Indiana Made wins an EMMY!

Last summer, Jeff Pinilla and I went on a research shoot to convince Jeff’s bosses at PIX 11 in NYC that buying a RED camera would be beneficial for the creative services department. The shoot was simple. We would drive around various neighborhoods in the city and capture the architecture, people and details of the areas. We were under the impression we had the whole day to drive around and capture footage. It turned out that we only had an hour to get all of this done. Despite the time crunch, we captured some great stuff and figured we had a good shot at a successful pitch. What came out of it was more than I ever imagined.

Jeff turned the footage into an impromptu spot for PIX entitled “New York Perspective.” He wrote a beautiful script to accompany the visuals and the promo ran almost nonstop. The success of Perspectives caught the attention of the creative team at FOX 59 in Indiana. They were looking to create a dynamic campaign that connected their news team with the people of Indianapolis and the surrounding towns. Jeff and I spent a week in Indy capturing the beauty of the people and the city. What we ended up with was a spot named “Indiana Made.”

I’m really happy to share the news that Indiana Made is the winner of a 2013 local Emmy. I never thought I would be considered for an Emmy, let alone a recipient of one. To be honest, the idea  never crossed my mind. It is a wonderful accomplishment that I am proud to achieve. It was just as special to work with the great people in Indy: Michael Brouder, Andrew Witham and Shelby Simpson. It was a pleasure working with you guys. If you want to see the promo along with New York Perspective you can click here.

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Lessons from Small Packages

Sundance, Atlanta, Cleveland, Austin, New Orleans, Raindance, Hamptons, Chicago International, Seattle Shorts, Anchorage and Miami Shorts.

My daily commute begins and ends with the NYC Express Bus. On most days, it takes me about an hour and a half to get to where I need to go from when I leave my house to when I arrive at my destination. This bus ride is when I usually try my best to shut down and free my mind of any stress, issues or thoughts. It is my peace time. There was one ride a couple of weeks ago that was definitely out of the ordinary.

The list of cities mentioned above represent film festivals that chose not to program my short film Docket 32357 . I hopped on the bus knowing that I didn’t get into one of the festivals and I was a little frustrated. I thought the film was a good option for their program based on their past editions. So I hop on the bus and there are two young kids sitting next to one another. You can tell that they’re excited to be taking a ride. I’m not in the best of moods because of the rejection and these two kids are getting louder and louder. They’re disrupting my Randy time. Not only did my film not get into the festival, but now I have to hear these two kids oooh and aaaahh at every thing that they saw passing by in the window. And that was when I found the beauty in the moment. These two boys were excited by things that adults take for granted. The shadows cast on the bus created by tunnels. The construction site that is creating a new building. The large 18 wheeler truck that was carrying supplies to its destination. They were enamored by all of it. That was when I realized that it isn’t the end of the world to be rejected by a film festival. The point is that I’m doing pretty well even with these setbacks. I am creating. I had the strength to pursue something that I love with all the risks involved. I’ve overcome numerous setbacks and roadblocks that have appeared. I understand that this all a part of the endgame and while it sucks in the moment it is exactly that: a moment. There is more time and opportunities to pursue. When the next rejection comes I’ll accept it, learn how I can get better and attack the next chance.  The laughter from those two boys not only put a smile on my face, but it also put things in perspective and I thank them for that.

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Docket 32357 is an Official Selection of the Dam Short Film Festival!

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I’m proud to announce that our short film “Docket 32357″ is an Official Selection of the 2013 Dam Short Film Festival in Boulder City, Nevada! This is our first festival screening for the New Year and I’m really proud to be a part of this wonderful festival. It takes place February 6-9. Congrats to the cast and crew and thank you everyone that has supported the project.

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Outgrowing The Shell On The Island

I returned home from the beautiful island of Nassau a couple days ago following the screening of “Docket 32357″ at the 9th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival. Besides having the opportunity to experience the film’s international premiere in 80 degree weather, I looked at the festival as a chance to work on my networking skills. The past couple of months have reinforced the old lesson that your ability to progress in the entertainment industry really does lie with who you know. Talent, craft and hard work are important elements, but you really need to have a substantial network to allow those other pieces to flourish. I am naturally a quiet and introverted guy. Part of being introverted is the natural instinct to only speak when you find it absolutely necessary. That can be a great thing, but also a hindrance when you need to build relationships with people that you don’t know. Reminders about the previously mentioned lesson popped in my head and I decided to be active in taking advantage of the potential opportunities the festival offered to expand my network.

I made the right decision. The comforts of being on an island made it possible for me to speak with great people in a relaxed environment. It felt natural to approach people and discuss a variety of topics that didn’t necessarily involve film. It was liberating to be honest. I felt for one of the few times in my early career I was truly taking advantage of what a film festival can offer. I’m pretty proud of myself and I’m also thankful. I’m hoping that this is a sign of growth that I can take with me to future events. It is an admitted weakness of mine that I am determined to strengthen. Only positive things can come out of it and I need all the positives I can get.

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“Trying To Be Free…Is A Political Struggle”

(h/t to Basso Media)

As I’m thinking about how to construct this post I’m discovering that this is essentially an external continuation of a conversation I have in my head at least once a day. I came across this El-P interview with Basso Magazine and felt that he was echoing the thoughts and feelings that I sometimes struggle to put into neat little words. For those of you that aren’t familiar with El-P he is a legendary, innovative and groundbreaking producer who started his career on the NYC hip hop scene with the amazing Company Flow rap group in the mid 90′s. Company Flow knocked down the doors and changed the game. El-P went on to man the record label Def Jux and continue on a stellar path with a solo career. Simply put, El-P is on my Mt. Rushmore of inspirational artists.

What I found really engaging about this interview is the idea of freedom as an artist and the consequences that come along with reaching for it. In writing my feature script, “The Gunnery,” freedom has emerged as the main theme of the narrative. I’m understanding more and more that this is a reflection of my own quest for that. In watching El-P’s interview, it dawned on me that I’m searching for the freedom to think independently of the status quo or beyond the initial impression people get when they come across a particular topic. The funny thing is that I think I’ve done that my whole life, but with the onslaught of social media and immediate, often irrational, reactions I feel like part of that has been lost. In many cases, I see myself in the minority of how I interpret certain issues when compared to other viewpoints. I seem to generally have a non-mainstream approach to various things like popular films, politics and even sports. This becomes a tougher thing to navigate through when you place it in a social media context. Often times rather than having a conversation where diverse opinions are discussed it becomes a pissing contest or an exercise in demonizing the other person. I do want to make it clear this doesn’t happen with everyone, but it takes place more than it should.  I want to be challenged rather than on the defensive. But when in watching the interview I’m reminded that this is the reason I pursued filmmaking. It is a sanctuary to place a thought in the world and hopefully inspire engaging, meaningful dialogue and possibly beneficial action. The very act of offering your voice to the world is an act of freedom and one that can’t be taken for granted. There is a need for people to see diverse viewpoints. My hope is that I offer an uncensored, honest and intelligent one that pushes the conversation rather than detracts from it. There are few things more liberating than that.

Please watch the interview. It’s dope and insightful and maybe you can check out some of El-P’s work herehere, and here .

Docket 32357 Screens at Inaugural IBFFN Online Festival!

The International Black Film Festival of Nashville is stepping into the online world for this year’s installment of the festival. We are honored to announce that Docket 32357 is a part of this historic lineup. The festival runs from Thursday, December 13 – Sunday, December 16. Docket will be screening ALL DAY on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15th. I will post more details about the screening (i.e. link, pricing, etc.) as soon as I receive it. Being that this is an online festival you will be able to check the film out wherever you are through your computer, ipad or cell phone. It will run all day  Saturday with an encore screening the next day at a specific time slot. Please take the time out to see the film. I will have more information soon. Thanks.

Docket 32357 Screens at Imagenation’s Sangria Sundays

I apologize for not being as active with the blog lately, but I have been putting most of my writing energy towards my feature script “The Gunnery.” I wanted to bring you all up to date with future screenings of Docket 32357. If you are in the NYC area during Thanksgiving weekend, please come out to Imagenation’s Sangria Sundays in Harlem for a featured screening of the film. The event is at Raw Space, 2031 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (bet. 121st & 122nd Sts.), New York, NY 10027 on NOVEMBER 25TH from 3-7pm. Here is an example of a past Sangria Sunday event:

The tickets are $5 for admission and that comes with a complimentary glass of Sangria or Sorrell. So please come out, be in good company, have a drink and check out Dockt 32357 to end your holiday weekend. I hope to see you there!

Thank you Docket 32357

Eljon Wardally.

Jessica K. Brown.

Tara Gadomski.

Ashley Denise Robinson.

Kiel Perry.

Jeff Pinilla.

Blair Doroshwalther.

Sauniell Connally.

Ryan Denmark.

Kia M. Neal.

Jonathan Altman.

These wonderful talents, along with many others, have allowed “Docket 32357″ to achieve success on the festival circuit in a relatively short amount of time. With our latest acceptance, the film has now reached ten selections. This landmark means a great deal to me. Docket was created because I wanted to keep my directorial skills sharp and I wanted to remain relevant to various film audiences. Eljon wrote a strong piece and it provided an opportunity to achieve those two goals. My hope was that our film would play in a couple festivals nationwide and showcase the talents of everyone involved. Now I can say with confidence that my expectations have been exceeded. It feels good when your work has an opportunity to be shown in front of diverse audiences that you haven’t had a chance to engage with in the past. It is also satisfying because our determination to overcome numerous challenges is being rewarded by the overwhelming positive responses the film has received. I was a little concerned when I first took on the project because it is a simple premise in one location. But that concern dissipated when I trusted the talent around me and had faith that the audience will be engaged if we told the story with quality and care. Docket 32357 reminds me of why I love being a filmmaker. The adrenaline rush of being on set and the excitement of interacting with moviegoers. It is addictive. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Docket 32357 is an Official Selection of the Bahamas International Film Festival!

We are making our international debut of Docket 32357! Actually, this is my first opportunity to screen any film of mine outside of the continental United States so this is pretty special. We have been selected for the Bahamas International Film Festival in December. In addition to being a part of a great festival, I am happy to be a part of the program because I met Executive Director, Leslie Vanderpool, in 2005 at the old 40 Acres and A Mule office while interning on Inside Man. She mentioned the festival and it was always one I wanted to have a film in. Now I have that opportunity and who doesn’t like watching films while hanging out on the beach? I can’t wait for this one. If you’re looking for a quick vacation in the sun come down to Nassau and hang out with us.

The Audience Rises: Heroes for All

So earlier this morning I had the pleasure to see the final installment of Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. Before moving forward I have to admit that I am a comic book and Batman fan so I come from a specific perspective. I thought the movie was amazing and was the best of the three films. In my eyes, the strength of the movie lives in the emotional arcs Nolan allows his characters to experience in the context of a social/political/action film. He is able to do this while making his protagonist appear real and grounded. Bruce Wayne  isn’t a cartoon character, but rather a man. This is a difficult thing to pull off for a director when you’re at the helm of a highly successful Hollywood franchise. This got me thinking about the state of opportunities for independent filmmakers. I’ve read social media conversations, interviews and articles where independent filmmakers, both aspiring and established, talk about the saturation of comic book movies in hollywood and the seeming connection to fewer chances for filmmakers to create varying content. The director in me tends to generally agree with this sentiment and I do believe it is valid to an extent.

But the fan in me has a problem with this assessment. Although I didn’t have any intention of being a director when I was a kid; I LOVED going to the movies because it took me to places I wouldn’t be able to go to in real life. I was and still am an avid reader and enjoyed being taken to Narnia or Cybertron or Gotham City as a child. It excited and inspired me. This was important for my development. I think the world needs films like The Dark Knight Rises. It reinforces the fact that everyday people can be heroes. That we don’t need superpowers to make the world a better place.  It is ok for everyday people to see themselves as heroes from time to time. And while these films dominate one particular market, the super hero/comic book genre isn’t a monolithic entity that renders it impossible for other types of films to be seen by the world. I think there is room for all types of films and the stories they are depicting. In my mind, the more great storytelling audiences can choose from the better off we all are.