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Casting & Crew Call for New Balderson Film #indiefilm #kansas #casting #auditions

Balderson Casting Call

Kansas --- Local filmmaker Steve Balderson has announced a casting and crew call for an upcoming film penned by local screenwriter Frankie Krainz. The Untitled top-secret project begins production in March 2012 in Los Angeles and will wrap in Hong Kong. Kansas-area Actors & Crew of any age and race can submit themselves for consideration by locating the CASTING / CREW CALL page at

“When I’m casting and crewing a movie I consider everybody,” Balderson said. “Each person has their own unique ingredient they bring to the group recipe. I’ve cast total unknowns in projects with Oscar and Golden Globe winners, famous musicians, stage actors, and aspiring students. Someone may lack experience, but they could also be a total genius.”

In October, Balderson and Krainz finished shooting their feature CULTURE SHOCK, an action film produced entirely without permits in Kansas City and in London, England.

Their previous film, THE CASSEROLE CLUB, won five 2011 Independent Vision Awards in New York City last summer including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Backstreet Boys crooner Kevin Richardson, Best Actress for Susan Traylor, and Best Production Design.

Film Threat magazine writes that Balderson “makes movies that are so gorgeous that it’s not unreasonable to say that, cinematographically at least, he’s the equal of an Argento or Kibrick in their prime. Some people have perfect vocal pitch, Steve has perfect visual composition.”

The CASTING / CREW CALL at will continue through the holidays.

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Taking Movies on the Road: An Interview with Couchfest Founder, Craig Downing #filmfestivals #indiefilm #shortfilms

Taking Movies on the Road_A Couchfest Interview, Photo by Christopher Velasco

The 2011 Couchfest film festival’s international expansion united movie lovers around the globe, from Iceland to Peru and then all the way over in Haiti. It not only allowed for a wider celebration of short films, but any filmmaker whose work was selected to screen at the festival this year can take pride in knowing they their film was seen in places that they probably never imagined being showcased at, much less visiting.

I had the pleasure of discussing the exciting movie madness that was this year’s festival, with Craig Downing, the founder of Couchfest. During this conversation, he revealed some of the surprises, challenges and thrills of taking short films beyond U.S. borders; along with the top reasons why some film submissions are not accepted to screen at this festival.

Madlab Post: Could you give a rough estimate of how many people attended Couchfest this year?

Craig Downing: We had probably about somewhere around 500 people, worldwide.

What methods of promotion helped to attract audience members at Couchfest screenings?

We had a lot of success with word-of-mouth, Couch Surfing had an article about us that drove a lot of traffic to the site and then we had an article with Wired online that drove a lot of traffic and one of my favorite blogs, Laughing Squid did a piece on us – and that kind of trumped things up because we have a budget of debt, so we get really excited about any kind of word or marketing or twitter announcement about us; I think the biggest thing for driving people to the festival is just hearing about the quirkiness of it and then wanting to go experience it.

Most of it was online; we did a couple of Facebook ads and put up some flyers in Iceland – the flyers last about a day, until someone rips them down and puts up their own band poster over them. Online, there are a lot of filmmaking groups and industry blogs that I was reaching out to, mentioning what we were doing – I would say to filmmakers that I really like “Hey, we have a film festival in your city – you could be elbow to elbow with other filmmakers, whether you have a film or don’t have a film playing at this festival.”

Which method of promotion had the better ROI for Couchfest, in terms of attracting an audience for the screenings--Facebook ads or flyers?

It’s hard to measure that but I would say, because Facebook has the analytics that I can look at and I can’t really follow up on the posters – there is probably a better, targeted impact with the Facebook ads. They were very specific for the keywords that we were using and they were visible a lot longer, whereas the posters lasted a day – until they got graffiti over them. The online, Facebook ads were probably more effective.

What were some of the differences between how audiences responded to the 2011 Couchfest program lineup, from country to country?

There were films that I absolutely loved and I got to see all of the votes coming in and was tempted to change the votes for the films I liked – I thought that I picked a film program that was so solid that everyone would love it – I was living in that kind of dream and to see some of the results come back, I was like “wow! How could they not like this film? -- it was so great – these people are cyborgs! – What is wrong with them? Do they not have, like, a mother?! This film is GREAT!” Then again, I ended up talking to some of them and they were like “Yeah, the film is great but the acting of the mom – I just couldn’t handle it – it was just too dramatic,” and I was like “Oh, yeah!” – which is the whole point.

As you probably know, in the middle of the film program – there is a 35 minute program for the houses – we squeeze in a five minute intermission in all of the programs and the point of that is to let people have an opportunity to chitchat and talk, which is realistically what our film festival is about. We say we’re a film festival, but the secret is – we’re not a film festival; We’re a community event where we try to bring people together. So, we trick them into coming together with awesome films, awesome hosts and a fun idea in an awesome location.

So, the idea that there is a difference of opinion between the cities or even at a certain location about films – I was like “wow, I didn’t even imagine that,” but at the same time it’s like “wow, this is a great opportunity,” because I KNOW that stirred up some conversations – because some people loved these films and some people hated them; and I loved the idea that there were probably great discussions about the films BECAUSE of the differences of opinion.

How did culture have an impact on the ways that audiences responded to the films?

One of the locations that we had was Oman, which, they don’t even allow Western media in Oman and when I was talking to the host, I kept asking him “are you sure you want me to put your address on the website? – I’m ok with not listing your location, for your own safety” and he was like “no, it’s totally fine – couchfest films, for better or worse, is not on their radar – they’ll have no idea what’s going on or that we delivered, basically, satanic, Western film to Oman.”

At this point, I would also really like that guy to email me back and let me know he’s alive, or at least talk to me so, you know - I don’t know if his hand has been chopped off –- but anyway, I imagine that their response to films is completely different than say, Brooklyn, New York where we had 20 people get together and watch films.

Another example I can give you, there is a film called “The Dark Side,” which is a parody of “The Blind Side” and they take select sections of the movie and do it in such a way that they recreate it as a horror movie and it’s really, really good – I realized that it’s very American-centric and people in Poland actually told me that they didn’t submit the votes for that movie because they had no idea what it was about, which is fair. I should have recognized that, and it was silly of me to assume that everyone had seen Sandra Bullock’s Blind Side.

Statistically, what genres or types of films have gained the most favor among audiences at Couchfest since the festival's inception in 2008?

Each year, we always try different things; One year we tried to do a festival out of Iceland while also doing it around the world (*wink*) -- crazy! In the past, we did a horror house once and I was absolutely surprised that it was not well attended, so we haven’t done it since.

We did a documentary house one year and that was wildly successful, but the difficulty with the documentary house is – we don’t get a lot of submissions for documentaries because it’s really hard; As a documentarian, you’re really trying to hit deep for the story and get all the facts from both sides and blah, blah, blah; and because the time limit for our films is eight minutes, to do a documentary in eight minutes is pretty much impossible and really difficult.

So, we were just happy one year that we got enough short documentaries that we could actually do a documentary house, and I would LOVE to do it again but we just don’t get enough of them to do it as a specific house. We normally get a couple and then I just kinda soup them together for a mixed genre house.

But wait! There's more....

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Couchfest Interview, to be posted this weekend, on The Madlab Post!

*Photo by Christopher Velasco, courtesy of Couchfest Films

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What are some Memorable Payback Movies?


If you’ve been reading this blog for some time now, you know by now that it’s time for another installment of the Monday Movie Meme, hosted by yours truly and Dale at Smurfin’ the Web. Last week, Dale had us focused on reading -- sorta, in film. Today, it’s my turn and this week’s theme is: The Big Payback. Share on your blog movies that feature characters who are out for revenge. Here are my selections for this week’s Monday Movie Meme.

Double Jeopardy

In Ashley Judd’s case, justice didn’t come in the form of jail time, fines or an expunged record. Judd plays a woman named Libby who is framed for her husband’s murder. Do not judge a scorned wife and mother who sets out to track down and kill another human being -- especially if the she already served time for said crime. I mean, what are you going to tell her? Something like “You could get arrested and go to jail for this!” -- Nope! A warning like that just won’t work and it shouldn’t, after an innocent person is imprisoned while the jerk that is assumed to be dead is sitting pretty somewhere, living a brand new life, worry free. C’mon now. Something’s gotta give here.


Oh, Commodous! What do you do when daddy, the emperor, reveals his plans to make an Army general his successor on the throne? Ooooh, I know. You kill daddyo, steal the ruling position for yourself and then make an even worse enemy out of the man you envy, by making him a slave to fight in deadly battles for your entertainment. The thing is -- who gets the last laugh in this situation? Whatever jealousy you hold and immature tactics to be the big man on campus -- or Rome, in this case, is no match for the wrath of a man whose wife and son you are responsible for murdering. The revenge in “Gladiator” is bittersweet but at the end of the day, Maximus is justified in his actions -- for that time period, at least.

A Time to Kill

Many people could probably understand how a father can get up the nerve to find and kill the men who raped and tried to hang his young daughter -- unless your a black man living in Mississippi, AND the brother of one of the men you murdered has ties to the KKK. This movie shows revenge on all sides of the table. Samuel Jackson’s character, Carl wanted to avenge his daughter’s suffering and the townspeople wanted to make him pay for murdering their good ol’ neighbors, family members and friends. I mean, how dare he kill these men?! Who does he think he is? Now, would have the same position if there was a murder trial where Carl’s daughter was killed and the men who did it were up on trial? Probably not.

Changing Lanes

Ben Affleck plays a lawyer named Gavin who bankrupt’s a recovering alcoholic named Doyle, after a road accident involving these two guys leads Gavin to lose important legal documents that could cause his firm to lose a major case. This leads to a string of back-and-forth acts of sabotage that causes both characters to not only lose their cool but also ruin their personal relationships. Gavin leaves Doyle threatening messages on the telephone, Doyle removes the wheels from Gavin’s car -- it’s a big ol’ mess.

I had another movie in mind, but I totally forgot what it was, so this is it.

What revenge movies come to YOUR mind?

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