Monday, September 19, 2016

Thoughts on TIFF16

One of many TIFF screening theaters

We recently attended 5 days of the 2016 Toronto FilmFestival and would like to share our experience.


Toronto is a great city: good transportation, very clean and people are friendly. It feels like Manhattan with a European flair. The festival is centered downtown in the Entertainment District and almost everything is in walking distance. For those who cannot find accommodations nearby find one near the underground or trolley lines, which are very efficient.

We were able to put together the travel and hotel with loyalty points keeping the trip very affordable.  We used the new UP Express, a train which connects Pearson Airport to Union Station. $12 Canadian gets you there in 25 relaxing minutes. Our hotel, the Delta, was in walking distance of Union Station and boasted amazing views. We kept our food costs low by having large breakfasts at the hotel (included in our deal), and by taking advantage of the VIP lounge in the evenings, which offered a variety of food and drink (also included).

Our hotel view at night
We attended TIFF to get the experience of a major festival. I’ve heard it said, and found it to be true, that it’s a good idea to attend a major festival BEFORE you have a film entered. It’ll be a great learning experience to see how the festival runs, and how the industry works within the fest. Our new lawyer thought it would be good to join him and others who were attending, and to sit in on a panel.
Toronto at night

1-sheets at a meeting
TIFF is the largest festival in North America, and with 350 films screened in ten days it’s too large. Considering every day there are multiple premiers, screenings, panels, discussion, events and parties one cannot not physically make them all. There were several films I had hoped to see including The Bleeder (which a friend acted in) and EgonSchiele: Tod und Madchen. My grandfather schooled with Schiele at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. I'll definitely see both films when they open in NY.

I had written to a few friends who I knew were attending. At last minute one told me he had 1 extra ticket for The Bleeder but we had set other plans that day and time. The lines waiting for rush tickets were very long to almost every film, and those with the most buzz were impossible to get into. We focused on the panels, discussions and networking moments to learn as much as we could. Our intent was to learn all we could, network where possible, and to use TIFF as the jumping point of the reboot of our film, MegaBall$.

We were armed with some great looking one-sheets; heavy magazine glossy sheets with our poster on one side (designed by our production designer, Roger Ambrose) and details about the project on the other. We handed out where ever we could, but wished we totally depleted our supply before leaving. The response from those we talked with was very positive. They liked the concept, the 1-sheet, and one person stated our log line was the best he’s ever read.

SAG-AFTRA / ACTRA Event

We were invited to one party hosted by the South African Film Office, but we opted to attend one jointly hosted by SAG-AFTRA and ACTRA. I felt as a board member of SAG-AFTRA I was better suited to meet and greet fellow members and union leaders. Overall a nice event and a need break from promoting our film’s development.


The big lesson we learned a little too late. Don’t expect to randomly meet some person in a festival that will have time to talk about the project you’re developing. Sure, there are many filmmakers willing to talk – and we were happy to do that. But the industry people you want, the financiers, distributors and sales reps are so busy doing business there’s not much time to meet. Their schedule doesn’t allow them to just grab a wine and mingle at some panel. The trick is: once you’ve purchased your industry pass, most festivals release a list of all the industry people attending. You must go down that list and reach out to preset meetings. The further in advance of the festival the better. We were able to secure one meeting in advance, that was a little harried because it started late, and we needed to catch the UP train back to our flight home.

Our lawyer, Corky Kessler,  had asked us to sit on one of several livestreamed panels about film that coincided with the festival which was featured on Torontoeco.tv. In addition to the development panel we spoke on, we stayed off camera to listen to all the other panels. This was a good move for heard some good advice, met a lot of good people -- all colleagues of our lawyer and who took our project seriously. According to the technician the streamed panels had 150,000 views worldwide.

We enjoyed a little down time as well, to pace ourselves and enjoy the city. I wouldn’t mind returning for a few days to play tourist in the early fall.

The overall lesson – plan far ahead when attending a festival. Try to make appointments to meet industry people long before you get there. Dress comfortable, specially shoes, and be armed with a good 1-sheet and lots of business cards, and pens and a notepad. Make sure your 1-sheet (or business cards) have whitespace where people can make notes.


Today we now start doing our follow-up. Bon chance!

Oh, yeah!? Well, we got MEGABALL$ !!

Thoughts on TIFF16

One of many TIFF screening theaters

We recently attended 5 days of the 2016 Toronto FilmFestival and would like to share our experience.


Toronto is a great city: good transportation, very clean and people are friendly. It feels like Manhattan with a European flair. The festival is centered downtown in the Entertainment District and almost everything is in walking distance. For those who cannot find accommodations nearby find one near the underground or trolley lines, which are very efficient.

We were able to put together the travel and hotel with loyalty points keeping the trip very affordable.  We used the new UP Express, a train which connects Pearson Airport to Union Station. $12 Canadian gets you there in 25 relaxing minutes. Our hotel, the Delta, was in walking distance of Union Station and boasted amazing views. We kept our food costs low by having large breakfasts at the hotel (included in our deal), and by taking advantage of the VIP lounge in the evenings, which offered a variety of food and drink (also included).

Our hotel view at night
We attended TIFF to get the experience of a major festival. I’ve heard it said, and found it to be true, that it’s a good idea to attend a major festival BEFORE you have a film entered. It’ll be a great learning experience to see how the festival runs, and how the industry works within the fest. Our new lawyer thought it would be good to join him and others who were attending, and to sit in on a panel.
Toronto at night

1-sheets at a meeting
TIFF is the largest festival in North America, and with 350 films screened in ten days it’s too large. Considering every day there are multiple premiers, screenings, panels, discussion, events and parties one cannot not physically make them all. There were several films I had hoped to see including The Bleeder (which a friend acted in) and EgonSchiele: Tod und Madchen. My grandfather schooled with Schiele at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. I'll definitely see both films when they open in NY.

I had written to a few friends who I knew were attending. At last minute one told me he had 1 extra ticket for The Bleeder but we had set other plans that day and time. The lines waiting for rush tickets were very long to almost every film, and those with the most buzz were impossible to get into. We focused on the panels, discussions and networking moments to learn as much as we could. Our intent was to learn all we could, network where possible, and to use TIFF as the jumping point of the reboot of our film, MegaBall$.

We were armed with some great looking one-sheets; heavy magazine glossy sheets with our poster on one side and details about the project on the other. We handed out where ever we could, but wished we totally depleted our supply before leaving. The response from those we talked with was very positive. They liked the concept, the 1-sheet, and one person stated our log line was the best he’s ever read.

SAG-AFTRA / ACTRA Event

We were invited to one party hosted by the South African Film Office, but we opted to attend one jointly hosted by SAG-AFTRA and ACTRA. I felt as a board member of SAG-AFTRA I was better suited to meet and greet fellow members and union leaders. Overall a nice event and a need break from promoting our film’s development.


The big lesson we learned a little too late. Don’t expect to randomly meet some person in a festival that will have time to talk about the project you’re developing. Sure, there are many filmmakers willing to talk – and we were happy to do that. But the industry people you want, the financiers, distributors and sales reps are so busy doing business there’s not much time to meet. Their schedule doesn’t allow them to just grab a wine and mingle at some panel. The trick is: once you’ve purchased your industry pass, most festivals release a list of all the industry people attending. You must go down that list and reach out to preset meetings. The further in advance of the festival the better. We were able to secure one meeting in advance, that was a little harried because it started late, and we needed to catch the UP train back to our flight home.

Our lawyer had asked us to sit on one of several livestreamed panels about film that coincided with the festival which was featured on Torontoeco.tv. In addition to the development panel we spoke on, we stayed off camera to listen to all the other panels. This was a good move for heard some good advice, met a lot of good people -- all colleagues of our lawyer and who took our project seriously. According to the technician the streamed panels had 150,000 views worldwide.

We enjoyed a little down time as well, to pace ourselves and enjoy the city. I wouldn’t mind returning for a few days to play tourist in the early fall.

The overall lesson – plan far ahead when attending a festival. Try to make appointments to meet industry people long before you get there. Dress comfortable, specially shoes, and be armed with a good 1-sheet and lots of business cards, and pens and a notepad. Make sure your 1-sheet (or business cards) have whitespace where people can make notes.


Today we now start doing our follow-up. Bon chance!

Oh, yeah!? Well, we got MEGABALL$ !!

Thoughts on TIFF16

One of many TIFF screening theaters

We recently attended 5 days of the 2016 Toronto FilmFestival and would like to share our experience.


Toronto is a great city: good transportation, very clean and people are friendly. It feels like Manhattan with a European flair. The festival is centered downtown in the Entertainment District and almost everything is in walking distance. For those who cannot find accommodations nearby find one near the underground or trolley lines, which are very efficient.

We were able to put together the travel and hotel with loyalty points keeping the trip very affordable.  We used the new UP Express, a train which connects Pearson Airport to Union Station. $12 Canadian gets you there in 25 relaxing minutes. Our hotel, the Delta, was in walking distance of Union Station and boasted amazing views. We kept our food costs low by having large breakfasts at the hotel (included in our deal), and by taking advantage of the VIP lounge in the evenings, which offered a variety of food and drink (also included).

Our hotel view at night
We attended TIFF to get the experience of a major festival. I’ve heard it said, and found it to be true, that it’s a good idea to attend a major festival BEFORE you have a film entered. It’ll be a great learning experience to see how the festival runs, and how the industry works within the fest. Our new lawyer thought it would be good to join him and others who were attending, and to sit in on a panel.
Toronto at night

1-sheets at a meeting
TIFF is the largest festival in North America, and with 350 films screened in ten days it’s too large. Considering every day there are multiple premiers, screenings, panels, discussion, events and parties one cannot not physically make them all. There were several films I had hoped to see including The Bleeder (which a friend acted in) and EgonSchiele: Tod und Madchen. My grandfather schooled with Schiele at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. I'll definitely see both films when they open in NY.

I had written to a few friends who I knew were attending. At last minute one told me he had 1 extra ticket for The Bleeder but we had set other plans that day and time. The lines waiting for rush tickets were very long to almost every film, and those with the most buzz were impossible to get into. We focused on the panels, discussions and networking moments to learn as much as we could. Our intent was to learn all we could, network where possible, and to use TIFF as the jumping point of the reboot of our film, MegaBall$.

We were armed with some great looking one-sheets; heavy magazine glossy sheets with our poster on one side and details about the project on the other. We handed out where ever we could, but wished we totally depleted our supply before leaving. The response from those we talked with was very positive. They liked the concept, the 1-sheet, and one person stated our log line was the best he’s ever read.

SAG-AFTRA / ACTRA Event

We were invited to one party hosted by the South African Film Office, but we opted to attend one jointly hosted by SAG-AFTRA and ACTRA. I felt as a board member of SAG-AFTRA I was better suited to meet and greet fellow members and union leaders. Overall a nice event and a need break from promoting our film’s development.


The big lesson we learned a little too late. Don’t expect to randomly meet some person in a festival that will have time to talk about the project you’re developing. Sure, there are many filmmakers willing to talk – and we were happy to do that. But the industry people you want, the financiers, distributors and sales reps are so busy doing business there’s not much time to meet. Their schedule doesn’t allow them to just grab a wine and mingle at some panel. The trick is: once you’ve purchased your industry pass, most festivals release a list of all the industry people attending. You must go down that list and reach out to preset meetings. The further in advance of the festival the better. We were able to secure one meeting in advance, that was a little harried because it started late, and we needed to catch the UP train back to our flight home.

Our lawyer had asked us to sit on one of several livestreamed panels about film that coincided with the festival which was featured on Torontoeco.tv. In addition to the development panel we spoke on, we stayed off camera to listen to all the other panels. This was a good move for heard some good advice, met a lot of good people -- all colleagues of our lawyer and who took our project seriously. According to the technician the streamed panels had 150,000 views worldwide.

We enjoyed a little down time as well, to pace ourselves and enjoy the city. I wouldn’t mind returning for a few days to play tourist in the early fall.

The overall lesson – plan far ahead when attending a festival. Try to make appointments to meet industry people long before you get there. Dress comfortable, specially shoes, and be armed with a good 1-sheet and lots of business cards, and pens and a notepad. Make sure your 1-sheet (or business cards) have whitespace where people can make notes.


Today we now start doing our follow-up. Bon chance!

Oh, yeah!? Well, we got MEGABALL$ !!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Another film recommendation

Here's a trailer of an indie feature film made by some friends. The Brooklyn Banker (originally titled Lily of the Feast) is directed by Federico Castelluccio, and features Paul Sorvino and David Proval. I'm sure they would appreciated you sharing the link to the trailer....and watch for its release soon through Tricoast Distribution!


Written by Michael Ricigiliano and produced by Jeff Schneider. Michael was the playwright of Queen for a Day, a very effective mob story that had an Off-Broadway run in New York starring David Proval and Vincent Pastore, and now being turned into an indie film. Michael and Jeff are good guys and we're always running into each other somewhere, then we have a coffee and great conversation.

We're looking forward to seeing the film when it's released soon!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Recommending two films


I'm pleased to recommend the following two independent films. Seek them out!

The first film is title Equity, the first female driven story about Wall Street. What separates this is not only the story is female driven, but the team behind it are females: Written by Amy Fox, Directed by Meera Menon, and Produced by Alysia Reiner and Sarah Megan Thomas. I know several people on the project, including the DP (Eric Lin), Line Producer Brian David Cange, Executive Producer Candy Straight, and several of the cast members including Craig Bierko and David Alan Basche. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by Sony, with a release in New York in July. Watch the trailer below, watch for it later in July.



The second film is one I mentioned on my post about the 2016 GI Film Festival in Washington DC. The Unimaginable Journey of Peter Ertel, a feature length documentary. Director Joseph Cahn has found the perfect subject in Peter Ertel, a German man essentially forced into the German army during World War II, who survived many battles before being captured by the Americans, then being brought to the US, and later returning to Germany working on behalf of the US government, At the time of filming Peter Ertel was 96 years old. Ertel is a sympathetic and charming character who mesmerizes the audience. The film is searching for distribution, and you can watch a trailer below. It won a major award at the 2016 GI Festival. Visit the films web site.




On a personal note, in the next few days MegaBall$ will be listed on one of the first sites to take advantage of the new crowdfunding laws known as Title II and Title III, which went fully into effect on May 15, 2016. This will certainly help expand our reach to find private equity to shoot the film. 


For those unaware...Oroloro is developing a feature comedy film about computers, the lotto and the Mob.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

GIFFx in DC

I thought I'd recap my recent 9-day visit to the 2016 GI Film Festival (GIFF) in Washington, DC...their 10th year! (See the festival schedule here.)....my third time and, along with two others from SAG-AGFTRA, was a guest judge,


As part of a team from SAG-AFTRA -- a sponsor of the GIFF -- our bi-partisan committee, the Military Personnel and Family Support Committee, supported and attended the GIFF for the third year in a row. Among our group of actor-members are also veterans, including the committee Chair Rik Deskin (Air Force, president of the Seattle local), Vice-Chair Gene DeFrancis (Navy, of the New York local) and Marc Baron (Navy, NY Local Board), National SAG-AFTRA President Gabriel Carteris, National Secy/Treasurer Jane Austin, Susan Snyder (national board member from the Washington-Mid Atlantic local), Lance Lewman (president Washington-Mid Atlantic Local), Gale Nemec, Pamela Greenwalt (SAG-AFTRA Chief Communications and Marketing Officer), Kerri Wood (Legislative and Policy Matters Staff, and committee liaison), and SAG-AFTRA lobbyist, Todd Flournoy.
(L-r.: Todd Flournoy, Kerri Wood, Marc Baron, Rik Deskin, Congressman Ted Lieu,
Gabriel Carteris, Gene DeFrancis, Susan Snyder and Pamela Greenwalt.)
To be clear, the sole purpose of our visit is not to watch movies. We mingle with the filmmakers and promote the use of SAG-AFTRA members by explaining our various independent film contracts, we support the improvement of how veterans are portrayed in the media, we chat with many union members who attend the festival...and we talk with many local and national elected officials....and we visited the Walter Reed Hospital to chat with many outpatient recovering Vets.
(Rik Deskin, Marc Baron, Jane Austin, Susan Snyder and Gene DeFrancis
chatting with veterans at the Walter Reed Hospital.)

Some of officials attend the events, such as the VIP-only 10th Annual Congressional Reception Cannon Office Building (along with special guest, actor J. W. Cortes), or the evening of international films screened at the Canadian Consulate, and others are met in private quarters. Then there's the 'gauntlet'.  That's they day when Todd has scheduled numerous meetings in Capitol Hill that has us running - literally - from office to office and building to building. We discuss areas of concern to our members and our union's legislative efforts, such as film tax incentives and the Fair Play/Fair Pay Act ...and offer our support for veteran affairs.

Among the gauntlet meetings this year were Congressmen Tim Walz , Mike Bost, Marsha Blackburn and Ted Lieu, the Assistant Secretary of VETS, Mike Michaud,  and all of their assistants and advisors. It's quite an experience navigating the hallways of the Cannon House Office, Longworth House Office and Rayburn Office buildings. We met with Derrick Dockery, the former NFL football player who is now with the Office of the Speaker, located in the Capitol Building, who took us out to balcony for photos.

(Above -On The Capitol Balcony, L.-r.: Marc Baron, Susan Snyder, Rik Deskin, Derrick Dockery,
Kerri Wood, Gene DeFrancis, Todd Flournoy, Gabrielle Carteris in front. Below, the balcony view.)

Then there were the film, 78 in total - many made by veterans, all about the experiences of veterans and uniform service. Some were outstanding! My favorite two were documentaries on another perspective of World War II titled On the Wrong Side, and The Unimaginable Journey of Peter Ertel, which won a major festival award.

In addition, we were treated to special screenings of Top Gun, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Finest Hours (courtesy of Disney, presented by Jonathan Flora) and 13 Hours (about the Benghazi attacks). Following 13 Hours there was a Q&A with one fo the films actors, Dominic Fumusa, and three of the real "Secret soldiers" Kris 'Tonto' Paronto, John 'Tig' Tiegen and Tyrone Woods. Their story is an epic one, and was a fitting ending of the festival leading us to Memorial Day.
(L.r; Rik Deskin, Gene DeFrancis, Dominic Fumusa and Marc Baron.)
(L.-r.; John 'Tig' Tiegen, Rik Deskin, Gale Nemec, Marc Baron, Lance Newman and Gene DeFrancis)
(Above. After the screening, L.-r.: Festival founders Brendan Millett and Laura Lw Millet, Dominic Fumusa, John 'Tig' Tiegen, Kris 'Tonto' Paronto and Tyrone Woods.)
I also managed to get a few hours of my 9 days there and visit Washington museums and monuments....and now it's back to work and putting together my comedy feature, MegaBall$.

Overall, a fantastic trip. Good films, making new friends and connecting to filmmakers, glad-handing politicians, all while representing our union and fellow members with a fabulous team of dedicated union members. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Moving up again...

The ScreenCraft Screenplay contest is considered by many as one of the top 15 best contests in the world. In 2015 MegaBall$ placed in their comedy contest in the semi-finals. Of the more than 1260 international entries, we placed in the top ten percent!

We then continued shaping the screenplay, and this year re-entered the 2016 ScreenCraft Comedy Screenplay Contest , and we're pleased to announce we're in the quarter finals.


Stay tuned for the next elimination round!