My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Congratulations to Liz Lehmann

Dear Blog Visitors:

I am delighted that local filmmaker, Liz Lehmann, has found success with her latest movie, 'Fury.' Liz is an extremely talented person who has worked hard over many years to bring her gifts to the public via the large screen.

I first met Liz Lehmann around 17 years ago, whereby we embarked upon two projects together. In the first collaboration, she coached me on the intricacies involved with making a documentary on the single life in Rochester. Shortly thereafter, Liz asked me to be an actor in a film she was both writing and directing - namely, 'The Apple Orchard.' (I played a traveling preacher in the movie, which was perhaps an inkling toward my later real-life role as a married priest.) This was a great experience for me and it gave me greater insights into this talented woman.

I look forward to being in attendance at the local screening of 'Fury' at the Little Theater on February 19. Let us hope Hollywood is paying serious attention the Liz Lehmann's potential.

What follows is a feature article that was written in our local newspaper about Liz and her latest film:

February 16, 2009

Fairport filmmaker talks about locally produced/award-winning 'Fury'

Local filmmaker, cast and crew win at 2009 San Diego Black Film Festival

Sheila Rayam
Female audience editor
Democrat and Chronicle
Rochester, New York

Some local actors and their producer lost their voices in San Diego recently, but it wasn't laryngitis that left them speechless.

The announcement that supernatural chiller Fury took Best Cutting Edge Film honors in the 2009 San Diego Black Film Festival choked their vocal cords.

"We couldn't believe our ears," recalls Liz Lehmann of Fairport, who directed and produced the film that was shot in Rochester. "We didn't know that they had that category."

Fury — the story of a teenage band that plans its first concert in a haunted, abandoned building but are visited by two unexpected guests — was filmed on the upper floors of the Nick Tahou's building on West Main Street. The original script was written by Oz Wilson, whom Lehmann met in Los Angeles while she was there to pitch scripts to producers.

All of the actors in the film are from the Rochester area, says Lehmann, a graduate of West Irondequoit High School, Syracuse University and Rochester Institute of Technology.

We talked with Lehmann about her journey to filmmaking and the production of Fury.

Q How did you become interested in filmmaking?

A When I was little I always enjoyed making up stories whenever I drew pictures. Then in college, I watched every movie that came on campus. But it wasn't until I finished my master's degree that I realized that I wanted to something more creative in my life. When I pieced together all my interests, I thought I'd give filmmaking a try and signed up for classes at Writers & Books (for screenwriting) and The Visual Studies Workshop (for filmmaking). Basically, I found that I really enjoyed it and was good at it. From there I took classes at several colleges, read books, and volunteered on a lot of movie shoots.

Q What was it about the script for Fury that made you think this would be a good film to bring to the screen?

A The script had an interesting story structure (so it would hold up well), the story itself had an historical angle that hadn't been done before. Fury started out as a horror movie but it morphed into a supernatural chiller because it doesn't have enough blood and body parts for a typical horror. We're at the suspense end of the horror spectrum. There's also a lot of humor. (The film is rated R for language.)

Q When did you begin shooting Fury and when was shooting complete?

A We started shooting a couple of years ago on the last weekend in June and finished the first weekend in January — basically, we shot weekends for six months.

Q How did you find the actors for Fury?

A I turned around. Literally. I was at Geva Theatre talking to an actress I knew after the evening performance and turned around. At the NextStage, there were a group of African-American actors, so I went over to find out what was going on. It turned out that they were having the graduating show for a special program for actors, directors and playwrights of color called The Enterprise Zone. Fortunately, there was a second performance the following night and I started taking down names. Subsequently, I started asking other directors as well as the actors if they knew anyone.

Q Have you written, produced and directed other horror films?

A The short I made before Fury, called She Wrote, He Wrote, had some zombies in it, but it was basically a comedy. It won the Bronze Remi at the Houston Worldfest and was a finalist at Telluride Indiefest.

I shot a feature drama called The Apple Orchard many years ago but distributors weren't interested because we didn't have any stars. When I asked them what would they take without stars, they said horror. That's when I started looking around for horror scripts since I write mostly science fiction and comedies.

Q When many people think of making a motion picture, they think Hollywood or New York City. What is it about Rochester that makes this a good place to shoot a film?

A Rochester is very movie friendly. It has many different types of locations and we have an excellent actor base. There is a lot of theater here and we get quite a few escapees from NYC. The filmmakers help each other as well.

Q What's next for Fury?

A We will try to get a distributor and getting this award will help a lot. We are also looking into self distribution.

Q What is one fun/interesting fact about fury?

The ceiling actually did fall — fortunately an hour after we wrapped on Sunday. We had been walking under it all weekend. It was written into the script and shot the following weekend. We joked on the set that there was a real ghost in the building.

'Fury' will be shown at The Little Theatre, 240 East Ave. at 6:30 pm. Thursday as part of it's Spotlight on Black History Series. The showing will be followed by "Talkback with Rochester Filmmaker by Liz Lehmann" as well as members of the cast.

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