Tag: Seed & Spark

“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 www.carlotta-summers.com

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 facebook.com! 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:  butterfliesfeaturefilm@gmail.com ]

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 (http://www.ajwilhelm.com/)







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


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.


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.



Do or do not…there is no say.

I’m aware I am misquoting Yoda — but now that I have your attention, let me tell you how we got here.

I don’t use facebook for politics.  I don’t use it to tear people down.  I don’t even se it to “increase awareness” of a negative happening, no matter how atrocious.  Is the Syrian refugee crisis terrible?  Yes.  Does the interweb need my voice as the 1,000,001st voice crying over spilt milk?  No.  I’d rather take action than help “raise awareness” about an issue that has been in the headline for six years.  Taking action > More talk.

Actions speak louder than words.

I was recently smeared online for refusing to join an online campaign smearing, within a smear group’s bubble, someone else online for their non-attention to gender equality issues.  I agreed with the group’s position 100%.  I agreed the someone else, the offender, was wrong 100%.  I just knew that badmouthing the offender within this group’s smear bubble — a group that already hated him — was going to make absolutely zero difference.

So the group turned on me.  And the group’s leader insulted me personally, name called me, and threatened my family (which I really don’t have any here) — all because I wouldn’t share a facebook post.  The negativity of this group leader changed how many hearts?  When I explained that I had marched in solidarity for this cause, and contributed my hard earned money towards building bridges which could help right this wrong — that I had physically taken action and sought solutions to remedy the situation — my efforts were met with “So?  None of that matters if you won’t share my post.”

The reason I told that story is because it illustrates the point I verbalized in the headline:


The women from TeamRAD are doing just that with their Seed &Spark campaign for their Soiled Doves TV Pilot.  They are taking your money, and their money, and the matching donors’ money, and using it to make a difference when it comes to gender equality in Hollywood.  As I write this, there are about 12 hours left to the campaign, and they are at 83% of their goal.  Let’s put them over the top this morning.


There are several cool incentives remaining.  You can see them all here.

By the way this is where your money will go:

Go.  Do.  Make a difference.

Why We All Matter

Why We All Matter

So last Friday, at 9:00pm, I got involved.

Through a mutual facebook friend (Pamela Daly, this means you), I discovered a campaign on Seed & Spark for Soiled Doves, a soon-to-be-shot pilot for the teevee.  Soiled Doves is a gritty female-centric Western with supernatural undertones.  It is also the lovechild of TeamRAD Productions.  More on them in a bit.

What separates this project from the thousands of others that are in the works all over this country at this very moment?  Let’s let TeamRAD answer that for you (from their Seed & Spark campaign):

Unlike most Westerns, our story is written by 3 women about 3 women. But we don’t stop there. Women will also be in the limelight behind the camera. Our pilot will be Directed and Produced by women, and we are committed to filling crew positions with many uber-talented ladies!


Those of you that know me, or follow this blog, see why I was immediately all-in on Soiled Doves.  If you’d like to see how all-in I was on Friday night, check out the comments under this post.

What happened was that Pamela made a cursory mention of the project needing to hit 500 followers on Seed & Spark –if they could, they had a matching donor who was willing to match the contributions made by the public up to a certain amount.  And what did that mean to TeamRAD?

Rebecca Holopter, one of the co-founders of TeamRAD Productions, explains it like this:

Hitting 500 followers on our Seed & Spark page means important meetings with PR, production companies and rental discounts. It means we received a $9,000 donation that goes straight to our pilot budget. Most importantly, it means we have 500 people who support us and want to see Soiled Doves come to life.

So, now that I’ve mentioned Rebecca’s name, let’s meet the whole TeamRAD (again, from their Seed & Spark campaign):

Verity Butler is a co-founder of TeamRAD Productions, originating from Houston, Texas. This blonde beauty can be seen asking for help in Clint’s Eastwood’s Sully and is an octopus lover.

Rebecca Holopter is a co-founder of TeamRAD Productions, hailing from Springfield, Missouri. This auburn artist starred in a film that Martin Landau vigorously clapped for, and she loves squirrels.

Darby Kennerly is a co-founder of TeamRAD Productions, hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana. This raven rascal can be heard hi-yah-ing across the Korean video game world and is a zebra fanatic.

In addition to that strong core, the Soiled Doves project also has:

Director, Lauren Tracy is the co-founder of Blue Fever Films, a streaming platform for the best video content focused on women. That’s right, she started a dang Netflix for women!  Check it out, https://www.bluefevr.com.  She was a former feature film editor, Lionsgate ‘Storytellers: New Voices of the Twilight Saga’ finalist, worked with NYU, Avid and briefly with the amazing Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow (THE HURT LOCKER, ZERO DARK THIRTY) to bring financial award to female filmmakers.   She’s written and directed short films and music videos, and her feature film screenplay SWEET DESERT PALM was a Big Vision Empty Wallet 2015 Lab finalist.

Producer, Kristen Murtha is both a Producer and Production Manager with a Boston heart and a Hollywood mind. Her work has been seen by audiences on large and small screens around the globe, receiving recognition at over fifty film festivals as well as millions of views online. Kristen’s projects span all mediums: short film, branded content, music video, web series, television pilot, feature narrative, documentary and animated film. Her passions are compelling stories and unique experiences. Check out her website http://www.kristenmurtha.com.

The quickest and cleanest way to learn all about the project is to just go directly here:   www.teamRADtrain.com.

Now, getting back to Friday night, prior to that night, other than with Pamela, I hadn’t communicated with any of these women ever in my entire life.  However, I know the key to successful social media is to organically reach out to actual real people — and then to do so consistently.  I knew I had a core group of followers who would help me help TeamRAD if I got the word out.

And so I did.

And they did.

And you did.

And Pamela reached out to a handful of others.  And Rebecca, and Verity, and Darbs did too.  And together, we all, you all, got it done.  Pamela said it felt like waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve — and it really did.   We all took turn hitting REFRESH as we watched the tally inch from 480 towards 500.   495, 496, 497, and so on…

In a little over 2 hours, we hit and surpassed 500.  And people kept sharing, throughout the night.  Not only did we cover every time zone in the US, we had shares in Vancouver, Norwich, and London.

The next morning, Rebecca reached back out to me, and what she said to me, I will in return say to all of you:  “Thanks again for all your help!!!! You brought a lot of excitement to reaching that 500 goal!!!”


UPDATE:  I’ll post a little more about at the beginning of next week, but they have now officially entered the final week of their campaign.  They are currently up to 530 followers on Seed & Spark as I write this.  Here’s that link again if you want to join TeamRAD on their journey.