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Grace in Motion

My First ‘Oner’
Steadicam operator and Local 600 member Jessica Lopez talked with us about her work with Steadicam rigs. Lopez takes pride in what she does. “One of the best experiences on set was shooting my first ‘oner’. It was an eight-minute shot that took place in a one-story house. It involved a wife coming home catching her husband wearing her lipstick.

“The shot mainly followed the wife as she scuffled through the house curious, confused, and upset. There were some great moments where I would whip pan over to the husband to catch his reactions before the wife would be re-introduced to the shot. 

Lopez says shot rehearsal is critical. “It took us a day and a half of non-stop rehearsals to nail down all the acting key points and all the Steadicam moves. Even today it is still one of my proudest jobs because of the challenge and the praise I received from the cast and crew.

“It's a great feeling when everyone is at video village watching and cheering you on for your hard work.” 
Grace in Motion Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Sep 4, 2013 at 8:03:08 am

Inspiration comes from living your life

My Creating Story sessions with Irish filmmakers continue with screenwriter Caroline Farrell. Farrell has written award-winning feature and short films, as well as short stories. Her film In Ribbons is now in post-production.

Farrell writes her own blog, which includes a series of conversations with Irish women filmmakers. I was interested in knowing if she sees any emerging or ongoing trends.

“What I notice mostly from connecting with these women,” says Farrell, “is that most of them are creating their own art. By that, I mean they are not waiting for funding opportunities, or for the green light from producers, directors, whatever. I think the male/female ratio of successful screenwriters in Ireland is mirrored internationally, but I am optimistic that it is changing. The wave of independent productions, much like the ebook revolution, is altering the goal posts, and the previously stifling role of the gatekeepers. That can only be a good thing.”

Inspiration comes from living your life Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Aug 26, 2013 at 3:07:23 pm

Irish Filmmaker Frank Kelly on Storytelling

The Filmmaker Lifestyle has started a new blog titled Creating Story.

Recently I’ve connected with a number of people active in filmmaking in Ireland. With the long-established Irish tradition of story in print and stage, I wondered if filmmaking there is carrying on the torch.

I spoke (by email) with Irish indie writer/director Frank Kelly about his own storytelling, and about the state of filmmaking in Ireland. Kelly has achieved recognition for his films Derelict (2012) and 140 (2009). Since this blog is all about story, naturally I wanted to know what influences his ability to create story.


Posted by: Bob Gillen on Aug 21, 2013 at 8:36:06 am

Chris Sullivan on His Debut Album The Odd Sea

Singer/songwriter Chris Sullivan recently released The Odd Sea, his debut album best described as vagabond blues folk. Sullivan connected with us about the storytelling element of his songs.

The Filmmaker Lifestyle:
Songwriters are storytellers and poets as much as any other writers. Do you feel a need to tell a story with each song, to create a living character in music? Do you ever approach each song as a “four-minute movie,” a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end?

Chris Sullivan:
I frequently approach songs from the perspective of a character outside of myself. I find it more interesting to investigate someone else's personal experience; explore someone else's relationships. It might be a defense mechanism against vulnerability, but at this time, that's what I'm doing. I definitely have a strong "verse, chorus" structure that ends up giving each song a beginning, middle and end. The songwriters I grew up admiring tend to have the same structure. 

Story looks to elicit an emotional response from the audience. How do you get at that in your songwriting? Do you look for a balance between telling the story in the music and in the lyrics?

I feel like the song/story should be able to elicit its own emotion without the performer/teller emoting on top of everything else. Strong, straightforward delivery should allow the song to deliver its message while permitting the listener to take away their own personal experience from the piece. I've already explained how I feel about something by writing the song. There is no need for me to tell the listener how to feel about how I feel with the performance. 

One of the themes in your current album is “heart” – “everyone knows a heart needs dusting”, “my heart just wants to sing”, “battle worn is the soldier of my heart”, “uninvited guests… that trash my heart”. This has to come from your own heart. How much of yourself becomes articulated in your music?

I think regardless of the character that I place on a song, there will always be a strong presence of myself in these songs. "The heart" is a strong, present subject in most music, I think. I guess I haven't thought about why so much, but I guess I feel like music isn't worth much if it doesn't make you feel something. If a song doesn't lead you to feel some emotion that you are looking to experience, then I imagine that music gets filed under "bad music". It's not necessarily bad. It just isn't serving its purpose in your life at that moment. In that way, I believe the heart and music are inseparable.


See Chris Sullivan’s full resumé.

Besides singing, Chris Sullivan has an extensive acting career. On Broadway he has acted in Nice Work If You Can Get It, Chicago the Musical, and Lombardi.

He has acted in various television roles as well.

And many will know him from his television commercial roles:
The voice of Mike the Geico camel talking about hump day;
a few years ago, the Snickers Viking.

And here is a link to Roberto Serrini’s video of “The Gypsy Queen” from The Odd Sea album.

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Aug 12, 2013 at 7:55:22 am

The Power of Story

Writing the Human Experience
Writing consultant Julie Gray is, by her own admission, passionate about the power of story to transform lives. “Yes, I have worked with writers all over the world. I think bottom line, writers everywhere are just humans who write about love, betrayal, revenge, hope, redemption - you know, the human experience.”

For over ten years Gray has taught writing in various venues as well as acting as a writing consultant. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, The Times of Israel, and Script Magazine. Gray presently lives in Israel, the scene and source of so many ancient transforming stories.

“I think a writer's storytelling ability,” says Gray, “is only bounded by their exposure to good story, structure, etc. What I find most interesting is that outside of the United States, where conditions are in some cases significantly different than they are in the US, I see a lot of writers who thirst to tell their stories but do not have as much easy access to the Internet, etc.” Gray believes that access to teachers, access to the Internet, access to books and to film makes a big difference for a writer.

“I do think,” says Gray, “that more fresh, unique stories and creativity can be found outside of Hollywood, to be frank, since that is a fishbowl environment which is frankly market driven. Writers who have not yet been molded to put sales first often write way outside of the box, which is exciting.”

Universal Appeal
Any writer looking to reach a wide audience needs to achieve a universal appeal in their work. “I advise writers to zoom in and be specific about what they are writing - and zoom out at the same time and make sure they are writing about themes which are relatable. Not everybody has to relate to your story - you might be writing an action thriller - but if you have a family dynamic there, or a love interest, you automatically will touch upon universal themes, things that viewers can relate to.”

Gray says that hitting a universal note in your writing is not always even a conscious experience. “You might be writing about an archetype and not even realize it, since archetypes are rather hard-wired, but if you are writing about a specific experience that you had or you think would be funny, stop and ask yourself - would a million viewers think this is funny too? Why? What's in this for a viewer? What can they relate to here that isn't just about me and how I felt about something but that is larger than that? Really ask those questions of your work.”

Trending Themes
As a story consultant and script editor, Gray has experienced all kinds of stories, trending themes, and genres. We asked her what she is seeing from today’s writers. Do their stories have the potential to transform?

She says, “I have seen so many trends come and go, it's amazing. Last year my competition had a great number of zombie scripts entered. You will always find writers with romantic comedies and action/bad guy scripts and horror scripts - and they are often emulative. Some genres and trends just never go away.

“But overall, I would say there is a really surprising panoply of scripts and creativity out there. I read three scripts yesterday and each was different, genre-wise and in sum toto. In general, stay away from trends when you write. By the time the script is done and presentable, your script may be obsolete.

“Don't follow trends, write from your heart. I know that sounds so corny but it's quite true.”

Creating Characters
Creating vibrant characters is key to a powerful story. “Don't just write a veiled version of yourself,” says Gray. “Try to write a character who is older, younger, a different race, a different gender from yourself. Create someone totally new and different to you.

“Do not forget back story; characters, in order to really seem three-dimensional, have siblings, parents, political beliefs, habits, hobbies and quirks just like anybody else does. Don't skimp on back story. Remember, your character existed before your story and they'll exist afterward - who are they?”

Julie Gray’s Bio:
A resident of Tel Aviv, Israel, Julie has been reading scripts and consulting with writers all over the world for more than a decade. A teacher at Warner Bros. Studios, Julie has also taught at the West England University, The Great American Pitch Fest and the Willamette Writer's Conference. The director of the Tel Aviv Writer's Salon, Julie is also a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, The Times of Israel and Script Magazine. Her screenwriting book, Just Effing Entertain Me, will debut at the London Screenwriter's Festival this October.

Julie's website is: Just Effing Entertain Me. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Power of Story Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Aug 8, 2013 at 11:23:17 am

Developing Media Careers for Disadvantaged Youth

Dealing With Youth Unemployment in Jordan
A Jordanian youth named Omair comes from the poorest area in Jordan. Several years ago he failed grade 12, which left little option for bridging back into the academic system or into the workforce. He had been without a job for two years and was desperate to help support his family of five siblings and his retired parents.

To make matters worse, the job market for youth in Jordan is a difficult one. Ms. Mayyada Abu-Jaber, the CEO of the Jordan Career Education Foundation (JCEF), says, “Jordan faces one of the highest youth unemployment crises in the region with a staggering figure of 29%. As youth approach their final year at university, they are faced with the realities of a selective labor market. The private sector in Jordan competes to become the pioneer in the region, and thus moves much faster than the academic system. Knowledge disseminated at universities is often outdated and not linked to the needs of the private sector.”

For some graduates, the job market is especially difficult. Ms. Abu-Jaber says, “Talented photographers, film makers, graphic designers find themselves jobless and frustrated, regretting ever having spent the time and effort in fostering their talents.”

JCEF Mandate
JCEF is a non-profit organization with the mandate of youth empowerment through employment. In 2012 Ms. Abu-Jaber partnered with media and communications specialist Lars Schwetje to create the JCEF Media Fellowship Program (MFP). Schwetje is a veteran news journalist with experience in video-reporting from the early days of the Iraq War. “The MFP,” says Ms. Abu-Jaber, “was designed to fulfill two objectives: to give a positive voice for the youth using social and new media, and to disseminate cutting-edge knowledge to youth in the media and communication fields to make youth more desirable and increasingly attractive to employers both in the private and public sector.”

Ms. Abu-Jaber stresses that “… economic inclusion of young people is necessary for the progression and development of society.”

“JCEF will be able to give a voice to those that are unheard, the youth,” says Ms. Abu-Jaber. “It will offer solutions to the frustrated voices of youth demanding decent jobs and the right to earn a living and become active members of society. These demands were among the highest priorities during the Arab spring movement that started in the Arab region.”

Recruiting Students
Early in 2013, the MFP program recruited students from the poor areas of Jordan. “The youth,” says Ms. Abu-Jaber, “were rigorously questioned to understand their commitment and passion for their country and for being active citizens of society. They were also screened to ensure that they fit our criteria of being marginalized and economically distressed.”

Ms. Abu-Jaber adds, “It was appalling to interview so many talented youth that require support to achieve their potential.”

Omair was one of fourteen youth recruited to take part in the MFP. Ms. Abu-Jaber says that Omair “… loves photography, and while being interviewed showed us his photos on his mobile phone. We later learned that he does not own a camera and uses his friend's cameras to take photos.”
The recruited youth received comprehensive media, film, photography and business training. “Each week of the course,” says Ms. Abu-Jaber, “focused on a different media topic, including print journalism, radio, blogging, social media, 2D and 3D animation, graphic design, filmmaking, event management and the theory of art.”

The training was conducted using a corporate engagement model, with the participation of fourteen Jordanian media and communication organizations that offered fifty pro-bono corporate trainers to train the students. And in addition, each afternoon, the media fellows were linked to renowned international speakers worldwide to disseminate their knowledge and experience.

Measuring Success
“The success of our media fellows,” says Ms. Abu-Jaber, “is not the mark they score in their exams, but the media and communication product that they develop to disseminate positive messaging about the importance of employment for youth and their role as economically active members of society.”

She goes on to say that “Omair learned how to use open-source technologies to create an e-portal for training modules that would be used to raise the skills of other youth to become employable. He is now placed in an internship at Prodigi - a social media company - and will be progressed into a full time job. Omair is the social media community manager for the company and is excelling.”

Extending Training to Other Youth
Omair's contribution to society does not stop there. “Our media fellows,” Ms. Abu-Jaber says, “deliver monthly one-day training programs to other youth fellows. These training sessions are focused in remote areas of Jordan. Youth exchange their knowledge and create Facebook pages to share their experience.

“So far, our media fellows have conducted two trainings in the north and will be duplicating a similar training program in the south.

“It is expected that we will be able to mobilize large numbers of youth throughout Jordan to carry out positive messaging campaigns and call other youth to join the labor market and become active members of society. The youth groups will be able to voice their opinions and open dialogue with the government and private sector to learn more the opportunities and to become part of the solution to the unemployment equation.”

JCEF is part of a broader initiative. Ms. Abu-Jaber says, “JCEF is an affiliate of the Education for Employment (EFE) and part of the EFE network operating in Jordan as well as Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunis.” JCEF will be able to duplicate a similar model through the EFE network to achieve a greater voice for youth via social and new media to support their country and their commitment to employment.

The bottom line: JCEF believes that every young person deserves an opportunity to get a job so that they may establish sustainable livelihoods.

Click here for links, pictures, and a YouTube conversation between President Bill Clinton and Ms. Mayyada Abu-Jaber

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Aug 6, 2013 at 12:05:35 pm

Nora Armani on Nonviolence in Film

Rated SR for Socially Relevant

Nora Armani, founding artistic director for the March 2014 film festival titled “Rated SR for Socially Relevant Film Festival New York,” talked to The Filmmaker Lifestyle recently after returning from Cannes and Rome. Armani advocates nonviolence in filmmaking through the development of “positive human stories.” She sees this as an alternative to the “proliferation of violence, crime, drugs and social ills in today’s movie industry.”

“Personally for me, non-violent story telling means not only the absence of obvious scenes of violence and excessively graphic scenes of murder, blood, physical assault, weapons, artillery, human mutilations and the like, but also the nagging and insistent style of story telling (with fast cuts in the editing and many camera angles) which attempts to make a film more 'entertaining'.

“This type of filmmaking,” says Armani, “does not respect its audience, and instead of establishing dialogue or talking ‘to or with’ an audience talks ‘at’ it.” Armani believes this style of film is an insult to an audience's intelligence.

“Of course,” she says, “there is the widespread belief in the film industry that this is what an audience wants, since these types of films sell the most tickets. So violent situations and sensationalism are favored over character driven emotional human stories that deal with socially relevant issues in our daily lives. However, this belief is a misconception that is not based on facts.

“Audiences have become saturated with this type of film and are seeking more intelligent content worldwide. World Cinema has already been engaged in this alternative of ‘nonviolent storytelling’ for a long time. In these films the story unfolds in a natural way driven by the characters and situations they find themselves in, and not by violent and aggressive human interaction, whether or not arms and weaponry are involved.”

Why Focus on Nonviolence?

Nonviolence has a personal meaning for Armani. “This is important for me in memory of two very dear family members that were victims of violence through a hate crime.

“Violence breeds more violence, and this creates a terrible vicious cycle. The film and audiovisual medium,” she says, “are the most powerful communications media nowadays, where virtually most humans have some form or type of screen attached to them, often at their fingertips, at any given time.

“The screen has become the means of getting the news, connecting with friends, learning, entertainment, and any and all forms of interaction. And while an image is worth a thousand words, and it can easily impress things on our psyches. Movies, composed of many images, can have a far stronger and durable impact.

“Seeing a lot of violence promotes a ‘banality of evil’. It renders it commonplace. Its effects, however, are still devastating. Therefore, we need to break the chain at some point. We need to stop the promotion, proliferation and glorification of violence and crime in our society.”

Developing a Compelling Story

Nonviolent or otherwise, a story has to be compelling. “Indeed,” agrees Armani, “and compelling does not come about by how big the weaponry and the guns on the screen are, and how fast they fire, how many explosions a second we see on screen, and how many mutilated body parts are displayed along with the amount of graphic gore. In addition to violence there are other themes, such as prostitution and its glorification, drugs and their glamorization. These are not what make a story compelling in and of themselves.

“A story is compelling because of the characters that are in it and the social situations they find themselves in, whether it be despite themselves, or of their own doing.” Armani believes it’s all about how the characters solve their problems and come out improving their lives in an uplifting fashion. A compelling, character-driven story “… gives hope and develops aspirations in future generations that might eventually create a better world for our children.”

What makes a story compelling? “A mediocre story is one that relies heavily on sensationalism and visuals because probably it has nothing to say. A strong story grabs our emotions or intellect, depending on the approach, and creates compassion, love, hate, admiration, contempt or a plethora of other emotions that make us want to follow the plot. We want to see what happens next.

“A compelling story moves us, touches us, makes us think and reflect on issues, and certainly draws us in and stays with us even after we have left the movie theatre, or the screen. A mediocre story leaves us indifferent in time, even if to some people it might offer some mindless distraction for the brief duration of the screening.”

Unique Perspective

Armani’s experience organizing film festivals gives her a unique perspective. “I have found that invariably films that have interested and moved me are those that deal with the human condition and tackle social issues. They are mostly character driven and mostly about good and kind people. How boring, some might say. Not so, because for good drama, conflict is always necessary, so these are films that are dramatically (or comically) driven and not boring at all. They address socially relevant issues in an entertaining and intellectually stimulating way. And of course let’s not forget that love and romance (with a twist) also fall into this category.

“When programming a festival I like to make sure that there is diversity: cultural, thematic, and stylistic diversity, to make for an intellectually grabbing and emotionally satisfying selection.”

Armani has organized many festival sidebars and guest-curated programs with various festivals: AFI, Kennedy Center, Silver Lake Film Festival, Paris Pompidou Centre, British Museum, ICA and Cine Lumière London, to name a few. She has also worked with film centers internationally in the UK, the USA, France, and Italy.

Young Filmmakers

We asked Armani what young filmmakers can do to make their films attractive to film festivals. “First and foremost, I would say writing. Before being a good filmmaker, it is important to be a good storyteller, and to have a feel for suspense, rhythm, development, build-up and well-rounded characters. Once this is mastered, the rest is easy, because technical people are there to help with their areas of specialization, to relay the message through the audiovisual medium. They are the ones that make the visuals come alive through the lighting, the camera angles, and all that make a film look good. As such they are a young filmmaker’s best allies. Most often the young filmmaker already has mastered these skills and follows a D.I.Y route. But if the story is not there, then the film is not compelling despite the stunning visuals it might have.

“So I would say young filmmakers need to first and foremost find out what makes a good story, and be attentive to what goes on around them. Listen, listen, listen and observe, observe, observe. That is where they get ideas and inspiration. Then they can learn about structure and cinematic language. The rest falls into place relatively easily.”

The Rated SR Film Festival

“The festival will have two sections that are presented back to back, with a series of screenings over three days in Manhattan, then resuming for three more days in Upstate New York with Carol Ash, president of the Carey Center for Global Good, our partner organization. As the Founding Artistic Director, my responsibility is to discover and present films that have socially relevant content that could eventually merit the Rated SR label.

“However, in my selections I am not alone, as I consult with my colleagues. The upstate section, in addition to screenings, also has the Filmmakers Lab directed by Mike Camoin, co-founding partner, and it involves round table discussions, panels and meetings with filmmakers, producers, distributors, sales agents and other film industry professionals.

“We hope to offer filmmakers an international platform that gives their films the visibility they deserve, a visibility that might not be readily available to them through the normal distribution channels under the pretense of content that might not be commercial enough (though I don’t know who decides this…).

“If you offer audiences worthwhile content, they will gladly rush to the nearest screen, and render that content commercially viable. It is good business sense to treat your customers with respect and offer them good products with guaranteed value for return business.

“Our goal is to demonstrate that Rated SR films CAN be commercially viable and even become huge successes. We wish to turn them into a trend instead of exceptions.”

Press release for the Rated SR film festival.

Festival Facebook page:

Website (early submissions now open):

Nora Armani on Nonviolence in Film Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jul 8, 2013 at 9:59:11 pm

Change Your Story, Change Your Life


Change Your Story, Change Your Life: A Path to Success
Jen Grisanti
Divine Arts, Los Angeles, CA, 2013
Highly Recommended

What’s your favorite film? A safe bet it’s an exciting story. You hold your breath, rooting for the hero, following the protagonist through all sorts of tough spots, until finally a breakthrough. The goal is reached.

Author Jen Grisanti argues, why can’t that protagonist be YOU? Reaching your goals both professionally and personally. The message of her new book: “You create your own vision.”

This book clearly has universal application. Grisanti draws parallels between the components of good fiction writing and the application of those same components to a reader’s own life story. Film and writing professionals will profit, recognizing fiction writing tools that will translate to their own work and lives. Any reader will benefit from applying her story tools to their own life.

Grisanti’s Own Story
Grisanti has spent most of her life immersed in story. First working with and mentored by Aaron Spelling, then as a television story executive, and now with her own consultancy teaching story to aspiring writers. Story is her life.

In Change Your Story, Change Your Life, the author reveals a rare personal vulnerability. Obstacles and heartbreaks pepper Grisanti’s life journey. She talks of a heartbreaking betrayal and divorce. She describes the shattering loss of her executive position, and the fear of going out on her own. She writes of her ongoing, hope-filled search for an enduring romantic love. And she accepts that she will most likely never bear a child of her own.

Yes, this characterizes many lives. Everyone suffers. Few, however, can discuss it with genuine sensibility. Or offer practical guidance on how to deal with it. Grisanti’s book embraces recognizing what’s really going on in our lives, both professionally and personally, and moving through it to achieve our goals.

Grisanti believes anyone can re-write their own story and come out a hero.

The key: “You are both the author and the hero of your story. You decide if it’s going to be a story worth telling.”

Change Your Story, Change Your Life provides ten chapters with a carefully laid out map for getting readers through their own life journey.

• Turning points
• Motivation
• Initial goals, new goals
• Dilemmas – how do past wounds influence which choices you make
• Putting your plan into action
• Embracing your turning points and facing your obstacles
• Identifying themes in your life
• “All is lost” moments: how hitting rock bottom can lead you to your goal
• Reaching your goal: you did it before, you can do it again
• Your new story

Each chapter contains an exercise to guide readers through an examination of their own journeys. Along the way, readers develop their own life summary line and story arc.

This book works. I didn’t just read it. I worked through all the exercises. They helped me clarify my thinking about my own experiences, my own goals, my own life. The exercises are not page filler. They invoke thought, introspection, a constructive process, with both professional and personal applications.

Change Your Story, Change Your Life is well worth the read. Grisanti’s inspiring words: “Create the story that you want your life to reflect.”

See Jen Grisanti’s website. See Amazon for the book.

Change Your Story, Change Your Life Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jun 24, 2013 at 5:31:56 pm

Writer Mildred Lewis on Web Series

Developing the Web Series Etiquette
Mildred Lewis and her writing partner Adam Fox collaborate on a web series titled Etiquette. “Both Adam and I were shocked,” Lewis says, “to find out how many people are passionate about etiquette. We saw it everywhere.”

The idea for their series came from a London bookshop. “Adam found this great little Collins Nutshell book, Etiquette, by Martine Legge, while he was on vacation in London. We were already looking for a subject for our first web series. When we looked at the book, we knew we had found our show. HarperCollins UK was kind enough to grant us the rights.”

Lewis says that during the development process, she and Adam “thought deeply about how we related to etiquette. We talked and laughed a lot about bad manners. Then we forced ourselves to think about what good manners should look like.

“These were really rich conversations,” Lewis states, “because we share many of the same values. But Adam's a young Orthodox Jew from North London and I'm a middle-aged black woman from Harlem, so we see the world through different lenses. Hopefully, those differences help us create scripts that connect to more people.”

Writing for a Web Series
We asked Lewis if writing for a web series differs from other screen writing? How does it affect, for example, scenes, beats, pacing?

“Good writing is good writing is good writing,” she emphasizes. “Plot, character, setting, conflict, compelling ideas, engaging emotions all remain crucial.

“However, on the web you're writing for a viewer who is going to have a more intimate experience. Most people watch web content alone, often on small devices. I think of it as the difference between going to an arena for a concert versus listening to a music box. So you have to write more directly to the viewer. Funny has to be funnier! You can't ride a laugh track or laughter in the room.”


Writer Mildred Lewis on Web Series Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jun 17, 2013 at 3:50:26 pm

Producer Judy Bell in Santa Fe

We originally contacted New Mexico-based film producer Judy Bell about a project she was developing, a film featuring a Native American private investigator. Bell says, “The story, centering on the character Geronimo Jones, was to take advantage of the rich Native culture that is inherent in the lure of New Mexico.”

The story would also have focused on Santa Fe, the oldest capital in the United States, home of the oldest newspaper, and an old adobe that is the oldest house in the United States. “The rich history,” says Bell, “goes back over 400 years and, of course, much further in terms of indigenous peoples occupying the land.”

Hitting the Wall
Unfortunately, Bell had to fold the project. For a producer, knowing when to walk away is just as important as continuing on. “Life is an ongoing challenge. I've dropped that project for a number of reasons.”

“Balancing an urban Native American against the backdrop of one of the most complex and fascinating cities was intriguing and would provide vast marketing possibilities to promote tourism, the international art scene, and the Indian market.

“But in the end,” Bell says, “this marketing potential is what undermined the project, as the businesses around the plaza - arguably the most popular spot for tourists - do not want filming. It clogs the small streets, often isolates a business entrance for days at a time, and takes up valuable parking space for grip and other production vehicles.”

“Also,” she says, “the marketing ideas I had would have to go through the state and city film and tourism offices, be approved by the hotels, and who knows who or what else, so my creative enthusiasm hit the reality wall and I realized the odds of ever getting into production were slim to none. 

“A producer puts everything into believing in and developing a project, and one must be tenacious and persevere. But at some point the facts have to be weighed and a decision made.”

Producer Judy Bell in Santa Fe Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jun 11, 2013 at 12:12:13 pm

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