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Can You Say "Boo?" Halloween Attractions Hiring 100.

Bennett’s Curse Haunted House and Creepywoods Haunted Forest has put out a casting call for vampires and werewolves, ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night. The two Halloween attractions are hiring 100 seasonal workers.
Recognized by Top Haunts magazine as a star spooky attraction, Bennett's Curse Haunted House is located in Blobb’s Park, Jessup, and opens Sept. 21. Creepywoods, located at Huber’s Farm, Kingsville, opens Sept. 28. The former is hiring 60 part-time employees; the latter, 40 part-time employees. The casting calls attract numerous applicants, some of whom arrive wearing costumes and makeup.
Jill Bennett is co-owner with her husband, Allan Bennett, of the two attractions. The Haunted House, now in its 12th season, draws 20,000 to 30,000 people annually. Attendance depends on the weather and fall sports. ”If the teams are doing well, we won’t do well,” she said.  
The Haunted House is a walk-through event with three attractions set in a 22,500-square-foot medieval-looking building that is used only for Halloween. 
It is open weekends from Sept. 21 to Nov. 3, except for the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Halloween Week, when it is also open. Admission fee is $30 per person. On Sept. 28 and 29, in partnership with the Maryland Food Bank, bring a can of food and the admission fee is reduced by $5. 

Creepywoods, now in its fourth season, is a one-third-mile walk in the woods that attracts 10,000 to 15,000 people. Bennett calls it  “classical Halloween,” with werewolves and witches. It is open weekends from September 28 to October 31. Admission fee is $20 per person.
Source: Jill Bennett, Bennett’s Curse Haunted House & Creepywoods Haunted Forest
Writer: Barbara Pash

National Endowment of the Arts Awards Grants to Station North Artists

Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. announced the third, and final, round of projects to receive funding for its “Think Big” initiative, which helps artists and musicians advance their projects.  

Station North, at 1800 North Charles St., received a total of $42,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.

"A lot of projects are done on a small budget of $100 or so. With the funding, we could give them $1,000 or so and get to the next level," says Station North Project Manager Rebecca Chan. 

Chan says the funding was about evenly split among the three rounds. A panel of judges chose the winners, aiming for a mix of performing arts, visual arts and community outreach in each of the rounds. "Think Big" funding started in October 2011 and, as word got out, Station North received an increasing number of proposals from which to choose. 

Judging from the first two rounds, "Think Big" also succeeded in bringing more people to Station North and its venues. "We had great audiences at all the events," says Chan. "There was an increasing level of energy and activities."

Ben Stone, executive director of the community-based nonprofit, says more than 40 applications were received for the third round. "A lot of the [grant recipients], like theater companies and dance companies, have regular events so people can come back again,” says Stone. “More and more people see Station North as a destination.”
He says winners highlight the artistic talent and diverse venues in the Station North District. They include:

“Vacation,” works by 11 artists, curated by Elena Johnston, at the Pent House Gallery in Station North District, through August 30.

“Submit 10 Baltimore,” created/produced by Rachel Hirshorn, writers present short segments of current works, Monday evenings at Liam Flynn's Ale House.

Mosaic Makers’ mural at 201 E. North Ave., site of Project PLASE’s men’s shelter.  

“Akimbo,” professional dance series organized by Nicole Martinelli and Sidney Pink, on Aug. 31, Sept. 15 and Sept. 19 at Station North.

“New Lens” video screening and panel discussion about youth employment, Sept.29, 10:30 a.m. at Charles Theatre.

”A Drop of Water” by Sarah Doherty, sculptural transformation of a vacant lot on the 2100 block of Charles St.

Hosted at the The Load of Fun/Gallery, “Speaking” with Johanna Drucker, lecture, workshop and exhibition on weekend of Sept. 7 and 8.

Baltimore Rock Opera Society “Pitch Party II,” vote on next productions, Sept. 29.

High Zero Foundation/The Red Room Collective screening of experimental film and video, 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at Charles Theatre.

Organized Sky Space Project’s Nights Lights, star-gazing and arts event, organized by Rachel London, 9 p.m. on Aug. 24 and Sept. 7.

Source: Ben Stone and Rebecca Chan, Station North Arts & Entertainment
Writer: Barbara Pash

Timonium Catering Firm Reaches Out to Younger Crowd

Chef’s Expressions Inc., one of Greater Baltimore’s largest catering firms, wants to win over younger customers.

The Timonium company has launched a new class of events called Social Expressions that targets 25-to-40-year-olds who might perceive that the caterer is too “elite” for them, Chef’s Expressions CEO Jerry Edwards says. Many brides and assistants to presidents are in this age range and hold the purse strings.

“We want to show them that we can do some cool events.”

Chef's Expressions, which pulls in $4.25 million in sales, caters weddings, corporate events, anniversary parties and other gatherings, hosts five-course wine dinners. But Edwards wants to get out the message that the caterer can offer cocktail parties and other informal events.

Edwards says the company will host one Social Expressions event every other month. The inaugural event will launch Aug. 23 with a tour around the Inner Harbor aboard Watermark Cruises' newest ship, the Raven. And aboard the Raven, guests can watch the Baltimore Ravens preseason game while sipping cocktails and eating mini corndogs, crab cakes with a Natty Boh tempura batter and chili served in a vodka shot glass. Advanced tickets cost $35 a piece and proceeds go to Living Classrooms Foundation.

Edwards says the events are for marketing purposes and he doesn’t expect to make money from these events, especially since the dollars generated will go toward a charity.

“We’re going after new clients. We want to reach out to a younger crowd. They may think that all we do are sit-down wine dinners.”

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Jerry Edwards, Chef's Expressions Inc. 

Filmmakers Wanted for Movie Contest

The 29 Days Later Film Project is accepting entries through Wed. July 11 for its Baltimore-based filmmakers' competition. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners, whose films will be screened on August 21 and 22 at the Creative Alliance. The screenings are open to the public for this fourth annual event.

Anyone can enter, amateur or professional. The fee is $75 per team. Dean Storm, who cofounded the project with Dawn Campbell, says 27 teams, ranging from one person to a dozen people, have entered to date. Teams are mostly from Maryland, and especially Baltimore, but a few are from Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

The kickoff for the project will be held July 11 at the Creative Alliance in Patterson Park. The teams then have 29 days, to August 9, to shoot and edit a four-to-eight-minute-long film on any topic of their choice. The one proviso is that they use a prop that will be given out at the kickoff event. Storm says that even he does not know what the prop is until that night. Everyone gets the same prop that, in past years, have included a pinwheel and a kitchen timer.

The films can be dramas, comedies, documenaries or animation. A panel of three judges will decide the winners. The winner of each day's screening will receive $150. There is also a grand prize of $500. Filmmakers retain the rights to their films.

Source: Dean Storm, 29 Days Later Film Project
Writer: Barbara Pash

Maryland Film Festival, WYPR, Kick Off Film Series

A packed audience greeted the arrival of Baltimore’s latest cultural attraction, a new film series that doesn't yet have an official title or regular schedule. 

The Maryland Film Festival  and National Public Radio affiliate WYPR 88.1 FM are partnering in the series, which kicked off earlier this month. 
Organizers plan to hold the second filming in the series in September. After that, the film will be screened between one to three months apart. The site and ticket arrangement are still in the works, says Jed Dietz, director of the Maryland Film Festival.
The series’ first screening, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a Sundance favorite, was held June 5 at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Attendance was by word-of-mouth. On July 13, an interview with Lucy Alibar, the film’s screenwriter, will air on WYPR.
Dietz says that each screening will include an interview with someone involved in the film, whether screenwriter, director or actor. The interview will be recorded and then broadcast as part of the station’s “Maryland Morning” program, airing every weekday from 9 to 10 a.m.
Katherine Gorman, producer of WYPR’s “Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast,” says the series will focus on contemporary themes, hopefully with a Maryland connection, but availability of films is dependent on distributors.
The film series format follows that of the “Maryland Morning” show, which had interviews with filmmakers with a connection to the state, either filming here or from Maryland.
“We like that connection to Maryland. We’re trying to branch out, to have a national reach,” she says. 

Sources: Jed Dietz, Maryland Film Festival; Katherine Gorman, WYPR-88.1 FM
Writer: Barbara Pash

Parking Panda Drives Into Philly, San Fran, With New Funding

Parking Panda, the Baltimore startup that finds a spot to put your car, is cruising into new cities and attracting new funding.

Within a few months, it will begin marketing in Philadelphia, its third site. San Francisco, Chicago and Boston are next on the list. Last month, it expanded to Washington, D.C. The company recently received $250,000 from investors, with another $250,000 in the works, CEO Nick Miller says. Miller founded the firm in 2001 with Adam Zilberbaum, chief technology officer. 

The company doesn't have exact dates for the expansions after Washington, D.C., says Miller. In part, it depends on demand and how many parking spaces can be arranged. 
Parking Panda locates available parking spots in private driveways and garages that drivers can reserve in advance on the web or via mobile phones. In Baltimore and Washington, D.C., it is working with two garage companies, PMI and Central Parking.
In addition, Parking Panda works with private home-owners and small business to rent their driveways, parking lots and garages. “We have quite a few private driveways that are rented for Ravens [football] games,” says Miller, who tries to line up parking for other events like festivals and farmers markets.
Also, he adds, “we work with certain neighborhoods, like Federal Hill,” where on-street parking is scarce and there are no parking garages.
Miller says the price the driver pays is set by the parking garage or driveway owner. Parking Panda takes a 20 percent fee on whatever is charged.  “If they charge $10, we get $2,” he says.
Parking Panda has a few, small parking competitors in the area, says Miller.

”But no one is doing what we do, with parking garages and private parking.”
Source: Nick Miller, Parking Panda
Writer: Barbara Pash

Tax Credits Spur Thousands of Film Jobs

Film production in Maryland has increased thanks to $7.5 million in tax credits. Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office, part of the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development, credits legislation that went into effect this year with attracting new productions.

Gerbes listed productions that were or will be filmed in the state this year. They are Season 1 and 2 of the HBO series, “Veep;” the Netflix series, “House of Cards;”  the HBO original movie, "Game Change;" and two independent films, one of which is "Jamesy Boy,” which was scheduled to begin filming in Baltimore last month.

He calculated the economic impact to the state of these productions to be nearly $200 million, and to result in approximately 5,500 jobs. For example, the economic impact of "Jamesy Boy" is estimated at $5 million and 400 new jobs for crew, actors and extras.

In 2010, the film office had funding of $1 million in tax credits. In 2011, the General Assembly passed legislation that, beginning in 2012, increased funding to up to $7.5 million in tax credits for each of the next three years. “This is the most funds we’ve ever had to attract productions,” he says.

The law stipulates that the production company must spend at least $500,000 in direct production costs in the state to be eligible for 25 to 27 percent tax credit.

With 45 states offering incentives, Gerbes says the funding enables Maryland to compete effectively for production companies. “Producers used to ask me, ‘Do you have the location and crew?’ Now they ask, ‘What’s the incentive program?’” he says.

“Producers still want you to have the right locations,” says Gerbes. “We actively market that we are near Washington, D.C.”

Source: Jack Gerbes, director, Maryland Film Office
Writer: Barbara Pash

The Next Ice Age Seeks the Next Kimmie Meissner

They thrilled you at the Olympics. You loved them at the World Figure Skating Championships. Now, ice skating is coming closer to home.

Young ice skaters can take their talent to the Next Ice Age, a Baltimore-based ice skating company that last month formed an apprentice company.
Tim Murphy, co-founder with Nathan Birch of The Next Ice Age, says the apprentice company, for ages 8 to 12 years old, will train and work with aspiring young skaters in the region.
The apprentice company will give its debut performance Sat. April 7 at 6 p.m. at Gardens Ice House, at 13800 Old Gunpowder Rd. in Laurel. The performance is free and open to the public.
Murphy and Birch, both former members of the John Curry Skating Co. who have worked with Dorothy Hamill, founded the Next Ice Age in 1988. It is a five-member professional company that performs for 10 weeks per year at the Carousel Hotel in Ocean City and venues like at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the Columbia Festival for the Arts, in Howard County.
Murphy says that two years ago, The Next Ice Age decided to open an educational arm by founding the student company, for high school age skaters. The apprentice company followed in 2012.
“We can train the students the way we’d like, with the music and choreography, in the hopes of their moving on to the professional company,” says Murphy.
Entry into the 12-member student company and 10-member apprentice company is by invitation only. “We teach ice skating so we know the students in the area,” says Murphy.
The companies practice at the Gardens Ice House, in Laurel, although members come from throughout the area, including Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
“The Next Ice Age is the resident company at the ice house,” says Murphy. “It’s their first residency. We have to go where the ice rinks are.”
Source: Tim Murphy, The Next Ice Age
Writer: Barbara Pash

Local Filmmakers Create Documentary on Chesapeake Bay

Local filmmakers have made a documentary about efforts to preserve the Chesapeake Bay tributaries.
The film airs on Maryland Public Television (MPT) April 17 and will be on permanent view at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. Executive Producer Tim Junkin says he plans to send the documentary to churches and other organizations after the airing.
Originally budgeted at $100,000, the documentary was produced for “almost nothing,” says Junkin, thanks to “donated time and pro bono” work.
Junkin, executive director of the nonprofit Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, served as executive producer and writer of “Let Our Rivers Flow,” a 25-minute-long, color film about the Midshore rivers, which include the Choptank, Miles and Wye rivers and Eastern Bay.
Junkin says the documentary describes the rivers, their history and current ecological status, and what people in the communities are doing to preserve them.
Last year, a shorter, 18-minute-long version of the documentary was shown at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, in Easton. For the current documentary, which was professionally filmed, edited and scored, several scenes were reshot.
Tom Horton, a former Baltimore Sun environmental reporter and the author of several articles and books, narrates the documentary. Bird Dog Wheeler provides music production; Sandy Cannon-Brown is editorial director and producer; and Patrick Anderson is principal photographer.
“Let Our Rivers Flow” airs during MPT’s Chesapeake Bay Week.
Source: Tim Junkin, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy
Writer: Barbara Pash

Music Mag Pen's Eye View Is Going Mobile

Baltimore music and lifestyle online magazine the Pen's Eye View is expanding its website videos and online interviews and plans to redevelop the website to make it more mobile friendly.

The company is also shopping a pilot to television producers for a series that focuses on musicians showing off their home towns during the day, then playing a live show that night. The magazine's newly revamped website should be ready late spring.

“We're so busy and so happy that we are,” says the Pen's Eye View President Richie Frieman. “Our site got revamped in late 2011 and we'll be doing another big redesign in 2012, focusing on mobile capabilities. Now we're deciding which platform to use.”

The award-winning magazine launched in 2007, and has featured more than 850 interviews with artists, musicians, and luminaries from around the world. A new interview is posted every 48 hours. The magazine has also been working on enhancing its Twitter presence by encouraging concert goers to send in tips by Twitter about live acts that they love.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Richie Frieman, the Pen's Eye View

PlayScreen Launches New Poker App

Baltimore based social media games company PlayScreen is continuing to expand its product lines with new mobile gaming apps. 

The company's latest product, PlayScreen Poker, is available for download for free in the Apple App Store. In addition to the traditional game play model of most poker apps, PlayScreen Poker allows users to connect with their friends through Facebook Connect and Apple Game Center. The game also allows players to score achievements and find hidden objects.

PlayScreen is continuing to expand its offerings in 2012.

PlayScreen has also developed a successful app centered on bocce ball. The PlayScreen app is the most popular bocce ball app for iPhone and iPod Touch, and the top sports game in Italy. The company is currently developing a tournament version of its bocce ball app that is scheduled for release in late 2012.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Vasilios Peros, PlayScreen

Broadcast Sports is Growing, Hiring

Broadcast Sports Inc. is growing.

The Hanover-based company that provides wireless telecommunications services for major sporting events recently opened a  U.K. office and is adding two staff positions here in Maryland.

Broadcast sports is currently hiring a test engineer and a management information systems analyst at its Hanover headquarters.

“The most exciting thing going on is all the new technologies we are working on now that will be deployed at various events this year," says Broadcast Sports Sales and Marketing Specialist Colleen Stanley. Though its U.K. office has only been on a few months, the company has been selected for some major sporting events including the Formula 1 racing series, Stanley says.

2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for Broadcast Sports. Already on the slate for this year, Broadcast Sports will be working the Winter X Games, Super Bowl XLVI, the Masters Golf Tournament, the Daytona 500, The Indianapolis 500 and the Summer Olympics in London. With all these events on tap, the company is looking for more help.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Colleen Stanley, Broadcast Sports Inc.

Company Promoting Cocktail Culture Launches in Baltimore

Craft cocktails are the latest trend in the beverage industry.

Liquid Culture, a beverage event start-up in Baltimore, aims to capitalize on that trend by holding events around town that combine an education in craft cocktails with an evening of fun. Craft cocktails are more than just your average rum and Coke. They rely on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, interesting flavor pairings and additives like bitters and syrups.

“I believe this is the perfect time for Liquid Culture because Baltimore, though it is often a bit behind cities like New York and L.A., seems to have caught up with the trends when it comes to food," says Liquid Culture founder Christine Stutz. 

"There are so many great restaurants in the city now, and people are much more adventurous about what they eat. There's a sophistication about food that translates naturally to what we drink. There's evidence that the cocktail movement has finally caught fire here, and we want to be the ones to fan the flames,” Stutz says.

Liquid Culture will be hosting themed food and beverage events featuring specialty drinks created by experts at venues around the city. The events are designed to educate cocktail neophytes about their options. At each themed event, a different kind of beverage will be sampled and attendees can learn about unusual cocktails. Events will be in a variety of locations around the city, with new themes and expert mixologists.

Liquid Culture will be holding their inaugural event, the Valentine themed “Libations for Lovers” on Feb. 1 at the Wine Market in Locust Point.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Christine Stutz, Liquid Culture

Caterers Launch Partyspace Baltimore

Looking for a venue for a wedding or bar mitzvah can mean hours of web searching and phone calls to determine availability and suitability. The new website Partyspace Baltimore aims to change that.

“The unique part of our website is that couples and their families can check availability 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the major venues in Baltimore and surrounding areas,” says Julie Brown-Edwards, a promoter for Partyspace Baltimore. “Our calendar service is a big difference to the way brides, couples and their families have searched for information in the past.”

Launched at the Timonium Bridal Expo 2012, Partyspace Baltimore is the brainchild of the Jeffrey A. Miller Catering Co. of Philadelphia and Chef’s Expressions Inc. of Baltimore. Partyspace Baltimore is designed to provide event planners and individuals planning their own parties with a one-stop shop for venues and event vendors.

The website offers users the opportunity to check venue availability any time with frequently updated calendars. The site also offers information about capability, restrictions and amenities.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Julie Brown-Edwards, Partyspace Baltimore

Pure Bang Games Is Hiring

Baltimore's Pure Bang Games is growing. The social games developer recently added star game designer Eric Ruth, developer of Pixel Force, to their roster and they're looking for more help as they launch new projects.

The company is looking for a top user interface designer as well as “rock star” front-end and back-end programmers, says Pure Bang CEO Ben Walsh. Ideally, the new hire will know AS3 Flash and/or PHP and MySQL, but if they know object-oriented programming, Pure Bang can teach them what they need to know to be mobile and Facebook programmers, Walsh says.

Pure Bang Games has a busy 2012 planned. The company is planning to launch their third mobile app game in the first quarter of this year. Pure Bang Games also plans to launch a new game by Eric Ruth.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Ben Walsh, Pure Bang Games
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