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Justin Samuels Interview

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When did you first develop a keen interest in filmmaking?


I started writing as an undergraduate years ago at Cornell University.  I wrote some news articles, and various other things.  My writing evolved into screenwriting. This year two of my projects advanced in film festivals at the script stage, so I decided to produce them.  It seems like a good time in my personal life.  This year I graduate from Columbia University with a MA in the Teaching of English.


What are some of your recent projects? 


Wine Tasting and Office Problems.  Wine Tasting placed in Evolution, Mallorca Film Festival, Beverly Hills Film Festival, and Sunscreen Film Festival West as finalist.. Office Problems placed in Beverly Hills Screenplay as finalist.  Wine Tasting is a drama about 4 friends who become professional master sommeliers, and the toll on their personal lives caused by the struggles they face in their careers.  Office Problems is a who done it murder mystery taking place at a pharmaceutical company.

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You’re currently running a GoFundMe  for your feature film Wine Tasting. What benefits do you see with crowdfunding?


Independent filmmakers get creative control if they raise the funds via crowdfunding.  Often for movies that raise funding from within the industry, you have to attach named/celebrity actors.  This not only raises the cost of shooting the film, but it limits what you can do creatively and the script may need to be changed in order to suit the named actor. It also limits films whose leading characters are from underrepresented groups such as racial minorities and the lgbt community, as there are far fewer big name actors in these groups.  Wine Tasting definitely has a diverse cast racially and in terms of sexuality, and so do my other scripts.  Anyone wishing to donate can go to myGoFundMe link.


Who are some people in the industry that you admire?


Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett for their activism.  Spike Jonze for writing and directing the film Her.  That was an awesome film.


What are your five favourite movies?



I have an eclectic taste films.  I do like character driven dramas like Her and August: Osage County.  I do like superhero films like X-Men and Avengers. But I also go to festivals and watch indie films like If You Could Walk in My Shoes, a documentary on the life of a poor immigrant in NYC.

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