Til Death Do Us Part

Over the weekend at the All-American High School Film Festival, I had the opportunity to meet upcoming musician, Kait Weston, whose song, “Til Death Do Us Part” is featured in the newest version of Romeo & Juliet, coming to theaters this Friday, October 11th. Not only is she incredibly talented, but she’s incredibly humble and sweet. I wish her nothing but the best! Enjoy 🙂 

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All-American High School Film Festival–Today and Tomorrow!

Hello all! A couple weeks ago I posted about the All-American High School Film Festival. If you’re around New York City TODAY and/or TOMORROW come on by! You’ll find us in the AMC Theater in Times Square! Last night was our first night, and it’s already been an amazing experience. Below are some pictures from last night as well as my original post describing the event. Hope to see you there! 

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The shameless bathroom selfie

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During the red carpet event

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And when it was all done

Over the summer, I met up with my best friend Emily (written about here: https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/my-honey-bunches-of-oats/) for lunch. She was running late, so I fiddled around on my phone checking Facebook. Scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw a post by Andrew Jenks (whose show I wrote about here: https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/world-of-jenks-and-why-its-awesome/). He was looking for interested applicants to volunteer for his upcoming film festival in October. Being that I’m such a fan of his work, it was no surprise that I submitted an application that night.

A few weeks later I got an e-mail from the All-American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) saying they wanted me on their team. I was thrilled. No, thrilled doesn’t exactly cover it. I was ecstatic. But I minimized expectations in case something went terribly wrong. (Because knowing my past experiences, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I got an e-mail later that afternoon saying all the films had been destroyed in a flood and the festival had to be cancelled.)

Fortunately, I was spared from Murphy’s Law this time and over the following weeks, I got information about the festival and what my role will be within it.

The festival is an opportunity for high school filmmakers to submit their best work in the hopes of being chosen to have their film shown at the AMC Theater in Times Square from October 4th-6th. The films are viewed by a group of judges including big names like Kristen Stewart (actress from “Twilight” and “Panic Room”), Edward Burns (actor from “Saving Private Ryan”), Diablo Cody (writer of “Juno”), Michael Mayer (Director of “Smash”) as well as many others.

'Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2' film photocall, Los Angeles, America - 02 Nov 2012                  edwardburns

(Kristen Stewart)                                                       (Edward Burns)

Awards are given for categories like “Best Film,” (duh!) which includes an all expense paid trip to LA to meet Tucker Tooley, one of the top producers in the bizz, a $1000 scholarship for college, an interview with Yahoo’s Daily Shot, and a private screening with industry professionals in NYC. Other awards include Best Drama, Documentary, Comedy, as well as Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography as well as countless others, all providing opportunities to young filmmakers from around the world.

This Saturday was extremely significant for the whole event, however. Along with my fellow volunteers, I attended an information session down in Manhattan. Again, I minimized expectations. I had no idea if the meeting would be in a high-class executive building or in a dumpster. Either way, it wouldn’t have mattered to me.

And so when I walked down the block with apartment style buildings, I knew I had arrived at an in-between place. Certainly not a dump—far from it—but not quite as intimidating as let’s say…the Time Warner Building (as seen below):

Time_Warner_Center

As I was welcomed through the door by a smiling blonde haired girl, I approached a six-flight walk-up. I knew I should’ve exercised more over the summer.

Echoing voices traveled down the stairwell but I couldn’t understand a word that was being said. Reaching the open door at the top, I met Andrew’s right and left hand guys and the other volunteers. I took a seat in a small cream leather chair and waited until everyone else arrived for the meeting to begin. While we waited, Andrew came into the room and sat down with us.

Not having expectations really worked out!

He didn’t say too much throughout the meeting but I must admit, it’s pretty damn cool to sit in the same room with someone whose work you admire so much.

The festival may be intended for up and coming filmmakers but I really think the opportunities exist for anyone who walks into that theater over the weekend. You never know who you might meet. Who you could make a connection with, or as one of my favorite professor’s would say, who you might “make friends” with (much less intimidating).

So if you’ll be in the neighborhood or you want to see the future of film, come check out the All-American High School Film Festival at the AMC Theater in Times Square from October 4th-6th! You can buy tickets online at http://www.hsfilmfest.com or at the door over the weekend! I hope to see you there!

amctimessquare

Finding the Music in Central Park

After going to the meeting for the All American High School Film Festival last Saturday (written about here: https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/all-american-high-school-film-festival/) I decided to walk through Central Park. I had no plans and no direction. I just followed the music. Here’s one man I found, Bert Lee, a singer/songwriter who performs in the park. This song was written about returning home to his wife after she moved back to New York after they had been living in the Keys. Check it out! 

All-American High School Film Festival

After postponing Saturday’s post, I guess it’s about time I tell you what I was up to!

Over the summer, I met up with my best friend Emily (written about here: https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/my-honey-bunches-of-oats/) for lunch. She was running late, so I fiddled around on my phone checking Facebook. Scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw a post by Andrew Jenks (whose show I wrote about here: https://abbeygallagher.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/world-of-jenks-and-why-its-awesome/). He was looking for interested applicants to volunteer for his upcoming film festival in October. Being that I’m such a fan of his work, it was no surprise that I submitted an application that night.

A few weeks later I got an e-mail from the All-American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) saying they wanted me on their team. I was thrilled. No, thrilled doesn’t exactly cover it. I was ecstatic. But I minimized expectations in case something went terribly wrong. (Because knowing my past experiences, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I got an e-mail later that afternoon saying all the films had been destroyed in a flood and the festival had to be cancelled.)

Fortunately, I was spared from Murphy’s Law this time and over the following weeks, I got information about the festival and what my role will be within it.

The festival is an opportunity for high school filmmakers to submit their best work in the hopes of being chosen to have their film shown at the AMC Theater in Times Square from October 4th-6th. The films are viewed by a group of judges including big names like Kristen Stewart (actress from “Twilight” and “Panic Room”), Edward Burns (actor from “Saving Private Ryan”), Diablo Cody (writer of “Juno”), Michael Mayer (Director of “Smash”) as well as many others.

'Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2' film photocall, Los Angeles, America - 02 Nov 2012                  edwardburns

(Kristen Stewart)                                                       (Edward Burns)

Awards are given for categories like “Best Film,” (duh!) which includes an all expense paid trip to LA to meet Tucker Tooley, one of the top producers in the bizz, a $1000 scholarship for college, an interview with Yahoo’s Daily Shot, and a private screening with industry professionals in NYC. Other awards include Best Drama, Documentary, Comedy, as well as Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography as well as countless others, all providing opportunities to young filmmakers from around the world.

This Saturday was extremely significant for the whole event, however. Along with my fellow volunteers, I attended an information session down in Manhattan. Again, I minimized expectations. I had no idea if the meeting would be in a high-class executive building or in a dumpster. Either way, it wouldn’t have mattered to me.

And so when I walked down the block with apartment style buildings, I knew I had arrived at an in-between place. Certainly not a dump—far from it—but not quite as intimidating as let’s say…the Time Warner Building (as seen below):

Time_Warner_Center

As I was welcomed through the door by a smiling blonde haired girl, I approached a six-flight walk-up. I knew I should’ve exercised more over the summer.

Echoing voices traveled down the stairwell but I couldn’t understand a word that was being said. Reaching the open door at the top, I met Andrew’s right and left hand guys and the other volunteers. I took a seat in a small cream leather chair and waited until everyone else arrived for the meeting to begin. While we waited, Andrew came into the room and sat down with us.

Not having expectations really worked out!

He didn’t say too much throughout the meeting but I must admit, it’s pretty damn cool to sit in the same room with someone whose work you admire so much.

The festival may be intended for up and coming filmmakers but I really think the opportunities exist for anyone who walks into that theater over the weekend. You never know who you might meet. Who you could make a connection with, or as one of my favorite professor’s would say, who you might “make friends” with (much less intimidating).

So if you’ll be in the neighborhood or you want to see the future of film, come check out the All-American High School Film Festival at the AMC Theater in Times Square from October 4th-6th! You can buy tickets online at http://www.hsfilmfest.com or at the door over the weekend! I hope to see you there!

amctimessquare

It’s Waiting For You

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the book launch for one of my professor’s from NYU, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh (say-rah-fee-zah-day). Yes, I did just take the book off of my nightstand to spell his last name. Before the first day of class, I read his name on the front of my course reader and was certain it was a test to see if I’d mastered the English language.

His collection of short stories is titled, “Brief Encounters With the Enemy” and from reading the first story and a half on the train ride home, I must say I love it. Saïd’s voice is clear. His sense of humor is unique and off-beat. And after taking such an amazing class with him, I can almost hear him reading the stories to me.

briefencounterswiththeenemy

When I arrived at McNally Jackson’s Bookstore on Prince Street in Soho, I initially stood all the way in the back. All the seats had already been taken. Behind me, a group of several women were commenting on how stuffy it was where we stood. I had come to the event not only to support my professor (and dare I say it, friend) but also to try and meet some other writers in New York. Some may call it “making connections,” but in class, we always called it “making friends.” I was determined to meet at least one new person.

I turned around to the ladies and said, “It is really hot back here, isn’t it?” Very original. Thought provoking, even. The older of the ladies laughed and commented on how she wasn’t a good judge of temperature. “Hot flashes,” she said. The two other women laughed as well. One had milk white skin and wore a light turquoise dress. Her hair touched her chin in dark ringlets. The other wore a white blazer and black pants with long sandy hair past her shoulders. I wasn’t sure if I had officially entered their conversation so I stood there quietly, halfway turned towards them and halfway towards the microphones at the front of the room.

Through the labyrinth of bookcases, I caught a glimpse of one of my classmates. I slipped past the women, who by then had forgotten my silly comment about the indoor climate, and snaked my way to the front of the room.

“David!” I shouted, but in that quiet way as to not disturb anyone. He didn’t turn. “David!” I tried again a little louder.

He looked up from the pastry he carried through tortoise shell frames reminiscent of Woody Allen. He looked exactly the way I left him at the end of June. Gray hair turning white. A matching beard. And when he caught sight of the lone girl who called his name, he smiled. The same goofy smile that reminded me of my dad the first day I met him.

David had been a real estate lawyer for many years in New York. He lives in Manhattan, only a block away from where we had class, in what I imagine is a beautiful (read: unbelievably expensive) apartment. After decades, he’s left his law firm to pursue a writing career. “Time for something new,” he might say. Courageous, I might reply.

Saïd read an excerpt from the first story in the collection, called “Cartography.” I was reminded of the first time I heard him read.

It was my second night in New York, and all the writing students for the Writers in NY program had been crammed into the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers house. A podium stood in front of the stained glass window looking onto 10th street. Rain streamed down the window in rivulets. Outside, it looked like a black and white film.

Small black folding chairs had been set up in rows across the entire floor. The chairs were so close together that if you shifted even an inch to either side, you’d bump into your neighbor, who, chances were, you just met earlier that day in class. Not awkward at all. But there still weren’t enough seats. Bodies littered the staircase.

I imagined how funny it would be if the people in the building across the street, with their curtains opened, walked across their living room naked. The reader at the front of the room would have no idea, with his or her back turned to the excitement, but we would all laugh. The reader would think he or she was funny. Oh, I hoped the readers would be funny.

After the first professor read, I remembered a friend telling me how she used to record the audio of all our lectures on her cell phone during the spring semester. I didn’t think people actually did that.

But I took her advice and pulled my cell phone out and hit record. Each night after, I did the same thing.

I’d only had one class with Saïd at that point, yet I felt a certain pride in seeing my professor up in front of all the students of the program. Those in my class and not.

He introduced the piece. “This was written ten years ago. At the start of the Iraq war. For those of you who live in New York, you’ll understand by the title alone, some of the significance…it’s called War and Duane Reade.”*

Like a switch had been flipped within, he began. Animated and lively, yet incredibly articulate, pronouncing every syllable. “Day 14: U.S. Troops four miles from Baghdad. It was 9PM and I was out of Breathe Right strips.” I knew this was going to be good.

By the time he finished a few minutes later, I couldn’t be happier that he was my professor. A few weeks later, my other professor from the program had us read the piece he had read aloud that first night. I loved it of course. But there was no way it could even compare to his reading of the piece. It wasn’t even a reading. It was a performance. And when I learned that Saïd was once an actor, it made perfect sense how he knew just how to lilt his voice to create the most dramatic effect, or how to time his phrases just so, as to emphasize the funniest part. On one particularly lonely night in the dorm room, I listened to him perform his piece. It was just as funny as I remembered.

Last night was no different. I noticed how he guides the listener through the story, sometimes in the wrong direction just by the tone of his voice. The place we end up is even funnier, wittier, and more clever than we expected. He’s not afraid of silence and pauses to not only demand attention, but create curiosity in his listeners.

The woman in the turquoise dress had come to sit up front. As another friend of mine would say, she had “rock star seating.” It made complete sense when Saïd mentioned his wife and motioned towards her. Karen.

After the reading, I introduced myself. I hope she didn’t remember me as the incompetent small-talk girl. If she did, that was alright too. I had met my one person for the night.

Saïd had spoke of her in class a few times. It was obvious how much he loved her. It was in the sound of his voice. If you listened ever so closely, a special tenderness could be heard that was only saved for mention of her. I could have been imagining it of course, but when I saw the way her eyes gleamed with pride while Saïd read, I knew I hadn’t.

I felt that sort of pride too. Not the that’s-my-husband-and-I’m-so-proud-of-him-because-he’s-worked-on-this-book-forever-and-now-it’s-finally-published-hallelujah-now-we-can-actually-talk-again sort of pride. More of the holy-crap-that’s-my-teacher-(and-I-like-to-think-friend)-who-I-am-watching-live-his-dream-that’s-so-cool-I-hope-one-day-that’s-me kind of pride.

I couldn’t help but crave to be a part of this literary world. It hadn’t ended when I left New York. It’s still going on. And I guess Saïd knew I’d realize this because he signed my book, “Here’s to everything in NYC…It’s waiting for you.”

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*For those of you that want to read “War and Duane Reade,” here’s the link: http://mrbellersneighborhood.com/2003/04/war-and-duane-reade

Another Reason I Love New York–As If I Need More

I know today is Thursday and I’ve been posting videos of family members sharing stories from their lives, but I couldn’t help but share this awesome musician I found in the subway in New York. His name is Eliano Braz. While I was heading down to catch the downtown 6 the other day at Grand Central, I heard this beautiful violin music. And since I play the violin, I had to stop and listen. I captured this short video on my iPhone but wish I had recorded more. Before I left I made sure to go up and speak with him and he even said we should play music together one day! Enjoy! 

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @GallagherAbbey