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The Believers

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Here is a film that I'm excited about. It's about the drama surrounding a girl trained in classical music that joins a rock band. Being somewhat of a musician myself I can relate to this theme. So I am very anxious to see their treatment of the subject.


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"Nadia Jones stars as Melanie, a gifted but troubled cellist discovering life outside of the regimented world of classical music training."



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Kira is very generous with her time whether it is exposing new talent in her cast and crew or calling attention to social issues in the films she creates.

When I asked her about why she takes on these subjects here is what she told me.  

"It's so hard for me to answer this question because I have so many things to say about this! But, simply put:  I am drawn towards telling stories about things that make me uncomfortable. If I feel uncomfortable about a topic... then I must make a film about it! 

These social issues become synonymous for taboo issues. I feel so passionately opposed to allowing this pattern to continue. So this is why when I feel uncomfortable. I know that I need to say something. If I don't, I am contributing to this culture of being quiet about things that make us uncomfortable. I think it is my duty as an artist to address topics that are 'hush hush.' In my work (just to name a few of the topics) I've dealt with depression, sexuality, warped body image, and now sexual assault and abusive relationships-- these are all topics that are hard to talk about. But we need to talk about these things! If one person lets down their guard and tells their story, who knows who will be listening and touched by the honesty. It can start a chain reaction of recreating this culture of taboo to a culture of free voices and open arms. I believe I, as well as every other human being, should feel comfortable expressing themselves, even if expressing themselves means talking about something scary or seemingly 'shameful.' That word 'shameful' should not be tied to those who are suffering or have been abused. No one should be embarrassed, guilty, or ashamed.

I guess that wasn't really simply put. But I'll try this once more: I often choose social issues because I need to address them. I just need to."

Filmmaking is her passion and she has modest budgets for the quality of films she delivers.  If you're not already familiar with her skills please check out some of the links below and acquaint yourself with her work.  There are many fine examples on Vimeo such as Bye Bye Lullaby, Girly, Clean, Sleepyhead, and Fool's Paradise.

Tree Hugger is fresh off it's worldwide film festival tour and is scheduled for an online premiere on Saturday.  If you would like to see the film, then click on the link below which will take you to a Facebook invitation page where you can login to Facebook and select "Going" and you will be notified on Saturday when the online premiere begins with the link you will need to view it.



*** Remember to login to Facebook and select "Going" just 
below the photo at the top of the page to be notified of the event. ***



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Here's a young lady I hope and think we'll be seeing a lot more of. Bev Tan has her feet wet in both the commerce and art sides of filmmaking.  By day, a mild mannered member of a social marketing team. By night a creative filmmaker willing to take on the social issues of the day.

Born in New York City eventually ending up in North Carolina and going to high school in Holly Springs. Bev made up her mind very early what she wanted to do in life. "I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker when I was 7 years old." To fulfill that desire she eventually ended up at Western Carolina University. "I went to film school at Western Carolina University and worked as a photographer and freelance writer as well during that. I also minored in poetry. I have always been in love with filmmaking but I did change my concentration 5 times, beginning and ending with producing."
Jaysen Buterin.jpgPremiering this week at the Mysticon Independent Film Festival is Don't Let The Light In  by Jaysen P. Buterin.


Having been a filmmaker for going on 10 years now. Jaysen has written 20 screenplays and directed many of them.  He is also an actor who works with some  of the top producers and directors in the southeast.


The first thing you notice about Jaysen is that he is an eloquent conversationalist.The next  thing that became evident when asking about the movies he watched as a kid,  is that he  loves horror. Raised on the classics by his dad. I'm sure he will pass it on to his own son, and to us, through his filmmaking.


Don't Let The Light In is a good example. A tale of a young boy and his babysitter. As we are getting to know Sarah and Jack, the boy nonchalantly mentions that he has monsters in his room. Sarah patronizes the child  but is surprised at what she discovers.



Potpourri

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Katie Carpenter - Maid to Order

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Katie Carpenter by Marie Thomas.jpg
Photo Credit: Marie Thomas
Katie Carpenter is an actress I first heard about when she was filming Fix It In Post as Lexy. A zombie comedy where Katie plays a featherbrained young actor. The director, Christine Parker, was proud to have Katie as one of the stars saying "She was a natural as the ditzy self absorbed actress in Fix It In Post. No one could have played that part as well." Brett Mullen was one of the cinematographers on that movie and is currently collaborating with Katie on her latest creation Maid To Order.

Maid To Order is a webseries created by and starring Katie as a struggling young actress (see the parallel?) that has resorted to running a fetish cleaning business to make ends meet. Her customers begin to asked for very strange things by her clients. The dilemma...how to keep her dignity and continue on her path as an actress. 



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LaShawn Woolridge, who performs under the name "Poe Anonymous", is a writer, actor, songstress, and poet who has just graduated from Winthrop University. While there, in addition to her work in theatre, she founded the organization Winthrop Def Poets Society.

Def Poets Society, a community for students that are passionate about the spoken word, held a college tour this year called Souls n Substance with events at the University of South Carolina and Clemson University, as well as Winthrop University.

Poe Anonymous will be performing as the featured artist in the Charlotte, North Carolina area over the next few weeks at these locations:




A select group of films will be shown with the directors there for a discussion and  Q&A along with a meet and greet.



Darren Conrad: A Father's Love

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Darren Conrad 1.jpgDarren Conrad is a work in progress, constantly honing his filmmaking skills. A hard working man. He is a highway patrolman by day (or night) who fills most of the rest of his time making films. Not content to just act, he also writes screenplays and produces his own works as well as helping other filmmakers with their projects.  Darren has done his share in other departments too. From casting director to wardrobe, makeup, set design, and assistant director. All the while making friends and business contacts.  Filmmaking is a team sport so this comes back to him when he needs help with one of his projects.

Over the years he has stepped up his game by investing more time and effort with each new film.  Finding the right actors for the roles and using the best equipment and production talent he can procure in order to deliver a quality piece of work. Hashing out the details with his go-to director (Jesse Knight)  for the Partners series and his latest film A Father's Love. Whatever it takes.

Charlotte Film Festival 2015 - September 25th thru October 3rd

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Charlotte, NC Skyline (11-13-06)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Charlotte Film Festival announces the remaining Official Selection short films for CFFSeven. All Official Selection films are up for juried awards and also Audience Choice.
We will be screening films from across the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Argentina, Switzerland, Canada, Poland, France, Ireland, Iran and Australia. Subjects include a New Zealand kinetic artist, an infamous house that once belonged to a serial killer and its new owners, a true story from World War II and a middle aged gangster trying to live an ordinary life.

NARRATIVE SHORTS

AS IT IS IN HEAVEN: A DIVINELY TWISTED COMEDY
When hesitation stays his trigger finger, suicidal businessman Tom Freeman sends a plea for help to a god he hasn't believed in for 30 years. But as he soon learns - if you call Heaven, be sure you know who's answering the phone!
Director: Luke Bruehlman, USA
 
BEVERLEY
Beverley follows a mixed race girl's struggle to carve out a sense of identity in the confusing, shifting cultural landscape of1980 Leicester. A move from the decaying, poverty-stricken, urban environment to the relative comfort and theoretical safety of white suburbia does not provide the hope and opportunities Bev may have wished for. A familiar enemy is ever present - a threat that extends beyond her own safety, as she must also protect her brother and sister. By asserting her will and using her guile Bev tries to shape her new environment into something palatable, but the result is the opposite of what she is trying to achieve.
Director: Alexander Thomas, United Kingdom
 

Athena nominated for 3 awards.

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Athena Poster.jpgRobert W. Filion's Athena has been nominated for three awards at the Action On Film Festival. Nominations include Best Visual Effects, Best Dialogue, and  Vanelle who played the part of Emily has been nominated as Best Actress in a Feature Film.









Micah Troublefield loves filmmaking.  Writing, filming, directing, editing... whatever is thrown at him.  But, his main passion is storytelling.  

A partner in the Strawhouse Pictures gang of four along with Brian Oxendine, Anil Dhokai, and Chris Gervais.  They have the ability and sensibility to make quality movies and that's just what they've been doing. 

One of those movies is a short film called The Gospel of Hip Bones premiering this week at the Indie Grits Film Festival in Columbia, South Carolina. Starring Erika Chase, Ernest Bryant Hinnant, Benjamin Caswell, Patrick G. Keenan, and Janice Mitchell Wyatt. Co-written and directed by Micah and Chris Gervais it is a story about a couple of Mormon young men like the ones on bicycles with white shirts and black ties you see going door to door in your neighborhood.  More importantly it is a behind the scenes look at these teenagers and some of the normal distractions of growing up.  Such as discovering the wonders of young girls.
Micah Troublefield by Matthew Turner
 Photo Credit: Matthew Turner


Here's what Anil Dhokai, a friend since high school and accomplished director/cinematographer, had to say about Micah.  "Micah is a good friend and long time collaborator. His films are some are some of my favorite projects to come out of Stawhouse pictures. The humor and style of his stories reflect shows like Freaks and Geeks as well as early John Hughes' movies."


Another co-worker, Justin Hoogeveen, described him like this.  "Working with Micah was fun. He has good knowledge of films and the film making process. He is a really funny guy so every day on set was a great time and we never had a dull moment. He was able to get what he wanted out of a shot and could explain things well to his other camera operators to make sure it came out how he wanted."

I have the impression that being creative is in Micah's DNA and he only wants to work on things that he can do his best on.  We should all have such aspirations!

Below is a conversation I had with Micah last year.


Death & The Robot

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Death & The Robot is a stop-motion animated film directed by  Austin Taylor  and written by Austin and Alex Thompson.

Made at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts on a very tight budget ($1,500) it involves 2D animation and CGI as well as the actual stop-motion figures used in the production.

"The film takes place on a world where there is no longer any life - just an endless sea of graves - and a personification of Death has grown terribly bored without any more life to take. When she (yes, Death is a "she" in the film's world) meets a hapless steam-powered Robot who has been secretly sustaining an underground greenhouse for centuries, an unlikely friendship emerges between them - but at a severe cost..."  - Alex Thompson 



What would it be like to not trust anyone?  No one to rely on. To feel the need to protect you and yours at all costs.  To act first..., on instinct, and ask later.


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A glimpse into this world is what you will see in Jesse Knight's Guns, Water & Food: An American Story.  A short film made in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  What would you do after a disaster where all forms of civilization ceased to exist?  How would you cope?

I've known a few men who were scarred by the effects of war and what they had to endure to survive. Never, did they talk much about it but you could tell in the way they would avoid the subject that it haunted them.  Suffering in silence. Not wanting to remember, only to revisit it in their nightmares.  The terror they must have felt and now wish they could forget.  

I mention this because sometimes, what goes on in the mind can be our worst enemy.  Whether real or imagined, irrational thoughts can lead to actions we wish we had not taken.  Such is the case with the character in this story.



HONEYSPIDER_CAPTURE_02.jpgIt is a rare occasion that you can watch a movie in the same building that was used as the actual setting for scenes in the movie but you will have that opportunity this weekend with Honeyspider.

Honeyspider was written with the Gem Theatre in Kannapolis, North Carolina in mind by Kenny Caperton who satisfied his teenage desire to see the latest movies there.  It is a story about a young woman who works at a local theater whose birthday is on Halloween. A friend encourages her to attend a party after her shift at the picture show not knowing what they are about to encounter.

Working with Josh and Kenny is unexplainable. They are the most understanding people. Being able to see the passion/love that they have for filmmaking in person is absolutely amazing. They are willing to cut loose and have fun when needed but they also know when it's time to be serious. They are willing to work with you and do whatever makes you comfortable. They are two of the most amazing people I have ever met. For me it was kind of challenging at first I wasn't able to channel my inner Jackie, because she was a complete opposite person of who I really am but I ended up getting used to it. - Mariah Brown - Jackie Blue in Honeyspider

The Gem Theatre, a setting in the movie, is indeed a gem.  Originally opened in 1936 by the Cannon Mills Company.  It's seating capacity at that time was 1,200 people.  In 1942 a fire in the rear section of theater.  Because of the war effort there was no money to repair the damage.  In 1948 The Cannon Mills Company rebuilt it.  During the 40s and 50s it played host to stage shows such as Jimmy Dickens and Grand Ole Opry, Fred Kirby, Tex Ritter, and Roy Rogers with Trigger.  The Gem Theatre is one of the oldest single screen theaters left in the country and has continued to be open to the public since it was rebuilt.

Another thing that was on Kenny's mind during the creation of this movie is what will the title be?  A long time fan of the Smashing Pumpkins he thought of an early B-Side song by them called 'Honeyspider'.  Now he had a title.  " I've always loved that title and when trying to come up with a name for my script about 1/3 into writing it, I looked through a huge list of Smashing Pumpkins song titles and that one really stuck out and I thought it would be great title for a horror film. So after choosing that title it influenced the script. And while we were in post-production searching for music to use in the film, of course that song was at the top of my list. I tracked down Billy's management and told them about the movie, my love for Smashing Pumpkins, etc and I guess he saw something in the project and gave us the rights to use the song."

One other thing Kenny needed was a director which he found in Josh Hasty, a director he has been working with since Judith: The Night She Stayed Home, a short film they made together nearly 5 years ago.  They've made two movies and a commercial together to date.  Though there is is a great distance between them.  Kenny is from North Carolina and Josh from Ohio.  There is no divide in what they like about making movies, especially horror movies.  One compliments the other.


Zacharay Davenport.jpgGreener Grass, is a "short film about isolation, transparency, and suicide chronicling two students wasting time while waiting for a flight".  This is a project by Zachary Davenport that will be his final film for school before graduation (he goes to the University of North Carolina in Wilmington).

Zachary is a promising young writer and director who already has some great work behind him and certainly more to come.  He is raising $3,000 to make sure this film can reach it's full potential in getting what he needs to make the movie such as renting a quality camera, a truck, generator, props, costumes, makeup, and a little left over to feed the crew and actors which are volunteering their time.

He has already raised about two-thirds of his goal but needs to raise the last thousand in the next 34 hours.  If he does not meet his goal of $3,000 then the campaign will go unfunded and there will be no money for the production which will make it difficult to complete the film and certainly not reach the potential he has imagined it to be.


Athena_Worldly_Possessions_Event.jpgTonight in Shelby, North Carolina is a premiere event that you don't want to miss.  Athena, a long awaited feature length movie by director Robert Filion and the highly anticipated Worldly Possessions from Brad Hord.

"Brad Hord, Robert W. Filion and the Don Gibson Theatre cordially invite you to a night of bloodcurdlingly exquisite entertainment featuring the very first screenings of Worldly Possessions (a short written by Brad Hord and directed by Robert W. Filion), and Athena (a feature length motion picture written by Michael Louis Calvillo and directed by Robert W. Filion). "

Athena

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Athena Poster.jpgAthena is a feature length movie from director Robert Filion that will be premiering this weekend in Shelby, North Carolina at the Don Gibson Theatre.

Many years in the making it is a story about a man, Carl,  who has lost his wife and has the emotional scars that situation has left him with.  Then there's Emily, who has everything going for her except Carl.  What they do share is a voice in their heads, the voice of Athena (Mahri Shelton).  Where will this voice lead them?

"It was so much fun having a part in bringing such a complex and intriguing character to life. Robert is always such a professional and a pleasure to work with." - Mahri Shelton - Actor


We had a conversation recently with Robert and some of the cast.  See the trailer for the movie and the conversation below,

The Kill Switch

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The Kill Switch Poster.jpgThe Kill Switch, written and directed by Louis Bekoe, is a statement about bullying and student violence. 

Louis himself has experienced this and was going to a school in Greensboro, North Carolina when an assistant  principal there was shot by a student.

Soon this film will be entered in film festivals around the country but for a limited time, this weekend, it will be available for the public to watch online.  See the link at the end of the article.

I had a chance today to talk with some of the cast, Louis, and Excutive Producer Darren Conrad about the the film.  Read what they have to say below.

Louis, who is also the an assistant director on the Partners series, would like everyone to know " ...this is one of many films created by North Carolina indie filmmakers and actors and there are more to come!".  Darren is also working on his first feature film Just North.