Arts & Life
New On DVD
Selected news and feature stories
from the Detroit Jewish News.
) Back In Time
Look for Alexis P. Rubin's
"This Month in Jewish History"
) What's Eating
) Brian Blum's This
Normal Life: The Naked
Laugh out loud with Brian's
'true tales of a family vacation
on the West Coast, clothing-
optional beaches and other
ters. This and more on
Out of the ordinary
When you think of sex and
spying, you probably don't
think museums. But two
Jewish entrepreneurs, Daniel
Gluck and Milton Maltz,
did. Learn all about it on
Former Michigander learns the ropes
of filmmaking on "Winter Break.
Special to the Jewish News
ark Botvinick's celebra-
tion of work took place
the day after Labor Day.
That's when a film that
has consumed his attention since 1995
was released on DVD.
Winter Break, which he wrote and co-
produced, is available on Amazon and
in some video stores. It stars Milo
Ventimiglia of Gilmore Girls and CSI,
Maggie Lawson of Pleasantville, Felicity
and the upcoming sitcom It's All •
Relative, and Eddie Kaye Thomas of the
American Pie film trilogy.
Although not exactly auto-
biographical, the storyline
takes off from an experience
Botvinick had just after grad-
uating from Duke University
in Durham, N.C., when he
spent time "finding his way"
at a ski resort.
Using invented characters,
he explores the impact of for-
getting academia and build-
ing relationships in a beauti-
ful, outdoor environment.
"Winter Break sends the
message, 'Follow your heart
and find happiness,"' says
Botvinick, 32, who grew up
in Bloomfield Township, had
his bar mitzvah at Temple
Beth El and earned his high-
school diploma at Cranbrook.
"It's about a young man convinced by
pals to turn down a corporate job and
join them in Colorado."
Botvinick, although writing for a long
time as a hobby, didn't think of cinema
as his ultimate career until after college
and some work experience. An econom-
ics and marketing major, he scouted his
first professional job in Cincinnati,
where marketing was his focus.
After accepting an advertising posi-
tion in Seattle, he took a screenwriting
class for fun.
The class forced him to take a second
look at what had been an informal
Botvinick "begged" his way onto the
set of a film being shot in Seattle. He
worked as a production intern and
extended his knowledge of filmmaking.
"I was then able to work with any
production crew that came into the
city," Botvinick says. "With that experi-
ence, I moved to Los Angeles in 1996
and studied at the American Film
Another internship, with thirtysome-
thing producers Ed Zwick and Marshall
Herskovitz, gave him experience in
developing shows, and Botvinick landed
a job as creative assistant for John
Landau, who went on to produce
Botvinick started thinking about
developing a script he had drafted years
earlier and showed it to someone who
had worked as an intern for him. The
plished a tremendous amount, and I
found out about post-production and
"I know the importance of having a
solid person to sell a film because we
were very close to having a theatrical
release. There are some cable deals in
the works right now, but I'm not direct-
Before Botvinick left the filming, his
parents, Sandra and Carl Botvinick,
spent a few days in Colorado watching
the production being made.
"Mark had almost sole responsibility
for 80 employees, tons of filming equip-
ment and basically every aspect of this
project," his mom recalls. "We were for-
tunate to have been able to witness our
son at work and found the film to be a
very cute, romantic comedy with some
fine young actors."
Botvinick, who directed and pro-
duced the play Ten Little Indians while
attending Cranbrook, has begun writing
Above: Its a wrap: left to right, producer Mark Botvinick,
cast members Rachel Wilson, Maggie Lawson and Milo
Ventimiglia, and director Marni Banack. Left: Letting of
steam: "Winter Break" producer/writer Mark Botvinick
and director Marni Banack.
intern was able to raise money, and they
began the Winter Break project in 1999.
Marni Banack, an AFI classmate, was
chosen as director. Ironically, Botvinick
and Banack discovered they shared a
common experience of spending sum-
mers at Canada's Camp Tamakwa, a
vacation spot enjoyed by other nascent
film professionals, such as writer-direc-
tor-producer Sam Raimi.
"There was a point almost two years
ago when I left the movie because of
creative differences, so this is definitely
not the film I set out to make," reveals
Botvinick, particularly disappointed by
the provocative publicity illustrations he
believes do not give an accurate sense of
"The production team did have me
come back to do the final editing, and
in many ways, that's a typical
Hollywood tale. I still think we accom-
a new script based on another actual
experience. It has to do with fixing up
an old home, which is what he and his
wife, Chris, tried to do in Hollywood.
The two were able to remove them-
selves from that disastrous project and
are living in Boulder, Colo., where she
is studying for her master's degree in
Botvinick occasionally takes time
from his script project to write songs for
his sister, Hope, who is trying to break
in as a rock singer in Los Angeles.
Brother Brad is doing an anesthesiology
residency in Chicago.
"We plan to stay in Boulder for at
least a year, and we're enjoying hiking,
skiing and going to musical shows,"
Botvinick says. "I think I am able to fol-
low my own dreams because of the very
supportive and nurturing childhood I
had in Michigan." 0