Sunday, January 13, 2008

“Billy the Kid” a documentary by Jennifer Venditti

I had a chance to head down to Film Streams tonight to check out the award winning documentary “Billy the Kid” by first time director Jennifer Venditti.

As published in Filmmaker Magazine:
Filmmaker highly recommends Jennifer Venditti’s doc Billy the Kid, which opens through IFC Films this week. Here is Venditti telling our own Nick Dawson about finding the subject of her film while she was casting Carter Smith’s short Bugcrush at a Maine high school. She spotted Billy sitting alone at the lunchroom: “I walked over there, he opened his mouth and I was like, “My God, this kid is amazing! Why is the whole school not sitting at his table?” All the kids were like, “Oh, he's so weird. He's dangerous, he freaks out.” And then the teachers would all say things like, “Oh, he's really complicated, he has emotional disabilities.” I started to think, "No one's going to tell me about what he has or what he is," and I didn't care anymore: I wanted to understand the world through his experience.”
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And the film does just that. It’s a day-in-the-life documentary following Billy in his routine, interacting with school classmates, his family, and the local townsfolk, and giving us a look at the world through his unique set of eyes.

The biggest treat was the fact that Jennifer Venditti was in attendance and gave a Q&A after the film. There were over a hundred people in the audience and Jennifer fielded questions for over a half hour and you could tell the viewers were enthusiastic about the film and the subject matter. I also had a chance to chat with her for a while after the theater cleared out and you could see the passion she has for her craft, so look for her to do great things in the future.

“Billy the Kid” plays through 1/17 at Film Streams so if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, be sure to head down.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Omaha Film Festival press release

Omaha, NE—The Omaha Film Festival today announces the line-up of films selected for the Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, and OFF the Edge Feature Competitions for the 2008 Omaha Film Festival. The Omaha Film Festival sets out to deliver a fresh and innovative cinema arts experience through the exhibition of independent film and the growth of the festival's film education program. In the words of Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey, “the Omaha Film Festival is quickly becoming a staple of Omaha's developing cultural identity, and we hope it will continue to grow for many years to come.” Additionally, five out-of-competition films will also be announced shortly. A complete list of films and show times will be available at

The Omaha Film Festival will take place February 16-24, 2008 in Omaha, NE. The festival will be kicked off on February 16th and 17th at Creighton University and the Omaha Community Playhouse with a 2 day Screenwriting/Filmmaking Conference featuring panels with Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) and Jon Bokenkamp (Taking Lives, Perfect Stranger), and a two day workshop with Jeff Kitchen, one of the most highly rated dramatic writing teachers in the film business. For the 2008 Omaha Film Festival, 11 Narrative Feature Films, 6 Documentary Feature Films, and 4 OFF the Edge films were selected from over 300 entries, and the selected films will screen from February 18-24 at the Westwood Cinema 8.


Choose Connor
A 15-year-old's summer job as a Congressional youth campaign spokesman leads him to discover the dark side of politics.
Directed by Lucas Eberl. Cast: Steven Weber, Alex D. Linz

Entry Level
A former chef tries to start over in Corporate America at age 38 interviewing for entry-level jobs. A comedy about starting over the bottom.
Directed by Douglas Horn. Cast: D.B. Sweeney, Kurtwood Smith, Missi Pyle

The Flyboys
Two boys from a small town find their courage tested when they accidentally stow away aboard an airplane owned by the mob.
Directed by Rocco DeVilliers. Cast: Jesse James, Reiley McClendon, Stephen Baldwin, Tom Sizemore

Greetings From The Shore
Still reeling from the death of her father, a young girl spends one last summer at the Jersey Shore before heading off to college. But when her plans fall apart, the girl stumbles into a mysterious world of Russian sailors, high-stakes gambling, and unexpected love.
Directed by Greg Chwerchak. Cast: Paul Sorvino, Kim Shaw, Jay O. Sanders

Home of the Giants
In basketball obsessed Indiana, an impressionable teenager is persuaded by his best friend to take part in a crime. When things don’t go as planned, he faces a desperate predicament with his team’s title hopes on the line.
Directed by Rusty Gorman. Cast: Haley Joel Osment, Ryan Merriman

A young woman finds herself washed up on a desolate beach and tries to find out the how and why of her immediate life. Criss-crossing through the savage coastline and a claustrophobic London setting she finds her answers in an unrelenting world where spies, betrayal and obsession are the daily currency and identity is as shifting as the tides.
Directed by Simon Welsford. Cast: Alex Reid, Jamie Draven, Shauna Macdonald

The Living Wake
The Living Wake is a dark comedy set in a storybook universe which chronicles the final day of K. Roth Binew. K. Roth Binew is a quixotic character who is desperately seeking the meaning of life.
Directed by Sol Tryon. Cast: Mike O’Connel, Jesse Eisenberg

Oil On Water
Oil on Water is a visually evocative film about a young creative couple, Max and Anna, whose lives begin to spiral out of control when Max starts experiencing strange symptoms that he cannot share with Anna.
Directed by Peter Matthews. Cast: Bianca Lishansky, StJohn Alexander

Shane Canning, a lost twenty-something, struggles with the effects of alcohol on his family and friends, ultimately leading to a discovery that their alcohol related behaviors are not what they seem.
Directed by Keith Feighan. Cast: Chris Heuisler, Bourke Floyd

Superheroes is the story of a wounded Iraqi War veteran who struggles to live with the psychological and physical scars of battle, and of the young filmmaker who accompanies him to a cabin in the Catskills to document his story.
Directed by Alan Brown. Cast: Dash Mihok, Spencer Treat Clark

That One Night
That One Night is an exciting comedy about dating, nearing 30, and the re-unification of five college friends who have drifted apart since entering the workforce.
Directed by Rick Alyea. Cast: Benjamin Arthur, Sam Easton, Paul Anthony


Don’t Eat the Baby: Adventures at Post Katrina Mardi Gras
A New Orleans native explores the true meaning of Mardi Gras as the city holds its first Carnival after 'the unpleasantness.'
Directed by Todd Berger.

From The 50 Yard Line
Live the emotional marching band story up-close and personal by going through auditions, practice, band camp, the marching season, and 2006 competitions, and see the life-changing effects for these exceptional students. This is truly marching band as you have never seen it before.
Directed by Doug Lantz.

The Listening Project
'What does the world think of America?' This seemingly simple question led to a global quest for four Americans, whose thought-provoking journey through fourteen countries is documented in 'The Listening Project.' Emotional encounters with dozens of diverse and fascinating characters reveal the breadth of U.S. impact on ordinary people's lives around the world.
Directed by Dominic Howes & Joel Weber.

Strictly Background
Hollywood, a destination filled with the hopes and aspirations of many to make it big. But sometimes to make it big, you have to start out small. Strictly Background is the story of all the little people, the men and women who become the anonymous faces behind our favorite stars.
Directed by Jason Connell.

Strongest Ever
Strongest Ever is a multifaceted documentary feature about Becca Swanson, the most physically powerful woman in the world. The film details the passion, pain, and endless dedication necessary to become the strongest ever.
Directed by Jacqueline Willemsen, Ben Crane, Christopher Lavigne, Colleen Evanson.

Omaha Film Festival Documentary #6 TBA


The Cellar Door
A young woman awakes to find herself imprisoned in a serial killer's basement. Imprisoned in a wooden cage and yet refusing to play along in the killer’s twisted game, she has only her wits to use against his savage and murderous insanity.
Directed by Matt Zettell. Cast: James DuMont, Michelle Tomlinson

House of Fears
Six friends sneak into a haunted house the night before it opens for Halloween, only to find that their evening of fun has turned into their worst nightmare.
Directed by Ryan Little. Cast: Corri English

A mysterious 1950s assassin is attacked and pursued by his own Double, actually a copy of himself at a different point in the story.
Directed by Shawn Linden. Cast: Costas Mandylor, Ed O’Ross

The Wretched
The story revolves around seven ag-tech students who set out on a routine research field trip that turns deadly when secrets of the past are revealed.
Directed by Daniel B. Iske. Cast: Mark Booker, Melanie Gillis, Chelsie Hartness, Matt Harwell

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Had a pretty cool evening tonight. A new small group of local artists started meeting tonight and we’ll get together every other week. We’re going through the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and the purpose of the group is to encourage each other and help hold each other accountable through our various artistic endeavors. One of my major goals as we go through this group is to hopefully force at least one of the five feature film screenplays that are in my head out and onto paper. If I have a group of people that I have to answer to on a bimonthly basis, hopefully that will be enough to help ‘guilt’ me into working through that process. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Viral Video - coming soon

I had a chance to work with a couple of actors that I’ve known for a while but haven’t had a chance to work yet. Long time friend Greg Scott had a few small projects he wanted to film and asked for help casting, and when he gave me the scripts, I immediately had two actors in mind, so I called Cortney Franks and Mark Booker and they were both happy to sign on to the project. I can’t really talk much about what we shot now, but the word will be getting out soon so keep your eyes open. They were small projects, but they were big fun and Cortney and Mark were both fantastic. I’ve never really shot comedy work before so it was fun to get together with a script and after a few takes have the actors go off the script and improv the scenes. And yes, there were a few blown takes because the crew was laughing too hard. All in all a great night of filming and hopefully some nice clips to be coming out soon.

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