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    Director Alexis Korycinski ’07 screens “The Haircut”

    Alexis screening

    SU alumna Alexis Korycinski ’07 discusses how opportunities at SU shaped her career in Los Angeles. 

    “When there’s an opportunity, raise your hand, don’t hold back,” encouraged Syracuse University alumna Alexis Korycinski ’07. The proud Orange woman and directing fellow of the esteemed American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women (AFI DWW) filled a screening room at the historic production studio space, The Lot in Hollywood on Oct. 8, 2014, presented by Syracuse University Los Angeles (SULA).

    Korycinski offered advice to current students participating in the SULA Semester program as well as alumni and shared her experience in directing and producing her short film, “The Haircut,” set in 1976, which sheds light on a significant time for women. This was the first time females were allowed to join the military after a 174-year ban. Staring Bailey Noble (“True Blood”) along side Molly Quinn (“Castle”), David Starzyk (“Mad Men”), Walter Fauntleroy (“The Young and the Restless”) and other familiar faces, we see new recruit Amy (Noble) follow her passion to serve her country despite the overwhelming social, emotional and physical challenges.

    “I wanted to make a film that showed a strong woman – someone who, against all odds, overcame opposition to change the course of history,” stated the filmmaker.

    Korycinski was one of eight women selected for the annual AFI DWW, now in its 40th year. After attending the three-week workshop, the program allows its fellows only four weeks of pre-production, five days of production, and 30 days in post-production to complete their short films.

    Korycinski’s creative team was in attendance for a post-screening Q&A that included writer Julia Cox, editor Emily Mendez, and producers Saray Deiseil and Greg Gertmenian. The group discussed the hurdles in producing the short film as well as how they all worked together to make it happen.

    “Locations are key! You have to think about every single detail as a filmmaker from locations down to what they’re wearing, costuming – everything,” Korycinski said. Some of the film was shot at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, seen in films such as “Pearl Harbor,” “A Few Good Men,” and “Crash.”

    Deiseil and Korycinski also talked about casting and finding the perfect talent for the film. “It’s all a part of the process. You can change the way that you look at your character,” explained Deiseil about the casting decisions for Nobel and Quinn.

    “You’re creating this palette that will make your film. And if you cast really good actors, they make your job so easy. I was able to really enjoy the process,” adds Korycinsky.

    Another big challenge the team ran into while making the film was funding. The AFI doesn’t provide any money to the directors for their projects but instead allows them to learn a bit of creative producing, capping each production with a $40,000 fundraising limit. Alexis and her team managed to raise $11,505 through an IndieGoGo campaign, and they’ve received a $5,000 grant from Creative District, and a $10,000 grant from Impact First Films. Even with what they’ve raised so far, the team is still in the process of garnering more capital.

    “We’re still fundraising,” explains the director. “Being a part of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women is very prestigious, not just (in securing) money but also meetings. (Studios) want to get to know me as a director and as a person – they want to see me grow. It definitely opens doors.”

    For information on what’s next for "The Haircut," visit

    Written by Whitney Marin, a senior television, radio and film and public policy dual major currently participating in the SULA Semester program.

    Photos by Rich Prugh ’06; courtesy of Rich Prugh Photography. 

    Haircut panel

    "The Haircut" production team, from left, producers Saray Deiseil and Greg Gertmenian, editor Emily Mendez, writer Julia Cox, director Alexis Korycinski, panel moderater Robin Howard, Director of the SULA Semester.