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When Jimi and Brian get you working on the job, your career can leap forward in ways you might never have imagined. Read below about a theater company owner who enrolled in the Film Connection to learn screenwriting, and got her screenplay picked up by her mentor’s production company!
Film Connection student Anne Marie Cummings expands her horizons, signs with Intrinsic Value Films!
Anne Marie Cummings
Many Film Connection students who enroll have one of two goals in mind: to become film producers/directors, or to get a job working in the film industry—and occasionally both. For Anne Marie Cummings, however, the decision to enroll was more of a creative decision to expand her horizons.
Anne Marie wasn’t looking for a new career. She already had one. A long-time actress, playwright and theatrical director, she was well established in the creative arts and running her own theater company in Ithaca, New York. But as she tells it, some conversations with colleagues inspired her toward more.
“I was meeting some writers,” she says, “who…and I will say Neil LaBute really I think was a big part of that team…I was producing his work, and I was communicating with him, and getting to know the body of his work, and seeing that he was so comfortable moving from TV, plays, and film, was certainly of interest to me. I thought, ‘Oh, so I’m not just limited to the theater.’”
As her interest in screenwriting grew, she felt if she were serious about it, it would require a life change—namely, a move to Los Angeles. “I thought, if I want to write screenplays, or even if I have any ideas for TV, I’m going to have to move,” she says. “I didn’t even have to think too much about it. I had a house, and I had a theater company, and I was living in a smaller community. But I thought to myself, if I want to learn, and I want to grow, even though I have these certain comforts, material comforts…what comes first for me is my growth as an artist.”
About that time, she found the Film Connection online. “I did some searches online, and then I watched a video, or two, or three, and I thought about it. And I thought, ‘At where I’m at in my life, this is what is going to be the best scenario for me. I don’t want to be in a classroom setting. I work best when I have a mentor, and then I’ll go from there.’ It just seemed like the right fit for me.”
Of course, leaving a stable home and career wasn’t without risk or cost. “A lot of people in upstate New York were really upset that I left my theater company,” says Anne Marie, “because I had the regulars that came to our performances, and in many ways, it was great because for my ego, it certainly was…I was always in the news. I was being interviewed. We were always getting press. It looked great, it felt great. But artistically, I had to be very honest, and I think that this program also makes you…you have to get really honest with yourself…I just felt that if I stayed on that path, I would not grow in this direction, which I really wanted to explore.”
After making the move to L.A., Anne Marie began her apprenticeship with noted producer Aimee Schoof of Intrinsic Value Films, with additional screenwriting mentoring with screenwriter Ron Osborn (Meet Joe Black, The Radioland Murders). Was it difficult for an established artist to take instruction? Not for Anne Marie: she thrived on it.
“The Film Connection is really, really great for someone like me,” she says. “When you’re working with producers and an established screenwriter, they’re not cutting you a whole lot of slack…I don’t think there’s any shame in ever working with somebody. It’s like a boxer needs a trainer. I think a writer needs a coach…And if you have the means, and you can get a coach who can work with you on your development and process, you’ll have a better product. And going to somebody who’s a pro, it’s best to do that, for sure.”
The big move has already paid off for Anne Marie in several ways. First, she’s currently being considered for representation by not one, but two talent management agencies. Second, her screenplay—a culinary-themed romantic comedy called Eat Bitter, Taste Sweet—has been picked up by her mentor’s production company, Intrinsic Value Films. And third, her mentor, Aimee Schoof, is now helping her develop a new idea for a TV series!
“While I was writing my screenplay,” Anne Marie says, “just out of the blue came an idea. And I knew it was a TV idea, but I just jotted it on a sticky note and I stuck it on my wall…That’s how I like to work. I put sticky notes everywhere, on a wall, when I map out things…And I looked at that for probably a month, and then one day, when I was meeting with Aimee, we were talking about my screenplay. I said, ‘Aimee, would you like to hear an idea I have for what I think is a TV series?’ And she said, ‘Sure.’ And I told her, and she loved it…She said to me, “I’m not going to let you not do this.“Aimee is, I would say, she’s really like the dream producer,” she adds. “She’s got an open mind. And she’s a team player. She’s a collaborator. That’s a really good thing to have that kind of relationship with somebody where you feel that they’re open and they can trust you, and you can trust them.”
And so, Anne Marie’s decision to expand her creative horizons led her to the Film Connection, which in turn has led to a whole new set of avenues for her creative career. “I have opportunities that I didn’t have before, and The Film Connection has certainly provided those for me.”
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Dr. Drew endorses the Recording, Radio & Film Connection, and CASA The Culinary Apprenticeship School of the Arts.
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NUGGETS OF TRUTH: Recording Connection mentor/music industry veteran Josquin des Pres chats about his musical journey and why he loves to hire his apprentices
Originally hailing from France, producer/engineer/songwriter Josquin des Pres has had a long and highly productive career in the industry, from his early session work as a bass player to a long songwriting collaboration with Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist), to producing sessions for major icons like Jack Johnson, The Gipsy Kings, Techn9ne, Carly Smithson, Slightly Stoopid and also with players like Peter Frampton, Ricky Skaggs, John Jorgensen, Jerry Donahue etc. to composing for over 40 TV shows, the list goes on and on”. For over 15 years now, he’s operated Track Star Studios in San Diego, CA, one of the area’s most acclaimed recording facilities.It goes without saying that we’re extremely pleased to have Josquin as a long-time Recording Connection mentor. He frequently hires his students, and one of his former apprentices and employees, Phil Higgins, even went on to open his own studio in Nashville and is now a mentor himself!In a recent conversation with us, Josquin talked a bit about what led him from performing to producing, and eventually opening his own studio. He also talked about some of his current and former students, why he loves to hire his apprentices, and the opportunities his students get by learning on-the-job. The best nuggets of that conversation have been mined for you below.
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ON HOW HE MOVED FROM PLAYING MUSIC INTO PRODUCING MUSIC:
“After [living in] France, I moved over to LA and became a studio bass player and playing with different people—San Diego also—and just being a bass player for hire. And I was in a few bands—I was in a band called Stress with Jimmy Crespo from Aerosmith. When that broke up, I was interested in the production side of music, so I decided to start producing. My first records were records from bands coming from Europe, Luxembourg, France, because I have relationships over there. And then I met Bernie Taupin [Elton John’s lyricist] through a mutual friend and started writing songs with him in the late ‘80s, and landed a deal with Warner/Chappell Publishing. All that came about. At the same time, I had my own little studio to record my own songs, and I bought more and more equipment and developed that even more…I moved down, in fact, from LA to San Diego to work with a label called Cargo Records, which was the label that signed Blink 182. I did almost 30 records for Cargo between ‘95 and 2000.”
RC apprentice Hayden Lewis, Josquin Des Pres and Ian Sutton at Capitol Studios in Studio A.
ON WHY HE STARTED HIS OWN STUDIO:
“It was really simple, actually. As we were doing more and more records for Cargo and I was getting paid as a producer and then I was taking the projects to local San Diego studios, I decided, for the money I was paying, I could build my own and collect that money from the record label. So I built my own studio while I was working at others. And when it was open and ready to go, that’s basically when I started, Track Star.”
THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION MUSICIANS HAVE ABOUT MAKING A RECORD:
“Cost. A lot of people don’t understand that it all depends [on] what you’re making a record for. If you’re making a record for fun, then it’s okay, it’s simple. Nowadays, everybody has Pro Tools. Everybody can do it at home or wants to do it at home. But I tell lot of people, I have a basketball, doesn’t make me Kobe Bryant…They’re recording at home without any knowledge, and the project just doesn’t sound that good, so it can’t go very much further. The advantage actually of the teaching program is, now, we can teach people how to get good mixes and good recordings at home and at least help them further their music.
ON WHY HE LOVES TO HIRE RECORDING CONNECTION APPRENTICES:
“Our entire staff is people from Recording Connection. And it’s been like this since our older guy took the Recording Connection program 14 years ago and became an engineer here then moved to Nashville, opened his own studio in Tennessee…