New Hope Film Fest: Director’s Cut

This past weekend, filmhash made an appearance at the New Hope Film Festival (for those readers not familiar with PA, New Hope is a charming little town bordering the Delaware river in the greater Philadelphia area). The festival is currently underway this week and boasts a wide assortment of domestic and international films, including Director’s Cut, a wonderful film about the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of amateur filmmaking.

Writer/Director Elana Mugdan (center) with some of the cast of Director's Cut.

The film is centered around Cassie, a young college “dropout,” determined to find her place in the world by producing and directing the next great blockbuster. The blockbuster in question is of the B variety, and consists of a vampire pirate queen, an assortment of alien puppets, and a plastic sword wielding, grease smudged hero. The script (one of many) is penned by her very earnest and hilariously compulsive friend Eugene, who insists on micromanaging every aspect of the filmmaking process to ensure the integrity of his work. The rest of Cassie’s rag-tag crew includes best friend, confidant, and reluctant gaffer Gary, elitist photographer Kal, and Arielle, Cassie’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed AD.

Director’s Cut is written and directed by Elana Mugdan, CEO and founder of Shivnath Productions. Although not a wholly autobiographical account of her journey as a filmmaker, Mugdan certainly tells a personal story about the inner workings of filmmaking, and the internal struggles that every filmmaker faces both in front of, and most especially, behind the camera. As a wannabe filmmaker myself, I connected with Cassie’s determination to bring her project to fruition while navigating a set mired in ego struggles, inexperienced colleagues, financial strain, and doubt. However, Mugdan’s ability to shed a comedic light on the “darkside” of filmmaking enables the audience to chuckle while sympathizing with Cassie’s sometimes desperate situations.

The supporting performances of Director’s Cut are excellent, but the highly charismatic lead performance from Hallie York as Cassie is something to be remembered. I also would like to stress the quality of the screenplay by Mugdan, which possesses a seemingly effortless comedic approach to the dialogue that was real, relatable, and never over the top. Director’s Cut is a film about process, the process of filmmaking, and the even more poignant process of becoming your own person. Both are difficult journeys that can yield promising results, but the film never stresses the final product as the end all be all. Above anything else, it is the process that defines Cassie, and the experience that gets her to the next chapter.

To learn more about Director’s Cut and other projects by Shivnath Productions, click here, or visit


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