USA Network announced today the launch of a series of short films representing the next evolution of Character Project, an ongoing artistic initiative with the mission to explore extraordinary people, from all walks of life, who make this country unique. In partnership with RSA Films and Ridley & Tony Scott, USA commissioned eight talented filmmakers to create short films that explore the theme of American character through moving image.
Character Project represents USA’s consistent efforts to cultivate new voices and develop content opportunities. The curated films will be housed online in a digital hub at characterproject.usanetwork.com, as well as available via FOD, Itunes, mobile platforms, syndicated widgets, and social media. USA will exhibit the films in select markets in highly designed custom built screening pods. Lexus is the presenting sponsor for Character Project on behalf of the all-new CT Hybrid.
“The beauty of independent film is that it offers the opportunity to tell stories with both personal significance and universal resonance,” said Alexandra Shapiro, senior vice president, brand marketing & digital, USA Network. “Through the Character Project short films we celebrate not only the unique perspectives of the filmmakers and characters, but the American experience in all its richness and diversity. We are proud to partner with RSA Films and the Scotts to bring these compelling stories to life and share them with the world.”
“As storytellers, it is part of our DNA to share the stories that make people interesting through the lens of our unmatched roster of directors,” said Ridley Scott. “USA is an ideal partner because they also specialize in bringing to light the distinct tales of unique characters.”
The Character Project short films range from narrative to animated to documentary formats, from stirring dramas to hilarious romantic comedies, and all are focused around three quintessential American principals: progress, connection, and passion. From lost loves to loyal friends, private heroes to public personalities, the subjects of these Character Project shorts – some real, some fictional – show the courage, connection, humor, and hope that give shape to the American character. While each director had the freedom to explore these themes in different ways, these principles are what ultimately tie the films together and provide a visually arresting study and snapshot of modern America.
USA Network will treat the launch of Character Project like the premiere of an original series, dedicating its airwaves through promos and sneak peeks to drive awareness, interest and digital sampling. The Character Project digital hub will launch May 13th on characterproject.usanetwork.com and feature director’s cuts of each film, director commentary, behind the scenes interviews and footage, photo galleries, and additional bonus material.
In addition to the online hub, screenings of the Character Project short films will be available to consumers through a multi-day touring exhibition beginning in New York City on Friday, May 13th and visiting Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. Audiences in these cities will be invited to visit customized screening capsules as unique as the films that inspired them. Creatively adapted from shipping containers into state-of-the-art screening rooms, these 18-seat, fully air-conditioned spaces will offer the comforts of a mini-theater with the sleek style and spectacle of a contemporary art installation.
The Character Project campaign will be supported off-channel via a multimedia strategy including national print, out-of-home, digital – and an aggressive social media presence. USA has once again aligned itself with Vanity Fair to showcase these films in-book, online and at special screenings in New York City and Los Angeles. The centerpiece is a ten-page gatefold in Vanity Fair’s July issue.
CHARACTER PROJECT FILMMAKERS/FILMS
The Character Project directors were selected by USA, RSA Films and the Scotts to capture a rich variety of styles and storytelling approaches. Directors R.J. Cutler, Jeff Feuerzeig and Lauri Faggioni chose to examine the topic of American character through the medium of the documentary, while Bryan Poyser, Caskey Ebeling, Tomas Pena /Boolab, Jakob Daschek and Amie Steir opted to create fictional pieces. Each filmmaker was given the creative freedom to apply his or her own aesthetic and technique, resulting in a collection of films representing not only the individual visions of the eight filmmakers, but the vast breadth of perspectives that defines the American experience.
Duck – A short film by Jakob Daschek; Live-Action Narrative
Emmanuel isn’t like other ten-year-olds, he can’t play with them, he can’t focus at school, and he can’t even bear to be hugged by his mother. Manny’s crippling fear of being touched is threatening to ruin his life. Until, at his mother’s prompting, he visits a local boxing gym. There, with help from a seasoned trainer, Emmanuel learns not just to confront his phobia, but to use it, in this inspiring story about facing our fears, owning our strengths, and fighting for a chance to be who we are.
About Jakob Daschek: Founder of Syrup, an international communications agency whose mission is to create momentum and cultural relevance for brands through new formats of storytelling, advertising, branding, digital marketing, experience design and integrated communications. He has received numerous awards, including the HOW Design Interactive Award, Print Magazine Digital Award, One Show Award, Webby, Davy Award, Macromedia Site Of The Day Award, and Art Direction Club Award.
Fish – A short film by R.J. Cutler; Documentary
Celebrity chef Jon Shook, best known for his carnivore-pleasing creations at the LA hot spot Animal, has just opened a new restaurant and this time, the focus in on seafood. Witness the journey from ocean to table as, in the course of one long day, Jon goes fishing off the coast of Southern California with a local fisherman, returns to his new restaurant to craft a dish around his catch of the day, and serves his creation to another packed house at the hottest new restaurant in LA.
About R.J. Cutler: The Academy Award nominated filmmaker is best known for his films “The September Issue” and “The War Room” and his television series “American High” and “30 Days.” Cutler has won an Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, and a GLAAD Award and has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Producer’s Guild Award and an Independent Spirit Award. Last year, Cutler received the Television Academy’s prestigious Honor Award for his work “creating television with a conscience.”
Love Without Regret – A short film by Tomas Pena / boolab; Animated
In this time-bending animated love story, flashbacks reveal the history of a doomed romance as a man races down foggy city streets. With the clock ticking backwards, Steve drives desperately through the rainy night speeding towards his ex-girlfriend and, hopefully, a second chance at love. This film features the all-new CT Hybrid from Lexus.
About Tomas Pena / boolab: boolab is the leading production house in audiovisual innovation throughout Spain and Europe. They are dedicated to motion graphics, animation (2D and 3D) and the development of cutting edge visual techniques. Pena joined boolab in 2010, bringing with him experience working with several of the top graphic design and animation studios in Spain, including Oink and Buck LA, which is internationally known as one of the top motion graphic production houses.
Monster Slayer – A short film by Caskey Ebeling; Blend of Live-Action and Animation
Every morning, Ben is visited by a motley crew of imaginary playmates, products of his psychiatric disorder. Embodiments of the best and worst in Ben, these hallucinations both bring him comfort and create chaos. This forces Ben to make a difficult choice: continue to live in his fantasy world, or confront reality, by taking a pill that will destroy his imaginary world.
About Caskey Ebeling: An avant-garde director who has shot national and international commercial spots for Coca-Cola, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, and The Energy Conservation Board. She served as writer, creator and executive producer at Bob & Weave Entertainment, where she created original content for Comedy Central and the FX Channel among others. Currently Caskey is writing, directing and producing a documentary film about LA’s notorious graffiti artist Temptone.
Perfect – A short film by Amie Steir; Live Action Narrative
On Anne’s wedding day, everyone in her hometown is filled with excitement. But not for Anne. The town is abuzz over the imminent arrival of Anne’s beautiful, successful sister Sara. When the two sisters reunite, Anne learns that Sara has a special wedding present for her, a mysterious gift that just might enable Anne to come out of her “perfect” sister’s shadow on her special day.
About Amie Steir: Amie has written and directed award-winning short films for MTV, HBO and Warner Brothers. Two of her shorts – “Zoe Loses It” and “Date Squad” – aired on HBO and Cinemax and have screened at festivals all over the world. Amie also wrote and directed the feature film “Nadine in Date Land” for The Oxygen Network.
The Dude – A short film by Jeff Feuerzeig; Documentary
Meet the dude behind The Dude. As the inspiration for the beloved central character in the Coen Brothers’ cult-favorite film The Big Lebowski, Jeff Dowd has become a popular figure at annual Lebowski Fests around the country. This film follows Dowd to one of these events, offering a glimpse into the fascinating world of this subculture and the colorful real-life character behind the iconic fictional Dude.
About Jeff Feuerzeig: His feature film “The Devil and Daniel Johnston” won top documentary directing honors at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. He has recently completed the screenplays “God Bless Tiny Tim” (with Julien Nitzberg), a feature biopic about the legendary crooner of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” fame, and “The Bayonne Bleeder” (with Jerry Stahl), a feature biography of boxer Chuck Wepner.
The Fickle – A short film by Bryan Poyser; Live Action Narrative
In this hilarious look at modern romance, a young woman relives twelve failed love affairs, all in one dizzying morning. As her ex-partners flit in and out of her life in one unbroken shot, each interaction shows signs of the relationships’ demise, capturing the humor, hope, and disappointment that the search for love so often brings.
About Bryan Poyser: His first feature, “Dear Pillow,” earned him an Independent Spirit “Someone to Watch” Award nomination in 2007 and played at over 30 festivals in the US and Europe. His sophomore feature, “Lovers of Hate,” was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and a John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2011. He also produced and co-wrote the feature “The Cassidy Kids,” which premiered at SXSW and runs frequently on the Independent Film Channel. Bryan currently serves as the Director of Artist Services for the Austin Film Society and co-founded the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival.
Wyckoff Place – A short film by Lauri Faggioni; Documentary
In the hallways of a Brooklyn apartment building, a group of children spill out of their homes and play together. And though they come from diverse backgrounds, they see each other not as strangers, but as friends. Through the lens of some of our country’s youngest characters, Wyckoff Place offers a valuable lesson to us all about open-mindedness, diversity, and the power of childhood friendships.
About Lauri Faggioni: Lauri Faggioni is an award-winning director, production designer and choreographer. Her music video directing debut, Devendra Banhart’s “A Ribbon,” earned her Best Animated Video award at MVPA. Her work has been featured in Michel Gondry’s musical documentary “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” and the surreal film “The Science of Sleep.”
For more information on the project, go to the official website at www.characterproject.usanetwork.com.
ABOUT CHARACTER PROJECT
Character Project is an ongoing artistic initiative committed to celebrating America’s characters – the interesting, dazzling, and distinctive people, from all walks of life, who make this country extraordinary. Inspired by USA’s “Characters Welcome” brand, Character Project launched in 2009 with a focus on photography. For its second act, USA has partnered with RSA Films and Ridley & Tony Scott, to once again turn a lens on America’s characters, this time through the medium of the moving image. Together, they commissioned eight talented filmmakers to each explore the theme of character from their own unique perspective. From lost loves to loyal friends, private heroes to public personalities, the subjects of these short films – some real, some fictional – show the courage, connection, humor, and hope that give shape to the American character. After all, characters are what make us USA.
ABOUT RSA FILMS
RSA Films was founded in 1968 and is the film and television production vehicle of acclaimed film directors, brothers Sir Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, and is now one of the leading film, television, advertising, commercials and music video production companies in the world. Headed by President Jules Daly, RSA has an established reputation for creating innovative and groundbreaking commercials for some of the world’s most recognized corporate brands. Headquartered in Los Angeles, with offices in New York and London, RSA has a roster of over thirty directors. Among the prestigious awards RSA has garnered is an Emmy Award for Best Commercial for “Nike Move” and the announcement in TV Guide that Ridley Scott’s “1984” Apple computer spot was voted The Best Commercial of All-Time. RSA has collected a number of GOLDEN LIONS, EMMYS, BAFTA, AICP, Cleo, MTV and MVPA Awards since its inception.
USA Network is the #1 network in all of basic cable and is seen in over 102 million U.S. homes. A division of NBCUniversal, USA is the cable television leader in original series and home to the best in blockbuster theatrical films, acquired television series and entertainment events. The award-winning USA website is located at www.usanetwork.com. Characters Welcome.
USA Network is a program service of NBCUniversal Cable a division of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.