Monday, August 29, 2011

SFCC - Panel on acting

Thank you to our panel Tamara Decker - the West Region Executive for Screen Actors Guild, David Dirks - Entertainment Lawyer, Jody Black - A&M Agency, Carissa Mitchell – Applause Talent Agency, and legendary casting director - Jo Edna Boldin.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Working on screenplay development with FC3, at SFCC

A big thanks to the student actors at SFCC and professional actors - Charles Gamble, Jonathan Dixon, Barbara Hatch, Jerry Angelo for giving their services to the development of this year's Film Crew III production screenplays.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cyphers Season Two Opening
See the opening I've created to establish the CYPHERS series.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Film Club

August, 26th
SFCC TV Studio Room 563
contact for more info

Cyphers inside story

Go to and checkout Cyphers - to learn more about The New Lilith

Debrianna Mansini and Kat Sawyer talk about the character of Lilith.

Series 2.0 (the pilot) directed by Peter M. Kershaw

Monday, August 22, 2011

Film 101 thought for the day


A film story should start as late as possible and occur over the shortest reasonable span of time.

In individual scenes, don’t waste valuable time on unnecessary entrances, introductions and hellos.

See if a scene can be started in the middle.

Often a scene has a soft start and unnecessary ending - you can strengthen by cutting the first two, and often last two lines of dialogue.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cyphers trailer

Link to the trailer for CYPHERS series 2.0 - the opening.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

20 Ways a review

‘20 Ways’
By Mike Smith
A modern satire.

In the opening frames of ‘20 Ways’, two horses pull a rickety wagon down a dusty dirt road toward the audience – and a pair of stern, stiff, spread, uniformed, and jackbooted legs. This simple image, iconic in nature, introduces the thematic riff that will shape the film’s 16-minute running time: people versus the system. When the image shifts to a lone Nazi officer and owner of said jackboots, he slowly removes a pair of anachronistic police shades before halting the wagon, introducing the story’s key component: timeless absurdity. In a double stroke as visually striking as it is sly and subtle, international award-winning filmmaker, writer/director Peter M. Kershaw has stated his intentions for ’20 Ways’ as a satire before a single line of dialogue reaches the audience’s ears.

Shot in New Mexico on (mostly) black and white film, ‘20 Ways’ is a short comic satire that takes an off-the-wall look at a contemporary and emotionally charged issue of debate – immigration - without ever preaching about it. Instead, the film tackles its subject through its clever plot, offbeat characters, quirky visual style, and original score by legendary film composer Gerald Fried (The Killing, Paths of Glory, and Roots among his classics).

The story unfolds simply enough. A mother (Kathryn Phipps) and her two children sit in uncomfortable silence as Hymie (Joe Feldman), the fully bearded family patriarch, fields the increasingly bizarre and intrusive questioning of nosy border guard Marc (Christopher Dempsey). His investigation becomes an awkward one-man game of good cop/bad cop that leaps from straightforward interrogation, to language confusion, to threats of force, to sly mind tricks, to passive-aggressive harassment – and back again.

But the devil is in the details, and atop his basic narrative foundation, Kershaw has erected a rich and complex web of structural girders – dramatic flourishes that one by one, little by little, bring the story’s subtext into the light. Marc is consistently preoccupied with testing the family’s “Germanness.”, their belonging to the State. While searching their belongings, he happens upon an antique violin. After some finagling, he encourages their young daughter Jessica (Liliana Ashman) to play a brief selection from Bach. “Good German music,” he nods in approval. But Marc’s satisfaction is short-lived. He soon discovers “Uncle” (John Flax) hiding beneath the wagon. Uncle produces a hammer and claims he was fixing a leak. When Marc asks for his name, he blurts out “Isaac!” Simultaneously, Hymie chimes in, “Michael!” Hymie scrambles to clarify, settling on “Isaac von Michael.”

Uncle, wildly uncomfortable, avoids eye contact. Marc smells a rat. Further investigation reveals – wait for it – the size of Uncle’s and Hymie’s noses. Abnormally large for people claiming to be from Frankfurt, in Marc’s opinion. Now he needs to see their papers. It’s a pivotal gem of a moment, and an illuminating one. The story’s humor is driven by the men’s witty and excruciating verbal interplay that constantly beats around the bush. Despite Hymie’s name and appearance, Marc never once asks, “Are you Jewish?” This refusal to cut to the chase contains an unpleasant ring of familiarity; as Marc engages the family, his behavior walks a razor-sharp edge between the gruff, businesslike shakedown tactics of a servant of the Third Reich and the subtle, tortured restraint of a twenty-first century Border Guard, hence the shades.

Even some of the character names feel vaguely anachronistic, out of place, modern yet somehow appropriate to the story. It’s as if the events of ‘20 Ways’ could unfold in 1930s Germany or in present day near the Mexican border and there’d be no difference. When UK native Kershaw resettled in New Mexico in early 2010, he left behind a Europe in which the legality of actions taken in France and Italy raged over their treatment of Romaine’s as illegal immigrants. Then, his new neighboring State of Arizona was gearing up for a controversial legislative crackdown on illegal immigration. “I found a piece on the Internet to do with an Oklahoma lawyer who put together twenty different supposed ways to identify an illegal. This formed the basis of the Arizona police forces’ approach to identification – right down to the sandals you wore,” Kershaw explains. “What struck me as humorous was, other than looking Hispanic – that’s the one thing they couldn’t say – I could actually fail all twenty of these things and that seemed an absurd way to profile people and a very dangerous road historically to journey down.”

The clever insertion of these “twenty ways” into Marc’s investigation draws a direct link between past and present, between the tension of prewar Europe and the unceasing headache of the southern U.S. border echoed today across the globe. This link is boldly underlined in the story’s unconventional twist ending, which, without spoiling too much, sees a striking transition to color film.

While social commentary may be a significant component of ‘20 Ways, it’s these gorgeous, humorous, absurd, and emotional visual strokes that tell the story. Such a visual feat proved a major challenge for Kershaw and ace cinematographer Anders Uhl, who collaborated together for a full year prior to shooting in May 2011. “Visual research went into a number of things,” Uhl explains. “Part of it was researching still photography from [Europe in the 1930s] I wanted to take that approach.” Kershaw adds, “Gone are the sharp high definition images we are so used to watching in modern films. Instead we have a much softer period look and feel to the film.” Kershaw explains, “I wanted the audience to feel as if they are looking back at something which is in fact very contemporary.”

Uhl added on the film’s look. “Films about that time period (1930’s) tended to be made later, so I was more interested in stills. We looked at a lot of old black and white portraiture, which had a very specific look in terms of optical qualities and the way it was printed.” Having achieved the darker, heavily contrasted qualities of period portraiture, a whole new visual canvas was unfurled, on which extra special attention was paid to each individual actor through multicolored lighting filtration. For example, “Omar Lux, the boy playing Hymie’s son, had these beautiful blue eyes, and in his close-ups, we used a blue filter to bring those out and give them a silvery sheen and we mixed that very classic kind of approach with a more absurdist one. I think of it as a very high level of comedy, as opposed to just the high-key, flat comedic look that’s frequently done.” Uhl has some very definite opinions on just how fitting his and Kershaw’s chosen method is. “The material is very funny, but it’s also very, very dark. I feel there’s a respect in our approach for the darkness of it, which you never get away from.”

Kershaw concluded, “We wanted the satirical approach of the film to have a definite look and style and I think we achieved that. I wanted the audience to feel they are watching history but are they?” As director, for Kershaw, the power of the sound track and music score and the importance of the cinematographic approach can be summed up thus: “It brings a whole new edge to a comedy. Combining that dark, dramatic look with these absurdist elements in our photographic approach mirrored in our playful and powerful score makes this a unique, complex, original piece.”

We are currently in distribution and booking festival screenings for ’20 Ways’. Produced by Duchy Parade Films LLC you can contact Duchy and Peter M. Kershaw at:

Michael Smith, ’20 Ways’
August 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

First Festival screening for Web series

The eco-web drama directed by Peter M. Kershaw and shot in New Mexico in 2011 - Cyphers get's it's first film festival screening as part of the ABQ film festival later this week.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Talking at ABQ film festival

Indie DIY – Do-it-Yourself Indie Filmmaking

Sunday August 21, 2011

Ashley Fontaine, Fruition Agency
Peter Kershaw, Duchy Parade Films
David Dirks, Entertainment Attorney
Colin Cunningham, Actor, writer, producer