Posted by: michellemuldoon | December 31, 2016

End of Year Thanks: 2016

Happy New Year 2016

 

There’s no denying 2016 has been a challenging year for many of us, which makes giving thanks a challenge of its own sort. But amidst the sorrow, obstacles, and disappointments there have been successes, new friendships, strength and certainty.

Certainty is that understanding that there is always another well of resolve within us. It’s that moment of peace where you know that no matter what, you will find a way above the struggle. It’s the confidence to know the path you are on is the path you have chosen, and the grace that comes with that acceptance is the grace that will hold you above the swirling grey clouds.

My year has been tough, but I have the certainty that it is a year I had a hand in creating. That acceptance allows me to see so much good that has come into my life this year.

So, in no particular order, and with the caveat that I may come back and add to the list as the day goes by, I give you the people and events of my year that I am thankful for.

  • For yet another year, I will start this list with Del and Theresa Weston. It was a tough start for all of us as my 0-1 Visa application was denied. We spent the previous year looking forward to filming my feature film Dead Fest in Los Angeles, but it was now a deal that had to be dropped. Through all of it they showed me what perseverance, focus, and passion for the craft looks like. They are shining beacons for many filmmakers, but for me, they are also people I hold close to my heart with love and respect. I thank them for their leadership, their trust, and most of all, for being exactly who they are every day of their lives.
  • My family. The support I get from my siblings and my father is beyond anything I ever expected. They celebrate the good times with me, and never let me talk about giving up. They are rocks of support and I love them for it.
  • Actor and producer Frances Flanagan. She’s the friend that calls just to check on me; not text or private message, CALLS. It’s a revelation in some circles but not for Frances. She’s always there with concern and offers of help. Now that I have her in my production circle, I am not letting go.
  • Joan Macbeth is a writer and friend who took over the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival Screenplay Competition from me. I was so concerned about the baby I birthed two years ago, but in Joan I found a writer’s writer who cares about how we are all treated and will run and grow the event with the kind of integrity that makes me proud to know her. Thank you.
  • My Prosecco Friday Peeps; Sarah, Jeremy, Lini, Stevie, Wendy, Joan, Barbara, Shelley, Mirella, Frances, Jane and many others who float in and out of the group. We are creatives that meet every couple of weeks for a Friday tipple of bubbles. Without them I would feel adrift, but with them I feel I have a tribe. We support each other, laugh with each other, and keep each other going when the path seems lost. Thank you to every one of you.
  • Victoria Angell is a 2016 addition to my life and I couldn’t be luckier. We share a love of creating, and of genre programming.  I have a ton of respect for her as a person and as a producer and I can’t wait to make film with her. Thank you.
  • Fernando Mico, Brian Boyd, Don Andrews, Tracey Adlai, Carolyn Combs and James Christopher. Thank you for screening Chaos Management this year. You are the kind of people who run your events with a passion for film, and for filmmakers. Thank you for letting me be a part of your festival journeys this year.
  • Lisa Ovies. What can I say. The Puppet Killer journey has had its bumps but you stood up for what was right; you stood up for your film. You set an example for everyone; fight for what you believe in, and never let go of what you know is right. Thank you for being my friend.
  • The AOF Writing Community, and most of all, the Head Writers of the Writers Room who make the community what it is. Thank you for volunteering your time because you care, and because you are willing to invest in each other.
  • Nadia DiMofte. This woman came to me one day and asked if I ever thought about teaching workshops. Thanks to Nadia, I now teach an Introduction to Screenwriting Workshop several times a year for Raindance Vancouver. She saw something in me, and helped make it materialize. Thank you.
  • Maja Aro, thank you for showing faith in my latest project, for offering your considerable skills as a stunt coordinator, and mostly, thank you for being the kind of woman that supports other women without judgement. I can’t wait to work with you.
  • Thank you Rebecca Coleman, my partner in brunch crime. We eat, we blog, we plot together. I look forward to sharing more great meals with you in 2017.
  • Kim Barsanti. Kim is a talent agent in town that merged her own agency with Lucas Talent, creating the second largest agency in Canada. She has always supported my projects. When she heard I wanted to make an all-female re-imagining of Gunfight at the OK Corral she called and asked what she could do to help. To finish this year with such a positive and active show of support from someone so established in the local film community has made me excited for 2017.
  • My short film Chaos Management won some awards this year, as did my feature screenplay Birthday Blues. I am eternally appreciative of the vote of confidence these projects have received. Knowing my work has received an objective stamp of approval makes the journey feel less uncertain. I thank everyone for that vote of confidence, for taking the time to read or watch, and for giving me a boost when I needed it.

I could go on, and I might at a later date, but right now all I want to say is THANK YOU.

May 2017 be a year with less bumps and more celebrations. May the year bring happiness, love and success in whatever ways you define them.  This place, here and now, is where you stand. May it feel like home. May it give you the safety to step out on a walkabout of life; a journey as yet undecided in 2017.

Happy New Year.

ThankYou

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Posted by: michellemuldoon | September 28, 2016

Chaos Management: What a Run!

They say good things come in threes. If September and the beginning of October are any indications, then they come in fours and threes and it’s a combination that might have to become a lottery favorite of mine.

This weekend will mark the fourth screening of Chaos Management in the last month. The Valley Film Festival will screen our three minute short on Saturday, October 1st in this, the sixteenth edition of the Festival.  If I said I was thankful, it would be an understatement. Having worked as a screener for a festival, I know how tough these decisions can be. I’m  as excited to screen a year into our festival run as I was the first time it happened.

poster-chaos-1

(Poster Photo by Michelle Lamberson)

How have the other three screenings gone?  I don’t know where to start so I’m going to start at the beginning. Chaos screened the first full week of September at MartialCon in Los Angeles and was awarded the Best Director Award. A week later the film screened in Butte, Montana at the Covellite International Film Festival and was awarded one of three Short Film Awards. Then this weekend, after screening at the Austin Revolution Film Festival, Chaos Management was named Best Foreign Short Film.

I have never in my life had a month like this; four screenings, three nominations, three awards. It’s unbelievable. For a collaborative venture, “film” can feel lonely at times. You go through vast dry spells where it feels like you just haven’t been able to create something that connects with people and you might never will. There’s a feeling of frustration, as if your voice has gone silent and no one can hear what you’re trying to say.

Then along comes four festival directors that say, “I see you. I hear you. I know what you’re trying to do, and I support you.” When that happens, it’s like the heavens parted and the sun shines on your tiny imprint on the world. It leaves you a little light-headed and even worse, sorely lacking in a coherent vocabulary.  September 2016 has been like my personal Sally Field moment, “They like me, they really like me.” I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that. I’m still trying to shape the words to express my gratitude.

Austin Revolution Film Festival

I’ve been posting a lot about Team Chaos as of late. As a former athlete and coach, team is always the operative word for me. I know that the success of this film is not mine alone, but belongs to the entire cast and crew. Without the work and support of everyone in our credits, this month could not have happened.  I am grateful to the entire team, and think it’s high time I reminded you who they are.

TEAM CHAOS

  • Starring: Qelsey Zeeper
  • Executive Producer: Michelle Lamberson, Arne Toma
  • Producers: Frances Flanagan, Tijana Popovic
  • Associate Producers: Elena Butler, Jon Gale, Wendy D
  • Composer: The Land of Deborah
  • Director of Photography: Kenneth Lau
  • Editor: Mauri Bernstein
  • Motion Graphics Design: Krista Lomax
  • Production Manager: Tijana Popovic
  • Set Designer: Krista Lomax
  • Set Decorators: Frances Flanagan, Tijana Popovic
  • Gaffer:  Richard Macdonald
  • Sound Design: Kevin B. Barron
  • Colourist: Van Cooper
  • Sound Recordist: Eric St. Laurent
  • Voiceover Recordist: Nick Tyzio
  • 1st Assistant Camera: Marcus Fung
  • Digital Imaging Technician: Marc Baker
  • Slate: Mirella Gibeau
  • Make-Up: Hayley Miller
  • Assistant Make-Up: Denee Noel
  • Props Master: John Prowse
  • Set Photographer: Michelle Lamberson

Short Film Award

It can take a village to make three minutes on film. I don’t know how I got to be so lucky to be in this one.

 

 

Posted by: michellemuldoon | August 26, 2016

RULES TO WRITE BY

 

Typewriter

(Photo courtesy University of Worcester Screenwriting BA)

I recently spoke with a friend who provides script coverage services to a local agency.  The conversation veered towards the difference between emerging spec writers and the established writers with book value and “street cred”. The gist of the conversation was that experienced writers work on a different set of rules than the emerging writer. Scrutiny is much higher for those not established, and there is very little fudge room for those not already in the produced pipeline.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the most glaring indications that you’re a new writer.

RULES TO WRITE BY

  • Write in an active voice. “John walks to the store” NOT “John is walking to the store.”
  • If you use the word “begins” to describe an action, then that action must be interrupted. Begins implies End. Otherwise refer to point #1; write in an active voice.
  • Stop using CONTINUOUS constantly in your scene headings. If John walks from the living room to the kitchen, use a minor slug line instead of a major slug line ending in CONTINUOUS.
  • Do not describe clothing in a character introduction unless it speaks to who the character is. Give the reader, and the actor, something visual that they can work with.
  • Don’t use wrylies. Just. Don’t.

These are five of the key pointers that shine a spotlight on the emerging writer in an unflattering way. Readers see them, they notice them, and it affects their feedback.

Trust me, there are other things you shouldn’t do, but these are some of the important ones that must be purged from your screenplay.

Writing is rewriting, so never be afraid to go back to an old script, and update it with the most current rules. It’s part of the job, so roll your sleeves up, pour some coffee, and get to work.

Remember: You don’t get to re-invent the wheel, if you haven’t proven you can make one.

Posted by: michellemuldoon | August 15, 2016

On A Roll

Between Festival acceptances, nominations, and now screenplay results, the last few weeks have been nothing short of mind-blowing. Truthfully, Chaos Management truly started it’s run this year at NOVA Film Fest and it’s been non-stop since then. When you add in distribution for A Rendezvous with ShortsTV in  the US, I’m not sure if my head is going to explode or not.

When I have a run of success, it’s either been for a film or a screenplay but never for both at the same time. Not this summer. Both Chaos Management and my screenplay Birthday Blues are riding highs.

How good has it been over these last couple of weeks? Let me tell you…

BIRTHDAY BLUES

Las Vegas International Screenplay Competition

This is the first year for the Las Vegas International Screenwriting Competition, an event that prides itself on a jury that is made up of award-winning writers who read blind; meaning the scripts were submitted without any discerning marks other than the title.

Birthday Blues was first named Category Winner for Mystery Screenplays and then named to the Top Five list for all screenplays submitted. I couldn’t be prouder.

LVISC 2016

Action on Film International Film Festival

Birthday Blues has been named as an Official Selection Screenplay to the Action on Film Int’l Film Festival. While the script is not eligible for competition due to my volunteer status with the Festival, Official Selection is a stamp of approval that helps me introduce the script to other professionals at the Festival. If I want to talk to distributors or producers about the script while at AOF, it’s easier to do so with an official selection status. I’m excited that the Festival has shown the kind confidence in the screenplay that I have in it.

AOF 2016 Screenplay

 

CHAOS MANAGEMENT

MartialCon

Amazing news from MartialCon; a nomination for Best Director. The Festival, Cosplay and Trick Event is the first of its kind. The films will be played through out the convention floor at film kiosks. It’s a great way to receive multiple screenings in order to maximize audience exposure. The Event takes place August 19-21 at the Long Beach Convention Center. If you’re in the L.A. area, put it on your “must do” calendar.

I’m so honoured to receive a nomination for Chaos Management!

Austin Revolution Film Festival

Great news for Team Chaos. The Austin Revolution Film Festival has honoured our film with a nomination for Best Foreign Short Film. The Festival is in its fifth year and has is committed to indie film and filmmakers. I am so impressed with the level of communication I’ve received from the Festival. If you’re in Austin from September 20-24, 2016, feel free to check out our screening.

Covellite International Film Festival

The Festival takes place from September 15-18, 2016 in Butte, Montana. Butte has a fascinating history and is one of the largest national historic sites in the United States. It seems fitting that a place with a fascinating story to tell is hosting people who love to tell them.

Covellite Laurels_whiteBG

Valley Film Festival

Valley Film Festival has been around since 2001.  It’s the first Film Festival ever situated in the San Fernando Valley. This is another gem of a Festival that is committed to the education, production and distribution of film. If you’re in the North Hollywood area from September 28 -October 2, I hope you’ll pop in and check out the screenings.

TheValleyFilmFestival-2016

 

 

Film can feel like a constant struggle to find ways to create content and then to have that content viewed and respected. This has been one of those few weeks that I thought could only happen in my dreams. I could get used to this kind of a run. I hope it’s a prelude for more to come.

Posted by: michellemuldoon | August 11, 2016

Things Female Filmmakers Share

Talking

At the start of my film journey I found it hard to get on set. I remember volunteering for a short film made by a first time filmmaker, and I was asked for a resume. I thought it was overkill for a P.A. job until I realized that a first time filmmaker doesn’t have the hidden network that provides names of people to use, people to avoid, and advice on how to navigate the dicey issues of onset conduct.

I’m now a part of other filmmakers’ networks and I have one of my own. Most of the filmmakers in my local network are women, which I’m sure is not a surprise considering my commitment to gender equity and my involvement with Women in Film and Television Vancouver.  However, it might surprise people to hear I generally have a gender balanced set. This blog post is going to follow suit.

What I’ve noticed in the last few years is that whether it’s from a man or a woman, female filmmakers are putting up with less and less bad behaviour. And what should be frightening for many is, we’re telling each other about our experiences.

I can’t speak for every filmmaker’s network, but I can tell you what the conversations have been in mine:

  • If you’re one of those women who supports other women, we definitely sing your praises.
  • If you’re one of those men who treats everyone professionally, regardless of gender identity, then we definitely share your name. You’re a keeper.
  • If you show up on time, we don’t talk about you because we expect that’s part of being professional, but if you’re late or a no show, we talk. Oh yeah, we talk.
  • If you’re one of those women who hates to see another woman get ahead, we know who you are. You can’t hide forever.
  • If you’re one of those men who defers to the next highest ranking male instead of the woman director or producer then be warned, we talk a lot about you.
  • If you’re one of those men who would choose a man of inferior skills and resume over a woman (yes, this happens) then we most definitely warn each other about you.
  • If you get drunk and hit on people at the wrap party, be warned, we notice.
  • If you’re the cast or crew member who treats people on set poorly or with little regard for manners, you’re on the naughty list and we warn each other about you. The filmmakers in my network don’t want an above the line position filled by someone who treats below the line poorly.
  • If you make sexist jokes or untoward advances on set, we are warning everyone about you. And no, you can’t laugh it off as your sense of humour or accuse people of being uptight. It’s wrong. You’re wrong. Learn from it.
  • If you love your cell phone or shmoozing with people on set more than you love getting the project done on time, then guess what, we don’t want you and we don’t want our friends to hire you. The project should always be the priority regardless of the size of, or lack of, cheque that comes with it.
  • If you believe in respectful collaboration, we love you, and we share your name all the time.

These are all topics of conversation I’ve had in the last year in my network. Please note, none of my female network blanket hires women. What we all want are people we can work with. However, if men continue to hire men by default, then guess what so will we, and I don’t think drawing gender battle lines is in the best interests of the industry. Hire us, and we’ll hire you and everyone works. It really is that simple.

Ultimately, what filmmakers want is a collaborative environment where the project is the most important thing; not ego, not insecurity, not status and not gender. Gender disparity is a looming shadow. Breaking the glass ceiling is going to take a united effort.

Ultimately, I like to remember the immortal twitter words of Will Wheaton… Don’t be a dick. Everyone will know who you are sooner than later… because we talk… Oh, yeah, we talk.

Collaboration

Posted by: michellemuldoon | July 23, 2016

The Go West Fest Awards

The Go West Fest has announced its awards, and I’m proud to say that Chaos Management was named Runner-Up for Best Action Short Film.

This is amazing news because Chaos Management is a little bit action, and a little bit dark humour. It tends to defy one genre definition, so for someone to see it, and appreciate it’s Action Genre roots to the point of awarding it recognition is beyond fantastic.

Thank you to everyone at The Go West Fest.

Go West Laurel_Page_1

Posted by: michellemuldoon | July 22, 2016

The MartialCon 2016

The MartialCon

You can catch  Chaos Management this August at the Long Beach Convention Centre at The MartialCon 2016.

This is the inaugural MartialCon and it’s a special feeling to know that our film will help kick off what I expect will be a standard bearer for martial arts, tricking, cosplay, film and entertainment events.

Films will be exhibited on screens all around the convention floor. It’s a unique way to maximize viewership and I love the idea.

I’ve been asked a few times if Chaos Management is a teaser for a feature script. I think it might have to be, especially if there are events like this that it could be a part of.

My thanks to everyone at The MartialCon for including our project in their first ever international film festival and event. It truly is an honour.

Posted by: michellemuldoon | July 1, 2016

Distribution for A Rendezvous

A Rendezvous Poster

I am proud and beyond excited to share that the paperwork is signed and the deliverables received so it’s official, distribution has been finalized for A Rendezvous with ShortsTV. Thank you to the folks at ASA Films Inc. for making this possible.

ShortsTV is a division of AMC Networks and can be found on DirectTV in the United States. The exposure is huge and it’s so much more than I could have hoped for. The more people that watch the incredible performances of  Bronwen Smith and Catherine Lough Haggquist, and hear the haunting beauty of our theme song by The Land of Deborah, the better. I’m so proud of the work they’ve done.

The principals behind ASA Films are Del and Theresa Weston and they are committed to elevating the independent filmmaker to a worthy place within the entertainment industry. They are the people responsible for Martialcon, The Action on Film International Film Festival, and the Las Vegas Car Stars Events. Keep an eye on these dynamos as another Film Festival is in the works from them.  I cannot thank the Westons enough for brokering this deal.

ASA Films

I must also thank everyone involved with A Rendezvous and in particular fellow producer John Prowse, stars Bronwen Smith and Catherine Lough Haggquist, Composer The Land of Deborah, Associate Producers Joan Macbeth, Pam Wells, Madeleine Wilson and Melva McLean, Director of Photography Thomas Billingsley, Compositor Mario Ferero, Sound Designer Brian Lyster, Colourist Van Cooper, DIT Marc Baker and Set Photographer Michelle Lamberson. Marc, Deborah and Michelle have been with me on every project and their constant support has been a huge part of my journey.

I need to single out Mauri Bernstein, our editor extraordinaire. I can’t tell you how many times she cut this film for me. Her perseverance was crucial to finishing it.

This is the first ever distribution deal for Paisley Media. I look forward to this being the start of the next chapter of the company’s story.

Posted by: michellemuldoon | May 31, 2016

Filmmaker on the Rise: Matt Sconce

Matt Sconce Altar

I first met Matthew (Matt) Sconce several years ago at the Action on Film International Film Festival. He was screening his first feature film, Stricken, and everyone was talking to the young man who came out of nowhere. I say “talking to” versus “talking about” because Matt is one of the most open, amiable filmmakers you will ever meet at a film festival. Since then, I’ve gotten to know him better and I think, no I know, that this is the year that everyone will be talking about Matt Sconce even if they aren’t at a film festival.  While every journey in film is unique, there’s something special in his.

Matt’s path to feature film success starts with American Idol. Yep, you heard me, American Idol. Matt and his wife entered a national American Idol music video contest sponsored by Ford back in 2004, and guess what, they won. The prize included a car, video camera, money, a trip to the finale, being in a music video with the finalists and a host of other items. It was fifteen minutes of fame that ignited a life time passion. With that camera Matt filmed his first short project and thus began his practical education in film.

Eleven short films and a host of awards later, Matt set his sights squarely on making a feature film. That goal was achieved with Stricken, and now there’s no turning back.

Matt is currently on the festival circuit with is third feature, a found footage film called Altar, and it’s receiving great reviews and already racking up a cabinet full of awards.

Altar Cast

Altar is the story of a brother and sister’s relationship bound by the story of seven former college students dropped into the middle of a terrifying adventure. When they become lost in the woods, they stumble across something so nightmarish that they end up in a fight for their lives against dark forces.

Aware that the relationships of the characters were key to selling the story, Matt had the cast drive the four and half hours to set together in order to forge tighter relationships. They would need them on the tough shoot. They hiked into the woods beyond cell phone service and had to contend with a a freak thunder storm, a bobcat trying to get into the tent to eat a small dog on set, being stalked by a mountain lion, and even being paced and shadowed by a bear.

The experiences of the cast and crew have only added to the production. Altar has received some great reviews so far. Found Footage Files, a respected horror podcast, has called Altar “The film to beat this year and the possible best film of the year.” At this year’s Northern Virginia Film and Music Festival, the film won the Best Ensemble Cast Award.

Altar Matt Set

As if making film isn’t keeping Matt busy enough, he’s also focused on a new theatre model he created called Movie Heroes. He’s developed a membership based system to increase attendance at the theatre he now owns in Oakhurst, CA. He wants to use Movie Heroes to create a new model for filmmaking. Altar is the first film to be produced by Movie Heroes Studios, and it’s a unique business model that’s worth keeping an eye on. I think the sky’s the limit for what Matt can accomplish with this, and he’s the perfect guy to do it.

Matt Sconce is taking Independent Film in a whole different direction. He’s not only making film, but he’s working on a system to vertically integrate the screening of his films, and possibly other films down the road.  He’s doing something out of the box that is going to have a ripple effect in the industry. Keep an eye on this guy. I know I am.

If you want to learn more about Movie Heroes, please check out the link HERE.

You can watch the Altar trailer HERE.

If you see Matthew (Matt) Sconce at a festival, make sure you go and “talk to” him, then turn around and be sure to “talk about” him. He’s one of the good ones, and when one of the good guys succeeds, we all succeed.

Altar Poster

 

Posted by: michellemuldoon | May 24, 2016

Dear Protagonist: I Don’t Need to Like You

Write Characters Relatable.

Dear Protagonist,

I like you, I really do. I like you because I’m living with you twenty-four seven. You hang out all day with me; follow me to work, take walks on the beach and and yes, we sleep together. (You don’t even have the decency to make the morning coffee every once in a while, but that’s another discussion.) Yet with a foible or two, and against better judgement, I still like you.

That whole “Save the Cat” moment? It’s a little over-rated. Yes, it helps if the audience sees something in you they like but it isn’t necessary. I mean, let’s face it, trying to find that special something that everyone loves is a little crazy. Come on, that’s like obsessing over the cool girl gang in school and losing what makes you unique in the process.

What is necessary is that everyone relates to you; your dreams, ambitions, flaws and failings. They need to see something that they can latch on to, something that sings to a deep and protected part of their soul.

Liking you is so high school. Relating to you is universal. It’s the heart beat of what makes your story resonate. It’s what transcends your journey beyond the expected. Let the audience see your humanity, and they’ll follow you to “The End”.

So go ahead; open a door for a pregnant woman, save the cat in the tree, drop some coins in the homeless person’s hat. Do it and they’ll like you for now. Show the audience how bad your claustrophobia is. Struggle with the confines of suburban life as it suffocates your soul. Fear for your mortality as alcoholism steals everyone and everything you value. Do this, and you can be an experience they never shake free of.

Scream, fight, fall, cry; do it all, but don’t worry if they like you at your best. Worry if they relate to you at your worst. If they do, they’ll stay riveted to their seats to watch you rise like a phoenix.

Don’t worry about high school, dear protagonist. Worry about the world. For it’s there that an audience of greater magnitude awaits, and it’s there that tragedy will breed immortality on screen.

Sincerely,

Your friend and Mamma,

Michelle

PS: Would it hurt you to wash the dishes every once in a while?

 

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