CreatorUp IGNITE Scholarship!

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Writer/director and One Axe alum Katherine Vondy has been so kind as to secure an opportunity for one deserving One Axe member to attend free of charge the next CreatorUp IGNITE event, a weekend-long series of workshops, pitching, and networking, cofounded by Mike Tringe. There are 2 tracks: Digital Creation or Virtual Reality. Both are equally intriguing, but you’ll have to choose one.
We are SO EXCITED to extend this opportunity to our network, but we also need you to reply right away, as the event is coming up very soon (APRIL 30/MAY 1)—please make sure you’re available that weekend before applying and read the application instructions carefully. And send in your application by this Thursday, April 21st, by 12 noon.
To apply, please email oneaxeplays@gmail.com, with the subject line “CreatorUp Scholarship,” with the following information in the body of your email (no attachments, please).
1. Bio (250 words max)
2. Describe the project you’re working on that would benefit from CreatorUp. You’ll be entering either the Digital Creator or Virtual Reality tracks—your choice—so we’ll be looking for someone who is passionate about either web content or VR. (500 words max)
3. Tell us what you hope to gain from attending. (250 words max)
4. Your complete contact info.
GOOD LUCK!

Spring Showcase Writer #7: Ari Berkowitz

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Ariana (Ari) Berkowitz sent us a short script called “Potty Mouth” that was so strange and smart that we had to take it. We tried to describe it to friends—no, there’s this hot girl like in teen sex comedies, but she’s actually a toilet—and found ourselves devolving into diatribes about the movies Mannequin and Splash. But seriously: why are dudes always falling for inanimate objects and fish? Are there literally NO HUMAN WOMEN they’d find attractive? Anyway, we had to find the right director for her piece, which was going to be difficult, as she needed to intimately understand the push and pull of a very physical screwball comedy. But it turned out that Kat Vondy was the special match—they even worked at the same place and had never met! We’re so excited to unveil this piece from Ari, who told us she most recently wrote an episode of television where a girl fell out of a chair for the USA show Benched.

1. What are the top 3 movies/plays/shows that have inspired you?

Die Hard 

Die Hard with a Vengeance

While You were Sleeping 

2. Did you go to film/theater school? What led you to being a writer or director?

I didn’t go to film school, but I did play a round of MASH that told me I’d be a TV writer. I’m real into fulfilling destinies.

3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?

Women’s voices are so underrepresented in our cultural creations and I’m so excited to be part of a group where women are helping women to be heard. The more we represent our own experiences — the more honest and supportive our culture will be.

4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”

The Bar.

Spring Showcase Director #6: Tamar Halpern

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We feel more than honored that director Tamar Halpern is presenting a new piece by Alexandra Decas and Melanie Kirschbaum in our Spring Showcase on March 28. First off, she’s human person—you know what we mean—whose great talent lies in bringing out others’ humanities, even if it’s not so obvious they have them at first. What you might call honest filmmaking. She’s the writer/director of Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, starring Mira Sorvino, Michael Urie, and Joe Pantoliano. Her previous features include Shelf Life, starring Betsy Brandt, and the documentary, Llyn Foulkes One Man Band, which premiered at the LA Film Festival and released theatrically 2014-2015. If you haven’t seen Llyn Foulkes yet, please do. It’s a feel-good film for all those artists who think they’re late bloomers. Here’s a bit more from our fabulous director Tamar below.

1. What are the top 3 movies/plays/shows that have inspired you?

Movies – Raise the Red Lantern, Paper Moon, The Broken Circle Breakdown.

Plays – Almost anything by Tracy Letts, Shock Headed Peter, Stones in his Pockets. New production from Chicago that recently played in LA that blew me away was Luna Gale.

Shows – all of Spalding Gray’s monologues, Stomp.

Or did you mean TV shows? VEEP and The Comeback and Arrested Developemnt and Season 2 of Workaholics.

2. Did you go to film/theater school? What led you to being a writer or director?

I earned an MFA in Film and TV production from USC. Before that, I decided not to be an actor and go behind the camera instead, and it stuck!

3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?

I boycotted the Oscars this year because there were – again – no female writers or directed nominated. I want to do everything to support women in theater, not just as actresses. We write, we direct, we make babies if we feel like it, and we exact change through our views and voices.

4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”

I’m experiencing the first deep sorrow of my adult life. I don’t know where it will take me, but I am in it and letting it be as it needs to be.

Spring Showcase Writer #6: Melanie Kirschbaum

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When we first heard from Melanie Kirschbaum, we immediately thought, “Goonies never say die.” We have no idea why, but we did. Maybe it’s because Melanie seems like a make-it-work kind of woman. Either way, she presented to us a short called “Smart,” co-written with Alexandra Decas. It was our favorite kind of genre, a timeless pairing of two seemingly opposite women who somehow puzzle-piece into one another and drive each other insane. Kirschbaum works in TV, got her start with Jeff and Jackie Filgo, and now works for Vali Chandrasekaran, for which we are thankful, because we can easily see how her style has developed from some of our favorite comedies. Here are some words of wisdom and some appropriately awesome background infos from Melanie herself.

1. What are 3 top movies/plays/shows that have inspired you?

My top three shows are Will & Grace, Golden Girls, and Broad City. I fall asleep to Golden Girls every night; Blanche Devereaux haunts my dreams. I love comedies with heart that showcase the bonds of friendship, because there’s nothing better (or funnier) than watching characters who love each other give each other shit and have adventures. Speaking of friendship, I can’t even think of broaching the topic of inspiration without mentioning my favorite movie of all time, Beaches. It’s about two best gal pals (one is Bette Midler, a national treasure) and it is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I like to infuse a little Beaches into everything I do. Spoiler alert: no one in SMART succumbs to a heart condition.

2. Did you go to film/theater school? What led to you being a writer or director?

I did not go to film/theater school. Where I did go was the University of Pittsburgh, the result of the most serendipitous rejection of my life thus far (there have been many). The University of Maryland said no, Pitt said yes, and off I went to Western PA. I was an English major because I liked to write short stories, though I had no idea how that would translate to adult life. Then one day during my junior year, an LA based manager/producer visited Pitt to give a talk about the industry, he was from Pittsburgh, and little idiot Melanie sitting in the audience raised her hand and asked, “What’s an internship?” It was not a proud moment. But it did lead to him saying, “Come work for me for the summer and find out,” and so I did. One year later, my mom and I embarked on a road tip to deposit me in LA (at one point during our journey I caught her speaking into the lens cap of the video camera thinking it was a microphone), and then several years after that, I got a job working for 2 TV writers, which put me on my way.

All that being said, what ultimately made me a writer is my family. They are hilarious, supportive, and I’m so, so lucky to be in the presence of such strength, wit, and comedic material. Especially my mother, who has the best sense of humor out of everyone.

3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?

Since meeting Alexandra Decas and seeing what we’ve created just the two of us, the thought of collaborating with a whole gang of ladies is just so exciting. The relationships women have with one another are just so much better, so much richer and more powerful than the ones men have. Which is a real shame for them, but whatever, they have enough.

4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”

I have been on the bottom. I’d like to be on the top. At the very least on television.

Spring Showcase Director #5: Meera Menon

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We were thrilled when we got an email from Meera Menon, saying she was interested in directing a piece for the first One Axe showcase. We’d already heard of her feature, Farah Goes Bang, which garnered raving reviews at Tribeca and also earned her the inaugural Nora Ephron Prize. She told us she was interested in stories of politics or coming of age, things that crossed from drama to comedy. And then a magical thing happened, because we’d read some essays from Wendy C. Ortiz’s memoirs and thought, “Wouldn’t those work as a script?” Turns out, they did. Wendy adapted her work, and Meera stepped in to assist with development, and the result is a short sensorial experience of a heartbreaking memory, brought to life by actress Cristina Fernandez. Here’s some tidbits of info from Menon herself.

1. What are the top 3 movies/plays that have inspired you?

– Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (film)

– Ratcatcher (film)

– The Pillowman (play)

2. Did you go to film school? What led you to being a writer/director?

Yes I did go to film school! I have always loved movies and stories and think I wanted to be in on the action in some form from very early in my life, writing plays in my basement with my next door neighbor, etc.

3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?

I think I’ve always sought out other women to work with, because I do believe there is a shared language there. Generally centered around birthing metaphors and cycle syncing.

4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”

I’m going to dinner. I’ve been to lunch.

Spring Showcase Writer #5: Alexandra Decas

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Alexandra Decas

Alexandra, along with her writing partner Melanie Kirschbaum, had submitted “Smart” to us with the best log line: “Triggered by a conversation about our national treasure, Elizabeth Smart, two best friends nitpick each other’s life decisions, but ultimately realize that neither has it quite together.” It’s a testament to an expert summation of a script, because we already liked it before we read it.

Alex is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication, so she started out working for KNBC’s leading investigative journalist, a production company, a cable network, and, of course, celebrity couple. She then moved over to Eagleheart on Adult Swim and finally to black-ish on ABC.  Originally, “Smart” was a web series she and her partner starred in, but now we get to have it .  She currently works as a writers’ assistant on ABC’s comedy Black-ish. “Smart” was originally a web series she and Melanie starred in together, but we’re very excited to preview the brand-new live production, directed by the expert Tamar Halpern.

1. What are the top 3 movies/plays/shows that have inspired you?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but it wasn’t until I saw an episode of the show Six Feet Under in high school that I had any idea how amazing television could be, and I knew right then that THAT was what I wanted to do.  I literally caught the episode about two weeks before I had to choose my colleges to apply to, and I told my parents the next day “Don’t worry guys.  I have it all figured out.  I’m going to be a TV major.”  In case you were wondering, it was Season 3 Episode 6 (“Making Love Work”), and to this day it’s the Cold Open death that haunts me the most.

In the last five years, the show Happy Endings inspired me in that I want to write for a show like that — it’s a smart, single camera, hilarious show.

And in my personal life, I’ve mostly been inspired my My Best Friend’s Wedding.  It’s a friendly reminder to go for what you want early in life, because your bad behavior will not be rewarded favorably later.

2. Did you go to film/theater school? What led you to being a writer or director?

I may have answered some of this question earlier, but I did follow through with my insane proclamation to my parents.  I went to Boston University and majored in film and television.  I took as many television screenwriting classes as possible and upon graduation moved to Los Angeles to do a Post Grad “Writer In Hollywood” program that BU offered.

3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?

I love female driven projects.  I’ve never had more fun since I partnered up with Melanie Kirschbaum.  I’ve had nothing but good experiences since I’ve started working in this industry, but there is no denying the feeling that men run this town and sexism exists.  I like the idea of networking with and meeting as many talented and successful women as possible.  Besides, men are garbage! (Kidding…)

4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”

I’ve been working towards where I’m going, and this is a stop along the way!  Makes sense, right?

Spring Showcase Director #4: Kat Vondy

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 Kat Vondy had written to us early on, expressing interest in directing something for the stage. She’d been working in film/video, had racked up some awards for her films (like her USC thesis “The Broken Heart of Gnocchi Bolognese”) but had just come off of directing a live show for Lost Moon Radio. We read her email, loved it, and then promptly buried it in an ever-growing and insurmountable inbox. Lucky for us, she wrote a reminder, and we were just looking for a director who could take a screwball comedy by Ari Berkowitz and elevate it to an artful physical performance.

1. What are the top 3 movies/plays/shows that have inspired you?

I grew up in a time and place in which most of the movies I had access to were big budget studio films, and it wasn’t until I took a film class during my freshman year of college that I began to get more exposure to independent and art films. Short Cuts, Blue Velvet and Don’t Look Now were three films I saw at that time that really started to change how I looked at movies. I saw there were more ways to tell a story than I’d previously thought.

2. Did you go to film/theater school? What led you to being a writer/director?

Yes, I received an MFA in Film and Television Production from USC. I wish I knew what compelled me to write and direct! I feel like, growing up, I just always sort of found myself doing creative projects without really having made a conscious decision to do them. Then, when I was trying to figure out how serious I was about pursuing a creative career and was thinking about applying to film school, I remember talking it over with a friend who basically said “If you don’t go to film school, you probably won’t end up being a director, because it’ll be harder to get the skills. It could happen, it’s just not that likely. But if you go to film school, you MIGHT end up be a director.” And that was a very reasonable assessment of the situation, so I applied.

3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?

It’s basically impossible for just one person to put on a show or make a film; these are collaborative forms of art and entertainment and they don’t happen unless people work together. Also, it’s not a reality TV competition, so I’m here to make friends.

4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”

Figurative answer: I am going to try new things, even/especially if they are scary, and I have been working very hard to find out what those things could be.

Literal answer: I am going to a friend’s house to watch a reality TV competition, and I have been to the dentist.