Category Archives: acting

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with FlyWay Film Festival Director Rick Vaicius Tues 10/21

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Rick Vaicius is director and founder of Flyway Film Festival, Wisconsin’s bluff premier destination for independent film as noted by Emmy award-winning blogger Scott W. Smith “ … a festival that should be on your radar”. Founded in 2008 Vaicius has created a standout, intimate and high-quality annual festival.

Over the past four years, Flyway has brought over 80 filmmakers into the local community. In addition to screening remarkable films, it has become a unique venue for filmmakers to network and discuss projects and the “state of the industry” in the film world. Vaicius has already persuaded some top film industry talent to appear.

UPCOMING LIVE: Tuesday October 21st, 2014 11aET 10aCT 8aPT TO LISTEN CLICK THE BOLDED Link Below:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with FlyWay Film Festival director Rick Vaicius

The 7th Annual Flyway Film Festival in Pepin and Stockholm, Wisconsin promises to be its most exciting to-date. October 23-26, 2014.

For film and panel line up and how to attend visit the Flyway Film Festival Official Website

The Official Flyway Film Festival Website

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*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with director Peter D Marshall

peter d marshall

Peter Marshall so far has had a 35-year career and has worked as a PA, dolly grip, electrician, assistant cameraman, commercial production manager, first assistant director, TV series creative consultant, television producer and director.  

He has worked on many different types of productions, from industrial films to documentaries; television commercials to music videos; Emmy Award nominated TV series to Hollywood feature films.

Peter has directed over 30 episodes of Television Drama and written, directed or produced over 50 hours of documentary and educational programs. His documentaries and dramas have won, or been nominated for, 14 International film awards.

UPCOMING LIVE: Thursday Dec 4, 2014  11aE 10AC 8aP TO LISTEN CLICK THE BOLDED LINK BELOW:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with Director Peter Marshall Pt 30

Peter has some incredible products for the director and 1st AD a his website. He also organizes thoughts and materials in an incredible easy way for filmmakers to use and apply. I asked Peter to discuss the criteria necessary to be a good director. In this series we go over elements and priciples critical to apply when preparing to direct and when directing. Enjoy this nuts and bolts Director Series with Peter D. Marshall.

***The Directors Series on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat is listed in descending order from first aired to last episode.***

TO LISTEN RIGHT NOW – CLICK BOLDED LINK BELOW:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with Director Peter Marshall Pt 1

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with Director Peter Marshall Pt 2

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with Director Peter Marshall Pt 3

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As a First Assistant Director he’s worked on 12 Feature Films, 15 Television Movies, 6 Television Series, 4 TV Pilots & over 20 Commercials. He’s  worked for directors such as Zack Snyder, John Woo, Ed Wick, Phillip Noyce, John Balham, Roger Adam, Anne Wheeler, Bobby Roth &  Kim Manners.

He has worked with talented actors including Michelle Pfeiffer, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, John Travolta, Mel Gibson, Kathy Bates, Adam Sandler and Peter O’Toole.

He has co-ordinated huge WW1 battle scenes, planned complicated visual FX scenes, managed large groups of extras & directed intimate emotional scenes between two actors. 

His first major series as 1st Assistant Director was Steven J. Cannel’s “Stingray” in 1986 after having been the 1st AD on a Canadian TV series called “Hamilton’s Quest”.

Thereafter he worked on several more TV series with Cannell and became 1st AD on “Wiseguy.” which he worked for two years. He  got his directing break on this series & directed a couple of episodes.

“The Fly 2.” was his move into feature films as a 1st AD. Other credits include “Happy Gilmore”, “Dawn of the Dead”, “The Butterfly effect”, “Lizzie McGuire Movie”,  “Look Who’s Talking Now”, “Bird on a Wire”,  scores of television series as 1st AD & as a director.

Peter Marshall Official Web Site  Peter has incredible learning products, ezine, workshops, blog and services. Check into these.

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

The Surface starring Sean Astin and Chris Mulkey Premieres at Milwaukee Film Fest.

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“Cast and Crew, Friends and Fans and Film Goers made the World Premiere of producer screenwriter Jeff Gendelman’s and director Gil Cates Jr. ‘The Surface’ a big success!

The feature starring Sean Astin, Chris Mulkey and Mimi Rogers was the closing night movie at the Milwaukee Film Festival. Jeff, Gil and cast and crew had reason to celebrate and to feel proud as the Oriental Theater was completely sold out.

The Surface was shot entirely in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and mostly on Lake Michigan during August of 2013.

It is about the chance meeting of two men with nothing in common. However, the two discover that is not true while struggling to survive. Mulkey, portrays Kelly, a small aircraft pilot whose plane went into the lake and Mitch, played by Asitn, happens upon him in a small boat. Why and how and what happens I will leave to you to go find out when the movie opens at area Marcus Cinema Theaters October 31st.

Gil, Sean and Chris arrived from Los Angeles to attend the premiere. After the showing they joined Jeff and cinematographer producer Jimmy Sammarco on stage to answer questions from the audience led by festival director Jonathan Jackson.

It appeared to be a fun evening for all at the theater. Cast and crew and and others proceeded to an after party.

For me it was good to see friends from the coast and the local area. It made me feel good to witness Jeff’s and everyone’s hard work make this dream come true. Mr. Gendelman has been working for 18 years to bring his feature to the screen and succeeded.

It is exciting that an area film got the financing it needed to become a reality so kudos to all those who helped make it happen. I wish he and everyone a successful run with this fine film.

While shooting last summer I visited the set a number of times, prior to returning to L A during the later half of August and I could see, first hand, the difficult conditions, working 12 hours or more, on the water was for all. Despite that hardship and needing the weather to cooperate what I witnessed pleased me. The crew and cast were all dedicated and happy. When conditions are tough it is easy to get discouraged and grumbly but these fine filmmakers kept spirits high and made it through it all.

Jeff and Gil’s film has raised the bar on Wisconsin area filmmaking. Everyone involved can feel very proud to have been a part of it.” Rex Sikes

Visit: The Surface Official Web Site

I’ll try to post some pictures soon.

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Two Fantastic Wisconsin Film Festivals Coming Up In October and Novembe

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Why I like Flyway Film Festival? Because the directors Rick and Diana Vaicius, VP Allison Lisk and Programmer Jim Brunzell, Lu Lippold and the rest of the staff love film and filmmakers. This is so obvious when you attend.It is a celebration of both.

Filmmakers mingle among fans and support, nurture, encourage each other. Some end up collaborating. It is the friendliest and most optimistic festival I have attended. It is a high spot of each year for me and I eagerly look forward to my time in Pepin.

The Programming is great and everyone goes out of their way to make sure all attending are enjoying and being looked after. There really is none other like it! It is also in Pepin, a little haven on the Mississippi that is wonderful. Great people, great festival, great food and a welcome experience.

UPCOMING LIVE: Tuesday October 21st, 2014 11aET 10aCT 8aPT TO LISTEN CLICK THE BOLDED Link Below:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with FlyWay Film Festival director Rick Vaicius

If you are able to attend the Flyway Film Festival!   On Facebook: Flyway Film Festival.

The Flyway Film Festival October 23-26, 2014 Pepin, Wisconsin.

People have traveled from both coasts and overseas to be there. You should too.

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I am eager also to attend the upcoming Weyauwega International Film Festival November 12-15, 2014 in Weyauwega, Wisconsin.

Here too the directors Kathy Fehl and Ian Teal go a long way to make sure they program well, and that everyone has a wonderful time. I got to be there last year for the first time and was delightfully impressed.

Filmmakers from as far away as Japan and Alaska were in attendance. I enjoyed the programming and the food and the family atmosphere and the fun. I saw some really good films and met some talented and delightful filmmakers.

Weyauwega is in the middle of no where. Off Interstate 10 about 30 minutes west of Appleton one would drive right by never knowing that it is home to Wega Arts housed in a former Opera House. That makes a visit worthwhile to start with but on top of it Kathy and Ian bring arts and film and more to this little hamlet area throughout the year.

It is great to have all involved care so much for the well being of filmmakers and fans. I am looking forward to this fine festival coming up soon too. Check into it and I will see you here too!

UPCOMING LIVE: Thursday October 30th, 2014 11aET 10aCT 8aPT TO LISTEN CLICK THE BOLDED Link Below:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats w Kathy Fehl and Ian Teal Weyauwega International Film Festival

Facebook Page Weyauwega International Film Festival

If I am lucky I will see you at both of these festivals!

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB, through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Debra Granik’s Stray Dog & Working With Actors Symposium | Christopher Emmons’ Serial Daters Anonymous at the 2014 Milwaukee Film Fesitval

STRAY DOG

Two delightful offerings from Academy Award Nominated Director Debra Granik at the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival. Okay, actually three. Winter’s Bone played and if you have never seen this movie it is a must for filmmaker and fan alike. It is a riveting exploration or rural life and murder and mystery, fabulously well acted and the movie that brought Jennifer Lawrence to the world’s attention.So that certainly counts but Winter’s Bone is a couple years old now.

The movie Debra brought with her this year is her recent documentary Stray Dog about a motorcycling, dancing, PTSD, dog loving Vietnam Vet. It is a fascinating look at and ride along with delightful real life characters. I enjoyed this movie very much. I also enjoyed meeting some of the real life subjects of the film who were in attendance. Go see Stray Dog.

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What I found extra compelling and very valuable for the filmmaker was the afternoon symposium she conducted on working with actors. She she shared some of her thoughts, philosophy and methods for working with the actor to get their most realistic and captivating performance. She explained how she used this process too in writing and further developing the script prior to filming. She had four very apt and talented actors from the Milwaukee area to work with so audience members not only heard about what was important for Debra in working with actors and crafting the performance and the scene but we got to see it.

This workshop was excellent. Debra gave away a lot of great tips and advice that wise local directors would be willing to utilize and explore in their own work. It is this kind of panel, or symposium or workshop that is valuable to both the filmmaker attending the festival and the fan and Milwaukee Film Festival should continue to offer these type of programs when able. This workshop alone is worth the entire price of a full pass and it was provided for free. Kudos to all who helped make it possible the Milwaukee Film administrators and staff, Debra and the actors. Thanks!

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Another event I enjoyed very much was the locally produced Serial Daters Anonymous feature film directed by Christopher Carson Emmons and Executive Produced by Sam Kozel. The film starred Louise Linton, Sam Page and Scotty Dickert along with local area cast members and local area crew. The DP is Nate Haban.

The film is enjoyable, I thought it looked great, was well acted in most all cases, and I really liked the musical score. I particularly applaud all these filmmakers (cast and crew) because I know the constraints they were under to get this film made and I am impressed with the job they turned out.

Louise Linton is delightful, and it is difficult to take your eyes off her.

Bravo to the Wisconsin area filmmakers for their turning out a well made local feature. There are some really nice performances from the local actors. If you get the chance to see it – see it!

It may or may not be your cup of tea, after all it is an unromantic comedy, but I am glad I saw it. I think you will be too.

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Louise Linton’s character learns, at the alter on her wedding day that her fiancee cheated on her with her sister. She dumps him at the alter and then resumes her life attempting to recover from the shock and the hurt. What does she do to heal herself? Well, she decides to continue to meet men. When she does and they ask her out she grants them a single date, no sex and no second date. I guess that might make sense if you were upset with the male gender for betraying you. You might want to take some time to heal, to explore and to play the field before giving your heart to someone new. This is all understandable but she takes it a step further. She creates a blog and, post date, she writes about the man, but not in a very nice way.

Okay, well that sets the scene now it is up to you to go see it. It plays twice more at the 2014 festival.

Stray Dog shows again as well! Check the Film Festival calendar for dates and times. See you around!

Visit mkefilm.org for information on the film festival

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with director Rex Piano on making TV movies – Thursday 10/2

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Rex graduated from NYU School of the Arts in 1981 as a film major – concentrating on writing, producing and directing. While there, he worked on several films and commercials, most notably: “Ms. 45” for director Abel Ferrara and “Mother’s Day” and “When Nature Calls” for director Charles Kaufman. Upon graduating, Rex worked as a 1st A.D. on dozens of commercials and films until he took a full time position at a NY Commercial Production Company.

UPCOMING LIVE: Thursday October 1 2014 11aE 10aC 8aP TO LISTEN CLICK  the bolded link below:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with director Rex Piano PT 5

Previous Episodes: TO LISTEN CLICK the bolded link below:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with director Rex Piano

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with director Rex Piano PT 2

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with director Rex Piano PT 3

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with director Rex Piano PT 4

In 1985 Rex became Head of Production for O’Quinn Productions where he produced numerous videos for Fangoria Magazine (O’Quinn’s creation) that were distributed by MPI and Paramount Home Video.

In 1987 Rex moved to Los Angeles and was Head of Production for Associated Television International. While there, Rex wrote, produced and/or directed several TV specials and numerous travel videos. Rex also co-wrote and line produced the feature film “Chill Factor,” starring Paul Williams, Patrick Macnee and Andrew Prine.

Rex line produced “Severed Ties” in 1991 for Fangoria Films and continued freelance production work until 1995 when he was hired to produce the syndicated TV show “High Tide,” starring singer Rick Springfield. Rex also directed two episodes that season which lead to him becoming one of the series’ rotating directors.

Rex continued directing episodic TV shows, including “Mike Hammer, Private Eye”, “Silk Stalkings”, “Born Free”, “Air America” and “Nightman.”

In 2000 Rex produced and directed the multi-award winning romantic comedy feature film “The Month Of August.” The film garnered nine Best Picture awards and ten Official Designations at various film festivals around the country.

Rex followed that film with the highly viewed and critically acclaimed TV movie “Hope Ranch” for The Animal Planet channel. Rex then began directing TV movies that aired on PAX and Lifetime Television.

To date, Rex has directed or produced 21 movies that have either aired on television, gone straight to DVD or have had limited theatrical distribution.

In 2007 Rex was the primary director on “ROME – The Rise and Fall of an Empire,” for the History Channel.

Rex continues to produce and direct TV shows and Independent films; the most recent being “The Littlest Angel,” an animated Christmas movie that comes out in 2011.

Rex is currently attached to direct/produce several films including “Storm Front”, “Pizza Face” and “Phylicia’s Final Fling,” to name a few. Rex continues to write screenplays, his most recent a comedy called “In A Gadda Da Vida,” is currently making the rounds in Hollywood.

Rex Piano Official Website

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with Academy Award Nominated Director Debra Granick

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Debra Granik, is the Academy Award-nominated director and co-writer of Winter’s Bone, which was nominated for four Oscars, including  Best Picture, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Granik’s first feature film, Down to the Bone, was awarded the Best Director prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. She is known for her amazing work with actors, essentially launching the careers of both Vera Farmiga and Jennifer Lawrence. Her work is known for an instinctive, collaborative style that Granik describes as “late-breaking global neorealism.”

To Listen Click The Bolded Link Below:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with Academy Award Nominated Director Debra Granick 

Granik’s most recent offering, the documentary Stray Dog, began with a chance encounter while scouting and casting Winter’s Bone. Granik met Ron “Stray Dog” Hall in the Biker Church of Branson and cast him as the film’s estranged father, Thump Milton. Of her work she says, “The question I’ve had for most of my life is, ‘How are you coping?’ Some people have these small, positive schemes for survival, a kind of strength that I am attracted to, maybe because I’m prone to the blues.” In Hall she found a worthy subject—one whose humor and lack of self-consciousness had the potential to make the plight of Vietnam vets accessible to a broader audience.

Debra Granick is a special guest attending the Milwaukee Film Festival 2014. She is scheduled to attend screenings and participate in question and answer sessions with her film’s subjects, Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, of Stray Dog. See below:

Winter’s Bone Sept 27, 11:30AM | Downer Theatre

Working with Actors Sep. 27, 2:30PM | Colectivo Prospect Debra Granik will present on this topic.

Stray Dog Sep. 27, 7:15PM | Oriental Theatre & Sep. 29, 4:15PM | Times Cinema. In attendance are Debra Granik: Director, Tory Stewart: Co-Producer/Editor, Ron “Stray Dog” Hall: Film Subject, Freddie Strickland: Film Subject, and Robin Smith: Film Subject.

You will want to attend these showings and panel.

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with Producer Director Gil Cates Jr

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Director Producer Gil Cates Jr will be attending the Milwaukee Film Festival Premiere of ‘The Surface’ shot entirely in Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. The movie stars Sean Astin, Chris Mulkey (both will be in attendance) and Mimi Rogers. Tickets are on sale now for the Thursday October 9th Premiere at the Oriental Theater on Farwell Avenue.

GIL CATES, JR. , Director / Producer  has produced and directed many films and documentaries.  His motion picture directorial debut was the 1997 short film Screening. With an ensemble cast including Morgan Freeman, the film played at numerous film festivals and was subsequently purchased by Showtime and The Sundance Channel.

To Listen Click on the BOLDED LINK BELOW:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with producer director Gil Cates Jr.

Following up on the success of the short, Gil wrote and directed his debut feature film $pent, a serio-comic look at life, love, and addictions. The film stars Jason London (“Dazed and Confused”) and was distributed by Regent Entertainment in the summer of 2000.

In 2002, Gil wrapped the twisted comedy The Mesmerist, based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story. The film, released by Seventh Arts Releasing, stars Neil Patrick Harris and Jessica Capshaw, and was Executive Produced by Barbara De Fina (“Casino”).

In 2003, Gil completed the ensemble A Midsummer Night’s Rave, released by THINKFilm. “Rave” features Andrew Keegan (“10 Things I Hate About You”), Chad Lindberg (“The Fast and The Furious”), Sunny Mabrey (“XXX 2”), and Carrie Fisher.

In 2005, Gil shot the documentary feature Life After Tomorrow, which follows the girls that were in the original productions of Annie on Broadway. The film won Best Documentary and Best Director at the Phoenix Film Festival and had its premiere on Christmas Eve of 2006 on Showtime.

In 2006, Gil directed the feature Deal, which he co-wrote with Marc Weinstock. The film stars Burt Reynolds as an ex-gambler who is sucked back into the popular game of Texas Hold’em. The film, shot in New Orleans, also stars Bret Harrison, Shannon Elizabeth, and Charles Durning, and was released by MGM in the spring of 2008.

In 2008, Gil produced the indie feature Order of Chaos, starring Rhys Coiro, Milo Ventimiglia, Samantha Mathis, and Mimi Rogers. The film, directed by Vince Vieluf, was released February 12th, 2010.

In 2010, Gil directed the feature Lucky. The film, a dark comedy about a serial killer who wins the lottery, stars Colin Hanks, Ari Graynor, Ann-Margret and Jeffrey Tambor and was released by Phase 4 Films in the summer of 2011.

In 2012, Gil co-produced the feature film Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher, Matthew Modine, Josh Gad, Dermot Mulroney, and J.K. Simmons. The film, which tells the story of Steve Jobs’ ascension from college dropout into one of our most revered creative entrepreneurs, was released by Open Road in the summer of 2013.

In 2013, Gil directed the feature The Surface, starring Sean Astin, Chris Mulkey, and Mimi Rogers. The indie drama, about two strangers who meet in the unpredictable waters of Lake Michigan, recently completed post-production and will be released in the winter of 2014.

Gil also made his TV directorial debut in 2007 with an episode of the NBC comedy, Joey,starring Emmy winner Matt LeBlanc.

**** NEWS NOTE: Gil will be attending the Milwaukee Film Festival Premiere of ‘The Surface’ shot entirely in Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. The movie stars Sean Astin, Chris Mulkey and Mimi Rogers.  Tickets are on sale now for the Thursday October 9th Premiere at the Oriental Theater on Farwell Avenue.

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Milwaukee Film 2014 Festival|Record Number Of Special Guests Will Attend!

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The Milwaukee Film Festival has announced a record number of guests visiting Milwaukee and attending the film festival. These guests include critically-acclaimed directors Debra Granik and Marshall Curry to attend with film subjects;  Director Gil Cates Jr and actors Sean Astin and Chris Mulkey attending Closing Night Film

On top of that the stats on the number of guests up – an increase of 37% from last year.  A total of 113 out-of-town guests are confirmed.

“The opportunity for audience members to interact with the creators and stars of the films is one of the most unique aspects of the film festival experience. It adds a deeper level of connection and engagement between our audience and films, and that has always been one of our goals,” shares Jonathan Jackson, Artistic and Executive Director at Milwaukee Film.

Attending the festival and adding significantly to audience interaction are the directors and subjects for two of the year’s most critically acclaimed documentaries–Debra Granik’s Stray Dog and Marshall Curry’s Point and Shoot*** (See Program Note at end of blog).  Both Oscar-nominated filmmakers are scheduled to attend screenings and participate in question and answer sessions with their respective film’s subjects, Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, of Stray Dog, and Matthew VanDyke, of Point and Shoot.

Both Opening and Closing Night films boast a record number of guests and filmmakers. The riveting documentary opening the festival, 1971, screens with director Johanna Hamilton and four film subjects in attendance, and will include an extended question and answer session following the film.

I have a special place in my heart for the Milwaukee-made Closing Night film, The Surface. It celebrates its world premiere at the Milwaukee Film Festival, with cast, crew, and star of the film, Sean Astin of The Lord of the Rings, Rudy, and The Goonies fame. Director Gil Cates, Jr.*** (special program note see info at bottom) writer, producer, and Milwaukee native, Jeff Gendelman, cinematographer and co-producer, Jimmy Sammarco, and actors Astin, Chris Mulkey (Captain Phillips, First Blood), and Megan Lorie will also be in attendance.

Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic, Wesley Morris (presenting the festival’s State of the Cinema address), and comedy kingpins originally from Milwaukee, Jim Abraham and Jerry Zucker (Top Secret!), previously announced as part of Tributes, are all scheduled to attend select film screenings.

Wisconsin native Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense, Take Me to the River) is also among notable guests attending this year’s festival.

The extensive list of scheduled guests also includes at least one guest for each film in the festival’s new Black Lens program, including Robert Townsend, director, writer, and star of the 1987 classic comedy, Hollywood Shuffle, for a total of ten Black Lens guests.

For the first time since launching its Passport program, Milwaukee Film has secured a filmmaker for this program. Passport: Mexico director Rodrigo Reyes (Purgatorio: A Journey Into the Heart of the Border) is scheduled to attend the festival.

FILMS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR AT THE 2014 MILWAUKEE FILM FESTIVAL:

1971
Sep. 25, 7PM | Oriental Theatre (Opening Night Film)
Sep. 27, 1:45PM | Oriental Theatre
Johanna Hamilton: Director Bonnie Raines: Film Subject John Raines: Film Subject Athan Theoharis: Film Subject Betty Medsger: Film Subject

25 to Life
Oct. 4, 7PM | Times Cinema
Oct. 7, 11AM | Oriental Theatre
Leah Natasha Thomas: Producer Khaliah Neal: Producer William Brawner: ­Film Subject

Anchovies (Prefeature for Serial Daters Anonymous)
Oct. 3, 7PM | Times Cinema
Annabelle Attanasio: Director

Art and Craft
Oct. 6, 7:15PM | Downer Theatre Mark Becker: Director Mark Landis: Film Subject

Carnival of the Animals (Prefeature for Psychopath)
Sep. 26, 9:30PM | Oriental Theatre
Sitora Takanaev: Director

Cairo Drive
Oct. 4, 9:45PM | Oriental Theatre
Sherief Elkatsha: Director

The Case Against 8
Oct. 4, 6:30PM | Oriental Theatre
Oct. 5, 1:30PM | Fox Bay Cinema
Kris Perry: Film Subject Sandy Stier: Film Subject

The Chaperone (Shorts: Stories We Tell)
Sep. 28, 4PM | Oriental Theatre
Fraser Munden: Director

Code Unknown: Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys
Sep. 27, 4:15PM | Oriental Theatre
Wesley Morris: Film Critic

Cootie Contagion (Kids Shorts: Size Large)
Sep. 27, 10:45AM | Oriental Theatre
Sep. 28, 11:30AM | Fox Bay Cinema
Josh Smooha: Director

CRU
Sep. 28, 4:30PM | Times Cinema
Sep. 30, 7:45PM | Oriental Theatre
Antwon Tanner: Actor

DEAR MKE
(Oct. 9, 5:30PM | Oriental Theatre) Jack Turner: Executive Producer Ryan Dembroski: Executive Producer Rob Schoonover: Producer Barry Poltermann: Story Supervisor Dan Didier: Post Supervisor, Editorial Assistant

All in the Family
Sam Macon: Director Jessamy Meyer: Editor

BuildMoto
Matt Mixon: Director Matthew Prekop: Editor Ian Anderson: Editor

Come Sail Away
Jack Davidson: Director

Cooking with Kumar
Frankie Latina: Director

High Art
Chris Thompson: Director Matthew Prekop: Editor

Lo with the Fro
Jessica Farrell: Director Dave Myszewski: Editor

Mondo Lucha
Sam Macon: Director Travis Auclair: Cinematographer Alex Youngen: Editor

The Right Ingredients
Matt Mixon: Director Dave Myszewski: Editor

Rory: Milwaukee’s Most Famous Cab Driver
Frankie Latina: Director Vinnie Besasie: Cinematographer  Randy Russel: Unit Production Manager

To See What You Can Do
Jack Davidson: Director

Tour de Space
Blyth Meier: Director Dave Myszewski: Editor

The Truck Driver
Matt Mixon: Director

Underwater Harvey
Steve Farr: Director Steve Roeder: Producer

Evolution of a Criminal
Sept. 30, 3PM | Oriental Theatre
Darius Clark Monroe: Director

The Forgotten Kingdom
Oct. 4, 7PM | Downer Theatre
Oct. 5, 1:15PM | Oriental Theatre
Andrew Mudge: Director

Freedom Summer
Sept. 26, 4:15PM | Oriental Theatre
Cyndee Readdean: Producer

Funnel (Shorts: Stories We Tell)
Sept. 28, 4PM | Oriental Theatre
Andre Hyland: Director

Give It Up For the Girl (Prefeature for Pester)
Oct. 5, 10PM | Oriental Theatre
Carol Brandt: Director John Roberts: Executive Producer Martin Kaszubowski: Producer

Gnarly in Pink (Kids Shorts: Size Medium)
Oct. 3, 2PM | Oriental Theatre (Shorts: Sports Shorts. Shorts about Sports.)
Oct. 4, 11:30AM | Times Cinema
Oct. 5, 11AM | Oriental Theatre
Ben Mullinkosson: Director

Goose Trouble (Kids Shorts: Size Small)
Oct. 4, 11AM | Oriental Theatre
Oct. 5, 11:30AM | Fox Bay Cinema
Monika Downer: Director

Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists
Sep. 26, 4:30PM | Downer Theatre
Brian Ashby: Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Suellen Rocca: Artist, Film Subject Jim Falconer: Artist, Film Subject

Hamlet A.D.D.
Sep. 27, 9:45PM | Oriental Theatre
Oct. 7, 9:30PM | Times Cinema
Andrew Swant: Director, Actor Bobby Ciraldo: Director, Actor Evan Maruszewski: Animator Mark Borchardt: Actor  Eric Gerber: Actor Drew Rosas: Actor

Hollywood Shuffle
Oct. 3, 7PM | Oriental Theatre
Robert Townsend: Director

An Honest Liar
Oct. 5, 4:15PM | Downer Theatre
Tyler Measom: Director James Randi: Film Subject Deyvi Pena: Film Subject

The Immaculate Reception (Shorts: Sports Shorts. Shorts about Sports.) Oct. 3, 2PM | Oriental Theatre
Charlotte Glynn: Director

Kids For Cash
Sep. 26, 7PM | Fox Bay Cinema
Robert May: Director

Life Partners
Oct. 5, 7:15PM | Oriental Theatre
Susanna Fogel: Director, Co-Writer Jordana Mollick: Producer

Man With a Movie Camera
Sept. 30, PM | Oriental Theatre
Alloy Orchestra

Meet The Patels
Sep. 28, 7:45PM | Oriental Theatre
Sep. 29, 5:30PM | Oriental Theatre
Vasant Patel: Film Subject Champa Patel: Film Subject

THE MILWAUKEE SHOW I (Sep. 29, 8PM | Oriental Theatre)

The Death of Corey Stingley
Spencer Chumbley: Director Erik Ljung: Producer Craig Stingley: Film Subject

An Evening at Angelo’s
Kara Mulrooney: Director Tate Bunker: Additional Camera Angelo Mortellaro: Film Subject Jerry Grillo: Singer Ginni Smith: Singer Bobby Baker: Singer Joe Kral: Piano John Hefter: Piano Danny Keegan: Singer Mario Crivello: Bartender

The Harpist
Erica Thompson: Director Bethany Michaels: Producer Ellie Wells: Writer

The Kenny Dennis
Wes Tank: Director

Little America
Kurt Raether: Director

New Planet
James Tindell: DirectorShaun Hosseini: Assistant Producer

Settlers
Nathaniel Heuer: Director Timm Gable: Producer Erik Ljung: Cinematographer Sean Williamson: Assistant Director Diana Ehlers: Casting/Costume Heather Hass: Editor Joe Kirschling: Photography Eileen Blom: Actor Amelinda Burich: Actor Ahris Kim: Actor Margaret Muza: Actor Laura Theissen: Actor Michelle Warren: Actor Jen White: Actor Erin Wolf: Actor Shawn Stephany: Band Member Marielle Allschwang: Band member

THE MILWAUKEE SHOW II (Oct. 6, 7PM | Oriental Theatre)

Balloons
Sitora Takanaev: Director

Geoffrey Broughe Handles Confrontation Poorly
Jon Phillips: Director Quinn Hester: Cinematographer Casey Harris: Costume Designer Peter Batchelder: Sound Engineer, Compose Matthew Balz: Art Director  Ricardo De Herrera: Actor Matt Nichols: Actor

MECCA: The Floor That Made Milwaukee Famous
Chris James Thompson: Director Andy Gorzalski: Producer Jack Turner: Producer Travis Auclair: Cinematographer  Michael T. Vollmann: Editor Barry Poltermann: Story Editor Jannell Gorzalski: Film Subject Stephen Marcus: Film Subject Ben Koller: Film Subject Hal Koller: Film Subject Judie Koller: Film Subject George Gonis: Film Subject Robert Byrd: Film Subject

One Week Vacation
Brendan T. Jones: Director Jenny Vanderheiden: Art Director Ryan Lowe: Actor Evan Koepnick: Actor Angie Campbell: Actor Kenny Somerville: Actor

Smoky Places
Michael DiMilo: Director Jeff Stehr: Music Director Tom Plutshack: Guitar Dave Bolyard: Percussion

This is Jackie.
Anna Sampers: Director

Tis the Season
Kirsten Stuck: Director

To Hold In The Heart
Pang Her: Director Jean Yang: Camera

The Waystation in the Stars
Brandon Morissey: Director, Producer, Writer Lyssa Kay: Producer Dagmar Weaver-Madsen: Cinematographer

THE MILWAUKEE YOUTH SHOW (Sep. 28, 10:30AM | Oriental Theatre)

200,000
Gavin White, Tyler Matthews, Jeremy LeCleir, Scott Meade: Directors

Assist Bhopal
Megan Sai Dogra: Director

The Autumn Vignette
Serbata Tarrer: Director

Counting the Dead
Alexandra Van Den Heuvel: Director

Get Real People
Griffin Anderson, Mitch Dykstra, Tanner Dykstra, Ronnie Al-Ramahi: Directors

Iero
Gabriella Avila, Alexia Jaso: Directors

If You Weren’t Here
LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club workshop participants: Directors

La Decisiones de Tu Vida Alondra Mercado, Ana Ornelas: Directors:

Let the Children Live
Clarke Street Boys & Girls Club workshop participants: Directors

Media and Mental Illness
Eden Raduege, Mikayla Bell: Directors

Protect Yourself
Youth from Townsend CLC Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee: Directors

Wake Up and Pay Attention
Youth from the Daniels-Mardak Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee: Directors

My Prairie Home
Sep. 26, 10PM | Oriental Theatre
Chelsea McMullan: Director

No One Is Listening Anymore! (Shorts: Stories We Tell)
Sep. 28, 4PM | Oriental Theatre  Oct. 1, 10:30PM | Oriental Theatre
Romi Trower: Director

The Other One
Oct. 1, 7PM | Times Cinema
Oct. 7, PM | Oriental Theatre
Joe Steiff: Director Grace McPhilips: Producer, Actor

The Overnighters
Oct. 4, 9:30PM | Downer Theatre
Jay Reinke: Film Subject Keegan Edwards: Film Subject

Person to Person (Shorts: Stories We Tell) Sep. 28, 4PM | Oriental Theatre
Dustin Defa: Director

Pester
Sep. 28, 6:45PM | Times Cinema
Oct. 5, 10PM | Oriental Theatre
Eric Gerber: Director, Writer, Producer Drew Rosas: Producer Andrew Swant: Actor, Consulting Producer

Point and Shoot
Oct. 7, 7PM | Oriental Theatre
Marshall Curry: Director Matthew VanDyke: Producer, Film Subject

Psychopath
Sep. 26, 9:30PM | Oriental Theatre
Sep. 28, 2PM | Fox Bay Cinema
Oct. 4, 4:15PM | Times Cinema
Manny Marquez: Director Victor Marquez: Film Subject Suezette Marquez: Film Subject

Purgatorio: A Journey Into the Heart of the Border
Sep. 27, 2:15PM Downer Theatre
Rodrigo Reyes: Director

Revenge of The Mekons
Sep. 27, 9:45PM | Downer Theatre
Sep. 30, 4:30PM | Times Cinema
Joe Angio: Director Sally Timms: Film Subject (Only Sep. 27th screening) Jon Langford: Film Subject (Only Sep. 27th screening)

The Starfish Throwers
Attendance date TBD
Pete Tedrow: Outreach & Festival Coordinator

Secundaria
Oct. 8, 7PM | Downer Theatre
Mary Jane Doherty: Director

Serial Daters Anonymous
Sep. 27, 9:45PM | Fox Bay Cinema
Oct. 1, 4PM | Oriental Theatre
Oct. 3, 7PM | Times Cinema
Christopher Carson Emmons: Director Sam Kozel: Executive Producer

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
Oct. 2, 4:30PM | Times Cinema
Oct. 4, 1:30PM | Oriental Theatre
Mary Dore: Director Nancy Kennedy: Producer Mary Jean Collins: Film Subject Fran Beal: Film Subject

Stop Making Sense
Oct. 4, 10:30pm Oriental Theatre
Jerry Harrison: Film Subject

Stray Dog
Sep. 27, 7:15PM | Oriental Theatre
Sep. 29, 4:15PM | Times Cinema
Debra Granik: Director Tory Stewart: Co-Producer/Editor Ron “Stray Dog” Hall: Film Subject Freddie Strickland: Film Subject Robin Smith: Film Subject

Street Fight
Oct. 7, 4:15PM | Oriental Theatre
Marshall Curry: Director

Strike: The Greatest Bowling Story Ever Told (Shorts: Sports Shorts. Shorts about Sports.)
Oct. 3, 2PM | Oriental Theatre
Joey Daoud: Director

Stumped (Shorts: Stranger Than Fiction)
Oct. 6, 4:45PM | Downer Theatre
Robin Berghaus: Director

The Surface (Closing Night Film)
Oct. 9, 8PM | Oriental Theatre
Gil Cates, Jr.: Director
Jeff Gendelman: Writer/Producer
Jimmy Sammarco: Cinematographer, Co-Producer
Sean Astin: Actor Chris Mulkey: Actor Megan Lorie: Actor

Take Me to the River
Attendance Dates TBD

Martin Shore: Director Jerry Harrison: Producer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell: Subject Frayser Boy: Film Subject William Bell: Film Subject

Taxidermists (Shorts: Stranger Than Fiction)
Oct. 2, 2PM | Times Cinema
Nicole Triche: Director Wendy Christensen: Film Subject

Things Never Said
Oct. 1, 7:30PM | Oriental Theatre
Oct. 2, 1PM | Oriental Theatre
Charles Murray: Director

This May Be the Last Time
Oct. 4, 4:15PM | Oriental Theatre
Sterlin Harjo: Director

Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People
Oct. 9, 7:30PM | Oriental Theatre
Don Perry: Co-Producer, Co-Writer

‘Til Infinity: Celebrating 20 Years of the Souls of Mischief Sep. 27, 9PM | Oriental Theatre
Shomari Smith: Director

Time Lapse
Sep. 26, 9:30PM | Times Cinema
Bradley King: Director

Top Secret!
Oct. 1, 7PM | Oriental Theatre
Jim Abrahams: Director Jerry Zucker: Director

The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga
Sep. 28, 7:30PM | Downer Theatre
Jessica Oreck: Director

Vessel
Oct. 3, 4:45PM | Downer Theatre
Diana Whitten: Director

Watchers of the Sky
Sep. 29, 10:45PM | Oriental Theatre
Elizabeth Bohart: Executive Producer

Winter’s Bone
Sept 27, 11:30AM | Downer Theatre
Debra Granik: Director 

Years (Prefeature for The Other One)
Oct. 1, 7PM | Times Cinema
Rose Curley: Director Nora Burlo: Actor

PANELS
Keynote: State of Cinema
Sep. 27, Noon | Colectivo Prospect

Wesley Morris: 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner for Criticism; Film and Culture writer for Grantland.com

Working with Actors
Sep. 27, 2:30PM | Colectivo Prospect
Debra Granik: Writer, Director (Winter’s Bone, Stray Dog)

Mex-ciné: Mexican Filmmaking, Production, and Consumption in the 21st Century Sep. 27, 5PM | Colectivo Prospect
Dr. Frederick Luis Aldama: Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor, The Ohio State University

Memory & the Arts
Sep. 28, 5PM | Colectivo Prospect
Mary Louise Schumacher: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Nancy Armitage: Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin

Dr. Anne Basting: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Diane Knight: Alverno College

After 1971: Media, Freedom of Information, and the Public’s Right to Know Monday, Sep 29 | 12:15 PM | Eckstein Hall, Marquette University
Mike Gousha: Marquette University Law School
Daniel Bice: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Christa Westerberg: Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Ben Wizner: American Civil Liberties Union

Pitch Us Your Doc! Contest
Saturday, Oct 4 | 12PM | Colectivo Prospect
Kim Nguyen: War Witch (MFF 2013 Competition Award Winner) Michael Raisler: Cinereach, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Laurie Scheer: The Writer’s Advantage: A Toolkit for Mastering Your Genre (2014)

Film Financing Panel
Saturday, Oct 4 | 2:30PM | Colectivo Prospect
Tyler Measom: An Honest Liar 
Jordana Mollick: Life Partners

MKE At Risk: Feeding Our Community
Saturday, Oct 4 | 5PM | Colectivo Prospect
Mitch Teich: WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio 89.7FM
Sharon Adams:  Walnut Way Conservation Corp.
Larry Adams: Walnut Way Conservation Corp.
Nicole Angresano: United Way of Greater Milwaukee
Dr. Jennifer Jordan: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Young Kim: Fondy Food Center
Sherrie Tussler: Hunger Task Force

JURORS

Herzfeld Competition Jury
David Fear, Rolling Stone
Theresa Scandiffio, Toronto International Film Festival
Mike Maggiore, Film Forum

Cream City Cinema Jury
Sam Adams, IndieWire
Justine Nagan, Kartemquin Films
Jim Brunzell III, Twin Cities Daily Planet

Shorter Is Better Jury
Dan Doody, Seattle International Film Festival
Jessica Farrell, Filmmaker Spencer Gillis, Filmmaker

Rated K: For Kids Jury
Octavia Grimes Piper Grimes Quinn Hammerlund Julian Singh Anna Weiss

I will see you there! Be sure to come up and say hello. Enjoy the festival and all these wonderful activities and guests.

The 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival runs September 25 – October 9, 2014 at the Landmark Oriental Theatre, Landmark Downer Theatre, Fox-Bay Cinema Grill and Times Cinema. Passes and ticket 6-Packs for the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival are currently available at discounted rates exclusively online at mkefilm.org/tickets.

Tickets for individual screenings will be available through Milwaukee Film Festival Box Office starting September 10 for Milwaukee Film Members and September 11 for the General Public.

*** Special Program Note: Debra Granik is guest on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Wednesday Sept 24, 2014 3pE 12pC NoonP. Join us for our live discussion, chat will be open too. Show will be archived and available 24/7 to listen if you are unable to listen live. For more info click the bolded link:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with Academy Award Nominated Director Debra Granick 

*** Special Program Note: Gil Cates Jr Director Producer is guest on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Thursday Sept 25, 2014 11aE 10aC 8aP. Join us for our live discussion, chat will be open too. Show will be archived and available 24/7 to listen if you are unable to listen live. For more info click the bolded link:

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with director producer Gil Cates Jr.

Festival begins September 25, the date of this discussion with Gil Cates Jr. Enjoy

 

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Behind The Scenes Of “Full Circle” – reprinted from Project Famous

Full Circle Slate

BEHIND THE SCENES OF “FULL CIRCLE”

Written by Karla S. Bryant | Photography by Peter Langeness

It may be the only time someone at the Déjà Vu Martini Lounge in Appleton, WI was in conversation with another person when the words that popped into their head were, “This may be the priest I’ve been looking for.”

But that’s what happened when I was talking with actor, producer, and broadcaster Rex Sikes. My short story, “Full Circle,” had recently been published in a literary quarterly. The film production company I’m involved with, Madison-based Living Storm Productions, was planning on adapting it as a short film. Jeff Blankenship, who had been directing films for them, was on board from the start to direct it.

Director Jeff Blankenship discusses a scene with Rex Sikes and Gail Hafar.  Assistant Director Craig Olson looks on.

But there was one thing that worried all of us to varying degrees: whoever played the lead character of Fr. Kmichik would have to carry the film. Its success, to some degree, would depend on who was cast in the role. There were a few people in mind and we knew we’d hold auditions, of course. But at the moment, a number of Living Storm Productions members were at the Déjà Vu Lounge after-party for the Wildwood Film Festival, where their film, Freud (also directed by Blankenship), had been an “Official Participant.”

As I sipped my neon blue martini, I listened more closely as Rex talked. In my mind, he was already wearing a priest’s collar and making the no-nonsense, yet empathetic character come to life. I knew the casting decision wouldn’t be up to me, the writer. Still, a writer knows the characters she’s written better than anyone else.

But, that’s in the middle of the process of my story becoming a film. I’d initially meant to write “Full Circle” as a traditional ghost story. But, as the story and characters developed, it turned into something else. It turned into a story focused on forgiveness and redemption, not necessarily in the strictly religious sense, but still on a deeply spiritual level. In fact, in the story, the spiritual world behaves like an attention-seeking toddler… moving objects and throwing things and making noises to catch the attention of those currently living. Or, at least, the attention of one person currently living. I firmly believe that the truth always has a way of fighting its way to the surface. That, perhaps, is at the core of the story.

Joette Waters, Susan Rathke, Rex Sikes, and Chris Seurer get set up for another shot.

Just before moving to Madison last September, I received word that “Full Circle” had been accepted for publication in Dappled Things, a literary quarterly. I knew it was primarily a visual story and, with one short story already optioned by a film studio, I thought this one would also work well in a film adaptation. Things began to dovetail. Not everyone is aware that I went to high school with Blankenship in Eagle River, WI. The shy guy who sat next to me in American Lit and Drama class noticed on Facebook that I did some screenwriting and was moving to Madison. He had lived in the area for some time and was directing films for Living Storm Productions. He suggested I meet some people from the group.

Thirty-some years since we’d last seen each other, Jeff and I met and spoke about “Full Circle.” He was very interested in the story and he told me he’d love to take it on. As a director, Jeff wanted to know more and more about the characters’ back stories and motivations and, over the fall, we spent hours in discussion over it. Finally, he was satisfied that it all pieced together for him in a way that he could now envision just how the film would feel and look.

Blankenship and Sikes on set

By spring, because of the unique situation I was in as a new member of Living Storm Productions, I was fortunate to sit in on the auditions. For the first time I heard strangers speak the words I’d written for characters whom had been my imaginary friends for months. As different actors auditioned for the roles, I was fascinated by the varied interpretations of the characters. Really? I wondered. The paralegal had that kind of a personality? Well, she could and it could actually make her a more interesting character. It is eye-opening and humbling to see your characters develop beyond your own imagination.

We had a number of video submissions as well. One actress, Joette Waters, was so convincing as the elderly Helen Waldowksi that when we were making arrangements for her to take the bus from Chicago, I cautioned it shouldn’t be too late in the evening because of her age. Glancing then at her head shot, I was shocked she wasn’t elderly at all, just a very talented actress who had excellent make-up on for her audition tape. Yes, she got the role. We were fortunate to find gifted actors and actresses for all the supporting roles.

Props set the scene

And then came the auditions for Fr. Kmichik, the lead actor. In spite of my instinct about Rex Sikes being the man for the role, I tried to keep my mind open. In particular, there was another wonderful actor who auditioned, but he was much better suited for a role as an Anglican vicar in a BBC drama. Fr. Kmichik, the main character, is a Polish-American, earthy priest with a strong insight into people. Not a priest who would be troubled by protocol or talk about the weather. Not a priest who would be frightened by something unexplained, but a man who would take on the challenge to find the reason behind supernatural events.

When Rex auditioned via Skype, we ended up with one technical problem after another. Jeff’s audio didn’t work. At one point, he had to communicate with hastily written Post-It notes held up to the screen. Rex had a difficult time hearing me. Fortunately, we had no problem hearing or seeing him. Still, it was frustrating and distracting for everyone. Just as we were wondering if we should set something else up, Jeff gave Rex specific direction and, when he read the lines again, in spite of all the technological problems, Rex’s expression, pacing, and inflection were spot on. My gut instinct had been correct.

Blankenship and Director of Photography Steven Dean film a poignant scene.

Early scenes for a teaser trailer were shot in June and right now, most of the filming is done for the actual film.Living Storm Productions co-owner, actor, and producer, Bryan Royston, is juggling multiple roles throughout the production, along with managing the IndieGoGo campaign (which is bringing us much-needed funds for fixed expenses). Kelly Lajter is working tirelessly and creatively as Project Manager and Script Supervisor, along with Craig Olson as Assistant Director. Another Living Storm Productions co-owner and producer, Alex Contreras, is keeping everyone updated on details through emails and weekly meetings. Steven Dean brings his formidable talent as a cinematographer to the project. Experienced lighting expert, Justin Propp and audio technician, Ryan Meunier, are also on board. The production is fortunate to have a gifted make-up and hair artist, Joshua Harrison, to transform young actresses into elderly women and have it look completely believable.

What I’m learning as a writer on set for the first time is that, just as they say at award ceremonies, there are too many people in the cast and crew to thank them individually… each one of them is critical to the success of the film.

MakeUp Artist Joshua Harrison preps Joette Waters for a scene.

Getting a few peeks at the monitors, I saw for myself that Full Circle is beautifully shot and the acting is outstanding.  Right now, even though there are a few scenes that remain to be filmed and the post-production work lies ahead, I’m restless to see the finished project.

Full Circle

The last of filming is being scheduled.  Full Circle will start post-production work this fall.  The release date is currently TBD.  Keep up with Full Circle and Living Storm Productions on Facebook.

 Be sure to visit Project Famous and Subscribe!!!
Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site