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Writers, Filmmakers Learn from the Pro’s at Big Island Film Festival Workshops

Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i (BIFF) will present three contemporary screenwriting and filmmaking workshops, taught by top entertainment industry professionals, May 22, 23 and 24, 2015. Important topics in the art and business of film include creative financing, successful storytelling and the multi-faceted demands on today’s filmmaker.

Advance registration is required by May 20, at www.BigIslandfilmFestival.com, or by calling 808-883-0394.

On Friday, 9:45-11 a.m., screenwriter/producer/attorney Steve Edmiston shares 20+ years of experience in finding money for low budgets in the evolving indie filmmaking “ecosystem.” Topics include fiscal sponsorship, grant-writing, crowd-sourcing, government and non-government subsidies, “angels” and more.

Steve Edmiston

Steve Edmiston

Edmiston, a university instructor in screenwriting and film producing, presented his award-winning short film “The Maury Island Incident” at last year’s BIFF, and was inspired to return as a teacher to help up-and-coming filmmakers with their projects. His workshop follows the general filmmaker orientation and is available to the public at $25 per person.

Saturday’s workshop is “Telling and Selling Your Story,” taught by Jen Grisanti, author of “Change Your Story, Change Your Life,” writing instructor for NBC’s “Writers on the Verge,” acclaimed story/career consultant and longtime assistant to Aaron Spelling.

Jen Grisanti will be presenting again.

Jen Grisanti will be presenting again.

Since she launched her own company in 2008, Jen Grisanti Consultancy has worked with over 500 writers specializing in television, features and novels with numerous successes.

Grisanti will focus on three areas that have helped propel her writers: “Writing a Script They Can’t Ignore,” “Developing a Strong Personal Narrative,” and “Strategy, Action Plan and Creating Your Brand.” Her workshop takes place 8:30-11 a.m., at $50 per person.

Sunday features “Indie Motion Pictures: Concept to Completion,” by award-winning Maui filmmaker Brian Kohne (“Get A Job,” Kuleana”), entertainment marketing specialist, and music producer/promoter (Willie K, Hapa).

Brian Kohne Interviewing Eloise Mumford

Brian Kohne Interviewing Eloise Mumford

“Media technologies, once populated by specialists, have converged; and now, seasoned industry veterans wear multiple hats, with marketing factoring into every major creative decision,” says Kohne, who has worked in Silicon Valley with interactive television, corporate video, sports broadcasting and more. “There has never been a better time to refine, empower and unleash our own unique creative voice!”

Kohne’s workshop takes place 8:30-11 a.m., $50. Advance registration is required for workshops by May 20, at www.BigIslandfilmFestival.com, or by calling 808-883-0394.

Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i is a celebration of narrative filmmaking, May 21-25, 2015. Events include free family films under the stars at The Shops at Mauna Lani, daytime movies and nightly double features at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i (free parking), networking opportunities, celebrity receptions, awards brunch and more.

Closing night “Best of the Fest” stars The Rough Riders in concert, with Hawaiian music legends Henry Kapono, John Cruz and Brother Noland. Best of the Fest is a fundraising event for Hawai‘i Island Food Basket, silent auction for the Tripler Army Medical Center’s Fisher House for military families, and a “hana hou” screening of the audience-voted Best Feature and Best Short films of BIFF 2015.

Major sponsors include The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, The Shops at Mauna Lani, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority/Hawai‘i County CPEP and many others. For more information, complete schedule of events and to purchase tickets, visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com or call 808-883-0394.

Professional Writing, Filmmaking Workshops at Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i

Presenting a rare opportunity for island filmmakers and writers to learn from and be inspired by some of the best in the business, Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i offers three relevant workshops, presented by top entertainment industry professionals, May 22-25, 2014.

Ron Osborn. Photos courtesy Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai'i.

Ron Osborn. Photo courtesy Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i.

Writer, producer Ron Osborn (DUCKMAN, MEET JOE BLACK, THE WEST WING, MOONLIGHTING) has been nominated for seven Emmys, three Cable Ace Awards and two Writers Guild Awards. He has written pilots for every primetime American network, as well as for such cable networks as Showtime, FX, USA, ABC Family, Lifetime, and Disney. Osborn’s workshop, “The First 10 Pages,” focuses on the most important part of any script, and how to grab readers from the opening moments. Sat., May 24, 8:30-11 a.m. in the Lehua Theatre, $50.

Jennifer Grisanti

Jennifer Grisanti

Jen Grisanti, writing instructor for NBC’s “Writers on the Verge,” and acclaimed story/career consultant, will talk about “Adding Fiction to the Truth in Your Writing.” Since she launched Jen Grisanti Consultancy in 2008, Grisanti has worked with over 500 writers specializing in television, features and novels with numerous successes.

Jennifer Grisanti, Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Actress Eloise Mumford (The River) at the 2012 Big Island Film Festival

Jennifer Grisanti, Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Actress Eloise Mumford (The River) at the 2012 Big Island Film Festival

Her approach emphasizes the use of a writer’s personal history and emotional “gold” to key in to universal dilemmas, failures and successes that immediately connect with an audience. Sun., May 25, 8:30-11 a.m. in the Lehua Theatre, $50.

Advance registration is required by May 20, and registration forms may be found online at www.bigislandfilmfestival.com

Peter Caranicas

Peter Caranicas

In a special session, Peter Caranicas of Variety will discuss “Trade Journalism as it relates to Film & Television” on Fri., May 23, 9:45- 11 a.m. As Deputy Editor, Caranicas is responsible for the features sections (published over 200 times a year), covering film festivals, up-and-comers, industry anniversaries, in-depth analysis of awards shows such as the Oscars and the Emmys, and key players in entertainment. Immediately following Filmmaker Orientation in the Lehua Theatre, Caranicas’ presentation is open to the public at a cost of $20 per person.

Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i is a celebration of narrative filmmaking, May 22-26, 2014. Events include free family films under the stars at The Shops at Mauna Lani, daytime movies and nightly double features at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i (free parking), networking opportunities, celebrity receptions, awards brunch and a closing night “Best of the Fest.” Best of the Fest is a fundraising event for Hawai‘i Island Food Basket, with WILLIE K in concert, silent auction for the Tripler Army Medical Center’s Fisher House for military families, and the audience-voted Best Feature and Best Short films of BIFF 2014.

Major sponsors include The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, The Shops at Mauna Lani, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority/Hawai‘i County CPEP and many others. For more information, complete schedule of events and to purchase tickets, visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com or call 808-883-0394.

2013 Big Island Film Festival Day 2 – “Meet the Stars: Aloha Hollywood”

Last week at the Fairmont Orchid over on the Kohala Coast, the 2013 Big Island Film Festival took place.

The South Tower at the Fairmont Orchid

The South Tower at the Fairmont Orchid

On the second day of the festival the morning began with a “Filmmaker Orientation and Talk Story” held with Big Island Film Commissioner John Mason and Big Island Film Festival Director and Founder Leo Sears.

Filmmakers talk to to John Mason and Leo Sears

Filmmakers talk to to John Mason and Leo Sears

Sears and Mason talked about how the Big Island was an ideal place to make movies and how the festival was run amongst other things.  After the orientation and talk story, the daytime films that were scheduled were shown.

2013 Big Island Film Festival 169

Films shown were “Coffee, God & Gasoline” “Caterpillar’s Kimono” “Hangdog” “Last Call” “Shoot the Moon” “Stigma” and “If I Were a Bell”.

One of the many waterfalls at the Fairmont

One of the many waterfalls at the Fairmont

I went back to my room and relaxed for a bit before the evening events began.  They added a day to the festival this year and with that came a new event.

A chocolate film reel

A chocolate film reel

At 5:00 in one of the Fairmont’s Ballrooms, the public was invited to meet and take pictures with celebrities and filmmakers on hand at an event dubbed “Meet the Stars:  Aloha Hollywood”.

The Paparazzi!

The Paparazzi!

Some of the celebrities that were on hand were Brad Turell from Paradigm Agency, Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live and Hollywood Story Consultant Jennifer Grisanti among others.

Brad Turell, Kate McKinnon and Jennifer Grisanti

Brad Turell, Kate McKinnon and Jennifer Grisanti

Screenwriter Ron Osborn (Night Court, The West Wing, Duckman, Meet Joe Black, etc.) and Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men, Little Big League, Iron Will, Indian in the Cupboard, etc) were also was on hand to take pictures and talk to the general  public.

2013 Big Island Film Festival 185

Veteran Screenwriter Ron Osborn, Vincent Kartheiser and Jennifer Grisanti.

And of course there was food and wine provided by Kenwood Vineyards.

2013 Big Island Film Festival 194

Fried Ahi Panko Rolls

Lobster Rolls

Lobster Rolls

Dessert Bar

Dessert Bar

After the event, folks headed to either the Shops at Mauna Lani for free family films that included “The Invention” and “Upside Down, or folks headed to the Plantation Estate for the Festival films where folks watched “Home”, “A Perfect Day” and “The Land of Eb”.

The "hidden" hot tub

The “hidden” hot tub

I myself ended up taking a late night soak in the Fairmont’s “Hidden” hot tub.

Hawaii’s Big Island Film Festival 2013 Accepting Entries

Hawaii’s Big Island Film Festival (BIFF) 2013, one of MovieMaker Magazine’s “25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” and “25 Coolest Film Festivals,” is now accepting entries for the May 23-27 events at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i.  A celebration of narrative filmmaking in inspiring Hawai‘i Island settings, BIFF includes screenings, social events and networking opportunities, celebrity receptions, screenwriting workshops and more.  A closing night “Best of the Fest” features a top Hawaiian music concert and movies chosen by our audience from Festival entries. Last year’s celebrity honorees included Eloise Mumford (“The River”) and NBC’s award-winning Story/Career Consultant Jennifer Grisanti.

Eloise Mumford at the 2012 Big Island Film Festival

Deadlines.  Narrative short films (30 minutes or less) and feature length (60 minutes or more) completed after January 1, 2012 will be considered.  Deadlines are:

  • Early Bird – November 1, 2012.  Early Bird Entry Fees: $50 Feature, $40 Short, $30 Student
  • Regular – January 1, 2013.  Regular Entry Fees: $60 Feature, $50 Short, $35 Student
  • Late/Final February 1, 2013.  Late Entry Fees:  $70 Feature, $60 Short, $40 Student

All films shot in Hawai‘i or created by filmmakers who live in Hawai‘i receive a 25% discount on entry fees (verification required).

Outdoor evening screenings (Kirk Aeder photo)

Awards.  BIFF 2013’s “Golden Honu” will be awarded to the Best Feature and Best Short in Family, Student, Animated, Foreign, Hawai‘i and Audience Choice categories at a special Awards Brunch to honor the filmmakers and their works on Monday, May 27, 2013.  Numerous alumni films have won awards at prestigious film festivals around the world, and achieved commercial success in the industry.

Kristina Anapau in front of the Fairmont Orchid at Mauna Lani

True Blood’s “Maurella” (Kristina Anapau) was awarded a Golden Honu in 2011

Success stories.  The made-in-Hawai‘i comedy “Get A Job,” was screened in Spain during the Marbella Film Festival and numerous other festivals around the world.  “Get A Job” is currently being shown in Hawai‘i theatres, prior to mainstream DVD release this fall.  From Canada, “Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy” continues to garner acclaim at international film festivals, and both the film DVD and its soundtrack are enjoying commercial success.

Get a Job... The Movie

2012 films “Searching for Sonny”, “Qwerty”, “The Italian Key” and numerous others have enjoyed success on film festival circuits, as have 2011’s “The Dead Inside”, “Uncle Melvin’s Apartment” and numerous other BIFF alumni film projects.  “The Drummond Will” (2011) has been acquired by House Lights Media Partners for Theatrical and Non-Theatrical North American distribution.  “Lunatics, Lovers, and Poets” (BIFF 2009) was distributed in 10 states through Carmike Cinemas, and by North American Home Entertainment DVD contract with Seminal Films.  “Remarkable Power” starring Kevin Nealon (2009 BIFF Best Feature) was released through most cable outlets as a PPV title before DVD release.  “Two Tickets to Paradise” (BIFF 2008), and “Rain in the Mountains” and “Sixes and the One-Eyed King” (BIFF 2007) have been released on DVD.

Leo Sears presents Sarah Wayne Callies the "No Ka Oi" Award

Leo Sears presents Sarah Wayne Callies the “No Ka Oi” Award in 2011 (Photo Courtesy of Devany Vickery-Davidson)

“It’s hard to believe we’re in production for the eighth annual Big Island Film Festival with our resort partners at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i,” said Executive Director Leo Sears.  “Thanks to them, and to our wonderful audiences, filmmaker family and supporters, we’re able to bring a little bit of the ‘Sundance’ experience to Hawai‘i.  Filmmakers from around the world have told me it’s one of the most inspiring and rewarding film festivals they’ve been to, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Jennifer Grisanti, Mayor Kenoi and Eloise Mumford at the 2012 Big Island Film Festival

The Big Island “Talk Story” Film Festival is a celebration of narrative filmmaking, with free family films under the stars, international features and shorts screened days and evenings at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, stellar social events, celebrity receptions, screenwriting workshops, film awards and much more in an outstanding island setting.  Anchor sponsors include: The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority/Hawai‘i County Department of Research and Development CPEP, Kenwood Vineyards, Redeeming Light International Inc. and many other generous sponsors and supporters.

For submission rules and application visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com.  For further information call 808-883-0394.

Big Island Film Festival Interview with Huffington Post Blogger Jennifer Grisanti

Each year the Big Island Film Festival brings in industry professionals to talk about things and present workshops to people attending the festival.  This year they brought in multi-talented television do-it-all and Huffington Post Blogger, Jennifer Grisanti, as one of the folks giving workshops.

On Sunday evening, there was a “Reception and Salute” to her where she won this Golden Honu Award for her accomplishments in the industry.

I had the chance to interview her on Friday at the Fairmont Orchid and I asked her about some of her experiences, her background and what she is currently up to and here are some things she said to me.

Q: Tell me a little about you do and why were you invited to the Big Island Film Festival?

A: I actually did a seminar at Turtle Bay Resort about three years ago and I contacted Leo (Sears)… I got his name from someone at one of the universities as somebody that could help promote the event that I was doing and Leo told me that he was doing the Big Island Film Festival and he gave me some tips which helped and lead to a very successful event at Turtle Bay.  Then Leo told me he would keep me in mind for future BIFF in the future and when an opportunity came up, he sent me an email in May of last year and asked if I would be interested and of course I said yes.

Q: Where are you from and what is your educational background?

A: I’m from Los Angeles and I was born in Buffalo and raised in Los Angeles in a place called Friendly Hills Whittier.  My educational background… I went to a all girls Catholic High School in Anaheim and went to USC where I studied Communication and Cinema.

Q: How long have you been a blogger for the Huffington Post?

A: I’ve been a blogger for the Huffington Post for three years.

Q: What do you like to blog about?

A: I like to blog about the books that I’m writing and I wanted to develop the other side of my brain and blogging was a great practice for writing my books.

Q: What was the workshop that you gave at the Big Island Film Festival?

A: The class was about writing the TV Spec and Pilot Scripts which is a very big part of my background.  I started as Aaron Spellings Assistant in 1992 and I climbed the ranks at Spelling Television as a current programming executive where I covered shows like 90210, Melrose Place, Charmed, Seventh Heaven and then I went on to be a VP of current programming at CBS/Paramount where I covered shows like “Medium”, “Numbers”, “NCIS”, “4400”, and “Girlfriends” which lead to all my knowledge on Spec  Scripts because I read like 300 Spec Scripts a season so the Spec and Pilot Script became my expertise and teaching classes on it is a large part of what my business is.

Q: Is the film writing class something that you do on an ongoing basis?

A: Yes, I own my own business called Jennifer Grisanti Consultancy Inc., and I work with writers one on one in consult as well as seminars and teleseminars where I teach TV writing, film writing, covering topics such as finding your voice and adding fiction to your truth in your writing, as well as writing the TV Spec and Pilot Script and the Writing the Features Script.

Q: What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on?

A: It was wonderful working on 90210 at the beginning of my career because it was the original 90210 so that will always have a special place in my heart.  I would say while working at CBS/Paramount I loved working on all the shows, I would say that “Medium” was a fun show to cover, I really enjoyed the creative experience of story telling with that show.  With “Numbers” it was a challenge and every show has its gifts and its challenges.

Q: If you weren’t doing consulting what would you fall back onto as a second career?

A: I was a television executive for 15 years so I would have thought that opening my own business was falling back on something, but then I recognized that being an executive was setting the foundation for what I do now and what I do now I love.  I know that because the business is growing at a tremendous pace, that its something that could last for a very long time, like when you look at Robert McCree (sp?) and you recognize that he’s still teaching story at 73 there is a recognition that the niche is there which is a great thing.

Q: Is there anything you would like to say in closing?

A: I’m very grateful to Leo and Jan Sears and all of their hospitality, I’m very grateful to the Fairmont Hotel and everybody that works here and their friendliness and the accommodations are phenomenal, I’m grateful to everyone who’s been part of the Big Island Film Festival.

The biggest thing in coming here like one of the messages that I really thought about is that it was so wild when they asked if you wanted to be the celebrity guest and it was such a fascinating thing because really what I do is celebrate the accomplishments of the filmmaker and that’s what I’m all about is really the message of understanding the significance of being able to put your heart on the page and connect with your audience by coming from your truth, and so seeing so many filmmakers that have done that through their stories here has been a really fulfilling experience for me because it’s why I love what I do.

NEW Lineup of Hollywood Stars for the Big Island Film Festival

The 7th annual Big Island Film Festival will host two very special celebrity guests during the Festival, May 24-28 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i and The Shops at Mauna Lani.

Honorees are Eloise Mumford (“The River”) and NBC’s Story/Career Consultant Jennifer Grisanti, replacing actor David James Elliott whose last-minute family commitments keep him away.  Mumford and Grisanti will appear in person at a special “Meet the Stars” gala on Friday, and receptions in their honor on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.  (Ticket prices vary. Visit www.bigislandfilmfestival.com for complete information.)

Eloise Mumford

Eloise Mumford, an NYU graduate, appeared on Broadway and played opposite Dennis Hopper in STARZ acclaimed series “Crash,” before going on to guest star in “Law and Order SVU” and “Mercy.”  She stars in the new Dreamworks/ABC series “The River” and has leading roles in feature films, coming soon.

Jennifer Grisanti

Jennifer Grisanti is a Story/Career Consultant and Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge at NBC.  Prior to that, she worked with Spelling Television Inc. for 12 years, covering all of Spelling’s shows including “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Melrose Place” and “Charmed.”  As Vice President of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount, she worked with “Medium,” “Numbers,” “NCIS,” “4400,” “Girlfriends” and many others.

Jen Grisanti Consultancy was launched in 2008 and has since helped 350 writers, 24 of which have staffed as writers on television shows and ten have sold pilots, two that went to series.  (http://jengrisanticonsultancy.com.)  She’s also a Blogger for The Huffington Post and author of the new books, Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story and TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells.

Celebrity appearances at Big Island Film Festival:

  • “Meet the Stars” gala, Friday, May 25, The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i Kilohana Room, 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Reception & Salute to actress Eloise Mumford, Saturday, May 26, The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i Wailana Gardens, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Reception & Salute to Jennifer Grisanti, Sunday, May 27, The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i Wailana Gardens, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Ticket prices vary. Visit www.bigislandfilmfestival.com for complete schedule and ticket information.

The Big Island “Talk Story” Film Festival is a celebration of independent narrative films and filmmaking, taking place May 24-28, 2012. Major sponsors include The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i and The Shops at Mauna Lani and Hawaii Tourism Authority/Hawai‘i County CPEP.  For complete schedule information and to print-your-own-tickets from Ticket Derby, visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com or call (808) 883-0394.