Saturday, June 26, 2010

World's Largest: A Documentary About Small towns With Big Things

Even with the various connections, references, and support I had made in the media industry, I found myself unable to land an entry level post in the smallest of media markets in the country. Per one of my former university professor's suggestion I took the thirty minute film script which I wrote as my project for his media writing course years before and turned it into a full length feature. As I neared the completion of the first draft, I began to research schools for writing, acting, and directing as well as organizations where I could network with filmmakers and other industry insiders. I came across IFP which began in New York in 1979. I located the Chicago chapter and familiarized myself with the people in charge. I attended a Chicago screening for a film in which one of my friends whom I met in acting class had been. After the screening, the Executive Director for Chicago IFP was introduced to the audience and I knew I had to introduce myself to her. Unfortunately, I was not able to do so that night, but I made sure to send her an email to which she promptly responded. I followed up with a phone call to the IFP offices. To my surprise, Elizabeth Donius, the Executive Director, picked up and gave me all the time in the world to ask my questions and receive further information on the IFP organization. By the end of the conversation, I had registered as a new member of IFP. From that day forward any time I had questions, concerns, or issues, Elizabeth would be the person to whom I would speak or send an email. She was always pleasant, prompt, and willing to give me all the time in the world. I then attended a seminar called Producers' Series were I quickly made some contacts with filmmakers and producers who were just starting out and others who were established in Hollywood. The highlight for me was that on one of the days, Elizabeth was leading a panel discussion. Everyone was ready. She walked in, sat down, and began to speak, "Welcome to today's panel. Let's get started. Oh wait." She paused to acknowledge a young man sitting in the front row immediately in front of her. "Good morning Israel. How are you? How are you enjoying our seminar?" She and I exchanged pleasantries as I answered her questions. She may not have realized it, but that made my day! Every time I have ever had the pleasure to speak to Elizabeth Donius, she has been warm, inviting, and classy. She truly is "one of the good ones." Above all, she is an extremely talented filmmaker whose abilities are on display in a film she and her childhood friend, Amy Elliott made and is now screening as part of the Seventeenth annual Chicago Underground Film Festival which runs from June 24 through July 1, 2010 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. "World's Largest: A Documentary About Small towns With Big Things" can next be seen on Tuesday, June 29, 2010. When one travels throughout this country, one will hear or see how towns constantly promote roadside attractions and make claims that theirs is the home of the world's largest tomato, moose, or statue of some kind. Elizabeth and Amy decided to seek out and document these attractions.For more information on the filmmakers, the documentary, or future screenings, please visit

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