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Thursday, March 25, 2004
IT'S WORKING....

We started training Christian writers for mainstream Hollywood careers back in August of 1999. Since then, those of us on the faculty, staff, Boards and donor end of the program have been nervously brooding over our program alumni, tweeking and mentoring, advising and praying, waiting to see if the program will actually yield any results. We know it has created a supportive community of friends and aspiring filmmakers, but we have been waiting to see if it actually helps people DO something here in Hollywood. Well, it seems clearly we are just starting to hit the Tipping Point as more and more cool success stories are coming to us from the alumni who have been doggedly plugging away here on the front lines.

I was thinking to maybe write this for Crisis magazine as the whole program started after an article I wrote for Crisis back in 1998 whining about the fact that the writing coming into Hollywood from Christians was dreadful. Here's me gathering some notes about Act One success stories for an article...

* October 2003 - Act One '99 alumn, Clare Sera lands a job on the writing staff of Universal Pictures/Imagen Entertainment Curious George. This is huge as it is the first major studio release for an Act One alumn.

* November 2003 - Act One alumn '00, Amy Snow wins the Disney Fellowship. Only eight writers annually are chosen for this honor out a pool of 2000 applicants. Amy, who developed her winning script for the Fellowship at our Advanced Writers Seminar and Act Two, will spend the next year or so writing at Disney expanding her skills and her network of contacts in the biz.

* March 2004 - Screening of first Act One alum co-produced feature length film. Called The Gleam of Dawn, this film stars Kelly Overton (All My Children, The Practice), and James Haven (Monsters Ball). The project was co-produced by Sodium Entertainment, which is a collaboration of Act One '99 alumns Shane Gilbert and Andrea Nasfell. Also working on the project were Act One alumns Kurt Schemper ('00) as Associate Producer (Post-Production), Cheryl McKay ('99) as script supervisor, Ian Eyre ('01) as effects co-ordinator, Nick Weber ('03) as a production assistant, and Kitty Bucholtz ('99) as production accountant. Shane also did the casting. The film is okay - some storytelling flaws, but overall well and professionally produced.

*March 2004 - Act Oners shoot a commercial TV pilot. Supervising a cast and crew of mainly secular talent, a group of Act One alumns just wrote, executive produced and shot a high caliber, broadcast quality television pilot that has already attracted the interest of several networks. Act One alumn Kurt Schemper ('00) who is a Senior Post-Production Coordinator at Carsey-Werner, executive produced the comedy script which was written by Act One alumns Dan Ewald ('99) and Rajeev Sigamoney ('02). The cast features established television actors including, Debra Jo Rupp (That 70's Show), Tim Bagley (Will and Grace, According to Jim), Tony Hale (Arrested Development), Debra Wilson, (MAD TV), and Act One alumns Marianne Savell ('00) and Clare Sera ('99) also shared acting duties. Oh and Act One alumn Greg Schemper ('02) supervised the craft services...which I heard were stellar!

*March 2004 - Act One alumn Lorna Clarke ('02) lands a job as a Production Assistant on Bernie Mac. Lorna joins Act One television laboring alumns Elaina Satti ('00) who is some kind of Coordinator on King of the Hill, Dan Ewald ('99) who is a writer's assistant on Whoopie, and Kurt Schemper ('00) at Carsey-Werner. There is also Act One alumn Nina Shelton ('99) who recently left a job producing HBO-NYC to run the PBS affiliate in Indiana. (I know I'm foregetting some others...somebody help?)

There is, of course, a lot more going on with the alumns who are doing writing and producing jobs for small production entities all over, but these projects are particularly auspicious because they are collaboration with the mainstrem industry...which is the point of Act One. It warms my heart when my little chickens reach out to each other to work together. Nunc Dimittis...