ABOVE THE WATER LINE
ATWL is an open filmmaking community for above-the-line artists in New Orleans, and a brand of authenticity demarcating original feature films made in New Orleans by New Orleans filmmakers telling New Orleans stories. Its mandate is authenticity, education and collaboration.
Founded in 2009 by filmmaker Randy Mack, ATWL is an auspices for the creation of a high-calibre indigenous independent film community in New Orleans. Its goal is to bring together above-the-line artists (writers, directors, producers, and potentially financiers and leading actors) to incubate creative and robust feature film projects that tell stories from inside Orleans parish.
As an incubator, ATWL believes talent excels with practice and as such focuses of the creation of core teams: the script, vision, packaging, and financing that form the heart of successful independent films. New Orleans lacks a significant quantity of these players and so ATWL is designed to encourage and incentivize participation and exploration of talent from other fields (e.g. theater, literature, comedy, business, fine arts, short films, music, etc.) into the film community.
"Everyone knows films require a small army of crew," says Mack, "but it also takes a village to refine a screenplay, build a team and work out the millions of decisions that go into a director's vision. The best filmmakers have groups of people they use as sounding boards at each step. Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola and De Palma are famous friends, and more recently there is the 3 Amigos: Cuaron, Del Toro, and Inarritu. In truth all top writers and directors workshed their material with trusted colleagues, because great films are fostered in great communities."
ATWL's flagship film is Mack's LAUNDRY DAY, which was written, shot, edited, and will be finished in New Orleans. It is a showcase for brilliant talent from New Orleans that's underutilized or ignored by Hollywood South productions. The film hopes to be a template for local independent directors, and Mack is releasing materials and planning documents online for filmmakers to study. LAUNDRY DAY is currently in post.
ATWL plans to expand soon with monthly networking meetings, lectures and Q&A with industry pros, and a branding campaign to retroactively spotlight feature films made in the ATWL spirit, such as FLOOD STREETS, BAYOU MAHARAJAH, and KING OF HERRINGS. Mack has a blog exploring the history of cinema in New Orleans and its lessons for the future: Essential NOLA Cinema.