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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AIFF Celebrates its Seventh – Year Kick-Off

Starts with an Homage to the Serbian Community in Boston

Arlington International Film FestivalFor the past seven seasons, the Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) has curated a festival in October that celebrates the very best of new local, national, and international independent films for audiences to enjoy. AIFF’s Selection Committee watches hundreds of submissions each year and is delegated with the task of choosing films that represent the creative in storytelling and technical execution while holding to the festival’s mission of fostering appreciation for different cultures by exploring the lives of people around the globe through independent fi lm. Each year brings forth amazing visions of filmmakers that we are honored to bring to Greater Boston.

This year, the judges have selected a film that will kick-off the 2017 Festival, homage to our Serbian community, which represents the vision and passion of the French as well as the Serbian communities.

THE PROMISE by director Zeljko Mirkovic

Synopsis: A century ago Rogljevo, a remote village in the far eastern corner of Serbia, was incredibly prosperous, one of the top five wine regions in Europe. The wines of Rogljevo were to be found at exhibitions in Bordeaux and Paris. But today this region is poor and deserted. In ‘cinema verite’ style, this documentary follows the extraordinary experience of a French family who moved
into the village to make wine, believing they had discovered a promised land. Their arrival sparked high hopes with some villagers and great resistance and mistrust with others. Can Europeans from two opposite sides of the continent come together to revive the ancient glory of this forgotten wine region? Winner of the Best Documentary at the Mediterranean Film Festival in Italy and Eugene International Film Festival, Oregon.

The Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) runs from Thursday, October 26 through
Sunday, October 29 at the Capitol Theatre in East Arlington. AIFF will be screening feature narratives and documentaries as well as programs of short narrative, documentary and animation. Please visit after September 20th for program details.

Our feature Student Filmmaker’s Program, VOICES OF OUR YOUTH will be screened on Saturday, October 28 at 12 noon whereupon voices of Arlington/Greater Boston will converge with the voices of youth across the country and around the world; i.e. Australia, Canada, China, India, Mexico, Netherlands, and Portugal. Watching High School student films is a process of discovery. Come, sit back, and wait for the unexpected. This year’s shorts address topics ranging from social justice, fictional exploration, depression, equality for women, disabilities, relationships, and artistic aspirations.

Independent films chosen this year by our Selection Committee range in topic from social justice, art, dance, music and marriage.

We are honored to open this year’s festival with a dynamic US premiere Thursday, October 26, 7 PM, SHADOWGRAM acclaimed Italian director Augusto Contento. An astonishing documentary about the African-American community in Chicago, it captures the memories of African-Americans living in the USA – fifty years after the abolition of the ignominious Jim Crow Laws… what has changed? Did anything really change? Who does remember how it was? Has there been an evolution of the African American community? Their hopes, their dreams, their will? The film features a cross-section of people – a psychiatrist, an administrator, a teacher and a hip-hop artist to name a few -, who reminisce about their childhoods, reflect on the hopes of generations gone by and their influence oncurrent daily life.

SHADOWGRAM, was scheduled to screen at the United Nations meeting of the High Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in March of 2017 organized by US, European, South American, and Asian diplomats.
Unfortunately, this screening event that was supposed to take place on the Worldwide Day in Defense of all Human Rights was canceled by the US Embassy in Geneva upon request of the Trump administration. SHADOWGRAM was being screened officially in front of the whole diplomatic community and what truth were people going to discover about US African-American integration (or dis-Integration) that is not already known?

The short that will be screened with this feature is Honk: A Festival of Activist Street Bands by director Patrick Johnson featuring Boston’s own local international jazz musician, Ken Fields. There will be a Panel Discussion followed by an After-Party/Reception at Bistro Duet Restaurant in East Arlington.

Marriage and its relationship to love is examined from the perspectives of conservative Christians, Jews, Indians, and Indonesians in the films A COURTSHIP, (documentary), KOSHER LOVE (documentary), RATTLED (narrative), and PRIA (narrative) respectively.

Set for wide release in 2017, CHASING TRANE is the defi nitive documentary film about an outside-the-box thinker with extraordinary talent whose boundary-shattering music continues to impact and influence people around the world. This smart, passionate, thought-provoking and uplifting documentary is for anyone who appreciates the power of music to entertain, inspire and transform. Written and directed by critically-acclaimed documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld (THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON and WHO IS HARRY NILSSON…?) the fi lm is produced with the full participation of the Coltrane family and the support of the record labels that collectively own the Coltrane catalog. Scheinfeld brings his strong story-telling skills to the creation of a rich, textured and compelling narrative that takes the audience to unexpected places.

THE SETTLERS looks at Jewish settlers in the West Bank and their allies – Jewish and non- Jewish alike.

THE SETTLERS by filmmaker Shimon Dotan takes a look at Jewish settlers in the West Bank and their allies – Jewish and non-Jewish alike – in Israel, America and Europe. The origins of the settler phenomenon, which reach back almost half a century, are explored in this documentary along with a look at who the settlers are today and how they impact the Middle East peace process.

PHIL’S CAMINO, a short documentary film that has officially been submitted to the 89th Academy for Oscar nomination consideration, tells the story of free spirit Phil, a man living with Stage four cancer and dreaming of walking the 500-mile spiritual pilgrimage Camino de Santiago across Spain. Inspirational!

Cannes Short Film Competition nominated LUNCH TIME for the Palm d’Or. Shot in Iran, this narrative follows a sixteen-year-old girl who has the responsibility of identifying the body of her mother. It is a story that speaks to the issues of a harsh bureaucracy and gender inequality.

Let’s watch a narrative comedy that will keep you laughing, HAVE A NICE FLIGHT! Yes, the airline personnel generally wish us a nice flight but what happens to a Vietnamese man needing to return to his country on a family emergency? He prepares to leave a US airport encountering rules of culture and language that are foreign to him, causing a lot of confusion and laughter, ending in appreciation and love.

EVERYONE KNOWS ELIZABETH MURRAY, is a tribute to a dynamic artist Elizabeth Murray, an intrinsic figure in New York’s contemporary art landscape scene from the 1970s until the early 2000s. This documentary highlights her struggle to balance personal and family ambition with artistic drive in a
male-dominated art world. It also addresses her later battle with cancer, at the peak of her career. Director, Kristi Zea is a two-time Oscar-nominated production designer and filmmaker and has designed classic films such as SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, GOODFELLAS and REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. This film
screens on Saturday afternoon and is followed by a Q&A/Reception at 13 Forest Gallery.

the man who wanted to change the world
From the Netherlands, THE MAN WHO WANTED TO CHANGE THE WORLD depicts African-born artist Peter Westerveid who claimed he had developed a solution to combat desertification and ultimately climate change.

Closing night features the U.S. premiere of THE MAN WHO WANTED TO CHANGE THE WORLD by director, Mariëtte Faber from the Netherlands. In the nineties, African born artist Peter Westerveld claimed he had developed a solution to combat desertification and ultimately climate change. His designs for
restoring the water cycles in Africa are unlike any organization has embarked on before, let alone a single man. But in Peter’s mind there is no doubt that he can heal the land. He is quarrelsome and his ideas are controversial. Despite being ridiculed he relentlessly pursues his dream for a green and drought-resistant world. Panel Discussion to follow.

You are invited to enjoy amazing independent films at the Capitol Theatre October 26 – 29! For more information visit

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“It’s Alive!” Horror Film Art at the Peabody Essex Museum

By Robert G. Pushkar

Metallica’s Kirk Hammett introduces Horror Movie Memorabilia on Display at the PEM in Salem

It's Alive at PEMThe world trades on nostalgia today as never before. A look backwards not only shows evolution, but also shows a comforting continuity with the present. That’s why when a museum mounts a show rooted in Hollywood horror films of the 20th century, it’s irresistible. In Salem, Mass., the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) did just that, and called it “It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art.” The exhibition is culled from the personal collection of Metallica’s heavy metal guitarist Kirk Hammett.

Since age five, Hammett has been transfixed by all things horrific. He’s always “felt the outcast” and
“relates to monsters and feels like them,” he tells museum-goers in a video. His biographer, Stefan
Chirazi, writes that as a shy kid he was “dreamily obsessed with monsters, ghouls, toys, music and guitars.” Thrilled that his collection was chosen for display at a major museum, he wrote an original composition, “Maiden and the Monster,” for the audio room as you exit. It seems an appropriate coda in a city that prides itself in the macabre.

Kirk Hammett makes a point about a vintage FRANKENSTEIN (1931) poster.

Boris Karloff
Boris Karloff latex-sculpted fi gure wears the original suit from THE BLACK CAT
(1934). Photo by Robert G. Pushkar.
The exhibition displays 135 pieces; over 90 are vintage movie posters, bursting with explosive colors and monster mayhem. Bu, there are related items too: masks, scary toys, sculptures, even Boris Karloff’s suit from THE BLACK CAT (1934), worn by a latex-sculpted figure of the movie star. His contemporary horror-meister, Bela Lugosi, also appears in a lifesize statue, dressed in the jacket and vest he wore in WHITE ZOMBIE (1932).

Eight themes guide visitors through the collection, plus one is a grateful nod to Hammett showcasing a splashy collection of eight of his guitars. He partnered with ESP Guitar Company to create the instruments, emblazoned with movie poster images on the body.

Other themes such as “The Unnatural & Undead,” “From Realms Beyond,” and “Mad Science” bring into focus what’s displayed. Another theme, “She,” offers gender context to the graphic depictions found in posters at the dawn of the film genre. Women scantily clad in submission to monstrous predators established the stereotype of the defenseless female. In the poster for James Whales’ THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), Karloff’s monster menaces his swooning bride, reclined in his grasp, her bridal bouquet thrust back over her head in total surrender.

Bela Lugosi statue wears the suit from WHITE ZOMBIE (1932). Photo by Robert G. Pushkar.
These portrayals refl ect gender norms and women’s status in the culture during the 1930s through the 1950s. In the Sixties, the feminist movement challenged sexist mores, raising awareness about inherent gender bias in the media. Hollywood reacted, and the hypersexualized, predatory female was born in new celluloid roles, embodied as threats, not victims, originating from outer space or from under the sea.

Considered as an art form, these meticulously handdrawn posters stand as a unique genre. The use of photography had not come until much later. Therefore each poster represents a personal interpretation of film content by an individual artist. Universal Pictures, a leader in horror productions, contracted the Morgan Lithograph Company to create its posters. A cadre of ten artists worked exclusively side-by-side with Universal’s art director who controlled the marketing.

DRACULA front cover. Photo by Paige Besse
The posters, of course, were promotional, designed to lure people into theaters. They were shown in entrances and lobbies, and in train cars. They were reproduced in magazines and newspapers. A steady flow of new movies opened each week, and inevitably the posters were discarded. The poster for the original FRANKENSTEIN, perhaps the only one of its kind around, was discovered in a projection room of a defunct movie theater in the Midwest.

The imagery is rich with colors, especially green. “Green grabs attention,” Dan Finamore, who curated
the exhibit, said. “It started in the Thirties, and as you can see it never went away.” Finamore is PEM’s Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History, and grew up watching horror movies, collected black light posters, and played in a rock band.

Still, the artists who created the poster art were kept anonymous. At the preview opening, Hammett spoke at the podium and dedicated the exhibition to “all of the unsung, unknown artists who put together all those incredible beautiful movie posters.”

For more information about this exhibit and Peabody Essex Museum visit

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ROBIN SWEET: Castle Rock TV Series Producer Home At Last in Massachusetts

“You have no idea what’s happening here, do you?”

Well someone does and her name is Robin Sweet. She’s the producer of J.J. Abrams Castle Rock new TV series for Hulu Originals in production in conjunction with Warner Bros on stages set in the grand location of Orange, MA and in studios at New England Studios in Devens, MA.

Here’s the set up: “Castle Rock is a psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland. The fictional Maine town of Castle Rock has figured prominently in King’s literary career: Cujo, The Dark Half, IT and Needful Things, as well as novella The Body and numerous short stories such as “Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption” are either set there or contain references to Castle Rock. Castle Rock is an original suspense/thriller — a first-of-its-kind reimagining that explores the themes and worlds uniting the entire King canon, while brushing up against some of his most iconic and beloved stories.”

As we all know there has been so much pressure on Massachusetts to land a television series that will create an abundance of work for local talent and crew. Our goal is TV series that would be in production six or seven months a year and come back again and again. The last major TV series was way back in the 80s when Robert Parker written books “Spenser for Hire” (s not a c) turned out to be a hit starring Robert Ulrich. A bit of Deja vu as Spenser was also produced by Warner Bros.

When I learned that Castle Rock’s Producer Robin Sweet has been a resident of Concord, MA for nine years, I couldn’t wait to interview her. And it’s amazing how she got there (Concord) and how she got the job of producing “Castle Rock”.

Robin was born and raised in Atlanta. She went to school in North Carolina and then took off to New York City to get her MBA. Cautioned by her strict parents to be responsible and make something of herself and make a lot of money she went to work on Wall Street. She had been on an accelerated academic program so she was still very young when at twenty three she decided that Wall Street was not a good fit for her. She quit, went to work as a bartender, living off her retirement (retirement at age twenty three?) when a customer intervened in her life, literally.

And it went something like this: you have an MBA and know how to handle money. Why don’t you come on board with a friend of mine who is making a documentary film and let’s see if you can help out.

She did and it went well. As a result she was called by a producer who was making a short film with Cindy Crawford on Martha’s Vineyard. Wow, she thought, that sounds exciting and so off she went….

So you see, she fell into it. Robin said “If I were able to be the architect of my future career and life, I could not have done a better job. It was a perfect fit for me.” She loves the work she does. Her early work in film and television began in NYC.

Soon state sponsored film tax credits made it possible to produce anywhere, to live anywhere and travel to work in the business. Nine years ago her husband (a noted composer) was offered a position at Berklee College of Music and they moved to Concord, MA to raise their son in Massachusetts.

Of course, there are sacrifices she said. My work requires long days, extended travel for extended periods of time.

Robin Sweet was Emmy nominated two times as Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama in 2016 and 2017 as well as once for the same category by the Producers Guild of America for “Better Call Saul”.

She has worked in Massachusetts before. She line produced two Massachusetts productions previously and one was one of biggest budgeted films ever shot in the Commonwealth: Tom Cruise’s “Knight and Day”. She also line produced EQUALIZER, which recently filmed its sequel here. Much of her work has been in Albuquerque and Atlanta.

She was just coming off two years producing “Better Call Saul” when her agent called her and said I know you usually like to take a few months off between assignments, but this one is set in your own backyard. You might like to take a look at it (Castle Rock).

Sissy Spacek
Still of Sissy Spacek in Castle Rock. Image courtesy of IMDB

Robin interviewed with “Bad Robot” and writers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason. “I loved the show. They asked me if I were comfortable bringing a TV show to Massachusetts being that there was no TV here, TV particularly TV series can be very demanding in many ways a feature film is not.”

She said she would be thrilled to bring a TV series here and looked forward to being close to home and sleeping in her own bed.

A TV series can be more complicated than feature film she explained. TV is a totally different beast. It needs an enormous amount of space with offices close to the production. J.J. Abrams and the writers scouted Maine for reference. The series was scheduled to shoot in Canada. But, when they scouted Canada they discovered Canada could not be shot for Maine. They then scouted Massachusetts and found the town of Orange. Imagine three guys in a van coming upon Orange in central Massachusetts where they found their Castle Rock. They fell in love with Orange.

Massachusetts locations will contribute so much to this series. Orange is the genuine article – the real McCoy if you will. Robin says all their locations are tremendous.

Bill Skarsgard Castle Rock
Still of Bill Skarsgård in Castle Rock. Image courtesy of IMDB
“It is so fortunate that New England Studios is only forty five minutes from Orange,” Robin said. “New England Studios is perfect. The stars definitely aligned for this project in Massachusetts,” she added.

Castle Rock is using three of the four NE Studios. Two with permanent sets and one filled with swing sets that are constantly changing and being rebuilt. Construction is a heavy lift for TV series. The day I interviewed Robin, the New England Studios’ huge parking lot was full to the brim.

“Daily there is a crew of 150 and an offset crew of about fifty – so we’re preparing a crew lunch for 200 to 250 people to say nothing of the actors and extras,” said Robin in answer to my question during our interview. All of whom are on payroll for six to seven months. And there’s a great extra story here as well.

Robin explained that one of the reasons she does this particular job is that she is always meeting a new group of creative and talented people; there are always new locations, new challenges. And she enjoys reconnecting with local crew she has worked with before and noticing how far their careers have come since she worked with them last.

She says the cast is lovely, kind, professional and that she enjoys that with every episode she gets to work with a new director. Remember when she is prepping a new issue, she is managing the one in production. It’s always a big job. But, now she gets to sleep in her own bed every night.

It is expected that Hulu will premiere “Castle Rock” next April.

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Karen Allen brings A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. to life

By Hartley Pleshaw

Award winning Actress directs her first film—in the Berkshires

If it were only for her appearances in two iconic films which have long since acquired legendary status, she would have a secure and admired place in film history. But Karen Allen has accomplished far more in her life and career than just her roles in National Lampoon’s ANIMAL HOUSE and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. She has given many memorable film performances outside of these two classics, and is an acclaimed stage actress and director.

For some who have accomplished so much over the course of four decades, it might seem like a good time to take a break, or, at the very least, to not venture into new creative territory. But Karen Allen has, literally, other ideas.

She has just completed her first film as a director, an adaptation of Carson McCullers’ short story A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD. It was filmed in the region that Karen has called home for much of her adult life, the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.

Why, now, has she decided to direct a film?

“I started directing in the theater about ten years ago. I just found that I had a very strong sense of myself as a director, almost right away. I have worked with some extraordinary directors over the years, both in the theater and in film. I think I found myself very much intrigued by how directors worked with actors, how well some directors did their work with actors and how much of a struggle it sometimes was, and how easily a director can shut an actor down, by approaching something the wrong way, or by saying something the wrong way. This had been something that I had been particularly interested in.

“I really didn’t have any interest in directing a film. It’s not that it had never crossed my mind, but when it did cross my mind, I would sort of put it off to the side, as something that I probably wasn’t going to embark on in this lifetime. I felt that between acting and directing in the theater, and working as an actor in both theater and film that was really plenty of avenues for me to develop my creativity.”

“Then, I was sitting with a friend. He had produced a play I had directed in New York, and a play I had acted in in New York. He asked me: ‘Why not a film?’ We talked for a while. I said, well, if I ever were to do a film, I would want to do a short film, because I’ve worked so many times with first-time directors who kind of skipped that process. They never did a short film. They stepped into directing a feature fi lm for their first film. I watched them on the set. I watched a lot of very, very high-level challenges. I mean, that’s a steep learning curve!

“I just decided that if I were going to do something, I would want to do something that I knew well, that I had a strong feeling about, and that was a short film. “As the conversation continued, A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud., which was a short story I had known for a very long time, emerged as an idea. It was
something that I began to talk about. (My friend) was very enthusiastic about it. I believe that he was quite familiar with Carson McCullers’ work, and although he didn’t know that story, he read that
story right away, and he very much encouraged me to go with him to the office of the attorneys in New
York City who represent her work, to see if we could get the rights.

“Before I knew it, I was embarking on a process which became the next three years of my life!”

The friend Karen had this conversation with was producer Brian Long, who, along with Karen and Diane Pearlman (see IMAGINE November 2016 cover story), produced A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD. Although Karen had long experience as a stage director, she found that producing and directing a film was a very different experience.

“I told (Brian) that I felt that it was a very steep learning curve to direct a film, that it took place on a much larger scale. (It was) everything from raising the funds to hiring the crew to casting it to finding a location. I was used to the contained world of directing a play, where I almost always worked under an auspice. I would show up for the first day of rehearsal, work with a stage manager, my designers, my cast and sometimes the playwright, if it was a new play. That was my entire world.

“But in a film, you’re stepping into a much larger world. You have a camera crew. You have a sound crew. You have an Art Department. You have a Costume Department, not a costume designer.

“I was reluctant to think that that was something I would enjoy, or, on some level, feel like I knew
how to face the challenge of it. (Brian) was very encouraging, and I told him that, if I was going to do a film, I would want it to be a short film.

“He said, ‘Do you have any ideas?’ And I said, ‘There’s a Short Story that I know, A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. that I’ve loved, for many, many years.’ I thought that it would be ideal for a first film, because there are only three speaking roles, and for the most part it takes place in one location. That seemed ideal for a first time film director.

“If you’re going to stick your toe in the water, I don’t think that it should be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!”

The film’s location would indeed not be in such a faraway place. It would be in a place Karen Allen
knew and knows well: the Berkshires. (Sandisfield Massachusetts, to be specific.)

“It really had to do with having fallen in love with a particular location. When I go to the airport, I use the Hartford airport, which is the closest airport to me. I take a route kind of on back roads. On that route, I had for many years driven by a café. It was an old café. It had a lot of different incarnations. It was a store at one point, a café, a dinner place, a breakfast place.

“I watched it go through these different incarnations, but I never really stopped there. I always looked at it with one eye and thought, ‘That looks like the kind of café in A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud..’ It had to do with its age. It was built in the 1930’s. It had to do with its positioning; it’s literally twelve feet from the road. It’s a little road. It sits where two rivers cross each other.
And there was just something about it that grabbed me.

“I went by it dozens and dozens of times. One day, I finally pulled over, and said, ‘I’m finally going to look into this place!’ And I walked in, and wouldn’t you know, it looked exactly right—at least structurally, if not in the specifics—everything was there. The bar was where I imagined it to be, the booths were where I imagined they would be, the kitchen was where I imagined it would be. “I couldn’t help but make note that this little place was a kind of ideal location for a film that I hadn’t even thought of making yet!”

For A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD., Karen Allen got what she wanted from her actors.

“Jeff DeMunn, who I have worked with on stage, and whose work I have admired going back forty years, is for me a master actor. I knew he’d be wonderful in the role.

“(I knew that) James McMenamin, who I’ve directed twice in plays, would take what was basically a one-dimensional role on the page, and turn it into something much, much more interesting.

“Jackson Smith, who plays the boy—I had an instinct about Jackson very early on. His approach to being
that boy in that story was exactly what I felt it needed. He just approached it with a kind of openness, availability, a kind of calmness, a presence….the ability to listen. (He was) a real receptacle for that story, a rare quality to find in a twelve-year-old.”

Karen Allen’s debut as a film director hasn’t meant that she’s abandoning acting herself. In fact, she’s just completed work on a film shot at the other end of Massachusetts—Cape Cod.

YEAR BY THE SEA is based on a book by journalist Joan Anderson about Anderson’s decision to leave her husband of over two decades to live by herself in a cottage on the Cape, in an attempt to reconnect with herself and decide the course of her future life. Karen plays the role of Joan Anderson.

“She grows. She changes. She challenges herself, and she finds this sort of inner joy that was kind of
lacking in her life. She lets all the things that she’s been struggling with….fall away. And she began to see another person emerge. A person who has much more enjoyment of life, and who is much more real
and authentic. Not frightened, and not constantly concerned about pleasing other people. She took
these big leaps toward rediscovering herself.”

In terms of taking risks, doing new things and discovering what she might be capable of, it would seem to be a character that Karen Allen clearly identifies with.

The website for A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD. is Its email address is

YEAR BY THE SEA opens in New York September
9th, Los Angeles September 15th and in Boston
and San Francisco September 22nd. Its website is

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26th Annual Woods Hole Film Festival Winners Announced

JAGVELD (Hunting Emma), WHAT CHILDREN DO and CITY OF JOY won top Jury Awards; CHARGED: THE EDUARDO GARCIA STORY won Best of the Fest Audience Award

The Woods Hole Film Festival, the oldest film festival on Cape Cod and the Islands, concluded its 26th year on Saturday, August 5th, with the announcement of this year’s winners at the Captain Kidd Restaurant in Woods Hole. Although the festival has historically focused on filmmakers from and films set in New England the festival has more recently expanded its international focus: all but one of the Jury Award winners this year is from or set outside the U.S.

WHAT CHILDREN DO (USA), a comedy written and directed by Dean Peterson about two estranged sisters who return to their home town to take care of their dying grandmother that features John Early (BEATRIZ AT DINNER), won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature-Comedy. JAGVELD (Hunting Emma), a thriller directed by South African filmmaker Byron Davis about a woman who is hunted by police after she witnesses a murder they commit had its international premiere at the festival where it won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature-Drama. Madeleine Gavin’s CITY OF JOY (USA), about the women’s leadership center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo co-founded by radical feminist Eve Ensler (THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES), won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature. CHARGED: THE EDUARDO GARCIA STORY (Mexico), a documentary feature directed by Phillip Baribeau about the eponymous chef and adventurer who slowly regained his life after being shocked by 2400 volts of electricity in a freak accident, won the Best of the Fest Audience Award.

WHFF Drone Trailer from John Gamache on Vimeo.

“We received more than 1000 submissions—from everywhere from Mashpee to Maine and South Africa to Sri Lanka—from which our programming committee selected 52 narrative and documentary features and 81 narrative, documentary, and animated shorts,” said Founder and Executive Director Judy Laster. “Consistent with our mission to support the careers of emerging independent filmmakers, more than 100 filmmakers attended the Festival, the majority of which were making their directorial debuts, such as RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK actress Karen Allen,” she added.

The “Survival Strategies for Independent Filmmakers” panel discussion moderated by Women in Film and Video/New England President Alecia Orsini that featured (l to r): actress and Berkshires resident Karen Allen (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), who made her directorial debut with the short film A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD., based on a short story by Carson McCullers (whose 100th birthday would have been this year), Boston born actress Catherine Eaton who made her directorial debut with the feature length narrative film THE SOUNDING, shot on Monhegan Island in Maine; and Boston-based actress and producer Elika Portnoy, who made her directorial debut with the short film THE 6TH AMENDMENT, about a reimagining of the Boston Marathon bomber jury. Documentary filmmaker Erica Frankl, whose documentary KING GEORGES was also shown as a special screening, also participated in the panel. Photo courtesy of WHFF.

Additional Jury Award winners include: Best Narrative Short-Drama: PROMISE by Tian Xie (China); Best Narrative Short-Comedy: RHONNA AND DONNA by Daina O. Pusic (UK); Best Documentary Short: PATAGONIA AXUL: THE INTERCONNECTION OF LIFE by Daniel Casado (Chile); Best Animation Short: A LITTLE GREY by Simon Hewitt (Mexico).

Additional Audience Award winners include: Best Feature Drama: BLUR CIRCLE by Christopher J. Hansen (USA); Best Feature Comedy: QUAKER OATHS by Louisiana Kreutz (USA); Best Feature Documentary: DATELINE SAIGON by Thomas D. Herman (USA); Best Short Drama: GAME by Jennie Donohue (USA); Best Short Comedy: THE FINAL SHOW by Dana Nachman, starring Marion Ross and Nancy Dussault (USA) Best Short Documentary: BLIND SHSHI by Eric Heimbold (USA); Best Short Animation: STARS by Han Zhang (USA);

Friends Susanna Styron (the late author William Styron’s daughter) and Karen Allen spoke after the screenings of their respective short narrative films: HOUSE OF TEETH and A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD. Photo courtesy of WHFF.

Jury members included: Feature Narratives: Future Films USA Vice President Ricky Margolis; Golden Child Ventures Producer and Attorney Sandy Missakian; and Circus Road Films Founder Glen Reynolds. Feature Documentaries: Principle Pictures founder, and award-winning director and producer Beth Murphy; documentary filmmaker, media studies lecturer, and founder of the UMASS Boston Film Series Chico Colvard; producer, director and Assistant Teaching Professor at Northeastern University David Tames; and writer and producer Madison O’Leary. Short Narratives & Animation: documentary filmmaker, writer, and development consultant Megan Sanchez Warner (LOVE AND HIP HOP), House Lights Media co-founder Sandy Moore; producer and Bunker Hill Community College Adjunct Professor Howard Phillips; and Best Dog Ever Films producer and director Liz Lerner. Short Documentaries: Independent Film and TV Producer Jill Lutz; Producer and Documentary Filmmaker Jay Spain; and W2 President of International Sales and Distribution Julie Sultan.

For more information about the festival and awards, visit,, @WoodsHoleFF (#WHFF2017), or call 508 495-3456.

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Finish in Boston

Rob Bessette is winning awards and working on his fourth major motion picture in the last twelve months….

The Massachusetts Film Tax Credit is doing amazing things in Boston these days. It is allowing local companies to get in on the conversation when it comes to big budget filmmaking. Companies like Finish Post, located downtown on Columbus Avenue, are leveraging this massively successful government program. Artists and entrepreneurs like Rob Bessette and Tim Montgomery are finding new and creative ways to get involved.

Finish has several edit rooms with many comforts for the client. Photo by Marc Graham.

The Film Tax Incentive is changing the dynamic and the industry is changing along with it. Once all the
talent and facilities were centrally located in NY or LA; they are now spread out across the country and the world including places like Boston. Critics of the Film Tax credit say it’s an unnecessary government subsidy, but no one can debate that subsidies are needed to stay competitive in this global market. Massachusetts’ incentive program is truly working to lift this industry locally.

Luring the movie magic to Massachusetts has always been a struggle for local shops like Finish Post.
Even when films would use the gorgeous backdrops of the Bay State for production, they would wrap
their shoot, put the negative in the can and overnight right back to LA for post. “Hollywood is not
an easy nut to crack,” Montgomery said. “The business of fi lmmaking is risky, the studios have their
pipelines in place and deviation from workflows increases risk. So getting new people or facilities
involved becomes a very difficult decision for them to make”.

That’s where the Film Tax Incentive comes in. “It’s given us a seat at the table and a chance to show
that we’ve got the skills, talent and infrastructure to do it just like NY and LA,” said Finish’s Senior Colorist, Bessette. And that’s not just lip service, Bessette is currently working on his fourth studio film in the last twelve months “They’re starting to know that we’re here… and we’re good.”

After a long day or when you plan a party, there’s nothing like a roof deck just one or two floors up. Photo by Dez Adkins

Color Correction, Digital Dailies and highend digital workfl ows are a few of the ways that Finish is doing it in this ultra-competitive market. Bessette uses tools like DaVinci’s Resolve to ingest camera files, grade the material, and output fully prepped bins for editorial. All the outputs are packed with meta-data and ready for the most robust pipelines in the industry.

Another avenue for growth as a facility is Finish’s has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed screening room. With a Barco DP2K projector casting to a seventeen foot screen and full surround sound; it is high-end viewing to critically analyze footage. “Our clients have put in a lot of time and effort to achieve the look of their footage. They want to see it with a very high level of clarity. Our minitheater is the perfect venue. It’s fun to see clients get excited about what they’ve shot,” Montgomery said.

Want to see how your movie looks on the big screen or rush your dailies, Finish has a room for that. Photo by Marc Graham.

The Film Tax incentive is stimulating the local film business and it is having a major impact on local companies with local employees. It’s a program designed to lure a highly competitive and lucrative industry to The Commonwealth. Oh yeah, they also have one of the top ten roof-decks in Boston. Not a bad way to unwind after a long day at the office.

Check out Finish and their capabilities at or email

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Film Tax Credits Working in Quincy

The City of Quincy, Massachusetts is known as “The City of Presidents” because founding father and second President of the United States John Adams and his eponymous son President John Quincy Adams lived here. John Hancock, a Quincy resident, successful merchant and a President of the Continental Congress was the first and most robust signatory to the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration is considered one of the finest documents ever penned by the hand of man. He went on to lead the free Commonwealth as its first Governor.

This City of one hundred thousand proud current residents has quite the birthright and deserves to be in the spotlight of American attention. When men such as Adams and Hancock pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor it was not a light or trivial concern. Quincy is one of the building blocks of American success. Literally; the granite in their quarries was used to build our cities and Quincy citizens transported that rock on the Granite Railway. This granite was
transported to build, for example, the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. This was our nation’s first commercial railroad with access to the sea. Quincy also played a significant historical role in American shipbuilding at the Fore River Shipyard on Quincy Point.

Massachusetts own Academy Award winning Chris Cooper as Phil Woodward in THE COMPANY MEN. Scenes were shot in Quincy. Photo by Claire Folger 2010 / Weinstein Co.

Placing this City in the limelight again to remind the rest of America of its importance is a worthwhile endeavor.

The Massachusetts Film Tax Credit helped bring more than six major motion pictures to this worthy American City in recent years and there are more on the way. The Quincy delegation representing the City on Beacon Hill has been unanimous in unwavering support for the credits and these efforts over many years have paid off for residents and business owners alike on the south shore. We owe a debt of gratitude to House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, Representative Bruce Ayers, Representative Tackey Chan, and Senator John Keenan.

“For the last ten years Quincy has done a wonderful job creating a brand for its city and when a movie comes to town it just gets that much better.” – Owner of the Fore River Shipyard Dan Quirk

The Quincy Chamber of Commerce was an early supporter of the credits working with Mayor Koch. Mark Carey serves Media Communications in the mayor’s office. A working film professional, Mark facilitates filming in Quincy. They all have had success creating jobs for Quincy and boosting
the regional economy. The new Chamber President, Tim Cahill, is equally enthusiastic.

THE BOX stars Cameron Diaz who is presented with the opportunity to open a box for a million dollars — knowing it’ll cause someone she doesn’t know to die. A supermarket on Sea Street was used for a dream sequence. AP Photo/Warner Bros.
The production industry is currently our country’s largest net export to the world. No more fitting a place to expand than where it all began. The modern day owner of the Fore River Shipyard mentioned in Quincy’s illustrious past is a proponent of filmmaking and the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit. As a successful Auto Dealer on the South Shore with fifteen and counting dealerships, he is helping to develop the Bay State’s infrastructure for filmmaking.

Dan Quirk of Quirk automotive has a successful slogan for his businesses, “Quirk Works” to save you money. Outside his office is a sign stating, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” The fact that more than six major motion pictures were shot here is not luck. It is a testament to the hard work of the elected delegation, residents and business leaders working together to make Quincy a film friendly environment.

My visit to Quirk Chevrolet to interview the auto magnate Daniel J Quirk. How did they get that pristine 1958 Corvette into his second floor office? An IMAGINE Photo.

Many major studio productions have found locations in the Quincy area including Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED, the 2006 Oscar winning movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson and featured the underbelly of the Irish Mafia. Nicholson’s character was assassinated in a scene at the Fore River Shipyard recalls the shipyard owner and Quirk Auto magnet Danial J. Quirk. He said, “I was amazed how many people, including my own two daughters, who stood in the rain and the dark to watch the scene shot overnight just to get a glimpse of Matt Damon.

THE DEPARTED, the 2006 Oscar winning movie starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson. Some scenes
from the movie were filmed in Quincy in the Fore River Shipyard, one where Jack
Nicholson’s character was assassinated. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Warner Bros.

“People are in love with the film industry,” he says. Quirk believes Film Tax Credits are a small investment to pay for the millions that are spent in our local communities. For example, Dorothy Aufiero’s THE FINEST HOURS spent fourteen months in Quincy and put a crew of 150 local contractors and construction specialists to work for the full fourteen months.

“There’s no better way to grow the brand of your own community. For the last ten years Quincy has done a wonderful job creating a brand for its city and when a movie comes to town it just gets that much better. Whether it’s catering, construction, equipment rental – we rent them trucks and cars. And the film people are great to do business with.” adds, Quirk.

Quirk’s Fore River Shipyard is just completing new construction in the Shipyard that includes a warehouse that will be large enough for location sets.

In addition to THE DEPARTED and THE FINEST HOURS written by local luminary Casey Sherman, Ben Affleck located scenes for THE COMPANY MEN, starring our own Oscar winning Kingston resident Chris Cooper, in Quincy. Kevin James filmed HERE COMES THE BOOM all around Boston including scenes in Quincy. GONE BABY GONE, The Oscar nominated film — starring Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Casey Affleck — used scenes from the Quincy quarries as two Boston detectives investigate the kidnapping of a young girl. The movie is based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name.

THE BOX shot in 2009 stars Cameron Diaz who is presented with the opportunity to open a box for a million dollars — knowing it’ll cause someone she doesn’t know to die. The movie focuses around the struggle whether or not to open the box. A supermarket on Sea Street, The Adams Shore Supermarket near Houghs Neck, was used for a dream sequence.

Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey star in the 2008 movie about six MIT students that partner together with their professor to become
expert card counters and try to take down Vegas. The true story filmed scenes in the Quincy Center train station. Photo courtesy of image link.

Business leader Dan Quirk has the aforementioned sign with his adage, which you can’t miss when entering his private office, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” The fact that over a half-dozen major motion pictures were shot here took hard work. Film Tax Credits are working for Quincy.

This great American city earned and deserves the spotlight. Keep shooting in Quincy. Keep Shooting in Massachusetts. Keep shooting in New England. There is much more to come.

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