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Three Young Filmmakers to Showcase Their Work in ChappPAC Fundraiser

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A scene from “Black Velvet,” featuring Chappaqua native Lindsay Shiner. It is one of two films from 19-year-old writer and director Josie Hull that will be shown at a Jan. 20 program at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center.

Three young women trying to forge their way in the film industry have formed a somewhat unlikely partnership result in two newly-created short films being screened locally later this month.

Josie Hull, a 19-year-old writer and director from southern California, Diana Cody, the producer, and actor Lindsay Shiner, a Chappaqua native and Horace Greeley High School graduate who has the lead roles in the two films, will be on hand for a screening and Q&A at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Jan. 20, an event that will benefit the theater.

Their films, “Black Velvet” and “Cookbook for Southern Housewives,” will be shown along with footage from a behind-the-scenes look at how they put the project together. Hull wrote the screenplay and directed both films.

“Black Velvet” is the story of a 1940s Hollywood actress named Maude who likes to scam people, mainly men, as a way to wrest control of her life. “Cookbook for Southern Housewives,” is set in Mississippi in 1969, where a bored housewife (Bonnie) wants more out of life, but gets mixed up with gangsters who are part of the Dixie Mob.

“I knew from the moment I started producing and directing, this is 100 percent for me,” Hull said of her love for filmmaking. “This is what I want to do and we’re going to figure out and make it happen, and I see that in both Diana and Lindsay as well.”

The 24-year-old Shiner, who moved to Los Angeles after graduating with an acting degree from Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, met Hull at a Mommy and Me class where they both worked. They soon discovered their mutual love for acting and films.

Josie Hull, the screenwriter and director of “Black Velvet” and “Cookbook for Southern Housewives,” which will be shown as part of a program at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center on Jan. 20.

Shiner said Hull proposed a role for her in a screenplay that she had been working on. There are plenty of aspiring filmmakers who make promises all the time but fail to execute all of the elements to make it happen, she said.

“I know that she wants it, and then lo and behold, maybe a few months after that, we filmed two things back-to-back,” Shiner said. “I think that’s what’s really amazing about these two, they really make things happen.”

She was also speaking of Cody, the films’ producer who had quit her job at a Fortune 500 company after four years because she was miserable to pursue her passion in acting and other film industry work. Hailing from Phoenix, Cody met Hull when they were cast in a show a couple of years ago, although that project fell apart before they could perform.

They kept in touch on a regular basis, and a short time later, Hull asked her to produce one of her short films. They have now made nine short films together.

“It’s really about relationships and getting people to trust you and believe in you and believe in what you’re doing, and so I try and treat all of my crew members and cast as well, just treat them with the respect that I want them to give me,” Cody said.

The depth of the characters that Shiner was asked to play is unusual, especially considering that the quality of Hull’s writing belies her age.

“(Maude’s) an amoral person, but she’s aware of what she’s doing and she’s doing it for the control that she wants in her life,” Shiner explained. “Bonnie does what she does just out of pure desire for something more. I really, really fell in love with both characters, but specifically Bonnie. I’m very excited about because she’s a little tough to figure out.”

Hull said her casting of Shiner for the two leads has helped propel the films, she believes.

“She just had this emotional intelligence that’s very unusual for someone her age,” Hull said. “She 24, which is like crazy.”

Shiner’s father Frank, who was a singer and actor early in his career before turning to private business but has returned to performing, has been helping to guide the trio. He also helped arrange for the benefit evening where all proceeds from the Jan. 20 screenings will be donated to the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center.

Diana Cody, producer of “Black Velvet” and “Cookbook for Southern Housewives,” the two films from 19-year-old writer and director Josie Hull that will be shown at a Jan. 20 program at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center.

When Lindsay told him about the projects, he admitted that he was rather condescending, wondering how a 19-year-old filmmaker, his daughter and Cody, also a young producer in her 20s, could create a high-quality project. After meeting them, he noticed how serious they take their craft and their knack for having other talent help them because others wanted to be involved.

“These young women have this incredible ability to inspire people to want to help them,” Frank Shiner said. “When you see these two shorts, and you realize there’s a lot of really professional things about them, and they were on tight, tight budgets. One they did for $600; the other one they did for $1,000.”

Hull has worked on a full-length screenplay for “Cookbook for Southern Housewives,” which has won multiple awards for best screenplay, including the New York Screenwriting Awards and the New York International Film Awards. She hopes to make it into a feature film. The takeaway from the storyline is critical.

“Not only is the film an example of how to find your place in a just and respectful way, (but also) how to form these professional relationships and do the right thing,” Hull said.

The Jan. 20 program is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Michele Gregson, chair of the Friends of the of the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center will moderate the post-screening Q&A. Tickets are $20 each.

For tickets and more information, visit The Chappaqua Performing Arts Center is located at 480 Bedford Rd. at Chappaqua Crossing.




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