Sunday, August 19, 2012

Film Festivals - Screening With Love, Marty and The Wheels

Before the new semester starts, I want to write briefly about my experiences with a few film festivals over the past year. I have had the pleasure of screening my last two films - The Wheels and With Love, Marty - theatrically at festivals in New York. Earlier this summer, I received notice that my film The Wheels won the Best Student Film award at the 2012 Metropolitan Film Festival of New York City. The Wheels premiered at the festival on Saturday, July 14th at The Producer's Club Theater on West 44th Street, screening alongside two other films in the final block of the evening. I was very lucky to have some of my collaborators on The Wheels accompany me to the screening, including actor Tom Corbisiero (who played the father in the film), cinematographer Benjamin Dewey and sound designer and mixer Bobb Barito.

Together, we accepted the Best Student Film award, and I participated in a brief Q&A with the audience after the screening (along with the other filmmakers whose work screened with The Wheels). I was so honored to receive this award for the project, and it was fantastic being able to have a "premiere," of sorts, for the movie (although I showed The Wheels alongside a few other student films at a small screening in Tisch earlier this year). If you want to see the full list of winners from the 2012 Metropolitan Film Festival of New York, please click on this link to their official website. If you are interested in seeing the official pictures from the festival (including me accepting the award), please click on this link. I will include some of the pictures from the festival in this post (and other pictures in a later post).

At the same time, my film With Love, Marty was nominated for the Best Student Film Award at the World Music and Independent Film Festival in Washington, D.C. I will not be able to attend the festival, which takes place from August 19th to August 25th, but I am excited for a film I finished over one year ago to still be nominated somewhere! If you want to see the full list of nominees for the World Music and Independent Film Festival, please click on this link to their official website.

Last November, With Love, Marty first premiered as an Official Selection of The 2011 Big Apple Film Festival in New York City. The movie, which was nominated for Best Student Film, screened at Tribeca Cinemas on Thursday, November 3rd in Program 16, along with five other films. In fact, With, Love Marty screened back-to-back with my good friend and roommate Bobb Barito's film Lead Me To The Clouds, for which I served as Assistant Director (the movies were both shot around the same time in April of 2011). It was a bizarre coincidence that our films screened back-to-back, and we had a great time attending the festival together and participating in a brief Q&A after the screening with the audience.

With Love, Marty was a particularly fun festival premiere because not only did Benjamin Dewey and actress Karen McFarlane join me for the screening, but the lead actress, the wonderful Alexis Gay, brought a large group of her friends and family members to the screening, ensuring that With Love, Marty had a large support group in the audience. Before and after the screening, we took some pictures in the cinema alongside the posters for With Love, Marty (designed by the endlessly talented Mr. Dewey). After the festival, the Marty crowd went to Alexis' apartment for post-screening food and drinks. It was an incredibly fun evening, and a wonderful festival experience for both Bobb and me. To check out The Big Apple Film Festival's 2011 Program Guide (including information about With Love, Marty and Lead Me To The Clouds), please visit this link to their website.

With Love, Marty also screened as an Official Selection of the Emerging Filmmakers Series in Rochester, New York last December. Because I was in Austin at the time, I was unable to attend the screening, but I recently came across an online blogger who had some kind words for the film. Read what Jason Olshefsky had to say about the movie by following this link to his blog. Here's a brief quote from his review:

"Starting out was With Love, Marty by Jack Kyser in which Kyser plays the central character: a college-age man desperate for the affection of a specific woman. I found his presentation to be brutally honest from all angles - I know from experience how it is to desperately desire someone, and to resort to honest, direct means that work only to sabotage any possible relationship."

I want to thank all of the great people who made these two movies with me. I'm thrilled to work with so many talented people, many of whom also did outstanding work on Jake the Cinephile just recently. I'm hoping to hear back from some more festivals in the near future, but until then, I wanted to give you a brief rundown of my experience with New York film festivals thus far. Bobb and Ben are similarly sending out their Intermediate Narrative films, Max Ages and Quitting, to many film festivals currently, and I look forward to seeing their pictures premiere at festivals (I had the honor of working as Assistant Director on both of those films, as well as editing Quitting). It's really something else to screen your work for a live audience - unnerving, certainly, but also quite gratifying. Thank you so much to the festivals for screening my work. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Introduction to Jake the Cinephile

Note: This summer, I wrote, directed and starred in a new film titled Jake the Cinephile. In a series of new posts, I will describe in great detail the production process of this picture. On July 19th, my IndieGoGo campaign to finance Jake the Cinephile officially ended. Not only did my team and I reach our $3500.00 goal, but - thanks to the enormous generosity of our contributors - we exceeded our goal by more than $500.00! The following is an email I sent out to our extraordinary IndieGoGo contributors a few days after we wrapped shooting: 

Dear Contributors,

Last weekend, my crew and I successfully completed principal photography on Jake the Cinephile. Thanks to your incredible contributions, we were able to have the most wonderful film shoot possible.

After a long day of renting out film equipment from several equipment houses on Thursday, July 26th, we began shooting early Friday morning at Tavern on Jane, a terrific West Village restaurant owned by the wonderful Horton Foote, Jr., who very graciously let us shoot in his establishment. After shooting there for five hours, we moved to our cinematographer Benjamin Dewey’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn to shoot one of the longer passages of the film, taking place on his apartment stoop and the sidewalk. The actress, the incredibly talented Bethany McHugh, and I shared one of our most important and poignant scenes, and this nighttime exterior accounts for some of the most beautiful footage in the film.

We shot Jake the Cinephile, by the way, on a Red Scarlet camera – one of the finest cameras available – thanks to the generosity of our 1st Assistant Cameraman, Justin Levine, who owns the camera. Ben and I decided to shoot the film with anamorphic lenses, which means the final film will have very wide frames.

On Saturday, one of our gaffers, Jon Annunziata, drove the crew and me up to Beacon, New York in a passenger van, where we were granted permission to shoot in the Beacon Theatre all day, under the supervision of its extraordinarily kind owner, Mr. Jim Brady. Our Assistant Director, Mike Cheslik, drove our equipment up separately with Ben, and we commenced shooting in the afternoon all the way into the late of night in the cinema. The footage from the theater shoot is quite fantastic – not only did the Beacon Theatre provide us with some outstanding production value, we were able to pull off some impressive camera movement in the space (and these scenes also allowed many of our crew members, including Mike, Jon, producer Erica Rose, gaffer Alexander Fofonoff and boom operator Charlie Rivera to make cameos in the movie as unruly cinema patrons). Also, actor Tom Corbisiero, who starred in my Intermediate Narrative film The Wheels, and actress Karen Mcfarlane, who starred in my film With Love, Marty, both joined us in Beacon for the shoot, and they did extraordinary work as even more obnoxious cinema patrons.

Because a large skylight overlooks the Beacon Theatre stage (and it is nearly impossible to block out the light with a tarp, as we did not have roof access), Ben and our G&E department ingeniously constructed a forty-foot tall, forty-foot wide silk on the stage with outrageously tall pipes that successfully blocked out the light for our entire day of shooting (until night set in) – you’d have to see this thing to believe it. After wrapping shooting for the day, the owner presented me with a souvenir from the theater – an original, large marquee letter (K, for Kyser) from when the Beacon first opened as a cinema in the 1930s (before then, it was an opera house that first began operating in the late 1800s).

After getting home late Saturday night, we set up early the next morning in my Lower East Side apartment for the most intense day of shooting yet – the ten-page climatic scene that ends the movie. This was a difficult performance day for both Bethany and me, as the scene gets fairly intense, and we had to run the oftentimes brutal and uncomfortable scene an endless number of times. Luckily, our art director, Madeline Wall, had already completed the outstanding production design in my apartment (including putting up wallpaper, re-decorating our bookshelves and kitchen area, and changing the look of the apartment entirely) the week before shooting began. This scene really makes the movie, and although it was a physically exhausting scene (I admit to losing my voice completely by the end of the shoot), it was an exhilarating thing to film, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work we did.

Throughout the shoot, producers Harry Tarre and Erica Rose (as well as Line Producer Liz DeBold) provided us with nourishing food and water at all times, and Mike ran our set with more energy and efficiency than I’ve ever seen from an Assistant Director (which was essential, given that I was both directing and acting in the film). It’s also worth mentioning that Mike drove our Budget Van with all of our equipment the entire weekend – I cannot thank him enough for that. Both Bethany and I received feedback and acting advice constantly from script supervisor Nicole Cobb, who accompanied me to many rehearsals and served as a back-up director and reinforcer of performance notes. And my roommate and good friend Bobb Barito was our sound mixer, and I feel so lucky to continue my collaboration with him (he’s well-known as one of the best sound designers at our school).

If you are friends with me on Facebook, be sure to check out some of our set photographs that I have posted in an album (taken by our set photographer and media manager Jeremy Keller, who backed up our camera cards of footage every day on several hard drives). This will give you an inside look behind-the-scenes of our massive shoot. In the coming weeks, I will post stills from the actual film. Ben and I are in the process of un-squeezing all of our footage at the Tisch School of the Arts Post-Production Center (which essentially means converting the footage to the right anamorphic settings). I hope you’ll find that the movie looks as extremely professional as I do – because of your generosity, we were able to shoot with state-of-the-art film equipment, obtain incredible locations, and provide for a crew that nearly exceeded twenty people at one time. In short, I have you to thank for the professionalism of this film.

I also want to thank the entire crew of Jake the Cinephile – I can’t begin to express my gratitude to Bethany and the outstanding crew of geniuses, including Ben, Mike, Erica, Harry, Bobb, Nicole, Justin, Madeline, Jon, Nicholas Giuricich, Tomson Tee, Alex, Jeremy, Liz, Dennis Dembeck, Tom and Karen. I’m so honored to work with these brilliant and talented individuals.

IndieGoGo will only let me post one image per update, and it’s incredibly tough to just show three pictures from our extraordinary shooting weekend. They don’t represent even one-eighteenth of the things you made possible with your contributions! I do not know how to begin thanking all of you for your enormous kindness and support in making this movie possible. I look forward to keeping you updated with the progress of Jake the Cinephile, as we finish shooting pick-up material this upcoming week and head into post-production on the film. Thank you so much for believing in me and this project.


Jack Kyser