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  • Tuesday, August 04, 2020 10:43 AM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

    Article By:
    PAFIA Vice-Chair Maria Shamkalian

    How did you get involved with this project?
    I became involved with “Pope” through a former agent who remembered me and connected me with the show’s director. We immediately shared creative values and had an wonderfully common vision for what the show could be and how to realize it.

    What did you love most about filming this project?
    Easily my favorite part of filming “Pope” was our Pennsylvania crew. It may sound like a canned answer given where this article is running, but it’s the absolute truth. From the extremely talented department heads, to the supportive producers, to the rank and file crew, every single person brought not only their “A” game but, more importantly and most satisfyingly, their “A” attitude. I really didn’t want the show to wrap and I’d love to come back and work with each of them again!

    What were some challenges that you have encountered?
    The biggest challenge for this production was finding locations that allowed us to have Pennsylvania, where we shot our recreations, to stand in for such diverse historical locations as ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Tudor England, WW2 Germany and the Vatican! At the end of the day, I feel our Pennsylvania locations more than fit the final bill.

    Were there any difficult artistic decisions that you had to make?
    I never felt we had to make any serious artistic compromises on this production due to the incredible support of our Executive Producers, Jon Hirsch and Nancy Glass at Glass Entertainment Group. They saw to it that we were well covered and that our department heads had what they needed to create a really convincing historical show.

    What were some of the most memorable Behind the Scenes stories?
    We often weren’t allowed to have actual fire in our locations and some of the work arounds Jon Chaifetz, Beau Kegler and their fantastic art team gave us to shoot made me very uncertain at first, but ultimately they worked a charm in the final shots. Sometimes though, we did have real fire. Having Camera Operator Tom Greco being lead backwards leading an escaping “Pope” brandishing a flaming torch in the tunnels beneath Girard College was exciting and convincing.

    Creating a convincing Nazi Germany, complete with period-accurate Hitler posters on the campus of Bryn Mawr was totally surreal. I kept wondering what the students would think it whey wandered onto our set!

    Why did you choose to film in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    Our production company, Glass Entertainment Group, is based in Pennsylvania and has strong roots there. So it was pretty much a given that we would film there. And in retrospect it’s very hard for me to imagine us having shot this show anywhere else given the plethora of perfect locations and incredible local crew we had access to.

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
    I really loved shooting at Girard college, Bryn Mawr, Glencairn and on the Elkins Estate. Honestly, there were so many other great locations as well. I didn’t feel any of them were a compromise. But I was presently amazed that we found virtually everything we needed within easy driving distance from Philadelphia.

    How did you get started in the film industry?
    I knew from way back, like from 7 years old, that I wanted to be a cinematographer. From those early Super 8 films in my parent’s garage. However, it took a decade long detour through advertising to finally find me happily behind the camera. That was more than 20 years ago and I’ve never looked back!

    What do you love the most about your job?
    You have to love filmmaking to be a film maker. But if you do love it, there’s really nothing else you want to do. I do love the process and the tools, but most of all I love the people I get to meet and work so closely with.

    What is your personal most awkward or funniest on set story?
    The Art department gave me a prop Native American headdress that I took to wearing behind the camera. For me it was very funny but might have looked super odd to anyone not in on the joke. I’m just glad there are pictures!

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I don’t currently have any Pennsylvania-based productions on the books, but I’m hoping that will change! I can’t wait to come back to shot there.

    PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
    The tax credit had a large effect on our ultimate decision to stay and shoot in Pennsylvania. That in turn brought not only a lot of work to our immediate crew members but substantial work and monies to many more outlaying people and businesses that we either came into contact with or contracted through to provide services to our show.

    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    I think anyone starting out in this business should try on as may pairs of boots as possible. Spend some time working in as many departments as possible. Then you’ll know from experience what you love doing the most and will have a much better understanding of what each person and department needs to accomplish their job. It will make you a much better and well-rounded film maker.

    What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    I wish I had understood much earlier the necessity to network. People hire who they know and are comfortable with. If they know you as a person rather than as a reel, resume or website, they are far more likely to hire you.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    I’m ready to take the next leap in my career path and DP much larger shows. At the same time I want to continue to teach and help mentor the next generation of those who also love our method of storytelling.

    What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    This one doesn’t really pertain to me as I don’t initiate projects.

  • Monday, July 20, 2020 12:43 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

    Dear Valued PAFIA Members,

    I hope you are practicing social distancing and staying safe. Together, we face a truly unprecedented situation. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our families, businesses, and our way of life. In these challenging times, I want to take a moment to update you on where PAFIA currently stands.

    The film industry, much like the rest of the rest of the world, has been greatly affected by COVID-19. All movie and television productions in North America are at a standstill, with an unknown return date. Many studios are working on return to work guidelines to accommodate our new normal. The positive note is that some countries are currently and successfully shooting again, and my hope is that we will join them soon.

    According to our lobbyist, Jim Davis, the film tax credit for the state of Pennsylvania is still expecting to stay funded at the same capacity, $70 million. For 10+ years, PAFIA has been fighting for the tax credit in Pennsylvania, and with your help we hope to be around for many more years! PAFIA has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help sustain us for the future. Any donation, no matter how small, will help us reach our goal of raising $20,000.

    Support PAFIA

    I want to thank all of the sponsors and individual members that have renewed during this time of uncertainty. It is important for us to stay funded to use our lobbyist and Kassalen Meetings & Events (PAFIA’s Management Company) to move our agenda forward. 

    Please check out the information below for new and exciting FREE opportunities we are offering to our PAFIA community.

    Thank you and stay safe,

    David Haddad
    PAFIA Chair

    Virtual Events: We are working hard to provide virtual content to our members and PAFIA is pleased to announce our first Virtual Q&A with Producer, Assistant Director, and PAFIA Board Member, John Rusk! Join us for this FREE Q&A Webinar Tuesday, July 28, 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

    Register Today!


    Learn from the Pro: Virtual Q&A with John Rusk
    Do you want to know how to make it in the film industry? John Rusk, whose credits include "Dead Poets Society," "Avalon," "A League of Their Own," "The Pelican Brief," "Outbreak," "Twelve Monkeys," and "The Sixth Sense", just to name a few, will answer your questions at this PAFIA FREE webinar! Join our Q&A on July 28 at 6:30 pm. The session will be moderated by PAFIA Vice-Chair, Maria Shamkalian.

  • Thursday, July 02, 2020 1:35 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

    Article By: Amelia Addor
    PAFIA Writer

    Ross Gabrielli, VP of Sales and Marketing of Gala Catering who had worked in the food industry ever since he could remember when his father, Fred Gabrielli, started the business back in the 1980s. Gala Catering started as a family company that went from serving meals from a single trailer in Houston, Texas. That slowly but surely grew from Fred’s and his crew’s dedication and hard work.

    A prominent and valued PAFIA supporter, Gabrielli’s family business can be traced back to his father and mother starting small and working their way into prominence. Now, Gala Catering works on up to ten projects at a time utilizing a kitchen truck, a refrigeration truck, and a dry storage truck.

    Some highlights of Ross’ career so far include being a private chef for Adam Sandler, serving nearly 2,000 people at once at the Los Angeles Forum, and being a fantastic father to his 6-year-old son, Renner. Check out Gala Catering @galacrew and @galacatering on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and IMDb. 

    What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Building and maintaining relationships is key in this industry. That alone will help get more work in the future. Keeping the entire crew happy and full is one to the best ways for us to get next gig. People take recognition of good food, and if they admire your professional performance/work ethic enough, you will most likely get another job with the clientele on an upcoming project.

    Also, take a look through your local production report: this is a good resource for finding listed email addresses to the production offices. Contact them and let them know you are available, attach a link of your resume, and see what happens. 

    Who have you met while working that has influenced you the most?
    My father, Fred Gabrielli, has influenced me most with his hard work, dedication, and passion to starting a small business and turning it into what it has become today. My mother as well. She was one of the strongest influences in my life and an amazing woman. 

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest work moment?
    When I was 5 years old, on Pee Wee’s Big Top. I loved Pee Wee as a kid, so my dad let me carry his food tray to him in his trailer. Well, I was so anxious to see the character I watched on TV every day that I spilt his food all over his shirt when I was trying to serve him!

    Where do you see your company going in the next five years?
    There are a few things behind the scenes, and in the works, that will propel Gala Catering to another level as time goes on. For now, I will say we’re steadily improving at every phase of the daily catering grind as the company has been doing for the last 35 years. The history just shows hard work and dedication pays off. Our team will make sure that persists into the future. 

    What is Gala Catering’s connection to Pennsylvania?
    Gala Catering has several connections to Pennsylvania. We have done many projects in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas (including Denzel Washington’s “Fences” Tom Hank’s “Mr. Rodgers”, “Manhunt, “Desperate Measures” and more.)

    Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were working on an untitled HBO project in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania is an important part to the film industry and Gala Catering is proud to be a part of that. We look forward to growing with the Pennsylvania projects. It’s a beautiful place with great incentives. Who wouldn’t want to work there? 

    Do you have any valuable lessons that you learned about your business’s industry?
    There are too many to list, but I will mention that one of our most valuable assets to Gala Catering is Chef Donna Cushing. She has instilled many valuable lessons on me. She continues to do so today to all our employees and crew members. She is a key component that keeps our business’s wheels turning and the entire system constantly improving and moving forward. 

    What is your favorite project that your business worked on?
    The Longest Yard and Grandma’s Boy: Really, any Happy Madison film. Happy Madison is like family to Gala Catering.

    What is it like to serve food at the Super Bowl Pepsi Halftime Show?
    Working the Super Bowl is extremely unique for several reasons. It’s amazing to watch the “party” grow day by day. Since we arrive almost 2 weeks before the Super Bowl commences, we get to see the big game (and all the craziness that surrounds it) begin from infancy and slowly transform into the largest show in the country. It’s very different from film! Each person working the halftime show must execute their role with no flaws while only having one (proverbial) “take” to entertain the entire nation.

    Why do you consider your most recent success an accomplishment milestone? 
    We have been serving TD ENT (the company who develops and displays the Halftime show) for 10 years now. They are the people behind the scenes that work diligently to make the magic of the halftime happen every year. Also, getting to see the rehearsal show before the rest of the country, standing on the field is one of the most electrifying feelings in the world. We are truly blessed to get to experience that again and again. We will be in Miami for the next Super Bowl!

    If you could improve the food service industry in one way, what would it be and why would you change it?
    I would incorporate more nutritional awareness and help people become more self-knowledgeable about what they put in their bodies. I am a big advocate for making healthy eating decisions even when other more tempting options are available.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2020 3:07 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

    Article By: Amelia Addor
    PAFIA Writer

    Jen Kerum of Tony’s Food Service. Daughter of Tony, the namesake of the restaurant. Growing up, Jen spent her summers with her dad on set wherever he was in the world. Meeting people who remember her as a baby is just an everyday occurrence in the life of a world-famous catering family. Feeling most at home on a movie set, Jen became as well-acquainted with the business as her parents before her.  Currently, she is based in New York City where she manages the East Coast division of Tony’s Food Service. In the past month, Jen traveled to Panama, Atlanta, and Philadelphia working on developing film and television projects on behalf of Tony’s Food Service. Beyond the catering world, she is debuting a company in Croatia called Anchor Croatia that does Luxury Yacht Rentals and Bespoke Tours around the 1,100 islands of Croatia. To learn more about Jen’s adventures and Tony’s Food Service, visit their Facebook page and IMDB page

    Why do you consider your most recent success an “accomplishment milestone”? 
    My dad started Tony’s Food Service with my mom in 1982. From the beginning they were a partnership. Their love for each other, love for people, and great food is what made them so successful. In the beginning my parents both worked in the catering truck together, but later decided that my mom would run the office and dad would fly around the world managing all the shows.

    My parents came into the movie industry during a time where food on film sets was very simple. Everyone was serving hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch. He was the first caterer to serve lobsters and filet mignon on a movie set. He changed the face of Motion Picture Catering, disrupted the industry, and set the standard for all other caterers in film.

    What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Taking care of people on set like they are our own family at Christmas dinner is the only way we do business.

    Who have you met while working with Tony’s Food Service that has influenced you the most?
    Honestly, my mom and dad. They are such an incredible team. They work so hard and each of them have so much passion and love for there kids. Everything they did in building this business was for their kids and I look up to them every day for it.

    Do you have any valuable lessons that you’ve learned about your business? 
    Running a business is a twenty-four-hour job, especially in the film and television industry. You must love what you do; otherwise this isn’t the right business for you.  

    What is your favorite project that Tony’s Food Service worked on?
    For me personally “Waterworld” in Hawaii when I was a kid. The whole crew lived on the Big Island for a year and it was like a big family.  I remember running around set everyday with all the other crew’s kids. There’s an epic Thanksgiving dinner my dad did for the crew that goes down in history as one of the best Thanksgiving dinners ever served in Tony’s Food Service.

    Where do you see Tony’s Food Service going in the next five years?
    It would be so neat to have a Tony’s Food Service Organic Farm one day, where we grew our own vegetables that we served on set.

    Why do you love what you do?
    I love making people smile every day and serving delicious food to amazing people. It’s all about them and it’s all for them.

    How did your family begin its business? Why did they go into the food service industry?
    My dad grew up in a small farm in Croatia outside of Split. His family didn’t have very much and decided to go to Culinary school because by working in the school’s restaurant it would pay for his education. My dad was twenty-one when he came to America and his sights were on creating “The American Dream”. My dad worked for another caterer and after a short amount of time of working there, he realized there was a lot missing in the food industry in America. He wanted to bring home cooking and love to film catering.  After he met my mom, everything fell into place. One couldn’t do it without the other. My mom is the brains behind the office portion of the business and my dad is the most amazing chef I’ve ever met.

    What do you (and those that you work with) love about food service in the film and television industry?
    The energy. There’s nothing like it. We’ve served in the most surreal locations around the world. We worked in Vietnam once and had to take a military barge with all our equipment down a river in the middle of the jungle and serve on a tiny island that was used to secretly make weapons during the war in Vietnam. I love the challenge. My office view is different every day. How many people can say that?

    How do your Croatian roots play into making Tony’s Food Service special and so valuable?
    First off Croatian food is amazing! Because Croatia is situated along the Adriatic Sea, you have freshly caught seafood, delicious homemade olive oil, and home-grown vegetables. Everyone cultivates their own garden at home and people only eat according the seasons. That quality of food that my dad implements is what shines through in his company. My dad has always said, “if I wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t serve it”. And let me tell you, my dad is a picky man!

    Do you have any memories from or comments on the documentary made about Tony, “Cooking for Hollywood” (2013)?
    My dad’s story is so unique and special, I would love to make a movie out of his life. He came from nothing and created this amazing empire with my mom. My parents helped so much of my Croatian-born family during the war in Yugoslavia by giving them jobs in America. Lots of my cousins were spared from war because my dad brought them to America and gave them a job. This business was a blessing from God and helped save people’s lives.

  • Friday, May 22, 2020 3:46 PM | Jennifer Butschle (Administrator)


    Highball Society Quarantine Film Festival: Creativity in the Age of Quarantine

    Article By: Liz Wiest
    PAFIA Writer 
    Instagram: @lizkhawiesta
    Twitter: @liz_wiest

    Now more than ever, the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention” is vital for creatives who are stuck in quarantine, and PA industry professionals Tim and Jamie Stevens have taken this mantra to a whole new level. During this time, it’s very easy for artists to fall off from creating, but the duo, who are seasoned in all things art, were inspired to come up with a way to come together as a family and bring together artists who are sheltering-in-place.

    Their project? The Highball Society Quarantine Film Festival- an opportunity for film workers to keep their creative juices flowing right from their own homes! The concept? To produce a zero-budget short film in accordance with a theme of made-up words (and CDC guidelines, of course) that the filmmakers can choose to interpret however they see fit. Some examples for this current round include: “Husbordes”, “Ploosner”, “Rebarbects”, “Unknifto” and “Requelime” (one must be used as a verb, the other as a noun!). Submissions can be filmed on cameras large or small, and edited only with what is available.

    Tim and Jamie began the project as something to do within the family, but were quickly thrilled at how fulfilling it was to create something completely new during this time. When asked what a filming day was like, Tim says: “It was great, right when school was over for our daughter, my wife turned into an AD and had everyone was in wardrobe and immediately reporting to set figuring out which scene to shoot”! Their hard work culminated in a short that they entitled the Prince of Galatop, now available for viewing on YouTube, and the Highball Society website.

    The first round of submissions turned in a vibrant and unique set of responses to the prompt words. Tim describes the two submissions, Crust and Orousloth as being “some of of the greatest and most creative things he’s seen in a long time”! Tim’s short was even shown in a virtual Zoom meeting for Rough Cuts, a PA-based group where filmmakers can screen their work in whatever stage of the process they may be in.

    The festival is currently finishing it’s second round this week, and while the current grand prize consists of bragging rights and the coveted title of The Big Winner of Round 2, those who take part in the current round will get to judge the previous rounds. Tim and Jamie hope that more creatives will become inspired to get involved, and that the contest brings about some sense of unity and normalcy in these uncertain times. Currently, they have 30 individuals from all around PA, and even some from New York committed to submitting to the project.

    To submit, please email your submission via a Vimeo or YouTube link to hwallbanger@gmail.com. The rules for Round 3 will be announced 5/25/20.

    The website to view submissions is: www.highballsociety.com

  • Friday, May 15, 2020 5:06 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

     Article By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it? Writing, producing and premiering In Your Afterglow with a very limited budget from start to finish - 11 months. Gathering a fantastic cast and crew to complete production of the film in 12 shooting days.

    How did you get started in the film industry?
    I was driving to my 35th college reunion (Bucknell U) when I received a text from a friend: “Want to play a hot, potty-mouthed sibling in an Indie film?” Random. Without any hesitation I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” Shortly thereafter I met with Director Mike Gutridge to discuss the role of Trish in his film Shadows (release date scheduled for late 2020). We filmed Shadows during the summer of 2018. I fell in love with the entire process. With filming completed in October 2018, I knew this was where I wanted to be. I had been writing for years, but never with the intention to work in the film industry. By November I was converting one of my story ideas to the screenplay format. By June 2019, we were filming In Your Afterglow.

    Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?

    As a Pennsylvania native, it made sense to film locally in York, PA, but I had no idea how receptive and helpful folks in the area would be. What I discovered was a huge support system, eager to contribute to the success of the film. Pennsylvania is chock-full of historical sites, country and urban settings, institutional settings (college and universities), as well as private individuals willing to share their homes for filming. In Your Afterglow was filmed in 11 locations throughout York and Adams County. Literally everyone I asked said yes.

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?  The flashbacks from In Your Afterglow were filmed at the historic Dill’s Tavern in Dillsburg, PA. That was one of my favorite filming days. Our host was super helpful, the lighting in the building was beautiful and I couldn’t have asked for a more authentic setting. I also enjoyed filming on the scenic Heritage Rail Trail. The trail extends approximately 21 miles from York city south to the Maryland border.

    What do you love the most about your job?
    As both writer and producer of In Your Afterglow, I wore many hats. This allowed me to combine my creative, managerial, and leadership skills. Everyday, I encountered new challenges. I thrive on problem solving. Producing a film is like working on a jigsaw puzzle. When all of the pieces are finally in place, the result is exhilarating. But of course, that only lasts for a little while then you say, “Ok where’s the next one?”

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    Everyday on set was memorable for one reason or another, but the story I want to share is about a flying squirrel. A significant portion of the film was shot in the beautiful kitchen graciously provided by Michael and Julie Wheeler. As part of my regular routine, a few days before filming each week, I confirmed with her the date and arrival time. A few weeks into filming, I received a response “Yes, this is fine. 
    Could you please remind everyone to close the garage door when they go in and out? When we returned home on Sunday, there was a flying squirrel in the laundry room. We were able to capture and release it.” I was mortified. I apologized profusely. Of all of the things I worried about, a flying squirrel was not on my list. This could easily have jeopardized my relationship with Julie and Mike. Filming at their home could have come to an abrupt halt. Instead, they took the incident in stride. Several months later, the Wheelers attended IYA’s premiere at the Appell Center. We had a good laugh. Thank goodness.

    What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?
    To date I haven’t experienced specific challenges as a female filmmaker. However, getting into the industry at my age has raised some eyebrows. Many ask, why now? My answer is pretty simple.
    Before now, I haven’t had the courage or encouragement to pursue my passion. What was expected of me and what I wanted to do were often not congruent. So, I waited. Currently, I have both, but I think encouragement from those who believe in me gave me the courage to go for it.

    What is your advice for other women in film?
    Surround yourself with people who believe in you but are not afraid to challenge you. Study. Celebrate your ability to multi-task. Be prepared to overcome stumbling blocks that are not female specific.

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I’m currently working on my next screenplay “The Feeding Hand” which I plan to film in Pennsylvania. About a third of that film will be filmed in Milton, Pa. I’m open to filming the rest in York or another PA location. I’m currently considering Philadelphia.

    PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
    I have been fortunate to meet many aspiring actors and filmmakers in Pennsylvania. Our state is loaded with talent. We need support from producers. We need funding for our films. Making films provides employment for Pennsylvanians. Making films in PA provides income to restaurants and hotels. Featuring PA locations in films showcases the many beautiful and historic areas. I would not have been able to produce my first film anywhere else. And I will not be able to produce my second film without support of new investors. These investors need every incentive possible to encourage them to look within  Pennsylvania and see what we have to offer.

    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    Discuss your budget with other experienced filmmakers.
    Interview several candidates for each role in your film. Don’t settle. Don’t get discouraged by nah-sayers. You can do it!

    What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    This is no secret. Network. Join groups. Research.

    What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    I learned so many valuable lessons with each stage of the process. The most difficult part of my work on In Your Afterglow was acting and producing at the same time. Best to do one or the other.

    What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    In Your Afterglow of course!

    What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    In Your Afterglow was of course my favorite project, but acting in Shadows was fun because I had only one job - my role as “Trish”.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    I’d like to direct films written by others.


    What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?

    Feel free to reach out to me via email: patricialouisemcgee@gmail.com

  • Friday, May 08, 2020 4:40 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

     Article By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?Most recently, I was able to produce two feature films here in Philadelphia. "Between Wars" starring Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos, Goodfellas), Harley Flannagan, Juliette Valdez, and myself. I also wrote and produced "The Recovery" again starring the very talented and beautiful Juliette Valdez and myself. I was able to produce both these films with hard work, dedication and an ample amount of pre-production. I utilized the connections I made over the years and brought value to those who were working on both projects with me.

    How did you get started in the film industry?
    When I was 18 years old I took a job at a live virtual reality game in Wildwood, NJ. A live actor was part of the game. I worked that job for three summers being one of the headlining acts. In college I took an acting class as an elective and wound up with the lead role in the following semester's play. After that I transferred my major from biology to a double major in film & theater,  I never looked back. Now I regularly attended classes at Playhouse West - Philadelphia for the last four and a half years.

    Why do you choose to work in PA?
    I'm born and raised in Philly so I have access to many locations and lots of connections throughout the city. I produce in L.A. and New York too but there is just so much less red tape here, it's way easier to get a project into production in PA.

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania? There are so many amazing spots in and around PA, it's hard to pick one. I would say my most used location would be what is referred to as "graffiti pier" down on the waterfront in Philadelphia. It's just a beautiful spot with the city as the backdrop.

    What do you love the most about your job?
    I love telling stories and having people feel, learn, or grow because of them. When someone connects  emotionally because they relate to the story then you have the power to change people and even the world.

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    I've been very blessed to be a part of a lot of different types of projects but one of my favorite moments ever was rehearsing with Michael Imperioli for the film "Between Wars" He was a true artist. He didn't care that I was a nobody and I didn't care that he was a somebody. We just both loved the craft of acting and wanted to bring as much truth and life to our scenes as we could. It was all about the craft and the work for us. It was such a great collaboration. It was very humbling to see such a professional have no ego and be so willing to listen to my ideas and work as a team. I'll never forget those rehearsals on set.

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I have several projects coming up, most notably the feature film "Ugly-Pretty" written & directed by PA native Hollis Sherman-Pepe and starring Lindsey Shaw (Pretty Little Liars). facebook.com/uglyprettymovie  I'm also currently developing a t.v. show titled "Home Grown" directed by (PA director) Todd Wolfe, that hopefully will go into production later this year. Both will be filmed in PA.

    PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
    If PA could compete with some of the other tax-friendly states then the local crews, cast,  hotels, locations, merchants and other vendors, would all win out if we had more film shoots here, which will off-set the tax breaks to the production companies and studios because the local people would make more money and pay more in taxes.  It would contribute to the economy big in the long run. It would be a win-win for everyone. 

    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    For this answer I'm going to steal the answer my teacher Tony Savant gave and I quote "For actors, please, please learn your craft, study it, work at it daily like musicians and dancers and the artists.  Work to become the kind of actor everyone would be dying to work with.  This means not only being great at your craft, but being a complete professional in every sense of the word.  It takes years of continual study and work to be excellent at it.  Take it seriously, become excellent at it so you can contribute effectively on any project you are a part of.  It’s hard work, but it should be joyful work if you love it.  If you don’t love it and want to be great at it, then disqualify yourself and do something else.  As a filmmaker, producer or technical person, learn through doing.  Get on as many sets as possible to do it a lot.  And, for both actors and behind the scenes folks, read, continue to educate yourselves, watch and study films, study all the best films, understand what works, then go and do it.  Begin with short films, five minutes.  If you can tell a great five minute story, then make a ten minute, then fifteen, and so on.  Actors, make your own films, don’t wait to get hired.  But, perhaps before that, educate yourself.  Everyone should read “The Art of Dramatic Writing” by Lajos Egri, so you understand the anatomy of a story and it’s proper construction.  It’s the best book on writing ever.  And it all begins with the script.  If you don’t understand story construction or what makes a good script, forget it.  Read “Making Movies” by Sidney Lumet.  Read “On Directing” by Elia Kazan, and “Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Films”, with Jeff Young.  It’s a series of interviews with the greatest director of all time.  Read every book by and about Kazan.  Watch YouTube interviews with all the finest directors and filmmakers and actors.  Directors, study some acting so you understand that process and so you can help actors and speak to them intelligently.  For everyone, help out on sets.  Get on as many sets as you can and learn as many jobs on set as you can so you are knowledgeable and also appreciate that making a film is a collaborative effort and all jobs are to be valued." The only thing I would add is to be respectful and kind to every last person on set, you never know who they are or who they will become in this industry, don't burn bridges before they're even made.

    What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Be willing to work for experience. Don't worry about money initially, that'll come later. First learn your craft and then how to apply it on sets. Bring the production value and put the story first. Be early, work hard, and only leave when the job is done. Be pleasant and someone who makes the stresses of set life feel lessened. Don't be a burden to production. When you're not on set keep learning, reading biographies, studying movies/scripts.  Make your own content and learn by doing.  Finally, if you don't know something, when on set, ask someone who does.

    What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    Learn your craft. Be patient while learning it. This industry is the only industry where a person can wake up one morning and decide "hey, I'm an actor or filmmaker" and then people believe them. If tomorrow I said I was a doctor or lawyer no one would believe me because I didn't learn those skills. The professionals in this industry worked hard and studied for years to get there. If you show up and claim you're a professional without any training or work put in then you're doing your self a huge disservice and most likely will ruin that opportunity for yourself.

    What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    Hands down "ROCKY" it's one of the films that made me want to become an actor/filmmaker in the first place. Especially, if you know the back story and the struggles Sylvester Stallone went through to getting it made. Still inspires me to this day.

    What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    Again I am very blessed and have many fond set experiences for different projects but if I had to pick, I would say my feature film "The Recovery". The cast and crew were all dear friends and fellow students at Playhouse West - Philadelphia, I got to work along side my lovely and talented girlfriend, Juliette Valdez in some very powerful and emotional scenes. Plus the story is about overcoming addiction and very personal to me, to be able to tell such a story with people I care about is just a blessing.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    To be considered the type of person that everyone is dying to work with because of my dedication and excellence in the craft of both acting and filmmaking.

    What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    Hit me up on instagram @shaunpaul89, check in on my IMDB for upcoming projects  or keep an eye out for casting notices on film.org.

  • Friday, May 01, 2020 1:52 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

     Article by: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA  Vice-Chair

    What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it? My most recent success is landing one of the lead roles in a feature film called Benita. I became friends with the director, Prinze Wayee, on a previous project and stayed in touch with him throughout the years. We started collaborating and I am currently the production manager as well on the project. It is going to be a great film when it gets shot which will be after this Corona Virus epidemic is over. 

    How did you get started in the film industry?
    Believe it or not, growing up I was a shy child who hated being in the spotlight. I went to a Christian School that believed that the students should all participate in a concert each year either through singing, or playing an instrument. It was in 6th grade when my nerves got the best of me and during one of those concerts, I threw up all over myself in the middle row of the choir. This in turn set off a ripple effect and three other people threw up as well.  It was on that day that I swore that I would never be on a stage again. However, God had other plans and decided to lead me onto a much bigger stage with over 400 people watching. I was chosen by my music teacher to be one of the students who got to sing with a Christian Singer, Steve Green, in that same year of school. Many people objected over this decision, but I knew that I had to prove them wrong and face my fears. It was one of the hardest things I had to do but when it was over, I knew I would never leave the stage again. I later went off to college and started my acting career which included theatre and film.

    Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    I chose to work in PA because it is a smaller market for local actors to break into the Hollywood scene. With many award-winning directors like M. Night Shyamalan shooting their upcoming productions in PA, it gives local actors bigger opportunities to book the supporting roles. What I love most about working in Pennsylvania is the fact that here everyone knows your name and that is mostly because it is a smaller market and everyone knows everyone else.

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania? Some of my favorite shooting locations in PA are the steps of the Art Museum, 30th street station, and of course Fairmount Park.

    What do you love the most about your job? 
    What I love most about acting is having the ability to be as vulnerable as you possibly can in order to create a believable character. I am always challenging myself to reach deeper inside so that the audience can feel for each character I become.

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    One of my most memorable/funny set stories was when I was a principal on a “Coach” commercial. I got to be the mascot which was a huge blow up dinosaur. When the crew fitted me into the outfit and blew it up, they realized really fast how hard it was going to be to get me down two flights of stairs. Needless to say, I was very experienced with mascot uniforms and navigated the stairs without knocking over any expensive furniture. I had one crew member walking me down while another crew member holding my tail. It was such an interesting experience.  

    What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?
    I am an actress who has become a filmmaker over the years. I believe that the challenges that female filmmakers face are having the ability to get their films financed, having their views heard and understand as well as figuring out the best way to work alongside male cinematographers and producers. However, I believe that this gap in the industry has changed dramatically and female filmmakers are getting noticed a lot more in today’s society then ever before.

    What is your advice for other women in film?
    My advice to other women in this film industry is keep pursing your dreams and never compromise your beliefs while doing so. It is a hard career to be in, but very rewarding as well.

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    While being quarantined, I have been offered four different roles in upcoming feature films. I am excited to say that I have accepted them all and I am working on the scripts during this down time. I have two suspenseful dramas along side two really emotional dramatic features that will lead the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. I am eager to start shooting them after the quarantined is lifted.

    PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
    I can tell our elected officials that without the PA film industry I wouldn’t be a working actor today. Many of my projects that I have been cast in are from Philadelphia. Without the abundance of opportunities that are starting to trickle into the PA area, I would have to start thinking about moving my brand elsewhere in order to stay a working actor. 

    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid? 
    My advice for aspiring actors/filmmakers is to keep your relationships and connections healthy. Acting is all about who you know and who knows you. If you have a bad reputation in this business then it can ultimately end your career before it even starts. Also, I truly believe that you have to stay genuine and true to what you believe in and not waiver from your beliefs. This business will try to manipulate you into doing things you aren’t comfortable with and you have to make sure you are able to say “No” when those situations occur.

    What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    There are many ways to find gigs. The sites that I use are Actors Access, Casting Networks, Backstage, IMDB Postings, Facebook, and many times I get offered roles through directors whom I have already worked with. Sometimes I will look on CastingAbout.com for TV shows that are currently being cast and I will reach out to the casting directors directly. Many times, you have to think outside the box in order to get yourself into the audition room.

    What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    There are many valuable lessons that I have learned over the years in this industry. One lesson I learned is don’t believe everything you read on social media. Many times, actors/directors exaggerate on how big their projects are and when you get caught up in that project you find out that it really isn’t anything at all. Another lesson I learned is don’t compromise your beliefs when offered a role. You really need to figure out what you will do and what you wouldn’t before you get into a situation that forces you to choose. Lastly, I learned that it is ok not to have a relationship with everyone you meet in the industry. You will meet a lot of people on all different levels in this business and you have to be content with knowing who is going to be in your contact group and who wouldn’t.

    What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    My favorite film shot in Pennsylvania has to be Six Sense.

    What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    This question is very hard for me because I have over 75 films that I have worked on throughout my career so far. I am going to say that one of my favorite projects that I worked on was The Impact Factor by Ken McArthur. It’s about a diverse group of people within a 5-mile radius of Philadelphia City Hall who discovered they made a difference whether they wanted to or not. I was privileged to play Tracy Hartman who was a young enthusiastic TV Reporter who just wanted to get that next great story. The sets were amazing, the crew was so talented, and I enjoyed the chemistry between the actors.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    My biggest aspiration in this industry is to book a series regular role in a sitcom. I enjoy creating memorable characters that people can enjoy and laugh with. To be on a sitcom like The Big Bang Theory would be one of my biggest dreams.

    What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    Currently, I am not creating any film projects but I am always looking for more challenging roles to be casted in. My IMDB page is imdb.me/victoriastevens

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/victoria.stevens.735

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vickiestevens1/

    Website: victoriastevens.org

  • Friday, April 24, 2020 1:09 PM | Jennifer Butschle (Administrator)

    Article By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Born in NYC to Dominican parents, Sugey Cruz moved to Lancaster to attend College at Franklin and Marshall. There she met her spouse, Rich, and they had a son, Tommy, who would later go on to be the inspiration for them to co-found a non-profit for Autism and Related conditions called The Tommy Foundation. Through that organization they’ve not only worked with many members of the local community, but also put together a documentary entitled “The United States of Autism” which was in Oscar qualification. A few years ago, Sugey rekindled her passion for Acting and started taking classes with Brad Hawkins—who runs the Central PA Actor’s Workshop—and working with local filmmakers on their projects.  It was in Brad’s class that Sugey met Alex Rudegeair and subsequently Jeremy Good. The three of them founded “Broken Tile Productions” which has two films currently in the film festival circuit—“On Turning 16” and “Dirt”.  Sugey also works closely with Tony Marion of “Cinecle Pictures”, whom she worked with on “Loose Ends” as a  female lead and producer.

    What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
    My most recent success has to be starting our Production company, Broken Tile, and being able to work with filmmakers on projects that we are all passionate about. I wrote a short film last summer called “On Turning 16” and one of my business partners wrote “Dirt” and both of them have been well received so far at film festivals, which is very humbling. Thanks to my work on “Loose Ends” and “Dirt”,  I’ve developed an amazing working relationship with writer, director Tony Marion and we’ve been developing some projects together as well. 

    How did you get started in the film industry?
    A little over two years ago now, I rekindled my passion for acting and started attending classes with Brad Hawkins. There I met many other hungry and passionate actors who wanted to collaborate and work together on projects, which we have done many times, including on the feature film “Secret Within the Sphere”.  I worked on a web series project, experimental films, did a bit of extra work in Philadelphia and NYC and I take every opportunity to learn what I can behind the scenes as well.

    Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    Our locations are amazing in PA. When we shot “Secret” we were continually amazed at how spot after spot that was chosen for our set locations were just completely different and perfect for something as fantastical as a steampunk adventure film. You can shoot a tender film about a couple grappling with their child’s differences (“On Turning 16”) in what’s basically a nearby park or find a grungy, indie perfect abandoned warehouse that you can make your home for 2 weeks like we did for “Dirt”.  It just has everything you need.

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
    John Harris Simon Cameron Mansion in Harrisburg was gorgeous; Strasburg Railroad, which can really add so much perfect “timeliness” to a film with the right lighting; and just anywhere in PA with lots of foliage in the fall. It’s just breathtaking especially if you can get some drone footage of it.

    What do you love the most about your job?
    About Acting—that you can both find yourself and lose yourself in a character you play if you truly do the work and let yourself get to that very vulnerable place. About producing—that you literally can be involved in the complete creative process and see this seed of an idea just get magnified and turn into as big a thing as you want to make it.

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    I loved dancing with Jack Rudegeair on the set of “Dirt”. Jack’s an older fella and the grandfather of one of my business partners. He and I have had the privilege of working together 3 times now and we just had a lot of time to bond on the “Dirt” set. I never got to meet my one grandfather and the other passed when I was very young, and Jack “adopted” me while on set so on one of the days while we were both particularly loopy from long set days, we just started singing and then dancing and two of the crew members captured a little footage of it for us. It was one of the sweetest and dearest moments of my life.  

    What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?
    Being able to assert yourself without feeling that there’s a negative stigma to it and probably “guilt” especially when you have a family and are trying to navigate career and family time.

    What is your advice for other women in film?
    Go for it. Just be creative and do things. Ask questions when you can. Be a happy detective and see what other tools you can learn from set—observe and ask questions (when possible). Watch films, tv shows and if it’s one you like, get the script for it and read up on it. If you don’t like, do the same and ask yourself why. Just study everything and keep improving every day.

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    We hope to be able to premiere our films “On Turning 16” and “Dirt” as soon as we can after our current COVID-19 crisis is done. Still to come in PA is “Loose Ends” by Cinecle Pictures and “Secret Within The Sphere” by Stormfront Productions.

    PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
    I’d let them know that PA is ripe and ready for this kind of work. There are so many people I’ve met in all different areas of the industry out here—even in my little town—that are just so creative and really just want to take it to that next level. I can’t wait to see my friends succeed. They are just as creative and dedicated as people in any other city and we all deserve a chance to share those stories that live inside us.

    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?  
    As far as steps, just keep learning. Read, listen, watch, observe films from that lens that interests you. Watch how your favorites do things. Read the scripts for it. Attend classes and masterclasses and network like crazy on social media and in person. And lastly but most importantly, treat people with respect and don’t act like people are replaceable and try not to get on the gossip wagon. It’s tough, especially if you feel “harmed” in some way sometimes but it’s destructive and ultimately doesn’t help anyone.

    What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Meet people. Go to events held in your town like Lancaster Film and TV or Harrisburg Vidjams. Find out who your local managers are and look up and join social media groups that list casting calls. Also, get to know your peers. I’ve recommended many actors for gigs and they have returned the favor when they think I’m the right person for the job. We really look after one another, which I extend as well to my “crew family”.

    What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    I’d say “Sixth Sense”. I love psychological thrillers and that one is just so well shot and done.  I got a chance to work on a project that M. Night Shyamalan is doing called “Servant” for Apple TV and I just love the fact that his works revolves around Philadelphia and his love for where he grew up. 

    What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    I love aspects of all the projects I’ve worked on but I’d say probably “Dirt”. It’s funny because I think most people would assume it’d likely be “On Turning 16” since that one is so personal to my life story and is one I wrote as well, but it happened so fast since it was our first film and shooting was relatively a lot more straight-forward and shorter. As for “Dirt”, we worked so closely and intricately on that film and it was probably the most grueling and intense stretch of time spent on a project to date for me. All of that from start to finish really had to fall on the shoulders of our team in order for it to come together. I had the privilege to be Executive Producer, Producer and actress on it, so there was a lot riding on me being on the ball. You get to know a lot about yourself and those working with you through that whole process.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    I honestly am just thrilled to keep working. Acting is therapeutic and cathartic for me. I’d love to just do this for as long as I can and just keep getting better. I’d love to keep producing more films as well, which I have done now as well in some capacity with other projects and companies.

    What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    Connect with me on Instagram @sugeyprime or email: me@sugeycruz.com

  • Saturday, April 18, 2020 3:47 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

    “Fine Wine” is an award-winning short film written and directed by Maria Shamkalian and shown in Spain, Italy, Romania, Netherlands and many parts of the United States. This heartwarming musical production with over 200 dedicated people involved and five fantastic locations, lets the audience immerse into the magical world of the past and shows that while bodies might change, passion within lives forever.
    https://www.facebook.com/FineWineFilm/videos/632624837289564/

    How did you come up with the idea and how did you get it going?

    One day I was listening to a beautiful song and I got inspired. I didn’t even have to think of a script – I just saw it in my head right away. I even had tears as I was listening to the music and imagining the stories unfold. Then I sent the script to Andre Saballette from BoatHouse Pictures and just asked when we are shooting.

    What were some challenges that you have encountered?
    There was a number of challenges, of course, as in any production. Budget is always a challenge. Arranging proper holding area for some of the venues was a challenge. Then there were scheduling conflicts, especially for the reshoots, when we needed the venue to be available and all 75 people who were in the scene with exactly the same haircuts, same facial hair, same makeup – this is the reason we had to take a few months hiatus until we found the date for the reshoot when everyone could come. Actors not showing up and having to do emergency casting and bring photo doubles also was not easy. Editing was also very hard when you have a number of great shots that are nearly impossible to choose from, but our editor John Woods and colorist Lawrence R. Greenberg patiently spent many hours with us in the studio working on every piece of the puzzle. And, of course, being a pregnant director and producer was quite a task, but we got through it all

    The burning question: how did you arrange the budget?

    All the actors and crew were under a deferred payment agreement, except for transportation for NY SAG-AFTRA actors. All the locations donated their time. Catering was provided by Ann Kids Catering as a donation (it was delicious!). All the equipment was donated by Not Sold Separately, Resolution Rentals, and Camos Media, who were brought on board by our amazing DP Collin Welch. Also, we had a wonderful gaffer Joseph J. Graves who arranged all the lighting equipment. Wardrobe, props, and festival submissions were just out-of-pocket expenses.

    What are the plans for distribution?
    Up until now it was in a festival circuit, but when it was ready for distribution the whole world shut down. We felt that now the world needs hope and positivity the most, so we shared our film publicly on its Facebook Page. When everything opens again, we will revisit the question of distribution, but meanwhile you can watch it here:
    https://www.facebook.com/FineWineFilm/videos/632624837289564/

    Care to share all the amazing accomplishments, awards and selections?
    We got selected into 14 film festivals, semi-finalist in two, and won in three (Best Director, Best First Time Director, and Award of Merit for Women Filmmakers).

    Which film festivals do you suggest submitting to?
    There are so many amazing film festivals – it all depends on the genre, but www.filmfreeway.com has been immensely helpful in choosing the festivals to submit to.

    Why did you choose to film in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    Pennsylvania has such a great variety of beautiful locations! Our film shows both present time and the 1960’s, and we were able to find locations that preserved the vintage vibe and were happy to join our artistic collaboration. You can find locations for any theme here, and business owners are very welcoming to filmmakers! Also, while we brought several fantastic actors from NY, all the other amazing actors and the wonderful crew was local, and we were blessed with an excellent team!

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
    In our film, you can see Bella Tori at the Mansion – a gorgeous vintage Italian restaurant - and Langhorne Coffee House – an adorable vintage coffee house, which we were so blessed to collaborate with! Also, Ann Kids Center, KleinLife Adult Care Center, and KleinLife Theater were such great venues. Other than that, Pennsylvania has great suburban locations, amazing city sites, historical building, parks, forests, farmlands – if I start listing all my favorite locations, I can write a book!

    How did you all get started in the film industry?
    I started by submitting as background talent with directors that I admire the most and I would watch them in action and learn directing. If you sign up as PA, you never know which department you might end up with and you are constantly running around. But when you are background, especially featured, you are right there where magic is and you learn from the best!

    I even helped fix the script on White Collar and adjust a scene on Boardwalk Empire. It is like film school that you get paid for. Then I started working different jobs on set in order to understand filmmaking from every different perspective. Andre Saballette started his career right after college by working for Walt Disney Company. He learned a lot about the business and decided to take his passion and newfound knowledge and venture off on his own, so in 2013 he launched BoatHouse Pictures and began to work in the tri-state area. Every one of our amazing team members has a great story and getting to know them all was a real treat!

    What do you love the most about your job?
    Filmmaking is not just a job, not just a hobby. It's a way of life, a state of mind, a puzzle piece of your soul - without it you feel incomplete. If you fall in love with filmmaking, it's for life. You see movie ideas everywhere, live through screenplays in your sleep. Money does not matter. What matters is that you have a vision that no one sees besides you and your team, until one day you pour your heart and soul out onto that big screen and the world goes "Wow!"

    Putting together a film is incredibly difficult, time-consuming and stressful, but every time I dive into it again and again, because that feeling of euphoria when your idea becomes a reality, changes hearts and minds, causes a whirlpool of emotions... when your message is seen and felt by the world... that's when I believe I can fly!

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    I actually got quite a number of funny ones From getting a hundred people to dance Macarena to warm up during a cold outdoor shoot to making a farting noise with a ketchup bottle during Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar-winning speech. That would be another book!

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I am writing a comedy series that I am basing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but plan to shoot in different areas of PA.

    PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
    I used to travel to NY several times a week, but when I got married and had a baby, it is no longer an option for me. I want to work where I live, and so does everyone in our film community. Increasing the PA film tax credit will not only benefit actors and filmmakers. It will also benefit hotels, restaurants, car rentals, and so many other local businesses. So many directors and producers would love to bring films to PA and spend money here, but they can’t because of the tax credit. This would really be a deal breaker!

    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    Set is the best school. Try to get jobs in different departments to learn the industry in and out. Go to networking events. You never know whom you can meet and who can change your life! This business is all about connections, dedication, and hard work. And don’t procrastinate, because if you don’t bring your idea to life, someone else will.

    What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    Don’t keep ideas in your head. If you have a script, write it, so that when an opportunity presents itself you are ready. No one cares about ideas, people need a product that is ready to go. Also, be open to constructive criticism. Collaboration of opinions can turn something from mediocre to genius, so be open to change.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    I aspire to be a showrunner for comedy series and musical films.

    What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    You can always contact me on Facebook or through my website www.MariaShamkalian.com.

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Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)
461 Cochran Road, Box 246
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
(717) 833-4561  info@pafia.org

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