Meet our 2020 Imaginnaires Honorees!

We have reserved the Glass Room at the Tuscan Kitchen Seaport venue for our Tuesday, January 14, 2020 IMAGINE Industry New Year’s Celebration & “Imaginnaire” Awards Gala.

Address: 64 Seaport Blvd. | Boston | MA 02210

Click here for Tickets!

Jan Waldman: Actor & TV Host

Jan Waldman is a Boston based actor, TV Host, contributing writer to Imagine Magazine and Co-owner of Critter Casting. Born and raised in Minnesota, Jan moved to Boston in 1984 and worked as a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital, married Dr. Howard Waldman, and raised two daughters, Alanna and Mikhaila. In 2012, Jan dove into her new career and quickly became an avid supporter of the industry and independent filmmakers. To date she has more than sixty film projects and commercials on her resume.

Alecia Orsini Lebeda

Alecia Orsini Lebeda, President of Women in Film and Video of New England

Alecia is an award winning multi-media professional with 12+ years’ experience working in the film industry. She is a prominent voice in the region’s film community as President of Women in Film and Video of New England. She also uses her marketing and development skills at NPR station WCAI, a service of WGBH. She also devotes time to Save MA Film Jobs, working behind the scenes for the grassroots organization. She was named one of the Cape & Plymouth Business 40 Under 40 for her volunteer work & entrepreneurship and is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts.

CEO/Executive Producer Eran Lobel

Eran Lobel, President & CEO Element Productions.

Eran founded ELEMENT in 1998 and grew it into one of New England’s premiere full service production, post production and integrated content companies. He has a passion for technology, food, and entrepreneurship and produces award-winning content for commercial and web advertising, television programs and long-format films. Eran is a founding board member of both FILMA and the Massachusetts Production Coalition (MPC), is a current board member of the Boston Ad Club and also serves on the City Year Boston Board of advisors. In his free time, Eran enjoys… just kidding, he has no free time.

Tackey Chan, Massachusetts Representative

Massachusetts House Representative Tackey Chan, represents the 2nd Norfolk District. Chan assumed office in 2011. Tackey is an industry legislative supporter who introduced House Bill No. 2419, An Act to remove the film tax credit expiration date. Over one hundred fellow legislators have become co-sponsors of the bill. Massachusetts Film Tax Credits expire the end of 2022. The passing of his bill will ensure studios, networks, streamers and other producer that they can continue to plan to use Massachusetts as a solid location for their productions continuing to create jobs and business here.

James Montgomery: Producer & Musician

Blues Legend James Montgomery continues to bring down the house on a nightly basis fronting his incendiary band in a career that spans six decades. Montgomery’s college band was signed, almost immediately after he graduated from Boston University by Capricorn Records. That signing would lead to years of touring with most of the biggest names in the business including Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, The Allman Brothers, Steve Miller, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and a host of others. Montgomery was featured alongside Morgan Freeman and Willie Nelson in DELTLA RISING, a documentary about the roots of the Blues. He is currently co-producing JAMES COTTON: THEY ALL STOOD UP, a loving tribute to his mentor, with Judy Laster also producing and Bestor Cram directing.

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About our January 2020 Issue

For our second decade of work we have included a collection of our covers during this time. Each cover has a story to tell and we have enjoyed bringing them to you.

IMAGINE’s story began in April 1998. Since then we have been connecting the dots of our industry.
Our name IMAGINE very clearly depicts that we had to imagine a vibrant production center in New England. However, we were willing to take on that challenge because it seemed that New England had everything in the natural order of things to become a production Mecca.

And with the introduction of Film Tax Credits to Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, we have proved that to be true. But, not without a great deal of work. It was necessary to educate our elected governors, representatives and senators. The notion of Film Tax Credits is difficult for many people to get their arms around. Many in the industry still do not understand how they work or how to compare the many different state programs that exist around the nation.

Massachusetts, for example, has a solid 25% Film Tax Credit that covers expenditures above and below the line and that is refundable at 90% by the state or transferrable at the going rate (92-93%) and you get your money right away when you choose transferrable. Compare that to New York’s 30% Film Tax Credit, which only applies to expenditures in the state below the line. Which is the better
opportunity? Massachusetts, of course. And that our minimum spend is only $50,000, independents and documentary should be flooding in.

Our covers designs were created by IMAGINE’s Design Editor Monique Walton.

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Elika Portnoy’s AMERICAN DREAM Becomes Samuel Goldwyn Films’ OBSESSION

By Carol Patton

Over the summer Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired OBSESSION, a dramatic thriller directed by Goran Dukic and produced by Boston’s Elika Portnoy’s company Mutressa Movies. The movie hit the festival circuit under the title of AMERICAN DREAM, which really was a very tame title for this story which tangles and untangles two very different personas from backgrounds no one wants or understands. AMERICAN DREAM screened at the Boston International Film Festival in April.

This week OBSESSION (Goldwyn changed the name) gets a theatrical and VOD release. The film will debut in our area at Apple Cinemas Fresh Pond 10 on Friday, September 26th and will be available online as well.

Here’s a quick synopsis of OBSESSION: Before meeting George Good (Brad Dourif), Sonny Jordan (Mekhi Pfeiffer) was just a lost drifter with a troubled past floating from town to town, looking for work. As fate would have it, Sonny ends up saving George’s life from a murderous back-alley mugger. As thanks, George gives Sonny a home and a job as a mechanic on his farm in the lonely Louisiana Bayou. Sonny quickly settles in and makes himself useful around the place but then Sonny meets Larissa (Elika Portnoy), George’s alluring wife. She has a mysterious past and the two are irresistibly drawn to each other. The two begin a passionate affair leading them to construct a twisted plot to take George’s life in cold blood in order to be together. As their despicable plan unravels, they learn how far they are willing to go to cover their misdeed.

This story will thrill you and turn you around in your seat several times before an extraordinary unexpected ending is revealed. Be prepared to be entertained. OBSSESSION radiates with passion and physical sex so much so that the sex scenes between Elika Portnoy and Mekhi Pfeiffer were strategically choreographed. The script is electric and the actors hit their stride in the first moments of
the film.

Mutressa Movies is a production and finance company with offices in Boston and Los Angeles. Mutressa was founded by Elika Portnoy in 2008 to tell inspiring, thought provoking and entertaining stories, which she has been very successful in doing from her first film TRICKS OF A WOMAN (shot in Boston) until now.

If you wonder how this film project came to Elika, I can tell you. Producer Jeremy Wall of Polaris Pictures put the film together – he brought the writer, director and Elika together….Elika says, “he liked the idea of me being the Russian.” That would be the mysterious Larissa whose unseemly background would set her on a path to murder. Mutressa Movies funded the film. Elika would star as Larissa in the movie.

I reached out to Jeremy Wall about his cinematic matchmaking and here is what he said, “I can tell you that Elika is a fantastic producer – she gets it done and cares about the product. She is collaborative and team based and a pleasure to work with. I’d love to make more movies with her.

“She understands the work from behind the camera and in front. I was confident that bringing a quality director like Goran Dukic
to the table as well as the screenplay that all parties would be treated well and equitably. This played out. I could go on about Elika.

In OBSESSION, Elika had mixed feelings about portraying a murderer. She expressed that, “Honestly the hardest is to comprehend how
you could murder. “But,” she said, “we had an amazing acting coach that gave Larissa such a background story that I could understand why she wanted to murder…

“The actual murder” said Elika, “was the hardest scene. It took a whole day and after, I felt like I had been run over by a train.” Crime dramas can be difficult for actors if they are playing the murderer or perpetrator. And so it was for Elika, to say nothing about shooting in the Louisiana Bayou and being eaten alive while in scant clothing by mosquitos while the rest of the crew were covered head to toe including mosquito net face coverings. including mosquito net face coverings.

Mutressa has produced ten features including BEASTS OF NO NATION (directed by Cary Fukunaga and starring Idris Elba and Abraham Attah), LOVE IS STRANGE (directed by Ira Sachs and starring John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, and Marisa Tomei) and THE VOICES (directed by Marjane Satrapi and starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver). Her films have been in the official selection of Sundance, Berlin, Venice, Telluride, Toronto, Tribeca and have also received Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Actor, and Best
Supporting Actor for BEASTS OF NO NATION.

Alex Orlovsky joined Mutressa Movies as President of Production in January of 2018. The duo’s shared credits include BEASTS OF NO NATION, LOVE IS STRANGE, BLUE VALENTINE, and PLACE BEYOND THE PINES among others. Their next project Eliza Hittman’s NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS will be distributed by Focus Features. Elika is a learner at heart. She has a finance degree from George Mason University. Shestudied financial derivatives at Georgetown University, and international trade and policies at St. Peters College, Oxford University in England.

Her finance experience includes managing $220 million of private equity funds in Latin America and Europe for the International
Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, in Washington DC. This included investments and structuring of new funds, restructuring problem funds and making co-investments alongside other investors. She organized IFC’s first private equity conference, which created a network of investors, entrepreneurs and fund managers. While at the IFC, she also separately started a
biotech company that she ran and sold within a year of its formation.

Since moving to Boston ten years ago she studied singing at Berkelee School of Music and studied modern ballet at the Boston Conservatory.

And I have to add, she is fluent in Bulgarian, English, German and Spanish and has a good command of Portuguese, Serbian, Russian, Italian and Greek. And a member of Mensa.With brains, beauty and talent Elika decided she wanted to learn filmmaking first hand.
“I’ve always wanted to expand my knowledge by learning” says Elika, “And I have had an incredible learning curve with film production” instead of going the academic route as I did with my finance background, I wanted to learn film through hands on experience”.

Portnoy considers her first film, TRICKS OF A WOMAN as her best learning experience. “It cost me about the same as going to graduate school,” she says.

Born in Bulgaria, Elika Trifonova Portnoy was raised in the capital city Sofia. She is a member of the AFI National Council and
she is a member of the Board of Governors for Tufts Medical Center and the Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston. She lives in Boston with her husband and two children. For more information visit

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About our October 2019 Issue

Imagine News 2019 issue Andrea Lyman

Our cover star is Andrea Lyman. She is well known and well-loved in our marketplace. We extend our congratulations to her for being elected the new President of New England’s SAG-AFTRA.

Andrea possesses many talents. She is a singer/actor/producer working in film, on the stage, in voiceover and print. She has produced several films seen in various film festivals. Her award winning film, THE DONOR, was seen in the Pan African Film Festival at Cannes as well as The Roxbury International Film Festival, Boston Underground Film Festival and more.

She and her film team generally produce at least one short film every year that gets seen in various film festivals. She produces her own one woman musical show, “Broadway Lady,” which tours Massachusetts and has been applauded in Europe, NYC, Hawaii and on many cruise ships. Plus, you
will hear her voice on various regional and national commercials, films and web series.

How does she do it all? I’ve noticed online that at least one individual thinks she is a twin or how else could she get everything she does done?

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

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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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