Kansas City Represents at Sundance and Slamdance

IMG_1709In Park City I almost literally ran into the legendary founder of Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford. Lucky for him and especially for me, a bodyguard type gentleman threw a “mom style arm-as-safety-belt” in front of me and I halted before plowing into Mr. Redford. Running into him could have been a national tragedy, or (and I like this idea better) he would have brushed himself off and so would begin our long-lasting, deep and meaningful friendship. Alas.

The KC Film + Media Office attends Sundance to connect with independent filmmakers, producers and other industry people. We support locally-tied films that play in the festivals. And one of the highlights is the networking party that we co-host with the Missouri Film Office on behalf of Missouri and KC-connected people which is steadily gaining a reputation as a don’t-miss affair.

Kansas City area people I ran into during the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals are only slightly less famous but no less important than the Sundance Kid:

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January Spotlight: Melissa Willis – Producer/Production Manager

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I had the pleasure of working with Melissa Willis at Take Two (now HINT) several years ago. She was the kind of producer who respected the Production and everyone’s roles in it. She seemed to always stay late, she was amazingly organized, and meticulous about her production books. One of the truly great things about her is her willingness to teach young associate producers and production assistants who were interested in how to run a commercial production. Melissa is what I call a “crackerjack.” She knows her stuff and accepts nothing but the best from those she works with. Melissa is now the Senior Producer at Northpass Media in Kansas City.


KCFMO: How long have you been in the production industry and how did you start?

Melissa: I started about 22 years ago. There are many moments which shapedmy first 2 years. I answered an ad in a local paper, the Pitch, I think. The ad was asking for people to participate in a documentary. We met at the Westport Library. At that meeting I met Kirby Cobb the director and creator of the project. We met every Wednesday night. From those meetings the Independent Filmmakers Coalition (IFC) was born.

Via the IFC I met Patti Watkins the Film Commissioner of Kansas City. I interned for her during Ang Lee’s feature “Ride with the Devil” and during Frank Pierson’s HBO movie “Truman” when they were scouting Kansas City. Patti recommended me for Production Secretary on “Truman”.  I’m forever grateful to her for that opportunity. My script cabinet was Emmy worthy!

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A Tale of Two TV Pilots

Funny People Descend on Kansas City

IMG_0470AlMadrigal_JakKnight_ThePhoenixownerandteam_IMG_0517 Kansas City was the location for two comedy television pilots – Comedy Central’s Travel Fun Show with Al Madrigal and Jak Knight (working title) and School of Humans/Tru TV’s Eugene Meets the Mayor starring Eugene Mirman and Wyatt Cenac. Eugene Mirman played the recurring character ‘Eugene’ on the  acclaimed HBO show Flight of the Concords and is the voice of Gene in the award-winning animated series Bob’s Burgers. Wyatt Cenac was a regular correspondent and writer on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Al Madrigal was also a regular correspondent on The Daily Show, is the co-founder of All Things Comedy podcast network and was a co-star on NBC’s series About A Boy. Jack Knight is a young stand-up comic and actor.

Why is Kansas City the spot for these two pilots who are hoping to be given life as serial TV shows?

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