Does anyone else feel like the years are going faster since the pandemic? Just me? Well, I have a lot of updates since the last time I posted here.
For 2023, I was chosen as one of ten directors for Blackmagic Collective's "Emerging Filmmakers Initiative." It's a year-long program to help us move to the next level in our careers. I'm blown away by everyone's experiences and accolades. Blackmagic Design makes film cameras and the editing program Davinci Resolve. Read more.
In 2022, my feature screenplay "Peaking in the Valley" was a Fellowship Finalist at the Stowe Story Labs.
Logline: "In the 1960s, young dreamers flock to California to change the world. But Jane feels the pressures of marriage, children, and corporate America as she navigates life after a psychedelic awakening, and the trauma of losing her brother in the Vietnam war."
When you work so hard on your craft - in addition to your full time job trying to get by - it's always the best feeling to open an email like this. So grateful for the opportunity.
In 2022, I also moved BACK to Los Angeles! My mom drove with me across the country. Of course I have to be from the state that is the farthest you can possibly be from LA. We rented a car for the journey and the guy at Hertz Rental seemed like he wanted to give us an award for most miles any of their cars had ever driven. It's not an easy drive! It was also extremely hot everywhere, especially for a couple cold climate people (all my years acclimating in LA had gone out the window). Here's a few pics.
I ended up working at Warner Brothers in Creative Advertising. I thought a lot about what 9-year-old Erin would think about the fact that I was working on the Warner Brothers lot, something I dreamed about as a kid. I used to imagine the classic studio lots where there was a western shooting next to a musical shooting next to a monster movie - and it was kind of like that, seeing people walking around in robes and curlers and bringing different props in.
I worked on several campaigns (some that haven't been released yet) like Dune 2, Wonka, and Joker 2, but everyone's favorite has been the Barbie movie!
I had never seen the theatrical marketing process before, and I was privy to Greta Gerwig's directing style when it came to this process (she is smart, kind, gracious, funny - the real deal!). I saw so many different versions of this trailer, but in case you haven't...
My short film "The Getaway" played at the Bates Film Fest at Bates College in early 2022 in Maine, so I was able to actually see my own film in a theater. It was so fun, and I also got to meet John Turturro when we both got lost in the parking lot for his panel event.
After screening around the country, including Los Angeles, Kansas, and being nominated for Best New England Short at the Massachusetts Independent Film Fest, "The Getaway" had its final screening at the New Hampshire Film Fest, a lovely, engaging (and big) film festival that came back after being canceled for several years due to Covid. Seeing a film I made on a big screen for an audience to enjoy is what it's all about for me!
Also, my conversation with Writer/Director/Showrunner Kat Candler for Age Inclusion in Media is available to watch on Youtube. Kat discusses how she got started in indie films and then segued into television, her creative process, navigating the industry, views on how to be inclusive on a project, thoughts on age inclusion, and her vision for her future.
When I went back to LA, I saw Kat at an event for Queen Sugar, the Ava Duvernay and Oprah series that celebrated its 7-season conclusion and was hailed for having all women directors. Seeing a stage full of women directors was one of the most inspiring moments of my life - AND THEN OPRAH came out! I got to share the experience with my friends Nikki Syreeta and V.C. Rhone who I met in our career strategy class in 2019. Nikki is an amazing screenwriter with an award-winning short film on the festival circuit. She also recently worked as an Intimacy Coordinator on Peacock TV's "Bell Air." V.C. is a writer/director/producer who is currently working on "Not Afraid Film" highlighting the impact of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic on indigenous families.
I'm finishing a TV pilot, revising my feature, and have several short films and projects coming up. Maybe I'll be able to write an update sooner than a year next time!
It's almost been two years of the pandemic! Two years is enough, thanks. Time doesn't feel like it used to. It's been almost a year since I posted an update. Maybe because a year ago feels like yesterday.
Well here we go.
The Getaway has played at 7 festivals - and was named one of the top ten films of the month at the Independent Shorts Awards in Los Angeles. It played virtually at most fests because of Covid, but it did screen in-person at the No Coast Film Fest in Kansas, and the Studio City International Film Fest in North Hollywood. It's a strange time for fests because of the virtual aspect. I'm perfectly fine with putting safety first, though. I'll just have to make another film for when it's safe to gather indoors in theaters.
In the fall of 2021, I received a scholarship from Sundance to attend their 9-week directing course. It was remote (damn Covid), but I got so much out of it, with talented classmates and a really badass instructor, Rebecca Murga, and my advisor, Kim Spurlock.
We each had to direct/shoot a scene based off a generic script. The script had no locations, action or character descriptions - only dialogue. I was one of the only people in class who chose to make it comedy, and I decided to focus on working with actors (we had also done a masterclass with Judith Weston on directing actors). Because it was a class, this was an opportunity to focus on an aspect of directing I might not usually have time to do when I'm on set.
The end result is wacky (as I wanted it) - and I had such a great time.
I also started working at the non-profit Age Inclusion in Media as Program Director. I get to talk with TV Writers, Directors, Actors, Filmmakers, Producers, Executives and others in the industry about their careers, craft, diversity, inclusion, and many other topics.
Our next event is with writer/director/producer Kat Candler and I am so thrilled! I thought about emailing Kat back in 2014 after I saw her film Hellion with Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis, but chickened out. Then I saw her twice when I worked at HBO Max, but never spoke to her. She has such a unique background and experience - I'm honored to have her as a guest (in case you read this before the event - you can register here.
In October 2021, I was in a gothic vampire photo shoot. Why? Just for fun! I only saw a couple friends this year because of covid and I didn't go anywhere or do much. I figured I should make fun where I can and Tracey Orzel was doing a spooky shoot in the cemetery and I said, why not live my vampire dreams? I'm never in front of the camera and have never done a photoshoot (and I don't know if I will again?). So cross it off the bucket list!
I'm currently working on a feature screenplay and "punching up" my new TV pilot. I loved watching the third season of What We Do in the Shadows, Power of the Dog, Passing, Shang-Chi, and the Beatles Doc "Get Back" - I'm thoroughly obsessed. All creatives should watch!
The last update I posted was literal weeks before the official start of the Covid-19 Pandemic. I haven't been sure what to say about it all. I hope if you're reading this that you're safe and healthy and somehow managing this unprecedented crisis.
As for me, it took a while to get my bearings. I find it's difficult to make plans not knowing when the pandemic might end let alone get better. Some people in my family have gotten the vaccine which relieves some stress knowing I don't have to worry about them as much.
Despite it all, last fall, I wrote and directed a short films and a micro-short PSA. The first was "The Getaway" set in the 1930s. My number one priority was keeping everyone safe. Covid cases had been lower at that point, and I followed all Covid production protocols. I also kept it entirely outside. In a way, having to work around Covid protocols and restrictions forced me to focus on the story and more creative ways to tell it.
The Getaway: "A criminal couple on the run from the FBI meet one last time in the 1930s to turn each other in - and reminisce about their most epic heist." This short film will premiere this winter.
The other project I wrote/directed is called "SAD BAT," a micro short/PSA to get out the youth vote for Nextgen America and Damnationland about the "horrors" of not voting. Starring Viva as the vampire, Bill McDonough as the vampire hunter and reuniting with Dean Merrill who was cinematographer. SAD BAT premiered in an online event near Halloween and was so much fun.
I also found out my TV Pilot "Barb" (formerly "The Resistance") was a Quarterfinalist in the Final Draft Big Break Contest 2020, and my TV Pilot "S.P.I.C.E." is a Quarterfinalist at Cinestory 2020.
Last fall, I was invited to be a part of an "Artists' Chit Chat" through Mad Horse Theatre Company in Portland, Maine where I talked about the process of filming during Covid - and got to meet some other really cool creators.
Next up - I've been invited to lead a workshop for the University of California Merced's Collaboratorium 2021: Create & Connect.
Other than that, I've been hiking, writing and watching lots of TV and movies. I recently watched First Cow and absolutely LOVE it. So unexpected - something that rarely happens!
Until we all get vaccinated and there's a light at the end of this tunnel, keep zooming, stay distanced, cozy in, stay safe and wear a mask!
The rest of 2019 FLEW by like birds flying south for the winter! (If you live in a warm climate, you won't get that). SO MUCH HAPPENED. Here's an update.
Calling all movie lovers! I was hanging out at the bar from 'A Star is Born' with my friend who was visiting from NYC doing my best Jackson Maine impression (but only because I'm from Maine). Have you been in the The Virgil yet? Lady Gaga wasn't there to sing La Vie en Rose but it looks just like the film
I finished my TV Pilot for Jynx Productions. It's called "S.P.I.C.E." and if you want to know what that stands for, you'll have to read it. But what I WILL tell you is the logline: In search of a new leader, a secret female spy group in the swingin’ 1960s enlists a reluctant housewife to help them stop an evil takeover.
I had a live reading through the weekly writing workshop I joined this past year - Deadline Junkies. A live reading is always both terrifying and exciting. You may recognize Erika Wilson from my films Arabel and The Poet. Erika was visiting in LA and did an amazing job stepping up and singing three different songs with a hilarious German accent. And it was a Quarterfinalist at Final Draft Big Break Contest! Top 3%!
"Of Mine" a short film I was Set Decorator on, premiered at the TCL Chinese Theater as part of the Dances with Films Festival.
We went from sweating in the desert, hand-building a garden, set dressing a trailer from scratch and working in a cave all day with headlamps to then watching it on the big screen. Director Cate Carson has made a beautiful film from a harrowing true story.
I worked at HBO in the production department and happened to be there during Pride and there was a Pride Party every day! We had photo shoots, a preview screening of the new show Euphoria with creator Sam Levinson and informational luncheons with activists and a board member from the Pulse nightclub memorial organization. There was also a 'Bagel Friday' Pride edition with visiting LGBTQ organizations, music and acai bowls!
Then I moved to the development department of HBO Max, a new streaming service launching in May of 2020. A few pics: The marquee at Warner Brothers during Investor Day when we had presentations; a garden party for all the women of HBO Max (and TNT, TBS) at Sandra Dewey's house (I'm in the leopard print, of course); a flower display in the lobby and conference room for the new show Full Bloom; and the awesome non-fiction team that I adore and feel so lucky to have landed with - Brett, Rebecca and Lizzie! (And Jen O'Connell and Nikki Reed).
I got to attend the Emmy Nominated Set Decorator's Party with Jessica Quattrini at Universal Studios. The theme was "French Riviera" and everyone wore white on the Europe Street back lot.
Once again, I volunteered with PEN America and got to attend their Lit Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Ava Duvernay, my Film Director QUEEN, was honored and I was honored just to be in her presence. I also wore a "goth" Dolly Parton outfit, so there's that.
What else? I did so much hiking and camping (my favorite things!), completed a 6 month career strategy class and got to go home to Maine for Thanksgiving for the first time in 3 years.
The Oscars are this Sunday - are you watching? The movie that gave me the most JOY AND LIFE was Rocketman and I wish Taron Egerton had been nominated! I even got to see him and Elton John perform at the Greek Theater for a live performance of the film.
Can Leonardo DiCaprio do this? (I mean, yeah, probably, but come on - this is fantastic!)
I think Uncut Gems should win Best Picture and Best Screenplay but it wasn't even nominated!
Anyway, 2020 has already begun and things are moving - can't wait for the next update!
I worked on an epic music video as Set Decorator for Trisha Paytas (with Jessica Quattrini's production design). Check out the video - it reached #16 on Youtube's trending videos. A fog machine, coffin and boatloads of flowers...
It's been a while since my last blog post/update. I mostly post on social media but so many cool things have been going on I should update y'all on my website, too.
I was invited to a special panel at Fox studios that my friend Devin McNair, stuntwoman extraordinaire, was a part of as they discussed painting down/blackface and wigging in stunts (when white men wear blackface or wigs instead of hiring people of color/women to do the stunts for the actors of color/women).
And then I broke my foot! It didn't stop me from hobbling around Los Angeles on crutches - including the LA premiere of Sorry to Bother You (which I also wrote about for iamandco.com)
My original TV pilot, The Resistance, was a finalist at the Austin Revolution Film Festival and a quarter finalist at Cinestory!
I went to a panel discussion with this year's Emmy nominated TV writers at the Writer's Guild. Stefani Robinson, writer of 'Atlanta' said "The only way to not make it in the business is to give up." Ok, Stefani - noted!
Then I got to work on Cate Carson's film as a set dresser. She was one of 6 director's chosen by the Alliance of Women Directors to make a short film based on a true story - and then have it screened at Disney. We got to shoot it on two different movie ranches in the desert - and in a cave!
Then we got to celebrate at the screening held at Disney!
For the second year in a row, I attended the PEN America Literary Awards Gala, and I got to meet Barry Jenkins who was being honored! I go to the Writer's Guild Library all the time and ask to read his script Moonlight. I didn't get a photo with him but I was able to tell him that. He was kind and gracious and encouraging.
I worked on a music video for Patrick Star as set decorator - so awesome to work for Jessica Quattrini and her awesome production design again. I love Christmas decorations so this was my specialty.
Watch the music video!
Last night I went to a screening of On the Basis of Sex with a Q&A with Armie Hammer and Director Mimi Leder! Loved it!
And for fun, I went to Joshua Tree National Park again with friends...
And I dressed like Rami Malek using clothes from my closet, because that's fun, too.
Until my next update...have fair winds and following seas.
I attended the PEN Center Literary Awards at the "Pretty Woman" Hotel in LA (Beverly Wilshire).Oh what a night! I finished Janet Mock's Redefining Realness and just started Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee (we received free books of all the nominees!). And Margaret Atwood received the Lifetime Achievement Award!
I had the pleasure of working as Production Designer on a short film called Spanko, written, directed and starring Melanie Zoey Weinstein in September here in Los Angeles. It was an awesome experience and the crew were so great to work with. Spanko is getting ready for festival submissions. I saw a cut and I can't wait for everyone else to see it soon.
This shot is from a fantasy scene where I created a "goddess tent."
Last April (time flies in Los Angeles, without seasons I can't keep track of when things happened!) I was asked to do a screenwriting workshop with high school students from various high schools near the Lewiston-Auburn area of Maine, at Bates College (they even provided my plane ticket!).
It was truly a pleasure to share my passion for screenwriting with students who have just as much passion. They were insightful, engaged, immensely creative and supportive of each other. Don't worry about the future; the kids are gonna be alright.
The Poet has won the Audience Award for Best Horror Short at the SENE Film Festival in Providence, RI! Thank you audience!