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While film is an artform that combines the creative talents of artists and craftspeople representing many disciplines, the director is charged with guiding these creative elements towards one fully articulated point of view. Hear from acclaimed directors talk about how they approach each project from finding the right material to building their support team? Among other questions we’ll ask are: What do they look for in their collaborators? How do they manage creative differences? And what are the challenges they face when working with multiple talents.
Rob Epstein is a producer and director, known for The Celluloid Closet (1995), Paragraph 175 (2000) and The Times of Harvey Milk (1984). Rob has produced films that have screened worldwide, and has received two Academy Awards®, five Emmy Awards, three Peabodys and both a Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowship. The Times of Harvey Milk was selected by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry, and is now part of the prestigious Criterion Collection. Harvey Milk was named one of “25 most influential documentaries of all time” by the Cinema Eye honors and in 2017 received the Legacy Award. Since 1987, Rob and his producing partner Jeffrey Friedman have worked under the Telling Pictures banner, traversing the worlds of non-fiction and scripted narrative. In moving from documentary to dramatic narrative, Rob and Jeffrey collaborated on the narrative feature HOWL, starring James Franco.
This conversation will be broadcast LIVE from Provincetown on Thursday, October 8th at 4:30PM. It will then be available to watch at any time for the duration of the festival!
If the director is in charge of managing all the creative aspects of the production, then, the producer is often responsible for managing the financial, practical and logistical aspects. Meet producers who will discuss the principals of organizing a production and how their involvement supports the overall artistic vision. They’ll talk about the process by which they evaluate the merits of a project and what they look for in directors and other collaborators.
Derrick Tseng has worked in N Y film and television production for 30 years, first as union lighting technician, then as 1st A D and production manager, then as line producer and producer. He has produced, among other projects, David Gordon Green’s Red Oaks Pilot, Manglehorn, Joe, and Prince Avalanche; Todd Solondz’s Wiener-Dog, Dark Horse, Life During Wartime, and Palindromes; and Comedy Central’s “Stella.” His current projects include Alla Kovgan’s Cunningham and Braden King’s The Evening Hour. He has co-produced / line produced numerous feature films, including Adrienne Shelly’s Sudden Manhattan, Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy, Brad Anderson’s Happy Accidents, Peter Lauer’s Cry Baby Lane, Patrick Stettner’s The Business of Strangers, Bertha Pan’s Face, David Gordon Green’s All the Real Girls and Snow Angels, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s Party Monster, Steve Buscemi’s Lonesome Jim, Robert Altman’s “Tanner on Tanner,” David Wain’s The Ten, Clark Gregg’s Choke, Andrew Lau’s Revenge of the Green Dragons, and Tom Shadyac’s Brian Banks. Tseng was born in Queens, N Y. He attended N Y U ’ s Graduate Film Program, and holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature from N Y U and a B.A. in English and Art History from Columbia University. He lives in lovely Gowanus, Brooklyn.
Andrew Peterson is the Executive Director of FilmNorth, the leading filmmaker support organization in the Upper Midwest. He also serves as Director of Programming for the Provincetown International Film Festival, a position he’s held since 2006. From 2008-2012 Andrew served as Vice President of Production for Werc Werk Works, an independent film production and finance company, where he co-produced the feature films Howl, Life During Wartime, Thin Ice, and Darling Companion. His other producing credits include World and Time Enough, Older Than America and the segment “This Car Up” for Boys Life 4: Four Play. Andrew holds an MFA from New York University Graduate Film School, where he was named Best Director and Best Screenwriter, and has taught filmmaking at Macalester and Middlebury Colleges. He regularly consults independent films and film festivals.
Kelly Gilpatrick is a producer on the 3D feature documentary, Cunningham (TIFF, NYFF 2019), Teddy Award winning film, Open (Berlinale 2010); The Knife: Live at Terminal 5 and short film, Fray. She was one of seven US producers selected for Trans-Atlantic Partners producing program in 2013 and received the Best Pitch award together with director, Alla Kovgan, for the most promising film at the 3D Film & Finance forum in Belgium. Other credits include work on the Independent Spirit Award Winner Sweet Land, Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion, Older Than America, Nobody, Stay Then Go, Three Christs amongst others. With film production and finance company, Werc Werk Works, Kelly contributed to Todd Solondz’ film Life During Wartime and Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse; served as Associate Producer on Robert Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl and Jill Sprecher’s Thin Ice. In addition, she managed all festival and premiere events for the company at Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, NYFF and other top tier festivals leading to her work as Deputy Director of Provincetown Film Society & International Film Festival for which she now proudly serves as a member of its board of directors.
Most feature films start with a script–the blueprint from which the director interprets the creative vision for the film. Yet, more often than not, scripts undergo several different versions with input from producers, directors, studio executives, etc. Hear screenwriters talk about their role in the collaborative process and they ways in which they incorporate director notes, logistical concerns, marketing advice while maintaining their own vision for the finished product.
Writer/Director Shelli Ainsworth is a Minnesota-based artist whose work in experimental theater and film has earned her national recognition. She is the past recipient of grants and fellowships from ITVS, The Bush Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Minnesota State Arts Board and the McKnight Foundation. Ms. Ainsworth began her artistic career as a playwright working in experimental theater. With an extensive background as a playwright/multi-media artist she was a frequent collaborator with the acclaimed Red Eye Theater in Minneapolis. Her plays were commissioned and produced by Red Eye Theater, Theatre Orange, Intermedia Arts, and Minnesota Public Television. Her screenplay A PSYCHIC MOM, was commissioned by the Independent Television Series (ITVS) for production as part of the TV FAMILIES series with James Schamus as the coordinating producer. A PSYCHIC MOM aired in all major markets and was featured at the Rotterdam Film Festival. Ms. Ainsworth’s short narrative films have been seen in festivals and museums in the United States and Europe. Her first feature film, STAY THEN GO, was the 2014-15 official selection in film festivals across the country, as well as the official selection for The Southern Circuit, a highly regarded touring program. Ms. Ainsworth was awarded the “Pioneering Women in Screenwriting” award from the Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival. In 2015 she was invited to be a resident of the Provincetown Film Society Women Filmmaker Residency program. She is currently at work on an episodic series, AUNT PHYL, which received a staged reading, directed by Ms. Ainsworth at the 2018 Women’s Week in Provincetown.
Will Scheffer & Mark V. Olsen
Olsen & Scheffer’s “brand” is excellence. We insist on diversity & generosity of spirit in all of our collaborations & on the set. We believe dramatic storytelling is a fundamental human need & a demanding craft. Olsen & Scheffer practice it rigorously. Together, they’ve written over 75 produced scripts as well as many more on the hard drive. They hone their skill through ongoing study, teaching what they want to learn & by mentoring emerging artists in many ways– on the job, through the Writers Guild, as well as by lecturing or teaching workshops at Universities, Institutes, Film Festivals & Industry Conferences: Ensemble Studio Theatre Institute (member), USC School of Cinematic Arts, UCLA, City University of New York, Lewis & Clark College, Provincetown Film Festival (board), Dances with Films (board). Olsen & Scheffer’s company– Anima Sola Production’s— mission, is to create popular art that provokes, consoles & entertains. In collaboration with exceptional talent, Anima Sola produces work that subverts convention, revels in the complexity of human relationships & digs ever deeper in order to endure the test of time.
The actor is arguably the most vital tool in Film, via whom the story and the journey of a Film is articulated. Their role is to translate an engaging and believable portrayal of the written character onto screen. In this discussion, we will talk to distinguished actors about the ways in which a creative process is built upon their work with other collaborators from their fellow actors, the director and other arists whose work support their ability to explore and realize their character.
Matt Kane is an Actor & Director with dual UK/USA citizenship. He grew up near Bristol, UK where he trained weekly at the ITV West Television Workshop in Filmmaking and acting for screen with Emma Thompson & Ken Loach as the workshop Patrons from 2000 – 2009. In 2013, Kane was selected as one of Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow. Kane is based in Los Angeles where he co-founded independent production company Thundercane Productions.
Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Jodie Markell attended Northwestern University and later moved to New York where she studied as an actress at Circle-in-the-Square Professional Theater School. Markell helped rediscover the Tennessee Williams’ play Confessional and starred in the New York premiere. Markell received an OBIE award for her leading performance in Sophie Treadwell’s 1929 play, Machinal. She also played a recurring role on HBO’s Big Love. Markell adapted and directed the award winning short film “Why I Live at the P.O.” based on Eudora Welty’s classic story. At the New Orleans Film Festival, her film was awarded the Lumiere Award and the Moviemaker Magazine Breakthrough Award — the highest award given to any film in any category at the festival. The film was invited to screen at the National Museum of Women In The Arts in Washington D.C. and has played at numerous film festivals.The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond is Markell’s feature film directing debut which she adapted from an original screenplay by Tennessee Williams.
A CONVERSATION WITH GEORGINA LIGHTNING
Georgina Lightning brings a long track record of creative experience in the film industry. Because of the lack of roles for native women, or participation of natives in the film industry, Lightning’s participation in the industry evolved from actor/coach, into producer, film director, screenwriter and advocate for Women and Native Americans’ involvement in film. She spent much of her time over the years supporting producers in all aspects from recruiting and promoting native casting, producing, consulting, and raising funds for many film projects as well as the Sundance Native Program, until she co-founded Tribal Alliance Productions. Tribal Alliance Productions is a company dedicated to promoting the image, participation, and content of Native Americans in all aspects of Film and TV. Lightning’s directorial debut, OLDER THAN AMERICA, has won over 23 awards to date. The film explores and highlights the impact of the culture killing effects of the typical Native American experience in boarding schools in the 1900’s, and other inter-social relationships between the Native Americans, the government, and the people who ran these schools.
Georgina Lightning is a Native American woman who moved to Los Angeles with her 3 young children in 1990 to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts for 3 years. She was invited to extend her study of the craft by the American Academy Repertory Company after receiving the Michael Toma Award for most progressed actor of the graduating class. Because of the lack of roles for native women or participation of natives in the film industry Lightning’s participation in the industry evolved from actor/acting coach, into producer, film director, screenwriter and advocate for Women and Native Americans involvement in film. Between acting and coaching her kids, she spent much of her time over the many years supporting producers in all aspects from recruiting and promoting native casting, producing, consulting and raising funds for many film projects as well as the Sundance Native Program until 2007 when she co-founded Tribal Alliance Productions. Tribal Alliance Productions is a company dedicated to promoting the image, participation and content of Native Americans in all aspects of Film and TV. Lightning is an advocate for human rights, civil rights and social action, education, arts & culture and environment; these are a few of the issues that she speaks publicly about. She is interested in politics and health. She has been involved in the entertainment industry for 24 years. Georgina believes that there is no limit as to what you can accomplish.
POST PRODUCTION: EDITING & ANIMATION
There is a Hollywood dictum that every film is made three times: when the script is written, when it’s shot and when it’s in post production. Post production is the part of the process when all of the creative elements–performances, music, sound, special effects, and animation are assembled to create the final film. During this time, the key is to bring the elements together so that will support the artistic vision of the director, maximize the integrity of the performances, and tell a powerful story. In this segment, we’ll discuss the collaborative process during post production and how the notion of recreating a film in a third and final phase alters the collaborative process and in fact may reshape a project.
Julia King currently works at Harvard University where she produces videos for faculty of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Previously she worked in Entertainment. She was the Executive Producer of the narrative film HERE starring Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. She associate-produced AMERICAN SPLENDOR in association with HBO films, which won the 2003 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Fiprescicritics prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Julia produced several feature-length documentaries for Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini including THE YOUNG AND THE DEAD, a portrait of a Los Angeles cemetery and its youthful owner for HBO; HELLO HE LIED, AND OTHER TRUTHS FROM THE HOLLYWOOD TRENCHES, a lighthearted, yet in-depth look at producers working in Hollywood for AMC; and WANDERLUST about the history of road movies in American Cinema for IFC. Julia has also served as a production consultant for several projects including the Emmy Award winning HBO series THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT, the feature-length documentary AFRICA UNITE. Julia also produces short format projects including music videos for J Mascis, Sonic Youth, short films for Sesame Street and Nickelodeon and the Adult Swim animated series ASSY McGEE. She also directed three segments for the PBS series ARAB AMERICAN STORIES. Julia started working in higher education in 2014 on a documentary storytelling research project at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Jeffrey Friedman is a non-fiction filmmaker, director, producer, writer and editor. Friedman has won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for the film Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt. Jeffrey began editing on the NBC prime-time documentary series Lifeline (1978). He was associate editor on the Disney feature Never Cry Wolf (1983). He has edited numerous documentaries for television, starting with the PBS documentary Faces Of the Enemy (1987), for which he also received a co-directing credit. More recently he edited the HBO short documentaries Kings Point, (Academy Award® nominee, 2013) and Open Your Eyes (2016. )Jeffrey first worked with Rob Epstein consulting on The Times of Harvey Milk. In 1987 Jeffrey and Rob formed their production company Telling Pictures and began working as a filmmaking team. HOWL was the the team’s first scripted narrative feature, an experimental hybrid they co-produced, wrote, and directed.
Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini are an American team of filmmakers. They received critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for their 2003 film American Splendor. In 2010, The Extra Man premiered at the Sundance festival. The Emmy-winning Cinema Verite, a 2011 HBO Drama film directed by Berman and Pulcini, premiered on April 23, 2011. Both Springer Berman and Pulcini were born in New York. Springer Berman graduated from Wesleyan University (Phi Beta Kappa) and Pulcini graduated from Rutgers University-Camden. Both filmmakers received master’s degrees in film from Columbia University. The couple married in 1994. Springer Berman is Jewish and Pulcini is of Italian descent. The two have a “rule” in which they often alternate whose name comes first in the credits of their movies, of which Berman says “There’s no meaning behind it. It’s very random!”