Q&A with Writer-Director Shana Feste
and CAA Agent Brian Kavanaugh-Jones
Writer-director Shana Feste (THE GREATEST), and her husband, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Film Finance agent at Creative Artists Agency), came to Two Lights Studio to speak and answer questions, at a free event on October 12. Shana has taken many workshops at the studio – including multiple sessions of the Actor-Director Lab, plus a lot of one-on-one consultation with me – both before shooting her first film THE GREATEST (which was screened in competition at Sundance this year), and again recently, as she prepares to direct her second feature, LOVE DON’T LET ME DOWN.
Brian works at CAA in the packaging and representation of independently financed films and international co-productions. Most recently, he was involved in the financing and selling of Darren Aronofsky's THE WRESTLER, Gus Van Sant's MILK, and Kathryn Bigelow's THE HURT LOCKER.
Shana was in the middle of casting and pre-production for her second film, LOVE DON’T LET ME DOWN. In fact, on the evening of the event, she had just learned that principal photography was to start in two weeks! So it was incredibly generous of her to take time out of her schedule to share her experiences with getting her first film made, and taking it to Sundance.
Shana is proof that you can have success in Hollywood without compromising your talent or your soul – she is smart and tough, without sacrifice of her warmth, openness and sensitivity. Brian, her husband, is a financing guy of integrity, taste and depth, and he’s a really good person too. It was lovely of him to offer to come on the same evening, and he was amazingly open, frank, and supportive about the business side of film. They showed us clips from THE GREATEST – which were stunning! Everyone must see this film when it is released in March. They were completely frank and down-to-earth – a delightful couple. A typical comment from those who attended was this one, “It's so rare to spend time with a director -- and an agent! -- who are so generous and forthcoming about their experiences making a movie. A rare and precious experience.” It was an evening all about art, business, and love – what could be better?
THE GREATEST was accepted in dramatic competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where every screening was sold out. Under Shana’s direction, A-list veterans Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon gave luminous performances, and Pierce Brosnan especially went into emotional territory unlike that of his previous roles. Shana also launched the career of newcomer Carey Mulligan, who has gone from THE GREATEST to projects directed by Michael Mann, Jim Sheridan, and Oliver Stone. The whole cast, which included Michael Shannon – and – one of our very own Lab actors, Cynthia Boorujy, was wonderful.
THE GREATEST will have a North American theatrical release in March. Although it isn’t possible to see THE GREATEST yet (unless you were at Sundance), some of you have seen scenes worked on in class, so you know her work is deep and emotional, a moving, intelligent exploration of pain and grieving, with explosions of humor and joy.
Thank you to everyone who came (and asked such interesting questions!) – and thank you so much to Shana and Brian!