Transient Pictures’ Landon Van Soest and Jeremy Levine return to Brooklyn today, fresh off the first pre-production trip to St. Louis, MO for their new film School of Last Resort (working title).
A collaboration with Ugly Doc Productions, School of Last Resort is a mediation on the cycle of systemic poverty in America and an exploration of how to break it. The film, which follows three criminally-convicted, St. Louis teenagers, will be co-directed by Levine and Van Soest, who won an Emmy Award for their last feature-length collaboration, Good Fortune.
“For the first time in our history, more than 1 in 100 Americans are behind bars” says Van Soest, “we’re hoping this film will present a unique and timely entry point to examine the crisis facing both the criminal justice and educational systems in the United States.”
The project is a partnership with Ugly Doc Productions, New York producer Nicholas Weissman, and executive producer Jeff Truesdell, a St. Louis native.
Continue to watch this space for future updates on School of Last Resort.
This weekend we wrapped production for director Paul Trillo’s experimental short film Perceptual Blindness. The film builds off the invisible characters he created in his music video for the Peach King’s “Lonely,” add in snowy woods, fog machines, colored paints, and the Phantom Miro—a camera capable of 1500 frames per second—and we’re in for a stunning visual treat.
We just got the news that Christopher Durang’s latest play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is moving to Broadway! Check out our behind-the-scenes look at the play during its run at McCarter Theater and Lincoln Center. Congrats to everyone involved and we can’t wait to see the next iteration of the show!
Principal photography for the narrative feature FiveStar, directed by Keith Miller and produced by Transient Pictures’ Landon Van Soest is now wrapped! Like FiveStar on Facebook and look for it in Fall 2013.
FiveStar tells the dual stories of Primo, a five-star general in the Bloods of East New York, and John, a 15 year-old mourning the loss of his father. Utilizing a blend of narrative and documentary production, FiveStar aims to present an intimate exploration of gang life and the challenges of manhood.
Transient Picture’s Jeremy Levine produced two segments for PBS NewsHour that aired in July. The pieces explore how a poor school district in South Texas is trying to turn its high school dropout crisis around by sending students to college. A production of Learning Matters, the piece was reported by John Merrow and produced with Cat McGrath.
Synopsis: In the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district in South Texas, Superintendent Daniel King is turning his district around. Just five years ago, almost half of the students were dropping out of high school. Today, students are not only staying in school — but many are graduating with college credits and some are even earning their two-year Associates degrees. The strategy — making education more challenging and interesting — seems to be working.
Rave review from the Library Journal for our Legacy Project series produced by the Dramatists Guild Fund: “A successful, serious effort to capture and document American theater history, a part of American culture recognized and respected worldwide. One hopes there will be more to come. An essential purchase.”
The first season of Doomsday Preppers came to a close this week as the highest rated show ever on the National Geographic Channel, proving once and for all that Americans love the end of the world. The finale included a story field produced by Jeremy Levine about a suburban “prepper” who built an underground bunker in his garage. Stephen Colbert also did a segment on Doomsday Preppers last week, which included a two-word audio cameo from Jeremy. (“What happened?”)
Good Fortune will play at the Seoul Human Rights Film Festival (SHRFF) in South Korea in May, 2012. Stay tuned for screening dates and in the meantime, here’s some fascinating backstory about the festival:
“Of the various aims and achievements of SHRFF, it may be said that the expansion and practice of Freedom of E-pression has been the most important and challenging one thus far. South Korea’s film industry, artistic community, and civil society in general continue to function beneath repressive censorship regulations and structures, including the notorious National Security Law, which has been brutally enforced for over 50 years. Despite regulations that require preliminary review, rating, and state approval before public screening, SHRFF has refused to apply for state permission to present its films. Since 1996, the festival has shown about 450films, all of which have been screened without preliminary submission to ratings authorities. We have continued this practice with fierce conviction, despite the pressure to submit to authority review, as well as coercive state actions such as the SHRFF director’s arrest in 1997. In a society where the vast majority of films are screened for commercial, rather than social justice or educative purposes, SHRFF is dedicated to presenting films that challenge oppressive norms, political power, and human rights abuses. Numerous excellent documentaries, in particular, have been presented to Korean audiences in the last decade.
…The festival has stayed true to its commitment to allow free admission to the public, rejecting commercial interests. SHRFF is organized by unpaid volunteers and has not sought or accepted corporate support from its inception over a decade ago. Although this principle may seem needlessly stubborn, we adhere to it because we greatly prioritize freedom from state and corporate influence. Instead, we support films and events that focus on “human rights,” whether they are profitable or not.”
Transient partner Jeremy Levine field produced for the new National Geographic series Doomsday Preppers, which will premiere Tuesday, Feb 8 at 9 pm. A unique look at the odd subculture of people convinced society is on the brink of collapse and the extreme lengths they go to prepare. Watch the trailer.
Congratulations to Keith Miller and the Welcome to Pine Hill crew for their recent Grand Jury prize win at Slamdance. The feature film about a recently reformed drug dealer looking to make peace with his past, was made in collaboration with the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, founded by Transient Pictures partners Jeremy and Landon along with Gerardo Samano. Jeremy Levine also contributed some editing to the project and Landon makes a guest appearance.
Synopsis: A recently reformed drug dealer working as a claims adjuster by day and bouncer by night, Shannon Harper receives earth-shattering news that compels him to make peace with his past and search for freedom beyond the concrete jungle of New York. With a cinema verite style rooted in very real life, Welcome to Pine Hill features an extraordinarily intimate performance by Harper playing himself, supported by an eclectic mix of real people and improvised performers. Traveling from the backyards of Brooklyn crack houses to the lush Catskill Mountains, the film is a meditative journey about how we choose to live our lives.
We here at Transient Pictures had a great 2011 (an Emmy for God’s sake!) and we hope you did too. We look forward to an even better 2012, assuming of course that the world doesn’t end. See the upcoming series Doomsday Preppers, on National Geographic, field produced by Transient partner Jeremy Levine. Stay tuned for air dates and Happy New Year.
Transient Pictures won an Emmy for Good Fortune, its feature documentary exploring how massive international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit! We are overwhelmed with this honor and are so thankful for everyone who helped make it happen. To make the night even more special, line producer Bernard Aulo Ohanga flew into New York from Kenya for the event. His first time in the U.S. and he’s welcomed with an Emmy!
Good Fortune won a News and Documentary Emmy in the category Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting-Long Form. We hope the recognition of the film can help promote more local leadership in development and foreign aid and help avoid the tragic stories of people like Silva and Jackson.