Wonder Women In Film

The 2017 release of Warner Bros. Pictures “Wonder Woman” was a step forward from the most unexpected of genre. We always expect some out of the festival, artistic, dramatic, noir filled film to demonstrate the counter to the standard action blockbuster dominating theater release calendars since the 3D boom. Yet here we were presented with everything that should have frustrated us about how a woman’s strengths are portrayed in film through this in your face, kick ass explosion! How did a film fueled by the often objectified portrayal of women in the comic book genre project a non-sexualized, equalized portrayal of a woman? It happened because they were smart enough to ensure women were in key roles and more importantly and obvious from the result, they listened too!

 
Image courtesy refinery29.com / Warner Bros.

Image courtesy refinery29.com / Warner Bros.

 

With women such as Director Patty Jenkins, Executive Producer Rebecca Steel Roven and many more attached to the project, there occurs an inescapable authenticity to the portrayal the character takes on screen. An article we shared in June 2017 by Caitlin Flynn “Wonder Woman's Thigh Jiggled On Screen & Here's Why That's Such A Big Deal” gives a great discussion of this in further detail, noting one male blogger as commenting about the film:

“Tumblr user Creative Words, Powerful Ideas wrote an eloquent post that perfectly summed up why the film is so powerful. “Watching a super hero movie directed by a woman is like putting glasses on for the first time," the user wrote."

These are the moments when bars are set, new standards unfold and it is vital that contributors to film on all levels step up and carry the momentum forward. That is exactly what ASE is all about…momentum…for women. It’s long past time when women in general and women in film specifically are recognized for the amazing work they do and are capable of.

We’re not “anti-men” by any stretch of the imagination even though we are a woman-owned and operated company. Though we are pretty much over the good ol’ boys club that is Hollywood. We want to give a leg up to women in the industry, but not just women, anyone who wants to advance within our company can have that opportunity, regardless of their gender.

While we have begun to stir the pot a bit, there are still folks out there that tell us “that’s not how it’s done.” Well, I’m here to tell you to get the hell over it. ANYONE who wants to learn, be great at what they do, advance, do what they love or learn it all has that opportunity here.

We have the momentum and drive that keeps the wheels turning and we’ll keep it going come hell or high water. Our collective spirit is one of fire, determination and setting new standards by which other companies will one day aspire to implement. So have at it. Dare to be great. Dare to be the best you can possibly be because you deserve it. YOU are a shining star and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Keep the momentum. Be a Wonder Woman!


Contributed by:

Kathleen Messmer
Managing Partner and CEO - Anvil Springs Entertainment

Kathleen has worked in the film and television industry for nearly two decades and holds a degree in film from one of the nation's’ top universities.  
Her long career in the industry has seen her working on a wide range of films with budgets both large and small, building a thorough understanding of all aspects of any film project. She has also worked alongside Oscar-winning producers, directors and actors. 

See more of Kathleen's creative work in photography here.  

Carey Rose O'Connell
Producer of Marketing & DIstribution

Carey Rose O'Connell began developing her independent brand through writing in 2011 and since this time has expanded a communications focus to include teaching, documentary filmmaking and social media consultation. She has supported multiple profit and not for profit organizations with social media strategy planning, campaign development and demographic performance analysis. Carey supports Anvil Springs Entertainment as P.M.D for ongoing distribution and marketing development as well as coordinates communication strategies and timelines for the company's brand mission; including all its current film projects through social media and organizational partnerships.

Learn more about the works of Carey Rose O'Connell

An EXPOnential Experience!

I recently attended the 2017 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, NV., my first convention of this kind and what an experience it was! Each year thousands of agents, representatives and eager entrepreneurs descend into three days of fast pitch meetings and burning out their fitbit step counts!

As the Producer of Marketing & Distribution for ASE it was time for me to jump in and walk the miles of meet and greet to see what opportunities and ideas were in store for our brand projects. And so we arrived in Las Vegas knowing that we would leave with, at the very least, experience.

 
 

Reading my previous blogs, you know my experience in communications brought me to film and so I get the great pleasure of learning as I add my expertise. This visit was no exception! My background in communications and, well frankly joy of random conversations, made the room workable, even if I didn't know what I was doing.

I was struck by the amount of product that was being pitched and the scale of the displays mapped about the convention center. Generally film companies will attend this type of conventions to talk product placement and merchandising opportunities for feature film projects. We made these contacts, but in our typical fashion also made new connections that opened up ideas of partnerships not previously explored. 

While many would rightfully feel overwhelmed, I saw potential in all the chaos. Its through connections that our passions become reality. We never do anything alone and in this sea of new possibilities I could see elements that would help our passions come into reality. 

 
 

What I love and embrace about being part of the ASE team is that we never see anything as failure because we never walk into anything with expectations. We understand that each connection needs to unfold how it will and there is always a gain from the experience. Attending this expo was no different and we made many great connections with people across a variety of sectors. These connections are now in our book and available as we continue to establish ourselves as an evolutionary in-house production company in film. 

And for me...I am looking forward to 2018 when the Licensing Expo heads to China!


Contributed By

Carey Rose O'Connell began developing her independent brand through writing in 2011 and since this time has expanded a communications focus to include teaching, documentary filmmaking and social media consultation. She has supported multiple profit and not for profit organizations with social media strategy planning, campaign development and demographic performance analysis. Carey supports Anvil Springs Entertainment as P.M.D for ongoing distribution and marketing development as well as coordinates communication strategies and timelines for the company's brand mission; including all its current film projects through social media and organizational partnerships.

Learn more about the works of Carey Rose O'Connell

The Next Impossible!

leomeme.jpg

How many times have you heard…”that’s impossible!” How many times have you come to a dead stop because you believed it? How many times have you said…”watch me!” Have you ever thought…”well, maybe for you, not for me.” THAT’S the difference. The difference between accepting mediocrity and becoming extraordinary!

Bear in mind that I’m not talking about being an egomaniac or thinking you’re better than everyone else. I’m talking about being someone who would rather be successful with others than fight alone. One that can see working creatively and cooperatively yields a greater success in their efforts. That very vision is the foundation for our ASE team!

As the saying goes…”there is no I in TEAM” and we implement that culture to the nth degree. Language that binds us, blinds us. "We've always done it this or that way" or "It's notoriously difficult to do" are phrases we shudder to hear at ASE! We erase this negativity from the very language in our culture, in fact, we re-visit our work in ways that we create new methods before the thought of being stuck in a current "way" can even occur.

"How can this be better received?", "Is there a better way to demonstrate this?", "Let's freshen up the language on this." are all common phrases in our team culture. This greatly aids our ability to be flexible and in balance, reducing "crisis response" experiences plaguing most corporate team environments. 

So - the next time someone tells you “it’s impossible” just smile and stay the course. Follow your path to get where you want to be. You’ll not only be better for it, you’ll feel better because you put your best self into the world. 


Contributed by:
Kathleen Messmer
Managing Partner and CEO - Anvil Springs Entertainment

Kathleen has worked in the film and television industry for nearly two decades and holds a degree in film from one of the nation's’ top universities.  

Her long career in the industry has seen her working on a wide range of films with budgets both large and small, building a thorough understanding of all aspects of any film project. She has also worked alongside Oscar-winning producers, directors and actors. 

See more of Kathleen's creative work in photography here. 

How Did I Get Here?

When I was a kid I lied a lot. Or at the very least I took great pleasure in the fine art of exaggeration, and still do to this day, to a certain degree. Not that I enjoy lying, though in our current moment in time when phrases like “alternative facts” are part of our accepted vernacular, I suppose being a lair isn’t considered all that bad any more. But I digress…

Exaggeration! That was my point. As a child, I exaggerated to make my stories better, which, in all fairness, is something you have to do as a kid if you want your story to be at least half way interesting. Unless you’re like a prodigy or a Rwandan boy solider, no kid really has anything all that interesting to say, but once again, I digress…

Why am I telling you about how full of shit I was as child? Well, because when I was asked to write a blog about my experiences as writer, to be honest my experiences are rather limited. I’ve have optioned two screenplays, which is very cool, but the experiences writing each of them were very similar. Just me, in my bedroom, huddled over a laptop while loud music plays, not too dissimilar to the way a goth teenager writes their poetry.

I’m no Hemmingway, I don’t wake at dawn and drink a tumbler of scotch as I stand naked at my type writer, writing pages and pages of lean and honest pros before heading to the local tavern for more drinking and god willing a decent fight.

George Carlin once said that his job was “thinking up goofy shit.” And if I’m being honest, that’s the kind of writer I am. Not that I only write silly nonsensical stuff, but I like to think up goofy shit and write an honest, funny story.

So as far as my experiences as a writer, well I’ll have to have a few more. Then I can write another blog, and hopefully fill it with some goofy shit and a decent amount of exaggerations.


Cory Sayers is an extraordinary up and coming screenwriter based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Anvil Springs Entertainment optioned “Meeting Charlie”, his first feature length screenplay, which started out as a short he wrote while he was still attending the film program at the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco, in 2011. “Meeting Charlie” and “Burning Henry” his second screenplay, optioned in 2014, were inspired by his love of the smaller, more character driven comedies of the late sixties and seventies. 

 
 
 

Tripling Our Boundaries

When we chose to implement a structure using a Triple Bottom Line accounting method, measuring success for People, Planet and Profit, it felt like the simplest, most obvious way to create an authentic work environment that enhanced the lives of our team and community. Based on stunned and confused looks on many of the faces, it has become clear that we are definitely charting new territory in our journey and we gratefully accept the challenge of drawing this new map!

It is time business changes and evolves in the way it relates to the individuals that they employ. Change can bring about great fear in a system, organization, community and individual. And these fears do not give us permission to not pursue new ways, different methods and experience an evolution of thinking. Here’s a quote from Brian P. Morgan who wrote The 12 Week Year: “Your vision should be big enough that it makes you feel at least a little bit uncomfortable”.

I say yes indeed to that! If you’re not stepping out of your box at least some of the time, how do you know what you’re capable of? Even more important, how do you grow? Are you sitting around doing the same thing day in and day out hoping for different or better results? It’s just common sense that if you’re not stretching your boundaries and your comfort zone, how do you KNOW what you can do? Have you reached your full potential?

 
 

People who want to stretch beyond their borders, learn new things, ACCOMPLISH more, need to come on over to the bright side. We love you guys! Show us what you’re capable of, that you want to learn, that you want to go beyond whatever goals you have set for yourself. What have you done? Or not done?

Here’s another quote from Brian…"It's not WHAT you know, it's not even WHO you know, It's what you IMPLEMENT that counts.” Here at Anvil Springs, we are taking on this new dynamic to show that earning profits year over year can happen while creating joy and growth in the lives of all those that work with and through us!

We’re constantly looking for people with unrealized or latent talent. So, what have you planned and implemented? Are you proud of it? Could it have been better? Do you want a do-over? Do you have new ideas that others say are not feasible? Did they tell you why or were they just putting you down to make themselves feel better because they didn’t think of it? Are you reinventing yourself? 

We definitely know how you feel! We are underway in our efforts to innovate and evolve the engagement of relationships in business and can relate. People say it can't be done, there are many unrealized potentials and pitfalls, we are implementing a revolutionary model as a new business...the list could go on and on! It is all worth it to show the power of CAN, the greatness of imagination and the evoltion of finding the answer to WHAT IF?

So here, we are a judgement-free zone. If you have a cool idea, let’s hear it. If you have a dream of working in film and need some advice, ask! If we can, we’ll help you realize it…as long as it’s legal and planet friendly. So open your mind, let it flow. S-T-R-E-T-C-H yourself. Break out of those boundaries and set yourself free. Make yourself uncomfortable and live on the other side of the unknowns! 


Explore your future today and check out our Investor Relations and Sales Agent positions posted on Stage32!


Contributed by:
Kathleen Messmer
Managing Partner and CEO - Anvil Springs Entertainment  

Kathleen has worked in the film and television industry for nearly two decades and holds a degree in film from one of the nation's’ top universities.  Her long career in the industry has seen her working on a wide range of films with budgets both large and small, building a thorough understanding of all aspects of any film project. She has also worked alongside Oscar-winning producers, directors and actors. 

See more of Kathleen's creative work in photography here. 

Patience and Fortitude - Our Speech Is Our Freedom

The Friday following the election, I was in New York City. I hopped out of my Uber ride, rounded the corner and ascended the steps of the epic New York City Library. Those lions are something to behold. But I’ll get back to that in a minute…

So there I was minding my own business, photographing the exterior of the library and I hear what sounds like chanting. I turn around and see literally thousands of protesters coming straight down Fifth Avenue. Whammo!…just like that, I found myself in the middle of a protest; one that had so many people in it that they closed Fifth Avenue for hours!

Just that morning I was watching CNN while I was having breakfast, seeing all the protests all over the country. I immediately texted my two boys warning them to be careful if they decided to attend any protests, and there I land in the middle of one. I was absolutely floored! Freedom of speech in this country is an ingrained right, something we take for granted. However, we are on the precipice of losing that very thing we hold so dear.

The majestic lions that lie in front of the New York City library are named Patience and Fortitude for what was believed at the time of their installation, qualities New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression. If the current political regime has its way, we’ll all be caged, or stoned, or worse, for saying what we really think in a public setting…or on social media…or at a party. How would that feel to you? Would you feel violated? Oppressed? Would you dare to challenge the system?

These are the very things that happen in our epic fantasy trilogy, The Q’ntana Trilogy. A story that transcends time and place. During the Bush era, our writer, Mark David Gerson, was often asked if he wrote The MoonQuest (part one of the Trilogy) as a metaphor for the then political situation in the U.S. The answer of course is no, it was in fact penned long before, in Canada(!), but it has become a story for our time…for all times.

In The MoonQuest, Toshar and his friends set out to end the tyranny in their land, to bring back the Moon’s light which has been extinguished because of the overwhelming sadness, oppression and pain that overshadows everything. It takes the courage, fortitude and patience of the entire group of travelers to accomplish their goal, but they ultimately succeed. Sound familiar?

We must be persistent and exhibit patience and fortitude to accomplish our goals. Be strong and stay the course, just like Toshar…

In the land of Q’ntana, only one bard’s imagination can end the tyranny…


Contributed by:
Kathleen Messmer
Managing Partner and CEO - Anvil Springs Entertainment  

Kathleen has worked in the film and television industry for nearly two decades and holds a degree in film from one of the nation's’ top universities.  Her long career in the industry has seen her working on a wide range of films with budgets both large and small, building a thorough understanding of all aspects of any film project. She has also worked alongside Oscar-winning producers, directors and actors. 

See more of Kathleen's creative work in photography here


Check out The Q'ntana Trilogy page for more information on this wonderful tale that will be a major motion picture by ASE! Don't wait to begin the journey and get The Q'ntana Trilogy books by Mark David Gerson today! 

My Film Landing

Film production is most certainly one of the last environments I would have thought I’d land in to use my talents and share my voice, yet here I am and so, it’s another example of why it’s better to live than to think!

I began my truest professional journey a mere six years ago (I make no apologies for being a late bloomer!), and found my inherent strengths in communication were greatly enhanced as I grew in creative writing. As any good indie writer does in modern time, I took to social media to dabble in free form self promotion and grew my education and skills in the various components that create an expanding online media brand. I was not intending the social media aspects of my efforts to become the forefront of my profession and felt it was moreso an accessible, affordable means to get my creative expression out into the world as I "figured out my grown up". 

As life often does my path had unexpected stones and what I had developed in skills with social media and communications opened an opportunity after I had the good fortune to meet our Managing Partner, Kathleen Messmer, at a dinner party. What began as a creative bond and friendship developed into an opportunity when I came on to the ASE team to support the development of a social media strategy for the brand and film projects in development. A speedy two years later my knowledge of the industry and role have expanded into the Producer of Marketing & Distribution.

I have experienced an environment that allowed me to learn and understand the film industry from both its long time systemic patterns while aiding in the creation of how, as a production company, we would change it. ASE is the only company in the film industry I could support with my efforts. It is my passion and personal mission to ensure I live out my time on the planet helping positively affect as many people as possible. Finding an individual like Kathleen that is bold enough to shift business modeling to a focus on People, Planet and Profit has proven, in itself, to be an ideal channel to exercise both my creative and human visions.

We are evolving in humanity to become more self-aware of our impacts, choices and influence. We are shifting into a time where it is not enough to do no harm, but one must live out their lives to extend themselves in healthy and beneficial ways personally and for all others. Film can tell the stories of this evolution while giving back to communities as it occurs. It is my joy to land seemingly as an alien in Hollywood and add to the new perspective of inclusivity, socially responsible filmmaking and storytelling with a purpose at Anvil Springs Entertainment.


Contributed by:

Carey Rose O'Connell began developing her independent brand through writing in 2011 and since this time has expanded a communications focus to include teaching, documentary filmmaking and social media consultation. She has supported multiple profit and not for profit organizations with social media strategy planning, campaign development and demographic performance analysis. Carey supports Anvil Springs Entertainment as P.M.D for ongoing distribution and marketing development as well as coordinates communication strategies and timelines for the company's brand mission; including all its current film projects through social media and organizational partnerships.

Learn more about the works of Carey Rose O'Connell

Hiding In The Numbers

The number of female directors, not only in Hollywood, but in the global film industry is nothing short of abysmal.  It’s a shame really, because there are astronomical numbers of talented women, who deserve to be working with equal opportunities in this industry. In fact, there is a great number of talented people that are greatly overlooked even in our new millennial times.  

Here are some statistics for you from a 2015 article by Shaunna Murphy (http://on.mtv.com/2dwtKDq) specifically focusing on opportunities for women directing in film. Between 2007 and 2014 only 1.9% of films were directed by women and in television it’s even worse - out of 220 shows (3500 episodes), the number was only 14%.  Even if they happen to be a female director who directs a blockbuster and make a ton of money on opening weekend, they may end up being paid LESS on their next job. Yep, I said it.   

What?!?!  How is this possible?  It occurs because there are not enough women who are directors to create demand. This lacking demand is due to female candidacy for directing opportunities being suppressed by long stemming bias in the selection process. Because women are considered a minority, they are lumped into the same category as men who are an ethnic minority. As you can imagine women of minority ethnicities find the industry nearly impossible and it is time that the limitations that impact minorities, both female, male, and gender end within film!

These needless limitations create the final glass ceiling all under-valued persons in business must shatter. The film business still stands in a classic “good old boys club” mentality. Any person who challenges it is likely to be “unofficially” blacklisted from work in their skill. Out of date bias and implicit fears by the “members” of the club still have a stronghold on much of the industry behaviors. The colorful impressions in the variety of perspectives by current minorities are hiding in the numbers, only earning enough positions for industry leaders to meet diversity quotas.  

It’s about time that we break apart the “norms” and stand up, not just for ourselves, but for the value of all people!  Love what you do?  Then do it!  I had a friend who, after telling me he was a former Psychotherapist turned Producer said, “if you want to do this job, jump in with both feet, swim really fast and don’t let anyone steal your power!”  So I did!  I never forgot his wise words and I certainly began the process of taking back my power.  Now, I NEVER let anyone tell me “you can’t do that!” When they do, I look at them and say, “really? Watch me.”  

I am exceedingly proud to be the Owner and Managing Partner of Anvil Springs Entertainment.  It is a woman owned and operated company and we consider everyone for positions they are not only qualified to do, or want to learn, but deserve.  If you work hard and do your job well, you will likely be hired by us.  Even if you’re a newbie, we offer on-the-job training to anyone who wants to learn.  Every key on our sets has a paid trainee, who, if they so choose, can rise up in the ranks and are valued for what they do.  Even if they begin in one department and decide it isn’t for them and want to try something else, I’m all for it.  Knowledge is power and we need to keep our power and use it to grow!  

So come and grow with us.  We’d love to have you!


You can read more about our Managing Partner, Kathleen Messmer, in a recently featured article via Forbes (http://bit.ly/2dc7iMn) for what we've already accomplished at ASE.


Contributed by:
Kathleen Messmer
Managing Partner and CEO - Anvil Springs Entertainment
 

Kathleen has worked in the film and television industry for nearly two decades and holds a degree in film from one of the nation's’ top universities.  Her long career in the industry has seen her working on a wide range of films with budgets both large and small, building a thorough understanding of all aspects of any film project. She has also worked alongside Oscar-winning producers, directors and actors. 

See more of Kathleen's creative work in photography here. 

Investing In Silver Screens

Recently reading the Theatrical Market Statistics for film in 2015 I was reassured that now is the time to invest in film! It’s a remarkable thing to say as just a few years back no one - and I mean no one - would touch film as a viable investment opportunity. Now, however, there are more banks financing film and television projects and more private money rushing to get in on the cash cow than ever! There’s so much money in fact that it outweighs the amount of quality talent available! The theatrical box office numbers are up a staggering 5% to $38 billion...yes, that’s with a "B" in 2015. On top of that, there is a rush to bankroll projects with budgets in the neighborhood of $20-$80 million. Which sounds great, though one has to wonder when looking into the numbers if chasing the big powerhouse budgets are the best way to go for film investors... 

Consider the U.S/Canada Box Office & Admission numbers annually. 3D (which the majority of current large budget films are producing in) remains stagnant at 15% of the market share after peaking briefly in 2009-2010 during the re-discovery of the 3D fan fare. These two markets had box office results totaling $11.1 billion in 2015 and 85%,or $9.4 billion, of the market share was generated from films that relied on the story not the effects. So how do these blockbuster budgets confuse the investor process when such a larger yield goes to non 3D films? It is the allure of bigger being better and the hopes that big budget will equal big effects, big audience and big returns! Right? 

Well not always and here is the problem. There’s so much (pardon my expression) crap being made that, in this saturation, many large scale projects are rushed to release, over-hyped and fall short of consumer expectations compared to the last film that tried to blow them out of their seat. Many will struggle to or will not be able to pay back their investors, let alone make any money as a production company after all is said and done. Current trends, numbers and consumer feedback continues to demand a good story, no matter how the industry wants to dress it up. If a production company doesn’t care about the story they are telling, then they won’t care about how they spend the money they’ve been entrusted with.  

Here at Anvil Springs Entertainment, we strive to create projects with meaning. Projects that carry a message to it’s audiences and that will have a lasting impact not only on box office returns, but on our investor’s bottom line. Our first concern - obviously - is the quality of the project and that it gets done on time and on budget and that our investors walk away so happy that they’ll want to reinvest with us. Wow! Now there’s a concept! We are not opposed to large budgets, in fact, we have projects that vary from $5 million to our very own Fantasy Trilogy that will cost in the hundreds of millions. We can support such a wide range of budgets because we put thought and structure into our projects, budgeting them based on the best and most efficient methods to successfully create the story and yield returns to our investors.  

Our writers (and pardon me for tooting their horn) are geniuses and they know how to tell a story that has meaning, stories that will engage and entertain our audiences and yes, bring back a decent return for our investors. This is where every project should be directed and we won’t engage in a project that is less so. So the bottom line is, we, as everyone, want to contribute to the increase in the overall box office numbers with our stellar projects and at the same time earn a return on our investors money since they had faith in us to do it right. That’s as it should be! 

Click here to learn more about investing with ASE

View the Theatrical Market Statistics 2015 Report 


Contributed by:
Kathleen Messmer
Managing Partner and CEO - Anvil Springs Entertainment
 

Kathleen has worked in the film and television industry for nearly two decades and holds a degree in film from one of the nation's’ top universities.  Her long career in the industry has seen her working on a wide range of films with budgets both large and small, building a thorough understanding of all aspects of any film project. She has also worked alongside Oscar-winning producers, directors and actors. 

See more of Kathleen's creative work in photography here. 

When Her Inked Stop

Makiko Futaki left our time on May 13, 2016 of an unspecified illness and it feels to soon for her beautiful talents in animation to end. A veteran at Studio Ghibli she collaborated on all of the famed, Hayao Miyazaki’s films, some named as the pinnacle achievements of the Anime genre.  
 
I have never been that big of an Anime fan, though I remember the first time I came upon the film, “Spirited Away”, and found myself captivated at the delicacy that every detail was captured. Honestly...it was one the most simply stunning pieces of moving art I had ever seen. This was obviously done by the hand of a person with authentic passion for imagery and the creative exchange made through the eyes of all those she was drawing for. 

What is incredible about Futaki is the quiet, behind the scenes framework of her ground breaking career, silently breaking barriers of women in film and animation in her time at Ghibli since the 1980’s. It speaks to the authenticity of her creative expression and the verity of our ability to move through all barriers by simply focusing our actions on the things for which we have passion and zeal.   
 
It is akin to what I see evolving with the team here at Anvil Springs Entertainment. Yes we are woman owned and total inclusiveness is an active measure in our work, though it is such a given, such an inherent part of our vision that it doesn’t require effort or implementation. It is our vision to show that a production company model inclusive of all people, equally generates a better creative result in film.   
 
I close with the trailer of “Spirited Away” and gratitude for the beauty Makiko Futaki brought to my experience before the ink stopped... 

 
 

Contributed by:
Carey Rose O’Connell  
Producer of Marketing & Distribution - ASE 

Carey Rose O'Connell began developing her independent brand through writing in 2011 and since this time has expanded a communications focus to include teaching, documentary filmmaking and social media consultation. She has supported multiple profit and not for profit organizations with social media strategy planning, campaign development and demographic performance analysis. Carey supports Anvil Springs Entertainment as P.M.D for ongoing distribution and marketing development as well as coordinates communication strategies and timelines for the company's brand mission; including all its current film projects through social media and organizational partnerships. 

To learn more about Carey Rose's creative work click here. 

A Mission in a Vision

People often ask me about two things: the name of the company and our mission statement. Let me just start by saying, I believe things happen for a reason and while we aren’t always aware of why they happen, we can always look back and say, “Oh yeah, I know exactly what that was about.” 

On one of my many travels (by car!) from Albuquerque to Los Angeles, there are two teensy little towns - Peach Springs and Anvil Rock that you have to drive past and each time I did, I was assaulted by “why not name the company after one of them?”. And, as my sons will tell you, I am a girly girl, though no pushover. I love glittery stuff and little furry critters, but I will knock you into next week if you get me ticked - maybe not physically, but you get the idea. So...while Peach Springs is a warm fuzzy name, Anvil Rock is strong and powerful, which left me in a conundrum. Either one of those town’s names would be a cool name, but, what do I really want to convey with the name of my company? The answer, after not too much deliberation, was strength and flow. Right then and there I knew that the reason for my many trips back and forth to Los Angeles on that same fateful stretch of Interstate 40. It was a moment of clarity and I had discovered the obvious name of my company was a balance of the two...Anvil Springs Entertainment.  

I was certain the time was right for another woman-owned and operated entity in the film industry and I was that woman. Strong enough to produce and develop in a largely blockaded industry and soft enough to do it in a way that will positively influence film and how it is made. Among the many advantages were the tax breaks afforded to women business owners, money available for operations, etc., though more importantly we would be able to create free from the limitations set through the “good ol’ boys club” influence that’s so prevalent in Hollywood. We do things the way we want to do them and we do them more efficiently, faster and with more vision because we work beyond labels and as people...equals...you know, humans!  

We’ve discovered that promoting this balance and equality within our team produces a greater work ethic and a craving to do well. Who doesn’t like that? In addition, there are far too few people in the film industry who are given credit for a job well done. We understand that every person involved from the development to the market release of a film equally contribute to its success or failure merely by being present in the work of its creation. Awareness of this in our production process means we welcome and promote our teams to freely and proactively communicate their needs to ensure the best result occurs in the most efficient ways.  

Our mission statement holds us accountable to produce stories that people can relate to, stories that inspire the human spirit, and stories that leave audiences feeling better when they leave the theater than when they walked in. This tells people where we stand. We do projects that are not always happy, that deal with “real” issues in today’s society. We deal with friendships that are tried beyond where they might snap, family drama (we ALL know what that’s like!), characters that are questing to find answers they crave the answers to, funny and poignant situations, and more. If we start talking about what ails our society we can start finding ways to create common cures!  

Our mission is NOT to create scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel stories, but rather to make people stop, think and feel about how they might do things a little different, how they might change, where their lives are taking them and how they love or don’t. Beyond reviews, our mission is to hear our work has evoked a conversation among those leaving the theater. From behind the scenes to on the silver screen, it’s all about strength and flow.  

Come and see the projects we have lined up and how we live up to our name and our mission. You’ll soon learn this is no typical film production company.  

Click here to check out our “In The Spotlight” Projects 


Contributed by:   
Kathleen Messmer

Managing Partner and CEO - Anvil Springs Entertainment  

Kathleen has worked in the film and television industry for nearly two decades and holds a degree in film from one of the nation's’ top universities.  Her long career in the industry has seen her working on a wide range of films with budgets both large and small, building a thorough understanding of all aspects of any film project. She has also worked alongside Oscar-winning producers, directors and actors. 

See more of Kathleen's creative work in photography here. 

Why I Decided To Set Up My Own Screenplay Consultancy

Are you as tired as I was of vague, cliched screenwriting advice like "Let the story breathe"? Script Reader Pro — the screenplay consultancy I set up in 2010 — was born out of this exact frustration. Back in the 2000s as a struggling screenwriter, I often found myself frustrated with the quality of script coverage I received on my scripts. All too often I found them pretty unhelpful when it came to taking my work forward in the next draft, and this was the genesis of my deciding to do something about it.

I’m sure you’ve experienced the same issues I have when it comes to screenplay coverage, like vagueness for example. Phrases like “The tone is fun throughout, though it might be helpful to solidify it”, “Try to add some more layers to her character”, and “Make the dialogue more punchy”, really don’t do much of anything. When no analysis is given of how to 3x these problems — they’re just left as bald statements hanging in mid-air — things can quickly get frustrating.

Another problem I encountered in script reports was that they spent too much time on inconsequential problems. In one report, I had a reader spend the entire “Structure” section (nearly a page) on the fact the script was 89 pages long and not between 90 or 120. In another, the 3rd long paragraph was taken up with commenting on the fact that a comma was missing in the title.

But most frustrating of all perhaps, was advice that was just simply plain wrong. For example, contrary to what many script readers seem to think, your protagonist does not have to be likable. This is one of those rules that seem only to apply in Screenplay Consultancy Land and drove me absolutely nuts.

And these weren’t lowly, cheap reading companies I was sending my script o; to either. These were the big guys with glowing reviews on the websites, and yet somehow I often still wound up disappointed. This is why I decided to set up Script Reader Pro. I wanted to create a script consultancy built around a solid philosophy in which all the readers agreed on, and were trained in, the following principals:  

  • Don’t be vague — back up everything with solid examples of how to 3x problems. 
  • Don’t waffle on about minor problems. Start the report with the biggest issues and work down to things like formatting, title and writing style at the end.
  • Don’t tell writers to follow rules that only exist in Screenplay Consultancy Land, and not in the real world. Who cares if you occasionally use camera angles??

Another important factor I wanted to include in the company was to only employ readers who had actually achieved screenwriting success themselves, and make them visible to prospective clients.

All too often I used to get coverage back from an anonymous set of initials. On the website all I’d know about the reader was that they “Have many years of experience reading for the top studios and production companies”. That’s why at Script Reader Pro I wanted writers to be able to read proper bios of who’d be working on their scripts, and be able to choose the one who best chimed with their genre and writing sensibilities.  

Over the years I’ve really enjoyed building up the company and we’ve now built up a substantial base of repeat clients, so it looks like I wasn’t the only one frustrated by the vague, confusing, non-actionable advice out there!


*** Alex Bloom is the founder of Script Reader Pro — a screenplay consultancy made up of working Hollywood writers, speakers, and consultants. They have also produced a practical, hands-on screenwriting course, and book on screenwriting structure using sequences. 

Anvil Springs Entertainment seeks out undiscovered talents and innovative film concepts and we encourage you to pursue your writing. Remember rejections aren't personal, they are opportunities to take knowledge and make it your wisdom. We welcome all experience levels to submit to us after ensuring that your screenplay has had coverage and you've completed the steps on our contact page.  We highly recommend Script Reader Pro services for the coverage notes you will need for our submission process. 


The Adaptation of Volcano by David McGregor

The adaptation of the novel Volcano, written by Karina Evans, was a difficult piece of work to re-visualise into a screenplay. The book is a brilliantly dark read, with a fantastic female-lead cast who are very different in their moral structure and outlook on life.

As a male, it can be challenging to write from a female perspective. I did not want the female characters to fall into the stereotypes that many film makers currently push them into. There are three leading female characters in the novel — protagonist Eloise, her mother Sandra, and her best friend Emma. For this reflection, I will concentrate on Emma.

Unwilling to allow Emma to be yet another generic “femme fatale”, I created a strong character with her own unique traits. With this in mind, I wrote a complete biography for Emma, which shaped her well and allowed for a fully formed character. Through writing Emma’s biography, she became a jealous child who grew into a driven, thrill-seeking, self-centred woman. These traits pulled her into dangerous territory.

My next step was to listen. I listened to as many female conversations as I could. I believe the way people interact is a window into the person they are and the life they lead. Over the period of a week, I simply listened (not to be confused with eavesdropping, mind you) to women talk in casual conversations. Primarily, I was attentive to how they interacted with each other. I did this with friends, family, my wife … for that week, I was the best husband on the planet!

With the knowledge gained from this, I created arbitrary conversations and interactions between characters. Subjects varied until characters began to form their own agendas within the dialogue. The characters started to think for themselves, and this is the moment I knew they were ready — ready to be thrown into the various conflicts the novel had constructed so well. This was a powerful learning process for me. It may (or may not) be the way others write for the opposite gender, but it is certainly a method that has worked for me.

The novel revolves around issues of domestic violence, addiction and self-harm. The issue of addiction is well-documented within film whereas domestic violence and self-harm are, in my experience, almost taboo subjects.

I feel that domestic violence, in particular, needs greater media coverage. I researched the issue in depth, to help me understand the themes of the novel. I have taken all major conflicts within the novel and utilised them in the screenplay. My biggest challenge was visual technique. The violence is a necessary part of the film but it shouldn’t be overused, as this will dilute the horror of abuse. I avoided the dilution problem by including selected scenes involving the daughter. The brutality of the violence is shown through the horror on the daughter’s face, and so the audience is focused on this. We are made aware of the violence to the victim, and also the effect on other members of the family unit. Humour is used to bring the viewer down from the shock of violence, the binary opposite to the brutal confrontations. This brings a balance to the screenplay, something required to stop the viewer from becoming impartial to the violence.

The novel and the film will create an interesting talking point on the devastating issue of domestic violence — something that is still in great need of our attention.  

 
 

You can follow David on Twitter @theverylastact

We recommend learning more about Volcano on our Spotlight Page. You can also read from the author of Volcano the novel, Karina Evans on our blog and buy your copy of Volcano on Amazon now!.


Mark David Gerson Reads from The SunQuest: The Q'ntana Trilogy, Book III

The SunQuest  was the only one of my Q’ntana stories that began life as a screenplay. I adapted The MoonQuest script from an almost-final draft of the novel, and I wrote The StarQuest screenplay from a first-draft so chaotic that it offered little guidance as to the story’s direction. For The SunQuest, however, I wanted to put my “organic” screenwriting philosophy to a more arduous test: Knowing little of the story other than its main character, could I craft a screenplay from scratch using the “muse stream” system that had worked so well for me on all my other writing projects? In other words, could I write it with no planning, no plotting, no outlines, no index cards and none of the other “musts” of screenwriting orthodoxy?

As it turned out, I could…and did. Not only that, this final installment in The Q’ntana Trilogy answers many questions raised in the first two stories — for me as its creator as much for you as its reader.

A book and its movie are rarely identical. And even though The SunQuest screenplay is largely true to the novel, the opening scene I read from in this video is not in the film version. I almost wish it were. After all, who can resist a story that opens like this? “I will die tonight. I need no oracle to predict it, no dreamwalker to reveal it. The moon and the stars sing of it, and the sun calls me home.”

How does the screenplay open? For that, you'll have to wait for the movie!

 
 

View more information about making of The Q'ntana Trilogy into a major motion picture on our Spotlight Page.  

Find The Q'ntana Trilogy books as well as the other wonderful offerings by Mark David Gerson by clicking here.

Mark David Gerson Reads from The StarQuest: The Q'ntana Trilogy, Book II

I didn’t know The MoonQuest was going to be the first book in a fantasy trilogy when I began writing it, which is probably just as well, given how stressful my first-draft experience was! But by the time I was into The MoonQuest’s third draft, I began to suspect that there would be two more books, even as I had no idea what they would be about. After all, it’s not as if The MoonQuest ends in a cliffhanger the way The Fellowship of the Ring does in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. (In reality The MoonQuest does leave you hanging; but it does it so subtly that even I didn’t realize it until I was writing The SunQuest more than a decade later!)

Perhaps had I known that it would take me 11 years to complete a first draft of The StarQuest, I would have been less eager to launch this second book in my as-yet unnamed trilogy. But as many of the characters in all three Q’ntana books are told more frequently than they would prefer, “It is best not to know too much too soon. It is best to know only that the story continues and to follow where it takes you.”

Even as much about The StarQuest would change over those 11 years, one scene remained largely unaltered: the opening scene I read in this video.

 
 

View more information about making of The Q'ntana Trilogy into a major motion picture on our Spotlight Page.  

Find The Q'ntana Trilogy books as well as the other wonderful offerings by Mark David Gerson by clicking here.

Diversity, now there’s a hot topic!

Diversity, now there’s a hot topic! Have a seat. I’ll tell you what I believe.

I was raised in a military family and anyone who has been knows inherently that you tow the mark or pay the consequences. My parents always taught me as a matter of honor, integrity and respect that people are people, regardless of their skin color, religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual preferences, or anything else for that matter.

If they exhibit honorable intentions, have integrity, respect others and are genuinely good people, there’s no reason for a bunch of drama. It’s called diversity and equality. In general, you stand with your fellow human, in good times and bad, ups and downs, and offer a leg up whenever possible. Frankly, that was (is) considered pretty forward thinking from people that were born in 1920.

The point here being - why is there such discord among us with regard to equitable pay for women, positions for people of color (because we are all “of color”) and general discord in the population? Particularly in the film industry. If someone works hard, does a good job, has a good attitude and is a genuinely good person (hmm…this sounds familiar), they should be considered as eligible as the next person for anything; again, regardless of all of the labels we have assigned throughout our community. 

There’s absolutely no reason for discord and shenanigans on set, at the Oscars, in the office or anywhere else. Pardon me for saying so, but it’s all crap. We have not achieved true equality until it no longer has to be a conversation. Its real when its inherently how we behave. Diversity in the workplace, or anywhere else, should be a given, a standard, not an afterthought. It makes sense to me and it is how I build the community for my team. 

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On the set during an Anvil Springs production, we are fair and direct at all times, have an open door policy (not just lip service) and address issues as they come up with all parties involved. We understand that everyone has a right to the opportunity to find mutual resolution so that we can make continuous movement forward. There is zero tolerance with regard to substance abuse, racism, abuse of anyone or anything - which includes animals - and we believe in honesty, integrity, and respect for one another.

Bottom line…we understand that harnessing the uniqueness of each individual is what makes us stronger and whole as we work together. There is no room for narrow mindedness, unfairness or prejudice - anywhere or anytime. We don’t know the battles anyone is facing, so be kind…always. There’s no time for anything else. Enough said.

Kathleen
CEO - Anvil Springs Entertainment

Mark David Gerson reads from The MoonQuest: The Q'ntana Trilogy, Book I

People often ask me how I came up with the idea for The MoonQuest, intrigued as they are by the idea of a land where stories have been banned, storytellers have been banished or put to death and the moon has gone dark. I’d love to be able to answer with a great yarn about how I translated my feelings about censorship and my personal journey with creative blocks into an epic fantasy quest. But I can’t.

You see, The MoonQuest is a story that snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking and attached itself to me with such relentless ferocity that I had no choice but to write it. I had never written a novel and had no conscious desire to write fantasy. But a writing exercise in a workshop I was facilitating produced a fantastical scene that so intrigued me that I felt compelled to keep it at. The result, a year to the day later, was the first draft of a novel whose plot and trajectory I only discovered through the writing of it.

If my story sounds similar to Toshar’s in the excerpt you are about to experience, it’s no coincidence. But it’s not a conscious coincidence. I had no concept of Toshar as some sort of alter ego until days before I completed the first draft of The MoonQuest, when I had a not altogether comfortable epiphany: I realized that in more ways than I cared to admit, I was Toshar and that my third-person first draft would have to be converted into a first-person second draft. It was in that instant, that I composed the Prologue I read to you in this excerpt. 

 
 

View more information about making of The Q'ntana Trilogy into a major motion picture on our Spotlight Page.  

Find The Q'ntana Trilogy books as well as the other wonderful offerings by Mark David Gerson by clicking here.

Meeting the Creator behind "Meeting Charlie"

Hello, I’m Cory Sayers, the screenwriter behind “Meeting Charlie" a comedy developed for production here at Anvil Springs Entertainment. I was born and raised in the Bay Area and went to film school at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

The idea for “Meeting Charlie” came from a few places.  The first being watching my grandmother go through dementia and how that affected her life and the lives of those around her.  The second was out of a love of the more character driven, dialog heavy, movies that just aren’t really being made very much now a days, films that didn’t have easily defined genres or characters that fit in standard archetype.  The third was being eighteen years old and discovering the music of the sixties and seventies and falling in love with it.  

 
 

Then talking to my parents about it and discovering this weird bridge of common ground that was created out of our mutual love of music.  Through that experience I realized that music is one of the few things that transcends age or background or whatever, it’s universal.

I actually started writing “Charlie” as a writing project in film school.  The assignment was to write the first act of an original screenplay.  After turning in my act one, which I received an “A” for by the way, I decided to keep going.  I wanted finish telling Charlie’s story.

I guess what I wanted to do was tell a story as messy as real life usually is, where the happy ending maybe isn’t always that happy.  A story where people don’t always do the right or moral thing, but not like in a Greek tragedy kind of way, more like, what we do when one’s around, kind of way.  It’s the bitter that makes the sweet stand out.  That’s the sort of film I wanted to make. 

The Section 181 Film Tax Incentive Extension Continues in 2016!

As a final act of business recently in the U.S., Section 181 Film Incentive of the tax code for 2016 was extended. This is a huge win for investors in film and television as it allows film investors to minimize their risks by deducting their investment in the first moment of production and later claim any returns as income in a future year!

This incentive makes film one of the strongest investment avenues in the current market and is retroactively effective for films that commenced production in 2015 and for films commencing production in 2016. ASE has developed films, ready to move into pre-production which meet the required U.S. based filming locations minimum and a team of talent poised to challenge the norm of film making!

Get started on our contact page to receive access to our view the prospectus & media kits of our "In The Spotlight" films. Read more about the vision of ASE in a message from our Founder and CEO, Kathleen Messmer in her recent blog post about the  exciting direction we are taking in film production.  



Additional details can be found in recent reporting of the extension of Section 181 via Variety and Huffington Post. You can also read a breakdown of how the incentive most benefits your investment dollars on besttaxbreak.net.  

Impressions of Her, The Filmmaker - Penny Marshall

The awareness of how important film is to our culture came soon after I began supporting Anvil Springs Entertainment (ASE)  in a small social media consultation role. Accustomed to providing insights in this capacity for various brands, I normally began from my perspective of analysis and quickly saw how many perspectives the film industry was narrowing to provide and my desire to see films at ASE, like Volcano, Meeting Charlie and The Q'ntana Trilogy, to become part of the voice film shares with world viewers.

Another way I jumped in to contribute to the efforts at ASE was to contribute to a series of blogs inspired by our passion to improve the role and equality of women serving all capacities and skills in the industry. There are strong voices by women for this common goal coming out of Hollywood right now, many contributing their perspective to new social media trends, such as the #WomenInFilm movement. And so a blog series is born….

There are so many talented women to choose from and our beginning is not a #1...merely a one of many and she happens to be one of my personal favorites. Our filmmaker today is Penny Marshall, the first woman to have two blockbuster films to her credit. She a humorous and emotional storyteller of the human experience.

 

I fondly remember watching episodes of Laverne & Shirley with my mom, loving Laverne and the finely crafted “L” adorning her every scene. I suppose it could seem a bit arrogant to some, boldly initializing a wardrobe, but to a young girl like me it was permission to individualize. It was okay to be independent, expressive and funny.

It wasn’t until she stepped behind the camera in films like “Riding in Cars With Boys” and “A League of Their Own” that I realized the delicate balance she expresses with and through the characters. With every ounce of strength there is an outpouring of sensitivity flowing off the screen and always a sudden and welcomed outburst of laughter. And in these moments, so nonchalantly crafted by the talented Marshall, we find the brief experiences of our truthful humanity.

Once sharing, “I like corny, I like what moves me.” Penny Marshall’s success is undoubtedly because she knows how move us. I look forward to our next sharing in the "Impressions of Her, The Filmmaker" series with our focus on Kathyrn Bigelow.          

Reference Sources

Penny Marshall. (2015). The Biography.com website.
etrieved 05:59, Jun 22, 2015, from
http://www.biography.com/people/penny-marshall-9542495