CSR Special: Curiosity Quills Gives Back

10 10 2013

WRITERS LINE UP IN SUPPORT OF ANIMAL CHARITIES

Today on CSReview, Curiosity Quills’ first ever special project – two anthologies with seriously intriguing titles Primetime and After Dark, celebrate CQ’s literary trademark and the publisher’s devotion to giving back to the community. Dozens of writers put their pens to work to create “a spine-tingling, mind-blowing, quirky collection of short stories”, as CQ puts it, with the aim to donate to animal charities. CQ’s publisher Lisa Gus talks to Camilla Stein about the project.

76865_1466071499131_2113168_nCS: Lisa, welcome to CSReview. I remember some time ago how you were gearing up for this special project. Now that it’s completed, let’s talk about the journey. First off, what makes working on an anthology different from any other book project?

Lisa Gus: It is like herding cats. Very talented and kindhearted cats, but still… A job and a half. The order of placement. Interior covers for each story. Different writing voices. Content. Blurb wrangling. Author accreditation (did you know you can only list 10 people as authors on Amazon, 5 for Barnes and Noble, and 3 for Kobo?) This is something every anthology publisher ends up having to deal with and until one does, this one, at least, didn’t have any idea of the complications involved!

CS: I am glad to hear the hassle of having to deal with technicalities didn’t slow you down. After all, such a great cause. What inspired you to do this for charity, an animal charity in particular?

Lisa Gus: Animals are people, too! Enforced – and avoidable! – euthanasia for healthy animals just goes against our collective grain, so, when the time came to start giving back, this was a natural choice for us. Any shelters need funds, especially in today’s economy, and we feel the strictly No-Kill ones are the best recipients we can possibly name.

CS: I applaud you for doing this. Are there any favorites, editor’s picks to look out for in both books?

Lisa Gus: I know a lot of readers will be delighted in seeing JR Rain’s updated Fridge with the exclusive new ending, and I can see why. JR is an enormously talented author with an equally enormous following. But for myself… I like all of our stories equally. We picked them from the submissions by our already signed authors only, and they reflect the quality and variety we hope will be the trademark of Curiosity Quills (and it’s new erotica counterpart, Curiosity Thrills) for years to come!

CS: Thank you, Lisa, sounds like you cooked up a treat for many literary tastes. I asked Curiosity Quills authors why they are in this. Here’s what they had to say.

A.W. Exley: As a writer, it is often difficult to find ways to give back to the community, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to use my story telling to benefit a charity, and in particular “no kill” shelters. Animal welfare is close to my heart, living on a small holding with an assortment of weird and wonderful critters. I wish all creatures could have the same opportunity find a loving home.

A.E. Propher: Animals are no less human than humans. And humans are no less animal than other animals. Why should enforced euthanasia be permissible for one and not the other? If my humble writing helps to right the imbalance, I am glad to do my part.

Eliza Tilton: When it comes to helping our furry friends, I couldn’t think of a better charity to support. No kill shelters gives animals a chance to find a good home. There are plenty of charities to write for, but considering the first friend I ever had was a big fat cat, my heart’s with this one.

James Wymore: I have a day job.  I love writing, but there is never enough time to do everything.  Writing for charity is great because it gives me a chance to use my art to give something back.  I wish I had more opportunities to do it.

Matthew Graybosch: To be honest, I wrote “The Milgram Battery” a few years ago as a worldbuilding exercise. I polished it up a bit last year and sent it to CQ, but was told it needed more polish. Since I was busy with Without Bloodshed, I put Battery aside and almost forgot about it until Lisa asked me about it for use in Prime Time. I would have accepted regardless, but an opportunity to help support no-kill animal shelters made contributing to Prime Time especially attractive.

Nathan L. Yocum: Writing for a charity anthology is the ultimate in win-win practices. For many authors, myself included, writing is a compulsive activity. It is a switch that cannot be turned off, an energy that cannot be suppressed, a voice that cannot be muted. To have that voice speak on behalf of animals, to have that gift work for the benefit of no-kill shelters…that certainly is a beautiful use borderline disordered behavior.

Randy Attwood: More than a year ago, I started donated $1 of each sale (ebook or paperback) of Crazy About You, to Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence, KS because those great folks work the Suicide Prevention Hotline for my part of the country. I actually grew up on the grounds of a mental hospital in Kansas because my father was the institution’s dentist, and the state provided housing on the grounds. My first job was working in the dish washing room in the cafeteria, which fed its 1,500 patients. Some patients worked there, too. That old adage: write about what you know led me to create a novel set at the mental hospital and it’s nearby town from the first person point of view of the dentist’s son. One week in his life that grows him up faster than he could have ever wanted. I have a deep sympathy for people suffering from mental illness, so wanted any revenues made from Crazy About You to be shared with people combating the illness.cover1000

Sharon Bayliss: I’m honored to be part of an anthology that will be benefitting select no-kill animal shelters. I’ve seen first hand how hard shelters like these work to care for and protect animals who would otherwise suffer abuse, neglect, and probable death. It’s humbling and wonderful to know that I’ll be able to do a small part to help simply by doing what I love.

Jose Prendes: Writing means the world to me, and if it can help a worthy cause then the struggle is all the more worth it!

Rand Lee: I would not be alive and writing today were it not for the work of several therapeutic charities in my home state of New Mexico. Participating in this charity e-book anthology is my very tiny way of saying, “Thank you.”

Micheal Shean: Charity is nothing less than the duty we owe each other as people in this world.  We eternally seek connection, and helping one another without expectation of reward is an important part of establishing that connection with one another.  The universe is unthinkably enormous, and we are so very small; we do nothing but make ourselves even smaller if we do not seek to better each others’ lives.  In this way do we make ourselves greater than we were before.

Gerilyn Marin: Writing for charity . . . I don’t think I gave that a lot of thought, actually. I knew I was doing something I enjoy and that my efforts were in support of a good cause and that’s all that really mattered. It’s a unique thing to be able to do what you love and be rewarded in a way that has nothing to do with money or material things. My entire youth, I was that kid stuffing all her pocket change into the charity collection cans (I’d regret it a little bit afterward when I didn’t have money for things I needed or wanted, but I never questioned at the time that I’d done the right thing). I think giving to charity, doing for charitable causes, is that same way – you don’t think about it at the moment, ’cause you simply know it’s the right thing for you to do.

William Vitka: I’ve spent many years working with charities. From my brother’s own, Blue Redefined, where we worked to better the lives of those with disabilities, to the Kindle All-Stars, where all of the proceeds are donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. When CQ approached me with the idea, I jumped at it. Not necessarily because it means something to me, but because I hope it means something to those we help. Including our furry friends. What I’m trying to say is, the retired racing Greyhound we adopted here at the house forced me to.

“10% of every purchase will go straight to animals in need. The CQ team has selected
humane societies on both the East and West coast that spend well and do not
stray from their “no-kill” policies.” – Curiosity Quills

Check out now: PRIMETIME | After Dark
Ty

‘This CSReview feature is published in loving memory of Ty, the cat from an animal asylum who was taken off the streets when he was about one year old, treated for flea, worms and malnourishment, and released first to one caring family, and then to us.’
– Camilla Stein.

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2012. All rights reserved.
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SAMURAI BUSINESS by Joris Merks

16 05 2013

Today on CSReview, Joris Merks, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion and one of Google’s finest marketers talks about his professional path and his new book Samurai Business.Joris Merks What professionals can learn from Martial Arts

CS: Welcome to CSReview, Joris. Why did you decide to write Samurai Business?
Joris Merks: End 2011 I did a five minute inspirational speech on Google head quarters in San Francisco before the global marketing team that at that point in time was 800 people strong. I had put on my blue judo suit for the first time in years and talked about what marketers can learn from fighters. I had observed how people in business are often confronted with topics that are so complex that answers are never straight forward. At the same time particularly in big companies it can have huge consequences if you make mistakes. At best you just waste a lot of money. Where some people keep making the right decisions under this combined pressure of complexity and risk, others freeze and dare only make small changes to earlier decisions taking as little risk as possible. Of course that attitude does not get you there in a fast changing world. In fighting you also have simultaneous risk and complexity. You can lose any fight in one second and get injured in the process, yet how you can win is never clear when you start that fight. Launch and iterate is the way to go both in fighting and marketing. Don’t wait until you have guaranteed success, for then others will be faster or you may even never start something fundamentally new. Start as early as possible trusting your skills and judgment will guide you along the way to make the right decisions at the right moment. That five minute speech triggered such great reactions that I had a continuous stream of thoughts after it about important lessons from fighters to help professionals. That resulted in the book Samurai Business with 13 Samurai principles to help professionals focus on what really matters under any kind of pressure in an endless amount of stimuli and possible choices.
CS: How does a jiu-jitsu fighter go from a tatami to a pen and paper? Please share your journey of becoming a writer.
Joris Merks: I started martial arts at the age of six and moved into competitive Judo soon. As I grew older I added Aikido, Jiu-Jitsu, Kobudo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing and Kick Boxing to the list. When I was eighteen years old I started studying Technical Physics and later Science of Communication at university and earned some extra cash being a judo teacher for small kids. The man who was my own teacher (sensei) was also my mentor and a father figure already from the age of twelve. Besides Judo, Aikido, Jiu-jitsu and Kobudo, he taught me a lot of important life lessons. At the age of twenty I was training twice a day and my body felt indestructible. I had many injuries like any competitive fighter but they always healed sufficiently to be able to continue. Then suddenly in judo competition an opponent tried to throw me in a way that dislocated my knee. My cruciate ligament tore and I could immediately feel this was bad. In the ten years following I had five surgeries but the knee never healed in a way that allowed me to continue martial arts. That was devastating for it felt like all skills I trained for over twenty years completely dissolved in one split second. It basically took away my identity at that point in time.
Samurai Business Book 3
Despite the fact that I could not practice martial arts anymore, I kept meeting my teacher in the weekends doing long walks through the forest talking about matters of life and he showed me that even though my body could not fight anymore, the fighter deep inside me was independent of that. The practice of martial arts, doing competition and all experiences that come along with that have shaped me in a way that will never be lost. After University I started working first in media, than advertising and finally in research for large advertisers about their media, advertising and brands. This led me to my role as Head of Research Benelux for Google. I had been walking around with the idea of writing a story relating martial arts to business already for ten years. I was looking for a great central theme and at the same time needed to build sufficient experience to step back and observe the business world. I had meanwhile started doing a lot of public speaking on the topic of research, advertising and online and offline marketing. That brought me to the idea of submitting my proposal to do the inspirational speech about fighting versus marketing at the Google global marketing meeting in San Francisco. That five minute inspirational speech was the final trigger to start writing down my story.
CS: Everybody has their own demons, some chose to fight them, others – to ignore. You seem to be the first type. What personal change are you most proud of?
Joris Merks: I am very proud that I managed to accept the loss of my ability to fight and managed to reshape my skill set to build success in professional life and even more importantly to succeed in doing work I like with great people around me. I had to completely transform myself for I felt devastated losing my skills and felt lost in office culture in the first years of my career.
CS: Do you believe in no-win scenarios?
Joris Merks: No, especially not when looking from a long term perspective. I only work together with people if I can find common ground, if I can see what they gain from working with me (and vice versa). That is the only way to achieve great things, because great things almost never come easy. If you don’t work with people on a win-win basis you’ll find yourself chasing the people around you all the time as soon as things get hard or complex. While chasing those people and working in that atmosphere, you gradually burn your relationships. In a win-win situation people always stay motivated to make projects a success no matter what happens. If you manage to play a role that helps enable everyone to build the success which keeps them motivated and inspired, you build credits that will help you do even greater things together in the future. Win-win is a strong positive chain reaction just like putting people under pressure too much is a negative chain reaction. I choose the first type.
CS: What do you think is necessary for a successful business model in today’s economic and socio-political reality? Does integrity matter?
Joris Merks: Yes, I believe integrity is the most important source of sustainable success in the 21st digital century. This is the century of transparency and a century of connected individuals which allows people to organize themselves and put pressure that is so strong it can make governments step down. In an era like that you can only build sustainable success by doing what is right for your clients and customers, by adding real value to their lives for a fair price and by improving yourselves in doing that every day. Companies cannot get away with just defending what made them great in the past. Therefore professionals need to feel an intrinsic motivation to keep reinventing themselves every day and that intrinsic motivation comes from the sincere will to serve people around you and be the best person you can be. This is what I would call integrity.
CS: Do you have regrets?
Joris Merks: That is a hard question that I have tried to answer in my final chapter of the book. I asked myself whether I would have made different choices had I known the consequences of my permanent injuries and the daily pain they cause. I realized the only way not to have these injuries would have been to not do martial arts on competitive level, which also would mean I never would have known my great teacher and would have missed all great moments, insights and friendship together with him. I would not carry the same experience in my professional life. Of course I don’t know what I would have had instead both in terms of gain and loss. If there is any regret I think it is the fact that I could have listened better to my body, give it better treatment in case of injury and get more rest in general. I try to do this now in my work. I have learnt that working under continuous pressure wears you out in a way that takes the freshness out of the things you do and the thoughts you have. It also decreases the quality of your cooperation with people and of course the balance with your private life. I think I can balance focus and calmness better under pressure due to this tough experience and that again positively affects people working and living around me.
CS: Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
Joris Merks: Five years is hard to say. I have done a lot of public speaking in the past three years both about lessons from fighters for professionals and about the topic of online and offline marketing and research which are my areas of professional expertise. I wrote books on both topics and have more in the making. The combination of speaking, writing and consulting could shape my future five years from now. At the same time I enjoy my work for Google a lot and I still see many unique things I can do there. I would not be surprised if I still enjoy my career at Google five years from now. I have developed myself to be at the intersection of research with advertising, brands and marketing. I specialize in quantifying human emotions, behaviors and thoughts and then bringing those to life again for people who are not used to working with research or data. I help making data useful and understandable so better decisions can be made. I feel there is still a lot I can do there and maybe those two paths can even compliment each other. I see a lot of possibilities.
CS: Thank you for a wonderful story, Joris. Wishing you a great journey and looking forward to more of your inspirational speeches!

Follow Joris Merks on Twitter

Visit Samurai Business Official Website

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2013. All rights reserved.





CSReview Special with BRYANT STERLING

5 05 2013

Today’s special on CSReview is a feature on Bryant Sterling, formerly known as Denis Lee Bryant, singer, songwriter, producer and a record label owner.

Bryantpromo1-001In 2009, Bryant Sterling authored and performed a song that won him a prestigious VH-1 International Songwriting ‘Song of the Year’ Award as 1 of 52 Runners Up from well over 500,000 entries. Bryant’s singing had a special effect on the judges due to the song being deeply sensitive in nature. Bryant sang with love and care for his fellow men and women who are going through a rough patch in life. The song is called Times Are Hard.

The story behind the song has a real life connection. Bryant met a homeless woman who shared how she lost her life so to speak, after being fired as company’s CEO and then losing her family.  CSReview sent questions to Bryant, and today our followers have a rare opportunity to listen to Bryant’s answers in a recording he made specially for you. Bryant answers some really intriquing questions and shares stories he never told before. Click to listen:

Interview with Bryant Sterling

Lyrics of Times Are Hard:

I sat and watched the sun go down from a mountain top just over my town, that’s when it hit me like a busting dam, times are hard, yes times are hard.

A homeless woman on an old gray bike rolled up to me and stared with hopeless eyes, her hands were swollen from her life’s lost ride cause times are hard, yes times are hard.

Times are hard and they’re gonna get harder hands are out on every corner, dreams have gone like lambs to the slaughter cause times are hard. Look around its time for paying GREED is GOD and our own making, look at all that we’ve forsaken. Now times are hard, yes times are hard.

You give your life and soul to a company, years of work and they lost the money, and all they say to you is sorry, times are hard, oh times are hard.

Your life is changed in a New York minute you never thought you’d be caught up in it, soon despair turns into panic cause times are hard, yes times are hard.

Times are hard and they’re gonna get harder hands are out on every corner, dreams have gone like lambs to the slaughter cause time are hard, look around its time for paying GREED is GOD and our own making, look at all that we’ve forsaken now times are hard, yes times are hard.

What do you do when your hope has died and your standing on the other side looking back at a perfect world that’s gone, there’s no words that can describe what is real overwhelms the mind it’s gotta feel like you’ve been STRUCK BLIND, now that times are hard oh times are hard.

Times are hard and they’re gonna get harder hands are out on every corner, dreams have gone like lambs to the slaughter cause time are hard, look around its time for paying GREED is GOD and our own making look at all that we’ve forsaken now times are hard, yes times are hard.

I sat and watched the sun go down from a mountain top just over my town that’s when it hit me like a BUSTING DAM, times are hard, yes times are hard…

Visit Bryant Sterling Online

Listen to TIMES ARE HARD

Copyright © 2012. TRY AND TRY AGAIN PUB ASCAP.  All Rights Reserved. OASiS RECORDS INTERNATIONAL.

In association with Bryant Sterling and Linda Albu.

Special thanks to Linda Albu, Bryant’s publicist, for facilitating this interview.

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2013. All rights reserved.




CSReview SPECIAL

21 06 2012

Today on CSReview  we are talking to four filmmakers, participants of the Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge in Hollywood, CA, Film Actress and Director Bethany Orr, Film Director Skye Von, Actor and Filmmaker Xavier Sagel, and Writer/Director Ed Zareh.

CS: Welcome to CSReview, Bethany, Skye, Xavier and Ed! Glad to see y’all, can’t wait to hear your stories! So, what can you tell me about the project and what inspired it?

Bethany: The theme was actually a P.J. O’Rourke quote: “There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.” Rules and festival theme were doled out to all participating filmmakers during an orientation evening in Hollywood at the end of May.

CS: That is an intriguing motto. You mentioned rules. How complicated are they?

Bethany: Not so complicated, but a little confusing! The idea is that over the course of two weeks, each participating filmmaker would: a) make their own original movie with the help of another and b) work as a “collaborator” in helping another get his/her film made.  Kind of bizarrely great because even though we were technically competing against each other, every time we helped someone we got “collaboration points” that could result in a cash prize, so it truly was in our best interest to be as helpful as possible. To begin with we were each asked to submit five different pitches for a short film piece that fit the theme, then they actually made the picks for us, we didn’t get to choose. Ultimately, each filmmaker was given one full week to complete their film from start to finish.

Xavier: And everyone was CRAZY eager to collaborate. It didn’t seem like people were just doing it for the points. People were genuinely interested in the other filmmaker’s projects and willing to do anything at any time of day. It was astounding. The orientation was interesting. When I first arrived I was like, “These are the filmmakers?” It looked like a pretty eclectic group and they were not what I would have thought a group of filmmakers would look like. But that was just one of the surprises in store for me in that two weeks. They were an amazing group. Everyone so nice and knowledgeable.

CS: Seems like a very tight schedule too. Did any of you feel the pressure and worry for the quality of the film given the time restrictions?

Xavier: At first I wasn’t worried. I had a full day set aside for shooting EVERYTHING. And then the day of the shoot came. An hour went by. Then two. Then THREE. And I had only completed one scene. That’s when panic starts to set in and you think immediately, “What can I get away with cutting and what can stay?” Because it was obvious to me that I was going to HAVE to cut some stuff. And then you think, “Will it suffer?” Luckily I had most of it. We had to schedule an additional night shoot two days after. And no one complained. It was a miracle. But yeah… I was scared there for a minute. I thought I was gonna end up with a pile of crap. Ha!

Skye: For myself the small amount of time we would have to write, produce and get the film in the can clearly reflected in my choice of the possible stories for my movie. All my 5 pitched were movies that I knew I could complete in the short amount of time. The film that the jury ended up picking was in relation to the other ones in regards to location and shoot time the easiest to achieve, since it only involved one location and one shoot day.

CS: I suppose modern equipment makes things easier and the work more productive, quicker…

Ed: (enthusiastically) I’m used to writing and shooting quickly for the Second City New Media, so I viewed the time constraint as an advantage. It’s the difference between new media and film. The film people have the advantage in technical execution, but new media people are faster and more nimble. We work quickly, get things out in volume, and are more likely to write for trends.

CS: Interesting, Ed. Creating a new generation of media, being part of history… that’s plain awesome! I am curious… who of you can tell me how selections were made?

Ed: Having someone else choose which film you’d work on was a little tricky. I’d been knocking around several ideas that I thought would fit the theme, but they ended up picking the one I liked the least, the one that was the least developed. Luckily, one of the perks of the CFC was a script consult with Nichol Simmons, formerly of AFI. That was a huge help.

Bethany: The festival organizers reviewed the pitches and selected ONE of the five for each filmmaker. They announced to us our pitch choice on Tuesday at midnight, and then we were OFF TO THE RACES! We had a total of 7 days to produce our film, including writing the script, development, casting, pre-production, production, editing, and scoring.

CS: So, all together how many filmmakers participated?

Bethany: There were 42 filmmakers total but several dropped out so I’m not sure what the count was at the end.  The completed films will be playing in a 60-90 minute program on June 22 at a well-known location in Hollywood – Harmony Gold Theatre – and the judging panel is pretty impressive!  Someone will win $5K, and there are two other $1500 prize categories as well.  It’s exciting, and in a way everybody wins because we each have created a completely original short film that didn’t exist before– even though not all of them will be shown that night. 

CS: Do you think an eventual disappointment for some might somehow reflect negatively on the whole idea of collaboration and creative work?

A Skye Von Film HORREYAH

Skye: No not all. This has been an incredibly rewarding experience. We all already won just by partaking in the challenge. The amount of professional connections and experiences we have made during the two weeks is a prize within itself. Also, I myself walk away from this experience with 4 other stories for short films, which I want to develop in the future that I did not have before the challenge.

Ed: I hope not. There’s a lot you can learn from other people– even if it’s what not to do. Film and video production is such a collaborative medium to begin with, you often have to work with people you don’t know or may not like. It’s important to be flexible and adapt to personalities or situations beyond your control. I thought the CFC was a good exercise in that.

Xavier: I don’t see how anyone can be disappointed with the collaboration aspect. It did nothing but help me. Unless your collaborator was just completely worthless, which I hadn’t heard any stories about, then you could only gain from that aspect. And even if your collaborator WAS worthless then it would be no different then some experiences I’ve had with filmmaking in the past. Ha. Filmmaking is a collaborative process. There’s always someone who’s gonna flake out on you. But for every flake there’s a rock.

Bethany: Absolutely not.  It’s a provocative way to encourage independent filmmaking, but to be provocative they had to be willing to be controversial.  They were strict with the deadline and I actually came very close to being disqualified for a last minute technical issue.  Thank God we solved the problem, but even when it looked like we might not make it, I had to be grateful for what the experience has given me: invaluable new relationships.  Particularly with Skye, who was the cinematographer on my piece, Xavier, who played one of the key roles plus provided production assistance, and Ed, who employed me as an actor on his project. 

CS: That is an awesome positive position to take. And I am glad Bethany pulled it off in the last minute and stayed in the race!  Can’t wait to hear what the judges will decide… Now, let’s talk about pitches. What was your film idea? Why do you think you got picked? Bethany, you go first.

Bethany: This is the pitch of mine they chose: A lonely child’s entertainer is called to a party on an isolated compound that unbeknownst to her is holding children captive… and they’re looking for a forever clown.  I’m assuming they picked it because it sounded like a film they wanted to see!

Ed: My original pitch was about a guy meeting an old acquaintance of his ex-girlfriend’s, and setting the record straight. But through the script consult, it evolved into a “boy meets girl” story with the guy getting tongue tied. So even thought I started out with a dramatic scene, and ended up doing a screwball comedy, there were enough similarities left to make it interesting.

CS: Xavier, what can you share about your film project?

Xavier: The pitch that got selected for me was as follows: a man is getting ready for a date. He brushes his teeth, combs his hair, picks out clothes. But before making each of these seemingly innocuous CHOICES we fast forward to his actual date and see the outcome of them if he HADN’T made the choice (i.e. not brushing his teeth results in her moving away from the goodnight kiss, wearing jeans instead of slacks getting him denied entry to their restaurant, etc.)…. all bad. Finally we get to the real date and everything goes SWIMMINGLY until he makes one FINAL choice at the end of the date and we see her grimace. We end on that image of her. Mine seems to be one of the few COMEDIC shorts I’m aware of. Albeit kind of a black comedy. Maybe that comic relief will be welcomed in the competition.

         

CS: I think it’s an interesting subject, Xavier. A little bit of romance, a little bit of comedy indeed, maybe a little bit of irony too. Sounds like a great combination, I am sure it will be noticed. Ok, Skye… please tell us your story!

Skye: The subject of my film deals with the choice and responsibility we have to carve out a better life for ourselves and our family, and with the consequences of this choice. In my film an Egyptian mother grieves and reminisces on the final days leading up to her son’s death during a violent demonstration against Mubarak’s government.

CS: Quite a choice of a subject there, Skye, I am sure it will challenge people’s outlook and provoke deep thinking. Did you have concerns that the shortness and speed of the assignment would result in the lack of depth in your film?

Skye: The short amount of time given to me for completing the film was not a concern that the film would be shallow. It was the 5 min film length restriction which was more taunting. It meant that the script had to extremely precise and not one word or action could be futile or empty. Working with the dialogue in my script felt like I was sifting for gold. I had to sift the dialogue until only the precious nuggets were left behind.

CS: As a writer I can also absolutely relate to that, Skye, making dialogues as sharp as they can be, as effective as possible. I think satisfaction is the ultimate emotion to get out of this work. You may never know for sure what impact your film will have on your recipient, but if you are happy with your product, you know you did your best and delivered a quality product, then you sleep well at night. Am I right?

Skye: Yes, you are absolutely right. I feel extremely happy with the script and the film I created. However, it was not just me who created this film. The real success of the film was the amazing team and the actors that I had the honor to work with. Shari Vasseghi and Tamer Aziz, the amazing cast, Bethany Orr who co-produced with myself, Emily Schoener, our casting director who brought the amazing talent to the project, Joe Obering, our super talented Director of Photography, Lance Casey, our incredible editor… but that is just to name a few. It was all of them who made it possible for us to complete the movie in such a short time and not lose any quality or substance.

Xavier: I believe the short that I did for the Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge is the best film I’ve ever created. Needless to say the final product took some strange twists and transformations, but I love the finished product. I’m crazy excited about the screening and I’m highly confident that our film will receive excellent reviews.

CS: I am learning a lot of new things today here. This has been a most enlightening conversation. What are your plans after the festival?

Skye:  Currently I am in pre-production on a feature dance film with the choreographer Roger Fojas and the composer Chris Komashko, for which I have written the script and will be directing. Furthermore, I am putting finishing touches on another feature length script, and am currently in Europe where I am doing some research for another script. In between all of that I hope to find time to bring one of the other stories, which I pitched to the Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge, to the big screen.

Ed: I’m working on comedy shorts for The Second City Network, as well as developing a comedy web series independently. I’m an environmentalist, so I’m creating green educational content for kids and launching a water conservation campaign aimed at a major amusement park this fall.

Xavier: Well, I moved here from Tulsa last September and I did that because I MAINLY want to ACT. So I will try and get some more gigs. I’ve been cast in a web series called Project Hollywood and that starts filming in 2 weeks. Crazy excited about that. Check it out on Facebook. Plus my show Craft Wars, hosted by Tori Spelling, premiers on TLC June 26th. I’m not in the first episode but I’m in the next nine. That should be fun to watch. I’m pretty new to this, so I’d like to get an agent and go on more auditions. It seems like every project I get involved with I meet more and more amazing people.

Bethany:  My baby sister is getting married in Colorado next month. That kind of takes the cake for me.

CS: Very exciting, and really great to hear that you all are moving forward professionaly and having fun in between screenwriting and filming. I wish y’all a great time in LA at the festival tomorrow, no matter what the outcome will be.

Copyright Camilla Stein ©2012. All rights reserved.







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