The Business/Depicting Reality: From Life to Screen

Monday, February 13, 2017 at 7:05 PM (PST)

Filmmakers are often advised to “write what you know”. For this panel, we will hear from successful independent writer-directors who have taken real life experiences or perspectives and translated them into the narrative form. Panelists will share their approaches to adapting reality into a dramatized film, to help aspiring filmmakers eager to tell their own stories.

Q&A with Andrew Ahn, Drake Doremus, Justin Tipping, and Elizabeth Wood. Moderated by Franklin Leonard, Founder of The Black List.


Andrew Ahn, Spa Night, 2017 Independent Spirit Award Nominee
Andrew is a queer Korean-American filmmaker born and raised in Los Angeles. His feature film SPA NIGHT premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in the US Dramatic Competition and won a Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. SPA NIGHT also won the US Grand Jury Prize at Outfest. Ahn participated in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab, and the Film Independent Directing Lab for the project. The project also received grants from the Sundance Institute, Film Independent, Cinereach, EFILM, Panavision, and FilmLA.

Ahn is an alum of Film Independent’s Project Involve and has promoted diversity in the arts by mentoring youth filmmakers through programs like Pacific Arts Movement’s Reel Voices and Outfest’s OutSet. He is also a board member of Los Angeles Performance Practice. He graduated from Brown University and received an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).

Drake Doremus, Like Crazy, Equals, Newness
Drake is a writer/director and AFI graduate. His past credits include Douchebag, Like Crazy, Breathe In, and Equals, of which the first three premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Like Crazy received the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the 2011 Festival. Equals premiered at the 2015 Venice International Film Festival. His series, The Beauty Inside, received three Grand Prix Awards at the 2013 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and a 2013 Daytime Emmy Award. His latest film Newness, starring Nicholas Hoult and Laia Costa, takes place in contemporary Los Angeles and centers on two millennials navigating a social media–driven hookup culture. It recently premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Justin Tipping, Kicks, 2016 Tribecca Film Festival Jury Award Nominee
Justin is a writer/director who was born and raised in the Oakland CA Bay Area. Justin’s debut feature film, KICKS, had it’s world premiere opening the US Narrative competition at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival produced by Animal Kingdom (Short Term 12, It Follows, Louder Than Bombs) with distribution by Focus Features. He co-produced LOWRIDERS with Brian Grazer and Jason Blum for Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, and Imagine Entertainment, starring Demian Bichir, Eva Longoria, Melissa Benoit and is set to have it’s world premiere opening the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival. In addition, he has written films for Sony, TriStar Pictures, Double E Pictures, Trigger Street Productions, and The Weinstein Company. His short film, NANI, won more than a dozen awards internationally, including the Student Academy Award and the Director¹s Guild of America Student Filmmaker Award after it’s world premiere in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival. As a director, Justin was selected by the Weinstein Company and Lexus to direct a short film as part of a global Lexus campaign as well as by Sony to direct a short film as part of the Sony 4k series. He holds a BA in Film and Media Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute Conservatory.

Elizabeth Wood, White Girl, 2016 Sundance Grand Jury Prize Nominee
Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Elizabeth was honored as one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch 2016. She holds an MFA from Columbia University’s Film program, where she was awarded a screenwriting fellowship. Before that Elizabeth studied writing, sex, drugs and fine arts at the New School (Eugene Lang + Parsons).

Her most recent project is WHITE GIRL, which premiered at Sundance 2016 in competition. A NY Times Critics’ Pick, WHITE GIRL stirred up trouble with its exploration of female sexuality, white privilege, and racial inequality. The film was acquired at a profit by Netflix, and enjoyed a theatrical release in select cities. Elizabeth Wood wrote and directed WHITE GIRL, inspired by her own experiences.

Moderator – Franklin Leonard, Founder of The Black List

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