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call for scripts Archives - Filmstigator

Alex Whitmer

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February 24, 2014

Guest Post: Screenwriting for Filmstigator

February 24, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

by Alex Whitmer

As there are many bits and pieces of my own childhood in the screenplay and story, ‘GIFT’ holds a special place for me. With that in mind, having ‘GIFT’ in the hands of the right crew and the right director with as similar a vision as possible was paramount.

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A page from the ‘GIFT’ shooting script

I believe all writers are possessive about their stories, and, like me, hold a few near and dear above all others. Over the course of 50+ produced short scripts, I have come to terms with letting the creative collaboration process take over once a script is picked up. Most often that process brings many wonderful surprises and ‘hadn’t thought of that’ moments.

Katherine Shepler gets a touch up from makeup artist Tara Lynn Overby & 1st AD Melissa Bowers.

The creative input from the lighting folks, the sound folks, script supervision and costume, and on up and down the line, all coalesces to move printed word into moving pictures.

Michael liked the story, and he saw opportunities through a director’s eye that could bring ‘GIFT’ to fruition. After just one read-through of Michael’s new draft, I knew he had the intuition on where to take the story.

There was still casting to be done, and it is this process that gives the absolute and final voice to the characters on paper.

Sound man Tom Boisseau prepares to roll on a take.

Of course, there is a tremendous amount of support and direction, takes, make-up and editing–but in the end it is the actors an audience will attach to.  All the arts and technical knowledge and selecting just the right shirt and lens and light and cut all melt into the background. It’s just us and them.

Royce Mann, Katherine Shepler, & Michael Curtis on the set of ‘GIFT.’

I really can’t say enough about the chosen cast, and the beautiful and heartfelt performances they gave. I sincerely hope this film opens both big and small doors for them.

Being the quintessential hermitical writer, I was not on set during production. I much prefer the abstractness of pen and paper.  But from what I can see in the behind-the-scenes photos, the production stills, and the trailer, there was nothing but professionalism on the set. It just shows.

The locations are far better than I imagined. Beautifully haunting comes to mind. I’ve always been of the school that locations ought to be treated like any cast member, and chosen just as carefully. They bring that much to a story.

Working with Michael and this crew has been very pleasant, with communication open and thorough. I would recommend to writers looking for that special feather in the cap to leap at the opportunity to work with the Filmstigator team.

 

Michael Curtis

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July 13, 2013

First Scripts Selected!

July 13, 2013 | By | One Comment

We are happy to announce the selection of our first round of scripts for production. And we’ve found two scripts we’d like to film—not just one!

Through the spring and early summer we’ve been reading dozens of screenplays that have been submitted for possible production. Almost every genre of film was represented.

We want to share a little bit about the two projects we are green-lighting for 2013.

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The first project we will shoot (working title “Gift”), deals with a troubled boy and the ancient typewriter he uses to write invisible stories.  A chance meeting with a young girl thrusts both of them toward a dramatic confrontation that will change them forever.

“Gift” features two strong lead roles for child actors. Two supporting roles will also be available in this small-cast project. The production will be filmed in middle-Georgia and parts of Jekyll Island off the Georgia coast.

Screenwriter Alex Whitmer says his screenplay is “a very personal story about growing up unable to communicate effectively. Bits and pieces are taken from my own experiences, including a preference for isolation, and the typing of invisible stories. It’s about the weird kid down the street. The one who liked to walk home alone… liked to study the neighbor’s garden… the colors of tree bark… and the smell of dirt. It is a suburban story about violent outbursts and an inability to learn within the constructs of norms.”

Alex’s site, The Starving Dramaturge is subtitled “In Pursuit of the Perfect Screenplay.” This phrase has resonated with me a lot over the last few weeks. Not for his choice of the word “perfect,” (a potentially unattainable ideal), but for his use of “pursuit.” It’s that striving to create great work that seems to unite a lot of artists. I knew right away that we would share a passion for crafting strong stories.

Our next project (working title “DRG”), is a dark comedy about life in a small town where everyone knows your backstory. “DRG” comes from screenwriter William Torgerson, an assistant professor in the Institute For Writing Studies at St. John’s University in New York and a graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program at Georgia College and State University.

Torgerson grew up in a small town in Indiana.  “The ‘knowing everybody’s business’ feature of my hometown was something I wanted in my stories,” he says. “I spent one summer working as a stock boy in our family-owned grocery store… listening to rumors and seeing the spread of drama around the cash registers. I worked with my uncle, his ex-wife, and his new bride.”

Bill’s story tackles issues of privacy, infidelity, judgment, and retribution in darkly funny ways. Several strong character roles make this a tight and fun ensemble piece. There are roles for a strong female lead, eight to ten supporting adults, and two teens. The memorable action-packed conclusion will stick with audiences for a long time.

Both films are slated for production before year’s end. Each will be submitted to a number of film festival competitions upon completion.

You can learn more about Alex Whitmer’s extensive screenwriting projects (more than 45 produced short films) by visiting his web site and IMDB page.

To find out more about the fiction, screenwriting, and documentary work of Bill Torgerson—or to read “Horseshoe,” his collection of original stories that “DRG” is drawn from, please visit TheTorg.com.

We greatly appreciate the efforts and trust of these writers… and we’re really looking forward to crafting powerful films with both of them!

We’d also like to express our gratitude to all of the writers who submitted their work for consideration. We’re honored to have had the participation and interest of people from so many diverse perspectives.

Please stay tuned for further announcements about casting opportunities and about the potential launch of various crowd funding initiatives.  And if you’re interested in fostering, supporting, or creating independent films, we encourage you to get involved. There’s work to be done in a wide variety of disciplines including social media, crowdsourcing, production planning, and more.

You don’t need to be an expert filmmaker, in other words, to get involved.

And remember:  your feedback and assistance are very welcome, so please share your thoughts and ideas. We’d love to hear from you!

Michael Curtis

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May 21, 2013

Progress Update

May 21, 2013 | By | One Comment

One of the problems with an all-volunteer organization is that when folks are super busy with “regular” projects, it’s tough to make big advances on our MFC goals.  I am going to be meeting with professors from the creative writing program at Georgia College & State University next week to discuss putting our call for scripts out nationally via their literary journal.  So far our main challenge has been finding a workable script.

A handful of scripts have been submitted, but so far we haven’t found the right one.  And I’m committed to moving forward with production only with a great script.  So patience is called for.  I don’t want to just produce “any” film.  It takes so much work to craft a film that the story really needs to be spectacular or it’s hard to sustain the work effort through the entire process.  So we continue to look for scripts, and I may be holding a script competition very soon to help generate additional submissions.  Thanks for your patience as we are making progress, albeit slow progress.

The main reason more hasn’t happened with MFC, honestly, is that I have been traveling and shooting, directing, writing and editing non-stop.  In the last six weeks I’ve directed productions in Austin, Long Island, Seattle, Portland, New Haven, Burlington, Chapel Hill, Manhattan, and Houston. And I have two shoots this week in Atlanta, all for a good cause: I’ve been creating content for the American Cancer Society’s 100th birthday celebration. The video at the top of this page, “Judy’s Story,” is one of those spots. Here’s another:

Michele and Simone

Thanks again for your continued patience.  Please register on the site so you will get automatic updates as we move forward.  I think we should have a script by summer’s end!

 

Michael Curtis

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March 24, 2013

Launch of the Milledgeville Film Collaborative

March 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

Welcome!  We are excited to announce the launch of the Milledgeville Film Collaborative, a grass-roots effort to bring artists from a host of varying disciplines together to craft great short and feature-length films.

One of our primary goals for the Collaborative is to build a creative community that enriches the lives and experiences of members and audiences alike. Ideally, we’ll create a model for collaboration that fosters creativity and results in powerful visual storytelling. We’re focused on making great films in Georgia and throughout the southeast, but we believe this model can easily be replicated to inspire similar collaborations elsewhere.

The Film Collaborative isn’t a club or a forum or a user group. It’s essentially a production company led by a specific group of artists and filmmakers who have elected to come together for a particular project. It’s designed for passionate people who want to get involved and help in whatever way they can to make quality films—even if they’re not directly filmmakers themselves.

In the next few weeks, we’ll begin soliciting scripts for our inaugural short film production (currently planned for the summer). If you’re a screenwriter with a great short movie script, we sincerely hope to hear from you. We have a strong team of writers, theatre professionals, and filmmakers who will review all submitted scripts and make recommendations on screenplays to “green light.”

We’re geared up to accomplish a number of projects over the next few months and beyond, so we will always be looking for quality screenplays. We hope to create at least three high-quality short films by the end of this year alone.

For a breakdown of the kinds of things we’re looking for, please check out our FAQ page. Screenplays meeting the criteria outlined may be submitted at any time, not just during the official call for scripts. Our need for stories will be ongoing.

We are looking to move quickly. As soon as our first winning script has been selected, we’ll move directly into pre-production for that project. The goal is to have that film cast, designed, planned and scheduled by late spring so that production can begin (and end) this summer.

We’re not playing around.

So here’s your chance. Get involved and make your own unique contribution to filmmaking. Send in your amazing screenplay, find out about upcoming auditions or how to join our crew for production. Or make a donation.

There are lots of ways to make your mark. So fasten your seatbelt. This thing’s about to launch.

 

 

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