Archive for RHIFF

Dealing with Current Realities Or Am I Related to Francis Ford Coppolla?

Posted in Greenspoke, Making Movies, Non-profit filmmaking, reelheart with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Filmmaking has been a passion of mine for many years, supported financially by me through my corporate employment. When I was at the 2008 ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) with my short film two julias, I received a phone call from my employer of 6 years letting me know they were laying off several people in my department and that I was one of them.  The ironic timing of the call did not go unnoticed since I had made my first film as part of an employee filmmaking contest there. They let me go while I was on vacation at the first film festival to show one of my films in competition.

RHIFF is a great filmmaker-friendly festival and definitely worth the submission fee – I have entered again for 2010. However my overall festival submission strategy has definitely changed since then. I tended to take a shotgun approach before.  I research the festivals more and take advantage of early bird submission rates where I can to save money. If you use withoutabox.com, use their search and watch list functions rather than waiting for their e-mail notifications. Most of the e-mail notifications are for the higher fee late or final deadlines. More money for WAB and the festival but not the best use of limited filmmaker bucks.

I took a leap of faith and used my severance to fund Greenspoke, a project that was already in pre-production before my layoff.   I do not regret making that decision – that project kept me sane through what I thought would be a couple of months seeking employment. Greenspoke has done well so far, showing in four festivals and getting a good review in The Seattle Weekly. Oddly my layoff from a high profile employer and continued filmmaking also led to a small piece in The Seattle Times as well. Unfortunately the article makes it sound like the layoff somehow helped my filmmaking career – that is not the case. That story came up in a job interview I had shortly after the article came out.

As I have been searching for a web editor job over the last 15 months, I have had to adjust my expectations as a filmmaker to line up with current realities. Before I would have gone ahead with a project even if funding was iffy — that just isn’t possible anymore.  I can’t proceed with any production activities until firm money in place. I set up non-profit Smiling Z Studios as a means of soliciting tax-deductible donations. When many of your previous supporters are also out of work or worried about losing their jobs, it is tough to make the pitch that a non-profit  independent film production is a great place to make their charitable donations. We do pay all of our cast and crew, many of whom are struggling financially, as part of the studio’s mission. However,  if a potential donor is on the fence between supporting our projects vs making a donation to a food bank or the Red Cross, I would not want them to choose the studio.

Most of us wonder what we would do if we won the lottery. I often think about what it would be like to make that transition from mostly self-funded director/producer to working as a director with full production support and investors who believe in me and my abilities enough to finance my projects. While that is not out of the realm of possibility, I do believe the odds are better to win the lottery and give these feelings the same kind of weight. I think most artists sans trust fund or those who lack a family connection to Francis Ford Coppolla struggle with how they are going to pay for their art.

So what do I do while I’m sorting this all out? Work on the things I can. Besides checking in with friends and former co-workers (again) who may be able to help me find work, I’ve redoubled my efforts to seek gainful employment. There do seem to be more jobs out there in my field and I’ve even had a couple of promising interviews.  I’ve also started working on storyboards for my feature length screenplay The Smiling Zombie, which was a finalist in the 2009 ReelHeART International Film Festival Screenplay Competition. The Smiling Zombie is about Jack, a successful musical theatre performer whose career is cut short by multiple sclerosis. With the support of his HIV+ partner, Jack attempts a comeback of sorts with a featured extra role in a no-budget zombie film. Making the best out of a bad situation seems to be a theme here?

Paper and pens I got, and storyboards help me to really think through the script, its problems and strengths, and what the overall look and feel will be. If I work on the things I can, I’ll be ready with a new job and a solid script and storyboards when things turn around. And who knows, maybe I am related to Francis Ford Coppolla?

Filmmaker or not, what are you doing to keep your passions going during these tough times?

Aug 4 Fundraiser Screening Plus Live Music at Central Cinema – tix at brownpapertickets.com

Posted in acting, Greenspoke, Making Movies, reelheart, screenwriting, Seattle events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Smiling Z Studios

Two award-winning  short films, snacks, live music from The Daguerreotypes and a no-host bar – come see Tom McIntire’s award-winning political satire “two julias”, plus be a part of the first super secret preview screening of his latest, the sci-fi thriller “Greenspoke”.

two julias: Much to the delight of his kinky girlfriend, a counter-terrorism agent abuses his authority by spying on single women just for fun. A young woman looking for love online and a lecherous married salesman get entangled in their games. A darkly comedic political satire. Break a heart in seven languages! Winner honorable mention and director’s pick 2008 ReelHeART International Film Festival and recently nominated for Best USA Film under 25 Minutes at International Film Festival Ireland.

Greenspoke: A beautiful Japanese translator and a world-weary vehicle emissions technician awaken profoundly changed by the work of a brilliant scientist who believes he has found the solution to climate change. Winner of the Accolade Award of Merit: Short Film and nominated for Best International Film under 50 Munutes at International Film Festival Ireland.

The Daguerreotypes: Their quirky music is featured in both films – come hear this great band live!

Net proceeds benefit Smiling Z Studios, the nonprofit film studio dedicated to providing paid cast and crew positions in quality Seattle film productions

NOTE: No one under 21 years old will be admitted.

Feel free to share this info with your friends, including the discount code for your poor friends. Enter the discount code “blog” and get in at the cast and crew price of $12. Make your rich friends pay at the higher levels listed on brownpapertickets – purchases at the $25 and $50 levels include a portion that is tax-deductible, plus some thank you gifts.

I hope you can make it!

two julias and Greenspoke have both been nominated for awards

two julias and Greenspoke have both been nominated for awards

Greenspoke won an Award of Merit for Short Film

Greenspoke won an Award of Merit for Short Film

two julias won an honorable mention and a director's pick

two julias won an honorable mention and a director's pick

“The Smiling Zombie” advances to the quarterfinals in the 2009 Bluecat Screenplay Competition

Posted in screenwriting with tags , , , , , , , on June 17, 2009 by Tom McIntire

My feature-length script, The Smiling Zombie, has advanced to the quarterfinals in the 2009 Bluecat Screenplay Competition. Coming on the heels of placing as a finalist (along with a second script of mine, The Karma Stone) in the 2009 ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) in Toronto and advancing to the semifinals in the 2008 Writemovies competition, this is exciting stuff for my drama with dark comedy, music, dancing and yes a few zombies.

The Smiling Zombie is planned to be the first feature produced by nonprofit film studio Smiling Z Studios. We are currently working on the budget and urge you to support the studio if you can. There’s a link on the Web site. Smiling Z Studios provides paid cast and crew positions in quality productions even when budgets are low.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Posted in Greenspoke, Making Movies, screenwriting, Toronto, two julias with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Tom Petty lyrics aside, the end of a project is when it all is beginning. Greenspoke, my environmentally themed short sci fi piece, is entered in several film festivals, including the Seattle International Film Festival. No official selections yet but by early May we’ll start hearing how it is being received by the festival programmers. After spending months and months on a project you want people to see it. And distribute it. And fund that feature you want to produce next.

Speaking of features, there was a delay in judging in the 2009 ReelHeART International Screenplay Competition. Two of my scripts, The Karma Stone and The Smiling Zombie are finalists (as followers of this blog already know). I was amazed and thrilled to have TWO scripts in the running. Out of six finalists, three were chosen as the top three, and will receive a live, rehearsed reading at the festival. Judging was by a prominent agency. Eek! This led to much checking of e-mail, wringing of hands, self doubt and consoling by friends. I sometimes think I am not very competitive but deep down I am. Unfortunately neither script made it into the top three. The festival director was nice enough to call me and let me know.

If you have not participated in ReelHeART (RHIFF) in Toronto, it is a wonderful experience for filmmakers and audiences alike.  They treat filmmakers with care, respect and make it fun to boot. My short two julias premiered there last year, winning a Director’s Pick and Honorable Mention. We also got a distribution offer from Toronto-based Ouat! Media. Even if you don’t have anything in the festival, if you are in Toronto there are lots of filmmaker-focused events.

The Smiling Zombie AND The Karma Stone Made the Finals at RHIFF

Posted in Making Movies, reelheart, screenwriting, Toronto with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Two of my feature length screenplays have made it into the finals of the 2009 ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) Screenplay Competition. I’m still processing this information but I can say that I am thrilled.  These scripts also were semi-finalists in the WriteMovies International Writing Competition. At a time when I am struggling to find another day job (I was laid off from my job at Washington Mutual last June), it’s great to get this encouragement and recognition. Like most artists out there of all stripes and sensibilities, I am trying to figure out how to make my way in the world and still feed my passion. Finding that elusive mix where they are one and the same is what keeps me submitting films and scripts to festivals and writing competitions.

What are your secrets to reaching the next level? What challenges are you facing?

Greenspoke Starts Shooting December 2nd!

Posted in Greenspoke, Shriekfest, Toronto with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2008 by Tom McIntire

Scientists aim a green bullet at climate change. Bullets ricochet.

For those of you who know me, the start of principal photography on Greenspoke is not a big surprise. I’ve been asking you for everything from car parts to textbooks to time in your bedroom – and you’ve all been very accommodating! Things have been coming together pretty well and I’m looking forward to finally getting started.

Greenspoke was a semi-finalist in the short sci-fi screenplay category at Shriekfest 2008. The script has been massaged a bit, locations nailed down, a strong crew is in place and we have an excellent cast that I am proud to be directing. On top of all that, my fellow ReelHeART International Film Festival 2008 participant (and short/long form fiction winner!) Tess Malone is flying in from London to help out. How fun is that? And I get to work with production manager Michi Murayama from my days as a devious killer on Japanese network television.

Mikano Fukaya and Tim Gouran head up my hardy cast which includes two julias alums and Seattle stage and film notables. I met today with our director of photography, Ryan Purcell, to go over shot lists. It’s interesting to see where I am willing to give because of budget and time constraints – it’s yet another creative process to figure out how to stay true to the original intent while managing the costs. The manic panic of 48 Hour Film contests helped me hone this skill – if you respect the story and the process, there are lots of ways to say the same thing effectively. That dolly shot would be cool but does it really add that much to the storytelling? Yes but not enough to warrant the cost. Driven pragmatism.

Festival closing and other news

Posted in Toronto with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2008 by Tom McIntire

I was having internet access issues in Toronto so sorry that I haven’t kept up with the blog. The festival was a wonderful experience. Lots of good films and friendly smart fun filmmakers and festival folks.

Films that stood out (in no particular order):

Close to Midnight – personal and yet accessible story line, thoughtful choices from lenses to camera angles to color to music, extraordinary performances from the actors (Michael Bianco brought a rare level of sensitivity to the role of Chris Ryan). Kudos to director Ken Castellano and the cast and crew for this moving feature.

Brick by Brick … a Civil Rights Story – at times frightening and disturbing in its raw look at racism, director Bill Kavanaugh’s and Sylke Froechtenigt’s skillfully told tale of a long-term fight to integrate the city of Yonkers.

Leda and Her Art – 92 years old and she makes me feel like a total slacker – the funny and insightful story of Brazilian sculptor Leda Gontijo. There are people in the world who show you how to be alive – Leda is one of them.

Paola or The Art of Survival – Barbara Sostaric’s well-crafted and touching documentary about the obstacles and creative solutions of Paola, a single mother in Recife, Brazil as she tries to support her family. Paola’s story is troubling in its depiction of abject poverty yet inspirational when we see Paola’s resilience and dedication to her children.

The Red Room – Writer/director Elina Fessa’s beautifully realized story of an exotic dancer confronted by a long-lost love.

The German Lullaby – Director Tess Malone examines the betrayal of an innocent and the echoes that ring out through generations to come.

Futures and Derivatives – Writer/director Andrew Halpern creates a world where beauty is revealed in a very unlikely place.

Soul 37 – it’s all about heart and living fully – link goes to a previous blog entry about this touching film by David Shin.

Asian Task Force – a skillfully executed send-up of 90s cops shows like the A-team. If you like hot Asian actors playing something other than the nerd, funny and amazing fight scenes, then this one is for you. William Lu directed – Comedy Central needs to pick this one up to follow Reno 911 and class the evening up a bit.

Sneaky Snake – Lost in the Holy Land – need I say more? Best Animation Winner and that snake is a flirt

And Then She Was Gone – this lovely, dreamy film was shot in Savannah and features Diana Scarwid and actor/director Jacqueline Pennewill (also directed by Pete Konczal)

But back to me me me

two julias got an extra screening because people were trying to buy tickets after the original screening date. Several other films were in the same sitch. How fun is that? It gave me a chance to see films that I had missed – (The Red Room, Portrait of Envy) and to feel the reactions of a mostly new audience to two julias.

I was invited to be interviewed (along with several other visiting filmmakers) by saucy RHIFF director Shannon Kelly at their Lunch and Learn series. I talked about what drove me to write the script and told Shannon my favorite curse word. One of those is true.

And on a less positive note, my now former employer had the grace and style to call me during the festival to let me know we were breaking up. I went in to pack up my stuff today and turn in the card keys. I feel suddenly much lighter.