Bootleg NYC Interviews – Justin Kelly – A Song For Torah Jane


Name: Justin Kelly
Film: A Song For Torah Jane
Role: Director

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

I have spent my entire adult life working in film and television. Over the last 18 years I have worked as an assistant production accountant, first assistant director, production manager, line producer, producer, director, and writer.

In 2011 I had a daughter and she had a profound impact on my life so when her first birthday came around I figured if a carpenter would build her child a toy, and a baker would bake his child a cake, I as a filmmaker should make my daughter a film. I partnered with my producer Gerhard and our composer Jay and created this short musical for my daughter’s gift. That said, the three of us were so busy with others shows that by the time the film was complete we were much closer to Torah’s 2nd birthday than her 1st.

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

Plain and simple I love to tell stories. This film is a real departure from anything that I have written or directed in the past because it was inspired by something other than my need to write and direct a bunch of Jews talking to one another on screen (write what you know). I grew up with such an animated group of story tellers in my family that it just came naturally.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you?

It means a lot! I took a great deal of time off as a director to focus on being a producer and PM for other people’s shows, frankly because it paid the bills. I also kinda checked-out as an artist and spent my time away from set drinking and doing drugs, which some people find inspiration in, but it just kills my creativity and makes me a negative piece of shit. The Seder was sorta my return to being a creative person and it had its world premiere at Bootleg Toronto. Since then it has played in every continent, garnered both awards and praise, and even had our editor (and fellow Bootlegger) Jeffrey P. Nesker and I nominated for a Director’s Guild award for best short film. I guess I am hoping that premiering A Song For Torah Jane at Bootleg NYC brings us the same luck, but it also feels right to be surrounded by friends when you share you latest art for the first time.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

1. Rope  2. Annie Hall  3. Dumb and Dumber  4. The Player  5. The Hudsucker Proxy

Favourite film related website?

Write Shoot Cut ;-)

What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

Do It! Don’t talk about it, don’t plan your career all the way from PA to Oscar Winner, don’t be so fixated on the end goal that you miss great opportunities right in front of you, and do meet as many people along the way as possible. Nothing has contributed greater to my long career than my willingness to learn all aspects to making a movie (accounting, scheduling, financing, directing, producing). Some of my friends that I broke in with we going to be stars or big-time directors and weren’t interested in being a PM or 1st AD while they waited for their chance to direct; they just sat on their hands and waited for Hollywood to call them and make them an offer for a three picture deal. The fact that I learned how to do all of the shitty and hard jobs has made me a sought after producer and that has helped me create directing opportunities for myself.

Finally, never forget that a career in indie film takes a really long time to become financially stable and in a lot of cases the lucre never comes. It takes a healthy mixture of creative-drive, stubbornness, stupidity, and balls.

Bootleg NYC Interviews – Daniel Watkins – Fun World


Name: Daniel Watkins
Film: Fun World
Role: Director/Writer/Cinematographer/Editor

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

I am 27 years old and have recently relocated to Los Angeles, CA from Orlando, FL. For the past few years I’ve tried traversing the increasingly fine line between experimental and narrative filmmaking, only to realize that there exists no good reason that the two should be kept apart. My work as of late has attempted to aesthetically, and ideologically blend these two worlds with one another.

In Fun World I work within the aesthetic discourse of narrative cinema and use that established grammar to play against viewer expectations, in turn dismantling any preconception one could have regarding the images meant to logically proceed other images. An example can be found in the film’s second shot as we move through a child’s birthday party. The move at first appears to be a dolly towards the Mother, yet as we pass her it becomes a move towards her son, but we ultimately pass him, and move towards an empty booth. A shot that, at various moments in its duration seemed to have a specific focus, is revealed to have no true subject. This is an example of the plurality of the undefined image; “une image juste” rather than “juste une image.” When you refuse to define your images you open them to a multitude of possible meanings, thus freeing them from the “image stream” and releasing them to a much larger series of histories. Not simply a history of cinema, but also a history of images. Through this technique one can approach what Robert Bresson defined as “cinematography.”

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

Memory is all we have to give context to our present, and as such our histories are ever evolving; existing in time just as much as space. I have come to focus on moving images as a medium, because, with the introduction of time to finite space, film becomes the only medium that can accurately portray the multiplicity of those histories.
As humans I think we have this inherent need to synthesize our experiences. We post pictures on facebook, we make scrap books – filmmaking is merely an extension of this need, and as I explained above, film is medium perfected. Photography, painting, etc., only capture space. They can allude to time; to suggest it, but the moving image is the only medium (with the exception of sound) that can capture it.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you? Their’s is an ethos I truly respect. Those making an active decision to exist on the fringes of art making, like so many of us have, are part of a noble undertaking; those resigning themselves to inspiration, and the fulfillment of vision as sustenance. I am proud to be among their ranks.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

1. A Woman is a Woman
2. The World
3. Mothlight
4. Mutual Appreciation
5. Ghostbusters

Favourite film related website? Though I don’t agree when they digress into image fetishism, the aspects of film they choose to focus on usually transcend the superficial in an interesting way.

What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

When making a film, know what you want. Have a definite answer for every creative question you encounter during the process. If you do not have total faith in your decisions, then those around you can easily lose faith in you. Also, don’t get so bogged down with narrative structure. The tone of a piece has more residual effect on an audience than a “properly” executed beginning, middle, and end.

Bootleg NYC Interviews – Laura Arten – The Story of Hers


Name: Laura Arten
Film: The Story of hers
Role: Actress / Director

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

I graduated with a 1st Class degree in film from University of The Arts London. I trained as an aerialist as well – I had a scholarship at the amazing WAS Arts College- with The Scarabeus Theatre. In London I worked both behind and in front of the camera.  I had the pleasure of working with Old Vic New Voices and Almedia theatres in London. This summer I relocated to New York to study acting at TICH Drama and Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. I will stay in NYC to pursue acting.

This was a really interesting project for me to do as an actress. It gave me a chance to emotionally live through something I would not do in reality.

My short film is based on a true encounter that accidentally took place in London between myself and a girl of my age. At the time I was just finishing film school and she was a high-class escort. I was totally broke, she was wearing Chanel pearls. She told me about her life in a very honest way and it stayed with me (we never met again). I was very intrigued and kept thinking about why we do what we do and whether the obvious answers, like ‘money’, are always the most truthful ones.

The Story of Hers website

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

I have always dreamt about career in film. I guess I was born with it.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you?

I moved to New York relatively recently, so it means a lot. It is a great opportunity to get to know people here and to have a relevant calling card. I am very proud to be part of the Bootleg FF, NYC. I love the festival’s motto as it precisely summed up how this film had been made.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

5 is way too few!  And this list changes by second, but..

Blade Runner
Annie Hall
What’s eating Gilbert Grape
5th Element

I was very lucky to have been to Cannes this year so my list –today- contains very recent things.

Venus in Fur by Roman Polanski. He is a genius director.

Jeune et Jolie by Francoise Ozon. It was the first film I saw in Cannes and it touched me. In subject very similar to my film, which felt good. It is clearly topical.

Favourite film related website?

The Hollywood Reporter and Imdb

What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

Keep going. “Professionals are amateurs that never stopped trying.” (R.Bach)

Bootleg NYC Interviews – Brian Barlow – Bridge’s New Jacket


Name: Brian Barlow
Bridge’s New Jacket
Writer, Director, Actor, Editor, DOP

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

My whole life I have loved watching movies and television and have only wanted to work in those industries.   For the past 15 years I have been fortunate enough to maintain constant employment both behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera. This includes my work as a comedian/writer.

I created Bridge’s New Jacket because I wanted to make a film that demonstrates my sensibilities as a comedian as well as my vision as a writer/filmmaker.  A simple story, a locked camera, and a small crew, those are my Three Amigos.  I consider this film to be a learning experience and steppingstone toward my goal of making my own feature films.  I hope you enjoy watching Bridge’s New Jacket as much as I did making it.

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

The films of David Lynch would be my greatest inspiration, specifically the absurd humour in them.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you?

I was very excited when I heard Bridge’s New Jacket was selected to screen at the Bootleg Film Festival. Bootleg is known for selecting maverick films, and the fact they saw my work as such, it was a huge compliment.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

  1. Gentlemen Broncos
  2. Eraserhead
  3. Raising Arizona
  4. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
  5. Hot Fuzz


Favourite film related website?

Probably IMDB, I am on there at least once a day.

What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

You don’t need a huge budget, you don’t need a huge crew, you just need to get out there and make something.  Read as many scripts as you can and when you start writing always move forward, don’t go back and fix anything until you’ve gotten the whole story down on paper.    

Bootleg Interviews NYC – Evan Marlowe – Smasheroo

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Name: Evan Marlowe
Film: Smasheroo
Role: Director/Editor/DP/Audio

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

Sometime before my teens, I started making animated Claymation short films on my super 8mm. Eventually I graduated to live action and then started a film club in high school (under the pretentious title Calabasas Film Society). This was in the 80s, long before the digital era, when we cut films with a splicer and stuck the pieces together with tape.

I gave up filmmaking to pursue a degree in medicine, which I admit now was a bit misguided. Never let teenagers choose their own careers. It wasn’t until I met my wife, Kerry (who was already actively working as an actress, screenwriter and producer), that I came back to film. We dove right into our first feature together, now shooting on a Canon T3i. After a week off, we launched into our second feature last year.

In the midst of all this chaos we got married in Britain and made “Smasheroo.” The script was written by James Howard, and the making of the film was a collaboration between he and I. Being a lover of montages, I fit one into the center of the piece and made this the turning point. Resentment, self-pity and anger on one side; acceptance, love and empathy on the other. The flashback montage bridges the two ends of the arc, and my selection of camera lens and framing help underline the contrast. For this montage I picked up my trusty super 8mm camera for the first time since high school. There’s something about super 8 that breathes sentimentality, unlike anything digital can provide.

“Smasheroo” features Kerry as the wife who’s been a victim of a car accident leaving her with aphasia. My dad suffers from a similar condition, as did James Howard’s wife. For the whole team, this was a personal project. We hope the film has shed some light on the disease, both from the perspective of the afflicted as well as the family.

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

Filmmaking is not yet my career, though that is certainly my intent. There really is no job on earth greater than this, to be able to create a vision in your head, and then by orchestrating so many talented artists, bring that vision into being.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you?

The festival is the theatrical world premiere of the film, so that in itself is meaningful. I’ve also seen other films that have been accepted, and feel humbled and honored to have our little film shown alongside them.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

I think it would be impossible to choose my five top movies, so instead maybe it would be more enlightening to know which five were on permanent endless rotation during my childhood:

The Graduate, Clockwork Orange, Raiders of the Lost Ark, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Star Wars.

During my formative years, these were the movies that most shaped my concept of cinema. They spoke to the humor, the adventure, the romance and the fantasy that were all possible in a well-told picture.

Favourite film related website?

I’m a frequent visitor on the Frugal Filmmaker Facebook page, where I’m constantly exchanging ideas on how to make my films better and cheaper.

What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

My biggest concern is that filmmakers are born with a belief that you need money and a crew to make a feature. This is nonsense. Other than a few guys helping with lights and lifting, both our features and all of our many short films, TV pilots and webisodes have been created by only Kerry and me. These were made for relatively cheap, and the two features (Blood Rush and Horror House) were picked up for international distribution by Maxim Media. You don’t need a lot of money or a crew. You need ingenuity, fearlessness and hard work, and the flexibility to make something with the tools at hand.

Bootleg NYC Interviews – Jordan Hayes – Lay Over


Name: Jordan Hayes
Film: Lay Over
Role: Director, Writer, Editor, Actress

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

Lay Over is about a girl travelling from Montreal to Australia and has an eight-hour layover in LA where she meets a guy who takes her on a tour of the city. In an effort to emulate the nature of the film we shot it most of it in one night. We drove all over LA from until we ended up at LAX at 10am the next morning.

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

I’ve been working as an actress for the past five years, but have always had the intention of one day making my own films. My mom started her own company from nothing and she’s been a huge inspiration for me. I think I inherited some of her entrepreneurial spirit and ambitious nature.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you?

It’s awesome! I only submitted Lay Over to a few festivals, but when I read the mantra for the Bootleg Film Festival I can. I will. I did. I thought this was the perfect festival for our short film. That’s exactly how we made this film. We had no money. We were a small group of six people who got together one night and told a story.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

Annie Hall, The Princess Bride, Rust and Bone, Café de Flore, The Apartment

And yes… this list does change frequently.

Favourite film related website?


What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

Shoot as much as you can! Don’t get caught up in the idea that you need a lot of money. Be creative and resourceful and you’ll come up with something special. If you want to tell stories, then tell stories.  Every time you shoot is a learning experience, so shoot as much as you can!

Actor Interview #15 – Andrew Rothney

JCooper_130429_8477-EditI first met Andrew Rothney on the set of a short film that I wrote called The Cottage and I was instantly enamoured by his talent and genuineness. He was, and is, a lovely guy and I was delighted when the Edinburgh International Film Festival announced that it was to host the World Première of the feature film Blackbird, in which Andrew plays the lead role of Ruadhan.

Last week Blackbird had its screening at EIFF and the reviews have been excellent. The film tells the story of  a young ballad singer, Ruadhan, who watches in distress as the traditional fabric of life in his small Scottish village is inexorably eroded.

I loved the film and I’m excited to see what happens with it. One thing is for sure, this is only the beginning for Andrew Rothney and there will be many more Film Festival Premières I’m sure.  Read more of this post

Filmmaker Interview #51 – Mark J Blackman

20130615-113735.jpgMark J Blackman makes films that I like. Dark drama. It’s a cliched genre, that’s hard to get right without people calling it miserablism. Luckily Mark’s films are neither cliched nor miserable (well not always miserable), they are intriguing insights into real life, taken from a point of view that not everyone is comfortable with. As a director he is bold and calculated, and it won’t be long before we see a feature from this man.

Check out the films below and read what Mark has to say. He lives and breathes cinema (as we all should do) and make sure to check out his website for more info. Read more of this post

Short Film #58 – Interview (2013) Keir Siewert

Films Screened in April 2013

L-R Steven Abercromby-Cook, Lynne Jefferies and Siam Colvine

L-R Steven Abercromby-Cook, Lynne Jefferies and Siam Colvine

We were back to normal business in April screening eight short films from local and international filmmakers at our spiritual home in the Banshee Labyrinth. Another packed house created an awesome atmosphere as we heard from five local filmmakers about their films. Read more of this post


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