AFM, A Look Back and a Look Forward

I always enjoy the cool ocean air as I walk up to the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica for the American Film Market every year. The shimmering Pacific Ocean is the backdrop to AFM, as it’s more commonly known to the over 7,000 attendees. It is the largest movie business event in the world and it’s quite a sight to behold. They empty out all the guest rooms at the hotel and transform them into sales offices for international production and distribution companies to hawk their wares to international buyers – this is where movies get bought, sold, seen, and pushed out to the rest of the world. It’s a behemoth of an affair and the movie business has been doing deals at AFM since 1981. Over the course of the eight days of the event each November, over $1 billion in deals get made. Yes, one billion dollars.

And it’s not uncommon to hear some of those deals go down in the five-story open atrium hotel lobby, where large-backed lounge chairs and couches act as a de facto meeting space for attendees who can look up at giant banners advertising myriad films and film production services around the balconies of the many floors above. One year I saw an advertisement with no name, and just images of shark heads coming out of a giant spiraling tornado in front of the Santa Monica Pier. They ended up calling that movie SHARKNADO, one of the SyFy channel’s biggest hits and generated many sequels, a musical at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and they are shopping around a spinoff into a kids’ animated series.

AFM 2018 drew over 1,300 buyers from 73 countries and they showed 402 screenings. The year showed a trend toward uncertainty – with the proliferation of content on every kind of device the competition has become quite stiff. But that can also be seen as a boon for independent filmmakers who can license their content to new media companies looking to fill their content space, even though the revenue from profit-participation is disappearing with it. So producers are trying to keep up with the business as it’s changing so fast because of the new streaming models. It seems like most traditional sellers are trying to find their footing in the new landscape.

LocationEXPO, an integrated locations tradeshow sprinkled throughout AFM, had a strong showing in its second year with 51 film commissions and agencies from around the globe including from Korea, Panama, Russia, Spain and Thailand – altogether they presented more than $1 billion (again, yes, $1 billion) in production incentives and opportunities. And for those that haven’t been to a locations tradeshow in the past, it’s kind of like wandering around the world and seeing all the fantastic places you can shoot, but all in one place. Booths are staffed with knowledgeable representatives from each locale, often the film commissioners themselves, and you can ask them direct questions about filming in their country or city. And if they’re offering incentives (such as Massachusetts’ 25% production credit, 25% payroll credit, and a sales tax exemption), you can start making business decisions about where to shoot.

Carl Hansen being presented the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge award. Carl Hansen, Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Nic Novicki.  Photo courtesy of Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

AFM is a great place to be, not only because the weather in Southern California is still nice in November, but because the world is there, ready to show you what its got, and waiting to see what you have to offer. For those of you looking to attend AFM this upcoming November, here are some pointers to get around:

  • Get a badge. In the past, you’ve been able to walk into the lobby of the Loews, even without a badge, but they’ve closed the access to the lobby so you must have a badge to get access to any part of the Loews now.
  • Go in with a plan and do your research. There are literally hundreds of rooms and thousands of people who are trying to sell and buy, but they’re not all buying and selling the same things. Know what you’re selling, and target the companies that go after that kind of material. Don’t approach an action/horror distributor with your RomCom.
  • You don’t need to bring a script with you. Come armed with marketing materials (postcards or a pitch deck) that you can hand out easily, and won’t bog you down. You’ll be walking around for hours, so no need to carry all that paper, and no one will just accept a script – even in a marketplace setting. Save a tree and your back.
  • Bring a ton of business cards. Yes, a little old school, but a lot of the world is still kinda old school. And make sure it has all the relevant info for you on it, including phone, e-mail, website and/or social handles.
  • Have fun and don’t be afraid to talk to anyone. You never know who’s going to be at AFM. You will see name actors and directors walking around that you may be able to interact with in a meaningful way (as long as you’re not accosting someone, they tend to be receptive in the market environment). Or you just may meet some really cool people, like accidentally sitting next to an award-winning composer from Italy who is now composing a bunch of amazing projects there. [writer’s note: that actually happened to me]

Carl Hansen is an award-winning filmmaker and Emmy-winning producer, recently having won “Best Director” in the 2019 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. Carl is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in the Entertainment industry and he enjoys volunteering his time teaching producing and production management classes to the next generation of young storytellers.

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Boston’s Film Guru David Kleiler Dies at Age 79

Above: David Kleiler with Carol Patton at IMAGINE’s New England Industry New Year’s Celebration & “Imaginnaires” Gala, January 8, 2019. David was a 2007 “Imaginnaire” Award recipient. Photo by Navid Namazi.

Dear Imagine Readers, It is with a saddened heart that I share the news of the passing of our industry’s dear friend David Kleiler. I share my condolences with his family and multitude of friends and mentees. David’s passion for film and those of us in the film community was boundless and we will miss him.

David was one of IMAGINE’s very first “Imaginnaires” in 2007 and wrote a column for IMAGINE for several years called “Establishing Shot”. In it was his first hand expression of what the independent film community in New England was up to. His writing was entertaining and insightful. He was a friend, mentor and provided encouragement to everyone he met. His generosity and advice were always readily available.

David founded the Boston Underground Film Festival, supported and helped curate several other festivals and was the driving force behind the effort to save the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline. He also curated the most unique of screenings in his own living room where he showed his and others’ favorite films and then held discussions – loved and attended by many over the years.

He will be so missed. We’ve lost a treasure…..

Tonight at 6pm, there will be a ceremony at Coolidge Corner Theatre where David’s name will light up their Marquee. 

Tuesday, April 23rd, 6 – 9pm, Wake at Bell – O’Dea Funeral Home, 376 Washington Street in Brookline, MA. Map 

Wednesday, April 24th, 11 am, Funeral at St. Cecelia Roman Catholic Church, 18 Belvedere Street, Boston Back Bay, MA. Map

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About our April 2019 Issue

Two of Massachusetts most prolific writers are featured on the cover of this issue as they bring their joint film project FRANCONIA NOTCH into production. Best-selling author Casey Sherman (FINEST HOURS, PATRIOTS DAY) and writer/director/producer John Stimpson have teamed up for this venture that they have adapted from Sherman’s book Bad Blood, which looks at an actual horrific crime that occurred in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. After re-investigating the situation, Casey’s summation was different than what the New Hampshire courts decreed.

Amongst Casey Sherman’s many books are Animal (also slated to be made into a motion picture), The Ice Bucket Challenge (ditto), Boston Strong (PATRIOTS DAY) 12, a very Tom Brady tale and Above and Beyond: John F. Kennedy and America’s Most Dangerous Cold War Spy Mission.

From Hartley’s article we learn “Wellesley, MA native John Stimpson began his creative career while an undergraduate at Harvard, where he was President of the venerable and legendary Hasty Pudding Theatricals. He then headed off to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of being an actor. He found some work, but decided to move to the other side of the camera, and pursue directing.

Interestingly enough, he realized his Hollywood dream by leaving Hollywood, and coming back home to Massachusetts. He writes, directs, edits and produces motion pictures for television and theatrical release. He’s known for GHOST LIGHT, CHRISTMAS KISS, THE LEGEND OF LUCY KEYES and THE WRONG CAR.

FRANCONIA NOTCH is in development for filming later this year in Massachusetts. The team is seeking financial and production partners.

Our cover photo is by Carolyn Ross of Carolyn Ross Photography. Our cover design is by
IMAGINE Design Editor Monique Walton.

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About Our March 2019 Issue

For our March cover and, indeed, our March issue, we thought it important to exhibit in every way that we are an important production Mecca. So we pulled together photos of productions in our region to do so and collected stories that also reflects a dynamic and robust industry.

You may recognize some of the movies on the cover. I want to thank everyone who helped us with this cover project. Photos were contributed by SAG-AFTRA actor and Founder of NE Talent & Crew Chuck Slavin, Executive Producer/Director David Giancola of Edgewood Studios (scenes from
his film AXCELLERATOR), Tim Grafft, Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Film Office (State House scene from THE FORGER), and Lew Place of the Rhode Island Film Office.

Our cover design is by IMAGINE Design Editor Monique Walton.

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Join IMAGINE at a live performance of FRANCONIA NOTCH

On Sunday, March 3 at 2pm, Imagine Magazine will present a Live Reading performance of the upcoming Fort Point Media/H9 Films thriller Franconia Notch before a live audience at the 5-star Mandarin Oriental, Boston (Ballroom).

The script written by Casey Sherman (THE FINEST HOURS, PATRIOTS DAY) and John Stimpson (GHOST LIGHT, THE LEGEND OF LUCY KEYES) was inspired by Sherman’s 2009 #1 true crime best-seller Bad Blood: Freedom and Death in the White Mountains. Sherman, Stimpson and Dave Wedge will co-produce the film with production expected to begin in Massachusetts in late 2019 under their Fort Point Media & H9 Film banners. Many of New England’s most versatile actors have been selected by Slate Casting to read the primary roles in what is being described as a immersive experience for the audience.


Author Casey Sherman

About Bad Blood: Freedom & Death in the White Mountains:

In the shadow of the fallen Old Man of the Mountain, on a lonely stretch of mountain road, two men lay dead. A spasm of violence that took only a few minutes to play out leaves a community divided and searching for answers.
From the author of newly released Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph Over Tragedy, about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Bad Blood is the riveting account of the long-standing feud between Franconia, New Hampshire, police officer Bruce McKay, 48, and Liko Kenney, 24. In May 2007, Kenney shot and killed Officer McKay, following a dramatic chase that began with a routine traffic stop. Kenney, cousin of ski legend Bode Miller, was then shot and killed by a shadowy passerby.
Almost immediately, the tragic incident revealed deep tensions within this otherwise quiet community in the White Mountains with charges that Kenney was a hell-raiser and mentally unstable and counter-charges that Officer McKay was a rogue cop who dispensed justice as a way to settle personal scores. Striving to get at the truth of the story, the author uncovers a complicated mix of personalities and motivations. Local and statewide interests clash while regional and national media― and even YouTube viewers― supply ready stereotypes to fit their agendas. Amid larger questions of the meaning of individual freedom we are, ultimately, helpless witnesses to an inevitable clash of characters.

About Fort Point Media

Fort Point Media is owned by New York Times Bestselling Authors Casey Sherman & Dave Wedge. Casey Sherman is the author of ten books including two New York Times Bestsellers The Finest Hours & 12: The InsideStory of Tom Brady’s Fight for Redemption (co-authored by Dave Wedge). The Finest Hours was adapted into a major motion picture for and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures starring Chris Pine, Oscar winner Casey Affleck and Ben Foster in 2016. Sherman and Wedge also wrote the 2015 acclaimed true crime novel Boston Strong, which inspired the 2016 CBS Films feature Patriots Day starring Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon and John Goodman.


About H9 Films

H9 Films founder John Stimpson is one of the most prolific filmmakers working in the Boston area today. Stimpson’s interest in film and television began at Harvard where he was President of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. He spent five years as a professional actor in Los Angeles before returning to the East Coast and refocusing his talent on the other side of the lens.

As a result, Stimpson approaches directing from an actor’s perspective, truly believing that motion pictures are the ultimate collaborative creative medium. His 15 years of experience as an editor inform, color, and streamline his shot choices and storytelling making his set as innovative and efficient as possible. For Stimpson the filmmaking process is about capturing the magic – on the page, within the performance and ultimately on the screen – that moves an audience. There is nothing more powerful than human emotion.

John is a member of the Mass Production Coalition and on the board of FILMA (Film it Locally in MA), actively promoting and lobbying for the Film and Television Industry in Massachusetts and Commonwealth’s Film Tax Incentive which has been vital to the recent surge of production activity.


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The much-anticipated theatrical release for THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is happening on February 8th. and at the same time, the film is being released to VOD services. Shot in western Massachusetts in and around Turner Falls, the home of director Robert Krzykowski, the film is a character study with some pulp genre elements in the vein of a Hal Ashby or Robert Altman. It also features incredible talent in all aspects of the production, including Executive Producer Douglas Trumbull, Music Composer Joe Kraemer and special effects guru Richard Yuricich.

Click here to listen to Hartley Pleshaw’s radio interview with Robert Krzykowski and Joe Kraemer.

Below are some photos from IMAGINE’s exclusive New England premiere screening which was held on November 15th, 2018 and featured appearances by director, Robert D. Krzykowski, Douglas Trumbull (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, BLADERUNNER), Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Yuricich (STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, BLADE RUNNER) and Composer Joe Kraemer (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION) as well as Silas Archer Gustav who plays the young Calvin Barr’s dog in the film.

Event Photographer Carolyn Ross
Executive Producer, Academy Award winner and Imaginnaire Douglas Trumbull , Director Robert D. Kryzkowski, Composer Joe Kraemer and Carol Patton. Photo by Carolyn Ross — at Somerville Theatre.
Jan Waldman, Carol Patton and Silas Archer Gustav, who appears in the film. Photo by Carolyn Ross — at Somerville Theatre.

Exciting Night at the Saloon for IMAGINE Magazine and Critter Casting’s VIP Party before the screening of THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT held at the Somerville Theatre. An IMAGINE Photo.
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The Running Waves: Set to Go Into Production on Cape Cod

Genre: Coming of Age Drama dealing with the loss of innocence

Jordan Tofalo as Tabitha Playing Pool Photo by Kevin Friel.
This is the story of two brothers. Tragedy drove them apart. Now the Brennan brothers must patch things up and prove there is nothing more important than family. Can they overcome the past?

Can they learn to be brothers again?

It’s the summer of 1994. O.J. Simpson is chased in his white Bronco, the Beastie Boys have just released Ill Communication, and the Major League Baseball strike is looming.

For nineteen year-old Colin Brennan living in Silver Shores Cape Cod, summertime should be one of the best times of his young life. But the beautiful scenery is instead a constant reminder of what happened the previous year.

Colin is haunted by the memory of a tragic accident that took the lives of his two best friends.

Life is spiraling out of control for Colin, a former lifeguard once headed to college on a swimming scholarship, but now works as a shoe salesman. He started drinking so he could remember his friends – now he drinks to forget them.

Colin’s 23-year-old brother Dermot wants to help his little brother, but he can’t even help himself. He’s dealing with his own loss – a breakup with the girl he thought was “the one.”

After spending the winter in Ireland writing for a newspaper and trying to forget Francesca, Dermot returns to “The Shores” to work at the Island Ferry parking lot. He talks a lot about becoming a writer, but will he ever write?

The Brennan brothers were raised by loving parents who stressed the motto “Love one another and stick together”. But they are quickly drifting apart.

Nicole Michelle.

Where are these brothers going?
With mixed tapes representing the soundtrack of the Brennan brothers’ lives, and humor used to mask their problems, THE RUNNING WAVES is a story about unresolved grief, substance abuse, break-ups, young love, baseball, movies, brotherly relationships, and the thorny road to redemption.

Ted (T.M.) Murphy told Imagine Magazine, “In 2008, My brother Seton approached me after not having a drink for four years and said, ‘I want to write a book that will help people especially men. I don’t want it to be preachy or toned down. It has to be authentic in how men can be. How we mask what is really going on with humor and booze. I want it to be a story that doesn’t focus on a tragedy but what happens after a tragedy to the people left behind’.”

”Well, I could relate to all of that considering I had lost one of my friends in a car accident and did all of those things Seton had just described…. I suggested adding another kind of loss into the mix, the loss of a relationship. Breaking up with that first love can also be difficult and as young men we are told to just move on. I wanted to explore that as well. Of course, that could be because I grew up on John Hughes movies.

“Anyway, we wrote the book and it was released in 2010. It really spoke to people and we were constantly told that we should make it into a movie. We thought that was funny because we first began writing it as a screenplay before going the book route. Now here we are, in association with Good Natural Dog Productions, planning to film in our hometown of Falmouth, Cape Cod in the spring of 2019.

Casey Sherman, bestselling author of “The Finest Hours” and “Boston Strong,” both made into major motion pictures, had this to say about the book:

“Finally – a novel that captures the tone and tenor of the place where I grew up. The Running Waves shows us what lies beneath the beautiful imagery of Cape Cod where villagers are often torn between their own aspirations and a stubborn loyalty to the place they call home. The Murphy Brothers have found a big fan in me.” (Read about Casey’s new project with John Stimpson in this issue on page 10).

THE RUNNING WAVE Co-writer T.M. Murphy and Boston Comedian Lenny Clarke who will play Molloy. Lenny said, “Man, this really is great!’ It was funny. It was sad. It was real.”
Boston comedian, Lenny Clarke, has signed to play the part of Molloy, the parking lot attendant at the Island Ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. “Man, this really is great! It was funny. It was sad. It was real. I called Teddy up and after we talked about the Patriots win that happened the night before I said, ‘I’m in!’“

“Lenny is New England and for us to get him on board is honestly a dream come true.” Seton Murphy said.

“He’s not just a legendary comedian. He’s an unbelievable actor and we’ve been fans of his since his days on Rescue Me and he’s going to be in our movie. Wow!” Ted Murphy added.

Jordan Tofalo came in to read for a part and when she was done Seton turned to me and said, ‘she’d be perfect for the part of Tabitha (a girl with a promising future but gets in with the wrong crowd) in THE RUNNING WAVES….”

Lenny Clarke Caricature.
“I am so thrilled to be a part of THE RUNNING WAVES! It’s beautifully written by the Murphy Brothers, takes place in the 90’s, and touches upon extremely relevant topics in our current society…” said Jordan said after doing a photo shoot for her character Tabitha.

“Things definitely happen for a reason,” Ted Murphy continued, “Jordan had just worked with Dennis Serpone on SWEENEY KILLING SWEENEY and suggested we talk to him about coming on board as an Executive Producer. We hit it off with Dennis immediately, and not only did he join the team but he suggested talking with his nephew Brian Serpone who with Billy Dufresne manages Nicole Michelle whose career is taking off as a singer. Two of her songs will be on the BERNIE THE DOLPHIN soundtrack.

“1994 was all about mixed tapes that captured the moment you were feeling so we plan to have a diverse soundtrack with established as well as up-and-coming acts. Nicole is currently blowing up on the scene. She’s dropping an album soon with Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees producing it so it was natural to ask her to contribute to our soundtrack. We set up a meeting and we all hit it off. But something else happened she reminded Seton and me so much of Natalie, the young love interest in our movie, that we asked Nicole to read for it.”

“I’m honored to be part of telling such a touching story like THE RUNNING WAVES,” Nicole said backstage during a rehearsal for an upcoming tour.

Other actors attached are Patty O’Neil (STONGER) as Mrs. Sweeney. “I loved the role of Mrs. Sweeney the moment I read it…. Plus, supporting a wonderful local story and the talents of the writers is a dominant drive for any actor.”

Alexa Serowik has been cast as Francesca, the girl who broke Dermot’s heart; she says “I am excited to be cast as Francesca because there is a lot more to her than may appear at face value. Francesca is a bit of a bad girl but with a soul and seems to me wise beyond her years.

Nate Richman (STRONGER) will play the Tommy Keating Role. When he met writer T.M. Murphy they found out that they had more in common than they thought.

“I am thrilled to be part of The Running Waves production,” Nate Richman said, “I grew up reading T.M. Murphy’s kids’ books the Belltown Mystery Series, so I have been a fan of his for a long time. Ted and Seton do an excellent job telling an incredible story. The Running Waves is the type of book that you’ll be crying on page 100 and cracking up by page 102….”

THE RUNNING WAVES is seeking additional funding, some key casting, executive producers, collaborating production companies and distribution. This passionate group is shooting in Massachusetts, entitles the production to a 25% transferable tax credit.

For more information please visit or contact T.M. Murphy at

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