Scarily relatable, surprisingly humorous, undeniably intriguing, Eric Ford Holevinski’s indie film “The Restaurant” has it all—from moments every food industry worker will understand to startling, jump-out-of-your-seat scares. As his first endeavor in filmmaking, Ford seems to have found subject material that draws from personal and universal experiences, while maintaining both humorous and horrifying themes. “The Restaurant,” a comedy-horror centered around a fast-paced New York City Italian restaurant, leads viewers into a spiral of scares and laughs as the busboy discovers a dark secret the manager is keeping. The secret? A customer-hungry entity in the basement that must be fed for the rave reviews to keep flooding in. Being his first foray into the indie film industry, Ford explained the motivations, developments and experiences of his career in the film industry in a Q&A.
Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager are teaming up to make a new documentary about the “safe space” phenomenon that is plaguing college campuses across America. The pair has been filming for the past few months, but now they’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign for $500,000 to help them continue production on “No Safe Spaces.”
Have you ever heard of the GI Film Festival? Since 2007, this annual festival has been building community and film-making around subjects of military and veteran experience. The festival is “dedicated to preserving the stories of American veterans past and present through film, television and live special events.”
Are you a liberty-minded director, writer, or producer? Bring your perspective to the Liberty Lab for Film (LLF) to fine tune your craft as a filmmaker and storyteller while making a great, professional quality short film or web series.
LLF is an advanced program from Taliesin Nexus, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, for those who have filmmaking, screenwriting, or producing experience eager to work alongside like-minded creatives with the guidance of seasoned professionals such as Daniel Knauf, (executive producer, NBC’s The Blacklist) Adam Simon, (creator of the FOX series Salem) screenwriters Bill Marsilii (Deja Vu, Cold), Paul Guay (Liar Liar), David H. Steinberg (American Pie 2) and Erica Beeney (The Battle for Shaker Heights and “Project Greenlight” winner) in making your film.
If selected, you will receive $10,000 to make your short film and embark on a 100 day development and writing phase, before moving into production and post. You and your team will work together from script development until your film or web series premieres at our gala SmashCut screening in Los Angeles and/or selected cities across the country.
LLF participants will also take part in CineShots, intimate discussions focusing on screenwriting, producing, directing, and post-production lead by industry veterans. Participants will also receive a free copy of Final Draft 10 (valued at $249), the industry’s leading screenwriting software.
The LLF is not for the faint of heart. You will undergo a compressed studio experience including script development, pre-production, production, post-production, and editing before finally seeing your film on the big screen!
(Taliesin Nexus is the owner and operator of the SmashCut Culture blog.)
By Stevie Wang
In “They Live!,” a drifter stumbles upon a conspiracy about aliens who secretly rule over the human race. By wearing a pair of sunglasses, the drifter is able to see that aliens are disguising themselves in positions of great power such as company owners, police officers, and politicians and are essentially governing the human race and working for their own interests. Humans are completely oblivious to their rulers and are kept from seeking the truth due to consumer goods and materialism.
The Amityville Horror is a classic in the world of horror, both on the page and on the screen. After the ordeal the Lutz family went through their story made national headlines. It drew the attention of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, now famous because of the Conjuring and Conjuring 2, also based on cases they investigated. Within a year a book had been written (Jay Anson, 1977) that was an instant national best seller, and two years later the film (dir. Stuart Rosenberg, 1979) was released which quickly became the biggest indie hit to date. James Brolin was reading the book when some clothes that were hung on his closet door and scared him witless for a moment; at that point he said he knew there was something to this story. Clearly, it is a story worth the time to both read and watch, assuming you enjoy both claustrophobia and dread.
The movie is a very faithful adaptation of the book. From the grand incidents, like Jody, to the little incidents or details, like the missing money or the mirrors in the bedroom, the movie knows and respects the source material.
As an independent filmmaker, the single biggest obstacle to getting your film made is: paying for it. You can have all the other elements you need lined up: a great story, a fast and efficient crew, talented actors, and your aunt has even agreed to let you film at her vacation home in the mountains, (as long as you pay for the maid service afterwards,) but if you don’t have a budget to pay for it all, you will not make your film. This is where Taliesin Nexus’ Liberty Lab for Film program comes in.
The Liberty Lab for Film (or LLF) is an advanced program for those who have filmmaking, screenwriting, and/or producing experience and want an opportunity to work alongside liberty-minded creatives under the guidance of seasoned professionals such as Daniel Knauf, (co-executive producer, NBC’s The Blacklist) Adam Simon (creator of the FOX series Salem) and screenwriter David H. Steinberg (American Pie 2) in developing, writing, filming and editing your short film or web series idea.
If you and your treatment are selected, you will receive a grant for $10,000 to fund your project and be paired with an established industry professional who will mentor you through a 100 day process. At the conclusion, Taliesin Nexus will host a gala showcase screening in Los Angeles where your film will premiere along with your fellow LLF participants’ projects.
This is not for the faint of heart. You and your partners will be responsible for producing a high quality film. For 100 days, you must contend with: a rigorous development process, valuable collaboration, working within a budget, and notes & feedback from your mentor and the network. It’s a process not unlike aspects of the Hollywood system or any independent film production.
To submit, all you need is a one-page treatment of your story idea for a short film or web-series that touches on some aspect of liberty. Why Liberty? Taliesin Nexus is committed to helping storytellers, who share a passion for human freedom and diversity, succeed in their entertainment career.
One great aspect about applying is, if you apply early, it will give them time to review your application and reach out to you to offer feedback. If they can help you with your treatment even before you make it in to the program, they want to do it. Taliesin Nexus is committed to ensuring that you and your project receive as much support as possible.
Please follow this link to learn more about the program, the application process, and what to expect when you are selected into the program. Applications are being accepted NOW and you have until April 15, 2016 to submit.
(Taliesin Nexus is the owner and operator of SmashCut Culture)
Just in time for Halloween comes this 4 minute macabre short film from filmmaker Luke Asa Guidici. Time to Eat is the suspenseful story of two old adversaries: a boy and a basement. As always, it’s what is in the basement that offers the horror.
This post introduces a new theme in addition to page to screen adaptations. That is: things you may have missed. In case you don’t know, Bubba Ho-tep is a movie, and a short story, where neither Elvis nor JFK are dead. They are both in a Texas rest home and have been robbed of their identities by fate and the powers that be. To make matters worse, an Egyptian mummy has started to raid the home and steal the soles of residents. Elvis and Jack are the only ones who know and therefore the only ones who can do anything about it. You can watch the trailer here, though it doesn’t do the movie justice.
I think a lot of people view this movie as a silly B-movie send up, and I had a similar opinion before I watched it. Now, it might just be my lifelong affection for Bruce Campbell, but from my first viewing I was in love. Sure, it has a ridiculous premise and outlandish characters, but I have only ever seen a beautiful portrayal of aging and the struggle to maintain one’s identity and dignity. Why else would the cast feature such American icons as Elvis, JFK, and the Lone Ranger? When I found out the movie was based on an existing story I was the most excited to see more of the world.
This adaptation was interesting because I have more experience with novels being adapted into films and this was a short story. As such it means the expansion of the world as opposed to the reduction. The film allowed for more time with the characters and the introduction of the funeral home workers who pick up the bodies of residents. They, in particular, brought the “youth” perspective of the plight of the rest home residents and the lack of empathy and interest the rest of the world have for them.
Smash Cut Culture is proud to support the up & coming filmmakers who make up part of the nexus that is Taliesin Nexus. Please take a moment to check out alum Jeremy Michael Cohen’s pitch for his latest feature film project Yinz and its Kickstarter campaign below:
Today we’re launching the Kickstarter campaign for my first feature film as a director. The film is called YINZ, and it’s inspired by growing up in my Rust Belt hometown in Western Pennsylvania. I’m making the movie with Hailey Hansard, my long-time girlfriend and a working actress, and John Hermann, an experienced producer I’ve worked with before.
The first day is the most important time for any Kickstarter campaign. It’s the make-or-break day for whether it will go viral. We know not everyone can or wants to put money into a Kickstarter, and we’re cool by that. But we’d love and be grateful if you’d share the campaign with your friends today.
There’s a ton of information about YINZ on the Kickstarter page and in the video. However, we’ve come up with this nifty little phrase to sum up the movie: Yinz is a dark comedy about growing up in Western Pennsylvania. A violent and funny forbidden love story in the the heart of the Rust Belt.
I’d like to ask you to do two things, please:
1) Please visit our Kickstarter page and watch the video. We’re pre-selling the movie for $25, and we’ve put together some pretty cool rewards for higher levels of backing. There’s a ton more information about the project on the Kickstarter page. We’d love any comments you want to leave on the page, too. Watching the video and chipping in even a single dollar is the most important thing you can do for us. If you want a direct link to the campaign, it’s: www.jerm.co/yinzkickstarter
ReasonTV’s Nick Gillespie sat down with writer/director Courtney Moorehead Balaker to discuss the adaptation of Jeff Benedict’s book Little Pink House into a major motion picture scheduled to begin filming this fall. It’s been 10 years since the SCOTUS decision decided in favor of the city of New London over homeowner Susette Kelo in an eminent domain abuse case that sent shockwaves throughout the country.
See the interview below and read more here.
Clea Duval, star of writer/director RJ Daniel Hanna’s short film drama Shelter (produced as part of the 2014 Liberty Lab for Film project through Taliesin Nexus) was interviewed just prior to the short’s premier this past Monday, June 1st at the Dances with Films festival in Hollywood, CA.
To find out more about the film check out the Facebook page.
From her early turn as the tough high school outcast in Robert Rodriguez’s “The Faculty” to most recently as one of the six American diplomats detained in Ben Affleck’s Oscar winning film “Argo,” DuVall has been hitting all the right performance notes and shows no sign of stopping. Her latest work is in a moody new short titled “Shelter” (making its way to the big screen via the Dances With Films Festival 2015 on Monday, June 1st at 5pm at the Chinese 6 Theaters on Hollywood and Highland in LA) that sees DuVall playing a prisoner on parole who becomes affected by her job working at an animal shelter. The short is a precursor to a proposed feature length film and if anything like the impressive sixteen minute movie it’s gonna be a movie to watch for.
Reminder as you are watching this footage, director George Miller was 69 years old and cinematographer John Seale was 70. These two and their production team just schooled every action film made in the past 15 years. Green screen should used to enhance the story, not be the story. Mad Max used green screen, but you will notice it only for certain camera angles and shots that required it for the safety of the actors and stunt performers.
Any wonder why the actors in the Star Wars prequels felt like they couldn’t act their way out of a cardboard box? They couldn’t because they were acting to nothing except the chroma green box they were placed in. Never underestimate the power of doing it real.
Next up in our ongoing series highlighting the film projects that were produced during the 100 day challenge laid out by Taliesin Nexus’ Liberty Lab for Film, we bring you another comedy web-series. Wigs was created by writer Richard Mattox and director Matt Edwards (both SCC contributors).
Sick and tired of seeing all the attention that comic book superheroes garner on the sidewalks of Hollywood Blvd., Virginia, a widowed grandmother with some disposable income, forms “Wigs on Wheels”, a group of historical re-enactors who travel around Los Angeles bringing real American heroes like Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Dolley and James Madison to life. Overzealous police, smart-aleck kids, and internal subversion are all present in this hilarious comedy.
Wigs garnered first place and the filmmakers were awarded $2000 for their work during the 100 Day Challenge of the Liberty Lab for Film.
[Update: Taliesin Nexus has extended the deadline to apply for this year’s Liberty Lab for Film until midnight Monday the 25th for all you last minute shoppers out there.]
Smash Cut Culture: What drew you to becoming a filmmaker?
Richard Mattox: I was always interested in the performing arts. I had experience acting, playing music, and singing all throughout my childhood. But I think it was Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy that inspired my to become a filmmaker. I remember writing my own sequel to the films. It was a 10 page script in which I was the lead. I can still remember standing behind my mom as she operated the camera, banging pots and pans together for sound as my neighborhood friends tromped around the snow fighting with plastic swords.
Matt Edwards: Growing up in Los Angeles I was exposed very early on to the behind-the-scenes action of some of my generations favorite TV shows. With action scenes from shows like Knight Rider, The Fall Guy and The A-Team being filmed on the streets of my neighborhood, I figured every kid knew how the “sausage was made” and it was no big deal. When I hit college and met more people not from LA, I realized how lucky I was to have sort of a home court advantage when it came to being comfortable trying to make it in Hollywood and I better not waste the chance. Plus I fell in love with Hitchcock movies at about age 9, and never looked back.
May 15 is here and if you thought you missed out on applying for 2015’s Liberty Lab for Film, then good news… you’ve got seven more days to get your act (or three acts) together and apply for a $10,000 grant, a Hollywood insider to mentor you and 100 days to make your film.
You can read more about the program here or below on the next page. But perhaps you are more easily persuaded by the visual and would like to watch a short reel showing off last year’s lab participants.
In our ongoing series* highlighting the film projects that were produced during the 100 day challenge laid out by Taliesin Nexus’ Liberty Lab for Film, we bring you the comedy webseries C.A.R.E. Force created by comedy writer Crystal Hubbard and fiction writer Mike Pauly (both SCC contributors). The series centers on an obscure law enforcement agency that may or may not be fighting actual crime. Nonetheless, they exist to enforce the laws that time forgot.
SCC: What drew you to be a filmmaker?
Mike Pauly: I’ve always felt compelled to tell stories. The medium of film/television reaches the widest possible audience and can have the most impact.
Crystal Hubbard: I was too old to be Indiana Jones.
Jimmy Lui is one of 2014’s Taliesin Nexus Liberty Lab For Film Fellows. He wrote and directed the short film thriller When We Meet Again. His partner fellow Nevil Jackson was the cinematographer on the project. The film is a sci-fi drama about a teacher visited by a time-traveller who tries to convince her that he knows what is best for her. Smash Cut Culture asked Jimmy Lui a few questions about the project and on himself as a filmmaker.
SCC: What drew you to be a filmmaker?
JL: A charcoal pencil. I find that movies have a certain power that other mediums do not. I grew up an Asian kid in the deep South. To say that I did not fit in with my peers is a bit of an understatement. Yet, at the movies, we were all the same. That is a pretty powerful idea. Movies can be empowering and personal and communal and inspiring and entertaining and influential.The movies I was attracted to most growing up were the films of Bruce Lee, the action films from Hong Kong and Big Trouble In Little China. Perhaps it was seeing heroes who looked like me on the screen, but I think it was more the beauty and power of the martial arts and action in those films.
When I was a teenager, I noticed that most of the movies that I loved were by the same few filmmakers. That’s when I decided that I wanted to be a filmmaker. Unlike most filmmakers of my age group who went to film school, I do not like the Star Wars films and I think Martin Scorcese is a hack. I would rather make movies in the vein of Sammo Hung, John Carpenter, Buster Keaton, Paul Vehoeven, David Cronenberg and Mel Gibson.
Taliesin Nexus is proud to announce that applications have launched for two more of their 2015 programs.
Liberty Lab For Film
Get a $10,000 Grant to Make a Short Film in the Liberty Lab Program!
Taliesin Nexus is seeking applications for the Liberty Lab for Film program, which provides grants of $10,000 to seven teams of filmmakers to create a short film or web series with a liberty-related theme. Each team of two filmmakers will be assigned a mentor from among our faculty of seasoned Hollywood professionals, screenwriters and producers whose credits include hit TV shows like The Blacklist and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and hit movies like American Pie II and Liar Liar (with Jim Carrey).
Cut Bank is an original story made up of equal parts Fargo, A Simple Plan and Psycho. Long time television director Matt Shakman (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) takes his first jab at feature film directing with a small-town murder mystery titled Cut Bank, set in the poetically named real-life town of Cut Bank, Montana. The town boasts a large display at it’s border declaring it as the coldest place in the lower 48, however the film takes place during a not-unusual summer heat wave. That my friends, is real honest to goodness nature-made climate change. I imagine one of the reasons why the filmmakers chose to film in the summer is to remain as far removed from the look and feel of the classic Cohen Brothers’ film Fargo, which this almost certainly is inspired by.
While the film starts off as a murder mystery of whodunnits, after about 15 min, we quickly know who did done it, and more importantly why. The why in this case is about what it usually always is, money. And the who seems to be more about, who isn’t involved. So then why even bother watching? Well, this is one of those rare stories in film nowadays, where the audience is allowed to know everything and is left to simply watch and relish as these characters play catch-up. (Gone Girl was another recent example of this, although for me, the ending ruined the entire experience.) With a terrific veteran cast, as an audience member, all I want to do is watch these actors do their thing.
Three weeks ago I wrote about my horror comedy feature, The Restaurant. We embarked on a Kickstarter campaign to secure funding, and today marks the final day of that endeavor. Today is also the beginning: the beginning of pre-production as we move to the next phase of the journey.
We have a few hours left. Funding doesn’t close until 2:00 eastern time tonight, which means if you’re reading this from the west coast, you have until 11:00 to back the film.
Kickstarter incurs a 5% fee plus a 3% payment processing fee, and the more distance we can put between ourselves and the 18,000 mark, the more we can offset those fees. The more we can raise, the more resources we’ll have for makeup and effects, location use, taking care of our cast and crew, and unanticipated expenses. In exchange for your backing, we offer a wide selection of perks. At the $15 backer level, you get a digital copy of the film. $50 gets you a Kickstarter Edition disc with exclusive special features and content, including the soundtrack and pre-production materials (one of our most popular rewards).
My team is excited and happy to have come this far, and we’re eager to get to the fun part: making the movie. I’ve learned a lot from the crowdfunding experience and it’s given me a new respect for entrepreneurship and what goes into starting a business — because that’s essentially what we are doing.
As a lifelong horror movie addict, I’ve heard all the complaints about the genre’s decline. I’ve made those complaints myself. Mainstream horror today is a parade of by-the-book stories, CGI, and irritating, too-good-looking characters you want dead from the first frame. Where did the horror movies go where the star looked like Tom Atkins or Kurt Russell? What happened to the fun?
The Restaurant is the result of me sitting down to write the kind of movie I’d want to see. It’s both a horror film and a comedy in the tradition of such classics as Ghostbusters and An American Werewolf in London. I wanted the leads to be relatable. The writing had to be lively and funny. And I’m firmly in the Lovecraft camp: the monster in a horror film should be cosmic, hateful, and a little ridiculous.
The Apollo Workshop: Storytelling in Film and Television (formerly The Filmmakers Workshop) is a weekend conference connecting 25 talented aspiring filmmakers with 25 members of our faculty of Hollywood screenwriters, producers, executives and talent representatives. It will take place in August 14-16, 2015 on the UCLA campus.
And imagine this: the workshop is completely free of charge — free tuition, free room and board, and even travel stipends to those coming from outside of Southern California.
The Apollo Workshop offers training in two critical areas: Storytelling Development and Career Development.
“But the point of the scene is, Doc Brown is the one that is supposed to go back in time. Until the terrorists show up, and we have the big chase scene, and Marty is the one that goes back in time accidentally. So that’s the genius of the scene!” says screenwriter David H. Steinberg (Slackers, American Pie 2) when he sat down with Matt Edwards to discuss the rare perfect script of Back to the Future on The Rear View Podcast.
Steinberg sheds light on how Back to the Future (written Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, and directed by Zemeckis) builds up enough goodwill with the audience that by the time the third act rolls around, the audience cheers in their seat with Doc Brown’s improbable zip-line flight to the rescue. The film is 30 years old this year and with a script, cast and production as perfect as you can get, it’s really… timeless.
Thirty years ago, America’s two best horror films emerged: Return of the Living Dead (written and directed by Dan O’Bannon) and Re-Animator (co-written and directed by Stuart Gordon). Both function farcically. In Return, mistake begets mistake until good intentions make a blood bath. In Re-Animator, man’s attempts to improve reality only expose his incompetence to do so. And, in reminding us of our limitations, both films affirm traditional morality, even while appearing to mock it.
The Return of the Living Dead occurs courtesy of our absurd war on drugs. A “typical Army fuck-up” mistakenly sends barrels of 2-4-5 Trioxin, an anti-marijuana toxin that happens to reanimate the dead, to a Louisville, Kentucky medical supply warehouse. Instead of returning the barrels, warehouse owner Burt (a perfect Clu Gulager in a deathlessly uncool Members Only jacket) hides them in the basement. Then Frank (James Karen), Burt’s dim-witted underling, accidentally ruptures one while showing off for new employee Freddy (Thom Matthews). The 2-4-5 Trioxin revives the warehouse inventory: Pinned butterflies flutter, split dogs bark, and a naked, piss-yellow cadaver (call him “Yellow Man”) thunders against his freezer’s door.
Burt attempts a cover-up. He persuades Ernie (Don Calfa), the mortician working late at the neighboring Resurrection Cemetery, to cremate the reanimated inventory. But this multiplies his problems. A flash thunderstorm rains the contaminated smoke onto the cemetery, reviving its residents. Soon, rampaging zombies besiege not only Burt and company, but also Freddy’s punker friends, who’ve been partying in the cemetery. As the zombies overwhelm dozens of heavily-armed police called to the scene, Burt contacts the Army for help. The Army responds by nuking Louisville. This is the ultimate error. The incinerated zombies mix once again with the rain, threatening another outbreak. (more…)
In the latest reel of The Rear View, Matt sits down with film composer Scott McRae to discuss the Oscar winning score by Dario Marianelli of 2007’s Atonement. The film is broken into three distinct acts and the score for each is masterfully woven throughout. Scott is a Los Angeles based composer and can be found at mcraemusic.com.