Hollyshorts Film Festival

Writer and Director, Louis Mansfield, and Producer Chrissy McDermott team up with Illustrator, Mike Wohlberg and Animator, Jason Melcher, to tell the story of an old man reminiscing of a life he never had until he meets a French woman who helps him bring his dreams come true in their short: Wine, Women & Cognac. Today, they are working on turning their short into a feature Old Man In France and more with their production company FFR (Federal Film Reserve).

Old Man In France is a story of a grumpy old man at odds with his retirement home pretends to have been a gentleman of international success. When a beautiful French woman moves in, he finds a new opportunity for love, adventure, and companionship.

How did you two meet?

We met on a micro-budget feature film that Louis wrote and directed, Birth Of Separation. I was working as the camera assistant on the film. After the shoot had wrapped, a group of us from the production stayed close friends and continued to work on other projects together.

After the feature, Louis wanted to start directing short films while developing a second feature film with a larger budget, at which point he asked if I’d be interested in trying my hand at producing. I was very eager to get more involved with independent productions, particularly with pre-production and development, so I jumped at the opportunity. We’ve been working together as a producing/directing team ever since.

Tell me about yourselves:

Louis: I grew up bouncing around military bases and was involved in promoting and playing music in his early to mid-twenties. He decided to focus on film when he realized that he had the resources to make a feature film with a small budget like he had always wanted.

Chrissy: I began my career in filmmaking while at Temple University when I started working as an assistant camera on a variety of productions throughout the North East. After working on my first feature in 2009, I began producing short films working with Louis. At that point, I made the switch to producing and have loved the chaotic challenges of running a film production. Currently we’re developing two features, one live action film, Old Man In France, and one animated film, The Death Of The Boogeyman.

What made you want to get into animation?

Chrissy: Louis wrote a feature film script, Old Man in France, and we thought that since the beginning of a script should really pull the reader into the story, we would animate the first ten pages into a short film to communicate the wit and charm of Old Man in France. With the help of Jason Melcher’s animation and Mike Wohlberg’s illustration, we were able to bring the beginning of Old Man in France alive in our short film, Wine, Women, & Cognac. The short has been a great tool when presenting the film to potential financiers and production companies. We’ve received some really positive feedback about the style and the endearing nature of the story.

What was the short that brought you to HollyShorts?

Chrissy: We were first brought to HollyShorts with our short film, Whom God Helps, which is an unconventional supernatural/horror film with lots of practical make-up FX. The film screened in a cinematography block and was a great experience. The thing that really got us excited beyond the screenings, however, were the panel discussions. We literally were being informed of the ways digital distribution platforms would be changing the film industry several years before it happened. Thinking back, every panel we went to we were given valuable insight and advice. The one piece of information that stuck with us the most was that film financing is not an exact science and that we need to approach funding from several different avenues. This was one of the reasons we decided to make a short for feature film in the first place and it has been a key element of our film’s pitch package.

What made you want to tell the story of the old man?

Louis: I wrote Old Man in France in a time where a lot of things seemed uncertain. I didn’t know if I’d be able to make feature film with a respectable budget, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to live in another country, and I wasn’t sure if filmmaking didn’t work out that I’d live a happy life. There are clearly more serious issues to have but when you’re working years towards a goal that seems to become further and further away some introspection is almost mandatory.

I thought about all of those things quite a bit until one day I imagined an old man who regretted never accomplishing the things he had wanted to do. An old man who instead of pursuing at least some of the things later in life just bitterly shut himself off from the outside world and lived in a fantasy where he had traveled to far off lands living an overindulgent lifestyle. I’m fairly modest so that aspect was a fun embellishment. I also thought of the people that he would interact with many of them not liking him very much as he is quite grumpy. He would have only one friend who happened to be a young British man who worked at the retirement home and had traveled all over Europe.

After creating these ideas the only other thought was to turn this old man’s life upside down with a new resident in the retirement home who happened to be a lovely elderly French woman who lived the life the old man had always desired. After representing himself as a man of international success his two worlds of wonderful fantasy and disappointing reality collide.

The biggest and best thing Chrissy has ever done for me is encourage the writing of Old Man in France. I think she recognized that it was not only a project to work on together but was also a cathartic light at the end of a tunnel in an uncertain time. All in all, I think what made me want to tell a story about an old man is that I wanted to give myself hope that while I may not experience life in my ideal way that with love and friendship happiness isn’t very far away.

What is next for you two?

We’ve been developing the feature for about two and a half years now and are currently seeking funding and talent. About a year ago we partnered with a young, ambitious independent production company based in LA, Buffalo 8, whom we’ve been working with to package the film. Buffalo 8’s key role is to connect us with potential financiers, sales companies, and talent agents. Currently, we have Evan Jonigkeit (X-Men: Days of Futures Past) and George Newton (Paddington) attached and we’re speaking with a few sales and production companies.

We’re also in the early stage development for another feature, Death Of The Boogeyman, which is an animated children’s horror film comparable to ParaNorman and the children’s television series, Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends.

Death Of The Boogeyman is a story of an adventurous little boy, his naive big sister, and precarious best friend who are on the run from a ferocious boogeyman after an innocent prank goes horribly wrong.

Our production company, The FFR, also completed production on our most recent short film, a live action and animated comedy called The Proper Etiquette For Being Alone. For the film, we handcrafted eight large, wearable bobble heads during the three months of pre-production and shot the film over the course of four days. The bobble heads worn by actors and shot with only tracking markers on the faces which will have animated facial features added in post production. We started post in April and plan for another festival run for this short in 2016.

What is your advice on collaborating together?

When collaborating don’t forget to have fun and laugh together. Laugh as much as possible and I mean big loud laughs that would make people in a movie theater annoyed. Care and love what you’re doing and be the person the other can lean on in times of need. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that a lot and that’s when things can become stressful.

When working on any team, make your goal to be a utilitarian, invaluable team member. Not only will that help you get the best, most fulfilling experience from any collaboration or production but you’ll likely in turn have that support when you need it. While we believe having a protocol and a structured way of making movies together is essential, the biggest and best thing we can do for our fellow filmmakers is encourage them.

Any advice to your fellow filmmakers?

We’ve noticed that getting our assets together like budget, proposal, script, breakdown, schedule, etc. has definitely helped communicate our film in financial and creative ways. With all of our package materials well prepared, we were able to partner with a production company which has granted us access to resources me might not have had on our own. We’ve be fortunate to have worked with Buffalo 8 Productions and as a result, have had our film put in front of potential financiers, production and sales companies, and agents.

Making our short film, Wine, Women, & Cognac, as a visual representation of our feature film has enticed potential investors and gained a good amount of positive attention for our project as well. We haven’t found our perfect financing match yet, but it’s been great to receive positive feedback on our short and the business proposal. We’ve also learned the value of having video content to supplement our film package, specifically a short or trailer for feature. Wine, Women, & Cognac is a short that’s an adaption of the first ten pages of the feature script which was created by animating the storyboard illustrated panels.


Filmmaker Spotlight: SAD MOTIVATOR

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By Chelsea Fung

@CineChel

We all have it, that devil on our shoulders, opposite of the moral angel, urging us to say and do, but just have a hard time acting on and vocalizing the dark matter that we resist, for some that dark matter is just a little darker or is possibly green. For Timothy Ryan Cole and Nathan Alan Bunker they personify just that with Mark, a green blob that is a mouthpiece for Kevin’s deepest, darkest most inner thoughts, that only the conduit can hear and see in the web series SAD MOTIVATOR.

In SAD MOTIVATOR the series follows Kevin, a newly single guy living in Los Angeles who enters the dating world with the help of his sidekick/navigator, Mark, a green blob that pushes the boundaries and forces Kevin into interesting, and sometimes, dangerous situations. We got to know the creator, writer, director and star of the web series presented by Funny or Die: SAD MOTIVATOR. Nathan and Timothy share with us how the flubber-like blob, Mark, voiced by Nathan, came to be from the mind of the main character, Kevin, played by Timothy and what is to come in Season 2.

Tell me a little about yourselves:

Timothy: I started acting in school plays when I was 9 and in 2001 I moved to New York to study acting at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. I moved to Los Angeles in 2007 and started working on a lot of commercials. Mostly known for the recent GEICO campaign “Happier Than..” where the two musicians Jimmy and Ronnie play guitar and mandolin on stage. I met Nathan through Andrea Rueda, the casting director for this project and many others. Nathan had an awesome, creepy, inappropriate dark comedy piece and invited me to join in on the fun - after reading the script, I knew I wanted to dive right in and start creating. He rocked the finished product and created something that people can’t seem to get enough of - I think a lot of film festivals and the audience sees this and just can’t turn away - no matter how awkward, creepy or inappropriate. Nathan does a great job of walking (and crossing) that thin line to keep everything interesting.

Nathan: I’m the writer/director of SAD MOTIVATOR, a 7 episode web series shown at HollyShorts. I am also the voice of Mark in the series. I grew up in Michigan and made my way out here when I was 20. Went to school for Film at Columbia College Hollywood and have been working in the industry in some capacity or another for the last 7 years. This is my first real project I’ve put out in the world and have been pretty happy with the reception so far, especially being able to say I showed it at HollyShorts.


How did you two meet?

Nathan: Tim and the producer/casting director Andrea Rueda have known each other for a couple years and we’ve seen each other here and there in different areas. We were able to kind of really get to know each other when we talked about the project. So you could say the project really brought us together.


Where did you get your start in the industry?  

Nathan: The very first industry job I got was as a camera assistant on a Power Rangers-type show called ’Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight’. It was fantastic. I was the 2nd AC and had no idea what I was doing, being only 3 months removed from college graduation, and the only reason I got the job was because I had just bought the camera they were going to shoot on. I didn’t know how to use it, but I owned it and that was good enough for them I guess. Met a lot of cool people I still keep in touch with today and it was a great learning experience.

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Tell me about your short that brought you to HollyShorts:

Nathan: The project that brought us to HollyShorts was a web series called SAD MOTIVATOR. It’s a creepy love story about a heartsick 20-something, played by Tim, who tries to navigate through life with the help of his best Mark, voiced by myself, who is an animated green blob. It’s pretty dark and we are trying to blur the lines of funny and disturbing but not going overboard. I think that’s the difficult part of making this project; trying to justify what crosses the line and what would be acceptable. Mark never swears in the series, which we thought was necessary to his character and would go overboard if he had. Meanwhile, Tim takes his penis out in a park and we all thought that was appropriate.


Did a particular person spark Mark into existence?  

Nathan: There wasn’t a particular person who brought this on, it was more his voice. I used to try to make my girlfriend laugh uncomfortably by walking around our apartment talking in Mark’s voice. The majority of it came from saying things creepy old men may say like ‘Give me some sugar’ or 'Come sit on my lap’ but in Mark’s voice. It made her laugh and pretty weirded out so we both agreed this should be a character.

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Where did the idea come from to animate your 'id’ and make a web series about it?  

Making Mark animated came about because we didn’t think a live person could pull off the comedy. If someone dressed up really funny and sat across from Kevin, saying the things Mark says, it just didn’t really feel right. Seemed a little too easy and didn’t impact the scene as much as we wanted. So we knew it would have to be something not of this world. We thought of a puppet, but that seemed a little too playful and would hinder what we could accomplish on set and in post. So animation was clearly the best option.


How did the female blob come about?

There was a big discussion on how we would end the first season. I knew I didn’t want to have Sasha be the typical girl in distress who was getting “caught up with the wrong guy but didn’t know it”. It was typical and we wanted to break from that. So, after beating around a couple ideas Andrea mentioned that Sasha should have a blob as well. Everything just kind of clicked from there and made sense. Giving Sasha a blob made her more mysterious and made her seem a little darker than what you may have expected. And it opened the world up for Season 2 where we can explore how a girl deals with her little blob.


How did you go about casting?

Casting went smoothly, mainly because we are friends with just about the entire cast. Andrea Rueda, casting director and producer, knew Tim from prior projects she cast him in and they became pretty solid friends. She thought he would be perfect and I agreed. Tim makes it easy to sell the weird horror/thriller aspect of the comedy. On set, he played it pretty calm, as if he was in a drama, but would tweak it slightly every now and again to show the humor. We were very much on the same page on-set and it worked out well. Ben Begley (Detective Grumble) and Renee Dorian (Mary/Connie) have been dear friends for years and were easy choices for their characters. The three of us have worked on each other’s projects for years and are comfortable with each other and know what each can bring to the table. So it was easy to trust them on set. The only casting came with Amanda Bauer (Sasha) and there wasn’t even auditions for it or anything. Andrea had auditioned Amanda in past projects and brought her to my attention. Amanda turned out great since she was able to show a lot of the innocence we were looking for in the role, but she has a little dark side everyone hasn’t seen yet. But you will in Season 2!

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Where is the series headed next? Does Mark have any boundaries? Are we going to be looking at a female narrative coming up?

We have a lot in store for the second season. Sasha and Connie’s relationship, as well as the relationship between Sasha and Kevin and Sasha and Detective Grumble will be the main focuses. The female narrative will be very potent this coming season and we’re pretty excited to explore Sasha’s darker side. Not to say Kevin and Mark are taking a back seat, but Sasha will be taking on a slightly different role than she did in the first season.


What other films, shorts or features, do you have in the works?

I’ve been working on a couple projects, mainly focusing on writing a comedy/thriller feature that will be done in the next month or so.


Will Mark morph into a more flubber-like aesthetic? How did you come up with the look of Mark?  

The idea of Mark was a result of whittling down what would be the funniest for Kevin to play off of. We went from an inanimate object all the way to an actual live person until we thought a fat little green blob would be best. We had the voice picked out first so the blob fit best in that category as well. As for now Mark will stay Mark, but I’m definitely open to see what this little blob can do. We showed off a little of his “magical skills” in the first season, most notably controlling Kevin’s hand to touch Sasha’s privates, but it’s going to be nice to see what this little blob is capable of.


Will you have more projects to feature on Funny or Die?  

As of right now SAD MOTIVATOR is the only project I am concentrating on for the web. SAD MOTIVATOR was a little unique for me projectwise. I tend to write features and shorts based more for cinema, but this project worked best as a web series. So I don’t know if there’s another project for the web coming up, but I’m definitely open to the idea.

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Filmmaker Spotlight: Adriano Valentini

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By Chelsea Fung

Twitter: @CineChel

In our latest Filmmaker Spotlight we got to know Canadian born and raised filmmaker and writer Adriano Valentini who finds inspiration to his films from his family, friends and hilarious daily moments. Adriano’s style and humor has caught the eye of Project Greenlight, a competition Adriano almost didn’t enter, luckily he did and today his work has also grabbed the attention of NBC Playground.

Where did your hunger for filmmaking begin?

I’ve always been interested in writing and directing and anything that has to do with film and TV. I started making movies as a kid around my neighbourhood, and then continued in high school where I would make short comedic films featuring both teachers and students and then screen them at assemblies (I was the President of my school’s Student Council so I guess it was a bit of an abuse of power).  After high school, I studied business a bit in college, then transferred to NYU where I studied Film and Television.

Tell me about your short that brought you to HollyShorts

I submitted to HollyShorts back in 2011 CLUBSCENE: The Bartender and we won the Best Webisode, which was awesome. I had a lot of fun attending the festival and was impressed by the panels, screenings and the eagerness of everyone involved to really support young filmmakers. As soon as I had another film to submit The Age of Insecurity: A Clinical Romance, I did, and luckily we won the Best Webisode again!

Tell me about Beanie Bros your Greenlight Project:

Beanie Bros. is an episode of the web series I’ve been writing and directing called The Age of Insecurity.  It’s actually the third episode in the series.  When I first moved to Los Angeles, months went by and I wasn’t creating anything new.  My friends and I decided we should shoot something once a month no matter what.  I wrote and directed. My friends, who are actors, helped me produce.  The Age of Insecurity was born!  The idea Beanie Bros. came one night when we were all about to leave for a bar, we realized we were all wearing beanies and began to argue.  It’s as simple as that… I wrote it that night.

I almost didn’t submit to Project Greenlight. In order to submit you, you need a 3-minute movie and I didn’t have anything that short.  So I decided to edit Beanie Bros. down to 3 minutes and submitted that.  Luckily we got in!

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How do you go about casting your web series?

I’m lucky because I have a lot of funny and talented friends, and they have a lot of funny and talented friends, so I haven’t had to look far for amazing actors. That’s one of the great things about being in LA, you’re surrounded by young, hungry, amazing talent. So far I’ve yet to put out any casting calls.  We always hold auditions, but so far we’ve only brought in friends, friends of friends and people we’ve seen in stuff we love and want to work with.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I personally get inspired when I see people creating great content, or making hilarious comedy, or just doing what they love.  If I see someone that’s around my age doing those things, I’m like why the hell aren’t I doing that? And it kind of lights a fire under my ass.  That’s another great thing about being in Los Angeles - everyone around you is making things happen so it’s inspiring.  Story-wise, I get ideas from anywhere - little interactions, funny things that happen or pieces of dialogue that hear people or myself say that stick in my head.

Are you thinking about working on any features?

Yes, I have a couple features written.  One was a finalist in the Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund at NYU.  I just finished a draft of another one and will be setting up a table read with actors in the next month or so.  And I have a few that I’m currently working on with some writing partners as well!

What has it been like to take part in the Project Greenlight Competition?

The Top 10 finalists were each given a 3 page script written by the Farrelly Brothers.  Everyone was asked to make the same film. I was then interviewed by the Greenlight judges - including Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, the Farrelly Brothers, Len Amato - the President of HBO Films.  It was an amazing experience.

What films and fellow filmmakers “light a fire under your ass”?

I really like being in LA because everyone’s busy doing something - so anytime I see my friends, acquaintances or just about anyone who’s doing something great - it’s just an extra push to do the same.  

When did you decide to pursue film? What was the deciding factor in your life?

I’ve always been interested in working in some sort of the creative field. I was attracted to film because it gave me the ability to create a world, characters, relationships - and to watch people react -  laugh, cry, feel something, whatever - when they watch something I’ve made.  It’s about communicating ideas and hoping people see something new about you and themselves. I don’t think there was one deciding factor in my life.  My parents, family and friends were, and continue to be, extremely supportive and have always given me that push to pursue it as a career so in the end if I didn’t do it, I would only have myself to blame.  


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Photo by James Oligney

How did you go about submitting to it?

I think it was last June that NBC announced the Playground competition and asked people to submit pitches. So basically, we sent them some examples of our work and filmed ourselves pitching a brand new idea.

Who are you collaborating with?

For the NBC Playground, I pitched an idea with Aaron Colom, someone who I frequently collaborate with.  Aaron produces and acts in “The Age of Insecurity”.

What is in store for viewers?

I’m sorry, it’s top secret right now.  I’ll tell you soon.

Interview: "Last I Heard" Director Dave Rodriguez

YouTube

From our friends @PERIODS.  WAY TO GO GUYS! 

  We Have Many Exciting Bits of News to Share. Bring on the *Asterisks!  
 
   Hello good people!   
   
   *It’s official,  PERIODS. has joined forces with Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries  (known for their wildly popular podcast, their BBC show, and of course  The Talking Dead  on AMC). We’ll be an official partner in their “Nerdist Alliance.” Of PERIODS. Chris Hardwick says “  Previously, there was a period-shaped hole in the Nerdist Alliance, but that hole is NO MORE! ” Thanks Chris Hardwick!     
   
   *We released today an addendum to our popular LIL WOMEN short film, entitled   LIL WOMEN: THE SERIES  . Get ready for March Sister Madness with 9 micro-videos of Meg, Beth, Amy, and Jo for your pleasure! Watch them   here  .    
   
   *Our feature film   BREAKUP AT A WEDDING   is coming out on June 18th on all digital and VOD platforms! Meaning you can buy it on your TV and on your computer!  Pre-order and/or gift it to someone now at    www.breakupatawedding.com      
   
   *Also check  www.breakupatawedding.com  for a screening at a theater possibly near you. We’ve got screenings in the works in New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, and Pittsburgh.    
   
   *The official poster for BREAKUP AT A WEDDING and an   interview with one of our producers Zachary Quinto   (STAR TREK, MARGIN CALL) debuted Tuesday on   EW.com   and was picked up by CNN. It boggles the mind with its beauty. Like a VHS tape from heaven. Check it out!    
   
   *The 1980’s are clearly close to our hearts. We pay the decade homage with a tribute to Jay McInerney’s seminal 80’s novel  Bright Lights, Big City  with our latest short period film entitled, ahem, BIG CITY, BRIGHT LIGHTS.  Get ready for more cheekbone shading, shoulder pads, and cocaine than you can stand. This one drops on June 11th. Subscribe  here .   
   
   *We’ll be screening a feature length compilation of our short films entitled simply PERIODS. (which is both a compilation of our shorts and a history of the world narrated by God himself) at   The Berkshires Film Festival on Sunday, June 2nd  , and the screening will take place at none other than Edith Wharton’s estate The Mount!  Let’s hope we don’t get kicked out. For tickets (or to see us get kicked out) go  here .   
   
   *A big thank you for watching! This is all for you!    
   
   *And finally…Happy Summer! May this very time period be your happiest.   
 
   
   
   Subscribe to our    website  ,   YouTube channel  ,  or    Facebook page  .

From our friends @PERIODS.  WAY TO GO GUYS!

We Have Many Exciting Bits of News to Share. Bring on the *Asterisks!

Hello good people!
 
*It’s official, PERIODS. has joined forces with Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries (known for their wildly popular podcast, their BBC show, and of course The Talking Dead on AMC). We’ll be an official partner in their “Nerdist Alliance.” Of PERIODS. Chris Hardwick says “Previously, there was a period-shaped hole in the Nerdist Alliance, but that hole is NO MORE!” Thanks Chris Hardwick! 
 
*We released today an addendum to our popular LIL WOMEN short film, entitled LIL WOMEN: THE SERIES. Get ready for March Sister Madness with 9 micro-videos of Meg, Beth, Amy, and Jo for your pleasure! Watch them here
 
*Our feature film BREAKUP AT A WEDDING is coming out on June 18th on all digital and VOD platforms! Meaning you can buy it on your TV and on your computer!  Pre-order and/or gift it to someone now at www.breakupatawedding.com
 
*Also check www.breakupatawedding.com for a screening at a theater possibly near you. We’ve got screenings in the works in New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, and Pittsburgh. 
 
*The official poster for BREAKUP AT A WEDDING and an interview with one of our producers Zachary Quinto (STAR TREK, MARGIN CALL) debuted Tuesday on EW.com and was picked up by CNN. It boggles the mind with its beauty. Like a VHS tape from heaven. Check it out! 
 
*The 1980’s are clearly close to our hearts. We pay the decade homage with a tribute to Jay McInerney’s seminal 80’s novel Bright Lights, Big City with our latest short period film entitled, ahem, BIG CITY, BRIGHT LIGHTS.  Get ready for more cheekbone shading, shoulder pads, and cocaine than you can stand. This one drops on June 11th. Subscribe here.
 
*We’ll be screening a feature length compilation of our short films entitled simply PERIODS. (which is both a compilation of our shorts and a history of the world narrated by God himself) at The Berkshires Film Festival on Sunday, June 2nd, and the screening will take place at none other than Edith Wharton’s estate The Mount!  Let’s hope we don’t get kicked out. For tickets (or to see us get kicked out) go here.
 
*A big thank you for watching! This is all for you! 
 
*And finally…Happy Summer! May this very time period be your happiest.
 
 

Subscribe to our website, YouTube channel, or Facebook page.

Opening Night of the 6th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival.

Taken August 6, 2009

Top: Kirsten Dunst, Eli Roth, Demi Moore

Top Left: HSFF Directors- Theo Dumont & Daniel Sol

Top Right: Daniel Sol, Darren Lew, Theo Dumont

Middle: Darren Lew & Ken Davidian

Middle left: Demi Moore & Kirsten Dunst

Middle Right: Eli Roth

Bottom: Kirstin Dunst, Darren Lew, Demi Moore & Carter Smith

'Peppercorn Chronicles' Heading Toward Big Screen (EXCLUSIVE)

http://www.le-han.co.uk/mpmrr/  For more Mrs. Peppercorn’s Magical Reading Room amazingness

HollyShorts Monthly Screening Series New York City ~ May 31!HollyS