Life Passages XIII – Everyone’s The Same

“OMG! Mr. Solomon these novels, and comics are outrageous!” Madeleine told the store owner, and Grandfather of her new friend, Devon.  Solomon laughed out loud. “Well I think they’re decent Madeleine.” Solomon eventually said once he was able to catch his breath.

“I can’t thank you enough for letting me hang out here and…and just read. I promise I will buy something. I just can’t decide what.” Madeleine was ecstatic. Laughter shook Solomon’s body and one hand rubbed the round of his belly.

“Please, take your time Madeleine. My payoff is seeing young people enjoying themselves with the books. So, don’t fret. Just enjoy!” Solomon returned to the cash register with a spring in his step and continued sorting new, and second-hand inventory.

About thirty minutes later-an hour after Madeleine’s arrival at Solomon’s bookstore that afternoon-she was planted in a corner with her head buried in a juicy graphic novel. This is as good as watching a movie…or better. A smile formed on Madeleine’s face in tandem with her thoughts.

All of a sudden the store’s front door bursted open. Madeleine was immediately distracted. The store’s threshold was cluttered with near rambunctious teenagers. Devon was leading a pack of what looked like a few of his basketball teammates, and—wait a minute— Girls? Urgh! Thought I was free of catty girls! Madeleine’s mind was racing. She expected Devon to be alone. So much for believing I’d met someone just as ‘weird’ as me. He’s just like everyone else!

Madeleine jumped up from her cozy spot and walked hastily over to Solomon at the cash register. “I’ll take this one…” She pushed the book gently but quickly toward Solomon and offered him a nervous smile.

“Hey, Mads! There you are.” Devon sauntered up behind Madeleine with a huge grin. Madeleine didn’t respond, or change her focus. She remained face to face with Solomon, waiting for him to complete the transaction. “Hey Madeleine…what’s up?” Devon made a second attempt at getting Madeleine’s attention but she continued to ignore him.

“Thank you Solomon. You have an amazing store. I am really glad I met you. Goodbye.” Madeleine reached out and clasped the top of the brown paper bag containing the book she had begun to enjoy. “You’re very welcomed dear. Goodbye Madeleine.”  Solomon’s lips curled into a warm smile. Madeleine returned one of her own, nodded at the affable grandfather then turned to leave the store. However, her exit was a little tricky

“You’re leaving?” Devon moved quickly and planted his feet, blocking Madeleine. Surprise was evident in his expression. Especially now that he had arrived. He was there. Meeting up at the bookstore was the plan. Right? That’s what Devon thought anyway. Seemed like the plan changed. “I just got here!” Devon’s face wore a mix of frustration and confusion. Madeleine tip-toed to look over Devon’s shoulder at the other six teenagers in the quaint space. “I see.” She eventually said nonchalantly. “Well, I’m leaving. Goodbye Devon.” Madeleine walked around Devon’s other shoulder, cut through one of the book shelf aisles, and out the store.

Devon’s jaw dropped, almost to the floor. “What was that?” He turned to face his grandfather. Solomon slowly shook his head then walked toward the back room office, through an entry way behind the register. “I don’t get it!” Devon wasn’t done yet-Grandfather or not. “You don’t get what, man?” Sean, one of Devon’s basketball buddies, shouted back at him. “I thought you wanted to show us some cool comics, man. Let’s go.” Sean was more concerned with his needs.

Devon didn’t truly hear Sean. His thoughts were with Madeleine. I thought…we agreed…Weren’t we meeting here? Devon struggled to comprehend what had just happened between him and Madeleine. Why would Madeleine leave?…We said we’d meet… Devon’s thoughts were beginning to whirl out of control. Eventually he gave up. Trying to understand Madeleine and the way her brain worked just about wore him out. Devon joined his friends. He half-heartedly talked, joked, and showed the group the cool comics he promised. Still his mind drifted off to Madeleine, replaying her behavior over and over again. He couldn’t help it.

Meanwhile Madeleine walked home clutching her precious brown paper bag under her arms. It would absolutely be more convenient to place it in her book bag, but somehow holding on to it soothed her right then. Why am I so unlucky when it comes to making friends. God, am I destined to be alone for the rest of my life? Madeleine pondered, prayed, then pondered again-all the way home.

Once at home, Madeleine headed directly to her room, saying no more than a faint  “hello” to her parents as she walked past them in the front sitting room. She dropped heavily on to her bed like a massive log. She was still clutching the brown paper bag, and she held on to it firmly until she drifted off to sleep.

 

To Be Continued…

 

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BOOK REVIEW: “He Who Finds A Wife”

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I was minding my own business when the opportunity to review one of Stephan Labossiere‘s new books presented itself. I jumped at the chance since I have been following his snippets of wisdom via Twitter, and Instagram. I am also quite familiar with one of his earlier books written to the ladies entitled, God Where Is My Boaz.

Stephan Labossiere is a certified relationship coach,  speaker and author. He has made it his life’s mission to equip men and women with the tools they require to get out of their own way and cultivate healthy relationships

This time I got the chance to read his discourse with the gentlemen about their approach toward finding/identifying/choosing a wife named, He Who Finds A Wife.  I was initially excited. I got to be “a fly on the wall” as Stephan shares his wisdom with the brothers. I delved in. I particularly appreciated how the book began. The introductory breakdown is helpful to prepare the interested, and educate the cynic.

As I began to read I gradually converted from being excited to being conflicted. You see I am from the old school where Grandma taught, “play hard to get”, and my Father instructed, “the man does the chasing“. So while reading I have to confess that I struggled to connect with Stephan’s definition of “find a wife”. After all, am I not worth the chase?

Still, I continued reading. As I did, I realized that Stephan was actually making great sense. His counsel is also useful for female readers. This insight is applicable for attracting a successful match on the woman’s end as well. Yet, Ladies if you’re reading I suggest that you don’t become sensitive. Be introspective, glean wisdom where necessary, and move on.

All in all, He Who Finds A Wife is an excellent read. I would describe it as sitting on the couch with a therapist who is sitting across from you, and carefully guiding you through. It is a true counseling session. I personally gained ample understanding from Stephan’s ability to strategically dissect each aspect of the book. At some parts the truth stung, BUT at other parts it also provided clarity that is beginning to result in well needed personal transformation.

Therefore men, if you are not seeing results from what you are currently doing to secure a rewarding relationship that leads to marriage,  think you’re just unlucky, or frightened off – since you believe find = chase, chase, chase, I sincerely recommend He Who Finds A Wife by Stephan Labossiere. It will open you up, build you up, and equip you for success.

Television – My Escape…

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With all the tumultuous incidents going on around the country recently, surrounding police brutality allegedly stemming from racism and racial profiling, I find comfort in watching fictional television to escape from the hateful scenes on the nightly news.

Shows like NBC’s Parenthood (now off the air), which includes an interracial family who is fully and lovingly embraced part of the white Braverman clan begins to restore my faith that we can all exist harmoniously. Other programs like ABC’s Black-ish, and Fresh Off the Boat, personally indicate an America where we are beginning to maturely accept ourselves, accept one-another, embrace diverse cultures, and even chuckle about our differences a bit.

Some may frown on my position, and see it as trifling a large systematic issue in our country, and using fiction to falsely suggest that all is well in America. Well, I am not doing that exactly. Instead I offer that fiction sometimes predicts a coming trend, or outcome.
Beyond on-screen fictional content, even television commercials tend to showcase the landscape of our population with more variety as businesses, fully aware of where the buying power is, seek to get their products sold in every sector.
Does a brown, black or colored face on my television screen solve our race problems? Of course not! The events are a part of a deep rooted problem that requires urgent, and focused attention. – This may not be the answer, but as a minority, it does provide an inch of hope every-time I see someone like me under the glittering lights of the camera. A sense that, in the midst of demonstrations of “old thinking”, we can still forge ahead radically to bring about change.

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The Application Process

Often times we go to church, we hear a message, get excited, even talk about it for hours-on-end following the service – but then the hard part comes. The part where it is time to apply what you heard. 

I have found myself struggling with the “A” word often. I usually instinctively respond in the following ways.

First comes the natural application, where I try and try within my own strength to live up to the instructions I heard on Sunday morning. That is usually followed up by me beating up on myself the instant that I fall short.

Then there are the parts of the sermon that I refuse to reconcile with. Stubborn much? Welcome to my world. I simply could not see how I could surrender a particular area, deep within, or shortcoming (that I didn’t see a problem with in the first place).

What’s worst is when the message simply goes way over my head. Now this is not any fault of the messenger, but my being clueless, at times, as to where I fit into the message. 

Well, over the last number of Sundays as Pastor Jumaine, Pastor Rob and others have been delivering what seemed like gold, straight from heaven. Since the DECISION NOW series began, I was intent on listening and applying in a way that would be effective. Of course, my initial reaction was to respond as I typically do, but this series was way too valuable, and way too life-changing.

So what did I do? I prayed like I had not before. I decided that applying what I heard was going to be up to God this time. I began to be completely honest with God about every convicting message point that I believed referred to me. I also asked Him to reveal and perform surgery on the other aspects that I was blind to. 

It was not that easy to come face-to-face with areas in my heart, mind, and even flesh, that was boldly called-out on the pulpit.
 
However, I believe that when all is said and done, I will be better, stronger and more able to impact the world and advance the Kingdom of God. 

Actually, that is what Pastor James Marshall left with me on a recent Sunday. In His final prayer as He asked the Lord to help us apply the word spoken. It really rang home to me; God has to have a major part in the application process. Just – Let Him – Do It!

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13 NLT)

Life Passages XII – Revelation

Madeleine wonders aimlessly through the halls of her high school. She thought she had finally met someone who is more like herself, and unlike the “fake friends” she’d made previously. Yet Devon appears to be another disappointment…a HUGE disappointment. Well, at least according to Madeleine’s current estimation.

Devon stands at the other end of the long corridor. He is surrounded by his basketball team mates, who in chorus, excitedly recount their exploits from the afternoon before. “Man, you missed it!” said the burly, Sean. “Yeah, Dude!” The lanky Chase added. “Where were you anyway?” Chase continued.

Just as Devon is about to answer, he catches a glimpse of Madeleine walking up the crowded hallway. He ignores his team buddies, and begins to move toward her. “Hey man! Where are you going?” He hears the words being hurled toward him. Devon is severely distracted.

“Mads!…Madeleine!” Devon sprints to catch up to Madeleine before she turns the corner down a narrower walkway.

Madeleine hears her name wafting through the air, and slowly turns around in response to it. She notices Devon jogging toward her, and turns again to walk away. “Mads…I…I mean, Madeleine wait up!” Devon calls after her. Madeleine pauses, and slowly swivels toward him. She observes him briefly and tries not to laugh. She thinks the athlete’s  breathless running is sort of hilarious “What Devon? …What is it?” She says, portraying displeasure, and trying to stifle her laughter. “Oh c’mon! Are you still mad at me?” Madeleine shoots Devon a sharp look. “What do you think, genius?” She tells him forcibly. Devon’s eyes widen. “Madeleine, I said I was Sorry! What else do you really want from me?” Madeleine is surprised at how flustered Devon is becoming.

Madeleine thinks quickly. “Is Devon really getting upset about my not ‘surrendering’ to his apology?” Madeleine analyzes Devon’s face. Devon then realizes that Madeleine has stopped speaking, and is staring at him. This somehow calms him. “Mads, look…I…uh…I am not used to having a…um, a Girl for a friend.” Devon spits out awkwardly. “I may hang with the Jocks fine, but deep down I’m a comic book nerd whose trying to balance it all, and just make it through High School without any drama.”

Madeleine bursts out into laughter. Devon is flabbergasted. “What the heck is so funny?” Madeleine laughs harder. Devon continues to question her, even plead with her to explain but her laughter grows uncontrollable. Eventually Madeleine talks through her spastic giggles. “I’m sorry…I see it now…” Madeleine begins. “You come across as this tough jock, but there’s someone else hiding in there.” Devon bows, then shakes his head. “Umph! Well, at least you’re laughing…even if it is at me…it’s an improvement on your previous attitude.”

Madeleine laughs harder and turns again to walk down the narrower hallway to her class. Devon follows, then walks alongside her. “Meet you at Solomon’s bookstore after school?” Devon asks. Madeleine ponders briefly, then asks. “What about B-ball practice?” Devon smiles broadly in response. “I figure, you’ll get so caught up with the leather backs, that you’ll still be there.” Madeleine stifles a giggle, and straightens her expression. “We’ll see…” She tells Devon casually, and appearing aloof. Devon smiles confidently. “See you after school Mads!” Devon tells Madeleine, nods,  then tears apart from walking alongside her to head to his first class for the day.

To Be Continued…

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Life Passages XI – The Fall Out

“Mads! Wait up!” Devon calls after Madeleine while running out of his Grandfather’s Collector’s Bookstore. “Oh Come On Madeleine!…Please!”

Madeleine continues walking briskly ahead. The sound of Devon’s voice rings in her ears. After a few more paces, Madeleine halts to a stop, and swivels around. “What do you want Devon?”

Devon takes a deep breath. “What’s wrong with you? What’s made you upset?”

Madeleine stares at Devon curiously. “You seriously don’t know what you did?”

“No. I don’t Mads.” He says in a calm tone as he draws closer to her. “What did I do?”

Completely heated, Madeleine fires off. “You embarrassed me back there. How could you allude to my being some spoilt rich kid?”

Devon chuckles. “Allude, huh? I see you use big words when you get angry.” Devon laughs out loud.

Madeleine stomps her foot, turns and walks away.

“Oh Come on Mads! I was just joking. Come O-N!” Devon shouts after Madeleine and jogs to catch up with her.

Devon comes alongside Madeleine. He breathes a brief sigh. “Look, I’m sorry Mads. I didn’t mean anything by what I said.” Devon sighs once more. “I think that my Grandfather was right. I am jealous that you get to soak up all those books any day of the week that you want.” Devon takes a third breath. “Are we cool?”

Madeleine continues to stew a little longer, and walks beside Devon in silence till they hit the city’s main street then halts abruptly. “Are you following me home now?”

Devon smiles. He’s relieved that Madeline has finally spoken to him. “I can.” He offers sarcastically.

Madeleine rolls her eyes. “I don’t think that is a good idea Devon.”

Devon’s eyes widen. “What, you don’t want your parents to see me, or something?”

Madeleine’s mouth gaps open. “What is with your diarrhea of the mouth today? Geez! …You know what? Thank you for taking me to your Grandfather’s amazing store. I can get home all on my own. So, GOOD-BYE!” Madeleine says forcibly with one hand in front of Devon’s face as though stopping traffic. She then speeds forward a few steps, turns down a side street and disappears.

Devon stands still, almost paralyzed at the events that occurred that afternoon. “What just happened?” He thought to himself. “How did I get here? I’ve made a girl apocalypse-sized angry…AND, I’ve tried to stay clear of them all year, to focus on basketball!…Absolutely weird!”

Devon bows his head slightly, shakes it, then turns around to head toward home.

To Be Continued…

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Local Independent Film Spotlight: Jyoti Singh

This week’s Local Independent Film Spotlight highlights a one-of-a kind, local to global action, and filmmaking talent. Everyone, meet Jyoti Singh. I was drawn to Jyoti through her acting work in the short film, “Samosa”. The film was insightful and entertaining. This led me to further discover her wider scope of talent and work, and I was drawn to her involvement with creating work here and abroad. Being a huge Bollywood fan, who has come from a tradition of watching one Bollywood movie per Sunday with my Dad, naturally, I wanted to learn more about Jyoti’s current film in the works, “The Dignified Princess”. 

Jyoti thinks big, and her approach to getting the job done, and realizing her dreams is inspiring. Let’s get the conversation started.

Sit back, relax, even grab a snack if you like, and Read On to learn more about the impressive Jyoti Singh.

Hello Jyoti, I am truly excited to have this opportunity to speak with you. I have seen you in the role of an actress and loved it. However, please give us a detailed break down of your skills in the film industry.

Hi Diane, Thank you so such a wonderful opportunity. Thank you for watching “Samosa,” our short film. When I started in this industry after moving to Midtown Manhattan around 2009, I didn’t aim to perfect any single skill in particular. I was just so passionate that I enthusiastically jumped on any project that struck my fancy and boy, there were so many! My presence, accessibility, and interest allowed me to explore the roles of writer, voiceover, critic, Producer/Manager, promoter, director and even, cinematographer. But most of all, I consider myself an actress. In front of the camera is where I feel most at home; portraying the emotions of a character…that’s where I get most fired up!

Where did your passion for performing, and film work begin?

My passion for being an actress goes pretty much back to the time I was a child. I started acting in school plays from nursery to about 4th grade; this was in India. Then a huge obstacle presented itself when I was asked to be partially nude in a role as Eve in “Adam and Eve,” a middle school play. In response, I opted out and actually just skipped school the day of the play. In hindsight, I guess it was my conservative upbringing and my effort to preserve my “Indian family dignity” that kept me home that day and pretty much ended my streak of acting. Until I reached college – in America, that is. I led several college dance performances (Indian folk dancing) and took part in talent shows. When asked to choose a major, I told my parents I instead wanted to move to NY and join acting school but of course, they were shocked and wanted me to focus on Academic career. It wasn’t until 10 years later that my life journey thankfully brought me to NY, where my childhood passion of acting actually started to blossom into real gigs.

What variety of projects have you been involved with up till now? What is your Bio, if you will?

I have worked mostly in Independent Cinema, student films, short films, hosting in Indian TV, some featured background work in TV shows like Gossip Girl & Monsters Inside of Me, industrials, commercials, voice-overs, theatre, Internet TV, music videos, reality chef in a cook-off TV show, supporting roles and by now 3 lead roles in feature films. Most recently, I had a Principal role (Pharmacist) in “The Slap,” the NBC mini-series.

I was born in India and raised there until 1987. I have lived more of my life here in America. My father was an Army engineer and my mom an Assoc. Prof. of English Literature and also belonged to a famed royal family (daughter of King of Maihar, Estate of Madhya Pradesh).

I wanted to act when I was young but was encouraged to more conventional career choices by my family. Since my deepest desire had always been to help people in need, I chose nursing and worked for American Red Cross, then with a psychiatrist. Meeting a man who was also dedicated to altruism and humanitarianism, I got married and moved to NY and slowly found myself in a position of complete financial freedom after my diligent husband met his career goals quicker than expected. With all the time in the world, I could do anything, go anywhere and that was about when the bad news of the 2004 tsunami hit. So I went to volunteer at a hospital in India. This facility was run at no cost to the poor by a great spiritual leader named Amma, better known in the USA as The Hugging Saint. During downtime from volunteering, I started reading some of the books there and actually ended up having an unexpected, pretty profound spiritual awakening.

When I got back to NY, refreshed with a new self-knowledge, stronger sense of direction, I started singing classes, acting classes and met a working actor who allowed me to write his scripts for his weekly TV appearance. I put my heart and soul into that every weekend and acted in a few student films. I slowly crossed the challenges of the shyness everyone feels in front of a quiet camera and the vulnerability an actor feels during an audition.

I then got a big boost when I enrolled in a course with Bollywood’s most well known acting coach Professor Taneja here in NY. That is the first time I realized acting was being true to who you really are in an imaginary situation or character. When I asked for feedback on a certain sobbing performance of mine, I was taught “It’s not about the actual crying, it’s about feeling the moment. You don’t always have to cry, your emotions will show. You can cry before you come to the scene. Give yourself time, be in the moment.” That was some valuable stuff I’d never forget. By the end of the course, Professor Taneja told me I needed to stop taking classes and now just jump into working as an actor. That surprised me but gave me tremendous confidence.

Then I auditioned for a lead role in the feature film 9 Eleven and truly did a fantastic job. But the film didn’t go far financially and remained independent and relatively unknown. I recalled the lessons I had learned: “prove yourself…know your craft.” I knew by far my best work up till that point in time had been 9 Eleven. So with my own personal money, I took the leap to submit it to as many film festivals as I could. Somewhat surprisingly, it became recognized, receiving 10 awards, and my work was applauded. This opened doors and I got numerous supporting roles as well as a lead role for the feature film, On Golden Years with prominent Indian Actor, Ranjit Choudary. I played his wife, a 55 year old lady. The movie’s about immigrants who worked hard to achieve the American Dream and now find them retired, elderly, reminiscing about their country of birth.

I followed this work with my own short film Samosa and submitted it to film festivals. We ended up winning 5 awards and I won the Best Actress award at The People’s Film Festival. So in my lifetime, I have accomplished two of my major goals: one as an actress and other as a humanitarian.

Thanks for sharing your background, Jyoti. I have also seen the trailer for your upcoming film; “The Dignified Princess”. Please fill us in on the full details of this film. How was this feature conceived? What is it all about? What is your specific role in the production?

Yes, that teaser, of course, was made by Vick Krishna himself. “The Dignified Princess” was my sister’s (Gauri Singh’s) idea. She always wanted to make a film on my grandmother’s life. It is basically a story about her journey as a woman in 1930’s and her struggles. So my sister wrote the screenplay, and then the script. All I wanted to do was act in this film. Never really intended to produce or direct, or to work as a production manager. But as time went along, about a year and a half, the project seemed stuck, and nothing was moving along. Since I intensely wanted to act in it, I pushed for it. So, I decided to finance it, even with a low budget.

Where is the film being shot? Is any of the film being shot in the United States?

Since this film is about an Indian royal family, to shoot in the USA was not possible. To get that palace setting here would be so expensive…the money we didn’t have. We knew a majority of the film would have to be shot in India. Since we come from Maihar, Madhya Pradesh, where my ancestors and relatives still own the palace, we decided to shoot in India. I had spoken to my cinematographer and that was it! We jumped in & found ourselves at the palace. But one of our Uncles, whose son is a major TV producer in India, told us to come and check out his son’s shooting sets, close to Mumbai. We told him we only had limited funds, probably just enough to pay the crew. When we actually saw the sets, our mouths dropped, they were beautiful! So our many thanks to Contiloe Entertainment for giving us access to such a wonderful royal location.

There was one particular scene, which we had planned to shoot in the US, so that scene will be shot here, otherwise, the entire shoot in India is finished.

Have you had any unique challenges with this production?

Yes, it was unique indeed. Firstly, I have actually never worked in India. I am Indian but lived more of my life in US. So, of course, I don’t understand the system. There is a hierarchy system present, which I learned pretty fast. So knowing I have little control as a woman and knowing how people were ripping me off, I faced obstacles every day. Secondly, it is not easy for traditional Indian men to handle orders from a woman, often younger than themselves. Thirdly, it was a challenge to work with different teams who were simultaneously shooting other TV shows on the same sets…to arrange the schedule. We had to work around their schedule, that was a pain. Getting actors, arranging their travel, managing everything, accounting/money, directing and acting…boy, my plate was more than full!

I remember I hardly had any sleep. I am glad I had my cinematographer, Jigme Tenzing, and my sister, Gauri Singh, Vibhu Raghav who helped me immensely in this journey. Gauri did costumes and sets and was also assistant director. The crew was good, which was so helpful. They saw us struggle and saw our motivation and did their best to help us.

Can you tell that I am extremely thrilled about this? What are your plans for the release of this movie?

Well, interestingly I hardly went in with any planning besides motivation to shoot. I still have to shoot connecting scenes, which we are doing soon. After that, we work on music and dubbing. It will still be few more months. Probably close to the end of the year the movie will be ready. Then the hopes are to show the film to some investors, in hopes the film will be picked up. I do believe it should release in theatres. If not, there are always film festivals.

 How are you getting the word out about “The Dignified Princess” film?

We will definitely focus on marketing, once we have the product. So far what we are doing is giving out a little bit of information every now and then. Some will say the movie loses steam, others will say, it keeps people interested. But yes, when the time is right, we will go all out.

What is your ultimate goal for the movie? What is the extent of the reach that you would like it to accomplish?

It is an international film. I do want to gain back the money I used for the film. At least even out. Film is a risky business, I am not a producer. Short films are easy in the sense, you know the market for it. Full features, on the other hand, can go either way. God willing it will do well. At least in my mind I will never have regret, the “what if?” thought. At least I took the chance. Rest is up to the viewers to decide. Not just for me, for all the people who have worked hard on this project. It is never one person, it is the whole team together who wins when the film does well.   So good luck to all of us.

How can everyone learn more about “The Dignified Princess” today?

Well, right now I have not created a website. But we do have a Facebook page where we regularly add updates as things get closer to release time and we will soon also have an IMDB page and website. Everyone can also check out “The Dignified Princess” teaser here on YouTube. 

So what’s next? What are you “cooking up” for the near future?

Well, that is one thing about me. I take it as it goes. Next, is finishing “The Dignified Princess”. Wrapping up the film and then postproduction.

The other thing is I will have to join the union (SAG) soon, as I acted in a TV serial “The Slap” as principal role of Pharmacist. Since it had speaking lines, the next time I work on SAG project that is a requirement.

Good for you on snagging that speaking role on a national TV show! Please share your thoughts on the Local Independent Film Industry? Do you think that it is a well-oiled machine, or can it stand some tweaking?

Well, I am from NYC, where yes things are done. I have shot stuff locally in this area for a while now. In fact, my career pretty much picked up from here. I have worked with several independent film directors in this area. Of course, the person I closely work in this area with is Vick Krishna. I think the industry is getting bigger in this area, with more filmmakers and film festivals coming up. Glad the market for independent cinema is more accessible, but being international actors, and being in independent cinema, I think what is lacking is the distribution of independent films. We have film festivals, but what after? –  that is the question!

I hear Ya! Which national and international filmmaker, and/or screenwriter, and/or actress has been an inspiration for you?

I have always looked up to Mira Nair, as I had seen her films growing up in the international market. It was inspiring. Because when I started acting, I hardly got any auditions in 2009. I think Slumdog Millionaire opened doors for Indian Actors. Then Deepa Mehta, also has made inspiring films. Water is one that stays close to my heart. And as an actor, Birdman…what an artistic work, go Alejandro González.

So, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years as it pertains to filmmaking?

Well as an actress, I feel I can play any kind of role. To me, acting is a passion. Filming…I was never a filmmaker, I only intended to act. As for the future, I was never a person who planned things, I take it as things come to me. I like the balance between life and work. I believe in staying positive, but I never did this for name and fame in the first place. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to be able to accomplish my goals. Thankful for my Husband, my family, and some friends, who have supported me wholeheartedly. What I have learned is, we never know where life takes us, so best is to stay focused, positive, and hope for the best. Life is short, I rather stay humble, and hope my talent is recognized only if I deserve it. Hopefully, my work can touch people in some way or the other.

What are your long-term goals in this industry?

I just plan to act, when time permits. I have been lucky to attain what I have in such short time. Hopefully, I am able to work on projects that inspire people, touch their hearts and soul so they can laugh, cry, or feel something when they watch my work.

What advise would you give to others with a similar talent, and desire to make their mark as an actor and/or filmmaker?

Know your craft. Some people are gifted, others have to work hard. Stay positive, because challenges will come, and so will disappointments. Also, never forgot, be humble. “Never forget who you meet on your way up because you will meet the same people on your way down.” My cousin, Chandrachur Singh, a highly respected Bollywood actor, taught me this.

Jyoti, I am inspired by your talent, creativity, and drive. What else would you like to share with us about Jyoti Singh that may surprise us?

Well, as I’ve said, my second passion is helping people, so many less fortunate, so many in need across the world. So I am a Co-founder of a non-profit we call RVP Charitable Organization. I need to spend more time in it.

As a hobby, I also train in Hindustani classical music & love to sing.

I love to cook and experiment while I cook.

That is some good stuff! Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. Any final words?

First of all,  I wanted to thank you. Also want to thank my teachers, directors, My Parents, Husband & my Sisters. All the people who have supported and believed in me. Want to thank all my fans, I never thought I would have them, but I do and all the 200 people waiting on Facebook to be accepted as friends. Thank you for looking me up and for supporting my work. It takes courage to make a fool out of yourself in front of people, I have been there a lot, so all I will tell people is “never give up; there is always something better out there. Life is short, so follow your dreams if you can.”

Peace

Peace to you too Jyoti. I wish you much success with “The Dignified Princess” and everything that you put your hands to. Your non-profit work is admirable, and I hope that it makes a tremendous difference in the lives of those it impacts. Thank you for being an inspiration today. 

Everyone I hope that you enjoyed this story about yet another phenomenal talent. Thank you for viewing this article. I look forward to welcoming you back next week.

*NEWS FLASH*

USA Film Release:

May 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, & 31st.
Show times:  12:002:305:007:30 & 10:00
OR
June 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, & 7th
Times: 1:30pm4pm6:30pm, & 8:45pm
Jyoti Singh

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On Set – “The Dignified Princess” 

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Jyoti Singh 

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Local Independent Film Spotlight: Vick Krishna

Welcome back friends! This week I would like to introduce you to Vick Krishna. Once again, I am thrilled to present  another local filmmaker who is making an indelible mark on the local – and even international – film industry.

I came into contact with Vick’s stellar work on Valentine’s weekend. I had the opportunity to view his recent romantic short film “onLove: A Modern Love Story”. I was immediately impressed with the acting, the production quality, and the story telling. I was drawn into the mini-movie from the get-go. For those who haven’t seen it I don’t want to give it all away and spoil this treat for you, but there are pleasant surprises that make it all that much more enjoyable.

Furthermore, I am going to let Vick tell you more about this film, himself, and his career as a whole. So please go ahead, and read on to learn more…

Hello Vick, so I just had to talk with you after viewing your short film, “onLove: A Modern Love Story”. It was engaging, and visually appealing. Tell us how you came up with the concept.

Thank you Diane! The concept came to me noticing how we can interact with our friends and families pretty much anywhere as long we are connected. That sense of true loneliness is gone these days. We are always “in-company” despite being digital.

I thought that you did an excellent job of going from reality, to “life online”, and back — Did you have any challenges producing this short? If so, what were they?

The challenge is always time as we shot the weekend before Valentine’s and I had only 2 shoot days and about 3 days to edit in order to release before Valentine’s Day. Some of the editing techniques (transitions) used are ones I have never attempted, so it was learning and executing all at once.

For those who haven’t seen “onLove” just yet, where can they view it?

They can see the film at this link . http://youtu.be/740YHKbQ2WU .

 Let’s go on to talk about your body of work. I have seen a variety online. Please fill us in on your resume — on your work overall.

So far I’ve been avid in making short films. I’ve directed/written/produced/edited 6 short films of my own. Along with that I’ve freelanced on several projects from being a production assistant, editor, assistant director, and even acting.

Where, and when did it all begin?

I’ve always loved movies from a young age. Around high school I was part of the Morning Announcements team and that exposed me to cameras and filming. I was also active in my high-school theatre, which got me into acting. Both of these solidified my interest behind and in front of the camera and I began making videos for fun trying to learn the craft.

Do you have a favorite film that you have worked on—a “passion project” if you will?

All of the ones I’ve worked on have unforgettable experiences. It so hard to pick a favorite. Each film is an adventure for me, where I get to be part of a family with the crew and actors. They all have their special moments in my life.

What is your favorite aspect of filmmaking? Is it directing, writing — tell us more?

My favorite aspect would have to be directing. It is at that stage where you finally see everything you had in your head and envisioned, in real life. It’s a great feeling to see the words come to life and you can begin the action.

What’s the ultimate goal, that you would like to attain to in the global film industry?

My goal is to simply tell a great story. Stories can do many things. They can motivate, inspire, make you cry, make you laugh, excite, scare, teach and feel something. I want to do those things well with my stories.

That is fantastic Vick! What are your thoughts about the local independent film enterprise? – Where is there need for improvement?

I think the local independent enterprise is thriving with new talents, and it’s so great that the technology to make films is now affordable so we can participate. The need for improvement might just be to continue to learn.

Personally speaking I don’t have any film school background. I learned by watching and making films. You don’t want to rush into something you don’t know anything about so take your time to learn so you can do it right. I still have so much I want to learn about visual graphics/cgi/animation, all of which could help me tell my story better.

Well your work is a fabulous testament of what self-motivation can do. Tell us about some other local filmmakers whose work you admire.

There are several great filmmakers here and some those I would like to mention are, Mike Kravinsky (Geographically Desirable), Anthony Greene (The Henchman’s War), Venu Nakshathram (The Otherside), Cisco Davis Jr. ( Zordon of Eltar: A Power Rangers Fan Film), Manan Katohora (Public Relations).

Do you have a favorite national, and international, director and/or screenwriter?

National: Spielberg & Tarantino

International: Manirathnam & Miyazaki

Screenwriter: Tarantino

Did you have a favorite on Oscar night?

“Birdman” all the way!

Which film, and actor were you pleased won an Academy Award?

I’m very pleased with the “Birdman” and Patricia Arquette winning.

Were there any disappointments for you that night?

Perhaps for Best Sound Editing if at all anything.

I gotcha! Now back to you, and your wonderful talents…What are you working on presently?  

Presently I’m working on editing a feature-length movie currently titled “The Dignified Princess” produced by Jyoti Singh.

Oh! I can’t wait to see that, and talk to Jyoti Singh about that project. We’ll fill everyone in on that soon but, how do you usually showcase your projects. Is it mostly online?

I usually just put it online. I just want to share my story with as many people as possible.

Vick, I am so happy that I got to talk with you. Thank you very much. You are the reason, I do the “Local Independent Film Spotlight”. Any final words?

Keep making films and telling your stories. And thank you Diane and the Local Independent Film Spotlight for taking the time to appreciate the local talent. We new filmmakers thrive on your words of encouragement to keep going.

 Awe! Thank you! How can everyone keep abreast of all the imaginative, and creative work that you’re doing?

They can subscribe to my YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/user/vickkrishnafilms    

This was absolutely my pleasure Vick. The local filmmaking, and acting talent is rich…very rich. I sincerely get charged up to enlighten our community about the wealth of performance and entertainment treasure it possesses.

Thank you for joining us today. Stay tuned for another remarkable feature next Wednesday, right  here!

Vick Krishna

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“onLove: A Modern Love Story” Poster

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Local Independent Film Spotlight: Karen Elle

I know that you’re going to enjoy reading about this gifted young woman. The first time Karen Elle grabbed my attention was when she stood up at one of our church group meetings and read a monologue she had written about her real, relatable and down-to-earth interactions with God. This was not your usual religious exchange. Oh No! Instead, Karen personalized her communication in a manner that was comparable to blatantly chatting with a close friend. It was gritty…it was candid, and I loved it!

Anyway, my take-away was that Karen Elle was someone special…unique, and “outside-the-box” – in a really good way. I later learned that Karen was an actress, and that we had much in common as we pursued careers in entertainment arts.  Naturally, this drew us closer, and it is my honor to present Ms. Karen Elle…

…Read this descriptive interview to learn  everything about this show-stopping talent.

Hello Karen, it is GREAT to get to talk with you, and chat about your growing prowess as an actress in the DMV. Please tell us where it all began — How old were you, and how did you know you were destined to be an actress?

I don’t remember the exact moment, but it happened at a young age. My first love was writing. I’d always loved to write stories. But somewhere along the line the acting bug bit me, and I’ve been in love with it ever since.

What was, and where did your very first acting experience take place?

Picture it: Dayton, Ohio. Early nineties. I was huddled in a makeshift brick house, trembling in a pink turtleneck, pink jeans, and a pig mask. I was trembling not from fear of the Big Bad Wolf, but from the excitement of being in the moment. Nah, it wasn’t that deep. I was only in second grade and when I had my first stage role as Pig #2 in some school play adaptation of The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. That was my first formal acting experience. But I’d had plenty of practice before then—like the times I’d break something or eat cake I wasn’t supposed to, and act like I didn’t know anything when my mom asked me about it.

You’re currently involved with a stage play at the Silver Spring Stage, and we really want to hear all the details in just a few moments, but tell us about the acting work you’ve been involved with.

Well, my most recent show was Amrika Chalo! (Destination USA) with Ajoka Theatre Company, a very reputable theatre company in Pakistan. Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics brought the company here to do two performances (another was added because it sold out like milk before a snow day). I and four other local actors had the privilege of being in this production. That experience was so enriching. I learned a lot about Pakistan, about US-Pakistani relations. I learned some Urdu, and I made some great friends.
Also, I had the opportunity to be in DC Yuppies, a web series about seven friends who live, work, and play in DC and the drama that ensues. That was a lot of fun. I’ve done mostly theatre, and the only film experience I have done a couple of short student films, so with DC Yuppies I learned more about acting on camera. including advice from my cast mates, who had more film experience. You can watch the series at www.dcyuppies.tv or on the B.E. Cre8ive channel on YouTube. New episodes drop every Wednesday.
I have been in two other productions at Silver Spring Stage: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot in 2011. I played St. Monica, Simon the Zealot, and one of the centurions. Even though St. Monica was fun, my favorite character was Simon the Zealot. I gave the character a Tinidadian accent—well, I attempted to. I met with a Trini friend who said I sounded more Antiguan, and everyone else thought I was Jamaican. But it was cool to do that. I also played Perfect Love and other characters in Arabian Nights last spring. That show was a beast. I had to dance, and I was supposed to have a solo. I ended up singing so low so the audience couldn’t hear me. Ha ha.
I was a part of the Hope Operas (2014), Capitol Fringe Festival (2010, 2012), the Delaware Fringe Festival (2011), the DC Black Theatre Festival (2011, 2012). I wrote and produced my first stage play in the 2011 DCBTF. That was awesome. I was in DC’s inaugural One Minute Play Festival that premiered at Roundhouse Theatre last summer. That was really cool. I’ve been in a couple of productions of the Vagina Monologues. The first time I did that show I felt empowered and proud to be a woman and unashamed of my lady parts. I’ve been in a few play readings.

Now please fill us in on your current project coming up at Silver Spring Stage.

The production I’m currently rehearsing for is 33 Variations. It is a very interesting show. It takes toggles between present day New York and 19th century Austria and mainly focuses on Katherine Brandt, an esteemed musicologist and Beethoven aficionado. She is struggling with a paper she is writing on him and also suffering from ALS. She has a daughter who tries to connect with her and spend time with her, but Katherine is hard to love. Then in 19th century Austria, Beethoven is experiencing the denouement of his own career and health. He grapples with his own demons and his musical genius.
I am enjoying working on this show, even though it has its challenges. The director, Natalia Gleason, has a big vision for it. A unique vision, and I think it will make the show work beautifully.
The show opens Friday, February 27th (with pay-what-you-can previews on Thursday, February 26th) and runs through March 21st. There are two Sunday matinée performances on March 8th and 15th at 2:00 p.m.

What’s your role in this on-stage drama?

I play Clara Brandt, Katherine’s daughter. She wants to love her mother, but her mother pushes her away. This role is particularly challenging because there are some moments that require me to be emotional. I haven’t really had a dramatic role before, but I appreciate the challenge, because it stretches me and helps me become a better performer.

How can we get tickets to see this enlightening performance?

Tickets are $20, and you can get them online at ssstage.org. You can also buy them at the door. Goldstar.com has discounted tickets for $10.

Moving forward, what future acting gigs are you preparing for?

I am working on a TV pilot about Capitol Hill. I’m praying for success with that. I am looking forward to Season 2 of DC Yuppies. I’d like to participate in Monologue Madness this year. I do want to go to an acting conservatory, so I’ll be preparing to apply for programs that begin next year. Other than that, I don’t have anything lined up for the moment. I’ll just keep my eyes peeled for auditions and other opportunities as they come. I want to do more film projects, so I’ll be auditioning for those. Oh, and I will prepare for the future unknown acting gigs by taking classes to help me become a better performer.

What is your dream role. What character, if it became available to you – anywhere in the country – you would just have to be there to audition for?

Well, one of my dream roles is to play Grown Nala in the Lion King on Broadway. Last year I could’ve auditioned for that, but I’m not a singer or much of a dancer, so….However, I’ll risk making someone’s ears bleed to audition for the role of Carmen Jones. I would love to have that role.
If there is a reboot of A Different World, I’d definitely be in the number for that! I’ll audition for any character—especially one like Freddie Brooks.

How do you view the local independent film industry?

I’m learning more about the industry itself, but I love independent films. I’m excited about those filmmakers who churn out masterpieces on small budgets. To me, some of the stories told seem more substantial and genuine. Also, there seems to be more opportunities to see people who doesn’t fit a particular aesthetic. I aspire to be in independent films someday.

Do you have a favorite local independent film?

Sons of the City, directed by Marcus Richardson.

You’re a very creative individual who also pens scripts for others, personal monologues, and so much more. Do you have plans to write a film, documentary, stage play or other?
There are a couple of plays I want to write, one of which I’ve been wrestling with for years. Maybe when I finally sit my hind parts down I can churn them out. I have an idea for a web series that I’m working on.
I do write some scripts and monologues for skits at my church, as you know 🙂 . I enjoy using my gift in that way.

Yes, we work on video and stage performance scripts together at The Bridge DC. Now, please share your ultimate dreams and aspirations as an actress, and writer.

I would like to win a few Oscars, Tonys, Emmys, and Golden Globes, but overall, I desire to create awesome work. I want to be the best actress I can be, and bring such truth, talent, and power to the roles I have, that they resonate deeply with anyone who watches. Same with the plays I pen. I want to tell powerful stories that create a positive force in this world.
I would love to work with Ava DuVernay. I heart her work.

Now to a more national focus; as the 2015 Oscar Awards approach this coming Sunday, do you have a favorite film, or actor, or actress that you are rooting for?

Oh yes. I’m rooting for Selma. It was fantastic. I love Birdman, and I hope Michael Keaton and Emma Stone walk away with the little golden man.

There has been lots of controversy around “Selma” director, Ava DuVernay not receiving the best director nomination for this film, although the film was nominated “best film”. As a woman in “The Biz”, what is your opinion on the full matter?

I wish I could let my facial expression answer this question.
Selma was a great film. Ava is a fantastic director—I’ve seen some of her other films. While an Academy Award is a great honor, it is not the only honor one can receive.. I think her talent speaks for itself. Just because she’s not in the running for best director doesn’t mean she’s not a great director. It doesn’t mean she won’t stop making great films. There are other spaces where she can win an award like that.
Furthermore, there have been talented directors, actors, crew members, and great films that didn’t get nominated or win an Academy Award for whatever reason. They don’t need validation from the Academy to prove that their work is magnificent.

Well said! Karen you are a fascinating young woman with immense talent. It has been such a joy speaking with you. Any final words?

Thank you! I am humbled that you wanted to interview me. Even though I am not where I want to be in my acting career, I am grateful for the journey, and I look forward to what’s to come!

That is what Local Independent Film Spotlight is all about! How can we keep abreast of all the remarkable work you’re doing as an actress, and writer?

You can follow me on Twitter–@actrizkarenelle. I also am in the process of setting up a Facebook Page, Karen Elle and a Twitter account. I will launch a web site later this year.

Thanks again Karen! It’s been fun, and enlightening! 

There you have it everyone; another remarkable Local Independent Film Spotlight individual. You wouldn’t want to miss more stories about other phenomenal talent residing, and creating, right here in the DMV area. See you next Wednesday!

Karen Elle

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Local Independent Film Spotlight: Aimee Schlectman

This week  I am  excited, and  proud, to introduce you to Aimee Schlectman.  Who is  Aimee Schlectman, you asks? She is a self-driven, highly talented, quite interesting, and loads of fun to work with, kind of Gal. I worked with Aimee on the acclaimed “City of Lost Souls” crime drama. I observed as she meticulously combed over each scene in the script, cataloged each item needed to dress the film’s characters, and the indoor, and outdoor sets alike, into her huge binder.

You see Aimee was our Wardrobe and Props expert. Beyond the glamour of the lights, camera and accomplished actors, there is a person (or team) who feverishly works to pull the minute details together. Aimee led her eager team, to do just that.

Stick around to learn more about this unique movie professional…

Hello there Aimee, you have a very important role in the film industry. How do you precisely describe what you do?

I do Wardrobe/ Prop Styling for film & TV.  I interpret scripts and convey the words into the actor’s wardrobe. I assist bringing the Directors/ Writers vision to life through wardrobe.  After I break down a script, I visualize the characters wardrobe from jewelry to the handbag/brief case they carry.  From the smallest detail of name initial necklace to an Over the Top Gold Encrusted Diamond Jesus Pendant a Pimp would wear. It  becomes an extension of the characters’ persona.

Within the last 5 years, I have added Prop styling to my repertoire.  Prop styling allows me another opportunity to design scenes that are more realistic and believable.  Not only do Props assist the actors into character it is extremely creative.  From; faux ice cubes to watered down coffee (used as scotch), duffel bags filled with Cocaine and briefcases stuffed with faux Money. It is the art of making it look credible and genuine.

How long have you been fitting actors for costumes, and dressing film sets?

The film industry is my Second career.

I studied Fashion Design in college and have a Degree in it. I worked in the fashion industry after college in NY/LA. After realizing, it was not as creative as I thought it would be-I switched gears and entered corporate America. After many years of Grey business suits and smart practical shoes, I realized I was not fulfilling my creative dreams.  I began classes at FIT (In NYC). After a few classes at FIT, I landed an intern position on an indie feature film with some named talent. It was not a glamorous position. –I kept fire watch on the back of the Wardrobe truck in the middle of summer and ran errands for The Costume Designer. I saw and experienced a lot, got my first taste of movie magic – I was hooked.

Why do you love doing what you do?

This industry is not for the faint of heart. The days are long; they start early and end late. I love doing this job – I remind myself especially on days when the alarm is set for 4:00 a.m. A day on set always trumps a a day in the office.

I love being a wardrobe/prop stylist. Its SUPER artistic, I get to hang out with other misfits like myself and get opportunities to work with talented accomplished folks… No one does this job for the glamour or Money. You do it because you love making movies

Ain’t that the truth! Please describe the type of projects, you have worked on.

I have worked on Feature films, commercials, music videos, TV series, short films, training videos and a few print ads…

What has been your most memorable or favorite project thus far?

My favorite project was an 80’s period Feature Film. It was based on a female DJ starting her career out in NYC in the early 80”s. I had a crew of 3 and we did tons of extensive thrift store shopping/hunting ,borrowing from up and coming designers and creating custom made logo T-shirts.  We had a small budget and that added to the creativity. Unfortunately, shooting stopped mid-shoot because the Producer embezzled the funds, BUT the Wardrobe was amazing.

What are you working on right now? What great creations are you pulling together for the project?

Currently I am in talks with a couple different Directors about my next project… I just finished some commercial work. It was an ad for Washington Gas.  I was privileged to work on their new rebranding ad campaign. If you ride the metro, keep an eye out for the posters!

Nice! I will be sure to do that Aimee! Where does your motivation to do what you do come from?

I remind myself that I am doing exactly what I want, and love to be doing… Lawyers do not get that excited telling you about their latest case -do they?

Do you have a film whose costuming, and/or set design was particularly impressive to you?

“Casino”, “American Hustle”, the “Wrestler”, the “Sopranos”. I love the opulence and the tackiness!

Do you have a favorite film among this year’s Oscar nominated films?

“American Sniper” and “Whiplash” are my two favorites

Why are those your favorite?

I loved “American Sniper” for its superbly subtle critique, made by Mr. Eastwood. I admire our brave soldiers so much and this film salutes the honest work of all soldiers. It is also an interesting twist to see what happens to these brave men and woman when they return home.

What are your thoughts on the local independent film industry? Do you believe that it is growing…thriving?

I do not think there is enough local independent work for the DC/MD area. I know Richmond gets a fair amount, but I do not want to travel 2 hours (from Bethesda) to a film set. I wish they would shoot more local shows here. We have “VEEP” and “House of Cards” but something right here in DC would be fantastic. Perhaps “Law and Order” – DC Style. That would be awesome! Do you think Dick Wolf is reading this?

I sure hope he is! If you could adjust the independent film industry in the DMV area, so that it is a well-oiled machine, where would you make those adjustments?

My suggestions would be; to shoot more movies here and use local crew. We need the work and we are very talented.

We are indeed! What advice would you give to someone who has a desire to break into the movie business with similar gifting to your own?

It takes a long time to get a steady amount of work. You need a second job or live at home. The money ensues but not for a while. If you do not love the craft or do not love being on a film set (they are not all indoors and warm) this is not the industry for you!

Please describe yourself in three words?

Energetic, Professional and Creative. (Does not have to be in that order)

How can we keep abreast of all the fabulous work you are doing?

Most of my work is on IMDB…Just check me out HERE! 

 Aimee as usual, you have been a blast! Any final words?

 Thank you for the interview… My final last words… Stop having the Hair and Make-up crew do WARDROBE!

Loud, and clear Aimee, we – and filmmakers everywhere – hear you loud and clear.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences with us. We have learned a great deal. It only gets better from here. Onward, and Upwards. Cheers!

Well there you have it. – Another engaging story from a local talent in the film industry. Thanks for checking in, and be sure to return next Wednesday for another “Local Independent Film Spotlight”! 

 

Aimee Schlectman “Dressing” a Scene of “City of Lost Souls”

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Aimee Schlectman Hard At Work

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