In a flurry of writing over 19 days in February - an effort I called #FirstDraftFebruary - I finished the first draft of my currently untitled screenplay, or "Untitled Jason Stefaniak Project"/"UJSP." The draft is loooooonnnng - 237 pages (that's a 4hr+ movie) - so I have a lot of work to do. But it feels great to have gotten the draft done and I'm getting back into the weeds, reading, researching, taking notes, and beginning to rework the second act.
I'm also starting to take notes for another feature idea, while playing around with some potential short film ideas. Gotta keep going, working, writing, trying!
Here's a screenshot of the last page of the script as I finished the first draft of "UJSP"
I closed out 2015 by quitting my job and putting to rest some work threads so 2016 could be devoted to more paid film work and writing a solid draft of my new feature project in time for spring workshop, retreat, and funding deadlines.
I'm working on some short projects, I've finally dived in to learning Premiere Pro, I got hired as a Producer of Marketing and Distribution on a small indie feature, and I'm working to find freelance work for Impolite Company to make money while sharpening my skills, but my focus for the next few months is this yet untitled screenplay - Untitled Jason Stefaniak Project or UJSP we'll call it.
Here's a little peak at my writing process (the strips you see are only Act 2). I had an outline document on my computer that was getting unruly, so I printed it out and cut the scene ideas into strips, labeled them with colors for each main character, and then arranged and rearranged, wrote new scenes, rearranged some more, and worked to clarify the outline. I'll have a finished, detailed outline by Feb. 5th and a first draft by Feb. 26th.
-But Not For Me, the feature film I produced, had it's World Premiere at the Brooklyn Film Festival in June, where it won the Audience Choice and Best Score Awards. In July it screened at Videology in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and in August screened at the Capital City Black Film Festival. We're currently waiting to hear back from a number of festivals and are talking with a few distributors as we work to get the film out into the world. Like our Facebook page for updates about screenings: www.Facebook.com/ButNotForMeFilm
-Middle Ground will be screening at the Student International Film Festival (STIFF) at the Art Kino theater in Rijeka, Croatia, in October. In the fall or sometime in the winter, I'll be releasing the film online.
-House Rules: I recently finished a short dramatic comedy script titled, House Rules. I have two producers on board and I'm working to prep the film, put together a production team, and apply for funding. I hope to shoot the film in the fall.
-White No More (working title): My creative collaborator and Impolite Company co-founder Ryan Carmichael and I are co-writing a feature screenplay together. The film tackles race in a provocative and original way. We're in the development/research phase.
-How Filmmakers Make a Living: I'm currently in the planning stages for a blog I plan to launch which will look at how filmmakers make a living from a number of angles. The blog will serve as a guide for aspiring and up-and-coming filmmakers trying to figure out how to carve out a living as they build a name for themselves.
There's always more percolating, but I gotta keep something a surprise!
What are these things, you ask?
More soon, my friend. More soon.
We wrapped production on our feature film, But Not For Me, on March 30th and are already hard at work cutting the film. We will have our first cut of the film finished by the end of the month and then will continue to revise the cut ahead of submitting to Sundance by the end of August.
I'm finally (finally, finally) near picture lock on my short thesis film, The Middle Ground. Once I lock the picture by the end of the month, I'll begin working with my sound designer David Forshee to get the film completely finished (ideally) by July 1st. From there, it's off to Sundance!
I've already got my sights set on what comes next. Ryan Carmichael and I are developing a few feature projects together - doing lots of reading, watching and talking - while we prepare to officially launch our production company this summer.
I'm also toying with developing a feature version of The Middle Ground (same characters, similar themes, but most likely a different plot) and have been sketching out a webseries featuring the characters of The Middle Ground but at a different point in their relationship.
Additionally, I'm beginning to develop a short video for Protest Easy Guns that highlights the work the organization has done while putting it in historical context. We both like the concept, so I'm beginning to sketch out a short script before I start gathering footage and cutting.
Keeping busy, creating content, and pushing ahead till the next time.
In one week, we (Ryan Carmichael and I) embark on our first Kickstarter campaign, our first feature film fundraising campaign, and our first $100,000 fundraising/crowdfunding campaign. It's gonna be a big day/month!
Check out the accompanying image, which is being made into a postcard to promote the campaign, and mark your calendars: next Monday 9/23 at 8am is your chance to support this very unique hip hop musical love story.
More content - videos, images, music - coming soon!
The Kickstarter campaign for the feature film I'm producing, But Not For Me (the first feature film written and directed by my classmate and good friend Ryan Carmichael), launches 9/23 at 8am, two weeks from today!
We have an ambitious goal of raising $100,000 (something very few film/video projects on Kickstarter have done), but we're putting a ton of work into the campaign and are going bold and ambitious, so with a lot of hard work, a little luck, and your help, I think we can do it.
The campaign runs from 9/23-11/1 and will feature live events, a private concert, lots of content, great perks, and much more.
We wrapped shooting of The Middle Ground at the end of April and have been in Post-Production since.
We've done a lot of work on the film and have posited a number of cuts. The response so far has been great and we are continuing to work hard to get the film finished.
Our plan is to finish a cut of the film in time to submit to Sundance next month (September) and then we will work to finish the film and continue submitting it to festivals, including South by Southwest and TriBeCa in the fall.
You can also check out the webpage for the film here: The Middle Ground
Today I submitted the materials for my NYU Pre-Thesis Review, the first step in the Thesis process which leads to the completion of my MFA. I submitted a treatment, budget, schedule, and script for a short film tentatively titled The Middle Ground, which I hope to shoot next semester or in early summer (depending on the Subway project).
The Pre-Thesis Review is on Dec. 13 and is a sort of approval/review process and once completed, I’m able to schedule my shoot dates and pick my equipment and begin pre-production. I’ll complete the Thesis Review, and be finished with school completely, in either April or September.
The end has begun!
The deadline for proposals was extended, so Jen and I decided to put together a second proposal to increase our chances of being picked. Our second proposal is titled Every Sandwich Tells A Love Story and is envisioned as an anthology of love stories of varied length, with each story anchored in a Subway-centered universe.
Finalists are announced on Wednesday!
I’ve collaborated with NYU MBA student Jennifer Lin to submit a proposal titled Space Camp to the Subway Fresh Artists Filmmaker Series hosted by Promotion Pictures at NYU. Two winning teams are given $45,000 to produce three webisodes each that feature Subway and a particular theme in some sort of way. Our proposal tells the story of 7-year-old Sam who hatches a plan to work at Subway so he can get to Space Camp.
We’ll find out on December 5th if we’ll be pitching in the final round on December 14th. If we do, and we’re chosen, we’ll find out on the 14th and will go straight into pre-production for a mid-January shoot.
Keep your fingers crossed for us! More news soon.
This Is My Body has been an overwhelming, amazing, incredible success, well beyond my hopes and expectations!
I’m continuing to work to get the film out into the world and to get it seen, especially ahead of the November 6th elections.
Interested in following my work? Check out www.JasonStefaniak.com to sign up via email or connect with me via Facebook/Twitter.
I’m beginning to work in earnest on my NYU Thesis Film, which will be a short fiction film. I’ll be fundraising some time in the late fall/early winter and will be shooting in January or February to do my Thesis Review in April and graduate in May.
I’m also developing plans to launch one arm of 12th & McKenzie, my future production company. I’d like to create a small organization that concentrates on creating artful, political media pieces in the vein of This Is My Body. The pieces would be created out of my own passions or for progressive organizations or individuals looking for help. I would create high quality, low cost pieces to advance a number of different causes. Generally speaking, the first step will be to raise money to purchase equipment, then put together a plan and raise money to secure a small studio space, and then begin creating pieces, including (hopefully) some sort of thematically-related follow up to This Is My Body.
I also have two feature films in the works for a little further down the line:
Your First, My Last: A series of vignettes explores a sensitive young man’s passionate yet tumultuous 10-year relationship with his high school sweetheart.
The Turing Test: Martin, aspiring journalist and expectant-father, is imprisoned and forced to play a game of verbal and emotional cat and mouse with an intelligent machine named TONY that was created by and modeled after his estranged father Anthony to discover the truth behind Anthony’s life and suspicious death.
I’m always looking for collaborators and I’m very much in need of support, so if you’re interested in supporting or getting involved with any of these projects, or just following my progress, please feel free to contact me at Jason@JasonStefaniak.com or via Facebook/Twitter.
Thanks for your interest!