It’s that time of year again. Three Picture Start teams are deep into prep.

What’s Picture Start? It’s a NIFCO-based program that provides filmmakers with the opportunity to become future above-the-line leaders.

Writer-director Mike Fardy and producer Ross Moore are developing Matchstick, a thriller about a woman’s struggle with anxiety and her treatment’s hallucinatory side effects.

“Coming from the low budget comedy world, Matchstick is presenting almost exclusively challenges for me,” says Fardy.

“With this film, we’ll have a budget and crew far beyond what I’ve ever worked with, which is amazing, but I’ve never been in a situation where the project has rested so heavily on the prep work.”

“So far, the program has helped me learn how to look at a script a bit more objectively, to consider what is actually possible, and what is truly necessary to tell the story, without sacrificing the writer-director’s vision,” says Moore.

For drama lovers, writer-director Cody Westman, writer Bridget Canning, and producer Jenny Hawley offer Casey, a film about a young girl kept sheltered from the world by an unstable parent.

“As someone who is new to scriptwriting, the Picture Start program is a wonderful resource for seeing all the steps that go into creating a film,” says Canning.

“What I also really like is the chance to get together with the other Picture Start projects and see their ideas and how they will bring them to fruition.”

“I’ve worked with kids in my commercial and corporate work, but I’m usually just getting them to say one line, or I’m just being silly to get them to smile or laugh,” explains Westman.

“We need to capture a lot of emotion, including a scene about bullying and verbal abuse, so we need convincing acting for that.”

“I was immediately drawn in by the intense atmosphere and unsettling nature of the script,” says Hawley. “I always find it impressive when a writer can evoke such strong emotions with only fifteen pages. It’s not an easy task, and Bridget and Cody did a great job with this script.”

Things take a lighter turn with Snowstorm Roulette. Set in the 1980s, the comedy involves two one night stands trapped in an apartment during a blizzard.

“For the first time in a while I’m excited when a snowstorm comes,” says writer-director Matt Wright. “Right now, major challenges are finding the right cast and trying to make something that resonates with people.”

“We have eighty percent of our team in place, and are now casting and scouting locations – and cars, if a reader has one they’d love to see in a film,” says producer Ruth Lawrence. “What Picture Start offers producers is the technical skills that are essential to minimizing the screw-ups.  Learning the essentials of budgets, accounting, contracts, business affairs, scheduling, and so much more.”