Reel Focus continues this month by bringing awareness to the issue of domestic violence. Last week, we gained insight into this topic from Tiffany Hill, executive producer of the film THE LAST TIME, as she shared with readers her own personal struggle with domestic violence and how she broke free from it. This week we highlight another film that diverges a bit from the topic of domestic abuse and zeros in on the misogyny of women – a distorted belief about women that is often the basis for domestic abuse. HONEY TRAP, directed by Rebecca Johnson, features a teenage girl whose gender is placed on the trial of public scrutiny for the violence that erupts between two men.
Thank you so much, Rebecca, for participating in this very important blog segment on domestic violence. Can you begin by telling us what HONEY TRAP is about and what inspired you to create such a film?
HONEYTRAP is the story of 15 year old Layla who gets drawn into gang culture and a love triangle that leads to murder. It comes out of my having worked for more than 10 years making films with young people in Brixton, in the world where the film is set.
One of the first things that struck me as I got to know these young people was how little things had changed in the 20 years since I’d been their age in terms of the sexual double standard.
Girls were caught in the same impossible bind: the expectation of being both sexy – though a not a slag, god forbid – but also tough, adhering to the same macho persona as the boys, in order to be respected by them. The film is based on a real case that took place close to where I live. Media coverage used the youth and prettiness of the girl as a sensational story, titillating almost. The prosecution lawyer in the case described her as ‘knowing exactly what she was doing, manipulating her sexuality with expertise’. She was characterized as a femme fatale, even though she was a minor.
This really brought home for me how the double standard is enforced, not only by peer pressure but by society. As we know, the sexualization of women, even as children, is intrinsic to the way they are judged and found culpable in their own mistreatment.
I knew the story behind the press coverage. I knew how it would have felt to be this girl and I wanted to take audiences on a journey with her from the inside. Not seeing her as an inhuman monster but as a kid who spirals out of control in the grip of emotions she can’t control and without the stabilizing support of a strong family structure.
How did you get your film to be a part of Array’s network?
HONEYTRAP played at Urban World film festival in New York and the lovely Gabrielle Glore who runs UW told Ava about it and put us in touch. It was a lovely case of being recommended by one supportive woman in film to another! It’s a great honor for me to be included in the Array stable and the best possible launch for the film in the US.
Tell our readers where across the U.S. they can view this film.
HONEYTRAP is currently available via Netflix in the U.S. and Canada. Tour dates included New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston, Houston, Nashville, Montgomery and Gary. More screening dates may be added at www.arraynow.com/honeytrap/
Atlanta Screening Date: Sunday, October 16
Screening Time: 3PM
Location: Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History
Address: 101 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303
RSVP Link: http://bit.ly/2dK7wxx
JOIN THE CONVERSATION! TELL US WHAT YOU THOUGHT OF HONEY TRAP BY COMMENTING BELOW.
Check out our previous article with Array – Ayanda.
This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Reel Focus is placing this very serious topic at the forefront of the blog all month long. Often this is a topic that triggers fear and denial in many women but our aim is to create a comfortable place for women who may be victims or for women who want to provide support to unify and discuss how to combat this growing issue in our society. To kick off this fight against domestic abuse, Tiffany Hill, a member of Women in Film and Television Atlanta, author of Authentic Me, and executive producer of the amazing film THE LAST TIME, joins us to lead the discussion on this serious issue and share with readers how she is working to make the world a safer place for women.
Tiffany, thank you so much for bringing this topic to our attention. I was very glad that you reached out to me to share this topic with Reel Focus. In fact, I was so glad that I decided to devote an entire month to this subject. This is a critical issue for women and it is great that a women’s organization like Women in Film and Television Atlanta unite with other women’s organizations and filmmakers around this topic. First, can you tell us more about yourself and how you got to this point in your career as a filmmaker.
I am originally from Spearsville, Louisiana and mother to three young sons- Tyler, Trent and Tanner. Presently, I am an employment/labor law attorney licensed in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Ohio. I earned my Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Civil Law degrees from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center and my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Southern University, both located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My professional and civic memberships include the Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma bar associations, the Society for Human Resource Management, the National Association of Professional Women, Women in Film and Television- Atlanta, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and The Links, Incorporated. My board affiliations include the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs, the American Psychological Association, Board of Educational Affairs and the YWCA, Human Resources Committee.
I utilize my legal expertise as an advocate for increased awareness surrounding the issue of domestic violence. I am author of Authentic Me: A Story of Strength, Perseverance and Faith, wherein I share my personal story as a survivor of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. I am Executive Producer of “The Last Time,” a film project aimed at educating and empowering domestic abuse survivors. I host a motivational podcast, “Authentic Conversations,” which delivers content on such topics as self-worth, professional development, emotional and spiritual health. I manage a Facebook group entitled ‘Authentic Me’ which is designed to provide a place for domestic abuse survivors to heal and grow authentically with the support of others. Additionally, I collaborate with national organizations to cultivate emerging young leaders through mentorship programs.
Among the mantras by which I live is: “To live authentically is the ultimate form of happiness.”
Is domestic violence something that you have direct experience with? If so, tell other women a little about your experience and how you were able to break free and gain control of your situation.
My ability to be able to assist other women through their abusive situations began with me finding the strength to share my personal story of abuse. Initially, it was difficult to voice that I had experienced physical and emotional abuse as a professional woman. I felt that this revelation would somehow make me appear weak. However, it was also my desire that my testimony be used to encourage someone else along their journey.
My passion is rooted in a desire to raise awareness of an issue that is often swept under the rug, particularly within the African American community. As an attorney and survivor of domestic abuse, it pained me to experience court systems and officials who did not understand domestic violence or the manipulation tactics used by the abuser. My desire to eradicate domestic abuse begins with people comprehending what abuse entails and ensuring the abused have the support and resources they need. I strongly believe that when people are free to share their stories without judgment and be supported, it will lessen the likelihood that they remain in abusive situations that threaten their health and safety.
Tell us more bout your book Authentic Me and your film THE LAST TIME.
I am author of Authentic Me: A Story of Strength, Perseverance and Faith, which details a tumultuous marriage rippled with abuse, infidelity and psychological manipulation. These painful, private truths are masked by the appearance of a perfect public lifestyle which causes the author to harbor guilt and internalize pain. At her breaking point, she must decide to uncover the mask and rediscover her authentic self. As she begins down the path of purposeful healing, she realizes that the most difficult yet necessary part of her journey would be the ability to forgive.
Authentic Me: A Story of Strength, Perseverance and Faith is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. It is the first in a series of Authentic Me books with a focus on overcoming the trauma of domestic abuse. Authentic Me: The Forgiveness Journey, is scheduled for publication late 2016.
I am Executive Producer of THE LAST TIME film, which depicts the story of a modern day power couple whose seemingly perfect life contradicts their private encounters with abuse. The film compels discussion regarding the warning signs of abuse, support mechanisms, self-worth and authenticity. There will be people who view The Last Time and reflect upon how the many facets of abuse have shown up in their own lives and/or how domestic violence has affected those close to them. This platform allows for continued dialogue and awareness regarding the issue of domestic abuse and is what makes this film important: it will change lives.
“The Last Time” is written and directed by Justin Poage of Fifteen Studios, a multimedia company in Atlanta, Georgia. The producers include Reece Odum, Wardell Richardson, Charmin Lee and Tommy Ford. The film is intended for initial film festival exhibition beginning in early 2017.
The Last Time features experienced actors with phenomenal talent. Cast members include Lead Actress Reece Odum as “Jasmine Brimly”; Lead Actor Wardell Richardson as “Justin Brimly”; Tommy Ford as “Chief Winston”; Charmin Lee as “Erica Rockwell”; DeEtta West as “Mother”; Angelo Diaz as “Kirk”; LaDarian Raymond as “Kevin Pullen”; Sy Sayonara as “Sheila Pullen”; Gara Coffey as “Sienna”; Michelle Valines as “Woman in Domestic Disturbance Scene”; Don Scully as “Man in Domestic Disturbance Scene”; Dilyara Akhundov as “Jennifer”; Victor Santore as “Paul”; Tina Bliese as “Private Investigator”; and Telesa Hines as “Poet”. Additionally, the support group scene features courageous survivors of domestic abuse.
The production team includes Kenneth Bradley (Director of Photography), Carlos Ramirez (Boom Operator), Shayla Infante (Key Makeup Artist/Special Effects Makeup Artist), Tony Acey (Makeup Artist), Delacia Tolbert (Photographer), Carla M. Johnson (Photographer) and Christian Davis (Production Assistant).
For women suffering in silence right now, share with them how they can gain the strength necessary to break free in the way that you did.
Do not endure incidents of domestic abuse in silence. These situations could easily turn fatal. Seek the counsel of experienced professionals. You can begin by contacting The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or appropriate law enforcement agencies. Ensure your safety and exit immediately. Though it may seem daunting, you owe it to yourself to take actions that are best for you, your family and your overall health.
Finally, do not let what you have gone through define you. Grow through your experiences and always remain true to your authentic self.
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For additional information, visit my webpage at www.thauthentic.com or connect via social media @th_authentic. For sponsorship opportunities, film screenings, cast interviews or additional inquiries contact LastTimeMovie@gmail.com. Join our online community by following @LastTimeMovie on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Don’t forget to check the premiere of – The Last Time. This is one of Tommy Mikal Ford’s (actor on the hit show “Martin”) last acting roles.
THE LAST TIME, Film Premiere
It’s happening… and you don’t want to miss it!
JOIN US FOR THE OFFICIAL PREMIERE OF THE LAST TIME:
Aspiring film and television professionals tend to believe that their success in the industry will be quick and easy. This false belief often comes from only seeing successful celebrities when they have reached an apex in their careers. Success in film and television is anything but quick and easy. Sharon Martin, executive producer for one of the most popular shows on Oxygen – Snapped – knows all too well that success in television is not an overnight fantasy. Before becoming the narrator for one of the most top-rated crime shows on cable, she experienced the highs and the lows of what it takes to succeed in this industry.
This week, she shares with Reel Focus readers her journey to being an ‘overnight’ success and even shares a few tips on how you too can succeed in this vacillating world.
Sharon, I want to sincerely thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your story with Reel Focus readers. It is an honor to have you on our blog. For those who are not familiar with who you are because we rarely see you, tell us what you do in the world of television.
Right now, I do two jobs: I’m the narrator for Oxygen’s Snapped series and I’m also the show’s co-executive producer. So viewers hear my voice, but the bulk of my workday is getting the episodes put together in post-production and getting them delivered to the network on schedule. I also spend part of my time doing viewer outreach for the series on social media.
Before becoming the Queen of Crime TV, tell us about your past experiences in television.
I’ve been with Snapped for more than a decade, but I’ve had quite a few other jobs in television. I started as a local news reporter. I spent several years at CNN as a news writer. Eventually, I moved into program production and even did a few years as a promo producer at lifestyle network. I’ve made it through layoffs and network rebrands and the skill that keeps me going is storytelling. Whether I’m working on a live news hour, promos or a true-crime series, the common thread is the ability to put a story together that engages. The product may change but those producing skills transfer.
Would you say that you have found your niche in the world of television or is this just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you plan to do in the future.
The answer is both, hopefully. I’ve found my niche for now. Snapped is a perfect fit for my skills and voice. But there’s one constant when working in television, and that’s change. When I started as a local news reporter, I never would have imagined I would be the narrator and producer of a long-running true-crime cable series. When Snapped started, we never expected it to run into 20+ seasons. So, I do hope this is the tip of the iceberg, and I’m excited to see where the next 10 years takes me.
Finally, share your advice with our readers on 1) how to break into the industry and 2) how to remain successful.
Everyone is making content everywhere right now, whether it’s for broadcast, cable or streaming media. If you are just getting started, find a local production company and take an entry-level position. Work your way through a few projects and learn a few things about every aspect of production. Then work hard, be flexible and build trust with the people around you. If they trust you on one project, they’ll remember you for the next one. Build your skills with each new opportunity and pay attention to the ever-changing media landscape.
When I started narrating, there was no Twitter, but now interacting with fans is part of my job. And honestly, a big part of it is simply timing and luck. I never intended to be a narrator, but I was working as a producer on Snapped. Because I had radio and local news experience, I did the scratch voiceover, the temporary audio and one day they needed a new narrator. It’s an exciting time to be in the business because there are so many paths to success and there are new opportunities every day.
If you are an avid Georgia film supporter, then you already know that there is a lot of growth taking place in Georgia with regard to film production. So much growth is taking place that Georgia is often referred to as the ‘Hollywood of the South.’ The spotlight has been on us for several years but critics challenge that Georgia is no more than the latest fly by night sensation in film that will most likely meet with the same fate as states like North Carolina or Louisiana. This could become a reality if local film supporters don’t come up with out-of-the-box ideas that could strengthen the film community in Georgia.
A game changer for Georgia to remain relevant and to effectively compete with California and New York in the film industry would be to create strong, stable writing communities in Georgia that support the local film industry. One way to begin to laying the foundation for strong writing communities is to begin to grow local writing talent and to attract more writing professionals to Georgia. This week, Jason Gordon, Director of Communications at the Writer’s Guild of America-East, shares with Reel Focus readers what it means to be a part of the Writer’s Guild and how to start establishing and sustaining professional writing communities in Georgia through developing signatories.
First tell our readers what the Writer’s Guild is and how important it is in the world of film and television.
The Writers Guild of America, East is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programs, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers’ views to various bodies of government.
Tell us what a signatory is and how important it is for a company to be an authorized WGA signatory as opposed to not being a signatory.
A signatory company is an employer that has signed a collective bargaining agreement with WGA. Any company intending to employ a Guild member or option, or purchase literary material from a Guild member must become signatory to the Guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement, the collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that covers screen, television, and new media writers.
Signatory companies range from the industry’s biggest film studios to independent production companies, and broadcast networks to webisode production companies.
Becoming a signatory means that you can hire professional writers. WGAE members can only work for companies that are signatory to Guild contracts.
I’m sure you have heard of the growth of film in Georgia. Would the presence of more professional writing signatories improve the local film production market?
More signatories in Georgia means more opportunities for Georgia’s film production community to work with Writers Guild members, who are the gold standard in writing for the screen and television.
Can you conclude with a step-by-step process on who should consider becoming a signatory and how to become a signatory.
The process to becoming a signatory is extremely easy. Simply fill out the WGAE’s 2014 MBA signatory application by clicking the link below:
Is it filled with love? Is it filled with hate? Is it filled with joy? Is it filled with fear? Is it optimistic? It is all of these things and more as you will see life unfold through the filmmakers featured at this year’s BronzeLens Festival.
There are not many places in the world where you will be able to witness a concerted effort to place the stories that matter most to people of color on the big screen. This weekend, August 25-28 in Atlanta, Georgia will be the exception.
A story about how a rope – something that symbolized so much terror, pain, struggle and even murder in the black communities of yesteryear – acts as a coat of arms that ties one New York family firmly to its past and to the future.
The story of a woman from Lagos who is struggling with the type of woman she was and the one that she has become after being entrapped in the Brazilian sex industry.
Witness the nation’s most successful women of color. . .
Hear the stories of five distinguished women of color – Margaret Avery, Julie Dash, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Nina Yang Bongiovi, and Dawn Gillam – who will be honored during the BronzeLens Women SuperStars Luncheon on August 26, 2016.
This weekend, witness history in the making as BronzeLens celebrates the seventh year of ‘promoting Atlanta as the new film Mecca for people of color.’
There is a new phenomenon that is sweeping the world of business and it is known as crowdfunding. Although this is a new form of raising money in the world of business, this concept originated many years ago. Crowdfunding, which is also known as micro financing, began in the 18th and 19th century as a way to assist Irish rural families who may not have been able to obtain funding through traditional means. In recent years, it has become a way for artists, writers, entertainers or virtually anyone to obtain funds from peer groups instead of traditional financial institutions.
This week, I want to focus on how crowdfunding can be a good opportunity for film makers to raise the funds necessary to produce their film projects. I have invited John Trigonis, Film and Creative Campaign Strategist at Indiegogo to provide us insight into their world of crowdfunding.
Thank you so much John for taking time out of your busy schedule to share this information with Reel Focus readers. For those of us who are not familiar with Indiegogo, explain what it is and how crowdfunding relates to your company.
Indiegogo enables creators (filmmakers, artists, and entrepreneurs) to fund what they’re passionate about by giving them the tools needed to raise small amounts of money from large amounts of people, thus raising not only the funds you need for your film, but an audience with awareness around that film.
How does your company help those who want to raise money for film projects?
Indiegogo provides the necessary tools to help filmmakers excel at not only the art and science behind crowdfunding, but also on how to find and engage a targeted audience for their film. Tactics like secret perks and referral contests help to make Indiegogo campaigns stand out from the rest and fosters conversations between the backers and the campaigning filmmakers. Being a merit-based platform, we enable opportunities for filmmakers to be featured on the site (homepage, newsletter, and social media) so they can reach a wider audience of potential backers who may not have learned about the film campaign otherwise, if not for checking out Indiegogo for cool film campaigns.
Do you have to know something about investing in order to get involved in crowdfunding?
Since crowdfunding with Indiegogo is rewards-based at present, you don’t need to know anything about investing because it’s not an investment. It’s a contribution to make a film happen, and what you get in exchange for that contribution is a cool perk (a T-shirt, copy of the film when it’s released, or even associate or executive producer credit.)
What is the best advice that you can provide for filmmakers who want to raise funds for production using Indiegogo?
The first is to read my book or the Indiegogo Film Handbook, which dives into everything filmmakers need to know about running a stellar campaign. But if there were two pieces of advice I could give now, the first would be set a proper goal amount, one that you as a filmmaker are certain you can get at least 30% of from your family members and close friends. If you can get that amount within three days of the launch, then you stand a very good chance of hitting your goal long before your deadline, and possibly surpassing your initial crowdfunding goal to raise lots more funding. And lots more funding is always a good thing for filmmakers. The second piece of advice I would give is to get social, and start now. You should have some semblance of an audience for the film you want to crowdfund –– or at the very least an engaged following –– before you launch your Indiegogo campaign. You’ll ultimately build up even more of a following the more evangelists you have spreading the word ardently about your film across their social media accounts, which builds up credibility for you and the film you’re crowdfunding with Indiegogo for.
The summer is almost over but the fun and excitement that Women in Film and Television Atlanta has to offer is still going full steam. This year has been a game-changing year for WIFTA as we have stepped it up a notch with plenty of activities and workshops to keep members engaged. To keep up with this momentum, WIFTA is putting on its first ever Whisky Party at Gallery 874.
What’s a Whiskey Party?
The main purpose of a whisky party is to loosen up and mingle with new people in order to network and share ideas. In our case, it is an industry mixer in which people who love the growing film industry here in Georgia are able to get out and meet like-minded people who are all striving to make it big. A party like this could represent an opportunity for you to toast to a new partnership with a great actor or great screenwriter who could help you take your production to another level. Are you interested in coming yet? Well let’s discover more about the venue and perhaps this will get you a little more inspired.
More about the Venue. . .
On August 6, WIFTA along with Gallery 874 will be hosting one of the most exciting industry mixers of the year. In order to enjoy this exciting experience you have to be there and if you are not convinced of how important it is for you to be at this event, Nabil Mousa, is here to tell you more about this unique venue in order to pique your interest.
Nabil, thank you for sharing this information with our readers and most importantly thank you for hosting this event. I really want our readers to get a feel for how fabulous this event will be and I think that one way to do this is to describe this beautiful venue. Tell us about what guest will be able to see when they arrive.
Gallery 874 is a unique space that has been transformed from a large, open warehouse into a state of the art, modern and contemporary gallery. We offer two distinct spaces that can accommodate large to small events and intimate settings such as corporate events, party venues, wedding receptions, bar mitzvah’s and of course art sculptures and exhibits.
The main gallery is 8500 square feet of open space with 16-foot ceilings, a VIP area, and a prep kitchen. The walls are adorned with the artwork of Mousa. This space can be masterfully transformed through lighting, sound, and draping with easy access to rigging points and power throughout the space.
The artist studio consists of 5000 square feet that house the artist’s current work as well as works in progress. This space is ideal for anyone who is looking for something unique. You and your guests will have the rare opportunity to view the artist’s work in its most vulnerable state. This is the kind of setting that opens up dialogue for guests. The artist may even be available to be present at the event for a limited time to talk to your guests and engage them in the process of his artwork. Mousa loves the opportunity to talk about his work with others.
This event will be one of the greatest film and television mixer events of the year. Don’t miss it!
Hollywood is big business and with big business comes big budgets and large amounts of people who need to be paid before, during and even well after a production is finished. This is a very complicated process but luckily one agency understands just how to navigate this complicated process. Indiepay has provided 10 years of commitment to the film industry, ensuring HR services are handled accurately and adequately. This week, Reel Focus ventures into the world of payroll management for film by shining light on this very innovative accounting company.
What exactly is Indiepay and how does it relate to the film industry?
Indiepay is the fastest-growing provider of payroll, financial and tax credit services to the film and TV industry. For over a decade, we’ve helped production executives, line producers, and production accountants with payroll, accounting, and tax compliance solutions.
With Indiepay, film and TV executives get exactly what they need to run their production businesses better: the best service, flexible and efficient software solutions and complete transparency. We are highly consultative and when there is money to be saved, we help our clients understand their options for realizing those savings, and customize our solutions to meet their needs.
The market for entertainment payroll and financial services has grown to more than $500MM; we see great opportunities to expand into broader enterprise solutions for producers.
Indiepay is also a leading technology company. Our proprietary software Indieware was designed by an expert team of production accountants to meet the unique needs of film and television cost accounting. Indieware provides an intuitive, easy-to-use solution for production accounting teams that saves time and money.
Do you provide assistance to television and feature film patrons? Is the process the same?
Indiepay serves a wide range of feature films and scripted and unscripted television productions. For productions with budgets over $2MM, our pricing model can provide significant savings versus our competitors. We are the perfect starting point for both film and TV producers looking for ways to capitalize on potential fringe savings in their budgets.
Tell us some of the big names that you have worked with in the film and entertainment industry.
Our television clients include Gurney Productions (Duck Dynasty), Crazy Legs Productions (Swamp Murders), Left/Right (Mob Wives), Eastern TV (Love & Hip Hop), Bobbcat Films (Mann & Wife) and Jax Media (Inside Amy Schumer). We also have a feature film portfolio that includes Carol, While We’re Young, Top Five, The Family Fang, Miles Ahead, Christine, Hot Summer Nights and more.
I saw that you do have an Atlanta location. Tell us what services this local branch provides for clients.
At Indiepay we aim to be where our clients need us. The Georgia film industry is one of the largest in the US, we are proud to be here and to support productions here in every way we can. Our Georgia office is located in the popular Buckhead district. The Indiepay Atlanta team is phenomenal and provides productions with access to the full range of services we offer in our New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans offices, with the added benefit of local support. These services include:
» Union and Non-Union Payroll
» Workers’ Compensation Insurance
» Unemployment Claims Management
» Production and Post-Production Accounting
» Tax Credit Management and Reporting
» ACA Compliance
» Benefits Packages
» Cutting-Edge Software
We’re committed to serving the business needs of the Georgia entertainment industry.
Last month, Women in Film and Television Atlanta treated members and non-members alike to a meeting providing insight into the world of film production. The meeting, held at GPB, was arranged as a panel discussion that was led by WIFTA President Cheryl Jenkins and included panel members Al Dickerson, Christine Leuthold, and Jeffrey Stepakoff.
Cheryl began the evening with a powerful statement – “energy follows intention” – followed by an example of how she broke into the film business, which for her happened in a very non-traditional way. Cheryl obtained a degree in finance at Michigan State University and after she graduated, she began working in finance in the car industry. Upon transferring with Toyota to LA, she acquired a lucky break that landed her on the set of the hit show “Moesha.” This example was followed by Al Dickerson’s example of his pathway into the film industry which for him also began in a very non-traditional way. He was in LA driving shuttle buses and eventually landed a gig as a transportation coordinator for a major production studio. From there, he worked his way up to a production manager. Jeffrey Stepakoff took a very traditional route into film. He grew up in Georgia and attended college at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill majoring in theater and advertising. He later attended Carnegie Mellon where he acquired an MFA in play writing. His first job was in motion picture marketing at Universal but this eventually led to an opportunity to showcase his writing skills creating specs for television shows such as Charles in Charge and Simon & Simon. Christine’s background is in marketing but not within the film industry, however. She has extensive experience in the fashion industry beginning her career by working for designer Ralph Lauren.
After everyone discussed how they entered their respective fields, Christine began a discussion about self-marketing. She mentioned that one of her pet peeves in the self-promotion process is the use of the word “networking” because in her opinion this word implies work. Instead, she mentioned that those who are promoting themselves should begin to use the word “netplay” or “netplaying” because this implies that meeting people is fun, not work. Another critical point that she made is that those engaged in self-promotion should move away from traditional three-minute elevator speeches and instead work on creating an even shorter speech that highlights key details about one’s core brand identity. All of these self-promotion tactics are critical in any career situation but it is especially relevant to those in the film industry who have a very short amount of time to make a big impression on very busy film professionals.
Jeffrey took the meeting in a different direction by discussing the latest developments in film taking place in Georgia. He captivated the audience who was really excited to hear about how the state of Georgia is investing in its film future in order to ensure that our film program won’t dwindle like the one in Louisiana and North Carolina has recently. Providing education through the Georgia Film Academy, now under Jeffrey’s leadership, is a major way that the state of Georgia is investing in homegrown talent that can fill many of the positions on local production sets.
The panel discussion lasted approximately an hour and was followed by a question and answer session which included an enthusiastic audience eager to ask the panel members lots of interesting questions. Many of these questions centered around film developments in Georgia which were primarily answered by Jeffrey. After the panel discussion was complete, the crowds dispersed to enjoy light snacks and a brief meet and greet with panel members.
As I said before and I can’t say it enough, we love our growing film industry here in Georgia and to show how much we love it, Reel Focus has dedicated the month of May to Georgia film vendors who help make film possible here in Georgia. As we round out the month of May, we pay homage to another great household name in film production – iZotope.
Tell Reel Focus readers what iZotope does for its clients both for film production and non-film production.
iZotope is an audio technology company. We develop professional audio software solutions for every stage of the audio post production workflow. RX Audio Editor is our most well-known product within post production. It’s the industry standard for repairing and enhancing your production audio. RX actually won an Emmy Award in 2013 for its technical achievements. It’s important for us at iZotope to deliver solutions throughout our entire product line that enable our users to ultimately produce higher-quality productions.
What sets iZotope apart from other industry leading sound editors?
At iZotope we put a lot of value in keeping connected with the end users of the industry. We spend a lot of time learning and understanding what tools can improve the type of work they are doing, whether they are individual contributors such as freelancers or folks working on the top films of the year. Establishing these kinds of partnerships keeps us focused on solving their top challenges and problems they deal with on a day-to-day basis.
We focus our solutions for post production in two major categories. The first is improving the speed of their audio workflows. We want to free up time to spend on creative tasks or simply starting your next project sooner. Our other focus is developing innovative, groundbreaking technologies to improve audio quality quickly and easily, in a way that no other products provide. For example, being able to remove/reduce noises, distortions, plosives, reverb…or match the ambience or EQ from some production audio to another recording.
We also put a lot of effort into educating folks at all levels of experience on how to get the best results at any stage of their audio productions using different techniques and approaches. We provide a lot of free resources online for folks to learn about these techniques at https://www.izotope.com/en/learning/post-production/.
Tell us some of the big names that you have worked with in film and entertainment.
Some of the more well-known facilities we’ve worked includes ESPN, NFL Network, Warner Brothers, Disney, Skywalker Sound, and NBC Universal. Our products have been used in feature films like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as well as Captain America and Ant-Man. In television, some of the bigger names include Game of Thrones, Entourage, Deadliest Catch, House of Cards, Orange is The New Black, Daredevil, Dexter, The Good Wife, Glee, Lost…the list goes on and on!
For those who are in sound engineering or want to become sound engineers, can you provide pointers on how they can develop their talent and their portfolio?
It’s important to have reference mixes to compare your mixes to. If you find a mix you think sounds great, keep it somewhere you can easily access. Reference mixes can provide great guidance on where to take your own mix. They’re also good reality checks for the times you get too involved in the minutia and lose sight of the mix as a whole.
Another pointer is to learn your tools inside out. Time is money in post production, and every second counts. Key commands and other shortcuts are great for speeding up your workflow—learn and use them!
Develop your critical listening skills with ear-training tools. The more familiar your ears are with the frequency spectrum, the quicker you’ll be able prescribe solutions for mix issues. There are many free ear-training tools online, including iZotope’s Pro Audio Essentials course.
Participating in user groups and other industry organizations is a great way to network and build connections. Finally, get paid for your work! We’ve all done the free job for “exposure” at some point, but the pay you accept can reflect on your confidence and pride in your own work. Charge what you believe your time is worth.