Rebecca Eskreis, Michael Cuomo, and Megan Elizabeth Bell come together to discuss the creative and logistic process of making their new feature film What Breaks the Ice, a coming of age film set in the summer of 1998. This innovative, creative team shares their experience as they joined forces to make movie magic.
Paralleling the path of any startup, the team discusses how they had to pitch their creative vision not just to investors but to audiences as well. This fascinating conversation provides a unique perspective on the practical approach to the creative process with these experienced entertainment industry professionals who successfully sold their idea, and themselves, in a cutthroat industry.
Meet our guests:
Rebecca Eskreis is a director, writer, and producer whose work has screened at numerous international festivals, including SXSW, TIFF, SIFF, deadCenter, Savannah, Munich, Stockholm, and Thessaloniki.
Her directorial debut project, WHAT BREAKS THE ICE (Goldcrest Films), received the Sandra Adair/Empowering a Billion Women Grant for promising female filmmakers from the Austin Film Society, and was selected for the Austin Film Society’s Artist Intensive, hosted annually by Richard Linklater. The project was also a finalist for the 2016 Mayor’s Office of New York/Women in Film/Producers Guild Financing Lab. WHAT BREAKS THE ICE stars Sofia Hublitz and Madelyn Cline, and premiered at the 2020 Woodstock Film Festival as a drive-in double feature alongside a special presentation of Francis Lee’s AMMONITE. The film was released theatrically across the U.S. in October 2021 and is now available to stream everywhere.
Mentored by the late Jonathan Demme, Eskreis previously worked as a producer at his company, Clinica Estetico, following stints at 72 Productions, Red Hour Films, and Di Novi Pictures, where she was the creative executive. She’s served as a panelist at numerous film festivals and, most recently, participated in the New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) “From Script to Pre-Production” lecture series. Eskreis began her career as a reporter and producer/director for Forbes.com’s Video Network. She holds a BA, Magna Cum Laude, from Barnard College at Columbia University, an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and is a proud member of NYWIFT and Film Fatales.
Michael Cuomo is an award-winning actor and producer of film, television, and theatre. He recently co-starred in and produced The Light of the Moon, written and directed by Jessica M. Thompson, which took home the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at SXSW’17 and sold to Imagination Worldwide and Amazon. The film premiered theatrically in Fall ’17 with the support of UN Women and is streaming on Amazon Prime and all major digital platforms. Cuomo also starred in and produced the critically acclaimed feature film Happy New Year (Snag Films), written and directed by K. Lorrel Manning, executive produced by Iain Smith (Children of Men, The Fountain). The film’s premiere at the SXSW and Hamptons International Film Festivals was followed by a successful tour through 16 international film festivals, garnering impressive reviews, winning 6 awards including Cuomo for Best Actor and Manning for Breakout Director (RIIFF).
Michael can also be seen in the upcoming Daniel Isn’t Real (SXSW 2019), What Breaks the Ice (also co-lead producer), Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” Bandslam (Summit Entertainment), and the independent hit Four-Eyed Monsters (IFC Films). He has performed at Off-Broadway theatres throughout NYC, such as Rattlestick, The Actor’s Studio, Naked Angels, Dixon Place, and The Barrow Group. His national on-camera commercial campaigns include: Bank of America; Travelocity; Samsung (with Eli Manning); ATT; Bailey’s; Bank of America, SEAT Ibiza, Levissima, and General Electric.
Next up, he’s inked to act & produce in the independent features Six Dinner Parties, Pink Mist, Devices, The Caterpillar, American Summer, Cloister, and Mrs. Arnold, among several others in development. Michael is a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), Actor’s Equity Association (AEA), The Actor’s Center Workshop (TACW), and Producer’s Guild of America (PGA). In his spare time, he reads to children through the SAG Foundation’s BookPals (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools) and mentors inner-city high school film students through Ghetto Film School’s Industry Outreach Program. He lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Megan Elizabeth Bell was raised in Pennsylvania and decided as a high school student that she wanted to pursue a career in production design. She attended Clemson University and with that plan in mind, earned a degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Sculpture and a minor in Business Administration. Meg’s experience spans the worlds of television, feature films, and commercials.