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Trauma

MEET THE FILMMAKER: Eileen Agosta.

Local filmmaker Eileen Agosta is one of our favorite people. And she’s a helluva filmmaker to boot. It’s why we recruited her to be the Program Director for the Colorado Independent Women of Film Festival and why we added her to the “EFP Screening Board.” These two things, frankly, made Eileen wonder if she was still “eligible” to screen at the EFP. Our response: “Um, yeah… d’uh.”

Eileen is working on her first feature film project Trauma. Although not technically her first feature, she’s asked us to pretend that her first one doesn’t actually exist.  She’s got incriminating pictures of EFP host Patrick Sheridan so we’re happy to play along.  Patrick had a chance to catch up with Eileen, who is screening the first trailer for Trauma at October 18th’s The Emerging Filmmakers Project at The Bug Theatre.

PS: Tell us about yourself and why you’ve become a filmmaker.

EA: Would it be terrible if I told you I don’t know why I became a filmmaker?  Because I don’t.  It happened so gradually it’s like it was organic – almost like I became one because I was supposed to become one.  When I was younger my friends and I would play around with my dad’s old Magnavox camcorder, a huge beast of a machine that recorded right onto VHS, and shoot lots of goofy videos, scripted and improv.  And I shot a Star Wars parody called CAR WARS when I was a senior in high school.  But I didn’t really consider doing anything more with it, not at first.  I started out as a writer… I used to write short stories and (attempts at) novels, and then when I was in high school I wrote a feature length film.  I went off to college – CSU in Fort Collins (I started out as a biological sciences major, of all things) – and at some point during my second year it occurred to me that perhaps I should try and make that film.  I don’t remember how or why, it was just a thought I had that never went away.  So I did.  I charged the entire thing on credit cards (I do not recommend this), and it turned out as well as you’d expect a first time film that was written/directed/shot/edited by a first time filmmaker would.  And I just never stopped.  (The making films part.  I don’t charge them on credit cards anymore.  Seriously, that was a really bad idea.  Don’t do it.)

PS: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?

EA: It’s the teaser trailer for Trauma, a feature I wrote and am getting ready to direct.  It’s going to be a local film and I’m fortunate enough to have a really great team coming together.  I’m co-Producing with Jackie Billotte, an incredibly talented woman who will also be acting in the film, and Bradley Haag, who’s also going to be the Director of Photography and is also crazy talented (if you were at the September EFP you already know that.)  I’m also very excited to have cast Laura Mayo and Gina Di Tullio, two of the most amazing actresses I’ve had the honor of working with.

The teaser screened at the September Open Screen Night, and it’s on our website and Facebook page.  We recently wrapped an Indiegogo campaign, through which we raised part of our film’s budget (a big THANK YOU to everyone who donated!)  We’re getting ready to cast the rest of the film (auditions are October 21st) and we have some more fundraising plans up our sleeve to raise the rest.  We’re hoping to shoot later this year and early next.

PS: What else are you working on?

EA: Trauma is taking up a lot of my time these days, but I’m always writing.  I have a stack of unproduced short film scripts that I’m hoping to get to someday.  And Brad and I have been tossing around the idea of shooting a holiday film (with a twist).

PS: Tell us one weird thing about you or your movies.

EA: My cat appears in them – a lot.  And all of my shorts have an easter egg from a previous film in them.

PS: Where can people go to find out more about you?

EA: My website – www.tmdfilms.com – has information and links to watch all of my previous short films.  I’m also on Twitter and Facebook – @eileenagosta on both.  And TMDFilms has it’s own Twitter and Facebook pages too.

PS: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?

EA: Discovering The Emerging Filmmakers Project changed my life.  True story.  If you’re local and you like and/or make films and you haven’t been to the EFP you’re missing out.  Seriously.

PS: Thanks for visiting with me, Eileen! I know Trauma and whatever else you do is going to be amazing. I’m happy to call you my colleague. Even happier to call you my friend.

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Eleven 0 one

MEET THE FILMMAKERS: Will Kingston and A.J. Koch.

Irreverent filmmakers Will and A.J. are showing their latest work Eleven 0 one at The Emerging Filmmakers Project on October 18th down at Denver’s historic Bug Theatre. Eleven 0 one was recently voted Best Film in Denver’s 48 Hour Film Project.  The EFP is Denver’s longest running, locals-only, independent film screening event.  EFP Host Patrick Sheridan interviewed the two filmmakers over the internet.

PS: Tell us about yourself and what pushed you to become filmmakers.

WK: To meet girls. Unless my wife is reading this, in which case, something about boobs.

AK: When I was a kid, I started filming these rather rudimentary short films with my friends about killer laundry and alien squirrels. They were really awful. I guess some things never change.

PS: What are we going to see at the EFP? What are your plans for i?

WK: Eleven 0 One is a movie made for this year’s 48 Hour Film Project in Denver. After somehow winning that competition – I say “somehow” because the caliber of films this year was phenomenal – our film will be screened at Filmapalooza in Los Angeles. We’d like to release a revised version of the film at some point, but that’s a bit contrary to the spirit of the competition, so that may or may not happen.

AK: We also have plans to use it as a instructional video on hygiene.

PS: You can never have too many subversive, “pro-hygiene” movies, I say.  So, what else are you working on?

AK: My favorite upcoming project is Eleven 0 two. We plan on making it in 48 minutes.

WK: I’d like to say we’re always working on something, but the fact is we’ve all got jobs and families and pre existing conditions, so finding the time to create is always a challenge. Moist Pork is one of our side projects that we’d like to get back to working on, but it’s hard to coordinate with our Finnish partners overseas.

PS: I’m almost afraid to ask, but what is one weird thing about your movies?

AK: We approach movie making from a run and gun perspective. More time is put into the production and post aspect than pre-production. We like to show up at someone’s house and just start making a movie from scratch that day.

WK: Characters entering / exiting through windows is an unintentional theme we’ve found ourselves repeating.

PS: Where can people find out more about you?

AK:  You would most likely find us at a bar somewhere in the Highlands…

WK: …or check your local police blotter.

PS: What else should we know about you?

WK: I’d like to think we’re learning and growing as a storytelling team, getting better at finding a thread and following it from start to finish. We’re also always looking to collaborate with other creatives, so if you need an extra set of hands or brains on set, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

PS: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?

AJ: We think it’s great that Denver has a booming community of filmmakers, and we applaud the EFP for showcasing great rising talent.

WK: Thanks to everybody involved with the EFP. This is a great way to get some exposure and feedback, and a great place to meet a bunch of video nerds. Patrick, you’re wearing black right now, aren’t you?

PS: Yes, but I’m not wearing pants, but don’t worry I’ll probably have some on by the 18th. Probably.  See you down there!

WORM and Aquaphobia

MEET THE FILMMAKER: David Quakenbush.

One of Denver’s most unique and respected filmmakers, David screens two creative works, WORM  and Aquaphobia, at October 18th’s The Emerging Filmmakers Project (EFP) at Denver’s Bug Theatre. EFP Host Patrick Sheridan had a chance to chat with David about his latest projects.

PS: So, what prompted you to pursue filmmaking?

Aquaphobia

DQ: I’ve been a visual storyteller my entire life. As a child, while one of my brothers was off becoming an *actual* rocket scientist, I would instead build rocketship sets in my playroom.

Flash forward to the mid 2000’s, I was a graphic designer and web guru at the time. It was one of those snowy spring days, where the Denver sky drops three feet of slush and the city shuts down. I realized I had iMovie on my new MacBook, and I spent the entire day in front of the fireplace cutting a music video where Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet sings “Jump Around” by house of pain. From that moment on I couldn’t stop building projects.

I got a handy cam, shot thousands of hours of terrible footage, then hundreds of hours of less terrible footage. My wife was convinced that I had turned into “Mr. Brainwash” from Exit Through the Gift Shop. I kept outgrowing my editing software, and upgraded my way through Apple’s entire post-production product line. Then film school. Then a production job. Now this!

I dream in three-act structure, and I feel completely lost if there isn’t a camera in my hands. This isn’t something I do. This is what I am.

PS: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?

DQ: EFP has been gracious enough to screen two of my projects: WORM and Aquaphobia. These are both premieres of brand new work.

WORM was my first adventure directing someone else’s script (Alan August wrote WORM). It’s about a bedridden man with a talking tapeworm, and the frustrations of his caretaker sister. It’s a grotesque little story that I found delightful, and I also wanted to see what that path is like — directing a more “commercial” narrative work without having written every word of text.  (Note: For a behind the scenes look at WORM, click here.)

Aquaphobia is an art film. It started out as three lines of bad poetry in last year’s journal, which I was inspired to elaborate upon after assisting New York based filmmaker Ed Bowes with one of his projects last summer. I picked up several non-traditional production approaches from that experience, and also felt courageous and inspired to follow a path away from strict narrative work and into a more creative direction.

Aquaphobia extends a few stylistic themes I’ve been developing for several years: dynamic fabric motion, time-ramping and manipulation, painting actresses white and selectively over-exposing them, contrasting real vs stylized space, flash edits/jump cuts, minimalist color palettes, abstracted voiceover, and nudging Sex and Violence as closely as possible to each other without getting gory or garish.

PS: What are your plans for these amazing works?

DQ: I plan on releasing them both on the internet at some point, and helping them find their audiences there. I’m not opposed to other forms of distribution, but I’m done paying for the privilege of being rejected at various festivals — too much work for too few butts in seats. In general I am all about creating stunning content and sharing it with people.

PS: What else are you working on these days?

DQ: Oh, all kinds of interesting things. Stay tuned on facebook  or keep an eye on wedrinkitblack.com.

PS: Thanks, David. See you again on the 18th!

The Music Box

MEET THE FILMMAKER: Lewis Leslie.

Lewis is screening the “The Music Box” October 18th at The Emerging Filmmakers Project (EFP), Denver’s longest-running, locals-only independent film screening event. EFP Host Patrick Sheridan, who worked on “The Music Box”  recently caught up with Lewis.

PS: Tell us about yourself and why you’ve become a filmmaker.

LL:  I have been writing screenplays for about ten years. In 2010, after being part of a few small productions, I realized that I wanted to be more involved in the filmmaking process.  I jumped right in, directing the feature film “Killer Ink”. Many doors have opened, and I have directed 9 short films since. I will be directing my 10th next month.

PS: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere. What are your plans for it?

LL: We are showing “The Music Box”. It’s a movie about a couple that has grown apart because it takes all their energy just to make it through each day. This film won best picture in the 1 Story 3 Visions contest held by the Phenom Film Fest Sept 6th-9th in Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana.

PS: A little side note to our readers: I was offered the role of the husband. I jumped at it because Lewis had already cast one of my favorite people, local actors Laura Mayo. I then helped out with the script and helped produce it. I even helped teak the final edit with the movie’s extraordinary editor, Ryan Carroll. Thanks for letting me be part of it, Lewis.

LL: You’re welcome.

PS: What else are you working on?

LL: Under Fire Studios’ feature film “Killer Ink” is being re-cut, and will screen this winter in Denver. My first faith-based film “One Way” is filming at the beginning of November. My short film “The Monster in the Basement” is nearing completion. It’s part of a feature-length horror anthology titled “The Dead Speak Tales”.

PS: Tell us one weird thing about you or your movies.

LL: I like to use names of friends and family as characters in my films.

PS: Where can people go to find out more about you? My website is www.underfirestudios.com. And I have a facebook  page: https://www.facebook.com/underfirestudios

PS: Anything else you’d like us to know about?

LL: I have always had a deep love for film. I am very grateful to have a community like there is here in Denver to practice and showcase my work.

PS: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?

LL: EFP is a great way to showcase local films and meet local filmmakers. I’m really looking forward to the screening on the 18th!

Busted

MEET THE FILMMAKER: Jesse Gray.

Jesse is showing “Busted” at The Emerging Filmmakers Project (EFP) on October 18th. The EFP is Denver’s longest-running, locals-only, independent film screening event. “Busted” is a movie about a couple that has to deal with issues of trust when a hidden stash of dvd’s are found in their home.  It features Rachel West and Michael Haskins as the couple. Ken Hendricks shot it. Sound and lighting by Jim Brennan. Jeff Deel edited it.  Music by Don Martineau.

EFP Host Patrick Sheridan recently had a chance to chat with Jesse.

PS: Why did you become a filmmaker?

JG: I was about ten when I first tried to replicate the inspiration and entertainment of movies by getting the neighborhood kids (and parents) together to do an adaptation of “Return of the Jedi.” I would cast the roles and direct, and the parents would make the costumes. That never got off the ground, but the desire to create stories and immerse myself in that process never left me. I started getting involved as an actor, and while it was a lot of fun, I never felt fully satisfied.  Enter directing. I love bringing talented people together, watching them work, and guiding a project to completion. I am passionate about film, and there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than helping to bring a vision to fruition.

PS: How did “Busted” come about? Has it screened elsewhere?  What are your plans for it?

JG: “Busted” came from a desire to get something off my chest in a creative way. Admittedly it’s narrow with regards to its scope and target audience, but the statement it makes is unmistakable (if not trite). I posted it on YouTube, but I never had a real desire to pursue other venues (although I did), with the exception of the EFP.

PS: What else do you have going on?

JG: Currently I’m working on re-writes of a simple short called “Shoes” and bringing the necessary elements together to get it produced. I have a few features I work on from time-to-time, but right now I’m focused on projects that can feasibly be brought into existence in the near future.

PS: What is something weird or unusual about you or your movies?

JG:  I suppose something weird about me is that my imagination runs on words instead of images. When I read a book or a script, I don’t “see” things in my mind–my enjoyment of the text simply comes from processing it as-is. However, I hear dialogue crystal-clear in my head, spoken by a very real person who I simply can’t see in my mind’s eye.

PS: Where can people find out more about you and your work?

JG: I’m on Facebook and CASA, but I don’t really have anything geared towards presenting myself or my work to anyone. I guess that’s kinda weird too.

PS: Any thoughts about The Emerging Filmmakers Project you’d like to share?

JG: I am grateful to the EFP for providing such an in-depth and interactive presentation opportunity to starting filmmakers like myself. I believe the most valuable elements at this stage are exposure and connection, and EFP has the perfect set-up to accommodate both of those goals. It provides much more than a screen and an audience; it creates an atmosphere that encourages growth and has the potential to bring like-minded artists together.

PS: Thanks, Jesse. See you on the 18th!