IFP awards production fund to Columbia prof Froehle for her short “Up On The Rope”

Columbia College production program director Paula Froehle has been awarded IFP/Chicago’s $100,000-value Production Fund grant to produce her experimental narrative “Up On The Rope.”

Froehle adapted the script from the short story by Cristina Peri Rossi. It’s a love story centering on a twelve-year-old tight rope walker who has spent his entire life ten feet off the ground.

“I have been developing this project for the past year and a half,” Froehle said. “Because of its complex set design, I knew I would need a lot of support to complete it. I am elated, grateful, and can’t wait to go into production.”

An IFP committee selected Froehle from among 60 applicants, and awarded her the Production Fund grant at the Flyover Zone Film Festival Oct. 23.

The Production Fund includes an estimated $100,000 in goods and services donated by local vendors, covering elements from film and gear to post services and legal work.

The fund’s first two winners, Swell editor Joe Otting and AD Bruce Terris, both went on to garner feature gigs. Otting was a Project Greenlight finalist this year and is developing the feature “Prisoner,” set to shoot in Tennessee with Splendid Pictures (“Narc.”) Terris directed “Dirty Work” for Blue Horseshoe Productions here last summer.

Froehle cites such influences as Rube Goldberg, and filmmakers Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro (“Delicatessen,” “City of Lost Children.”) She plans to shoot in February or June, “depending on stage availability and production design.”

DP is David Blood, who shot “Dirty Work,” as well as Terris’s 2001 fund winner “Flying,” which screened at Cannes in 2002. Don Smith, who runs Columbia’s semester in Los Angeles and produced Hakim Bellabes’ 2003 feature “Threads,” is producing. Co- producer is Johnny White.

Froehle co-owns the avant jazz record label Atavistic and is collaborating with Atavistic recording artist and MacArthur genius grant-winning reed player Ken Vandermark on the film and live music work “Chance: Change: Conflict in Five Parts,” due to debut next year.

Froehle has purchased the rights to two other Peri Rossi stories and is contemplating building a three- part feature. Another feature script is a finalist at the Sundance Writers Lab.

Froehle’s work is distributed by San Francisco’s Canyon Cinema. Her shorts “Fever” (1999) and “Underground Women” (2002) will be featured in the Experimental Sound Studio’s fifth annual Outer Ear Festival of Sound, Sunday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Reach her at pfroehle@colum.edu.

– by Ed M. Koziarski, edk@homesickblues.com