Su-City Pictures East, LLC

Screenplay & Film Consulting By Susan Kouguell

Month: August 2014 (page 2 of 2)

SUSAN’S Interview on Locarno Pilot Project

The Locarno Summer Academy’s New Pilot Project – The Industry Academy

The Locarno Industry Office has joined forces with the Locarno Summer Academy to launch the pilot project Industry Academy (8 – 12 August), an    educational, multi-disciplinary program for young industry professionals.

    I met with Nadia Dresti, (Delegate to the Artistic Direction, Head of International of the Locarno International Film Festival), along with Sophie Bourdon    (originator of this project; international sales consultant and former director of Atelier du Cinema European) and Marion Klotz (longtime festivals manager    and acquisitions executive at Memento Films), to talk about their new program — the Industry Academy — a three-day intensive workshop.


When describing how this pilot program came to be, Dresti states, “We were thinking about what changes do we need in the film industry; and how can you    reinvent this industry if you project 10 years ahead from now, because it’s changing so fast.”

Dresti, Bourdon and Klotz explained that their impetus for the Industry Academy was born from the fact that very few European film schools offer courses    about the industry. Their goal is to fill this existing gap in film schools by offering a very practical shortcut to the international industry world.

Bourdon: “The idea is to share what is going on — to compare situations and experiences from Latin America, Europe, and so on, such as new ways of showing    films.”

To read more:

Susan’s Conversation with Melanie Griffith, Rachel McDonald and Gale Harold at the Locarno International Film Festival


Conversation with Melanie Griffith, Rachel McDonald and Gale Herold at the Locarno International Film Festival 2014

On a sunny afternoon in Locarno on 7 August, Boyd van Hoeij from Variety moderated a discussion with short film “Thirstdirector Rachel    McDonald and its stars Melanie Griffith and Gale Harold. The topics ranged from the making of McDonald’s film, to the actors’ takes on the differences    between working with men and female directors, to ageism in Hollywood.

I asked Rachel McDonald about using crowd-sourcing to fund “Thirst.

Rachel McDonald    : “We shot a teaser and put it on Kickstarter. I learned a lot about social media in a short period of time. We raised the money in two different rounds    and were able to do the shoot. I was overwhelmed by the generosity and people who had faith in us. There are two donors here in the audience today; they    drove three-hours from Italy today to be here! I think crowd-sourcing is amazing and people can be a part of telling a story in a different way.”

About Thirst

             Melanie Griffith

Rachel McDonald    : “Thirsts” themes are about compassion and about the human connection. There are definitely themes of mercy that reflect on ourselves and on each    other. Sometimes that comes in the form of a complete stranger or those already in our lives. With an undercurrent of addiction.”

Melanie Griffith:     “My character, Sue, is a down-and-out alcoholic. And this young man comes into her life and they have this sort of understanding and go through a    metamorphous together. And Rachel, I must say was an incredible director and allowed what happened without the words, to happen in this world. I’m here    because I love the film. I want to support her in many more movies.”

Gale Harold    : “My character, “John” comes in about halfway through film; he has an oracle quality, he’s saying things he doesn’t have reason to know about and makes    offhand statements that become echoed through the film.”

McDonald: “The movie takes place over a period of three days. The script, written by Michael Albanese, was inspired by a true story that    happened to him when he was living in New York City in the 90s, and was broke and disconnected, and got a temporary job in Hell’s Kitchen. We developed the    story together.”

Boyd:     “You had a screenplay and a great story, but how do you get Melanie Griffith in this movie?”


To read more:


Susan’s Ask the Screenplay Doctor column Tips on Evaluating Agents and Production Companies


Top Tips on Evaluating Agents and Production Companies

Here’s the scene: You receive a call or email — an agent is interested in representing you and then another call and another email — now a production company wants to produce your screenplay. You’ve been working on your script for months, maybe years and finally — jubilation!  You are headed for success.  But wait!  Put the brakes on and take a deep breath.   Don’t jump into a relationship with the first person (or the second or third or fourth…) who expresses interest in your screenplay. It certainly is flattering when someone is interested in your work, not to mention the possibility of actually seeing your screenplay turned into a film and/or the chance to get representation — but be careful. Always trust your gut instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Top Tips on Evaluating Agents and Production Companies

Susan Interviews Stefano Knuchel Head of Locarno Summer Academy


I met with Stefano Knuchel, Head of the Summer Academy, the afternoon before the Academy and Film Festival began. Now in his second    year in this position, Mr. Knuchel is enthusiastic about the students’ talents and the exciting opportunities that await them at the Academy.

Knuchel: “Every continent except for Australia has been represented so far at the Academy. The shape and tradition of the Academy is mixing life with    cinema.” Knuchel continues, “The program gives students a sense to be a well-rounded director. It’s difficult to be yourself and in moviemaking …what does    it mean to be yourself?” Knuchel smiles, “You film who you are.”

An important goal of the Academy is the exchange of ideas and experiences not only with the filmmakers offering master classes, including Agnes Varda,    Roman Polanski and Victor Erice, but also between the students themselves.

Knuchel: “The students’ gain not only knowledge but an exchange with other filmmakers at their level; some of the students from last year are now making    movies together.”

To read more:


Just steps from the outdoor screen and the 8,000 seats that have been set up on the Piazza Grande where the 67th Locarno International Film    Festival will open on 6 August, I sat down with Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian to talk about films of the past and present, the American independent film    line-up, Roman Polanski and Agnès Varda.

The Festival


Kouguell: This is your second year as Artistic Director. What changes will we see at the Festival this year?

Chatrian:     “Last year, I didn’t want to change the Festival that much because I felt, and still feel, that the structure is good and fits the goals — to continue on    the same path with (both) the history of cinema and new films. This year’s selection of new films will have more surprises than last year. The main    competition last year was composed of mainly quite well-known directors; this year there is a good balance of first-time, lesser known and established    directors.”

Kouguell: Are there any current trends in filmmaking that you have found in this year’s films?

Chatrian:     “Cinema as an art form has more than one direction. Luckily there are filmmakers willing to take different directions and we see this here at this year’s    Festival. I’m always a little bit concerned when some critics say, ‘the new cinema will be this or that’ — what I can say is that cinema — especially    through young filmmakers — seems quite vibrant and not a dead art form.”

To read more about Agnes Varda, Roman Polanski and more…:

Susan’s ‘Indiana Jones and the Powerful Protagonist’ for The Script Lab



Indy relaxes and lies across the seat, a big smile on his face. One hand drops to the floor of the cabin and Indy jumps, hitting his head. On the floor of the cabin is a

huge boa constrictor. Indy tries to get his whole body onto the seat. Jock sees what’s happening.


Don’t mind him. That’s Reggie. Wouldn’t hurt a soul.


I can’t stand snakes.


The world’s full of them, you know.


I hate them.


Come on now, Sport. Show a little of the old backbone.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (directed by Stephen Spielberg, screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan) was shot by Oscar-winning cameraman Garrett Brown, (inventor of the Steadicam), and who is receiving the Vision Award at the 2014 Locarno International Film Festival.

Seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark again — most recently at the pre-festival outdoor screening at the 8,000-seat Piazza Grande at the Locarno International Film Festival, I was reminded about the strength of this iconic protagonist who has launched sequel after sequel. Indy has weaknesses and vulnerabilities – all of which make him an identifiable protagonist for the audience.

In the chapter entitled ‘Your Unforgettable Characters Come Alive’ in my book Savvy Characters Sell Screenplays! I write:

Characters must be complex, fully defined, multifaceted, and distinct. Readers must understand who your characters are, their motivations, behaviors, needs and goals, and feel empathy for them.

To read more…





Nadia Dresti, Delegate of the Artistic Direction, Head of International at the Locarno International Film Festival, is passionately dedicated to    spotlighting independent filmmakers from countries that face challenges getting their work noticed and distributed. Ms. Dresti and I met at her office a    few days before the start of the Festival to discuss the various initiatives that will take place during Industry Days, which runs from August 9-11.

From the Festival Web site:

Industry Days are aiming to play an active role in the support of auteur films: whether launching a new project or extending and optimizing existing    services and initiatives, the goal of Locarno’s Industry Office is always to support sales agents, distributors, producers and exhibitors in their    respective tasks, ranging from the conception to the release of independent art-house cinema.

The Industry Office of the Locarno Film Festival facilitates networking among world film industry professionals attending the event, supporting producers and agents presenting films at the Festival by connecting them with international sales and distribution professionals and exhibitors.

To read more:


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