Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New York Filmmakers Spotlighted in SciFi Channel Special

UPDATE 22 APRIL 2007: SciFi Channel has postponed the premiere of the Exposure short film special until May 20, 2007. Check back for more information in May. Thanks!

Now that The Sopranos is back on the air for its final season, many New Yorkers are no doubt home on Sunday nights. TiVO-shmivo -- you just have to see it when it comes on at 9 p.m. So, after you've seen the new episode this Sunday night (April 22), try to stay up a few extra hours -- or go ahead and put your DVR to good use -- and check out two New York filmmaking teams who will be featured in the SciFi Channel's Exposure special.

Blatant Self-Promotion Alert: MsManhattan comprises half of one of those teams...

The one-hour show, airing at midnight (channel 44 on Time Warner systems in Manhattan), spotlights nine short films selected by voters in last November's Exposure Online Short Film Contest, co-sponsored by SciFi Channel and Sundance Channel.

It was a fierce competition. First we had to submit our films for review by the contest promoters, who then selected eight to 10 entries for each week of the eight-week contest. My production partner, Aram Bauman, and I eagerly went to the site each week to see if our submission, RF EYE-D, had been selected and, in week 4, were elated to see that it was up for voting.

And then just as suddenly as our spirits soared, they came tumbling down when we saw that we were up against two close friends: the Brooklyn filmmaking team of Mark Harris and Timur Civan with their film Bloody Mary. Given all the films submitted, and the two-month window for the competition, how did we end up vying against our own friends, with whom we've collaborated on other projects?

We hoped that at least one of our films would win for the week, and one of them did: theirs. Our joy for them was unavoidably mixed with disappointment for ourselves. And then, out of the blue a week later, SciFi Channel announced that "upon further review," RF EYE-D would share the Week 4 win with Bloody Mary.

We shot RF EYE-D in Manhattan and Brooklyn. We secured permission to shoot at the historic Church of the Intercession uptown; we also shot, guerilla-style, sans permission, in Central Park, at the South Street Seaport and in a major Brooklyn supermarket that shall go unnamed. We even made our own do-it-yourself green screen studio with yards and yards of green fabric hung in a mini-storage unit. Mark and Timur shot Bloody Mary in Brooklyn, making good use of various friends' apartments. All of the actors in both films are from the greater New York area.

Both films -- and their creators -- will be featured in Sunday night's special (it repeats on April 26 at 8:30 a.m. and April 27 at 3:00 a.m.). So, check it out and don't forget to go back to to vote on your favorite of the nine shorts afterward. The Grand Prize Winner gets to pitch a feature film project to network programming execs. MsManhattan is clearly biased, so my only plea here is: Support New York indie filmmakers!

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