David Koutsouridis’s (Screenwriting – B.A. ’15) The Out Crowd: Tales of High School will run Friday, April 24th and Saturday, April 25th at the Santa Monica Playhouse. The Out Crowd is a series of one-act comedic plays set at the offbeat public high school of Fairview High. Each play centers on students at Fairview, and the social issues they encounter, such as bullying and weight struggles, as they try to find their place in the world.
Australian native Koutsouridis, the author of Life is Too Short To Be Fat, a book based on his experiences of overcoming childhood obesity and high school bullying, drew from personal events for the play. He collaborated with fellow classmates on the production, recruiting Jennevie Olivieri (Screenwriting – M.F.A. ’15) as co-producer, Bernard Badion (Screenwriting – M.F.A. ’15) and Nick Hurley (Screenwriting – B.A. ’15) as directors, and alum Justin Small (Screenwriting – B.A. ’14) as one of the actors.
Proceeds from The Out Crowd will go to My Friend’s Place, a charity that helps L.A.’s homeless youth build self-sufficient lives. “This cause is very dear to my heart, and having done extensive homeless charity work in Australia, I know how much of a difference a helping hand can make. Since arriving in Los Angeles, I have been searching for ways to continue my charity work, and that’s how The Out Crowd came into fruition,” said Koutsouridis. “I am hoping these plays not only shine light on the forgotten outcasts, but also on LA’s homeless youth, who all deserve a chance to live out their potential.”
The Out Crowd: Tales of High School
Friday, April 24th and Saturday, April 25th, 7:30pm
Santa Monica Playhouse
$5 tickets with discount code LMU2015
Purchase tickets here
The animation student and co-founder of the LMU Cinema Club talks to LogLines about serving as the first-ever U.S. student representative on a special jury at FICG.
What were you doing in Guadalajara? I was offered the chance through the film school to participate as a juror in the Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG) over ten days in March. Specifically, I was serving on the Mezcal Jury, which is a jury of students, both local and international, that selects the best feature Mexican film from those screened at the festival, including documentary, animation and live action. This award is considered the biggest at the festival, as it honors the festival’s beginnings; this was the 30th edition of FICG, which began less as a festival and more of a celebration of the best of Mexican cinema from the year. So as the festival has grown from its local roots to become internationally recognized, this award maintains its original intent.
How many films did you watch? Can you translate that into minutes? We had a little over a week to watch 21 films, plus a few more on the side that I got to see out-of-competition. So at the very least that’s a couple thousand minutes.
That’s a lot of time in a dark theater. The first film would typically be around 9 or 9:30 a.m., and the next after a short break. I’d usually use that time to get down any thoughts on the previous film before jumping into the next – some days we’d watch as many as four in a day, so note-taking was important in order to return to the films later after having watched so many more. Once we’d seen a good block of films, the jury would convene to choose a couple of films that would be contenders in our final vote at the end of the week. While that kept us busy most of the day, we did have many evenings free, so we could use the time to go out for dinner, see the city some, and attend some of the parties.
Thirty international students debated the merits of each of these films? That seems like a large group. How was the critique managed and how did you deal with the language barrier? It definitely is a large group – and that was one of our concerns, since it does make discussions harder to manage. The way the jury is divided is that half come from Guadalajara – again to honor the local heritage of the festival – and the other half come from other parts of Mexico and other countries, mostly throughout Latin America. The language barrier wasn’t so bad. We chose early on that we should express our ideas in our own language, and we had an excellent translator with us so I was able to stay in the discussion throughout. Usually someone on the jury would volunteer as moderator, and would give the floor to whoever wanted to speak. The first meetings were definitely more discussion-based, and the final meeting was more structured; we reviewed the films we had selected so far, and then each made arguments for our top two choices until we felt ready to vote.
Did any key themes emerge among this group of Mexican films? Topics or styles that were favored, for example. Did anything surprise you? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the documentary films were among the best films we saw at the festival, which consistently delved into the more complex and rich themes of identity and memory. Violence was a consistent concern in the dramas, but perhaps most surprising were the soap-opera sensibilities of many of the comedies.
The jury selected 600 millas as the winner of the $40,000 prize. Was that your favorite film, too, and if so why? The jury named 600 millas Best Mexican Film of the festival, which according to the festival’s director was a surprising choice. I thought it was an accomplished film, a first feature from the film’s director, but I did not agree that it was the best film of the festival.
Can you tell us a bit about the film that you championed. Like I said, my favorite films were from the documentaries; Shih was one in particular that I championed, which was an intimate direct cinema study on a young Taiwanese-Venezuelan woman reuniting with her father after their long separation. It’s a film that deals with the fragility of relationships, especially in the globalized world we live in today. It’s an authentic and deeply-felt film, not at all sentimental, and one that I would definitely recommend seeking out.
Were you the “lone wolf” for this film, or were other jurors also fans? I was particularly vocal about Shih, but definitely not the only supporter. We gave two films a special mention, this and another, Tiempo Suspendido, as the group was pretty evenly split on which should receive the mention.
Who are some of the filmmakers that have most influenced your work? I could go on and on. Some of my favorite films are from the silent comedy tradition: Keaton, Chaplin, Tati, Etaix, etc. Their particular approach to character and storytelling through movement has been a valuable lesson for me in my own films, and an approach that is wonderfully suited for animation.
What was the weirdest thing that happened to you while you were in Guadalajara? Being considered an expert on U.S. issues was very strange. I found myself explaining many things from the three branches of U.S. government, Indian reservations, and the California drought.
This was your first time in Mexico. What are some lasting impressions of the country that you will cherish? Guadalajara was without exception one of the most welcoming and hospitable places I have ever been to. I was very lucky to have had some free time to go with a few of my fellow jurors into various parts of the city and get a better sense of the place. Some of the sights there, including the murals at the Hospicio Cabañas and the architectural beauty of the Teatro Degollado were truly breathtaking. As is usually the case, what is really the best part of the trip are the people who I met. My fellow jurors were terrific and close companions throughout my stay. One of my professors, Jose Garcia-Moreno, flew down for a few days as well and introduced me to a close community of professional animators from the area, which was wonderful. And on that last night, I had the chance to meet the directors of Shih. They were both incredibly excited about the special mention, and I spent time chatting with them about their new projects
LMU School of Film and Television is a Community Sponsor of FICG in LA, a regional extension of the Guadalajara International Film Festival, which brings the best of contemporary Mexican and Latin American cinema to the Egyptian Theatre for its fifth year, from August 27 to August 30, 2015.
Mike Salomon (WPTV – M.F.A. ’16), a writer and producer on the recently premiered LMU created web series Starstuck, is at it again.
Salomon landed a job as a writer’s PA on comedy sketch series With Bob and David under Bob Odenkirk and David Cross that was picked up by Netflix last week.
Odenkirk and Cross, the Better Call Saul and Arrested Development stars, describe the reboot of their 1995 sketch comedy series Mr. Show With Bob and David: “After being dishonorably discharged from the Navy SEAL, Bob and David are back serving our country the way they do best: making sketch comedy,” according to Deadline Hollywood.
Salomon’s friend, an assistant to one of the executive producers of the show, told Salomon of the opportunity thinking he’d be a good fit. Without much knowledge of the job, Salomon applied, was offered the job and started working on the show the following Monday.
“It was very much a right place/right time situation. The turnaround to when the show got greenlit to when the writers started working was about three days,” says Salomon.
Salomon’s other accomplishments include publishing two short plays within the past year, winning first prize in the half-hour spec category of the Final Draft Big Break Contest and a 12-week fellowship with New York Film Academy.
Big news! On January 20, 2015, Joe England’s film The Last Man(s) on Earth will be released on iTunes, Xbox, Hulu, Amazon, Amazon Prime, GooglePlay, Dish Network Video On Demand and Vimeo Video on Demand. England (Screenwriting – M.F.A. ’16) is the producer and co-creator of this action-comedy film which began as a series of nine webisodes on YouTube in 2011. The film was an official selection at the 2012 Austin Film Festival, and also screened at the American Film Market, QuirkFest and Salt Lake Comic Con.
In The Last Man(s) on Earth, Kaduche and Wynn are survival experts who share their tips–learned primarily from disaster movies–on YouTube. The film follows Kaduche, Wynn, their nemesis Marcus, their dream girl Violet and the visionary known as Oracle. Together, the team must fight groups such as terrorists, Russian communists and zombies to save the world from destruction. However, they soon realize that they may be doing more harm than good.
The film features several familiar faces. Brady Bluhm, who plays Wynn, played the role of Billy the Blind Kid in Dumb and Dumber and was the voice of Christopher Robin in the Winnie the Pooh movies. Andrea Ciliberti, who plays Violet, is the former Miss Missouri USA and has starred in the reality TV show Beauty and the Geek.
In addition to VOD, The Last Man(s) on Earth will be available on DVD through a deal with Wal-Mart and Amazon, beginning April 1, 2015.