Tanna Frederick: Winner of the 2012 CineCause Award at Julien Dubuque International Film Festival

| May 31, 2012

FM: Ms. Frederick, thank you very much for taking part in this interview. It is a pleasure to speak with you. You have just been honored with the 2012 CineCause Award at Julien Dubuque International Film Festival for your work with Project Cornlight, an organization aimed at promoting Iowan filmmakers. Can you please tell us something about the organization and what inspired you to help with its creation?

I am really thankful for all the support I’ve received from Iowa growing up and pursuing a not so common career path.  With the filmmaking technology available that is growing and expanding – becoming more inexpensive and a higher quality every day ­– I wanted to return the favor of support to Iowa by starting a film bank so-to-speak…A queue of films that would be 95% locally cast, written, produced, and crewed by Iowans only (and hopefully, as we grow, we expand the program to neighboring Midwest states).  I know I can tie the projects we create to not only film festivals but Hollywood by bringing in a few Hollywood ‘mentors’ to co-star and distribute the work, and get the work seen.

FM: How is the project doing? How many films have been made and can you tell us about some of them?

We have three films lined up, and have begun filming the first project, entitled THE FARM.  We’ve begun to shoot in Iowa, and it really has been a breathtaking experience to film on my home turf.  People are going out of their way, even beyond what I expected, to help get the films made ­– volunteering locations, food, work – it’s become this huge community project that includes the entire state.  I attended the Dubuque Film Festival where Project Cornlight was offered not only to use Dubuque as our next location for the second Project Cornlight endeavor, SERENDIPITY GREEN (to be shot fall/winter of 2012)  but the financial means to create it and distribution for the film.  They all involve plots which are devoid of CGI mayhem and outlandish unbelievable plot lines, and instead are real stories of real people from Iowa – this first film was loosely based around my Grandfather’s decline in health, and his transition from his farm that he built with his brothers and family to having his last months in a nursing home he didn’t want to be in.  That’s a real story that translates to not just Iowans but elderly across the nation and their stories with their families in this day and age.

FM: I know this is asking you to make a shameless plug, but what the heck; what is the link to the site and what can we expect to see from it in future?

I’m all about shameless plugs when it comes to Project Cornlight!  It’s allowed when one is trying to raise money for the arts!  It’s really hard in this economy!  So here’s the site:  www.projectcornlight.org…And what is seen in the future will be what we are putting our hearts into now – I really don’t know what to expect in the future, but that is the exciting part of it.  There were three hundred people across the state who auditioned for THE FARM, and that already surpassed what I anticipated; people are hungry to create, and hopeful for their dreams beyond what I anticipated.  This is a good sign.  Stay tuned…

FM: The industry is in a state of flux, as are many industries in the current economy. The studios have cut their production slates drastically, exhibition has declined sharply and shifted to streaming and home video. Do you feel the independent filmmaker has a greater chance of making a mark for themselves now than in recent times? Do you have any words of encouragement for indie filmmakers?

It’s the wild, wild west out there – and anyone or any film can hit a home run.  As our Project Cornlight motto expresses, ‘If you film it, they will come’…Translating into, ‘Keep going!  Keep making films!  There’s no reason not to take your projects into your own hands and see them through to fruition ­– and then share them with the world!”  It’s becoming easier and easier to give every filmmaker a voice now with technology, so keep filming, keep filming, keep filming.  You will be heard.

FM: FM has interviewed you in the past. We know something about your exceptional talent and fine qualities, but can you please help our readers get to know you better? What are some of the more recent projects you have been involved with? Why did you get into film in the first place? How has the journey been from Iowa to LA and points beyond?

I got into theatre and film because I would die without it.  So many people when I was in high school and college said something to the tune of, ‘If you can live without being an actor, do it.  Because it’s a hard life.  But if you’d die if you couldn’t act, then you’re screwed and you pretty much better go after it.’  I pretty much fell in the latter portion of the equation, so here I am.

In Oct. 3rd, my next film, ‘Just 45 Minutes From Broadway’, co starring Judd Nelson and an amazing cast that I was in the stage version of the film for a year with, opens in indie theatres nationally.

FM: What does the future hold for you? What films are coming up and what projects are most dear to you that you hope to get to make in the future?

So far I’ve been lucky.  I’ve been able to chose what to direct and act in – passion projects.  Some people love them, some people hate them, but what matters is that I couldn’t live without doing them, and eat up every minute of the process of creation of them.  I feel more alive creating film than I do in actual life, I know more about my characters than I do myself.  That’s daunting but exciting – just my lot in life, but I cater to that happily and willingly.

FM: Anything else you’d like to talk about which this interviewer overlooked?

Eat chocolate every day.  It’s keeps you grounded.

FM: Wonderful! Thank you and we wish you great success with all your future projects!

About the Author:

Del Harvey is a co-founder of Film Monthly. He is an independent filmmaker, film director, screenwriter, and film teacher, currently living in Chicago.

4 Comments on "Tanna Frederick: Winner of the 2012 CineCause Award at Julien Dubuque International Film Festival"

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  1. sallybrooks says:

    Eat chocolate every day. Great advice! And I follow it!

    Project Cornlight is so cool! What a great idea. And leave it to Tanna Frederick to have it actually grow from an idea to a real thing.

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