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March 28, 2024 | Tom Ballard

a/b studios launches crowdfunding campaign for proof-of-concept short film

Amelia Bartlett has big plans in the next year for the start-up where she is joined by Kate Szekely (Producer) and Stephanie Hong (Creative Director).

“I have wanted to make movies my whole life,” says Knoxville’s Amelia Bartlett. At the first of the year, she acted on that longtime passion, launching a/b studios after about 12 months of quietly preparing to start her first business.

As noted in this article from October 2022, Bartlett moved to Knoxville from St. Petersburg, FL in 2017. She brings to her first start-up a diversity of experience . . . business coach, teacher of classes and Rural Outreach Coordinator at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC), award-winning screenwriter, and even a brief stint in the venture and angel capital space.

Today, Bartlett is taking everything she has learned in her still fairly short life and self-funding a/b Studios with a business plan that focuses initially on what she describes as “proof-of-concept” short films . . . 10-page rather than 90-page scripts. That said, her vision is much bigger, and it involves helping to make the Southeast region a much more robust region for filmmaking.

Bartlett describes that big vision as a story-to-cinema pipeline, which occurs institutionally in major markets, where connections to film producers, investors, sales agents, distributors, and professional service providers are better networked and more productive. That’s more challenging for regions without the critical mass and robust networks, something she hopes to address.

Her vision has its epicenter in Knoxville.

“We have a massive production community here,” Bartlett says, citing Jupiter Entertainment, RIVR Media, remaining staff from Warner Bros. Discovery, and even the U.S. headquarters for Regal Entertainment Group, a division of Cineworld, the second-largest movie theater company in the world.

For the aspiring filmmaker, it’s not limited to others coming to the region to make their movies. Rather, it is more about having the stories of those living in the region providing the script or content for movies that are filmed here.

Bartlett notes that the inaugural FILM FEST KNOX three-day celebration last November showcased eight proof-of-concepts, and three of them are now in production as full-fledged movies.

“We can leverage what we have,” she says. “I want to make commercially successful cinema right here in our community.”

Bartlett has big plans for a/b studios in 2024. As described on the start-up’s website, they include two television shows, a modern Christmas romance, and a quirky y2k-style rom-com:

  • A 30-minute unscripted series in conjunction with Big Slate Media named Outdoorsy that features interviews, wide-ranging outdoorsy adventures, and local-oriented travel trips for lesser-explored Southern Appalachian communities.
  • A short film about two childhood friends who reluctantly reunite for the weekend, unsure if they have the right words to repair their broken relationship – and if the time has finally come to define it. Titled “’tis the damn season,” concept has already won “Best Short Script” at the Austin Under the Stars Film Festival in 2023 and Honorable Mention for the Santa Barbara Screenplay Awards.
  • A feature film titled “The Holiday Bucket List” that is about a grieving young writer who is compelled to complete one final before giving up on her dream.
  • A proof-of-concept short film titled “Lavender Fields Forever” about a disillusioned MBA student who is stuck in the rut of her normal life until an unexpected inheritance puts a risky but adventurous future into focus.

Bartlett has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Seed & Spark platform to produce the proof-of-concept short film (Lavender Fields Forever), which a/b studios will be filming at the end of next month. Her goal is to raise $12,935 (link to contribute is here) so she can complete the short film and bring it to the American Film Market in early November in Las Vegas.

Joining Bartlett in the new start-up are Kate Szekely as Producer and Stephanie Hong as Creative Director.

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