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The Director's Chair Issue #85 – April 25, 2008 (Cynthia Wade – 2008 Academy Award Winner)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

April 25, 2008                  Scene 9 – Take 4

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com


Dear Friend,

You are receiving The Director’s Chair because you (or
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PRIVACY STATEMENT: This Subscriber List is a private mailing
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1. Introduction
2. The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar
3. Film Directing Tips and Resources Blog
4. The Director’s Chair FACEBOOK Page
5. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
6. Subscriber Links of Interest
7. FEATURE ARTICLE – “A Conversation with Cynthia Wade”
8. Write an Article for The Director’s Chair
9. Internet Marketing for Filmmakers
10. Filmmaking News, Websites, Articles and Events
11. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum
12. Filmmaking Workshops
13. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
14. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
15. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #85 of The Director’s Chair (Apr. 25/08)


Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas,
Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Botswana, Brazil, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China,
Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican
Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Finland,
France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland,
India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,
Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico,
Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand,
Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal,
Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia,
Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri
Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania,
Thailand, Trinidad and Tabago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda,
United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States,
Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe

NOTE: If your country is not represented here, please let me
know and I will add it to this ever growing list.

2) SPECIAL FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s Feature Article is
called “A Conversation with Cynthia Wade” by Stephanie
Riggs. With her short documentary film “Freeheld” winning
the 2008 Academy Award for Documentary Short, Cynthia Wade
has brought the hot-button topic of same-sex marriage
equality into everyday households. The film chronicles
Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s struggle to transfer
her earned pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree,
after spending her own life protecting the rights of victims
and putting her life on the line. Via email, Cynthia shares
her experiences directing “Freeheld” as well as her insights
as a documentary filmmaker. (see below to read article…)

From time to time I will contact you by email to inform you
of certain filmmaking workshops or film products that I feel
are beneficial to filmmakers like yourself. Of course, you
are under no obligation to purchase anything. I only offer
this information as a service to subscribers of this free

4) SHARE THIS EZINE – Share this Ezine by email and forward
it to your friends and associates.

5) SUGGESTIONS & COMMENTS – Send any comments, suggestions,
questions or advice to: mailto:comments@actioncutprint.com

6) REPRINT THIS EZINE – This Ezine may be reprinted with
permission. Email me at: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com



Peter D. Marshall

2. “The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar”
Upgraded 2008 Version


If your dream is to have a professional career as a
filmmaker but you don’t know where to begin, or you’re
having difficulties getting your films made, or you can’t
find creative work as a film director… you owe it to
yourself to check out the 2008 updated version of The Art
and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar.

This multimedia 10-Day online audio course is packed with
filmmaking tips, techniques and tools designed to help you
become a successful, working film & TV director.

All the information about the 10-Day “The Art and Craft of
the Director Audio Seminar,” including the content list,
audio files, support materials, free bonuses and how to
order, is available on my website for you to check out now.

I talk a lot about PASSION and TRUTH in this 10 day course
because these are two of the essential ingredients to having
a successful directing career.

I am very proud of this audio course and I guarantee that
anyone who listens to the entire 10 days will discover many
of the tools a working film director needs to survive today.

Here’s what you’ll receive when you order the 2008 updated
version of “The Art & Craft of the Director Audio Seminar”

1) a 162 page PDF eBook you can download to your computer
2) 26 audio files (wav & mp3) you can download
3) 28 links to videos you can watch
4) 3 audio interviews with industry professionals
5) 23 down-loadable PDF reports
6) 500 links to useful reference websites
7) a free 30 minute consultation with Peter D. Marshall
8) a free script review from script consultant Michael Adams
9) $100.00 off any of my Filmmaking Workshops
10) 100% risk-free one year money back guarantee

Here are comments from five subscribers who have
received their copies of this 10-Day audio seminar

“I got a copy of the The Art and Craft of the Director Audio
Seminar and ever since I take it with me all the time. It’s
become one of those things I jealously keep among my very
personal stuff. I listen to a few chapters every time I can
on the plane or before going to sleep, and I must say it is
a priceless piece of work full of great advice. Thanks a lot
Peter and please keep it up because you’re doing a great job
for all of us wanting to know more and more about
filmmaking.” Enrico Trippa, advertising film director,

“Great resource and extremely well done. As a working film
professional I am constantly learning more about my craft
and honing my skills. Your dedication and work is to be
congratulated.” Julian Grant, Toronto, Canada

“I’m so glad that you offered those of us who bought the
audio seminar last year the chance to download the updated
version this year. Your courses have given me the confidence
— and steadily increase my desire and fuel my passion — to
make films as a director. Thank you, Peter. It’s a wonderful
gift that you offer.” Larry D. Barr, Texas, USA

“Now this is what I call customer “DELIGHT”. Thank you so
much for the updated version. I know, any input from your
side is worth a film school.” Amar, India

“Peter offers his years of experience in a clear and
comprehensive package that was very enjoyable.  It covers
everything I need to direct my own project and will act as
resource material for the years  to come.  I recommend this
course for anyone who is already in, or who wants to get
into directing.” Joe Vautour – Athens, Greece


3. BLOG – Film Directing Tips and Resources Blog

Take a look at my Film Directing Blog and post some
filmmaking tips or add some resources. And please, make some
comments on the posts – your feedback is important to me
because they will help me decide on the content I will add
to this blog.
Blog – http://filmdirectingtips.com/
RSS – http://filmdirectingtips.com/wp-rss.php

Here are some of the latest blog entries I have made:

– 4 Tips to Success in the Film and TV Business
– 10 Tips to Help Educate Yourself about Film Directing
– The Three Types of Film Director (Which one are you?)
– Three Famous Film Directors Speak Out
– 4 Steps to Creating Good Scene Transitions
– Envisioning Russia : A Century of Filmmaking
– Why Directors Must Understand Editing (Montage)
– Is There a Definition for “Making a Movie?”

4. The Director’s Chair FACEBOOK Page

I have published the Director’s Chair for 8 years now and it
has been a very rewarding and enriching experience. I have
met and chatted with filmmakers from around the world and
together we have fueled our filmmaking passion.

But sending an ezine out once a month is a very one sided
form of communication. So I have decided to take steps to
create a “Social Network” for subscribers of The Director’s

I started this step a few months ago with the Filmmakers
Discussion Forum (see below for more info.) And now I have
created a Facebook page for ezine subscribers.

If you haven’t signed up to Facebook, I sincerely recommend
you think about doing it. Facebook is a fabulous place to
meet people who share your passions and it is one of the top
Social Networking sites on the Internet today.

Here’s the Facebook home page: http://www.facebook.com

Once you are signed up, type in “The Directors Chair” and
the page should come up. Sign up as a fan and then start to
join the discussion forums, post photos, videos and write on
the Walls.

If you are already a member of Facebook, here is the direct
link to the page:

See you there!


Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
themselves, their company or their productions in this
section. If you are interested, send your “shameless
self-promotion” to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com.

Please limit your promotion to less than 200 words. I also
reserve the right to edit the promotion for length, spelling
and formatting.

1) Daniel Avery  – I am a Jack of All Trades guerrilla movie
maker from Northeastern Colorado, USA. I am an Eagle scout
in Boy Scouts and am finishing up a one year certificate
from my local community college in Video/TV Production. I
have worked in Radio and formatted two TV pilot scripts
which have been reviewed in Canada and Australia. I have
made movies in many genres including Action, Comedy,
Suspense and Documentary. My strengths are Sound/Foley,
Editing, Scriptwriting and Graphics/Animation. I am looking
for a summer job in movie making. I am the PERFECT WORKER:
Single, Will Travel, Just Out of College, Knows how to do
ALL JOBS from Scriptwriting/Storyboarding to
Graphics/Animation. I know Many Varied Software from Final
Cut to Windows MovieMaker. I have built myself a website at
http://mexenzoaiire.angelfire.com which shows my not so
basic knowledge of HTML. Check it out and Please Hire Me!
mailto: mailto:mexenzoaiire@gmail.com

2) Akinyemi Akinniyi – I am into filmmaking. I write
stories, act, rap, produce and at the same time learn to
become a movie director. I am in my mid twenties, male from
Nigeria and here is my contact information: Cell phone
number is +2348082127555 mailto:snoopweedmail@yahoo.co.uk


“Subscriber Links of Interest” is where you can further
promote yourself, your company or your productions by having
your information displayed on a special links page at:

If you are a subscriber to this ezine and you want me to put
your self-promotion on this page, just send an email to:

Again, I also reserve the right to edit the promotion for
length and formatting.

7. FEATURE ARTICLE – A Conversation with Cynthia Wade

“A Conversation with Cynthia Wade” by Stephanie Riggs

With her short documentary film “Freeheld” winning the 2008
Academy Award for Documentary Short, Cynthia Wade has
brought the hot-button topic of same-sex marriage equality
into everyday households. The film chronicles Detective
Lieutenant Laurel Hester’s struggle to transfer her earned
pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, after
spending her own life protecting the rights of victims and
putting her life on the line. Via email, Cynthia shares her
experiences directing “Freeheld” as well as her insights as
a documentary filmmaker.

Q: How did you begin to get involved with the history of
Laurel and Stacie?

I read a newspaper article about Laurel Hester’s situation.
When I read that Hester’s domestic partner Stacie Andree, an
auto mechanic, could potentially lose their house without
Hester’s pension, I understood immediately the great risk
that they faced. I decided to attend a community meeting
where local activists were confronting the county officials,
who are called Freeholders.  I brought two cameras, two
assistants and release forms.  I didn’t know what would
happen.  The dramatic meeting that unfolded in front of my
eyes was a staggering experience.

Q: Why did you decide to shoot this documentary?

As a filmmaker, I am attracted to tough stories about
controversial issues.  The stories are usually told through
the eyes of strong female characters.  Laurel Hester’s story
was compelling to me on many levels: she was a female police
detective in a male-dominated world; she had helped solve
many cases such as a double homicide; she was dying of
cancer; she was in love with Stacie and just wanted to pass
her pension to her.  Time was running out.  There was a
sense of urgency and purpose to the story.

Q: What steps did you take for financial backing?

Laurel’s health was declining so rapidly that there was no
time for fundraising while she was alive. I needed to be
with her as much as possible. I met Laurel on December 7,
2005 and she died on February 18, 2006, so I only had ten
weeks with her.  This was a film that had to be pursued
without a clear funding path and no guarantee for release.

Q: What are the challenges and benefits of being a director
who is also the cinematographer?

The main benefit of being a cinematographer is that I don’t
have to raise immediate money to hire someone to shoot my
films – I can start shooting right away.  This has
definitely allowed me to pursue stories and capture scenes
that otherwise I would have lost if I had needed to rely on
a crew.  The main challenge to being both a director and a
cinematographer, however, is that it can be exhausting to
light, shoot, set up sound and direct simultaneously, and
also try to raise the money for additional crew members.

Q: What cameras did you use to shoot “Freeheld”?

I shot on a large-format DVCAM camera (Sony DSR 450, which
is a newer, more flexible version of the Sony DSR 570 – it
shoots true 16:9 and 24p as well as 4×3, 60i).   Our back-up
cameras were the Sony DSR 300, the Panasonic 100A, and for
additional cutaways in the community meetings, the Sony PD
150.  Because of the mix of formats, I decided to stick with
conventional 4×3.  I gave Laurel and Stacie my favorite
littlest camera – a Sony PC 1, which is a little palmcorder
and easy to shoot video diary footage.  I often give my
documentary subjects a small camera so that they can shoot
some of the film themselves; in this way, it becomes a

Q: You lived with them for eight weeks. How was that

Intense.  Heartbreaking.  Extremely moving.  Upsetting.
Inspiring.  I felt an enormous responsibility in telling
Laurel’s story.

Q: What was your post-production process like for this film?

After Laurel died, I continued filming and began to look for
an editor.  It took seven months to edit “Freeheld”.  In
total, production was 13 months, which is very short for a
documentary. I worked with one main editor, David Teague,
but relied on additional editors for perspective and
feedback. Towards the end of post-production, I hired a
supervising editor (David Mehlman, who edited the 2006
Oscar-winning short film “The Moon and the Son”). It was
easy to lose perspective when working with the material, and
we struggled between how much this would be a personal love
story versus a political battle, so we needed many opinions.
There were lots of vigorous discussions in the editing room.

I also kept coming back to what Laurel would have wanted.
She died in February 2006, and we started editing in April
2006, so I was constantly asking myself, “Would Laurel be
happy with this?”  That helped me as a guide.

Q: How was the majority of the $350,000 cost for this film

The majority was for editing costs.  It really takes a long
time to make a story feel natural.  In the end, with a good
film, the editing appears so simple, like “of course it
would be cut that way.”   But for months there are false
starts and bad edits, and it feels awkward and clumsy.  It’s
the time needed to edit that I find can be the most
expensive. My other major post-production costs were the
musical score, the musicians, our sound mix, an animated
map, the color correct, and later, I made three 35mm prints.

Q: What system did you edit “Freeheld” on?

We edited on Final Cut Pro to create a locked DVCAM master,
which we upconverted to HD at a post house.  Later, we made
three 35mm prints from the HD master.

Q: Tell us about being accepted to Sundance.

It was a bit crazy – When the rough cut was accepted into
Sundance, which hadn’t happened before for me, I had no
money to finish it or get on a plane. I owed my editor and
sound mixers a lot of money.  We decided that the best hope
for funds was to get the film out into the world and share
Laurel’s story with people. I got the commitment for my
first two major grants just weeks before the Sundance
premiere. At the 8:30am screening in Park City, there was a
funder in the audience and 48 hours later I got a text with
a significant commitment. From then on, I was able to raise
additional funds, pay back the production debt and then
raise the money for our Oscar qualifying run.  So the gamble
paid off.

Q: How did Oscar qualification limit, if at all, your
distribution options with the film?

The rules for qualifying the film for Oscar consideration
held us back from making traditional television deals in
2007.  We needed to have a legitimate theatrical release
first, which we did by choosing cities where LGBT equality
is at stake so that we could use the screenings as a
teaching tool.  We screened the film theatrically in eight
cities where there is an ongoing struggle for equality.

Q: How do you think Laurel would feel about the film being
nominated for the Academy Award for the best short

Making a feature length documentary would have been
difficult because I only had ten weeks with Laurel when she
was alive.  I thought we could craft a strong short but then
I wondered what kind of impact it would have since short
documentaries traditionally don’t get wide release.  So
qualifying Oscar consideration in the short documentary
category was a tactic in giving Laurel’s story — and the
plight of so many gay and lesbian couples in the U.S. who
are being denied their civil rights – a platform leading up
to a national election year.  The Oscar run couldn’t be the
end goal – the outreach and impact needed to be the end

Q: What does winning an Academy Award mean for your future
as a filmmaker?

It was an incredible experience to go to the Academy Awards.
It was a bit like going to the moon – surreal and dreamlike
and also a little terrifying.   It’s still a little too
early to tell how the Oscar will affect my future, but I
hope it will give me more freedom and access to make the
next independent film.  I am actively researching topics now
and also directing commissioned projects.

Q: Do you have any advice on how to be successful reaching a
wider audience for other filmmakers with similar goals for
their issue-based films?

I think before you are even in production you need to think
about your target audience. Where do you want your film to
go?  To whom do you want to speak?  With “Freeheld”, I felt
that Laurel & Stacie’s relationship could potentially open
the hearts and minds of men and women who have never
considered the issue of Gay & Lesbian Equality. Laurel says
it best at the end of the film: “People like Stacie and I
are just average people. We’re just average people that have
a home and a couple of dogs and pay our taxes. And we just
wanted everything to be equal.”

I am always thinking about the release pattern for my films
from an early stage.  Is the film best as a television
special?  Is it a theatrical experience?  Is it an
educational piece?  Once that is determined, then many other
answers fall into place – the length of the film, where to
seek funding, the shooting and editing styles, and what kind
of shooting format to use.

Q: What do you find to be the most difficult part of being a
documentary filmmaker? The most exciting?

The most difficult part is the not knowing where things will
lead – not knowing where the story will take you, not
knowing how you will find the money, not knowing the
outcome.  However, it’s the most exciting part as well. All
of it is like a treasure hunt.  There’s something so
exciting about making something out of nothing.  Yes, the
hunt for money can be demoralizing, and yes, it can take
years.  But, to me, trying all these doors is like in Alice
in Wonderland.  Eventually, one of those doors opens and you
slide down the rabbit hole.  That’s really exciting to me —
I love that part. When a new film takes you by the
shoulders, looks you straight in eye and starts demanding
“You have to make me!” – Well, when that happens, you have
no choice. You are off and running!

“Freeheld” will be broadcast on Cinemax on June 4th, 2008 with
several re-broadcasts in the months leading to the
elections. The expanded DVD will be available Summer 2008.
More information about “Freeheld”, including local
screenings listings, is available at http://www.freeheld.com

Stephanie Riggs has directed and produced theatre and film
productions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and
New York. Her producing credits range from television pilots
and independent films to the critically-acclaimed live
comedy show “The Ian Bagg Show”, which attracted guests such
as Chris Rock and Jim Gaffigan. As a director, Stephanie’s
theatre work has ranged from developing the work of emerging
playwrights at the Playwrights Center of San Francisco to
directing World Premieres of Academy-Award winning writers
Off-Off Broadway. The independent films she has directed,
including the sensational feature documentary “Some Assembly
Required” and narrative short “Bystander”, have won awards
and screened all over the world. As a freelance
entertainment consultant, she has developed content for
Disney Creative Entertainment, HBO, and Louie Anderson’s 33
Productions. Stephanie continues to consult multi-million
dollar entertainment ventures while directing a
feature-length documentary on an Arizona prison escape
through her production company, Sunchaser Entertainment.

8. Want to Write an Article for The Director’s Chair?

If you would like to contribute articles, tips, links of
interest, industry news, interviews, special event dates or
other resources to The Director’s Chair, please email me at:

9. Internet Marketing (Workshops/Products) for Filmmakers

I’m creating some workshops and related products for
filmmakers on how to use Internet Marketing techniques for
promotion… BUT I need to know what filmmakers like
yourself want to know about using the Internet (and
especially social networking sites such as Facebook,
MySpace, Squidoo, YouTube etc.) for marketing and promoting
yourself or your films.

By participating in a quick survey of four questions, you
will help me decide on the content for my Internet Marketing
for Filmmakers website.

To help me out, could you please visit my Squidoo webpage at
http://www.squidoo.com/internetmarketingforfilmmakers and
participate in a quick poll of four questions.

1. Why do you want to know about Internet Marketing?
2. Do you have your own website or blog?
3. Which social networking website do you like the best?
4. Have you ever posted a Video or Demo Reel on YouTube?

Also, can I add you to my Internet Marketing mailing list?

This will enable me to contact only those subscribers who
are interested in using the internet (particularly Social
Networking Sites) for marketing and promotion.

If you want to find out more on how to use Internet
Marketing for promoting yourself or your films, click below
to get on my mailing list and to receive a free ebook called
“The Multi-Layered Mindset of Web 2.0 Marketing” describing
the evolution of Web 2.0. Click Here: mailto:imfm@aweber.com

10. Filmmaking News, Websites, Articles and Events

1) Spike Lee is teaming up with Nokia to direct a movie
pieced together from user-generated cell phone video
footage. “You are seeing first hand the democratization of
film,” Lee said in a statement on Thursday. “Aspiring
filmmakers no longer have to go to film school to make great
work. With a simple mobile phone, almost anyone can now
become a filmmaker.”

2) Soundsnap – a new online resource for free sounds that
features over 30.000 royalty free, high quality sounds,
samples & loops, that are created by our users.

3) Festival Cine en Corto – We would like to invite you to
participate in our IV Tamaulipas International Short Film
Festival Cine en Corto ’08. This year we have more than
$6,000 Dolars in prizes. You can also win our innovator
prize NICE TRY, this award is for the short film who doesn’t
win but was close. http://www.cineencorto.com/

4) Free Teleseminar (21 Powerful Rewrite Strategies) – Some
rewrite strategies improve a script by 5%.  Others can make
a 100% improvement.   Writer/Producer Hal Croasmun presents
21 professional rewrite strategies his production company
uses before submitting scripts to Studios.
When – Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 11 AM Pacific time.
For info or to sign up, go to

5) THE ART OF PITCHING  by Syd Field –  Make no mistake;
pitching is an art. Every screenplay begins with an idea and
if you want to write a screenplay based on your idea, then
the chances are you’re going to have to pitch it to someone;
it could be a producer, a director, a production executive,
an agent or anyone in the business.

11. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum

The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum.

Ask film directing questions, submit your website for
review, post film and television directing links, share film
making tips and special events or just keep in touch with
other filmmakers from “The Director’s Chair.”

This forum is for subscribers of “The Director’s Chair”
only, so you will have to register in order to post
questions, give answers or add links. All you can do without
registering is read the posts.

Please visit this new forum now, sign up and take a look
around. http://www.actioncutprint.com/smf/index.php

12. FILMMAKING WORKSHOPS – Peter D. Marshall

I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over
34 years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First
Assistant Director and Series Creative Consultant. I’ve been
asked many times to share my Film and TV production
knowledge with others. As a result, I developed several
workshops that I have successfully presented over the past
15 years.

To find out more about these workshops, just click on the
link below. If you are interested in any of these four
workshops for yourself or your organization, please contact
me to discuss how we can bring these workshops to you.


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Peter D. Marshall
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