TANJA MELENDEZ LYNCH: From Extra To Producer

By Rosemary Pacheco

Tanja Lynch headshot
Tanja Lynch

It’s a come-back story – one of great fortitude and persistence. For Rhode Islanders, it’s a cathartic journey right alongside one of their very own. What’s more is that it was made right here in the “little state that could”. It’s the lm called BLEED FOR THIS, the story of Vinny Pazienza, ve time world champion boxer, who refused to retire after an accident left him severely injured and almost paralyzed.

When the word came down that BLEED FOR THIS was going to be filmed in RI, Paz’s home state, people got excited. Actors clamored for a shot at auditioning for principle roles. With Martin Scorsese producing and Ben Younger directing, they knew it could be a shot at the big time, a chance in a lifetime.

Tanja Melendez Lynch with Miles Teller at the Rhode Island premiere of BLEED FOR THIS. Photo by Annaved Photography.
Tanja Melendez Lynch with Miles Teller at the Rhode Island premiere of BLEED FOR THIS. Photo by Annaved Photography.

This is where East Greenwich resident Tanja Melendez Lynch comes in. Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised on Long Island, she garnered a much coveted spot – as the “woman at the bar” at Twin River, opposite the hot young star Miles Teller. It wasn’t easy, but she stayed in the game, and eventually the time paid off. It’s a come-back story of her own, at a time when her children are grown and her drive to succeed is evident.

Tanja joined a local children’s theater group at a young age mostly involved behind the scenes. Later, At UMass/Amherst she wrote and performed her own skits with a comedic improv group, where she was able to come out of her somewhat shy shell. Eventually she joined Boston Improv where she performed anywhere she could on weekends and rehearsed weeknights.

Fast forward a couple of years after college and Tanja, now a wife and a mother, gave up acting to take care of her family full time. The acting bug, though, never left her. Five years ago she went to Trinity Rep and began taking classes on the dramatic side this time. She also went to Boston, taking classes with two of the top casting directors in town, Angela Peri of Boston Casting and Carolyn Pickman of CP Casting. Virtually all Hollywood films that come thru New England go thru these two offices, and many New England actors are cast in featured or small speaking roles. The competition is fierce.

To build up confidence and feel comfortable, Tanja began doing background work on big productions in lms like MOONRISE KINGDOM, filmed in Jamestown RI and RIPD, filmed in Boston and Providence. She eventually submitted for principal supporting roles in locally produced indie films. A big break came when she got the role of Kathy, the drunken neglectful mother of young Emily, the films protagonist, in ALMOST MERCY, also filmed in RI. The film is produced by Woodhaven Films, the other half of Verdi Films, one of the producers of BLEED FOR THIS. This film was a turning point for Tanja, as it allowed her to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) union and to work with such actors as Kane Hodder (FROZEN, THE AFFLICTED, HOLLISTON) and cult classic horror star Bill Moseley HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, ROGUE RIVER). Tanja has also done web series roles, such as Girl in the Attic, due out soon, a production I had the pleasure of working on with her, soon to be released among other local films and projects.

These days though, Tanja has taken a new role – that of producer. She just finished starring in the role of “Jane”, and producing ANDERS MANOR (see IMAGINE Dec/Jan 2017), a horror story due out in March. The movie has a distribution deal in place. This one promises to be a “hide
under the covers” flick with plenty of fodder for nightmares.

Tanja Lynch and her husband at the Angelwood Awards in Providence where she was nominated for Best Actress for the web series The Girl in the Attic.
Tanja Lynch and her husband at the Angelwood Awards in Providence where she was nominated for Best Actress for the web series The Girl in the Attic. Photo by Annaved Photography.

Her family life comes first though and when she’s not with them; Tanja continues to study her craft both here in Rhode Island and frequently travels to NY for training and coaching. She has auditioned for supporting roles in major movies like JOY, GHOSTBUSTERS, PATRIOTS DAY, and LIVE BY NIGHT. She considers just being called in to read for these movies a huge win in itself.
BLEED FOR THIS received a theatrical release late last year. You can also see Tanja soon in CODE 13: UNREADABLE, a cop drama in which she plays the role of Audrey.

To keep up with Tanja, visit her page here: http://imdb.to/2hrtncY

Rosemary Pacheco frequently writes for IMAGINE Magazine. She also works as an actor in the biz.

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PAINLESS

By Lori Grenier

New England winters can be incredibly beautiful and unmercifully harsh. There is always a nostalgic anticipation of windswept mounds lining the streets of quaint little towns. The diamond like quality of ice laden trees like masks on the dangers that nobody sees. The reality of this season is,it brings a lot of pain.

Winter 2014 was shaping up to be another long, hard grind. Freezing cold temperatures brought heaps of snow making a walk to your car seem like a marathon. There is the clothing ritual, the layering of undergarments, outerwear and accessories, followed by, heating up the car, scraping off the snow, digging out the driveway etc…, by the time you actually get going, your hands are frozen, you can’t feel your fingers or toes. You are numb, in effect, painless.

Imagine what it would be like to have an actual genetic disorder that renders your body incapable of feeling physical pain. CIP, (congenital insensitivity to pain) affects only one in a million people worldwide. This is what the story of Painless is all about.

Evalena Marie as Shani and Joey Klein as Henry Long in Painless.
Evalena Marie as Shani and Joey Klein as Henry Long in Painless.

PAINLESS is a modern-day fable about loneliness and alienation. It’s about the sacrifices one makes for what they believe in. Writer/director Jordan Horowitz goes on to say, these are feelings I think we have all experienced at some point in our lives. Horowitz, a native New Yorker, wrote this science based drama prior to his 2015 documentary ANGEL OF NANJING, which took thirteen best film and director awards from festivals around the world including: the Rhode Island Film Festival. Horowitz teamed up with the award winning Rhode Island duo, of Anthony Ambrosino and Nicholas Delmenico whose last film, ALMOST HUMAN, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival where it was purchased by IFC. This talented group of filmmakers have now achieved another big dream with PAINLESS. They have been invited to hold its world premiere screening at the prestigious Cinequest Film and VR Festival (CQFF) on March 2nd, 2017.

In PAINLESS we see realize that most of us try to avoid pain. Henry, however, has spent his entire life trying to find it.

Joey Klein as Henry Long, Director Horowitz, Evalena Marie as Shani.
Joey Klein as Henry Long, Director Horowitz, Evalena Marie as Shani.

Pia Chamberlain wrote, “Henry looks normal, and he is anything but. Unable to feel physical pain, he lives in constant fear of an injury or illness he cannot detect. Henry’s life work is to nd a cure for his condition, and to him, daily life—and human interaction—are only a distraction from his quest. His best friends are his mice that he uses to test his unsuccessful experimental treatments. A budding friendship with Shani, a caring barista, seems to create a “chink in his armor.” But a chancy partnership with a brilliant, discredited scientist puts him at a crossroads. Is he willing to risk everything for a cure?” That’s quite a set up.

When I met the film’s star Joey Klein, a Montreal native, I joked with him about being prepared for our outside shoot. So do you think you can handle a few weeks outside in NYC? I’m going to be your hair and makeup artist. I joked, “You might get hat hair”. He replied with a silent glare. I said, ”just kidding, you are from Canada, I get it, you know cold.” He then replied in a dead serious tone, “I’m Henry Long, I can’t feel any pain, cold or otherwise.” I knew right then and there this lm was going to be good. Joey Klein is a busy lm and television actor who has been working for the last decade, with roles in AMERICAN GANGSTER, ON THE ROAD, and 12 Monkeys: The Series. He most recently wrote and directed the feature lm THE OTHER HALF, which premiered at the 2016 South by Southwest Film Festival.

Clockwise from Left: Director Jordan Horowitz,
Script Supervisor Yvonne LaBarge, 1st Assistant
Camera Ron Hagerman, 2nd Assistant Camera
Richelle Topping, Joey Klein as Henry Long.

As we wrapped on our Rhode Island location scenes we headed off to the Big Apple. We had a skeleton crew of about fifteen people with us. Although we just crossed into March, it was still freezing cold. Our collective commitment to this passion project was partly fueled by our pizza budget and the desire to make a great and sensitive film.

We all took on this film and the elements, because let’s face it; there’s not much work in the winter. Anthony Ambrosino put it like this; “it’s a time when we can truly lavish all our attention and passion on a small Indie project. It’s a window of opportunity to test your skills and budget to accomplish something creatively satisfying.” Despite the small budget of this lm, the imagery and scope will read grand. The landscape rich backdrop of New York City along with some fortuitous Rhode Island locations will be sure to please the eyes. From wardrobe to props, lighting to makeup, everyone gave their all to make PAINLESS come to life.

One of the highlights, an eye opener for me was in New York when we were filming in the subway on a moving train. We had been setting up for roughly a half hour, when I noticed the pile of trash I had been standing across from starts to move. Out from the heaping pile of discarded paper and rags emerged an elderly couple well into their late 60s. I was shocked that they had been under the rubble all that time and no one had noticed them until they crawled out. It was painful to see. I remember thinking, they must be numb, and I can’t imagine how they feel living like that. I thought maybe they can’t feel pain physically or mentally anymore, that’s how they survive.

We then moved on to the train, it was in this scene that I had to create some special effects. I had to make the lead Henry, look like he had been beat up. A couple of real life tough guys were riding along with us watching this scene play out. When one of the gang members remarked, nice work it looks real, looks like it hurts. Another member of the group said I messed a guy up like that last night, I hurt him real good! I turned and said, this story is about people who can’t feel physical pain. He replied, that’s dope, sounds like a super power. As they laughed I thought his comments were telling. I felt his words betrayed his own inner pain.

Joey Klein as Henry Long in Painless
Joey Klein as Henry Long in Painless

They say art imitates life, well in this case I believe life was imitating art. Although it’s a rare condition, there are examples of numbness and inability to feel pain all around us. Some call it insensitivity. The good news is that an emotional connection will bond you to this lm and make you feel something, empathy, compassion, perhaps sadness but don’t despair. It’s having the physical ability to emote or express your feeling/pain like the act of crying that will make you happy to be able to feel something. It’s part of what makes us human.

The ironic twist to this story is that a few weeks after we wrapped I went to a podiatrist for pain in my foot. The doctor took X-rays and came back and said, I see the problem, you broke your big toe. I was shocked, he then replied to my confusion, he said, you must have been numb from being outside, I guess the break was painless.

Lori Grenier is a Film Set Hair and Makeup Artist and budding actor. She frequently writes her experiences about being on sets where she spends a lot of time.

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New Production Partnering Generated by Massachusetts Film Tax Credits

By Elaine Grey

Dennis and Joel Talk Film Tax Credits

IMAGINE Publisher Carol Patton & SAG actor/Director Elaine Grey at the Beat Brasserie in Harvard Square. An IMAGINE Photo.

Recently, in this New Year, I arranged a brainstorming luncheon with IMAGINE Publisher, Carol Patton, where we met with Producer/Entrepreneur, Dennis Serpone and Producer/Talent Agent, Joel Feingold to discuss one of their new business ventures, the movie, SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY. Topics we covered included financing, distribution, and most importantly, the impact that the MA Film Tax Credits have on new projects, how they work, and how they boost our economy. Clearly the MA 25% Film Tax Credit is playing a role in the success of this particular movie project.

Last year (2016), at the annual “Imaginnaire” Awards Gala, I had the pleasure of introducing Joel Feingold to Dennis Serpone, who I knew was looking for a connection to a project to invest in, or one that was in the development process.

Since Joel was already involved in a number of projects, I put my matchmaking instincts to work, and put them together. I was happy to learn that they hit it off, and are now collaborating on the hilarious-comedic lm, SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY starring celebrity-actor/comedian, Steve Sweeney.

Within days of the luncheon, I decided to ask each of them the following questions, and asked them to put their answers into their own words.

1. What (bio-synopsis-snapshot) can you tell me about yourself?
2. In your own words, How did you both meet, and what is your relationship today regarding the new Production Company you formed, projects, and of course, SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY?
3. How important are the MA Film Tax Credits to your ventures, including SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY?

Here are their numbered responses:

Dennis Serpone (In his own words):

1. As a chronic entrepreneur, I’m keenly aware of opportunities that make life more rewarding. I’ve gone from engineer to restaurateur businessman, from hospitality real estate broker and developer to investor relations. Much like the theme of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, our life’s experiences bring us to a pinnacle. Today is the summation of my life’s experiences working with Steve Sweeney and his team to produce his much anticipated comedy feature lm SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY.
2. The expression, ‘nothing happens by accident’ is very appropriate in this case. I was invited by a mutual friend to the NEWPORTANT ‘wrap party’ in Newport, RI a couple of years ago, where I met Elaine Grey. Elaine subsequently invited me to one of Carol Patton’s IMAGINE’s “Imaginnaire” Awards Galas where Elaine introduced me to producer/agent Joel Feingold. Joel then
introduced me to Steve Sweeney and Keith Dorrington. My involvement in SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY is the result.
In subsequent conversation with Keith, he became interested in my family’s house ipping efforts on Cape Cod and saw it as a reality TV Show, Flipping Cape Cod. “Improving the face of Cape Cod one house at a time.”
3. Because of the nature of independent lm making, generating investor interest and financial commitment is a daunting task. In the case of SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY, having tax credits is an important addition to the benefits our investors receive for participating.

Joel Feinberg (In his own words):

1. I started my career in the industry as an agent and manager representing “baby” rock bands. This led inexorably to founding my own agency which I ran for about twelve years. I had fallen into producing shows for private clients and this work was both pro table plus my background as a television cameraman, general studio hand, and my good education made it a good t. I took a break from representing talent for over a decade and focused on producing private shows of all types. During this time period I also made my rst foray into the world of Broadway, attempting to mount a show. About three years ago I decided to return to my passion, working with artists, and now represent nine actors, comedians and writers, as well as their projects.

2. Dennis Serpone and I met at the 2016 “Imaginnaire” Awards sponsored by Carol Patton’s IMAGINE Magazine. Director Elaine Grey was kind enough to introduce us as she knew that I was starting to work on funding for a lm, SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY, which stars my client Steve Sweeney. The timing was great as Dennis was looking for a project to work on as well, from the funding side. My interest in promoting Steve’s career and Dennis’ interest to become a producer coincided and we built a strong yet still flexible relationship to collaborate on SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY.

3. The Massachusetts Film Tax Credit is a very important part of the package which we present to potential investors. Even at a small level, let alone that of a major Hollywood production, the credits improve the nancial projections for an investor. Putting money into a motion picture or television pilot is risky, and so the impact of the Film Tax Credit is a mitigating factor. It’s clear that the level of impact is crucial: Below a certain amount and there is a drop off of participation as projects go elsewhere and regional investors lean toward other options.

From a broader perspective, I believe that the ecosystem supported by the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit is very beneficial to our overall social and economic environment. It’s nearly impossible to measure the increase in tourism and goodwill created by the many motion pictures and television shows lmed and set in Massachusetts. But it surely exists. And the work, folks able to function as creatives, make our lives richer every day.

It is fascinating to watch this collaboration grow, and to see how support for this project is taking a life of its own. It will be interesting to follow how the MA Film Tax credits work for them and how Massachusetts will benefit from their contribution. I look forward to seeing what the future brings for these talented and amazing Entrepreneurs, Dennis Serpone and Joel Feingold.
Dennis can be reached at: Dserpone@comcast.net and Joel can be reached at: www.joelfeingoldpresents.com

Elaine Grey is a SAG actor, director, writer and producer, who has been working on lms since her graduation from Harvard University in 2006. She resides in Watertown MA with her husband, Daniel. Last year she directed two short lms, LATE and COFFEE TALK. Elaine was the original founder and driving force for the development of Watertown’s Center for the Arts, located at the Watertown Arsenal. Elaine is on Facebook and can be reached at: Evgrey@aol.com.

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The Importance and Impact of Film Tax Credits

By Carol Patton

Late last year I hosted a panel at the Media Resource Expo in Danvers, Massachusetts at the annual Media Resource Expo with extraordinary panelists Representative Ann- Margaret Ferrante, Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative Executive Director Diane Pearlman and Filmmakers Collaborative Executive Director Laura Azevedo.

Our topic was The Importance of Film Tax Credits and How to Defend Them in 2017. The major take-away from this panel discussion was suggested by Representative Ann- Margaret Ferrante and that is to not wait until the legislative season began to remind our elected legislators and the Governor’s Of ce how important MA Film Tax Credits are to each and every one of us. And to tell our own individual stories.

In December IMAGINE called for a letter writing campaign to begin early in the year doing just that before the Governor gave his State of the Commonwealth Address and before he prepared his budget.

After two years of literally everyone in the industry responding to the Governor’s rst try at eliminating our credits altogether in favor of earned income tax credits for the working poor, and then his second year in of ce trying to limit our credits severely by capping them, no one was quite sure of what to expect this third year. Would he be thinking “third time is a charm” or perhaps realize the merit and strength of the production community. Letters were sent.

Meanwhile, there has been no mention of MA Film Tax Credits in the Governor’s State of the Commonwealth address, nor are our Film Tax Credits mentioned in the Governor’s proposed budget.

certified cleaning company film set cleaners MA
Tom Derian, President of Certified Cleaning at Film Set Day. His poster says it all. An IMAGINE Photo.

In our industry’s favor on February 16, 2017 the Massachusetts Production Coalition (MPC) sponsored “Film Set Day” in the Great Hall of the MA State House for the express purpose of recreating the execution of a major motion picture production from pre-production, scouting locations, set construction, set decoration, art and costume departments, casting, stunts, shooting, crew, catering, stages and staging, all the way to post-production and special effects. This process effectively demonstrated to legislators and their staff the entire process and showed how many ancillary businesses and tradesmen are actually essential to the business. Yes, everything from lumber and paint companies to talent trailers, mobile restrooms and waste management.

Many new jobs and businesses have incubated in Massachusetts since we passed lm tax credits in 2005; there were no catering companies in the state that catered to motion picture sets. Productions brought their caterers in from LA and New York – these huge trailers that could house their operations and feed the crews two meals a day. This practice greatly increased production costs. That production need alone created both challenge and opportunity for local caterers to create on set catering businesses for themselves.

On Film Set Day, Dolce Catering fed the legislators and their staffs as if they were on the set of a major motion picture. Later I spoke to Jessica Halloran of Dolce Catering. She was there, ‘It was a great event and awesome turnout supporting the industry,” she enthusiastically said.

“The Film Tax Credits are vital to sustain and grow the production industry in Massachusetts. It’s reassuring to meet legislators that support them and comprehend the development process necessary to establish a new industry in the Commonwealth. It’s important to businesses like Dolce Catering to know that there are people on our side interested in establishing the production industry as a permanent xture and source of revenue like it is in New York City. As you’ve seen here today, we have the resources to make that happen.”

Terie Michon
Cape Cod Real Estate Broker, Terie Michon
combines her vast knowledge of the Cape and
her love of film to create MakeAMovieHere.com, a concierge services company for studios, major producers and independent filmmakers. Photo courtesy of Terie Michon.

Terie Michon, who is a longtime resident and realtor on Cape Cod, is transferring her knowledge and expertise into a “concierge” service for the beautiful area she lives in, which she happens to know like that back of her hand. Her “MakeAMovieHere.com” offers studios, major producers and independent filmmakers Transportation-Air, Land or Sea; Location Scouting, Location Negotiation and Acquisition; Permitting; Accommodations for cast and crew, as well as catering, marine services for large and small vessels (including Captains and Crew), Cleaning/Housekeeping, Nannies and Child Care, Lawn/Landscaping, Hauling, Masonry, Painting, Carpentry – if you need it on The Cape, Terie will arrange it for you.

There are big time beneficiaries of production industry, too, like the transportation and accommodations sector. The state of Massachusetts prospers when studio Films are on location in the area, and the benefits touch a wide range of businesses and organizations. Within this is the luxury hospitality industry, showing a significant growth in the entertainment segment following the initiation of the film tax incentive in the state. Four Seasons Boston, the premiere luxury hotel in the city, spoke with IMAGINE about the beneficial impact the tax incentive has had on their business specifically.

Four Seasons Boston Presidential Suite

Four Seasons Boston MA
Four Seasons Boston Director of Sales Jason Bossenberry. Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Boston.

Director of Sales at Four Seasons Boston, Jason Bossenberry, shared that the entertainment segment of business received at his Hotel has increased by more than 90% over the past several years. Though this is not all related to lm (music and sports also fall within this sector), a signi cant portion of the increase can be assigned to feature film production.

Four Seasons maintains a strict code of confidentiality for their guests, creating a particularly attractive environment for high pro le individuals in the industry. “As a luxury hotel, we often have an opportunity to host the Talent, Directors, and Producers for long term stays,” says Bossenberry. “We operate with the highest levels of discretion, which is attractive for these individuals while they’re in town. We also have seventy-seven Suites, significantly more than most properties, allowing us to guarantee a larger, luxury environment and make guests feel like they have a true home away from home during their time in Boston.”

Even Entertainment Attorneys get more work. Elaine Rogers, Entertainment Attorney at Meister, Seelig & Fein LLP says, “I represent Jeff Bauman (Boston Marathon survivor and double amputee) with regards to his book “Stronger” and option/purchase of the book rights for the upcoming Lionsgate movie STRONGER starring Jake Gyllenhaal which was lmed in the Commonwealth. I have found that this lm and other productions coming to the Commonwealth have provided additional opportunities for local talent. From my perspective, the attractive tax incentives have certainly contributed to the increase in entertainment business here in the Commonwealth.

Noah Lydiard, Conductor Productions co- owner and executive producer adds, “We are seeing more commercial and lm work come in from out of state since the addition of the tax credit. We’re pulling in jobs from California and New York. At least part of the reason they are here is our ability to keep our prices competitive by utilizing the tax credit. These are jobs that might not be here otherwise.”

Perhaps the Governor has noted that in ten years Massachusetts has hosted 170 Major Productions, which have been shot in 190 cities and towns spending more than $2 billion in our state while creating 14,500 new jobs with an average salary of $67,000.

Perhaps someone told him that in 2016 background artists, known as Extras, worked over 11,000 days on Massachusetts based productions averaging $320 a day and that Day Players, actors with speaking lines, had their best year ever. Over 400 were hired at $1000 per day. And there will be residuals paid in perpetuity – paying taxes to the Commonwealth in perpetuity.

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante offered this comment to IMAGINE, “I am encouraged that Governor Baker has relented in his efforts to eliminate the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit. Numerous initiatives and brie ngs have done an effective job explaining the bene ts of the Film Tax Credit, such as job creation and support for so many small businesses,”
Our economic engine is roaring.

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Karen Allen’s “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud” to Have World Premier at Manchester International Film Festival

Worldwide Premiere of the short film “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” at the Manchester International Film Festival Adapted and Directed by Award-Winning Actor Karen Allen

A Tree A Rock A Cloud
The Boy played by newcomer Jackson Smith, at the counter with the mill workers, William Galatis, Terry Holland, Chip Rybak.
Award-winning actor, theatrical director, and writer, Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Animal House, Starman, The Glass Menagerie, The Perfect Storm, Year By the Sea), has directed her first film based on the Carson McCullers’ short story, “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” The film will have its world premiere at the Manchester International Film Festival on March 5, 2017. Allen will also be a featured speaker on the Women in Independent Cinema Panel taking place at the Festival.

A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud film Karen Allen
The Boy (Jackson Smith) and The Man (Jeff DeMunn) in the Karen Allen short
film, “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” based on the story by Carson McCullers

2017 marks the 100th birthday of renowned author Carson McCullers. Written when she was just 19, “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” is set at a roadside café in the early morning in spring of 1947. A young boy and an older man meet by chance. The man relates a luminous tale of personal heartbreak and loss, and of his hard won understanding of the nature of love.

Karen Allen working with DP Richard Sands

For Allen, the story made a lasting impression many years ago. “I came across this story when I was in my early 20’s. As a young actor I was drawn to Carson McCullers as a playwright and novelist at first, and then began to read everything she’d written that I could get my hands on. ‘A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.’ always loomed large for me among her many short stories; it is a quiet, subtle, mysterious story. It sneaks up on you and has stayed indelibly etched in my imagination all these years.

Jeff DeMunn A Tree A Rock A Cloud

Allen’s film stars veteran actors Jeff DeMunn as The Man (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, TV’s The Walking Dead) and James McMenamin as Leo, the owner of the diner (TV’s Orange is the New Black). Making his film debut is Jackson Smith in the role of the Young Boy.

James McMenamin
Owner of the diner, Leo, played by James McMenamin

To bring the story to life on film, Allen surrounded herself with many established film professionals. Academy Award nominee Kristi Zea was the Production Designer (The Departed, Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Goodfellas, Broadcast News). Cinematographer Richard Sands has designed lighting and/or shot over 35 films and 47 television movies with directors such as Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. He is also the lighting designer for photographer Gregory Crewdson. Producers on the project are Allen’s East Coast Manager, Brian Long, and independent film and visual effects producer, Diane Pearlman. Shooting took place in the bucolic Berkshires hills of western Massachusetts over 6 days. With its natural beauty and perfect interior location, Allen was able to shoot quite near her home and use many of the talented professionals who live and work in the area.

Karen Allen Kristi Zea
Producers Brian Long and Diane Pearlman, Director Karen Allen and Production
Designer Kristi Zea on the 1947 diner set.

The film is currently being submitted to festivals internationally. It will also be shown at celebrations of Carson McCullers’ extraordinary life and writing under the auspices of the Carson McCullers Center at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA, and in the newly acquired McCullers Center in Nyack, NY. Screenings will also be held in NYC and Rome, Italy with educational and literary institutions. Allen hopes to highlight McCullers’ influence on generations of writers, most particularly women in the 20th and 21st centuries. As she sees it, “The story is flooded with the raw, tangible beauty of the natural world, set in contrast to the complex, intangible yearning for love in the characters’ interior worlds. I stayed very close and true to the story Carson McCullers wrote, as I wanted to illuminate in the film the characters she has so beautifully drawn in the pages of this story. I’m thrilled to be bringing this incredibly sensitive and original story to audiences all over the world”

Further information about the film can be found at www.atreearockacloudthefilm.com

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3 Film Festivals in Las Vegas

Sin City, the Gambling Capital of the World, the Entertainment Capital of the World – Las Vegas is known as many things, and with over 22,000 different conventions happening in the city every year, it’s hard not to agree that the city has something for everyone.

In the past, many have held the notion that Vegas was a place suitable only to gamblers, as the Las Vegas Strip is most popular for the rows and rows of high-end casinos to choose from. These days, however, casinos in Vegas have been on the decline, unable to keep up with pressures from both the markets of other regions and the online gambling industry. Vegas has congested to the point that its casinos cannot introduce features such as Macau’s indoor Ferris Wheels and gondola rides, or allow free trials on their games, which Intercasino explains is a major benefit to playing games like blackjack online. Now, the city thrives on festivals and entertainment, and film buffs should be glad to know that Vegas hosts three amazing film festivals that shouldn’t be missed.

lv_film_festival_logo1. Las Vegas Film Festival
For years, the Las Vegas Film Festival (LVFF) has strived to bring together independent filmmakers and professionals from around the world, inspiring audiences as the most creative ideas come to life. This year sees light-hearted films such as “Seoul Searching” and heart-wrenching films such as “Fantasia”, as well as documentaries like “Beats4Tanner”.

001-Viip-0012. Vegas Indie Film Fest!
The Vegas Indie Film Fest! is one of the few festivals dedicated to the independent craft in Vegas, and the event has been voted as among MovieMaker Magazine’s Top Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee. Winners of the various categories each receive a “Golden Bulb” – one of the bulbs used to light up the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign – a perfect symbol of Vegas if there ever was one.

Las-Vegas-Lift-Off-and-Palms-1024x3793. Las Vegas Lift-Off Film Festival
The Las Vegas Lift-Off Film Festival is one of several similar festivals taking place all over the world, all with one goal in mind: to launch the professional careers of filmmakers regardless of experience level or connections, and regardless of the budget that went into the film. The Lift-Off Film Festival is also unique in that each filmmaker who submits work to the festival receives bespoke, exclusive content that differs from city to city, from festival to festival.

There are thousands upon thousands of festivals and conventions taking place in Vegas, and any film buff who finds themselves visiting the city should be pleased to know that there is more to do here than just gamble. As the gambling industry continues to evolve and Vegas finds itself shifting its focus towards entertainment, we’ll surely find even more festivals happening in “Sin-e-ma City”!

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Down on the Render Farm

national_gothicSpring has sprung and down on the render farm it’s time for planting.

In the image Jean McCarvill and Dave Allen from National Ministry of Design (NMD) are preparing to plant a few frames on the lower 32. The NMD/National Boston render farm includes more than fifty dedicated computers fitted with quad core Xeon processors. It’s spread over two floors of the National Boston building. The 32 Boxx computers in the picture make up the lower 32. They have their own room and their own air conditioning. Environment is important on the farm.

The render farm computers on both floors are connected to each other and all of its graphics workstations by a separate gigabit Ethernet network. That keeps the render farm separate from any other network traffic. Don’t want those little frames bumping their heads up against a network speed ceiling!

Lots of folks want to know where their food comes from. Do you know where your frames come from? Whether you’re promoting a new jet engine or a new sandwich, you want your information to be secure. Our render farm, with its separate network, keeps everything within the building and out of sight. There is nothing like growing it at home to avert prying eyes!

National Ministry of Design used to send their frames over the internet to a render farm far far away. Sometimes the frames would get damaged in shipment. If a render node  crashed, someone would scream at us from the other side of the country; or maybe the other side of the world. Now, if there is a technical glitch, NMD can nip it in the bud.

With your own farm, you can watch them grow! Creativity is NMD’s “field.” In order to achieve that, you have to break a few eggs along the way. By having a cost effective method to try different things without worrying about per render costs, you open up the opportunity to deliver a much better product. There’s always an opportunity to make changes when new ideas sprout. Then you can sit back and watch them come into full bloom.

Down at the farm stand they boast about “zero food miles.” We like to boast about zero frame miles. The only clouds in our farm are the ones in the sky. So, enjoy the fine spring weather, and, “if you have an animation in need of cultivation, plant a few frames on our farm” suggests Tom Sprague, National Boston’s Chief Engineer. “We have fertile ground to grow your inspiration into a tasty treat.”

For more information about National Ministry of Design please visit www.getnmd.com.

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