PBSC film certificate helps attorney redirect career

Swiped, a film by Ann Deborah Fishman
The poster for “Swiped,” a film written, directed and produced by Ann Deborah Fishman. Click image to visit the website and watch the trailer.

Palm Beach State College plays a starring role in Ann Deborah Fishman’s film “Swiped”—on screen and off.

The attorney-turned-filmmaker was enrolled in PBSC’s Motion Picture Post-Production Technology college credit certificate program in 2015 when she got the idea for a comedy about the hook-up culture on a fictional college campus and wrote the script while taking the program’s screenwriting course. A longtime Florida resident, she filmed the movie all around Palm Beach County during summer 2016, including on the Palm Beach Gardens campus, using PBSC Film department alumni and students as part of the film crew.

Now available on iTunes, Amazon, Xfinity, VUDU and many other platforms, “Swiped” isn’t Fishman’s first film. Her love for the medium evolved while she practiced law in the fields of business litigation, intellectual property, e-commerce, software development and entertainment. Her first film was a documentary about the freedom of speech, followed by “Marriage Material,” a romantic comedy starring “Saturday Night Live’s” Victoria Jackson. After writing, producing and directing those films, Fishman completed a program in independent producing at UCLA Extension.

However, even with this experience and education under her belt, Fishman knew she needed more training to take her film career to the next level. It was then that a friend encouraged her to sign up for the PBSC program, that friend being Frank Eberling, who for more than 20 years had been a popular film instructor at the College. She graduated from the certificate program in December 2016.

“I wanted to push myself to master all of the technology and craftsmanship that goes into making a film,” Fishman said. “The unique quality of the PBSC film program is that it is an intensive, hands-on filmmaking experience. PBSC throws you into the deep end of the pool with cameras, audio recording equipment, lights, light stands, cables and all. You use and master all of the equipment necessary to learn how to actually make a movie.”

Ann Deborah Fishman, George Hamilton and Alana Stewart
Ann Deborah Fishman with “Swiped” cast members George Hamilton and Alana Stewart

According to Fishman, many film programs teach theory but do not equip students to make a movie.

“There is no question that I am a better writer, director and producer today than I was before I was in the program,” she said.

Thomas Cznarty, professor and chair of PBSC’s Film department, notes that many different types of students are drawn to the department’s Associate in Science degrees and certificate programs, from dual-enrolled high school students to career changers to people who are already in the film business and want to brush up or advance their careers.

“Our program runs the gamut of courses, from screenwriting to cinematography to editing to producing to set design,” Cznarty said.” Students get all the necessary skills in order to give them a chance to be successful out there in a very competitive business.”

Since the film’s premiere on Nov. 6, 2018, “Swiped” has gotten considerable notice. The film features established stars like George Hamilton and Kristen Johnston (“Third Rock from the Sun,” “Mom”), as well as Leigh Allyn Baker (“Good Luck Charlie”), Nathan Gamble (“Dolphin Tale”) and Noah Centineo, who became a break out star this past summer with the Netflix release of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Sierra Burgess Is a Loser.” Centineo’s leading role in “Swiped” led to several online articles from around the world mentioning the film. He also appeared on behalf of “Swiped” on “The Late Late Show” with James Corden and “Entertainment Tonight Live.”

Director Fishman and cast at PBSC library on Gardens campus
Ann Deborah Fishman (fifth from right) with “Swiped” cast members on location at PBSC’s Palm Beach Gardens campus library

The topic of “Swiped” is timely. The plot revolves around a college freshman with exceptional computer skills who is enlisted by his womanizing roommate to code the ultimate hook-up app, and unexpected consequences result. In writing the script, Fishman drew upon her fascination with coding, having been the owner of a software distribution company, her experience as the mother of two millennials, and her own sensibilities as a woman who believes that young women are harmed by the hook-up app phenomenon.

“I was inspired to write ‘Swiped’ to address the current hook-up culture in a comic way and start a conversation about the impact it has on relationships,” she said.

Fishman still practices law but puts most of her energies into her production company, Night Dove Pictures, and plans to produce and direct two more of her screenplays later this year.

“Education is so critical and to find a program like Palm Beach State’s – literally in my backyard – was amazing,” she said. “It was like finding a precious gem.”

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