Artist of the Week

Q & A with Leah Alter

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ffw-0903-alterWho are you?

I was born and raised in Fayetteville, graduated from FHS in 1995. My parents, Monte and Faye Alter, still live and work in town. My dad’s company, Monte Alter Construction, has been around for years and he is always busy building someone the house of their dreams. My mom is semi-retired, but spends a lot of time designing costumes for Arts Live.

I left Arkansas after high school to attend college at a small liberal arts school called The College of Santa Fe, where I graduated with a double major in theater and English literature. Immediately after graduation in 1999, I moved to New York City and began my career in the entertainment business. I did everything from Off-Broadway Theater, to working for an agent at William Morris Agency, to being a manager for several TV, film and Broadway stars. After seven years, I decided to move back to the south and found myself in Austin, Texas, working in film production.

Tell us about your work. What exactly do you do?

I do … well everything or anything. I mostly produce or work as a production coordinator, although I have also worked as an AD (assistant director) and in the art department. I love organizing and budgeting, so the producing role is a great fit for me. While it is challenging, it plays to my strengths.

How long have you been working in film?

It’s been about 2.5 years of actual production work, but over 10 years in the “business.”

Favorite project to date?

And I’m not just saying this, but “Cook County” for sure. It was my first feature film. I learned so much and got to work with some unbelievably talented people. And the final product, well come see the film, it speaks for itself.  I’m so proud of this film and what we were able to accomplish on such a limited budget and schedule. Meth addiction is a very relevant issue in small cities and towns all over the U.S. “Cook County” tells one family’s story and it’s a heartbreaking one. I think it sheds light on a very serious problem. And the actors’ performances in the film are incredible. Anson Mount, who stars as “Bump,” was a former client of mine in New York. I have known him for years and his performance was so good, so believable, that he scared me.

Muse?

I don’t know that I have a single “muse” or influence. I want to make my parents proud though. They have been so supportive of me. I’m very lucky.

Advice for those who want to break into the industry?

Be prepared to work your butt off. If you don’t absolutely LOVE it, go find something else to do, because there are a million people who are willing to sacrifice it all to be in the business. Be a sponge. The best education comes from the people you will work with. So stop and observe.

What’s happening now? What’s next?

David Pomes, the writer/director, is taking “Cook County” out on a multi-city tour. It’s a new trend in independent film making, self-distribution. We want people to see the movie, so he is taking it out there. We’re very excited to see what comes of this tour. David is working on the next script that we are hoping to raise money for and shoot within the next couple of years.

Why do you do what you do?

Oh, I have tried to leave the business many times and it keeps pulling me back in. So I guess I do what I do, because it’s what I’m supposed to do.

Favorite actor?

Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Leonardo Dicaprio

Favorite director?

Baz Luhrmann (and David Pomes of course!).

What do you do in your spare time?

Hang out with my dogs! I have two, Roxie, a Jack Russell mix, who I have had for a couple of years and Frankie, a Boxer mix puppy who has just joined the family. My boyfriend and I love to travel and are planning a trip to Europe this fall. I’m also a diehard Arkansas Razorback fan and can’t wait for football season to start! GO HOGS!

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