We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris ONeill and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chris, what are you inspired by?
Good qualities in human beings. Respect, love, a good sense of humor.  Seeing people really caring about  what they do- and enjoying it!  That inspires me every day.  And the endless ways in which people can be fabulous to each other and creative.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a filmmaker who acts, writes, edits and directs.  I make features, shorts, theatre shows and web series. To help others in my field, I set up Chape Works (www.chapeworks.com), which focusses on Actors Reels. We go the extra mile to help actors put their best foot forward by not only showcasing their work, but cleaning up audio and picture to make them shine.

To support filmmakers, we just had the first year of the AWESOME FILM FESTIVAL, which awards Laurels to features, shorts, documentaries and scripts just for entering- because finishing a film or a script is pretty awesome and deserves some recognition! We also provide constructive feedback for scripts and films, designed to improve the projects (if they need it). Covid forced us to hold the first year’s festival online instead of in person as we had planned, but it was a great success and I think the filmmakers and writers really liked the message of encouragement the Awesome Film Festival puts out.   We can all use a bit of encouragement and it does go a long way.
Making one’s own content is not easy, but it should be fun and always a learning curve.   A few of my screenplays have won or been finalists in competitions such as the Nicholl Fellowship and Scriptapalooza and only got there from practice and improving constantly.  Taking on board any comments and suggestions from people with experience can be very helpful and contribute to making your work better and as successful as can be.
My second feature film, the horror thriller HEADSHOTS (available now on Amazon Prime and www.pjsandpixels.com- shameless plug!), got into six film festivals and ended up winning Best Film at five of them. I listened to the feedback the film was receiving while submitting it to festivals and kept reshaping it based on what the audiences were telling me to improve it.  HEADSHOTS ended up getting into six film festivals and winning five Best Film awards and may not have done so had I not been open minded to take on people’s reactions.  Listening to your audience is very important and the proof is in the pudding.  My first film, ABSOLUTE DEBAUCHERY, got into one festival, so HEADSHOTS was a definite measure of progression.
Lessons I learned along the way- when shooting a project, keep your actors fed and the onset tone light. Focus on solving problems. Try to think ahead anticipating problems that may arise- and have a solution.  And if it’s an independent production- get a CROCKPOT and COFFEE MAKER! They’ll be lifesaving and much appreciated by your cast and crew. If you’re on location, bring a crockpot of food you prepped the night before (vegetarian chilli, soup for example) and get the coffee going immediately!
Whatever creative endeavor you’re working on, it will be challenging, so be utterly committed and keep going. It doesn’t matter when you start- what matters is that you start.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is all assuming we’re post-Covid now (if we’re not, then a week’s visit would be me waving to you from your quarantined but air conditioned room at the Holiday Inn and making suggestions for your GrubHub orders) Touchdown at LAX. After waiting nine hours for them to emerge from the airport, I would great them with a Double Double from In-N-Out with some Animal Style fries and a cold drink (sorry, I drank the milkshake- it was melting). A drive down Hollywood Blvd- to show you it’s nothing like you imagined it to be. And it’s short. So after that thirty seconds of sight seeing- a zip up through the canyons to take in the site of LA at night (am assuming it’s night time cos that wait to get out of LAX was loooong). Look how pretty it is. Warts and all, She cleans up nice. “City of lights’ as DeNiro called it in HEAT.

Next afternoon (let’s be honest, you slept through the morning due to jetlag) throw you in the pool and let you soak up some California sunshine, look at the palm trees, have a few drinks, check out the actor/model/creative types in my building in their swimming attire and start hearing the stories of people who were drawn to this place. This is both the reality and the fantasy of the place. A daylight trip through Beverly Hills. Look! Mansions! With no land! Down to Santa Monica. Stroll down the Promenade. Do some award winning People Watching. Walk down to the pier. Stroll down the beach. Rediscover my own love for this town. Now to the bars cos it’s happy hour. Meet some people- the British accent and laying on of charm helps international relations in these situations.
A trip to Universal Studios. Laugh at the British accent massacre going on with the people pretending to work at Hogwarts.. Always a good time and distracts you from the brain freeze brought on from your 90% liquid Nitrogen Butter Beer. Take in the view again from the various walkways to the lower lot. Destroy Citywalk. Dinner followed by drinks and frolics in one of the late night establishments. Try not to vomit in the Uber back home (don’t drive to Universal- Uber is cheaper than parking). Recover from hangover next day by getting greasy breakfast (at about 3pm- I love America!) in a diner of my visitor’s choice. Norm’s perhaps, they do good combo specials. Or if we’re feeling especially fancy, Waffles And More in Encino. Catch a movie at the AMC16 Burbank in their laser IMAX screen- it may not be true IMAX due to the seating being a different configuration to a true IMAX theatre- but that auditorium is NICE. Drive my visitor past the gates of WB and wonder who’s in there filming right now.
Next day, do the WB studio tour to satisfy our curiosity from the night before. Try to spot stars. Think we catch a glimpse of someone famous running into a soundstage- probably GrubHub or an unpaid intern but it’s nice to fantasize. Night time, head out to bar hop with aforementioned neighbors and witness LA nightlife. Stumble out of a bar/club about midnight/1am to beat the rush of people searching for drunk eats and head to my food truck of choice- Chiqui’s Taco truck on Santa Monica and Vine. Chicken burrito. Carne Asada fries. Uber home. Pass out- possibly INTO the plate of Carne Asada fries. Flip a coin on going to Disneyland. Or Knott’s. Or Magic Mountain. I do this only if my friend likes rollercoasters. And standing around in the heat. I don’t. But I’m a good host. (Hey, I already got you drunk every single night you’ve been here.)
Perhaps some “culture” and a trip to MOMA or the Getty. Something “Museum-y”, depending on what’s going on. Then an exposure of LA’s Metro system. Which is like a mini Lego version of the London Tube. We giggle silently about this on the ride, but it gets us to our destination- DTLA. And a walk around the skyscrapers- which are undeniably AWESOME and shame us for our previous giggling. The indoor food market. The Broad. Disney concert hall. We don’t go into any of these places, we just walk past them, marveling at the architecture as we do with the old school buildings because we have to race to get to- the DTLA Ghost Tour I booked on Groupon/Goldstar the week before my guest arrived. Walking around much the same route we just took only now being told how many people died horribly in these places. Next day, my friend wants to see Malibu.
So that’s over by 11am and we dive into Neptune’s Net to be horrified by what passes for “Fish and chips” here. But the view is cool and hey, both POINT BREAK and THE FAST & FURIOUS shot scenes here (and were, essentially the same film). We go shopping. Most of that is done on the Amazon app as we speed our way to the Del Amo mall to see a true American mall of colossal size (also cos my friend wants to see where they shot JACKIE BROWN). Night falls and we tour the beach cities before gliding back to LA via LAX- the planes flying overhead a bittersweet reminder everything must come to an end. Grab happy hour sushi at Octopus in Encino- my friend hates me for living here now. Next morning, Hangover Yoga. It might include goats, extreme heat or even beer (or all three) depending on what Groupon/Goldstar deal tickled my fancy the week before.
Feeling super healthy, we decide we must have vegan food to keep the lie going that we’re healthy living folks, leading us to HOPE in Studio City, where everything on the menu is amazing. A drive down Ventura Blvd, mainly answering questions about why a move theater is a book store, and being asked “didn’t we just drive pas this strip mall?”
Our neighbors invite us to a comedy improv show they’re in and, since they say they’re going out drinking afterwards, we go. It’s a quintessential LA experience. Perhaps THE quintessential experience. Seeing people work on their goals, pursuing their passions, making their dreams happen. And, indeed, we do go out afterwards. Meeting more new people who we may never see again, but with whom we suddenly become BFFs with just for a few hours. Careers are planned. Secrets are shared. Fun is had. Some dancing. Maybe even a bit of romance- it’s my visitor’s last night after all, and at its core, LA is a place that promises romance of some kind and I’d love to see it make good on its promise.
The next morning, a final drive through the canyons, into Beverly Hills, through Santa Monica, stopping for last minute selfies before entering the war zone of LAX. Leaving my visitor with a taste of LA they’ll only know if they crave more of once their plane takes off and they’re watching it from above, gliding far away from it all.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My dedication would have to go to my wife, Rochelle. She is an amazing source of light, happiness and positivity. If I’m not sure about doing something, she encourages me to do it anyway as her outlook is, “you can’t win if you don’t play”. I run everything past her to see if it’s a story that works- is it interesting, is it laid out concisely enough, do we like or understand the characters, what’s the best ending? She’s my studio chief and my test audience. She’s sincere and honest and a great sounding board. Of course, in the pursuit of a creative career, there will be many ups and downs, and her love and support makes both the peaks and the valleys easier to navigate. I can’t thank her enough and let her know how appreciated she is every day. I wish for this kind of support to everyone no matter what their goals or journey in life.

Website: www.thatchrisoneill.com
Instagram: @thatchrisoneill
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/chris-oneill-49211784
Twitter: @thatchrisoneill
Youtube: Chape Works
Other: www.chapeworks.com https://filmfreeway.com/AwesomeFilmFestival https://prolificpictures.wixsite.com/awesomefilmfestival, https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B07Z8GR9Y3/ref=atv_dp_share_cu_r

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