Ellen Tevault...a storyteller
...About Me...
Ellen Tevault

Ellen Tevault is a published freelance writer and editor. She edits for individuals and publishers, including two webzines until they closed June 2008. She's been publishing for more than twenty years.

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:~: Thursday, April 30, 2009 :~:

Entitled: Films to Watch Out For

by Ellen Tevault

1. Congratualtions on your recent award winning short film! Can you tell us about the film, First They Came For… and the awards it has won?

Kate Chaplin: Thanks so much! Our latest short film, First They Came For... has been very well received. In just the handful of festivals it has shown at so far, it's won the INDY Award for Audience Choice and the Silver Award in Hollywood at the Gold Award Film Festival. We have been fortunate enough to have a wonderful local film run, The showing in Hollywood this past February was the mark of the film's first nationwide festival release.

My big hope is the film does as well nationally as it has locally. The film has a message that is very dear to me - human rights. Based on the poem by the Reverend Martin Niemoller, First They Came For... is a short film set in a not so distant future where a nondescript regime takes away various discriminated groups out of everyday situations where they are creating no crime. All the while our Narrator (played by Scott Ganyo) watches this injustice happen and struggles between standing up and saving himself. We've taken the 1945 poem and updated to groups who are still being persecuted against today in hopes that we can show that basic human rights are still being violated and that we each have a responsibility to stand up for what is right.

2. Has the film had any negative feedback because of the political message behind it?

Chaplin: Lately it seems modern-day Communists are mad at the film. In the most famous version of the poem it begins with "First they came for the communists but I didn't stand up because I wasn't a communist" In our updating to 2008 we chose that Jews, homosexuals, and Muslims were more a consistent target of discrimination. The original script included more people who were being discriminated against, however we decided to keep the message short and in more in the style of the poem where it's not about listing groups but more about for standing up for human rights violations regardless of their demographic.

3. How did you feel going to the Gold Award Film Festival film award ceremony in Hollywood? Would it have been better if you were down the street at the Oscars?

Chaplin: I *loved* the showing in Hollywood. I lived in LA for 5 years. I worked massive hours in video stores trying to make money to eat all the while writing screenplays. I really thought at 19 years old I could be the next big writer/director in town. When 9/11 happened, my husband joined the Army to make a difference and we left LA. I knew I would make it back but I never thought it would be for an event like that!

The Gold Award Film Festival was held the morning of the Academy Awards. At the conclusion of the festival everyone was invited to view the Oscars on the big screen there at the theater. The coolest thing, next to winning the Silver in the "Defying Stereotypes" category (which was beyond awesome!) was seeing in the audience new friends sitting with old friends. My best friends from LA, Ryan and Sujey came to the screening. They sat next to friends who came with me from Indianapolis. Friends who knew me when I was just a dreamer, and friends who saw be becoming the "overachiever" I am today. That being said, I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. Sure 3 miles down that very street was the "big show" but I couldn't have brought my friends. Plus, if the Universe still decided to shine some luck on me, I still have time to have an Oscar Nominee seat one day, no rush. I am happy doing what I'm doing now and if my friends are in the audience that's all the award I really need.

4. I know you had a special birthday present because of this film. What was that?

Chaplin: First They Came for was shown at Fringe Friday in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the screening; I was "kidnapped" by friends and family to a birthday shin-dig.

5. What is your next film project about? Your next writing project?

Chaplin: My next film project is a feature film entitled Shoki's Bag. It's a massive undertaking. It's a mythic fantasy piece about the burdens we carry in life, entitled Shoki's Bag. (Filmmakers blog: http://shokisbag.wordpress.com) Our lead character is a deformed ex-circus strong man who wanders the forest with a large bag. The bag itself growls and moans and is rumored to contain the contents of a trouble man's soul. Shoki comes across Nix, a young charismatic Water Spirit who is searching for the Princess who has been kidnapped. Together they go on a journey of redemption and empowerment. If you love Joss Whedon and Niel Gamin this is the film you've got to see. We're filming October-Jan. It will probably take a year or more after that before it's ready for screenings.

Writing wise, I'm working on a movie memoir of my life told through the movies that shaped me. It's entitled "I Blame Lucas!!" I hope to finish the manuscript before the fall. I am also working on more short film scripts and a feature script that takes place in a drive-in theater in the 1970's.

6. What is your favorite question from your book, The Belief Test? What is your answer to it?

Chaplin: My favorite question from Belief Test changes with the mood I am in. But I do love the "Elvis or Beatles" question that is found in the "Do you prefer...section of the book. The question is an interview question that Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) asks Vincent Vega (John Travolta) in a deleted screen in Pulp Fiction. As Mia explains in the film; you can like Elvis, you can like The Beatles but generally you prefer one over the other and that can say a lot about you. I'm a Beatles girl, myself. You Tube link to the scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmJhbPPCP_0

7. Thank you for speaking with us about your recent success! What can we expect from you in the future?

Chaplin: Definitely keep an eye out for First They Came For... We're hoping to make a great national splash with the film over the upcoming year. Shoki's Bag is taking off. There should be a lot of buzz as this film ramps up for casting calls and production. We're hoping to attach some big name stars like, Johnny Depp, Daniel Day Lewis, Helen Mirren, etc. In the meantime, I'm doing freelance Assistant Director and Script Supervisor work on some wonderfully made local films. I am continuing my filmmaking workshops this summer. I have a personal leadership seminar scheduled for Pike Township Schools and am in talks with other community organizers in the area to offer more educational programs on the importance of film.

Kate Chaplin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO36y78dXAs - First They Came For... on You Tube

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