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Panelist Spotlight: Nicole Perlman

Nicole Perlman received her Film and Dramatic Writing degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2003. Since then she has gone on to win the Tribeca Film Festival’s Sloan Grant for Science in Film for her screenplay Challenger, which also placed on the 2006 Black List. The same year she was named one of Variety Magazine‘s Top Ten Writers to Watch, and more recently …

Nicole Perlman received her Film and Dramatic Writing degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2003. Since then she has gone on to win the Tribeca Film Festival’s Sloan Grant for Science in Film for her screenplay Challenger, which also placed on the 2006 Black List. The same year she was named one of Variety Magazine‘s Top Ten Writers to Watch, and more recently was listed in The Playlist‘s Ten Screenwriters on the Rise in 2013. Nicole has written for Fox 2000, Universal Studios, National Geographic Films, Disney Studios, Cirque Du Soleil Films, and 20th Century Fox. She was a member of the Marvel Writers Program from 2009 to 2011 where she first began developing Guardians of the Galaxy. She is currently adapting the upcoming YA novel The Fire Sermon for Dreamworks, as well as developing the Matthew Swift fantasy book series for Skydance Television.

What was your last job before becoming a full-time screenwriter?

Up until 2006 I ran a non-profit program in Brooklyn called The Bead Project. It was a hot-glass workshop series held at Urban Glass, wherein economically-disadvantaged women learned how to use torches to do flamework bead-making, silversmithing, and small-business development — all free of charge. I really enjoyed teaching and working with my hands within a small community of artists. I was working on screenplays in my spare time, and having a day job at Urban Glass made it much easier to get out of my own head. (Plus working with a 2500 degree torch also gave me a comforting illusion of power, even if I couldn’t crack my third act.)

What is (one of your) your favorite films? 

Contact is definitely a personal favorite — both for the subject matter explored as well as the multi-faceted portrayal of a female scientist.

Favorite television show? 

Twin Peaks rocked my world, as did the X-Files. So this year has been filled with exciting news. (That said, I can’t imagine Twin Peaks sans Lynch — I pray Showtime showers him with cash until he comes back.)

What is the most unique thing about your writing process?

I’d say the most unique part of my process is my tendency to color-code producer notes. I code them by most difficult to execute (red) to mildly challenging (yellow) to easy fixes (green.) Then I assign a certain number of notes per day to myself — maybe just two reds a day, versus ten to fifteen greens a day. It really helps me manage the workload.

Best memory from last year’s AFF?

Sitting on a panel with Bill Broyles and Jim Hart (the writers of two of my favorite films: Apollo 13 and Contact) was a bit of a dream come true. I’ve never learned so much from a panel where I was one of the speakers!

Favorite thing about Austin, Texas?

Everyone I met was exceptionally friendly and truly interested in taking the time to talk and form a genuine connection.

What would be your dream screenwriting panel to attend?

I would love to attend a panel that consisted of established comic book writers who are also accomplished television writers/screenwriters —  Brian Vaughn, J. Michael Straczynski, etc. I would enjoy hearing them discuss how their dual crafts cross-pollinate and/or clash with the other.

 

Join Nicole Perlman and numerous other great panelists at the 22nd Annual Austin Film Festival and Conference. Purchase badges here.

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Guest Blog: Efficiency’s Steven Molony

In the case of Efficiency, this story was very personal to me, and I felt that the subject matter would resonate with those who had gone through a similar experience.

 

The journey of creating each individual story begins with a reason for telling it. For some
people, it might be to shed light on a seldom-spoken-of topic that affects society, or to tell of a life
lived by an inspiring individual who greatly impacted his/her fellow man. It might be something
that’s just flat out cool, or funny, or entertaining. No matter what it is, though, it always comes
from a “why.”

In the case of Efficiency, this story was very personal to me, and I felt that the subject matter
would resonate with those who had gone through a similar experience. When I was in high school,
a couple close to me suffered the tragedy of a miscarriage. I saw how deeply it affected them, as
well as how isolated it made them feel. There was so much guilt, anger, sadness, fear, grief, and
the kind of confusion that leads one to ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” It had a
profound impact on me, and it left me feeling hopeless as someone who very much wanted to help
in some way, but couldn’t. In many ways, those feelings were the early beginnings of what would
become the same struggles that Patrick’s character faces in the film.

Not knowing how else to talk about this, I turned to art, as I often do, as a means of giving a
tactile meaning to what I was feeling. I wondered how something as common as miscarriages
could be so isolating; how so many people seemed incapable of understanding why such a thing
was so hard for the parents. I first tried to write Efficiency as a play, but over time, I realized that
film was the best medium for the piece.

The more I thought about it, the more I became aware of just how frequently people allow
adversity to dictate their lives. I had seen it happen to people I love, and I too had fallen into that
manner of thinking on several occasions – those periods of darkness when all you really want to do
is lie down and give up. I wanted to tell a story about someone rising above their circumstance. I
came to the personal realization that it’s not what happens to you, but what you do with it that
makes you who you are; bad things happen to good people because that’s the only way we can
know who we really are. We can’t help what happens to us, and we are, of course, shaped by
external forces, but we are ultimately responsible for how we deal with that. We have a say in who
we get to be. Life will always find a way to kick our asses at some point or another, but it also
provides us with a way to build ourselves back up – to arise stronger and better than ever before.
To me, that’s the essence at the core of Efficiency. Sometimes, we’re afraid to grow up, and we
aren’t ready to accept certain responsibilities, but, whether we like it or not, those responsibilities
have a way of popping up and smacking us in the face – sometimes when we least expect it. It was
decided, then; I was going to go make a movie.

Behind every film is an army of people who made it possible: a stalwart band of artists who
want to see a labor of love through to its completion. I approached Kate Enge with the fat mess of
a first draft that was Efficiency at that time, and I spoke to her about what I wanted out of the
project. I think several of its themes struck a chord with her as well. She agreed to climb aboard
my raggedy ship to direct. Kate and I had worked together in the past on a pet project of hers called
{the moment after}, which was a series of improvised short films that spanned a wide variety of
genres and themes. It was because of the organic nature that she worked with us as actors, as well
as her penchant for exploring truth within film that I felt her style was going to work very well for
Efficiency. It was her idea to make Derrick and Patrick identical twins. Originally, I had thought it
too difficult to pull off identical twins on a technical level, but Kate was confident we’d be able to
pull it off. I thought, “Great! Not my headache.”

Together, we built a team of exceptional artists who were equally enthusiastic about bringing
this film to fruition. We went through the trenches together. It was a wild two weeks, split between
(mostly) two cities across the country from each other. We pulled all the favors we could, stole
shots in subways, scraped some money together through IndieGoGo, and scrambled to find a new
location for the efficiency apartment a day before principal photography began, because the place
we’d had set up was on the top floor of an apartment complex where it was 110° and bereft of an
air conditioner. (That was without cramming up to ten bodies and light kits inside of it.)

Through the whole ordeal, I found myself facing some turbulence in my relationships outside
of filming. That whole life-sneaks-up-on-you-to-kick-you-in-the-ass thing. A lot happened in
those couple of weeks. It was a ton of pressure, but dammit, you keep showing up every day and,
eventually, you have a movie sitting in a few hard drives. I’ll never forget the chaos of it. I don’t
think I could ever forget any film I work on. Each one is insane in its own new way, but anything
worth loving is worth bleeding for. Each film just bleeds you differently than the last. It’s a
bloodletting that’s equally as rejuvenating as it is draining. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Post production was a long and tedious process. We didn’t have any money for the initial
edits, but once we’d secured a picture locked cut of the film, I approached Asko Akopyan to help
us finish Efficiency’s remaining stages of post. He graciously agreed and it is because of him that
we have a finished film today. Janek Ambros brought together a killer team for our score (Corey
Wallace and Michael Kramer) and our sound (Zack Howard and Onnalee Blank). They really
brought the film to another level when they were done with it.

We had our premiere at Grauman’s Chinese 6 Theatre in Hollywood as part of the Dances
With Films festival last May, 2014. We were also honored to play at the Austin Film Festival later
that fall after wrapping a new film, Oxenfree, in which I played a man struggling with cystic
fibrosis. Austin is a great city, and AFF is one of those festivals where it’s apparent that the people
running it really care about what they’re doing. They make their filmmakers feel right at home.
Shortly after Austin, Efficiency was picked up for distribution through FilmWorks, and will
be released on DVD on April 21st, 2015. It’s currently available for pre-order through Amazon,
Best Buy, and Barnes and Noble. Please check it out, as I would love to share it with you.
It’s been a wild ride and I couldn’t be more thankful for the journey that was Efficiency and to
all those who made it possible. I’ll spare the readers from the gigantic list of people for whom I
have an overwhelming amount of gratitude. You all know who you are – you are a wonder to me,
and I will love you to my last breath.

I wanted to make this film because of the love I have for whom it was made. I want it to be a
love letter to anyone who has lost a child through miscarriage. I also want it to bolster others who
have their own demons to fight. I wholeheartedly believe that we are stronger than our struggles.
Every single one of us has it within ourselves to overcome the obstacles that stand in our way – to
own our problems, rather than letting our problems own us. Hopefully, Efficiency can deliver that
message.

Efficiency will be released on DVD on April 21st. Pre-order here.

 

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Norman Lear to Receive “Outstanding Television Writer” Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NORMAN LEAR TO RECEIVE “OUTSTANDING TELEVISION WRITER” AWARD AT 2015 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL & SCREENWRITERS CONFERENCE   “The Writers Festival” announces Panelists for 22nd Anniversary, featuring Shane Black, Jack Burditt, Katie Dippold, Jenny Lumet, Kelly Marcel, George Pelecanos, Phil Rosenthal, Terry Rossio, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Wain, Ron Yerxa, and more   Austin, TX – April 8, 2015 – Austin Film Festival …

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NORMAN LEAR TO RECEIVE “OUTSTANDING TELEVISION WRITER” AWARD AT 2015 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL & SCREENWRITERS CONFERENCE

 

“The Writers Festival” announces Panelists for 22nd Anniversary, featuring Shane Black, Jack Burditt, Katie Dippold, Jenny Lumet, Kelly Marcel, George Pelecanos, Phil Rosenthal, Terry Rossio, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Wain, Ron Yerxa, and more

 

Austin, TX – April 8, 2015 – Austin Film Festival (AFF), the premier film festival that recognizes the writers’ and filmmakers’ impact on film, television, and new media, is thrilled to announce  Norman Lear as the recipient of the “Outstanding Television Writer” Award at the 22nd annual Austin Film Festival, this October 29-November 5.

Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film, and as a political and social activist and philanthropist.

Mr. Lear began his television writing career in 1950 when he and his partner, Ed Simmons, were signed to write for The Ford Star Revue, starring Jack Haley. After only four shows, they were hired away by Jerry Lewis to write for him and Dean Martin on The Colgate Comedy Hour, where they worked until the end of 1953. They then spent two years on The Martha Raye Show, after which Mr. Lear worked on his own for The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show and The George Gobel Show.

In 1958, Mr. Lear teamed with director Bud Yorkin to form Tandem Productions. Together they produced several feature films, with Mr. Lear taking on roles as executive producer, writer, and director. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1967 for his script for Divorce American Style. In 1970, CBS signed with Tandem to produce All in the Family, which first aired on January 12, 1971 and ran for nine seasons. It earned four Emmy Awards for Best Comedy series as well as the Peabody Award in 1977. All in the Family was followed by a succession of other television hit shows including Maude, Sanford and Son, Good Times, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

Mr. Lear’s memoir, Even This I Get to Experience, was published in October 2014 by The Penguin Press.

Austin Film Festival annually recognizes an Outstanding Television Writer for their collective body of work that has elevated and heavily contributed to the culture of television. Previous Award recipients have been Chris Carter, David Chase, Vince Gilligan, Mitch Hurwitz, Mike Judge, David Milch, Garry Shandling, David Simon, and Matthew Weiner, among others.

Lear joins a strong roundup of Panelists confirmed to speak at the 22nd annual Austin Film Festival & Screenwriters Conference, including the writers of films Fifty Shades of Grey, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Heat, Iron Man 3, Lethal Weapon, Rachel Getting Married, Saving Mr. Banks, Shrek, The Pirates of the Caribbean, Wet Hot American Summer, and television shows 30 Rock, Everybody Loves Raymond, Fraiser, Justified, Last Man Standing, Mad Men, Orange is the New Black, Parks and Recreation, Stella, The Shield, The Mindy Project, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Wire, and Treme.

 

The 2015 Austin Film Festival and Screenwriters Conference will once again present over 150 panels on the art and craft of storytelling featuring a slate comprised entirely of working film, television, and new media industry professionals. In addition to over a dozen parties and nearly 200 film premieres, AFF is adding more networking opportunities this year, including a “Screenwriters Lounge” which will serve as a dedicated space to set meetings and write. The 22nd Annual Austin Film Festival and Conference takes place October 29th through November 5th, 2015.

For press inquiries contact fernando@austinfilmfestival.com

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This Week in Screenwriting: April 1, 2015

Alex Gibney’s Scientology documentary premiered on HBO this Sunday, garnering much response Netflix orders Bloodline Season 2 Why Trevor Noah’s Daily Show hiring is a big step for late night television The Americans renewed for Season 4 at FX  Gone Girl author/screenwriter Gillian Flynn to co-write heist thriller with Steve McQueen  Mass CAA agent exodus; Agents head to UTA AFF Alum Jim Uhls sells sci-fi …

Alex Gibney’s Scientology documentary premiered on HBO this Sunday, garnering much response

Netflix orders Bloodline Season 2

Why Trevor Noah’s Daily Show hiring is a big step for late night television

The Americans renewed for Season 4 at FX 

Gone Girl author/screenwriter Gillian Flynn to co-write heist thriller with Steve McQueen 

Mass CAA agent exodus; Agents head to UTA

AFF Alum Jim Uhls sells sci-fi spec script Leviathan to Fox

Jason Segal and Drew Pearce to pen new Lego Movie, The Billion Brick Race, for Warner Bros.

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