Tag: Indie

NO TAX ON TAMPONS:  Ben Elton’s Amazing THREE SUMMERS

NO TAX ON TAMPONS: Ben Elton’s Amazing THREE SUMMERS

Ben Elton’s superb Three Summers skewers neophobes, reactionaries, chauvinism, social politics, political correctness (yes, there’s a difference), property rights (both national and individual), race relations, academia, pretentious artists, sampling, fame, and ensemble comedies.  Well perhaps skewers is the wrong word.  More like progressively nudges.  At the same time, Three Summers embraces change, personal growth, doing good, doing right (yes, there’s a difference), respecting heritage, opening dialogues, teaching inspirationally, creatives, creator’s parity, and ensemble comedies.  Elton is masterful really.  Really.

I’m not sure why we Americans feel like we have to compare all directors to North American ones; in fact, I find it distasteful when we do.  I prefer to think of it as an exercise of merely who came first.  Based on Three Summers, Ben Elton sits at the head of the short list that includes Christopher Guest (only Elton has a bigger heart) and — dare I say it — Robert Altman (only Elton has a bigger funnybone).

At the core of this story, told over the course of three consecutive summers and set in a fictional but familiar Australian folk festival called Westival, is an attraction story (it’s not really a traditional love story until Act III, and even then it’s a step above) between Keevy (played by Rebecca Breeds, who delights with her authenticity as a humble musical crowdpleaser) and Roland (played by Robert Sheehan, who hits every note — literally — just right as a smug yet talented creative).

Words are precious to Elton.  Take Keevy, for example, Irish (spelled Keavy or Caoimhe) for beautiful meadow.  It also means precious (there’s that word again), graceful, and loved for her humour.  As for Roland, his name no doubt is a nod by Elton to the synthesizer manufacturer, as Elton no doubt knows all about the syhthesizer manufacturer’s D-Beam feature.  The D-Beam allows you to pitch bend to make your synth sound like a theramin, which is the instrument Roland brings to Wesitval and the subject of one of the many (many!) running gags in the film.

“It’s the nature of the line, that there’s somebody on the end of it.”

Not only are there many (many!) multiple gags in Three Summers. there are more great lines than I’ve heard in a long time.  Not just toss-off throwaway lines either, but jokes imbued with meaning that you’ll remember forever (like the tampon line uttered by Diamond–more on her later– at the top of this post).  As a screenwriter myself, I left the theater inspired.

Even the supporting characters have nice arcs.  Elton really does a great job with his supporting characters — and there are many.  Each one, such as Diamond (Adriane Daff)) the angelic-voiced innocent, who twists traditional Australian folk pleasantries (such as “Waltzing Matilda”) into hostile political screeds, is well-written and perfectly cast.  One after another after another (after another), we meet fresh new characters, never before seen on screen, yet we feel like we know them inside and out.

It is hard to believe it has been almost twenty years since Ben Elton has directed a feature.  Let’s hope he doesn’t wait another twenty years to get behind the camera again.

SCORE:  9.5/10

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Jon Meyers saw 22 films at the 2018 Edinburgh International Film Festival.  Ben Elton’s Three Summers was his favorite.

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REBEKAH FIESCHI TELLS JON MEYERS SOME THINGS SHE’S NEVER TOLD ANYONE ELSE

REBEKAH FIESCHI TELLS JON MEYERS SOME THINGS SHE’S NEVER TOLD ANYONE ELSE

Last month, I had the opportunity to interview my friend Rebekah Fieschi for the second time in the last year.  A lot — and I mean a lot — has happened since the last time.
Rebekah Fieschi is an award-winning writer/director from a tiny island in the south of France. Her new film, Sylphvania Grove, successfully crowdfunded on Seed&Spark and will debut in film festivals later this year.. Her previous, Mauvaises Têtes, is an award-winning reinvention of classic Hollywood horror films such as Frankenstein; Mauvaises Têtes 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.
After studying filmmaking in Paris, Rebekah moved to New York in 2010. She is also an advocate of fair gender representation in cinema, she is known for giving nuanced voices to female characters and is part of a group of filmmakers seeking to transform the industry. Her first feature film, Beast, is currently in development.
rebekah2
Rebekah Fieschi (center) with other female filmmakers before the first shot of Sylphvania Grove.
JON MEYERS:  Hello Rebekah Fieschi.  Thank you for this, our second interview, in less than a year.  Why don’t we start by getting my readers caught up.  I’ve spoken to you, of course, of and on — but tell everybody else about what’s happened from the last time we’ve spoken publicly until today, the status of Sylphvania Grove, the preparation for your feature, what you had for breakfast this morning…  You know, the usual.
REBEKAH FIESCHI:  Hey Jon Meyers, I’m thrilled to be speaking with you again so soon! Quite a lot has happened since we spoke last: Sylphvania Grove’s crowdfunding campaign went on to get 200% funded (which I still struggle to believe and feel endlessly grateful for), we shot the film, edited it and went through most of the post production process, I’m hoping I’ll be able to finally say “Sylphvania Grove is done” in a few days (I am DYING to share it with our lead Maxine Wanderer who is truly extraordinary in it, and then of course our supporters and the rest of the world!), and I’ve been submitting a work in progress to a handful of festivals. [Editor’s Note:  While preparing this interview, Rebekah did indeed finish Sylphvania Grove.  There’s no trailer yet — but soon.  Meanwhile, you can check out the teaser here:     ]
JM:  I can’t wait to see the rest of it.  I’m so excited for you.  What else is new?
RF:  Well, I completed my first feature script, Beast, in January. Check out the poster for the script:
beast
JM:  Ooooohhh!  Cool.  Beautiful poster. Tell me more.
RF:  It’s a story I’ve been carrying with me for years and was finally able to put on paper, it’s very different from anything seen before and I can’t wait to connect with people through it. It’s a psychological horror film that tells the story of Bobby, who’s disease threatens to take on a monstrous form while mounting her first stage production. I’m planning  to crowd fund part of it’s budget in 2019, I can’t wait to start talking about it more.
JM:   Same!  Except that my cream cheese was half a schmear (and fat free), and my latte was hot. 
          Beast sounds great.   As usual, what an amazing idea.  And I’m sure, like your other work, it will play well at festivals.  Speaking of festivals, I’m going to Edinburgh this year, in June.  I’ll be sure to tell everybody and anybody about Beast. 
RF:  Spreading the word is always a great help!
JM:  By the way, Edinburgh just announced one of its featured theme retrospectives:  American Woman: Female Directors in American Cinema.  That’s right up our alley, isn’t it?  I’ve been meaning to ask you about this, so now is as good a time as any.  Now that #MeToo permeates the news cycle, do you see yourself altering — in any way — how you make movies?  Like me, you have always been pro-woman.  To those late to the party, are you more “It’s about time, y’all” or “Where’ve you’ve been for the last ten years?”

It’s about time, y’all! I don’t think it will alter the way I make movies, but it definitely gives me more confidence in many ways and makes me feel less alone in my battles. I hope it will change the way a lot of movies are made and bring positive change and safer environments throughout industries.

JM:  So true.  Hey, thanks Rebekah Fieschi for giving me some of your valuable time.  As always you’re always welcome here on my page.  Make sure you let my readers know when that Sylphvania Grove trailer is available.

RF:  Will do, Jon Meyers.  Thanks again for all you do.

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BONUS NEWS:

Rebekah just put up a new Patreon page.  If you want to support her efforts to raise the profile of female filmmakers, you can do so here, for as little as $1 a month:
How cool would it be if you could be one of the first 25 people to support her?   Now’s your chance.
Here are Rebekah’s other links as well:
REBEKAH FIESCHI HAS SOME BIG NEWS FOR YOU

REBEKAH FIESCHI HAS SOME BIG NEWS FOR YOU

***SCOOP***

I can’t reveal the exact date (but soon, very soon); however, director/gender fairness advocate Rebekah Fieschi has some exciting news to share — and she’s letting ME tell YOU, my loyal readers, FIRST!!!

This is an especially sweet moment for us, as some of you were complicit in helping Rebekah get past the 500 follower mark on her Seed & Spark campaign for Sylphvania Grove last year.  Which leads us to our big news…

Sylphvania Grove is out of color correction, and THERE GOING TO BE AN ACTUAL TRAILER!!!  And YOU get to be among the first to see it!!!

Better yet, to add even more excitement to this already exciting event, I am in the middle of another interview with Rebekah and will be releasing it HERE to coincide with the release of the trailer.

If you’re new to this blog, or to Rebekah Fieschi, below are some links to get you up to speed with the wonder that is Sylphvania Grove — including a link to my previous interview with Rebekah which believe it or not was almost a year ago at this point.

Be sure to follow me on all of my social media platforms, as well as Rebekah Fieschi, so you don’t miss when the trailer release date is announced.

 

LINKS

 

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.

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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

 

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

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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