Category Archives: Movies

FOFVA- Friends of Film Video and Arts

New Mexico-based Friends of Film Video and Arts is celebrating its 10th anniversary with big changes. Anne Stirling a founding member of FoFVA is spearheading the new direction with the help of dedicated FoFVA members, not only will they continue to be a relationship building group, but now they will be going into hands-on production.

Anne, with the help of FoFVA, wants to re-invent how quality television is made; by creating a new, cooperative production with one of her projects that is close to her heart, Quirky View. Quirky View, a television show showcasing real people doing real things that are fun and different, will be the vehicle to help FoFVA grow from a networking group into a hands-on, broadcast quality, film-training program, that gives back to the community. “This endeavor will be a great way for people to get involved in a production and see it through,” shares Stirling. “Quirky View a top quality, well respected, and well-received series that is in demand year to year as an upbeat, off-beat content that highlights people doing things they are passionate about.

It will be a long year of working out the details, but FoFVA will begin a production schedule in January 2015. With a small-dedicated group, FoFVA hopes to make a business model that will inspire others and add diversity to television and movie line-ups. What will be the outcome from designing a new business model for production? The production will continually train new people in all areas of film including cross-training members, giving members a place to teach and share experiences from the film world, and a database of FoFVA members to showcase their talents, projects and skill sets. FoFVA hopes one day to be a clearinghouse of all things film in New Mexico; for now building a community of quality filmmakers helping one another is the priority. It will also give members a chance to own a share of the production the way customers own part of their local co-op.

FoFVA will reach out to all the film organizations in New Mexico, guest filmmakers, and online submission from all over for Quirky View segments to make a fully collaborative endeavor. Professionals in all areas will be brought in to mentor and keep the production running as members learn what needs to be done.

FoFVA is celebrating 10 years by leaping into uncharted territory to demystify the film industry and make it accessible to people who might not have another way to learn, hands-on. This first year maybe a rough one, but it will be full of surprises and wonderful adventures into cooperative productions.

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Manu Bennett

From athlete to actor, covering the gambit in between, Manu Bennett has a career to be proud of. From his home country of New Zealand to the American shoreline, action, adventure, and middle Earth have been part of his life.

A young Manu was trained by his father to be a national athlete in New Zealand. He competed mostly in running, jumping, and throwing events. “My best event was the hurdles, maybe a metaphor given the many I’ve had to leap throughout life.” The first of those many hurdles came in the two week time period that his mother and brother were killed in two separate car accidents. Bennett’s grades fell do to poor concentration and emotional pain. Rugby became his outlet of choice along with the arts. He excelled on the field, venting his aggression. Later in his career he used these emotions to bring characters to life on the screen.

Art as therapy continued into his teenage years when a girlfriend, who was a ballerina, asked him and his friend to help the troop by being in West Side Story. Which led to other musicals such as Grease and Swan Lake. “In fact,” Bennett said. “I couldn’t attend the trials for the Australian Schoolboys Rugby Union Team because I was committed to a local production of Swan Lake. Trying to explain that to a bunch of rugby lads was futile. It was my Billy Elliot moment, but I loved dancing. Dancing proved to be as physically demanding as Rugby, with the advantage of carrying around ballerinas. Dancing gives a body awareness you don’t necessarily get in other sports.”

After his mother’s death, Bennett was sent to Maori Boarding School in rural New Zealand. The school was rife with bullying and a drastically different attitude then the urban Australian schools he had previously attended. “That school was very much a Spartacus type experience for me, where survival meant pretty much having to fight for your rights.” In hindsight, the school played a huge role in his career, allowing him to be fully invested in characters he played. The example came in handy when it came to his role as Crixus from Spartucas. “I took a lot of that experience with me into my performance on the series and portraying the character of Crixus from bully to a gladiator who was forced to join with others.” expressed Bennett. “It was tough but I figure: If you haven’t lived it, you can’t be that great at acting it.”

Challenging roles with a good support system are what actors dream about to expand their range. The Hobbit, was a learning experience. The opportunity to work with Peter Jackson was one he will not forget. “Working with Peter was a great honor, something I hold as the highest achievement in my career thus far, yet it was the shortest & probably the most underpaid job I’ve done,” Bennett shared. “Stepping into the shoes of Andy Serkis was overwhelming and creating Azog, the leader of the Orcs, posed a whole bunch of new opportunities for me as an actor, developing scenes in post-production when all of the other actors had wrapped. I’m lucky Peter was as patient & understanding a man as he is, because I stretched everything out to get the most out of the little I had to work with, including a pommel horse on skate wheels that I rode which would later evolve into my white warg, a giant wolf creature. When I asked Peter if I could develop a relationship with my warg he took a deep breath & trusted me & for whatever it was worth it was a decisive choice in how I played out Azog, who spent a lot of time riding that white warg. The artistry & technology involved in The Hobbit was on another level & the commeraderie on the set of a Peter Jackson production is spurred on by the General himself – it’s just a feeling in the air. New York actors have Martin Scorcese, New Zealand actors have Sir Peter Jackson.”

From Kuwait to L.A., the audition for Deathstroke, Bennett’s latest character on the television series Arrow, was not something to be taken lightly. In Kuwait, a week before the audition, Bennett was training with Special Forces officers in the art of the take down. When he arrived in L.A. for the read, Bennett gave them a little something special. “The one thing no one in the casting room was counting on was when I got the reader auditioning with me in the choke hold, “Bennett says. “I actually choked him out and he collapsed on the ground momentarily unconscious. It was a very strange moment when the whole world just stops. I asked the casting director if him collapsing was meant to be part of the scene that he was acting out. The director said, ‘No. I think you choked him out.’ I apologized profusely, but he stopped me and said ‘It was perfect.’ So, what I thought might have been my last Hollywood audition turned into an epic journey taking me to Vancouver, Canada for 18 months where I helped turn Slade Wilson into one of DC Comic World’s most popular super villains.” Unfortunately Deathstroke is still in purgatory, so there were no juicy bits to spill about Season three, so we will all have to stay tuned in. Bennett did leave us one teasing bit of information. After he leave the Santa Fe Comic Con at the end of the month, he will be on his way to Seattle for an “interesting project”. You’ll hear more about that in 2015!

An inspirational career to many, Bennett knows how to take on the hurdles of life and come out on top. Hard work and learning to focus his emotional stress into physical activity and acting has taken the sting away, but not his memories. Tune in and watch Bennett on Arrow on the CW (he will get out of purgatory) and look for new projects coming from this versatile actor.

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Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

This year’s Santa Fe Independent Film Festival kicked off Oct 15-19 all around the city. Being a working Albuquerquean, I didn’t leave myself time to attend the full event. In fact, I didn’t leave myself time to attend any of the event. After all, we had a festival here in town that I attended, so there was no need to haul up to Santa Fe for theirs.

It happens that on Friday I was on my way up to Santa Fe to go the Artisan Art Expo to pick up some discount art supplies, but that’s another story. While I was up there, I decided to check out the DIY Filmmaking workshop with Laura Terruso. It was an eye-opening experience. I arrived early, I always mis-calculate driving time when the plaza is involved. I got a wonderful tour of the Santa Fe Contemporary Art Musuem’s theater set up. They have a small black box theater where the lecture was and a beautiful redone main theater. Being a completely independent entity, they are able to showcase a wide variety of movies, more then many of the other theaters in New Mexico.

The workshop itself feature two Indie movies that Laura Terruso had made in her home base of New York City. She talked about her feature films “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same” and “The Foxy Merkins”. She went into detail about how to turn your weakness into strengths. By not having a budget to shoot with in NYC she was able to use the city as the background in both movies. But she cautions, “When your asking people to donate their time to a project, feed them. Feed them well.” Both of these movies were made with below minimal budgets and came out beautifully. Those of you with a Netflix account can check out “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same”.

I walked out of the 90 minutes lectures feeling inspired to take on the world of film. It was a good thing too, because that night I jumped into my first 48-hour movie challenge. Now that I have recovered from it, and gone over my notes from Laura’s lecture, I feel ready to turn my weaknesses into strengths and go make a movie.

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Behind a 48 film

Bombing down I25, my eyes barely open, gripping my coffee, I ask myself,  “Why are you out of bed before 7am on a Saturday – willingly?” The answer to that? I wanted to see how to make a movie. Not a feature film, mind you, but a 48 Hour film festival film. New Mexico’s own Friends of Film has invited me on set to see what goes into the making of a film. This will be all new to me. I have never been on a film set before and I can’t wait to see what happens.

A little background on The 48 Hour Film Festival.  This festival began in 2001 in Washington DC. The brain child of Mark Ruppert and his filmmaking partner Liz Langston, who now reside in Albuquerque, the goal was to push creativity to the extreme. The participants are given a genre, a prop, a line and a character that they have to work into a script. They don’t just have to write a screenplay in that time-frame, they have to write, shoot, and edit the footage over one weekend. The drawing happens about 7:00pm on Friday night and the writers jump into action, putting together a script, and have it sent out hopefully by 5:00am the next morning. Then the crew will spend 12 hours or so shooting, another 12 hours or so editing, handing in the completed work by Sunday at 7.  Each group can choose how they want to work and can secure the cast’s shooting location and equipment in advance of the contest.

Back to the morning, I’m late, of course, for call time, but I get here in time to hear the pep talk. This group will wrap shooting in 12 hours, no matter what. Safety first, followed by fun, and hopefully it will translate into a great short film, between 4½ and 7 minutes long. Like a full-length feature, they have actors and actress in costuming and make-up and a full crew.  Everyone breaks from the huddle to get their area up and running. This gives me a chance to talk with the writers and find out what it’s like to write a movie overnight. Jaqueline Loring and Cliff Gravel are on hand since they wear multiple hats in the production. Kathleen Gonzales, the third writer, has gone home to get some sleep, but will be back later. Jacqueline and Cliff walk me through the night. First the phone call about what genre was drawn and then a brain-storming session with the cast and crew about how the movie should progress. By 9:00pm, it’s left to the writers to brainstorm and write together. By 1:00am, they are laughing so hard that they know they’re on to something. Somewhere between 2:00am and 3:00am, the script is written, edited, and then sent out around 3:30am to the cast and crew to begin prep work for the 7:00am call.  “It’s unusual to have time to edit when working like this.” says Loring.

Friends of Film, Video and Arts Albuquerque is a cooperative that is run by its members since 2004. The group not only sponsors a 48 hour film crew, but participates and helps in many film endeavors in New Mexico. Anyone of any background can join, as long as you have a strong love for making a film. Throughout the year, FoFVA holds monthly meetings, workshops, and helps members get in touch with one another. Look them up on Facebook and try out one of their meetings.

In the 48 Hour group, sponsored by FoFVA, anyone can volunteer to be on the crew. No one is paid, but it’s a great opportunity to try something different. On this film, the Director, Michael Miller, has worked in many areas of filming before.  He and his Assistant Director (AD), Carmen Tsabetsaye, who keeps things on track, have done worked together before. Many of the other members of the crew are also experienced, but are trying out new areas. Director of Photography and camera operator, Elizabeth Waites, has worked on set before, but this will be her first time behind the lens for a film. Local actors hone their skills working on these demanding projects. “It’s not about winning,” shares Miller. “It’s about being safe, learning, and having fun.”

The editors of the film go to work, as soon as the first scene is shot and sound splicing begins. There is no time for being ideal on a shoot like this. Shooting wraps about 7:00pm Saturday and full-on editing takes place. “It takes about twice as long to edit a film, then the shoot time,” says Sheryl Brown.

Lacking in time, the movie is edited quickly, with the hopes of winning, but also knowing they can go back and clean it up –  enter it into other film festivals around the world. Sunday night, the movies are handed in at Tractor Brewing Company. The following Thursday and Friday, the Kimo will show all the competitors, even the ones that don’t qualify, for the official contest. From the groups shown, the best will go on to the final showing Friday night at the Kimo. There is a lot of competition out there with great crews filming and working all over New Mexico trying to win. Over 120 cities across the country hold a 48 Hours competition and there are nations competing all over the world. This project, Sir Acheron’s Party by FoFVA, won for sexiest use of prop in the end. If you want to know how check out the 48 Hours Film Festival and find out more.

The speed, creativity, and technical know-how that go into producing a film of any kind is mind-boggling to say the least. For every minute you see on your large or small scene, there was approximately an hour of filming to bring it to you. So, the next time your watching your favorite movie, remember to give thanks for all the knowledgeable hard-working people that put it together for your viewing pleasure.

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Lou Ferrigno

Lou Ferrigno was a young boy with an introverted personality and a speech impediment. He would read comic books from cover to cover, hoping some day to find a way to feel as good about himself as he did about the superheroes he adored. He life began to change in his early teen years and he went on to be the one of the people he admired the most.

At the early age of thirteen, Lou was looking for a someway to more confident in his own skin. One day at a friend’s house he saw some weights in the corner and tried to lift them. They were so large he couldn’t do it, yet. But, he knew then that someday he was going. “ One of them (his friends) flex their arm and he had a bicep, a small bicep like a baseball, I was like ‘Dang! I want be like that,’ and that is how it begun.”

Reading The Hulk® comics books for most of his life, he was ready when the audition opportunity came up. “I had been the Hulk my whole life,” said Ferrigno. He went in without preparing – knowing they would give him the role. After a short time of doing some pantomiming for the camera, he was given the role and began to film the next day. The Hulk was a great role that helped Lou break into the Hollywood scene.

Ferrigno stayed in the limelight of film for almost ten years before going back to weight-lifting. At forty-two, he went back to the competition circuit to finish the sport. At his age, with a wife and three kids, weight-lifting bought new challenges. “It’s a very narcissistic sport,” says Ferrigno. “You have no social life, your dieting and training, and you have to conserve all your energy for competing.” With his family’s support, he competed again, placing respectively at Mr. Olympia and Masters Oympia, and closed the book on his competitive weight-lifting career.

The movie role that stands out most to Lou was a documentary of a documentary he worked on called David and Goliath. The actor who was playing David kept trying to antagonizing Lou on set, which made him uncomfortable. It took him everything he had not to squeeze the life out of the actor. On the Celebrity Apprentice, the other members of the cast truly underestimated Lou. “They expected the Hulk to show up,” shared Ferrigno. When he got to the boardroom he was very outspoken and surprised everyone. “Luckily I learned a lot about branding and raised a hundred thousand dollars for my charity ALS”. No matter what role Lou has played in his life, he has taken a lesson from it.

One of Ferrigno’s newest ventures, Ferrigno Fit, by no surprise, is a fitness company that the whole family is involved with. “I don’t believe in dieting,” says Ferrigno. He wants to teach people how to adjust their eating habits for a lifestyle change. Lifestyle changes are the only way to really improve your life and health. Ferrigno’s latest project is presenting a body building show,, that he hopes one day will turn into a health expo, including fitness chiropractors and others. His kids all started out over-weight and they each made their own decision to get into shape and become personal trainers. With his whole family backing him, he has already proved he can do anything he puts his mind to. With his sons in mind, when it came to asking what his advice would be for the youth of today, those who look up to him, Ferrigno says, “Be passionate about what you do, and don’t compete or compare yourself to other people. Everyone has a different genetic make-up. Stay away from drugs, alcohol and negative people.”

Ferrigno is a lover of comic convention. They are a great way for people to come and meet their favorite characters, and be themselves for a day, without fear. It’s great to be able to emerge yourself in pop-culture. He hopes to leave a legacy behind of him of being in good shape and being healthy.
From introverted child to the Incredible Hulk, Ferrigno has proved to himself and the world that he has a lot to offer society as a whole. Expanding every year with new ideas and new endeavors, he will be in our hearts and mind for years to come as a hero in so many different ways.

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New Mexico Film Conference

New Mexico Film Conference, held over two days at the Albuquerque Hotel, was not at all what I was expecting. Walking in, the Breaking Bad Tour RV is sitting out front, enticing people to go for a ride. You have a sales pitch to the visitors on why to film in New Mexico. Once inside, vendors line the wall for any production assistance you may need, and the ones you haven’t thought of. Panel discussion are separated from the masses in smaller comfortable rooms. Being a novice to films, I might just learn something here, and learn I did.

I sat in on the taxation panel to start with. I learned the ins and outs from how to set up your production company to what qualifies and what doesn’t. The most important thing I took away from this panel was if you even have an idea that you might want to make a film here in New Mexico, contact the New Mexico Film Office and they will be a great resource for you.

Back out on the floor, I talk to people set up at different tables from schools to equipment rentals. With a warm smile, I am told about the Media Arts Collaborative Charter School in Albuquerque dedicate to digital development. From films to video games, they teach children the regular academics and more, with small class sizes. Another table gives me price list for renting a soundstage at Nob Hill Studios. Yet another table gives me a price list and details on how to rent camera equipment in New Mexico. You can plan your budget right here in the hotel, and if you’re still not sure, there will be a panel on budget planning happening as well.
The final key to why this conference should be a must for anyone interested in film is the social groups that attend. I met some lovely ladies from Women in Film New Mexico. The name may be misleading since you can be a member as a male also. This group helps writers, actors, and many others, find a community network of people to help you hone your craft and maneuver the sea that is film. They have monthly meetings in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. There were also groups from Roswell Film Festival and a Dark Matters horror film festival coming up here in Albuquerque.

The conference answered questions I didn’t previously even know to ask. The panels were made up of well-educated people, dedicated to helping us all understand the laws and the hurdles of filming in New Mexico. We will be following up in later articles with some of the key speakers from this year’s conference, so for those who thought making a movie or being a part of one was out of reach, will find out that you can make it happen right here at home.

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Christian Kane

So what do a little grey horse, a lawyer for demons, and a criminal turned good have in common? The one and only, actor-singer-songwriter, Christian Kane. We had a chance to catch up with one of our favorite bad boys turned good at the premier of 50 to 1. The story of the amazing crooked footed New Mexico horse that won the Kentucky Derby in 2009. The movie chronicles how the New Mexican cowboys made a long shot dream come true. Christian portrays Mark Allen, one of the owner/trainers of the horse, and was here in Albuquerque for the premier.

Christian first appeared on the Hollywood scene in a show called Fame L.A., which was based off the popular 80’s TV show, Fame. The show was short-lived, but that didn’t stop Christian from charging forward. He had left the University of Oklahoma, with only 15 credit hours to go, in order to pursue his dream in acting. By his own admission, he spent more time studying booze and women then art history while he was there. “School was a character study for me.” Kane says with a smile.

He landed a few small roles in movies before he getting one of the key roles for his career, and one that he will always be remembered for. Lindsey McDonald, attorney extraordinaire for Wolfram and Hart, the largest demonic attorneys office in L.A. and around the world in Joss Whedon’s Angel. Kane thinks Lindsey was such a fan favorite because he was a bad guy with a conscious. Throughout the show, the human lawyer to the demons struggled with his role, sometimes trying to kill the vampire with a soul and sometimes helping him. “Do you know how fun it is to go to work everyday and try to kill your best friend.” Kane says with a laugh, speaking of David Boreanaz, who played Angel. Kane found himself in another defining role a short time later with Leverage. Playing Eliot Spencer, the muscle of the team on the show. Kane gets to demonstrate not only amazing hand-to-hand combat skills in this role, but also a softer, deeper side to his character. He jokes and said he modeled Eliot after B.A. Baracus from The A-Team. “Everyone on set would be like, ‘Oh, you’re doing Clint Eastwood?’ and I would explain, “No, I’m doing B.A. Baracus. They’re all as old as me, so they knew who he was.” Kane jokes.

Thanks to that little known show, Fame L.A., Kane got a taste for singing. In his hometown, there were a lot of talented musician and singer, like Garth Brooks, and Kane never thought his talent measured up. After singing on TV, he found a passion for singing he couldn’t deny. “We use to play the Viper Room (in L.A.) for women and whiskey,” Kane says fondly. His passion for music made it hard for him to turn it into a business, like acting, but he has been successful at it nonetheless. There was a point where the Rock ’n Roll lifestyle got a little out of hand for him and his band mates, but they have pulled it back together and balanced it out. Kane is proud to be a singer/songwriter and says if you give him a title to one of his songs, he’ll give you a story behind it. All the songs he writes are from the heart and the few he doesn’t deeply resonate with him. He loves both his career choices and has no plans to sacrifice one for the other anytime soon.

Kane shared that it was great to be back in New Mexico. Ten years ago, Kane and Skeet Ulrich shot a little movie in Santa Fe called Into The West with Steven Spielberg. They became fast friends on the set and have talked off and on over the years but this would be the first time they had seen each other since Santa Fe. “It was another relationship that I wouldn’t have to work hard on for this movie.” Kane’s character and Ulrich’s characters are best friends in 50 to 1. This movie was great to shoot and required very little acting from Kane. When he arrived in New Mexico he sat down with Mark Allen himself. Having read the script, Kane wanted to hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth, and he got it. “We [Mark Allen] opened a bottle of Patron, and about ten minutes in, I realized I didn’t have to act. I can show up and be myself. We don’t fall far from the same tree, me and him.”

With a grin, Kane says he never talks about pending projects that are coming down the pipeline. “If I told ya, I’d have to kill ya,” Kane says jokingly. “I don’t talk about or get excited about projects until we roll film, it’s just the way it is, but I do have something coming.” Kane did talk about a project he just wrapped called Allstars with Fred Willard and shared how he ruined every take laughing at the ad lib Willard would provide. “He is the King of making things up,” says Kane. “His delivery is so good, I’m laughing the whole time.”

When asked what legacy he wanted to leave behind, Kane shared three things he felt were worthy of being carved into a tombstone.
Number one: Early in his career he was taught how to be a cowboy by Tom Selleck [in Crossfire Trail].
Number two: He got to play Robert Duval [in Secondhand Lions].
Number three: He got to work with Calvin Borel on a horse [in 50 and 1].
“We are in the business of immortality,” says Kane. “So when I go, I’ll be around.”

With his acting legacy already firmly in place, and country albums in circulation, we can only wonder what Christian Kane will do next. The one thing can all rest assured in, he will look good while doing it.

New Mexico Entertainment Magazine


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