Monday, June 28, 2010

Oprah, OWN and Me

For those of you that know me, you know I love many things:
bagels (yes, I DID put that first, but it may just mean I'm hungry)
my pets (a close second)
my family/friends (can we call it a three-way tie?)
and talking

I most definitely have got the gift of gab and so, when the people from Oprah's OWN Network announced a contest for a new talk show, I knew I had to enter! What better way to get a chance to meet people who have faced major hiccups in their life but then rebounded beautifully?

There's only one roadblock... I have to get a lot of votes! This is where you come in... please... if you have a moment, go to the link below and vote for my talk show, "Best Laid Plans." Everyone loves a comeback, and you don't have to be a celebrity to have one.

Won't you help me with mine?


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

You Can't Go Home Again...

But apparently - you can go back to college. This weekend, I found myself re-tracing steps I haven't taken for over a decade. There I was, back at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey to attend the New Jersey International Film Festival's screening of "Milestone". It's been MORE THAN A DECADE since I was last there... had I mentioned that? Longer than a two-term presidency. About the same length that CHEERS and BEVERLY HILLS 90210 were on the air. It took less years for WHAM! to create "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" and then disband.

Ten Years.

As I think I mentioned in my previous entry, I'm not always the best at looking back, but surprisingly, visiting my old dorm (Go Demarest Hall!) and driving past my old off-campus house was awesome. Beyond some minor revisions, (why oh why do the grease trucks need to provide people with tables???), the campus looked pretty much the same. The weirdest thing about it all was that I felt as if I'd never left. Walking among the students around campus I felt like I was 21 again. Each block, each corner, brought back memories from school... 'this is where my friend drank too much for her 21st birthday'... 'this is where I made out with my date until someone interrupted us to ask for directions'... Whoosh... it all came flooding back.

I'll admit, I was prepared too feel affronted by the experience, but in actuality I relished it. Cooler than the places I visited was the people I got to hang with - one of whom I hadn't seen for many, many years. Swapping stories - who's pregnant, who's moving in with someone, who's getting a divorce (ahem...) was great. Like I had hoped, talking about my breakup, the changes in my life felt fine. It simply felt like my life.

Maybe I'm settling in after all...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mini-Reunion at the New Jersey International Film Festival

I am not a lady who is big on reunions. My high school had a 10th year reunion and I was a no-show. My college, I'm sure, will have some kind of gathering of alumni of which I will likely not attend. It's not that I turn my nose up at those kinds of events, it's more that I simply find them overwhelming:

"Oh my god! Look at you!"
"No, look at you!"
"You haven't changed a bit!"
"I love your hair!"
"Look at your dress!"
"Holy cow, look at your ass!"

Now with the onset of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter it's like being at a reunion every single day of your life. It also hasn't helped that I've had friends who've had rather *interesting* experiences at their own reunions. One friend was so nervous that she got more drunk than she ever had before causing some embarrassing shenanigans to ensue, and another told me a story of their married friend being propositioned by an old and married boyfriend. So much drama! That's why I'm happy sticking to the odd (and sometimes weird) confessions of old classmates' status updates on Facebook.

However, when my short film, "Milestone" got into the New Jersey International Film Festival, I couldn't give up the opportunity for a mini reunion with some girlfriends from college - especially since the festival screens their films on the Rutgers campus! Did I mention that that's where I went to school? No? Whoops.

So this Saturday, I'm going to dinner and a movie with some old friends. Some of these ladies I've kept in touch with and others I haven't seen in a very long time. At first, I'll admit I was hesitant since I still have that lingering feeling of failure since the breakup of my marriage, but I've decided to push through it. My college experience was great - I had wonderful friends surrounding me for four years and that alone helped me get past my trepidation. I'm still figuring out how to integrate my personal setbacks into my life and I figure there's no better way to help me do that than by meeting up with some old friends... and having a couple glasses of wine.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Back from the BIFF!

Jess and I are back from the Berkshire International Film Festival and we had a fantastic time! Kelley Vickery, Lauren Ferin and Rachel Bronstein put on another amazing festival, packed with great films, awesome cocktail parties and an incredible welcoming community. Although we missed the Opening Night celebration, the second night we were able to attend the tribute to Patricia Clarkson, which was such a treat for me since she is one of my all-time favorite actresses (and “The Station Agent” is one of my all-time favorite movies). Her tribute included guests like Lauren Ambrose and Chris Noth as well as a packed house in the gorgeous Mahaiwe Theater. That will be a night I shall remember for a long time.

“Milestone” was screened in a block of great films. I felt very honored to be among such good movies (some included: “Wasting Daylight”, “Breaking Boundaries: The Art of Alex Masket,” and “The Jacket”).

Overall it was a blast celebrating a movie with a friend I’ve known since middle school at a festival that just gets better and better. Be sure to check it out next year!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pathway to a Short Film Panel Discussion

PHOTO: First order of business as director: keep cast and crew hopped up on caffeine.

So... We’re coming up on the Berkshire International Film Festival and I have some fun news – they’ve asked me to participate in a panel discussion about making short films! I’m so honored and excited that I was asked (and that I was even considered knowledgeable enough to participate). Since beginning “Best Laid Plans” my life has grown so much both personally and professionally.

Production on BLP is going on about 2 1/2 years now and looking back from where I was then, to where I am now, is fascinating. I wonder if it’s the same feeling journal writers get when they look back on entries from years ago. When I began shooting BLP, “Milestone” wasn’t even in my purview, nor was having the opportunity to direct a film for that matter. From the first day of shooting on the documentary, I had very little knowledge about the camera, relying heavily on my Director of Photography at the time. Now I can shoot an interview on my own if need be. I’m tackling the editing of the movie as well – which is also something I knew very little about then. Don’t misunderstand, I have LOADS to learn about the art of filmmaking from all angles, but I’m not sure I ever imagined I’d know as much as I do now.

And personally, as a result of the ordeal of divorce, my circle of people has gotten smaller; that circle is much richer now. My friendships mean more to me than ever before. They are deeper and more soulful, if you will. More than ever for me, friends and family have become synonymous and I don’t think I would have said that three years ago.

To bring all of this back to the panel, I think that one of the things I would offer to budding short filmmakers is to learn about every facet of how to make your film. If you’re not already a one-man band, learn a little about it all so that the experience is richer and you’ll walk away with more than just your movie. Also, surround yourself with the best people for you. A smaller, tighter group of people who are out to create the best film possible. You might fare better than having a huge crew that is less community and more individual-minded.

Other than that, you’ll have to attend the panel!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Film Festivals and Mikhail Baryshnikov

In just a few days I will be heading to The Berkshire International Film Festival with one of my closest friends (and an incredible artist and designer), Jessica. She’s driving us up there on Friday so we can check out 3 screenings of Milestone! This will be my second time going to this festival and I’m really excited I get to attend again! It’s always such a great feeling when a community comes out to support upcoming filmmakers and watch independent films they may not otherwise have the opportunity to see.

I’ve been really lucky – Milestone has gotten into 11 film festivals so far! The only unfortunate thing is that I haven’t been able to attend all of them. However, the ones I did get to go to were all amazing experiences. Here’s a short rundown...

The Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival was awesome for many reasons. The first was that I got to go with my sister, Karen who I never get to spend much time with. The second was that I was surrounded by other women filmmakers. It was an incredibly supportive feeling being in a town like Los Angeles – where the industry is still primarily run by men - to be surrounded by such great female artists. That was pretty cool.

The Method Fest, which ran at the same time as The Los Angeles Women’s Int’l Film Festival was also pretty amazing! In particular, the shorts program director, Derek Horne was awesome to work with. He was such an advocate for all of the movies and his enthusiasm began from the moment the film was accepted into the festival.

Then there was the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival. So... Although there wasn’t much traveling involved for this fest, it was great to be able to sit with friends and watch the film on a big screen! I was amped for a night in the city but found myself unprepared for what I experienced. Ummmm... Mikhail Baryshnikov was in the audience!! In case you’ve been living under a pointe shoe, Mikhail Baryshnikov is beyond the beyond in terms of dance. I grew up dancing and so I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know his name. Some of you may also know him from “Sex and the City”. I now know him from (and by “know” I mean saw), the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival! Living in NYC, you get kind of used to seeing famous people and it’s not that I’m jaded or anything like that, but when a well known person crosses my path, I tend not to go bonkers and ask for my boob to be signed or something crazy such as that. However had my parents not been in attendance that evening, I think I would have made my way over to Mr. Baryshnikov with one hand gripping a pen and the other pulling my shirt way down. But alas, my skin has not been branded and I’ve been able to shower regularly. I did, however, get to introduce my movie and, though the theater was packed with people, I looked at none of them. I only had eyes for MB. I was elated... He though, may have been a bit perturbed.

Can’t wait who I’ll run into in the Berkshires!