Moira Walley-Beckett
 was the first solo woman to win in her category SINCE 1994! Congratulations to her and the other female Emmy winners.

AFI announced a major expansion to its Directing Workshop for Women

Working on your “scriptment" this weekend? (Yeah, I’d never heard the term either.)

After five years, Diane Sawyer leaves World News.

True Blood author Charlaine Harris enjoyed seeing her characters come to life—plot changes and all. 

Comedic actor-writer Alison Rich becomes SNL’s newest writer.

— KELLY GLOVER

imagePhoto credit: Shane Maritch.


A common frustration for many actors is the constant grind of looking for work, auditioning, and then waiting for the phone to ring (or the email to appear). So, ten women and myself decided to take our careers into our own hands and independently produce projects together. Our first collaboration is the film The Kids Menu.

This comedic short is all about old school Brooklyn vs. new school Brooklyn. The laughter begins with a clash over a children’s menu in a local restaurant between Italian pizzeria owner (Vincent Pastore, The Sopranos) and a headstrong young mom with innovative ideas, played by Nyle Lynn (Comedy Central). We say it’s Do the Right Thing meets Baby Mama. Written by Richard Vetere and directed by Paul Borghese, The Kids Menu is produced by Maayan Schneider, Amelie McKendry, Johanna Tolentino, Michelle F. Hartley, Karen Meurer Bacellar, Helene Galek, Massiel Hernandez, Alicia Priya, Emily FortunatoTeresa Hui, and Lynn, who heads up our dynamic team at Collaborative Media Productions.

Lynn and I met because we are both repped by the same talent agency, and it wasn’t long before we started working on a web series together with other actors from the agency. When the series went on hiatus for the summer, she contacted me to suggest another project: producing a short film. I was all in! That conversation was the first of many that got me involved as Associate Producer for The Kids Menu. I recently sat down with Lynn to ask her about how the short came to be. 

How did you get involved in The Kids Menu?
I attended a reading at The Indies Film Lab here in the city (where writers, actors, and directors get together, read scripts, and workshop projects), and I heard this terrific, funny, very New York play by Richard Vetere (The Third Miracle) being read. I had no idea who Richard was at the time, but I thought the script was great. So, afterwards, I walked up to him, saying, “I love your script, and I’ve been looking for a project to produce; we should talk.”

Richard was very enthusiastic and brought producer Al Messina (Dough Boys) and director Paul Borghese (Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn) on board, and Paul brought on actor Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy on The Sopranos).

How did you present the idea to Vetere?
Richard, Paul and Al are all longtime filmmakers familiar with each other and with the Hollywood investor system. I proposed a new way of funding it ourselves: crowdfunding. Just like our film is about old school vs. new school, crowdfunding is a new way for these Hollywood vets to work, and a new generation of producers is leading the way.

Who else is involved in the project?
After joining forces with you, Maayan, I recruited nine more amazing producers to work together on this project through my LLC, Collaborative Media Productions. All of us actresses have experience in producing, be it short films, web series, etc. This, however, is the largest project—and at $50K, the largest budget—we’ve taken on so far. We have all been learning and laughing and helping each other. Sarit Schneider [Maayan’s sister] is assisting with public relations, and my cousin Mim Paquin is coming on as a consultant. It’s been a joyful, empowering experience so far. We can’t wait to get to work on this film!

The film’s Indiegogo campaign runs until October 4.

The Kids Menu begins filming in Brooklyn in mid-October. For more information on the film, Collaborative Media Productions, or joining the production team or crew, email here.

— MAAYAN SCHNEIDER

Maayan is a producing actress, currently Associate Producing the comedic short The Kids Menu, and a member of NYWIFT.

(Edited on Aug. 28, 2014, at 2:45pm EST.)

image

Photo via Go Into the Story.

Your page count is the first thing that happens to a reader after your title. Somewhere in the 90s is ideal, but a good script at 110 is fine. How can you tell if you need 110?

I will give you a thousand dollars for every page you can cut before you submit.

  • Don’t repeat your beats. Axe scenes that accomplish nothing new. If you have three scenes that demonstrate only how beleaguered your protag is by the boss, either get rid of two of them or add more story-driving plot to make them important.
  • No reporting. Read your draft for incidents of characters reporting off-screen conflict to each other. Those conflicts are more fun to watch than hear about. They also take up less space.
  • Less describing is more engaging. Personality is great in action lines; a good voice is a pleasure to read. Things that aren’t pleasant to read include large blocks of text that set the stage in a way that is absolutely unimportant to the story.

If your pages are vibrant with drama and conflict and a relentless pace, your page count is not important. But 99 times out of 100, you can do more with less.

— ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

image

U.S. women demonstrating for the right to vote (1913), via Wikipedia.

Wishing you all:Happy Women’s Equality Day, celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment recognizing women’s right to vote.

Congratulations to: NYWIFT member Sandra Shulberg, whose Indie Collect just received a $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to catalogue and find archives for orphaned independent films. NYWIFT’s Women’s Film Preservation Fund committee is working with Sandra on the effort.

Going to miss: Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden now that the final six episodes of The Killing have come out on Netflix. An amazing performance, year after year, as a truly authentic female character.

Terry Lawler is NYWIFT’s Executive Director. Tune in every Tuesday for her picks.


OITNB
wins big at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards

On Tuesday, August 26, Chelsea Handler will host her epic series finale. 

Life After Beth actor Molly Shannon discusses the zombie apocalypse and becoming Sally O’Malley. 

Are you Alice in Wonderland or Dorothy from Oz in your decision-making?

If I Stay star Chloe Moretz is really a “very goofy” Hillary Clinton admirer. 

Will YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s maternity leavehelp women in the long run?

Gloria Estefan will hold auditions for her forthcoming musical! #ReachGloria 

— KELLY GLOVER

image

Photo via Go Into the Story.

A good title tells a story for you, honing in on the theme and tone. When a reader scans a list of titles, a strong one puts them in an optimistic mood.

  • Keep it short. A short title suggests that you know exactly what your story is. A long title with a poetic bent is suggestive of low conflict and play-like dialogue.
  • Familiar phrases are your friend. They unpack easily in the reader’s imagination. A twist on a familiar phrase works the same way.
  • Avoid fog. Fog is a title that doesn’t give a hint. Usually an adjective with a noun, these titles paint with the broadest possible brush. Smokejumper is a good title. Soundless Smoke is fog.

— ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

Helen Mirren at New York premiere of The Hundred Foot Journey.

Congratulations: to NYWIFT members Sheila Nevins, who won TWO Creative Arts Emmys (one for One last Hug: Three Days at Grief Camp and one for Life According to Sam) and Susan Lacy, whose final season at American Masters won in the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series category.

Loved: Helen Mirren (as usual) in The Hundred Foot Journey.

Excited to share: some good news! CBS will be the first network to feature an all-women cast on a sports talk show, premiering this fall on the CBS Sports network. 

Terry Lawler is NYWIFT’s Executive Director. Tune in every Tuesday for her picks.

image


If your social media accounts have largely been for personal use, the words “engagement” and “metrics” likely haven’t peppered your vernacular. But they are truly the magic words in trying to define the success of your social media strategy. More followers mean more buzz when you’re promoting your project — and being able to quantify that buzz can even help with fundraising for your current project or serve as a launchpad for your next one. So where do you begin?

Built-in Analytics
Start with analytical tools that are already built into your social media platforms. Chances are, they are easily accessible when you log in to your account and don’t cost anything extra.

Facebook’s Page Insights tell you how many people your posts are reaching and how engaging those posts are. On Twitter, you can use the Notifications section to see your latest followers and what they’ve been retweeting and commenting on. If you have a Vimeo Plus account, you can check the Advanced Stats page to view data from the past month or year.

Even on the busiest of weeks, I always checked these basic stats to see which posts were most popular. I also used the data to adjust when I posted content; for example, more visitors checked our website on Tuesday mornings, so I started adding more posts at that time to get the widest range of viewers.

Platform-Specific Tools
You can also choose tools that are specific to the social media platform you’re using. For instance, Piqora (formerly Pinfluencer) lets you track the performance of individual boards or pins. The marketing suite expanded last year to also include data on linked Instagram and Tumblr accounts. Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) will monitor your Instagram account and can help create photo and video contests for your followers.

Multitasking Tools
I’m a big fan of these, especially when managing your time is just as important as managing your social media accounts.

Hootsuite is popular tool that allows you to not only monitor your Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ accounts, but also schedule messages to post on multiple platforms — all from a single dashboard. Sprout is another helpful tool that features a unified inbox for all your account notifications and handy collaborative functions, if multiple people are handling your social media. 

Whatever tool you choose, be sure to check how easily integrated it is to other apps you might have and whether you can easily export the data from these tools.

The Mother of All Analytics
Although there’s no shortage of options for analytical suites and apps, you might want to set up a free Google Analytics account, the most popular tool out there. You’ll be able to track your site’s visit duration and pages per visit (a measure of how engaged visitors are with your site), most viewed pages (the content most popular with your audience), and referring sites (you’ll see who your fans are and who you may possibly want to reach out to for promoting your project). And with the Social Reports feature, you can see who’s engaged with you or your project on social media.

The value of knowing what your followers are connecting with is priceless and will help you push your personal brand or project forward. I’ve been surprised about some content that’s gone viral immediately while other content flatlines. It’s a discovery process, so don’t be afraid to adjust your social media strategy as needed. 

TERESA ABBATE

Teresa is a freelance broadcast and content producer who moonlights in social media management.

Keep up to date with all things NYWIFT by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Join the conversation with the hashtag #NYWIFT.

"We all want our f— you money," 'OITNB' showrunner Jenji Kohan.

Six powerhouse women directors who are “flipping the script” in Hollywood big time!

Writers, are you developing a marketable screenwriting brand

Christina Hendricks brings 1960s sensibility into the present day (Video).

Disney announces its 2014-2016 Directing Program participants

Judy Greer loves to audition and never feels like she’s “made it.” 

Call for entries: The New York Wild Film Festival

Remembering Lauren Bacall's and Robin Williams' legacies. 

— KELLY GLOVER

Gas Food Lodging (1992) by Allison Anders is one of those films that has stayed with me over the years. It resonated at the time I saw it as well as years later when I decided to revisit it. Anders has directed a few gems, but this is my favorite. It’s gritty without being mean, hopeful without being saccharine, displaying a level of honesty not often seen in current films. Ione Skye's rich and textured performance as a girl who's a romantic at heart gives the film its center.

You can see Gas Food Lodging on DVD from Netflix or streaming on Amazon, Vudu, and Xbox video.

KIM CUMMINGS

image

Photo via Go Into the Story.

It looks like it grew naturally, its boughs and crown pleasingly asymmetrical in the way wild things grow, but you can hold it in your hands.

Bonsai looks entirely wrought by nature and time, but it’s a painstaking process of complete artifice. Constant bending, pruning, grafting, wiring and clamping are responsible for its perfection.

  • Know the shape you want. Allow only elements into your script that create that shape.
  • Disguise your work. Your clamps and wires can’t show. The mechanics of the story can’t be in front, in dialogue. Tuck them away with misdirection.
  • Perfection is in what you take away. There are plenty of little sprouts that turn up in your story that feel like they belong, but they don’t. A good screenplay is about your own ruthlessness. Prune, destroy, focus on the outcome.

Bonsai is all about discipline.

— ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

image

Image by Paola Peralta, via Wikimedia Commons.

By now you should know how to set up your social media accounts and who your target audience is. But once you’ve created that Facebook page or Tumblr blog, your presence needs to be more than just your film’s teaser or a selection of production stills.

A good rule of thumb to follow is the 80-20 rule of social media sharing: 80% of your posts should connect to interesting content that’s applicable to your audience—this sparks the magic “engagement” that most marketing folks talk about (more on that in the third part of this series). The remaining 20% should focus on promoting your project.

Here are a few suggestions on how to populate your pages to keep your followers engaged and coming back:

  • Be an authority. Talk about what you know best and share related info with your followers. You’ll garner more retweets and likes if you regularly post information that they find useful. When I worked on a financial program for PBS, I would share company research, updates from recent guests, and articles from leading financial blogs and other reliable sources. Reliable sources are key—if you’re consistently doling out trustworthy advice, you solidify your status as an influencer in your field. 

  • Be authentic. Don’t be afraid to occasionally talk about yourself and the trials and tribulations of your project. It’s personality that really endears your social media followers to you. If you’re posting for an anchor or TV personality, as I did, check in with them regularly to see if there’s anything non-work-related that they would like to share—lunch dates with fellow industry leaders, for example, and interesting takeaways from those lunches. You can also share holiday wishes with your followers or congratulatory remarks to people sharing good news on your feed. And remember that everyone loves photosshare them!

  • Post often. It’s an unfortunate fact that a single Tweet or Facebook update can get lost in an overpopulated news feed. Visibility, without compromising quality, is important. With the 80-20 rule in mind, a Twitter user can easily retweet a few interesting posts throughout the day. If you run a blog, you can contract out or share existing content. Many content creators are happy to have their work shared (and properly credited, of course) on other sites. If your original content doesn’t draw much attention when you initially post it, don’t be afraid to repost once more later in the day with a “in case you missed it” note. Making time to regularly update your accounts leads me to my next point:

  • Use time hacks if you can. Save yourself from stress and information overload (I’ve been there!) with some time hacks, especially if you’re just one person managing several social media platforms. If it makes sense for your content, connect your Twitter/Facebook/Instagram accounts so that you can log in to just one account at a time and crosspost your content. Use a tool like TweetDeck to schedule posts throughout the day and monitor who shares them, all from the same display. Buzzfeed recently shared its own list of social media hacks that’s worth a read.

  • Most importantly, engage your audience. Even on my busiest days at work, I always made time to like comments on Facebook or retweet someone’s positive feedback about the show. People love being acknowledged, so don’t underestimate the power of a simple thank you. Pro tip: If you’re posting lots of images, visit http://pinterest.com/source/domain.com, replacing “domain.com” with your website domain. You’ll see who is pinning your content and you can thank them for sharing.

Embrace dialogue—it’s the essence of social media. Consistently respond to both positive and negative feedback in a thoughtful way. Spark conversations by asking questions at the end of your blog posts or when retweeting an article. And if you can, get interactive with your audience. Setting up a Google Hangout is a great way to introduce your team to the public, as are live chats (I’ve used CoverItLive for chats, but there are many platforms out there). You can also live-tweet panel discussions to followers that are unable to attend a conference.

In the last post of this three-part series, we’ll go over how to measure all your hard work. 

TERESA ABBATE 

Teresa is a freelance broadcast and content producer who moonlights in social media management.

Keep up to date with all things NYWIFT by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Join the conversation with the hashtag #NYWIFT.

image

The Camera
There are many things you need to actually make a movie. The most important one is the camera. Without one there’s no movie. Here are some key questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a camera:

  • What type of look are you trying to achieve? Each camera’s output has a different look and feel.
  • How experienced is your DP? You want to choose a camera that the DP knows how to use effectively.
  • What type of lenses do you want to shoot on? Primes, zooms, anamorphic, etc. This can affect the type of mounts you will need. Also, if you chose expensive/rare lenses, your insurance coverage and premiums might be more than you budgeted for.
  • Will you shoot in ProRes, 2K or 4K? This will affect your post data workflow. The larger the files, the longer it takes to download the data, which means your staff will have to stay longer and potentially go into overtime.
  • How much experience does your DP have with low budgets? If you’re trying to save money and would like to use minimal lighting, you’ll need to choose a camera that works well with low light.
  • Will your project include VFX? Will you be shooting on green screen? Certain cameras are better than others to get the most out of VFX.

The bottom line is that the cost of the camera is not your only consideration — you must consider how your camera will affect your budget for crew, lighting, hard drives, and so on.

Hard Drives
Once you design your data workflow (how you’ll manage the data, back it up and share it with the editor), you can get an idea of how many and what type of hard drives you’ll need to buy. You’ll also need to know the amount of data you’ll shoot daily and how many backups you’ll require. Discuss this with your DP and editor in preproduction to ensure you protect your most valuable asset: your footage.

Lighting
Review your budget and hire people that can work with the lighting package you can afford. Depending on the scope of your project you can work with available light or rent out a stage with a lighting grid. Stands, flags and sandbags are considered “grip” and you will need these to set up the lights.

The larger the lighting package, the more crew you will need and the bigger the generators. Will you use house electric or a generator van? Getting clear on what you can afford and how you want the project to look in the end will save time, money and aggravation on set.

Vehicles
You will need to move people and things around. Depending on the size of your production, you many need one van that transports your camera and lighting or a fleet of trucks, trailers, honeywagons, and dressing rooms, or somewhere in between.

In addition, if you have remote locations that are outside the “zone” (SAG, IATSE, and Teamsters define the amount of miles from a certain point in NY and LA that is a fair distance to travel for actors and crew), you will have to transport your crew with passenger vans. Again the size of your fleet will depend on your budget.

Next up is all the things needed to decorate the set and dress the actors to make your movie come to life.


1.8 million YouTube subscribers agree, Grace Helbig will be a hit for E!

Cinderella makes history on Broadway.

After a few career stalls, “the road is good” for OITNB’s Uzo Aduba

Meredith Vieira returns to daytime television.

Writer-director Jennifer Lee goes from making Frozen history to penning A Wrinkle In Time screenplay. 

Before you sign that contract, remember “in perpetuity" means forever

Producers Guild Awards seeks doc submissions

— KELLY GLOVER

image

Photo via Go Into the Story.

Statistically speaking, you do not have a serious antisocial personality disorder. It’s difficult for you to choose to hurt people intentionally, to throw the only copy of their manuscript into the fire, seduce their massive crush, or cut up the one dress they have to wear to the ball. Even if they absolutely deserve it.

Your story can’t be that well-behaved.

  • Don’t pull punches. Tripping your protag in the cafeteria is worth a two. We feel sorry for him, but it’s not compelling drama. Bashing his headlights in so he can’t go pick up the girl he was dying to date is closer to a ten. It’s a physical problem that increases the distance between him and what he has his heart pinned on.
  • Accidents are lazy. There’s one place a bolt out of the blue belongs, and that’s at the inciting incident. In all other cases, it has to be set up, and best when it’s your protag’s fault. He’s selfish or thoughtless or can’t control his temper, which causes an accident that separates him further from from what he has his heart pinned on.
  • Vulnerability is a superpower. Sad sacks with bad luck do not a sympathetic protag make. What makes your protag putty in the big bad’s hands? For Luke Skywalker, it was the need to prove himself a man. Impatience made him look for shortcuts to power. He was vulnerable to the Dark Side. Plot, drama and theme grow out of serious vulnerability that exposes the protag’s heart to breakage.

Be a heartbreaker.

ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.