The Central Authority reminds you to watch tubi

The Central Authority reminds you to watch “The Central Authority”.

We’ve been very grateful for a successful festival run so far. We were honored by Poor Life Choices Film Festival as Best Dark Comedy Feature and by Bare Bones International Film Festival as Best Comedy Feature. We’re so thankful to all the brave film festivals that are continuing to have virtual and hybrid events as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now you can watch the flick on Tubi!

See it here!

Reflections On Quarantine Film Making

Today, I was reminded that art is alive and well. The Hollywood industrial process has been under tremendous pressure. The indie film world, also slowed, is still at work too, even though COVID remains with us. I say this because I’ve been judging the Quarantini Film Festival, a monthly fest founded by Dana Olita that supports and awards filmmakers making socially-distanced short films during this difficult time.

Quarantini Film Festival supports the indie film community during the pandemic with access to online screenings and awards.

I have learned and been reminded of a few things while judging the Quarantini entries:

  1. Art finds a way. I’ve seen some great films submitted to Quarantini Film Festival. Where there’s a will, there is a way, even under un-ideal circumstances.
  2. Sometimes, constraints embolden our creativity. Doing a lot with a little is part-and-parcel of low budget film making, but the constraints indie filmmakers are creating under are unprecedented. I’ve seen amazing creative risks taken on screen in the last three rounds of the Quarantini Film Festival. Some hit and some missed the mark, but when business-as-usual goes out the window, we have to ask what’s possible. I’ve witnessed tremendous creativity under the pressure of the pandemic.
  3. The pandemic has many people committed to speaking their truth, directly or indirectly. I’ve seen heart-wrenching drama shorts, contemplative docu-dramas and wicked comedies that all hit home. All of us have a story to tell that’s part of this larger pandemic narrative.

The truth is many film festivals and the whole culture of film festivals going forward is uncertain. Theatrical exhibition is still difficult and frankly, unobtainable in many areas. Your larger press outlets like Variety, Deadline, The Hollywood reporter, et al, are only really covering the larger festivals that have film markets. That gives sort of skewed picture of the filmmaking landscape in general. Indie filmmaking is alive. Indie films are being shown. It may not be on a large screen, but you can get your work out there on online fests like Quarantini. Seize the moment. You’ll never know what you’ll learn, how you’ll grow or who you’ll impact.

Cleaning Up My Perspective & Purses During COVID-19

art artistic bright color
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I work from home.  I’m used to it.  I’ve been busy, even as there’s a great deal of uncertainty in the entertainment industry.  Today, I took a breather and set out to the task of cleaning.  I cleaned my office and I emptied out my purses, which I hadn’t cleaned out since the lock down began .  It was like going though a mini time-capsule.

 

What was in my purses:

promotional materials for a film festival screening I attended

breath mints

coin change for parking

assorted colored pencils, highlighters and post-it notes for marking scripts on-the-go when I chose to work at cafes

an extension cord for plugging my lap top into an electrical outlet at a cafe

a movie ticket

Cleaning out my purses hit me hard.  As I cleaned, I felt like I had just been through a strange time warp.  We don’t know what the future will bring, though we’ve been told there’s a “new normal” coming.  What I want to emphasize here is that, yes, all of this made me blue today.  However, I quickly pivoted to my gratitude for those experiences and the hope that I can have them again soon when it’s safe to do so.

The film festival promo materials reminded me that I love film festivals and seeing my work on the big screen.    I am grateful to all the film festivals that have ever screened my work.

The breath mints were comic.  Though we’ll be wearing masks for awhile, the mints reminded me that we need to keep a (minty) fresh perspective.  Let’s not get stuck into to many ruts or bad thought grooves at this time.

They stopped enforcing most parking ordinances since the stay-at-home order in Los Angeles, so I haven’t needed to feed a meter.  Admittedly, parking Los Angeles has been way easier.  I am grateful for the days in Los Angeles when scoring a parking spot was the biggest of my worries.  I now know there are far bigger things to have anxiety over.  I’ve had to learn how to better manage my anxiety.

cappuccino in ceramic mug
Photo by EYAD Tariq on Pexels.com

I love my home, but sometimes I need to get out of the house to work more efficiently.  I get TOO comfortable.  I am grateful for all the times I’ve had great coffee and a great work day and even run into old friends.  I hope to enjoy this again soon.

The extension cord reminded me of how lucky I am to have basic utilities and that all of my utility services are still going, despite the pandemic.  Those working to keep our water, power and sanitation going are essential workers too and we owe them much for their service at this time.

A movie ticket…There’s much discussion right now of how to move the industry forward during the pandemic.  Fortunately, I am very diversified.  Some are not and it’s been difficult to see how many friends and colleagues are anxious and suffering right now.  The movie ticket is my reminder to rebuild.  The movie ticket is my reminder to adapt as best I can.  There will be no Dark Ages of Entertainment if I can help it.

Instead of yearning for the past, what can we do to bring our appreciation into the future?

 

The Spirit Room Captures Best Horror Short at Silicon Beach FF

silicon award I always love to see projects I’ve been in succeeding, especially people who are talented and work hard.  It was such an honor to attend the awards ceremony of the Silicon Beach Film Festival this past week to cheer on “The Spirit Room”, a horror short I had a supporting role in.  “The Spirit Room” won Best Horror Short, its second award to-date.

For more info about this great film and the team behind it, check out the film’s IMDB.

Copy of filmfest

 

There’s been a lot of development this past week for “Horror Talk with Kristin West”.  After making its film festival debut at Direct Online Shorts Competition, “Horror Talk” will compete in the Miami Independent Film Festival’s monthly web series competition.  In addition to the show’s exciting film festival run, Spotify and iHeart Radio now offer the show for streaming.

My fellow producers and I are actively planning season 2 and we have two more episodes for season 1 currently in post production.  If you’ve ever wanted to get into producing a talk show, now is a great opportunity to get involved with our show.  Check out our Patreon offerings!

The Spirit Room Garners First Award

hollywood laurels

Congratulations to the super-talented cast & crew of The Spirit Room, helmed by Adam J. Ung.  The Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival awarded the short Best Horror Short.  I was honored to play the role of Peggy Wily in this award winning film.  Learn more here.

 

Behind Hollywood’s Stereotype Hype

Powerhouse producers & directors came on What Women Want Talk Radio to show us what more inclusive filmmaking can and should be. Listen to this compelling interview with the teams behind two successful films, Murder in the Woods and Seeking Valentina.

Sneak Peak of The Spirit Room

I’ve been talking about this short for months and it’s finally here.  The Spirit Room, by Adam J. Ung, is now out of post and coming to film festivals near you.

Here’s your first look:

 

I’ll keep you posted about screening dates and times.  Congratulations, Adam & the whole Spirit Room team.

Hollywood Dreams Announces Nominees

hollywood dreamz
Photo courtesy of Hollywood Dreams Film Festival

I am very honored that Seeking Valentina, a short film which I produced with Armin Nasseri, has garnered two nominations at this year’s Hollywood Dreams International Film Festival, including BEST SHORT & BEST VISUAL EFFECTS.  Our film screens later this week, in Las Vegas.  Want to catch it in Vegas?  See here.

Hollywood Dreams calls itself,

“A blend of new classic world film, hospitality, industry connections and of course a hearty brand of distributors, buyers, audience and special guests will round out what is sure to become a major stop in the vein of top U.S. and international film events.”

  For a full list of nominees for this year’s Hollywood Dreams International Film Festival, click here.  Congratulations to our cast and crew, whose talents and efforts continue to receive world-wide acclaim and many thanks to Del Weston and Theresa Weston, the founders of Hollywood Dreams Film Festival.

Penny Wise Pound Foolish

Peruse this article from the Austin Business Journal on the debate on film incentives in the state of Texas.

If you’ve ever done a professional film budget, the often invisible costs of making a movie are massive:  permits, feeding  people, putting cast and crew up in hotels, renting vehicles, supplies, location fees.  A film of any scale involves a massive infrastructure, often localized, to support it.  The last budget I prepped, I had to price out renting a local herd of goats, feeding said goats and the cost of a local wrangler and stable fees.  It’s this detail and minutiae that really make the cost of film what it is–and profitable for locals that can cash in on it.

I really want to film in Texas.  Why?  It’s my home state.  It’s where many of my stories are.  It’s what I know.  I probably won’t.  Texas’ neighbors have better incentives.  I want to do something for my community and filming could bring massive influxes of money to a very economically vulnerable area.

When I was asked at the San Antonio Film Festival why I hadn’t spent more time filming in my home state, I said at the time that, “It was not where my opportunities were, where my education led me.”  I keep returning to that question.  Here’s another reason why, one I couldn’t quite articulate in the moment:

The state doesn’t commit to its film community.  

Why should I commit to spend potentially millions of dollars in the state?

Movies aren’t made overnight.  They are long-haul projects.  It may take a screenwriter a year to get a camera-ready draft.  It may take us a year or more to get funded.  It may take us several months of pre-production, which will likely involve traveling back and forth.  We try to hire locally qualified people for the crew.  We will be in your state 30-60 days just filming, 12 hour days and paying for food and hotels and ancillary services, like dry cleaning, local assistants, etc.  We may be in your state several months after that if there’s a great post-house.  We may spend money on a Texas premiere if it’s a Texas subject.

The stability of state’s commitment to arts funding matters.  It’s a risk management consideration.  If you’re always threatening to pull a plug on your incentives, it’s not enticing.

 The counter-argument is that film jobs are temporary jobs and that is true to a point, but if you invest in creating a community, the jobs will keep coming.  Just ask Atlanta.  It seems there are some in government that would much rather have its denizens chained to an overabundance of low-paying retail jobs than branching out into a more highly skilled, better paid, film position.

I think it’s very shortsighted of the Texas legislature to nix film funding.  You could film almost anything in Texas, such is the geological and architectural diversity.  This is a whole state issue, not just an Austin or Dallas concern, where much of the film making takes place.  There are many areas that could benefit from more filming.  And frankly, it’s unnerving when New Mexico is standing in as Texas on film.  It’s happening more and more often.

 There’s a poster on the wall at the UTLA Center, an older poster, red, of all the great films made in Texas, which was a promo poster done by the Texas Film Commission a few years ago.  I hope they have to update that poster soon, with new, great films being made in Texas, but  the legislature must seize the opportunity.