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On Campus News

Zev Vel Discusses The Visual Narrative Project

By Naomi Laeuchli
posted May 21, 2013, 20:00

As Zev Vel and Meredith Basler, two students at Bard College, set out to create their student film, they are not only using crowd sourcing to help fund their film, they are also looking outside of their school for material, having read over a hundred scripts submitted from more than seven countries before choosing ‘The Dance’ to film. Vel discusses what inspired the project and how they’re creating it.

What was the idea behind the Visual Narrative Project? What were you hoping to create when you started out?
After completing my last film, The Symbol of Peace , I knew I wanted to create another film, but I also knew that I did not wish to come up with a script of my own. There are so many incredible stories out there, and I wanted to find one. I teamed up with my co-director, Meredith Basler, and together we came up with the idea of making it open to the public. From there we looked for submissions that we could then take and make into a fantastic film.
We didn't have an original goal of what to create. We knew we wanted to have something fictional and something that was about 10 minutes long so that it could be submitted as a short film to film festivals. That tends to be the best running time for submissions. Aside from that, we were fairly open to anything that we thought we could successfully fund and create.

You read over 100 scripts from over seven countries. How did you find these scripts? And how did you choose 'The Dance'? What was it that set it apart from the other hundred?
We had a lot of help from different groups who helped promote the project including, The International Screenwriters Association, and From these sources as well as many others, we successfully got more than 100 submissions of all different types and styles. Upon receiving them, we then anonymously read and graded each script on numerous levels. We of course needed something that was within our funding abilities (so anything in outer space, war scenes, etc. was immediately out), we also wanted to have something that would make an impact on the viewer.
In the end Emilio Iasiello's script THE DANCE won out, but when we announced the finalists we were surprised to see that in fact, two of Iasiello's scripts had made it to the top of our list without us even knowing (as we graded each one anonymously). This made it clear that the quality of his writing and his ideas really helped bring together what we wanted to see in a script.

How did you cast the film?
THE DANCE requires a location (that we are still looking for) that is an old-looking house with a large open foyer. It is also a lot easier to work in a fairly quiet area. As a result, our goal is to shoot in the Hudson Valley. We worked with the Hudson Valley Film Commission to put out a casting call. We received numerous resumes and head shots and selected a few people we were hopeful of. We then asked them all to record themselves performing a short section of the script. From these clips we were able to bring together what we believe will be a fantastic cast.

When do you start filming? And what has been involved in getting ready for that?
We will be filming in mid-October and getting ready includes a huge amount of planning. Storyboards, shot lists, crew and cast calls, finding equipment, working through issues that arise even this far out and perhaps most importantly, finding funding. We really do not want money to hold us back, and as a result we have raised some funds to help move us forward, but we are still looking for additional funding so we can really complete everything that we want to.


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