Go See Demons at the Oceanside International Film Festival in August!

TME Productions partnered with Letters Against Depression, a nonprofit organization founded by Robert Mason, to produce a short film, Demons. Directed by David M. Gutel, this film has a mission to reduce suicide by spreading awareness about how to deal with depression.

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Logo for Letters Against Depression, founded by Robert Mason.

Letters Against Depression strives to help people all around the world to deal with depression, and this organization exists for people to reach out for advice and support about how to deal with their depression, Mason added. “I want to add comfort to people and allow them connect with others who have depression,” Mason said. Now this organization serves about 300 patients worldwide and counting.

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Poster for Demons. All photos courtesy of Chris Sweda.

Demons will be screened at this year’s Oceanside International Film Festival on August 10. Made possible by many producers and executive producers including Theresa Dame Bellasario, Angie Quidim and Chris Sweda, Demons will be one of 60 films shown on the big screen in Oceanside. Written by Noah Johnson and Darshar Vaidya, Demons stars with Michelle Way, Sidney Franklin, and Kathleen Scott among others in cast.

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Crew on set at California State University Long Beach.

Filmed at California State University Long Beach (CSULB), this film follows a young college student, Aaron, who suffers from depression. Aaron, played by Sidney Franklin, learns to deal with depression not by committing suicide but by asking for help from his professors and friends at college. “When I saw the script for this film (Demons), I immediately felt connected with the story and with what Aaron went through,” Mason said. “Mental illnesses in the media seem to have an after-school special feel; however, in Demons, I knew the story and the main character (Aaron) will change the conservation about mental illnesses.”

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Sidney Franklin as Aaron.

Mason also shared that he suffers from depression himself since childhood due to bullying at school. He isolated himself from other children during his school years, but could manage his depression on his own until college years. He escaped to work for Walt Disney World in 1998 to escape his troubles, however he felt lonely in Florida. “I did not want to see my family, and I wanted to stay isolated,” Mason said. “When I could not get up from bed or skipped events because of my condition, I sought care from my doctor to learn how to fight back. I felt scared to tell people about my depression since of the stigma, so I kept my depression a secret.” He coped with his depression by keeping a journal about his emotions. Additionally, by launching Letters Against Depression, Mason hopes to be a person for others to feel safe to ask for help via letters.

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A birthday party scene in Demons.

Gutel also shared his own personal experience with depression. “My brother’s best friend’s younger brother committed suicide. After I read the script, I realized how little we talk about suicide in society and how we just try and ignore as if it never happened. I wanted to direct Demons because I saw it as an opportunity to talk about an issue our society is facing through the power of narrative film story telling,” Gutel said. “I saw it as a way to touch people in need deeper than any other method.”

Mason also hopes that this film will draw more volunteers and those affected with depression to become more aware about Letters Against Depression. “I felt honored to be asked to partner with TME to produce Demons, because I am passionate about mental illnesses, depression, and suicide awareness. I hope this film touches others and influences other people to help those affected with mental illnesses,” Mason said. “I see myself in this film, and kids with depression can see themselves through Aaron, and reach out for help.”

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Aaron’s mother in Demons.

Gutel graduated from CSULB in 2014 with a degree in film and electronic arts with an emphasis in directing. Gutel hopes to show two messages through this short film. He wants to show that people who have depression need to talk to someone about their issue. Also, Gutel wants to spread awareness to people about suicidal problems, and educate them how to reach out to those who need help with depression and other mental issues.

“Hopefully, I want to touch as many people as possible who are struggling (with mental health issues). By bringing awareness to an issue that isn’t talked about, I hope we can start to help those is need. If I just touch one life, my job is done.” Mason also hopes that this film will help parents become more aware about mental illnesses, as he plays the role of Aaron’s father in this film. “Small things can become a big environment for kids to experience depression and think about suicide,” Mason said.

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Martin Horvat’s screenwriting Talent Brought All These Voices to the 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival

Martin Horvat, writer, and David Henry Gerson, director, had the opportunity to show their film, All These Voices, at the Newport Beach Film Festival. All These Voices is about how a young SS officer who realizes that he was complicit in killing innocent people during World War II, including those who had artistic talents.

Photo by Herman Askew
David Henry Gerson and Martin Horvat at the 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival. Photo: Courtesy of Martin Horvat

Horvat is multilingual—as he is from Ljublijana, Slovenia. A recent graduate in screenwriting from American Film Institute, Horvat can speak fluent Slovenian, Croatian, English and French. He also has working knowledge in Greek and Latin—he has worked as a translator from the Ancient Greek language. In All These Voices, you can hear Polish and German, supported with English subtitles.

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Performers at the NBFF. Photo by Megan Clancy

The Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF) is one of Orange County’s big annual events where screenwriters, producers, directors, cast, and the media mingle together and view various screenings of films—both shorts and features of all types of genres and many languages.

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Ice sculpture for the NBFF! Photo by Megan Clancy

“It’s (the NBFF) a great opportunity to meet many other filmmakers who come to show their films, which I would argue is the festival’s biggest and most important feat,” Horvat said. “The screening of a film is the actual completion of the process, and it does give you a sense of accomplishment. All These Voices screened in an interesting group of short films all related to the theme of war, and it was fascinating to see all the different approaches of other filmmakers to a fairly similar theme.”


Horvat is aware that writing can be a daunting task—with the responsibility and decision making using words to explain difficult ideas and concepts and to develop the characters. “You just have to learn to laugh when your ideas and mistakes blow up in your face and your life as a writer becomes an endless parade of jokes; sometimes they’re even funny.” Horvat said. He likes seeing the finish line of writing a good screenplay the best—when it is completed.

Photo by Patrick Taylor
Martin Horvat on set during filming of All These Voices. Photo: Courtesy of Martin Horvat.

He also teaches screenwriting as a volunteer with Young Storytellers Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that runs one of the biggest outreach programs. Horvat teaches children ages 10 to 12 to write their first short screenplays. Those students get the opportunity to see their scripts come to life on stage at the end of the semester, and professional actors perform the scripts. “Teaching kids puts you back into that playful state of mind where anything is possible and you can just play with ideas,” Horvat said. “It’s really amazing to observe how a young uninhibited brain, free of censorship, takes writing as easily and joyfully as running around with a basketball and a group of best friends.”
Horvat came to America to study screenwriting at the AFI—because of the differences in European and American attitude towards screenwriters. “I wanted to study screenwriting in an environment that nurtures screenwriting as an autonomous part in the process of making a film, and in an environment that cherishes functional qualities of a compelling story, namely its function to entertain the audience,” Horvat said. He hopes to return to the NBFF in the future.

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Newport Beach Film Festival. Photo by Megan Clancy

 

This Year’s Miss Unlimited Pageant Again Another Success!

The Third Annual Miss Unlimited Pageant was held May 7th at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory’s Sister Caroline Collins theater.   There were a total of 28 participants, with thirteen alumni and fifteen new participants, according to Michelle Wynn, the pageant’s founder and director.

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Michelle Wynn, Chemistry teacher at St. Ignatius College Preparatory, San Francisco and founder of Miss Unlimited Pageant. All photos credit: Pedro Cafasso unless noted.

One of the highlights of the show was the participation of A.P. Giannini para educator, Mr. Matt, who danced and sang with three of his students.

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Mr. Matt on stage with one of the participants.

Since one of the goals of the pageant is to recognize the beauty inside ourselves, I asked Mr. Matt what he thought:  “I am beautiful, thanks to the people I surround myself with, especially the students I work with every day,” Mr. Matt continues,  “Working with hard-working kids who don’t give up and find the humor and beauty in everyday life teaches me to see the work in a brighter way.” Mr. Matt’s wife, Amanda Barnett, Moderate / Severe Inclusion Teacher at A.P. Giannini Middle School, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), also volunteered at this event.

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“I am beautiful because I am not afraid to speak up.  I speak up for those who don’t have a voice and amplify the voices that are not always heard.”  When asked what she took from her experience at the pageant, Barnett said “I learned how amazing our community is.  The support and participation from St. Ignatius College Preparatory (the SI), local media, SFUSD, and the volunteers from around the Bay Area was incredible.  All girls deserve the opportunity to be celebrated and empowered for who they are.”

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Katrina Keating with a rose.

One of the student founders, Katrina Keating, from Saint Ignatius, where director Michelle Wynn teaches said, “Miss Unlimited taught me the value of teamwork and showed me that a small group of dedicated people can make a difference if they work hard and, as Miss Wynn says, “never take no for an answer.” What I learned from Miss Unlimited has helped me grow in confidence, and this will help me in college.”  Keating will be attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the fall.

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Hart Ayoob with Mara Sylvia (photo from 2015, courtesy of Paul Totah, SI School).

Hart Ayoob, another student volunteer from Saint Ignatius, added  “Miss Unlimited helped me recognize the aspects of myself that make me beautiful. I have struggled with my self-identity and often doubt myself and my abilities. Miss Unlimited taught me self-love and self-acceptance, something that I really lacked before the pageant. I would not be in the position I am in today if it weren’t for the pageant. By teaching me about my true special qualities, I developed more confidence as a result of my involvement with the pageant. My experience with Miss Unlimited was invaluable to my positive self-identity, ultimately putting me in a position to succeed in the College Application process,” Ayoob said, who will be attending Boston College in the fall.

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Attendees cheer on in the audience.

“The pageant showed that despite disabilities or differences, we all are humans with human needs. Among these is the need to be respected and recognized. For a community that is often overlooked, it is very important that we take the time to celebrate each person’s unique and special qualities,” said Ayoob.

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Peter Finch was this year’s show host.  He wanted to volunteer with this pageant because he has a 27-year-old son who has autism.  “I am beautiful because I am a good husband and a good father to my two (now adult) children,” Finch said.

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2015 alumni on stage.

Mandella Cesena, a student at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, volunteered at this year’s pageant for the first time.  “I learned how grateful these girls were to have somewhere dedicated to making them feel as beautiful as they are. I saw so many girls smiling so big and their parents were just as grateful and happy to be there,” Mandella said.  “I could hear the laughter, claps, and cheers through several doors and it was just one of many indications that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the pageant.”  She looks forward to coming back as a volunteer for this pageant in 2017.

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2016 pageant volunteers.

Now, think about why are you beautiful.

Last Man Club Universally Accessible

Hello everyone!  Remember when I met Marc Bovee, founder of GEMAI?  He invited me to view a screening of Last Man Club, directed by Bo Brinkman, before this film hits theaters in several states today.  This film is universally accessible to the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and the Blind via collaboration with Cinemark, Carmike, and Regal Theaters.

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Last Man Club-Eagle and Will having a look at an old stearman bi-plane. All photos: Courtesy of Last Man Club

This story follows the journey of four vets in their 80s: Eagle (Jim Mackrell); Will (W. Morgan Sheppard); Grody (Richard Riehle); and Pete (Barry Corbin).

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Jim MacKrell, Barry Corbin and W Morgan Sheppard in Last Man Club.

During World War II, they all flew on the B-17 bomber together.  After the war ended, they all went on with their work/married lives.

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Romy-(Kate French) chases Eagle (James MacKrell), Pete-(Barry Corbin), and Will-(W-Morgan-Sheppard) out of the hangar.

Eagle was determined to locate his partners with the help of a young woman, Romy (Kate French), so he and his clan could fly the B-17 Bomber again for old times’ sake.  This film got very positive reviews by Rotten Tomatoes.

Last Man Club – Summer Campaign – Memorial Day Launch Locations – per Marc Bovee:

05/27/2016
Dallas
IND
Lost Pines 8
Bastrop, TX 78602
05/27/2016
Dallas
IND
City Lights
Georgetown, TX
05/27/2016
Dallas
Cinemark
Abilene 12
Abilene, TX
05/27/2016
Dallas
Cinemark
Cinemark 14
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
05/27/2016
Dallas
Cinemark
Tinseltown 17
Lubbock, TX 79423
05/27/2016
Dallas
Cinemark
Century 12
Odessa, TX 79762
05/27/2016
OKC
Carmike
Patriot 13
Lawton, OK 73505
05/27/2016
Dallas
Regal
Greenway Grand Plaza
Houston, TX
05/27/2016
OKC
Cinemark
Tinseltown 20
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
05/27/2016
MEM
Cinemark
Colonel Glen
Little Rock AR

This film will also hit more theaters in other states this summer.  Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Follow Last Man Club here: https://twitter.com/LastManClub.

Alexis O. Korycinski had the opportunity to show her short film, The Haircut, at the 2015 Newport Beach Film Festival

About directing and producing The Haircut, Alexis Korycinski mentioned that her father, grandfather, uncle, and cousin all served in the military.  Yet, she was fascinated with how women function in society during the 1970’s, and through her work with The Haircut, she wanted to show a time and period when women struggled to join the military.  In this film, you’d notice how 18-year-old Amy, played by Bailey Noble, had to endure mistreatment and ridicule by her male counterparts including her commanding officer.

Bailey Noble as Amy in The Haircut.  Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Korycinski.
Bailey Noble as Amy in The Haircut. Photo: Courtesy of Rich Prugh Photography

Highly recommended by casting director Lauren Bass, Noble had the ability to make her character authentic.  “Amy was a tiny person who did not have the same strength as male cadets, and she had to find ways to overcome her obstacles,” Noble said.  She mentioned that she loved the script when she auditioned for the role of Amy.  “I was able to do only one pull up,” she said, laughing.

On the right, Amy, played by Bailey Noble, in The Haircut.  Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Korycinski.
On the right, Amy, played by Bailey Noble, in The Haircut. Photo: Courtesy of Rich Prugh Photography

Shooting the film in San Pedro at Fort MacArthur Military Museum, Korycinski did an excellent job making the scenery appear as if the story happened during the 1970’s.

A classic car in The Haircut.  Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Korycinski.
A classic car in The Haircut. Photo: Courtesy of Rich Prugh Photography

For her student project, Korycinski was fortunate to have members from various car clubs in the Los Angeles area donate their vintage cars that were made during that period.  Featuring the film with over five donated vintage cars, the director comments that she truly appreciated the car owners’ contribution to the authenticity of the 1970’s era.

Classic cars in The Haircut.  Photo: Courtesy of Alexis Korycinski.
Classic cars in The Haircut. Photo: Courtesy of Rich Prugh Photography

Noble calls Korycinski an incredible director—which is interesting to hear because Korycinski primarily comes from documentaries but her preceding background was in musical theater at Syracuse University. 

Alexis O. Korycinski, director, and Bailey Noble, actress.  Photo: Megan Clancy
Alexis O. Korycinski, director, and Bailey Noble, actress. Photo: Megan Clancy

Korycinski produced this film as part of her thesis while studying film at the American Film Institute (AFI) as a participant in the 2014 AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (DWW). It was persistence that brought Korycinski to be part of the 2014 cohort at the AFI—after applying there four times.    Patty West, Director of DWW, added that this program only accepts about 3 percent of the applicants per year; therefore, this program is very competitive to get accepted to.  Applicants to the DWW program must submit the following: screenplay(s), resume, Narrative Statement, Work Sample, and Letters of Recommendation, West explains.

Second from left: Bailey Noble and Alexis O. Korycinski at Q and A session at one of the screenings at the 2015 Newport Beach Film Festival.  Photo by Megan Clancy
Second from left: Bailey Noble and Alexis O. Korycinski at Q and A session at one of the screenings at the 2015 Newport Beach Film Festival. Photo by Megan Clancy

Then the DWW staff runs a series of selection which results in selecting about eight participants per cohort, West said.   “I’m incredibly impressed with Alexis’ vision and follow through. She dreams big and pulls it off with a smile on her face, which inspires those who are hustling for her. She has the work ethic, drive and leadership that makes people really successful in this business,” West said.

Second from left: Bailey Noble and Alexis O. Korycinski at Q and A session at one of the screenings at the 2015 Newport Beach Film Festival.  Photo by Megan Clancy
Second from left: Bailey Noble and Alexis O. Korycinski at Q and A session at one of the screenings at the 2015 Newport Beach Film Festival. Photo by Megan Clancy

Following graduation from Syracuse University in New York, her focus on film was in the area of documentaries for seven years so at the AFI, she wanted to add narrative content development to her repertoire as an artist.  “The AFI provides excellent support for women who want to be involved in film, and female filmmakers add the female perspective,” Korycinski said.  “Times have changed since the 1970’s, and I am passionate to see more women behind the camera.”  Women can act and be filmmakers.  “The DWW gives women tools as directors to hone their craft and their voice. Additionally, we’ve begun to focus on how to build and navigate careers as visual storytellers. A big part of that has been mentorship – from their peers, to emerging directors to master filmmakers to managers, agents and executives. We’ve found that mentorship really does matter,” West said.  For example, Korycinski’s mentors at the AFI were Michael Urban, Daisy von Scherler Mayer, and Jamie Babbit.

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Aside from being an artist, Korycinski is also an advocate of disability in media.  As Chairman and Founder of GEMAI (Global Event & Media Accessibility Initiative), Marc Bovee donated open captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing viewers and an audio description track for those who are blind.  “I have family members who are disabled, and I want to see them reflected in the media,” Korycinski said, who also became close friends with Bovee.  “I feel it’s important to have the power of the story accessible to everyone.  Audio description tracks and closed captioning are very important, and every filmmaker should work towards incorporating accessibility for all.”

Describing Bovee as an amazing advocate for the disability community in making films accessible, she also added that more filmmakers should be educated about how to provide accessibility for their audiences who cannot hear or see well.  “Educating filmmakers is one of the many experiences that I have been working on since GEMAI’s inception in 2012,” Bovee said.  “GEMAI’s first event in Hollywood was an honest discussion with filmmakers who had championed the subjects in their creative legacies as well as talent who themselves identified blind or deaf. The reaction from the many people who came was both appreciative and engaged in wanting to be a part of this cultural renaissance.”

Worthy: A Film That Will Worth Your Time to See and Listen…

Worthy is a film about a young woman, Jules Jenson (played by Amberlee Colson) who struggled to become a famous actress in Hollywood, forgetting what is important in life.

Amberlee Colson as Jules Jenson in Worthy.  Photo: Courtesy of Saralyn Armer.
Amberlee Colson as Jules Jenson in Worthy. Photo: Courtesy of Saralyn Armer.

 

In this film, Jules chases a guy that fit her fantasies, then eventually discovers what’s truly important to her, Amberlee explains.  While chasing the Hollywood dream, Jules managed to make a living by dog walking and promoting a hot dog place wearing a hot dog costume besides attending unsuccessful auditions.

Photo still in WORTHY: with Jules Jenson and her partner.  Courtesy of Saralyn Armer.
Photo still in WORTHY: with Jules Jenson and her partner. Courtesy of Saralyn Armer.

 

Also, Jules is a girl who anyone can relate to—for example, she’s someone who would walk out with toilet paper stuck on her shoe.  “She sticks-her-foot-in-her-mouth and embarrasses herself constantly, but in this very charming, naive way,” Amberlee said.  Also, at the end, she realizes that family is the most important thing in life besides fame.

Worthy is unique—partly because this film is an overgrowth of Amberlee’s one-woman shows in Hollywood.  The screenplay for this feature-length film was still under development where Amberlee, who is an actress in real life with her own struggles, would explore who Jules is as a person by doing her own one-woman shows on stage in Los Angeles, called Big Hair.

Amberlee Colson as Jules Jenson in her one-woman show in Los Angeles.  Photo: Courtesy of Amberlee Colson.
Amberlee Colson as Jules Jenson in her one-woman show in Los Angeles. Photo: Courtesy of Amberlee Colson.

Could Amberlee personally relate to Jules—given that they both attend auditions in Hollywood.  “I definitely pulled from my own life struggles and I can totally relate to the themes in Jules’ life,” Amberlee said.  “Jules just wants to find her place in the world but she goes about it in all the wrong (and hopefully funny) ways.  And it’s because she fails to get validation from those she deems “worthy,” that she must look inside and give it to herself.”

Amberlee Colson as herself.  Photo: Courtesy of Amberlee Colson.
Amberlee Colson as herself. Photo: Courtesy of Amberlee Colson.

 

Being in Los Angeles, Amberlee had a fair share of failed auditions while her friends successfully landed acting roles.  However, Amberlee’s struggles as an actress in real-life brought Worthy to fruition.  “The fact that I wasn’t getting jobs, gave me the stimulus I needed to start writing for myself,” Amberlee said.  Self-confidence and self-empowerment are classic themes in stories because people can often relate to those.

Amberlee Colson as Jules Jenson.  Photo: Courtesy of Saralyn Armer.
Amberlee Colson as Jules Jenson. Photo: Courtesy of Saralyn Armer.

Also, performing Big Hair allowed Amberlee to overcome her fear—being on stage by herself.  “I also was completely terrified to be on stage for 90 minutes by myself,” said Amberlee.  “I am a firm believer that when you tackle your fears, you grow tremendously.”

Second from left, Saralyn Armer poses with her cast/crew at the Newport Beach Film Festival.  Photo by Megan Clancy
Third from left, Saralyn Armer poses with her cast/crew at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Photo by Megan Clancy

 

The film’s producer, Saralyn Armer, has known Amberlee for nine years, and has seen her in Big Hair.  “I laughed and cried watching Amberlee’s one-woman shows, so when I was asked to produce this film, I said let’s do it! It was like family working together,” said Armer, who added that shooting the film took 15 days.

Actors Ian Gomez and Rain Phoenix also had the opportunity to help tell the story in this film as well.

Ian Gomez.  Photo by Henry Thompson.
Ian Gomez. Photo by Henry Thompson.

 

“When my manager showed me the script, I thought it was funny, and when I came on set, everyone—the director/producer (Marianna Palka) and the producers (Saralyn Armer, Amberlee Colson, and Mitch Yapko) were all so positive and easygoing—which I experienced for the first time as an actor for a project,” Gomez said, who played the role of Rick.  Gomez also commented that while working on this film, he realized that the cast and crew dedicated on the art of storytelling—not on time or money.  “Everyone was a pleasure to work with,” Gomez said.  “I didn’t have any stress or anxiety while on set.”

 

Amberlee

Rain Phoenix, Marianna Palka, and guest.  Photo by Megan Clancy

Amberlee Colson, Rain Phoenix, and Marianna Palka.  Photo by Henry Thompson.
Amberlee Colson, Rain Phoenix, and Marianna Palka. Photo by Henry Thompson.
Rain Phoenix.  Photo by Henry Thompson.
Rain Phoenix. Photo by Henry Thompson.

Additionally, Rain Phoenix knew some of the crew for this film, and was asked to play the role of Vicki.  Amberlee had a goal to have the film “female-driven” which she achieved based on what Phoenix commented.  “People should see this film because it’s funny and honest, and they will follow the journey of Jules—which shows an example of what women go through when they try auditioning for roles in California,” Phoenix said.

Photo of poster for Worthy.  Photo by Megan Clancy
Photo of poster for Worthy. Photo by Megan Clancy

Now Amberlee does have advice to today’s actors.  Her acting coach and mentor, Steven Anderson (Actorswork), told her to be pro-active when she first arrived in Los Angeles from Orange County to pursue her acting career.  “Create your own work. Start writing, start preforming, start producing your friend’s projects.  Do not wait for someone to hire you or tell you that you are talented.  You are talented!” Amberlee says—while highly recommending Steven Pressfield’s Book, The War of Art.

This film will be shown in Florida: http://skywayfilmfestival2015a.sched.org/.

The 2015 Miss Unlimited Pageant taught students from catholic schools about the definition of beauty

This year’s Miss Unlimited Pageant grew bigger by having three catholic schools work together to run the pageant to offer girls and women with disabilities to show their beauty.  Students from St. Ignatius College Preparatory, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, and Carondelet High School, all based in San Francisco, volunteered to run this year’s second annual pageant.

Student volunteers implemented arts and crafts and other activities, served as buddies, and handled the food for the reception. Students do learn from volunteering at this unique event, established by SI chemistry teacher Michelle Wynn.

For example, Katrina Keating was one of the SI volunteers who volunteered for the second time this year.  “The Miss Unlimited pageant gave me new insights about the importance of leadership. Leadership comes from divine inspiration, passion, dedication and courage. St. Ignatius’ Prayer of Generosity explains what it means to be a leader: to give and not to count the cost…save that of knowing that I’m doing  [God’s] will,” said Katrina, remembering the Jesuits’ motto, Ad Maorem De Glorium, for the greater glory of God.

Mara Clancy, in the middle, earns her title of Miss Spirited.  Photo by Megan Clancy
Mara Clancy, in the middle, earns her title of Miss Spirited. Photo by Megan Clancy

“Miss Wynn has inspired a new generation of St. Ignatius students to follow her example of following the Pastoral Cycle in the service of God. I try to live out her example in everything I do,” said Katrina.  “At times the overwhelming love during the pageant moved me to tears because I felt God’s presence. The pageant brings people together and celebrates inner beauty and, as (pageant participant) Mara Clancy said, helps everyone involved remember that they are princesses inside and out in God’s eyes.”

SI student volunteers Hart Ayoob and Mara Sylvia. Photo credit: Paul Totah, spokesman of St. Ignatius College Preparatory.
SI student volunteers Hart Ayoob and Mara Sylvia. Photo credit: Paul Totah, spokesman of St. Ignatius College Preparatory.

Additionally, another SI volunteer, Mara Sylvia, learned a lot about beauty and it’s definition and perception in today’s society.  “This pageant has helped me to see the beauty and talent in everyone. I also see the effects of this stereotypical “beauty” on the contestants and hope that our pageant also helps them realize their beauty,” Mara said.

Virgia Giannatos, caretaker/volunteer, poses with participant Arabella "Bella" Zanotto. Photo by Megan Clancy
Virgia Giannatos, caretaker/volunteer, poses with participant Arabella “Bella” Zanotto. Photo by Megan Clancy

This matches Wynn’s goal of showing that girls and women with disabilities also have beauty to share.  “This pageant helps me grow as a Catholic because it really relays the message of each individuals importance and our obligation to helping one another. Often today we are told beauty and wealth are the most important things over God, but with this pageant we defy this fact and show that everyone has beauty and love from God.”

From left, SI chemistry teacher/Miss Unlimited Pageant Executive Director Michelle Wynn; Board of Directors members Brandi DeCarli and Scott P. Hu; and Miss West Coast Natalie Duvalsaint.  Photo credit: Paul Totah, spokesman of St. Ignatius College Preparatory.
From left, SI chemistry teacher/Miss Unlimited Pageant Executive Director Michelle Wynn; Board of Directors members Brandi DeCarli and Scott P. Hu; and Miss West Coast Natalie Duvalsaint. Photo credit: Paul Totah, spokesman of St. Ignatius College Preparatory.
Miss Unlimited.  Photo by Megan Clancy
Miss Unlimited with SI students Biana Vayngortin and Caitlin Sullivan. Photo by Megan Clancy

Additionally, the 16 participants performed in front of judges: Miss Silicon Valley Melissa Bowling; Sarah Meakin, executive director of the James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program; San Francisco Police Department Deputy Chief Garret Tom; Olympic Gold Medalist Heather Petri; and Miss West Coast Natalie Duvalsaint.

Miss West Coast Natalie Duvalsaint; Olympic Gold Medalist Heather Petri; San Francisco Police Department Deputy Chief Garret Tom; Sarah Meakin, executive director of the James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program; and Miss Silicon Valley Melissa Bowling. Photo credit: Paul Totah, spokesman of St. Ignatius College Preparatory.
Miss West Coast Natalie Duvalsaint; Olympic Gold Medalist Heather Petri; San Francisco Police Department Deputy Chief Garret Tom; Sarah Meakin, executive director of the James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program; and Miss Silicon Valley Melissa Bowling. Photo credit: Paul Totah, spokesman of St. Ignatius College Preparatory.

Read more about the 2015 pageant here: http://www.catholic-sf.org/ns.php?newsid=16&id=63562.