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Stowe Story Labs exists to help emerging screenwriters, filmmakers and creative producers get work made and seen.

Anya_Newsletter

 ANYA: Fall 2019 Release

By Carylanna Taylor

On November 26, I’m releasing ANYA, my first narrative feature. I attended Stowe with ANYA (then known as HUMANS AMONG HUMANS) in Fall 2015 (Narrative Lab) and May 2016 (Writers’ Retreat).

 ANYA is a contemporary sci-fi love story about newlyweds whose seemingly simple decision to have a baby catapults them to the center of an explosive genetics mystery with far-reaching consequences for their child and the future of humanity.

Jacob and Carylanna Confer

Jacob and Carylanna Confer

 My filmmaking partner, Jacob Akira Okada, and I wrote ANYA between May 2014 and Feburary 2017. We decided to start pre-pro in March 2017 with money saved from our freelance work. Our first task was to rewrite the script to fit our SAG-ULB budget. I produced and Jacob directed the indie feature in July-August 2017. We used twenty-two New York City locations and a Pittsburgh genetics laboratory. We worked with NYC based SAG actors and NYC, LA, and Pittsburgh based crew. Stowe alum, Stacey Davis, was our production council. From September 2017 – January 2019, we edited and post-produced the film with a great team built through NYC Post Alliance.

In 2019, I have focused on outreach, marketing, and distribution. I hired Wheelhouse Creative to make a trailer and Indika to craft a poster. I created an “EPK” (electronic press kit) and revised our websites and social media. We decided to work with the distributor/aggregator, Giant Pictures. To prepare for our release to “TVOD” (transactional video on demand, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vimeo) and DVD (including Walmart, BestBuy, Amazon), I hired a traditional publicist, Rotten Tomatoes publicist, social advertiser, and social media manager. My ongoing outreach efforts include hosted screenings, articles, and (soon) podcasts.

In 2020, we’ll start “SVOD” (streaming video on demand, such as Amazon Prime and Netflix) and educational distribution. We’ll eventually release to “AVOD” (advertising video on demand, such as YouTube). Our ANYA outreach and publicity will continue into 2022 as VOD income comes over “long tail,” or the three-plus years during which people will find ANYA through press, social media, VOD platforms, word of mouth, etc.

We’re fortunate to have a strong, easily identifiable, core audience of people interested in anthropology, genetics, fertility, and exploring other cultures.

Official poster by Indika, (c) First Encounter Productions

Official poster by Indika, (c) First Encounter Productions

The Fall 2015 Stowe Narrative Labs, continuing a writers group with NYC based Stowe alumni, and getting peer and mentor feedback on my revised script at the May 2015 Writer’s Retreat made me feel like a creative writer for the first time. Before Stowe, I had written articles in my academic work as a cultural anthropologist and had already shot a documentary and three narrative shorts. I had already shot a documentary and three narrative shorts before Stowe, But collaborating with so many talented writers and film professionals at different stages of their careers made me feel like I had a shot of making the transition to narrative film, which I now have.

I carry forward two major lessons from Stowe: First, pitching is about finding the core of the story and characters and communicating it succinctly in a way that not only engages the listener but gives them a grasp of the project they can in turn use to pitch potential collaborators. (Pitch workshops at the American Film Market and the Scientista Symposium reinforced this lesson.) Second, in a screenplay, nuance is good; complexity is confusing. From mentor feedback at the writers retreat, I learned that our “A” and “B” story lines were equally weighted. We rewrote to emphasize the love story and weave the science story through it. This helped declutter the script and more clearly communicate the science. Pitching and avoiding complexity still don’t come easily to me, but in my new writing I’m finding it easier to communicate the heart of a project.

I invite you to watch ANYA and decide how well we navigated a nuanced story with a lot of science and world-building, and I suggest you consider participating in a Stowe program, which might open up the possibilities of your work as it did for me.

Visit www.anyamovie.com to watch the trailer, sign-up for updates, see upcoming screenings, propose a screening, and get details on ANYA’s November 26 release to iTunes, Amazon, and more.

Carylanna Taylor (carylanna@gmail.com) is an applied cultural anthropologist (PhD, University of South Florida) and filmmaker. Her research on environment and migration in Latin America received recognition from Fulbright, EPA, and NSF grants. Since 2012, she has applied anthropological tools and concepts to writing and producing films through First Encounter Productions. She is currently developing stories about gentrification and immigration.