The C&E Interview: Ashley Cozine, Producer/Actor "Dessert and Suicide"
When C&E screens at the Valley Film Fest today it will be my second time screening at the festival. We're part of a program of VFF alumns and I was thrilled when I found out that included Ashley Cozine and her film DESSERT AND SUICIDE.
Ashley is an actress, filmmaker, and all around creative type currently based out of the Seattle area. Her work has been featured at festivals from L.A. to Traverse City and most recently her short BY THE NUMBERS and a feature in which she starred, A PERFECT LIFE werre given international distribution.
Ashley and I met in NYC (she's a graduate of The Tisch Undergrad Acting Program) through our mutual connection to an organization we were both involved in called the Tisch Talent Guild. While we've never technically worked together she's a creator whose input and opinon I really respect and value.
In fact, C&E owes a lot to her. We did our first reading of the short film script at a reading group that Ashley and her housemates put on in Burbank, and it was Ashley who tipped me off to the NYU Web Series Showcase that would end up serving as our launchpad. So it seemed only fitting to highlight her here as we get psyched up for our screening this evening.
Read our interview after the jump
AVI: Ashley, you're at the fest this year with "DESSERT AND SUICIDE" It's certainly an evocative title, what's the film about?
ASHLEY: "DESSERT AND SUICIDE" is a short, dark comedy. The film follows two disastrous blind dates under the roof of one restaurant. Each character is looking for love or trying to escape it.
AVI: How did the project come about?
ASHLEY: I posted on Facebook, of all places, saying that I was looking for a new script to shoot. Sahag Gureghian, a screenwriter who I met through the Valley Film Festival, sent me "Dessert and Suicide." The screenplay fit the criteria for what I was looking for in a short production. I found cast through auditions I held on a previous film and crew through networking in the local film community.
While excited about producing an offbeat comedy about the unlucky in love, I wasn't sure how audiences would respond to a comedy about suicide until friends reminded me of films like "Better off Dead." Another wrote to me and said, "You have no idea how excited I am that there is a movie being made with this title." Ultimately, this is a universally relatable film about forced connections and finding what you're looking for when you least expect it.
AVI: This the second film you've screened at the VFF (The previous one being "BY THE NUMBERS"). And if I recall correctly, you've volunteered for the fest prior to that. What is it about the VFF that makes it such a great fest for indie creators like us and how'd you discover it?
ASHLEY: I discovered the Valley Film Festival in 2007 while serving on the NYU Tisch West Alumni Council alongside VFF Festival Director and then Council Chairperson Tracey Adlai. Since then, I've seen first hand all the hard work that goes into making the festival a success. Over the last few years, I have attended, volunteered at the box office, screened submitted films, and hosted. Filmmakers who submit to this festival can rest assured that their films are being watched, by multiple jurors, from beginning to end. There is careful consideration put into each selection with a great desire to see all films succeed. "By the Numbers" director/producer Genevieve Pearson says she really likes the Valley Film Festival because it has a very welcoming atmosphere.
The festival is easily accessible and programs a wide range of films from all over the world with a high filmmaker attendance. They also throw great parties. [Editors Note: I can attest that all of the above is true... including the parties!]
Last year "By the Numbers" screened as part of the "Girls on Film" program. I'm thrilled to be involved in the eleventh season of the festival, with "Dessert and Suicide" screening alongside "Cupid and Eros" at the Alumni Shorts Program [tonight].
"DESSERT AND SUICIDE" Screens alongside C&E Friday, November 11th at 7:00 PM. Tix and info here.