Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hot Pink Shorts - Day 2 (Directing + Mentoring)

Our second day in our Hot Pink Shorts learning journey--it's more of a kick ass filmmaker's boot camp--was very exciting and jam-packed. The other winner, the amazing Kevin Kostal (picture here with Aerlyn and I), was also there with me this time. We were separated last week, but it was more fun this way, as we could talk about our projects, help each other, in-between the various documentary set ups.

I met with director extraordinaire, Aerlyn Weissman. She was an unbelievable well of information and I wanted to keep on dipping my bucket, but we only had an hour. Here are some of the major points I learned from Aerlyn:
-- I need to find a central metaphor in my film that inspires
-- I need to be deliberate about framing
-- I shouldn't focus on trying to get artistic shots, as most of the time, those end up on the cutting room floor and take a ton of time to capture
-- There are many "tools" for a director, one being the color palette
-- Different shots: 1 or 2 frame, master shot
-- I need to get close to my characters, need to find their beating hearts
-- Script breakdown: create a storyboard which is the essential communication tool between my DP and I
-- I need to inspire my actors, give them a backstory for each character and let them know it's okay to fail
-- The importance of wardrobe and set dressing

There was SO much more I learned, but I didn't want to go overboard here. Like all the mentors, Aerlyn has graciously left her door open for me to ask addition questions as the process moves along.

Next up: powerhouse producer Morris Chapdelaine. Coincidentally, I met Morris two weeks prior by chance. We have a mutual friend, Ken Coolen, and both sat at his table for the Out in School breakfast. I loved him immediately. Beyond producing, Morris also co-hosted a compelling show for OUTtv during the Olympics called "Pride at the Podium." It was a successful, quirky LGBT look at the Olympics. You can watch one of his latest episodes HERE.

Morris, too, was full of extremely important information. I joked he was like a lemon I wanted to keep squeezing. He answered so many of my questions that you can't find in books and really broke down the "illusive" producer role. Here are some nuggets I learned from Morris:
-- A successful movie is 90% business, %10 show.
-- "The Line" in filmmaking (who is below the line, who is above the line)
-- Dealing with the budget (We have $2500 to spend)
-- I need to create a "production binder" (done, see "Toby Book" below)
-- If I know what's good for me, I ought not skimp on camera and sound because at the end of the day, that is the movie
-- What to expect when casting
-- Insurance, releases and all that good stuff
-- How to fund-raise for a feature film

Morris rocked! And we're going to have a follow up meeting soon with my better half, Patty, who will be the Assistant Director and Script Supervisor for Til Death Do Us Toby.

Where I'm at with the script: I completely rewrote it and took the story in a whole new direction. The feedback I got from my mentors: they liked the direction of the first script better, so now I'm just reworking draft1 and am feeling good about how it's coming together. I need to lock it by Thursday, so wish me luck!

As the script takes shape, I've been drawing inspiration from a place my scripting mentor, SB Edwards, sent me online. It's called "Shorts Bay" and it's a platform where some of the best short films can be seen. My two favorites: Gridlock and The Parlor. Amazing work!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Will Remind You There is Good In the World

My mom sent this to me and it totally made my day--it washed away all the stress and negativity the sometimes seeps into daily life.

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Operated by Invisible Hands

Check out this great short film trailer about two antique female dolls who have a one night stand and work out their feelings for each other. I love it! Great work. Inventive and fresh.

Operated by Invisible Hands
By Nicole Brending

To see the whole 7-minute film, go here.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hot Pink Shorts - Day 1 (Meet the Filmmakers + Scripting)

Let the games begin....

On Sunday, we began the making of my first short film with OUTtv. (Background: In March, my short film pitch was selected by OUTtv for their Hot Pink Shorts contest. As a winner, they are not only funding my first short film--titled 'Til Death Do Us Toby--but also they are making a documentary out of the process. We began the creative work and filming Sunday).

First task: THE SCRIPT! I met with the amazing S.B. Edwards (pictured above), a writer who's been in the film industry for years and recently optioned 2 film scripts and 1 for TV. She kicked ass and I walked away with an awesome arsenal of knowledge and feedback for my little short film. She was like a wise old sage (although she's not old at all--we're the same age--but seasoned deliciously). Some things I learned from S.B.:

- Before you begin writing your script, you must know the ending, as it will be your guiding force. As a novelist, my process was opposite for my debut novel, Jukebox (coming out in the fall). Many times, after I had the characters good and fleshed out and the story underway, I'd let the characters lead me. I'd just show up and I'd let my muse write through me, let them do what they wanted (like a Ouija board). I got some of my best scenes that way. In prose, characters can take on a life of their own and lead you (may seem strange to a non-writer). In film, you have to be much more deliberate it seems.

- There needs to be a surprise or twist, and a big payoff at the end. It needs to be something viewers aren't expecting, but after it happens it makes logical sense.

- I need to hone in on 1 protagonist and make them a sympathetic character viewers like.

- I only have 7 minutes, which equals 7 pages. Eeeek. There is no way I can pull off what I'd intended in 7 minutes. Time to turn up the heat and reduce the story.

- A short film needs to play on viewers emotions and be able to say much in just 1 scene. The short format is very economical and you must push the story forward (similar to the novel, but in an even more concentrated way) with each scene/each word. Nothing is wasted.

- I only get 3 actors, 2 locations and 1 day to film. Eeek again.

There was much more, but clearly, I've got to get to work!!! A big THANKS to S.B. for her advice and offer of continued support. She has been a great mentor so far!

Thanks, also, to Nicky (superhero/Director), Rylan (Mixer), Jonny (DP), Meagan (editor), and Philip (Producer/PM). I'm anxious to talk to Kevin Kostal, the other winner, to see if his day was just as fruitful!

OUTtv will be launching an interactive feature to the HPS website this week, where Kevin and I will be blogging about our experiences, uploading video and photos, too. Once that kicks off, I'll just put the link here for those interested in following.

Wish me luck!!

In case you didn't see my pitch, I embedded it below.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Out in Schools

Last week, I went to a breakfast fundraiser for a great initiative called "Out In Schools." I was so inspired and blown away by all that's being done for our queer youth.

Everyone knows that homophobia and bullying are serious issues facing today's chitlins, particularly queer youth. Out In Schools brings queer films to local high schools to facilitate discussion on bullying, homophobia and stereotypes. They give students a safe place to explore these issues. It's supported by local GSAs, educators and the Vancouver School Board. Very cool stuff! I want to give a shout out to the awesome Dave Shortt with Creative B'stro for putting together this amazing video about it.

It's umbrella organization is Out on Screen, which not only does important work for youth, but also hosts the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and the Queer History Project.

Out on Screen's mission: promote the production and exhibition of queer media art creating opportunity for dialogue and education among diverse communities that cross class, age, ability, ethnicity, spirituality, gender and sexuality.

If you're a student who wants to submit, get more information here. Go for it!

They've been holding competitions for students to submit their own anti-homophobia PSAs. Check this recent winner out...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rear Gear for your animals

Everyone knows lesbians are all about their animals so this is right up your alley (or rather, your dog's "alley").

If you or your dog or cat is modest, they've got you covered...

Check out:

Rear Gear: "No More Mr. Brown Eye"

Hilarious! And apparently, for real!

Myself, I prefer the daisy bum for our dog, Harvey (although he thinks it's the evergreen pine--shhhh).

Friday, April 16, 2010

Obama Orders Hospitals to Respect Gay People

This is a fantastic story about how Obama recently signed an order for hospitals to allow gay and lesbian patients to have non-family visitors and to grant their partners medical power of attorney.


Listen or read the NPR story.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lesbian Wins Pulitzer Prize

The 2010 Pulitizer prizes were announced today. As I was reading through the list, I came across a familiar name. I interviewed Jennifer Higdon years ago for an article in Curve magazine. Now she won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for her "Violin Concerto." I remember that she was very charming and had a sweet Southern accent.

Here is the article I wrote for Curve magazine back in 2004. I think it might have been my first article for them.
Classical Composure
By Kathy Belge

Jennifer Higdon’s partner had a premonition something big was about to happen. In a vivid dream, an older woman came to Cheryl Lawson and said, “Do you realize your life is about to change?” A few weeks later in June, 2002, Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra premiered at the Philadelphia Orchestra. The work was received with a level of enthusiasm rare in the classical music world, complete with hoots and whistles. Even Higdon is puzzled by the reception to her work. “I’m still kind of scratching my head and going, ‘Wow’,” she says.

Concerto for Orchestra has been performed nine times since its premiere, quite a feat. “It’s very, very, very, very unusual,” Higdon says. “I mean, in the history of music. Normally a piece will have to be out a long time before people will start picking it up.”

Higdon herself is quite an anomaly, too. The girl from Tennessee didn’t even pick up an instrument until high school. While most of her contemporaries were weaned on the likes of Tchaikovsky and Bach, Higdon grew up listening to The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac. Which could also be why her music is so accessible.

For all of her accomplishments, Higdon is equally accessible. I caught up with her when, iced in from a winter storm, she had to make a stop on her way to a concert in Eugene, Oregon. Her southern accent, peppered with words like gee and gosh, made me feel as if we could just sit down and chat about anything. Her enthusiasm for her work bubbles out and it’s easy to understand why she is one of the most popular teachers at the prestigious Curtis Institute, where she teaches composition. “I feel very lucky to be there,” she says. “It’s like a family. It’s very small and everyone knows everyone. It’s not a dysfunctional family,” she laughs.

Though Higdon may have been the black sheep in her family of origin, she certainly has found a home in Philadelphia, where she and her partner Lawson can often be found walking down the street hand in hand, attending concerts or going to movies. She said it never occurred to her not to be out and so far it has not hurt her career at all. “Maybe it’s because classical music has a real history with gay male composers,” she says. But, she notes, “there aren’t that many lesbian classical composers.”
And she is well aware that she is a role model for other women in a field dominated by men. “I know that women who came before me had a really rough time and a lot of them paved the way for people like me,” she says. “Little old ladies come and say, ‘Honey, I love that you’re a woman.’”

Today Higdon and Lawson, a professional meeting planner, spend a lot of time on the road traveling to music festivals and performances. More and more, Higdon is being recognized as a celebrity. People come up to her on the street and in restaurants. “It startles me,” she says.

This summer, on their way to a Vail music festival, a woman sat next to Higdon and Lawson on an airplane and started telling them of an interview she heard on the radio about a new classical piece called blue cathedral. When Lawson pointed out that she was sitting next to the woman in the interview, “The lady completely freaked out,” Higdon says. “It was really, really funny.”

Much of Higdon’s writing takes place in hotel rooms these days. There’s a variety to her work that she loves, everything from commissions for the Atlanta Symphony to a junior high school band.

At age 41, Higdon’s accomplishments seem astounding. Last year she wrote commissions for The Brooklyn Philharmonic, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony. She was the first female composer in residence at Tanglewood. And she’s been with her partner for 23 years. Yes, they met in high school band.

The two love to travel. A few months back they were driving along the back roads of Georgia when, “We actually ran across the little bitty town and the little bitty street of Fried Green Tomatoes. … The cafĂ© is still there. We had a piece of pie.”
But the big news these days is the release of her CD by Telarc last March. The Atlanta Symphony recorded Concerto for Orchestra and Cityscape, a 30-minute symphony she wrote about Atlanta, a town where she once lived. “I have to say, I was quite blown away by [the recording],” she says. “The conductor Robert Spano did a fabulous job of interpreting the work.”
In addition to her major commissions, Higdon makes time to compose for the community. She wrote Freedom Dreams for the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band in celebration of families of choice. One of its movements, Freedom March, is performed quite often by gay and lesbian bands. These days she writes pretty much what ever she’s commissioned to write. Higdon has no time for writer’s block. As a matter of fact she says, “Sometimes I’m getting the brochure in the mail and it says ‘Announcing a premiere work by Jennifer Higdon’ and I haven’t even started it yet. You definitely have to get that kind of thing going very fast.”

Where does she get her inspiration? “Most of my inspiration come from thinking about the groups I’m writing for,” she says. But, coming from a family of visual artists seems to influence her as well. “There’s a really strong image in my head of something to look at when I’m writing,” she says. “It inspires the music. There’s almost always a graphic picture in my head.”

As for the future, Higdon, a self-described movie buff, hopes one day to compose for the big screen. “I figure if it’s supposed to happen it will on its own accord,” she says. And with her you get the feeling it will.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ellen Hates America?

I used to love Family Feud when I was a kid. I was sure our family would kick some serious a** if we were ever on the show. Back in the day, the topics were things like "Things you might find at the Drive-In" or "Things Your Mother Might Say."

I guess the Family Feud is all grown up now. One of the topics recently was "Things Everyone Knows about Ellen DeGeneres." Apparently, this one guy thinks that everyone knows Ellen doesn't really like this country. Wouldn't you love to ask this dweeb to explain himself? I love how Ellen handles it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber

There seems to be this phenomenon in pop culture right now that is Justin Bieber crazy. (I've heard his name, but had to Google him to find out what he is famous for! He's a musical YouTube sensation.)

Anyhoo, my point: We've all seen his face on the TV or tabloids at the market, but did you double take and think he was your friend from the dyke softball team?

If so, you aren't alone. Check this out: http://lesbianswholooklikejustinbieber.tumblr.com/

And this: http://punchbowl.queersighted.com/2010/03/12/lesbians-who-look-like-justin-bieber/

Do you look like Justin Bieber?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jukebox: A Love Story

Sooooooooooooo. Lipstick has some big news that I've yet to officially announce here on our blog....

My stellar, rockstar literary agent, Holly Bemiss, sold my debut novel, Jukebox to Bella Books. It will be sizzling on bookshelves in November of this year.

In short, Jukebox is a coming-of-age love story, chronicling the heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting tale about two debutantes who fall in love--with each other. More>>

I've been working on Jukebox since the beginning of time, it seems; well, at least the beginning of my lesbian time. It started out as my senior thesis at Pacific University, while I was in their creative writing program and has since evolved in many incarnations. In 2004, the manuscript, while a work in progress, won a generous Filmmaker Fund grant from POWER UP.

You can read an excerpt from the novel at http://www.jukeboxnovel.com/

Since Holly sold it, I've been working with Katherine V. Forrest on editorial and she's phenomenal.

I've also adapted the story into a screenplay. When I finished the first draft in October, I sent it to Power Up, who gave me incredibly, insightful notes (thank you Chris, et al.). After I finish with my edits for Bella Books, I'll be back in the saddle again tearing the screenplay apart and reworking it. More on that down the road, as it evolves. (It will one day be a feature film and I'll be directing it. First, though, I've just got to get some more experience under my belt and check a few more things off my "to do" list.)

The trailer is below. To join the Jukebox mailing list, go HERE.

To subscribe to my YouTube channel, go HERE.

If you go to the Jukebox website, turn up your volume and hear the fabulous Bonnie Ste-Croix.

Martina has breast cancer

Lezzy Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with breast cancer, People Magazine reports. The good news is that it was found early, so the prognosis is very good. Read more.
Hang in there, Martina!!!!
Let this be a reminder to all of us to give ourselves monthly boobie checks and get in for those mammograms when we're in that bracket.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Real L Word

The new reality TV show based on the L Word looks good.

But I wonder, like Grace moon points out, where are the brown people?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vote For Christine Havrilla

We need your help, friends. Christine Havrilla is competing in OUR STAGE to be a part of Lilith Fair. Starting today, we can sign up and vote for her to join Sarah et al. on the tour.

Help Christine out! She rocks!!!