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Meet the Filmmaker: Shannon Umetani, “One Fine Day”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
SU: I technically became a filmmaker awhile ago when I was in film school. Although I’ve worked in production ever since, I haven’t actually made anything of my own since school really. In the past year, Group Project was created by my sisters (Keiko Ozaki and Margaret Ozaki Graves) and me to work more on passion projects. My sisters inspire me with their incredible talents and we simply have fun creating together purely for the sake of creating.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
SU: “One Fine Day” is part opera music video, part anti-Asian hate PSA. It features the vocal talents of Margaret Ozaki Graves and was filmed at The Bug. It has not screened anywhere yet, so we’re excited to share it on the big screen. Our plans are to rack up more views on YouTube.

Q: What else are you working on?
SU: Aside from our day jobs, we aren’t currently in production on any other films at the moment, but we’re always talking about the next thing – another opera music video, an update to a documentary I made about Tibetan refugees in 2004, a narrative about how our interracial parents met or maybe even a podcast where we chat and commiserate about all being creatives.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
SU: Keiko spent over $150 on live butterflies, which completely blew the prop budget and necessitated an end-of-the film disclaimer. It was totally worth it though.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
SU: Groupprojectfilms.com

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
SU: Thank you very much for providing an outlet to screen our film. It’s never too late to re-emerge as a filmmaker.

One Fine Day will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, January 19th, 2023 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmakers: Tyler Borkowski and Trae Beneck, “Family Heirloom”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
T&T: We love film because there’s beauty in every aspect of creating stories, from the big scripted moments on-screen to the quiet moments behind the camera. It feels amazing to bring a team together to tell a story, and see how those voices come together.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
T&T: The film you’re about to see is called “Family Heirloom,” which is a short film that follows a family heirloom vase that acts as a silent observer to three generations of family trauma. The film exclusively centers itself on the vase and its immediate environment, and the audience eavesdrops on quiet moments that occur out-of-focus or outside the frame as we watch how these affect the family tree.

This film will be premiering for the first time at EFP! We’ve submitted it to a handful of other film festivals across the country and are hoping for it to be seen by as many people as possible because we believe its message is a very important one.

Q: What else are you working on?
T&T: Tyler Borkowski and Trae Beneck co-own a film production company based here in Denver called Wasteland of Wonder. WoW works with a wide array of clients on commercials, narrative shorts, documentaries, and brand development. The goal is to use the funds generated by the business to pursue passion projects and develop their portfolios so they can one day produce narrative film at the highest level.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
T&T: We’re a bunch of sellouts, and this our only passion project this year in a sea of corporate content. We justify it by telling ourselves that we’ll use the money from the commercials to fund the passion projects, but the truth of the matter is we really like money. Damn the corporate machine! Down with the man!

By the way, if you’re looking to hire us for your company’s advertising needs, please email us at wastelandofwonder@gmail.com! Long live capitalism!

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
T&T: www.wastelandofwonder.com is our production company’s website. It’s got our entire portfolio on it along with all of our contact info and socials!

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
T&T: EFP is so important for filmmakers in the Denver area because it can be such a disparagingly difficult place to gain experience. There’s a lot of commercial and reality TV work in Denver but as far as narrative work is concerned it’s a very limited market. EFP allows people making narrative-driven film a place to showcase their work and have it shared with other like-minded creatives in a fun and safe environment.

Family Heirloom will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, January 19th, 2023 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Cody Pape, “False Ego”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
CP: I am not sure I can call myself one yet but am working towards it everyday. I think about movies from when I wake up to when I fall asleep. I have become quite the cinephile over the last 10-12 years meaning with all the movies I have seen in that time, I believe there are still stories or versions of previously told stories that have not been told. My ultimate goal is to be able to make films fulltime in order to leave my current day job.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
CP: What you are going to see with “False Ego” is my first attempt at filming anything. I worked on a full length feature screenplay 3-4 years ago but never got close to finishing a first draft. During the pandemic, itching to get some sort of sense of accomplishment which was not happening bumping my head against the blank page, I decided to take a finished scene from said screenplay which I could produce myself with what I had at my disposal. The end of 2021, I put myself through my own film school and tried to teach myself the basics of each department within a production. After 2-3 months of locking the shooting script, shot listing, teaching myself about sound and how the hell to light a scene (which I may never know how), I casted two of my best friends as the leads and directed the scene in March of 2022. I then spent a month or two teaching myself post with the help of final cut tutorials on youtube. It should be noted that the scene is roughly 10-15 minutes into an unfinished screenplay. The False Ego short was purely a brief introduction into what all departments do for a film production and helped me figure out which one of the departments I might want to grab ahold of in the foreseeable future.

Q: What else are you working on?
CP: I am currently working on finishing a short screenplay about the current dating world for millenials. I hope to lock the script in early 2023 and direct it in the same year with the help of people I meet at the EFP!

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
CP: I couldn’t give you one specific thing. I think my existence and everything I do is weird. Ask one of my friends in attendance they could give you a better answer.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
CP: Nowhere yet! The False Ego is on youtube but it is still currently the only thing I have done. You can find me on instagram at c_pape19 or on twitter @cpape507 .

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
CP: I whole heartily appreciate what the EFP does every month. I have already met a couple people at the EFP that I wouldn’t have met any other way. I think I have the drive and knowledge to make great films. The one thing I learned from the False Ego process was that I can not do it alone. I am hoping the EFP can help me make the connections I need (specifically a very talented DP) to take my vision and ideas to the next level.

False Ego will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, January 19th, 2023 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Johnny Yager, “The Alpha Book”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
JY: I became a filmmaker because I love film, I love writing stories and I only have one life to live, so what the hell? I also love the soap opera, “One Life to Live”. Just kidding, I’m a “Days” man.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
JY: You’re going to see, “The Alpha Book”. It’s a student film that my girlfriend Cindy and I put together in 2 days because I fudged the audio on my final project. The 2 days thing might seem like scapegoating, but I think that this probably turned out better than the other story. It’s a heck of a lot less convoluted. You can probably tell that we were fighting daylight at the end.

Q: What else are you working on?
JY: I’m working on a tv pilot called “Rock Fight”, a short Horror Film called “Javelin” and finals for directors workshop. I’m a writing and directing major at Colorado Film School.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
JY: I saw the film, “The Crying Game”, in the theater when I was really young, with my mom. She didn’t know what it was really about before we went. We’re finally ok with talking about it now.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
JY: On Vimeo. Just search Johnny Yager. I’ll have more stuff up as soon as it’s finished.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
JY: Thanks for doing this! It’s good to know that there is community for filmmaking in Denver. The atmosphere is a lot more fun and interactive than I expected. Not that I was expecting anything bland.

The Alpha Book will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, November 17th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Mike Dunn, “Alienated”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
MD: I got inspired to make films when I watched Army of Darkness when I was 6 years old. I’d never seen anything like it, and it just jumpstarted a spark in me to want to get into film. From then I just found a love for telling cool stories with fun ideas.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
MD: The short film is called Alienated, and it’s about a young, lonely UFOlogist who’s whole life is dedicated to finding out the truth about if we are alone in the universe, much to the annoyance of his peers. His quest might finally lead him to an answer, but it might not be what he was hoping for…

It was screened in one film festival in Florida.

My plans for it next are to use it as a proof of concept for a feature film version.

Q: What else are you working on?
MD: Working on a few quick short films, and hopefully my first feature film titled Student Driver, as well as the feature for Alienated.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
MD: I can’t stop ripping off Sam Raimi

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
MD: Right now my other best short film is on the YouTube Channel CreepyTV, a fan film called Sam’s Gift.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
MD: It’s one of my favorite things in the Denver film scene! A wonderful place for filmmakers of all levels to share their work and meet new, and interesting people!

Alienated will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, November 17th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Tyler Holme, “The Struggle”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
TH: I knew I had to become a filmmaker at a young age because math and science were way too hard.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
TH: The Struggle is an audio/visual feast based on a painfully true story. It is a tale of art imitating life and the battle between what is real and what isn’t, told in one enthralling long take, a la Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s modern masterpiece, Birdman. Yet it isn’t about any of that, while also being about everything.

This film is the most personal piece of work I have ever made.

Q: What else are you working on?
TH: I recently wrote a satirical humor book lampooning health & lifestyle culture and social media influencers called, Beet Life: A Health & Lifestyle Guide To Show Your Life Who’s Boss By: Your Girl @Beets_By_Beth: Beth Gethard.

You can buy a hardcopy here: https://booksbybeetsbybeth.com/

Or you can purchase an ebook here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09WSHW9L9

Get one for yourself, a friend, a family member, or even your arch-nemesis!

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
TH: For this film, I was inspired by the works of innovative auteurs like Steven Soderbergh and Sean Baker to shoot the entire film exclusively on my smartphone. A Samsung Galaxy S9, to be exact. I wanted to capture the true raw cinematic grittiness of life in a way that only a cell phone can.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
TH: You can find more of my work here: https://www.tylerholme.com/.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
TH: just want to thank The Emerging Filmmakers Project for allowing me to screen my film alongside such great local filmmakers.

And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the 1991 Detroit Lions as well.

The Struggle will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, November 17th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmakers: Susan Lyles & Darren Smith, “B.O.B.”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
A: We have worked in theatre most of our lives and wanted to explore a new medium for storytelling, and for us starting in film competitions has helped us to learn a lot about the art form really fast.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
A: B.O.B. a short we created for The London 48 Hour film project in 2021-we shot part of the script in Bristol, UK and the rest in Denver, and it screened at Genesis Cinema in London. It was shortly after Texas passed their new abortion law and added a $10,000 bounty via lawsuits to be collected by people reporting women and doctors and anyone who helped them. We knew if we drew the right genre this was a subject we wanted to tackle. We’ve submitted B.O.B into a few festivals and are waiting with “baited breath” to know if we have an opportunity to screen it elsewhere.

Q: What else are you working on?
A: Susan has a couple of short scripts in the works, and Darren is currently working on a feature with his writing partner Donald Rae set in Edinburgh, Scotland. We will have just completed The Four Points Film Project-this is a 72 hour piece over the November 11-14 weekend and finally we are looking into festival submissions for our recent Best Film Nominee Parks Perfect Poltergeists ( Our London 48 Hour film project for 2022) and our recent Edinburgh 48 hour film piece which won the Global Scot award-Echoes of Life

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
A: Weird thing…not weird but almost every film we shoot has one of our dogs pop in.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
A: Right now we only have a face book page Ruff Ruff Dog Films-need to get in gear and get that webpage set up https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=ruff%20ruff%20dog%20films

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
A: We are so excited to have the opportunity to screen our work for a bigger audience and love that you all create this space for film makers.

B.O.B. will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, November 17th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmakers: Lindsay Morrison and Michael La Breche, “Divine Invasion”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
L&M: We love this form of storytelling & consider it one of the most potent forms of artistic expression. And it’s a blast to create.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
L&M: You will be seeing Divine Invasion, which was our Stuck at Home 48 hours film project, from the very beginning of the pandemic lock down. We posted it online directly after making it but have never screened it in front of an audience before, so this will be a lot of fun.

Q: What else are you working on?
L&M: Right now we are working on the final three episodes of our animated series, Let’s Get Weird. The first three episodes are already on our YouTube, and the final three are coming very soon! We’re also gearing up to shoot episode two of our live action series, Reliquary.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
L&M: It was very weird to star in our own film. We generally prefer to stay behind the camera, but it was a fun challenge.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
L&M: Follow us on Instagram @wolfluvfilms or check out our website www.wolfluvfilms.com

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
L&M: We are very grateful for EFP. It’s the first film community we found after moving to Denver and we are always thrilled to screen at the Bug!

Divine Invasion will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, October 20th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Ricky Perry, “Take Center Stage”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
RP: I started just by creating dance videos as a choreographer. I want to evolve my work by adding a narrative that can be relatable to my audience.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
RP: When watching this film I hope what resonates with the audience is the vulnerability, and how the narrative is incorporated with the choreography. This is the first screening of this film so that is very exciting for me.

Q: What else are you working on?
RP: Right now I’m working on gathering the confidence to write my first fight scene. Fight scenes in any movie have always been interesting to me. How the character fighting style embolics their character traits is fascinating.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
RP: I need background noise to fall asleep.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
RP: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/slkrick4/ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb9ddy9kUWn11qmOgbVOVTA

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
RP: I’ve been to this event before as an audience member. It’s nice to be on the other side and get to show my work to people. I enjoyed it last time and I have no doubt I will again.

Take Center Stage will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, October 20th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.

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Meet the Filmmaker: Stephanie Bettman, “When We’re Together”

Q: Why did I become a filmmaker?

A: I fell in love with the theater as a child. I was an actress for many years, along with being a screenwriter and occasional producer of short films and commercials. I gave it all up to be a full-time songwriter and touring and recording artist. Since then I’ve had the desire to make music videos. This is my first live action music video. And I’m thrilled to be sharing it here at the emerging film makers project!

Q: What are we going to be seeing at the EFP?

A: You are screening my first live action music video “when we’re together”. This is a music video for an original song that I wrote for my 7th studio  album  “Timeless “.  It was released in June 2022.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: I’m currently working on a lot of new material, new songs. With several ideas for music videos in the pipeline. I am looking for more collaborators to create music videos with!

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?

A: One thing about me that pretty much always remains consistent in my creative work; I am always intending to impact people in a positive way. I hope this video does that for a lot of people! Oh, I just realized the question was one weird thing about me. I guess a weird thing about me is that I used to be an aerialist. And I am getting back into that now that Covid shut down my touring schedule. Looking to bring that to a music video soon!

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

A: People can find out more about me and my music at bettmanandhalpin.com. Bettman & Halpin is my acoustic americana duo which has been touring nationally for the last 15 years. I am currently in the process of creating a solo project, but as that doesn’t exist yet, I can still be found in connection to Bettman & Halpin. Though I’m on FB and Instagram under both Stephanie Bettman, and Bettman & Halpin.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?

A: I’m so grateful to the emerging filmmakers project for choosing my video to be screened on September 15! Thank you so much for choosing me, and I look forward to meeting everybody there!

When We’re Together will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, September 15th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.