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Newark Short Film Contest

Newark Short Film Contest

Audience  of about 70 at The Newark Short Film Contest watching finalists Short Films
Audience of about 70 watching finalists Short Films

I'm So Newark recently hosted the 2nd official Newark Short Film Contest. The contest screening consisted of finalist films that were screened and judged by a panel of judges. (Tony Clomax, Nichole Michelle, Jillian Rock.)

The screening took place at Express Newark, a center created for the sole purpose of allowing artist and creatives a space to express themselves through their art.

Our guest, filmmaker, writer, director  Tony Clomax discussed the do's and don'ts of creating a successful Web-series. His notes can be found below.

Here are the Winners of the I'm So Newark Short Film Contest.

1st Place, Tarana Peaches (Teachers Problems) Tarana walked away with "Check" and her personal swag bag. Also, a VIP pass to the Newark International Film Festival.

2nd Place,  Spencer Frohwirth (Newark In Tune- Small Town Big City). Spencer also walked away with swag and a VIP pass.

3rd Place, All the way from Germany Iván Sáinz-Pardo (Save) Special Thanks to our supporters and partners, Express Newark and Newark IFF .Iván won a VIP pass to the Newark International Film Festival.



Notes from guest, writer / director Tony Clomax


  1. Research by watching web series and tv and find an underrepresented audience, as well as story not being told.
  2. Write something original, then rewrite...rewrite...rewrite. 
  3. Have a table read with good actors who will give honest feedback, then rewrite again. That script must be Tight.
  4. Do a production rewrite with time and funding in mind. Don’t over stretch yourself financially. Maintain a realistic budget without compromising your story.
  5. Do a thorough production schedule breakdown that includes a polished budget. 
  6. Seek initial funding on the strength of the writing, concept and you as a filmmaker. Find partners that can benefit financially by giving you money and you in return can give them something realistic. They can offer resources and product that will build their brand. Think outside the box.
  7. Decide if your production will be a SAG or non-SAG production. You can have a SAG project where SAG actors defer payment. Your leads can be SAG that you pay the minimum to and the rest of cast non-SAG. Always get the strongest actors. 
  8. How do you want to capture your project. Think camera, format and look. This will help you when it’s time to hire crew, especially DP. If this series only lives on the web, it doesn’t necessarily have to be shot with a Red Camera in 5K. The camera doesn’t make it great. It’s who’s using the camera and the story being told. 
  9. Secure a DP, AD/Producer, Sound Person, Gaffer and Editor. The experience of these people will strengthen the project and attract serious & talented actors, as well as financing. If you can only pay 2 people on set, then make sure it’s the DP who owns their equipment and a Sound Person with at least 3 Lavs, Boom mic/pole and a sound mixer. Have them record each actor on separate tracks, as well as a stereo mix. This will come in handy in post.
  10. Discuss the production and post production workflow. Establish the most efficient but creative way to tell the story. Having your editor involved early will safe you time and money down the line. Also discuss if your project is a single or 2-Camera type production.
  11. Cast Project. 
  12. Revisit Funding. You have your production team and Cast. See who wants to get involved as Executive Producers. Don’t promise what you can give.
  13. Set rehearsal and shooting schedule. Film your rehearsal with you cell to start thinking about blocking. Camera framing and movement helps with the story.
  14. If you’ve hired SAG actors, contact SAG and complete your paperwork, even if pay is deferred. This needs to be completed 6-8 weeks prior to filming.
  15. Identify shooting locations that have lots of production value but is either free or cheap. One location could serve as 3-4 locations if planned strategically.
  16. Director creates an initial storyboard of how you want your story told. You don’t have to be the best artist. This will force you to visualize your project.
  17. If you can afford a stylist who has some juice to pull clothes from places, then Great. If not, you still have to give attention to the look of your characters and you can’t just rely of an actor to wear their own clothes. Having a budget to buy things and take them back is key. Don’t overlook this important aspect of telling your story.
  18. The Director and DP create the shot-list. Color code your shot-list into 3 categories. A - shots you must have to tell the story. B - artistic/signature shots that will enhance your story. C - dream shots that will have people talking about. Time is of the essence when shooting a web series. You must make your day, but you want to spread your artistic wings. Get all your A shots and half of your B shots. If you get ahead of schedule, get a C shot. Remember coverage and continuity or critical.
  19. You should have at least 2 brand new 3-4 Terabyte drives to dump on. A main one and a back up one. Your DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) must organize everything on those drives. Folders in Days and by Scenes, with the Video clips info matching the Audio clips info. If you’re smart, higher your Editor as your DIT. He/She will make sure everything is organized as it’s being dumped.
  20. Feed your cast and crew well. Get family members, significant others, whomever to cook food. Find restaurants that are willing to donate food for a free plug. See what restaurants will let you Film there as well. Don’t feed your cast and crew with cheap pizza. You will be talked about and they will avoid your production. If you can’t feed them properly then you can’t Film. 
  21. You can get free music from YouTube. Find young artists looking to showcase their music. Find a composer who is entering the film industry. They can help you develop an original sound for your series. 
  22. Color Grading and Sound Mixing are the 2 things that will separate projects from amateur and professional. Do not submit or distribute your series without a professional sound mix and a color grade. You don’t work this hard to put your baby out there with no clothes on. 
  23. Fundraising for Film Festivals. Have a screening of episode 1 and charge people, as well as have raffles, giveaways, etc (all donated of course) to raise money for festival submissions. Be strategic. Festivals that celebrate web series and tv pilots should be targeted. Do early bird so it’s cheap. 
  24. Pitch your completed project before immediately distributing on YouTube or Vimeo. You may find a distributor who will give you a deal. Don’t freely give your content away. This is a business and you want to make money.


By Tony Clomax



Families Together Photoshoot

Families Together Photoshoot

Families Together Photoshoot (What Keeps Families Together?)

I'm So Newark hosted a photo-shoot / discussion centered around the theme of Keeping Families Together. The discussion started with our guest Awopeju Okunlade who shared on the concept of nurturing, roles and belief systems in the family.

Then we went around the room and allowed family members to share if they liked. We were all moved by one of the younger family members who shared that, love is the KEY to keeping a family together. The discussion lasted about 20 minutes. Following was a network session and photo-shoot by photographers Jaz Nicole, Ron Scott, Matt DV, and Abdul Rahim who captured images of the event.

I'm So Newark's founder, Matt DV expressed how important a role, family photos can play in our family. They can sometimes be the sole connection of relatives, and very important in depicting , past and present love and stories of FAMILY. He mentioned how sometimes we can unintentionally  leave loved ones out of photos and maybe we should be mindful of this for sake of family.

 Thanks to  Express Newark's Shine Portrait Studio for allowing us this beautiful artist shared space.
A place of Expression!

I'm So Newark photo shoot themed around keeping families together. Shot in Express Newark's Shine Portrait Studio

I'm So Newark photo shoot themed around keeping families together. Shot in Express Newark's Shine Portrait Studio

I'm So Newark photo shoot themed around keeping families together. Shot in Express Newark's Shine Portrait Studio

I'm So Newark photo shoot themed around keeping families together. Shot in Express Newark's Shine Portrait Studio

I'm So Newark photo shoot themed around keeping families together. Shot in Express Newark's Shine Portrait Studio

I'm So Newark photo shoot themed around keeping families together. Shot in Express Newark's Shine Portrait Studio

I'm So Newark photo shoot themed around keeping families together. Shot in Express Newark's Shine Portrait Studio

I'm So Newark photo shoot themed around keeping families together. Shot in Express Newark's Shine Portrait Studio

The Muralist

The Muralist

The Muralist (Robert Gilbert)

Initially, I was going to start this sentence talking about how we’ve “lost” A beautiful soul, by the name of Rodney Gilbert, who departed this place called earth and passed on to the great beyond. Instead of talking about loss, lets write about continuum.

As “Alan Watts” said, while trying to explain life, it’s “best understood by the analogy of music”. I too will use it to explain the Artist, Rodney Gilbert. He is best understood by the analogy of music.

Alan goes on to illustrate that; with music one doesn’t make the end of a composition but the point of the composition. The point of Rodney Gilbert was always 100 percent embedded in the love for his community and the lives in it. An ever-moving force that continues to beautify our great city through inspired artist he has touched and positively impacted in one-way or another.

One of the MANY! evident aspects of his “musical composition called LIFE, that continues to make its point, is the many murals that he oversaw creating in the city of Newark. It is almost impossible to drive through Newark without coming across one of these beautiful sites that continue to bless passersby’s night and day.

It's interesting that though Rodney did not actually paint these murals, they would not have been painted or created without his orchestration. MUSIC!

Rodney Continues to be an arts activist in the hearts and minds of those he touched. He continues to touch lives through the many he has, inspired, impacted, empowered, and motivated to act through ART.

He has not arrived at a destination called LOST, he continues to move and touch the hearts of artists and residents of this beautiful City called Newark and beyond.

#writer #educator #actor #professoatdrew #theatredirector #actorsequity #advisor #somuchmore #newarkbusinesshub


By -MattDV

My Brothers Keeper Mural in Newark NJ I'm So Newark
Mayor Baraka Breaks Ground for Mulberry Commons

Mayor Baraka Breaks Ground for Mulberry Commons

Newark, NJ—October 2, 2017— Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the Newark Municipal Council, Acting Director of Economic and Housing Development Carmelo Garcia, Newark Community Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Aisha Glover, the Newark Downtown District, J&L Companies, Sage and Coombe Architects, Prudential Center, and Edison Properties, broke ground today for Mulberry Commons, a $10 million private/public development project in Newark’s downtown.


Mulberry Commons is recognized as a milestone in Newark’s economic development, creating a new center of gravity in the City’s growing downtown and unlocking the long ignored development potential of Newark’s Penn Station, one of the nation’s busiest rail hubs.


“The creation of Mulberry Commons is a defining and signature moment in the history of Newark,” Mayor Baraka said. “We have long insisted that the creation of the Prudential Center not be a stand-alone project in our downtown, and that this entertainment facility provide more than just world-class events – it must bring real estate development, jobs, and prosperity to our entire city. Today we are keeping that covenant with our residents with this groundbreaking. Soon this entire area will be a thriving 24/7 neighborhood of housing, shops, and restaurants, attracting visitors and new residents, empowering our economy, and strengthening our city. I congratulate the entire team that made this day possible and look forward to seeing the final results.”


Mulberry Commons draws upon “living system” concepts including landscape architecture, walkability, urban lifestyle, and ecology. Leading the design efforts for the six of the project’s 22 acres is the award-winning architectural firm Sage & Coombe Architects and Supermass Studio Landscape Architect. The open space development will also open up a vast area of undeveloped land to residential and office development.


“The creation of Mulberry Commons as a World-Class Park and development will be an economic and recreational center for Newark residents, while making our downtown a destination for visitors. With the Prudential Center, the shops, the dining, and the Mulberry Commons itself, we will have people coming to Newark to seek housing, shopping, and recreation opportunities instead of people travelling outside the City,” said Deputy Mayor Garcia.


Mulberry Commons is projected to net fiscal benefits to both the City and State in excess of $400 million 30-year Net Present Value. A significant aspect of Mulberry Commons will be a proposed bridge that is a direct connection to the tracks of Penn Station. The total estimate cost of the bridge – which will resemble New York City’s High Line – is approximately $30 million and with its addition will bring approximately 5,600 jobs to the downtown area, in addition to more than 5,000 construction jobs. Mulberry Commons is slated to open in late September 2018.


“Public spaces and parks are critical to urban development and can create tremendous positive impact for the City, residents, and its visitors” said Ms. Glover. “Mulberry Commons will not only serve as a beautiful setting, but will help bolster local businesses and support job creation. We know economic development is truly interdisciplinary and appreciate all the stakeholders and partners who helped make this development possible.”


Overall, the project will increase foot traffic in Newark’s downtown, create regional connectivity between the PATH, NJ Transit, Newark Light Rail, and Amtrak lines. It will be flanked by Prudential Center, home to the Grammy Museum Experience, and be the west end of Ironside Newark, a $80 million, 465,000-square-foot mixed-use project constructed by Edison Properties on the east end.


“The commitment made by the city of Newark to build Prudential Center has resulted in more than 15 million visitors to the city for concerts, family shows, and sporting events over the last decade, making the venue one of the busiest in America.  Mulberry Commons is simply the latest project in the renaissance of Newark, solidifying it as a place people live, play, and work,” said President of HBSE, the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center Hugh Weber. “We are proud to be part of the development of this gathering place and what it will mean in improving the lives of people who call Newark home and enhancing the experience of those who visit.”


“The NDD is committed not only to the safety and cleanliness of Mulberry Commons but to robust and diverse programming,” explained Newark Downtown District CEO Anthony McMillan. “The flexibility and variety of programming offered in Mulberry Commons will reflect not only the downtown community but a cross-section of the diversity in all five wards. Mulberry Commons will truly be a park for all of Newark.”


“Today represents a critical milestone not only in the construction of Mulberry Commons, but in the City of Newark’s revitalization led by Mayor Baraka,” said Edison Properties’ Chief Operating Officer Ben Feigenbaum. “Earlier this year, Edison Properties kicked off the redevelopment of Ironside Newark, a modern, mixed-use project that will add jobs, dining and retail options to this already dynamic area of the city. Mulberry Commons Park will add critical green space to the mix, beautifying the area while creating a destination where residents, workers and visitors will congregate. We look forward to standing alongside Mayor Baraka as his vision for Mulberry Commons advances and Newark further evolves into a 24/7 city.”


“This is a tremendously exciting and important project, one that will radically change the face of Newark, uniting the five wards, linking the downtown to the Ironbound and Riverfront Park beyond, and creating an essential connection to the tracks at Penn Station,” said Jennifer Sage of Sage and Coombe Architects.


“J&L Companies is proud to be a partner in bringing to life Mulberry Commons, a landmark project that will serve as a blueprint for how public and private partners can work together to benefit an entire metropolis. As a family-owned and operated company with close to 50 years in Newark, we look forward to working with the various stakeholders as well as the broader Newark community to capture the economic, artistic, and cultural vibrancy we’ve always known the city to have. J&L Companies is committed to Newark’s past, present, and future, and we want to ensure Mulberry Commons is for everyone – Newark natives, the next generation of Newark residents, visitors, students, and professionals alike,” said J&L Companies Principal Jose Lopez.

Mayor Baraka Breaks Ground for Mulberry Commons