#15 Newsletter (July-August '15)    www.JasonStefaniak.com
Jason Stefaniak

In Dedication to E'dena Hines

In August, a friend and collaborator of mine was killed. I can't say I knew her well. Besides the one time we worked together in 2012, I saw her just one other time in person a few months ago at a play and spoke to her via email. But we made a film together and there's something about sharing a creative act with someone else that can bond you to them in ways you might not even consciously realize until they're gone.

E'dena performed in This Is My Body - she's the fiery one in the middle of the video that near explodes off the screen with passion. On the day we shot the film, I remember we were running behind and she came in (we hadn't met yet) and was literally rocking with anticipation as she waited in the back of the room. When it was her turn, she did three takes back-to-back - the entire 5min+ monologue each time, with few if any mistakes - and then left. She re-energized the room. She got us back on schedule. She demonstrated skill, craft, and professionalism. And when I went to cut the film, her takes were so good, so unified, so controlled, I had a hard time cutting them up, so I put them in the film almost entirely uncut. 

We stayed in touch on and off. She performed in-person at the first live screening of the film. We were Facebook friends. A few weeks ago, she reached out and asked if I could send her the raw footage of her performance from This Is My Body. I came to find out after her death she had become discouraged as an actor, but had recently returned to New York and felt reinvigorated. She asked for the footage so she could freshen up her acting reel, I'm sure with the intention of going on more auditions. Looking at her footage I was reminded of her that day, her anticipation, her energy, her precision. 

I sent her the clips and also sent her a short script I had just written. She mentioned she was or wanted to write as well and asked if I wanted to start a writing group with her. She loved my script, said it embodied the relationship she had with her mother "to a T" and asked me to cast her in it, ending the email with " :) " I told her I would definitely bring her in for an audition, and I planned to.

A week later, she was killed. It was violent, and public, and awful. You can read the news if you want the details. But it was shocking. And it's something that's very hard to understand. I didn't know her well, but I knew her, and that was enough. I felt like I needed to do something to honor her. Immediately afterwards, I dedicated This Is My Body to her. In the near future, I plan to reconvene the performers from the film to create something for E'dena. We're not sure what that will be yet, but hopefully something that can mark her talent. 

Watch This Is My Body again for her. You'll notice the refrain: "This is my body, not yours." Pay special attention to when E'dena is on the screen and the work she does. At 4min 7sec she appears on screen one last time, and she slightly alters the refrain, making it her own: "This is my body, it's not yours." That extra word. I remember it struck me when I was editing. That touch of personalization. The emotion. There's a whole person in that "it's."

Watch This Is My Body - Dedicated to E'dena Hines 

This Is My Body

This Is My Body will be featured on the website of KCETLink starting later this fall. KCETLink is a national independent public transmedia organization formed by the merger between KCET, the largest independent TV station in the country, and Link Media. A producer reached out to me to ask if they could feature the film on what they hope will be a broadcast television show that features global viral videos. The film will start out on their website, and hopefully the show - which would be distributed via DirecTV and Dish TV to 34+ million viewers - will launch in 2016. Their social media presence across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram reaches over 200,000 people, so the exposure for the film is going to be substantial. 

But Not For Me

In August, But Not For Me played the Capital City Black Film Festival in Austin, TX. In collaboration with the Bangor Symphony to celebrate Elena Urioste's performance with the symphony in November (she plays Hope in the film), But Not For Me will screen in Bangor, Maine, at COESPACE on Friday, October 23, at 7pm. The screening will be followed by a Skype Q&A with Elena, Ryan Carmichael (writer/director), and myself. If you're in Bangor, check out the film!

We've finished the trailer for the film and will be releasing it online, with the proper fanfare, soon. But for you, my loyal supporters, a sneak peek (but please don't post it anywhere online just yet)Watch the But Not For Me Trailer Now!

Looks good, doesn't it? Like our Facebook page so you can find out how to see the whole film.

Already seen the film? Rate it on IMDB by clicking on the stars below the film title.


Middle Ground

In October, Middle Ground  (Password to watch: adamandeve) will be screening in Rijeka, Croatia as part of the Student International Film Festival (STIFF). What's really awesome is the film will be screened at a local venue called Art Kino, a beautiful theater in the center of Rijeka that was founded by the city to screen "high-quality contemporary and classic films." I like the sound of that! Here's a photo of the Art Kino:

I hope to release Middle Ground publicly online later this year.

A Warm Spell

A Warm Spell will have it's UK Premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in October. Congratulations, Toshi!

The film has been doing well on the festival circuit - check out all the laurels!

What else?

-My friend Peter wrote a book. It's called: The Happenstances at the Yellow County Community Swim and Racquet Club the Summer Before Last. He sent me the book to read and asked for my thoughts, which he published in the book! The book is only $3.99 on Amazon. Check it out!

-I updated my IMDB page with a bunch of photos, credits, awards, etc. Check it out by clicking here!

-Melissa and I led a fundraising effort on Facebook to support the breakfast program for the students of Marchand Combined School in Castries, St. Lucia. We volunteered there on our honeymoon and wanted to find a way to support the school. Thanks to family and friends, we were able to donate $511 to the school, which will cover the breakfast program for all the students for the entire upcoming school year. It's not too late to donate, though! Let me know if you want to contribute. $6 pays for a student's breakfast for the whole year and any leftover money will get rolled over into the 2016-2017 school year. 

-In August I finished writing a dramatic comedy short film tiled, House Rules, which I've begun submitting to grants for funding. I hope to shoot it this fall! More updates soon.

I'm Everywhere: www.JasonStefaniak.comFacebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and now Instagram!

Director/Writer/Producer Jason Stefaniak

(At left) As of July 15th, Mrs. Stefaniak and I now call Astoria, Queens home. I love Manhattan, I love Astoria, so yeah! I found this sign on a recent walk through the new neighborhood.

Copyright © Jason Stefaniak 2015, All rights reserved.