Sunday, August 12, 2012

Guest Post From The Maxwellton Workshop # 1: Linda Barsi---My LA Family

I interned for Liz last summer and a month after it endedshe hired me as her assistant. I worked on Season 1 of the web series Dating Rules From My Future Self  (Note from Jesse: Click here to watch all of Dating Rules on Hulu!) withher. Both the internship and that first job empowered me with vital workexperience and confidence. Two weeks after DatingRules wrapped, I got a call with a job offer from the entertainmentadvertising company I currently work at.

It’s been just over a year since I graduated from Cornelland it was so refreshing and invigorating to be back in the classroom thissummer with Liz at the Maxwellton Workshop. I consider the time we spent with Liz to be invaluable. It wassuch a gift to have four hours of workshop time every week with someone as experienced and knowledgeable asLiz. Her positivity and “can do” attitude is contagious in the best way.

I was so nervous to film my first short for the class. I was stressingabout everything from the sound to not being able to find turkey wraps for mycast and crew, but it really came together. My DP and my two actresses wereamazing. My actresses even brought their own costume options and extra props.It’s so encouraging having my first two LA film projects completed. And I hadthe opportunity to work with professional crew and actors to boot. .

There were seven of us in the class and we all bonded overgroup projects and helping out on each other’s film shoots. It was like havinga little film family in LA, with half of us graduated and the other half stillin school. This class was just what I needed to gain more confidence and startmaking things again as well as hone and put into practical use the skills that I began to develop at Cornell. It’s exciting to see everyone jazzed to continue writingand directing projects after this summer.

Some of the Maxwellton Workshop 2012 students, from bottom of pile to top: Emma Shalaway, Elizabeth Davis, Linda Barsi, Caitlin Cowie

First shoot for class, a scene from Thelma and Louise


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Goodbye to the Summer of Self-Promotion

Hey Everyone!

So this summer is coming to a close and with it our internship has officially ended. The funny thing is, in this business the kind of internship we had leads to a relationship that surpasses just this summer. It is a relationship that myself, Annie, and Elizabeth will continue to keep strong between one another and of course, Liz. We have learned an inexplicable amount about this business from so many different angles. It's kind of incredible that it was only 2 months. Without getting too sentimental, from all of us, we just wanted to publicly thank Liz for everything she did for us this summer. She both treated us as trusted colleagues and employees with integral creative work while simultaneously teaching and training us in a crash course on directing, surviving this industry, and being a professional. Whether it was cutting a reel, creating a website, writing a breakdown, practicing a pitch, helping to create a publicity packet, visiting a set, guiding ourselves around a studio backlot, or even just grabbing the ever-necessary latte, through our experiences we have a basis that many people don't get until they dive into this world themselves. That is priceless. What's more, we even have begun our own portfolios as directors this summer and now have the momentum and confidence it takes to keep adding to them as well as the knowledge and wherewithal to know how to do so.

Our work also continues past this summer more concretely. We are already planning shorts and other projects to shoot during the year. Elizabeth is staying out in LA and will continue to help Liz on future projects and will eventually be moving in with fellow Maxwellton Workshop students Emma, Linda, and Caitlin (expect a few guest posts coming soon). Both myself and Annie will be back at Cornell, both taking filmmaking courses, continuing learning the theoretical and practical sides of film we have started learning out here, albeit maybe a little more formally (who needs grades?)

Throughout the year, though, all of us as well as the Maxwellton Workshop members will be in touch and prep for hopefully working together on bigger projects in the future. Did I hear a feature film next summer perhaps? We'll see...

....but expect a lot of fake moustaches.




Signing off from the Min,

Jesse, Annie, and Elizabeth

PS. Shiri mentioned our blog on twitter! Watup 24,000 followers! Big thanks!!!


Check out what it's like working on a pitch for Hulu from the pov of a Hollywood intern...  Such fun to work with them!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What happens in Vegas...and/or Santa Clarita

Sometimes the best thing about this internship are the wonderful surprises from Liz that grace our email inboxes at 1am. Most recently we received word that we would be visiting Liz's mentor and friend, Gary Fleder, as he directed Episode 101 for the upcoming show, Vegas (starring Michael Chiklis and Dennis Quaid...yes, we were excited too).  After a busy day in the Min we hopped in the car and drove into the desert wasteland that is Santa Clarita where many shows are and have been shot including Liz's episodes of Franklin and Bash.

When we arrived at the set, we were thoroughly impressed with the magnitude and detail of the whole operation. The production design was amazing, complete with a Vegas strip from the 60's and a fleet of antique prop cars. Additionally there was an extensive Craft services table we took full advantage of.
We arrived on set and Liz went to go say hi to Gary and producer Cathy Konrad who was Liz's former boss a while back, while we tried to remain out of everyone's way during the shoot and still absorb as much as we could. The casino set was absolutely beautiful and watching the whole production team work like a well-oiled machine was both inspiring and daunting as we compared them to our own shoots in our heads. We saw AD's managing hundreds of extras, CameraOps working out shots and ironing out kinks, we saw color-correction working as the shot occurred, and we saw Gary keeping his cool throughout the whole thing, getting the exact performance and shot he wanted throughout all the madness that somehow also made sense.

Gary was so collected that he even made time to speak with us and show us stills on his iPad of color-corrected shots from previous shoot days, which looked awesome and telling us about what it has taken and will take to polish the episode up to his very high standards.
Oh and we forgot to mention in this set, because it is a casino in Vegas in the 60's, there is more hazy "cigarette smoke" than should ever be allowed to exist, and because they were shooting, the air conditioning was off for the most part...with roughly 200 people in a relatively small room in the middle of the desert. Somehow, nobody seemed too fazed. It was actually remarkable how everyone kept pushing through with their jobs at a highly professional level, a state of mind which Gary clearly creates and maintains on set.

Eventually we snuck up the fake stairs of the casino to get a better view of the whole production and who do we see waiting on the side? Our good friend Dennis Quaid, studying lines and just kind of being awesome.

After watching a few more takes and feeling the heat get the better of us, Liz took us to go explore the other sets including the casino office and the 
county jail where we all took mugshots and answered pop quiz questions about what we just saw regarding the procedure for communication for each take in a shoot, the details that are taken into account, and understanding the general movement and flow of a shoot. After another trip to Craft services (read: dinner), we concluded our expedition and said thanks to Gary and got back just in time for our final Maxwellton Workshop meeting. 

                  The Minmates

                        Chief Minmate Allen--Arrested for owning a sweatshop of interns in the back of her house
Minmate Hayes--Arrested for indecent exposure and sass

                            (PICTURE REMOVED FOR DECENCY)
                             Minmate Davis--Arrested for possession of illegal substances and microphones
               Minmate Turk--Arrested for violently snarky behavior in a crowded area and disturbing the peace

All in all it was a fantastic opportunity as per the norm with this internship and obviously a lot of fun, but nevertheless, it was still not taken for granted and a great expedition.

Huge thanks to Gary and the Vegas Team! Can't wait to see the episode!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Liz has a Twitter! Follow It!

So as you may or may not know, this is the summer of self-promotion here at the Min and in the works are an updated reel and even an official Elizabeth Allen website coming soon(big shout out to Ali Hamed for facilitating that one).  While we finish up on those, however, Liz does have a brand spanking new twitter. Right now, though, she only has something like 5 followers. So we ask you, readers of the Min blog, please follow Liz! If you don't have a twitter, here's the perfect reason to get one!

Liz's twitter handle is thisislizallen
link to Liz's twitter profile

The more people who follow, the more we'll get to see the witty humor and exciting window into the life of a director that are Liz's tweets. Already we have cameos from Michael Rosenbaum, Joey King, and Selena Gomez. Get excited for what's to come and follow follow follow!

                             Liz was really cool as a 5 year old

Saturday, July 28, 2012

DIRECTING ACTORS Project - "American Beauty"

Hey guys!

Here's my project for our "Directing Actors" class.  This is a scene from American Beauty between Lester and Carolyn.  We were supposed to go into the project with limited knowledge of the original, so here's a different take on it.

DIRECTING ACTORS - "American Beauty" Scene from Elizabeth Jaeleigh Davis on Vimeo.

I'm excited to see everyone's original projects next!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Moustaches: A Practical in Pitching

This past Wednesday night we had a very unique exercise in class where each of us had to prepare and give a pitch for our respective short film projects that we will be shooting soon. Just as in a real pitch situation we practiced coming into the studio, working the room, engaging in small talk, transitioning into the pitch, having an engaging and well-thought out presentation, and how to wrap up and be concise so as not to seem too desperate or long-winded. After each pitch, one person was appointed the "head studio exec" and came up with questions to ask about the pitch and why it would be marketable and then Liz gave feedback on the pitch as a whole.

Now all of this would be cool enough and pretty important as is, but with Liz there is always that extra something. To feel more like a "real" pitch situation we added something that is present in all studio executive situations...moustaches. Yes, each of us  became mustachioed thanks to the party store up the street, so as to add that level of gravitas that only a French handlebar moustache can add. Annie seemed to really fit best into her facial hair as she took on the role of studio exec whole-heartedly bringing up a very tumultuous merger within the studio and her younger, wild days.

The whole process was really informative and we learned a lot in very little time with each pitch and the personalized feedback we got was pretty much priceless. For directors, a pitch is a lot like an audition, just in addition to selling yourself , you are selling an idea, a team of creators and collaborators, and an inspiration. In today's industry where money is scarce and in general less movies are being made than ever, these kinds of pitches are integral to staying in work and getting things done. Each of us brought our own flair to the different pitches with stunning visuals, music, charisma, information, and even some ridiculously addictive chocolate crisp things that Sarah brought.

Luckily, the Flat Pretzel Films Production company was very generous and bought all of our projects...except there's no pay. Woops.  Guess that's why you have an agent.

Shout out to Linda's mom who visited the Maxwellton Workshop this week and wins the photography credit for the post.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Photo Shoot and Q&A

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since my last post, so kudos to Jesse for keeping everything up to date.

First off, we wanted to let you all in on a project we’ve been working on for Liz.  She and Shiri Appleby (see previous post about our awesome trip to the set of Dating Rules from my Future Self) have a meeting in a few weeks with Hulu and were asked to pitch an idea for a web series.  They came up with a concept, and I helped out by fleshing it out and preparing a little pitch for Liz, Shiri and the other Minterns.  At this point, Jesse, Elizabeth and I have each gotten a chance to do such a pitch to practice conveying our ideas and visions for a project.

So on Tuesday, the Minterns headed over to Shiri’s for a photo shoot.  The plan is to create sample posters so Liz and Shiri can show off the concept’s marketability.  We can’t reveal the full concept of the potential series, but suffice it to say that big love can come in small packages!

On Monday, we were lucky enough to get to meet Josh Randall, an actor Liz directed on Franklin and Bash.  He’s been featured on Joey, Cold Case, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York, Lost, The New Adventures of Old Christine, The Mentalist, Law and Order: SVU and Grey’s Anatomy and has completed character arcs on Ed, Scrubs, Courting Alex, Men in Trees, Pushing Daisies, Raising the Bar, Greek and Criminal Minds…among others.  He came by and we trapped him in the Min so he could answer our questions about life as an actor in L.A., the TV industry, and what he likes in a director. 

Since television directors are usually hired by the episode and often are neither producers nor creators of the show, they are in a very unique position compared to film directors.  It was interesting and very helpful to hear what Josh had to say about his preferences for a director’s balance between letting the actor handle his character and trying to find new angles or richer layers.  Essentially, the take-home message was that you really have to play it by ear; he said he’s had directors who have been able to deepen his character and his character’s relationships, but he’s also had directors who have turned to him for advice about a show’s tone or comedic style.  And it seems like both can work well, as long as each party respects the other’s input.  Of course, that might not always be the case.

Thanks Shiri and Josh!