Our Friday column asks our members about their favorite tool, software, article of clothing, shoes on set, favorite scriptwriting software, etc.
Lisa Reznik – Filmmaker and Founder of the Film Society of Summit
By Jean Criss
Traditional film houses are transitioning to virtual cinema screenings since art houses have temporarily closed their doors to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Learn what my colleague and friend Lisa Reznik found in her toolkit!
Lisa Reznik has been a proud member of NYWIFT for over six years. She earned a B.A. in European Cultural Studies from Brandeis University and an M.A. in Journalism from NYU. She has written for screen and stage, including three award-winning short films. Lisa is a firm believer in the power of film to educate and connect people on important topics. She founded the Film Society of Summit (NJ) which screens independent films for community conversation with filmmakers.
Lisa, what is the one thing that drives you to begin your production day?
Project completions served with French roast coffee!
What type of nourishment is your daily ritual?
I always look forward to morning oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and avocado toast for breakfast.
I encourage a BYOP (bring your own popcorn) ritual at the Film Society which went over well in our community.
What are you doing to de-stress your life during COVID-19 as a film director?
I’m trying new vegetarian comfort food recipes with my daughter home from college. My “fav” so far is a savory French tart with goat cheese, creme fraiche, and zucchini which the whole family loves.
What type of engagement are you experiencing with your new virtual film audience?
Though art houses* have temporarily closed their doors to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Film Society of Summit is as active as ever. Open 24/7 with a selection of the year’s most acclaimed films, impactful programming, now offered online at home.
As part of unprecedented partnerships with film distributors, we’ve secured virtual cinema screenings which let viewers see films that would typically only be seen in cinemas. Films from Film Movement, Sony Pictures Classics, Music Box Films, Oscilloscope and other distributors, [are available] even while our doors are closed. The average ticket price is $10/family. A portion of all purchases directly supports the Film Society of Summit and neighboring theaters. Once a customer procures a ticket, they receive access to a temporary film rental. People watch on their PC, tablet or via Chromecast.
We’re keeping our audience “in the loop” with weekly emails and are receiving high open rates on our virtual cinema options recently. We’re scheduling a number of Zoom-based virtual Q&A sessions – two art documentaries led by curators from the Summit NJ Visual Arts Center we also offer discussions with our filmmakers after each “live” session.
*The Art House Convergence (AHC), is an association dedicated to advancing excellence and sustainability in community-based, mission-driven film exhibition, has been an outstanding resource for continuing our work while theaters are dark, including offering webinars on how to survive while we’re closed, on programming, and education and marketing.
Lisa I know you’ve been a world traveler, what are you doing to keep up on industry film documentaries?
I’m a filmmaker and am working on the post-production of a Holocaust educational documentary. A Holocaust Journey: Lessons We Learned presents a group of students who traveled to Berlin/Poland with the aim of trying to comprehend the reality of the Holocaust.
Our editor and co-producer is NYWIFT member, Terence Taylor, whom I met at Anthology Film Archives during a NYWIFT Member Screening. Terence and I are working remotely, [and] collaborate effectively, while social distancing to finish our film. We’re working well together under these challenging circumstances. We’ll resume our typical travel when the time is right.
I’ve also been previewing documentaries to offer as virtual cinema options when we re-open. My “fav” job perk!
What words do you live by?
As a film organization dedicated to high quality indie film and discussion, we know that true art has always survived the toughest of times. Be it through cinemas or VODs, great films will always find their way to our hearts. Nothing tells a story better than film. Thanks for keeping us top of mind in this new virtual cinema world!
Learn more about the film Society of Summit at www.summitfilmsociety.com.
Clemence Taillandier is an independent film distribution veteran, having worked as a theatrical booker for over 15 years. She now operates her own distribution services company and provides theatrical, festival booking and consultation services to boutique distributors including Film Movement and Distrib Films, two distributors specialized in foreign films and documentaries. She has been at the forefront of moving the cinema experience to a virtual space in the wake of COVID-19.READ MORE
Heidi Philipsen-Meissner is a director, producer, writer and actress with over two decades of professional experience in international film, television and communications. She shares insight into how she manages her work in film and television while also raising two teenagers, especially now as her daughter is beginning her filmmaking career as well.READ MORE
You are a producer and due to the pandemic your project – be it in development, pre-production, production or post stage – is on hold. What can you do now to make sure all the pieces are in place when the industry opens back up? Stacey Smith of CinePointe Advisors suggests preparing for delivery. It is a crucial, final step needed to ready a film for distribution and GET PAID! However, delivery is often an afterthought in financing agreements, production budgets and workflows.READ MORE
Childhood memories of summers spent in the country are typically happy ones. But for 13-year-old Lea, the main character in Unintended, one summer is fraught with tension and leads to deep unresolved issues. We sat down with the female duo behind the film to discuss its themes of childhood trauma and resilience, as well as the logistics behind its shoot in upstate New York.READ MORE