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Ellen DeGeneres Debuts Her First-Ever Short Film Project

By Rosa Alfonso, America Express
Apr 20, 2005, 17:00

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Short Film Written, Directed by, and Starring Ellen DeGeneres Debuts at , Coincides With Start of Judging for the Amazon Theater / Tribeca Film Festival Short Film Competition Presented by American Express

New York, NY -- Renaissance woman and all-around funny lady, Ellen DeGeneres, has yet another jewel to add to her crown as one of the nation's favorite entertainers as she displays her latest comedic stroke -- a short film aptly titled "Making My First Short Film" -- only viewable at the American Express site, . Her first-ever solo filmmaking project, the short film marks Ellen's latest venture with American Express and was produced in support of the Tribeca Film Festival and the Amazon Theater / Tribeca Film Festival Short Film Competition presented by American Express.

"I had a great time making this short film, mostly because of the shortness of it," Ellen quips. "We wrote it in three minutes and shot it in two hours. I'm a purist that way. If it's going to be called a short film, it's going to be short for everyone involved. The caterer barely had time to put out the hoagies."

She adds, "I do enjoy working with American Express, although I was disappointed that they passed on my original idea. I wanted to make a feature- length historical drama documenting the rise and fall of the croissant. It's their loss."

During the production of Ellen's ads as part of the My Life. My Card. campaign, Ellen had expressed her desire to explore creative approaches outside of the typical thirty-second milieu. American Express was happy to oblige since the Company has found success using numerous channels in media.

"We've always had tremendous enthusiasm and regard for Ellen's passion for creativity and unabashed originality," explains John Hayes, Chief Marketing Officer of American Express; "and as an organization that recognizes the individuality of our Cardmembers, American Express was eager to collaborate with Ellen on this groundbreaking venture -- a venture both Ellen and American Express feel shows the spirited highs and lows of filmmaking and aptly demonstrates film's remarkable adaptability to the online medium."

A clever take on the foibles of novice filmmaking, the tongue-in-cheek short film is a "patently Ellen" homage to filmmakers, or anyone who's ever imagined making a movie. Depicted at home, donning from head-to-toe the trademark director's black and referring to a manual titled Making Your First Short Film, Ellen fumbles her way through assembling a tripod, commits a classic flub while adjusting the room lighting, and gets resourceful trying to cast actors on a shoestring film budget. Witty and lighthearted with shades of slapstick, Ellen masterfully channels the comedic physical exaggerations of a silent film actor.

Amazon Theater / Tribeca Film Festival Short Film Competition Presented by American Express

Corresponding with the short film's debut on , some content from "Making My First Short Film" appears in a wave of American Express commercial spots breaking nationwide. The spots are aimed at promoting the short film as well as the Amazon Theater / Tribeca Film Festival Short Film Competition, the recently launched web-competition for budding filmmakers. While more than 1,000 submissions have streamed in since the contest's announcement on March 3, April 18 marked the grand unveiling of the Tribeca Screening Room at -- the forum for the public to view and judge contestant entries, rating the films using the signature Amazon five-star purchase rating. Of the total submissions, the field will be narrowed down to five finalists in late May. Following a second round of judging, the winner will be announced in late June and awarded a grand prize of a $50,000 American Express prepaid card.

Fifteen-second versions of the American Express ad promoting "Making My First Short Film" are being posted on Two-minute iterations of the film are also serving as a prelude to films being screened at The Tribeca Film Festival. The short film in its entirety, however, is available only at American Express' .

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. Now in its fourth year, the Festival's mission is to promote New York City as the world's independent film capital and to foster the economic and cultural revitalization of Lower Manhattan through an annual celebration of film, music and culture. The first three festivals attracted nearly 1 million visitors and created in excess of $125 million in economic activity for Lower Manhattan.

American Express is the Founding Sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival. Part of a multi-year relationship, the sponsorship demonstrates American Express' dedication to the goals of the Festival and the revitalization of lower Manhattan.

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