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The Fast Five: Film Festivals Hit the Drive-In, ‘Batwoman’ Gets Re-Cast and Warner Bros. Gives Drama Students a Foot in the Door.

May 26, 2020
4 min read time

Several production companies have spent the last week finding ways to give aspiring actors, writers and directors opportunities, and the results are an interesting mixture of digital showcases, short-film competitions, and the chance for one writer to see their script turned into a comic book. While production may be on pause, competitions sure aren’t, and the people who take advantage of them may just see a career on the other end of this lockdown.

WARNER BROS. GIVES DRAMA STUDENTS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW WHAT THEY GOT
It’s a tough time for all graduating students, but one group getting hit especially hard by the shutdown is the country’s drama students. Most drama program graduations include showcases that are designed to highlight the actors’ abilities to the casting directors, agents, managers and executives invited to sit in the audience. Many young performers get their big break through these showcases, and the shutdown has made sure an entire year’s worth of actors will not get the same opportunity as those who came before them. Warner Bros. Television has recognized this and created the WBTV Casting Initiative to help these students get their foot in the door. 400 schools across the US, Canada, Australia and the UK will be sent applications for their students to submit headshots, resumes and a written statement to the studio. Those who are selected to continue can submit a recorded audition and possibly meet with executives in the casting department. While this method still puts up a barrier that showcases don’t have, with your performance only being seen if you look good enough in a headshot, it’s a more accurate representation of how the industry actually works. Hopefully other studios take a cue from this movement and launch similar initiatives.

A NEW COMPETITION WILL SEE A WINNING SCRIPT TURNED INTO A COMIC BOOK
While most of the run-of-the-mill screenwriting competitions feature pricey entrance fees and the promise of meeting somebody’s assistant if you win, here’s a change of pace—and format!—for your screenplay. The Founder producer Motor Content and Mudbound producer Armory Films have partnered with Scout Comics for a new competition that will see the winner’s script turned into a comic book and receive a TV or film option from one of the two sponsoring production companies. Now, the fine print still requires a read and there are always the necessary caveats when dealing with competitions. While there is a guaranteed option on the comic book from one of the partner production companies, I can’t find anything about compensation for the comic or option. Maybe the winner will receive Writers Guild minimum and maybe the writer will receive nothing at all, and the company will get a free option on a published comic book. Always do your due diligence when entering a screenplay competition. But for people with no contacts in the industry who don’t know where to begin, this could end up being the thing that launches their career.

NEW JERSEY’S LIGHTHOUSE FILM FESTIVAL FINDS A WAY TO STAY OPEN
While other film festivals and television markets have been doing digital, postponing or shutting down until 2021, one New Jersey fest is embracing the new normal and pushing forward. When faced with the complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey’s 12th annual Lighthouse International Film Festival decided to move ahead anyway, but with a twist. The entire event will take place at drive-in movie theaters. All of the networking events will no longer go ahead, but the festival promises a full line-up of new release features for patrons to enjoy. The full catalog is not likely to be on the program, as many smaller film festivals show movies after they’ve made their world debuts at South by Southwest, Tribeca and Sundance, among other major festivals. But regardless of what’s on the menu, I’m sure New Jersey locals will love the chance to get out and see a new release in a safe environment and if Lighthouse pulls this off, it will show other festivals a path to remain open for business.

IMDB LAUNCHES A FREE SHORT FILM CONTEST FOR FEMALE FILMMAKERS
IMDb has partnered with Women in Film and ReFrame to create a short film competition for filmmakers who identify as women or are non-binary. The only requirements are that the films have to be around two minutes long, inspired by the director’s time sheltering in place, and be shot and edited entirely at home during self-isolation. Cash prizes will be awarded to winners and the top films will be showcased on the IMDb homepage. It’s hard to remain inspired while locked at home, and this opportunity has given many filmmakers a project to flex their creative muscles. With the narrow criteria provided, I imagine the winners will be the women who manage to find a unique way to present the theme. It’s a lesson that can be taken into any creative endeavor: a new spin on the same story everybody else is telling will help your project stand out from the rest. How do you do that in two minutes when you’re confined to your home? We’ll soon see how the winners manage to pull it off.

 

RUBY ROSE IS LEAVING CW’S BATWOMAN
Recasting in television shows is a rare occurrence, but a show’s star leaving after one season is even rarer. The only person that comes to mind is David Caruso, and even he made it four episodes into NYPD Blue’s second season. Arrowverse will need to find a new woman to wear the cowl as star Ruby Rose will not return to the show when it comes back for season two. Details have been very hard to come by with rumors ranging from a rift caused by the long hours worked in Vancouver, to its relation to an accident on set last season that required the star to receive surgery on her back. Everybody says the move was amicable, so don’t expect either side to come out with the reason as long as they both stay quiet about it. Unlike other shows that write off the character after the lead exits, Batwoman will recast the role for next season instead of shifting focus to one of the other Batwomen that exists in the DC comics universe. 

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