Here it is, Christina's short "HELLO," shot back in March 2015. We've finally premiered it online!
See behind the scenes and the making of HERE.
For two years, I was an Instructor for a mobile film workshop, which meant spending one week out of every month in a hotel room. I was always very aware of how alone I was despite being surrounded by strangers in other rooms. I was never personally lonely, but there's a certain loneliness to hotel rooms that you can just kind of feel. People pass through, never settling in, never making it a home. I often found myself thinking about all the stories that passed through; all the strange, unsettling, hopefully sometimes wonderful memories made there, and the potential 'ghosts' that lingered. This combined with my tendency to wonder about my room possibly being haunted led to the inspiration for "Hello."
One night after a long day at the workshop, when I couldn't sleep and found myself paying very close attention to the silence, the almost eerie silence of the room, I started freaking myself out with the possibility of not being so alone after all. In an attempt to appease my growing trepidation, I started pondering about ghosts; what would make them linger, what they could really want from a living person. I started entertaining myself with the notion of a ghost simply being lonely & bored -- especially having to watch all the people pass through the room they may haunt, and just wishing to make a connection with someone. As a huge horror film fan, I thought of all the cliche things that often happen as signs of a haunting and tried to find a funny, sweet or mundane explanation for them on the part of a ghost. Soon I was writing the script; and though I didn't get any sleep that night, I started the next morning very excited about this new script I had just written. I shot the film on no budget two months later and am very pleased with the final product, thanks to my small but mighty team of talented collaborators.
Today was the last festival screening of "Hello." The Macabre Faire Film Festival was a bit disorganized and had some technical difficulties, but the film was overall well received. We had an audience of about 20, and the film got the usual laughs and gasps in all the right places. It was nice getting to view it with an audience one last time. The real benefit of the festival though was getting to spend the day with my mom and see my new friend Rebekah Fieschi, whose excellent short film "Mauvaises Têtes (Bad Heads)" also screened at the wonderful Ax Wound Film Festival last year.
"Hello" finally premieres online tomorrow, so check back at our blog for that!
Kelsey & I (Christina) spent most of 2016 in pre-production for our feature film About a Donkey; and we made it a point to keep our audience updated on all our progress, from sharing videos about why we want to make the film to introductions to the characters with each casting announcement. Last weekend that work and progress resulted in the first execution of bringing this passion project to life.
On Saturday, the entire cast (even two via videochat) and much of the key crew met up for our first reading of the full script. It was so much fun getting to bring our new extended film family together to bond and collaborate. Hearing the whole script from such brilliant performers over 4 years after Kelsey shared the first draft of it with me was really rewarding and exciting. We cannot wait to work and create with all these wonderful people.
We're planning to crowdfund the film from February 1st through March 3rd, then jump into production on March 10th. We decided the best way to involve our audience, show them what we're capable of and give them a taste of what this film can be would be to actually devote a day to shooting the first scene of the film (12 pages!) and release a section of it as part of our Seed&Spark pitch video. So that's what we did on Sunday. I will talk more about how that went and how we pulled it off when our campaign launches next month, but know that it was a huge success thanks to our talented and dedicated crew and cast (and my amazingly supportive family). We know now more than ever that this project is something special. We look forward to bringing you along on this journey!
See a few raw stills from what we shot below!
And click through behind the scenes photos from the shoot!
Be sure to mark your calendars for February 1st at 12:30pm EST. Our campaign will not only reveal the opening scene and explain why this film is so important & worth getting behind, but will also offer a sneak peek at Saturday's read-through and a variety of exclusive incentives for your contribution(s)! Bookmark this link: www.seedandspark.com/fund/about-a-donkey. It's coming soon!
WHAT IS ABOUT A DONKEY?
About a Donkey is about growing up & growing old, and finding love & laughter along the way. The film follows the Owens family: Ann & Tim, their 3 adult children, Cecilia, Burgh, and Annie (and her husband Paul), and matriarch Farrah. When Tim brings home a donkey in a mixture of wanting to rescue both it and himself, things are shaken up in each of the characters' lives.
The films quirky but relatable nature has been referred to as a little Little Miss Sunshine meets Gilmore Girls, but with a donkey and a strong focus on inclusivity (both in front of and behind the camera)! We're strong believers in being the change -- reflecting the world as we want to see it. With this film, our mission is to combat hate with humor and heart.
In our film, love is love, people's lives and desires are relevant no matter their age, and struggling with depression is acceptable and normal.
After the recent Presidential election, I (Christina) was feeling a need to take action and contextualize my role as an artist in the coming battle against the normalization of hate in our country. I decided the best thing I could do right now would be to use my reach as a leader in the NY film community to create a space where local artists could get together face to face and really brainstorm ways we can use our individual and collective voices to make a difference. I reached out to Nicole Solomon and Sean Mannion of 4MileCircus about this idea, and they really brought it to life - helping organize the event itself and lend their voices to getting the conversation started. Ultimately, we wanted to create an organized but open forum for any artists to share their ideas and offer opportunities to collaborate for the cause.
Overall, we discussed the importance of representation and creating space for marginalized individuals to tell their own stories. We touched on making public commitments to inclusivity and holding each other accountable. For instance, in terms of freelancing, we discussed the power of saying no and of asking questions, and having expectations out of collaborators. That discussion largely revolved around defining your own line -- setting a personal standard and being transparent about that. There was discussion of union organizing, like if Trump were to be on the Jimmy Fallon show again, if the camera crew refused to work, that episode wouldn't happen. That branched off into exploring how we can use our collective power in big and small ways. And we ended talking quite a bit about various outreach opportunities going on.
Below is a video recap of some of the conversation. It was two hours that we turned into 12 minutes. We want to offer a look into what was discussed but also highlight the importance of being in the room and actually showing up, so we won't be releasing the full video.
We'd like to thank everyone who was able to make it and participate in the discussion. We tried to include a snippet from everyone who spoke. Unfortunately, two people weren't caught on camera due to our camera cutting out. We apologize to them. One person who is a union member discussed the importance of who you hire in your crew and making hard commitments to have diverse team members who can rise in their department. Another person spoke about partnering with organizations on an educational level. An example that came up was IndieWorks alum, Foster Care Film project.
Shout-out to CongestedCat team members Kelsey & Ryan for shooting the video and taking notes, and collaborator Kimberly Drew Whiten for editing it. And thank you again to everyone who's taking part in this fight.
If anyone who couldn't make it would like to be added to the listserv for updates about future gatherings or relevant projects that attendees are working on, please send us a message.