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Writer/Filmmaker Tina Mabry

“Audiences will always connect with universal themes explored through the eyes of real people,” says writer and filmmaker Tina Mabry. “That’s why it’s important that I make sure I remain honest to the humanity of the characters I create.”

Tina Mabry heads up the Los Angeles-based production company Morgan’s Mark. Mabry and creative/business partners Morgan Stiff and Lee V. Stiff have structured Morgan’s Mark as an independent production company and editing facility that “focuses on producing films that emphasize character, and an editing facility that focuses on quality over quantity.”

The company’s recent films include Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan, Mississippi Damned, and Ant.

Stories of the Marginalized
“I set out,” says Mabry, “to tell stories that reflect the world that I know, a world that lives in the gray. Along with my business partners and creative producers, I have dedicated myself to telling stories of the marginalized. As a kid, even though I enjoyed all the films I watched, I rarely saw people like me on screen. This left a void that I have been determined to help fill ever since.

Writer/Filmmaker Tina Mabry Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on May 21, 2014 at 8:41:02 pm

Indie Comics Guru Marcelo Lewin

Marcelo Lewin’s website,, covers the world of indie comics. Why indie? “Because Marvel & DC already have enough help from their parent companies,” Lewin says. “Besides, in my mind, the really exciting stuff is coming out of the indie scene.”

I asked Lewin how the core elements of story develop in the comic book genre. “I think the most important thing that writers should keep in mind when writing a comic,” says Lewin, “is that they can tell their story via not only words (the bubbles), but also working in conjunction with the illustrator visually.”


Indie Comics Guru Marcelo Lewin Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 28, 2014 at 3:29:47 pm

Director/Writer David L. Johnson

“I’m looking for complicated characters dealing with complicated issues.” So says director/writer David L. Johnson when asked what he looks for in a script.

Recognize a Story That Moves
“Personally,” Johnson says, “I have no preference. I think a lot of directors get hung up on fitting into a genre, but the greatest directors have stepped out of their box on occasion. Although these experiments don't always equate to box office success, I think it's important to learn how to recognize a story that moves and to see the potential of what you as a director can bring to that narrative.”  

Johnson, a graduate of Howard University and the American Film Institute, has been named one of ten black directors to watch in 2014 by Paste magazine.

Directing is a Process of Discovery
I wanted to know how Johnson directs actors through their character arcs. “I love directing,” he says, “because I love the process of discovery. There are some directors who literally tell the actor what to do and how to do it. When that's the case, that actor was likely mis-cast.”

Director/Writer David L. Johnson Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 23, 2014 at 8:48:33 pm

Action DP Lawrence Ribeiro

“Every (action) shoot brings elements of uncertainty. For me, there are things I can do to increase certainty. And in the case of a rappel shoot, it was scouting. Going to the location a couple of times and looking at it with different light afforded me a strategy to approach the cliff.”

Los Angeles-based action DP/camera operator Lawrence Ribeiro talks about shooting action, and about changes in the film industry. In a particularly challenging shoot, Ribeiro rappelled down a cliff to shoot a rock climber.
Action DP Lawrence Ribeiro Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Mar 31, 2014 at 11:34:18 am

Where Passion Takes You as a Writer

“The heart of an engaging story resides in the heart and mind of the person writing the story. It is passion and where that passion takes you as a writer.”

So says Don Vasicek, the founder and owner of Olympus Films+, LLC, a global writing and filmmaking company. “This passion is reflected through the writer’s characters and the story. Each character, each location in the story, and each occurrence that takes place in, with and between the characters and in the story, should reflect that passion.

Where Passion Takes You as a Writer Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Mar 24, 2014 at 8:54:32 pm

Voiceover Artist Debbie Irwin

“I warm up on the subway en route to a gig,” says voiceover artist Debbie Irwin, “and engage with people in the elevator on my way up to the studio – to put a smile on other people’s faces, which makes me feel good, and is a great vibe to bring into the recording session.”

Voiceover Artist Debbie Irwin Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Feb 10, 2014 at 9:39:20 am

“Live From Daryl’s House”

A black SUV pulls up to a farm-style complex in upstate New York. Out steps a man in a long black coat, signature long red beard, a red do rag under a worn, comfortable felt hat, and sunglasses. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons walks forward to shake hands with his host, Daryl Hall. After a few words of conversation, the two are jamming inside Hall’s expansive music room.

“Live From Daryl’s House” Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Feb 7, 2014 at 9:26:20 amComments (2)

Improving Your Comedy Writing and performing

“I personally appreciate extremely dark humor,” says Dublin-based comedy writer and performer Valerie Ní Loinsigh. “I think that it is an Irish trait to be enormously dark in your humor. I don’t appreciate superiority humor or humor at the expense of others quite as much. I like self-deprecation and black comedy.”

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jan 20, 2014 at 11:03:47 pm

Street Art as Inspiration for Writing

All creative artists reach a point where they have to let go of their created work. Publish it, display it, sell it, screen it. Let it go.

For some artists an even deeper sense of abandonment is at play in their creative process.

Several years ago I attended a performance of Euripides’s The Trojan Women, his epic indictment of war written in 415 BCE. Outside the black box theater, located in the arts district of LA, a street art mural publicized the current production. The artist – I don’t know who – created the piece knowing that it would only be there for a month or two, then be painted over for the next show’s ad.
Street Art as Inspiration for Writing Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jan 15, 2014 at 1:22:05 pm

NYT Reporter Meyer Berger: Mass Murder in Camden NJ

Author and writing teacher Natalie Goldberg insists that every writer have a mentor. When a student bemoaned the fact that she had no one to mentor her, Goldberg said, “(Authors) are your mentors… Enter their minds. Don’t let any obstacle keep you away.”

Here’s a piece I wrote on back in November of 2010 about a writer I consider to be a mentor: Meyer Berger of The New York Times. His writing still shapes my own.

Reporting on a Mass Murder
On the morning of September 6, 1949, a mentally unstable war vet, armed with a Luger pistol, walked up and down his own block in Camden, New Jersey, shooting men, women and children. He killed 13 people and wounded more before he ran out of bullets and police captured him.
Meyer (Mike) Berger, a New York Times reporter, got the story assignment just before 11 a.m. that morning. He jumped on a train to Camden, interviewed 50 people, wrote a 4,000 word story, and submitted it at 9:20 that night, in time for the printing of the first edition the following morning.


Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jan 8, 2014 at 1:55:36 pm

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