‘USA Today’ Lists 'Miss Virginia' as Fall Must-See

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The upcoming MPI Original feature film Miss Virginia has made USA Today’s “fall’s most must-see movie” list. The film is in good company, ranking among major studio films starring actors such as Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, and Brad Pitt. 

Based on a true story, Miss Virginia stars Emmy winner Uzo Aduba as a struggling single mother who is losing her fifteen-year-old son to the rough streets of Washington, DC. Unwilling to see him drop out and deal drugs, she places him in a private school. But when she can’t afford tuition, she launches a movement to change the system that is destroying him and thousands like him.

The MPI film will be distributed by leading independent film distributor Vertical Entertainment. And will be available in select theaters and on video on demand October 18th. 

Learn more about the film here, and mark your calendars! 


Comedy Residency Provides Unmatched Writers Room Experience

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Last month six participants took part in MPI’s immersive four-day Comedy Residency led by We the Internet TV’s head writer Lou Perez. 

Participants were drawn to the Residency’s unique format, which gave many their first introduction to working in a writers’ room. 

“I’ve done a lot of comedy writing and workshopping in informal settings, but I have always wanted to know what a real writers’ room is like, and whether I had the talent to be part of one,” said Joseph Kast. “I love WTI’s videos, so an opportunity to collaborate with their staff writers and my highly accomplished residency peers was too good to pass up.”

Throughout the week these comedians worked collaboratively to pitch, write, and revise sketches in keeping with WTI’s “equal opportunity offender” brand of non-partisan satire. With writers coming from across the political spectrum, residents took away a better understanding of how to authentically tackle hot-button issues from all angles and write for diverse viewpoints.

“I was really curious about how you could actually create funny things together if you don't all necessarily hold the same views,” said Elvira Ibragimova. “I realized it was helping the comedy to have so many views in the room.”

Kast added that the Residency was a great opportunity to work with “a channel that is trying to transcend the polarized culture wars ravaging the arts now. WTI expects unique, original twists on political humor.”

Are you an aspiring satirist looking for real world writers room experience? Watch here for updates on our next Comedy Residency or pitch your idea directly to WTI at info@wetheinternet.tv


MPI-Supported Filmmaker Accepts Tenure-Track Position at Leading University

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MPI-supported filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson has been hired as an Assistant Professor in the School of Communications’ Center for Media and Social Impact at American University in Washington, DC. This tenure-track position is an impressive accomplishment and a testament to her powerful storytelling abilities. 

Laura first came to us through an MPI production grant to support her 2014 documentary Dog Days, which centers on American entrepreneurship, immigration, and the power of persistence. She then developed and helmed the MPI-supported film Mama Rwanda, which follows two mothers who are using entrepreneurship to overcome extreme poverty. A strong documentarian, Laura’s films have been broadcast on PBS and reached audiences in Congress and the United Nations. 

As a dedicated filmmaker looking to continually evolve her craft, Laura recently turned to writing dynamic, character-driven narratives. With this move to narrative film, Laura knew she needed a smart, compelling short film to showcase her talent. So in 2017 she joined MPI’s Short Film screenwriting workshop to write the script that became the MPI Original film Moving Violation. This mock-horror film shines a light on the growing surveillance state through the story of a jilted bride who goes ballistic on a speed camera that won’t stop ticketing her. Starring Milana Vayntrub (This Is Us, Silicon Valley), Moving Violation has had an impressive showing at film festivals across the country, nabbing awards for “Best Narrative Short” and “Best Comedy.” 

“I credit MPI with much of my success as a filmmaker,” said Laura. “I have never experienced such dedicated and principled support of freedom-based filmmaking in my entire career.”

Laura is a talented and sensitive teacher -- we know that first hand, as she led MPI’s 2018 Documentary Storytelling writing workshop. American University is lucky to have her. Congratulations, Laura!  


MPI Intern Accepted into Highly Competitive NBC Page Program

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MPI’s Hollywood Career Launch Program enables young filmmakers to break into the entertainment industry, placing interns with partner production companies such as NBCUniversal, Lionsgate Entertainment, and Magnolia Pictures. The program positions interns for future success in the industry, with many going to paid positions at their host companies or other prestigious internship programs. 

One such success is 2018 alum Matthew Hanisch, who was recently accepted to the NBC Page program in Los Angeles. Previously, Matthew interned with Bron Studios through MPI and was awarded an advanced internship at Karga Seven Pictures.

Highly selective, the Page program is known as “Hollywood’s ultimate bootcamp” and the “golden ticket that opens every door.” Past pages include former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Regis Philbin, and Aubrey Plaza. In this year-long appointment, Pages rotate through assignments, gaining hands-on skills in NBC’s content, business, and consumer divisions.

MPI caught up with Matthew to discuss how MPI’s internship program prepared him for his exciting new adventure:

How did MPI support your early career as a filmmaker? 

MPI helped me acquire some of the first paid internships on my resume. I could not have continued to expand my network or my experiences without its support. 

What skills did you gain from MPI that have helped in your career?

It was actually the skills I learned from MPI that I used to acquire my semester-length internship at NBCUniversal (NBCU), which ultimately helped secure my spot as a Page.

When I first applied for the NBCU fall internship I was rejected. However, the skills I learned from MPI helped me navigate that rejection. I knew to politely respond, thanking the manager for his time and to continue to express interest and update him on my experience over the following months. When I applied again for the spring semester, the hiring manager remarked upon my earlier professional demeanor and hired me.

I was grateful that MPI had helped prepare me so adequately for this experience. 

What are your long-term career goals? 

I’m not exactly sure what I want to do at this point in my career, but I know I want to do it at a place like NBCU with the support of people like those at MPI. 

________

Do you want to jumpstart your film career? Read more about the Hollywood Career Launch Program here

(The views expressed in this interview are my own and do not express the views or opinions of NBCUniversal or its affiliates.) 


‘We the Internet TV’ Video Featured on ‘Wall Street Journal’ Opinion Page

We the Internet TV’s satirical sketch on gender pronouns caught the eye of Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who referenced the video in her Friday opinion piece on the politicization of language. 

The sketch, which Noonan calls “funny but painful,” is a smart take on the complexities associated with the growing list of preferred gender pronouns. In it, an increasingly aggravated instructor struggles to teach 62 new gender pronouns to a class of non-English speaking students. Unsurprisingly, confusion ensues. 

Watch the sketch above and subscribe to We the Internet TV’s YouTube channel. 


MPI Short Films Win Big at Recent Festivals

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MPI Original and MPI-supported short films have had impressive festival showings throughout the summer.  

This month writer-director Ryan Patch and composer Sam Estes took home the “excellence in narrative filmmaking” and “best score” awards at the Anthem Film Festival in Las Vegas, NV for their work on the MPI Original film Regulation. Learn more about the film here

Meanwhile, the MPI-supported documentary short The Conqueror swept European festivals, winning "Best International Documentary" at the British Documentary Film Festival and "Best Documentary Short" at the Oxford International Film Festival and the Munich Film Awards. The film from director Timothy Blackwood follows boxer Jerome Conquest who, after losing his childhood friend to street violence, turns to boxing as a way to improve his life. All the while, inspiring others in his community with the belief that the same freedom to achieve your dreams resides in the hearts of all people. Watch the trailer here.

Ryan is currently developing a new project in MPI’s summer Concept Development workshop. Timothy took part in two MPI workshops earlier this year -- Documentary Storytelling and Writing the Short Film -- developing new film projects in each.

MPI-Supported Short Film Premieres on DUST

Today the MPI-supported short film Corrections exclusively premieres on the sci-fi streaming platform DUST

From director Nicholas Tucker, Corrections is a near-future science fiction thriller about crime and punishment. Set in a next-generation prison, inmates are tested through simulations that evaluate their moral resolve in their most intimate moments. In this dystopian institution, prisoners aren’t rehabilitated; they’re corrected.

Watch the short film now here.

MPI Course Empowers Filmmakers to Navigate Entertainment Business

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Ten filmmakers recently completed MPI’s inaugural Business of Film course. This six-month intensive kicked off last November with a three-day summit in Los Angeles. Participants attended monthly virtual seminars thereafter. 

Crafted with the goal of equipping filmmakers to navigate the entertainment industry, the course covered critical topics such as entertainment law, pitching, getting representation, financing films, and leveraging festivals.

Participants learned from showrunners, producers, agents, development executives, and film financiers, including Rob Mitchell (CFO, Bold Films), Ralph Winter (producer, X-Men films), Tanner Mobley (VP of development, Millennium Films), and Stacey Parks (founder, Media Sparks and FilmSpecific.com). 

“I’m not the same filmmaker I was before I started,” wrote one participant. “I am so much further ahead and I feel truly empowered to tell the stories that I am meant to share with the world.”

“I feel empowered to achieve my goals now that I’ve completed this program,” wrote another. “This was a phenomenal opportunity to engage with industry leaders and to learn from them as they generously shared how they succeed.”

Learn more about Business in Film here and find additional opportunities for filmmakers here.

“Miss Virginia,” Starring Uzo Aduba, in Theaters and on Video on Demand Oct. 18

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Vertical Entertainment, a leading independent film distributor, has acquired the North American distribution rights for the MPI Original film Miss Virginia, starring Emmy-award winner Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black). On October 18, the film will be released in select theaters and on video on demand.

You can find the full press release from Vertical announcing the deal below.  


VERTICAL ENTERTAINMENT acquires
MISS VIRGINIA starring UZO ADUBA

Los Angeles – Vertical Entertainment has acquired the North America distribution rights to Miss Virginia, a drama inspired by a true story of a struggling inner-city mother who sacrifices everything to give her son a good education. Unwilling to allow her son to stay in a dangerous school, she launches a movement that could save his future -- and that of thousands like him. Starring Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”), Matthew Modine (“Stranger Things”), Aunjanue Ellis (“The Help”), and Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty”). Vertical Entertainment will be releasing the film in select theaters and on VOD October 18th.  

“The Miss Virginia team is delighted to partner with Vertical in bringing the inspiring true story of Virginia Walden Ford to audiences across the US," said writer-producer Erin O'Connor. “Her story is one of grit, determination, and the transformative power of a mother who refuses to give up on her son.”

The deal was negotiated by Josh Spector at Vertical and Stacey Parks and Rob Pfaltzgraff on behalf of the Moving Picture Institute (MPI). 

The film was directed by R. J. Daniel Hanna; written by Erin O’Connor; produced by M. Elizabeth Hughes, Stacey Parks, Maurice Black, Erin O’Connor, and Rob Pfaltzgraff; executive produced by Virginia Walden Ford and Nick Reid; cinematography from Nancy Schreiber; edited by Brian Scofield; production design by Grace Alie; with music by Laura Karpman. The film was produced by MPI. 

Aduba is represented by UTA, Management 360 and ID Public Relations. Modine is represented by Luber Roklin Entertainment. Ellis is represented by ICM Partners and TMT Entertainment Group. Williams is represented by UTA.  

About Vertical Entertainment

Vertical Entertainment is a global independent distributor that offers a unique combination of full-service marketing and sales services. Dedicated to providing highly effective and collaborative solutions, Vertical leverages unparalleled relationships to maximize revenue across all streams. The marketing and sales expertise from Vertical’s seasoned team gives content partners a wealth of experience minus the studio costs. 

Vertical won a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for Molly Shannon’s role in “Other People” and the film won a GLAAD Award for “Outstanding Film Limited Release” as well.  Vertical also had four other Indie Spirit nominations -- three more for “Other People” (Best Lead Actor for Jesse Plemons, and Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay for filmmaker Chris Kelly) and one for Best International Film for Babak Anvari’s “Under the Shadow,” which was also the official UK submission for the 2017 Oscars, in addition to winning one BAFTA Award and three British Independent Film Awards. 

Upcoming Vertical releases are “Lying and Stealing” starring Theo James and Emily Ratajkowski  and “The Operative” starring Diane Kruger, Martin Freeman, and Cas Anvar. Other notable recent releases include “American Woman” starring Sienna Miller, Aaron Paul, and Christina Hendricks; “The Professor and the Madman” starring Mel Gibson, Sean Penn, and Natalie Dormer; “Drunk Parents” starring Alec Baldwin, Salma Hayek, Jim Gaffigan, Ben Platt, and Joe Manganiello; Keith Behrman’s “Giant Little Ones” starring Josh Wiggins, Kyle Maclachlan, and Maria Bello; Amma Asante’s “Where Hands Touch” starring Amandla Stenberg, Abbie Cornish, and George MacKay; Sam Boyd’s “In A Relationship” starring Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Dree Hemingway, and Patrick Gibson; “Welcome Home” starring Aaron Paul, Emily Ratajkowski, and Riccardo Scamarcio; Rob Reiner’s “Shock and Awe” starring Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Milla Jovovich, Jessica Biel, and Tommy Lee Jones; and Kevin Connolly’s “Gotti” starring John Travolta, Kelly Preston, and Chris Mulkey. For more information, please visit www.vert-ent.com and www.facebook.com/vertent.

  

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