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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Newborne Artists

While the majority of our most recent graduates took a practice GRE or headed off to their 9-5 last week, Ari Blinder 11C sat in his kitchen running lines before his audition for the new GI Joe movie.

One floor below, his roommates Matt Lipkins 11C, Scott Schwartz 11C and Adam Hoffman 11B began rehearsal for their band The Shadowboxers. And his fourth roommate, Matthew Fennell 11C, sat with his business partner Matthew Ryckman 11B and answered emails for the feature film they are currently writing and directing.

These six have been our list to watch for a long time. But wait until you hear of their most recent adventures.

The Shadowboxers began their summer with packing their bags and touring across the country as the opening act for The Indigo Girls, alumnae Amy Ray 86C and Emily Saliers’ 85C Grammy-winning band.

Blinder booked exciting roles on My Lifetime’s TV show Drop Dead Diva, and on Showtime’s new series Homeland, while Fennell authored a novel for his thesis and worked as a cinematographer for a short thriller that Ryckman wrote and directed called “The Visitor”.
And, after starting their company called Fifteenth Floor Pictures (LLC) with Blinder, Fennell and Ryckman have been busy working on their upcoming full-length feature film named “Newborne County” that Blinder will star in.

The first film all three collaborated on went on to win not only Best Picture at Emory’s chapter of Campus Movie Fest (CMF), currently the world’s largest student film festival, but also Best Drama at the competition’s international finale in 2010. Check out “The Gerstein Report" by clicking on the link below!

Their next idea? A full-length thriller about a teenage girl trapped in an unforgiving town desperate to both avenge her sister’s death and salvage her family. The two have been busy this summer fundraising and holding casting calls, and will begin filming this fall in a small county in Georgia. Hear more from Ryckman and Fennell about the story behind “Newborne County” and their vision in this short clip.

“The film is a modern western hidden in the guise of a southern murder mystery,” said Fennell. Ryckman attributes this twist to casting decisions that place unexpected characters in traditional roles.

Emory film professor Eddy Von Mueller worked with Blinder, Fennell and Ryckman on “The Gerstein Report” and will continue to give them guidance on Newborne County as Executive Producer of the film. Other Emory alumni and students are teaming up with Fennell and Ryckman to work on the project, though the project requires a wide range of talents and they are on the lookout for anyone interested in helping. (Contact newbornecounty@gmail.com for more information)

Though still deep in the middle of the casting process, Ryckman and Fennell already know that Blinder will play the role of Kevin, the main character’s brother who is haunted by ghosts from his days as a marine.

When asked when he knew he wanted to be an actor, Blinder laughed. “I tried everything under the sun my first couple semesters. One day it just occurred to me that the reason I loved doing so many different things is because I love acting and stepping in to other people’s shoes.” He added, “It just made sense”.

Though he may not have had the transformation in to Lt. Gerstein, a German Nazi destroyed by guilt, in mind, that’s exactly what happened next with “The Gerstein Report”. Check out our blog post from when the movie first premiered, we gave Blinder’s acting two thumbs up!

In addition to its success at Campus Movie Fest, a competition founded by alumni Dan Cost 01B, David Roemer 02B, Ajay Pillariseti 02C, and Vijay Makar 02B, “The Gerstein Report” was also the only film from Atlanta to be selected for the 2011 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, co-chaired this year by Matthew Bernstein, chair of Emory’s Film and Media Studies department.

Blinder additionally starred in Ryckman’s creation, “The Visitor”, which will premiere at various film festivals this fall, and you can spot him on episode 12 on the current season of Drop Dead Diva, the new series Homeland, and even in a recent Mitsubishi commercial! Keep an eye out for his upcoming roles here; we know we will…

Though you may not be able to catch them with on TV like Blinder yet, The Shadowboxers are back in Atlanta after two summer tours and are busy with upcoming shows in the area! Check in above to read about their new CD, their summer with Saliers, and what it’s really like to live in a house with so many creative people!

-- Liz Speyer 14C, communications intern, EAA

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