Independent Thoughts – A Guide to Upcoming Independent Film Projects – By Philip Smolen


Hello fellow Rogue Cinemaniacs and welcome to the first installment of “Independent Thoughts”! This is a new bi-monthly column where I’ll highlight upcoming movie projects that are either currently being filmed or being developed by indie filmmakers. The purpose of this column is to start building the word of month for these soon to be released movies. Hell, Hollywood starts the publicity machine for their flicks years in advance. So why shouldn’t the indie scene do the same? It’s about time we got people even more excited about indie cinema. So here are several people and projects to keep an eye out for…

Cindy Baer

Writer/director and producer Cindy Baer continues to ride the festival wave with her fabulous award winning indie comedy hit “Odd Brodsky” – – Cindy says that “Odd Brodsky” has been accepted at a total of 23 festivals including upcoming festivals in Wisconsin, Portland, Oregon, New York City, Chicago and even Canada! She says that after she finishes the festival circuit she’s going to bring “Odd Brodsky” out on VOD in 2016. Cindy also reports that she’s working on developing a few new projects, but she’s keeping mum on them for now. For more information on “Odd Brodsky”, please visit: – Congratulations Cindy!

Mark Cantu

Mark is a busy man these days. The San Antonio writer/ director of that great superhero spoof “Now Hiring” – – is back at work filming a new action thriller called “Elite.” The film is about a former Navy covert operations officer who’s trying to discover the truth about a fateful mission that went wrong. However the truth leads her and the one other survivor of the mission to one of the biggest drug cartels in the US. Wow! Sounds awesome Mark! For more information on “Elite”, please go to: and

Frankie Frain

If there’s one word that describes writer/director Frankie Frain it’s irreverent. There’s nothing Frankie likes doing better than smashing down walls. He did it with his wonderful comedy “Having Fun up There” – – and he’s doing it again. He’s currently in post production on a feature length documentary about the high cost of weddings, tentatively titled “Til Debt Due Us Part”, which he is directing with his wife. He’s also producing a web series called “BoxMac”, with his long time collaborator Jon Hunt which is all about reviewing boxed macaroni and cheeses! – –  Frankie also has two scripts in development. One is by Geoff Tarulli who wrote “Having Fun up There”, and one he’s co-writing with Emily Brinkmeyer. The Geoff Tarulli script is about an aging character with no talent looking to launch an easy online business and the sleazy networking she has to do to achieve that. The other will also star Emily, and is about a 30 year old woman who faces humiliation and loneliness and, in a manic episode, decides to abandon her life without considering the consequences. Emily is also finishing the edit on the second edition of Frankie’s book, “More Weight: The Making of Having Fun Up There and Other Filmmaking Tales” (you can get the first edition at – which is his filmmaker’s manifesto, and contains a great deal of making-of info and first hand advice. Frankie’s also recently collaborated on three comedy animations with animator EJ Massa. The first one mocks poorly thought out Kickstarter campaigns – – while the second speculates that JJ Abrams hates the “Star Wars” prequels – – The third one imagines Vince Gilligan as a gold shitting goose – – Frankie, my head is spinning just thinking about all of this! Do you also work on cars as well?


Jessi Gotta

Producer, director, writer and actress Jessi Gotta’s – – new company, Inappropriate Films, has just finished shooting their first horror feature “The Moosehead Over the Mantle.” Influenced and inspired by the lives of H.H. Holmes, The Bender Family, Lizzie Borden and Carl Panzram, the film follows several generations of the Hoffhienze family, a bloodline wrought with abuse, dysfunction and violence. The family’s gruesome story unfolds entirely in the living room of the Hoffhienze home, spanning the 1880s through the 1980s.100 Years; 6 generations; and countless victims. The moose head team will soon kick off a fundraiser for post production. For more information on Inappropriate Films’ “The Moosehead Over the Mantle”, please visit or follow the company on Twitter: @InappropriateF or Facebook: – Jess, this film sounds totally awesome and it totally creeps me out as well. I know one thing; I won’t be watching this in the dark… or alone! Woo hoo! You can also find out more about Jess at

Bart Grieb

Filmmaker Bart Grieb must really, really like classic B-movies. The writer/director of “The Night before Christmas” (reviewed in this issue of Rogue) is currently in pre-production for “Revenge of the Killer Shrews”, an unofficial sequel to Ray Kellogg’s 1959 B movie classic. That idea thrills me to no end. Does that mean that we can look forward to dogs covered with ill-fitting shrew costumes and duck walking cast members? Well, I can dream can’t I? To see the promotional video for the production and to find out more information, please visit:

Michael Keller

One of my favorite movies of 2014 was Michael Keller’s “Red Gold.” – – which told the story of a poor Indian man who tries to earn enough money to get his family out of the Mumbai slums. Well, Michael is hard at work finishing up his next project which sounds just as great. It’s called “Hard Time Harvey”, and it’s the story of a broke academic who grudgingly takes a job teaching and writing at a juvenile prison. His students mock him, the hot math teacher rejects him and a psychotic guard wants him thrown out. Harvey must find common ground with the troubled kids and adapt to the hostile environment before it tears him apart. Mike hopes to submit the film to film festivals in the near future. Check out the site to watch the trailer and find out more information on Michael’s fascinating new flick. Looking forward to checking it out Mike!

Kurt Larson

When “Son of Ghostman”, – – that loving tribute to old time horror hosts, was released in 2013, the internet stopped and took notice. They rewarded writer/director Kurt Larson with a Rondo nomination, a feat that he justifiably is proud of (go Kurt!). Well Kurt has continued to make wonderful and funny films. One of his most recent is a short film about two ‘Star Wars” geeks. It’s called “Star Wars Trade” and Kurt nails the passion that film geeks have about their memorabilia. You can watch this awesome short at: – With the talent and abilities that Kurt has, I know we won’t have to wait long for more Larson cinematic goodies! Could a “Son of Ghostman” sequel be in the works? We can only hope…


Cindy Maples

Cindy Maples is like the beloved den mother of Rogue Cinema (Cindy, is that too weird?) and we always need to know what’s going on in her life. Well Cindy has now directed her first short film called “Random.” The tagline for the flick is “one night changes everything” and the trailer can be seen at – – “Random” will have its premieres on Sept. 5th and then hit the festival circuit after that. Cindy’s also just finished starring in the feature film “Wig’d Out.” She plays the role of Flora Warren the ex-beauty queen mother of a teenage girl who has alopecia (ouch!). Its Facebook page can be found at – – and it’s due out sometime in 2016. Cindy also has two more acting projects to do before the end of the year, but she’s currently taking a little time away from the camera to play Frank-N-Furter in STAGE’s presentation of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on October 23rd and 24th. As Rogue readers know, Cindy also produced and starred in “A Wedding Like That” – – The film is currently making its way through the film festival circuit. What an incredible year Cindy. You’ve earned the time off. At ease!


Chris Quick

Not every film director has the gift to work with puppets, but Scotland’s Chris Quick seems to be a natural. His short “The Greyness of Autumn” – – was a great comedy and it made a lot of people sit up and take notice. Now, Chris is writing a sequel and he’s begun a Kickstarter campaign to get things rolling. Tentatively titled “Autumn Never Dies”, Chris is hopeful to start filming before the end of the year. To find out more about the project and to watch the promo film, please visit:


Vernon Smith

The writer and director of the uber cool “Davis Farm” – – Vernon moved from Austin, Texas to Los Angeles late last year because he felt he needed a change of scenery. Fortunately, he’s had a lot of success in the industry and he’s found himself in demand. Vernon has also been writing a couple of drafts of another feature that he really wants to make (and it sounds really cool). It’s an exciting crime drama that tells both the stories of a woman fresh from prison trying to get her life together, and of a detective working a big case. He says that the more he continues to learn about film by working with some amazingly talented directors, the bigger the movie he writes!  Vernon is excited about this new project and he really wants to turn it a great film. Speaking of great films, “Davis Farm” is available online at – – Can’t wait to hear more about this project Vernon. Keep Rogue Cinema in the loop!

Mikel Wisler

Up until now, filmmaker Mikel Wisler has concentrated on writing and directing short films such as the wonderful “Intrigue” – – But now Mikel has taken the plunge and is currently developing his first feature film called “Unidentified.” But before filming, Mikel took the screenplay he wrote and turned it into a novel, which has just been published on Amazon Kindle – – He will also be releasing a trade paperback edition of the novel as well as an audio book too. Mikel says this is to continue to connect with and build an audience for the film and to be able to provide potential investors with some tangible sense of interest in the story. For more information on Mikel’s fascinating new film go to: – You can also find out more about the project at:

Well, that’s it for this month’s edition of “Independent Thoughts.” I’ll be back in November with another compilation of sensational future indie film projects that you should keep an eye out for. Now, if you’re part of the indie scene and you want to be included in a future issue of “Independent Thoughts”, drop me an email at and give me a one paragraph description of your project as well as any important web links. Please put the words “Independent Thoughts” in the email title.


See everybody in November!