<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • Friday, November 08, 2019 12:46 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

     Article By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Tony Savant, Director of Playhouse West-Philadelphia, Acting School and Theater, is one of the foremost respected acting teachers in the country.  During the last 30 years, Mr. Savant has been integral to Playhouse West achieving its top reputation throughout the industry and being considered one of the finest acting schools in the world.  Mr. Savant helped train some of the most successful actors in film and television, including Ashley Judd, James Franco, Scott Caan, Scott Wolf, Scott Haze, Tessa Thompson, Jim Parrack, Alain Uy, Wentworth Miller, Heather Morris, Kathryn Morris, Charisma Carpenter and hundreds of other working actors.  He has directed five films, and is also a producer, writer and actor.


    1)  What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
    Most recent success as far as filmmaking is concerned?  I guess that would be my short film titled, Red, which ended up winning around 16 film festival awards.  It’s tough to get a 39 minute short into festivals, but we managed to get into some good ones.  I’m very proud of that film, it’s definitely the best film I made to date.  It was about two young musicians who try to escape their dysfunctional home-lives by playing music together.  It’s a little love story starring Evangeline Young, who’s got a recurring role on the ABC show “Emergence”,  Luke Eddy, and Jim Parrack, from “True Blood” fame.  Jim was shooting Suicide Squad in Toronto at the time and flew down for a weekend from that $200 million movie to shoot our $10,000 film.  He was terrific, it’s one of the best things he’s done, I really believe that.  Vange and Luke were students of mine at the time, and Jim had studied with me in L.A., that’s how I cast the actors.  I knew their work and wrote it with them in mind.  We raised the money threw IndieGogo, and the campaign went really well.  We met our budget in thirty days.  Lots of old students of mine in L.A. contributed, which I was grateful for.  To succeed with any film you’ve got to begin with a good, well-constructed script.  So, I worked very hard on the outline, I like to outline everything in great detail before writing the script.  I had been thinking about the story for almost a year, taking notes here and there, before getting down to the real work on it.  Then, the outline and designing the characters took about eight months, and then the script pretty much wrote itself within a matter of weeks.  Re-writes were minimal, but I kept tinkering for the next seven months during pre-production and rehearsing it.  Early on, before I even gave them a script, I told Vange and Luke to begin writing songs together, which we were to use in the film.  All the music is original, and Vange’s mother, Wendy Young, she wrote some songs and arranged all the music, which was vital to the film.  We had some excellent musicians play on the soundtrack, which I think is terrific, high quality for a short film.  I also told the actors to work on specific southern accents, because the film is set in the rural south, even though we filmed it all in PA, mostly in the Pottstown area, northern Chester County.  So, you work on the script till it’s solid and constructed well, you cast it well, you get the right actors, that is so important.  This was easy because, again, I was writing it with these actors in mind.  Thank God they loved the script and wanted to do it, or I wouldn’t have done the film.  I was also able to get other great technical people on board.  My producer, ShaunPaul Costello introduced me to a terrific DP, Charlie Anderson, who was working on the HBO show, “Vinyl”, at the time.  Charlie and I hit it off and he was just terrific to work with.  The whole shoot, we did 10 days, I think, was just a wonderful experience.  We were well prepared, had great weather, all the locations worked out.  We were blessed.  On the last day or shooting, the cast and crew didn’t want leave, they didn’t want it to end.

    2) How did you get started in the film industry?
    I was in L.A, training to be an actor, studying at Playhouse West.  While doing that I began directing and writing plays, eventually was asked to teach, which led to me directing more and more.  I had been in a few films, small parts, here and there.  But was becoming more interested in directing.  In 1999 I decided I needed to make a film, I wanted to direct one so I could speak and teach with more authority about the whole process.  My wife and I wrote a film called Letter From Home, a feature, which we shot mostly back here in PA.  We shot a 90 page script, on 16mm film, in 15 days, 12 days here in PA, 3 in L.A.  We flew the actors and some crew from LA, but got most of our crew through leads from the PA Film Office, the DP, AC’s, gaffer, grips, script supervisor… they were all from the Philly area.   I love making films.  I always say that every day on a set is like Christmas morning for a kid to me.  I wish I could make more, but my teaching obligations and running an acting school make it difficult.  So, I mentor a lot of filmmakers.  I’ve also been the director of the Playhouse West Film Festival, for 19 years in LA and now for 6 years in Philly.  And I’ve helped all my sons make films, so I get my fill.  I’m on sets a lot.  And I will make more myself.

    3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    It’s not entirely by choice now, as I live in PA now, but my preference would be to shoot here in the state as much as I can in the future.  I’ve made several films in Los Angeles, and it’s expensive and can be a hassle.  There’s certainly more resources available, but it’s not easy.  Making films in PA is wonderful because everywhere you go most people are so helpful and willing to pitch in, lend locations, whatever.  In L.A. everyone has a hand out and they want something; a part in the film, a part for their girlfriend, or lots of money.  Hollywood is the film capital, but a lot of people there, perhaps, are so used to it, it’s not a novelty, and unless there are stars around I guess it’s just a pain to have a film crew around.  In PA, in my experiences, people are so willing to help and they are happy you are filming something.  I’ve had strangers volunteer to direct traffic, offer food, offer their vehicles, homes and ask to help.  And many places in PA you don’t need permits.  It’s just so filmmaker friendly.  And there are so many great locations in eastern PA, plus the architecture, the history, we’ve got a great city and also very rural areas all within an hour’s drive.  PA, especially the Philly area, has everything a filmmaker needs.

    4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
    Oh, boy… that’s hard to answer.  Again, I think the city of Philadelphia has a lot to offer.  You’ve got so much history and great architecture, wonderful old buildings with so much character, combined with a modern skyline.  You’ve got two large, beautiful rivers, parks, lots of rural areas and woods… I love shooting in the woods and outdoors, even though there’s a chance you’ll get rained on.  PA is so scenic.  I love it.

    5)    What do you love the most about your job?
    The job of director?  I like being the captain of the ship.  I love telling stories, and I guess what drew me to directing from acting is that I like to tell it my way.  I think all directors have to think they know the best way to tell the story.  It’s not arrogance, it’s that you have to find what’s personal to you about the story and it kind of demands that you have a vision and idea of how it should be told, from your point of view.  I also love bringing creative people together, collaborating and setting up an arena for them to play and creatively express themselves.  It gives me great pleasure to be a part of that.  But to me, it’s about loving to tell stories, wanting to move people.  Making movies is a very noble endeavor.

    6) What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    Hard to say.  I guess if you’re asking about any on set story, my most memorable overall would be getting to be on set all week with Eli Wallach and Martin Landau many years ago, on a movie called Mistress.  I had a small part, was mostly completely cut out of the film, but being on set with them for five days, picking their brains, listening to them tell stories and talk about acting.  They were legends and worked with the best of the best, had amazing careers and a million stories.  And they were great story tellers.   What a special treat to be around them.  There were other big stars in the film too, and it was very instructive to watch them work.  But getting to know Eli and Martin, being in scenes with them was great, but the off screen part was what I treasured and will never forget.  And they were just lovely and giving people. 

    As a director, I think the best moment for me was on the set of Red, watching Jim Parrack and Evangeline Young do a scene, and have it turn out so different than what I had imagined, yet so much better.  There was a scene where Jim, as Vange’s dad, is drunk and she puts him to bed.  And we rehearsed it and it was very, very good.  But when we shot the scene, on the first take, it just organically and instinctively came out so different.  Perhaps intuitively it was the way it was meant to be all along, but we didn’t see it before.  I was just beautiful and better than what any of us imagined.  It was one take.  I just knew it would never be better than that.  I ended up doing no coverage, that first and only take is what’s in the film.  Jim’s work is so deep and sensitively and vulnerable, and so full of pain, and Vange just works off him so beautifully.    It was magical to watch it happen in that moment.  I think, as a director, and as an actor, I live for moments when you can be surprised like that.

    7) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I do.  I have several I’ve been mulling around and working on, in my mind, for several years now.  I will make one of them in the next year or two.  I’m slow.  Because of my other obligations I don’t get to do it as often as I want, so when I do I have to make it count.

    8)    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?
    We could have a thriving and fruitful film community here, not that we don’t now, but I mean it could be more fruitful and even more thriving, bringing bigger films and TV shows, if we could compete with some of the tax-friendly states like Georgia and Louisiana, or North Carolina.  The politicians and officials of those states seem to recognize that.  The local crew, the 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 in the long run.  So, it would be a win-win for everyone.  Entertainment is such an important part of our lives.  Imagine a world without movies, without plays… it would be a bleak world.   It enriches all our lives.

    9)    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    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.

    10) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Help out on sets as many as you can.  Again, become the kind of person that everyone would die to work with.  Show up early, do more than what is required of you.  Go above and beyond the call of duty.  Be nice, courteous and dependable.  These things go such a long way.  And while doing this, learn and become excellent at what you do.  Man, it’s all about working hard and being dependable.  That’s the ticket.  And be nice.  No one wants to work with a self-indulgent jerk.

    11) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    Hmm… I think the value of studying movies and knowing them.  I mean really knowing them, knowing about the people who made them. I wish I’d been told early on that it’s important to become an expert on the literature of your profession, which in this case is movies.  Read, watch and study all the great films, film directors, etc.  It seems so obvious.

    12) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    Oh, so many of them.  My God, there’s Philadelphia.  There’s Rocky, of course.  WitnessThe Deer Hunter… it was set in PA, don’t know if was shot out in western PA or not.  The Sixth Sense.  But, I guess I’ll go with Rocky!  Who doesn’t love Rocky?

    13) What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    I’d have to say my film, Red.  It was a special experience.

    14) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    Oh, just to keep helping young filmmakers, and get to keep learning and making films every few years.  It’s such a joy to be in this industry and do what you love.

    15) What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    Best way is to keep working, build up contacts. If someone sees that I’m doing a project they can message me.  Like most filmmakers, you mostly work with people through contacts with others.  Go to film festival and screenings, meet filmmakers and exchange emails.  You can’t get hired from someone who doesn’t know you exist.  And be the kind of person everyone would die to work with.  If you do, you will have more work than you can imagine.  With me, come to events we have at Playhouse West, like our annual film festival in June, and introduce yourself.

  • Friday, November 01, 2019 12:13 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

     Written by: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Wendy is a veteran film and media professional. Along with an amazing Philly documentary team (SHOUT OUT to Andrew Ferrett, Rachel Stewart, Paul Van Haute, Monique Impagliazzo, Jon Kohl, Sila Sherman, Dan La Porta, Katie Arnold et al), she recently won two Mid Atlantic Emmy awards for best Documentary (Sisters in Freedom as Director/Producer) and for Historical/Cultural Special (Philadelphia: The Great Experiment as Segment Producer). Wendy started out in film as a Production Coordinator on the features Dumb and Dumber (the original!), Se7en, American History X and Blade II, to name a few.

    She’s a graduate of Penn State with a degree in theater management, the perfect launching pad to an successful career as a Production Stage Manager before her switch to film.

    1) What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
    Produced the Philly portion of two episodes for the NBC television series THIS IS US.  Accomplished with the assistance of The Greater Philadelphia Film Office. We would not have been successful without their help!

    2) How did you get started in the film industry?
    After working freelance on a New Line produced feature film I got a staff job as an in-house coordinator. There were a lot of people who helped me along the way and it’s my great pleasure to now do the same for young filmmakers.

    3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    I’m so happy to be back after many decades away – this is a fabulously lively and photogenic city with a growing crew base and amazing home grown acting talent.

    4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
    In my documentary work I have been so lucky to film in amazing colonial era buildings and 19th century estates. Anywhere along the Schuylkill or the Delaware is pretty fantastic too.

    5) What do you love the most about your job?
    Facilitating the creation of interesting and important media.

    6) What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    Being in a small room with Pope Francis with just a handful of other people at St Charles Seminary in Wynnewood. And – I’m usually not star struck but I had a hard time catching my breath while I stood shoulder to shoulder with Robert DeNiro, showing him how to use a satellite phone.

    7) What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?
    If you are strong, forthright and decisive, you’re considered a "b****". Whereas a man would be considered a leader.

    8) What is your advice for other women in film?
    Let your voice be heard. Do the work, don’t be discouraged. BE KIND. Help others.

    9) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I have a few things in the works that aren’t yet greenlit – I’m available!

    10) 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?
    Please look at the last 5 years and how much Pennsylvania film production has exploded. Film and television projects will only consider filming in the state if we have a healthy tax incentive program. Thanks to PaFIA, elected officials have the real data on how the tax incentive program continues to expand what is now a thriving media production industry in PA

    11) What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    Work, work work. Create you own opportunities. Check out PhillyCam and learn some behind the camera skills! Go see theater, opera, ballet, the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as film.  Support other artists!

    12) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Always be learning a new skill. Reach out to industry professionals – you’ll be surprised at their willingness to share their knowledge.

    13) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    Move on quickly from disappointments – try not to spend too much time stressing about the job you didn’t get. Focus on the next opportunity.

    14) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    Philadelphia directed by Jonathan Demme

    15) What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    In Philadelphia it’s all the documentary work I did with History Making Productions . In my career it was- the year I spent working on Around the World in 80 Days with Jackie Chan. We shot in Thailand and Germany. I met so many fantastic people on that job who remain friends to this day.

    16) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    To help bring great jobs to Philly! (and finish that script that is banging around in my head!)

  • Friday, October 25, 2019 12:56 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

      

    Article by: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Sean Hoffman is a Production Sound Mixer based in Philadelphia who has been working in the film industry for 9 years. He has worked previously as a PA, Locations Assistant, a Grip, Production Coordinator, Production Manager, 2nd AD until 4 years ago when he started sound mixing. He fell in love with the job, and the first short film he sound mixed was Neighborhood Film Company’s “The Cage.” Because of that success, he has had the opportunity on many other exciting projects ranging from docs, commercials, reality shows, other short films, EPK shoots and a couple features.

    What are some of your biggest achievements in the film industry:
    I am a Production Sound Mixer based in Philadelphia. I have been working in the film industry for about nine years. When I first started my career, I worked in many different departments. I worked as a PA, a Locations Assistant, a Grip, Production Coordinator, Production Manager, 2nd AD, until about 4 years ago when I started sound mixing. That was when I learned I never wanted to do anything else. The first short film I sound mixed was Neighborhood Film Company’s “The Cage.” This project was a challenge to myself; to prove that this was what I wanted to do and that I could do it well. Because of the success of that film, I have had the opportunity to work on many other exciting projects ranging from docs, commercials, reality shows, other short films, EPK shoots and a couple features.

    What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
    Some of my most recent successes are premiering at the Philadelphia Film Festival this year. I had the pleasure of sound mixing three amazing projects. One is a feature length doc called “Maybe Next Year.” The film, directed by Kyle Thrash, is about the Eagles fans and the exciting 2017 season that led to our first Super Bowl. Another film in the festival is a feature length narrative called the “The Nomads” directed by Brandon Kamin, which is based on the true story of a North Philly Rugby team that formed after the 2013 school closures occurred throughout the city. The third project is a short film directed by David Janetta called “The Water Song.”

    How did you get started in the film industry?
    In 2011, I graduated from Temple University with a BA in Broadcasting Communication and Mass Media. When I was in school I was hoping to have a career recording music, but towards the end of college I learned that wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I reached out to a couple guys, Jim Madison and Nic Reader, who were starting a business out of a garage in Kensington. I interned for them and not long after that they started sending me out on jobs, and that turned into my introduction into filmmaking along with the close knit Philadelphia Film community. I don’t know what I’d be doing now if it wasn’t for that internship. My start in the film industry is all because of Jim Madison and Nic Reader of Format (at the time known as Expressway Productions) and Expressway Cinema Rentals.

    Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    PA is home for me. I grew up an hour outside the city near Doylestown and loved growing up there. Philadelphia has been my home since I started college and has had a huge impact on the person I have become. We get to work in such a variety of mediums in a variety of locations and it makes this line work much more exciting.

    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
    There are too many to count, but being able to film in iconic locations like the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Italian Market, beautiful Old City is such a treat. And the fact that you can drive an hour outside of the city and be on a mountain or at a beach are what makes the options Pennsylvania has to offer so vast.

    What do you love the most about your job?
    What I love most about my job are the people. The film community here is super close. Most of the people I spend my time with outside of work are fellow filmmakers. We’re a family here. I know its cheesy but every time I’m on set with friends it hardly ever feels like work.

    What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    Definitely working on “Maybe Next Year” is an experience I will never forget. We saw and captured so much throughout the past 2 years and I don’t think anyone in Philadelphia will ever forget that Eagles season.

    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I spent this past summer working on the newest season of Queer Eye which shot in Philly and should be coming to Netflix in the near future. When I’m not working on long form projects, I do a fair amount of commercial and corporate shoots in the area which is what I mostly have going on at the moment.

    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 it weren’t for the PA film industry I wouldn’t be doing what I love or working with the people who inspire me. When movies are being made other industries get impacted. Hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, thrift stores… you name it, all these types of business do better when the film industry is flourishing.

    What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    To me, its mostly about personality. Be friendly and easy to work with and it will get you hired again. Don’t take it too seriously. We’re making movies, not saving lives. Lastly, believe in yourself. I wish I had made the jump into sound mixing long before I did. But at some point I pushed past any doubts I had and made a move.

    What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Social media is great for promoting yourself and connecting with other filmmakers. Your local film office website is also a fantastic resource that I feel many filmmakers under utilize. Finally, going to screenings and networking groups. One great tool around here is a local film group called Rough Cuts, started by Philly filmmakers Nic Justice and Ryan Scott, where people can screen and get notes on the projects they are working on.

    What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    I remember early in my filmmaking career I was a Locations Assistant on an NBC show called “Do No Harm” and my boss taught me one of the golden rules of being on set is “if you’re on time you’re late.” That is one lesson that has always stuck with me. Another lesson I learned is, big ego’s and bad vibes hurt the filmmaking process and should be left at home. When everyone on the set is getting along and collaborating at a high level the days run smoother and it shows in the product.

    What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    Silver Linings Playbook is probably at the top of my list of movies shot in PA. I love Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s characters. They are both dynamic and relatable. It’s hard not to love how the story loosely revolves around the Eagles.

    What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    My favorite project that I worked on recently was this year’s Eagles hype video, produced by 160 Over 90 and directed by Ryan Scott. It was a fun project and we had a fantastic crew.

    What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    My biggest aspiration is to be a great sound mixer and work on projects that matter. Lately, it feels like the industry and our community has been growing and growing, and I hope I continue to grow along with it.

    What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    I don’t do much of the hiring since I’m part of the crew but if there are people out there looking for a sound mixer or just want to talk film, my contact info can be found on my website at seanhoffmansound.com.

  • Friday, October 18, 2019 1:08 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

        
    By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Jon Applebaum has been working as a Commercial Producer and Post-Supervisor at Neighborhood film Company for the past 5 years. Before working at Neighborhood, he worked on several feature films spanning a 9 year period, including There Will Be Blood and Silver Linings Playbook.

    1) What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
    Nei
    ghborhood just wrapped its first feature narrative film entitled Concrete Cowboys. It’s been thrilling to be a part of such an amazing company that continues to create quality content.

    2) How did you get started in the film industry?
    The first Production job I ever landed was on Talladega Nights thanks to a cousin of mine who was working as a Costumer. I worked as an office PA on 2nd unit, which led to the rest of my feature gigs.


    3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    Philly is my hometown so I’ve always had tremendous love for this city. There’s a story I tell that sums up my love for this city. I was talking with a guy who was based in LA but who was here for a few months due to work. He said to me, “In LA they stab you in the back.  Here in Philly, they stab you right in the chest.” The people here don’t BS you, they tell you exactly what’s on their mind. As a Producer, you have to listen to a lot of people’s concerns and decide the best course of action. I think this city has made me better at my job because everyone is very straightforward with you.

    4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?Anything close to my house. That’s a joke… but also true. The whole city is great. There’s so much character here, so much art and murals. We just did a Visit Philly spot that brought us to 33 different locations in 3 days.  Every location was unique. Many of them I was stepping into for the first time – and I’ve lived here all my life. There’s just so much to see, and it’s always changing.


    5) What do you love the most about your job?
    I’m extremely lucky to be working for Neighborhood in this industry. Neighborhood is a solid group of people who really care about each other and the work we do together. I also love traveling so scoring a job that brings me out of state or out of the country is also a huge plus.

    6) What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    Working in this industry sets you up with all sorts of wild stories. It’s a weird mix of people who all have their unique skill sets but somehow come together to make a movie. One of my most memorable experiences was while working on Talladega Nights.  John C. Reilly threw a house party for the cast and crew and invited everyone over for drinks. I somehow found myself in his kitchen with a couple other people talking to him about his past films. He told us stories of working on Magnolia and fighting a fake fish on A Perfect Storm. It was just a great time, he was such a nice guy and so welcoming. The whole cast and crew was like that. There were no egos - it was just the most talented people being funny as hell. I had a blast on that movie.


    7) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    Most of our projects are based here in Philly. I mentioned our feature film Concrete Cowboys, which we wrapped in August. We are also hoping to shoot a documentary about the actual Fletcher Street riders later this year. There are a few commercial projects brewing as well.

    8) 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?
    It’s simple. More production work in the area creates more jobs and more opportunities for local businesses to make money. This starts with the tax credit. If we increase or even uncap the tax credit we can build a production infrastructure that could rival any other major city.


    9) What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    Work. Get out there and work. Work for free. Meet people. You have to build a network to make it. Every production job I’ve ever gotten was through someone I knew in the business. Also, on the creative side of things, create work for yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to show off your skills. You’re never going to get a job if you have nothing to show for it. If you want to direct, go out and direct. Build a reel. Know yourself and what sort of work you want to be creating. You’re never going to get hired to make comedy spots if you don’t have them on your reel. If that’s what you really want to do, go make a comedy spot yourself.

    10) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Like I said, work and build a network of people. You can reach out to people on film.org who are posting gigs. You can also reach out to production companies and agencies. Let them know you’re available.


    11) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    You really have to put yourself out there. The work isn’t going to come to you. You have to constantly reach out and find work for yourself when starting out. Be persistent without being annoying.


    12) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    I’m going to say 12 Monkeys. Terry Gilliam is so talented. I love everything he does.

    13) What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    Our short film The Cage holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever helped produce and it’s opened a lot of doors for us.  


    14) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    Next steps for me is to produce bigger budget commercials. I’d also like to produce a short narrative which I have written, which would hopefully lead to producing a feature of my own.

    15) What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    You can email us at: hello@neighborhoodfilmco.com


  • Friday, October 11, 2019 3:22 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

      By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Steve Perrong is a Director/Editor for Neighborhood Film Company based in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, specializing in commercial and documentary work as well as Behind-The-Scenes and EPK content for film and television. 

    1) What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
    The most recent project I am coming off of is Behind the Scenes content for the film “Concrete Cowboys,” written by Neighborhood Film Company owners Ricky Staub and Dan Walser and directed by Ricky. It stars Idris Elba, Jharrel Jerome, and Caleb McLaughlin. I am also currently directing BTS content for M. Night Shyamalan’s “Servant” and Jason Segel’s “Dispatches From Elsewhere.”

    2) How did you get started in the film industry?
    I started helping out for a television show at a local church when I was around 15 or 16. From there I went to college to study film and have continued to work in the industry ever since.

    3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    I grew up just outside of Philly so this has always been home. I’m lucky that I have been able to stay based here. I have shot in most of the states in the U.S. and in other countries and my favorite film crews are still in PA.


    4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania? Anything in Philly will always look great. I think PA in general is unique because it offers a variety of landscapes and settings for shooting.


    5) What do you love the most about your job?
    I love that every job is different so it keeps you on your toes. It’s a great environment to continue to get better.

    6) What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    I think the most memorable will be working on Concrete Cowboys. It was a film that was close to all of us at Neighborhood and we couldn’t really believe it was happening. “Glass” was another film that was memorable to work on. I directed some featurettes and a lot of bonus content. 

    7) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    We love being able to do work in Pennsylvania both large and small. I have some commercials coming up and hope to be in production of a documentary before the end of the year.

    8) 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?
    Shooting in PA not only keeps local crew and talent who make a living in film working, it also boosts the economy - dollars spent with local merchants and hotels benefits the state as a whole. And I think any time you can see PA in a movie or show it will help drive tourism.


    9) What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    You always need to be practicing your craft and remember that filmmaking is like a team sport. Be open to collaboration.

    10) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Networking is key and always have a positive attitude.

    11) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    Trying to maintain a good work-life balance is a must.

    12) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    I’m all about the Philly films but I might have to go with “Night of the Living Dead”

    13) What is your favorite project that you worked on? 
    Most recently I had so much fun on a commercial I directed for “Visit Philly”. We were all over the city for the shoot and made sure to show off the not so touristy spots of town to prove that Philly has a lot to offer.

    14) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    I just hope that I can continue collaborating with great people while creating work that makes me happy.

    15) What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    www.neighborhoodfilmco.com or @perrong on Instagram.

  • Friday, October 04, 2019 1:54 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

     By Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Lancaster County-based film director, Bradley Hawkins, began his film career as an actor in the San Francisco Bay area in the early 1990s, starring in plays and musical theater productions on stage, as well as being on-camera in commercials, television, and films. Hawkins and his young family moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1997 where he taught acting, film studies, and humanities, and directed several stage productions at the high school level. After retiring as a high school teacher, Hawkins returned to acting on-camera and transitioned into an award-winning indie film director in 2015 with his directorial debut comedy short, Roller Coaster, which earned 30 film festival awards throughout the country. In 2017-2018, his quirky, comedy-fantasy, Filling In, won 61 film festival awards and 37 nominations from throughout the U.S. as well as in Australia, Canada, England, Italy, and even in Lithuania. Both Roller Coaster and Filling In are now streaming on Amazon Prime today. In addition to being a film director, Hawkins coaches emerging on-screen talent through his on-camera program, The Actor’s Workshop of Central PA, as well as holding virtual acting coaching sessions nationwide. Hawkins also founded his film production company, Dadley Productions, in 2015, with his daughter and producer, Sarah Hawkins.

    1.    What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?

    We just recently wrapped production on my latest short, Calf Rope the heart-warming tale of the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren, and the endearing legacies that can live on, long after the elder is gone. Calf Rope is a tender short film set in the 1960s about a 65-year-old cattle auctioneer and former junior rodeo champ from rural Oklahoma, and the tight bond he develops with his young grandson from suburban Pennsylvania while teaching him a few tricks from his previous trades.

    The film is loosely based on my boyhood memories of my Granddad Mac and concludes with a hint of the legacy that my "Grandad" unknowingly left behind for me as a role model for being "Grandpa" to my own young grandchildren today. To continue the legacy, my daughter, Sarah Hawkins is producing Calf Rope which will be the third film project produced under the Dadley Productions’ banner. The production phase of the film was crowdfunded through Seed and Spark (raising $23,800) and we’ve just launched a second campaign for an additional $30K to get the film through all of the standard post-production tasks, but also including marketing and enough funds to cover the expense for film festival submission fees for at least a year on a global scale. Those interested in being part of our team to complete Calf Rope can find out more about how to “saddle up” with our posse at tinyurl.com.calfropemovie.

    2.    How did you get started in the film industry?

    After an early career as the founding director of a youth music organization in 1980, I switched lanes in the mid-90s to return to my passion for acting both on stage and on screens in commercials, television shows, and films throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1997, my wife and I and our two young kids left California for Lancaster, Pennsylvania where I taught acting, film studies, and humanities courses at Lebanon High School (Lebanon, PA) and directed several stage productions throughout my 14 years as an educator. After retiring from teaching high school in 2014, I returned to acting on-camera and then branched out as an award-winning indie film director in 2015 with my debut comedy short, ROLLER COASTER earning 30 film festival awards along the way.

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

    Although Roller Coaster was shot entirely in Los Angeles, and principal photography for Filling In was shot in upstate NY, almost all of the B-roll footage for the comedy-fantasy short was shot throughout Lancaster County (Elizabethtown for a jewelry store in Hong Kong, Lancaster for Wall Street,  Manhein for Mexico, Mount Joy for “Middle America”, etc.) . Through that experience, I discovered the wide diversity of locations available right here in Central PA, and therefore my latest film Calf Rope was shot entirely in our region (Annville, Ephrata, Lancaster, Landisville, Mount Joy, and Palmyra).

    4.    What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?

    ForCalf Rope we were fortunate to have absolutely stunning locations offered to us to throughout Lancaster and Lebanon counties to shoot at for our period piece set in the mid-1960s including Orthopedics Association of Lancaster in Lebanon for a pivotal hospital scene, the New Main Theatre in Ephrata, to represent Oklahoma during the time period, the exterior of Bube’s Brewery in Mount Joy, and the Shale Knoll Arena for a complex and climatic cattle auction scene with over 50 head of cattle livestock of all shapes and sizes. Due to the diversity in our region, we know that we have been able to convincingly pull off representing both the states of Oklahoma and Pennsylvania in 1966 while shooting the film in August of 2019.

    5.    What do you love the most about your job?

    As a boy at age seven, I was given an 8mm Brownie movie camera for my birthday, and I knew almost instantly what my life goal was going to be. It just took me almost 50 years to make that journey. So when asked what I love the most about my new job is that it allows me to tell the cinematic stories that have stuck in my head for decades and now to be able to put them up on screens throughout the world.

    6.    Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?

    Along with our plans to expand Calf Rope from a short into an indie-feature, we are also in development on an ensemble-cast, cinematic light-comedy “love letter” to Lancaster County called Whoopie! (in the vein of Little Miss Sunshine and Amélie), as well as a gritty, coming-of-age drama/thriller with the working title of Dylan (reminiscent of Mud and Short Term 12. Though there will undoubtedly be some dark turns involved in all three stories, as in all of our previous work through Dadley Productions, audiences will ultimately be left with a sense of hope and inspiration once each journey has reached its conclusion.

    7.    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?

    After retiring from teaching in 2014, I’ve spent a lot of time as an actor and director in L.A. over the past five years and was essentially bi-coastal for about three years with agents representing me in both L.A. and PA. However, I’ve come to see that there is absolutely no reason in the 21st-century for filmmaking to be limited to a “major market.” Content for streaming and screening can now be created virtually anywhere. Anywhere that films ARE being created means jobs for the artists in their selected cinematic field to be able to help their local economy and community thrive. Nurturing film production in PA means nurturing our local restaurants, hotels, businesses, and jobs for our local artists that have acquired those skills so that they do not need to be leaving PA for Atlanta, Baltimore, L.A., NYC, Toronto, or Washington D.C., NYC for work. I for one, have no interest in spending any of my remaining years nurturing other regions for filmmaking either as a director or an actor and would prefer to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s economy.

    8.    What is your advice for aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?

    For actors anywhere but particularly in our region (where performance opportunities in stage productions are currently far more prevalent than on-camera narrative or commercial work) it’s important to seek out the training to make that significant transformation from stage to the screen; from broad, external actions and projection to the far more intimate, subtle, and internalized reactions. I was trained early on that acting on-camera is often much more about listening and reacting to what their scene partner saying than it is about their own spoken lines. Stage directors are constantly telling their cast to “pick up the cues,” whereas film directors want and need their talent to take the time to internalize their unspoken thoughts before allowing the outspoken dialogue to come out of their mouths, delivered at volume levels based on truth and reality rather than having to artificially project these emotions and thoughts to the “back of the house.”

    Other advice to the actors reading this interview is to seek advice from directors, producers, and casting directors (rather than other actors) on headshots, resumes, marketing themselves on social media, etc. and to hold off on creating a reel until there is enough quality footage to even have one. Far too many actors in our area just get their headshots done from whoever they’re actor friends do, and/or rush into getting acting demo reels without having professional level, quality content on it. As someone who routinely casts projects these days (and is often asked to recommend talent for local commercials, web and film projects) I tell all actors that I coach that it is far better to not have a reel than to have a bad one.

    For filmmakers in our community, much of the current paid work in our region is commercial, and the film companies that I feel that do the best job at that are those that strive toward taking a more cinematic, narrative approach to their work. We also have a lot of documentary filmmakers in Central PA, and though I often greatly respect their end product, doc filmmakers tend to frequently be  “one-man bands” that do 90% of the job on their own (camera operator, producer, director, editor, marketing manager, etc.). By nature, narrative filmmaking requires the need for more collaboration to create characters, actions, and dialogue in a screenplay, as well as stage environments (through production design) as opposed to filming what is happening organically in front of them. I feel that local documentary filmmakers would greatly benefit from forcing themselves to delegate responsibilities and relinquish more creative control to other crew members on their production team, as is routine in narrative filmmaking.

    I’m also liking what I’m seeing coming out of Central PA through a group called Vidjam’s Central PA Filmmakers. As defined on their page Facebook page, Vidjam is A place for filmmakers in Central PA to network and collaborate,” and the group hosts quarterly 48 hr film competitions for awards and recognition where filmmakers put together teams of their own that must write, cast, location scout, shoot, editing, color correct, score, color-correct, etc.) all within between their 48 hr starting/ending times on Friday and Sunday evening. These brave and dedicated souls (of all levels of experience) are learning, experimenting, collaborating, and stretching their creative wings to improve their skills and to network with like-minded artists in our region, and I’ve come to truly respect the spirit and the intent of the Vidjam experience.

    9.    What are some good strategies to find more gigs?

    I’m a big proponent of creating one's own content. I’m seeing more and more local film production companies making the occasional choice to sacrifice the financial security of a paid commercial gig in order to have the experience of creating something more meaningful to them that though there may not be financial rewards (initially) could lead to much bigger and better projects that can be monetized and eventually provide sustainable income for local filmmakers. That’s at least been the strategy for Dadley Productions. Our two completed shorts both now on Amazon with a combined award total of 91 awards and 37 nominations, and our current short Calf Rope (now in post-production and set to be released in early 2020) have already proven to be a launching pad for our company in that we are now receiving screenplays for consideration from all over the world for future projects and are working with three different screenwriters on each of our upcoming feature-length screenplays which can be monetized. We view the short film format as a “short cut” up the food chain in the industry as ling as each produced short is created at the highest level of excellence that our limited resources can afford.

    10.  What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?

    At age 63, and being in a position of directing one thing or another for over 40 years now (whether it be marching bands, jazz bands, orchestras, choirs, stage plays, or films) and fortunately learned my lessons many decades ago My top five most valuable lessons as an ol’ guy that I try to pass on to those who consider me as a mentor are:

    1. Punctuality is expected in this biz and is a rule I’ve tried to live by all my life. “To be early is to be on time; to be ‘on time’ is to be late, and to be late is not to be.”
    2. My mantra for illustrating the importance of cooperative collaboration in this industry is an ol’ cowboy saying, “If you want to ride fast, go alone. If you want ride far, go together.” Dadley Productions is fully committed to going far, rather than fast.

    3. Better to take risks and be able to live with yourself for trying, rather than having to someday say to yourself “I wish I woulda.” In other words, “Ya can’t win if ya don’t play.”

    4. Never skimp on sound design during post-production. Even the first “major motion picture” during the silent era, The Great Train Robbery (1903) was screened with a pianist accompanying it when was screened. Too many inexperienced filmmakers spend their budgets all on the production phase of filmmaking but then try to cut financial corners during post-production on sound editing, mix, design, and scoring and their film goes nowhere as a result.

    5. I’d much rather work with a crew and cast with the biggest hearts than the best equipment or talent. Skills can be taught. Hearts must be willing to learn.
    11. What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
     Silver Linings Playbook

     12. What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    My current project, Calf Rope, means more to me on a personal level than any other creative endeavor I’ve ever embarked on. It truly feels like my entire life has led to this moment in time for the purpose of telling this story of the importance of leaving a long-lasting legacy for our children's children, as well as for the generations beyond them through the wonder and magic of cinema.

    13. What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?

    Dadley Productions is shooting for the moon with Calf Rope. My daughter worked for the Academy of Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for four years and in 2015 I had the honor of attending the Oscars as my daughter’s “Plus one.” The only father/daughter date could ever beat that would be for us to return due to one or both of us being an Oscar nominee. It is our shared dream that Calf Rope is the film that brings us back as a nominee for Best Live-Action Short Film, with her as Producer and myself as Director.

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

    Follow Dadley Productions on Facebook, connect with us through our website, and look for each us on Instagram. In all honesty, Instagram is definitely where the entertainment industry has now gravitated towards and where we have connected with the most filmmakers outside of Central PA. If you’re a filmmaker and are not active on Instagram, you're seriously missing out.

    @bradley_hawkins, @calf_rope, @filling_in, #dadleyproducitons, #rollercoastershortfilm

  • Friday, September 27, 2019 8:56 PM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

    By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Please  meet Ryan Shank – the Founder and Executive Director of the Red Rose Film Festival with a vision of creating more opportunities for central Pennsylvania as an entertainment hub. Ryan is an award winning independent producer of film & branded content who has collaborated with both international and domestic musicians, artists, & corporate communicators to develop and create innovative and visually stunning narratives to drive brand awareness.

    1) What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
    After 5 years of due diligence and research we are bringing a large scale festival to my home town, Lancaster PA. 


    2) How did you get started in the film industry?
    I started as a model/actor at 15. Commercial auditions at Mike Lemon Casting and Heery/Loftus Casting. went to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia with a degree in marketing. Then off to LA. Traded in front to behind the camera as a producer of branded content in my early 20’s. My heart is in front, my head behind the camera. I love the business of filmmaking. 


    3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    I choose Pennsylvania because this is home. I choose it because I can work in the community that means something to me. I choose Pennsylvania because I love my family and I believe that Film is about perspective and experience. I’ve Lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and been to New York more times than I can count. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a community you know and building something out from there.


    4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
    Pennsylvania is largely underutilized. We have amazing bro locations but also two of the most famous cities in the country. You can do so much from Pittsburgh, to Lancaster, to Philadelphia.


    5) What do you love the most about your job?
    Community engagement. Filmmakers and audiences are my clients. I want to create a memorable experience. I’m a film exhibitor. My job is to create a platform for film makers and film enthusiasts to meet.


    6) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    The Red Rose Film Festival Nov 1-3


    7) 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 film industry employees more people in the United States than both farming and mining. These are staples in the United States economy. Jobs are being created all over this country to create film. Why are we not bringing more of them to Pennsylvania?

    8) What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?

    There are no shortcuts! Whether you’re in front of the camera or behind it, this industry is about relationships and cultivating your knowledge through experience. No one is going to hand you opportunity. Protect your reputation and your integrity! 

    Also, it is my firm belief that there is only one true difference between Pennsylvania and moving your whole life to Los Angeles or New York or Georgia. That one difference is proximity. Remember those you are competing against in those cities are having the conversations you want to have on a daily basis. So, when you get an opportunity to have an industry conversation SHOW UP PREPARED!


    9) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Never shy away from sharing your goals and vision with others. One conversation can lead down a huge rabbit hole of opportunity if you are true and clear of what your goals are. Also, always be a professional. Someone once said “it’s a fun job. But it’s still a job”. Put the work in.


    10) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier? 
    Learn your way around the business of filmmaking. The number one question I receive from potential investors in film is how and when I will see a return. An artist will not always have to know the answer to this question but hell, it helps!


    11) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    Too difficult. I’ll go with Rocky for now...

    12) What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    Red Rose Film Festival and Silver Linings Playbook (background)


    13) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    My goal is to bring more films to Pennsylvania, specifically central Pennsylvania. I have chosen a life where I am focused on building a family so to bring the industry home is my greatest aspiration.


    14) What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    Feel free to call me directly. I believe in collaboration. And like I said, sometimes it’s just one conversation that can lead you to something great. Visit my website at www.phillyac.com and drop me an email!

  • Friday, September 20, 2019 10:59 AM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

      By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Please meet Leon Sanginiti, Jr. who is a full-time Pennsylvania filmmaker and a member of International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600). He worked on most of M. Night Shyamalan's films starting with “Wide Awake” that starred Rosie O’Donnel, Dennis Leary and Robert Loggia.

    Leon is currently working on a TV series for AMC called “Dispatches From Elsewhere” which stars Jason Segel of “How I met Your Mother”, Sally Field, and Andre 3000.

    1)   What are your biggest achievements in the film industry.
    As a crew member, especially in the camera department, I think the completion of any job you were fortunate enough to be hired on is a great achievement. This industry isn’t a very easy nut to crack for many. It’s challenging and, many times, very closed off to people trying to “make it”. A job well done, and the ability to be re-hired, is a great achievement. I work as a camera assistant, it’s a taxing position, but also can be very rewarding.

    2)   What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
    Well, as I mentioned, being fortunate enough to get hired on a major Hollywood production is half the battle of surviving in this industry. The other half is using your skills to do a job well, and to know you helped in some small way, make that production a success. I recently wrapped “21 Bridges” for STX Films, and “Servant” for Apple. Both of which I had worked with the cinematographers on previous shows, and they were comfortable enough to re-hire me, knowing I can do a good job. My relationship with local director M Night Shyamalan is also something I am very happy with. I’ve known Night for over 20 years and have worked on almost all of his locally shot features here in Philly.

    3)   How did you get started in the film industry?
    When I was around 9 years old I was fascinated with sci-fi and fantasy movies. I wanted badly to be a stop motion animator through my childhood. I used to make small jointed models of dinosaurs and creatures in my parent’s basement and shoot short animated films with my friends. When I got into college, Temple University in Philadelphia, I majored in Film Production and started to work more with camera and lighting. This led to me shooting several student films, and really learning to love the idea of how the camera works within a film. After I graduated I started to work as a camera PA on commercials, and finally got to work as a camera assistant on independent features. Eventually this led to me breaking into the market of major feature films.

    4)   Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
    I was born in Philadelphia and I’m proud of my city. The history, culture, people, everything. I’m happy to call it home, and I really don’t wish to work anywhere else. I’ve traveled all over for work, but I am happiest here. My family, friends, and my roots are here.

    5)   What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?
    My favorite places to shoot in PA are in Philly, especially South Philly, that’s where I was born and raised. Sometimes I get to shoot in locations that I used to shoot when I was a kid making my own short films, and that’s always a treat.

    6)   What do you love the most about your job?
    I love being able to solve problems, especially when you collaborate with talented people. I love the ability to see how things work out and finally being able to see the end result on the big screen with lots of people in a theater. I love seeing the reaction of others when they get to experience a film I worked on for the first time. Hearing the audience laugh or scream means a lot, like I had a small roll in their enjoyment.

    7)   What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
    Working on “The Sixth Sense” with Night Shyamalan is very memorable, even though we shot it more than 20 years ago, it still feels like yesterday. After reading the script all I could do was think how incredible this film was going to be as long as Night stayed true to his vision, which of course, he did. Bruce Willis was fantastic to work with, and Haley Joel Osment was an\ amazingly talented child actor. It was an wonderful experience, and the success of that film is something I am extremely happy for Night, the local crew,  and Philadelphia itself.

    8)   Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
    I currently am working on a TV series for AMC called “Dispatches From Elsewhere” which stars Jason Segel of “How I met Your Mother”, Sally Field, and Andre 3000. I am the B Camera 1st AC. I also have two other shows coming out later this year, “21 Bridges” which stars Chadwick Boseman of “Black Panther” and Sienna Miller, and “Servant” which will be Night Shyamalan’s new episodic series for Apple’s new streaming service.

    9)  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?
    Without the Film Tax Credit, there is no doubt that the film industry in PA will be almost non-existent. Our industry relies on the credit to survive, because without it, producers will undoubtedly go somewhere else to film. It’s that simple. We have seen productions that were set up and ready to go, production offices open, locations being scouted, etc, and then suddenly we get notified that the show is packing up and going somewhere else because the Tax Credit was depleted. This is devastating to us. We need to work to survive, obviously, and when shows suddenly move away because there is no incentive to shoot here it hurts everyone within the industry, and even those who are not directly involved, like local vendors, hotels, restaurants, and so on. It’s the worst case of trickle down effect.

    10)  What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
    My best advice is to network. Connect with anyone that you believe can help you in any way, no matter how small. It really is all about who you know in this business. Hone your skills, expand your abilities and talents, but in the end, if someone is there to help you in some way, it can make the difference between success and mediocrity. Regarding the mistakes to avoid, I have to say it’s important to take your time when you start out. I’ve seen a lot of people try to rush their way through the beginning of their career, trying too hard to make something of themselves without taking the appropriate steps to make it by learning the ropes first.

    11) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
    Well, first networking is the most important way to connect to others in the industry. Staying in touch with co-workers and staying on top of what rumors are swirling about. Philadelphia has a wonderful Film Office, and their website is helpful with news and contact info regarding jobs that are happening. And finally, after a while, you may find yourself fortunate enough to get called for work simply from recommendations of others you have worked with before. That is when you know that you are doing something right.

    12) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
    Be patient. Pay attention. Be kind and helpful. As a crew member those things are most important. It can help you get more work, and more importantly, helps you make friends.

    13) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
    The original “Rocky” is my favorite film shot in Philly. It was the first time I actually saw my city in the movies as an additional character in the movie itself. I’ll never forget seeing that in the theater.

    14) What is your favorite project that you worked on?
    “The Sixth Sense” is my favorite film because it is so well done. It was fun and exciting, and it made me feel like I worked on something very special. Actually, any of the 11 films I have worked with Night Shyamalan on are pretty special.

    15) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
    I aspire to continue doing what I’m doing for as long as I can. Working as a camera assistant is unique because I get to be right in the center of the film making process with very talented people. I get to learn new technology all the time, and I get to do something that I have loved ever since I was a child.

    16) What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
    Well, I don’t have any projects per say that I am working on independently, but I am always eager to help in any way those who aspire to work in the camera department as an AC. You can visit my website at www.phillyac.com and drop me an email!


  • Friday, September 13, 2019 10:54 AM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

    By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair


    Melody Tash has been working professionally in the film industry in a variety of capacities — from director of photography, camera operator, directing, producing, writing, art directing, acting, editing, and teaching — for over 10 years. Melody is the president and founder of Cinema Quilt, a full-service production company that works with clients from concept through final film. Melody’s cinematography has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, TLC, Nick, CSPAN, and Billboard.com among other places. Melody has a degree in theater with a history minor from Temple University. Her short film, Hallow Gate can be found on the streaming platform seedandspark.com

    1) What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?

    My most recent success actually started all the way back in 2011, when I wrote and directed a fundraising trailer for a feature film. Our team was super ambitious with our all-or-nothing fundraising goal, and a bit naïve about how to run a successful crowdsourcing campaign. Needless to say, with that combination we did not make our goal. We shot so much for the trailer though that a few crew members urged me to turn the footage into a short film. This idea had been nagging me for years and last year I finally dusted off the hard drive and confirmed that yes, there was enough for a short film. And more importantly, that the footage looked great. I locked picture on the short film Soul Catcher, earlier this year and soon will be working with a local composer and sound designer to polish it up for a festival run next year.

    2) How did you get started in the film industry?

    I went to college for acting but by my senior year I realized that I was more interested in directing. That year I became friends with Vanessa Briceño, an MFA film student. I was an assistant director on her thesis film, and from that point on we collaborated on several projects outside of school. For awhile we had a running joke that I was trying to drag her into the theater world and she was trying to drag me into film. While I gained a lot of the skills needed to be a director, producer, and writer from Temple’s theater department, the only film course I ever took was acting for film. I taught myself (with the help of books, workshops, and mentors) how to operate cameras and edit. In time, what started off as a side-project/hobby turned into my full-time career. I’ve worked as an art director on a handful of commercials and independent films including McCanick with David Morse. My work as a camera operator and DP has appeared on ABC, billboard.com, C-Span, TLC and more. I’ve directed two short films (Hallow Gate and Soul Catcher), and in 2012 I founded my production company, Cinema Quilt. Cinema Quilt primarily creates commercials and short-form documentaries for local business, nonprofits, arts, and educational organizations.

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

    I choose to work in PA because this is where I keep my stuff. But seriously, it is where my roots are. I’ve lived in the Philadelphia area since I was a young child, I went to college here, started a family here, and at this point I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon. I also love that the Philadelphia area is close enough to sometimes be able to work as a local in NYC, DC, the Jersey Shore, and Delaware as well.

    4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?

    I love filming in Philly— there’s such a diversity of locations from the beautiful skyline, to boathouse row and the Schuylkill river, to all the unique characteristics of the different neighborhoods, to the historical landmarks everywhere. You can find very urban to very rural looks within a short drive.

    5) What do you love the most about your job?

    I love the fact that I am constantly learning and constantly being throw into new situations. One day my office is at the oldest working theater in America and the next it is at the oldest zoo in America. I love getting an insider’s view of many different types of jobs and lives. Sometimes I’m spending the day with celebrities and other times I’m spending the day with people who have had a very tough life and are struggling to survive. Having a firsthand glimpse into all of their lives is an extraordinary privilege.

    6) What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?

    I think the biggest challenges that I’ve found were after I became a mother. I remember being only a few weeks pregnant while I was filming the finale for an episode of TLC’s “Four Weddings.” I was exhausted all the time and would sneak away at lunch for a nap. I remember finally telling another crew member why I was suddenly sitting on an apple box every chance that I got and no longer eating the foods I had liked last week. I was afraid that there was going to be a perception on set that I was lazy or weak, something that someone who didn’t know had “jokingly” called me on a set in a prior pregnancy when I was 10 weeks pregnant. I had this fear that if I took any time off from work that I would be forgotten. It’s a feeling that I think everyone in the industry can somewhat relate to: if you turn down too many jobs you will no longer be the first name called. Within hours of giving birth (with both of my children) I was talking on the phone with clients from a hospital bed while also trying to figure out how to keep a new human alive. In retrospect I know it would have been fine to take some time off, but it is hard to turn down a job in the moment.  I chose to breastfeed my children and finding time to pump while adhering to a tight schedule is really challenging. Not to mention finding a location that’s both private and sanitary in which to do so. A few times I got really sick because I went too long without pumping on sets in order to stay on schedule and not inconvenience anyone. I found that asking ahead of time if there will be time for a pump break is usually not a good idea if you want to be hired, so I’d hope for the best and only pump when everyone went on a break. More and more I started working with my own clients so that I could control the schedule rather than freelancing as a DP/camera op. I really miss freelance work and hope to be able to do more soon, but the hours are often not very family friendly. It’s a really challenging career to balance with a family, for both fathers and mothers, but it is especially hard for breastfeeding mothers.

    7) What is your advice for other women in film?

    Show up, work hard, know the going rate and ask for it, have fun, support other women, and don’t be afraid to become your own boss.

    8) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?

    I just wrapped a spot for Beyond Celiac’s Step Beyond Celiac 5K Races.

    https://vimeo.com/345536958

    I worked with the client from first concepts through to the final edit on this. We had a crew of 5 camera people filming on location at the Philadelphia Zoo and the footage was turned into a commercial that will be used to draw crowds not only for the Philadelphia race next year, but for their races in Kansas City and Dallas later this year as well. I am also in pre-production for the web series Greatest Weakness, a comedy set in South Philly about blowing the interview and failing at life.

    9) 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 film industry in PA is more than a job, it is a family. And much of my film family has moved to places like Atlanta, NYC, and LA over the past few years when work here has dried up. Having a thriving film community in PA means that more people will stay, and it will mean that I can continue being able to do what I was meant to do. When work slows down, it is scary; especially for those of us in the industry like myself with a family and young children to care for. I’ve had many different jobs in my life before falling into film and there is nothing that I’m better suited for than helping to craft visual stories. I love the energy of being on set with people from all different types of backgrounds, all working together to create a visual story. From documentary to commercials to feature films to music videos, to press junkets to live events, the drive and commitment that you find from cast and crew is this business is incredible and so inspiring. It is hard sometimes to watch friends whose careers have skyrocketed after moving to a new state. I am rooted here and wish that I might be able to obtain similar career successes without having to move to another state.

    10) What is your advice for the aspiring filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?

    When you’re new, sometimes you feel like you are supposed to know everything. And if you’re not careful that can come off as being cocky instead of confident. It is okay if you don’t how to find the ABB button on the camera you’re shooting with, or why or when you want to use it to begin with. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something and to ask questions. Filmmaking is a team sport. Find your team and go make stuff! Continue to welcome new people onto your team, and be open to learning from everyone. Over a decade in this business and I am still constantly learning.

    11) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?

    When I first got started in the field I found most of my jobs from craigslist and the film.org website. These days it is more from referrals and some cold calls. Go to film events like the ones that PFIA hosts, go meet people. People like to hire and work with people who are friendly and fun to be around. This industry is too demanding and unpredictable to have a terrible time at work everyday.

    12) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?

    Preproduction is essential. The more time that you spend figuring out what the overall vision of the piece you’re creating in preproduction, the better everything will go. There’s often no budget for preproduction, but without it you’re often scrambling on set and then you end up paying for it in post.

    13) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?

    Oh gosh, that’s a hard one. I’m not sure I could really narrow it down to just one. I liked The Sixth Sense a lot. Twelve Monkeys was good too. And Silver Linings Playbook. The Wrestler. In Her Shoes. Invincible. Limitless. So many good ones!

    14) What is your favorite project that you worked on?

    My favorite project most recently was filming the press junket for Creed II. The energy on set was incredible; it was a friendly, professional, well-oiled machine. And at the end of only three days, it truly was a film family that parted ways.

    15) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?

    My biggest aspiration in this industry is for 12 hour days to no longer be considered a “short” day, and for us as an industry to lose the bragging rights mentality about lack of sleep and long hours on set. Haskell Wexler made a documentary about this issue in 2013, Who Needs Sleep?, highlighting the huge safety concerns connected with sleep loss. His motivation for filming the doc was the preventable death of a fellow crew member, Brent Hershman. Watching Wexler’s film made me pause and reevaluate my own choices. I continue to hope that our industry as a whole will do the same. The mentality that there’s no other way to stay on budget is a poor excuse for neglecting the health and well being of cast and crew. Why in 2019 are we proud to be working sweatshop hours? If the industry as a whole doesn’t change, then my hope is to start a production company that shoots features with a strict adherence to 12 on 12 off, or better yet 8-10 hour days. In a dream world, I wouldn’t have to choose between working on features and having nightly dinners with my children.

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

    Follow CinemaQuilt on Facebook/Instagram (@cinemaquilt) or send a note through our website www.cinemaquilt.com.

  • Friday, September 06, 2019 8:50 AM | Jaymie Macek (Administrator)

    By: Maria Shamkalian
    PAFIA Vice-Chair

    Aleksandra Svetlichnaya is a local Pennsylvania actor, writer and director. She created the “DINNERVERSE” short film series and founded SVET Studios, a female-run production company based in the Philadelphia area. Films in this series have screened at San Diego Comic Con, Wizard World Philadelphia and ScareLA in Los Angeles. They have had press write-ups from Dread Central, PhillyVoice and Philadelphia Daily News.

    1) What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?

    In June I was invited to be a part of “Women in Indie Film” panel at Wizard World Philadelphia. It was very cool to get to showcase one of my short films and speak about women in the film industry on a panel with other very talented women.

    2) How did you get started in the film industry?

    I first started in the Costume department, working on a variety of independent films. From there I transitioned into acting. But I quickly found that I wasn’t happy simply being on one side of the camera or the other, or just in one department – I wanted to do it all! That was when I decided to form my own production company, so that I didn’t have to feel limited or play by anyone else’s rules.  

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

    I love working in PA because it has been my home since immigrating to the US as a child. But even more than that, I think we have a lot of talent here and a lot of untapped potential. And PA has so many options! We have so many amazing locations, historic architecture, landscapes, etc. Within an hour or two you could be in the city or in the mountains. And if you really need a beach, we’re right near the NJ shore. There aren’t many states that can offer that much variety!

    Plus you can’t beat the community aspect. In my experience PA communities are very filmmaker friendly. Most of them are so welcoming and happy to allow filming or even lend a hand. That doesn’t happen everywhere!

    4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?

    I’ve had the privilege of shooting in Ontario St. Comics in Philadelphia on several occasions. It’s an amazing location! M. Night Shyamalan also filmed there for “Unbreakable” and “Glass”.

    I’m also obsessed with Eastern State Penitentiary. I hope I have the chance to shoot there someday!

    5) What do you love the most about your job?

    I love being able to be creative in so many different ways. But more than anything, I love that I have the opportunity to inspire other women. If I’ve inspired just one young woman, whether it’s in film or in any other way, then I’ve done my job.

    6) What are some of the challenges of being a female filmmaker?

    The challenges of being a female filmmaker are the same as the challenges of being a female, period. It’s the same tropes and stereotypes that women face in daily life in all fields. You are frequently underestimated or not taken seriously. At events, it’s almost always an assumption that you’re strictly an actor, or worse -- that you’re just someone’s date. It can be more difficult to have your voice heard. But that’s why it’s up to us to speak louder, be more persistent and make sure that it’s easier for the next generation of women in film.

    7) What is your advice for other women in film?

    Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t play by anyone else’s rules. Don’t let anyone tell you that “this is how things are” and “this is how it works” and that you need to abide by that. Don’t settle. Don’t stop. And don’t ever let anyone try and keep your voice from being heard – no matter what it takes.

    8) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?

    Always! I am currently in production on the next short film in my DINNERVERSE series, which is based in and shot in Pennsylvania. Several others are also in various stages of pre-production. 

    9) 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 film industry brings so many jobs to local businesses and individuals that it should really be a no-brainer to increase the film tax credit budget. It allows local creative professionals to stay in their hometown, or at least home state, and have high quality jobs available to them. If this isn’t the case, those professionals will have to either make lengthy commutes for work or simply move out of state. If there aren’t enough film tax credits to go around, there won’t be enough jobs in PA for experienced professionals to stay. This also goes for the next generation. Philadelphia, for example, has multiple colleges with great creative programs perfectly suited for the film industry. If there are film industry jobs available locally, the students from those programs will have a reason to stick around after graduation and contribute to the local economy. If not, they’ll just take what they learned here and bring their talents to other states.

    10) What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?

    I would focus on making connections with local professionals, versus taking time and money to travel to New York or other areas. Unless you’re planning on moving, local connections will be the ones that ultimately lead to more work. Even if it seems like “smaller” opportunities, they will be more consistent and will ultimately lead to “bigger” gigs too.

    11) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?

    I firmly believe in the power of using social media professionally. I’ve booked amazing jobs off of Facebook for example and I’ve found cast & crew for my own projects on there as well. The key is using it PROFESSIONALLY and not just randomly direct messaging people you don’t actually know and trying to get them to give you a job. That doesn’t work and that’s not what “networking” is. Showcase your work. Try and make genuine connections. Treat it like a marathon not a sprint.

    12) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?

    Filmmaking is a team sport. Find people that you connect and work well with, and create things with those people. Don’t try to do it all on your own.

    13) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?

    Other than my own? J Obviously the “Rocky/Creed” franchise is a classic. And I also like M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense” and the “Unbreakable” trilogy. 

    14) What is your favorite project that you worked on?

    Other than my own projects, it was very cool getting to work as an actor on “Creed”. I’m a huge action movie fan, so getting to see how the boxing scenes were choreographed and filmed was amazing. Plus nothing beats seeing Sly in action!

    15) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?

    I don’t particularly care about awards. For me, the greatest “award” would be a full panel in Hall H at San Diego Comic Con. For those unfamiliar, that is the biggest panel space in the biggest comic con there is. That’s where all the big movies, like Marvel and DC, and all the popular TV shows hold their panels. For me, it doesn’t get bigger than that!

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

    If I am in pre-production, or production, on a project there are always local calls for cast and crew. However, I’m always keeping my eyes open for new talent to collaborate with and social media is a great way to connect with me.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 

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

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software