Wooden’s sci-fi indie wins AFM’s Pitch conference prize

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Chicago producer/director Keaton Wooden’s sci-fi adventure, “Landers,” won the top prize at the Nov. 4-11 American Film Market in Santa Monica — the prime event for indies seeking distribution for their films or to set up financing for their next one.

“Landers” won the market’s Pitch Conference, surpassing 19 other pitched projects.  The story follows seven misfits selected to be the first colonists on Mars on their last year on earth, as they train and prepare to leave their lives behind them. It was produced by attorney Katherine Imp and filmmaker Paul Fleschner.

Pitch winners Katherine Imp and Keaton Wooden“There were like a thousand people in the room. And about three minutes before I was supposed to pitch, I froze. I completely forgot what I was going to say,” laughed Wooden, the Emmy-nominated writer/producer/director.

“We were up the previous night, completely re-working ‘Landers’’ pitch. I had it down. Memorized. And then I stood up and forgot. Luckily after I was introduced, the words just seem to flow out of me.”


Other Chicagoans at AFM shopping their respective projects were commercial director Vincent Gaffney, rep/producer Maureen Butler and her director partner, Colleen Griffin Chappelle and producer/actress Kelly Daisy.

Spot director Gaffney gets requests for his dramady

Gaffney was shopping his 84-minute drama, “Resurrecting McGinn(s)” The film, best drama winner at the Amsterdam Film Festival, is about a man who is missing his deceased brother of 26 years and decides to throw a 50th birthday party for him.

“We’re getting a lot of requests for the film. This is a great marketing and networking event, especially for a commercial director attempting to transition to film. There’s no way you can get this if you are in Chicago,” Gaffney said.

The film will be released domestically in early 2016 on DVD and VOD via Summer Hill Films, and Gaffney will continue to look for foreign outlets.

Chappelle and rep Butler pitched hard in two days

Production partners Maureen Butler and Colleen Griffin Chappelle

Colleen Griffin Chappelle and Maureen Butler flew in with only two days left to shop two projects, the Chappelle-directed family drama, “The Cold and The Quiet” and “Boyband,” a digital mockumentary series.

“Even with only two days left, Maureen and I were determined to shop both films and see if we could gain any interest from sales agents of distributors.”“It was a little scary. The last market I attended was the IFP market in New York back in 1993, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Chappelle explained.

After a lot of door knocking, “We did find many people who wanted to watch the trailers for both projects. Our fingers are crossed,” she said.

Daisy calls AFM “invaluable” mecca for indie producer

“Kelly Daisy was shopping three projects: “The Middle Distance,” an entry at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival; “Concerto,” a hipper, younger version of “Ghost” and a new thriller, “Killing Killers,” about a woman teaming up to catch a killer and then are faced with issue of killing him.

Daisy, who has attended several markets, believes the AFM is the real way for Chicago filmmakers to shop their films. 

“This is just something you can’t do in Chicago. The conferences and the networking are invaluable. It presents prospects for indie filmmakers that we just can’t find in Chicago. And it’s all under one roof.”

Filmmaker contacts: Keaton Wooden at contact@landersmovie.com or Maryfrances@fagancommunications.com.

Vince Gaffney, at production@gaffneyfilm.com.

Colleen Griffin Chappelle, mooncoin26@aol.com and Kelly Daisy at lakeeffectpictures@gmail.com 

Former Chicagoan Colin Costello is an LA-based screenwriter whose most recent credit is 2016’s “Traveling Without Moving” featuring Steve Guttenberg and Harry Lennix, Jr.  Contact him at colin1@spamarrest.com.

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