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Sunset & Vine: Winter Is Coming!

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At this time of year I always feel particularly aware of my mortality. It’s Fall. Autumn. The season when nature is in it’s golden years and starting to show signs of decline. It is my favorite time of year. The smell of burning leaves, crisp breeze that is on the turn to lion, the feel in one’s bones that …. Winter Is Coming. Oh, and Halloween!!! Even in Southern California I can feel the fall swirling deep within my soul. It also happens to be the time of year been a time where my creativity and productivity comes into full swing, and my focus and intensity increase.

The autumn equinox marks the arrival of the season of fall, traditionally seen as a period of changes leading to the dark of winter. In Holidays and Holy Nights, Christopher Hill points out that for Christians who observe the liturgical year, autumn is actually the beginning of the cycle. In an excerpt, he suggests that “the dynamics of the fall of the year have the sweep of a great symphony or an epic poem. (from Spirituality and Practice – Autumn: Reflections on the Season)

Last month my writing partner-in-crime Miranda, a fellow amazing and funny as hell lady, sat down and decided to make a movie we had written and wanted to shoot almost two years ago …. & we did it! Here’s what happened and why I am really proud of it!

Plus, it is full on Lady Filmmaker Power Awesomeness, which is always a great thing.

We both wrote it, we both produced it, we both star in it and Miranda directed it.

We had the usual countless struggles it takes to get a film made but we did it with such a great “grab it by the balls” attitude it was a thrilling process.

First, we were blessed with a location that looked like it was made specifically for our film. My buddy Derek whom I have known since I was 17 years old and around New York City like the flash, handed us his home. He was leaving for a wedding on the east coast for two weeks and literally handed me the keys and said, “Use whatever you want, see you in two weeks.” This meant we had to get this production together and ready to roll in about two weeks time and we had a lot to do! A LOT! Needless to say, it was daunting.

We sent the script out to the universe and started to make the calls to our talented friends and filmmakers we not only respected, but had mutual admiration for and you know what happened? Every single person read the script and rallied. How cool is that? And I can tell you why; the script. fin. Not to sound boastful or egocentric (but!!), we wrote a really tight little script and had done a ton of work on it to have a draft that we felt confident to put on film. Over time, we sat down and made it tighter, smarter, and funnier and the work paid off. I can confidently say it was, and this term is one of the most mis-and-over-used terms possibly ever in the world of filmmaking, truly “shooting script” ready. That said, we had basically zero budget and were extremely humbled and unbelievably grateful at the response. It was the best feeling to stick your neck out with your own work and get back an “I’m in” after “I’m in” from people who you find inspiring. Even those that were out of town and could not be a part sent along recommends and great advice. We got together a village: DP, AD, 2nd AD, Production Designer, Set Dec, Script Sup, Production Coordinator, 2nd Camera Op., Camera assist, Sound, Grips/Gaffers, PA’s, Hair/Make-up, and more to raise this bad baby. Not to mention a very nice cast.

Something I truly believe, mostly because it’s how I function, these individuals wanted to be apart of our project and with bells on at that, because two things: Number one, the script is the thing and it was a good one (not always the case to say the least) & Number two, one wants to work with people that challenge them and are they respect as HUMAN BEINGS. Good people = priceless.

In the end, we had a cast & crew of almost 40 strong including five extras (and I am happy to say a good number were ladies!), and we shot the shit out of it. It’s in the can and we are about to watch the first rough edit next week. Most importantly though, as always if I am running the ship, everybody left with smiles and satisfaction.

Ah, Autumn !

Tonya Cornelisse

About Tonya Cornelisse

Theatrically, Tonya has worked both on and Off-Broadway honing the stages of The Daryl Roth Theatre, The Cherry Lane, Labyrinth, The Public Theatre, E.S.T., Humana Festival, and many more. In Los Angeles: Sam Shepard's Buried Child at The Whitefire Theatre, IAMA Theatre Company. Tonya is a proud member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, where she can regularly be seen on stage in Los Angeles. Tonya has worked in over 30 films big & small including the upcoming THE VOYAGE OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE with Robert Downey Jr. and LOVE IS NOT LOVE.Other features: BENT, MOPE, GROW HOUSE, Nick Cassavetes’ YELLOW, PELÉ, CRAVE, & THE WOLVES OF SAVIN HILL. She garnered multiple awards from all around the world (including the BFI Award for Best Actress) for her performance in LIMINAL. Television shows include Catastrophe, Trial & Error, How To Get Away With Murder, Scandal, NCIS, Parks & Recreation, ER, Law & Order(s), The Wolfpack of Reseda and the series lead in two of FOX Searchlight’s Digital Webisodes including Crack Whore Galore & The Katie Kooter Show which she also created. In addition to her acting credits, Tonya has penned a number of screenplays, plays and short stories including Dog Lovers, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. She works extensively in Voice Over including Voice of Lexus & Lipton Tea. Tonya is also an award-winning Narrator: TONYA'S NARRATION PROFILE