CODA Event Brings Academy Award®-Winners to The Cabot

By Carl Hansen for IMAGINE News

The Cabot Cinema in Beverly that shows CODA playing there
The Cabot Cinema in Beverly that shows CODA playing there

I had the pleasure of being in Massachusetts when the Oscar-winning film, CODA, was screening at The Cabot event space in Beverly. (In fact, the ticket to the event was a gift from my mom, so I have to thank Terri Hansen for the opportunity to go.) I have been a fan of the movie since it came out last year and followed its progression as it made its way through awards season, gathering multiple wins until ultimately winning Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards. The movie is about a deaf fishing family in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and their hearing daughter (CODA stands for “Child Of Deaf Adult”) who is their sole interpreter to the hearing world and who loves singing. The event was a fundraiser for Manship Artist Residency which consisted of a pre-screening cocktail reception with locally catered food, a screening of the film, and an in-person Q & A with the film’s director and Oscar-winning screenwriter, Siân Heder, Best Supporting Actor winner, Troy Kotsur (Frank Rossi in the film), and actor Daniel Durant (Leo Rossi), moderated by local Oscar-nominated producer (for Terrence Malick’s THE TREE OF LIFE) Sarah Green.

[This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity – Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant spoke through ASL interpreters]

Director and Oscar-winning screenwriter, Sîan Heder
Director and Oscar-winning screenwriter, Sîan Heder

Siân Heder

I grew up in Cambridge and I came up to Gloucester every summer of my life, basically. So, Gloucester was just a really special place for me. I loved the feel of the town. I loved that it felt gritty, and it also was this sort of incredibly visual, cinematic place, but that the vibe of the people here was very working class and real and funny. I wanted this to be a fishing family in Gloucester, Massachusetts. I wanted to cast deaf actors in these roles. I wanted these long silent ASL scenes. I didn’t want Ruby talking through every scene. I didn’t want to use music to fill out these spaces. We made the movie on a budget and the ride has been absolutely amazing because it was a very scrappy movie, but we really became a family making it. So, it’s sort of extra special to have watched it kind of sneak its way through Hollywood and the ascent that it had because we fought so hard for it.

The former Briscoe Middle School in Beverly that was the location used for Gloucester High School
The former Briscoe Middle School in Beverly that was the location used for Gloucester High School

Sarah Green

Have you ever worked in another language [American Sign Language (ASL)]? Is this a first for you?

Siân Heder

I’ve never directed so much in a language that was not mine. I will say something else about making it personal. Not only did the place feel very personal to me, but I felt like I needed this family to feel like my family. So, they were out-of-line and dirty and having inappropriate humor and all the things that my family had. I felt like there were a lot of things that I pulled from my own life, and it made the movie very personal. So even though this family was different from me, and I was an outsider to deaf culture, I had sort of imbued Frank and Leo and Jackie, and Ruby with these very kind of personal memories. I started learning sign when I started writing the movie. I felt like the more I learned about deaf culture, the more important it became for me for certain aspects of the film. I really wanted ASL to be seen on screen because it’s the most beautiful language. I think a lot of the time, when you see even deaf characters on screen, their hands are cut off. It’s like a close up and you don’t even get to see the full language. So, it was really important to me to not only cast incredible actors but find a way to work with my cinematographer to shoot it in a way that we could really put ASL on screen.

Sarah Green

Troy, talk a little bit about your character of Frank and what drew you to him, what you brought to him.

Carl Hansen and Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actor, Troy Kotsur
Carl Hansen and Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actor, Troy Kotsur

Troy Kotsur

When I first read the script, it was so fun for me because I had never played that type of character because I’m from Arizona. We don’t have an ocean. I’m from the desert. I’m not a fisherman myself and I don’t actually eat seafood. I’ve never eaten seafood, it’s just not my thing. But as an actor, it was so fun for me to play and transform and dive into this character of Frank Rossi and to convince the audience to believe in my work as a fisherman. When I read the script, it really touched me because I felt very strongly that hearing people all over the world really need to see this movie. I was born deaf, and I’ve seen so many hearing people out there who don’t completely understand what deafness is. They look at us like lesser than, or someone to have sympathy for, a victim, and I don’t feel like that. I’m fine and I can prove them wrong. 

And CODAs, the children of deaf adults, really represent both cultures, hearing culture and deaf culture because they can communicate verbally. So, a hearing audience can connect with a CODA character and this CODA character can communicate in sign language, so the deaf community can relate. The CODA was able to pull in that hearing audience into our culture, and that makes all of you change your perspective and think, “Hey, we’re just the same. Deaf people and hearing people have the same way of thinking. It doesn’t matter what race you are or what language you use. We’re all human beings.” So really the only difference between us and you is language.

Daniel Durant (Leo Rossi), Siân Heder, Troy Kotsur (Frank Rossi)

Daniel Durant (Leo Rossi), Siân Heder, Troy Kotsur (Frank Rossi)

Sarah Green

Daniel, I was reading that you are also very into music and music is a big part of your world. I was thinking about the scene in this movie where Frank touches Ruby’s throat to feel the vibrations of her singing. I just feel like everyone’s experience of music is so singular and I’d love to hear about yours.

Daniel Durant

Okay. Well, really, I want to make it clear for everyone. There are so many different types of deaf people. Some people can hear well, some people can’t hear things clearly, some people can hear certain frequencies, but I was born completely deaf. I’m fully deaf, capital D Deaf. I think that’s why you asked me that question. So how I learned about music, is growing up I was driving with my mom in the car. One day she bought a system and she put a good sound system in the car. So, she went into the store without me, and I turned up the sound system and I was enjoying the music in the car, but I realized that I was listening to NPR. So, once I found that out, I understood the differences between the vibrations of talking and music and all those things, the beat with a song. So that’s one of my favorite scenes and one of my stories in CODA, when Frank shows up to the school to pick up Ruby and he’s banging music, he’s just feeling the bass, having a good time, feeling his music in his truck. He shows up to his hearing daughter’s school and she’s embarrassed. It’s like, “That’s how I feel.” I pulled up, doing that stuff to my mom all the time. And I love music and I love bass, but really, I just love feeling the music.

The post-screening Q&A with Siân Heder, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant and moderator, producer Sarah Green
The post-screening Q&A with Siân Heder, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant and moderator, producer Sarah Green (not pictured) along with their ASL interpreters

Sarah Green

Daniel, you were part of a theater company in Norway for a while, right? You performed in various countries in Europe. Did you already know Norwegian and French sign language or, or how different is it?

Daniel Durant

Yeah, actually it was a great experience, going to Norway for seven months to work in a play. After seven months of learning a different language, I was fascinated with their culture because you know ASL is not universal. A lot of people think that, but no, every country has their own ASL.

Troy Kotsur

There’s over 300 different types of sign languages worldwide.

Daniel Durant

Yeah, our ASL was born from French sign language. Someone went to France and learned sign language and brought it back to America and made that American Sign Language. 

Troy Kotsur

One example that most of you may know regarding sign language, in Japan, do you want to know the sign for brother? (he holds up his middle finger) This is the sign for brother in Japan. It’s true. That’s their sign. See what I mean. Sorry, I forgot, your kids are here, Siân.

Siân Heder

Even my eight-year-old daughter tells everyone, “You should see my mom’s movie CODA, but it’s very inappropriate.”

Troy Kotsur

But it’s still educational.

Sarah Green

I love it. Well, one of the things I really loved in this film was the chemistry between the family. It’s really beautiful and it comes through so strongly. For any one of you, I’d love to hear you talk about how that came about. How much time you spent together beforehand, how you developed so closely.

Daniel Durant

All right. Well, really, I already knew Troy and Marlee before we started filming. So, the three of us already had chemistry. We already had deaf culture inside of us, and we connected and understood through that. But when it was Troy’s first-time meeting Emilia (who plays Ruby in the film), we all had to get up at 2:00 AM and we had to go practice being fisherman on a boat. So that was the first time we met Emilia, and she was so open minded and friendly, and she learned from us. I think she practiced for one-year ASL, right, Troy?

Troy Kotsur

Yes. About a year.

Daniel Durant

Yeah. So, one year, so she knew what she was doing, and she talked with us a little bit and she could finger spell. I would teach her how to finger spell. She would finger spell something to me and I would teach her the sign and she remembered everything. We had so much fun, the three of us, learning how to fish and sign at the same time. Again, she was so open minded. She kept it all. And remember the weekends?

Troy Kotsur

t felt like we had that bond, and on weekends during that time, it was football season. We would all argue about sports, but Emilia Jones was watching us, and she joined in on all of us joking around and kidding with each other, but that really benefited her during the weekend. We weren’t working, but it was like family time, sharing your meal, watching sports. I told the interpreters to just back off. Interpreters, go on a break and forced Emilia to have that experience with the deaf family. That really helped her grow and we brought that onto set. So, after the second week, again, we socialized on the weekend and really that bond grew even stronger, and so did that chemistry and you see that on screen.

Daniel Durant

You remember the last day of filming? When we had such emotional scene and I felt like, “How am I going to disconnect from you guys? How am I going to disconnect from my family?” So, you guys see us on screen, and we look like a family, but really, we’re a family behind the scenes. It was very emotional to let go of these guys. I want to thank you, Sian, for believing in us. 

Siân Heder

I think the boat was huge for creating this kind of bonding because as a director, your fear is you cast these people and I remember putting their pictures up on the wall of my office and being like, “Okay, they look like a family. How are they going to be a family?” So, we had a live rehearsal scheduled because I really wanted to spend time together, and we did it in the house. So, we had this crazy house out on Conomo Point and we had access to it. So, we spent a lot of time in the house, just kind of working the scenes and figuring them out.

Moderator, Sarah Green, Daniel Durant, Siân Heder, and Troy Kotsur
Moderator, Sarah Green, Daniel Durant, Siân Heder, and Troy Kotsur

But the boat was really the thing because none of these guys knew how to fish. Originally, I had fishing doubles that I had planned. We were going to come in with stunt doubles and fish, and Troy and Daniel and Emilia were so determined to learn it. They were like, “No, we want to know how to run this boat.” So, we never used the fishing doubles. And when we went out, we shot it almost like a documentary, we’d been out so much that these guys knew what they were doing. We could have operators on the camera, operators on the boat. These guys could run the boat. I mean, pull in the nets and pull up the doors and do all the stuff. It was really amazing to watch, and the chemistry that formed in this family was so special. When you start to see it happening on screen, it’s that thing that’s just this ephemeral thing that you can never make happen if there’s no chemistry. It started to happen with his family, and it was so exciting to watch because it felt real. It felt like we were a fly on the wall in this real family.

PUB: Truly this was the little film that could. My thanks to Carl Hansen who really gets it. He had been an advocate for treating disabilities in film in a way that encourages all people to view disabilities as normal, a great contribution to understanding our best selves. Often those with disabilities give us information by example that we may not otherwise take in. Carl’s films have won countless awards in this special category. Carl has been an IMAGINE reporter at large for over twenty years. And if my memory serves me correctly, Carl was a PA (production assistant) on the film of STATE AND MAIN (2000), which Sarah Greene (the moderator of this event) was the Producer! Isn’t that a fun fact?

Read on

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

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

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

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

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

Read on

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.

Read on

Saving the Mass Film Tax Credit

First the good news: I am happy to report that my surgery early in March was a complete success! Cancer free and pathologies negative. It has been a long battle for me, but failing has never been an option in my mind. I still have radiation to go, but for now, I’m feeling great and have rolled up my sleeves to defend the Massachusetts Film Tax Credits against H62.

You may recall that IMAGINE Magazine introduced Film Tax Credits to New England in the early 2000’s and I wrote the first definitive piece on why we should pass film tax credits in 2004. As soon as that issue of IMAGNE hit the street, my office got a call from the Governor Romney’s office asking for twenty copies. That changed the nature of our struggle. The rest is history, we were able to introduce legislation, educate all the elected class and pass the Massachusetts Film Tax credits in 2005; and we made them better in 2006!

Since our inception in 1998, film tax credits and growing this industry has been our #1 mission. We have been defending them ever since. It’s a 24/7/365 responsibility, which is why IMAGINE has a full time Director of Government Relations. We need to know where our elected officials stand on our issues all the time.

We have always known that overnight our main attraction of major productions, both studio and independent, to bring their work to our state can be challenged. A recent case in point is Connecticut when in late June in 2013 the Connecticut’s Film Office awoke one morning to find the state’s tax credits for film had been suspended for two years!

Many people do not understand what tax credits are designed to do. What they are not designed to do is easier to understand. Tax Credits are not designed to put money directly into government coffers. Period. The end! Why is it always judged on that misconception?

Tax Credits, and particularly Film Tax Credits, are designed to pour money into an existing economy; money that would not otherwise be available with the purpose of, in our instance, of creating an industry, stimulating job creation and other desired results that hugely benefit the Commonwealth. For example the Commonwealth could not afford to buy the attention, awareness and attraction of the really special visitors to our state, including the productions themselves that create the industry of tourism. Countless new businesses have arrived. I wish we knew how much collectively they paid the state to do business here.

When a production buys, rents or hires everything it needs here, cast and crew, talent trailers, equipment of all kinds, lumber, paint, hardware, hotel rooms, catering, transportation, waste management (yes, waste management, it’s a big ticketed item), chiropractors and much more, too numerous to mention, the desired results are achieved. The point being that every dollar the production spends ends up being business or personal income that will be taxed by the Commonwealth. In addition much of that money will be re-spent here creating more taxes for the state, cities and towns. Ultimately, all those dollars end up in a federal, state, or municipal coffer.

Consider this: As a result, Massachusetts has many very famous new taxpayers.

The film R.I.P.D spent a boat load of money here. Whether or not the film was a success or failure at the box office has nothing to do with the success of Tax Credits. The production was on location in and around Boston for six months, sometimes with five or six crews shooting at once. R.I.P.D. spent more than any other production in the Commonwealth’s history; they also didn’t break anything, they didn’t pollute or use any social services. They paid for everything before they left. Everyone who worked on R.I.P.D., no matter where they are from, paid taxes in Massachusetts! That includes Ryan and Bridges.

There is no exact formula for calculating the worth of a film tax credit. But, we are getting pretty close to being able to do that. I take great exception to being judged by anyone who apparently doesn’t understand what a tax credit is designed to do, particularly those who use the glamour of our industry to write head turning headlines, especially when they have no appreciation of the thousands of names in the credits at the end of the film, the countless businesses that provided services, or just how hard and yes, unglamorous, it is to make a film.

In my estimation there is no doubt we can prove our worth.

The next edition of IMAGINE puts a spotlight on this issue and we’ve designed a special section dedicated to our industry’s success and our importance to the state and region. I believe I am writing another definitive piece – a big one.

If you have an industry related business that began in MA after the tax credits were incepted or you are an individual that moved to MA or moved back to MA to work in this industry because of the tax credits, please drop me a note – I’d like to include your experience in our special section.

We are also focusing on NAB and the Massachusetts high tech industry that exhibits at NAB in Las Vegas April 11th – 16th. We’ll be there with a gigantic bonus distribution and huge presence. And we have Film Festival Previews for you.

If you would like to advertise in this edition please contact me. Ad Copy deadline is Monday, March 30, 2015. Please book space now.

Our latest edition of IMAGINE – the one that includes our New England Production, Resource and Location Guide is online. It isn’t too late to be a part on our online guide. You can do that by going to and if you haven’t renewed your 2015 subscription to IMAGINE in print delivered to your home or office visit

Oh, yes, Happy Spring, and please feel free to forward this message to an interested friend.

Read on

PRETEND: When You Lose Your Job Sets A Stage

New film by Jim Ohm heads to the Film Festival Circuit in April

Filmmaker Jim Ohm has spent over twenty years editing award-winning documentaries for Turner, National Geographic and PBS, and directed his own independent documentary film, “Spring Training,” about the Red Sox’s pre-season in Florida. Captivated by the stories of human tragedy behind the financial collapse of 2009, Jim began what would become a three-year labor of love, writing a script for a short film entitled PRETEND. The story is a contemporary drama set days before Christmas about an affluent family man, Roger, who’s lost his job, is going broke, but pretends that everything’s all right. The only one who senses trouble is Roger’s pre-adolescent daughter, Maddie.

PRETEND cast & crew. Photo by Donna Megquier
PRETEND cast & crew. Photo by Donna Megquier

To bring the film to life, Jim chose established, local SAG-AFTRA actors. Bradley J. Van Dussen led the cast as Roger, his performance expertly capturing the desperation of a man in freefall. Georgia Lyman played his wife, Susan; Ian Lyons his brother, Chris; Cindy Lentol played Chris’ wife, Joyce; Corey Scott played a street busker Santa Clause; veteran actor William Bloomfield – the pawnshop owner to whom Roger, in dire need of ready cash, sells his silver; Paul C. McKinney played the angry driver; and Jack Tracksler played the real Santa. For the role of young Maddie, Jim cast his own daughter, Maddie Ohm, and had the unique experience of directing her first film performance.

As with any low budget project there are huge challenges at every turn. Jim tells us, “I didn’t have a lot of money, but I was able to tap my industry connections and get a core group of talented people who loved the story and really wanted to make a film of the highest possible quality. Led by Director of Photography Matt Thurber and Producer Beth Tierney, we assembled an amazing crew of local professionals.”

Jim Ohm with Georgia Lyman & Cindy Lentol in the kitchen scene in PRETEND. Photo by Donna Megquier
Jim Ohm with Georgia Lyman & Cindy Lentol in the kitchen scene in PRETEND. Photo by Donna Megquier

That group featured First Camera Assistant Tom Fitzgerald, Gaffer Chris Brown, Key Grips Walter Stone and Tony Ventura, Sound Recordist Djim Reynolds, Set Designer Alexandra Kayhart, and Make Up artist Ashleigh Taylor along with many others from a pool of talented, local technicians.

Jim Ohm continues, “They brought a sense of purpose and dedication, which made for a highly successful shoot and Matt just brought it all together. It shows in the footage”

The nine-day shoot travelled throughout the greater Boston area. As the story moves from the home of Roger to the home of his brother, Chris, Jim was looking for one location that could serve as two distinct interiors. He was fortunate to have a close family friend offer his gorgeous, spacious Lynnfield home to the cast and crew for a three-day shoot. After Lynnfield, the crew set up shop in quaint downtown Dedham—where the drama of an independent film shoot, which closed down part of High Street, made local headlines. Finally, Waltham played a gracious host by providing four separate locations: The Goldcrafters Exchange on Moody Street; the woods of the Robert Treat Paine Estate; the Lyman Estate; and the grounds of the old Fernald School.

Jim says, “Securing locations was quite time consuming, but I had support from friends who helped make vital connections. The story of PRETEND really grabbed people and it seemed everyone knew someone like Roger, whose life had been upended by the financial crisis, and they all wanted to be part of getting this film made.”

Matt Thurber on camera with Tom Fitzgerald and Djim Reynolds on the set of PRETEND. Photo by Donna Megquier
Matt Thurber on camera with Tom Fitzgerald and Djim Reynolds on the set of PRETEND. Photo by Donna Megquier

Jim’s script for PRETEND has already received accolades from the L.A. Fresh Voices Screenwriters’ Competition as one of only 13 scripts that are semi-finalists in the Short Film category, out of hundreds submitted. Renown Hollywood director, Joel Shumacher (ST. ELMO’S FIRE, BATMAN & ROBIN, A TIME TO KILL) will be one of the judges selecting the winning screenplay which will be announced in April.

Additionally, the D.C. Shorts Festival had high praise for Jim’s script: “The characters really popped and had their own voice,” “gut wrenching at the end,” “writer did a fantastic job.”

PRETEND is headed off to the film festival circuit in April and will have its local premier in May. To get more information on the premiere and the latest news check out the Facebook page for PRETEND.

Read on

Rhode Island film ALMOST HUMAN has its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in Midnight Madness

Rhode Island Film ALMOST HUMAN makes its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in Midnight Madness. Written, produced and directed by former Coventry resident Joe Begos and is a co- production of Channel 83 Films the film RI based producing team Ambrosino/Delmenico. Photocourtesy of ALMOST HUMAN.
Rhode Island Film ALMOST HUMAN makes its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in Midnight Madness. Written, produced and directed by former Coventry resident Joe Begos and is a co- production of Channel 83 Films the film RI based producing team Ambrosino/Delmenico. Photo
courtesy of ALMOST HUMAN.

Apparently it takes a small film to make it big on the global stage. Rhode Island’s own ALMOST HUMAN was chosen to have its world premiere amongst some of the brightest stars in Hollywood at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) early this September 5th through 15th.

Written, produced and directed by former Coventry resident Joe Begos, ALMOST HUMAN, which TIFF describes as “… a raging inferno of axe murders and alien abduction…” and a ”… lean, mean, grisly indie horror flick,” was shot in February of 2012 with little fanfare and no big stars in front of or behind the camera. “I’ve always wanted my first film to be a gritty, dirty, low budget splatter movie made with my friends just like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson did for their first features, and it feels amazing that it actually happened and that people are responding to it,” said director Joe Begos. About shooting in his home state, Joe added, “I love the feeling New England adds, I grew up loving Stephen King and in his stories the setting of Maine is like its own character, and I wanted to elicit that same feeling with Rhode Island.”

Shot on a modest budget, the film was a co-production of Channel 83 Films and the RI based producing team Ambrosino/ Delmenico. “Getting into a festival of this importance is crazy for a small film like this, but it’s a testament to Joe and the rest of our cast and crew, he’s a unique talent and the movie was a ton of fun to make,” said producer Anthony Ambrosino.

Josh Ethier of Channel 83 Films not only served as a producer on the film but as both the editor and lead actor. He added, “Joe and I have been making films together since we were teenagers, and to go from Western Coventry to the Midnight Madness program at TIFF is a dream come true.”

Rhode Island is well represented in front of the camera as well. Many of the film’s stars are from New England with the majority being from the Ocean State.

For more information about this film email


Read on

22nd Annual Woods Hole Film Festival Focuses on Community

July 27 – August 3, 2013 in Woods Hole, MA

The quaint village of Woods Hole on Cape Cod is perhaps best known as the stomping ground of scientists, Nobel laureates, and vacationers on their way to the islands, but every year during the last week in July and the first week in August the population swells to include a community of filmmakers and film goers involved in sharing stories and insights during the annual Woods Hole Film Festival, which at twenty- two years is the oldest film festival on Cape Cod and the islands.

The eight-day festival, which runs July 27-August 3, features an abundance of riches: five phenomenal filmmakers-in-residence, a record thirty-three narrative and documentary feature-length films, and nearly seventy narrative, documentary, and animated films. Besides the requisite film screening followed by a Q&A it features a rich selection of workshops and master classes with the filmmakers-in-residence, retrospectives, and panel discussions for the true film aficionado. The nightly parties at various restaurants at the water’s edge within walking distance of the screenings also offer lots of casual and relaxed “schmoozing” with filmmakers and fans and top-notch musical entertainment, including a kick-off concert featuring the John Jorgenson Quintet on Friday, July 26. Recently chosen to portray Django Reinhardt in the feature film HEAD IN THE CLOUDS, Jorgenson played guitar with Elton John’s band for six years and is often sought out by artists such as Barbra Streisand, Bonnie Raitt and Earl Scruggs.

The festival also continues its tradition of showcasing and promoting the work of independent, emerging filmmakers, particularly those from or with connections to New England and Cape Cod. “We’ve stayed true to the vision of supporting emerging independent filmmakers,” says Judy Laster, the festival’s founder and executive director. “I think because we stayed true to this vision, it is a very attractive place for independent filmmakers, with many first-time filmmakers returning to the festival with subsequent films or as filmmakers- in-residence. After twenty-one years we have accrued a large and loyal alumni network.”

In fact, nearly twenty filmmakers are returning with their subsequent films this year. Based on the novel by Howard Frank Mosher and set in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Jay Craven’s (A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT) latest narrative feature, NORTHERN BORDERS, stars Bruce Dern and Genevieve Bujold as a quarreling couple who take their ten year-old grandson in with them with humorous and sometimes startling results (August 2). Boston-based Allan Piper (STARVING ARTISTS) returns with his award-wining documentary MARRIED AND COUNTING about a gay couple who celebrate their 25th year together by getting married in every state with legalized gay marriage (July 30). Festival favorite Bill Plympton returns with his latest animated short, DRUNKER THAN A SKUNK, an adaptation of Walt Curtis’s poem about a cowboy town that torments the local drunk (July 30).

"The Last Song Before The War "by Kiley Kraskousas
“The Last Song Before The War “by Kiley Kraskousas
Of the returning filmmakers, two are screening their first feature length films at the festival: Maria Agui Carter (CLEATS), a Boston-based multicultural filmmaker, presents her first feature documentary, REBEL, about a Cuban woman soldier and spy of the American Civil War (July 28), and Andrew Mudge (THE PERFECT GOOSEYS), whose entire body of short films were shown at the festival when he was living in Boston, presents the regional premiere of THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM, a narrative feature about returning to one’s roots that was shot entirely in South Africa and Lesotho (August 1). It is sort of a homecoming for Mudge who earned the distinction of being the first filmmaker to produce a feature-length film in Lesotho.

Even crew members connected to festival alumni make sure to put Woods Hole on their lists: Amir Noorani, the director of SHAYA, a narrative short about a tribal Pakistani family that is sent to live in Los Angeles as refugees, only to find life more challenging than in war-torn Pakistan, was an assistant editor on Justin Lerner’s (2011 Best of the Fest winner THE GIRLFRIEND) graduate thesis film.

"Knuckle Jack" by John Adams and Toby Poser
“Knuckle Jack” by John Adams and Toby Poser
Several filmmakers-in-residence are also returning to the festival after either presenting their films or attending as filmmakers-in-residence in previous festivals. Director James Mottern, who brought his first film, TRUCKER starring Michele Monahan to Woods Hole in 2010, returns to the festival to conduct two workshops, one on breaking into the film business and one on directing actors. He recently finished a Boston shoot of his second feature film, GOD ONLY KNOWS, starring Ben Barnes, Leighton Meester, and Harvey Keitel and is currently prepping another performance-driven action-thriller set in New England. Documentary filmmaker Heidi Ewing (DETROPIA, JESUS CAMP) filmmaker-in-residence in 2011 and her co-director and co-producer Rachel Grady will conduct a workshop on DIY (do-it-yourself) film distribution, based on their experience self- distributing DETROPIA after they received less than satisfactory offers from distributors when the film premiered at Sundance in 2012.

Two additional filmmakers-in-residence are making their first appearance at the festival: Chicken and Egg Pictures and Working Films founder Judith Helfand, whose BLUE VINYL won the best cinematography award at Sundance in 2002, and Megan Sanchez-Warner, currently executive producer and show runner for “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” who will hold a workshop on storytelling in film and television.

A significant trend this year is films created by, within, and about communities. Oscar winner Ernest Thompson (ON GOLDEN POND), who works out of New Hampshire with a regular community of writers, actors, and producers, brings his group’s most recent effort, HEAVENLY ANGLE, to the festival on August 1, with Thompson and a number of the folks involved with the production in attendance. Set in a small town in New Hampshire, the film is about a down on his luck Hollywood film director who shows up to con the town’s mayor and residents into putting money into a movie he has no intention of making. NORTHERN BORDER’s Jay Craven, mentioned earlier, creates films that celebrate regional character and culture, most often that of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Similarly, Australian director Philip Crawford’s RITES OF PASSAGE was filmed over the course of three years in New South Wales, Australia and features the true stories of six individuals from the region in their struggle to grow up amidst a variety of problems, including homelessness and addiction (August 2). Each of these films enlisted their communities to participate in the filmmaking process. Stephen Silha, co-director and producer of the documentary BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON and formerly a reporter at The Christian Science Monitor in Boston, also communicates in his films about what makes communities and relationships work. BIG JOY illustrates the power of art and poetry to change lives, using the life and work of pansexual poet and filmmaker James Broughton as a lens (August 2).

Besides the filmmakers with New England connections mentioned earlier—such as Ernest Thompson, Jay Craven, Andrew Mudge, Allan Piper, Stephen Silha, and Maria Agui Carter— regional filmmakers, especially those with a Cape Cod connection, are represented in large numbers this year. Although her short film is set in Ireland, LAMBING SEASON writer and director Jeannie Donohoe was raised in Massachusetts and attended Dartmouth College; many of her producers and crew members either live near Woods Hole or are from New England. Boston University student Kristin Holodak’s KILLER, a narrative short about the dangers of waiting for a bus, features an entire cast of Boston actors.

"Between Us" by Dan Mirvish.  Photo by Nancy Schreiber, ASC
“Between Us” by Dan Mirvish. Photo by Nancy Schreiber, ASC
Films made on the Cape or by Cape Cod filmmakers include: Cape born and bred Isaak James’s BY WAY OF HOME, a narrative feature shot in Brewster, Chatham and Provincetown about a woman who returns home to work in her family’s restaurant (July 29); Eastham- based on Joseph Laraja’s THE GOLDEN SCALLOP, a narrative feature about three finalists in the Golden Scallop contest on Cape Cod (July 27); Kristin Alexander’s MY NAME IS AL, the true story of a grizzly, old-timer named Al who started the Committee on Drug and Alcohol Dependency, a recovery program for doctors and dentists (July 28); Sky Sabin’s ART IS A VERB, a documentary short in which the filmmaker asks for advice from three of the most inspirational people she knows- -Stephan Connor, luthier and owner of Connor Guitars on the Cape, Martin Keen, founder of Keen Sandals and CEO of Focal Upright Furniture, and Mike Fink, professor and author at RISD (July 29); Natasha Kermani’s short documentary ATLANTIS EARTH, an artist’s interpretation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s Atlantis voyage (July 29); and MASS DOLPHIN STRANDING, a short about 180 dolphins that were stranded on the Cape during winter 2012 (July 29).

Fans of George Romero won’t want to miss BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD, a documentary feature that demonstrates how Romero gathered an unlikely team of amateur actors from Pittsburgh—policemen, iron workers, teachers, ad-men, housewives, and a roller-rink owner—to be part of his revolutionary film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The film shows how the young Romero created a world-renowned horror film that also provided a profound insight into how society really works (July 27, August 2). Romero also has a cameo at the end of Matt Birman’s and Sam Roberts’s A FISH STORY, which stars Eddie McClintock (NBC’s Warehouse 13) as a fugitive on the run whose body becomes inhabited by the soul of a another man (July 27). Birman and Romero are old friends, as Birman has worked as a second unit director and stunt coordinator on Romero’s films since 2004. Birman and McClintock are in discussions to make an upcoming zombie movie under Romero’s aegis.


Screenings and events are held at a variety of venues—including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s modern Redfield Auditorium and the folksy Woods Hole Community Hall—with most taking place within walking distance of one another in compact Woods Hole.  Getting around is easy and specific festival parking is available. Admission to screenings, panels and parties are $12 (ticket packages and full festival passes also available). Tickets are for sale online through the festival’s web site at on June 29, or at the box office during the festival. For more information, contact 508 495-3456 or <a href=””></a>.

Read on

Claire Folger Nominated for Excellence in Unit Still Photography for Motion Picture

Claire Folger
Claire Folger
The International Cinematographers Guild (ICG) has announced Claire Folger as among six Still
Photographers that have been nominated to receive the award for “Excellence in Unit Still Photography for Motion Picture” for 2012. This award has only been offered since 2004 and is the only industry award that honors the work of Still Photographers.

The ICG Publicist Awards begun in 1964, honor excellence in publicity and promotion for the motion pictures and television programs and spotlight the work of union publicists. Recipients are selected in several different categories and are voted on by their peers in Local 600. No other event celebrates the importance of publicists’ contribution to the
entertainment industry.

IMAGINE contacted Claire who was on a shoot in Texas to congratulate her. “I got a message to call Steven Poster,” she said, “the president of the Cinematographers Guild, and he
congratulated me on my nomination. I thought he was talking about a nomination to be elected to our National Board, so we were both a little confused until I realized that he was talking about the Publicist’s Guild Award. I was completely shocked, it was something I
never expected, and then I became incredibly excited. I didn’t actually believe it until I saw it confirmed the next day online.”

A sample of Claire's work on ARGO
A sample of Claire’s work on ARGO
Claire Folger is one of the most popular Still photographers we know. She has been shooting on independent movie sets in New England for over 15 years. Her work has appeared in IMAGINE and she has appeared on the cover of IMAGINE (see IMAGINE November 2005) When the Hollywood Studios were attracted by film tax credits she quickly became their go to Still Photographer in our region and since they have selected her for shoots everywhere. She shot the Stills for Ben Affleck’s THE TOWN in Boston and as a result also for Ben’s ARGO.

The 50th annual Publicists Awards is scheduled to take place on February 22nd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Tickets are selling out quickly.

For more information and tickets visit

Read on