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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Exclusive Comedy Residency Begins Today

Lou with participants of 2018’s Comedy Residency workshop.

Lou with participants of 2018’s Comedy Residency workshop.

Cue the laugh track: MPI’s immersive four-day Comedy Residency starts today! Led by We the Internet TV’s head writer Lou Perez, the workshop follows a typical week at WTI’s studio in Hoboken, New Jersey. 

Six participants will work alongside Lou, pitching, writing, and revising sketches with the opportunity to shoot selected material on the last day. In keeping with We the Internet TV’s “equal opportunity offender” brand, Lou will work with participants to craft non-partisan satire that tackles controversial issues. 

Learn more about the program here and be sure to subscribe to We the Internet TV’s YouTube page. You may just see some of the sketches workshopped this week on the channel soon!


Catch ‘Regulation’ in Vegas

Regulation, an MPI Original short film from writer-director Ryan Patch, will screen at the Anthem Film Festival this Friday morning in Las Vegas, NV. 

The film follows Mia, a young social worker who travels through a small town community to administer behavior-modifying "patches" that guarantee happiness for the wearers. Played by Sunita Mani (Mr. Robot, GLOW), Mia must decide what to do when Kaleigh, a precocious 10-year old girl, refuses to accept the patch.

If you are attending Freedom Fest this week make sure to catch the film! Admission is free to all conference ticket holders. More information is available here.

Propel Your Career Forward in MPI’s Screenwriting Workshops

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The application deadlines for MPI’s screenwriting workshops, Writing the “Calling Card” Short Film and Concept Development, are less than a month out.

Led by our executive vice presidents, Erin O'Connor and Maurice Black, these 13-week "virtual" workshops enable screenwriters to sharpen their skills by workshopping their original scripts in a supportive and high-level setting.

In our Calling Card workshop Erin works with writers to craft producible scripts for short films—which in turn act as important industry calling cards at festivals. A good calling card can attract funding for a feature, help a filmmaker secure agency representation, and generally enable the filmmaker to raise their profile and build industry credibility and connections. Last year’s workshop produced the script for the upcoming MPI Original The Perfect One by Matthew Szewczyk. 

During Concept Development, Maurice advises filmmakers on how to position projects for success. Putting an emphasis on the prep work required to begin scripting, participants focus on writing a compelling pitchable logline, developing a tight one-page synopsis, and outlining. In the 2018 workshop filmmakers Austin and Meredith Bragg developed the forthcoming MPI Original A Piece of Cake.

Learn more about the application process for the Calling Card workshop here and Concept Development here. Ensure your completed application is submitted by August 14th. 


‘We the Internet TV’ Hits YouTube Milestone

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MPI’s comedy news channel We the Internet TV has just surpassed 100,000 subscribers on YouTube! 

Every week our favorite equal-opportunity offenders, helmed by comedian Lou Perez, tackle current events, politics, and culture in satirical sketches, roundtable discussions, and one-on-one interviews.

We the Internet TV has over 226,068 followers/subscribers on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. With more than 76 million video views to date, the channel has logged over 103 years of watch time.

Check out We the Internet TV’s latest, in which organizing-guru Marie Kondo helps a Republican and a Democrat tidy up their House...of Representatives.

And don’t forget to subscribe to We The Internet TV’s YouTube page here.

Cinematography Workshop Provides Hands-On Experience

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Last month, in MPI’s immersive four-day cinematography workshop, Moving Picturecraft, twelve participants worked alongside acclaimed cinematographers to learn how lighting, camera, and lens technology can create a compelling visual story that evokes a range of emotions from viewers. 

Led by award-winning cinematographer Benjamin Gaskell, MPI filmmakers listened to lectures and studied scene set-ups from working cinematographers Peter Moss (Race), Amy Vincent (Black Snake Moan), and Natasha Braier (Neon Demon). Participants then put the lessons to work, composing, lighting, and filming scenes.

Held at the historic Mole-Richardson Sound Stage in Los Angeles, the workshop provided participants with industry-standard cameras and lighting systems. The chance to do guided work with high-quality equipment allowed participants an unmatched opportunity to experiment and innovate. 

Here is what they had to say about the experience: 

This cinematography workshop was especially wonderful because of the facilities, the equipment, and the industry connections that MPI rolled out for our benefit. It was amazing to have so many talented people brought together through MPI to advance our critically important mission in the world.
By forging personal relationships with like-minded filmmakers, this workshop has not only given me a great education, but also an arsenal of highly skilled future collaborators.
This taught me an enormous amount about what tools are available to a cinematographer and the variety of ways in which they can be used in order to tell a story. It also gave me hands-on experience with many of them and introduced me to a lot of fantastic filmmakers.

Learn more about our cinematography workshop here and keep a lookout for application deadlines to participate in our expected summer 2020 workshop.

Filming Wraps on New MPI Original Comedy Short

Last month we completed production on the MPI Original short film A Piece of Cake. This comedy comes from writing and directing duo Austin and Meredith Bragg, who work as award-winning video producers and editors at Reason TV.

The short originated in a 2018 MPI concept development screenwriting workshop. MPI worked with the Bragg brothers to turn their concept into a completed draft and shortly thereafter, acquired the film for production. 

The film follows a desperate father (Rich Sommer, Mad Men; Glow) who discovers his daughter’s favorite cake decoration is illegal. He descends into a confectionery black market and must make the ultimate parenting choice: break a birthday promise or break the law? 

While the film centers on family dynamics and the outrageous twists and turns that unfold to fulfill the birthday girl’s request, it also shines a light on policy themes such as the overregulation of ordinary actions. 

The Braggs have worked with MPI for many years, participating in our cinematography workshop, screenwriting workshops, and our Business of Film program. They also created original sketches for MPI’s comedy news channel We the Internet TV. Now MPI is proud to enable the Braggs to take their careers to the next level with this compelling calling card short.

“The ability to work with such an accomplished cast and crew was not just an education, but a revelation,” they wrote. “The practical on-set skills and insights we've gained through this process are already having a positive impact on our work. We can't say enough about the talent and energy that MPI has devoted to this production.” 

The film is now in post-production and will screen in festivals next year.