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Strong female characters drive screenwriter Shira Levin’s new story of grief and healing. A dog also plays a role. Now Levin, a Westbrook weekend resident, is seeking community support—and a few filming locations—to help her bring this story from script to film.
Levin plans to begin filming locally just after Labor Day.
“The theme of grief and healing is inspired by two events in my life: the death of my father in 2009 and the death of a rescue dog in 2013,” said Levin. “When you get to a certain age, there is grief and loss everywhere. This is about the healing process.”
The tale’s central characters are two sisters, one 50 and the other 53 years old, and the 14-year old daughter of the older sister. Dogs and the human bond with plants are other themes embedded in the story. The sisters’ 80-year-old stepmother is also part of the acting ensemble.
“We’re trying to do the impossible: Make a feature film on a shoestring,” said Levin. “The only way to get it done is to believe and to have passion for it.”
While this would be Levin’s first feature film, it’s not her first film nor her first experience with writing and developing films. Her short film from 2012, Upside Down, the third in a trilogy of short films, won an audience choice award at a film festival (visit www.shiralevin.com to view clips from her earlier films). Before taking her current post teaching screenwriting at the New York Film Academy, she worked for 10 years for Martin Scorsese. For six years of her tenure with him, she served as his director of development, sifting through all of the incoming screenplays, scripts, books, etc. that could be made into films, and then working to develop the best ones to adapt for film.
This new feature film, though, is her own, and she’s appealing for local support to help her bring the project across the finish line.
“We’re starting a campaign to raise funds for the film project via Facebook and through our website” http://starfishfilms.strikingly.com, she said. “We also need filming locations, including a coffeeshop/diner, a kitchen in a house (for about three days), a garden shop. We also are looking for a dog owner and four- to five-year old girl to be in the library reading a book. It would be for credits in the film,” said Levin.
Tapping family and friends, Levin has already raised nearly $25,000, but more is needed, even though the film budget will be small. Community members who want to help and be a part of the project would be rewarded with a film experience and a mention in the film’s credits. With some scenes focused on dogs and plants, a business might want to support the project with an appropriate product placement.
“We’re also looking for a local production assistant available in September and someone to help feed the crew during shootings,” said Levin.
The filming schedule currently is to shoot local scenes in the three weeks in September that follow the Labor Day weekend.
Levin first entered the film business as an actress, but soon found she enjoyed writing for film more than acting. As with many in theater and film, she was also had other training and another career to help pay the bills. For Levin, that career was as a social worker/therapist. And perhaps it is that focus and interest in people that is the common theme that her career and her screenwriting share.
“As a social worker, you have to be sensitive to and understand people. As a screenwriter, you have understand what makes people tick, that’s believable on an emotional level,” said Levin. “My work is character-driven. It’s about people and relationships,” said Levin.
Her ties to Westbrook started about eight years ago when she first decided to rent a house in the Salt Island area for nine months. She found she like the area so much, she bought a house in Westbrook. Now she wants to set her first feature film in the shoreline towns she’s come to love.
“I love being in nature and there’s something about walking on the beach. I feel calmer,” said Levin.
Anyone interested in supporting Shira Levin’s feature film project with their volunteer time, by offering filming locations, or financial contributions, should go to film’s website at http://starfishfilms.strikingly.com or email Levin at email@example.com.
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