Write of Passage Spotlight Film Winner - Jason Walter Vaile

A Tight Shot On the Set of "New Year's Resolutions"
Best Write of Passage Spotlight Film 2013 
L-R Nicole Leigh (lead actress), Brandon Carmichael (producer), 
Mark Blitch (cinematographer)

Jason Walter Vaile, writer/director "New Year's Resolutions"

Trailer: Click Here

What can your learn from doing a 168 Speed Film (using a theme, a verse and a week)?  

How about a Write of Passage Spotlight Film, based on a script from the Write of Passage Screenwriting Competition? This is not a speed film, but another way to show your talent at the 168 Film Festival.

IMPORTANT DATES: Writer's Entry Deadline:  Tuesday October 8th, Verse Assignment: Monday, October 14th, 2013 (Writing week Oct. 14 - 21).  Submission Deadline: Monday October 21st, 2013.)

Writers Enter the Competition Here

We caught up with winning writer/director, Jason Walter Vaile.
Here are his thoughts on his 2013 winning film, "New Years Resolutions."

The story actually stemmed from my daughters, who were 9 and 12 at the time.  I was shocked at how amazingly cruel little girls can be to each other.  Boys just punch each other in the face and the argument is usually over.

With girls, it's like they delight in making someone feel miserable about themselves-torturing them.  I talked to several women who were still scarred by stuff they endured in middle and high school. 

I looked at the verse (2 Cor 5:17 If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (NIV) and how it described the transformation of becoming a new creation through Christ.   I thought about how we try to change ourselves and unless its through God, we as sinners fail miserably.  So, when I thought of failed transformations, I naturally went to New Year's Resolutions (NYR) and how we start strong and by February are back to our old ways. 

I had really hoped someone would want to make "New Year's Resolutions," but was also worried they wouldn't get the tone right.  I had it visually in my head and couldn't get it out, so I story-boarded the whole thing.  I took it to the guys and said I'd really like to direct this one. I've never directed any of our projects before, only written and produced.

I really thought the most difficult thing about production would be to make our beautiful lead actress, Nicole Leigh, look unattractive.  Another difficulty was finding "partially hydrogenated bleached wheat flour snack cakes."  Hostess Corporation's bankruptcy made this almost impossible!  Walmart and Little Debbie made knock-offs but the labels on the wrappers made me spend hours wiping removing ink with Goo Be Gone.  

Mark Blitch (DP) and Brandon Carmichael (producer) were 110% behind me. They mocked me openly on set-when I realized there's a lot more to directing than just storyboards.  But they covered all my short comings and we ended up with something we're all very proud of. 

I thought I was doing a good job the first day of directing, until Nicole asked me, "How many first time directors does it take to change a light bulb?"  The answer was, "I don't know, what do you think?"  So apparently, I asked for a lot of input but I think that's what made it so good. 

I think Write of Passage is great for us A.D.D. creative people. It gives you a deadline and forces you to write around a specific verse.  It challenges you but gives you great producers to bounce concepts and drafts off of, so you're not in it alone.  (Write of Passage utilizes participants called "Development Executives" (DE's) to mentor writers and to judge the first round of the competition).

All writers should take advantage of this challenge as preparation for the 168 Film Projecty and I even think directors, producers, actors and the whole crew should get in on it.  See how difficult it really is to tell a compelling story in ten minutes based on a Bible verse. It's harder than you think!

We broke the production up into two weekends.  We shot a few scenes at the New Year celebration in downtown Dallas.  We shot the "before" scenes in early February.  Nicole purposefully gained weight, Cory Bryant did an amazing make up job and Goodwill provided some great outfits to make Nicole look frumpy.

Then in April we shot the "after" scenes. It was a very relaxed set, since we weren't rushed for the deadline and we just had fun which I think you can see in the closing credits.  Our goal was to have it completely done and turned in before the start of the 168 timed competition so we could focus on that.  

NYR's total budget including rights for the music was $862.  Everyone donated their time and skills because they really believed in the script. So, our costs were pretty much props, food and music.  With the WOP prize, it's already making money! (The winning writer gets $1,000 cash)


NYR will soon start making the rounds on the Christian and secular festival circuit.

I do plan on participating in the WOP again but I just finished a new season of the kids show I write for on TBN.  I have a TV pilot, which Alan Tregoning (multiple-time Write of Passage winning writer) and I have been shopping.  We just attached a producer, who has sent it to HBO and AMC.

Mark Blitch and I have a feature film that we pitched and have two studios interested in producing. I would highly recommend entering, even if you don't win-you'll have a script finished  and something you can produce for the festival outside the timed competition.  I do plan on participating as a Development Executive this year, so if you get me-I'll tell you everything I know about how to win!