Category: I write


If I seem like a shy writer, it’s because I’m in the midst of moving this week from Chicago to sunny Los Angeles. My work with Critical Mass leads me there, and I couldn’t be more grateful. LA holds a lot of opportunity for folks in the field of digital content. My head spins and my heart swells. But mostly the spinning.

I’ll post an update very soon after the move. Feel free to ask questions in the comments! I’ll be happy to answer.

About an eon ago, my friend, young-adult author James Kennedy, “took over” my blog – I hosted a giveaway when his book The Order of Odd-Fish came out in paperback. Oh what fun that was, since James was also gearing up for his “Dome of Doom” fan art show and battle-dance party in Chicago – in which yours truly competed and valiantly… uh, lost… in the first round. But anyway.

James is up to some serious fun again. This time, he’s asking folks to retell Newbery-winning stories…  In video, in 90 SECONDS.

[Cough] Oh my. The prospect starts my little heart racing, it does. The contest has gotten lots of kids, classrooms, and families inspired, too. James and co-curator Betsy Bird (she of School Library Journal’s Fuse8!) have collected dozens of entries from miles around. With submissions from Canada and New Zealand, this thing has gone international AND intercontinental.

(Where it all began: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, starring James’s niece Freya. She’ll also star in the book trailer for my young adult novel Thirty Decibels.)

Check out this entry, told entirely in shadow-puppets!

Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

OH! Here’s one that had me laughing. I mean, c’mon, it’s a musical!:

The 21 Balloons by William Péne du Bois

Mark your calendars for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival:

New York:  Saturday, November 5, 2011, 3-5 pm
The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at the New York Public Library main branch (Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY. 917.275.6975.)
Co-hosted by James Kennedy and Jon Scieszka, with appearances by Rebecca Stead and Ayun Halliday!

Chicago: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 6-8 pm
The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at the Harold Washington Public Library in Chicago (400 South State Street)

Even better: you can be a part of it. That’s right, James is taking entries until October 17th!

Here’s James’s take on the whole thing:

Teachers, here’s a fun project that will get your students reading Newbery winners.
Students, here’s an excuse to mess around with video equipment.
Librarians, here’s an activity to do with your teen advisory boards.
Anyone can enter. Everyone wins!

I love it! For full rules, head over to the official contest announcement. And get crackin’ on your entry!

Shooting began today on the Thirty Decibels book trailer.

And what better way to kick off the production than to capture the story’s villain?

Meet CityLeader Frankel

CityLeader Hiram Frankel, AKA Jason Kingsley

CityLeader Hiram Frankel wields the most political power in East Jefferson, Texas, where main character Ava lives. In fact, Ava’s mother (a Whisperer) works for the man himself. His groundbreaking legislation will take away Whisperers’ only freedoms, and he hopes to extend these changes nationally. He represents the newest, most power-hungry generation of Leaders since the Whisper Rules went into effect nearly a century ago.

The shots

Sehban Zaidi, the director, shot several takes of actor Jason Kingsley giving a speech as CityLeader Frankel. Since we won’t be using his audio for the final cut, Jason made up his own powerful orations… about baked goods and tasty desserts. He had all of us giggling. Yes, every powerful villain has facets that make them human – I guess Frankel’s got a powerful sweet tooth.

Production Assistant Steve Kroodsma and Director Sehban Zaidi ensure they’ve got a great shot.

  

Prep Underway for Thirty Decibels Book Trailer

Before I get into the update – Chicago folks, we need your help!
We’d like to shoot early to mid-September and we need: 1) A choir rehearsal space, either in a school or church or theater, for a few hours; 2) A library for a few hours (bookstore may also work); 3) A high-school age choir group. These choir and library shots are very important to the trailer. So please get in touch if you know of any resources!

Lately, I’ve been working behind the scenes with Chicago’s Palinopsia Studio to prep for our Thirty Decibels book trailer shoot – finalizing storyboards, discussing wardrobe and props, and securing locations – all leading up to the upcoming shoot.

Thirty Decibels storyboard, showing main character Ava in the library: the only place Whisperers hold authority

Thirty Decibels storyboard, showing high-powered politico villain, CityLeader Frankel, using his full volume

Wardrobe will take on a post-cultural layering theme.

Main character Ava's vest, to be paired with a white hoodie.

Short films are such a blast to work on. I have a little previous experience to draw from…

From 2000-2002, I worked for a large Chicago ad agency, Ogilvy & Mather. My main clients were Sears, Kenmore, Suave, and Dove – and I was lucky enough to art direct several TV spots. Basically, that means I helped create the “story” behind each commercial, helped cast the actors, and worked with the director, propmasters, effects artists, and editors to make sure that story idea came across effectively. After stepping foot on that first film set and seeing how efficiently film professionals could create a story from thin air, I was hooked.

In 2002-2003, I worked on the sets of a few short films: I was a set dresser for graduate student Rae Shaw’s film Soap and Roses, which earned the attention of film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum (here’s the unofficial review, and a sample scene); I was a PA (production assistant) / actor in a hilarious horror-comedy called Skunk Ape!? , which appeared in the Tromadance film festival (here’s my take); and a PA / actor in an adaptation of the rather talented Chicago author Joe Meno‘s I Was a Mathlete Until I Met Margo Marriswhich appeared in the Chicago International film festival, Tribeca film festival, and Dances with Films(Click the title to see the whole film. I’m not Margo Marris, but I have a fun cameo.)

I have such a soft spot for filmmaking – for the collaboration of skill, passion, wit, and elbow grease from everyone involved. And I’m so excited to be a part of that tradition again.

I look forward to posting our progress here as we go.
If there’s anything specific you’d like to see, or if you have any questions for myself or the director, fire them away below! We’d love to hear from you.

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