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Sundance Lab Fellows Logan Kibens and Sharon Greene Debut 'Operator' in Screenplay Reading Series

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood May 17, 2012 at 10:53AM

Writer-director Logan Kibens and co-writer Sharon Greene debuted "Operator" Monday evening at the Ivy Substation in Culver City as part of the Sundance Institute Screenplay Reading Series. "Operator," a tech-savvy (and tech-wary) relationship comedy, was selected for the highly selective Sundance Screenwriting Labs in January.
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Writer-director Logan Kibens and co-writer Sharon Greene debuted "Operator" this week at the Ivy Substation in Culver City as part of the Sundance Institute Screenplay Reading Series. "Operator," a tech-savvy (and tech-wary) relationship comedy, was selected for the highly selective Sundance Screenwriting Labs in January.

A solid mix of actors were on hand, many from the upper echelons of the TV world. Ben Feldman (Ginsberg from "Mad Men") and Deborah Ann Woll (of "True Blood") played the script's central couple, with supporting help from Miles Fisher (another "Mad Men" alum) and Mimi Kennedy (Rachel McAdams' furniture snob mother in "Midnight in Paris").

Without giving too much away, "Operator" revolves around twentysomething Joe Larson (Feldman), a well-intentioned but socially inept engineer attempting to design the ultimate voice response system for customer support phonelines at healthcare company Welltrix. After initial tester voice "Alexis" fails miserably, Joe enlists his girlfriend Emily (Woll), a nurturing teacher at a hippie-dippy grade school, to be the empathetic voice of the next model. This does no wonders for their relationship, as Joe becomes increasingly obsessed with Emily "the voice" over Emily "his girlfriend/a human."

The actors' commitment to their roles was impressive, particularly during a sequence in which Woll and Kennedy have to belt Patti Smith's "Because the Night." (You'll have to wait for an upcoming Sundance to find out what the context of that is.) Also admirable was Ilyse McKimmie, the organizer of the Screenplay Reading Series, who narrated the entire 90-plus page script with hardly a slip-up. I'd never been to a rehearsed live read before, but it's an enjoyable hybrid of theater and film, where one gets the energy of a stage performance while mentally picturing the yet-to-be-realized movie.

Logan Kibens and Sharon Greene
Logan Kibens and Sharon Greene

Aside from being a 2012 Screenwriter Lab fellow, Logan Kibens was awarded the 2011 HBO/DGA Directing Fellowship and was selected as one of Film Independent's 2011 Project:Involve fellows for her CalArts thesis film "Recessive." Sharon Greene is a Chicago playwright turned screenwriter, whose 2008 play "Fake Lake" was on the Best Plays list of both Time Out Chicago and The Chicago Tribune. Kibens and Greene also are live-in partners, and humorously thanked the audience in advance for being willing to watch their "psycho-sexual" complexes emerge from the reading.

This article is related to: Sundance Institute , Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Filmmaker Toolkit


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.