Tina For President02/06/2014
Tina Roberts is a shy, self-conscious, middle-school girl who is constantly picked on and ridiculed by the school bully and ignored by her emotionally distant father. After her best friend is humiliated, she impulsively signs up to run for class president against Tyler. Through the election process, Tina makes her voice heard and realizes that social justice can be achieved when you stand up for what you believe in.
Tina for President was an official selection of NFFTY 2013 and was given the Audience Choice award for Opening Night.
About the Director:
Carmen hails from Syracuse, New York where he comes from a long line of farmers. After a summer of mishaps including accidentally over-fertilizing every planter in a greenhouse (to his Papa’s dismay), Carmen retired his green thumb for the betterment of the agricultural industry and focused on his true passion of photography and filmmaking. He attended Temple University in Philadelphia and transferred to the USC School of Cinematic Arts as a Film/Television Production major in 2010.
Since graduation in December 2012, Carmen has produced and served as the cinematographer of Painting Anna, a docu-drama set in Redmond, Washington. He is currently working in Los Angeles.
NFFTY finds out from Carmen what was the story behind Tina.
Q: Did this story actually happen during your high school days/was it someone that you know of? What happened? Tell us more!
The film was written by my good friend, Nicole Deane, and it was inspired by her experience when she ran for class president in middle school. I gravitated towards the script, not only because I thought it was wonderful story, but because it reminded me of my own middle school days, which were not all that great either. During middle school, I remember feeling trapped and afraid to express how I truly felt. We tried to visually channel those emotions into the cinematography, production design, and sound design of Tina in order to portray the fear and helplessness that young people have to cope with in a middle-school environment. Bullying, especially in middle-school, is something that still occurs today (as evident by the endless news stories) and it seems to be getting worse as technology gets more accessible to young people. The bullying issue, coupled with my own middle school experience, was my call to action to make Tina.
Q: What was the casting process like? How did you end up choosing her? (the lead actress is amazing by the way)
Liz Guest was our casting director. Not only is Liz a fantastic casting director, but she is also an incredible actress, so collaborating with her on this aspect of the production was invaluable. Riley DeFeo (Tina) actually came in on our very last audition day. Nicole (the writer) and Nick Johnson (one of our DP’s) were also at the casting session and we saw A LOT of people that day. We had Riley read the big speech scene and she nailed it– leaving the three of us speechless and with chills. We knew we found Tina. This was surprisingly her first film and she brings such warmth and honesty to the character. Liz has a huge talent for casting and really found actors who added a richness and believability to Tina’s world.
Q: How is life after NFFTY? Has participating in NFFTY helped to open up more doors for your career in filmmaking?
Going to NFFTY was an awesome experience. I met so many talented filmmakers from around the world, and still keep in touch with people I met. Almost right after NFFTY, I produced and shot Painting Anna, a feature docu-drama set in Redmond, Washington. I was recently hired to shoot another feature and we begin production at the end of this month. In addition, I just finished writing a quirky short about a young man who realizes the world does not revolve around him called The Forrest Boys with co-writer (and friend) Krystal Faye of Seattle. We plan to shoot it in my hometown (Syracuse, New York) right when this feature wraps up in Los Angeles. Going to NFFTY and connecting with other young filmmakers, all with very unique voices, was definitely a highlight for me in Tina’s festival run.
Filmmakers! If you would like to have a similar, or if not, better, festival experience like Carmen, submit your films to NFFTY now before submission closes on February 13, 2014. That’s one week away!
In addition, check out our new category, The Hustle category. Films submitted to The Hustle stand a chance to win $5000, presented by vitaminwater. Check out the page to see if your film qualifies.