Penntertainment

Alex Weinress chooses a favorite son

Hi Matt,
Thanks again for your email. My apologies for the delay…
I graduated from Penn in 1994 with a BA in Political Science and Environmental Studies. I also took a number of film related courses (Penn-In-Cannes).
In 1997, I produced and directed a mock documentary feature, SUPERPHAN, in collaboration with Penn alum VInce Mola (C’96). In 1999 I teamed up with another Penn alum Tim Murray to direct the documentary feature, THE LAST GAME. The film premiered at SXSW and aired on ESPN in 2002. In 2004 I moved with my Australian wife and children to Sydney, Australia and began developing a comedic television series (CHANDON PICTURES) with Rob Carlton, my directing partner on CARMICHAEL & SHANE. In 2006, we made the short film for Sony Tropfest (www.tropfest.com), the world’s largest short film festival, with the aim of gaining exposure for our tv series. CARMICHAEL & SHANE ended up winning first prize and best actor at Tropfest and has gone on to screen at major film festivals all over the world, includingTribeca, Telluride, Edinburgh & US Comedy Arts Festival. This all led to a deal for the series with The Movie Network in Australia, and I am now in the final week of post production on the first season.
If possible, please include the link to the apple article (www.apple.com/pro/profiles/carlton) as it gives some nice details (Podcast link to film) and mentions penn. The youtube link also works well.
Thank you again for the interest.
Best,
Alex
ps- I’ve attached some photos (Carmichael & shane postcard and photo of my on set of CHANDON PICTURES) incase you want to use them… Let me know when it’s up on the site…

Rob Carlton & Alex Weinress: Favorite Son
By Joe Cellini
There is nothing remotely PC about “CARMICHAEL & shane,” a mordantly funny short film by Rob Carlton and Alex Weinress. In an age of hyper-parenting that has given us “hot-house” children and “helicopter” parents, Carlton, who wrote and stars in the six-minute faux documentary with his two-year-old twin sons, proposes with relentless deadpan logic his novel solution to raising a successful child — “Choose a favorite.”
That this radically un-PC message won the film first place at Sony Tropfest 2006 in Australia — the world’s largest short film festival — and strong reviews at three major festivals (Telluride, Tribeca, Seattle) confirms both the marksmanship of the directors and the relevance of the target.
“The response we got from ‘CARMICHAEL & shane’ tells me you guys over there are just as twisted as we are here,” says Carlton, a well-known Australian actor and filmmaker.
There was nothing remotely PC either about the film’s all-Mac, just-in-time workflow. “We made it for $20,” says Carlton. “We shot it in four hours. We edited it in three days.”
Their crash production schedule resulted more from desperation than planning. Although Carlton and Weinress expected for some time that they would enter the Tropfest competition with a short derived from a television show they were developing for Australian TV, they came up against the competition deadline without a script to shoot (Carlton had been too busy to actually write it.)
But Weinress, an American filmmaker-editor who moved to Sydney with his Australian wife to work on his second documentary feature, refused to quit on Tropfest, which draws 800 film entries and a live crowd of 150,000 film-goers from all over Australia on the night when the final 16 films are screened. The opportunity was too big. He suggested that they create a short from a comedy routine that Carlton had worked up.

“I’ve got a long comic background as a writer and actor, but I’ve never really done standup,” says Carlton. “Then my boys were born, it was all going a bit crazy, and I didn’t have much time to write long-form scenes — only grabs and snatches. So over the course of a year I just worked up this standup comedy routine based on a single father choosing a favorite son.”
But even with an inspired idea in hand, they faced a near impossible deadline. It was Friday, they hadn’t made a film, and the deadline was the following Thursday.
During a brief pre-production meeting they decided on a few last-minute adjustments to the story. “In the standup routine I’d already chosen a favorite,” says Carlton. “But in the film, to make sure that there were stakes, that the drama wasn’t in the rear-view mirror, I haven’t yet chosen. That way you empathize with me even though my character’s messages are mad.”
Now Carlton and Weinress were ready to shoot “CARMICHAEL & shane.” Weinress rolled camera from 7 to 11 Saturday morning, the time when Carlton typically looks after his boys. Then they put the twins down for their nap and shot the interview B-roll — largely Carlton’s standup bit delivered in interview format, with generous improvisation.
“We banged out the interview in 20 minutes and then Alex went away,” says Carlton. “So we’d wrapped by midday Saturday.”
While Carlton flew to New Zealand, Weinress started editing on Final Cut Pro. “On Tuesday Alex rang me and said, ‘Man, we may have something here,’” says Carlton.
Using the hotel broadband (“That could have doubled the budget, but I charged it to a corporate client,” says Carlton), the two swapped files back and forth on their PowerBooks to finish the edit. And Thursday morning Weinress burned a DVD and sent it to the Tropfest judges.
“Alex’s skills as an editor and a documentary maker allowed us to be able to shoot it and turn it in that short amount of time,” says Carlton.
Weinress agrees and credits his tools. “One of the things I like best about Final Cut is the variety of shortcuts, which have made me a much faster editor,” he says. “A big reason for our success with this little short was that my editing speed has increased so dramatically.”
Although they were happy with their film, they sent it off with no expectations of winning. “We liked it, you know, but it’s a short film competition,” says Carlton. “A lot of great films go in. And you know what short films are like — it’s very subjective. People could say they liked it but liked that one better.”
As it turned out, the judges didn’t like any film better than “CARMICHAEL & shane.” Carlton was also surprised to win for best male performer (”I’m an Australian actor, mate. I don’t expect anything good to happen. Ever.”) Their win at Sony Tropfest 2006 got them equipment, travel to New York, Telluride, and L.A., and a production green light for their Australian TV show. “Two big reasons we were able to land this TV deal were the success of the short but also our ten-minute TV pilot video that allowed anyone reading out scripts to actually experience the characters and the kind of humor we were trying to achieve,” says Weinress. “Neither could have been made without Final Cut Pro.”
The success of “CARMICHAEL & shane” has also won them representation with a Hollywood agent, who is helping them pitch their television project, as well as a feature film, in the U.S.
“Before we heard from the Telluride festival, I didn’t even know what it was,” says Carlton. “It’s awesome. All on the back of this crazy little film.”
Is this the official film here?:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9DiQwn5f9I

I’d love to do a feature on you my site duelingtampons.com.
-What year did you graduate?
-What was your path from Penn to creating this film?

I’m also cc:ing my film coordinator for Pennfest (http://www.pennfest.com) our annual Penn “emerging film and live music” event out here in Los Angeles.

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