A superb cast and crew finished production on my new short film, SAFE AND HAPPY, after a two-day shoot on March 8-9, in St. Louis. SAFE AND HAPPY tells the dramatic story of an ex-cop who for years has kept an explosive secret from his wife and the world but is suddenly exposed at a critical moment–with life-changing consequences. As our group picture after the shoot indicates, this was a team that was a joy to work with.
I am pleased to announce that in January I optioned the film rights to the fascinating true story memoir, BLINDSIDED BY THE TALIBAN: A JOURNALIST’S STORY OF WAR, TRAUMA, LOVE, AND LOSS, by Carmen Gentile. It’s a captivating and piercingly honest account of a war correspondent who, amazingly, survived a rocket-propelled-grenade attack, and went on to a recovery–both physical and emotional–that is at once riveting and deeply engaging. It immediately struck me as an extremely relatable story for a movie. So I’m at work turning Carmen’s partly harrowing, partly humorous personal story into a film that, I believe, will be even more captivating on the big screen. Stay tuned!
I’ll be selling and signing books–my debut novel, MR. WONDERFUL, and my prize-winning history of the Trail of Tears, AN AMERICAN BETRAYAL: CHEROKEE PATRIOTS AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS (Henry Holt)–on Saturday, Nov 17, 9am-4pm at the Kentucky Book Festival. The event is held at the Kentucky Horse Park in the Alltech Arena.
I recently recorded a podcast interview with Simon Watson’s Extra Features Movie Review Podcast up in Toronto. Check it out!
Not even half-way through its festival journey, MEMORY BOX has already been selected for 14 festivals and has either earned 9 nominations and/or awards from festivals in the US, Australia, Canada, and Spain. After a very successful world premiere at the Austin Revolution Film Festival in late September, my film has been screened in Amelia Island, FL (Rendezvous Film Fest), Los Angeles (Marina Del Rey Film Fest; Kapow Intergalactic Film Fest), Toronto (Open World Toronto Film Fest), and Mallorca, Spain (In Shorts-Fest). We look forward to a screening followed by a Q&A much closer to home–at the First Friday Film Festival in Kansas City on Jan. 4. We are awaiting news on many other fests here and abroad, but so far the reception to our little film has been immensely gratifying.
My short film, MEMORY BOX, just two months into its festival journey, has now been accepted into 6 festivals and given (or been nominated for) 3 awards! The festivals naming our film as an Official Selection include as of mid-August: Austin Revolution Film Festival (Sept. 18-23); Rendezvous Film Festival (at Amelia Island, Florida), Sept. 20-22; Mindfield International Film Fest in Albuquerque (June 2019); Independent Shorts Award; International Shorts Film Festival, Melbourne, Australia (Dec. 7-10); and the Pinnacle Film Awards.
We are nominated for Best Dramatic Short at the Austin Revolution Film Festival and a Best Actor Nominee in a Dramatic Short (Lou Cariffe); and received a Bronze Award for Best Indie Short at the Independent Shorts Award.
Much more to come–MEMORY BOX has been submitted to quite a number of fests–but this is certainly a promising start!
My short film, MEMORY BOX, about how a man’s visit with a loved one leads to a shattering revelation, will premiere at the Austin Revolution Film Fest, Sept. 18-22. The number one reviewed film festival in the country, ARFF is a blue-collar, indie-loving festival where story, not A-list celebrities, is king. All of us involved in the project are thrilled to premiere the film in Austin, a beacon of innovative cinema.
UNHEARD VOICES: You Don’t Know My Story, a play I conceived but drawn directly from the raw and courageous stories of young men (aged 16-20) living in a transitional residence in north St. Louis, will be performed on April 28 at the Ferguson Youth Initiative and on May 12 at the Gaslight Theater in St. Louis’s Central West End.
I led a creative writing workshop run by Your Words STL at Marygrove, a residential home for troubled and disadvantaged children and youth, this spring. The dozen or so young men I worked with focused on telling autobiographical stories in the form of monologues. What they wrote gave voice to the incredible life challenges and brutal circumstances of their upbringing–many of them going through 10 or more foster homes and enduring abuse of all kinds from their parents and others–with most of them forging a brave and triumphant path for themselves. The resulting play, which I wove together from their remarkable stories, and produced by PRIME theater, is a showcase of resilience and courage.
We had a terrific shoot for my new short, MEMORY BOX, on April 7. Here are some pics that capture a bit of the action.
From left, Gaffer Nathanael Brunner watches as director Karl Shefelman and cinematographer Dave Rutherford set up a shot. Also observing is Assistant Director, Ryan Gregory, right.
Nurse Clair, Jessica Ambuehl, tends to Brian, played by John Pierson.
Robert (Lou Cariffe) and Brian (John Pierson) from a moment in their opening scene together.
DP Dave Rutherford and director Karl Shefelman make final adjustments for closeup with John Pierson.
Yours truly monitoring the script during the shoot.
Three terrific performers, Lou Cariffe, Jessica Ambuehl, and John Pierson.
Cast and crew at the end of a very productive day of shooting.
A short film I wrote and will produce, MEMORY BOX, drawn from my just-released novel, MR. WONDERFUL, will be filmed in St. Louis on April 7. I’m very excited by the cast and crew we’ve assembled to tell this compelling little story about a visit to a loved one that leads to a shattering revelation. Veteran performers Jessica Ambuehl (TABLE 21), Lou Cariffe (A STORY OF FORGIVENESS), and John Pierson (THE LIPINSKI) star in the film that will be directed by New York City-based filmmaker, Karl Shefelman (LOOKING FOR THE JACKALOPE). More updates to come!