Almost a year ago, (July 29th, 2020 to be precise), I was nominated for the Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award from Ospryshire’s Realm! Unfortunately between the pandemic and the social issues, I needed to adjust myself to prioritize my mental health and well-being, so I took some time away from my blog. I have now returned and it was only right to include this award within my new arsenal.
Ospryshire’s Realm is an authentic blog that highlights this young, black, and gifted individual’s journey in a well-complicated world, and I’m honored to receive this award from that individual. Thank you, C.M.B. Bell for the nominations.
Unfortunately, because it’s been a year since I have been around, I have no nominations at this time. However, as the old saying goes, “Rules are meant to be broken.” Seriously, if you know of other bloggers who are legitimate with their writing, please post them in the comments so I can shine a spotlight on them too!
Here are the rules:
-Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
-Post the award logo.
-Post the rules.
-Nominate up to 20-30 other bloggers and notify them.
-After notifying Vincent, he’ll check out your blog, follow and give you your unique award for the good work on your blog.
-I’m not sure if we are supposed to have some questions for the nominees, but I received some, so I will answer them.
1. If you could get one singer, band, or composer to score a movie based on your life, who would it be?
I feel the perfect singer, band or composer to score a movie based on my life would surely be either one of my all-time TV/film composers, Sean Callery (LFN) or Nathan Barr (Trueblood).
2. Which three countries would you like to visit that you have never been to before?
I am always looking for places that will influence reflections into my life and where I am at in my journey. One place I always wanted to go to, and I almost was able to go last year was Kenya. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, studying abroad was cancelled. The other two countries I would love to go to is one of the countries that represent my bloodline and heritage, Sweden or Norway, and I would love to visit Chili or Peru.
3. What is one thing you wish you could do right now if COVID-19 didn’t happen?
Travel abroad and re-evaluate my purpose in my life.
4. Describe how you feel at the moment when you post this award post in a haiku form.
True Recognition I Am Honored, Speechless, Blessed Shit! What an award!
5. Which fictional character would you want to hang out with for an entire day? What things would you do? What conversations would you have?
Oh, man (laughing). I could go so many directions with this question. I could get the silent treatment by Michael Samuelle and go kill terrorists with the operatives of Section One (LFN), I could go get myself killed by hanging with Eric Northman or Bill Compton (Trueblood), but have sophisticated conversations with these century old vampires, or I can just go and chill at Disney with Goofy and the gang, tell jokes, and giggle. Yeah, that one sounds so much more relaxing to me (laughing).
Guess what? I got nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award! I was nominated by ospreyshire. Thank you so much!! Our opening conversation was very meaningful and substantial within the comments of my various blog posts.
I never done anything of this matter, nor have I been nominated for a blogger’s award, so I appreciate this honorable nomination beyond words and it will bring me a new motivation to keep writing, while appreciate my writing reaching out to those that truly matter. Thank you again.
So without further ado, I’d like to continue onto this blog post, display the rules, answer the questions provided by Ospreyshire, and nominate those that I follow and/or my followers to shine appreciation onto their craft as well.
The Rules for Mystery Blogger Award:
1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
2. List the rules
3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
9. Share a link to your best post(s).
Now to Answer the Questions from Ospryshire:
1. Where would you like to visit that you’ve never been to before?
There are a lot of places that are on my list to visit in my life from Morocco to Greece to Spain to Kenya, etc. Where I’ve been (Canada, Mexico, Iraq, Kuwait) is just a small taste of the world that should be experienced and lived within.
2. What is one movie, TV show, and/or book that you can’t stand, but everyone else likes?
Hmmm… This is a tough one. I don’t think there isn’t anything that I can’t stand, but there are plenty of TV shows and movies I try to avoid sometimes that I seem to not be drawn to like everyone else during the actually moment they’re released. For example, never watched an episode of “Doctor Who”, “Orange is the New Black” or “Walking Dead.”
OK, wait… I lied. I can’t stand reality shows. Boom!
3. If you could invent a language, what would you call it and how would you teach it to the world?
I struggle with speech on a regular, so my roommate jokes about how I always have my own language and he sometimes has a hard time translating it. So come to think of it, I wouldn’t want to invent a language, if I could. Instead I would work towards fixing my own speaking issues at hand and continue to educate and grow within myself on the Spanish and French education I already know in the foreign language.
4. What is one interest or hobby that you never thought you would get into?
Great question! A lot of my interests and hobbies have been multiple therapeutic tools for me since I could remember, except culinary. Growing up, I struggled to be willing to do the gender norm roles in general, and so I would put massive effort to refuse to do anything that would remote to the feminine gender normality that use to be assigned in the house hold. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I would fall in love with the Food Network channel and Travel channel and see an equal representation of men and women on these channels being bomb ass chefs and culinary geniuses.
5. How do you want to improve as a person?
Everyday is a work in progress on a regular basis for me considering of my mental health issues I carry with me daily. I guess the things could work on more is to not react emotionally to majority of the shit that comes at me in life and rely on individual’s broken words and promises, I’d be in a better place soulfully & wholeheartedly. Also, I wish I learned how to not put so much shit on my plate (figuratively) and be at peace with it without wearing myself thin and learning the hard way every time.
Three Facts About Me:
1. Wisconsin native w/ a Californian heart.
2. My very first publication was before my 17th birthday in Spring 2003 and it was in the “Celebration of Young Poets” collection. My poem was called “Life.” I knew then and there writing was one of my callings.
3. I served a total of ten and a half years in the United States military between the Wisconsin Army National Guard and the United States Reserves. I also have one deployment to Iraq on my resume. I was suppose to go on a second tour to Iraq, however I was sent home for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and was ordered to be treated at the local VA.
Here are My Favorite Posts:
We Can’t Heal Alone: A special someone in my life told me last night that, “We can’t heal alone…” and that’s been sticking with me all day. He is right, so for those who sincerely been loving and supporting me, if it seems I am taking you for granted, I deeply apologize. I promise, I am not.
La Femme Nikita Fan Fiction: Currently a six-part series of my all-time favorite television series growing up with a spin off in the mix and other posts related to my fan experience with the series and its cast and crew. This is the very root of my blog and healing process, with the privilege of meeting my role models. For the fans still tuned in, I will release part seven very soon after a multiple-year hiatus.
Philosophical Vision: Ethics: One of my favorite subjects and food for the mind is philosophy. This is just one of a few essays I have made into a blog series on my philosophy on life since my introduction on the topic in college.
Sneak Peak into my Closet: My main outlet for art therapy for my PTSD/depression/trauma is my free verse poetry. Here is just a sneak peak into my closet. Enjoy the rhymes and reason of why I write.
Legendary A.T is a multi-talented artist who’s musical passion has brought her multitude strides of courage and unapologetic attitude towards her craft to tell her very own story. Now I sit here and spend some time with her as I present to her a platform to tell her story with us.
In your own words, who is Legendary A.T?
Legendary A.T is a singer, songwriter, rapper & musician from Lonoke, Arkansas. I’m extremely passionate about music and creates it when I feel that I have something to say. I’m a real artist who only speaks on real life experiences that I’ve been through.
How did you come up with your stage name, Legendary A.T? What does the acronym or initials, A.T stand for in your name?
‘Legendary’ was inspired by Bob Marley’s Legend album. When I was introduced to his music, I began researching him and reading up about who he was. I was inspired by what he stood for as an artist. I wanted to choose a name that would represent who I am and what I want to achieve, which is someone who would stand out with a distinctive style of music that people can relate to. I want my music to live on forever. I want to always touch and motivate the people who listens to it, even if it’s 20 or 30 years from now. A.T represents the first and last initials of my last name which is Angela Terry.
What’s the story of how you got into music? How long have you been working as an artist?
I’ve been a musician since I was 7 or 8. I started out playing the drums at church, and as I get older I’ve always knew that I wanted to sing and rap from being inspired by Lauryn Hill. I began writing poetry and song lyrics when I was 14. I started pursuing music and recording professionally in 2016 with Ferocious Production Studios here in Little Rock.
Were you also magnified towards music, or did you once gravitate to a different route in your life?
Music has always been apart of me for as long as I can remember. Saturday mornings, in the early 90s, I used to hear my mom listen to artist like Sade, Anita Baker, and Howard Hewitt when she would clean our home. I knew since I was a kid that I wanted to do music. It just felt right. I come from a family of musicians.
You just released your second album, S. Murray (A Different Side). How is this album different from your first? How did you come up with the title of your new album?
S.Murray (A Different Side) differs from my Back To Me, album because the messages in my lyrics are a bit more in depth with what I’ve experienced and endured from me speaking about being molested. I’m able to show people my creative storytelling abilities. Also, my different styles of writing music I do without traditionally being categorized to just one genre. I’m able to create from all angles, hence the title, (A Different Side). The S.Murray portion of my album title was named after a close friend who inspired a few songs on the album. I began writing music for the album back in 2017.
You had the privilege of collaborating with Tray Chaney on a song on your new album. How did that come about and what was it like to work with a well-known artist like Tray Chaney?
I’ve followed Tray’s career since HBO’s The Wire series when he played ‘Poot’. Years later, he appeared on one of my favorite shows Saints and Sinners as Kendrick. I began following him on Instagram, and I started seeing him post about his music. It was different, unique and positive. Tray has his own style, so I reached out and after a year of trying to get in contact with his people, we finally connected. I like his vibe. He’s a super humble and laid back individual. I explained the concept of the song and that I wanted to feature him on, I sent it over, and the rest was history. I think he’s an amazing talented, inspiring, motivational artist whom I’d like to work with again!
Do you have other artists on your bucket list that you would love to work with?
I would love to work with Lauryn Hill, Seal, Sade, Phil Collins, and Paul Hardcastle. I’m a huge fan of their crafts.
How does it personally feel to have your own billboard ad in your state to promote your new album?
It’s always felt surreal to me, because I’m not a mainstream artist, as of yet, and we mostly only see major artists on billboards. I had imagined seeing my face on different billboards within Arkansas and other places, and I’ve made that happen. It is amazing and I feel somewhat accomplished in a way.
For an artist in Arkansas, what would the audience not know of the career development compared to those that are artists in a metropolitan area like Atlanta, Los Angeles, or New York?
Nothing comes easily. Being from Arkansas, you have to work hard to be heard, because there’s not a big market for music here although Arkansas is filled with talent. If you’re not consistent and willing to go that extra mile by marketing yourself, you’ll never be heard in my opinion.
What is something about Arkansas, or even the people, that you would like to share that outsiders probably wouldn’t know about the state? What keeps you to stay, rather than taking your career to another city?
Arkansas has some of the best musical talents, actors, and historical icons such as Civil Rights crusader Daisy Bates, Former surgeon general Joycelyn Elders (who was the first black woman to hold that post position in country), Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Poet/Actress Maya Angelou, Scottie Pippen, Al Green, Billy Bob Thornton, etc… all hail from Arkansas. I love the history here, plus most of my family is in Arkansas. It’s my home.
Do you feel the availability of social platforms and our modern tech world has helped those in more remote areas to be discovered?
Absolutely! I’ve heard so many artists have become overnight sensations with sites such as SoundCloud. You can upload your music and you never know who may hear it, and just like that an artist’s song could become a hit record.
In your album, S. Murray (A Different Side), the interlude “No Love for You” spoke out to me. Especially the line, “Told me, I shouldn’t have told people who molested me…” That’s a powerful interlude. What gives Legendary A.T her strength and her voice? What gave you the influence to speak out about that raw aspect of your story? Does it help that it gives others, who feel they don’t have a voice, something to relate to?
I get my strength from God and my supporters. Some people are afraid to speak up about being abused. One of the main reasons people don’t speak out about being abused is, because they feel that no one will believe them, or they may receive backlash as I did when I outed my molester back in 2017. I did not have much support from my family. Some tried to make me feel as if I was bringing shame on my family.
Overcoming that hurt is why I write these type of raw lyrics, so that my supporters will know how I was treated, and I will use my voice and be support system to other victims out there. I never completely allowed certain family members to tear me down when I’m a survivor of molestation. I felt as if they tried to regulate my healing process by saying things such as “I should let it go and forgive” or that “I shouldn’t have spoken openly about it”. I was even told by someone that me speaking about being molested could ruin me trying to to pursue music, but I never listened to them.
What other projects are you working on now? What’s next for Legendary A.T? What should we expect from you in 2020?
I’m always constantly writing music, and I’ve been invited on a few projects as a featured artist, which you’ll be hearing soon. My goal by 2020 is to be known worldwide. A artist who touches people with my music. I will also like to have my 3rd released by fall of 2020. That’s the goal.
Your talents expand from singing, to playing the drums, to playing the acoustic guitar. Would you have a hidden talent that your fans may not know of?
I’ve always been an aspiring massage therapist. I’ve always been great with my hands, so yea, that’s one of my many talents. I enjoy relaxing people, because of the benefits your body gets by getting massages. I used to make money in High School giving messages during class to my teachers and some classmates. I would give them shoulder massages or hand massages and they’d fall asleep (laughs). That’s when I knew I had a special gift.
I head back to Madison, Wisconsin for this Q&A to catch up with the producers of Madison’s 48 Hour Film Project. I met these two talented and hardworking individuals last year, when I came on to the RGBeasts team for the very first time.
An unforgettable experience, to say the least, but thanks to this particular opportunity, I have an expectation of how the film life works for future projects. Now I get to sit down with the masterminds that are working towards bringing Wisconsin on the competitive map for the film industry.
Let’s open this interview with a story. How did you two come together as business partners? How long have you two been business partners?
Michael Keeney: Ooh, pick me!
Kat leans backward in her chair, clearly giving Keeney the floor.
MK: I’d been hired to launch and operate a boutique film festival for a convention that was coming to Madison. I knew I could get films and filmmakers involved, but I also knew I didn’t know a darn thing about scheduling … anything. I’d met Kat at a different convention, where she was the Director of Operations, overseeing a five-day event with 1,500 attendees, more than 70 scheduled panel discussions and other timed events that completely took over one of the largest hotels and conference centers in town.
And so I asked for a meeting. To be honest, I was hoping to make my pitch, and she’d suggest one of her interns who might be willing to take on my little two-day, 20-film, one-room event.
We met, and I explained what I thought would be the upsides and the challenges. About half way through her questions and answers, Kat used the word ‘we.’ As in, ‘Well, we could go through Brown Paper Tickets for ticketing ….’
I did my best to look calm and cool while I quietly picked my jaw up off the floor. Again, I was hoping for the name of an intern.
At this point Kat rolls her eyes and leans forward again.
Katherine Thompson: I had been looking for a new challenge, and his timeline happened to fit with an opening I had between shows and it sounded like fun.
MK: That was … seven? years ago?
MK: I immediately began utilizing her skill sets more and more for Key Media Entertainment projects, and before too long, Key Media Narratives became an official thing — Key Media Entertainment had been working in film and commercials for a number of years before that. We did more in the first 18 months as Narratives than I had in the five years before on my own as Entertainment.
How long have you two been producing the 48-Hour Film Project in Madison,WI?
KT: This will be our third year at the helm as Producers. We competed successfully as a team off and on for a few years before that.
For prizes, you open opportunities up not just on a local level, but the winner gets a spot in the film festival, Filmapalooza, to compete against other 48-Hour short films. You both were just there supporting last year’s winners for Madison, The Porchetta Paradox. How was the experience for you both?
MK: It was pretty great. Filma is a combination film festival-slash-competition- awards ceremony. There were approximately 150 City Winners from around the world that were screened. In addition to that Festival aspect, there are a number of mixer and networking events, as well as classes on filmmaking and programming specifically for us as City Producers. The chance to find common ground and discuss common challenges with other filmmakers and producers was tremendous.
KT: The ability to watch award-winning films, made by filmmakers just like us, with the same challenges we face was a wonderful opportunity. You learn something about different cultures around the world, and how they use the medium. You would think that with everyone having the same rules and the same restrictions, the films would have the same feel. But they really didn’t. Yes, there was much they had in common, but it was very interesting to see how different cultures use film differently.
It was was very rewarding to see ‘The Only Logical Conclusion,’ which is The Porchetta Paradox’s City-winning 2018 film, really reach a genuinely international audience.
MK: In fact, David and Matthew were one of the few teams chosen to be interviewed afterward. They held their own, and the humor of ‘Conclusion’ holds up. We were proud, and Madison should be proud.
It was also an amazing chance to see what it takes to make it to Cannes. I really think we have teams right now that have a shot at making it all the way.
Let’s open the picture up a bit for those wondering the role of a producer requires. Can y’all describe your days working together or separately and what comes with organizing these types of events?
MK: Lots and lots of Tylenol.
KT: Far more goes on behind the scenes than on the screen. We are responsible for every aspect of producing the Madison event from planning to covering the costs. We negotiate with the theaters and any local sponsors we recruit. We set up any meet- and-greets and educational seminars. Most of the correspondence with filmmakers comes through us. The 48’s international team does provide us with some templates, but almost everything you see leading up to Kick-Off and through our Awards Ceremony is our responsibility. All those graphics you see on our Facebook page, for example, Michael does those. The trivia contest we had last year, that was all him.
MK: It’s really a team effort. Kat let’s me play. She does all the work. I get to focus on doing one thing, knowing she’s got the pulse of everything. Then I do the next thing she says needs to be done. I don’t need to worry if we have an e-mail scheduled. She knows. I may write or edit it, but she makes sure everything is actually going out. If you think about the 48 as a railway, I get to be the cool engine and blow steam and smoke and it might look like I’m the one getting the passengers and cargo down the track, but really, there’s whole lot more to it than that. Who makes sure there are passengers and cargo? Kat. Who makes sure there’s a staff working the train station? Kat. Who makes sure I don’t just steaming off down the tracks and run into another train? Kat. And while she’s doing all that, she’s also still very involved with the theater scene, so she’s networking with actors and stage directors and crew, letting them know about this opportunity. I just do one thing.
I am sure you guys provide work in the film industry past the 48-Hour Film Project. Can you give us an insight on the tasks and other projects y’all do when the 48-Hour Film Project is not going on?
KT: Key Media Narratives is in Pre-Production on a short that I’m really excited about. As usual, Michael wrote a wonderful script. And we’ve had a feature we’re slowly assembling for a while now. Again, Michael wrote that. I think he’s got five or six stories in his head at any time.
MK: I’ve got a desk drawer with 13 treatments in it right now, waiting for the stars to align.
MK: Stories are not a problem. But those are the passion projects that we do, because we love them. We also work on a couple of commercials and significant films every year. You’ve seen our work, whether you realize it or not.
We’ve been a part of commercials for the Wisconsin Lottery, Johnsonville Sausage, ESPN, Kwik Trip and more. We worked on the Christopher Nolan ‘Batman’ series; spent the summer on ‘Public Enemies,’ traveling all over. We did Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut ‘Lost River’ with Matt Smith and Christina Hendricks. We just wrapped up ‘Deliver Me’ in Chicago — actually most of our paid work is in Chicago in film or television, sometimes Detroit.
We also do a handful of local commercials and industrials. We’re in talks right now with a scientific instrumentation company with offices on six continents and instruments and employees on all seven. I work as a writer and script consultant on other people’s stories as well.”
KT: I’m on the Board of Directors for the Madison Theater Guild, and I continue to stage manage a handful of live theater.
MK: She’s also a fitness instructor and mother of three, all of whom have been and are very active in the Performing Arts. So, really, she has three full-time jobs.
A lot of other awards, opportunities, and experiences can come with participating in the 48-Hour Film Project. Can y’all share what could possibly go right for an inspiring filmmaker, even if you don’t win Best Picture and head to Filmapalooza?
MK: It can literally launch your career. The truth is that that no, most films do not go on to critical acclaim, and most filmmakers are doing this purely for the love of the Cinematic Arts. But it does happen! Eight years before becoming the director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Gareth Edwards made his first film in a 48.
KT: Last year one of the 48 films at Cannes was offered and signed a distribution deal, and one of them from this year is negotiating to be a television series in Europe.
Are y’all working on any projects currently or is your focus merely on the film project event right now?
MK: Thirteen ….That I’ve told her about.
KT (Sighs): We’ve got a couple things in the works. We anticipate posting some cast and crew auditions soon. Schedule permitting.
Last year,you had an astounding 30 teams, plus a waiting-list for this year’s film project. What was the reaction and experience for that kind of turnout on your end? Are you expecting a similar turnout this year?
MK: More Tylenol. Actually, it was … very gratifying. When we came in the 48 was on a bit of a downward trend. There had been some concerns — which we knew, because we had them ourselves when we were competing. And we’ve worked extremely hard to address them.
KT: There is a huge difference, logistically, in 30 teams versus the 16 we’d had our first year. We have the best problem ever — we’d outgrown the spaces the 48 had been used to. So we literally began planning 2019 the day after the 2018 Premiere. By the time our Awards event rolled around, we’d had our new partnership with Marcus Point Theater virtually sewn up. We just couldn’t announce it yet. We’re not sure if 30 is our high-water mark, but we’re preparing to make things bigger and even better.
MK: We’re one of the smallest cities in the 48 community, and when other cities find out that we had 30 teams, they tend to want to give us advice, because they have 40 or 60 or so. And then I ask them how big their city is, and get, ‘Oh, Philadelphia is 1.5 million,’ or whatever, and then they ask how big Madison is and I get to say, ‘247,000.’ Suddenly they’re asking us for advice. We’re proud of our film community.
KT: I’m extremely proud. Madison is very engaged in the cinematic arts.
What has been the biggest highlight for Madison’s 48-Hour Film Project over the years?
MK: I’m going to go personal. For me, personally, the biggest highlight is a tie. Our first year as competitors, I was the team leader and producer, and I really didn’t know if we could do this thing. I’d worked my tail off and I was afraid it going to crash and burn all around me. And then we got to the Premiere, and I got to sit in a real theater with my friends who’d busted their butts with me and for me, and I got to see our film, a real film, that hadn’t even been an idea just a few days before, let alone a script, much less a complete film, on the big screen, and I got to watch all those people see their work, and be proud of their work and then see their names on the end crawl. To watch their faces when they saw their own names and heard the applause is just … transformative. To this day, whenever we’re screening one of our films for the first time, I stand quietly in a corner at the front of the room, so I can watch our people experiencing our film.
And it’s still a tie. Just as wonderful as that moment is, having someone type their own name in to IMDB and see their first listing, for the first time? It’s … just as good.
KT: The biggest highlight for the 48 is still to come. We’re going to have films in the Cannes Film Festival. One of our actors is going to get discovered. Someone is going to get a picture deal. And it’ll all have started right here.
MK: Okay… Yeah, that. Put me down for that, too. What has been the biggest highlight in your careers in the film industry, separately, or as a team?
MK: To the public, it’s probably my work as a stunt driver, with Oscar-winners lives literally in my hands. Or working on Oscar-nominated films.
If you’re asking me, not the public, there’s no replacing those firsts. Those firsts I’ve already mentioned. The first time I walked around on a set that had only existed in my imagination before we built it. The first time I had a script optioned, and getting to be there as the amazing talents I get to call my friends experience those firsts for themselves. It gets no better than getting to make those things happen with one of my best friends as my business partner.
KT: This is why he’s the writer.
What is the one thing you are looking forward to most with this up and coming film project here in Madison this year?
KT: Turning off the microphone after greeting the crowd, and sitting in a theater full of area film-makers and film fans and just being a film fan myself, watching the amazing productions that our community made, in just 48 hours.
MK: I was going to say, ‘Declaring registration closed, because we were full, but, I want to take her answer, again!
I heard there are a few changes for this year’s project. Can y’all reiterate the changes that are coming up this year that the incoming filmmakers should be enlightened about?
KT: The biggest changes should be ones that the teams and fans will barely notice —
MK:— But please do notice them!
KT: — and that’s that we’re in a new theater on a new day this year. Our premiere will be July 29th at Marcus Point Theater on their Ultra-Screen. The 29th is a Monday. The Ultra-Screen as a few more seats, but we often sell out, so it’s always a good idea to get your tickets through Brown Paper Tickets in advance.
We’ll have that information to you as soon as possible. In the mean time we have a brand new Join-A- Team program and a Talent Directory where would-be participants can post about themselves and what they would bring to a team, and Team Leaders, and would-be Team Leaders can post what they’re looking for to fill out their team.
Do any of you two have last minute tidbits of information to share with the readers and anyone interested in joining the 48 community?
MK: Registration for new teams will open on May 1st. Simply go to 48hourfilm.com and follow the prompts to find Madison. The best thing is to just jump in and do it. The Madison filmmaking community is on the rise, and that break- out star could be you!
This is certainly a first. A film recommendation becomes a two part with a interview feature with the director and writer, himself! Saul Pincus, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me and discuss the world of film! It’s truly an honor to be able to do this with you. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
How long have you been working in the film industry? What or who influenced you to dive into the film industry?
Saul Pincus: I’ve been doing this for the better part of four decades, roughly four fifths of my life. The first ten years were comprised of a lengthy string of experiments on Super 8 – experiments that grew and grew in challenge and complexity, thanks in part to the fact that it was the heyday of Super 8, and there was a lot of advanced gear available to get you results not possible with just a consumer camera and projector. I would cavort around Montreal, my hometown, with my camera, having a blast.
My dad, an astronomy buff, had played ball with William Shatner when they were in high school together, but no one in my family was in the entertainment field. The original Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened when I was seven. I went to the library to research how these sorts of films were made – but there was nothing available, only a book on “trick photography” with still cameras. But I was hooked – and at just the right moment, because for the first time in the history of cinema, science fiction was no longer a ghetto genre. We got rafts of films with new visual achievements every six months, and some of them had great stories, too.
For me, the thought of making films professionally was never much of a question. But when I left Montreal for Toronto in the mid-90s, I was starting from scratch.
What were some of the greater aspects working on the production of La Femme Nikita in the ’90s? What are some things on the production end that were difficult to do then, that might be easier now to do? What parts of the film industry hasn’t changed since you started in your career?
SP: LFN was a cool show, in part because it a show with a large international audience that was produced by American and Canadian minds hand-in-hand. It was also well-budgeted for an off-network show of that time, so it could look the part and not often look silly doing so. That was unique, and it helped lend the show the kind of character it has.
The difference between any series or film now, versus then, is the ease with which you can lend scale or realism to the images after the fact. But if you take a look at season two versus the first season, you can already see an improvement in the visual effects, which is less due to the artistry in this case, and more due to the availability of new tools – tools which were still evolving. The first season VFX seem a bit too “video-ey.”
But other than technology, the basic process of producing a series really hasn’t changed since the advent of the medium. You still need money, great writing, a great cast, a great crew, a supportive broadcaster and a loyal audience.
Could you go into detail on how your day went while you were an assistant editor on the show?
SP: When I was there, two assistants would alternate odd and even numbered shows, which meant we’d work with one editor though the season. LFN was shot on Super 16mm negative film, which meant that the previous day’s footage would be have to be first processed by the lab in a chemical bath overnight. Then it would go to Magnetic North, a post facility, and into the hands of Bill Holley, who would transfer it with care and a keen eye to Digital Betacam tape. This process would take till the early afternoon, so I’d arrive at work around 4pm.
I generally worked with Dave Thompson. When his episode would be shooting, I’d check his dailies and feed them into his Avid, ready for him to edit. There are many checks and triple-checks when dealing with film transfers to video, especially at that time, when you’d be shooting @ 23.98fps and wind up with 29.97 video. And it wasn’t just a one-way street, because Warner Bros. would want to archive a cut negative of the finished show. So you had to be certain the metadata of each and every piece of camera negative was correctly transferred to tape, and in turn, made it into your Avid intact. Otherwise you couldn’t instruct the negative cutter with confidence. Today, that process is much simpler, because we rarely use film.
It’s a technical job, yes, but it’s also a political job. And creative – though how much depended on the project and the editor.
So, you are not from Toronto, but from Montreal. What helped you decide to relocate to Toronto, from Montreal? Was it for work purposes? What helped you to decide to stay in Toronto, instead of returning to Montreal?
SP: I left Montreal largely because my girlfriend was returning home after going to school there. She and I later married, so I guess I made the right call!
But the other reason was the political climate in Montreal, which was in the throes of Quebec’s second referendum on sovereignty in two decades. It was not a healthy environment in which to seek gainful employment or a predictable financial future.
I always believe you can read a city by its food. Toronto was just starting to get interesting food-wise. On several levels, Toronto of the mid-90s was transitioning, getting more inviting.
You are still based in Toronto decades after shooting LFN. I understand access to budget for films in Canada differ than the access here in the United States. Could you share the difference between the Canadian film industry compared to that of the US and can you share the process that is done to get budget for a film project in the industry up there compared to what is done here in the U.S.?
SP: Well, that’s a really big question with a week-long answer. In a nutshell, the English-speaking film/television world is driven by the U.S. market. Traditionally this had meant we in Canada have taken the scraps, or produced alternative programming in a bid to secure what we consider to be our Canadian identity in broadcast or theatrical form. There are government agencies set up to ensure projects with a Canadian identity get made. But as with any project anywhere in the world, the total project budget comes from several sources. Cobbling all those sources together is the big challenge.
The US isn’t as concerned with its cultural identity per se in large part because the machinery to export American movies was set up over a hundred years ago, and is still functioning at top efficiency, in great numbers, with well-worn distribution channels allowing access into nearly every country on the planet.
I actually had the privilege to personally meet you with numerous cast and crew of LFN back in May 2017. When you walked into the reunion convention, what was your first expression and/or your whole experience like all weekend spending time with the fans and your previous coworkers?
SP: I was amazed, in part that so many had traveled so far to celebrate it. But I’ve gotten on planes to see the late Jerry Goldsmith and then John Williams (both widely considered the greatest film composers of our time) conduct concerts, so I get it.
I’ll admit though, that the first time I was approached to autograph Chris Heyn’s book on the show, it was a strange feeling. Strange because I didn’t create this show, nor was I a key creative force. I was more like red shirt #28576 at a Star Trek convention. But it’s all about love, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Do you feel there is more expression freedom in the art of film in Canada as a whole compared to the film art expressed here in the States?
SP: Not necessarily, because if someone trusts you with a million dollars, no matter where you live, very few people on this planet are going to ask you if you achieved maximum artistic expression. They just want to know if what you’ve made is exploitable and whether it will bring returns. It’s probably healthier to find an exploitable concept, but carefully craft it and then lace it with artistic expression that does not undermine the exploitable aspect.
Your most current project is the independent film, Nocturne. Was there a specific person or event that influenced you to write the story for Nocturne?
SP: Nocturne was borne from my desire to make a silent film about characters that struggle to communicate. Obviously it’s not a silent film, literally – but it’s a story lends itself to visual language and I hoped to stress that. It’s about an insomniac who falls for a sleepwalker, and how they eventually must come to grips with the fact that their intimate, almost myopic “relationship” has larger implications for them both.
How long did it take to create a film project like Nocturne?
SP: About a year to write, a few months to shoot, and several years to finish. The reason is because it was entirely self-financed, but also because the film contains five minutes of hand-drawn animation playing in tandem with the dominantly live-action portion of the film. That took a year to actually produce, but before doing so, I had to cut and shape the live-action very precisely to know exactly how much animation I really needed. So it took time to finish, for sure, but once we started getting invited to film festivals in the US, Canada, and in Europe (Nocturne had its World Premiere in the Free Spirit Competition at the Warsaw Film Festival), won awards for best feature film (at the New Jersey International Film Festival and at Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival, with an excellence award from the Rincon Film Festival), and landed our distribution deal with Random Media, it left me feeling gratified.
What was the difference between working on La Femme Nikita and your work with Nocturne? Do you feel you had more control as an editor or as a director/writer for a project?
SP: LFN was Joel Surnow’s vision; Roy, Peta, everyone – we were all hired to execute it. Your own project is just that, and you work with or hire people to help you execute it. Depending on what your arrangement is with your investors, you are answerable to them to some degree. But in the end, we make things for audiences, and you are always answerable to them on the basis of the work itself!
What is the difference between working on a film, compared to working on a television series in general?
SP: In the late 90s, you worked on a TV show for the better part of a year, there were semi-regular hours, each episode took roughly eight days to shoot, and you shot six to ten pages of script per shooting day. There were distinct limits as to how many locations you could visit in that eight day schedule, what caliber of guest stars you could cast, etc. And each episode had to run a specific length.
Even low budget features of the day shot for at least four weeks, often months. So you shoot less per day, meaning you can introduce more detail into the story and take a bit more time to craft the result. But the hours were crazier.
Today, the lines are a bit more blurred. A season no longer equates to a definitive number of episodes, and even the duration of individual episodes doesn’t matter as long as they remain under a certain length. In general, series work is much better funded across the board, with broadcasters (including the likes of Netflix and Amazon) having realized that to compete with features, their product must be as good as features traditionally were.
Do you have any new projects you are currently working on or a part of whether it would be in pre-production, production, or post-production phase? Can you tell us what to expect from you in the near future when it comes to projects or work?
SP: Well, oddly, Nocturne is still very active. Earlier this year, Nocturne was released on special edition DVD – which means that the two lead actors, Mary Krohnert, Knickoy Robinson and I, went into a studio to record a screen-specific audio commentary that describes how we made the film. And we had fun – but we were serious about it, too. If you’re curious about movies, it’s a great way to learn – sort of a film school in a box.
Also exciting for me is that Tribeca Shortlist, the digital arm of the Tribeca Film Festival, has just licensed Nocturne for a two-year run in the US. Tribeca Shortlist is a real home for the kind of “filmmaker’s film” that Nocturne has often been called. It’s also available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox and certain broadcast networks in more than 50 countries across the globe. This is the thing about movies – they can go on for years, even after they’re done!
And yes, I have other projects in the works. Sorry for being coy, but that’s all I can say at this stage!
The film industry isn’t an easy career to pursue in general. What helps keep you motivated in your craft to help keep you focused and allows you to keep pushing forward in your career?
SP: The simple answer: it’s just what I like to do, and has been for as long as I can remember. I like to build things.
What is some advice would you like to share, based off of your own experiences, for those who are in film school or interested in the film industry?
SP: Another simple question! But seriously, the real trick is just knowing yourself, what you want to eventually be doing, and chart a path from there. And remember, it’s not so much about where you see yourself in a year, but where you’d like to see yourself when you’re fifty or sixty. Pick an area that will keep you passionate on little or no sleep, in horrible weather, even if your health fails. I’m being dramatic, but also truthful. If you can’t do that, walk away!
I don’t know about you, but I would love to see what other film art you have the ability to cook up in that articulate mind of yours. Any last words you’d like to share for the following readers before we conclude this interview?
SP: Well, I’m going to put in another plug for Nocturne. From the story, through the performances, through the crafting of the film, I never approached it as a date movie, never frivolously, but made it hoping it would satisfy in a similar fashion to the way you return to good book that’s been waiting patiently on your shelf, tempting you to return to it for another read. And when you told me you had to watch Nocturne twice, but still found that second viewing rewarding, you gave me hope that my plan may not have been in vain.
*Disclaimer – All photos are of courtesy and rightfully owned by Saul Pincus.