work.  Directing theatre certainly helped my ability to work with actors.  My experience in the legit world spilled over into “Vino” which I ran as a somewhat anomalous film set.  All four of the actors had theatre backgrounds, as well as film.  I managed to secure six days of rehearsal and required the cast to be completely off book before they arrived on location.  We shot entire scenes in one take which created an amazing energy for the actors on set, almost like what they experience on stage.  I’ve spent the past few years making documentaries.  That helped to further hone my storytelling although it felt terrific to get back to narrative work which is what I enjoy the most.

What's your favorite movie?

“All About Eve.”  I first saw the film when I was about 11 and I never tire of the powerhouse performances, incredibly witty dialogue, and perfect structure.  I think it still stands as the best screenplay ever written.  Only caveat is the dreadful ‘you’re not a real woman unless you can look up in the morning and see your man’ speech Margo Channing gives in the third act.  But I’ve always just chalked that up to a sign of that time.

What's your favorite wine?

I don’t drink wine at all.  Dirty martini is my preferred cocktail.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Many thanks for interviewing me and featuring the film!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Filmmaker Sean Langton

 Sean started life out in the armed forces where he was unfortunate to become ill with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  After many years Sean came out at the age of 38 and found his passion was in producing film.  Sean's drive behind the company is to make  LGBT themed films by telling strong character driven stories.

As well as making film Sean wishes to make sure the ethos of his company is all about social inclusion and equality.

Sean was commissioned by Ceredigion Mental Health Forum to write a short play Army Surplus about ex-soldiers suffering from PTSD in the NHS. He participated in a collaborative writing project for theatre Town with No Traffic Wardens and his short play Dad was presented as part of Beginnings both for Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

Sean is the driving force behind Trebuchet Films, in 2012 he produced his first short film Legacy which went on to win the Cardiff Audience Choice Award & was a finalist in the Sharpies, Coffs Harbour, Australia.  Legacy received very positive comments and high praise from industry professionals for it content. For his second short Sean co-produced with Charlotte Woodhead & Director Stuart Fryer Ups & Downs.  For this short Sean managed to secure the services of two great and up and coming actors, Bobby Lockwood from the award winning show Wolfblood on CCBC and Edward Ashley from the BAFTA winning show Last Tango in Halifax, BBC ONE.  The film has gone on to be shortlisted for the Van D'ors & and excepted for the Cannes In a Van. It also had three nominations at this years London International Film Festival.

This year Sean produced his first feature film called Cruel Summer a brutal thriller inspired from true events in 2004. The film is currently in post production with the hope of a release in Summer 2014.

Sean now has in development three feature films one a book that he optioned called Cowboys Can Fly by author Ken Smith, Broken Boys a story that Sean himself has penned that already has three very talent young actors attached and has just received a letter of interest from the UK and Republic of Irelands largest LGBT distributor.  And Training Grounds, the story of a fight for survival of a Gay SAS soldier on selection.

What are the current projects you are working on?

There are several projects in development at present, Broken Boys a feature film that looks at the rise of violent homophobia in a world where its more expectable to come out younger, a kind of Gay Romeo & Juliet meets NEDS. We have the three lead cast attached, all excellent up and coming actors with experience in TV and Film.

Then we have an adaptation of a book called Cowboys Can Fly by Ken Smith which Dominic Carver a british screenwriter has just finished the first draft. The story is a lovely gay coming of age set in the countryside in 1960's Britain.

There are a few more but theses are the main ones I'm concentrating on for next year, if we're lucky enough to secure the funding.

Why did you name your company "Trebuchet Film Productions"?

Basically I wanted to call it SlingShot but it was taken, so I thought whats bigger and better, Trebuchet it was. Gives me something to aim for.

Why do you want to make films?

Simples, I love to tell great stories, character driven not special effects. I'm a great advocate of the British Independent Film scene. There is such a wealth of talent in our country in front and behind the camera.

What was the casting process like?

So far I've been really lucky to work with some great talented actors from across TV and Film and its not because I have millions to spend its because when the read the scripts or story the love the characters and story. I think actors love to play different roles they hate being typecast so if you can offer them that they will go that extra mile.

The big thing for me is if I see someone who I think would be great for a role then I find away to ask them. I find them all very approachable and helpful even if it's not for them. So, I guess the lesson is always ask the worst people can do is say no.

What is your opinion on crowdfunding?

I think its amazing! But its that and digital which have changed the landscape of film forever and I think over the next 5 to 10 years we will see even more changes to it. Already in the UK we now have a crowdfunding platform in return for equity now.

What's the indie film scene like where you live?

Like I said earlier we have a wealth of talent, but, its hard. As an indie producer finding money is difficult. We seem to have a culture of wanting to have a film industry but the industry isn't prepared to take a chance on new talent. I'm 47 and only been at this two years and I've had to fight for every scrap to get films made people look at me gone out, because of my age and lack of
experience. But I just use that above my desk I have a motto 'If someone tells me I can't do it. Then its my job to prove them wrong.

However, that said around us is an amazing lot of people like that and every-time they get knocked down they get back up again and particularity where I live the scene is very, very supportive of you. Hence I will always offer work on my films to students and others wanting a break.

What's one thing you wish you could tell your younger self?

Don't listen to your parents saying 'you can't do 'stuff' to do with art you need a real job'. It is a real job a very satisfying one too. That way I won't of wasted 30 years doing the wrong job. But hey we are all a sum of our experiences, so maybe that's what bought me to this point.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Yeah, invest in Brit Indie Film! lol

Thanks very much for interviewing me for your blog. 

Sean Langton

Saturday, November 23, 2013


 DARREN CAULLEY made his New York theatrical debut in 2012 at the Cabrini Repertory Theatre with Very Important Problems, a horrible family comedy. Then in December of the same year, he produced Unhealthy at the HERE Arts Center. An alumnus of New York University, Darren writes plays, comics, and television scripts. He also designs games from time to time. On his site, you can read his writing samples, email him, and keep up to date on the most recent news about his projects. 

Please explain what "Unhealthy", Kulak" and "Force" are.

Unhealthy is a play I wrote that Chris Bellant and I produced about a year ago. It's essentially about dependance and what obsession can do to a person. The first half focuses on a young woman (played by Caitlin Kinnunen) desperately trying to find a handle on her life. The second half takes a look at her roommate (played by Allison Scagliotti), who appears to have everything a person could want and who is still struggling to deal with the lives of those around her. It's a very desperate play altogether.

I started working on Kulak last year with a whole bunch of strangers who turned into some of my favorite people I met at NYU. Kulak is a board game where players have to choose between working together to take down an evil Baron or selling out and becoming wealthy by themselves, becoming the Kulak. "Kulak" is a Russian word used to describe a wealthy farmer in Soviet Russia. It's not a very kind word, and Kulak is not a very kind game.

Force is a comic I've been working on for the better portion of this year with Thomas Constantine Moore and Tiahnan Trent. It is about a girl named Rachel who goes from being especially vulnerable and anxious to suddenly having more power than she knows what to do with. Right now we're working out a lot of the kinks with the site and the schedule, so we're taking a hiatus while we plan our next moves. It's a story we're all really invested in and one that we want to tell the right way. So we're not going to rush it out with a product that we're not fully satisfied with.

What inspires you to create plays, games and comics?

Well, plays and comics have always been my favorite modes of storytelling. Both rely a lot on asking the audience to take part in the story themselves, and that always engaged me as a reader and a viewer. I've been writing plays since high school, but it's taken me a lot longer to find my comfort writing comics. It's an immensely complex medium.

As for games, games keep me sane. They always have. I don't know how else to really explain my relationship with games. They're an art form for sure, and in an abstract way (or not, depending on the game) they are another way to tell a story, perhaps the most engaging way.

What is the key to a very successful Kickstarter campaign?

I think it comes down to what you want out of the Kickstarter. If you are using Kickstarter just because you want people's money, potential backers can sense that. They can sense whether you want to produce a quality project and give your backers what you can or whether you just want to use it to make some money easily. I've seen some people try to use it as a store. I've seen those projects fail for that reason.

One of the reasons so many Kickstarters are so successful is that by having one you're saying "If I can't do this right, if I can't do this 100%, if there's not enough of an interest in what I have to offer, then I am okay with getting nothing." That's a powerful statement to make, and if you truly believe that I think that many Kickstarter users really respect that mindset.

Oh, and also before you make a Kickstarter, give to a few. You need to understand what it feels like to be a backer if you want to connect with yours. That's really important.

What was the casting process like for "Unhealthy"? 

Chris Bellant (Maycomb) was attached from the beginning, and I owe the credit for the rest of the cast to my friend, Julia Bicknell, another (incredibly talented) writer from NYU. She is close friends with the two female leads and knew they'd both be perfect in the roles. And finally it was Allison who brought in Josh Breslow, the final piece of the puzzle. 

What causes someone to be obsessed?

You know, something recent I've realized about my work is how much of it has to do with obsession. Unhealthy is certainly the darkest piece I've written and it's also the most directly related to the subject of obsession. Obsession is dark. I think obsession comes from having a particular need that goes unsatisfied for too long. Whether that is attention, friendship, love, power, excitement, anything. When you deplete a person of something fundamental, they tend to latch on to the first trace of it that comes their way, and then they never let go.

How did you chose your collaborators to create "Kulak" and "Force"?

I did not pick my collaborators at all for Kulak actually. Kulak started off with a simple prompt: Make a game that elicits anger. And the people that liked that challenge came together and made Kulak. It worked out very nicely because we have a bunch of people with different backgrounds able to bring a lot to the table. We'll be relying on everyone's talents when it comes time to take Kulak to the next level.

As for Force, well... Force is one of my favorite stories I've had in my mind. And so I picked my favorite people. My girlfriend, Tiahnan Trent is a terrific artist and my exceptional friend Thomas Constantine Moore is my favorite collaborator for anything. We play off each other very well creatively. Unfortunately, despite Thomas being an incredibly talented actor, I've never managed to get him on stage for one of my plays. But I'm planning to change that. 

How is "Kulak" different from other table top games?

Kulak is different mostly because it's imbalanced. At the start of the game there are 24 acres of land between all the players and the Baron starts the game off with twelve of them. Asymmetry is a really difficult concept to pull off in a game, but it is much more realistic. Most game designers want balance, but my teammates and I wanted something that began unfairly. When you only have start off the game so close to defeat and one player is already winning by a large margin, things get tense immediately.  

Why did you choose to have "Force" take place in Seattle?

Force originally was going to take place in New York City, but then everyone decided that too much takes place there anyway. Seattle has a really interesting political climate. Very liberal, very atheist all on the west, and then much less so in the east. Force takes place in a Seattle where godlike beings walk the earth, where people live in fear of the unknown, and where guns are everywhere. It's a very different Seattle than the one that Thomas, Tiahnan, and I grew up in. We wanted a city that knows who it is in the real world, and then we wanted to see what it would take to make Seattle unsure of itself.  

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Right now the two main projects I am working on are Kulak and Trickster, a theatrical anthology of Trickster gods in mythology. So those are the big things to look out for soon. I'm also working with the incredibly prolific Chris Bellant on a project that he's taking the lead on, so I don't know if I can really talk about it. But hopefully, fun things will happen there too! Thanks so much for your interest in my work. It's been a real pleasure to speak with you.


Thank You for doing the interview Darren. I was you all the best with Force, Kulak, Trickster and all your future projects.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Filmmaker Derick Martini

Derick Patrick Martini (born December 2, 1976) is an American screenwriter and film director. He is of Italian, Jewish, and Irish heritage. For more information visit his Wikipedia page.

Follow Derick on Twitter @derickmartini

What is the current project you are working?
I'm in post production on a film I directed from a script co-written by me and Bret Easton Ellis called "The Curse Of Downers Grove".

What is your opinion on crowdfunding?
If by crowdfunding you mean 'rounding up a crowd and raising money from said crowd to fund a film', I don't know how I feel about it personally because I haven't done it.  My films have been funded in a more deliberate way, with usually one or two people, or companies financing the film.  The financing end has always made me cringe, and I have successfully avoided dealing with it in most cases.  However, being able to avoid it is just luck and having great producers like Jon Cornick, Michele Tayler and Leonard Loventhal who've  that heavy cross.  I've been able to simply write and direct.  However, in all reality, that luck can't possibly continue in this market and I am prepared to deal with the pains of being more involved with the financing process.  If crowdfunding is narrowed down to a crowd of 6-12 people who will not be hurt financially if they lose their investment, I'd feel pretty good about that.  If the crowd is made up of a group of people who will be hurt financially if they lose their investment, I'm not comfortable with that.  There are many, many safer and less confusing investments than film.  Or, as my friend Leo so succintly puts it, and I am paraphrasing, "the film business and its finances are irrational".

If by crowdfunding you mean 'kickstarter', that frightens me to death.  I've noticed filmmakers out there utilizing kickstarter and I can say this:  they are braver than I!  It's just too public for me, personally.  I have a hard time when I have actors and myself attached to a script with no funding and it's being shopped privately, within the industry.  That always kills me and I try to avoid it as often as possible.  I can't imagine exposing my actors and material in a public manner, looking for hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people to invest.  I have nothing against the filmmakers who put themselves out there on kickstarter, like I said it's brave, but it's just not for me.

Why do you prefer using film when shooting your movies?

This is a great question John!  Back to the stuff I love.  Like most filmmakers who prefer film, it's ultimately about the look.  I love the grain that film organically provides and I miss it when its not there.  Grain adds a texture to the end result, the look of the movie, that digital does not.  With digital, you wind up adding grain in post production, imposing it onto the image as opposed to it organically existing as a natural flaw.  On my current film I'm about to do just that because I have to.  We shot it partially on 35mm film and partially on digital for financial reasons and I can't say that I dislike digital because that would be a lie.  I like many of its advantages, I just dislike its seemingly only disadvantage -- no grain.  But the jury is still out on the grain issue and I am withholding judgement because my hope is that my film comes back, with grain, and I won't know the difference between film and digital anymore.

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

I don't think you ever truly 'make it', John.  It's always going to be from story to story, or movie to movie.  Just a wild guess, but I'd bet all of those filmmakers who seem to have 'made it' all feel like they haven't -- they still have something to prove, or another story to tell.  I think maybe, just maybe, you've made it when you have run out of stories to tell. 

All that being said, you have to start somewhere.  I am a firm believer in making a micro budget feature legnth film to start.  Write your script, keep it simple, fund it just like you would a short film; on credit cards, borrowing, etc, and make it guerilla style.  Today, unlike in 2000 when I dove into film with "Smiling Fish & Goat On Fire", digital is an extremely cost friendly way to make your film.  Festivals are everywhere.  Do your work and then get your work seen, forget everything else.  That is the best advice I can give.

What has been the best moment of your film career thus far?

That's a tough one John.  I can't pin it to one moment and I'd rather not weigh the downs versus the ups, so I'll generalize a bit:  my favorite moments have always been what happen between when I say 'action' and 'cut'.  Working with the actors.

How has becoming a father changed the way you create films?

Becoming a father of two little daughters has definitely changed me as a filmmaker.  Isabella (4yrs. old) and Alexandra (2yrs. old) are starting to curiously pick up dvds I have hanging around the home office, which is really cute until Isabella asks "what is this one about?".  What comes racing to mind are all of the wonderfully dramatic yet very dysfunctional relationships most of my characyers have in common.  That's when I cringe.  I know one day they'll see these films and I'll have some explaining to do.  If I keep going with the darker material, I can always show them "Louis" and have a shot at redemption.  

Why did you decide your create your short film "Louis"?

I didn't.  My dear friend and fellow filmmaker Dan Pritzker said to me one day back in 2006, "Derick, I have an idea…".  Dan is a very creative guy and he is very passionate when it comes to music.  He was telling an origin-like story of Louis Armstrong and how he wound up with his first instrument.  I'm really glad he came to me to help him bring it to life because it is such a rare gem of a film (I can say that without being a complete braggart because Dan directed it, I co-wrote it and did some second unit shooting).  The way he wanted to do it, "silently", is truly is a remarkable idea and a what we wound up with is something I am very proud of.  A convergance of meaningful storytelling through music, sound and image.  It's precious, and that's how Dan chooses to show it, at limited engagements, as he should.

What is your favorite film of all time and why?

This is another tough one John.  I study films obsessively, bad ones, good ones, great ones, which makes it difficult to pick a single favorite.  The films I can view over and over again and still remain engaged by the story while breaking down every angle, edit, lighting cue, sound effect, score cue etc. would be considered favorites, I guess.  But it's a pretty long list and it would still be a strain to pick an ultimate favorite.  I encourage anyone who wants to gain a deeper knowledge of film to study the greats -- Scorsese, Hitchcock, Leone, Truffaut, Chaplin, Kazan, Ford, Capra, Powell, Lucas, Powell, Peckinpah, Nichols, J&E Coen, Cassavetes, Spielberg, Sirk, Coppola, Wilder, Sturges, P.T Anderson, Kurosawa -- take in a variety of styles in all genres, don't limit yourself.  You may find you're only attracted to a single genre and style and that's fine.  Watching these filmmakers' work is a process of learning and discovering who you are as a filmmaker.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
P.S  After you're done watching all of these filmmakers' work, re-watch Marty's stuff again to set the record in your mind straight ;)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nick Hudson of Cat and Weasel Films

Nick began his career at NBC Universal where he was responsible for marketing such hit shows as 30 Rock and True Blood in the company's German-speaking territories. He was also bestowed a number of awards for his work organising the Shocking Shorts Award at the Munich Film Festival. Since then he has produced a number of promos and short films including 'Corvidae', starring Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones). His first feature-length film, 'Everyone’s Going To Die', was premiered at SXSW 2013 to critical acclaim and is currently on the international festival circuit. Nick has been running Cat and Weasel Films since 2011, with two feature films currently scheduled to shoot in 2014.

Why is the company called "Cat and Weasel Films"?

Ha, I knew this was going to come up. When I started the company I was thinking about a bunch of names. Nick Hudson Productions struck me as being a bit mundane so I looked back to the start of my career when I was working at NBC Universal in Germany. To cut a long and slightly convoluted short, my nickname there was Die Katze, which is German for “The Cat”, with my boss at the time picking up the nickname of “The Weasel”. We always joked about calling a production company Cat and Weasel and so choosing the name a few years later was a no brainer. The Weasel was a completely uncharacteristic nickname for my boss. He taught me a lot of things including the importance of being humble. The name is a little nod to my time working for him and what I picked up working at the company.

Why do you think the perception of short vs feature films are so different?

Filmmakers and filmgoers generally take features more seriously. Features usually have more money behind them and producing them is a longer process with more factors to consider, for instance marketability. Saying that, creating a short that works is an art form in itself and it can really act as a springboard for any director or producer’s career.

Which do you prefer working on shorts, features, or music videos?

They each have their pros and cons but I would have to say features. I’ve done one so far and it was one of the best experiences of my life, mainly because of the time involved in making it. One thing I loved was spending so much time with the cast and crew and really developing a rapport with each of them. If you do a short or a music video, you’re probably only going to spend one to five days working with most of them so there isn’t as much time to have fun.

Digital vs Film. Your opinion?

Digital. Cinematographers I work with make it pretty clear that the flexibility we now have in terms of colour space could not be possible using film. From a producer’s perspective, I’ve also found digital cameras cheaper and quicker for the crew to work with. I can understand the other side of the argument though and a post production supervisor friend of mine tells me that a lot of crews using digital cameras are just shooting too much, making the post production process even more time consuming.

How has crowdfunding changed the independent film industry?

It’s just created another platform to raise finance for projects. It’s also a powerful tool in building an audience before the film is even shot. There’s a certain science behind it though and I think some people expect to be able to upload the project and suddenly have their film green-lit. There is a lot of work that has to go into it and it’s also constantly changing, meaning the recently created role of Social Media Producer is going to become more and more important.

What exactly is a producer?

The producer is the spine to any production. We connect all the other components and bring them together for the greater good of the project. Producers support their directors and try to give them what they need to make their vision a reality. There is an old saying that good producers make films and great producers make great films. There is a certain truth to that and it’s often the producer who sources the material or gets a script written. But to answer your question in short, we manage the production of motion pictures from conception to distribution.

What is the current project you are working on?

I have two short films getting ready for the festival circuit. ‘Help Point’ is a quirky comedy-drama about two strangers who meet in an airport car park having both just lost their cars. ‘Corvidae’ has just successfully raised some money on Indiegogo and so we’re cracking on with getting the VFX done for that. It’s a silent pastoral horror film starring Maisie Williams from ‘Game of Thrones’ and I just can’t wait to see the finished product. I’m also developing a number of feature films, with the next one being shot early next year. It’s a crime thriller called ‘The Fixer’ and it’s about a guy who is like Sherlock Holmes, but on the wrong side of the law. He slowly starts lose control when he inadvertently has to protect a young woman from a mysterious power hunting her.

What is the casting process like?

It’s fascinating, particularly when you have a number of actors come in for a role. You suddenly see the words that you’ve read a thousand times come out of someone’s mouth and everyone has their own interpretation. It’s great to see how much talent is out there, but a lot of the time an actor will get the part because their interpretation is in alignment with that of the director.

What advice would give to someone who wants to start their own production company?

Keep your overheads down, build relationships and don’t be afraid to be bold. Remember the key to this business is material so take your time in finding the right script. There isn’t any rush and remember you’ll always only be judged on your last film so treat every project like your first.

Why did "Cat and Weasel Films" collaborate with "Wolfheart Productions" for "Corvidae"?

To be honest we just really enjoy working with each other and have done so since we both collaborated on the short film / mini-pilot ‘The Fields’ a couple of years ago. Our meetings usually take place in some sort of pub or bar and we’re very open with each other, meaning bad ideas usually get shot down fairly quickly. The writer / director Tom de Ville actually approached Wolfheart about ‘Corvidae’ and it was Wolfheart who asked us to be involved. We obviously said yes pretty quickly. It’s a unique project that will definitely stand out amongst its peers.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Thank you for having me!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Cast Of "Anne Darling"

TAG LINE: Tonight, a lonely writer, a mother and a dreamer will try to escape sadness by partying, romancing and having sex with strangers.

SYNOPSIS: Daniel hopes to break out of his depression by having sex. So he calls a chat line and meets Marnie. Their encounter becomes more intimate than they expected -- she reminds him of his mother, he reminds her of her son. Both are haunted by family troubles. Later, Daniel's friend Charlie sets him up with Maggie, a young writer who wants to run away from her ill mother. They offer each other a way out, but first they have to break their family bonds. Will Daniel break his new bond with Marnie?

Norman Yeung [also writer/director] ("Resident Evil: Afterlife", "Todd and the Book of Pure Evil")

Norman works in film, theatre, and visual arts.

Films he has written and directed include "Marnie Love", "Hello Faye", and "Light 01", which have screened at international film festivals, on Movieola Channel, Mini Movie International Channel (Europe), and on Air Canada.  He was Second Unit Director on "The Tracey Fragments", a feature film directed by Bruce McDonald.

As an actor, Norman's recent film and television credits include a supporting role in "Resident Evil: Afterlife" (Sony/Screen Gems), a series regular role in "Todd and the Book of Pure Evil" (SPACE/CTV), and roles in “Rookie Blue” (ABC/Global) and “King” (Showcase). He recently played the role of Hassan in Theatre Calgary and Citadel Theatre’s production of “The Kite Runner”.

Plays he has written include "Pu-Erh", "Oolong", "Theory", and "Lichtenstein's an 8: A New Formula to Quantify Artistic Quality".  "Pu-Erh" premiered in 2010 at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto and was nominated for four Dora Mavor Moore Awards, including Outstanding New Play.  "Pu-Erh" was a finalist for the 2009 Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition.  His performance piece “In this moment.” premiered at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in 2012.  His opera “Black Blood” (Norman Yeung, librettist; Christiaan Venter, composer) premiered at Tapestry New Opera Showcase in 2012 in Toronto.  He was a member of Canadian Stage's BASH! artist development program and fu-GEN's Kitchen Playwrights Unit.  He was a member of the 2011 Tapestry New Opera Composer-Librettist Laboratory.  He is featured in the book "Voices Rising: Asian Canadian Cultural Activism" by Xiaoping Li.

Since 1993, his graffiti and street art can be found under bridges, on freight trains, behind warehouses, in transit tunnels, and on living room walls, from New York City to Brisbane.  He has exhibited his paintings and drawings in such venues as FRCP/Galerie Youn (Montreal), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of Mississauga, Board of Directors (Toronto), Milk Glass (Toronto), and curcioprojects (New York City).  His painting and illustration clients include LVMH, Bruce Mau Design, National Film Board of Canada, MTV, CBC, Eye Weekly, Rice Paper Magazine, and many more.  He was featured on CBC Radio 3's "MAKE: Next Generation Canadian Creators", CBC's ZeD TV, MuchMusic, MTV, and in numerous publications and documentaries.

Norman has lectured at Central Technical School (Toronto) about urban art, at Lord Byng Secondary School (Vancouver) about a career in the arts, spoken at The Humanitas Festival (Toronto) about responsible casting of minorities in media, and received a Toronto Clean and Beautiful City Appreciation Award for his mural work.  He was a playwriting mentor for the 2011 Paprika Festival (Toronto).

He holds a BFA in Acting/Theatre from the University of British Columbia and a BFA (Honours) in Film Studies from Ryerson University.  He was born in Guangzhou, China, grew up in East Vancouver, and is currently based in Toronto.

Allison Scagliotti ("Warehouse 13", "Losers Take All", "Chastity Bites", "Drake & Josh")

Cara Gee ("Empire of Dirt", Toronto International Film Festival 2013 Rising Star)

Janet Lo ("Cracked", "The Listener", "Diary of the Dead", "To Die For")

Janet Lo is currently creating a play about Madame Mao. Earlier this year, she appeared in a pilot entitled Second Jen. For 30 years, Janet Lo has been an actor in Theatre, Film, Television and Radio. She has worked internationally, portraying roles across Canada as well as appearing in Los Angeles and China. She travelled to Shanghai as part of the Red Snow Collective, after debuting the role of Lily at Theatre Passe Muraille. Stage highlights include Tout Comme Elle (Necessary Angel/ Luminato), Pu-Erh (K’nowTheatre), Hana’s Suitcase (the Grand Theatre), M. Butterfly (MTC/NAC and ATP), Amazon Dreams (Factory Theatre), Powder Blue Chevy (Theatre Tamahnous), Simpleton of the Unexpected Isles and Shall We Join the Ladies? (Shaw Festival).

With her theatre Company, Vandalay, Janet co-produced  Powder Blue Chevy for Summerworks 1993, and A Language of Their Own in 1997, which she also directed. Both pieces centered around Chinese North American characters and created employment and skill-building opportunities for Asian Canadian actors and stage technicians.

Film and Television Credits include Satisfacton, Cracked, The Listener, The Clark Rockefeller Story, The Border, Diary of the Dead, Kojak, Missing, Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, Madtv, City of Angels, Nikita, Prince Street, Riverdale, Robocop, Kung Fu, To Die For, Montreal vu Par: Vue D’Allieurs.

What is "Anne Darling" about?

NORMAN: We will all feel deep sadness. Many of us will feel something more profound than sadness, a depression that will prevent you from moving forward. But you must. How? You can distract yourself with booze, smokes, parties, and sex, but those are only temporary bandages. “Anne Darling” is about breaking out of sadness to become happier. And you never know who you’ll meet tonight – that stranger you’re about to dance with, that woman you’re about to hook up with for anonymous sex… they might be your key to happiness. Even if the woman reminds you of your mom. Woops! Tonight, all the characters in this film will feel the happiest they have felt in a long time. “Anne Darling” is about hope.

ALLISON: The escapist techniques of artistic urban young people. Smoking, sexing, and that awesome moment when someone holds a mirror up to your bullshit. Or something like that.

JANET: Since other people will be answering this question, I will answer who is Marnie [the character I play]. Marnie is a woman who is basically lonely. She is now divorced 3 years and her son moved away when that was happening. She also suffers from depression. Since the divorce, she no longer has the same circle of friends that she used to when she was part of a couple. So she meets people on chat lines. One night, she meets a man on a chat line, and after feeling a certain connection with him, invites him over for a mutually agreed intimate encounter. When he arrives, she is surprised to see that Daniel [Norman’s character] is not what she imagined (add suspense music here).

Why do you want this film to be made?

ALLISON: I want talented cats like Norman to bring their art to the world. Maybe this is cliché, but I worry that we'll never hear beautiful music, read beautiful words, see powerful theatre and film because the tools of distribution are still largely controlled by Johnson & Johnson. Or Rogers. Norman has brought his art to the streets, to the canvas, to the stage and screen, and “Anne Darling” deserves a place in his canon of completed projects that deserve an audience and various ribbons of recognition. Also, I wanna do an art house short.

CARA: I want this film to be made because it's exactly the kind of film I would want to watch. Straight up. Norman Yeung is one of my favourite artists and to be a part of his vision is an honour. He is seriously the most amazing human and we should all be so lucky to see what goes on inside his brain.

JANET: After being in his play “Pu-Erh”, I would love to be in another project with Norman. He is absolutely lovely, and I would love to share the screen with him in a kind of role that I am not usually cast in. So that is very exciting to me.

NORMAN: These three women are making me blush in areas that aren’t supposed to get red. The appreciation is mutual. We’ve assembled a highly talented and rather babely cast whose chemistry is genuine. The crew is pretty hot, too. We trust each other as artists and care about each other as friends. This good will and shared spirit can be rare for some productions; now that we’ve got it, we will fulfill it. “Anne Darling” is a self-contained short film that is one chapter of a bigger story. Each of the characters, and new ones, will have their own chapters, and their narratives will intersect. Making this a feature film is the bigger goal, but first I’d like to make this chapter happen.

What are the similarities/differences between you and your character?

ALLISON: Similarities? Maggie and I are both young creative chicks who like music and PBR and think Norman is good looking. We both take care of our family. We both want to invigorate our careers. Differences? I'm a grown-up child actor who does not live with her mom anymore. Not that there'd be anything wrong with that.

CARA: Hahahah I don't want to take anything away from my cred as an actor, but this character is pretty much exactly me. Charlie and I are both party monsters always at the ready to wingman a pal. Also, Norman and I are best friends in real life.

JANET: Well, I'm a mother. Other than that, not a lot of similarities. I have, in the past, in a previous life, had bouts of loneliness, but I was never able to just have a physical encounter and not want it to be more. Or perhaps for Marnie either, although I'm sure she will want to keep a relationship with Daniel, just have it not be a physical one.

NORMAN: This film isn’t autobiographical, which is what many people assume when the actor is also the writer. But having felt stuck in my life, and seeing a surprisingly large number of friends deal with depression, I understand why Daniel would want instant stimulation. It’s easier to get drunk and distract ourselves from problems than it is to solve them with professional help. Differences? I’ve had relations with older women but I knew their names. And none of them reminded me of my mom. My relationship with my mom is completely unsexual. Sorry to be boring, guys.

What is your opinion on crowdfunding?

ALLISON: It's the future. The system of ad-based content generation is broken, long live Kickstarter and Indiegogo and RocketHub. In an era where the tools of filmmaking are available to nearly anyone – you can shoot a movie on your phone, edit it using free software on your computer, distribute it on YouTube, and promote it on Twitter – it makes sense for independent creators to skip the bureaucracy of taking meetings with people who majored in business in the late nineties and speak in corporate euphemisms. You want to make something? You tailor it to the people who want to see it and promise them levels of involvement in exchange for their bucks. Boom. Socialized art making.


JANET: Crowdfunding, as a concept, is wonderful. With the internet and social networking, it is a great way to get your ideas out to a very large group of people around the globe. The drawback is that there are so many projects out there that I get quite inundated with requests and may not pay attention to them unless something really exciting catches my eye.

NORMAN: Asking friends for money is excruciating. Otherwise, crowdfunding is genius.

What do you think is the key to happiness?

ALLISON: In my mind, happiness doesn't look like a key. It looks like a tiny dot of paint on the end of George Seurat's paint brush. If you're lucky you get a lot of those tiny little micro moments of happiness collected over your whole life. I don't know. I'm 23 and trying really hard to figure it out and also sound eloquent in interviews.

CARA: I think that for the most part, the key to happiness is deciding to be happy.

JANET: Strangely, just being happy. I do believe that being happy is a muscle that one needs to use or it will atrophies. There are people that have said to me, yes, I know that I have all these things (gotten all these gigs, have great friends, etc.) and I should be grateful. And I say fuck gratitude, just be happy. Exercise that muscle.

NORMAN: Asking friends for money is excruciating. It totally blows and sucks mad hard, dude. I’m hating every moment of what feels like begging. But when some friends do contribute, I’m struck by emotion. I almost cried to Aaron Kopff (one of our producers) when our buddy donated to our Kickstarter: “He’s not rich! I can’t believe he donated so much!” Other friends too, any amount. For what? So I can “make” a “film”? But it’s not about money. It’s not about film. It’s about their faith in me, their belief, their support… I am absolutely nothing without my friends. My happiness is the people who care about me, and I care about them. This Kickstarter experience has instilled in me a new generosity; I want to return the support to my friends, whether monetarily or just being there for them. I guess crowdfunding can be a happy experience after all.

Say something nice about another member of the AD cast?

ALLISON: Everyone in the cast is this totally titillating blend of attractive and intelligent. I have talent crushes on ALL of them. And I'm jealous of Norman's pompadour.

CARA: I'm going to do my very best to get Norman to add a scene where I get to make out with Allison. What a babe.

JANET: Like I said, I would love to be in another project playing a character that I feel Norman wrote specifically for me. A couple of years ago I was in a play with Cara called “Tout Comme Elle”. Although we will not have any screen time together in “Anne Darling”, it's great to be in the same project together again. I met the rest of the production team recently and they are just fabulous. And fun.

NORMAN: The way Allison conducts herself intellectually, artistically, and style-ly makes me die thirteen times before noon. If anyone took Cara away from me, I would destroy them, then take a DeLorean back 2,000 years and destroy their whole lineage. Janet is like a cross between my older sisters and my mom, which I find very comforting. No, I don’t have any Freudian family issues, but I do miss my family. Misty Fox is the sweetest and I want to play her best friend in a show ‘cause it would go over stellar. Omar Alex Khan gives us hope that we can remain cool forever.

How does working on an indie project differ from a mainstream one?

ALLISON: It's more relaxed. We don't have the thrall of a standards and practices department, and we're DEFINITELY not getting network notes about "tone".

CARA: The level of professionalism is the same, the only difference is cash money.

JANET: The indie projects that I have been involved with seem to have lots of heart. They all have been passion projects for the producers and they surround themselves with artists that share this passion as well. As a result, I've never received as much respect as I have on these projects. Everyone involved wants to be there – they are either working for no pay, reduced pay or deferred pay, but they believe in the project and want to give it their all. And they are lots of FUN.

NORMAN: You’ll probably wear your own clothes on an indie project.

What else do you do besides acting?

ALLISON: I play music and pretend I'm a rockstar. I take dance class and pretend I'm a ballerina. I write poetry and pretend I'm Charles Bukowski, just without all the misogynistic alcoholism.

CARA: Watch hockey with Norman Yeung.

JANET: I am currently creating a play about Madam Mao. And I am a Mom. So these days it's all about being a Mom in one form or other. Go figure.

NORMAN: Watch hockey with Cara Gee. And Meredith Cheesbrough.

What are some of your favorite indie projects?

ALLISON: That I've worked on? “Losers Take All”. “My Name is Jerry”. “Redemption Maddie”. “Reliance”, which has yet to grace the internet. That I've seen? “SLC Punk”. “Zombie in a Penguin Suit”. A Sam Taylor-Wood short called “Love You More”.

CARA: I'm pretty stoked about “Empire of Dirt”, my film that's opening at the end of November. We just premiered at Toronto International Film Festival, which was the most exciting thing of all time. I hope people check it out.

JANET: At the beginning of this year, I was involved in a pilot called “Second Jen”, a comedy about second-generation kids and their immigrant families. It was so much fun and I got to play a crazy Mom. Here is their website:

NORMAN: “Wild Style”, directed by Charlie Ahearn, 1982. Fab Five Freddy, Lee, Lady Pink, Zephyr, Grandmaster Flash, Rocksteady Crew, Cold Crush Brothers, Busy Bee, Double Trouble, DJ Grandwizard Theodore… Are you kidding me? A gem of an ultra-indie, ultra-low-budge, ultra-important film. Is it in the Library of Congress? It will be. Also, I really enjoyed being in Seth Mendelson’s video for Bad Passion’s “Get Results”. It’s on YouTube.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

ALLISON: How lucky we are that this is our job. I get to live my life from one character to the next, filling the in-between spaces with music, dance, theatre, art... I can't believe how lucky I am. That, and I really miss Lou Reed.

CARA: Check out our Kickstarter campaign and toss us some coin. Even the smallest bit helps and we are all eternally grateful. This will be a really cool film and I believe it's worth investing in.

NORMAN: Kickstarter is all or nothing, so if we don’t reach our funding goal, then we will get $0 to make this film. If you contribute (please and thanks!), you'll get a nuanced, emotionally honest film with odd relationships that will make you consider your own choices to be happier. You’ll also get cool gifts in return. Stuff you can wear, use, and boast about. Also, I always call John Hoff III by his full name.


Thank You to Norman. Allison, Cara, Janet for doing the interview.  I wish you all the best with "Anne Darling" and future projects. Spread the word about Kickstarter: For all things "Anne Darling" visit