jeanette sears

IndieWorks: Pride (Year 6 Kickoff) Recap

Last Tuesday was the June (Pride-themed) edition of IndieWorks, and our first of Year 6! We screened 5 films and had over 60 people in house! Our first two films were dramatic, narrative pieces. They were beautifully shot, thought-provoking, and often bittersweet in nature. The second set of three films were slightly more experimental, all exploring identity in different ways. The styles and genres of those ranged but were all very visually driven. All the pieces of the night featured LGBTQ characters and celebrated the beautiful diversity that exists with pride. Some lovely discussions were had, and the night was a big success!

We'd just like to say thank you to everyone who came out to support the filmmakers and spend the evening with us & them. We do hope all enjoyed the films and the opportunity to network with other filmmakers and film enthusiasts. We know some connections were made! 

Enjoy the rest of Pride month! And we hope you'll join us again for our July screening on the 10th -  featuring an exceptional lineup of shorts focused on loss, grief, and healing. 

See photos from the evening:

The Films of the night:

Her Being Home (Directed by Ellie Gravitte, Written by Sophia Maro)
A young woman turns to an unexpected place to find comfort in a new home.  

Sanctuary (Directed by Jeanette Sears & Nicole Solomon, Written by Jeanette Sears)
Throughout the 1960’s, gay bars served as havens for a marginalized queer community across the country. Frequent police raids and laws dictating women to wear three pieces of “gender appropriate clothing” resulted in countless cases of police harassment, assault, and brutality. "Sanctuary" follows Meg and Abigail as they navigate their interaction and coping process after one such raid. 

Spot (Written & Directed by Jamie DiNicola)
A group of twenty-somethings circle around a stoop and share a joint when one of them gets lost in the mystery and beauty of the urban sidewalk - a mosaic of stories emerge. Spot pushes the known boundaries of diversity and inclusion in indie filmmaking.  

Living Waters (Directed & Animated by Ezra Ray)
When Judaism and transgender experiences intersect, there are many revenues of discourse and action that a trans individual can pursue. This experimental animation shows the birth and subsequent transformation of the protagonist through a Jewish lens. Jewish rituals of purification and transformation are found within water, and offer a path of renewal in this film. 

Hopelessly (Written & Directed by Tony Clemente)
Darren is determined to find a connection, no matter how many people he has to go through. Explore the day in the life of a queer, polyamorous relationship, in all its awkward beauty.

Watch our Q&A Recap. *Please know there are some film spoilers - feel free to look for an opportunity to catch the films at a festival or computer screen near you & then come back to watch!

The awards go to...

At the end of the evening, we announced our winning filmmakers for both Audience Choice Award & Silver Whiskers Award. The Audience Choice Award is voted upon by all those in attendance, and the Silver Whiskers Award is judged by the CongestedCat Team based on a rating system of 8 categories:   StoryDialogue/WritingDirectionActingCinematographySoundEditing, and Production Value, along with a nuanced discussion focused on inclusion and originalityThe Silver Whiskers winner goes on to screen again at our end of year Best of Fest screening next April. 

The Silver Whiskers winner also receives $50 towards a crowdfunding campaign on SeedandSpark.com should they use the platform and 50% off 4MileCircus' post-production audio cleaning service for a future project. 

For the June 2018 lineup, our winning films were:
    Audience Choice Award:  "Sanctuary"
    Silver Whiskers Award:  "Her Being Home" 

BTS of New Short "Arm Bar"

Last night we wrapped production on my new short film, "Arm Bar."

Logline: A young, aspiring MMA fighter visits her local boxing gym to settle a dispute with the owner.

The screenplay for "Arm Bar" came to fruition in the first few months of our CongestedCat writing group. Christina Raia, Kelsey Rauber, and I, had all been talking about how we wanted to meet once a week to keep the creative, right side of our brain's in motion. I knew I wanted to move into pre-production on a new short, but I didn't know which would be the right script to move forward with. I initially wanted to tackle one of my other short stories, "Magic Mountain," with DoP Peter Westervelt, but it proved to be a bit too ambitious for the time. After Christina and Kelsey gave me their thoughts on Arm Bar, I knew it was the one. I was soon after introduced to Jeanette Sears at one of our IndieWorks events and knew she would be a great fit to DP the film. I loved the fact that we had representation and inclusivity not only in front of, but behind the camera as well.

Christina expressed her interest in producing the project and we immediately moved into pre-production, which proved to be a lot to take on. At first, the plan was to crowdfund on Seed&Spark, but after talking with Christina, we decided it'd be best to fund this one out-of-pocket. She helped me solidify the budget and we realized it would be attainable. Still, we made the decision to shoot promotional and behind the scenes videos to draw some attention to the project before moving into principal photography. You can watch the promo here: 

 

Casting the project was a bumpy road, but when I auditioned Latresa Baker is when it all really started to come together. She walked into that room prepared and ready to take the role that was rightfully hers. The training process was one one of the aspects of pre-pro that I was most scared about. We bounced around from class, to individual trainer, to fight choreographer, and I was worried that all the different types of blocking and direction would make it more confusing than helpful. In the end, Latresa absorbed all the information like a sponge and we created a simple, cohesive, and hopefully exciting fight that I can't wait to share with you all.

In hindsight, everything about this project was almost just as ambitious as Magic Mountain. FedUp was the last short I directed over two years ago... a six-and-a-half minute short in my apartment with a small cast and crew. Arm Bar is a fifteen page screenplay that takes place in a boxing gym with a decent-sized supporting cast, extras, and fight scene choreography. It was a lot to take on, but with the help of Christina, Jeanette, AD Matt Gershowitz, and the rest of the amazing cast and crew that I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with... we did it.

Check out some raw stills from what we shot below:

See BTS photos from the day:

I really can't thank my cast and crew enough. They were all my rock, and helped me keep it together in the production's most heightened points of anxiety. Can't wait to collaborate with these wonderful people again in the future.

Some of the cast and crew after we wrapped production on the film.

Some of the cast and crew after we wrapped production on the film.

BTS of New Short "Night In"

Last night I shot a new short titled "Night In." This film originally came about because I wanted to shoot one final (fourth) short in my current apartment before moving in the Fall. I challenged myself to come up with something that could be shot in one night, on no more than $150, with a key skeleton crew and without sync sound (since the elevated train a block away has posed production problems in the past), but still be something that's fun & compelling, and worth everyone's time & talent. From there, "Night In" was born. 

It was shot by the brilliant Jeanette Sears, who I'm happy to have finally collaborated with as Director/DP & am looking forward to doing so again. And same goes for lead actor Dani Thomas. And then we rounded out our small team with usual suspects Matt (AD/Gaffer) and Ryan (Scripty/Supporting Actor). (Oh and my cats were there, too, of course!) 

We're really excited to get this short into post and eventually share it with the world. In the meantime, check out the behind the scenes photos we got below, and a few raw stills below that!

BTS

STILLS

IndieWorks: June Screening (Year 4 Kick Off) Recap

Last Tuesday was the June edition of IndieWorks, and our first of Year 4! We screened 5 films and had over 50 people in house. Our first two films were dramatic pieces that similarly explored relationships, but in different ways. They were beautiful, heartbreaking and thought provoking. The second set of films were more light-hearted and also relationship relevant, but more offbeat and sometimes wonderfully weird. Overall, the night was a success!

We'd just like to say thank you to everyone who came out to support the filmmakers and spend the evening with us & them. We do hope you enjoyed all the films and the opportunity to network with other filmmakers and film enthusiasts, and we hope some connections were made! AND we hope you'll join us again on July 12th. 

See photos from the evening (by Grayson Davis):

The Films of the night:

Muscle (Directed by Heidi Marshall)
A woman must make the agonizing decision to live for her terminally ill husband or live for herself.

The Cat's Cradle (Directed by David Spaltro/Written by Tawny Sorensen)
Jim and Amy are a young couple attempting to conceive. As these attempts become all-consuming in their lives, stress and tension build between them. A romantic evening turns into a night of confessions and betrayal that will forever change their relationship

Happenstance (Directed by Jeanette Sears)
After a terrible date set up from her roommate, June is focused on enjoying her commutes around the city and beating the NYC summer heat. Although she's determined, one day June finds herself needing a helping hand from a familiar face in a city of millions.

Clippings (Directed by Jessica Kingdon)
A young woman and her dog receive an unexpected guest — a stranger with a familiar face.

Blank My Life (Created by Alex Spieth)
Susan feels existentially attacked by the kid she baby-sits.

Watch our Q&A Recap (shot & edited by Kimberly Drew Whiten). *Please know there are some film spoilers - feel free to look for an opportunity to catch the films at a festival or computer screen near you & then come back to watch!

The awards go to...

At the end of the evening, we announced our winning filmmakers for both Audience Choice Award & Silver Whiskers Award. The Audience Choice Award is voted upon by all those in attendance, and the Silver Whiskers Award is judged by the CongestedCat Team based on a system rating 8 categories of Story, Dialogue/Writing, Direction, Acting, Cinematography, Sound, Editing, and Production Value. The Silver Whiskers winner goes on to screen again at our end of year Best of Fest screening next April. 

The Silver Whiskers winner also receives $50 towards a crowdfunding campaign on SeedandSpark.com should they use the platform and a free Social Media audit ($200 value) from 4MileCircus. And both winners received a free 2016 subscription to Bright Ideas Magazine.

For the June 2016 lineup, our winning films were:
    Audience Choice Award:  "Happenstance"
    Silver Whiskers Award:  "The Cat's Cradle"

Watch the Trailer for The Cat's Cradle: