Episode 13: Crowdfunding and Filmfest tips with Christina Raia

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This week we chat with Christina Raia
Christina grew up on Long Island with a single mother and one brother. Growing up multi-ethnic (her mom was born in Trinidad of Indian descent; her father’s side is Sicilian with a touch of Austrian — bet you didn’t guess that when you looked at her), She had the privilege of never fitting in, which meant always feeling a bit out of place but also unable to be put in anyone else’s box. Often an outside observer of people and their stories, She fell in love with movies very early on as a child. She can’t quite pinpoint a moment in her childhood when She decided She wanted to be a filmmaker;

it is simply a desire that has always been there. She began writing stories at age five and She attributes her interest in visual storytelling in large part to watching movies of very wide variety with her mom at a young age. Watching “The Twilight Zone” marathon every fourth of July was a family tradition and she credits that as a huge reason for her interest in screenwriting. She wrote Her first screenplay, or what She thought was a screenplay, at age nine. She knew her love for movies was something bigger than just an interest when a video camera was first placed in her hands at the age of 13. It was from that point forward that her passion in life was clearly defined. In high school, she attempted to make two “feature films” with a cast of friends and a crew of one, but those never quite panned out. After high school, she took a year off and honed in on her writing. she won a couple of online video contests and put the money towards funding her first big project. Christina enrolled in Hunter College in 2008 and made her first independent short, “Do Over,” a psychological thriller, the summer after freshman year. She then graduated with honors with a BA in Film Production & Studies in 2012.

Filmmaking & Community Leadership

She is now a New York City based Writer/Director and the Founder and Team Leader of CongestedCat Productions, LLC. She shot her first feature film, SUMMIT, a Horror-Drama, in 2013. It premiered at the 2015 Manhattan Film Festival and was awarded Best Horror Film. She won Best Director for the film at the 2015 Flickers: Rhode Island International Film Festival (Vortex Genre Fest); and the film also screened at the 2015 Scare-A-Con Film Festival, 2015 Unreal Film Festival, and 2016 Macabre Faire Film Festival. It is available on Amazon Prime, Vimeo on Demand, and VHX. Shortly after wrapping production on SUMMIT, she directed and produced the comedic web series ‘Kelsey,’ which premiered on blip.tv in September 2013 to rave reviews and consistent press coverage, including as a Critic’s Pick and named one of the 19 Best Comedy Web Series of 2013 by Indiewire.com. It has over a quarter million hits online and has screened across the country as part of an LGBT Web Series Panel tour, most notably at Outfest. It is now available on Vimeo and Youtube.

Christina turned her desire to foster collaboration and engagement in the local film community into IndieWorks, a monthly film screening series showcasing and supporting the work of other independent filmmakers in New York. Each month screens 4 or 5 shorts and consistently has over 45 people in attendance. It is currently starting its 6th year and has gained name recognition of its own.

Her work often has a focus on character exploration. She has an affinity for ensemble pieces and quick-witted dialogue. She loves exploring social issues through humor and horror. Her other credits as Writer, Director include a dozen independently produced (read no-budget and community supported) narrative shorts that have made official selection at film festivals across the country. She is currently on the festival circuit with one short, in pre-production for another, and beginning festival screenings with her second feature, a dramedy titled About A Donkey, written by and co-produced with ‘Kelsey’ collaborator Kelsey Rauber. Silent Night, her feature screenplay that she hopes to be her third feature, made the Quarter Finals of the 2016 Slamdance Screenplay Competition. She was selected as one of the 10 to Watch Filmmakers in 2018 by Independent Magazine! Touring with About a Donkey and exploring funding options for Silent Night make up her mission for 2018!

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