Anne Marie Cummings
Many Film Connection
students who enroll have one of two goals in mind: to become film producers/directors, or to get a job working in the film industry—and occasionally both. For Anne Marie Cummings
, however, the decision to enroll was more of a creative decision to expand her horizons.
Anne Marie wasn’t looking for a new career. She already had one. A long-time actress, playwright and theatrical director, she was well established in the creative arts and running her own theater company in Ithaca, New York. But as she tells it, some conversations with colleagues inspired her toward more.
“I was meeting some writers,”
she says, “who…and I will say Neil LaBute really I think was a big part of that team…I was producing his work, and I was communicating with him, and getting to know the body of his work, and seeing that he was so comfortable moving from TV, plays, and film, was certainly of interest to me. I thought, ‘Oh, so I’m not just limited to the theater.’”
As her interest in screenwriting grew, she felt if she were serious about it, it would require a life change—namely, a move to Los Angeles. “I thought, if I want to write screenplays, or even if I have any ideas for TV, I’m going to have to move,”
she says. “I didn’t even have to think too much about it. I had a house, and I had a theater company, and I was living in a smaller community. But I thought to myself, if I want to learn, and I want to grow, even though I have these certain comforts, material comforts…what comes first for me is my growth as an artist.”
About that time, she found the Film Connection online. “I did some searches online, and then I watched a video, or two, or three, and I thought about it. And I thought, ‘At where I’m at in my life, this is what is going to be the best scenario for me. I don’t want to be in a classroom setting. I work best when I have a mentor, and then I’ll go from there.’ It just seemed like the right fit for me.”
Of course, leaving a stable home and career wasn’t without risk or cost. “A lot of people in upstate New York were really upset that I left my theater company,”
says Anne Marie, “because I had the regulars that came to our performances, and in many ways, it was great because for my ego, it certainly was…I was always in the news. I was being interviewed. We were always getting press. It looked great, it felt great. But artistically, I had to be very honest, and I think that this program also makes you…you have to get really honest with yourself…I just felt that if I stayed on that path, I would not grow in this direction, which I really wanted to explore.”
After making the move to L.A., Anne Marie began her apprenticeship with noted producer Aimee Schoof
of Intrinsic Value Films,
with additional screenwriting mentoring with screenwriter Ron Osborn
(Meet Joe Black, The Radioland Murders
). Was it difficult for an established artist to take instruction? Not for Anne Marie: she thrived on it.
“The Film Connection is really, really great for someone like me,”
she says. “When you’re working with producers and an established screenwriter, they’re not cutting you a whole lot of slack…I don’t think there’s any shame in ever working with somebody. It’s like a boxer needs a trainer. I think a writer needs a coach…And if you have the means, and you can get a coach who can work with you on your development and process, you’ll have a better product. And going to somebody who’s a pro, it’s best to do that, for sure.”
The big move has already paid off for Anne Marie in several ways. First, she’s currently being considered for representation by not one, but two talent management agencies. Second, her screenplay—a culinary-themed romantic comedy called Eat Bitter, Taste Sweet
—has been picked up by her mentor’s production company, Intrinsic Value Films. And third, her mentor, Aimee Schoof, is now helping her develop a new idea for a TV series!
“While I was writing my screenplay,” Anne Marie says, “just out of the blue came an idea. And I knew it was a TV idea, but I just jotted it on a sticky note and I stuck it on my wall…That’s how I like to work. I put sticky notes everywhere, on a wall, when I map out things…And I looked at that for probably a month, and then one day, when I was meeting with Aimee, we were talking about my screenplay. I said, ‘Aimee, would you like to hear an idea I have for what I think is a TV series?’ And she said, ‘Sure.’ And I told her, and she loved it…She said to me, “I’m not going to let you not do this.
“Aimee is, I would say, she’s really like the dream producer,”
she adds. “She’s got an open mind. And she’s a team player. She’s a collaborator. That’s a really good thing to have that kind of relationship with somebody where you feel that they’re open and they can trust you, and you can trust them.”
And so, Anne Marie’s decision to expand her creative horizons led her to the Film Connection, which in turn has led to a whole new set of avenues for her creative career. “I have opportunities that I didn’t have before, and The Film Connection has certainly provided those for me.”