Tag: filmmaking

THE YAEL SHAVITT INTERVIEW

THE YAEL SHAVITT INTERVIEW

Yael Shavitt is humble.

Take a quick glance at Yael Shavitt’s IMDb page, and you will see a considerable list of notable accomplishments.  If you’ve followed her crowdfunding campaign for Split on my facebook page during the last week, or on Split’s actual Seed & Spark page itself, you’ve seen her add some additional exceptional accomplishments.  And yet, over the course of our discussions during the last month, not once — seriously, not once — has she ever given herself a well-deserved pat on the back.  Instead, with her ever-present candor and grace, she is always quick to point out that any recent success she has enjoyed is attributable to two things:  Her female-based production team, and her very loyal followers (in other words, YOU).

I tried to dig a little deeper into Yael as a creative and what makes her tick.  You’ll see her graciousness in her answers, as she always brings it back to her team.  So without further ado,  my interview with Yael Shavitt begins here.

JON:     Good evening Yael. Thank you for letting me ask you a few questions about you and your new project, Split. Describe for my readers the premise, where the idea originated, and why it was important for the protagonist to be female.

YAEL SHAVITT:     Hi, and thank you so much for taking the time to chat! 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. A few years ago I simply woke up early one morning with the seed of the idea for Split in my head. I think it literally woke me up. Many drafts and re-writes later I can say that I wanted to explore this premise because in my own life I often look back at events and try to follow the thread connecting them. Sometimes I can clearly see how seemingly unrelated events led to each other. From there it’s an easy path to playing with the thought of taking one of those events out of the equation, and wondering how it would affect the rest of my life. I do believe we need more stories with female protagonists, and I personally both seek out and enjoy consuming these stories. The reason Split’s protagonist is female is because I’m a woman, and I was telling the story through my own eyes. I didn’t make her female as opposed to making her anything else. It was my default. Once the script started taking shape, however, it did become clear to me that I wanted to have a female team of filmmakers leading the project into production. And I’m so happy I made that decision.

JON:     Thank you Yael. You just said the protagonist (Sammy/Sam/Samantha) is a woman because you’re a woman — in addition to your gender, what other parts of you did you bring to the creation of Sammy? Did your upbringing inform her in anyway?

YAEL SHAVITT:     Some elements in my life have certainly inspired parts of the story. Like Sammy, I too auditioned for the theater department of an arts high school at 13. I’ve always felt that the experience of attending that unique school for four years made a big impact on my life. And I think getting into the school or not getting into the school, like any other audition, is as much about luck and circumstances as it is about skill or potential. So that was a crossroad I wanted to look at.

JON:     Of course. That makes total sense, Yael, Split tackles some pretty big themes, such as Destiny and Choice. It brings to mind my personal awareness of the truth that a decision you make on Monday doesn’t just affect the following Tuesday; it affects some event or some person on a Tuesday twenty years into the future. Talk a little bit more about that in general, Yael.

YAEL SHAVITT:     Well, I like to take a positive approach to how I think about this, and I believe that’s influenced my writing as well. Yes, we make a million decisions every day and any one of them may have repercussions we can’t even imagine. But I also think there are certain milestones in our life that we can potentially reach, no matter what path we take. So that one way or another we do get to the places we’re meant to end up at, and we do meet the people we’re meant to meet. And I don’t think we can mess that up with one “wrong” move.

JON:     Interesting. It’s almost as if there’s a larger all-encompassing plan, not our specific plan, that’s going to completed no matter what. Like in Numbers (or In The Wilderness), Moses starts towards the Promised Land with about 70 people — 39 years later, Moses didn’t make it, but over 600,000 people wound up where they were meant to be. The story is in the journey between the Promise and the Place, isn’t it? Speaking of place, the all female team behind Split appears to also be an all New York team. How did you pull this team together, and how does a New York sensibility inform the project?

YAEL SHAVITT:  One of the things I love about New York is that anyone can be whoever they want to be here. It’s such a diverse place, in various respects, and in my experience it’s also a place that’s accepting of diversity. That’s something that I hope to capture in Split. There are different ways to be, and as long as you’re not hurting anyone, they’re all legitimate. I want the characters of the show to reflect that. New York is also such a wonderful place to be looking for artistic collaborators, honestly. I found our director Molly McGaughey and our DP Samantha Pyra through their previous work, online. I reached out to each of them, we met up and we clicked. Producer Hannah Hancock Rubinsky and I met a few years ago in a writing class. Together with anther writer from that class we later formed our own little writers group. It was to this group that I brought the very first drafts of Split. So it was so lovely when Hannah decided to come on board as producer!

JON:     That’s all very true about New York. Las Vegas is a lot like that too, and yet the sensibilities are so different. Anyway, this will be the last question, Yael. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, and we should definitely do it again sometime. So, as we close this interviewing, you are preparing to launch your Seed & Spark campaign. Since this interview won’t be released until later, when you are on the verge of some milestone during that campaign, I’d like to skip ahead to the day after the campaign ends. You’re exhilarated and you’re pumped! Your batteries are charged and you’re ready to go! What’s the first thing you do, and then what’s next?

YAEL SHAVITT:     Well, the first thing I’d like to do after the campaign ends is go off for a few days and simply rest. Preferably on a beach. With minimal engagement with technology. After that, my team and I will be going into pre-production and production for the remaining five Split episodes! It’s going to be exciting and challenging, and so much fun. Just like it was when we filmed the pilot, only multiplied by five. I can’t wait!

JON:     In May, I spent 19 days in a cabin in the woods without internet. Great idea on paper. (beat)  On paper.  (long beat)  So… thank you Yael Shavitt for your time. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan for proceeding. You are an awesome interview, by the way. Stay in touch. Don’t be a stranger. I’ll be watching Split’s Seed & Spark campaign, and look forward to watching you hit 100%.  And, of course, when it is completed, I’ll be watching Split!

YAEL SHAVITT:     Sounds good, Jon.  Thank you, I really enjoyed your thoughtful questions as well!  And thanks so much for everything! Let me know if you need anything else.  Cheers.

<><><>

UPDATE:  As of this writing, on 07.10.17,  5:30AM (EST), Split is at 119% of their target goal on Seed & Spark.  HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP.  Would you be so kind as to go to Split’s Seed & Spark page, and follow them?  IT’S FREE, and if they get to 250 followers by the end of the week, Seed & Spark will contribute $10,000 worth of perks to the campaign.

Split team 03

 

Split’s Seed & Spark Page

www.facebook.com/splitwebseries

www.instagram.com/splitwebseriesofficial

www.twitter.com/splitwebseries

www.yaelshavitt.com

Yael Shavitt’s IMDb Page

 

FEATURE PHOTO (L to R): Molly McGaughey, Yaeel Shavitt, Hannah Hancock Rubinsky

BOTTOM PHOTO (L to R):  Yael Shavitt, Hannah Hancock Rubinsky, Molly McGaughey, Samantha Pyra

 

Advertisements
FEMALE FILMMAKERS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE A 72 HOUR CHALLENGE … IN JUST 7 HOURS !!!

FEMALE FILMMAKERS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE A 72 HOUR CHALLENGE … IN JUST 7 HOURS !!!

ICYMI, I just posted this on my facebook page

[Additional Ed. Notes from me in parenthesis.]

 

*****STOP THE PRESSES*****

So this happened. As Yael Shavitt announced [here]on my Filmic The Page blog Friday morning at 7AM, Split: the Web Series had a matching donor for a 72 hour period to help them reach 100% on their Seed&Spark campaign.

Being the powerful influencer/incentivizer/rocket booster that I am, I had intended on releasing my EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Yael 24 hours before that 72 hour period ended.

Well, #GuessWhatNowWhat. SPLIT became 100% FULLY FUNDED in about 7 hours, not 72. By Friday afternoon they had reached their goal. Thanks to many of YOU (and many others across the interweb).

NOW, it gets even better. I just received this email from Yael and her team announcing her STRETCH GOALS, so let’s not stop now. Besides telling you what a little more $$$ will mean to this female-driven production, NOTE WHAT 250 FOLLOWERS ON SEED & SPARK will give them. Here’s the email:
100% & BEYOND

Dear Split Supporters,

Yesterday was a very eventful day [part 1]…

We reached and exceeded our initial goal of $8,000! You all pitched in so beautifully that we raised $1,015 in a single day (!) which in turn became $2,015 today, after being matched by our Anonymous Donor.

This brings us to 114% of our initial goal. Wow. Wow! And once again, wow!

We cannot thank you enough for the amazing support you’ve shown us throughout this campaign so far.

– Wait, does this mean the campaign is over?

– So glad you asked. Not at all!

The initial $8k goal we set is only a portion of the overall budget we need to produce the remaining five Split episodes.

With 7 days left to the campaign, we’re now setting a STRETCH GOAL of $10,500.

Ending the campaign with this amount would mean we’d only need to secure an additional $5,500 from grants and/or personal funds to produce the rest of the episodes. This will pave the way for us to film these episodes this very summer with the full crew, equipment and mojo we had for the pilot.

So if you’ve been meaning to give, but haven’t had a chance yet, your contribution would still be just as helpful now!

https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/split

Yesterday was a very eventful day [part 2]…

We reached 200 campaign followers yesterday! Hooray! To celebrate we’re sharing this silly Blooper Reel with you, our loyal supporters. Enjoy…

https://youtu.be/hhvCvv8fVJc

Our next target is to reach 250 followers. This will make us eligible for Seed&Spark’s #DiversityIsAlwaysOn Filmmaker Perks ($10,000 worth of perks!). Check it out:

https://www.seedandspark.com/100days/perks

As always, thank you for your continued support,

Hannah, Molly, Pyra & Yael

<><><>

So there you have it. I want to point out that FOLLOWING IS FREE on Seed & Spark, so if you could SHARE this whole post, and we can get them over the 250 followers, they get all those perks ($10,000 worth) AT NO COST TO YOU WHATSOEVER.

Follow, follow, follow. SHARE, SHARE, SHARE.

And speaking of following, you’ll definitely want to follow my blog [this very one you are reading right now] now at www.filmicthepage.wordpress.com because due to this AWESOME turn of events, I will release the interview (FINALLY!!!) on Monday morning.

#FemaleFilmmakers #WomenInHollywood #GenderFairness
#IndieFilm #Indie #Creatives #WomenEmpowerment #Empowerment #Feminism

GENEROSITY TIMES 2

GENEROSITY TIMES 2

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

www.facebook.com/splitwebseries

www.instagram.com/splitwebseriesofficial

www.twitter.com/splitwebseries

www.yaelshavitt.com

Yael Shavitt’s IMDb Page

TODAY IS A GOOD DAY FOR REBEKAH FIESCHI; WILL YOU HELP MAKE TOMORROW EVEN BETTER FOR HER?

TODAY IS A GOOD DAY FOR REBEKAH FIESCHI; WILL YOU HELP MAKE TOMORROW EVEN BETTER FOR HER?

What better day than today to release my interview with Rebekah Fieschi?  Today, Sylphvania Grove, her latest project on Seed & Spark, just passed the $11,000 mark.  (That puts them at 183% of their initial $6,000 goal.)  You can click through to that page on any of the links embedded in this page to see how all that money will be used.  And if you still want to join Rebekah (shown above with Maxine Wanderer who plays the lead, Mycena) on her journey, it is not too late.  As of this writing, there is a little over a week left.

SylvaniaGrove11005

Now,  equally important to the money, is the number of followers they have on that page.  This gives you an opportunity to help them out FOR FREE.  They just surpassed the 350 follower tally — and now we need to help them to get to 500 followers.  We can do this!!!  Again, following them is FREE TO YOU; and yet it unlocks all kinds of promotional assistance for Rebekah on Seed & Spark.  So follow them now — and if you really want to help them even more, share this blog post on facebook, or twitter, or reblog it on your blog.  The more eyeballs that see this plea, the better.

Your reward?  Besides the fact that you have the self-satisfaction of helping a worthy project, I’m also giving you this exclusive interview with Rebekah, right now, as a Thank You…

JON MEYERS INTERVIEWS REBEKAH FIESCHI

Jon:   Hi, Rebekah. Thanks for taking my questions. I think it’s great that five out of six of the characters in Sylphvania Grove are female. What was your inspiration for Mycena? Where does her name come from?

Rebekah:   Hey Jon, of course I am happy to. My inspiration for Mycena first came while baby sitting a lot, witnessing how kids interacted with their parents and how their behavior or even personality would change when they wanted a specific reaction out of them. I also find it fascinating and heart wrenching when a child would question everything they like or dislike, everything that constitute the world they live in and who they are because of comments heard at school. How words of judgement have the power to make them feel vulnerable even in their safe place. Then Mycena’s character evolved as I started to add autobiographical elements such as wanting to always stay true to myself and preserving my integrity while dying to fit in. I think all these are universal feelings, we all want to fit in somewhere and we all want to be ourselves but it makes us vulnerable not to put on a face to confront the world. The word mycena is actually a type of mushroom, I really love the way it sounds and I liked the idea that the name of this 10-year-old character battling not to fit in a mold came from something that has a tendency to grow too fast and is considered unpleasant.

Jon:   Great answer. When I name my characters, I do the same thing. By giving them a unique name which has a significant meaning (sometimes only to myself) it also helps me keep each character’s voice distinct.

Although I do enjoy Wes Anderson and the Coens, all of my other favorite hyphenates are female — Penelope Spheeris, Kat Candler, and Debra Granik, come to mind. (And now you of course ) When I met Kat Candler, she was such a positive force in the room, it literally changed the course of my life. Who are your personal influences, and have you had the pleasure of meeting any of them? If so, what did you take away from those meetings?

Rebekah:   It’s so great that you got to meet an influence of yours and that it had such an impact on you. I love the works of Guillermo Del Toro and Tim Burton because they are such strong visual storytellers and tell the type of stories I want to tell. Unfortunately, very few of my cinematic influences are female, probably because I love genre films so much and that’s the hardest place to find a woman director. Sofia Coppola’s work had a huge impact on my teenage life and I’m still hugely inspired by her aesthetic and poetic way of telling a story. I’ve yet to meet any of the filmmakers that have inspired me, but I would love to meet a woman like Susan Sarandon someday, she always speaks her mind and is not afraid to fight for her beliefs.

Jon:   Another great answer. Thank you. Do you know Dianne Bellino’s The Itching? She’s her own person, of course, but I see Tim Burton influences in her for sure. Check it out here on Vimeo; it’s only 10 minutes.   Haunting and lovely at the same time.

My next question is about you.  Presupposing you can’t have both….     Would you rather be the Big Fish in the Small Pond (get the Big Fish reference?) or helm a blockbuster with no award chatter surrounding it?  Indie darling or Hollywood anomaly?

Rebekah:   I do know The Itching; it’s a wonderful short and I’m a big fan of stop-motion. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

On the big versus small…. hmmm that’s a tough question. Of course I would love to make a movie that’s extremely successful at the box office, it would mean that my film has reached a wider audience and it technically should enable me to make another film. But I feel that if you make movies in Hollywood you lose some artistic freedom, and that a big chunk of your audience only sees your movie as a piece of entertainment they consume, while festivals and the indie world has more respect and interest in the artistic and meaningful aspect of a film. Really, it doesn’t matter much, what I really want is for my films to be seen and for people to feel something when they watch, to connect with the characters and feel invested in the story. I hope that my films will give people the magical feeling I get when I watch a movie I love.

Jon:   Thank you, Rebekah.  Not a week goes by that I don’t think about The Itching.  (Chuckles.)  Now THAT’S an interesting sentence.  Seriously, though, that movie really touched me. I agree with you. I can’t wait to see what Dianne does next.

Speaking of next, once Sylphvania Grove gets made, the “next” for that will be festivals right? Mauvaises Têtes received so many laurels.  I know some of those were from horror festivals, but many were not — since Sylphvania Grove is fantasy, not horror, about what percent overlap do you think you’ll see as far as festival entries? Do you see the success of Mauvaises Têtes helping Sylphvania GroveTell me a little bit about that — possible comparisons and differences for the two films in terms of festival runs.

Rebekah:   Yes, I will be submitting Sylphvania Grove to festivals. I’m hoping it will be even more successful than Mauvaises Têtes, which is a very different movie that targets a different, probably smaller audience (even though some of the audience over lapse). My guess is that it would fit in both genre and regular festivals, but even though I put a lot of research in festivals, it’s always a little bit of a guessing game and you can never know what is going to happen.

Jon:   Thanks.   I’m not surprised that you do put a lot of research into them [the festivals].  It appears you are very thorough about everything you do.

Last question… for this interview anyway.   What’s next for Rebekah Fieschi? After Sylphvania Grove, how will you decide which project to tackle next? I have an ongoing binder of the next five scripts — at least five– I’m going to write, with approximate start and finish dates over the next four years. It changes a little but not much — do you have a similar process? What’s “five years from now” look like to you?

Rebekah:   After Sylphvania Grove, I plan on very quickly getting into pre-production for my first feature film.   It is currently untitled but it is a new turn on the classic gothic haunted house story.   It is a story that is very dear to me — the script is not yet completed but will be by the end of summer.  I have another feature script I am working on but that one is much more expensive to make and I feel I really need the experience of making a feature film before getting it into production. But I love short films and I always have short tales to tell, I hope to be able to shoot a no-budget micro short this fall called The Unvisited, and I have been working on a stop-motion animation short for a year which is a great challenge.  I count on creating it continuously for another year.  It is entitled The Old Man and the Cradle. The next five years look very busy with productions and hard work, and I’m sure they will be full of surprises.

Jon:   All of those sound so cool. Your first feature!!!  Can I name it?  (Chuckles.)  And simultaneously the stop-motion project, on top of everything else? Now THAT’S my kind of ambition!!!

Thank you again for doing this interview, Rebekah. It has been a total pleasure for me to meet you, and learn about you and what makes you tick. I’ll let you know when I post it on the blog.  Thank you one last time, and we’ll talk again, I’m sure.

Rebekah:   Absolutely — it is my pleasure, I’m very happy to have made a new friend and film connection! I can’t wait to see what happens with your scripts!

Jon:   Merci! I can’t wait either. Have a great weekend, Rebekah.

—–
LINKS
Sylphvania Grove’s Seed & Spark Page — FOLLOW THEM FOR FREE !!!
WHY REBEKAH FIESCHI MATTERS

WHY REBEKAH FIESCHI MATTERS

Before I get sideway glances for touting another Seed & Spark project, let me just say that Rebekah Fieschi ‘s latest project, Sylphvania Grove, has already surpassed 169% of its goal.  Of course, more followers would be great (more followers = more benefits unlocked for the project) — but that’s not the purpose of my blog post this week.  My purpose is to introduce you Rebekah because she has the ability to change the way we see things, as well as the things we see.  I have no doubt she will do both.

Rebekah is an advocate of fair gender representation in filmmaking.  In fact, let me let her tell you in her own words:

“I do not want to be a female filmmaker, I just want to be a filmmaker but I have been thrust into a world in which women are not fairly represented so I’m proud to give nuanced voices to female characters and to be part of the group seeking to transform the industry.”  — Rebekah Fieschi

WHO IS REBEKAH FIESCHI?

Rebekah Fieschi is a New York based writer/director from a tiny island in the south of France who makes peculiar fantasy and gothic horror films through her company Horromance Productions. Her most recent short, Mauvaises Têtes, is an award-winning reinvention of classic Hollywood horror films such as Frankenstein which was well received in film festivals around the world. Her focus is to bring more entertaining, yet layered, character driven gothic horror and fantasy films to the screen. Her career as a storyteller began as a small child, making up elaborate tales to tell her family and friends. This natural talent for make-believe and keen visual imagination, had by age eleven, led her to decide on a directing career. After studying filmmaking in Paris, Rebekah moved to New York in 2010.  Equally important, as I mentioned at the outset, she is also an advocate of fair gender representation in cinema.

In Sylphvania Grove, five of the six characters are female, including the ten-year-old lead, Mycena.  Rebekah and her team want to help empower young girls and contribute to fair gender representation on screen, especially in the fantasy genre. Their writer/director and much of the crew are also women.

SylphvaniaCast

Rebekah explains the lack of female representation in fantasy by stating, “A big reason for the lack of female protagonists in fantasy films is that women are not being hired to direct big budget films and fantasy films typically require larger budgets.”  Rebekah wants to see that change.  She is doing her part to see that it does.
I asked Rebekah why she feels a focus on a young female protagonist is so important to the genre.  She told me:
I remember very strongly that as a kid I wanted to be like a boy and that I felt a sort of shame for being a girl, according to a study recently published in Science girls start believing they are less capable than boys by age six, even though their academic achievements are usually higher. Stories help construct our view of the world and historically in fairy tales, fantasy/adventure movies, books etc. the woman character (if there is one) either has to become a princess or find happiness/be rescued by prince charming or a knight in shining armor. I think it’s important that girls/women don’t have to think of themselves in relationship to boys/men, and that they can have a professional ambition other than becoming a princess. There’s no reason we can’t have female characters that behave the same ways as male characters in movies like The Never Ending Story and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial characters that make decisions and take actions to be in control of their own life. If I can identify with the likes Atreyu, Elliot, Frodo and Harry, I don’t see any reason why boys can’t also identify with girl heroes.
I agree with Rebekah completely, of course.  If you agree with us, put your fingers where your mouth is (ew!) and click over to the Sylphvania Grove page and follow it right now.
Help her get to 500 followers so Seed & Spark will unlock some cool assistance ($9000 worth) for this project.  You can watch a promo clip for it here.  Then watch this blog for excerpts of my upcoming interview with her.
Oh, one more thing,  Rebekah turned me on to this podcast:  PunchFarm Podcast.

I will be blogging about that podcast next.