Thursday, February 27, 2014

RIP Sarah Jones - From Your Film Family

When I heard about Sarah Jones - a young woman who died working on a film set as an AC (Assistant Camera) - I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. I put my head in my hands and thought how sad it was to lose someone so young who was probably living her dream of making movies. I was reminded of the joy I felt walking into a production office for the first time - knowing I'd come home. A home we all believe will care for us - look out for us - protect us.

I didn't know Sarah personally but I knew her, just as I know every member of the entertainment industry. We are one big family who come together all over the world to create stories. Each new project builds a sub-family. We bop around the planet and instantly bond with our sub-family of the moment to create a story we hope will help inspire, provoke thought, make us laugh or cry. This bond never goes away.

A film set is a very emotional, life-changing, awe-inspiring place where creativity and dreams are realized. It's a home for so many of us. Let's strive to protect our home and our family members.

As producers, we need safety to come first always. We are the parents of the family on set. Our crew needs to be able trust their parents.

My heart goes out to Sarah's friends and family. We feel your pain and send our love to you. We come together all over the world to mourn the loss of Sarah - a member of our film family. We will strive to be a better family.

RIP Sarah Jones. You will always be remembered. Love, Your Film Family

For Sarah's Family, From Ours from Sustainable Dave on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Season 2 of Average Joe Web Series - Ridiculous & Roll Your Eyes Fun

Now for some afternoon fun, you can watch Average Joe. Each video opens with Intended for Immature Mature Audiences. The 13 episodes of this wacky series live up to the intro. If you're looking for a laugh from some ridiculous and raunchy dating sitches and an Average Joe, this Web series is for you.

Here's the trailer:

And to watch all of the episodes, you can go here: Good times! Thanks to my publicist Susan Szotyori for sharing this gem with me - haha!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A New Novella and Book Trailer for Valentine's Day: Valentine Schmalentine

My writing partner Brandon Trenz and I wrote a really funny romantic comedy feature-length script called Valentine Schmalentine and decided to adapt it into a novella. I handled the adaptation and even made a book trailer for it, starring Sunny Mabrey. My husband Steve shot the trailer.

It's been so fun creating these novellas and the trailer was a blast.

Here's the link to the book on Amazon: You should read it if you like rom coms and you like to laugh.

And here is the book trailer - enjoy!!:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Road to Sundance 2014: Crime: Marcus McGhee (a short), directed by Alix Lambert and Sam Chou

What made you decide to become a filmmaker?

Alix: My name is Alix Lambert, I am a director and producer. I co-created Crime: Marcus McGhee with Sam Chou. I have been directing for 20 years. My background is in the fine arts where I made installation and conceptual work that often involved video. I've always been a visual thinker/storyteller. 

Sam: My name is Sam Chou. I am a filmmaker, Director of Animation and co-director of Crime: The Animated Series. I've been animating by hand for over 15 years, working on Feature films, TV and commercials and eventually started directing. It was a natural evolution to start creating my own stories, and telling them through the medium of animation

Tell us about your film (include title of film and category your film will play in Sundance). What inspired you to make it?

Alix: I published a book titled CRIME. The book is a collection of interviews in and around the intersection of crime and the arts. What do real life criminals think about the way they are depicted on film? What do film directors want to know about criminals when they depict them in their movies? I interviewed bank robbers, victims, law enforcement, directors, writers, actors and many other people. I went on to develop stage plays using verbatim texts from further interviews about crime in specific geographic regions. How does crime differ from city to city? How is it the same? One of these plays, Crime, USA: Hartford, was commissioned by Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut. One of the people I interviewed for the play was Marcus McGhee, the subject of our short film, Crime: Marcus McGhee. Sam Chou had purchased my book and actually contacted me while I was in Hartford working. We talked about our mutual interest in using some of the audio I had from these many interviews and turning them into animated shorts. That is how we ultimately came to make the series together.

Sam: Yes, the book was a great source of inspiration. Throughout my career, I've always wanted to tell stories that are grounded in reality and a bit darker than typical animated films. So after reading Alix's book, CRIME, I was blown away, I couldn't get those images out of my mind. I was like "YES! These are the stories I need to tell!!"

CRIME: Marcus McGhee is playing in documentary short program 1.

What do you love about your film?

Alix: I love Marcus! He is a wonderful storyteller. Pardon the pun, but he is so animated when he tells a story. I think in four minutes he is able to use humor to illuminate a very real problem in Hartford. I also love the animation style of this particular episode.

Sam: I agree, Marcus is a great story teller and I love his enthusiasm when he tells it.  It really helped inspire the quirky animation design and technique.

How long did it take you to make your film?

Alix: Once Sam and I had the idea, the problem always is finding a way to finance a film. We made a trailer and used that to talk about what we wanted to do.  I had a meeting with Emma Reeves from MOCA tv about the possibility of working together. She liked the animated crime series idea and MOCA tv committed to producing the first six episodes. I loved working with them and went on to create a second series, Ambiance Man, with them. 

Sam: All in all, we created 6 episodes of CRIME: The Animated Series in just over 3 months. 

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?

Alix: Filmmaking is full of challenges, both practical and creative. For this film, we had to make some decisions in order to stay within a small budget (limited color palette, less expensive animation choices) and we also had a very tight production schedule once the project was green lit. Additionally, Sam lives in Toronto and I live in NYC, so there were a number of virtual meetings. While, it's great that that is possible now, it would have been preferable if we had been in the same city. We didn't meet in person until the night the series screened at MOCA.

Sam: I agree. On the production side, the challenge was creating 6 different completely different visual styles but using the same color palette. Then producing the animation within the schedule and budget was another challenge.

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance.

Alix: We applied and we got in! Thrilled to be included.

Sam: When we submitted CRIME, we actually submitted the entire series, 6 episodes back-to-back. It was a 20 minute film that thematically worked really well. When the Sundance programmers got back to us, they explained that they loved the CRIME series but a 20 minute film is much harder to program than a 5 Min one. They kindly asked for just 1 episode, Marcus McGhee's episode. We had no issues with that, we were thrilled to be accepted!!

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?

Alix: I always make mistakes and learn so much on any film that I make, but I never want to go back and make the same film over, I would rather take what I learned and do things differently the next time around.

Sam: Yes, we made many mistakes during production.  If I had to go back, I'd make better mistakes.

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?

Alix: The six episodes can be viewed on MOCAtv. We do not have distribution and are currently discussing possibilities in that regard. We hope to make more episodes and continue the series.

Sam: We'd love to continue the series. There are so many CRIME stories to tell!

Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made?

Alix: Kill your babies.

Sam: Just do it. Keep doing it. Don't stop.  And when you are done, do it again but better.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I Decided to Start Writing Fiction: Olympic Conquest - A Romantic Novella

For a long time, I have been itching to write fiction. I have been writing screenplays for the past few years and of course, making movies and now Web series. So the next logical step would be to challenge myself to start writing long form fiction.

As you know, I am a huge fan of romantic stories in my filmmaking. I love depicting the ever-fascinating world of relationships. It can be any genre as long as it has a relationship at the core of the story. Action? Bring it. Thriller? Yep. Horror? Maybe. Drama? Absolutely. Rom com? Hell yes!

And I have a gazillion story ideas rattling around in my brain and not enough time or money in this world to ever see them on the big screen. And this was troubling me. I kept thinking there has to be another avenue for getting all of these stories out of my brain. I need an outlet.

I think I found one. So get ready, you're going to hear a lot more about my journey into writing fiction AND making movies and all other kinds of media. It's all about storytelling up in here. And the great thing is that writing fiction is a natural extension to my work as a filmmaker since so many films, especially romantic ones, are adaptations from a novel or another literary work.

And the most exciting thing about writing fiction is that the sky's the limit on the plot and characters. I don't have to worry about a hard-to-shoot location or a really expensive actor or an expensive action sequence. I can write as big or small as I'd like. So refreshing!

For years, I never thought I would write fiction. Novels seemed overwhelming to me. I navigated naturally to screenwriting. Screenplays, while fulfilling my desire to work in movies, also seemed less daunting than writing 100k words of a make-believe world.

Now that I have a few novellas under my belt, 100k words is no longer daunting to me. I am developing my first novel at the moment. Stay tuned on that front. And guess who will adapt it for film? Hmmm.

Back to my novella journey... this past year, I reminded myself that there was this wonderful world of novellas. I knew there was a wonderful world of short stories but those felt daunting too. Capturing a full story in just a few pages is not easy. Just like comedy seems easy to write but it's probably the hardest genre of all. Making people laugh is an art.

Novellas seemed like the magical world in between short stories and novels that I felt would work perfectly with the way my brain is wired. Not too short. Not too long. Just right.

So I embarked on writing a few. I adapted a couple of screenplays into novellas first. Surprisingly, screenplays are about the length of a nice novella when you fill out the world with detail. After I wrote a few adaptations, I decided it was time to write an original idea.

With the Olympics coming up and having been a figure skater myself when I was younger, I thought it would be fun to set a romantic story amidst the exciting world of the Winter Olympics.

I also knew the Olympics were only 3 weeks away. So I had to move fast. I gave myself a goal of writing at least 1000 words a day and if I didn't reach that goal, I would write 2000 the next day. It worked. I wrote almost every day (some days I wrote 4000 words - it's amazing when you're on a roll) and after a couple of weeks, I had a rough draft.

For me, this was a huge accomplishment. I am pulled in a million different directions in my career so to have the daily focus of writing at least 1000 words a day of fiction, seemed impossible. But I set my mind to it and it happened. And that's usually how everything comes to fruition - you just do it.

Just doing it has been my mantra my entire career. I have experienced so many amazing things by just getting off my ass and making things happen. Every movie I made happened because we as a team just did it. We found the money. We found the sales avenues. We did it all. There have been a lot of ups and downs - it's not for the faint of heart - but I have grown so much as person by taking risks and putting myself out there as much as I can. I highly recommend it.

I'm not saying Olympic Conquest is literary genius. But it's a story that spoke to me and to which I tried to bring a lot of truth. I think it has something to say and I hope those who read it find it a journey worth taking - albeit a short one - novellas are only about 20k words. I felt inspired writing it and fell in love with the characters. I now feel like I have two new friends even though they came from my imagination.

The best criticism I have had to date since I have no reviews of the book just yet (if you read it, please review it - thank you!) was my husband's reaction: he cried and had to return to the tissue box a few times.

With that long lead up, may I present to you my first novella! Cover art by my wonderful husband Steve Kosek.

And here is the link to it on Amazon: And please let me know what you think!