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Image from The Great Wave Modernized by Adina Velasquez, 2008.

Emerging interactive artist Adina Velasquez studied abroad in Asahikawa, Japan in her Junior Year through East Hampton High School in 2006. The Great Wave Modernized was created in 2008 at Quinnipiac University when she was a sophomore in the Media Studies Communications Program (Media Research) and Interactive Design Program (Animation). Currently, Adina is a freelance designer who spends her days working on graphic design solutions on her personal projects.

See Adina's demo reel HERE.

Her school blog HERE.

An analysis of 2D animation HERE.

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And follow her Humorous Breadcrumbs of Inspiration on Twitter and facebook (Adina Vasquez.)

Cost of a Soul

The film Cost of a Soul is now available on Cable On Demand, iTunes, and Amazon. The film will also be streaming on Netflix in December and can be added to your Netflix queue. Cost of a Soul became the biggest initial release of an ultra-low-budget SAG film, premiering in 50 AMC Theaters this past summer. Below are excerpts of an interview with lead actor Chris Kerson from May, 2011.

Mike Fishman spoke with actor Chris Kerson about his role as Tommy in the feature film Cost of a Soul, winner of AMC’s Big Break Movie Contest. The Big Break Movie Contest was announced in August 2010 to give filmmakers with previously undistributed feature-length films the opportunity to obtain exclusive on-screen distribution throughout the United States. Cost of a Soul, the feature film writing and directorial debut of Sean Kirkpatrick, opened in 50 theatres nationwide on May 20th as part of the AMC independent™ program, which showcases the best independent films and targets interested moviegoers through unique promotions.

Synopsis: Cost of a Soul is the gritty tale of two wounded veterans who return home to the ghetto they joined the military to escape. As they struggle for redemption, their own families become entangled in a web of crime, corruption and violence. The film was shot in the spirit of 1940’s film noir but set in the modern context of a Philadelphia ghetto neighborhood. The locations used during production were some of the most violent neighborhoods in America as Kirkpatrick’s goal was to embrace the reality of the situation within those neighborhoods.

Mike Fishman (MF): How did you become involved with this project?

Chris Kerson (CK): An actor and friend that I had worked with told me about an amazing script he read, Cost of Soul, and offered to share it with me. He also sent my acting reel to the writer/director of the film, Sean Kirkpatrick. After he reviewed my reel, Sean called and asked, "Can you do a convincing Irish accent because I'd like you to audition for the role of Jake, the Irish gangster?" At the time, I expressed to Sean that I thought the role of Tommy was one of the best characters ever written. When I screen tested for Jake, I made the decision to give the character a youthful quality that I did not see on the page.

Sean called me after seeing my audition tape and said my test had more humanity than he had seen in any other audition. He then asked me to read for the role of Tommy. Sean was concerned that I was not the exact physical type that he envisioned the lead character Tommy, a returning Iraqi veteran. So I was quite surprised and delighted when I received a text from Sean asking me what gym I wanted to join to bulk up at in Philadelphia. In other words, I got the part.

MF: What was it about the screenplay that appealed to you?

CK: When I read the screenplay, I could not believe that something this good had come to me. When I got to a particularly emotionally charged scene that took place in a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber between Tommy and his young handicapped daughter Hope, I recognized what a superbly crafted character and dramatic storyline Sean had written. I was blown away by the complexity of the character Tommy. The arc that he went through up to that point in the script moved me so much that I felt I had to become that character.

MF: Your role and performance is very intense. What special challenges did it present?

CK: Sean felt the challenge of the character was taking on the emotional life of Tommy. The technique I developed studying with Charlie Laughton and Marcia Haufrecht has often lead to me being called a "Method" actor. Charlie, who was Al Pacino’s mentor along with numerous other actors that I respect, said, "Actors are emotional athletes.” Therefore, the creating of an overall emotional life for the character as well as from scene to scene stemmed from the disciplines and techniques these two taught me and the trust I had developed building a body of work over the years of vastly different characters. The challenge for me was how one could attempt to become both a marine and a criminal with as much physical specificity as I could in just three weeks. To be convincing on the screen, I gained 25 pounds in just 3 weeks through kickboxing, weightlifting, and running. That was a challenge.

The 19th Hamptons International Film Festival

Day One: Well, I couldn’t get out of work to be there opening night and I knew I’d already missed a few films I would have liked to see, but that’s ok, that’s life, the films I really wanted to see will come around another time. So there I am, Saturday morning 10:30 and ready to receive The Fairy, (directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy), which turns out to be as funny, charming and quirky as I’d hoped and which was deservedly recognized as the Narrative Jury Winner at the awards ceremony on Sunday. The film centers on a frustrated hotel clerk (Dominique Abel) into whose hotel and life a real-life fairy wanders, granting him three wishes. The oddness of the fairy (Fiona Gordon) is matched by the clerk's eccentricities, and the eccentricities of the filmmakers' themselves; an underwater scene where the two do a mating dance, including pressing and gyrating their naked buttocks together, is just one moment in a film full of truly laugh out-loud moments.

Afterwards, as I was deciding where to go for lunch, I almost literally bumped into Fiona Gordon and Domique Abel. I took advantage of the opportunity to tell them how much I enjoyed their film. A nice surprise, the first of several over the next few days.

Second film at 3:45 in the afternoon, Butter, (directed by Jim Field Smith), an often-funny if predictable satire starring Jennifer Garner that almost veers into camp-horror territory at one promising moment and displays touches of black comedy here and there but is too mainstream in its heart to actually go there. Nice to see Alicia Silverstone on the big screen again. As Billy Crystal would say, she looked marvelous.

Act III of the day, Salute to Filmmakers party. A nice opportunity to catch up with some old friends including Lauren Wolkstein (please scroll down to see an interview with Lauren about her short film Cigarette Candy in a previous blog entry) and Chris Radcliffe, who together would win the HIFF Short Narrative Award for their short The Strange Ones, and Fellipe Barbosa, whose feature-length documentary Laura, which would win the Golden Starfish Award for Best Documentary and whose screening I attended on Day Two would be most memorable.

Day Two: 10:30am, screening of “Shorts for All Ages.” Had to go, to see Windsor McCay’s 1921 animation Flying House – Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, restored and with color, a new score and spoken narration by Matthew Modine and Patricia Clarkson added by Bill Plympton. Quirky, very early, ground-breaking animation with a story about a husband and wife afraid of losing their house to foreclosure oddly timely. Another standout in the program was Apollo (Felix Gonnert), an animated short from Germany about a boy playing with a toy rocket and wreaking havoc, most notable for giving us the child’s point-of-view.
Flying House

5:30, Awards Ceremony at Guild Hall. Who sits next to me but Fiona Gordon and Domique Abel, so another chance to say hello, and I was very happy to see them win the Golden Starfish Narrative Feature Award for The Fairy. On my way out I was able to congratulate Fellipe Barbosa on his award for Laura.

Time was on my side as I made my way back to the United Artists theater to catch a 7:30 screening of Fellipe’s film, a fascinating portrait of Laura, a Brazilian woman living in Manhattan whose style and diva-ness gets her into celebrity-studded parties (and who is chummy with Ron Perlman among others) but who remains on the fringe, of the parties and society, living in a decidely-not 5-star hotel, her room so crammed with collectibles (in theory at least) she can barely open the door. We never get to see inside that room, but the audience at the screening I attended did get a real-life glimpse of Laura, as she appeared in the back of the theater during the Q&A. Although she was invited up on stage to join the discussion, she chose not to, preferring to exit grandly, adding a dash of live theater to go along with the cinema. An entertaining and thought-provoking subject and film.

Day 3. Decided to take advantage of the perfect October weather to walk around Sag Harbor. Sadly The Black Cat bookstore, previously one of my favorite stops, has closed but I got a nice juicy hamburger at Bay Burger. Later I found out there had been an extra-added screening of The Fairy at 3:00 in East Hampton, which I would have liked to see again, but you can’t argue with a good burger. So the films for the day began with a 6:30pm program of shorts including The Shore (directed by Terry George, Hotel Rwanda)), a moving drama starring Ciaran Hinds about two Irish boyhood best friends whose lives diverged due to the troubles in Belfast; a bonus was a stunning wide shot of Belfast from a hill overlooking the city, a welcome image for this Van Morrison fan.

8:45pm, another program of shorts, most notable for the inclusion of Steve (directed by Rupert Friend) featuring Colin Firth as a disturbed and potentially-dangerous neighbor to Keira Knightley, and Animal Love (directed by Mollie Jones), an ambiguous sci-fi starring the always-welcome and lovely Selma Blair. The next to last film in the program was The Wholly Family, directed by the irrepressible Terry Gilliam. A bizarre, dream-like story about a boy who undergoes some unsettling experiences while on vacation with his family in Naples, The Wholly Family was, like most of Gilliam’s films, entertaining and exasperating at the same time. More than once I had to suppress the urge to blurt out, “The man’s lost his mind.” Yes, Brazil is brilliant and the man has a very, very vivid imagination. Well, let’s leave it at that; one must admire imagination, at the very least.

As we walked out into the quiet dark night, the marquee for the East Hampton movie theater was being changed. The festival had come and gone and though there were quite a few films I would have liked to see, every film I did see was rewarding in one way or another. Mike Fishman.

2010 TOP FILMS by By Brendan Rose

Here is the 2010 version of my Top 10 Films List, with apologies to RESTROPO, ENTER THE VOID, BOXING GYM and a few others that I have not yet seen. 2010 shaped up as quite a strong year for documentaries. In addition, more domestic films have made my list than normal, suggesting an encouraging moment for American filmmaking. On the other hand, I don’t believe this year’s roster of movies offered the same quality at the very top that could be found in recent years.
1. CARLOS (Olivier Assayas) – This 5.5hr monster of a film covers the rise of a so-called leftist revolutionary and demise of a burned out, cynical terrorist. Sweeping and magisterial direction by Assayas.
2. LAST TRAIN HOME (Lixin Fan) – Compassionate, rigorous documentary detailing the underbelly of China’s economic ascendance through a study of human migration during the Chinese New Year holiday.
3. THE FIGHTER (David O. Russell) – A gritty, somewhat conventional boxing tale blessed with exciting (though sometimes over-the-top) performances, a rooted sense of place, and consistently assured direction from Russell.
4. VINCERE (Marco Bellocchio) – Filippo Timi overwhelms as Il Duce. Not your average biopic!
5. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (Banksy) – A labyrinth of a film. Thoughtful, comedic, confounding.
6. BLACK SWAN (Darren Aronofsky) – A flawed film for sure, but also daring, intense, and captivating. Portman comes of age.
7. INSIDE JOB (Charles Ferguson) – A devastatingly composed indictment of the neo-liberal financial system and its relationship to the 2008 (and still current) economic crisis.
8. GREENBERG (Noah Baumbach) – Stiller’s eponymous protagonist may be an unlikable jerk, but Baumbach’s approach, a mix of criticism and compassion, serves the film well. Funny and sad.
9. THE SOCIAL NETWORK (David Fincher) – Jesse Eisenberg’s lead performance, more so than Sorkin’s quick-as-a-whip screenplay, or Fincher’s directorial fireworks, is what impresses me most months after having seen the film.
10. LEBANON (Samuel Maoz) – This claustrophobic, unrelenting film set during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon traps the viewer in a tank and captures the psychological intensity, mission confusion and moral compromise of war.

WINTER’S BONE (Debra Granik) – Jennifer Lawrence is a revelation, Granik’s direction is solid, and how many films out there can be called an Ozark Gothic!?!
EVERYONE ELSE (Maren Ade) – A quiet, realistic movie about a flawed relationship. Clearly, this film was not made in the States!