Director Biography – Jonathan Levy (UNLEASHED)

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Jonathan Levy is an award-winning director/screenwriter from North Carolina who came up in New York City studying sketch-writing at the Upright Citizens Brigade and acting at HB Studio and the Neighborhood Playhouse.

His first short play, ‘Camping Out’ was produced by the Collective NY to critical acclaim and ‘Unleashed’ is his first short film.

He graduated from Brandeis University with at B.A. in Philosophy of Near Eastern & Judaic Studies and then at Hunter College where he received a Master’s in Geography.

In addition to his career in film, Jonathan is an accomplished drummer and played the streets, clubs and toured the country with NYC’s legendary Stumblebum Brass Band, appearing on America’s Got Talent and sharing the stage with The Black Lips and The Roots. He loves Duke Basketball and all Caribbean food.

Director Statement

The story of Unleashed came out of my own struggles as an actor in NYC over the past 10 years, where I was on and off straddling demanding day jobs and trying to break into the industry. I wanted to create a film in which to see these tensions play out and I had to look no further to my friend and collaborator, Nick Feitel who plays the lead.

Nick is, in real life, a dog walker based in Brooklyn. Watching him abandon his friends mid-hangout to go do a whirlwind of dog related duties from sitting, walking to boarding, I realized I could capture an interesting lifestyle, that of the dogwalker, which has yet to be documented in its comical glory.

Finally, while I was developing the concept of the pilot, the wonderful actor, Geoffrey Owens got “job shamed” when his photo was taken while working at Trader Joes. The story went viral during the writing of Unleashed.

The “if you are successful, you will be happy” is all faulty logic. I hope to explore through Unleashed that the relentless pursuit of fame is not necessarily an end goal and if nothing else, should not come at the cost of one’s own self-worth and well being.

Director Biography – Anders Teig (RUBBISH ROBBERS)

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Anders has done a lot of live TV-directing and debuted with his first fiction-film Haikeren starring Kristofer Hivju in 2013. Since then he has been working on both short and feature film scripts. He has also written a supernatural mystery novel which was released at the end of 2018, called “Den bemerkelsesverdige bysten”. He is currently in pre-production of a new short film which is set to start shooting in December 2019.

Director Statement

We live in a time where no one seems to accept the blame for their own wrongdoings. I wanted to show an extreme version of this and thought it might be fun to see what happens if a premium idiot screws up a robbery and completely denies his own wrongdoing. I must admit that I also have not always been able to take responsibility for my own actions and I do believe this is a universal truth about us as human beings. I hope the audience will laugh and enjoy themselves and maybe recognize something from their own history, albeit not as bloody and crazy as in this story. At least I hope not.

Director Biography – Portlynn Tagavi (THEY WON’T LAST)

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Portlynn is a half Persian, half African American filmmaker who has just received her Masters in Directing at AFI where she developed her skills as a writer and director for narrative film. Originally from Houston Texas, Portlynn moved out to California in 2010 to study Character Animation at the California Institute of the Arts. During her studies, she interned with Pixar Studios where she developing her skills in visual language and narrative structure. Before attending AFI she spent three years working professionally as a Character and Story Artist for Fox, Paramount, Psyop, the Jim Henson Company (SPLASH AND BUBBLES) and DreamWorks (TROLLS: THE BEAT GOES ON!) before making the jump to live action directing. She is now currently developing future projects as well as teaching Story development part-time at CalArts.

Director Statement

Having grown up caring for her terminally ill mother since the age of 4, Portlynn’s narrative focus is in dark comedies centered around the human denial of mortality and the humor that comes the sad parts of life.

Director Biography – Emelia Benoit-Lavelle (TRAMP)

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Emelia Benoit-Lavelle is an actress and director based in LA. She strives to make projects that celebrate humanity and diversity, are challenging and make people laugh. Her work can be seen on Jill Soloway’s Wifey TV, Huffington Post, Stareable, Lady Parts Film Club, and in a bunch of commercials. She recently co-created a web series, Other People’s Kids (short films about fictional NYC families, told through the perspective of their babysitters). More info at EmeliaBL.com

Director Biography – Teddy Tenenbaum (SIDEPIECE)

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Teddy Tenenbaum & Minsun Park are primarily a writing team with combined experience in features and television, including pilot sales, staff writing, feature spec sales, and feature and television assignments. They have written separately and together, and currently write both as a team and as solo writers. They specialize in genre writing, including horror, thriller, and action, typically with a humorous edge. With Minsun’s background as an Asian-American woman born in Korea and Teddy’s experience as a White dude from Ohio, they cover a lot of bases.

Director Statement

In a social media age where connecting with other people is just a swipe and a scroll away, we feel more disconnected than ever. It’s never been easier than ever to meet somebody new and connect but it’s also never been easier to ghost somebody in our cancel culture.

We are afraid of vulnerability, but hungry for human connection and affection, and Sidepiece takes a sly swipe at our swipe-right culture and the real consequences of hiding behind our profile pics and carefully curated online personas.

Ratings

Director Biography – Tim Owens (NO FILTER)

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Tim is an award-winning Director and DP working on films, pilots, national advertising campaigns, music videos, documentaries, new media, and more. Owens has won 10 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, the 2013 Digiday Award, and 2013 OMMA Award. He was the Creator and Director of Funny or Die’s “Romancing The Joan” with Joan Rivers; Cinematographer for Katy Perry’s documentary, “Katy Perry: Making of the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show” and has directed National Television commercials for clients including Starbucks, Ford, and HP.

Director Statement

I had the idea for this short film just before leaving on a flight to NYC. I was headed there for a different job and pitched this to one of my producers. We had a good laugh, talked a little more about it more on the plane. We booked the actors via text message while in the air, stopped by a prop shop on the way to the hotel after landing, and that night shot the entire short. It took about 3hrs and around $37 in total for the makeup from the prop shop.

It was edited and uploaded a week later.

I love this short film because it strips aways all of the red tape of production and just made something we wanted to make. There was no intention but to create something that made people smile. That simple.

I hope this short film brings a smile to your face.

Director Biography – Chelsea Devantez (BASIC)

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Chelsea Devantez is a comedian, writer, and director from New Mexico. She is a writer on ABC’s “Bless This Mess” created by Liz Meriwether and Lake Bell, and hosts a podcast from Times Up and Spotify about fighting sexual harassment. Previously, she wrote for Mike Schur’s “Abby’s” on NBC, “The Gong Show” on ABC, “The Opposition” on Comedy Central, and “Jon Stewart’s HBO Show”. She is an alumni of the Chicago Second City Mainstage where she wrote and performed three revues and the press called her “The Michael Jordan of the cast,” and “A Tina Fey who could out drink you and kick your ass.” She grew up poor, can’t find her real dad, and was raised by her mom, weird step dads, and her mom’s hippy friends. She’s written and directed six pilot presentations and one short film, all of which she also starred in, because she is a monster.

Ratings

Director Biography – Regina Banali (IN THE BLOOD)

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The first movie she saw in a theater was 2001 A space odyssey at 3 years old. She talked about it and the music so much her parents bought an LP of the soundtrack and played it to occupy her when they wanted alone time. Since then she has been obsessed with cinema and especially films with great music. Like many directors, Regina Banali began her career in front of the camera, appearing in over 50 film and television roles over two decades earning her chops on both ultra low budget movies and blockbusters. One of her first acting roles was as a mermaid in Steven Spielberg’s “Hook”. Her first feature as a director was the film “QUIET RIOT: Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back” a rock documentary on the 80’s metal band Quiet Riot. An early pioneer of crowdfunding, she raised the seed money on Kickstarter in the summer of 2010, long before crowdfunding was a common funding strategy. The film was quickly acquired by the Showtime Network for a two-year license. “In The Blood” is her first narrative short and she wrote and directed it to pay tongue in cheek homage to the great spaghetti westerns of the ’60s and ’70s which in her opinion was the best period for films and music.

Director Statement

The inspiration for “In The Blood” comes from many places. First of all, I am a huge fan of spaghetti westerns. Sergio Leone is one of my favorite directors, and I have always felt that the 60s and 70s were the best decades for film and music. We were in Milan and I was watching a spaghetti western on tv in Italian. I had no idea what anyone was saying but I was mesmerized. That was the moment that first sparked “In The Blood”. I wrote the script, which was drawn from many spaghetti westerns I have seen and loved, and cast my husband Frankie as the dark and brooding villain Sartana. I was very excited and inspired as we started pre-production. We were looking forward to making this together.

Then we were hit with a curveball. Frankie was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and given six months to live. In the hospital I was crossing every one of our plans off our to-do list out loud and Frankie insisted we still make the film. He said he still wanted to ride off into that sunset. I think he didn’t want to take my project away from me. I didn’t see how we could do it, how I could focus on this in light of the battle we were in for his life. But after a few months and a lot of stress, I gathered my team and restructured the schedule. It was a two-day shoot but considering how time-consuming pre-pro is and the fact that I am Frankie’s caregiver the only way to move forward was to plan just day one of the shoot and do pre-pro on for that day while juggling hospitals, doctors, treatments and medications. We shot the first day and then booked day two a month out and spent the next month juggling that pre-pro with Frankie’s care. As draining as it was, having the creative outlet saved my sanity.

Frankie was such a trooper during production. You can’t tell in the final cut but he could hardly walk by day two of production. Holding up his gun was difficult for more than a few seconds. Our lead actress Tal is a superstar. She reminded me of a young Rachel Welch or Claudia Cardinale. She is so much more than a pretty face, she is a powerhouse actress. She embodied the 60’s bombshell and absolutely killed it as Dolores. Everyone in the cast, the crew, and the location managers went the extra mile to bring “In The Blood” to life…and after many rounds of chemo, Frankie is much better. The six months prognosis is out the window. It has been eight months and his tumors are shrinking. He’s back to living his life and we are adjusting to our new normal. I hope you enjoy “In The Blood”, our labor of love, in the spirit in which it is intended.

Regina Banali

Ratings

Director Biography – Jason Harris (RICK THUNDER IN…LOOK BACK TOMORROW)

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Jason Harris is a storyteller out of Las Vegas, NV. He has written for names including Gordon Ramsay, The Backstreet Boys, Ronda Rousey and Kim Vo. He is the personal writer / director for The Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. Harris is a standup comedian who has toured nationally and internationally. He writes about food, music and pop culture for multiple magazines and is currently working on his first cookbook. Harris has sold multiple screenplays. He adapted an article he wrote based on his efforts to feed the Las Vegas community after the 10/1 tragedy for Image Comics “Where We Live” anthology. Harris is the father to Scarlett who is the sunshine of his life.

Director Statement

Rick Thunder is part of a larger content project called “Copper Creek.” It’s one of a series of eight comedy shorts all set in the titular apartment complex. Shooting eight separate stories, the goal was to showcase as many styles as possible and play within as many sub-genres as we could.

A hot desert night is a perfect backdrop for a film noir and we figured the more tropes we played with and the more of an homage we made towards both classic and b-level film noirs, the funnier the short would be. (Play it real, don’t play it for laughs!) To get the vibe we wanted, we cast working theater actors who could adapt to everything we threw at them. We had less than a day for the entire production and had to shoot within the time frame of open office hours for the apartment office staff. That crunch really gave the day a kinetic energy and excitement that I think shines through in the film.

Director Biography – John Patrick Hayden (VERITAPHOBIA)

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John Patrick Hayden, a second year student in the MFA FILM program at CCNY, is a recent BAFTA student scholarship award winner , and the Princess Grace award nominee for his first year of work at CCNY.

Director Statement

Thoughts on the film Veritaphobia:
Truth is natural. Lying is processed.
Lying is flawed, it’s man made and can not last. So, the hope of this film is the joy in remembering together that lies will eventually fall before the Truth. Truth will win .
…. And please, feel free to fact check me on all of this.