Sunday, May 29, 2005

Wisdom from Filmmaker Brian De Palma

...but motion pictures are a kinetic art form; you're dealing with motion and sometimes that can be violent motion. There are very few art forms that let you deal with things in motion and that's why Westerns and chases and shoot-outs and killings crop up in film. They require one of the elements intrinsic to film: motion.


But there's a difference between being the marionette and being the puppet master. One is a director because one wants to be the master.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Interview with Theo Dumont

There are people you meet and quickly forget, and on the other side there is someone like Theo Dumont, co-founder of the Holly Shorts Film Festival. His smile lights up the room. His passion, energy, and positivity are contagious. He is making in-roads for himself in this industry, learn more here.

FS: What an undertaking and enterprise it is putting together a film festival! How was the idea born?

TD: First and foremost, we'd like to think Film Synergy for allowing us to participate with this fantastic site.

It's definitely quite an undertaking putting together the inaugural event. Co-founder Dan Sol and myself thought of the idea two years ago. We both work in the industry and we felt there needed to be a platform for the young, aspiring filmmakers to showcase their work. There are a lot of different festivals out there but nothing really catering to the needs of the student and the independent enthusiast. A lot of the festivals have gotten too commercial and there isn't a true indie, short-film specific, annual festival in the Hollywood area worth noting. Our organization truly enjoys short films in all genre's. We'd like to provide people with a forum each year to look forward to.

FS: Understanding how many facets there are in producing a festival, from marketing to receiving entries, to securing the venue and lining up vendors. What has been the biggest challenge thus far?

TD: In planning an event of this magnitude, there will always be bumps and bruises along the way but you have to roll your sleeves up and work extra hours to make it [the festival] as seamless as possible. Our biggest challenge to date has been getting the local community representatives involved. We'll continue to make these types of outreach efforts.

FS: For any filmmakers out there who might be interested in submitting to your festival, what do they need to know?

TD: The short films we will consider must be 30 minutes or less. The entry fee is very low at $10. We'll have a grand prize for the winner. The selected shorts will be showcased August 13-14 at The Space Theater in Hollywood in front of fellow filmmakers, industry, and enthusiasts. For additional information and the mailing address, they can contact either myself or Dan Sol at the official Holly Shorts Hotline (818)760-9897. They can also visit our official website

FS: This being your first film festival, what kind of expectations do you have?

TD: We have great expectations. Not only do we plan on having the marquee short film festival of the year, but we also plan on making this event a tradition, a place where friends can come together and watch unique, original and creative work. Before we even put out an official call for entries, we chatted the event up last year at L.A.'s Largest Mixer. The response was unprecedented and we realized how great it would be to provide this platform for the industry.

FS: Is it too early to look ahead? Will this be the only Holly Shorts Film Festival or are there more to come?

TD: Anticipating a great response from the industry, we will make Holly Shorts an annual event. We are already in discussions for a larger venue for next year.

FS: What challenges are up next for you?

TD: We are working on lining up a panel discussion featuring a slew of industry decision makers. We want our event to benefit the filmmaker, the actor, the writer, the industry. Our next challenge is to produce the event and begin planning for next year's Holly Shorts.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wisdom from Writer/Director Wes Anderson

I think you can learn a lot from books, but you can't learn it [filmmaking] unless you know what it really means practically. So you gotta combine making films, watching films, listening to other filmmakers, and reading about films, for it to all make sense in a way that's really gonna teach you how to do it. And editing films is a key thing you have to know about. You've got to figure that stuff out if you're really gonna be fully-formed, and be able to make a movie where you don't need a lot of support.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Interview with Roger Stoneburner

When new readers come to visit this site, they will wonder why it was created. Then they will read the following interview with Roger Stoneburner. A man who is involved in all facets of production and who burns the passion we all need to pursue this industry.

FS: What are your beginnings to getting started in the film industry?

RS: Believe it or not, I fell into this business by accident. I was living in Lake Tahoe and operating a bungee company. I was in Los Angeles visiting some friends, one of which was the first AD on Melrose Place. I have a shaved head and she asked if I wanted to come play a thug. I said sure and while I was there I witnessed a stunt fight. I think this was around 2001, bungee was dying out. I saw a stunt fight and found my next calling, stunt work. She did what she could to talk me out of it but I went for it anyway. I have been a working stunt professional since then. Because stunt work is really, mostly part-time work I invested some residuals in camera gear and an edit bay and set out to shoot a documentary on the stunt business. That doc turned into a pitch and I took it to E! and Spike and garnered interest but not enough to make it happen. I then hooked up with an award winning Irish Actor, Andrew Connolly. He is a fantastic writer as well as actor. He wrote, I shot and edited. We formed a group called peeledZERO, basically, a place where we could post our work online, mostly short films. From there I got more into writing and have written a few screenplays which I hope to be pitching soon in the not to distant future.

FS: You seem to have your hand in many facets of production from producing to shooting to editing. Please tell us about all the roles you have played in your productions and where you ideally would like to end up.

RS: I mostly do stunt work (it pays the bills), then camera work and editing. My love is cinematography and photography (after stunts). I would love to end up writing and directing my own projects. Now that the tools are so easily accessible, camera and laptop, it should be pretty easy to do. Of course, getting big name actors involved would be nice. I think that is where my stunt background comes in handy. When I have a script that is in solid shape, ready or near ready for the spec market, I can approach the stunt double for the actor I want and ask him to give the script to 'his' actor!

FS: As the days go on, what is it that motivates you?

RS: The dream of reaching my current goal of writing a solid screenplay and generating some interest from an actor, agent or whoever. Then being able to direct it.

FS: Please tell us about your company and your series of short films, one titled "Giant Eagles, Monkeys and Pygmies" won Best Short Film at the Flickering Image Film Festival. Were you expecting that kind of success?

RS: Well, peeledZERO is not really a company. It's more of a co-op including myself and andrew and all our acting and crew friends. We did a series of shorts on two hitmen, the Fun Loving Criminals. Luckily, our first episode won a festival. We were very excited because just getting into film festivals is next to impossible. The competition is fierce and big. Most festivals favor entries from past winners, friends or anything with name actors, no matter how awful. We felt great about that short, it had a solid buildup, middle and end in a very short amount of time, two and a half minutes roughly. We expected nothing so getting in was frosting on the cake and winning was the cherry. I think one of the biggest mistakes for filmmakers trying to compete in a short film competition is that the shorts are too long. I think under five minutes is the best route, a short means just that, short. I've watched probably close to one hundred short films and 98% of them were too long. The main components you need is a great story and great actors to show your great story. Then worry about the camera work and editing. The last two can suffer a bit if you have the first two. I think most short films suffer because they take too long telling a story that no one cares about.

FS: What projects are you working on now and what are you doing to take your career to the next level?

RS: I'm just finishing up playing a skinhead on a film called 'The Third Nail." After that I am shooting a music video for a friend on a sound stage. In June I am shooting a documentary short on a friend who is going to do the first cliff bungee jump. We are pitching a tv pilot that Andrew wrote and I am pitching a feature script that I wrote. It's about a daredevil trying to break into the stunt industry. My main focus is getting that script tight as possible, making parts that real actors will be interested in playing. Then I have a big agent waiting in the wings to read my masterpiece. If no one likes that script I will write one based around a million dollar budget and use my connections to get that made. So I do have back up plans. Nothing happens overnight in this town. You have to put it in low gear, like the tortoise and the hare. Be the tortoise, have a backup, keep chugging away and never give up. Eventually, something is going to hit.

FS: At this stage in your career, is there anything you would love to be able to go back and change?

RS: I wish that I had moved directly to LA instead of being a ski bum for 12 years. Then I would have another 12 years of stunt work under my belt and would be second unit directing now. Of course this is not possible so I am making the best of what I have.


Monday, May 23, 2005

"Nothing else in the world...not all the as powerful as an idea whose time has come."
Victor Hugo, The Future of Man

Friday, May 20, 2005

Interview with Producer Jennifer Hope Clary

Film Synergy had the opportunity to sit down with Producer Jennifer Hope Clary. Amazing she could fit it into her schedule, one that includes reading over 50 scripts a month. Thank you Jennifer. It’s not often one gets the inside scoop from a producer’s mind. All writers, actors, and directors get ready for this one.

FS: How did you get started producing films? When did you realize that producing films was a passion of yours?

JHC: I’ve been a producer for five years. I started out as a stage actress and met my partner Kevin Haberer when we were both performing at the Dallas Shakespeare Festival. He was already hooked on filmmaking. He introduced me to the technical end of filmmaking (for which I have little talent and patience to be honest). However, I wanted to create films and had a knack for writing, budgeting, hiring, etc… Naturally, this led to producing. Kevin and I teamed up to form jenkev productions He operates the technical end of our business and I produce and market our projects. I am also frequently contracted out by other companies and individuals now to produce films, commercials, and other media presentations since I have established myself in the industry.

FS: What has been the range of budgets of the films you have worked on?

JHC: Most of the films I produce have a budget of under one million.

FS: How do you go about selecting the material you would like to produce? Are part of a team or production company? Please elaborate on this part of the process for us.

JHC: I receive screenplays from writers, directors, and production companies who want me to produce their work. Out of fifty or so screenplays I read monthly (and I actually do read them unless the first twenty pages put me to sleep) I might find one that really catches my eye. The best screenplays have a clear beginning, middle, and end and well developed characters. I’m partial to mysteries and dramas but that’s just me. I strongly consider any well conceived screenplay with an interesting plot regardless of genre. If I like a screenplay I contact the person or organization who sent it to me and have a preliminary discussion. This basically involves me recommending certain rewrites, finding out if any talent is already in place, and discussing what the estimated budget will need to be. At this point I decide if I want to work with these people. If I like a screenplay but the director is snappy on the phone and the writer throws a fit when I recommend rewrites then the deal is instantly off.

Since I am also the co-owner of a production company, I produce at least one film that is strictly a “jenkev production” annually. This means that Kevin and I find a story or come up with an idea that we would like to see onscreen. Then we usually contract a writer we enjoy working with to write it for us. This is always a joy for me since I get to see a project that I am personally invested in brought to life.

FS: What do you expect from your director, crew, and actors during your production?

JHC: Efficiency, preparedness, and hard work.

FS: Please tell us about some recent projects of yours, including the success of your feature film, “Discover Me.”

JHC: jenkev’s most recent feature, Discover Me, just received the Grand Goldie Award. It’s exciting to have your work recognized by the film community. Discover Me was an experimental feature about three internet relationships in NYC that was shot on a very low budget so we were thrilled to win the award. Also, the film pioneered a new camera mount invented by Kevin, so we were excited to see his innovation pay off. Information about Discover Me and other jenkev projects is available online at My producing bio, resume, and reel are at

FS: What is your next challenge to help you take your career to a higher level?

JHC: Right now I am in the process of developing a television program to promote animal awareness and to increase adoptions in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I am a huge animal lover and wanted to produce a series to support local animal shelters. When I am not working on my new series, I am reviewing scripts or working as a freelance producer. In the past month I have been a field producer for the PBS show Moneytrack as well as for former A&E producer/writer Helen Hood Scheer on her current documentary project about competitive jump rope. I am also in pre-production for a short film about a reality television show which goes horribly wrong. Information about all of these projects will be made available online at once they go into production.

FS: When it's the end of the day and it's time to rest, having done what during your day makes it easier to close your eyes and fall asleep?

JHC: Daily exercise gives me the energy to work long hours and makes it easier to sleep at night. Also, I make a point of spending quality time with my fiancĂ© Kevin, parents, and two pets almost every day. Even if it’s just a quick phone conversation, knowing that I’ve checked in with my family makes it easier to accomplish the work that needs to get done and makes sleep possible at the end of the day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Interview with Filmmaker Richard Gonzales

Film Synergy would like to thank Filmmaker Richard Gonzales for taking time out of his schedule in order to complete this interview. He is the award-winning director of the short film "Mystery Man," and a pioneer for Film Synergy by being our first interview. Let's get to it.

FS: When did you first know you wanted to pursue filmmaking? Tell us about your journey.

RG: I have always been a great fan of the Marx Bros, JerryLewis (underrated director), Hitchcock. I was 12 yrs old and went to see The Godfather, my life was never the same. I knew I wanted to do that, make movies. I went to a great high school we were able to make student films, we had speech class and we had play production. I did it all act, wrote and directed. I won 3 speech awards and a special drama award. I went on from there and tried to be an actor, several plays and day player roles later nothing much was happening. I had a opportunity to work behind the scenes on "Unsolved Mysteries." I was there for 4 years. I worked as an AD, a grip, electric, and sound. I was able to act in an episode as well. I then had an opportunity to work on several low budget movies as an AD. I worked my way from there to join the DGA. I am still a working DGA member, and AD while I keep trying to get other projects off the ground.

FS: Who are your film influences?

RG: The Marx Bros., Jerry Lewis, Chaplin, Hitchcock, so many others.

FS: Tell us about your film "Mystery Man" and the success it has had.

RG: MYSTERY MAN IS A BLACK AND WHITE SLAPSTICK SILENT KUNG FU ADVENTURE. I directed and it was written by my 2 kids ages 12 and 14. The film was given an award for the best family project made by a family at the Tulipanes Latino Art and Film Festival. It won some editing software. I never expected anything. That short and Capt Undergarments have been running on Mania Internet TV and on the Amazon Short Film Festival.

FS: When completing any film there are many challenges and obstacles that arise. What has been the biggest obstacle for you?

RG: Well for any independent project the biggest challenge is finding the money (the backing) to do whatever project you're doing. Once you have enough money, you can gather a great crew and forge ahead. There are so many festivals out there, unless you make a turkey your project will be seen.

FS: What should we look out from you in the future, any projects?

RG: I am working on a Mockumentry about punk rock, and a Twilight Zone kinda thing called "GUN"

FS: This site is going to be viewed by a lot of upcoming filmmakers. What advice would you give to them?

RG: Eat, sleep and drink it. Don't give up. Take risks do something different and your way with passion. If it's honest and heartfelt. That will transfer to the screen and people will respond.

If you have any further questions or would like to contact Richard Gonzales, you may do so at

Monday, May 16, 2005

"If you're a writer that nobody's heard of or read,
this is one of the best ways to get through the door."
Abram Nalibotsky, Literary Agent, The Gersh Agency

The Founding Principle

"It’s easy to get lost on your own path.
Not so easy when others are there with you."