Review: The Laughing Mask (2014)


The Laughing Mask (Written & Directed by Michael Aguiar)

Plot : A grisly murder perpetrated by a deranged killer, Jake Johnson’s wife and daughter were murdered by a Psychotic vigilante only known as The Laughing Mask. As the police look for clues and the body count begins to rise, Johnson will play a dangerous game in order to avenge his family’ death… (from IMDB)

Thoughts From The Popcorn Gallery:

The film poster has a great image with a guy in a very cool mask harking back to the 80’s with films like Friday The 13th, My Bloody Valentine, and Halloween. So going in to this film I had some expectation that this was going to be a cool throw back to those days. The picture starts with a girl tied to a chair with the killer and his ghostly laugh. The killer looks through his vast array of weapons choosing one, and as the girl cries out, he kills her. So far a good start but sadly the film will only have a few good parts throughout its short run time. Let’s start with the script, which was a rehash of every other horror/revenge type film you’ve seen before. There are two plot lines moving at the same time between the cops looking for a drug dealer/pimp and the killer who is killing off all the bad guys, sound familiar? The dialogue was awful throughout the film and characters said things and did things that were just Laughable. The film tries to have a surprise twist ending of who the killer and drug dealer are, but honestly it was easy to figure out 10mins into the film. The music did not help at all as it did not have the creepiness nor suspense that would have taken the scenes to another level (Think how Halloween or Friday The 13th would have sounded like with no creepy suspenseful score.) music is 50% of your film. The editing had its issues but I have a feeling it was the lack of good direction during production. The camera work was okay, but there was nothing special about it as the camera was used in its basic level. There were no creepy lighting, no creepy angles, no real attempt at a visual style. As I understand it was shot in 4k on a Red but honestly it looked more like a regular DSLR camera. The film missed out on having any tension, suspense and cool kills and horror moments, well except for the Jack In The Box scene. The audio was almost completely ADR which leaves me to wonder what happened to the NAT sounds in the recordings. It is a tough thing to do ADR, and if you don’t do it right your film comes off as a badly dubbed Chinese film. There are several good programs out there that could have fixed the NAT sound if they had issues with it. The acting was a hit and miss throughout the film, but it might go back to the weak script as some of the actors, specifically the two leads had some good moments. Now there are some parts in the film that I liked, like the strip club scene where the killer faces off with a bouncer and pulls an Indiana Jones then calls over for a drink and pays for it and another scene that also got some good laughs was as the killer goes to kill the final victim with a gardening shears. But in the end the filmmaker missed out on making a really cool horror mask into the next villain icon. Instead we are left with as a cheep knockoff of The Punisher and Dexter..

Over all the filmmakers get an A for the effort but an F for the film.

Review: The Film Slam (Dec 2014)

The Film Slam kicks off its 10th year with 8 new shorts. As alway host Tim Anderson selected an interesting collection of shorts from a masked killer, 2 music videos, 2 Documentaries and a mockumentary to an experimental and drama film. Let’s begin..

Thoughts From The Popcorn Gallery:

The 1st film “Sonadora” Directed by Lauren Kesler

A documentary about a young woman Andrea Haro from rural Pintag, Ecuador, who dreams to better herself, learn English, and graduate from the University. Almost completely in Spanish with subtitles I found myself a little lost at the message the documentary was trying to convey. My Spanish is pretty good, but I have a feeling it was the way the filmmaker approached the doc by introducing the person in charge of the Manna Project International and their goals about education in the region of Ecuador. We are then introduced to Andrea and her family and by the end of the 6 plus mins doc we are left with the hope that Andrea will achieve her dream. (Not a bad doc, short and sweet, albeit a little confusing at first)

The 2nd Film “Medium Justice” Directed by Reggie Peters & Masood Ahmed

A film about a masked killer seeking out justice. At first glance this film has some good cinematography and good performance, however that doesn’t make it a good film. What hurts this film is the story or the lack there of, it doesn’t really know what it wants to be, it seems like 2 films in one. First it looks like a Punisher style film. Then suddenly it’s a Halloween rip off with the Mr Sandman playing as the soundtrack, which totally shut me off. I wanted to like it and parts of it I did; the filming, acting and cinematography. However, the filmmakers need to decide whether they want this to be a horror film or a Punisher comic book type film.  Oh, and the title “Medium Justice” has to go. Also I can tell by the visual style of the film the filmmakers like John Carpenter 80’s style filmmaking so they got to be careful here because there is a fine line between paying homage and coping.

The 3rd Film “Lesson Learned” Directed by Charles Frisby

Lesson Learned is a music video which is actually a lot of fun as it is set in the late 80’s about a guy who got dumped. The music from artist Louie St. Claire is actually pretty catchy and his personality comes across the screen, as you can see he had a lot of fun doing this video. Charles added some cheesy yet fun looking CG with some great edits to complete this video. Fun Fact: Charles Frisby’s film “Broken Triangle” aired on ICS season 3 Ep 3.

The 4th Film “SP#13” Directed by Carl Knickerbocker

Carl Knickerbocker films are alway experimental, strange and short. Not much else to say.

The 5th Film “Life Between Us” Directed by Jones Levenon

The film is about an elderly woman who confronts a young intruder, whom then, in turn, helps her answer some of life’s greatest questions. This film was shot really well with only some minor flaws, but the story was the real issue and it could have been edited down a little shorter. The young man is not really likable in the film because the story sets him up as some sort of a stalker/bad boyfriend. The filmmaker tries within the story to make him charming by having him appear nude at the elderly woman’s house for a cheap laugh. She then calmly asks him to leave, but honestly the real reaction would have been screams and police sirens. The actress playing the elderly women does a good job, but there are parts that she does come across as dry. The movie tries to make itself as a thinking film, but in the end it left me not really caring about the characters even at the final frame. There are some really neat ideas in the film (Life & Death, What is the meaning of life & What happens at the end) but the script really needed a few more re-writes and tweaks to have made it what it really wanted to be.

The 6th Film “The Ring” Directed by Christopher Gotera

A Documentary about a young boxer who is on the rise. However after we learn he had a major injury, the documentary ends without us really seeing or hearing about his victories or defeats. The doc is well done with the footage they had, but unless we will see a part 2 we will never really learn anything more about this young boxer.

The 7th Film “Words” Directed by Dale Metz

Dale started his career as a photographer and he is slowly becoming one hell of a DP. This music video is another great example of his visual work. The song is okay, not as catchy as the first music video in this review but thats besides the point. There are a few little flaws such as with the editing, for example when the singer began to sing, it took a few seconds to really figure out who were the actors and who was the singer. The editing of the story here is a little hit and miss, but the visuals and Dale’s eye really take center stage. Fun Fact: Dales Metz first film “See” was shown on ICS season 3 Ep 1.

The 8th and Final Film “Dirty Justice” Directed be TL Westgate

What  can we say about TL Westgate… He loves the 48 hour film challenge, and his films never fail to impress. His strong suit is comedy and he has another winner on his hands with this film. This mockumentary is a look at a new fake film called Dirty Justice, as told through the eyes of a fake TV news outlet “Excess Hollywood”. What ensues is a belly full of laughs as TL pokes fun at every stereotype in Hollywood, from a fake British actor to a coked out Latin drug dealer who manages to play the same roles over and over. There is nothing negative to say about this short, except to say: TL it’s time for you to take that comedic mind and do a feature. The ICS team helped out in the production and in acting so I am a little biased about this film.

Over all great job to all the filmmakers and a great kick off to the Film Slams 10th year….

Review: Nova Road (2014) Short Film


Nova Road (Written by Michelle Brown) (Directed by Ashton Bracciodieta)

Plot : This rural country road is known for more tragedies due to drag racing than anywhere else in the country. Local urban legends tell us it’s something else. What really happens on Nova Road? Based on a true story. (from IMDB)

Thoughts From The Popcorn Gallery:

Being invited to a new film with a first time director, unknown actors and a new writer is always a hit or miss. Mix that with almost an entire cast of kids and you got a recipe for disaster, that is unless you hit the casting lotto and your director hits one out of the park. Getting to the premiere you had a great atmosphere with parents and kids excited to see the film they all worked hard on. So the film opens up with a young girl being discovered alone at the side of the road, by her appearance she looks as if she was in an accident of some sort. The couple who discover her are distressed and call for help; as they do the young girl slowly turns toward the camera and smiles a scary smile. What a great start to this short film! We are then introduced to 2 young teenagers on the beach (Riley played by Madison Guthrie) and (Chris played be Tyler Perez), and instantly I smile because not only is the cinematography good but so is the sound and acting. Anyone who has shot on the beach knows that the wind can be hell to your sound, yet this sound is clean and perfect. As the film progresses, the story about Nova Road starts to open up. Chris and Riley, now in their car, drive down Nova Road, and they come across a girl stranded on the side of the road. As they pull over, the screen cuts to black and we find Riley, now along the middle of the road, bloodied with a strange mark on her wrist and her brother missing. From there we learn that there are many deaths and strange disappearances on Nova Road, The police are frustrated and feel the kids were drag racing or horsing around at the time of their accident. For Riley she just wants to know what happen to her brother and how that stretch of road has something to do with all of it. What Director Ashton Bracciodieta does with this short film shows his understanding of suspense and editing. Cinematographer Daniel Guadalupe and Composer Uriah Ocean Peterson did a great job capturing Ashton’s vision. Working with young actors can be tough, but Michelle Brown’s script captures their dialogue perfectly and Ashton’s direction really brought out their best. Now, it’s not a perfect film, as there are a few out of focus shots and few week performances, however, this is not enough to really take away from the film. The script needed a little bit more polishing but nothing to really complain about as this film is a short that is being pitched for a feature, which gives them time to finesse the script. In the end, the film leaves us on a cliff hanger that has me hoping they can raise the funds to do the feature. There were some good standouts in this film, namely Madison Guthrie, who’s performance really took the film to the next level and director Ashton Bracciodieta, who is someone to look out for in the future.

Over all the film gets a sold B-

The Breaking Point Feature Film Premiere

The ICS team visited Universal Studios AMC Theater for the World Premiere of Writer/Director James Hunter feature film The Breaking Point.

The Red Carpet event was a huge success as the film sold out the two showings that were scheduled and was very well received by all who got a seat. The film now moves on for a New York movie premiere as well as already getting interest from distribution companies. Shot entire in Orlando Florida The Breaking Point film is about Shawn Dickerson, a young, street guy who is accused of killing BRENDA SAWYER, a wealthy prominent woman, known for her compassion for kids from the inner-city. Shawn is hunted by Brenda’s grieving husband HARRY, the police, and a very ambitious and overzealous Assistant D.A. name BALLARD, who is willing to do whatever she has to do to make District Attorney even if it means breaking the rules.

Startfest Film Festival 2013 Web Exclusive

The ICS team visited the 1st annual Startfest Film Festival. The Student Art Festival helps educate, exhibit and recognize the achievements of aspiring high school and college students. Startfest is the ONLY film festival where students compete against their peers and receive valuable, constructive feedback on their work from leading industry professionals. Through their unique judging criteria students are able to focus on their challenges as well as appreciate their successes. STARTFEST also is a great place to network with fellow filmmakers, enthusiasts and professionals. For more information about the festival visit their website at

1st Annual White House Student Film Festival

Yes, THAT White House.

In the sprit of DeLand’s own STARTFEST and other student geared film festivals and showcases such as; the Flamingo Film Festival in South Florida and Palm Beach International’s Student Showcase of Films in West Palm Beach, comes the 1st Annual White House Film Festival. The topic? Technology in schools; how does a student currently use technology in school and what kind of role will technology play in future classrooms? Given the current iGeneration, I will be very curious to see the entries. The TechHead in me is even more curious to see HOW they choose to capture their entries…

Official selections have a chance of screening at the White House in mid-February 2014, as well as promotion on the White House’s Official web (YouTube AND Vimeo) and social media sites. Not bad for a K-12 student’s first film fest, right? Should the White House need an outlet to cover this soon-to-be-esteemed, inaugural film festival (and include travel/accomodations!) or a great, kid-friendly panel of professional judges, our ICS Field Team is standing by. (I have never been to Washington, DC!!)

More entry information for teachers/students via below…

You don’t have to be a kid to be excited about this:

The first ever White House Student Film Festival launches today — and it’s open to U.S. students, grades K-12. We’re asking you to answer these big questions:

What’s your education story & how does technology and connectivity fit into how you learn at school or on your own? How do you imagine technology will change the educational experience for kids in the future?

Films can be short – in fact 3 minutes tops. The official selections will be featured on the White House website, and shared across the world on White House sites and official social media accounts. In fact, if selected, you may have a chance to attend the film fest yourself at the White House.

Ready to get started? Check out our official page at WhiteHouse.Gov/FilmFest — where you can learn more, read the official rules, see how to submit your video, and hear from Bill Nye (the Science Guy). And if you’re a parent, guardian, or teacher, make sure you spread the word to kids with big ideas!

We can’t wait to see what you make.

Here are more important details you should know:

  • Every student entry has to have a parent/guardian or teacher sponsor.
  • Films can be submitted now through January 29th, 2014. 
  • If your video is selected as an official selection, you could have a chance to attend the mid-February screening at the White House.

Read the complete rules (and submit your video!) at WhiteHouse.Gov/FilmFest

Enzian Theater’s Brouhaha Announces 2014 Florida Film Festival Selectees

Imagine it. You make a short film and submit it to festivals, including Enzian Theater’s monthly FilmSlam. You blink, and win First Place. Next, your film advances to Enzian’s Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase (or you just submit directly to Brouhaha). When the selectees are announced, your short film is among them, and you realize, “I’m going to the Florida Film Festival!” Sounds cheesy but this just happened to 14 locally produced films.

Are you or your films among them? Here’s the breaking news direct from Enzian‘s website;

Now featuring an Audience Award, Brouhaha has quietly grown to become one of the premier outlets for locally produced films and videos, the best work from film schools statewide, and a fun-filled gathering for lovers of independent film. Audiences are made up of filmmakers, film educators, local production representatives, industry organization members, and the general public, all fascinated by the scope and creativity of films screened each year representing the entire spectrum of Florida’s immense talent pool.

The following films from the 22nd annual Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase, held this past weekend November 23 & 24, were selected to represent the “Best of Brouhaha” in the 2014 Florida Film Festival (April 4 – 13):

RUNAWAY RENN (directed by Zachary Johnson, FSU, ***Audience Award Winner***)
THE FEAR OF BEING UNINTERESTING (directed by McKenzi Vanderberg, Rollins College)
DEAD TO RIGHTS (directed by Daniel Neil, Ringling College of Art and Design)
CHICKEN OR THE EGG (directed by Elaine Wu & Christine Kim, Ringling College of Art and Design)
THE PAST (directed by Sean Sida & Garrett Callahan, Full Sail University)
MOONBOUNCE (directed by Michael Kefeyalew, FSU)
SMALL WORLDS (directed by Steven Sobel, Daytona State College)
TECHSQUAD (directed by TL Westgate, October FilmSlam winner)
THE FLY (directed by Jarelis Cabrera, Trinity Preparatory School)
WHERE IS ALICE? (directed by Zachary Beckler, UCF)
BYE HYUNGJIK (directed by Hyungjik Lee, FSU)
FINAL STRAW (directed by Riccardo Renna, Ringling College of Art and Design)
RUNAWAY (directed by Susan Yung, Emily Buchanan & Esther Parobek, Ringling College of Art and Design)
LITTLE AFRICA (directed by Curtis Adair, FSU)

Interesting tidbit about one of this year’s selectees; Techsquad follows in the footsteps of fellow FilmSlam & Brouhaha honoree, Brian Quain’s You Have This Long in that, it too was made in 48 Hours (but NOT a 48 Hour Film Project). Quain’s short was also screened during 2012’s Florida Film Festival. Also, Techsquad is the only selectee not part of a school project, having been produced by local production company Creative Inlet Films. Could (well made) short films made in 48 hours become a trend for local filmmakers? We’ll see…

12th Annual Women in Film & Television Florida Jingle Mingle Dec 5th

It’s that wonderful time of year again! The 12th Annual Jingle Mingle has finally arrived – and YOU’RE INVITED!


WHEN: Thursday, December 5th from 7:00 pm – 10:30 pm

WHERE: Winter Park Farmer’s Market, 200 W New England Ave. Orlando, FL 32789

WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Mingle with Florida’s top production, digital media & entertainment associates! Silent auction, 50/50 Raffle, fabulous food, flipbook photo fun, music, cash bar, and more!


  • $20: Members of participating organizations in advance
  • $30: Non-members

Participating associations include: FMPTA, AAF-Orlando, FemFessionals, IDGA, DMAF & Film Florida

**Tickets are complimentary with a new or renewed full membership to WIFT-FL. Click here to apply or renew.**


Unwrapped gift donations accepted on behalf of the Monarch Academy School for Autistic Children. See below for suggested donations.


At this year’s Jingle Mingle, all unwrapped gift donations will go to the Monarch Academy School for Autistic Children. Please see the list below for donation suggestions:

  • Leap pads
  • Talking board games
  • Waffle bat and balls
  • Science dvd’s
  • Beach ball
  • Innotab cartridges (regular innotab)
  • Blow-up ball pit
  • Playdough kits
  • Putty
  • Modeling clay
  • Occupational lacing kits
  • Computers
  • Ipads
  • Wireless internet sticks
  • Headphones
  • Wooden puzzles
  • Trampoline
  • 24 challenge math game
  • Water-based paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Beakers
  • Bunsen burners
  • Mason Jars
  • Lab workbooks
  • Litmus paper
  • Magnets
  • Measuring scale
  • Microscopes with projectors
  • Unbreakable mirrors
  • Science books/journals
  • Scissors
  • Slides for microscopes
  • Stylus
  • Children’s encyclopedias
  • Personal children’s dictionaries
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Therapeutic scissors
  • Outdoor swing for older students (porch swing that sits on the ground)
  • Bill Nye Science DVD’s
  • Educational software games ages 12+
  • Large therapy balls
  • Soccer ball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer net
  • Hula hoops
  • Weighted pencil grips
  • Puzzles 48+ pieces

The Monarch Academy thanks you for your support!

22nd Annual Brouhaha Film and Video Showcase This Weekend at Enzian

22nd Annual Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase

Now featuring an Audience Award, Brouhaha has quietly grown to become one of the premier outlets for locally produced films and videos, the best work from film schools statewide, and a fun-filled gathering for lovers of independent film. Audiences are made up of filmmakers, film educators, local production representatives, industry organization members, and the general public, all fascinated by the scope and creativity of films screened each year representing the entire spectrum of Florida’s immense talent pool. The 22nd Annual Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase will take place November 23 & 24, 2013.

Regular admission is only $5 per program with a $10 Showcase Pass which covers all 4 programs over both days. Admission is FREE for Enzian Film Society members and participating filmmakers!
Click here to join or renew today.

Presenting Sponsor:

Gus Corbella: Keep Florida’s Film Industry Booming

As many of you know, Indie Cinema Showcase is as ‘indie‘ as the films we showcase. We are a zero budget production doing our best to bring YOU the best of Florida’s film, television and local entertainment goings on. When our mighty four person Field Team comes together, we utilize all available resources we can find to provide the very best coverage out of our own pockets. Yes, I said that collectively, OUR pockets. Sometimes it’s at a small sacrifice… other times it’s at a great one.

Personally, I have turned down paying work from major networks (when coverage couldn’t be rescheduled) to make sure we have at least a skeleton crew to cover an event for Indie Cinema Showcase. Call me stupid, but that’s how much I believe in what we’re doing here at the show. Those who know me personally know, I only back causes and brands that I wholeheartedly believe in. ICS is one of those causes.

Like all of you, our Field Team and show producers actively work in this industry as well as produce Indie Cinema Showcase. As of January 2014, we will enter our Fourth Season. While this show is truly a labor of love for all of us, we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it. And we’re not the only ones who feel this way about our industry here in Florida. Below we share an example of such passion, penned by Gus Corbella for the Tallahassee Democrat last month;

Keep Florida’s film industry booming

Oct. 28, 2013 6:30 PM
Written by Gus Corbella
Opinion Columnist

Gus Corbella is serving his third term as chairman of the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council, the lead advisory body to Florida government on entertainment issues. He is also the director of government law and policy for Greenberg Traurig in Tallahassee ( 

I can’t help but smile when I read in Variety about the mayor of Los Angeles begging film and television studios not to take work out of his city.

A recent study by Film Works LA finds that movie production in Los Angeles has plummeted 60 percent since its peak 15 years ago. Increased taxes and regulations are driving the entertainment industry out of California in a sort of reverse manifest destiny, and studios are farming out productions throughout the country, including here to Florida.
The Sunshine State has been successfully utilizing tax credits to attract the industry to shoot major motion pictures, television series and other independent productions here. The benefits to Florida are many: high-wage jobs, boosts to the local economies and worldwide publicity for our state. However, entertainment incentives in Florida are at a critical juncture, and our state could suffer unless we act during the upcoming legislative session.

Here’s why: The $296 million in tax credits appropriated for the industry since 2010 by the Legislature have mostly been committed. That is a testament to the success of the program and the industry’s interest in our state.

As legislators struggle to identify where to best invest limited resources in the coming months, I hope they’ll see the incredible value that has come from luring these productions to Florida. Legislation will be considered in the coming months to reseed and modernize the financial incentive program to keep Florida competitive with other locations trying to attract these productions. Providing a reliable and stable funding mechanism that will guarantee Florida as the “go-to location” for entertainment production is an opportunity that Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature should not pass up this spring.

Any resident of South Beach can attest to the transformative powers of television. “Miami Vice” changed the landscape of South Florida in the 1980s by re-energizing Miami as one of the emerging entertainment capitals of the world and the global center for Hispanic media.

“Burn Notice,” one of four major television shows recently produced in South Florida, wrapped up a seven-season run this year and is now in syndication in more than 200 countries. The movie “The Truman Show” helped convert the sleepy town of Seaside and State Road 30A into a major beach destination. Many of the top video games played by enthusiasts globally are produced in Maitland, which is also becoming a high-tech hub for military, medical and training simulation development.

Don’t forget the little dolphin named Winter, who starred in “Dolphin Tale.” The modern family classic re-energized the city of Clearwater and made the Clearwater Marine Aquarium a tourist destination for children and families throughout the world.

Considering all our years of success, it would be regrettable for Florida to suffer an entertainment exodus simply because we failed to take the necessary steps to cultivate this blossoming industry in our state.

Without a doubt, the entertainment industry can continue to play a substantial role in our state’s economic recovery and diversification. According to the Office of Film and Entertainment, production in Florida has created more than 100,000 jobs for Floridians in the past three years alone, paying more than $658 million in wages to talented professionals who call our state home.

This creative economy also has tremendous ripple effects on our local communities. Feature films and television productions spend on average $225,000 per day on-location, providing an infusion of new money to local businesses, including hotel rooms, rental cars, restaurants, legal and medical services, security, office space and equipment rentals. “Burn Notice” alone generated more than $120 million in total local direct spend during its run, employing more than 200 cast and crew and thousands of extras. The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the promotional value of the show to be $170 million a year.

Florida is uniquely poised to permanently attract and grow this vibrant industry within our state. Legislators should capitalize on this opportunity and commit in the months ahead to renew our efforts to lure these productions to Florida. From the big screen to the iPad screen, it’s time to hear “lights, camera, action” being barked out once again in Florida – not time to yell “cut!” to our efforts.

This Op Ed appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat and was featured on on October 29, 2013


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