Spring Showcase Director #2: Leah Anova

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Our second director for the Spring Showcase is Leah Anova, a cinematographer extraordinaire who came to us as she was looking to expand into directing. Leah is the epitome of a professional, an enthusiastic creator who’s been a Film Independent Project Involve Fellow and who’s earned a spot in the American Society of Cinematographers’ Master Class Workshop. When she emailed us, she said she was interested in stories that revealed the ugliness of life but reaffirmed hope does exist. Her email sign-off read, “Let’s do it!” Obviously, we wrote within 40 minutes and paired her up with Anastasia Kousakis’ script for “The Day After the Day After You Were Born,” which has turned out to be a perfect match. This performance is going to be GORGEOUS.

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

Three Colors:Blue by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Raise the Red Lantern by Yimou Zhang
Chungking Express by Kai Wai Wong
2. Did you go to film school? What led you to being a director?
Yes, I attend the American Film Institute and completed an MFA in cinematography. Directing is something I’ve always wanted to explore. The opportunity presented itself. I jumped!
3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?
There’s nothing more powerful than the creative force of women. We speak with grace! [Editor’s note: …well…at least Leah speaks with grace. The rest of us…]
4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”
I’m a Cinematographer by profession. Currently, I exist within the Indie World and hope to move into mainstream features. I want to shoot the next Avengers. It’s time for a GURL to do so!
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Spring Showcase Writer #2: Anastasia Kousakis

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Anastasia’s script for “The Day After the Day After You Were Born” sneaked up on us. For the first few pages, we read it as a solid scene between two disparate people, but we were soon mistaken. With a nuanced approach that hints at an almost science-fiction construction and a focus on two humans thrust together in a tense moment, the story was elevated to a gorgeous reflection on personhood, motherhood, and the future. And did we mention humor? We’re very excited about this piece, which will star Katie Wharton, Nick Rapp, and Rasheda Den’e, directed by the talented Leah Anova.

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

Nowadays I’m more inspired by TV. But, full disclosure, I’ve seen SwingersOffice Space, and Clueless more times than I can count. Shout-outs to Scenes from a Marriage, a handful of Cassavetes filmsand Stephen Belber’s play Tape. I have mixed feelings about watching it now, but it’s hard not to acknowledge the impact of Manhattan, which I’ve also seen countless times.

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

I never went to film school; but I grew up in Los Angeles and Vancouver, and started working in TV in high school. I didn’t start writing seriously until I got to college and took my first fiction workshop. Short stories were my focus for most of college and my early adulthood. I’ve written all kinds of stuff since then, but spend most of my time writing for TV these days–or writing anything but TV when I’m avoiding a new pilot like I’m doing right this very moment.

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

At work—and, I suspect, other places—people like me are often referred to as “female writers.” The more we do stuff like this, the closer we are to everyone dropping that “female” part.

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

Wherever there’s ice cream.

Spring Showcase Director #1: Sabrina Weisz

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As a director, Sabrina Weisz has a keen awareness for exactly what a writer had in mind when she wrote a script. Maybe that’s because Weisz is also a writer, and an actor. Like many ladies in the industry, she needed to be everything to survive with limited roles, but now she gets to enjoy the autonomy of that necessity. In our Spring Showcase, Weisz is directing Becky Thyre‘s hilarious absurdist comedy, SANDBOX. With a cast of 5 and a mile-per-minute dialogue, Weisz has her work cut out for her, and we are balls-to-the-wall excited to see this play.
Here’s some words of wisdom from Weisz herself.
1. What are the top 3 movies/plays that have inspired you?
This is so hard because I have been inspired by almost every one I have seen in one way or another. Even the bad ones were a lesson in what doesn’t work. Here are the first three that come to mind.
1) OUT OF AFRICA: Beautiful to look at and a story perfectly told. It also speaks to me as a woman who has always wanted “something of her own.” It’s a feminist story told in a time when there was no such thing.
2) RAISING ARIZONA: A Coen Brothers masterpiece. It’s beyond funny. It’s over-the-top characters feel more real than anyone you have ever met. It’s epic and simple at the same time.
3) DEATH OF A SALESMAN: I saw this show on Broadway when I was in High School. Up until that show, I didn’t know that live theater could have such a profound impact on its audience. I was forever changed by it.
2. Did you go to film school? What led you to being a writer/director?
I went to Loyola Marymount and spent my time there in the Television and Film Production department. I worked on dozens of student films there, both in front of and behind the camera, loving all of it equally.  After graduation, I pursued my acting career but quickly became frustrated by the limited roles I was going up for. Writing and directing for the stage and the web was a lot more gratifying. I have always worn all three hats, sometimes at the same time.
3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?
I simply love the idea of a place that supports female artists. Most stories have been told through a male lens. As more and more women write and direct, we will get a wider, more truthful telling of the human experience.
4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”
I’ve been to Trader Joe’s, and now I am going home to make dinner for my kids… Oh, and I have also been a young girl trying to be what others thought she should be to get work. And, I am going to be a woman who doesn’t give a shit about what other people think of her.

Spring Showcase Writer #1: Becky Thyre

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Over the next few weeks, we’ll be slowly unveiling the participants of our first showcase. Our first writer is Becky Thyre, whose absurdist comedy SANDBOX we will be producing.

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1. What are the top 3 movies/plays that have inspired you?
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, and The Homecoming by Harold Pinter

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

I didn’t go to film school.  I majored in Theater at LSU in Baton Rouge.  I’ve been acting since then, but for a long time did work that I wrote through improvisation with the other actors, and then started writing and performing stories and character monologues, and decided to write Sandbox because I missed doing plays.

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

I naturally gravitate to collaborating with women because we tend to be interested in the same themes.  I think and write out of my experiences as a woman, and I enjoy the dialogue that happens when I work with other women.

4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”
Where am I going, where have I been?  I have no idea.