Archives for October 2015

“Signature Move” Readies Its Pitch For IFP/Chicago – Chicago International Film Festival “Shark Tank” for Film

Fawzia's notes for the practice pitch session held last Saturday.

Fawzia’s notes for the practice pitch session held last Saturday.

This coming Sunday, “Signature Move” will pitch to an audience of film distributors, investors and industry peers alongside five other outstanding film projects in various stages of development at the first-ever “Industry Days Pitch Session. Besides ours, audience members will see the latest undertaking of veteran Chicago team John McNaughton and Steve Jones (“Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer,” “Wild Things,” “Mad Dog and Glory”), from Jennifer Reeder, who made both Newcity’s Film 50 and Art 50 lists last year before playing the Sundance festival with her short film; from Collin Schiffli (director of the acclaimed debut “Animals”) and his brother Brandon Schiffli, the Chaz Ebert-executive produced Emmet Till biopic and a John Wayne Gacy-inflected period piece from the husband-and-wife team at Cornbred Films. Whether we win or lose the competition (we’re playing to win, of course), this event offers a unique showcase of some of the very best independent film projects in development in Chicago right now. [Read more…]

So how does a Korean-American guy from New Jersey end up producing a wrestling movie about a queer Muslim Pakistani-American woman who falls in love with a Mexican-American woman? Introducing Producer Eugene Sun Park.

Eugene Sun Park/Photo: Joe Mazza-Brave Lux

Eugene Sun Park/Photo: Joe Mazza-Brave Lux

Fawzia and I met for the first time in the fall of 2014. I wanted to acquire her film “Queen of My Dreams” for a collection of short films I was curating called “Chicagoland Shorts.” The idea behind the collection was to license and distribute the best of the local niche cinemas in order to celebrate the work being done by Chicago-based women, minority and LGBTQ filmmakers. I believe their stories are authentic and essential Chicago stories, and they ought to be recognized as such.

Once Fawzia heard what I was up to, she cut off my sales pitch and said bluntly, “Take my movie. It’s yours.” I was astounded, because Fawzia certainly didn’t need me or my nascent production company ( to boost her rising star. But I was also emboldened by her enthusiasm for “Chicagoland Shorts”—maybe what I was doing wasn’t entirely crazy after all.

Then Fawzia upped the ante. She said, “I’ve been looking for someone to produce this screenplay I wrote—it’s called “Signature Move.” I just haven’t found the right person. But I’m pretty sure you’re my long-lost Asian stepbrother. Do you wanna produce it?” [Read more…]

Here is how you can get a peek at what we’re working on for our movie, and not have to wait a year or more.

Still from “Zaynab Loves Movies,” a promotional trailer shot for the Chicago International Film Festival. Left to right: Jessica Thigpen, Griffin Rhyne, Fawzia Mirza

Still from “Zaynab Loves Movies,” a promotional trailer shot for the Chicago International Film Festival. Left to right: Jessica Thigpen, Griffin Rhyne, Fawzia Mirza

We’ll write more about this later, but we wanted to share the news that our team, in conjunction with director Wendy Roderweiss (, produced a promotional trailer for the Chicago International Film Festival. While it’s crafted around the festival’s tagline “Because Everybody Loves Movies,” we wrote an original script and, with the help of twenty-five Chicago film professionals, shot what is basically a one-minute film starring our own Fawzia Mirza in the role of Zaynab, the character she’ll play in “Signature Move.” [Read more…]

In the Ring: Newcity is ready to make its “Signature Move”

Photo: Alessandra Giordano

Photo: Alessandra Giordano

Now that we’ve finally chosen the movie we’ll produce for our thirtieth anniversary next year—it’s called “Signature Move”—I understand why most indie filmmakers write their own material. The road to great screenplays is paved with loose gravel. And when you find it, rights holders, agents and lawyers can grind that rocky road to quicksand. (Most of the metaphors you’ll read are even worse than this.)

I guess I thought finding the project would be the easy part. Since announcing this project in February 2014, I’ve reviewed more than sixty screenplays or other properties (novels for adaptation, plays, short stories, etc.). I’ve discussed projects over lunches, coffees and beers dozens and dozens of times. I’ve been on the verge of locking down not one, but two high-profile films, neither of which would have quite fulfilled this project’s mandate but would have been, respectively, great launch undertakings (a short film) or a great second film (a work by a legendary Chicago novelist) only to see both fall apart—though all principal terms had been agreed upon—when the rightsholders ultimately did not pull the trigger. I was not expecting inertia to be such an obstacle, one that proves not only frustrating but costly once the legal fees come into play.

I was somewhere in various states of stalemate a year ago during our Film 50 photo shoot, when I met one of the figures on the list, Eugene Sun Park. Park asked me if I was still looking at submissions, and I said I was. He said he might have something, and that was that. [Read more…]