(From left) 2019 The Writers Lab mentors Pamela Gray, Susan Cartsonis, Jamie Zelermyer, Mary Jane Skalski, Shruti Ganguly, Robin Swicord, Pat Verducci and Lisa Jones. (Courtesy of Delphine Lewis)
The Writers Lab selects 12 promising writers each year, from a competitive pool of submissions, to work with accomplished women mentors from the film industry. Participants spend 4 days at a retreat outside New York City working on their screenplays and their craft in one-on-one sessions with mentors, and gaining valuable tools and information in panels and workshops to achieve success for their projects and their careers.
The sixth annual Writers Lab Retreat will take place October 1-4, 2020 at the Guest House Retreat Center in Chester, CT (dates and location subject to change.)
Follow this link to apply:
Early bird deadline: February 10, 2020
Regular deadline: March 10, 2020
Extended deadline: March 25, 2020
There are not enough women screenwriters in film. The Writers Lab is dedicated to amplifying the voices of visionary women screenwriters over 40. By doing so, we are expanding the cultural narrative in film to expand perceptions of humanity and the world.
This work is urgent. Even before girls are aware of world leaders, influencers and changemakers, their views of themselves are already shaped – by the cultural iconography on film and television. Yet gender parity on screens and in writers’ rooms remains elusive. As much as we have accomplished, there is still much work to be done.
The Writers Lab is committed to supporting lab participants beyond the retreat by building opportunities for them to bring their stories to screens. We strive for a new landscape where the female narrative is heard in equal proportion to the male narrative, and where audiences have access to stories and characters dreamed and crafted by women with exceptional insight.
And we are seeing results. We now count 60 alumni, two films currently in production and more in advanced development stages, many finalists in award competitions and women screenwriters signed into writers’ rooms and onto management and agent rosters. We are thrilled that 2017 alum Karen McDermott was named one of the five winners of the Academy’s 2019 Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting, and 2018 alum Lynn Esta Goldman was a 2019 Nicholl finalist. They join 2017 alum Vigil Chime, who won the Nicholl Fellowship in 2017.
Produced by New York Women in Film & Television and TWL co-founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon, with support from Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman, The Writers Lab has received thousands of scripts and international recognition, has graduated five classes of writers since 2015, and has become a beacon for female filmmakers and film audiences around the world.
Learn more at: thewriterslab.nyc
From JoAnn F Cox:
I am delighted and honored to introduce the next Imaginnaire — someone who has had a tremendous impact on the state of the industry in our region, in addition to being a transformative influence on hundreds of individuals who work here in New England. Alecia Orsini Lebeda.
Alecia gave me my chance when I leapt back into film production, even though my skills were rusty and my on-set experience was limited. And I know I’m not the only one she has taken under her wing. She provides advice and mentoring and connections — and some first-time jobs.
Alecia has worked behind the scenes on many a campaign to save Mass Film Jobs, to promote the film industry locally, to build community by participating with and promoting the 48Hour Film Projects and their creators, and by being a champion for dozens of film festivals in the region.
One of the descriptors for this award is “someone who goes the extra mile.” I can assure you that this leader has gone the extra hundreds of miles. Alecia’s criss-crossed New England — from Cape Cod to Maine, from Hartford to Newton from Worcester to Manchester — to listen to storytellers and filmmakers, to bring forward female voices, to guide, instruct, motivate, and inspire.
She brings people together with her generous spirit, her creative ideas, and her infectious laughter. Get close and she’ll snap a selfie with you.
When you need help figuring something out, she shares wise words;
When you need encouragement, she rallies you;
When you’re having just one of those days, she supports you;
When you feel lost, she provides direction;
When you need help, she jumps right in.
Alecia is the very definition of YES AND.
I ask that you please join me in raising your glass or putting your hands together for our dear friend, and current President of Women in Film and Video – New England, Alecia Orsini Lebeda.
From Alecia Orsini Lebeda:
I joined Women in Film because I felt like there was something missing in my life. As a filmmaker, I wasn’t reaching out to the women around me. I had blinders on, and kept my head down and simply worked. Once I joined WIFVNE I was able to lift my eyes to what was happening around me and offer a hand in the work that desperately is needed….
As we enter the “new age” roaring 20’s, I can’t help but think about the changes happening 100 years ago. Women were everywhere in the film world. In fact, the silent era was referred to by some as “the manless era” as so many women had the freedom to produce, write, direct and act. How that has changed. I can only speculate it was the fragile egos of some, uncomfortable with women having such a powerful platform at their fingertips, that swept women into the margins.
As we look forward to this next decade and celebrate the social progress that was made 100 years ago, let us unearth our film mothers. Celebrate their stories, contribution to suffrage and social boat rocking.
I won’t bother with the statistics. You can find them easy enough. Yet another awards season is upon us and has left women out of the conversation again despite have a massive impact in box office. Clearly the message isn’t getting through. It hasn’t really, for a hundred years.
Women deserve equality.
In this industry, we reflect back society. What we do, means something. It is our duty as storytellers to show our sons & daughters what is possible, and it starts with our own.
Parity is paramount. Buy in from our brothers is essential. Your outrage and action is necessary to make a difference.
Where do you start? Speak up with you see something wrong on set. Ask for women and hire them. Donate to their campaigns, cheer them on. Watch their films and share them. That’s what we are doing 365 days a year at WIFVNE, and you can too.
I, with my board, run a non-profit organization that supports all willing to support women filmmakers, but it does not work without you. Join us to make real change here at home, and do what we have always done in New England. Lead, and show the world how it’s done.
I thank Carol and the team at Imagine so much for this honor. I am truly humbled by the recognition. Thank you again for this generous award, and for your steadfast support. Together we will Change the Lens.
Welcome our new Board Members
Thato Mwosa, Sharon Contillo, Nerissa Scott Williams, and Emily Abi-Kheirs (pictured L to R).
Emily Abi-Kheirs is the Digital Associate Producer at WORLD Channel, where she began her career as a Production Assistant in 2015. Emily graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in Visual Media Arts: Documentary Production and attended Semester at Sea’s study abroad voyage, which took her to three continents in three and a half months. Emily is passionate about documentary storytelling, and loves learning about other cultures, perspectives and experiences. She is currently on the Salem Film Festival’s documentary shorts selection committee and is a frequent attendee of The DocYard & Emerson’s Bright Light series.
Sharon Contillo is the founder of Middle Center Productions, LLC, where she focuses on female and family-centric stories, films, books, and productions. She writes, directs, and produces films and stories with female leads of all ages and within all genres. She focuses on the underrepresented to give them a platform to be seen and heard. She has been in the film business in various roles, actor, director, producer, exec producer, camera operator, lighting, DP for 20 years. She is also an author. She learned her craft from the New York Film Academy, ScreenwritingU, and University of Rhode Island. For more on Sharon, go to http://www.middlecentprod.com/
Thato Mwosa is a filmmaker, screenwriter, playwright, and illustrator. She won the coveted “Emerging Filmmaker Award” at the 2005 Roxbury Film Festival for her film, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me.” Thato has made several short documentaries one of them, “An African in America,” was screened at the Pan African Sweet Mother Conference held at Harvard University in early 2006. Thato’s third film, “The Day Of My Wedding,” was selected for broadcast on The Best Shorts program on BETJ (Black Entertainment Television). Currently, Thato is in the post-production stage of her first feature narrative, Memoirs of a Snitch, a coming-of-age drama that takes place in Roxbury, MA. She is also working a feature documentary A Tribe of Woman, which focuses on a group of Sudanese women fighting for peace. Thato is a finalist for the 2019 Mass Cultural Art Fellowship in the Dramatic Writing category. She has a dual degree in Film/Video Production and Marketing/Advertising Communications from Emerson College and an MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen from Lesley University. Thato currently serves on the board of Boston Neighborhood Network in Boston. She teaches TV, Film, and Documentary Filmmaking at Brookline High School in Brookline, MA. For more on Thato, go to www.thatomwosa.com
Nerissa Williams Scott—CEO of TCGT Entertainment—is a dedicated professor in the Film/Video Department at Massachusetts College of Art and the Night Manager for the Emerson College Paramount Center Film Sound Stage in Boston, MA. She is a graduate of Hampton University where she received a Bachelor of Art degree in Fine and Performing Arts. She has received her Masters of Fine Art degree in Film Production (emphasis in Producing) from Emerson College. Her career experience includes over thirty years of working and learning in Performing and Media Arts. She began on stage and worked her way up to the position of Associate Producer and Producer for Film, TV, Live Events, Theatre, and Music Videos. Her world travels have set her apart in the Creative Producer role as she strives to balance the fine art of Line Producing, Production Management as well as Creative Producing. For more on Nerissa, go to www.tcgtentertainment.com
The Boston 48 Hour Film Project shared this time limited (every second counts in a 48!) offer for team registrations.
To help kick this new decade off right, Boston filmmakers have a chance to save 25% off of this year’s 48HFP regular registration rate through this special New Year’s Promotion, now through January 15th.
Register your team for the Boston 48HFP (or sign up for any other U.S. city!) That is the absolute lowest price it will be all year-it’s even cheaper than Early Bird!
In addition, the 48HFP has a special refund policy for any team that signs up during this promotion–if this year’s competition dates end up not working out with your schedule, just let them know anytime up to two weeks prior to Kickoff to receive a 100% refund!
So if you’re thinking about making a 48HFP film in 2020, this is the best time to get signed up. More info about this year’s competition dates, events, and 2020 filmmaking fun coming soon. (The Boston 48HFP will likely occur in May 2020.) Register before the January 15th deadline to get that discount: http://48hourfilm.com/nyspecial
For more infomation on the Boston 48 Hour Film Project, contact Andrew Osborne at email@example.com or visit http://www.48hourfilm.com/boston-ma
As a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, WIFVNE has an elected Board of Directors. All active members are asked to vote for our Board members, who work on a volunteer basis to fulfill the vision and mission of the organization: WIFVNE works to “Change the Lens” for New England filmmakers by advancing female storytellers in their craft through networking, community, mentorship, and education. WIFVNE membership is open to everyone who supports our mission.
Women in Film & Video New England is a member of an umbrella group called Women in Film & Television International (WIFTI). WIFTI is a global network comprised of some 44 Women in Film chapters worldwide and more than 13,000 members dedicated to advancing professional development and achievement for women working in all areas of film, video, and other screen-based media.
For the 2020-21 term, there will be seven (7) current board members who will remain on the Board. From December 11 to December 18, WIFVNE members will cast their votes via online ballot for up to three (3) new board members.
Board candidates are listed alphabetically.
I would love to become more involved in this organization and help to build a strong community of women in the film & television industry in New England. I believe the professional skills I’ve developed would be an asset to planning events, festivals, gatherings, and other meetings. I also enjoy making connections with others in the industry and would be eager to help foster and maintain other partnerships with industry professionals and organizations in the region.
I am the founder of Middle Center Productions, LLC, where I focus on female and family centric stories, films, books, and productions. I write, direct and produce films and stories with female leads of all ages and within all genres. I focus on the underrepresented to give them a platform to be seen and heard. I have been in the film business in various roles, actor, director, producer, exec producer, camera operator, lighting, DP for 20 years. I am also an author. I learned my craft from the New York Film Academy, ScreenwritingU, and University of Rhode Island.
As screenwriter, executive producer, director, actor, and author, I have won the following awards:
• Winner of the 2019 Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Grant for short film, Curls
• Finalist of the 2019 CinemaStreet Women’s Short Screenplay Competition, Curls
• Winner of the 2019 IBM Master Storyteller Award and Ambassador for IBM
• Writer’s Digest Honorable Mention for the feature political drama, Madam President
• Wood’s Hole Festival Honorable Mention for the dark comedy feature, Sandwitched
• First place for IBM Technical short competition for the short film, Sign
Additionally, I published a youth chapter book based on a feature animation script that I wrote called The Little Christmas Ornament. I recently just completed the animated movie trail to produce this story as a feature film.
Among my other writings, I have written a total for seven features that expand genres including horror, political drama, romantic comedy, family comedy, science fiction and animation as well as nine shorts. I am familiar with grants, film budgets, executive producing, directing, film insurance, crowdfunding, hosting premieres and how to get it all done on a shoestring budget.
It would be an honor to be part of this board and to help others achieve their film and entertainment industry goals.
I have had the opportunity to work with several WIFV/NE members and board members while making my short film Curls. I have also hired several people from our database of talent and have worked with partners, such as Rule, to complete my film. It was such a great experience and given my background and experiences, I would love to help and encourage others to do the same.
Since we’re a group that is focused on film, video and TV, I would like to expand our mission to help our members get more hands-on experience in this area. I would do this by working with other members to create short educational videos on all aspects of filmmaking where our members could participate in the making of these videos.
In New England, we are so rich in talented women. Whether they/we are acting, producing directing, writing or all of the above. I have been so blessed to have found myself living in a place where women are flourishing and taking control of their passion, drive and dreams. I truly appreciate and am inspired by my fellow sisters as they are also on their path of their dreams. As a singer, songwriter, actress, writer, reader, future mother, future wife and lover of film, I would love nothing more than to be part of WIFVNE. I am truly passionate about people and what we are capable of, and I feel I could play a helpful part in this wonderful organization. Thank you for the consideration.
Kate Eppers is a singer, songwriter and actress from Salem, Ma. She performed in Harvard University’s comedic “The Ig Nobel Awards” from the age of 8 until 17. Kate has performed at the Danvers Fireworks Festival, with the Cape Ann Big Band, at The Watch City Steampunk Festival as well as independent features around Boston performing her experimental, piano heavy music. Kate has performed at the “Shalin Liu” in Rockport, MA, Kresge Auditorium at MIT U and Sanders Theater of Harvard University in Cambridge,MA. Kate has acted in countless music videos for both national and local Boston artists. This year Kate has appeared in web series and Independent films as well as composing for two of them.
Kate was beyond excited in 2016 to be featured in and compose for the 1920s era independent film “The Chair” from Bald Dog Productions. Period music is not unfamiliar to her, and being part of this project was a dream come true. “Show You A Good Time”, co-written by Boston Rock Band One Time Mountain.
Among other films, Kate completed production in July 2018 of the period movie comedy “The Dinner Party” by Narrows street films, premiering soon. Kate portrayed “Dahlia” a teen progressive debutante in 1906. 2019 films include its sequel “The fair fight”, “The loner” (Directed by Kris Salvi) and notably “Staring down a barrel” directed by Anthony Gaudette and James Harmon. SDAB was the winner of the SCRIPT TO SCREEN award at the STANFORD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL and was turned into a live action film. SDAB premiered at the festival 10/19/19.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2017, Kate released her piano heavy, theatrically inspired debut album “The Wishing well”. On August 3, 2018, FOLLOW ME the music video premiered, the second single off THE WISHING WELL. FOLLOW ME features visually stunning effects set in the backdrop of one of the most beautiful locations in Newburyport and all of Massachusetts. Kate released the independent single THE HERO OF OUR TIME summer 2019, available on itunes/amazon music. On New Year’s Eve 2020- A final music video will be released for the title track of the album.
“The Wishing Well” was met with critical acclaim by The Noise Boston, Metronome Magazine Boston, The Lynn Daily Item, Limelight Magazine, Boston Voyager and more.
WIFVNE has been a great resource for me and other female filmmakers especially those who need to connect with people in the industry. New England has a rapidly growing, robust filmmaking industry but I feel that women, especially women of color, are still sometimes sidelined for opportunities. Organizations like WIFVNE help women develop their skills, tap into opportunities and connect professionally with industry folks. I have been a film teacher for ten years and one of the things I enjoy is mentoring younger female filmmakers. I would like to re-connect with WIFVNE not only as a member but as a board member because I feel that my background in marketing and advertising and skills in writing and event planning can be assets.
Thato Mwosa is a filmmaker, screenwriter, playwright, and illustrator. Thato won the coveted “Emerging Filmmaker Award” at the 2005 Roxbury Film Festival for her film, “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me.” Thato has made several short documentaries one of them, “An African in America,” was screened at the Pan African Sweet Mother Conference held at Harvard University in early 2006. Thato’s third film, “The Day Of My Wedding,” was selected for broadcast on The Best Shorts program on BETJ (Black Entertainment Television). In 2006, Thato wrote and directed an international TV show, Ya Ma’Afrika, which was nationally broadcast on a Comcast channel Afrotainment.
Currently, Thato is in the post-production stage of her first feature narrative, Memoirs of a Snitch, a coming-of-age drama that takes place in Roxbury, MA. She is also working a feature documentary A Tribe of Woman, which focuses on a group of Sudanese women fighting for peace. Thato’s 10-minute play, Jeremy’s Box, was produced by the Scribe Stages Play Festival in Los Angeles. Her play, Good Girl, had a staged reading as part of the South Shore Playwright Showcase at the Milton Public Library. Thato’s one minute play, Lucky Tom, will premier at the One-Minute Play Festival produced by the Boston Playwrights Theater. Thato is a finalist for the 2019 Mass Cultural Art Fellowship in the Dramatic Writing category. She has a dual degree in Film/Video Production and Marketing/Advertising Communications from Emerson College and an MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen from Lesley University.
Thato currently serves on the board of Boston Neighborhood Network in Boston. She teaches TV, Film, and Documentary Filmmaking at Brookline High School in Brookline, MA. For more on Thato, go to www.thatomwosa.com
Nerissa Williams Scott
I am a member and am interested in becoming a member of the board because I do believe in the mission and vision of this organization and what better place to be as a woman filmmaker than in the midst of other women filmmakers! I support a diverse set but I constantly strive to place women in most of the roles. Especially the roles above the line so we can make the decisions for below the line.
Nerissa Williams Scott—CEO of TCGT Entertainment, Boston, Ma., (www.tcgtentertainment.com) is a dedicated professor in the Film/Video Department at Massachusetts College of Art and the Night Manager for the Emerson College Paramount Center Film Sound Stage in Boston, MA. She is a graduate of Hampton University where she received a Bachelor of Art degree in Fine and Performing Arts. She has received her Masters of Fine Art degree in Film Production (emphasis in Producing) from Emerson College. Her career experience includes over thirty years of working and learning in Performing and Media Arts. She began on stage and worked her way up to the position of Associate Producer and Producer for Film, TV, Live Events, Theatre, and Music Videos. Her world travels have set her apart in the Creative Producer role as she strives to balance the fine art of Line Producing, Production Management as well as Creative Producing. She looks forward to the continued forward momentum of TCGT. Her favorite quote is “Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.”…B.F. Skinner, Psy.
Would you like to strengthen the collaboration of women (and men!) working in the film, video, and digital media industries in New England? Do you want to explore your leadership potential or lend your tried-and-true leadership experience? WIFVNE is seeking new board members to join our dynamic team who will play an important role in guiding the vision of this professional organization in 2020 and beyond.
From November 25 to December 7 at midnight, WIFVNE is holding an open Board member nomination period.
From December 11 to December 18, WIFVNE members will cast their votes via online ballot for all new board members. Results will be announced on January 3, 2020 and new board members will be welcomed at a Board orientation meeting to be scheduled based on their schedules. Board officer positions will be voted on at this meeting. See below for a full list of Board Duties. Nominations (and voting) are open to all active members at all levels.
If you are interested in joining the WIFVNE board or if you know of someone who would be a great candidate (and she/he is willing), please send WIFVNE a nomination. Send your nomination email to: firstname.lastname@example.org along with a few sentences on why you or your nominee would be an asset to WIFVNE and why you or your nominee is interested in being on the Board. Please include a short bio/current resume and a headshot/photo.
The WIFVNE Board is a hands-on working board. WIFVNE Board Member responsibilities include the following:
Additional Board Officer Responsibilities:
Email us with any questions at: email@example.com
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the earliest surviving feature film about LGBT people, the Provincetown Film Society presents a special screening of the recently restored Different from the Others. Once feared lost, it’s believed to be the only gay-themed movie from Germany’s progressive Weimar era that survived destruction after Hitler took power. Writer Christopher Isherwood recounted screenings broken up by Nazis. Most of the estimated 40 prints of the film were believed to have been destroyed by the Nazis, however a surviving copy was located during the collapse of the Soviet Union and was later restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The Provincetown Film Society offered two screenings of the film earlier this year in Provincetown and it played to a sold-out houses with rave reviews.
Different from the Others (Anders als die Andern) tells a compelling story of secrecy and oppression that continues to play out in today’s world. The film stars Conrad Veidt (the somnambulist in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Colonel Strasser in Casablanca) as Paul Körner, a violinist whose romance with a talented male student is thwarted when a blackmailer threatens to expose the relationship and Körner’s homosexuality, then a crime under Germany’s notorious Paragraph 175. The story was co-written by Richard Oswald and Magnus Hirschfeld, who also had a small part in the film and partially funded the production through his Institute for Sexual Science. The film was intended as a polemic against the then-current laws under Germany’s Paragraph 175, which made homosexuality a criminal offense. It is believed to be the first pro-gay film in the world.
WIFVNE Member Blythe Robertson tells WIFVNE: “I’m co-chairing the event with the Provincetown Film Society because I believe in their mission as an advocate for diverse representation in film, with programming and platforms that allow voices of all kinds to be heard. At the Different from the Others event, guests can expect a moving experiential evening. As the historic film screens, musician and composer Billy Hough, who has composed an original score and will perform it live, along with a chorale ensemble led by Grammy-winning tenor, Jason McToots. We’ll also have a Q&A after the screening, then capping off the night with more music from Billy Hough.”
Well-known Provincetown musician Billy Hough will perform an original score for the silent film with the collaboration of a vocal ensemble including Grammy-winning tenor Jason McStoots. Following the film, there will be a panel discussion about the historic significance of the film which will include noted Harvard University Professor of the Practice in Media and Activism in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Michael Bronski. The evening will conclude with an additional music performance by Billy Hough and Jason McStoots.
Purchase tickets today for DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS
Thursday, December 5 at 7pm at the Strand Theater
For scheduling and tickets, visit:
Join WIFVNE Member Blythe Robertson at this event! General Admission tickets are $25 per person. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $75 and include a reception featuring the different flavors and tastings of Dorchester, preferred seating at the Strand Theatre and a meet & greet with Billy Hough. The VIP Event begins at 5:30 pm. A portion of the proceeds from the screening will benefit The Provincetown Film Society and The Trevor Project.
Andrew Berends was a courageous and talented filmmaker who sought out stories in places which the mainstream media ignored. He shone a light on communities, people, and children facing unimaginable hardships. He traveled, shot, edited, and promoted his work with intense fervor and dedication. The Andrew Berends Film Fellowship was born out of the desire of Andy’s family, friends, and colleagues to keep his memory alive and active in the world of documentary where he himself thrived.
The mission of this fellowship is to support emerging filmmakers from all walks of life that embody Andy’s spirit and determination, with a focus on sharing unheard stories. We hope that the Fellowship experience will help Fellows make a shift in their careers to the next level of success and artistic fulfillment.
Learn more at the website: https://andrewberends.net/
The Luring is psychological thriller about a man who tries to recover a lost memory by returning to his family’s Vermont vacation home where an unspeakable act took place.
The Luring stars Rick Irwin (The Upside, The Good Doctor, Enough Said), Michaela Sprague (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Smash,” The Night Before), Dan Berkey ( “Boardwalk Empire”) and Molly Fahey (“Missed Connections”) and Henry Gagliardi (The Grief of Others, 7th Secret). The film was written/directed/produced by Christopher Wells. The cinematographer is Amanda McGrady, a WIFVNE Member.
You can watch the trailer HERE and find out more about
the film and team on their website (www.theluring.com).
Buy tickets to the New England Premiere of THE LURING
on November 7 at Somerville Theater on Eventbrite.
WIFVNE Presents the New England Premiere of THE LURING, produced in association with the 45th Boston Science Fiction Festival.
WIFVNE members receive discounted tickets and an invitation to the after-party.
Christopher Wells grew up watching horror films, and when it came to first narrative feature, he wanted to make a film with elements that he really wanted to see in a story. When his mother told him she was selling the family vacation home in Vermont, Christopher had a deadline to film the script he had ready. The team shot the film over 22 days –should we say mostly nights — during a muddy season in a house he had to make sure was ready for sale. A veteran of a advertising production, THE LURING is Christopher’s debut feature film.
Amanda McGrady loves horror films, and first started shooting horror flicks on MiniDV tapes in high school. A graduate of Emerson College, her love of cameras and equipment grew during her tenure at Rule Boston Camera. Over the years, Amanda has shot a variety of projects, including feature and short films, branded content, sports, and music.
WIFVNE asked Christopher Wells and Amanda McGrady a few questions about THE LURING
Chris, as the writer and director, what was your process in bringing your written script to the shooting script?
We didn’t do storyboards in pre-production but we did draw every scene and mapped out every angle and made sure we had enough coverage for editing. The Assistant Director created the schedule based on this. A week before shooting we went to each location and went over the shot list and blocking so the crew knew exactly how to light each scene. On set before breakfast we would do a quick run-through/blocking with the actors and crew based on the notes we did in pre-production.
How much time did you spend in pre-production, production, post-production?
Pre-production was spent raising money and hiring a crew –about 5 months. We shot the first scene months before we were able to shoot the feature. Amanda shot this scene so we could show it to investors and raise money. Things really come together when we hired our A.D. who was able to breakdown the script and put things in order. We shot for 22 days with every 5th or 6th day we would break for 2 days. Post production was about 8 months because we also decided to hire someone to score the film which was huge because all of the music is original.
Horror films depend on mood, which in film is often conveyed in the lighting design. What was your working relationship with Cinematographer Amanda McGrady to create the cinematic atmosphere?
We looked at films we liked and talked in great detail what sort of film we want to produce. Amanda and I would talk about each scene and our overall feeling about it and what we wanted to convey in terms of mood. We would finish each others sentences a lot of times because we had very similar ideas on our approach on what kind of film we wanted to be part of. She understood me as a writer and that helps in the process of creating the look and feel of the film.
Amanda, why did you choose to work on this film?
Initially, my love for horror films drew me to this project. When I started to talk to Chris about the visual style I could tell he had a strong vision and we shared many references. From there we shot the proof of concept. It was a positive experience, everyone was supportive and open to collaboration, so we began to plan for the feature soon after that.
And, how do you feel you were challenged or grew as a filmmaker working on this film?
This was an ambitious project and we had different challenges every day: logistics, weather, stunts, overnights. I’m so thankful that the team spent a lot of time working together during pre-production. When challenges inevitably came up we were able to quickly problem solve, keep shooting, and stay on schedule. The time we invested before the shoot was incredibly valuable.
Chris, how the camera is used is another hallmark of horror films. Did you employ any hand-held or Steadi-cam shots, or non-traditional lenses to create your desired effect on the audience?
There is no secret I am heavily influenced by The Shining and the pace of that film. I also really like David Lynch because I like all things weird. This helped us sculpt the film and our approach when drawing up camera angles and discussing lighting. We used steadi-cam when we felt it was necessary. Some steadi-cam shots are obvious and give an eerie feeling like someone is slowly following a character from behind and some of the steadi-cam shots are subtle so we wanted to mix it up a bit. Same as for the dolly shots. One of my favorite scenes is at the lake where we use one slow shot that just lands perfectly.
Amanda, what did you enjoy the most about working on THE LURING?
I love the amount of camera movement we were able to incorporate. The dolly is often moving around Garrett (one of the characters in the film) as his memories of the past are slowly revealed throughout the film. Key Grip Yahna Harris used a Fisher 11 to achieve these moves in a very limited space. As the story progresses, Claire (one of the characters in the film) starts to feel as though the house is tormenting her. In those scenes the camera follows her as she panics and tries to escape. Steadicam Operator Lisa Sene flew the camera up and down the stairs and around the house chasing Claire.
Chris, how did you fund the film?
We put in our own money to shoot the first scene to show investors we had skin in the game without skin in the game investors will not be interested. We hired an entertainment lawyer and formed an LLC, created a website and social media to show investors we were treating this like a business. We raised money through online campaigns but mainly through private investors who wanted to be part of something different. All of our investors liked the fact we didn’t want to make a typical horror film but rather a psychological thriller.
Any on-set stories you want to share?
Chris: I would say the lake scene was something special because during the 22 days of production it rained for 15 consecutive days. When we went to the lake we had to wait for a clearing and we had about 20 minutes of it. I had to tell my actors we may only get one chance, one shot to do this and they nailed it in the first take which is what we have in the film.
Amanda: I have many fond memories of the local diner. Not only did they feed us at all hours but they were The Luring‘s first fans!
THE LURING has been on the Festival circuit: where has it been? What has been the reaction?
People seem really enjoy that The Luring is different and isn’t typical which allowed us to win best Thriller at the Motor City Film Festival. That audience really embraced our film. We also screened at Panic Fest in Kansas City as well as The New Jersey Film Festival. Early on we were able to obtain a sales agent and so far they sold it to a distributor in Turkey and in the US. The US release date will be announced as soon as we get word.
What’s next for THE LURING?
We are really looking forward to the screening on November 7th at the Somerville Theater because it will be a premiere which is exciting. We are waiting to hear about the distribution deal in the US so we can have all of our family and friends see it who can’t make it to any of the screenings. We are just really enjoying the audiences reaction and are having fun being part of something that is different and unique.
WIFVNE thanks the 45th Boston Science Fiction Festival for their assistance with this premiere event.
Photo credits: Behind the Scenes and Stills from the film THE LURING provided by Christopher Wells
From the World Congress of Science & Factual Producers:
In our on-going efforts to discover and promote the work of up-and-coming science communicators, WCSFP has introduced SCIENCE IN 60 SECONDS. We’re asking filmmakers to submit a 60-second video on any science topic, creatively exploring science storytelling in the digital short format. The video can either be 60 seconds formatted for Instagram, or four 15 second sections formatted for Instagram Stories.
A selection of submissions will be screened at Congress ’19 in Tokyo, Japan. This is an incredible opportunity to seen by the world’s top industry decision makers involved in science and factual programming. This year’s Congress attendees include representatives from BBC, CBC, NHK, Science Channel, Netflix, PBS, NOVA, National Geographic, ARTE, YouTube and more!
The top three finalists will receive accreditation to Congress ‘20 and the grand prize winner will receive accreditation, hotel and travel to Congress ’20!
Deadline to submit is November 11.
Finalists and winner announced on December 5.
More info, eligibility, and rules on Science in 60 Seconds can be found here: http://ow.ly/kEFx30pJWjH
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