Before I let filmmaker Yael Shavitt make her BIG SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT, let me first remind you of the Inclusion Statement for her latest project, a web series, named SPLIT.

Inclusion Statement from Split

We’re proud to have an all-female Creative Team (Producer, Director, DP and Writer/Creator) as well as an all-female on-set production crew. Out of the five main characters in the show, three are women and three are LGBTQ. Our production is committed to casting ethnically diverse actors.

You want to help them get this series made, and help employ all those female filmmakers, right?  Well, not only can you do that — but starting today, 7/7, your generosity has just DOUBLED its efficacy.

Here.  I’ll let Yael Shavitt explain, via her BIG SPECIAL EXCLUSIVE ANNOUNCEMENT:

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: a close friend of the production is going to be matching all contributions made July 7-9 (up to $1,000)! That means anything you give on those days is going to be doubled. Give $10 – it becomes $20. Give $50 – it becomes $100. You get the picture!  Here is the link to our campaign:  SPLIT on Seed & Spark.

Our goal for the next few days is to reach 100% (yeah it is!) Lets see if we can get there by the end of the week. We think our special announcement might help 😉


And since YOU, my loyal blog followers, have been so loyal to Yael and her team so far, she chose me to EXCLUSIVELY release it here first.  This is my fourth scoop (on three different projects) in 2017.  Now I feel like Nikke Finke!!!   Immediately after this post, Yael will be sharing this big news on her social media (see links below), and I will too.

And look what Yael did for you.  She sent you this EXCLUSIVE picture, NEVER SEEN ELSEWHERE PRIOR TO THIS!

SPLIT commentary_413
SEATED, LEFT to RIGHT: Molly McCaughey (Director), Yael Shavitt (Writer/Creator/Actor), and Hannah Hancock Rubinsky (EP) recording the Director’s Commentary for SPLIT’s pilot episode, last Monday.

That’s pretty cool.

Finally, now here’s MY big announcement:  Last month Yael gave me and exclusive interview (I’m tellin’ ya–I feel like Nikke Finke) and I’m going to release it here, near the end of the anonymous donor matcher’s 72 hour period — 24 hours prior to the end of the matching period on July 9.  A bunch of you have been begging me to release a snippet or two, but nope– you’ve gotta wait, just a couple more days, and then come back here to read it all.


Split’s Seed & Spark Page

Yael Shavitt’s IMDb Page

Choose To Change Your Journey (And The Journey Of A Handful Of Talented Female FIlmmakers)

Choose To Change Your Journey (And The Journey Of A Handful Of Talented Female FIlmmakers)

It’s live.   The Seed & Spark crowdfunding page for Split  is live.


Here’s their inclusion statement from that page:

Inclusion Statement from Split

We’re proud to have an all-female Creative Team (Producer, Director, DP and Writer/Creator) as well as an all-female on-set production crew. Out of the five main characters in the show, three are women and three are LGBTQ. Our production is committed to casting ethnically diverse actors.

You want to join them on that journey, right?


Remember,  since you read about it here first, Yael Shavitt is offering three (3), and only three (3), of you an exclusive opportunity:

The first three (3) contributors to the campaign ($25 or above) will get a private link to watch the full pilot of Split that same day.  TODAY!!!  RIGHT NOW!!!  You can see it before anyone else, if you are one of those first three (3).  How cool is that?

Split’s Seed & Spark Page

Yael Shavitt’s IMDb Page





Destiny.  Choice.  A decision you make today could alter your journey for years.  And yet, is it possible you could wind up in the same place, the place where you were intended to wind up, despite distinct alternate, almost disparate, journeys?

That question is addressed in Split, an exciting new web series, coming from filmmaker Yael Shavitt and her all female production team.

Yael Team
The Brains Behind Split:  Yael Shavitt (second, left) leads her team as they prepare for the big upcoming events throughout this summer.

Split is a web series about two possible paths that one life might take. An early decision in a young girl’s life creates a split in her world, sending her off on two parallel paths into alternate futures.

After auditioning for a drama high school, 13-year-old Sammy makes a crucial choice that splits the path of her life in two. Flash forward twelve years: in one world, Sammy’s grown into Sam, a confident up-and-coming actress in a turbulent relationship with her girlfriend. In another world, she’s Samantha, an eager assistant director living comfortably with her longtime boyfriend.

Sounds amazing doesn’t it?  Well, here’s something else amazing:  I spent the weekend interviewing the amazing Yael Shavitt; and I will be posting that interview later this summer.  And speaking of exclusives, here are some more from Yael herself:


Yael has asked me to announce this to you, my readers, here first:  Starting this Thursday, June 15th, you and your life journey can join Yael and her team on their journey, as they launch their crowdfunding campaign on Seed & Spark.  (Come back here, as well as to Yael’s social media links listed below, when we can announce the exact link, after it goes live.  Meanwhile, start following Yael at all these links so you can receive notifications as soon as the launch is, well, launched!)


And since you, my loyal followers, read about it here first, Yael is offering three (3), and only three (3), of you an exclusive opportunity:    The first three (3) contributors to the campaign ($25 or above) will get a private link to watch the full pilot of Split that same day.  WHAT?!?  THAT’S FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE PREMIERE IN NYC!!!  How cool is that?

Yael Split Bumper

So, go follow Split and Yael, at the links below, and we will see you back here on the 15th at 1PM (EST) with the exact link to the campaign.  Change your journey by helping the women at Team Split change theirs!

Yael Shavitt’s IMDb Page

Split’s Seed & Spark Page (link coming June 15, at 1PM, EST)













“We Are All Struggling to Swim to the Top…”

“We Are All Struggling to Swim to the Top…”

Yesterday, I had the great blessing of interviewing another fabulous filmmaker with a purpose, the amazing Carlotta Summers.  She has a new project called Butterflies coming out; and, she recently completed a successful Seed and Spark campaign for that project.

Carlotta Summers is an actor, writer, and filmmaker currently based in NYC. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she holds a degree in theatre with a minor in psychology. She loves using a multitude of elements from her training to create complex characters grounded in realism. She started her acting career performing in a Text Alive performance of Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare Theatre Co., when she was 16. She went on to perform for the Strawberry One Act Festival’s Just Off the Pike and most recently finished a production of Coriolanus, From Man to Dragon. In her spare time she helps with fight choreography, most recently had the honor of working behind the scenes with Evan Cabnet on the Broadway production Therese Raquin.

Carlotta’s passion for film stems from the idea that the power of cinema can change perception, and with this provoke action. She is the President and CEO of Wild Cat Film, LLC. Her hub for all things Carlotta can be found at

Carlotta Summers 2


JON:     Hi, Carlotta.  Let’s jump right in to this.  We all have our causes, for instance, mine are invisible disabilities and gender equality (particularly when it comes to women in Hollywood) — How did bullying become a subject you wanted to address now?

CARLOTTA:     I have a lot of issues that I am passionate about so it’s hard to pick just one! A few years ago I found that I wasn’t getting too much work in the indie film scene and the roles I was given, were not the ones I ultimately wanted to pursue in my career. So, I decided to start creating my own work. I have always been a writer and freelance filmmaker. At NYU, I focused on crafting theater pieces with my studio, The Experimental Theater Wing. I asked myself, what would I like to tackle first?

Bullying has always been a personal subject for me. I am a biracial woman who was teased consistently throughout grade school for being different. I remember the shooting pain in my stomach every time I went to class and had to face my bullies.  I remember how I felt when being berated in gym class. I think it’s sad when young girls find it necessary to push down other young women, when we are all in the same boat; when we are all struggling to swim to the top. I wanted to create a film that showed, not only some of the things I went through, but the psychology behind bullying so that we can start positive conversations on what we can do to help the victims and solve the issue. I wanted to share what I did to overcome the obstacles that stood in my way, in hopes that some girl will see it and feel empowered.

JON:     I love that.  I’ve had some similar experiences, even as an adult, believe it or not.  I’ve discovered that the only way to move forward is to surround myself with positive people and have positive conversations.  Speaking of positive conversations, you just hit your goal on Seed & Spark.  Tell me a little about that, and how you move forward now.

CARLOTTA:     We are so lucky to have reached our goal! For those who still want to be apart of the journey, feel free to follow us on instagram, twitter and! We will be posting updates on these platforms, consistently as we move forward with production!

If anyone wants to contribute separately to the film, but did not have a chance to do so during the campaign, feel free to email us for how to do so.  The short film is a part of a larger feature of the same name.   [ Editor’s Note:  Here is that email: ]

JON:   Very good.  So Butterflies The Feature is next after Butterflied The Short.   What’s next then after the Butterflies? What does the next 4 or 5 years look like for Carlotta Summers? Anything you specifically would like me to mention?

CARLOTTA:   This is just the beginning. I have secretly — now not so secretly) — been working on another piece, just as long, if not a bit longer then Butterflies. But, I am going to keep that quiet for now.

JON:  Too late

CARLOTTA:   I also have a few short films in the works as well. All will be created through my production company Wild Cat Film and in collaboration with other producers and creatives. If you would like to keep up with what new provocative stories we have in store, as well as casting opportunities, follow or like the Facebook page at WildCatFilm.

JON:  I’ll put a hotlink to the page in that last sentence.  I know we are both crazy busy this week, so I’ll let you get back to your day.  Again, Carlotta, congratulations on hitting your goal for Butterflies on Seed & Spark.  I’ll be posting this on the blog before Wednesday.

CARLOTTA:  Thanks again, looking forward to it!



Butterflies emerging
(c) Photo provided by Holly Tomlin Photography



Featured Photo (at top) Credit: A.J. Wilhelm (







Yesterday, I blogged about the Jane test.  I was torn, to say the least.  I agree with Ross Putnam’s contentions (and it would be impossible to argue with the horrendous examples), but I also think the issue cannot be simplified into Three Simple Rules.

For those new to my blog, or don’t know what the Jane test is, you can read the previous post on the Jane test here.   The short version is this:  Putnam contends your screenplay is sexist if when you introduce your female characters, you can answer “YES” to at least one of these three simple questions:   1) Does The Introduction Focus on the External Attributes of the Character?  2) Is She a Twenty- or Thirtysomething?  3) Is She Dating Someone Decades Older Than Her?

So being torn, I read this article on the Jane test.

As I reported yesterday, I’m not entirely convinced these three questions are so simple.

Then I wondered , what if my viewpoint of this viewpoint was tainted by MY gender.    Possible I suppose, even for an enlightened feminist such as myself.

So I asked a fellow screenwriter (Yikes!  I just used the sexist word “fellow” in her introduction), and female Brit, Tracy Shefras, for her take on the issue.  Tracy wrote:

The Jane Test is concerned with is there actually anything in the character description that hints at the substance of the woman, highlighting what it might be that makes her tick, worthy of some screen time.  Underneath the gloss and female beauty surely it is possible to extract, and display, a new kind of essence.   The old favourite aesthetic image is no longer of any consequence.  Writers have to do better.

The Test suggests there are three obvious pitfalls that undermine the female character.  If a writer can find a way to describe the character, and avoid the pitfalls, then they will be well on the way to writing a compelling character.  A character that is not defined by the length of her legs, the age bracket she falls into, nor the fact that she is hooked up to an older man.

There have got to be ways to take the sexism out of description.  Ways in which the inherent qualities of the female character leave potential readers and viewers with a reformed, and informed opinion that equality does exist.

Well, obviously, Tracy agrees there is a problem — as do I.  I’m just not certain running a screenplay by the Three Simple Rules constitutes an adequate test/solution.



We all know what the Bechdel test is,  The Bechdel test asks whether a film (or any work of fiction, for that matter) features at least two females who talk to each other about something other than a male.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that on the HAGS Podcast, HAGS co-hosts Riley Rose Critchlow and Nicole Wyland brought up the Jane test during their second episode which centered on INTELLIGENCE.


What though is the Jane test, and where did it come from?

On twitter, a professional script reader named Ross Putman pulls the introduction of female characters out of screenplays, changes all the characters names to “Jane,” then tweets the description the first time we see them.  Putnam’s findings reveal a superficial focus on a female characters’ looks, and a telling dearth of information about what makes them tick as a person.

Specifically, Putnam examines three things:  1) Does The Introduction Focus on the External Attributes of the Character?  2) Is She a Twenty- or Thirtysomething?  3) Is She Dating Someone Decades Older Than Her?

Here’s where I’m torn:  In RIDING ARISTOTLE, the last feature screenplay I wrote, the protagonist is a female.  It’s 1908, and she is the first female dean of a major university.  The first time we see her, she is splashed in the face when a nearby horse steps in a puddle of water.  So it’s a focus on an external attribute (Rule 1), but it is by no means a sexy description of her physical looks.  Next, she is 37, which would trigger Rule 2.  However, I didn’t write her as 37, to portray her as sexually vibrant, nor anything close to that.  Since she is a fictional character, I wondered what the youngest age that a person could become a dean — and for it still be somewhat believable, but more importantly, remarkable.  The point was she had made amazing achievements in grad school (finishing at 26), then as a professor (five years, making her 31), then as a department head (another 6 years, making her 37) — achievements so large, every step of the way, that they could not be ignored.  She exceled her way up the academic ladder at a time when the odds were stacked against her.  There’s no way THAT’S sexist.  To the contrary, her age is a testament to her advanced abilities.  Lastly, Rule 3 — not only is my protagonist NOT dating an older man, she is married to a much younger man (in 1908, another nod to her independent streak).  On the other hand, I do have an older man chasing her.  Am I guilty of violating Rule 3?  Or am I subverting it, by having my protagonist (SPOILER ALERT) stay loyal to her younger husband?

See what I mean?  A case could be made that my protagonist does not pass the Jane test — but there’s no way my protagonist is anywhere near the same as a lithe Meagan Fox glistening with sweat in her Daisy Dukes in Transformers.  This is not to say that Putnam’s observations are wrong.  I agree with him that there is a problem.  I’m just saying that describing the problem is not as cut-and-dried simple as 1 – 2 – 3.

Clearly there is more to be said about this topic.  This won’t be the last time we discuss the Jane test on this blog.