Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Oh man, am I proud to announce that:

(If you live in Los Angeles, Kalamazoo, Saugatuk, and maybe New York City).

That’s right – as promised, The Lake Effect will be enjoying several sneak peek screenings and you all, loyal blog readers, are invited!  What better way to kick off the summer than with a movie about a summer vacation gone awry??  

The lovely
Downtown Independent

Here’s the info: 

Our first screening will be held at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 19th at 8:30.  Cast and crew will be in attendance with an after party to follow.

Our next screenings will be held at The Rave Theater in downtown Kalamazoo on Wednesday May 25th and Thursday May 26th. Again, Cast and Crew will be in attendance for the screenings and the after party (on the 25th).   

downtown multiplex
Finally, we’re a highlight off the Lake-side city of Saugatuck’s Memorial Day weekend celebration at t on Saturday, May 28th -- location TBD. 

This one is still TBD.  We may do it at a cool independent cinema in the east village.  Or it may just be a private screening at my pal Morgan’s house in Peekskill. Sound off if you’re in New York – if you have a theater, or can recommend a theater, or want to host a screening with the writer/director for a nominal fee, etc. etc! 

I can't wait to share this film with a) all the people (I mean you, cast and crew) who made this movie the lovely little thing it is and b) all the friends, family, and fans, who've had to hear about this lovely little thing for the past year and a half.  

Thanks for everything, everyone.  Looking forward to sharing this with all of you!  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


SO just a short post today because I have a treatment due and my protagonist is not cooperating…  She’s a disillusioned wife and mother who wants a divorce… Is she successful and detached?  A control freak?  Is she a Supermom who her husband can’t compete with?  Does he cheat on her?  Does she cheat on him?  How in the hell will we ever like her if she cheats on him?  And how, oh how, is this funny? 

On Monday, a friend of mine texted me that she was reading this article in the New Yorker about Anna Faris and funny women in Hollywood...  Here are some highlights from the abstract, which basically says women don’t get to be funny for a lot of reasons and that Hollywood is a total sausage fest (News at 11!):

“…The Bechdel Test is a way of examining movies for gender bias. The test poses three questions: Does a movie contain two or more female characters who have names? Do those characters talk to each other? And, if so, do they discuss something other than a man? An astonishing number of light entertainments fail the test. This points to a crucial imbalance in studio comedies: distinctive secondary roles for women barely exist. For men, these roles can be a stepping stone to stardom. On the other hand, relatively unraunchy female-driven comedies have all done well at the box office. So why haven’t more of them been made? The answer is that studios, as they release fewer films, are increasingly focused on trying to develop franchises. Female-driven movies aren’t usually blockbusters, and studio heads don’t see them as repeatable. Men predominate in Hollywood, and men just don’t write much for women…”

“What a misogynistic industry,” my pal wrote, “Glad to know that girls like you are in the ring, duking it out.”

I don’t think I can legitimately claim to be duking it out (surviving by the skin of my teeth might be more spot on) but her text made me want to just that.  I know who I want my protagonist/funny woman main character to be – I want her to be a freaking mess!  The truth is I’m scared to do that.  Writing women to be funny is hard – women want their women empowering.  Men want them sexy.  I was never good at math (I am a girl after all) but I know that: sexy + empowering = not funny.   

By the way, if you found the “I am a girl” comment offensive, then I’ve come to the second part of my problem. I’m afraid to make my female characters the least bit dumb! Maybe it’s because there are too many people who actually think that women have an inferior intellect or maybe it’s because dumb blondes are all over reality TV and I feel that they are already represented but if I can’t write dumb than aren’t I kind of at a disadvantage as a comedy writer??   Will Farell, Steve Martin, Steve Carrell all get real dumb in movies all the time!  Why should being a chick in a mainstream comedy movie mean that you have to be whip smart, successful, and swathed in fabulous couture? 

As the New Yorker article explained –

“Relatability for female characters is seen as being based upon vulnerability, which creates likability. So funny women must not only be gorgeous; they must fall down and then sob, knowing it’s all their fault. Ideas for female-driven comedies are met with intense skepticism, and it’s even more intense because Faris isn’t aiming at the familiar Type A roles played by Jennifer Aniston and Katherine Heigl. She said, “I’d like to explore Type D, the sloppy ones.”

Amen, Anna Farris!!! 

God, I am dying to write a female leading lady that is as flawed and funny as her male counterparts get to be.  I want to write a woman that doesn’t wear Prada heels.  I want to write a woman who has let herself go and is in a dead end job and is drinking wine out of a nipple-less baby bottle because all the other glasses in the house are dirty.  

That sounds like a fun opening scene, actually.  Maybe I’ve found my girl.  I better go write her...

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/04/11/110411fa_fact_friend#ixzz1K22ochhA

Monday, April 11, 2011


So last week, in my brief post, I completely failed to mention that while I was in Phoenix, I found out that I got a gig writing a movie for the Disney Channel!  This was not exactly out of the blue but it was exciting and it was… totally surreal.  I got the call from my writing partner on the project, Cindy McCreery, while I was sitting in a deli waiting for a shuttle van to take me to a mall so I could scrounge up an outfit for the Phoenix Film Festival’s Opening Night Gala. (Do male filmmakers feel the need to dress up for this kind of thing?  Do any filmmakers? Alas, I did and so I confess that I spent day 1 of the Phoenix Film Festival shopping).

Anyway, this is how things happen - you push and push and push and PUSH for years to make a dozen projects move an inch and then suddenly, something just zooms to the finish line while you’re having tuna salad in a deli in Phoenix.  You gush quietly in a corner that you get to write something you like and get paid and get benefits and you gush that somehow by the skin of your teeth you’re keeping the dream alive and you wonder if you shared your good news with the guy behind the counter if maybe he would give you a congratulatory hug… And then you call your husband.  And your last producer.  And your mom. 

Am I alone in thinking that there's
something sexy about projectors?
That DC news carried me through the length of the festival, through the nerves introducing THE LAKE EFFECT to packed houses, through the technical difficulties that led to late starts, re-starts, late nights in the projection booth, and one-time awful DVD projection… through the panels that made me self-conscious and the panels that had me in stitches… It also carried me through the horrible bronchitis I contracted while running amok in Phoenix!  Somehow, all the excitement comes with a price but did I let my bronchial infection stop me from enjoying free drinks and good company of other filmmakers?  Heck no.

pre-sick, SOLD OUT! 

Alright so maybe I should admit that by the time the awards ceremony came around on my last night at the fest, I had to drag myself out of a sleep stupor in the hotel room to make my way to the filmmaker’s lounge.  And maybe I sounded (and looked) something like Bea Arthur.  Luckily, my lack of respect for illness paid off.   The Lake Effect took home TWO awards from the Phoenix Film Festival!  The first one they announced was Best Ensemble Acting and I was (to put it mildly) giddy.  I am so incredibly proud of the cast of TLE and want so badly for their amazing work to be seen and recognized… I thanked the festival and skipped off the stage to text Ross and Tara and Kay all the good news.  I was still texting them in fact, when I heard another presenter up on stage quoting something I half remembered saying on a panel earlier that week… I can’t remember now even what it was… something about “We had this location and I thought, ‘Damnit, now I’m going to have to write a script…’” all I know is that when I heard it, I thought, “I might be winning an award right now… and can I can get this text out before I have to get up there…?”  The answer was no. 

 Still texting... 
Winning the Best Screenplay award was shocking.  And thrilling.  And appreciated.  Though I have to admit, accepting an award for my actors was so much easier…  I know they deserve it.  But my relationship with writing and with everything I’ve ever written is… complicated.  Believe it or not, writing is pretty thankless (which is why I officially dedicate my Best Screenplay award to every writer who has ever written a screenplay that has not been bought or lauded or produced… it’s hard out there for a pimp).  So being up there on stage, being recognized for screenwriting was… about as surreal as finding out that I just landed a sweet gig writing for Disney Channel while waiting for a shuttle bus and eating tuna salad at a strip mall deli in Phoenix.  I still don’t think it’s quite hit me.  But I’m waiting for it to do just that.  And when it does, I will let you know how it feels. 
In closing, BOO to technical difficulties and bronchitis.  YAY jobs, awards, and the Phoenix Film Festival! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Film Festivals Make Me SICK.

Seriously.  I'm totally sick.  I'll blog all about Phoenix as soon as I'm well.
Jennifer Westin insisted that I at least say this: "WINNING!"