All About Our 2018 Imaginnaires Awards!

First of all, Happy New Year everyone!

While 2017 definitely had its ups and downs, we are very happy to be promoting 2018 as the Year of the Woman in the New England region as well as on the national stage! To kick off this new era in the industry, Imagine News is throwing its annual Imaginnaires Gala TOMORROW night. January 9th, from 7pm to 10pm at the beautiful Venezia restaurant just south of Boston. Imagine, stunning views of the Boston skyline over the water, amazing food, great drinks, and one of the local industry’s top annual networking opportunities New England’s film & television movers and shakers converge to celebrate those who have made a strong impact over the past year.

We have been sending out regular announcements about honorees and presenters and, in case you missed it, would like to offer an overview of them all here. Read on!

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS HERE

The Year of the Woman – Our “Imaginnaires”

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante mega-supporter of
Film Tax Credits.

State Rep Ann-Margaret Ferrante
State Rep Ann-Margaret Ferrante

Casey Sherman, author of “The Finest Hours” and “Boston Strong” will be presenting to Massachusetts Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante of Gloucester, an articulate and significant supporter of MA Film Tax Credits.

Rhode Island Film Office Assistant/Director Carol Conley supports Independent Filmmakers.

Carol Conley Rhode Island TV and Film Office
Carol Conley

Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film & TV Office is presenting to Carol Conley – Carol is a constant in that office supporting major studio and independent filmmakers who develop and bring their work to the Ocean State. She also directed and produced the award winning short film PENTITENCE.

Casting Director Lisa Lobel consistently casts Boston’s best performers.

Casting Director Lisa Lobel
Casting Director Lisa Lobel

Angela Peri, Boston Casting Founder and Casting Director will present to Boston Casting’s Lisa Lobel. Lisa is the driving force behind the Performance Institute at Boston Casting bringing major learning opportunities to performers in New England.

WIFV/NE’s Juliet Schneider who went the extra mile to save WIFV/NE in New England.

Juliet Schneider
Iridium Productions President Juliet Schneider

Alecia Orsini, President of Women in Film and Video in New England presents to Juliet Schneider, a freelance animator and owner of Iridium Productions. Juliet has served on the WIFVNE Board since 2011, and is the Immediate Past President and she always goes the extra mile for its membership.

Our “Shooting Star” is Ava Fratus, a very young woman born to perform.

IMAGINE’s Shooting Star is Ava Fratus, the young star of the film SNOWLAKE. She was born to perform. Photo courtesy of Goldilocks Productions.

Ava always knew she wanted to be a performer; that she was born to do it. And lucky for this little girl from Boston, the people around her knew it, too. And now, thanks to her performance in the film SNOWFLAKE, we all know it now.

Producer Kristen Lucas, Goldilocks Productions, will introduce Ava and present her with her “Shooting Star” Award. Lucas discovered Ava when judging a talent contest. She knew at once she had found her “Snowflake,” a script she had in development for some time. SNOWFLAKE won an award at the Boston International Film Festival and Ava won Best Actress at the Shawn Shea Memorial Film Festival.

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About Our “Women Who Work in the Industry” 2018 Issue

Imagine News January 2018 CoverIn our Women Who Work in the Industry Special Edition, IMAGINE has never had so many women
from a single workplace on the cover or in the pages in an article together.

The Nine Women Who Fuel ELEMENT Productions is the biggest ever! Until I called Eran Lobel, ELEMENTS Founder and CEO, even he didn’t realize that he had more women working for him than men. He says, “Women run this company,” and I believe him.

On our cover left to right are Producer Margaux Stunzi, Director/Photographer Kim Lowe, Editor Kat Baker, Senior Post Producer Kim DeRosa, Office Manager Sydney Charvat, Executive Producer Kristen Kearns, Account Coordinator Julia Keefe, Creative Manager Jessica Wade and Production Manager Kaitlyn Medeiros.

Executive Producer Kristen Kearns is definitely the boss. Eran says, “she is an amazing leader and has built a strong team of men and women around her. For the past seven years Kristen has led the company to be a powerhouse resource for internal and external agencies. She and I have also produced dozens of TV shows and films together as well as embarked on new media and new media initiatives that have
allowed us to continue to grow and learn in our careers.”

Read what each woman on this remarkable team had to say about working for Kristen at ELEMENT Productions. There are great lessons to be learned here. IMAGINE spent the better part of the day with this strong and talented group of women and we see they “click.” They are happy, know their jobs and love to come to work every day.

Eran added, “I’m honored to be working with such an amazing group of women.”

This Special Edition is filled with stories about Women Who Work in our Industry.

Our cover photo was captured by Carolyn Ross of Carolyn Ross Photography, and our cover design in by IMAGINE Design Editor Monique Walton.

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Local filmmaker directs North Shore actors in video messages for Department of Justice anti-opioid campaign

Beverly. Massachusetts video production company Ted Reed TV is working with the US Attorney’s Office Massachusetts District to create the pilot videos for the multi-platform public information campaign titled “#Resist The Risk.” The goal of the campaign is to inform the public and spur new conversations about the dangers and consequences of abusing, selling and sharing prescription opioids that has had a devastating impact on families and communities in Massachusetts.

The segments have been filmed primarily in the North Shore area, and professional actors from TV commercials, stage and film were cast along side student actors from Emerson College, Endicott College, Salem State University and Gloucester High School. Producer/Director and Gloucester resident Ted Reed says, “We want to make each one of these messages have the ring of true life to them. Using actual locations where the opioid crisis has hit hardest in Massachusetts was part of the plan to depict the actual consequences of addiction, whether they be illegal sales, theft, overly trusting parents or babies born addicted to opioid-dependent mothers. Each member of the crew and cast had a story to tell about their own experience of a loved one or an acquaintance who suffered from addiction to either prescription or illegal pain-killers.”

Reed worked with members of the US Attorney’s office developing the scripts for the videos which will be distributed on social media, web sites and other avenues. He and Director of Photography Craig Kimberley developed the look and style of the video campaign to be rolled out by the end of this year. Casting was executed by Joanne Randazza of JMedia of Gloucester.

The campaign was officially launched Wednesday, November 29. Ted Reed can be reached at ted@tedreed.tv or at (978) 578-2834

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BLACK DOG OF FATE in Development at HarborSide Productions

From Peter Balakian’s book, script written by Scott Thompson

Black Dog of FateLOGLINE: During a whistle blowing effort with 60 Minutes, Peter Balakian scours the killing fields of Syria, triggering memories of his childhood as he pieces together his grandmother’s mysterious life as a survivor of the Armenian Genocide….

I‘m what some folks call an “ABC” – an “Armenian By Choice”. This honorary title is, in part, because I keep showing up at any event connected to Armenia. I’ll admit, the cooking is a big draw, but I mostly show up at these events because I’ve become obsessed with Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Balakian’s award-
winning memoir, Black Dog of Fate.

Two years ago, I was asked to see if this piece had potential as a film. I was in Europe when I read it, stunned by the horrific events Balakian details, such as Turkish soldiers stuffing thousands of deported Armenians into caves, then lighting brushfires over the exits, essentially asphyxiating everyone inside. The next day, I remember visiting the concentration camp in Dachau and hearing that those caves inspired Hitler to develop the gas chamber.

Although the book gave me chills, I regretfully told HarborSide Producer Paul Boghosian that I didn’t think an adaptation would work. I just didn’t see the spine of a film. Nevertheless, he asked me to meet with Balakian and explain why I couldn’t wrap my mind around a screenplay. I thought that would be the end of my Armenian experience.

Days later, it hit me… This could work as a “fractured narrative” or “mosaic film” – much like CRASH, BABEL or TRAFFIC. I envisioned three different story threads, woven together, essentially allowing us to cherry pick the most dramatic moments and organize them in a way that provided a narrative spine. I did a fine job convincing myself this would make an amazing movie. If I could only get Balakian and Boghosian to embrace my hair-brained idea…

I wish I could say the pitch was articulate and they weren’t skeptical, but I can say their reception was humbling. Nevertheless, they signed me on for an outline, vetted by actor Ed Harris and Director Atom Egoyan. A request for sample scripts followed and I fi red four screenplays back within twenty minutes. Then waited, for three weeks, convinced my work had scared everyone away. And then it came… I got the greenlight to spend my entire summer locked indoors, hashing out the first pass. A writer’s dream.

Eighteen months and three drafts later, we have a script with, yes, three story threads. One of which is the Armenian Genocide of 1915, where we follow a teen named Dovey, after she witnesses women in her home town being set on fire by Turkish soldiers. Although she’s able to escape, her father is carted off for questioning. The next day, his body is left on their front step, decapitated. Soon after, Dovey’s family is ripped from their home and marched out to the desert to die.

Ninety-five years later, in the same desert, where no one dare even utter the word “genocide”, we follow the whistle blowing effort of Peter Balakian, Bob Simon and a 60 Minutes TV crew, playing cat and mouse with Syrian Secret Police, as they scour the killing fields, digging up the bones of Balakian’s ancestors and secretly recording footage to end the near century old denial.

The shock of these discoveries triggers Balakian back to his own childhood in 1960s, New Jersey, where he grew up incredibly close to his grandmother – a genocide survivor who never spoke a word about her past, only sharing cryptic stories that left young Peter confused. As Balakian and the 60 Minutes crew piece together the forensics, the collision between these three perspectives uncovers the truth about his grandmother and the nearly million-and-a-half Armenian victims.

So… we’re ready to hit the American Film Market and bring this project to the next level. We hope to participate in the pitch conference, take meetings, maybe even talk shop over some good old-fashioned Armenian cooking. As a screenwriter, I sincerely believe we have the makings of a great film. As an “Armenian By Choice,” I’m honored to take part in a pursuit to end the denial.

Scott J. Thompson is Director of the Graduate Screenwriting Program at Boston University where he also received his Graduate Screenwriting MFA.

For more information contact Paul T. Boghosian at ptbharborside@gmail.com or Scott J. Thompson at scottjt@bu.edu. Since this article was first published, they attended the AFM in early November where their pitch was featured at the “Pitch” Conference before an audience of 500 and a panel that agreed BLACK DOG OF FATE is a film that needs to be made.

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Strange Bird Seeks Production & Distribution Partner

A New Script from Andrew Mudge

STRANGE BIRD look book cover art

Andrew’s new project is a feature length thriller called STRANGE BIRD. The story is about a teenage drone enthusiast who, with the help of his outcast classmate, reluctantly embarks on a mission to rescue three friends who’ve been kidnapped by the deranged caretaker of an abandoned insane asylum.

The idea of STRANGE BIRD came to Andrew in 2015 when he was flying his quadcopter drone past the boarded up windows of the abandoned Medfield State hospital. The idea that struck him was simple: what if I saw something horrifying through those windows, and then crashed my drone on the roof, and had to figure out a way to get it back?

The Logline: A teenage drone enthusiast, with the help of an unlikely love interest, reluctantly embarks on a mission to rescue three friends who’ve been kidnapped by the deranged caretaker of a long-abandoned insane asylum.

The Synopsis: Kenny Pitts, president of his high school’s remote control drone club, accidentally crashes his quadcopter on the roof of a derelict insane asylum, just moments after the camera captures a few frames of a mysterious and sadistic ritual occurring within a top floor window. After his heedless friends vanish while trying to investigate the peculiar happenings, a terrified Kenny begins to receive hostage videos that seem to reveal the scheme of a deranged night watchman. With the help of a misanthropic yet alluring girl named Neera, and her lethally customized drone, Kenny finally musters the courage to return to the scene of the crime and bring down the lunatic kidnapper.

A depiction of what is seen through the window with the drone.

Writer/Director’s Statement: A few years ago I purchased a quadcopter drone, the Phantom 2, and went looking for a place to practice flying it. I found myself at the abandoned Medfield State Hospital in Massachusetts, its eerie campus sprawling with overgrown lawns and vast empty parking lots. Watching the drone first lift off the ground, with its feverish vibration, and hearing the incessant whine from its propellers, I was struck by something: what an unnerving little robot this was!

Diabolical, you might even say. A character that belonged in a movie. Strange Bird, I thought.

Later, while I was flying the drone alongside one of the buildings, and looking at the camera feed in my monitor, I was struck with a thought that sent a chill down my spine. What if this drone allowed me to see something horrific — truly nightmarish — through one of the top floor windows. And what if, moments later, I crashed the drone on the roof, and I had to go inside that building to get it back…

Medfield State Hospital entrance

I envision STRANGE BIRD with a PG-13 rating, with an intended audience of primarily teenagers and young adults. First and foremost, it’s supposed to be fun. In this regard, it fi ts the comedy/horror model in the purest form. But while many films of this genre balance the scary with screwball (SCARY MOVIE, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, GHOSTBUSTERS), STRANGE BIRD’s comedy is darker, more situational. It exploits the minefields of teen angst in a John Hughes/Stephen King sort of way. As in Stephen King’s IT, the innocence of our young protagonists is ruptured by The Boogeyman. Adults don’t help much (Kenny’s parents are never on screen). The kids must face the demons head on. Their ultimate triumph over evil parallels a coming-of-age theme that is reminiscent of such classic films as NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and THE GOONIES, or more recently, Netflix’s STRANGER THINGS. (However it should be noted that STRANGE BIRD’s characters are older than the aforementioned examples).

The hospital salon

At the same time, STRANGE BIRD plays with a contemporary cultural ill; society’s obsessions with social media and the measuring of our value by our accumulation of likes, views, shares, and tags. The subplot stabs at this undercurrent playfully; balancing horror with comedy in a tone similar to BLACK MIRROR and GET OUT. There are also traces of FARGO in this movie, best exemplified by a pair of eccentric middle-aged men who own the local drone repair shop. On some levels, STRANGE BIRD might be what would result if the Coen brothers worked in the horror genre.

STRANGE BIRD will scare the hell out of you. Yet, at the same time, it winks at you with a certain nostalgia surrounding its ghost-story-told-around-the-campfi re premise — a demented groundskeeper at the local abandoned insane asylum who digs up corpses.

When Kenny mentions this to people, nobody believes him, a nod to the audience that we’re playing with clichés here. And yet when violence happens, we don’t hold back. As if to say, don’t get too cozy with this, we’re about to show you what a man’s face getting chopped up by drone propellers looks like.

Locations:

Medfield State Hospital (Massachusetts)
The Medfield State Hospital is the precise location Andrew Mudge had in mind as he wrote the script. It has an ideal three story building with a flat roof. The location also has large, cracked-asphalt parking lots and a sprawling, dilapidated campus.

The abandoned Windsor Insane Asylum is so prominently featured in STRANGE BIRD, it could be considered one of the main characters.

Shooting in Massachusetts brings the added advantage of its Film Incentive Program: A Film Tax Credit that is both transferable and refundable and includes production spend above and below the line with a minimum spend of $50,000. That’s hard to beat. Having said that the writer/director has also scouted other locations in the Commonwealth as well as in Connecticut, New York, Georgia and Kentucky where he has identified abandoned hospitals that could be suitable.

Andrew Mudge on set

Andrew Mudge is a Massachusetts native (grew up in Sherborn), whose student short fi lm, CHICKEN POX PAL played at the Sundance Film Festival. He went on to make other shorts, including THE PERFECT GOOSEYS, which was shot in Fairhaven and Ipswich and features actor Will Lyman. The film won top awards at the Hamptons Film Festival and the Los Angeles Short Film Festival, and was later sold to HBO. It can be seen here.

Andrew’s debut feature film, THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM, was filmed in South Africa and Lesotho. It won awards at over a dozen international film festivals (including Woods Hole, where it won the audience award), as well as three awards at the African Movies Academy Awards. The film’s trailer can be seen here.

Andrew Mudge has created a STRANGE BIRD Look Book where he has additionally outlined the characters along with their relationships to one another. It’s spooky. Contact him at andrewmudge@gmail.com.

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“Annabelle Hooper” Sequel in the Works at Angelina Pictures

By Paul Serafini

ANNABELLE HOOPER AND THE GHOSTS OF NANTUCKET will get a second film at Angelina Pictures. (IMAGINE Magazine featured the teen mystery adventure last year in our AFM Special Edition.) The film had secured worldwide distribution for the film via MarVista Entertainment prior to shooting. MarVista Entertainment is a worldwide distributor, with nearly 1,000 licensees across 125 plus territories. So, when the movie was released, we had great carriage on most of the major OnDemand and Digital services, which really helped us gain a solid audience, especially for a family genre film like ours. The movie also played in ten film festivals and won multiple awards, and then eventually, a worldwide deal with Netflix was made, which is now helping to give the film an enormous potential audience around the world.

At AFM this year we’re hoping to connect with financial and distribution partners that will help
us move our various film projects into production. At Angelina Pictures, we have several films in active development in addition to ANNABELLE HOOPER 2.

The Last ShephardWe’ve optioned a wonderful Christmas book called “The Last Shepherd”, written by Boston author Mark Duffield, which we’re developing into a feature film. We already have a great script, concept trailer, and actor interest. The story, which was inspired by true events, is set in the Beacon Hill section of Boston, and follows a young reporter as she investigates a mystery that ultimately changes her own life in ways she never thought possible.

Read more about the book here.

Our hope for the project is that it becomes a Christmas movie that has year-after-year staying power for audiences around the world, like IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, A CHRISTMAS STORY and THE HOUSE WITHOUT A CHRISTMAS TREE. We think it has the depth and heart to be a Christmas classic someday!

Additionally, we have a romantic comedy feature in development that brings familiar elements from rom-coms like MOONSTRUCK and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, and a sports dramedy feature film that’s based on a true story and harkens back to classic sports films like HOOSIERS, THE BLIND SIDE And the BAD NEWS BEARS.

Starring Bailee Madison as Annabelle Hooper, along with Robert Capron and Rachel Resheff

We were fortunate when we made ANNABELLE HOOPER AND THE GHOST OF NANTUCKET in that other U.S and international territory licensing is still ongoing and there are still some rights available, so it’s an ongoing process.

But what really kicked the project into overdrive was when we made the distribution deal at AFM several months before we shot the movie. We are certainly an “AFM success story” and a testament to the fact that AFM is an event that can really help move a project forward if you have the right material. For ANNABELLE HOOPER, we had always designed it to be a franchise with the hope that we would create multiple films featuring the main characters. So this year we are in advanced development on ANNABELLE HOOPER 2, and will be attending AFM once again to connect with potential financial and distribution partners. As a family genre mystery adventure series, there is a solid demand for this type of film, and ANNABELLE HOOPER has built a great audience of worldwide followers for the first film who are dying for a sequel. So we’re trying to make that happen!

The script for the sequel has already been written by our fantastic screenwriter Stefne Miller, and is set in a ghost town.

We hope to retain many of our original cast members, as these are the actors that the audiences have fallen in love with playing these characters. Of course, schedules and availability always play a role in casting, but our hope is that many will return. Always a challenge, as actors get busy with other projects and commitments, but I think the experience of making ANNABELLE HOOPER for virtually all of these actors was such a positive one, and they have all expressed their enthusiastic interest in returning for a sequel.

At Angelina Pictures, our mantra is to make movies that entertain and inspire audiences around the world. We are a dedicated team of people who all share this mission. Life is too short to be spending precious time doing projects that don’t inspire yourselves or your audience. The success of ANNABELLE HOOPER has given us a worldwide audience for our projects and we can’t wait to share more!

Director Paul Serafi ni on the set of Annabelle Hooper along with with Robert Capron, Bailee Madison and Rachel Resheff.

Paul Serafini is a Daytime Emmy Award winning Director/Producer and a nine-time national Daytime Emmy nominee. He has directed and produced feature fi lms as well as over 300 episodes of national television. He has worked with such companies as Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, Disney, TimeWarner, PBS/WGBH, Universal, and he is the CEO of Angelina Pictures, a fi lm/television entertainment production company. He is a member of the Producers Guild of America, the American Film Institute, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and his other awards include multiple U.S. International Film & Video Festival awards, WorldFest Houston awards, Parents’ Choice awards, Promax Awards, and New York Festival awards.

Angelina Pictures can be contacted via email at contact@angelinapictures.com and/or by phone at
978 610-6141

All photos courtesy of Angelina Pictures.

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Works Wrinkles and Wraps for September 2017

WWW stands for Works (in progress), Wrinkles or Whoops (whenever they happen), and Wraps (completed films and projects of any kind). Your contributions are encouraged. email to: publisher@imaginenews.com.

Catching-up with Becki

A selfie in Becki’s trailer in November 2016 while working on the Netflix show GLOW. She plays a Clinical Assistant ion Episode 8.

New England Actor Becki Dennis moved from Massachusetts to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career, particularly in TV. IMAGINE caught up with her over the summer and here is what we found.

Becki says, “It’s been a great two and a half years in LA for me and all of my hustling has been paying off, especially in the last year. I am grateful for the support and encouragement that the New England acting and film community continues to provide me. Working in the Boston market before coming to LA prepared me so well for everything that I am doing here now. New England is a wonderful place to get your first credits as an actor.

She can currently be seen in GLOW on Netflix, The series is produced by the same team behind Orange Is the New Black, and she will be in an episode of I’m Sorry on truTV this month. She has been in two episodes of ABC’s Comedy Fresh off the Boat playing a cashier, which she says garnered her a very comedic moment.

Becki Dennis playing the Cashier in the ABC Comedy Fresh Off the Boat. Screenshot courtesy of RipIt

Becki has been racking up co-star credits in multiple episodes of Pretty Little Liars, Pure Genius, Speechless, The Fosters, This is Us and The Young and the Restless. IMAGINE collected some photos for all her fans here.

Mark Your Calendars! The 5th Annual Boston International Kids Film Festival Comes to Somerville on November 2 – 5, 2017.

The Boston International Kids Film Festival invites Parents, Students and Educators to a Four-day Celebration of Imagination and Creativity!

Filmmakers Collaborative created the Boston International Kids Film Festival in 2013 at a time when the average teen was spending almost seven hours per day on some form of an electronic device. The goal in showing films from around the world, all made either for or by kids, is to show teens and tweens that there is more to tech than texting, snapchatting, and instagramming their friends —that making a film can be a powerful way to tell a story, express your emotions, state a point of view and (more importantly) to have fun!

By screening amazing student-made films from around the world while at the same time offering young filmmakers a look at professionally-made films created just for them, the festival is enabling the next generation of filmmakers to realize the power and potential of media.

The festival also showcases professionally-made films that promise to entertain the entire family while giving the storyteller in each of us something to strive towards. In 2016 the festival screened ANNABELLE HOOPER AND THE GHOSTS OF NANTUCKET by Concord writer/director Paul Serafini and shot on location on Nantucket.

Combine all that with hands-on workshops on stop-motion animation, special effects, and Gopro movie-making, and you are in for an event that families of Greater Boston will be enjoying for years to come!

For more information visit http://bikff.org/

Auspicious Phoenix Production Ends Unconventional Exhibition Tour in Sommerville

Auspicious Phoenix Productions recently completed an unconventional exhibition tour called the Rolling Revue, which hearkens back to the storied roadshow engagements of the 1970s. It’s an independent studio production and photography company that specializes in film in Somerville, MA. Their slate of films spanned the continent with a US theatrical roadshow that began in Los Angeles and zig-zagged across the country to end in Boston.

A throwback to the days of the traveling roadshow, the Rolling Revue gives new life to the time-honored event, paying homage to all the glory of the roadshow — audiences can expect 16mm movie projections, slide photo carousels, and practical effects movie magic brought right to their doorstep. The old and the new collide to present a truly one of a kind event, featuring movies never to be released or distributed again.

The troupe finished in Boston on, September 10th, wrapping up its first of a kind, roadshow consisting of short films directed by independent Boston filmmakers at The Space Studio, the company’s Somerville headquarters. People attended the event to watch brand new, original short films that were almost entirely filmed inside the studio over the past year and a half. A 360 VR behind the scenes documentary of CRANIAC! (dir. Paul Villanova) was also on display as an interactive experimental exhibit.

The tour lineup represented a collection of diverse narratives and visions from a talented group of filmmakers — all of whom are alumni of Boston University’s Cinema and Media Production graduate or undergraduate programs and included: QUIETUS directed by Joy Song, LADIA directed by Álvaro Congosto, BLOOD HIGHWAY directed by Joseph Dwyer) THE LITERAL LENS directed by Jim DanDee and the afore-mentioned CRANIAC directed by Paul Villanova.

Auspicious Phoenix is currently undergoing pre-production for two features and a handful of short films in 2018.

For more information visit www.auspiciousphoenix.com

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ITVFest – Largest Independent TV Market in U.S. Hits Manchester, Vermont

By Vinca Liane Jarrett, Esq.

ITVFEST Executive Director Philip Gilpin, Jr. and Al Tesler, the original founder of ITVFEST.

If you’re not going to the Independent Television Festival, recently moved to Manchester, Vermont, the weekend starting Wednesday October 11, you’re probably either not in the know or you’re just not in the business, especially if you’re living in New England. ITVFest entering its second decade after moving from Hollywood to Vermont four years ago under the tutelage of Philip Gilpin, Jr., a visionary industry veteran, wanted to set the festival apart from the milieu of noise in California,
where it’s hard to get attention between festivals,premieres, and award seasons. And that he has done, making it the go to place for all the majors including to name a few, HBO, Viacom, Bravo, and
growing management and finance companies such as Buffalo 8.

Bobby Farrelly and Kris Meyer at ITV Fest.

Participants include producers such as Bobby Farrelly (THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, DUMB AND DUMBER), Kris Meyer (ME, MYSELF & IRENE, FEVER PITCH), Bernie Su (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) winner of two Primetime Emmys and four Streamy Awards, and Dana Kuznetzkoff (Boardwalk Empire, Smash), and showrunners such as Jerome Perzigian (Frasier, The Nanny, The Golden Girls), Joel Surnow (24, La Femme Nikita, Miami Vice) and Richard Korson (The Daily Show). Executives from the full gamut of TV programming, both traditional and non-traditional, including, to name a few, NBC Universal, Comedy Central, IFP, HBO, IFC TV, Discovery Channel, and Bravo, and new content companies such as Adaptive Studios, New Form, and Jash, all participate. While this is called a festival, it is far more like a market for industry insiders, and in the know climbers, who want direct access to decision makers.

Vinca Jarret as panel moderator at ITVFEST.

I was asked to be on a panel and moderate another panel two years ago (2015), and returned last year
to moderate several panels enthusiastically to join my ITVFest family of regulars, who include content producers such as Jesse Albert, former agent at ICM, Khara Campbell, who produced in-house at AOL, the glamorous and A-list vegan chef Leslie Durso, and comedy writer Mike Rotman, whose credits include Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher for which he was nominated for a Primetime
Emmy. Asked to join the Board of Advisors (who in actuality appointed me followed by my whole hearted consent, as you don’t say “no” to Phil Gilpin) last year, I did so happily, as amongst the big five festivals and markets that I regularly attend (AFM, Sundance, Berlinale, Cannes and TIFF), ITVFest stands out as a place where the networking leads forward to real projects, real clients, and real friendships, all in Vermont during fall foliage, at the loveliest time of year. To really profit from a visit to ITVFestival coming up in just four weeks, pack your business cards, a pad of
paper to take massive notes on (or, ok, just use your smart phone), your casual clothing, and a pair of hiking boots for good luck.

Producers Jesse Albert and Vinca Jarrett at ITVFEST.

No one that consumes TV today is surprised that Variety recently noted that traditional TV is dying rapidly. Yet content providers have a deep need for programming, and are looking for nontraditional
sources, as budgets inevitably must come down as advertising must spread itself wider to the array of channels and websites providing content. ITVFest is a worldwide community of creatives and executives making and sourcing episodic programming (both fi ction and nonfiction), and currently ITVFest is the only festival in the United States that focuses exclusively on independently produced content with content submissions from over twenty countries each year. There will be literally hundreds of executives on hand at this year’s event providing a pipeline for direct connections to major networks, digital television, agents, managers, attorneys, writers, showrunners, and producers.

Manchester, Vermont is a vibrant arts community set in Central Vermont with a nearby airport, and easy access from New York, Boston, Chicago, Montreal, and Toronto by car, and the city has embraced ITV. New production incentives are available through the Vermont Production Council to give episodic content creators resources to produce their next projects. Thus the location is a win win for attendees and the state alike. There are prizes for the winners of this year’s multitude of submissions, and opportunities for development meetings, potential management, meetings with literary agents, and professional script consultation. Pack your bags, and head to glorious Vermont for some leaf peeping and opportunity in the television business.

Vinca Jarrett is an entertainment attorney and finance consultant with nearly thirty years practice experience, and films that include THE PERFECT GAME, THE FOURTH KIND and FAROUT ISN’T FAR ENOUGH. She is also the Producer and Creator of the global television and film finance series, Show Me The F#©K!NG Money, how to invest, raise, and recoup your money in
the entertainment industry.

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