Archive for September, 2009


‘Joneses’ director keeps up with marketing tactics

By Martin A. Grove
Sunday, September 27, 2009 11:52 PM


LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – In our marketing-driven culture, things aren’t always what they seem.

Picking up on that idea was enough to propel Derrick Borte from 20 years of making commercials to writing and directing his first feature, “The Joneses,” which stars Demi Moore and David Duchovny and just premiered at Toronto.

From watching a TV news report about stealth marketing, he learned that “companies were sending models into nightclubs to order a certain drink over and over and over again.” Suddenly, other people around them would start ordering the very same drink.

Or people went to a tourist destination and asked someone to take their picture with a fancy new camera. “Inevitably, people would ask about the camera and when they described it, sales of that camera would go up.”

That’s when the light bulb went on for Borte: “I thought about what would happen if you took this to its inevitable conclusion of placing a fake family into a neighborhood.” They’d be the Joneses that everybody wants to keep up with.

“I had been directing commercials for a long time and wanting to get into the feature world,” he said. “I knew the only way that was going to happen was if I had material that would give me some leverage.”

The film he wrote to get there, Borte said, is “a dark comedy with some social commentary satire and a love story.”

The story: “This perfect family moves into this perfect McMansion neighborhood and they’ve got the best of everything. They immediately develop a following of people who want to emulate them and begin buying the same things that they have. Then we find out that all is not as it seems in the Joneses’ household.”

And that’s enough story for now, he cautioned: “There are some big spoilers there and I’d rather not be the one to reveal anything.”

So how’d he get to make it? “Through a series of connections I got it to a producer, Kristi Zea (“Revolutionary Road”), who loved it and asked if she could be part of the team.”

After that Borte took 200 or so meetings. “I had some offers to sell it as a TV show. Kristi had shown the script to James Brooks, whom she’s worked with for years. I got a call from him one day. I thought it was a friend of mine playing a joke on me.”

No, it really was Brooks. And he loved the script.

Brooks (to Borte): “The only advice I’m going to give you is do not sell this as a TV show. Direct it. Make the film yourself and then you can do whatever you want. But you’ve got to make this film.”

Borte (recalling): “It really validated what I was thinking already myself. When you’re staring at the possibility of a large amount of money to sell something, it is tempting. But I ended up staying the course and writing, producing and directing it for a fraction of what I could have sold it for as a TV show.”

Any regrets? “It’s the smartest decision I think I’ve ever made.”

He’s looking now for a domestic distribution deal following the film’s favorable reception at Toronto, where this year saw much less deal-making than in the past. “Joneses” was one of the fest’s higher profile titles.

Looking back at production, Borte said his screenplay attracted the cast led by Moore and Duchovny and he took to directing easily enough: “They all responded very positively to the script and numerous meetings followed. I just seemed to feel a chemistry with everyone.”

They shot last fall in Alpharetta, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. The location made sense with its tax incentives, good local crews and actors and help from the Georgia Film Office.

Borte knew this was the right place when he saw “its massive gated communities with these McMansions that I really didn’t see anywhere else.”

As for transitioning from directing commercials to features: “My ideas about what it would be like ahead of time were probably far more difficult to deal with than how things actually went on the days there.”

The challenge in making an independent film, he observed, is that “you can’t always get all the time and all the toys you want. Yet there’s a great sense of camaraderie that everyone is really making some kind of sacrifice for the greater good of the project, which is wonderful.”

(Editing by DGoodman at Reuters)


History Comes Alive!

History Comes Alive!

YWCA of Northwest Georgia presents a 90-minute fundraiser performance by the author of Loving Mr. Lincoln: The Personal Diaries of Mary Todd Lincoln, starring Kay duPont and Jeff Disend. Benefitting the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,


A powerful enactment of the most misunderstood and disliked First Lady in American history and the Great Emancipator who was taken from the world too early. Based on meticulous research, the scenes are a historically accurate look at Mary and Abraham Lincoln’s 26 years together. An Evening with Mary and Abraham Lincoln weaves history and imagination into a story of love and ambition to show two of America’s most famous legends as people just like you and me. As historian William C. Davis said, “Kay duPont shows Mary Todd Lincoln as she really was—beauty, warts and all.”

Much to the audience’s pleasure, Mr. Lincoln magically appears in silhouette to share an occasional reminiscence with his wife (both personal and historical), express his heartbreaking thoughts on slavery and the Civil War, and deliver the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address.

When you leave this professionally produced play, you’ll feel like you’ve been inside the life of one of the world’s most famous couples to share their life, love and tragedies. You’ll have learned and laughed, chuckled and cried, smiled and sighed. And you’ll never forget the experience!



Sunday, October 4, 2009,
Matinee at 2 PM,
Earl Smith Strand Theatre,
Historic Marietta Square

Tax breaks for films boost Georgia economy

ATLANTA — Tractor-trailors circled the Capitol, and cables snaked through its hallways Wednesday as a production company filmed scenes for a Fox television series.

The lights, cameras and dozens of T-shirt-clad technicians served as the perfect setting for state officials to trumpet the impact of tax breaks enacted into law in 2008. In the 16 months since the 30 percent tax credit took affect, 60 feature films, TV movies, series and specials have been produced in Georgia, representing $521 million in investment and a $929 million economic impact.

To read the complete article, please visit:


The Augusta Chronicle is your type.



a request of the acting community…

hey – i’d like to ask a favor of any of you who’d be willing…

a guy who worked w/ my husband for years at the fire dept has a granddaughter who has battled cancer and just had her 16th birthday.  the email below is from the fire dept asking for bday cards.  i would be so appreciative if you could join us in that effort.  of course only notes of encouragement and good things, nothing heavy as she has more than her share of that.  thank you in advance – 

Tim and Cathy Lammie’s granddaughter, Cearria has been battling cancer for about 20 months and now has been sent home on hospice and only has a short time.  The Make a Wish Foundation gave her a party for her 16th birthday this past Saturday.  She was able to attend her “Ball”.    I am also attaching Cearria’s address.  Even if you did not know them it would mean a lot for Cearria to get some cards. 

Thanks,                                     Cearria Wheeler / 3933 Lakeview Rd. / Ft. Valley, Ga.  31030


Redford To Return To Savannah

Movie director Robert Redford will return to Savannah, ten-years after choosing the coastal city for the golfing film “The Legend of Baggar Vance.” The City of Savannah announced Friday that Redford’s new movie, a Civil War feature called “The Conspirator,” will be shot in the Savannah area. Filming is scheduled to begin in mid-October and will continue through November.  

“We are very excited about the positive impact this project will have on our community,” Savannah Tourism and Film Director Jay Self said. “The economic impact of production will be in the millions. The wide exposure such projects bring can pay dividends for years.”

Set against the ominous backdrop of post-Civil War Washington, “The Conspirator” follows the extraordinary trial of Mary Surratt, the lone woman among those charged with conspiring to kill Abraham Lincoln. Idealistic young war hero Frederick Aiken reluctantly defends Surratt, eventually coming to believe in her innocence while struggling to find justice in a city bent on retribution.

The film’s producer, American Film Company, has opened a production office and a sound studio in Savannah and is asking interested job-seekers to send their resumes. It’s not immediately known how many jobs will be created by the film or what its economic impact will be on Savannah.

“The Conspirator” will be the second major motion picture to film in Savannah since Georgia lawmakers boosted tax incentives to lure movie makers. The first was “The Last Song” starring Miley Cyrus, which wrapped its shooting several weeks ago.

Heigl headed back to town to shoot ‘Life’ with Duhamel

Atlanta, get set for more Katherine Heigl sightings. The film and TV actress has already spent a big chunk of time here this year, shooting the upcoming comic thriller “Five Killers” with Ashton Kutcher.   Now that the “Grey’s Anatomy” actress has been granted a five-episode leave from the hit ABC drama,  Buzz can confirm that Heigl is headed back to town this fall to shoot the romantic comedy “Life As We Know It” for Warner Brothers.   The film is set to be directed by Greg Berlanti, a TV producer and series creator best known for his work on “Everwood,” “Eli Stone,” and “Brothers & Sisters.”   Judging from the film’s plot, Berlanti’s expertise in combining comedy with pathos will come in handy. The challenging central story of “Life”: A single guy and girl are thrust together when they’re named guardians of  their best friends’ daughter after the parents die in a car crash.   The male half of the equation? “Transformers” star Josh Duhamel, who’s already been spotted at the brand-new swanky St. Regis hotel in Buckhead. According to Variety, “Mad Men” actress Christina Hendricks (who plays slinky Sterling Cooper office manager Joan Holloway on the Emmy-addicted AMC series) has also  been signed to co-star in the film.   We’re also hearing that The Mansion in Buckhead could be a locale for star sightings this fall and that scenes for the film could be shot at Turner Field. The film is slated to shoot into November. Warner Brothers is planning a December 2010 theatrical release.




Do you need funding for your film or video production? The Big Picture Film & Video Foundation is pleased to now offer Fiscal Sponsorship to student and independent filmmakers seeking federal funding for qualifying film and television productions.

What is Fiscal Sponsorship?
Fiscal sponsorship refers to the practice of non-profit organizations offering their legal and tax-exempt status to groups or individuals engaged in activities related to the organization’s missions. It typically involves a fee-based contractual arrangement between a project and an established non-profit.

Through fiscal sponsorship, you may qualify for federal funding for your film project by applying for grants made to individuals through a fiscal agent. The Big Picture Film & Video Foundation is a nonprofit charitable 501(c)(3) organization which qualifies for federal funding. As an individual or entity seeking funding, applicants may be able to get funding for their project through our fiscal sponsor program.

For detailed information about the program and how to apply, visit and click Fiscal Sponsorship. Or call 770-726-9818.


Youth Academy with Renee Ford Clark


Creative Studios of Atlanta Film Academy Presents:

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

The program will run on Saturdays for four weeks from October 3 – 24 and bring out each student’s special gift for acting and prepare them for the business in four stages: Audition Techniques,Commerical Acting, Improvisation and Film. Each class is two hours in length.
Class Schedule
Week 1 – Audition Techniques – Students learn how to slate, master the cold reading and how to prepare for an audition for a commercial or film.
Week 2 – Commercial Acting  – Students will learn the basics of perfecting specific characters for commercials while establishing the foundation to build solid acting skills for film.  They will learn how to slate, memorize quickly, master the cold read and get to the “next level” of commercial auditioning.  

Week 3 – Improvisation – Students work on their listening and quick decision making skills and focus  on being spontaneous, while “agreeing and proceeding” with others to make a scene work. The exercises presented help actors get to the truth of  relationships in and easy and fun way whether working alone, with a partner or in a group.

Week 4 – Film – Young actors learn about the elements of  filmmaking as well as how actors fit in the the filmmaking process. Actor’s perform for the camera (which varies from stage performance), and students gain an understanding of how a film set operates.
Cost: $150 per student. Make checks payable to Creative Studios of Atlanta and send to 500 Bishop Street, Suite F8,  Atlanta, GA  30318
6 to 8 year olds- 10:00am – 12:00pm
9 to 12 year olds – 12:30pm – 2:30pm
13 to 17 year olds – 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Renée Ford Clark is an actor, model and acting instructor. Originally from New York City Renee has appeared in many feature films including Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion, ATL, The Gospel as well as the blockbuster hit, The Secret Life of Bees.  Prior to moving to Atlanta, Renée trained and acted on the stage in New York. Her acting training in Atlanta includes The Alliance Theater and The Chez Group. Renée has been teaching acting to children for over five years. She has a child’s heart and infinite patience and understands the special sensitivities of working with children. She has a particular skill in drawing out each child’s unique gift and instilling confidence and a “can-do” attitude.

Here’s what parents have to say about “Miss Renee”:

“I appreciate your support and encouragement for my son, Mark.  It is wonderful to have positive people in your children’s lives that they admire and will actually listen to.  I can tell you are passionate about what you do.”                                                                             Georgia Nations

“The help you gave Danielle was what she needed to fine-tune her monologue. And the comments she received from the agents reinforces that belief. Thanks for your help.”                                        Julie Van Buren

“Grace said she had a ‘Grrrreat time” with you. You were very productive with her and I really appreciate that. You have a great way with kids. I admire that.”                                                                 Cindy Patrick

For more information call Creative Studios of Atlanta at 404-355-4588 or Renée Ford Clark at 404-218-7955.

For more information call Creative Studios of Atlanta at 404-355-4588.


Intro to Improv – yourACT

Learn to think on your feet, live in the moment, and build scenes with a partner in this workshop led by Amber Nash! Improv is a critical skill in scene work, auditioning, and creating characters. It’s fun, and you’ll meet odd people who are just like you!

Taught by Amber Nash
Amber has been acting and improvising in Atlanta for 13 years. She is a part of the Improv Ensemble at Dad’s Garage Theatre; fulfilling roles as a performer, teacher, creator and director. Amber works with Laughing Matters as an improviser, actor and team-building facilitator. She is a founding member of The Doug Dank Project at Push Push Theatre and is also a part of Catch 23 that happens monthly at the Earl in East Atlanta. Amber studied with Improv Olympic in Chicago and has the pleasure of working with Second City this Fall at the Alliance Theatre.

Mondays, September 14 – October 5
7:00 pm – 10:00 pm


“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” — Knute Rockne

 “If you’re bored with life – you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.”   —  Lou Holtz

It’s usually not hard to set goals for yourself – the hard part is reaching them.  These coaches were masters at setting goals for their team and reaching them.  Maybe the only thing that’s missing between the goals you set and achieving them – is a coach?

Stop just setting goals and start reaching them!

I’m here to help.

All the best


Mike Pniewski
Actor, Speaker, Author, Coach


Chez Studio’s September Workshop

Sept 19 & 20  Chez Studio is excited to announce our workshop with LA Casting Director Jason Wood & Writer/ Executive Producer Stan Zimmerman!

Wood, who was with us earlier this year, will partner with Zimmerman to create an exciting workshop using the experience acquired from both of their areas of expertise. 

Wood recently worked along with Chez Casting on “My Super Psycho Sweet 16” which was shot in Atlanta. Jason began his work in Los Angeles at 20th Century Fox and oversaw shows such as: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X-Files, The Practice, and The Simpsons. While at Mandalay Pictures Television Wood served as casting director for the tv series Young Americans  which marked the television debut of future stars Kate Bosworth, Kate Moenning, Charlie Hunnam and Michelle Monaghan.

Zimmerman along with writing partner James Berg has created shows such as “Rita Rocks” and serves as executive producers on the same show.  Zimmerman and Berg received two WGA nominations for best comedy writing on episodes from “The Golden Girls” and “Roseanne.”

Actors will have the opportunity, seldom available to them, to take the creation of a writer’s written concept of a character and turn it into a performance for the casting director. We are very proud to present this opportunity to our regional actors!

Please contact us by email at or by phone at 404-603-8755.

Come be a part of our acting team. We are working to build a showcase of talent for the Georgia film industry.


This should be a good one…New Class Offering:Non-Regional Speech for the Southern Performer

Judith Sullivan and Cynthia Barrett, two of the top dialect coaches in the Southeast, are teaming up to teach Atlanta’s top talent how to speak without their southern dialect. We will give you all the tools you need to change your southern sound into the much sought after non-regional sound for commercials, films, television, industrials, voice-overs, plays, broadcasts and presentations of all kinds. Everyone leaves the course with a book and CD of the materials and a personalized text they can confidently perform in the non-regional dialect. This class is based on individualized coaching so class size is limited. Go to <> for more details and to register. Class starts September 28!

Alliance Education: Artist to Artist Series

August 2009

Artist to Artist Series!


We proudly present our new program for working artists, taught by working artists.




Practical Aesthetics: David Mamet Actor Training
A Scene Study Course


Instructor: Joe Gfaller

– Engage in detailed text analysis to clarify character shifts.
– Mine material to embrace rich, clear choices consistent with the text.
– Use skills developed to present four fully realized scenes from contemporary American theatre.
– Tuition includes admission to A Life in the Theatre at the Alliance Theatre

You will leave this course armed with a robust understanding of practical aesthetics, the actor and text-driven method of training and analysis advocated by David Mamet and his peers from the Atlantic Theatre Company.

Sept. 29 – Nov. 3, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Tuition: $200

Send Your Resume



Playwriting for Young People


Grades 7-9
Instructor: Janece Shaffer

– Write your own scripts.
– Explore characters and situations from your experiences.
– Learn playwriting techniques from one of Atlanta’s top playwrights.
– Hear professional actors read your plays.

Sept. 26 – Oct. 31, Saturdays, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Professional play reading on Sunday, October 18 at 12:30 p.m.
Tuition: $180

Enroll Online



Creating Visual Theatre


Instructor: Michael Haverty, Artistic Director of Haverty Marionettes

– Expand your approach to making theatre.
– Challenge your audience to collaborate with you.
– Explore the avant-garde approach to theatre.
– Create dynamic, visual theatre!

You will leave this exciting workshop with a new approach to making theatre, focusing on object manipulation, sensory mise-en-scene construction, broad conceptual research, and experimental performance techniques.

Here is your opportunity to learn from one of Atlanta’s most visionary and inspiring artists.

Sept. 21, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Tuition: $50

To Register, call 404.733.4700 or

Enroll Online




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