Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interview Series - Night Before the Wedding - Actor John Keating

Actor John Keating on the set of Night Before the Wedding

Tell us one thing about yourself that no one really knows?

I am a pretty open guy with those people I know and care about. But when it comes to something that no one knows about I draw a blank. I am pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kinda guy.

How did you get your start in film?

My very first film role was the home movies that I shot with my Mom and Dad and my two brothers and three sisters. I was probably nine or ten and the films were shot on an old 8 mm silent film camera. They were pretty cheesy but my family indulged me and we had a lot of fun. Looking back on it they were corny, but cute 'cause we were all little kids.

I did two films while in college for the Kansas Dept. of Transportation. In the first film I played a drunk driver whose friend convinces him to let him (the friend) drive home. In the second film I played the supporting role of a mutual friend who is killed in an automobile accident. We filmed the aftermath of the accident in the automobile that we wrecked for the movie. It was very creepy being in a wrecked car playing dead when the accident was all for show. There was just kind of a weird “vibe” to being in that car. Hard to explain.

Have you worked with any name actors or directors?

I worked on an episode of Mind of Mencia for Comedy Central in 2006. The celebrity was Carlos Mencia. Although I did not spend much time with him, I had a blast doing the show and he was kind enough to introduce himself to the guest cast during rehearsal. Actually, the most time that I spent with him was during the shooting of the episode in front of the camera. But that was a fun day because I was "livin' the dream."

How did you get involved in “Night Before the Wedding”?

I work with the writer/director and several of the actors in the film and David wrote the film for us. I really felt honored when he asked me to be a part of the project.

What is your role in this project?

I play William Shay, reluctant honoree of a wild bachelor party. He unwittingly becomes entangled in a situation that he did not plan on and never imagined could ever happen.

What were your thoughts when you first read the script?

I knew that this role would be the most challenging of my career thus far and I was not mistaken. Playing this character took me to places that I do not visit within myself too often and challenged me to bring parts of myself to the role that I have never brought to any other character that I have played in theatre or film. I had to dig deep and really connect in a way that I had never done before.

Actor John Keating discusses an upcoming scene with Actor Gregor Collns. Director David Branin looks on.

What attracted you to working on this film?

I loved the idea of working with people that I know, love and respect. Also knowing that I would have input and an impact on the script was very attractive as well. This film truly was a collaborative effort.

What was the most challenging thing you had to face with this project?

As I mentioned in the earlier question, I had to bring a vulnerability and depth to this character that I was unaccustomed to bringing to other characters that I played. I really worked hard to try and bring to the project the vision that David Branin had and I really wanted to prove to him that he had made the right choice in casting me in this project. I hope that I succeeded.

What did you love most about being involved with this production?

The other cast and crew members. The challenge of the role was bitter and sweet. The sweetness comes from the range of emotion that I was challenged to convey. If I discuss the bitter too much I might tip my hand as to the contents of the film. And we wouldn’t want that.

I loved the fact that, like my episode of Mind of Mencia, I was "livin' the dream" each and every day of the project. I would get to the set early and excited to go and even though the days were long and the character challenging, I was doing what I loved with the people I loved.

Is this a film for women to see?

As long as they are over 18. I think that they will enjoy a peak into a side of life that they may not possibly ever experience. Besides, there are some handsome guys in this flick (and I do not include myself in the above category). And there are some terrific actors and actresses working their tails off.

Will you share this film with your Mom?

Most likely. My mom has always been supportive of my decisions and always seems to appreciate the projects that I have been involved in.

What does this film have that you will not find in a big Studio release?

This film has true camaraderie amongst the cast. The heart that is placed into this film is not easy to find in a big studio release. The way the film is tailored for each cast member shows an attention to detail on the part of the writer/director that is not found in larger films. A lotta love and effort at true story telling. No punches pulled, no holds barred.

What makes this a ‘must see’ movie?

The moral questions raised by the film challenge the audience to reflect on their own values and decisions that they make in everyday life and how they affect those around them. This movie will make an impact on you and in film, especially independent film, that is hard to come by.

Friday, January 23, 2009

To my fellow filmmakers and artists, I would like to pass on this article, “Hope For The Future: Filmmaker and Exhibitor Collaboration” which was written by Ted Hope and published on indieWIRE. It is followed by commentary from Four-Eyed Monsters Filmmaker Arin Crumley. This is an article I have already read twice and will probably read a few more times.


Ted Hope also writes a tremendously informative blog that is worth subscribing to entitled Truly Free Film

Vasicek Links President Obama to Native Americans

"Award-Winning Writer/Filmmaker Donald L. Vasicek Lauds President Obama''"

January 23, 2009 - Centennial, CO - Award-winning writer/filmmaker, Donald L. Vasicek says, "For the first time since I beganvoting for United States presidents, the first being John F. Kennedy, I have heard a U. S. President regularly mention Native Americans when he talks about United States minority people"

Vasicek, writer, director, and producer of the award-winning "The Sand Creek Massacre" and present writer, director, and producer of "Ghosts of Sand Creek", a feature documentary film, has been an advocate of Native American rights for several years. He is a board member of the American Indian Genocide Museum in Houston.

Vasicek added, "President Obama's sensitivity for community is even more evident when he mentions Native Americans, a race virtually ignored by former U. S. Presidents. I commend
President Obama for his perception and insight. Many native reservations in the United States are like Third World countries, or, is it "developing nations" these days? Development on U. S. native reservations I have visited amounts to others continuing their centuries long assault on native land for its resources. I am giving my total support to President Obama's efforts to help dissolve Native American anonymity in America and bring them to the forefront for change so that they will be looked upon as America's heritage, America's roots, and America's proud people. Anything less is and will globally be an abomination."


Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Interview with 'Ink' Filmmaker Jamin Winans

On this awe-inspiring inauguration day where many of us feel a new hope, I am proud to unveil this new interview with a filmmaker that I admire, an artist who is passionate about his craft, and one who raises the bar for all of us in the world of independent cinema.

Jamin Winans has just completed his second feature film, Ink, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Action Thriller about the people who come out at night and give us dreams and nightmares. It is the allegorical story of good and evil and those trapped in between. No matter how safe you feel, evil may find you. But no matter how far you've fallen, redemption is possible. (To really understand what this all means, the Must See Movie Trailer is Below)

premieres January 23rd, 29th, and 30th at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. It is one of a handful of films in competition. For screening information, please click here, Ink Showtimes

Filmmaker Jamin Winans on the set of Ink

Tell us one thing about yourself that no one really knows?

I really wanted to be a ventriloquist for most of my childhood, but I found filmmaking was a lot more versatile. No joke, I collected 5 or 6 very sophisticated ventriloquist dolls and got pretty good at it. Retired around 10 or 11 years old…okay, it was last week.

Are there any books you consider invaluable to your process as a writer and director?

Reading books and interviews of other filmmakers in general has been really helpful psychologically. They remind you that everyone struggles and that you’re not alone. My all time favorite is of course Rebel Without A Crew by Robert Rodriguez. It’s just a reminder that anything’s possible.

What area of filmmaking do you feel filmmakers often overlook? Something that comes back to bite you in the ass if you aren't careful?

From a technical standpoint, sound is often overlooked, but yet extremely important. I would argue that good sound is almost more important than a good picture. For some reason we’re a lot more annoyed when something isn’t audibly clear or strong. Yet new filmmakers almost always underestimate this.

But from a thematic standpoint, story is really overlooked. A film can be phenomenal from a technical standpoint, but if the story just isn’t strong, it’s all for nothing.

There is the creative side of film and there is the business side of film. From developing the idea, to final cut of the film, to getting people to be interested in your project and having them pay to see it, which has been the toughest phase for you?

Sadly, it’s all very hard. I think production itself is probably the hardest on me because of the ticking clock and overwhelming pressure. There’s a constant sense that any one mistake will ruin your film, which is sometimes true. Once the film is in the can, it’s definitely easier to relax, but I can’t say I never feel a real sense of contentment.

Often times in the independent movie world, we see a filmmaker make his first feature film, then we never hear from him again. What is your reaction to that?

More power to them. Filmmaking is a horrible endevour with varying degrees of pain and humiliation. The glamorous perception of filmmaking is nothing like reality, especially indie filmmaking. It requires unreal perseverance and huge sacrifices. I think a lot of filmmakers just realize they would rather actually live life than go through that process again. If I didn’t feel so compelled to keep going no matter what the cost, I would easily walk away and do something else.

Congratulations on completing your second feature film. What were some of the lessons you learned in making your first feature film that you carried over into the making of your second feature?

Thanks! I’m sure there were a lot of bits of wisdom I took from the 11:59 (my first feature) filmmaking process, but the most I learned was in the distribution process. Going through distribution, you realize how shady the industry really is. There’s countless bloodsuckers out there just waiting to take advantage of new filmmakers who are desperate for distribution. There are producer reps who will take advantage of you and there are distributors who will never pay you. I’ve found that shady distributors are almost the norm. Filmmakers have to talk to each other and check references on anyone they deal with. That’s the only way to avoid being screwed no matter how big and successful the film.

The-Storytellers - Eme-Ikwuakor, Jeremy Make, Jennifer Batter, and Shelby Malone

Taking a moment to reflect on both of your professional features, which of the two was harder to make, the first or the second? Why?

Ink, the second film, was definitely the hardest. We shot 11:59 in about 30-35 days, but Ink was 83 days. My feeling going in was that it would be so nice to have all that extra time to really shoot what I wanted, but it turns out Ink was so logistically complicated, it still didn’t feel like enough time. And shooting that long with such a small budget becomes a test of sheer will to just keep going. I was dying after day three and I realized I still had 3 months to go. Some of the crew started falling apart and people were getting pissed. It was hard physically, mentally, but most of all emotionally.

Was it easier to raise money for "Ink" with your proven track record of quality films and a successful feature already in the books?

It was easier. 11:59 helped a lot, and to my surprise our short, Spin helped a lot as well. We met a lot of people and made a lot of good friends on the path of those two films. A few of those people really supported us on Ink from the get go. It was still a task, but we weren’t looking for too much money, which certainly makes it easier.

How did you go about financing Ink?

We wrote a business plan and really thought through the film’s marketable attributes. We talked to our friends and contacts we had made from the other films and about half a year later, we had enough money to go.

The most important thing we did was set a date and commit to shooting the film no matter what. If we couldn’t get any money, we would shoot the film with a camera, no lighting and no crew. As it turned out, we did get a little money, and that just made the film a little easier. But committing to do it no matter was the key. When people know something is going to happen with or without their help, they’re more confident about getting involved.

Quinn Hunchar as Emma, Jessica Duffy as Liev, and Ink-travel to The Collector

With "11:59" you said it was tough on you because it didn't fit into one genre. It had a bit of everything. Looks like "Ink" is a clear cut Sci-Fi/Action/Thriller. Was this a conscious decision?

Ink is actually a hybrid of genres too, but it’s a lot more marketable than 11:59. It has a lot of action and suspense, but there’s also a deeper dramatic story at the root.

Ink was already in the works before 11:59 was out, so it didn’t really influence the decisions I made regarding story and genre. Regardless, I’m happy it is what it is because it’s already been an easier path than 11:59 on the festival and distribution route.

How long did you work on the script to Ink? What was the process like? What was the germinating seed? What was it about this story that drove you to make this film?

The story of Ink was in my head for years. It was all based on a creature I was convinced I saw in my bedroom when I was about four years old. After completing 11:59 I knew I wanted to tackle a more extravagant fantasy film, but I wanted to approach it in a grittier and more authentic manner than anything I had seen in regards to fantasy/sci-fi. I started with the memory of the creature in my bedroom and branched off into an idea of people who give us dreams and nightmares while we sleep. Thematically I was really interested in the idea of redemption and that became the core in which the story was built around.

I outlined the story heavily over the course of about a year. Ink has a very complicated structure and an unformulated build, which is always risky. So during the outlining and early drafts I focused more on structure than anything else. I probably went through six or seven drafts of the script before I really had the characters fleshed out. My wife and producer, Kiowa Winans and the lead actor, Chris Kelly, were really helpful with feedback and suggestions as I moved through the drafts.

Not only did you Write and Direct Ink, you also serve as Composer and Editor. Which of these is the most fun for you? Which is the toughest?

I would say both are the most enjoyable parts of the filmmaking process. Editing is really rewarding because you’re seeing the story and all the hard work coming together. Composing is probably the most fun because it’s something I don’t take very seriously. I never set out to be a composer and I’ve accepted I’m sort of a hack, so I haven’t ruined the process by trying to be perfect at it.

"The-Incubi" from Jamin Winan's Ink

What was the most challenging thing you had to face with this project?

The fear that I was somehow making something totally ridiculous and didn’t know it. It wasn’t until the last leg of the edit that I felt entirely confident with what we had created. We took a lot of risks and when you do that, you can bomb really hard.

What did you love most about being involved with this production?

It was a real team effort with my wife. We struggled a lot, but we struggled together which turned out to be a great thing.

You have released a kick ass HD Trailer for Ink, but what we really want to know, is the full length film better than the trailer?

I appreciate you saying so. It’s tough to compare a trailer to a film. One is an advertisement and one is a story. So the question really is, “Does the trailer represent the film accurately?” I would say it’s about 80 percent accurate. The feedback I’ve heard on the trailer is that it’s reading more horror/scary than I would like. The film does have it’s very dark elements, but it’s a dark modern fantasy, not a horror movie.

Personally, the film plays a lot stronger for me than the trailer because it’s much more complex, emotional, and rich. The trailer shows just a fraction of what the story actually is. But it will be up to the viewer to decide.

What are you hoping audiences take away from this film?

I hope they walk away thinking about the power of humility.

What are your goals for Ink?

I would love to make our investors money back and I would love for the right people to see the film. Beyond that, I’m happy with anything.

Will you share this film with your Mom?

Absolutely. There’s a lot of bad language in the film, but she forgives me for that.

What does this film have that you will not find in a big Studio release?

A story you won’t be able to predict the ending to in the first 20 minutes.

What makes this a 'must see' movie?

It’s totally unique, it’s moving, and it offers perspective on your dreams and the possibility of unseen influences in our lives. Well, that and there’s some guy with a huge nose running up an invisible staircase.

For the very latest on Jamin Winans, Ink, and Double Edge Films, please visit www.doubleedgefilms.com

You can also visit Jamin's brand new blog where he chronicles his journey www.doubleedgefilms.blogspot.com

Monday, January 19, 2009

kART Across America Movie Trailer

On May 20, 2008, Jeremy Make and Andy Raney left California on a golf kart for a 108-day adventure around the country. After gathering hundreds of interviews with artists, they found America ... and so much more. Here is their movie trailer which they have just released.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Interview with Filmmaker Jamin Winans coming Tuesday!

Subject says it all.

Very excited with this upcoming interview we will be posting on Tuesday. To become familiar with Jamin and his work, visit http://www.doubleedgefilms.com/

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An entertaining night of films & videos: Erika Yeomans, Ilya Chaiken, Andrea Staka & Meredith Drum.
Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 8 pm Tickets $10.00
Tel: 718.222.8500 |16 main street | brooklyn

Featuring: Juliana Francis-Kelly, Holly Ramos, Kristin DiSpaltro,Casey Spooner, Michael Abbott Jr, Jenny Bass, Cosmo Pfeil, Mot Filipowski, Ben Greenman, Tom Gorman, Julie Strong, Vesna Stanojevic and Nebojsa Glogovac......

Erika Yeomans pairs a night of her films with some of her favorite female directors. The program showcases engaging experimental narratives and compelling, edgy narrative work. The shorts are alternately funny, dark, melodramatic, absurd, poetic and personal.

Program Line up & Running time approx 88 minutes
Erika Yeomans

Chubby Buddy (Home Movie, Super 8, 13 minutes 2003). Meet Francis Howard, who gives up a career and a marriage to act upon some peculiar impulses.

Boo (Horror, HD, 4 minutes 2008). A suspenseful Halloween tale about a young man who gets roped in by a cat lady.

Grand Gorge: No God But Me (Melodrama/Western HD, 12 minutes 2008). A Pastiche of western clichés; where white men seek redemption and revenge in a cyclical fashion.

Fragments of Death Comes for Britney Spears! the Musical (Musical, HD, 8 mins, 2008). Based on McSweeney & New Yorker contributor Ben Greenman's "ripped from the tabloid headline" newsicals.

Bunny Boy (Music Video, Beta, 5 mins, 1995). A woman becomes a glittered man to the tune of 10-CC's I'm not in Love.

Meredith Drum

The Double (DV, 9 minutes 2008) is a quest story. The searcher is traveling through an undefined area, between city and wilderness, the landscape of the outsider.

Andrea Staka

Hotel Belgrade (35mm 13 min,1998) A couple makes love in a hotel. She lives in Switzerland, he in Belgrade. What has been destroyed by war will be resurrected in this hotel room.

Daleko (9 minutes, 2000). A young Yugoslavian woman trying to cope with her new Americanlife as bombs destroy her former homeland.

Ilya Chaiken

The 100 Lovers of Jesus Reynolds, 6 mins, 2004

A glimpse into the sexual misadventures of a woman named Jesus, as she reminisces about her many encounters and the day she almost missed the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.

Blackout, 8 minutes, 2004. Two strangers wake up in bed together on the morning after the Big Blackout of 2003. Through the sporadic flashes of memory that infiltrate their hangovers, they manage to piece together the events of the historic previous day.


Erika Yeomans,Program Curator/Filmmaker. Over the years, Yeomans has created an extensive body of work in theater, mixed media and film. Formerly the Artistic Director of the experimental group DOORIKA (Chicago and New York), she has focused on video and filmmaking since 1999. Her work has screened at film festivals and art institutions around the world, including: London's ICA, Lincoln Center's New York Video Festival, LA Freewaves, Berlin's Transmediale, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Silver Lake Film Festival, Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum, Cinematek at the Danish Film Institute and New York's Anthology Film Archives. In 2006, she was awarded a New York State Media Arts Grant for her debut feature film POSE DOWN (90 mins, Super 16, 2007). In 2008,Yeomans completed 3 new video projects that continue to explore different film genres: Fragmentsfrom Death Comes for Britney Spears the Musical! (Musical, HD, 8 minutes, 2008), Boo! (Horror, HD 4
minutes, 2008) and Grand Gorge: No God But Me (Western, HD, 12, 2008). She lives in New York City. For info www.therestofyournaturallifeproductions.com

Ilya Chaiken's second feature film LIBERTY KID, received critical raves, has been broadcast on HBO and was released in November 2008 by Kino Films. Chaiken's acclaimed debut feature MARGARITA HAPPY HOUR premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001 and proceeded to many others before receiving distribution from Wellspring. She returned to Sundance in 2004 with the comedic short "The 100 Lovers of Jesus Reynolds." She studied filmmaking at SUNY Purchase and lives in Brooklyn. Chaiken is preparing to direct her third feature, AMERICAN ANGELS and will launch a webisode series in the Spring of 2009: 'The Unloveables'. www.libertykidmovie.com.

Andrea Staka was born in 1973 in Lucerne. She has received numerous awards for "Hotel Belgrad" and "Yugodivas", as well as Swiss Film Prize nominations. 2006 Awarded Golden Leopard in Locarno for her debut feature "Das Fräulein". 2007 Awarded Swiss Film Prize, Best Screenplay for "Fraulein". She lives in Zürich. In 2007, Variety picked Ms. Staka as part of their TEN TO WATCH list for Fraulein.

Meredith Drum creates experimental fiction and nonfiction video as well as journalistic short form. Her experimental work has screened at Anthology Film Archives, Participant Inc., Monkey Town and Ocularis. Her journalistic work has screened at Fales Library and Archive at NYU and has been published on the New York Times Tmagazine Online and Good Magazine Online. She is also a creative writer, with poems and stories published by Ploughshares, Pierogi Press and Insurance Magazine.

Long Shorts/Short Shorts
An evening of films & videos by Erika Yeomans, Ilya Chaiken, Andrea Staka & Meredith Drum
Galapagos Art Space February 4th 2009