Former 2012/2013 TFI Film Fellow Emily Cohn is in post-production on her first feature film and she needs the support of the TFI community to cross the finish line. Take it away, Emily...
The first film I made was called The Amulet of Fire. I was in 5th grade, the film was five minutes, shot in the church attached to my lower school using an old Sony-brand camera, starring my 5th grade teacher and three of my closest friends and the key prop––the amulet––was made by my lovely mother, a jewelry designer. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d already begun my education in low-budget filmmaking.
Rule one: know what you have at your disposal and plan your story around that. This is also how I approached writing and directing CRSHD, my first feature film, at 23.
And yet I know this huge undertaking would not have been possible without Tribeca Film Institute’s Film Fellows program, from which I graduated in 2013. Being accepted into Film Fellows let me take myself seriously as a filmmaker even at a young age. It allowed me to meet other filmmakers from a wide variety of backgrounds, attend private screenings and director Q and A’s and learn about budgets and pitches and everything other programs might think 17-year-olds too juvenile to master.
I wrote a proper short film script and edited it down to an appropriate 10 pages with the supervision of wonderful filmmakers like Producer Iyabo Boyd (Lenny, Sunbelt Express), Dyana Winkler (United Skates) and David Felix Sutcliffe ((T)ERROR). Then I budgeted and pitched the film to a panel of judges, received funding and proceeded to put together a cast, crew and filming schedule. The result was Pierced, my short, that won Best Drama at the 2012 All American High School Film Festival in Time Square.
The education and access that the Film Fellows program provides is the best boot camp and circle of support any aspiring filmmaker could dream of. And as Vee Bravo, the man at the helm of the program at the time, always said: “circles rise.”
This past July, in a full-circle moment, I had the pleasure of speaking to the current class of Film Fellows a week before starting principal photography on CRSHD. I talked about my journey since the program, studying Creative Writing at Oberlin College and attending a yearlong filmmaking course at the Prague Film School.
I also shared my CRSHD look book and explained the value it had in recruiting cast, crew and sponsors. (Mine helped me secure a co-marketing equipment sponsorship with Canon!)
Now with production 10 months behind me and in the thick of post-production I’ve just launched a Seed&Spark campaign for the final leg of this journey! Click through to hear more on the project!
Emily Cohn is a curly-haired-green-tea-drinking filmmaker based in NYC. She is currently in post-production on CRSHD, her first feature film that follows three college freshmen friends chasing their crushes the last night of school before summer break. Website: emily-cohn.squarespace.com/.
TFI's Film Fellows program is now accepting applications. Learn more and apply here!
Photo by Jacqueline Harriet