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Amy Walker screenplay gets an early green light

SoulFire Films partners, Amy Walker, Sander Kallshian and Marilee Jolin  are looking for investors for their film “Connected.” - Photo courtesy of Amy Walker
SoulFire Films partners, Amy Walker, Sander Kallshian and Marilee Jolin are looking for investors for their film “Connected.”
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Amy Walker

Two former island women have received the “green light” for a screenplay they wrote together.

Marilee Jolin and Amy Walker have joined forces with their Seattle friend and business manager, Sander Kallshian, to form SoulFire Films.

The newly scripted “Connected” will be the first film produced by the young enterprise if the team can manage to raise the $624,000 needed to make the feature.

“Connected” is the story of three generations of a family who gather to celebrate the matriarch’s 80th birthday. Decades of sibling rivalry and contempt boil to the surface, showing the disunity of a family in emotional turmoil. Diverse personalities and lifestyles must find common ground or remain forever fractured.

The story of how the project came to be is as colorful as, well, as a film script.

About six months ago, Walker received a call from Mark Maine, the CEO and executive producer of Angelic Pictures, a San Diego, Calif.-based feature film company.

Maine had spotted Walker in February on YouTube after she had downloaded

“21 Accents,” the self-made video of Walker performing 21 dialects in a matter of minutes. The video became an overnight hit on the Internet and earned Walker an appearance on the “Today” show.

Maine asked Walker if she would accept the role of “Jocelyn” in Angelic’s latest film project “ParFection: The Golf Movie,” a romantic comedy with a semi-sports theme.

“He said he wanted to rewrite the role of Jocelyn as someone who uses her accent talent in her negotiations with international corporation heads. To rewrite her for me,” Walker said.

She was intrigued and flattered, but ultimately, Walker said, she realized that this was not a role she wanted to spend months working on. It was not a story that she wanted to tell.

Maine was impressed by Walker’s commitment to doing only what was important to her.

“Wow. I don’t know anyone else who would turn down a role — any role — in a film,” Maine said.

“But I totally respect your decision,” he told her. “That takes a lot of guts. Let’s keep in touch, OK?”

Then one day, a week or two later, an idea came to her for the theme of a film that she did want to make.

Connecting

In a world of instant communication, how often do we truly connect? Walker asked herself.

“I was living in Philadelphia and communicating with all of my friends and family around the world via Skype, cellphone and

e-mail,” Walker said.

“I’d just had a massive lesson in the instant power of the Internet.”

But, Walker said, she also discovered that it’s easy to miscommunicate or to be so busy with technology that it’s easy to miss what is right in front of you. The insight became the seed of her story.

She e-mailed Jolin, who was living in China, and told her she had an idea for a script she wanted her to write in the future.

Though, before the two friends knew it, the “future” ended up to be “right now.”

Having graduated from South Whidbey High School within a year of each other in 2000 and 2001, Jolin and Walker had been on stage together before. Their sensibilities had already found a common ground in their friendship, so the writing just started to flow.

The idea took over and after the title came, the story started to shape itself as she and Jolin began feverishly e-mailing and Skypeing ideas and scene fragments back and forth between China and Philadelphia.

Jolin eventually came back to the states and acted as Walker’s advisor. “She’s advised me with my work in the past — namely my first one-woman show,” Walker said.

Four weeks later, the women had the first draft of “Connected.”

Then Walker remembered Maine.

“He read it as soon as he received it and his first question was, ‘So are you going to direct it? Because I think you should,’” Walker recalled.

Do it yourself

Maine told Walker she could make it herself and that he would help.

“There were about four days when I had no idea how or whether the film would happen and I couldn’t tell where Mark was with it, and he was wrapped up in preproduction for ‘ParFection,’” she said.

She had to let it go and she did.

“But it all came rushing back in, and we knew that SoulFire could make this film,” the ever-determined Walker said.

She e-mailed Maine once again, and after many phone conversations they came to the united conclusion that SoulFire and Angelic would co-executive produce and that Maine would produce “Connected” with Walker as the writer, director and playing the role of “Ana.”

Maine enlisted his side company, Providence, to run a greenlight study on the script, comparing it to an array of similar films on the market. The script was projected to be economically “viable” and even lucrative for investors.

Jolin said the goal is to find investors who agree with the ideas behind the movie; that they invest in “Connected” because its a good story that needs to be made and shared with the world.

“That’s really the whole point for us,” Walker said. “It’s why we want this independently funded — so we can retain creative control and not have it churned into a Shlockywood target-audience flick.”

Investors wanted

Once SoulFire has the funds needed, they’ll hire a cast and crew.

The project will be filmed on location in the Seattle area.

Maine has asked for their list of top picks for leads, so he can approach them. A-list actors will work for union scale and forgo their extraordinarily high fees if they are excited by a certain role and the project.

“He’s fully confident that we can get incredible actors to bring life to these characters,” Walker said.

Walker said that she would like to fill out the cast and crew with local area artists including those on Whidbey Island, a detail that would be the ultimate icing on the cake.

“This is something valuable that needs to be created with people who want to tell this story,” Jolin said.

To find out more about investing in the project visit amy@soulfirefilms.com or www.amywalker

online.com.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or pduff@south

whidbeyrecord.com.

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