Category Archives: screenwriting

Interview with “Supernumerary” Producer Alexandra Creswick

Supernumerary, a film that showed recently at the Newport Beach Festival and garnered a great review on TFD News, is a 26 minute long short that was produced by an old friend of mine from High School, Alexandra Creswick.  Though I call her Alex, but IMDB tells me it’s Alexandra…

1. A brief description of the film itself?

“Supernumerary” tells the story of Sally Nuart, a projectionist that locked herself in a film booth for four years after the loss of her father and completely immersed herself in cinema.  One day, an ‘extra’ in the film comes to life and they begin an unlikely romance.

2. Who is the creative team behind it? Do you have “day jobs”?  How did you get together initially?

This film is a production of the Wake Forest University Mafia, LA chapter.  Just kidding…kinda.  The director, cinematographer, and two producers are all WFU grads, and most of us met through some sort of Wake connection.

JS Mayank and I took a screen writing class together at Wake when I was an undergrad and he was getting his first master’s.  (We all assumed he was the TA and it wasn’t until a year or so ago that he told me he was a student.)  He’s a full-time screenwriter and an adjunct professor of screen writing at Western State College of Colorado.

George Reasner, the DP, is also a WFU grad and we met through one of our favorite professors.  He’s a professional cinematographer.

Alex Saks, the other producer, we met through the same professor; she also started the Reynolda Film Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, where we screened a rough cut of the film.  She was working with a company called MPower films at the time.

3. How did you find the rest of the team: actors, cinematographer, editor?

We had a casting director, Luis Selgas, who helped us find our very talented actors. In casting, we saw over 200 actors, and narrowed it down to Mckenzie Cowan for the role of Sally, Chris Fore to play the Supernumerary, and Jeff Coopwood for Frankfurt.

The chemistry between the two leads was instant.   What appealed to us most about their look, in that they both seemed as if they were from a different era, i.e. they could have very well been in any one of those classic movies…

The director found our editor, Mark Sult, through a mutual friend of his. Once they looked over the footage together, both realized that they had similar visions for the film.   They both understood the importance of paying homage to their shared love for cinema, yet keeping the story personal and intimate.

4. How intense was post-production?

Very intense.  Probably more intense than the actual shooting of the film, which was more exhausting than anything.   The process was long and very precise.

The visual effects which were done by the extraordinary team at Crash+Sues, were the most time-consuming. That took almost six months, since integrating our actor into the pre-existing movies is painstaking work, and making it seemless was pivotal to the story. They were marvelous, and did an amazing job.

Additionally, we had to work very closely with our lawyer, Michael Donaldson.  All of the existing footage (from 28 films) is considered Fair Use, and we had to pass very stringent criteria to make sure we were within the bounds of the law.  But Michael and his colleagues were endlessly enthusiastic about our film, and supportive through every step of the way.

There were a couple of instances where we wanted to use bits of soundtracks to movies to introduce the clips, but we couldn’t because of copyright issues.  But our composer, Antonio Lepore, stepped in and found ways to marry our original score, the original songs, and the films we pay homage to.   If you listen to the original music, you can hear themes that are echoed in the music of the clips that follow, and it’s amazing how much of a difference that makes to the feeling of unity we managed to achieve.

5. When was it made, what was the budget, how long did it take to get out to festivals?
6. What festivals have you tried for?  Do you have a festival plan?

I took two years from conception to final cut and print.  We completed all the sound mixing and corrections in late 2010 and started submitting to festivals for the 2011 circuit.

We tried to pick festivals that our film would appeal to.  Each festival has it’s own brand and personality, and we tried to remain conscious of that because we wanted to find the best places to showcase our work. The film is 26 minutes long, which makes it hard to program for festivals that are trying to pack as many shorts as they can into one program.  So we knew going in that that would be a challenge, but we made the film we wanted.  We did a lot of research as we narrowed down the field.

7. What is the background to the term “supernumerary”?

“Supernumerary” is an old-fashioned way of saying an extra or background actor.  It’s primarily used in operas these days; I’ve actually heard it in use a few times in the past couple of years and every time I do I perk up.

8. Future producing plans?  Anything else you’ve produced that we’ll be seeing?  Anything you want to pimp here…

The writer/director, JS Mayank, is trying to use the momentum of Supernumerary to try and make his feature directorial debut – “THE DEAD WIVES CLUB”, a quaint ensemble British comedy.  He’s also had several screenplays optioned and is working on them.

I work for an executive producer who specialize in independent, foreign-financed films, and we have several projects we’re working on at the moment.

Interview with Nicholl Fellowship Winner Micah Ranum!

FSU Classmate and winner of the 2010 Nicholl Fellowship Micah Ranum very kindly answered some questions I had for him about winning and what his life has been like since.

From the Nicholl Website

1. What script did you win with, what’s it about, what do you love about it?

My script is entitled “A Good Hunter.” The story is about a reformed hunter living in isolation on a wildlife sanctuary in Northern Minnesota. He becomes involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse when he sets out to save a young girl from a vicious killer in the wilderness.

I have found that in order for me to really become excited about a project, I need to love the characters. As a writer you spend countless hours with your characters and if you don’t find some reason to get to know them well, the script just doesn’t stand a chance. So while I love writing suspenseful moments, those moments mean very little if you don’t find a deeper connection with the characters and the world they inhabit. For me, Rayburn, the protagonist in A Good Hunter, was a guy I liked quickly. The idea of this man, who is a reformed hunter who now takes care of animals on this isolated wildlife sanctuary, spoke to me. You have to get invested in what it is the main character is after, and in order to do that you have to become attached to the hero of the story.

2. What’s your background? Where are you from, how long have you been writing, how many scripts have you written? Do you want to be a writer/director?

I am originally from Minnesota and have been writing screenplays for nearly the past ten years. Some years have been much more prolific than others, but all together I have written ten feature scripts, most of which I would never show to anyone.

Other than writing, I also went to film school at Florida State University where I earned an MFA in film production. While there, I wrote and directed five short films and had the pleasure of working on countless other students films.

I do hope to direct someday, but as of now I really just hope to forge a career in writing and hopefully directing will fall into place as a result.

3. Have you applied to other contests or festivals? With what results?

The 2010 Nicholl competition was the first screenwriting competition I have ever entered and will likely be the last. As a winner of a fellowship, I don’t believe I qualify for most other competitions.

4. Did you get feedback from nicholl on your writing? Once you were a finalist what was the process from there to winner?

I did not receive any feedback from the Nicholl Fellowships, but I did not ask for it either so I’m not sure what their official policy is on sharing feedback.

Once I reached the finalist level in the competition I was asked to submit a brief letter describing my background and my aspirations for the future, as well as a description of a script that I would like to spend my time working on during the fellowship year. Overall the process was simple and painless. The waiting, on the other hand, was a nightmare! But when the call came from the director of the fellowships, Greg Beal, I couldn’t have been more elated. It was such an exciting moment and much needed validation.

5. Did you meet the other winners? Did anything seem to separate them from others?

I met the current fellows and finalists and also had the honor to meet several brilliant past fellows as well. Most writers tend to live such isolated existences that it is hard to discern what separates a professional from an amateur. How do ten scripts rise to the top in a competition like the Nicholl Fellowships? If I knew the answer to that question I would be happy to share, but I am not sure anyone knows that answer.

There are so many ingredients necessary to make a good script great that if just a few are missing, the story just won’t feel quite right. Basically, tell an entertaining story and make sure it is full of conflict with dimensional characters that a reader and an audience can fall in love with. But first and foremost, fall in love with your own story so that you can spend lots of time necessary to rewrite your work.

6. Tacky question: have you gotten the money? Have you bought anything exciting? Did you have a day job and did you get to quit it? Has your life been turned upside down with calls for screenplay deals and agents?

The fellowship money is not given in one lump sum. Instead it is dispersed in five payments over the course of the fellowship year. But after I got my first check, I did purchase a new Macbook Pro. I had been using a touchy nine year-old imac that is well past retirement age.

Before I won the fellowship I was fortunate to be writing fulltime. My wife and I moved to Los Angeles without much of a backup plan. Once we arrived, and I was able to secure a manager we decided that I would spend a few months writing full time while she would support us. A few months extended into over a year, but we kept seeing progress and it just seemed like the struggle would be worth it in the end. The Nicholl is a huge step and the sacrifices that we made have worked for us, but it has not been easy. While I have supplemented our income with small amounts of production work from time to time, I have been lucky enough to really spend my time working on the craft of screenwriting.

My life hasn’t been turned upside down yet, but doors continue to open. The script has garnered a lot of attention and I do expect good things to happen in the coming year. I already had a manager and an agent so I was not looking to sign elsewhere. But from what I gathered, the writers who did not have representation found it quickly.

7. There’s always grumbling about the race, sex, geographic locale, and genre of the majority of Nicholl winners, though the first three line up pretty closely with submissions. Do you have any thoughts on that? How does it feel to have won with a fairly atypical genre?

Personally, I think the competition is about as perfect as one could expect. The blind submission process ensures that everyone gets a fair chance. No script contains information about the age, gender, etc. of the writer. With that said, if a script comes by about a menopausal woman taking a road trip with her 3 dearest friends, I’d wager that it wasn’t written by a 22 year old guy. Nor is a gratuitously violent slasher flick filled with teen sex usually written by a 50 year-old woman. In that regard, the process is a little subjective, but I think good work usually gets recognized. But gender and race issues are a much larger sociological issue that cannot be so easily pinpointed and dissected in a screenwriting competition.

Geographic locale is simple. Most people who take their work seriously, move to the location that best fits their needs. If you want to become a country singer, move to Nashville; if you want to study Chimpanzees in their native habitat, move to Africa; if you want to be involved in the film industry, Los Angeles is where the industry is. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it from somewhere else, it only means that it’s that much easier to surround yourself with like-minded peers.

It was exciting to win with a thriller; however, I do believe that even genre scripts need to have a good dramatic through line. We have to like the characters and we have to root for them to succeed. Every good script needs several layers to really work on an emotional level.

8. You had a manager who sent this script out to the tracking boards about a year ago. Did she help you with the script? Did you make any changes before sending it to nicholl? Did you get any meetings off of it then?

My manager certainly helped develop the script. I think a good manager will do that, but in the end it is still up to the writer to take those notes and execute. But a good manager will point out the weak moments and should push a writer to do their best work.

I did not make any changes to the script before submitting to the Nicholl competition. I was already working on other projects and felt that “A Good Hunter” was in a good place to submit to the Nicholl.

When the script initially went out I think I had around thirty meetings. After winning the Nicholl, I probably had another fifteen or twenty meetings and they still seem to be popping up several months later.

9. Any advice or recommended resources, books or websites on writing or the business? Words of wisdom for people who are older than 22 or don’t live in hollywood but still want to make it?

There are tons of great books on writing including Save the Cat, Story by Robert Mckee, books by Linda Seger and of course Sid Field. But other than reading those books, study the types of movies that you would like to write, read as many scripts as you can, but most importantly write. I’ve had days where I’ll read all the tracking boards and screenwriting blogs, read chapters in a screenwriting book, and then break down a movie or two, but at the end of the day, I hadn’t written a word. All of that busy work is important but you have to write – make a schedule that you can stick to. The only way to improve is to repeat the process over and over.

And most importantly, learn to rewrite your work. First drafts are never very good no matter who you are. Anyone who thinks they can write one draft and be done is delusional. There are many layers that make up a good script and most of those do not show up until rewrites.

10. What’s next? What are you currently working on?

I am currently writing two more spec screenplays. I couldn’t be more excited about both projects. But have found it never seems to get any easier. It takes hard work to write a script and maybe a touch of insanity to do it over and over and over.

Thanks a lot, and again, huge huge congratulations!

Busy!

Have you ever had one of those weeks where there was just too much going on?  That’s the sort of week I’ve been having.  It’s been good, great even, I’ve just had a lot on my plate.  I love the freelance writing I’m doing but, between working full-time and tutoring and trying to attend local freethought events, my weeks are already too full.  Then I got a special assignment from Social Axcess to cover NCAA Social Media for March Madness — so that required a lot of research, because I don’t know much about American sports, and I know even less about college sports.  This is because I resented being forced to go to prep rallies when I was in high school — I have a block when it comes to school sports.

Then I was learning a courier route at work, meaning I spent all day in a car driving, so I was working overtime and not in front of a computer. And I had a 1500 word piece due.  And I got laryngitis.  And it’s spring, so my allergies are in full bloom.  And someone wanted to consult with me about an editing project, which I just can’t take on right now, but it’s interesting.

Exciting news!  I’m going to the SCA Conference in Washington, DC right before my birthday.  Which reminds me that I need to put together some information on Social Media Strategy for them in the next day or two.  I hope I get the chance to see a little of DC, I went when I was in 8th grade and that was before I’d seen The West Wing and thought that there was something worth seeing in Washington.

And the world is apparently falling apart, but I haven’t really had time to absorb that.  CNN has just had one too many “Where is God in Japan” headlines for me to stomach trying to follow the daily news cycle.  And the Nicholl opened, and TAM registration opened.

So it’s Sunday and I still feel on edge, like I should be working, and there’s still plenty on my plate, but I’m taking a day off.  Of course, my brain is still going a million miles a minute — I don’t really drink, but maybe I just need a drink.

Nothing to do with the rest of this post

Are The New Viewers Gone Yet?

My website exploded yesterday.  I’ve had some big days, thanks to links from PZ, but I actually went viral all on my own yesterday.  I mean, nothing like Afro Ninja, but I was a top ten post on WordPress with 20k hits in 12 hours.  The hits have already become relatively anemic compared to that, but there are still plenty of new eyeballs coming in my direction.  My hopes that one of them is a Hollywood Producer who wants to make my scripts haven’t been fulfilled, but the day is young.

Also, nominations for the bloggies are still going on, if you kind stoppers by would be willing to put me up for best kept secret or best writing.

I matter! Briefly...

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition, ad nauseum

Man, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even understand what he’s trying to say anymore.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/23/nation/la-na-blogger-suits-20100823

Dearest Ashley,

Action’s bring consequences, you dont live in a vacum, and I gave you some good advise.
You put yourself in this position, and I looked at imdBPro.com and saw no (added) credits for you

You’re feeling of self importance (ego) is beyond belief, to deny our relationship and try and embarass is me is not really helping you’re delusional behaviour .
You look so dumb, bottom line, IM giving you an importance you dont deserve, and to deny is ridiculous.
Publishing our private sex notes makes you look dumber then when we (well you know what I mean)
The only good thing is not many people are goiing to read it, and most people will realize it’s true, it’s as true as everything you say about me.
You have a hard on for someone, well dear ashley remember, there are consequences for every action.
You think you’re going to moan and groan about every body, and I know IM not singled out, you have many enemy’s and some people tell the truth, and somepeople dont.

On the other hand, I wish you well, however you have to accept what happens when you bad mouth someone, just because I didn’t take on your script under my terms.
If you sold your script, congratulations, why dont you mention what company, who’s attached, director, etc..Ashley you’re an editor, and IM sure a good one, you should take my advise about your blog, or stick to your knitting.

All my lovin.

Eddie
eddiekritzer.com some details

And if you’re thinking it’s just me getting these emails, here are a bunch of links

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/01/apparently-im-boring-wrinkled-self.html

http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2005/02/youd_think_anyb.html

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/4752919-another-round-with-eddie-kritzer

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32362

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090608123451AA80wfq

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition: Operation Gross Out, ctd

I should note that the reason I post all of this is to A) keep a record and B) warn others off ever getting in touch with this guy.  I have noticed that the majority of his written abuse has been directed at women, and it’s almost always sexual in nature.  I’m not sure why this is.

He also appears to either be hoping that I’m either so embarassed by sex or by the possibility that someone would believe I had sex with him that I’ll stop exposing his scams. Basically these letters are a threat to try to defame me by saying I’ve posted everything as a spurned lover, and that the more I protest, the more he’s going to talk about me in a sexual context. At least, that’s all I can make of it.

And, if I hadn’t been previously harassed on the phone, I’d assume he was a thirteen year old troll, but he’s actually got a production office according to google:

Eddie Kritzer Productions
8484 Wilshire blvd
#205
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
323-655-5696
Producedby@aol.com

My Dearest Ashley, It’s always tough when sexual relationships end, and I know you feel bad, because I complained about your prowess as a lover, but since you’re a public figure, I knew you would understand. Please remember “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” Just because were not fucking anymore, does’nt mean you have to knock me on The Internet, however you do have a website, and you continue to love to talk about me (and anybody else you have a cause for) IM sorry you feel bad about us not making love anymore, but things do end. I notice you’re knocking my poor grammer, and punctuation, probably good points, but IM getting my message across. Just because were not fucking and sucking anymore, doesn’t mean you go on a personal vendetta about me. Please feel free to take me to court for “sexual harassment” I will explain how you were a lousy lover, and when you sucked my cock, I thought you were going to bite it off. You think you’re going to sit on your limited perch, and just say any fucken lie you want, and IM not going to respond about it, by telling the world thatyour a lowsy lay (that’s’ fuck in your terms.) I love when you write about me, and Please keep on lovin me, and think about the days when we fucked and sucked. Your’e my bitch, All my love, Eddie All my precious love PS: The pimples on your fat ass are improving the puss is much less visable

MyLover and Dearest Ashley, Got your sexy letter, IM glad you posted it my regular mail…..please dont be embarrassed. When you’re letter told me how you loved my giant cock in your hot pussy, I must admit it turned me the fuck on. Oh, by the way your “Blog” is down, it’s probably because you kept on writing about how you love to fuck and suck me off………I love it when I come in your mouth, it turned you on. Keep on writing about me in your blog, and remember (my bitch) you’re a “public (nuisance) figure” buy most of all you’re my fucken bitch…… Pleeeeeeeease let’s go to court, I can tell the judge all about our fucking and sucking, with your big fat ass……….you’ve gained a bit of weight since we last fucked. Keep on writing about me, it keeps me thinking about you and makes me want to write you our sexy escapades All my fucken love, your my bitch, Eddie copy to literary development part of the press

Dear Ashley, I hope we come to an understanding and we can be civil to each other, I think you get my point. Pllllllease remember, when you step on land mines, they sometimes blow up. All my precious love to you,” Eddie

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition: Operation Gross Out

I’ve gotten two new emails from Mr. Kritzer. Can I just say “ew”? Because ew. Can I sue him for sexual harassment?

Dearest Ashley,

Since we made love last, I cant stop thinking of you; I hope you told me the truth, and you’re on the pill.
I love children, and hope they grow up to be a successful editor, and bloger just like their mom.

All my love,

Eddie

Dearest Ashley,

I see you’re getting a little defensive, I see no credits on imdBPro.com on you, other then your little editing job
Poor little cry baby Ashley, I will give you credit for one thing, you do post everything, and for that.
I give you a lot of credit.
I know my grammar isn’t perfect, but IM not selling my grammar, IM selling shows, book, TV Shows, etc.
And yes I do require an advance, for just the reason I mentioned, I presume you think that all these aspiring, (and I use that word loosely) writers have a story to tell.
With over 125, ooo scripts registered with The WGA,,and IM sure you have a few.
However you have ZERO Credit’s that’s why you blog, you know you’re going to get published.
I notice you didn’t mention The Tiger Woods Syndrome on HCI Books….your’e just for the negative.
Again, please dont get pregnant, but if you do, I love children, and will give child support, but love making with you (again) is out for me………….

All my continued love,

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition, ctd

No update on the Kritz would be complete without a creepy email littered with bad grammar from the jerk himself.

Dearest Ashley, I haven’t heard from you in so long I was concerned that you lost your job editing, but then i checked IMDbPro.com http://imdb.com/name/nm1736719/ and saw you had no credits at all. Not surprising; most old ladies, with much to say, and little credits need a blog (i.e. Unpublished writer/no credits) need a place to cry. I also notice you personalize your blog. It has to be tough writing and never selling anything, you become frustrated, and decide to rag on anybody who’s handy. I have read your boring blogs (just to be informed) and all you do is cry, at least you consistent I do want to make sure your massive audience, (your mother, father one cousin & Me) would know the truth. When an uncredited writer (such as say Vance) submits, they may sign an agreement, but then after working on them placing them with Studios, production companies, etc, they may say, Eddie, thanks for all the help,, but I have decided that IM not going do this, thanks for the help. One Time I got The Tightwad Twins a publishing deal with HCI Books, Publishers of Chicken Soup for The Soul Series) I then booked them on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show they informed me and The Publisher that they don’t like to draw attention to them selves and decided not to do it. On several other occasions I got deals for writers at major publishers, and or at studios, and they decided against moving forward……. Dearest Ashley, since your such a driving force in our industry, I know you will get out the word as to whyI always require an advance against my commisions. People/ writers, dont always keep their word, so I need to know their serious, they get it back just like Dr. J.R. Bruns, and Dr. R. A/ Richards did when I sold The Tiger Woods Syndrome (HCI Books) As always wishing you a happy and succesful 2011 just like 2010 Your lover and still even though you just layed there, sort of like your writing. Eddie Kritzer eddiekritzer.com some minor detials I know it’s not much but we each do what we can

All I can really add to this is I’ve got over 60 credits on imdb, I’ve optioned a screenplay, sold several articles, and got over 10000 hits on this website alone last month.  And if I didn’t have any, it’d still mean that this ‘agent’ thought it was ok to bully young unpublished writers by making fun of their unpublished status.

And, just so everyone is clear, it is against wga policy for an agent to require an advance.  It is a disgusting attempt to bilk inexperienced writers.  He’s also just sort of disgusting.  Even if what he was doing wasn’t a scam, does anyone want someone who is this unprofessional to represent them?  Thank you, Eddie, for once again demonstrating your true character.

Eddie Kritzer: Holiday Edition

This Christmas I got the gift of knowing I helped someone not get scammed! Thanks emailer!

I have been approached by Eddie Kritzer to sell my scripts. Of course, red flags popped up in the back of my mind due to the fact that he was calling my on Christmas Eve and wanted 1000.00 to execute a contract without even looking at my script. Based on your postings and my gut feelings, I’m going to stay away. I wanted to thank you for placing the postings so that someone like me won’t be duped into such an agreement.

Enjoy this holiday season.

I’m Excited

This is a list of my Top 10 Films. My Top 10 is not the 10 movies that I think are the best movies ever made, they are the 10 movies I would sit down and watch at any time, anywhere and love as much as the first time I saw them. They aren’t in any particular order.

  1. Dr. Strangelove
  2. The Princess Bride
  3. Die Hard
  4. Silence of the Lambs
  5. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  6. The Shining
  7. The Labyrinth
  8. Blazing Saddles
  9. Beauty and the Beast
  10. Gone with the Wind

Someone who produced one of the movies in my top ten list is reading something I wrote. Holy Awesome!