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$10K Film Grant Available: Now Accepting Liberty Lab for Film Applications!

FIRST TIME APPLICATION FORM | ALUMNI APPLICATION FORM

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 BlacklistAdam 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.)

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Kickstarter Alert – Yinz

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.

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From the Kickstarter page for Yinz

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

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Shelter Star, Clea Duval Interviewed at Dances With Films

cleaClea 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.

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Wigs – Liberty Lab for Film

WIGS 1C 1400x1400Next 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.

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DEADLINE EXTENDED – 2015 Liberty Lab for Film

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.

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C.A.R.E. Force – Liberty Lab for Film 2014

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.

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When We Meet Again – 2014 Liberty Lab For Film

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.

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2015 Liberty Lab For Film & Calliope Authors Workshop

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).

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NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS: The Apollo Workshop: Storytelling in Film & TV

logo-1The 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.

Click here to learn more and apply.

Free Workshop and Internships for Liberty-Loving Creatives

Want to score a free weekend in L.A., learning the craft of storytelling from Hollywood veterans?  Or how about a three-month paid internship at a leading production company?

Taliesin Nexus is pleased to announce that applications are now open for two of their premier training programs.

The Filmmakers Workshop is TN’s flagship, this year’s being the fifth in a row.  A three-day weekend conference in August, it’s the perfect way to sample what TN has to offer, with minimal commitment.  Best of all, it’s absolutely free.  And TN even helps cover travel expenses and provides free room and board.

Who can apply?  TN is looking for liberty-loving filmmakers, video-makers or screenwriters who have some background in media or have written at least one script or made at least one short film or video.

About two dozen applicants will be selected to come to L.A. on August 15-17, 2014, where the workshop will take place on the campus of UCLA.  The faculty is comprised of seasoned Hollywood professionals who will share tips on craft and career advice.  The focus is on developing powerful stories, which is the root of any great movie or TV show.

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If you prefer a longer sojourn in L.A., apply for the Hollywood Internship Program.  This program is more selective than the workshop, as it only accepts about three each year.  Each will work for a leading production company as an intern for about three months.  One or two will work in the summer, and the other(s) in the fall, gaining valuable experience and connections.

The early-bird application deadline is May 1st, so apply soon.  See the “How to Apply” page for more information.

And don’t forget about TN’s new program for more advanced filmmakers, the Liberty Lab for Film.

Put-Up Time

Ever tell your friends, “If only I could have $10,000 for a production budget and mentoring from a seasoned Hollywood pro, I could make a really kick-ass short film”?

Well, it’s time to put up or shut up.  Taliesin Nexus is offering just that to ten lucky young filmmakers.  Go here to find out how the program works and how to apply.

A key part of the application is a one-page treatment of your idea for a short film or video.  The story you want to make needs to address some aspect of liberty as its theme.  And it must be makable within the budgetary limits.  (So forget about that sequel to Braveheart, unless you’re really good at green-screen CGI.)

The judges will be looking for originality.  But they’re not looking for super-esoteric film-school short films.  You know the type — shot in black and white for no good reason, weird for the sake of being weird.  It wouldn’t kill you to give it a coherent narrative.  (And it’d definitely give you a better shot at getting picked.)

So, start thinking up those original story ideas with a coherent narrative and a liberty theme.  With any luck, you’ll be making a kick-ass short film this summer.

And stay tuned to this blog, as we’ll release additional tips and details on TN’s programs.

 

It’s a Smash Cut Culture

Do we need a new blog on culture?  Well, did we need a new pope?  I think both questions answer themselves.

Webster’s defines “smash cut” as… well, Webster’s doesn’t have “smash cut” in it.  The first suggestion it lists in lieu of “smash cut” is “Siamese cat,” but that’s just silly.

Naturally, Google has a definition:  “A smash cut is a technique in film and other moving visual media where one scene abruptly cuts to another without transition, usually meant to startle the audience.”

Which isn’t so silly.  Because Hollywood is going through an abrupt change that, rather than startling the audience, seems to be scaring the bejebus out of the movie studios and TV networks.

This probably isn’t news to you, but digital technology, which now runs the gamut from production to distribution, has revolutionized the film and TV industry (just as it upended the music business earlier).

Used to be that you needed a battery of refrigerator-sized movie cameras, miles of celluloid film, hanger-sized sound stages, and battalions of crew members to shoot a movie, along with editing suites with bulky equipment that would literally cut and splice together reels of film.

And then, you needed to make thousands of physical copies of these big reels of film and ship them all over the country simultaneously for opening weekend.  And you had to spend tens of millions in TV advertising to get the word out and butts in the seats.

Now?  You can shoot an entire movie with a handheld HD videocamera and a few hard drives that could all fit inside one suitcase.  You can edit the whole thing with nothing but a laptop.  You can distribute your finished product to hundreds of millions of potential customers with literally the touch of a trackpad button and a WiFi connection.  And you can market the whole thing for free with a Twitter account and Facebook page.

Of course, there’s no guarantee you will have the same level of viewership or gross income that the studio movie will garner.  But the playing field is more level than it has ever been before.

Of all of these changes — the lowering of barriers on production, post-production, marketing, and distribution — the most radical is distribution.  The studios were the ultimate gatekeepers on what movies were shown in theaters and sold in video-stores (remember those?), what songs played on the radio, what shows got on TV.  But while they continued to zealously patrol those gates, the walls around those gates have been crumbling.

Gil Scot-Heron was right, in a way — the (digital) revolution will not be televised.  Rather, it will be blogged, podcasted, YouTubed, Tweeted, Vimeo’ed, Pandora’ed, Amazon Primed, and Netflix streamed.  Studios can only stand by (like record-company executives before them) as their business models go the way of the dinosaur.

While the studio system certainly had its advantages and its triumphs, both artistic and financial, it was often hostile to those who didn’t share their paternalistic, coastal-elite point of view.  Having connections –familial, political, or school ties — were crucial to breaking in.  This fostered a group-think mentality, while those with other perspectives were largely locked out.

As Hollywood’s monopoly on the means of distribution fades, other points of view will break through as people outside the system begin to create.

Smash Cut is a group blog that seeks to liberate our culture from Hollywood’s stale, hidebound world view, encouraging more diverse voices and views.

But likely more often than not, we will simply write silly posts and capsule movie reviews, pointing you to the things we like (or warning you off things that we don’t like).  We want to hear from you, so we welcome comments.

We want this to be a conversation.  We will often disagree with each other — which is good, because as I said, we want to see/hear a diversity of ideas and views.  You will not find a lot of groupthink here.  In fact, we are all in firm agreement to avoid groupthink.

Like a Paranormal Activity movie, change is scary but simultaneously thrilling.  The changes underway in the Hollywood system provide tremendous opportunity to those who felt cut out of the old-boys-network because they weren’t willing to surrender their independence of thought.

Fresh new voices are emerging, and there’s no rule that says they must parrot the same tired Hollywood point of view.  We for one can’t wait to hear what they have to say.  And this blog gives us a chance to throw in our own two bitcoins from time to time.