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Friday, July 31, 2009

UPenn and Films

Those who succeed in Hollywood, are those that are in it for the long haul.

Case in point: Jonathan London (C'01, WQHS Radio, The Hollywood Club)

After film school, Jonathan stuck to his guns, got to know the right people and created really well produced films you'll want to see. Pay attention to this guy Hollywood alumni...he's doing some really good films...

CLICK HERE to learn how did Jonathan got his start, what led to his success and watch two professionally produced short films of his you will love. (hint: if you love stories having to do with being single and/or love Ninja comedies, then you'll love these!)

How did Jonathan get his start?

Per Jonathan,
"After graduating from Penn in 2001 I entered the Film MFA program at Columbia. I had been accepted to Columbia and USC but ultimately chose Columbia for their approach to self-financing your film, the faculty they had on staff and their support for owning your own film. I was a fan of the directors coming out of the school and I don't think other schools could compete with recent grads like James Mangold, Kimberley Pierce and Greg Mottola (to name a few). A lot of other schools had more storied reputations but I was excited for what was currently going on at the school.

I left in 2003, moved to L.A. and shot a film for school called Gay By Dawn (featured in Pennfest 2006 - program HERE, photos HERE). It was a comedy horror short and it played really well at festivals for about two years. I knew it played well with festival audiences because it was weird, but just kept sending it to any festival that would take it and was shocked that it lived so long.

At the same time, I was working as a PA runner for a few different film companies. One of the companies was Fox Television Studios and I made friends with the assistants and gave them copies of my movie. About two years after THAT, the assistants had moved up the ranks and were now executives and needed to bring in projects of their own to develop. Luckily, any DVD that reads "Gay By Dawn" in big letters really stands out on a shelf so I got some calls and pitched my series ideas.

The one that really struck a chord was "Singledom", which I think is pretty relatable for people a few years out of college who are lost in the post-grad limbo.


I wrote and directed a presentation for "Singledom" and while that went through sales pitches and further development the studio asked me to take a look at a project they had called "When Ninjas Attack". My geeky enthusiasm and ridiculous knowledge of old ninja and kung fu movies made it a pretty good fit and a few weeks later the scripts were written and I was directing the six episodes that are being released this summer."

Stay tuned this fall when DT announces another big endeavor Jonathan has been working on!

HOT TIP!: Get some of Jonathan's great tips HERE and learn about a great free screenwriting tool he's using that I didn't even know about until he mentioned it!

UPenn and Hollywood

More posts from my "Penn's REEL deals" series

More of my Funny Friday posts





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Posted by Matt | 12:11 PM | , , , , , , , | 0 comments »

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I could have saved this post for another "Love Week" series I'll be doing in February 2010, but I just couldn't wait.

Why? Well, you'll see when you finish this very smart film called "Love Notes".

UPenn and Film

This film was created by Erin Sougstad (C'12), Kyle Olson (C'10), Luv Patel (C'12), Abhay Sharma (C'12) and Shreyans Goenka (C'12) for their Writing class in Cinema- Witness Spectators and Voyeurism (Spring 09).

This film reminds me of the 1996 student film I did where one man runs through campus all in the name of love!

Keep up the great work undergrads!

UPenn and Hollywood
Other impressive Class Project films

More of posts from my "Penn's REEL deals" series




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Posted by Matt | 6:28 PM | , , , , , , , , , , | 0 comments »

Oscar Nominated Alum Colin Campbell (C'91, President of Intuitons, Without A Net, Penn in Pictures 2001 panelist) has created a great 4 minute video he directed for Instant Films, a 48 hour Los Angeles film festival. Colin drew the script and then the cast out of a hat on Saturday morning and by Sunday night he handed in the finished film.

And Colin is no stranger to directing films by any means. In fact his short film "Seraglio" was nominated for an Oscar back in 2000. This was a great film that we showcased in our first Los Angeles Pennfest 2002 (photos HERE, program HERE) and am trying to see if we can get it posted on DT at some point soon.

"Delicious" is definitely on the not-safe-for-work side.  ...So much in fact that the video and the image I'm using for this post associated with this film can only be seen when you expand the post by clicking HERE.



*Besides Colin, we actually have two other Penn alumni whose short film was nominated for an Oscar in 2006.  Get the scoop HERE and watch their film!

UPenn and Hollywood

More of posts from my "Penn's REEL deals" series



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Wednesday, July 29, 2009


UPenn and Films
Here's a story of an undergrad who based his film on another undergrad's succesful film. And both are great!

"The Rainbow" is a film Alex Berger (Eng'10) made during a Video II class at Penn. The idea of the assignment was to make a visual poem—where image and words come together without the use of formal dialogue.

Per Alex,
"I had seen Kevin McMullin’s film, "The Boy and the Star", and I thought it was amazing. The story was simple, yet eloquent, and the stylistic elements he employed fit so well. In addition, the film fit my style as a filmmaker. Black and white, high contrast, close-up imagery, are all stylistic elements that I often used. After receiving the assignment, I set out to recreate Kevin’s film. I wanted to use the assignment as a way to experiment with the style and to attempt to figure out exactly how Kevin made this. In the stylistic sense, I did base my film “The Rainbow” on Kevin’s film. I have never met Kevin, so I felt it was appropriate to give credit to his work, because it closely influenced mine."

The premise of Alex's film is that this boy has presumably lost everything in his life that matters. He yells and yells so loud that the fire blows out, and the smoke forms clouds up above. The clouds lead to rain, and eventually a rainbow is formed. The story then becomes the quest to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Alex continues,
"I wanted to depict the feeling of losing something and the artificial journey that can ensue after one has this type of experience. It was not meant to be a light-hearted, joyous story, and I think the whimsical style counters this nicely. I think the filmed turned out well, but it was not something that I enjoyed making. It was one of those projects where I filmed for 4 hours and edited for another 20 hours to make a 5-minute movie. As Kevin can attest to, it was largely made in the editing studio."

UPenn and Hollywood

Other impressive Class Project films

More posts from my "Penn's REEL deals" series




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Posted by Matt | 5:30 PM | , , , , , , | 0 comments »


UPenn and Film
Earlier today I posted Amin Osman's (C'09) dark and disturbing film called "Table For Three".

The last of Amin's films I will post this week is also again, strangely enjoyable. The description of this trailer is as follows:
"Two stoners. A severed hand. A damsel in distress. This is one 4/20 they'll never forget. Unless they do, because it's 4/20."

UPenn and Hollywood

Other impressive Class Project films

More posts from my "Penn's REEL deals" series





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Posted by Matt | 3:55 PM | , , , , , , | 0 comments »


UPenn and Film
Over the past couple of years on DT, I have showcased some enjoyably disturbing films...most of them coming from Penn new Penn alum Amin Osman (C'09).

Today on DT there are a couple more of Amin's short films that you'll find very entertaining.

If you thought he's been dark before, check out this one above called "Table for Three".  You'll never go back to your date's place again without thinking of this film!


UPenn and Hollywood

Other impressive Class Project films

More posts from my "Penn's REEL deals" series



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Posted by Matt | 10:42 AM | , , , , , , | 0 comments »

Monday, July 27, 2009


Hollywood alumni.. set up a meeting with this young filmmaker, because he's going places...

Kevin McMullin (C'09, in picture below in tanktop) is another story of talent combined with motivation and perseverance with all the potential of lots of Hollywood success.  With his Penn award winning script and some great short films under his belt, Kevin decided to graduate Penn a year early to pursue his dreams.

UPenn and Films
(l to r: Kevin McMullin (C'09), lead actor John Blakeslee, and cinematographer Sean Emer)

Thanks to the digital revolution and through lots of favors, Kevin has been able to make his feature film Exit 117 for less than $850. The film is an ensemble comedy-drama in the spirit of Rob Reiner’s “Stand By Me” and Richard Linklater’s “Slacker” about a group of recent high school graduates coming to terms with where they are and where they’re going in their lives.

...If you forgot, early last year, Kevin's short film "The Boy and The Star" was my #3 pick in in my series: Top Penn Videos that will give you the chills.  As you'll see in Kevin's trailer above, this film also has a very special artistic feel that will be sure to move you!

How did Kevin get his start and what's his plan now?

Per Kevin,
"I have been making short films since I was a 12 years old with friends and after high school I chose Penn over film school to get a broader liberal arts education. While I was there I won first place at the Greater Philadelphia Student Film Festival two years in a row, which funneled my shorts into the international Philadelphia Film Festival.

I decided to condense my time at Penn into three years to pursue filmmaking and put money toward this endeavor. I wrote the screenplay for this feature in my Intro to Screenwriting Class with Kathy Van Cleve and kept rewriting over the next year. It won the 2009 Flesch Screenwriting Award at Penn. With this prize money and some savings I shot “Exit 117” for less than $850 on lots of borrowed equipment and natural sunlight.

This is another example of Penn undergrads working together. Kevin teamed up with friends:
  • Rodrigo Suarez (C, ENG’10) and Blake West (C’09) who contribute music to the soundtrack
  • Andrew Stern (W’10) who acts as the Radio DJ’s voice over
  • Jessica Brown (Grad Education ’09) who has been the pre-production manager and a production assistant
  • and Jon-Marc Balint (C'10) who has a supporting role in the film and is associate producer. 
Hollywood Penn alumni, feel free to get in touch with Kevin here: kevinjamesmcmullin@gmail.com


UPenn and Hollywood
More on Kevin's Exit 117 site HERE

Join Kevin's Exit 117 facebook group HERE

More of posts from my "Penn's REEL deals" series



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Posted by Matt | 11:12 AM | , , , , , , , , , , | 0 comments »

Hollywood

Over the past few weeks I have been aggregating some great short films from Penn alumni and undergrads that will move you, surprise you, creep you out, scintillate you, tickle your funny bone, ...and overall impress you!

I decided to showcase them this entire week in a new DT series I'm calling "Penn's REEL deals".

Be kept in the loop and sign up for the newsletter below or follow me on Twitter!

(In the meantime, check out my other DT series by looking down the right-hand column of this site)

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