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Mine to Keep

MEET THE FILMMAKERS: Justin Christenson and William Johnson.

Justin Christenson and William Johnson, the respective director and writer of Mine to Keep, a short feature or long short (frankly, we’re just not sure), share their passion for telling stories that feature deep literary underpinnings in visually unique ways.

Justin and Will are screening the trailer for Mine to Keep at the February 21st Emerging Filmmakers Project. In some ways, their style of storytelling was inevitable. Will, some might say, resembles what the love child of Bret Easton Ellis and Tucker Max would look like if Bret Easton Ellis and Tucker Max could, in fact, have a love child. And if you totally get that reference, you can be his friend. If you don’t, you and Will probably won’t get along. For Justin, his “not selling out to the man” philosophy reared it’s no compromise head when he insisted that the vibrator featured in Mine to Keep be called “The Pleasure Train.” And whether or not you get THAT reference, Justin will still like you cuz that’s how he rolls.

EFP Host Patrick Sheridan recently caught up with Justin and Will. 400793_364124750269802_297851994_n

P.S.: Why did you become a filmmakers?

J.C.: I’ve always been drawn to the art of storytelling and how film can trick you into forgetting you’re just watching it on a screen.

W.J.: I’m drawn to filmmaking because of its collaborative nature. I also enjoy the way projects evolve. The script written, film shot, and film edited each have their own life and change through the process of finishing the film. It’s interesting watching the changes happen naturally.

P.S.: What was the inspiration behind your movie?

W.J.: A thought-experiment on what a relationship built around power would look like. Power the prime motivator with intimacy, love, and sex as tools of manipulation. The story mostly evolved from driving by a strip club on Christmas morning and seeing a ton of cars in the parking lot. I started to think about the emotional state of some of those people. It fit in well with my other idea of a power motivated relationship. The story evolved from there with little bits coming from many different places.

P.S.: What are your plans for it? Where has it screened?

J.C.: The director’s cut was shown at a cast/crew screening, but at 41 minutes, we are still cutting it down to make it more accessible. We hope to get rejected by more film festivals this summer.

P.S. “Mine to Keep” is printed on those little heart-shaped candies, right? You must really love Valentine’s Day.

W.J.: Some people get down with it. Not really my thing.

J.C.: Just another reason to avoid hot tubs.

P.S.: As if we needed more reasons to avoid hot tubs. What else are you working on?

J.C.: We just released our first music video, “Nice Guys” for local artist SolomusiQ (Make Out Dreams), and we are planning on developing a web series to collaborate with other local artists and filmmakers.

P.S.: Tell us one weird or unusual thing about you or your movies.

J.C.: The song for the music video we just finished had to be lengthened just to fit the length of the video. The initial cut was over 9 minutes. I could work on brevity.

P.S.: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

W.J.: Our website, Ensodevelopment.org

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

J.C.: Without EFP, and the people that support it, we wouldn’t have anyone to show what we’ve worked so hard to create, and we wouldn’t have a place to show it. And they don’t have to watch it on their phone.

P.S.: Thanks, gents!

SwannLove- Condom Style Denver

MEET THE FILMMAKER: Swann Christopher.

Saying goodbye to fast paced corporate America didn’t slow Swann down one bit. He is one of the most well-known Actors in Denver and when he isn’t bringing to life someone else’s vision, he is creating his own. Following his mission statement “To make a living using my creativity in a way I can be proud of”… So far, so good Mr. Christopher.

EFP Host Patrick Sheridan recently caught up with Swann.

Swann_Christopher_HeadshotP.S.: Why did you become a filmmaker?

S.C.: My passion is acting but in this town, if you want to work a lot, you need to make your own opportunities. Plus, I’m a storyteller at heart.

P.S.: What was the inspiration behind your movie?

S.C.: I was inspired by Psy and the popularity of his video Gangnam Style. I saw an opportunity to jump on a bandwagon and spread the message of safe sex so I took it.

P.S.:What are your plans for it? Where has it screened?

S.C. As of writing this, it has almost 15K views on You Tube. According to You Tube’s analytics, it has screened all over the world. I also performed the song live while the video played behind me downtown at City Hall last Saturday. That was a blast! I’m considering submitting it to a festival or two but I think at this point people are sick of the song, Gangnam Style, so I probably missed the boat on that one.

P.S.: How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

S.C.: Oddly enough, I usually have the best time on Valentine’s Day when I’m single. I had an absolute blast this year. Funny how that works.

P.S.: What else are you working on?

S.C.: I’m currently in pre production on a sketch comedy series. I’ve teamed up with comedians Brandon Erhart, Tarrin Miller and writer Neal Babcock. Look for more news on that soon.

xplode_DenverP.S.: Tell us one weird or unusual thing about you or your movies.

S.C.: I like to include inside jokes and symbols that mean something to one or two people. For example, the dance I’m doing at the skate park is called the SwannLove Pump. I created it in the late 80’s. Only a few of my closest friends are familiar with it.

P.S.: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

S.C.: http://www.swanntheactor.com or http://www.facebook.com/swanntheactor

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

S.C.: My very first film, EAZY, screened there back in 2009. Since then, I have been a fan and I’m glad to see it still going strong. It’s a great opportunity for local filmmakers to get their stuff shown on the big screen.

P.S.:  Thanks Swann!!

Good Bye Jack

MEET THE FILMMAKER: Peter Wigand.

A recent graduate of the Colorado Film School, Peter Wigand is fast becoming a much respected and sought after Director of Cinematography. Good Bye Jack is Peter’s first film to screen at the Emerging Filmmakers Project (EFP), although we’ve previously shown movies that he shot, including Clifton Archuleta’s Broken Cycle.

Peter was born and raised in Graz, Austria. He grew up in a family of music where it was considered normal to play at least two instruments. His grandmother was a composer (to whom he also dedicated his first short film “Das Leben der Musik” (“The Life of Music”) ) and his great grandfather founded the largest private music academy in the city over a hundred years ago.image

Peter worked in the art department on a few independent films in Austria but eventually moved to the U.S. to  study cinematography. A little while later he graduated from Colorado Film School with eight awards for his work, including two cinematography awards out of five nominations for best cinematography. Today he works as a cinematographer in Colorado and across the country and recently finished his first feature as director of photography on Dust of War.

EFP Host Patrick Sheridan recently caught up with Peter.

P.S.: Why did you become a filmmaker?

P.W.: I don’t feel like I qualify for the title “filmmaker” yet, but the reason I am striving to be one is pretty simple. Film offers a perfect combination of art forms I love. I’ve always loved to express myself through music and pictures. Furthermore I love stories, but have never been good with words, so being able to use images rather than words to tell a story is a relief for my language challenged mind.

P.S.: Do you have a cinematic philosophy?

P.W.: The phrase by Arthur Brisbane, “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” is well known. As a cinematographer, it’s a phrase I hold close to my heart: It speaks to the efficacy of the captured image, the ability to speak without words, the privilege to capture an entire story within the boundaries of a frame. With every frame that passes through my camera I see remarkable opportunity and endless possibilities to tell a story in its own unique and compelling way. Because after all cinematography is the language of film.

P.S.: What was the inspiration behind Good Bye Jack?

image-1P.W.: Growing up in Austria you have to go through mandatory time of military or civil service. I chose the latter, and as a part of my preparation I had to go through a basic training of fire fighting, which also included how to answer and react to callers on the emergency line. One thing they prepared us for were calls of suicidal people (which we have plenty off in cloudy Austria).

Learning about the psychological aspect of it, it stuck to me how trapped those people can become in their own minds, and that their last hope of freedom and salvation equals death. Good Bye Jack is not supposed to be another film about suicide or being depressed. It’s about that moment of becoming a prisoner in your own mind, with no way out except by breaking the prison itself. An experimental approach to this topic seemed to be the most fitting.

P.S.: How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

P.W.: I am not sure what that has to do with anything, but I couldn’t care less honestly. I don’t need a designated day to know or communicate how much I love my “Valentine”. Screams commercial gimmick, so to make myself feel like I didn’t give in I buy her chocolate and flowers the day after.

P.S.: What else are you working on?

P.W.: For now I work as a DP and enjoy learning about directing by seeing many different styles and approaches. When the time is right I’ll decide which one of my projects or ideas I want to do next. But I always work on them in my spare time.

P.S.: Tell us one weird or unusual thing about you or your movies.

P.W.: I base my work on instinct, but always try to find a reason to back it up. As a storyteller you need to have something to say. In my opinion, if you don’t have anything to say or aren’t sure what you want to say, don’t make movies, don’t even make art in general.

P.S.: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

P.W.: My website: www.peterwigand.com

P.S.: Thanks!

Welcome to the EFP!

So what if I told you that Denver has a place that screens locally-produced, independent short films, docs, music videos, art films, and an occasional feature-length film? And that these local film screenings have taken place on the third Thursday of the month since 2002? Would you be surprised? Or would you say, “That sounds like The Emerging Filmmakers Project.”

If The Emerging Filmmakers Project (EFP) is new to you, you’re probably wondering, “How do I get in on this?” Well, first of all, head on down to the next screening and introduce yourself. You can drop off a dvd or e-mail a link to us at efpdenver@yahoo.com. We’ve a got a small screening committee made of local filmmakers and actors. We can’t screen everything, but we look at everything. And we usually give feedback (if you want it) if we don’t screen it.

The EFP has been the home for Denver independent film screenings from new and established local filmmakers the third Thursday of every month since 2002, Screenings are held down at The Bug Theatre (3654 Navajo St., Denver 80232 – www.bugtheatre.org). The EFP is a great place to meet and network with area filmmakers, actors, writers, and many of the talented folks who work behind the camera.  A spirited Q & A with the filmmaker follows each movie where you and your fellow audience members get to tell the filmmaker exactly what you think of their work.

The EFP also offers discounted acting classes and screenwriting workshops.  Although film acting classes are taught in conjunction with The Film Acting Academy of Denver (www.filmactingdenver.com), The EFP supports the philosophy and work of every acting studio in town.

So now that you know a little bit about the Emerging Filmmakers Project, you should have your people put it in your calendar and come to the next screening.

See you here!

Patrick Sheridan
Executive Director
Emerging Filmmakers Project

Misogyny (trailer)

MEET THE FILMMAKER: Bob Berg.

What hasn’t Bob Berg done professionally in town? A past president of the Colorado Film and Video Association (CFVA), Bob has worked off and on in the film and television industry in Denver since 1987. Bob got his start as a 2nd AD on the 16MM werewolf feature Lone Wolf. Since then, he’s worked professionally as an A/C, editor, and cinematographer on a number of projects.

The trailer for Bob’s first feature film Misogyny plays at The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Feb. 21st down at the Bug Theatre. EFP Host Patrick Sheridan recently caught up with Bob.

P.S.: When did you decide to make your own movies? cijcifja

B.B.: Somewhere along the way, while I was working primarily on other people’s projects, I realized that I had a few of my own stories to tell.

P.S.: What was the inspiration behind your movie?

B.B.: Misogyny is my first feature film but it came from a short story idea I had been toying with for a long time.  I had a number of male friends whose experiences with women and girlfriends (along with my own) melded together to create the character of Riley Parker.  The original idea for the film came from a very simple premise and (even though we all know it really does happen) a mostly unspoken one that society still holds to be politically-incorrect: sometimes women do teach men to hate them.  Once I enlisted the help of actress and filmmaker friend Anna Hadzi, we realized that telling a story about a young man who reluctantly evolves into a serial killer was longer than a short…and the feature script started taking shape.

P.S.: What are your plans for it? Where has it screened?

B.B.: We had a cast and crew screening right before Thanksgiving, and one limited “public” screening in January.  Both were in Denver.  Distribution is our goal and I am in the process now of getting some festival screeners made.  Hopefully a few festivals will give the film some credibility in the distribution world.

P.S.: How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

B.B.: I love the candy!

P.S.: What else are you working on?

jcjebiccB.B.: Mostly I’m working on getting Misogyny into the world, but I do have a few other story ideas kicking around.  I am working on a script for a new project called Uriel, but I don’t know yet if it will be a feature.  I love making short films; the projects are approachable and mostly affordable.  But since there is almost no market for shorts, it’s impossible to spend money doing it.  I’ve often thought about making use of my experience with City’s Edge and doing another web series, probably sci-fi, but it’s a silly amount of work.

P.S.: Tell us one weird or unusual thing about you or your movies.

B.B.:  Every short or feature I’ve made so far has a one-word name!  (And I use real nudity!) No, seriously, even though Misogyny has been a passion for me since 2007, I really am a philogynist at heart; I love women!  (And NOT in that Lecter sort of way with fava beans and a nice chianti!)  I should be on the list of most eligible bachelors in Denver!

P.S.: Misogyny inside joke alert… Perhaps you’re too nice to date.

B.B.: You’d be wrong. LOL!

P.S.: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

B.B.: I try to keep some info online at bergimaging.com

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

B.B.: The EFP has been around a long time graciously supporting filmmakers in Denver.  (We showed some episodes of “City’s Edge” probably over ten years ago!)  It is wonderful to have EFP here as a premiere, local outlet for the very talented film people doing work in our city.

P.S.: Thanks Bob! See you on the 21st!

 

 

Unfriend Forever

MEET THE FILMMAKER: Peter Lively.

Peter Lively might be the nicest guy in town. But that won’t get you on-screen at The Emerging Filmmakers Project. Won’t even get you through the door (you need $5 for that). No, Peter is a frequent screener at the EFP because he consistently does fantastic work.

A native of Roswell, N.M., Peter isn’t acquainted with any “beings” out there but is happy to refer you to locals who will gladly sell you cheap green necklaces, hats, healing stones, and ‘crash-landing’ dirt so long as you have a valid credit card. Curious, we ran a background check on Peter and discovered that both his parents were born on July 8th, 1947. Connect the dots, people.

Peter’s music video, Unfriend Forever, screens February 21st as part of a love goes wrong night of movies at The Emerging Filmmakers Project (EFP) down at Denver’s historic Bug Theatre. EFP Host Patrick Sheridan recently caught up with his long-time friend.

P.S.: Why did you become a filmmaker?  20120714_Lively_234

P.L.: My dad is a piano teacher and a retired music professor, and my mom paints and also plays music.   As such, my siblings and I were ‘expected’ to play the piano.  I also took up the cello, drawing, painting, writing, and occasional amateur (read: bad) filmmaking.  I’ve always been surrounded by creativity of some sort, and I suppose, it was a forgone conclusion that I’d eventually fall into an artistic profession.  However, I resisted doing so.  In choosing a major at the University of New Mexico, I went from Computer Science to History, and eventually to Comparative Religions, but never anything within Fine Arts.  You could call it ‘rebelling’ from my parent’s influence (that’s right, I’m a ‘rebel’), but why I would run from a financially uncertain major like fine arts to an even less financially viable major like philosophy-based major, Comparative Religions, shows an utter disconnect from reality.

There’s not much one can do with a relatively expensive piece of paper that says B.A., Religious Studies.  Dell (they were big and cool, back then) and Apple (current big and cool) weren’t knocking on my door, anxious to hire me, so I followed the only viable option besides continuing on to a equally worthless graduate degree, I went into ministry.  So followed several years of occasional ‘helping-the-world-be-a-better-place’ moments of personal satisfaction bounded within a scarce and uncertain financial context (not unlike being a professional artist).  Within ministry, I was afforded some freedom to ‘spread my wings’ so-to-speak, giftings-wise, and one area I kept getting pulled back to (dammit) was art.

First, it was a promo/skit for our ministry’s annual Fall Retreat conference that I edited using a VCR, hi-8 handy cam, and a cd player.  Then, it was slideshows of mission trips.  Then it was scores of ‘just-for-fun’ skits and other things.  Oddly, people liked my videos, which unfortunately encouraged me to make more.  I bought an Apple e-Mac (not i, e), and someone decided to give me an actual editing program, Final Cut Pro 3.  Now, there was no stopping it; I HAD to create videos.  I was tasked with making regional promo videos, wedding (the horror!) videos, and occasional ‘talking-head’ interview projects.  Then, I was asked to make a documentary and a short, dramatic narrative film.  I balked.  That’s real film stuff, serious stuff, not the few-steps removed from the hobby-level stuff that I was used to.  I had a mini-crisis, of sorts, because I never intended to go into the arts, like my dad, yet here I was.  I realized that I genuinely loved making movies and videos, and as I move forward, I couldn’t think of anything I’d enjoy more as a vocation than filmmaking.  Dammit.

P.S.: What was the inspiration behind your movie?

P.L.: Just couldn’t resist the chance to poke some (good-humored) fun at that classic, 80’s oldie.  Really, it would have been a sin not to.

2P.S.: What are your plans for it? Where has it screened?

P.L.: It was shown at the 2010 Denver Christmas Conference in front of 1500 college students, none of which had heard the original song.  They still enjoyed it.

P.S.: How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

P.L.: Grateful.  For a wretched, melancholic soul like me, it’s annual opportunity to take stock of all that’s wretched and melancholy.

P.S.: What else are you working on?

P.L.: I’m finishing up post on my newest short film Dishwasher with Michele Abplanalp and Skylar De Vos.  I’m also in process of setting up my own production company.  Everyone has to have one, right?

P.S.: Tell us one weird or unusual thing about you or your movies.

P.L.: I don’t know why, (please, counselor, tell me!) but a lot of my films are carried and lead by strong, female protagonists.  I don’t know if it’s due to my wife (Alana) being the primary writer of my films, or if I’m just drawn to that sort of story.  Seems to be a pattern, though.  Poor men.  Don’t worry.  I’ll make movies about us someday… maybe.

P.S.: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

P.L.: My website: peterlively.com

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

P.L.: I am very grateful to you and The Emerging Filmmakers Project.  They’ve given me a chance to show my work outside of the confines of the ministry-universe.  Friendly, art-passionate, inclusionary, it’s like discovering the new neighbors next door have a kid your age who likes all the things you like and from day one, is your best friend.  In an art form that’s intractably collaborative, to find an open, serious community of filmmakers is gold.  Everyone interested in film in Colorado should take advantage of it.

P.S.: Thanks! See you on the 21st!

Two Semesters of Psychology

MEET THE FILMMAKER: Chris Wiegand.

Chris Wiegand is one of those guys you want on a movie set. Actually, he’s the kind of guy you NEED on your movie set. Why? He does it whatever it takes to get whatever needs to be done without needing his hand held.

Beyond that, he’s an extremely likable guy who keeps making better and better movies. HIs movie, Two Semesters of Psychology, plays February 21st at The Emerging FIlmmakers Project (EFP) down at The Bug Theatre.  EFP Host Patrick Sheridan recently caught up with Chris.

P.S.: So, why did you become a filmmaker? DSC_5085

C.W.: My good friend Nash Morales and I used to get drunk and listen to old vinyl records. I would indulge him with all the ideas for music videos I had for certain songs and he kept saying that if I don’t go to film school it would be a waste of a life, so I did. Other than that I don’t really know why I became a filmmaker but it’s so engrained to my core I think the better question is, “Why did filmmaking choose me?” And I still don’t know that answer to that.

P.S.: Two Semesters of Psychology is pretty funny.

C.W.: Good. I wanted to do something fun and unscripted with some friends that could be easily shot and edited. I also wanted to warn people about the dangers of trying to impress a girl.

P.S.: What are your plans for it?

C.W.: I plan to submit to different comedy festivals around the country and region.

P.S.: This EFP features a bunch of love gone wrong movies. How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

C.W.: If I had the day off because of it I would love it. But I don’t, so I don’t particularly care.

P.S.: What else are you working on?

C.W.: Just shot my latest short, Charlie Hatch, which will be out in a month or so and also trying to do a bunch of writing for my next short.

P.S.: Tell us one weird or unusual thing about you or your movies.

C.W.: I try to incorporate music any chance I can to enhance the emotional response I’m going for. I feel that music and the correct visual aesthetics are better than any dialogue.

P.S.: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

C.W.: Facebooking me right now is the best way but I’m building my website and that will be cannonballfilmproductions.com when it’s finished.

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

C.W.: I love the EFP. What a great place to go for some good movies, good conversation, and as much beer as you can handle for five bucks. Hell Yeah.

P.S.: Thank you for not bringing up Jimmy Said.

C.W.: You’re welcome.

P.S.: Thanks! See you on the 21st!