Q&A with: Laura fischer (CEO, Powderkeg), Kesila Childers (Vice President of Development, Powderkeg), Jesse Schiller (Producer, Powderkeg), and directors Talia Osteen, Jeanne Jo, and Jess dela Merced.
Moderated By: Britta Erickson (Executive Director, Denver Film)
A development incubator for on-the-cusp female directors. Forty directors were invited to submit ideas based on a themed prompt, then seven directors were chosen to work with Powderkeg to make their short film. Along with a modest budget, they were paired with top producers and casting directors as well as mentored by Paul Feig. The best part, each of these short films is also a proof of concept for a fresh original series with Powderkeg attached to produce.
The theme for the inaugural program was based on the unique position Los Angeles finds itself in as a city. Despite its often one-note portrayal, LA is really dozens of small towns stitched together by freeways (read: traffic). It has no true epicenter and no majority population. With over 140 countries represented across 503 square miles, it is this diversity of experience that makes Los Angeles so complicated and so special. This mosaic of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct micro-culture is the source of endless conversation and comedy.
- SHABBOS GOY: Shabbos Goy is about the friendship between Hannah, a young Orthodox Jewish woman and Davian, a young black Baptist man. For Davian what first starts as a favor to a stranger, then snowballs into a charade to protect her from humiliation develops into a genuine interest in Hannah and her world. All against the backdrop of Hannah’s impending wedding and the preparation and personalities that whirl around it. Davian and Hannah are able to be themselves in a way they aren’t always comfortable being in their own communities. She starts to worry that she’s developing a crush on this fascinating non-Jew. Her engagement was arranged, after all – how well could she know her fiance? What if she’s making a huge mistake? Hannah is forced to face her religious and romantic convictions. What she doesn’t know yet, is that Davian’s struggling with his own faith and identity – as a gay man… something that’s not always openly accepted by either of their religious communities. Their relationship is an exploration of the hilarious bond of friendship and what it is like to define yourself outside of your own micro-community in Los Angeles.
- PHONY: Sunny, a young Filipino American and flailing Portland sneaker designer finds herself unmoored and unmotivated. Sunny’s mother has died and she’s back home in Southern California in the uber Asian American San Gabriel Valley. Having lost her chance to make her mother proud, Sunny needs to figure out who she is in a place where the shoe no longer fits...and maybe work on her rage-induced blackouts. Through Sunny's comedic misadventures, PHONY explores the complexities of straddling Asian and American identities.
- BALDWIN BEAUTY: Baldwin Beauty follows Farrah, a Detroit native who has just moved after a bad break up with her boyfriend to Los Angeles. Now sleeping on her sketchy Aunt Trina's couch, she's desperate to find work and some friends to get her acclimated to the new city. When one of her appointments leads her to the house of Alicia, she discovers a crew of girls who love to party and are always a second away from drama. By the end of the wild night of drinking, blow drying and hair braiding, Farrah's made some great connections and sure she's found her L.A. tribe. What her new friends don't know, is that Farrah didn't just break up with her boyfriend... she killed him. With her secret eating away at her and questions from her friends and family in Detroit mounting, Farrah's new lease on life stands in jeopardy.
- FRANCES 2.0: Frances just turned 60, but every time she looks in the mirror, she’s surprised to see someone old; somehow, she feels like her life hasn’t begun. She’s lived in the same Maryland suburban town her whole life, has a career as a first grade teacher and has been stuck in a marriage that feels overwhelmingly empty. She split with her husband to move to LA, where her daughter, Chelsea, lives. Frances wants to fall in love; she wants to go on adventures; and she wants to make completely selfish decisions for the first time in 40 years. Chelsea is 26 years old and moved to West Hollywood three years ago in the hopes that she was more unique than the small-town surroundings she had been dealt. She thought that the city would inspire her to figure out her calling, but instead she was quickly defeated. Meanwhile, with her mom’s impending move to LA, her past is sneaking up on her. Frances 2.0 follows Frances and Chelsea, as they both struggle when the roles of mother and daughter, stable and adventurous are reversed.
- FRECKLE & THE SHIH TZU: When eccentric dog walker Freckle is tasked with returning a shih tzu to an office building across town, she enlists the help of her friend Demorge - a ramshackle artist moonlighting as a psychic. Once there, she stumbles into the audition that could be her ticket to the good life.
- RACHEL FROM NEW YORK: Our series is called THE DONNELL SHOW and each episode will be named a for a different woman that Donnell dates. Our short film, RACHEL FROM NEW YORK is an introduction to Donnell and his date, Rachel, a newly single woman with problems. It’s Curb Your Enthusiasm meets 10 Things I Hate About You. Each episode will focus on Donnell’s experience on a date (the preparation, the date itself, and occasionally the aftermath), offering a look into the contemporary dating world in Los Angeles.
Talia Osteen (The Shabbos Goy), Jess dela Merced (Phony), Thembi Banks (Baldwin Banks), Adriana Robles & Hannah Levy (Frances 2.0), Lizzy Sanford (Freckle & the Shih Tzu), Jeanne Jo (Rachel From New York)