The Latest News from the Zip Creative Community

Director-producer-writer-editor Shari Berman has just completed the screenplay Pink Mist – a twisted, off-beat tale about a 12-year-old amputee, her eccentric grandmother and the holocaust ghost that lives in the attic. Shari is currently actively raising funds to produce the film, which is scheduled to shoot in the fall. Her Super 8 film, Woman, continues its festival tour, recently screening at the St. Louis International Film Festival. For more information about Shari, visit www.shariberman.com.

Michael Connif‘s novel, Book Of O’kells: Mother Nature, hit the top ten on the Amazon bestseller list for Historical Fiction in January. He is also preparing for publication of the how-to Write Good! And Notes On The Supernovel: The First Twenty Years, his journal about his quest to create a truly multimedia platform to encompass all media in the 21st Century. He also finished the  television pilot Spy High and the movie script for Dire. At the moment he is writing Hyde: Seek as a novella based on his script of the same name. Michael has also been hired to develop a television pilot and series about the clash of the Mughal Empire and the Britsh East India company in the time of the Taj Mahal.

Amy Guggenheim just shot Dawna 15-minute short film and proof of concept for her feature dramatic film about love and the martial art of Kendo. A great and unusual team of cinematographer Chris Benker, actors Mickey Koga and Katie Morrison, along with sword choreographer Ken Kensei, and martial artist actors Ted Oyama and Yoshi Amao made the film come to life over an intense three days! The first Manhattans screening took place on February 15.  Stay tuned for more news on the feature as it gets its legs.

Naomi McDougall Jones is currently in post-production on her second feature film, Bite Mewhich she wrote, produced, and acted in and will be released later this year. Naomi’s TEDTalk What it’s Like to be a Woman in Hollywood went viral on TED.com in October and has since been viewed nearly 1 million times. She is at work on a book expanding that talk, currently out to publishers. 2018 will continue her crusade get more women behind the camera with The 51 Fund and a new Revolution as well as her own work as a filmmaker with her third screenplay and a TV series in development.

Playwright/screenwriter Arden Kass had a readong of her new musical libretto Daddy’s Girl in January at BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in NYC, as the kick-off to her search for a composer/lyricist. Daddy’s Girl follows the feminist academic daughter of America’s pioneering sexy lingerie mogul, who, the night before his funeral, wrestles with how to portray her larger-than-life Papa in a eulogy. Arden is also shopping a TV drama set during the American Reconstruction era, written with partner Mark Gallini. Next up, she’ll start work on a new TV series set in a strip club in Philadelphia, and a play about a female Impressionist painter.

In 2014, Cornelia Ravenal initiated a documentary called Moving Stories, directed by Sundance award-winner Rob Fruchtman. After three years of hard work with her producing partners Mikael Södersten and Wendy Sax, it’s finally coming to fruition, with a premier at MoMA this month. You can see a trailer at www.wildernessfilms.us. 

Sarah Wharton produced and starred in The Ring Thing, a feature film about marriage that is currently on the festival circuit and will be released by Gravitas Ventures in the Spring. She also is a producer on Bite Me, a subversive romantic comedy about a real-life vampire and the IRS agent who audits her. Bite Me is currently in post-production.

 

Fast Forward Friday with Nivedita Kulkarni

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed New York-based writer-actress-comedian Nivedita Kulkarni. Nivedita is a reader and nominator for the Kilroy Awards. Nivedita was chosen as one of 15 artists for HBO’s East of Main Street/Taking the Lead, profiling Hollywood’s rising Asian American talent. She is a part of the ensemble cast of Morgan Evans’ Untitled Web Series, which was nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award. She is a former national face of Bank of America. To learn more, visit www.niveditakulkarni.com.

Q: What are you currently working on?  Tell us about it.

I’m creating a TV show right now – I can’t talk details, but it’s funny!

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

I’m writing about something that is very personal to me, which I haven’t done before. I’m both nervous and excited about this project because of how much it relates to my life.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

Anne Hathaway is an entertainment hero of mine, as is Justin Timberlake. I love that they both keep reinventing themselves and don’t get pigeonholed into one path as an artist.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?  

Watching great work. I would encourage all artists to find creative work and follow the careers of people who inspire them to create.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I run a startup called Nuva Comedy. We’re a networking and mentorship organization for women in entertainment. Women can sign up for a profile, similar to LinkedIn, and then they can ask members of the group for help with any topic.  

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

Seeing the number of women we’ve helped through Nuva – in the thousands, has been amazing for me and my team. I always wanted to build a company that helped people to succeed and Nuva has been a dream come true.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

Writing and acting in my own TV show, a la Tina Fey. And running my own company, as well.

Q: What has been  your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

I think that it takes a long time to grow into your voice as an artist. I think that it has taken me years to develop a voice and be confident in what I want to say through my work.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

Watch movies, read great books, see great art.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

I wish I needed less sleep! I also wish I could learn to manage my daily routine – gym, work, meal prep –  a little faster to give me more time for other things.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

Wow. Hmm. I would say I most admire great entrepreneurs. Oprah. Richard Branson. Howard Schultz.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

For building great companies and affecting people’s lives for the better through my organizations.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Thinker.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

All goofy sitcoms! All of them.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Get started faster! I hesitated for so long to make decisions that I actually wanted in my life. I overthought everything. Now, when I want to do something, I just go for it!

Q: Where would you most like to live?

Hmmm. Any big city. I live in New York right now, which I love. I would also love to live in either London or Paris.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Fulfilling work, a happy family and a balanced life. Being a well-rounded person who doesn’t only think of work.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Parties!

Q: Final Thoughts?

Thanks for interviewing me! And to all the artists reading this – keep creating!

 

Fast Forward Friday with Veronica Moonhill

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed multi-hyphenate artist and activist Veronica Moonhill. Based in Los Angeles, she is dedicated to exploring the question of being in the digital world. She is currently working on projects in performance, film and virtual reality. To learn more about Veronica go to: www.natandveronica.org

Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.

I’m working on a surrealist short film called This World and The Next. It is part Alice in Wonderland, part Girls and I’m making it with my partner-husband Nat Moonhill, which is the best. We are getting to play with the medium of film in a real way for this project because it is driven by imagery and cinematic magic. Coming from theater you are limited by the fact that you have to be able to repeat the performance over and over again, so it is difficult to do extremely messy or super intricate set ups. But in film we can make the magic happen once and it is caught forever. Love that.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

This project is my way of bringing theatrical presence and my own imaginative wanderings to the cinematic medium. The central drama of the short is a woman who finds out she is pregnant and is dealing with the impact of the knowledge that her whole world is changing. I feel like I have not seen pregnancy explored fully in film. I mean, film is so patriarchal and many men seem to think pregnancy and motherhood are not universal subject matters but are boring or only for “chick flicks.” We were all BORN so I think this is a grand oversite. Getting born is one of the most dramatic things we do in our entire lives! And for a woman to create a life! That is wild and truly super-powered. I want to embrace and engage with the notion that women have the power to create life and look at it almost like an origin story of a superhero. You find out that you have a power and you never fully realized its impact.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

Right now I am obsessed with Maya Deren, the experimental filmmaker and choreographer. I cannot believe it took me until now to find her. I think she is brilliant. Her short films use movement and camera in such a fresh way, she also has a distinctly feminine eye. I want to bring cinematic energy into a more narrative structure. Jodorowski is my other cinema mentor, I love his use of image and color. Romeo Castellucci is my total hero, he is an Italian theater director who has transformed what I believe is possible on stage. He makes image based theater that transports you beyond space and time. He drops cars from the ceiling, has wild dogs run wild amongst characters, creates a moving tornado on stage; between scenes you are on the edge of your seat because he could make absolutely anything happen next. I am also deeply inspired by visual artists. I come back time and again to Louise Bourgeois, Leonora Carrington and James Turrell for images and inspiration.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

There is so much work to do in the world. We need art to center ourselves, tell new stories, reach the hearts and minds of people who feel forgotten and apathetic. I believe that film-TV are the mediums by which we understand ourselves right now, and that is a powerful thing. I would like to build a better future and telling stories that shine light on pathways forward seems like a way to do this.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I am also launching Clitter: pussy powered confetti, which is exactly what it sounds like, glittery vulvas, breasts, and ovaries in a fun party pack. Let’s be real. Dicks are ever present. Skyscrapers! Being drawn on peoples faces! thrown at bachelorette parties! They are running our country! It is time for the pussy to grab back. Clitter is my small way of increasing the yonic energy in the world and celebrate where we came from!  Clitter will launch via Kickstarter Tuesday, January 16. People can sign up for clittery details at www.clitterparty.com.

I am also in the beginning phases of writing a TV show about a radical commune of midwives who are out to save the world. It’s very early phases but I’m pretty excited. The short is a way to test some of the ideas for the larger show.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

I would like to direct a large superhero movie, and make it funny-feminist-queer-diverse and totally badass. I don’t think there is a barrier to entry but just that it will take me some time to get there.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

Well, when I was making theater the biggest obstacle was live performance itself, I would want so many people to see it but was limited by the fact that the show could only exist at one time in one space and the instant I stopped performing it, it stopped existing. So I have transitioned to film, where I can use the incredible digital era we are in to share my work with as many people as who would like to see it whenever they would like to. In film I just need to find the financing to make my projects come alive.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I go on walks in nature. Whenever I am feeling anxious, self-conscious or generally blocked I just need to go look at some plants or stare at some ants. They remind me of how all of the human things I engage with every day are just one part of the story, that there is so much going in the earth. By walking, taking deep breaths and looking out on nature I get invigorated, my ideas flow, and I am able to get back to my creative self letting go of my lists and worries.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

I often think of myself as not a writer, that I cannot write. I have mostly created using my body and images, or directed other people’s words. I get frustrated when I try to write but it does not sound like what is in my head. But really it just takes practice.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

Oof that is so hard! Well,this is a strange one but James Turrell’s Roden Crater is my favorite piece of art even though I have not been able to see it in person, but the man bought a crater in the ‘70s and slowly has been turning into the largest piece of land art. A place to engage with celestial movement and natural change. I love it’s scale and commitment to art as a way to engage with nature.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

Maya Deren. She lived unapologetically and just made her work. She was driven by curiosity and passion. Also Alejandro Jodorowski who has made work in an insane amount of mediums and is committed to magic and making.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

Helping create the space and light the path towards a post-capitalist future where there is universal basic income and universal healthcare, and all citizens benefit from the technological advances and the selling of our data.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Astral Panther.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Eating an insane amount of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Hey babe, you look great! I know you are obsessed with the idea of being an actor, which is amazing, but why not think about directing a play? I think you will love it and it will give you the power to decide the kind of things you want to work on. Do not worry too much about which roles you get, just engage and make the things you wanna make. You are a maker and people will see and appreciate you for that. Also do not worry about what the boys think, you don’t need ’em, trust yourself you know what is going on. You know how to make good things, I promise. I love you so much, go get ‘em girl.

Q: Where would you most like to live?

I want to fund a collective live-work space in upstate New York with lots of land that artists in different mediums can come and build tiny houses on. Then we can have communal buildings where we share ideas, food and performances. Then go to cities to produce and show our work. Then return to nature to fill up and create.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Personally, to have the freedom and support to make my ideas come to life. Also the fall of the patriarchy and the closing of the wealth gap.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Being in the room with your favorite collaborators making magic happen. I want this to be the way I spend the majority of my time. Off of the computer and on the set, making.

Q:  Final Thoughts?

Some things I am thinking about:

That when I am creating a crew for a project it needs to be majority female, this includes PAs, techies and actors. There is a shift of energy when there is a full majority of women in the room, ideas are shared differently, space is held differently. There can/should be men on set who can experience the power of a female lead team. At this point we can all see that men are pretty high risk, I want to create women lead works.

I am tired of stories about the incoming apocalypse. It is so easy to imagine how all of this turns out horrible, and in doing so I think we increase the likelihood that it will. I want to create stories about how we engage with the technology that’s coming and make it work with us, or how we rise up against corporations and the people regain power. Films have become bleak and sci-fi explosive or bleak and highly realistic. I want to make movies that are full of magic and power, that ask audiences to use their imaginations! That encourage people to tap into themselves, to be skeptical of all the ways we are encouraged to serve capitalism and to be kind to each other. We are all human and at our core we all want the same things: to keep ourselves and our families safe and fed, and to feel fulfilled.

Fast Forward Friday with Allan Wasserman

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed actor-producer-musician Allan Wasserman. He most recently appeared as Adam Sandler’s doctor in Funny People and as Matthew Broderick’s psychiatrist in Finding Amanda. He guest starred on TV shows such as Two Broke Girls, Bones, The Office, ER and The Sopranos. On stage, he performed in the Broadway production of The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel with Al Pacino, directed by David Wheeler. He produced the multi-award winning film Echo Park Blues in which he stars and plays the jazz saxophone.

Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.

I am working on a one man show of a famous Hollywood producer. It is still in the early stages so for now it’s under wraps.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

Many years in the industry on all levels are my life influences.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

So many heroes to admire and emulate when possible but I surely admire Olivier, Pacino, Streep, DeNiro, Caroll O’Connor, especially as a character actor, Paul Muni … so many, many more for so many reasons.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

I have always been a very ambitious and energetic individual with a need to artistically express myself. It’s important to me to continue to express.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I am producing Common Ground at two Los Angeles theaters – a project I created in 1995 where actors write and perform biographical 15 minute monologues based on personal life changing events.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

My recent film that I produced and have the lead character in, Echo Park Blues, and a 47 year acting career that continues on.  Echo Park Blues was a three-year process from conception to screenings with director-co-writer Michael Bofshever, writer Rick Lieberman and myself. We were all acting colleagues for decades in NYC and our shared past and current collaboration was key to sculpting and embroidering my jazz saxophone side career with a fictional script to represent the aging artist who still desires to express, be heard and leave a footprint. The film has been more successful than we ever imagined and the numerous awards and accolades were all due to a larger cadre of fellow actors, musical artists, crew and donors. I could not be more grateful for the true and total ensemble effort and results.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

More regular theater, feature film and television series work without having to audition and gain other’s permission to participate. You can say I’m a dreamer!

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

Fierce and talented competition and aging. Such is life.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I continue to work onstage, and big and small screens and I create projects as well as teach.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

Self-doubt. Worry. Those are monumental wastes of time. I do little to none of that anymore.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

Anything by Chagall.

Q:What person do you most admire, living or dead?

So many. I cannot nail that down. I have broad appreciation for many.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

Being a good person. A “mensch” for those familiar with the vernacular.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

How about four words: A hopeful renaissance man. An individual who acts, writes, teaches. plays jazz saxophone and loves life.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

Hiking with my dog and being a foodie. I actually am not feeling guilty about those pleasures.

Q:  If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Relax. Breathe. Trust. Don’t worry. Keep doing the footwork!

Q: Where would you most like to live?

Where I am for the past 20 years: Altadena, California.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Good marriage,  family, friends and pets. The rest is ancillary.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Same as success.

Q: Final Thoughts?

Great to be back in contact with you Joanne! You were an integral part of the success of our acting company THE ACTORS PRODUCING COMPANY early in our careers in NYC. Eternally grateful to you then and now.

Fast Forward Friday with Jason D. Avalos

For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed writer-actor-director-producer Jason D. Avalos.  He has been steadily working in independent film for 10 years and has studied in master classes with Quentin Tarantino. His lastest project, which he produced and served as creative consultant, NAMCAR Night Race, has already won 13 awards and was nominated more than 20 times around the world. To learn more, visit his website.

Q: What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.

I’m currently working on ways to afford my kombucha addiction, as all people from LA do, but beyond that, I’m an actor-writer-director so I’m always pushing a few projects forward until one gets made. I just went into casting for Rhythm my feature film directorial debut,  in which I also play the main character.

Rhythm centers on Daniel Largo, a musician who jumps off a cruise ship band gig and battles his way to glory by being an original artist in the heart of the East Los Angeles music scene.

Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?

It comes from growing up in the Long Beach band culture, watching bands like Sublime, No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, etc before they were huge, in backyard house parties and warehouse keggers. I played in a punk band and then later was a DJ so music is a huge inspiration in my life and it made sense to use that as a foundation for the story. The major push was watching some music and micro budget films like Tangerine, Filly Brown, 8 mile, Almost Famous, and Sweet and Lowdown and realizing there are no music films with Latino lead characters that aren’t inherently of Latin culture, for example Selena and La Bamba. It’s important to show what first  generation Latin-Americans look like, talk like and play music like. I grew up Angeleno and I don’t own any mariachis.

Q: Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?

Stanley Kubrick, Terrance Malick, Truffaut, David Bowie, The Doors, Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Bukowski, Burroughs and Hunter Thompson.

Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?

Other artists. Everyday I get inspired by my fellow colleagues and artists:  photographers, architects, animators, comedians.

Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?

I have three original cable TV pilots I’ve written that have gotten great feedback from the Jane the Virgin producers and other trusted mentors working in TV. One is an animated adult cartoon about the afterlife of animals that I’m really excited about.

Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?

Since I’ve been writing Rhythm, I have worked and met more like-minded creators making LGBTQ, female empowered and Latin first generation projects who I believe are very much my allies, my sisters and brothers. This is the power of proactivity in your vision. You staking your claim and your voice will inherently bring you side by side by other like-minded people. That is proof to me that the universe is chilling on my shoulder like a pet monkey. Damn, I really want a pet monkey.

Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?

I would be creating my own TV show, hiring a diverse team not unlike Aziz Ansari or Ava Duvarney.

Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?

Money. Yes you can make things cheaper now, which is awesome, but producing is a game played by folks who often come from money. The other one is people aren’t buying Latin movies unless they are about drug lords, cartels, crossing borders, etc. I hope to be a part of that change.

Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?

I feed myself with art from every walk of life, a lot of yoga and seeing a therapist. They are just three ways to reflect on what is a constant moving energy of creating and seeing what I’m connected to moment to moment.

Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?

Maybe not trying competitions, festivals, workshops enough. I don’t make work to be better than another person so it seems superfluous. I lately am loosening up and seeing it as a way to connect with other cool creators and collaborators.

Q: What is your favorite piece of art?

That is a cruel question. ahaha. Right now I’m pretty in love with Horn Players by Jean Michel Basquiat. I’m a huge fan of jazz and Basquiat. It demonstrates improvisational painting with underlying structure, which is like jazz and also how I approach filmmaking.

Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?

I admire my grandfather Emilio. He worked everyday in a coffee field in El Salvador through crazy civil wars, etc. He had a heart attack in those fields and died peacefully there. There was no hospital close enough to do anything. If he can have that work ethic than I can stick it out in my career.

Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

Dimples, baby. But if I don’t get the dimple award next year than it would be to have hugely helped open doors for other voices not being heard and creating a real place for us.

Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?

Tenacious.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

I always feel guilty  – it’s in the my Latin Catholic nature, but I will go with cheese. Expensive and stinky.

Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?

Buckle up and don’t take a backseat because someone makes you feel less privileged or allowed.

Q: Where would you most like to live?

Paris.

Q: What is your idea of success?

Sharing your work with the world and working with the very best in the industry while helping others along the way.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

Happiness is a moment that comes and goes constantly. I just want to know that I’m feeding myself the right energies so I can embrace as much of it as I can every day.

Q: Final Thoughts?

Just a shout-out to two films I script supervised this year. I’m super proud of working on Bite Me and Tragedy Girls, which is in theaters now! Shameless plugs!