Festival Offers Many Opportunities for Buffs to Question Filmmakers

Jun 07, 2017

The screening of cutting edge independent movies is, of course, the raison d’etre of film festivals. But festivals also provide members of both the industry and the public an opportunity to meet and mix with filmmakers and to question them about their art.

The Lighthouse International Film Festival, which will run from this Thursday, June 8 through Sunday on LBI, offers plenty of such opportunities for film buffs wanting to know what goes on behind the scenes in the making of a film.

Directors, producers and cast members of many of the works being screened, including dozens of shorts, are often present to discuss their films immediately after the lights go up. More importantly, the festival offers several panel discussions so that filmmakers can go into more depth.

The first this year will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies. It is a panel discussion of filmmaking in the Garden State, a topic that raises many a question: Does the state give tax breaks to movie and television projects? What municipalities have been the friendliest to filmmakers? What towns have been the hardest for filmmakers to deal with? What steps should filmmakers take to assure cooperation of local officials? What, in the past, were the most popular spots in the state for film sets? How does New Jersey’s effort to attract filmmakers compare to that of other states?

Due to limited space, the “NJ Filmmaking Panel” is open only to all-access pass holders.

Another panel discussion, once again limited to all-access pass holders, is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday at The Arlington restaurant in Ship Bottom and is titled “How to Cast a Hit: Q&A Panel With Film & TV’s Top Casting Directors.”

This one is definitely for filmmakers as well as their fans.

“How do you cast a hit?” reads a publicity blurb. “How do you get the best actors for your next movie or pilot? What really happens in the audition room? How do you negotiate with star performers, directors and producers? Come ask your questions about what really happens behind the scenes with this fun and illuminating panel of top TV and film casting directors, hosted by actor Brian Berrebbi.

Panelists include Paul Schnee of Barden/Schnee Casting, Kate Geller from Chrystie Casting and Ashley Ingram from Billy Hopkins Casting.

Schnee was the casting director for “13 Reasons Why,” “Girlboss,” “Bleed for This,” “Spotlight,” “Good Girls Revolt,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Love and Mercy,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “The Help,” “Jessica Jones,” “Get On Up,” “The Judge,” “August Osage County” and “Winters Bone.” He once worked at ICM, the huge talent and literary agency with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C. and London, and then worked as assistant to famed director Mike Nichols. Schnee teamed up with Kerry Barden to found Barden/Schnee Casting in 2008. He’s also a NYC theater director.

Geller’s credits include “The Incredible Jessica James,” “Lizzie,” “Tully” (New York casting), “Sollers Point,” “Amateur,” “The Dark Tower” (New York casting), “Don’t Think Twice,” “Chained for Life,” “John Wick 2,” the first season of NBC’s “Blindspot,” “Madoff,” “Jaqueline,” “Demolition,” the first two seasons of NBC’s “The Blacklist,” “Believe,” “Noah,” “The Maze Runner,” “Draft Day,” “John Wick,” “Little Accidents” and “The Other Woman.”

Ingram is currently busy casting the Fox TV series “Empire” and “Star” and the indie films “Fluidity” and “Louisiana Caviar.” Recent film projects include “Come Sunday, You Were Never Really Here” starring Joaquin Phoenix, “Mudbound,” “The Bleeder,” “Marjorie Prime” and “Jean of the Joneses” as well as large commercial campaigns.

LIFF’s popular “Breakfast with Filmmakers” series will continue this year on both Saturday and Sunday mornings at Joe Pop’s Shore Bar in Ship Bottom starting at 9 a.m. It is, once again, a panel discussion format, but audiences are afforded significant time to ask questions. It is open only to all-access pass holders.

If you’re really interested in getting up close and personal with filmmakers, the festival’s parties will be your cup of tea.

The Friday night party will kick off at 9 p.m. at daddy O in Ship Bottom. The Saturday night party is set for 9 p.m. at the Ship Bottom Brewery in Beach Haven. Both events are for pass holders only.

The festival’s sendoff is set for Sunday at 6 p.m. at Joe Pop’s. It isn’t just the festival’s closing party, but will also serve as its awards ceremony. Unlike the other events discussed in this article, it is open to others besides pass holders.

So start thinking up your questions. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask them.

— Rick Mellerup


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