Film Festival Seminars


On Saturday, April 23, The Newport Beach Film Festival kicked off the weekend with exciting guests and seminars at the Civic Center in Newport Beach. The festival put on eight seminars this year and included guests and speakers from all around the world.

Starting off the seminars was a youth seminar speaking on careers in the entertainment industry. The panel featured Stuart Shook (of Blizzard Entertainment), Ken Anderson (owner of Chopshop Entertainment) and Graham Nash (Lead Video Producer at Vans) where they spoke about their experiences in the industry and how they came about the positions they are currently in.

Stuart Shook began his career originally as a choir student who was given an opportunity to do a voiceover gig which transfixed him into the entertainment world. From there, he worked with Avid as they moved into digital editing and eventually started his own production company.

Ken Anderson originally received his bachelor’s degree in international finance, but was’t too fond of that career path, so made the leap over to entertainment. Anderson emphasized in believing that young talent is beneficial in this day and age.

Graham Nash began as a surfer who learned the basics of editing at UC Santa Cruz where he was later hired by Vans to work on a surfing film and later hired full time by the company.

All speakers agreed that internships are a very beneficial and that making content on one’s own to hand to potential employers is much needed in the entertainment industry.

Shortly after the youth seminar, the directing seminar followed featuring Kieran Darcy Smith and Thomas Michael.

Kieran Darcy Smith began as an actor, moved onto writing and eventually became a filmmaker. He stated that after filming his movie, “Wish You Were Here” (which features his wife), confidence was found throughout the different filming techniques used in the movie.

Thomas Michael began as a writer in Canada and turned to producing for his most recent film, “Backcountry”. When it comes to reading scripts, Michael said that the script has to make him want to continue reading and flip the page to see what happened next, which is what exactly what “Backcountry” did.

Throughout the director’s panel the idea of trusting oneself as well as confidence in what is being done was mentioned informing the audience of an easy way to help make a successful film.

The Newport Beach Film Festival was honored to present Variety magazine’s cinematographers to watch later in the day featuring Drew Daniels (“Krisha”), Peter Flinckenberg (“Concrete Night”) and Polly Morgan (“Intervention”).

For Flinckenberg and Morgan, it was inevitable that they would want to be involved in film as they got older, but for Daniels, he got the idea from watching skateboarding videos and later pursued his interests at school.

With cinematography, they panelists all agreed that there is a certain sensibility for the scenes as well as the characters and the subject. They control a lot of the set in order to keep things moving.

Closing the Variety hosted event, Daniels specified the importance of taking chances in the business and to go with your gut to which the other panelists nodded their head in agreement.

Following the cinematographers to watch panel was dynamic women in entertainment featuring America Young, Alison Eastwood and Aisha Taylor.

By far the most vocal and audience engaging panel, the three dynamic women in entertainment spoke on their thoughts and struggles of being a well known woman working in a mostly man based business.

A topic that was passionately discussed involved the problems with lack of women and diversity on television with lead roles only being able to act with specific guidelines.

Tyler, who has her own film in the festival this year, spoke about her upcoming films and her use of Kickstarter to help fund her film while interacting with fans. When speaking about Kickstarter, Eastwood and Young agreed with how great it is to involve fans throughout the process of filming.

When the women were asked about how to go out and get a film made the common response was “you can’t give up”, as well as emphasizing the importance of taking the responsibility that is given to a filmmaker, producer or whoever in entertainment seriously and to not mess around with what is given to someone.

The morning of April 24 began with a music in film seminar that brought Lyle Workman, Helene Muddiman, Matt Costa and Roque Banos to the festival.

Workman began as a guitarist in Los Angeles and came to the idea of working for films while in the studio one day. He currently composes for Netlifx’s original show, “Love”.

Muddiman, originally from the United Kingdom, originally had a record contract at age 18 which brought her into the music industry. After leaving her record deal, she went to film where she has composed for movies and television shows such as “Ice Age” and “The Only Way Is Essex”.

She also ended her talk saying that, “Life will always bring you opportunities no matter who you are or where you’re from.”

Costa began his career as a songwriter and later got the idea to venture into the film industry after watching skateboarding videos. When asked what prompts him to wake up every morning to do his job he said, “People appreciating music is what makes it worth it”. His latest film he worked on is currently in The Newport Beach Film Festival and is called, “Orange Sunshine”.

Roque Banos, originally from Spain, found his passion for music as a saxophone player. He became interested in the industry after researching programs at UC Berkeley. Later in Spain his music was later heard by an actor who brought it to a director who helped get his start in the industry.

Immediately after the music in film seminar, celebrating the festival’s Irish spotlight, Newport Beach Film Festival’s CEO, Gregg Schwenk introduced an afternoon conversation with actor, Chris O’Dowd.

When asked about his acting style, O’Dowd said that he appreciates naturalism in actors who make acting look very natural on camera. He recently had his Broadway debut performing in John Steinbeck’s story, “Of Mice and Men” alongside James Franco where he said that it was amazing to have such a big audience come out every night for a piece of literature which he felt was a rare thing to see.

For future roles he said that the ones that interest him the most are roles that he can bring something specifically to the role that others cannot necessarily bring.

The session ended with O’Dowd taking questions from some of the interns of the festival involving his music taste, what he does in his free time and others pertaining to his acting techniques.  

Following the conversation with Chris O’Dowd was a new media panel featuring various Viners and Youtubers speaking on how to interact with people in new media outlets. The panel featured Melissa Purner, Ali Spagnola, Loryn Powell and Max Weisz.

Purner is currently a television producer who sees the importance of different media platforms coming into play even in television shows and thinks the expansion of them will be important in the future.

Spagnola is currently known for her Twitter, Vine and Youtube accounts where she originally began as a musician, made her way to comedian and now uses her Youtube channel full time to reach a larger audience of all ages. “I’m not a girl in a coffee shop anymore,” Spagnola said.

Powell currently has her own Youtube channel entitles “Calling in Drunk” which Spagnola and Weisz have been featured on which started off as an idea when working as an intern at Fox. Continuing with her show she also has her own personal channel on Youtube where she says it is important to constantly have new material that gets produced because fans notice and will remind them if they forget to upload videos because they enjoy them just that much.

Weisz is known for his Youtube channel, “MaxNoSleeves” (deemed appropriate as he was wearing a shirt without sleeves to the panel), where he has thousands and thousands of followers. He began his Youtube channel after seeing friends have their own videos being put out to the public and enjoyed the behind the scenes and final aspects of filming videos for enjoyment. When asked about what kind of videos he makes and how creative ideas come about, Weisz said, “I make videos that I would want to watch.”

Rounding up the seminars featured Dan Lebental and Colby Parker Jr. for an editing panel.

Both men agreed on the idea of having to enjoy what you do to be in the editing business due to the fact that they could watch one film thousands of times and still find things to edit and change.

“Nothing beats seeing your name on a 60 foot screen,” Lebental said despite the long hours and competition that the business constantly has for them.

So concludes the many seminars of the 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival. We hope you stick around for next year to see what surprises we have in store for your enjoyment.


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