Last year, a713production shot a short film about the struggles children growing up in the world today, and how finding inner strength in the midst of difficult times can help them find a brighter future. The symbol of this inner strength, a dog named “Trouble,” was conceived of by Kendra and Sheila Duncan, and has taken on a life of it’s own by helping children around the country and the globe to believe in themselves and have faith in a better tomorrow. The project of “Trouble” the dog was put together by Mark and Bethany Constance of a713production, and shot in Portsmouth, New Hampshire early in 2011.
Now, “Trouble” is set to come back to Portsmouth for a showing at the Portsmouth Public Library on May 6th. The program will include a selection of dynamic speakers and screening, as well as a reception.
“Our film, “Trouble,” is — unfortunately — a very timely piece. Every day more children become victims of bullying, abuse, homelessness, and illness. Our film illustrates these statistics in a dramatic, informative way. This generation of children is more stressed than any before them. Our goal is to shed light on what’s happening to kids in our own communities… and to utilize the character of Trouble The Dog as a coping mechanism for these innocent victims and open the lines of communication to help them. Kids “get” the concept of hope and resilience behind Trouble,” says Sheila Duncan.
She goes further to say, “I’ve seen a recent change in the testimonials I receive about Trouble; often a parent or guardian will tell me that their child has asked that their very favorite “buddy” Trouble, be given to another child who needs him more. And that, to me, is a very powerful message that Trouble needs to be universal.”
To find out more about Trouble, visit the website here, or like his Facebook page. You can also RSVP to the screening in Portsmouth, here. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Portsmouth Public Library on May 6th. Both adults and children are invited to attend this meaningful event.
Monday night at the Spangler Auditorium at the Harvard Business School, a screening was held for the feature-film debut of director Justin Lerner and his thought-provoking independent project, Girlfriend. The film which also marks the debut of Evan Sneider, the first actor with Down Syndrome to star in a motion picture in North America.
The film which made its debut at the Toronto Film Festival, and has been holding screenings around the country, also costars, Jackson Rathbone (Twilight), Shannon Woodword (“Raising Hope”), and youngster Nate Krawshuk.
The film follows the story of Evan, played by Sneider, who pursues his high school crush, Candy, played by Woodward, while she is still involved in a volatile relationship with her young son’s (Krawshuk) father, played by Rathbone. The movie, which was filmed primarily in Wayland, Massachusetts, brings to light complex issues regarding love, human sexuality, financial hardships, and complex interpersonal relationships. Sneider, Lerner, and Krawshuk were all in attendance in the film as well as producer/actor Jerad Anderson, and actors Joseph Turnbull, Daniel J. Turnbull, and Darren MacDonald.
The screening was well received by the nearly packed auditorium, and the Q & A with Lerner and the stars in attendance following the film revealed the level of contemplation the film invoked.
“I wanted to utilize Evan as an actor and a person I know in a way that I find interesting. I wanted to create a story that can make circumstance such that Evan could have a romantic relationship with someone who does not have Down Syndrome,” said Lerner, when asked of his inspiration for the film.
Sneider, whose magnanimity quickly endeared him to the audience, spoke about his regard for his costars with brilliantly honest laconicism.
“Justin is a wonderful director. I have the best costars, they all should be very proud,” said Sneider.
In addition to it’s heavy topics, the film’s cinematography is garnering high praise. Quyen Tran, a long-time friend and former classmate of Lerner’s, paints the Massachusetts fall scenery “as if Monet came to the town of Wayland and captured his brush strokes in motion” as articulated by actor Joseph Turnbull.
The film will continue to have screenings around the country, as well as a week-long run at the Coolidge Corner Theater (September 30-October 6). The film has already won Best Director at the 2011 White Sands Film Festival, as well as the Grand Jury Prize. It also won the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature at the 2011 Woods Hole Film Festival, as well as Best of the Festival. They hope to release it on Netflix, iTunes, and OnDemand sometime next year.
It’s no secret that Hollywood is youth obsessed. While Hollywood East is a long way from LALA Land, we aren’t necessarily immune to the trend. At seven years old, Nate Krawshuk is already well on his way to becoming a seasoned actor. Currently starring in a locally produced indie-flick entitled Girlfriend, starring Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction), Jackson Rathbone (Twilight), Shannon Woodward (“Boston Public”), and Evan Sneider. The film was shot in Wayland, MA in the fall of 2009. The writer and director, Justin Lerner, grew up in Wayland. In addition to its more well-known actors the film also marks the debut of Evan Sneider, who is the first actor with Down Syndrome to have the lead role in a North American film. His performance has received phenomenal reviews. The movie is doing the festival circuit and getting good reviews. Earlier this month, the film closed the Woods Hole Film Festival in Cape Cod.
We got to talk to Nate and his mother, Kim Krawshuk, about the journey into becoming a young actor, what it means for their family life, and his plans for the future.
HEC: How did you help Nate prepare for being in the movie?
Kim: Being that this was our first real acting experience, we really didn’t know what to expect. I basically gave him pep talks on being polite, following directions etc. I reminded him that it was an honor to be chosen to play this role, and to do his very best. He was only 5 at the time, but I think he “got it.”
HEC: What is the hardest thing about having a child that works in entertainment?
Kim: By far the biggest challenge for me is the “last minute” aspect of the business, and the resulting juggling of our schedule to accommodate auditions, callbacks and filming sessions. I have another child, and it is a challenge to meet all of her needs when we are called away for a next day audition. I also have volunteer obligations I don’t like to cancel if possible. I am lucky to have a very supportive family and group of friends that help out in these situations.
HEC: What has been the most rewarding experience you have shared as a parent and child throughout the process of becoming involved in acting?
Kim: A momentous experience was seeing Nate called down to take part in the Q&A session after the screening of Girlfriend at the Woods Hole Film Festival. After two years of waiting to see the film on the big screen, it was finally here. He smiled through the whole film, then ran down for the Q&A, even leaving one of his shoes back at his seat. I don’t think he was even aware that he had one bare foot. He grabbed the microphone to answer the questions, but was very honest when he admitted to not remembering much about the filming….”because I was only 5 at the time”. He seemed so proud, and we, in turn, were so proud of him.
It is so rewarding to see Nate share his “personality” with his audience. Ever since he was a baby, he has liked being the center of attention. He struggled to talk as a toddler, but still managed to find ways to “perform” and people have always been drawn to that. He never knew his grandfather (my father, who died in 1998), but they are very much alike. It is so rewarding to see Nate having success at such a young age with something that seems to be a real passion.
HEC: When did you first become interested in being an actor?
Nate: I took a class after school called “Showstoppers” where I got to sing karaoke and put on plays. I really liked talking into the microphone, and I liked being in the plays too.
HEC: How did you get the role in Girlfriend?
Nate: My friend’s mom told my mom that I should go to the audition at the high school. I went and met Justin (the writer/director) and Evan (the lead actor). They were both really really nice, and I think they liked me too.
HEC: What was the most surprising thing you learned about working on a movie set?
Nate: That you have to do lots and lots of “takes” to get one scene done.
HEC: What was your most memorable experience working on the film?
Nate: There was one scene where I got to eat lots of licorice and watch a movie….that was awesome! I didn’t like it when I had to do the scene where I lay in cold mud on my back!
HEC: Would you like to work on more movies in the future?
Nate: I would like to do more movies. I’d really like to do action movies!
To find out more on Girlfriend, and Nate’s involvement in it, check out their website.
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