Suzanne Niedland directing ‘Almost, Maine’ for Under-the-Bridge Players

Posted by on Apr 24, 2010 in News | 0 comments

By Carol Saunders

Suzanne Niedland, award winning filmmaker and actor with more than 25 years of diversified experience in the entertainment industry, will direct the final Under-the-Bridge Players production, “Almost, Maine” at the Burt Reynolds Museum and Institute for Film and Theatre.

At a technical rehearsal April 21 at the Museum, where the quirky romantic comedy will be presented this week, Niedland says she became enthusiastic about bringing the show to Jupiter after seeing it for the first time last summer.

“The play is fun and entertaining,” Niedland stated, “and I am thrilled at the opportunity to direct this production at BRIFT, at the encouragement and invitation of Mr. Reynolds.”

Niedland is currently chairman of the board and a founder of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre (BRIFT) and also on the Executive Board for the National Committee for the prestigious Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C.

The Under the Bridge Players will present John Cariani’s widely praised play, which is a hysterically funny look at life and love in a small, mythical town in far northern Maine, beginning Wednesday, April 28 at 8 p.m. for five performances through Sunday, May 2, with a final matinee at 2 p.m.

“It’s a feel good play. It’s the kind of show we need more of. A perfect play to show-off a large cast, have some real laughs and smile all the way home,” says Burt Reynolds.

“Almost, Maine,” was originally performed off-Broadway in the winter of 2005/2006 at the Daryl Roth Theatre and has been produced hundreds of times in theaters all over the United States and as far away as Korea, Australia and Canada.

Set in two acts with a prologue and epilogue, the story takes place in various locales on a cold, clear moonless Friday evening in the middle of winter in the mythical town of the same name, Almost, Maine.

Quite without warning, Almost’s residents find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and hilarious ways. As the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky, knees are bruised and healed. Hearts are broken, love is lost, found and often confounding. Hearts are mended almost.

The “Los Angeles Times” described “Almost, Maine” as “a sweet- natured valentine to fools and idioms,” while Florida Weekly hailed the play as “a gem.”

Niedland, a 1990 graduate of BRITT and current student in Reynolds’ Master Acting Class and is making her stage directorial debut with the full support and encouragement of her mentor, Reynolds. She cast the production with students in the current Burt Reynolds Master Acting Class she is part of.

“I have a wonderful and talented cast of 12 actors who have been a dream for any director to work with. They have given me their trust and we have had fun developing their characters and putting the production together,” says Niedland.

Reynolds commented, “Suzanne Niedland is the perfect one from our class to move up and direct her first play. She’s always been someone I felt had a great attention to detail and a real sharp sense of what works on stage and what doesn’t. She will not sleep until this play opens and it will be the best experience working in the theatre so far in her young life.”

Niedland, and husband philanthropist Larry De George, are Jupiter residents. She received a masters degree in documentary filmmaking from University of Florida in 2004, is an actor and independent producer based out of Jupiter with her own independent company, BusEye Films and serves on the boards of the Palm Beach Film and Television Commission, Advisory Council for the Documentary Institute at University of Florida and the Advisory Council for the Palm Beach Film Institute.

“I have a wonderful cast to work with and the show is a lot of fun – we are all having a great time,” Niedland said at the technical rehearsal. “And FYI, my production company, BusEye Films, LLC is sponsoring the production so that all monies coming in from ticket sales will go directly to BRIFT, a not-for-profit organization.”

Also, “I wanted to let everyone know that the necklace I’ve been wearing to each rehearsal and will wear through the run of ‘Almost, Maine’ was a very special and meaningful gift from Mr. Reynolds. It is a medallion of Saint Genesius, Patron Saint of the Arts. Burt says he has been wearing his (he never takes it off) for 50 years! Pretty neat!,” Neidland said.

Cast members include David Ausem, Vincent Chimato, J. Mark Emerson, Klif Gehring, Earleen Carey-Marlow, Peter Marzilli, Ivie Gabrielle Slocumb, Marianne Carlisle Salem, Rhonda Stearns, Robert Tassey, Joanna Theobalds and C. Todd Vittum.


Posted by on Apr 27, 2009 in News | 0 comments

By Nathan Crabbe

Count actor Burt Reynolds among the supporters of the University of Florida’s Documentary Institute.

The institute is targeted for elimination in UF’s options for budget cuts. Supporters have been conducting a campaign to save the program, including an online petition that recently passed a goal of 1,000 signatures.

Signature No. 1,026 is from none other than Reynolds, an actor whose work ranges from Smokey and the Bandit to Boogie Nights.

“It will be a true tragedy if the University of Florida closes The Documentary Institute,” he wrote. “The talent nurtured through this program comes along so rarely … I know because I’ve been doing this for 50 years and the most talented person I have ever met came out of the Documentary Institute’s program.”

Reynolds is referring to Suzanne Niedland, a 2004 graduate of the institute who has worked with him on projects such as the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre in Jupiter. She co-directed Miss Lil’s Camp, a documentary about a summer camp in Georgia and its director.


Posted by on Apr 12, 2009 in News | 0 comments


By Kit Bradshaw

Suzanne Niedland’s dream began in elementary school when she decided to be an actor.

She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, subsequently becoming one of the students of the Burt Reynolds Institute of Theatre Training who has succeeded in the industry.

“One of the great things that happened with BRITT was that I had the opportunity to be an apprentice on Burt’s show, B.L. Stryker, and he encouraged us to talk to the production people and ask them questions,” she said.

“We also had to work in a lot of different areas for the show. I worked wardrobe and ironed the costumes, and cleaned the dressing rooms and put together the props. Burt’s philosophy was that if we knew what each person did for their job, we would always respect them. He didn’t want any prima donnas.”

The training at BRITT encouraged Niedland to continue in the industry. She returned to UF to earn her master’s degree as part of the Documentary Institute program.

“This is a wonderful program, and through it I wore every hat in the filmmaking process. I discovered that although I never felt I had a strong technical aptitude for filmmaking, I’m a natural producer and directing is easy for me, and I found I was very good at editing. But writing is painful for me, although my writing teacher was very encouraging,” she said.

Through the Documentary Institute, Neidland met fellow student Anberin Pasha. The two women decided to create a 26-minute documentary about one aspect of the life of Lillian Smith, the idealistic founder of an exclusive summer camp for girls in Georgia, which operated in the 1930s and 1940s.

The documentary, Miss Lil’s Camp, will be aired Saturday, April 11 at 10:30 p.m. and again on Sunday, April 19 at 2:30 p.m. on WXEL TV 42.

“When we researched Lillian Smith, we learned about the difference she made in the lives of these girls from the South. The camp was invitation-only, and only wealthy white girls could attend.

Smith not only gave them a camp experience, with a swimming pool, tennis courts and horseback riding, she exposed them to the art, culture and literature, including the literature of African-Americans.

“She encouraged them to question the Jim Crow laws, and segregation and to think for themselves,” Neidland said. “Many of the women we talked with who had been at the camp went on to get their master’s degrees and doctorates, which was unusual at that time.”

Since the documentary was released, it has been viewed in various cities by a broad cross-section of audience members.

But Niedland said she is particularly happy with the reception by teachers, since Smith was a teacher who had tremendous impact on her students’ lives.

“The documentary is available for distribution in schools and libraries, and so many teachers want to include it in their history and women’s classes,” Neidland said. “So I feel I have a part in honoring this woman who is left out of the history books, but who influenced these students and others, including the late Martin Luther King Jr.”

Developing the documentary has influenced Niedland as well, she said. She interviewed many of the women who had been part of Miss Lil’s camp, and they eagerly shared their history and experiences with her.

“You get so close to these people, and you feel so privileged to know them. These women are now in their 70s and 80s, but they could still talk about the profound effect Lillian Smith had on their lives.”

Niedland, who lives in Jupiter with her husband, Larry DeGeorge, already has several other documentary projects under way.

She is returning to acting and considering expanding the Lillian Smith story for a Hallmark Channel program.

Some special projects—trying to save UF’s Documentary Institute and, now as the chairwoman of the Burt Reynolds Institute of Film and Theatre—are taking much of her time.

But Niedland doesn’t plan to forget the reason why she loves the documentary genre.

“A narrative piece (film) can affect a person and be incredibly powerful, but there is something about truth being more powerful than fiction; and that is what a documentary is,” she said.Miss Lil’s Camp

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2009 in News | 0 comments


Independent filmmakers Suzanne Niedland of BusEye Films, LLC, and Aaron Wells of Silver Beach Productions, Inc, have been honored for their documentary short film What Is Art? with a prestigious 2009 CINE Special Jury Award. Chosen from among all of the 2008 CINE Golden Eagle Award winners, their film was deemed the best of its category, New Media – Non-Fiction, by a panel of members of CINE’s Board of Directors.

The CINE Special Jury Awards recognize the elite among the winners of the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award. This year’s recipients include productions from independent and student filmmakers, as well as such distinguished organizations as CNN, A&E, National Geographic, American Movie Classics, and Discovery Communications.

As a Special Jury Award winner, What Is Art? is now eligible for CINE’s top prize: the CINE Masters Series Award, which is presented to the top production in each of CINE’s six divisions. The Masters Series Award winners will be announced at the CINE Awards Gala on April 29, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Niedland and Wells plan to attend the gala.

CINE Awards are greatly valued in the moving-image industries. Past CINE winners include such internationally recognized artists and producers/directors as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Robert Altman, George Lucas, Barbara Kopple, Debra Chasnoff, Ken Burns, Sheila Nevins, and many others.

What Is Art? was produced for St. Petersburg based gallery NOVA 535, a unique art gallery and event venue where visitors enjoy spectacular visual and performing arts experiences. It features clips of several area artists, all of whom were part of Nova 535’s grand opening, answering the question “What is art?”. Mike Novilla, Nova 535 owner and the film’s Executive Producer, also talks about the inspiration for creating such a unique space and his goals. Wells directed and edited the light-hearted short; Niedland wrote and produced; both shot. What Is Art? can be viewed on YouTube.

What Is Art? was also honored with a 2008 Silver Telly Award. In 2007 Wells and Niedland were awarded a CINE Golden Eagle Award for their short film Opportunity Knocks starring Tristan Rogers, Niedland, and Tim Powell. The filmmakers currently have several productions in various stages of development.

To learn more about Silver Beach Productions please visit their web site at Additional information about BusEye Films can be found at Details on the CINE Awards can be found at NOVA 535 can be contacted at


Posted by on May 13, 2008 in News | 0 comments



Aaron Wells of Silver Beach Productions, Inc. and Suzanne L. Niedland of BusEye Films, LLC. have been honored for their production What is Art? at the 28th Annual Telly Awards with a Silver Telly, the award’s highest honor. Wells directed, Niedland produced, and both filmed the promotional documentary. The program was shot for the opening of art gallery NOVA 535 in St. Petersburg, FL, where the filmmakers explored the question “What is art?” through interviews with area artists featured at the facility’s grand opening along with venue owner Michael S. Novilla. Original music was provided by celebrated hip-hop DJ and recording artist DJ Zeph and Wide Hive Records. This is Niedland’s first Telly Award; it’s Wells’ 14th and second Silver Telly.

The Telly Awards honor the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, and work created for the Web. Since 1978, their mission has been to strengthen the visual arts community by inspiring, promoting, and supporting creativity. The 28th Annual Telly Awards received a record 14,362 entries from all 50 states, 30 countries, and 5 continents.

For over a quarter century, the Telly statuette has been a symbol of creative excellence.

Silver Winners are awarded a Silver Telly statuette, the highest honor. Designed by RS Owens, the same firm that makes the Oscar and Emmy, the Telly statuette weighs more than 4.5 pounds.

A prestigious judging panel of over 40 accomplished industry professionals, each a past Winner of a Silver Telly, judged the competition, upholding the historical standard of excellence that Telly represents. Judges evaluated entries to recognize distinction in creative work; entries do not compete against each other, rather entries are judged against a high standard of merit. Less than 10% of entries are chosen as Winners of a Silver Telly. Other outstanding work is awarded a Bronze Telly.

“I am again incredibly impressed with the remarkable level of achievement evident in the diverse pool of entries,” notes Telly Chairman Richard Friley, an Emmy and Telly Award winner himself. “It is a true accomplishment for all of the Winners to be recognized from such an outstanding body of work.”

This is the second project Niedland and Wells have collaborated on. Their first, Opportunity Knocks starring Tristan Rogers, won a CINE Golden Eagle. They currently have several other projects in development.

Other 2008 Silver Telly Winners include American Movie Classics, Black Entertainment TV, Comedy Central, FX Networks, Harpo Studios, HGTV, Marshall Field’s, Microsoft, Nickelodeon, Nike, Starz Entertainment Group, The History Channel, TV Guide Networks, Turner Classic Movies, and WE! Women’s Entertainment. For a complete list of Silver Telly winners for the 28th Annual competition, please visit

What Is Art can be viewed online at Additional information about Silver Beach Productions can be found at and BusEye Films at Nova 535 can be contacted via their web site at


Posted by on Apr 1, 2008 in News | 0 comments


Miss Lil’s Camp will be distributed nationally to public broadcasting stations (PBS) through National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) and with WXEL West Palm Beach as its presenting station.

What does this mean? Various PBS stations around the country will decide indpendently if they want to broadcast Miss Lil’s Camp. If you are interested in seeing Miss Lil’s Camp air on your local PBS stations, contact the station and let them know that the film will be available for them to download on June 8th through NETA.

Each PBS station will have 3 years in which to broadcast Miss Lil’s Camp 4 times.

In addition, for anyone interested in purchasing a copy of Miss Lil’s Camp, check the store by clicking here.


Posted by on Feb 19, 2008 in News | 0 comments


Silver Beach Productions, Inc and BusEye Films, LLC are pleased to announce that, nearly a year after its World Premiere, independent short film Opportunity Knocks continues to receive accolades from festivals and competitions nationwide. Most recently the CINE award winning dark comedy starring Tristan Rogers was a hit at the inaugural 2008 South Florida Indy Film Festival held January 22 at the historic Colony Theater in Miami Beach, FL.

“Great script, great directing, and superb acting,” is how festival director Jon Rivera sums up the short. “Opportunity Knocks is one of the films that inspired me to start working on the 2009 festival immediately.”

Opportunity Knocks tells the story of a distraught woman who’s suicide attempt via tea laced with poison is interrupted when Death’s bumbling assistant arrives early—causing “mortis interruptis”. Suzanne Niedland of Jupiter, FL plays suicidal Luci and Tim Powell of Orlando, FL portrays Death’s assistant, Mr. Morehead. Rogers, a veteran of over 40 films and television programs including the legendary Robert Scorpio in the ABC soap opera General Hospital, brings the character of Death to life.

“Receiving recognition for your work is always an honor, especially when it’s in your own back yard,” states director Aaron Wells of Wellington, FL. Wells also edited the film in addition to co-producing with Niedland. Wells adds, “We had a great cast and crew. It shows the level of professionalism available in our film community, right here in South Florida.”

Niedland adds, “We created Opportunity Knocks as an experiment to test the chemistry among the actors and work with the characters and story. All of us who worked on the film continue to be encouraged by the positive reaction we receive on the festival circuit and from our peers.”

According to Rivera, “The (South Florida Indy Film Festival) audience, which was over a hundred strong, was taken for a ride: one minute almost in tears at a teenager who died or a prisoner tortured, the next laughing at Death himself.”

Opportunity Knocks received a prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award in December 2007, and was also an Official Selection and Film of Note at the 2007 Moondance Film Festival in Hollywood, CA. The short held its world premiere at the 12th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival in April of 2007. Much of the cast and crew were in attendance, including Rogers who also hosted the festival’s Black Tie Gala. Nearly 200 film-goers turned out for the premiere including several of Rogers’ fans who traveled over 1,000 miles to be part of the festivities.

Wells and Niedland are currently in development on several film and television projects, including a pilot based on Opportunity Knocks. Wells is also in post-production on Rock and a Hard Place, a feature-length documentary about South Florida’s lost rock music scene featuring several prominent names in the music industry, including Coz Candler and Mike Skill of The Romanics; record producers Tony Bongiovi (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Ozzy Ozbourne) and Glen Kolotkin (Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Jett); and a yet-to-be-discovered Johnny Depp of The Kids. Niedland is in development on a feature documentary and a feature narrative and will soon be seen as a co-host for the Production Year in Review on Channel 20, produced by the Palm Beach Film and Television Commission.

Additional information on the South Florida Indy Film Festival can be found at Please visit for additional information on Opportunity Knocks.


Posted by on Jan 1, 2008 in News | 0 comments

Silver Beach Productions and BusEye Films are pleased to announce Palm Beach County filmmakers Aaron Wells and Suzanne Niedland have won a prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award for their film Opportunity Knocks. Since its founding in 1957, CINE has been dedicated to discovering, rewarding, educating, and supporting established and emerging talent in film and video. The CINE Golden Eagle is recognized internationally as a symbol of the highest production standards in film-making.

“This award recognizes the excellence of your production,” writes Mary Frost, Chair of the CINE Competition Committee. “It is a pleasure to acknowledge the excellent film-making craftsmanship evident in Opportunity Knocks.”

CINE Golden Eagle winners include such internationally recognized artists and producers/directors as Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Ken Burns, Mel Brooks, and many others. CINE’s honorary awards have been presented to such industry leaders as Executive Vice President of HBO Sheila Nevins, the pioneering comedy team The Smothers Brothers, entrepreneur and innovator Ted Turner, USA Network and Sci-Fi Network President Bonnie Hammer, and preeminent film critic Roger Ebert.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized,” states Wells. “The CINE is a prestigious award, and we’re thrilled to be in the company of some of the heavyweights of the film and television industries.”

Opportunity Knocks is a dark comedy about a distraught woman who’s suicide attempt via poisoned tea is interrupted when Death’s bumbling bureaucratic assistant arrives early—causing “mortis interruptis”. The film stars Tristan Rogers as Death, Niedland as suicidal Luci, and Tim Powell as Death’s assistant, Mr. Morehead. Wells directed as well as edited the film. It was shot in HD on a Panasonic HVX200 entirely in Palm Beach County, Florida.

“Sitting down to a cup of tea with Death? It’s very surreal,” chuckles Rogers, a veteran of over 40 films and television programs, best know for his legendary role as Robert Scorpio in the ABC soap opera General Hospital. Regarding the win Roger’s adds, “Cream always rises to the surface.”

According to Niedland, “Being recognized by our peers is a true honor and makes receiving a CINE Golden Eagle an important award for any filmmaker.” This is Niedland’s second CINE Golden Eagle, the first being in 2005 for her short documentary, Miss Lil’s Camp.

In the Fall 2007 competition, over 300 judges viewed and evaluated hundreds of distinguished entries. Experienced professionals in the field of film and video production, as well as subject matter experts, serve in a volunteer capacity. They judge the entries using standards of overall excellence, evaluating such criteria as storytelling, production value, artistry, the extent to which the film meets its stated goals and communicates with it’s intended audience, and overall excellence.

CINE Awards are greatly valued in the moving-image industries. As a CINE Golden Eagle winner, Opportunity Knocks is eligible for the CINE Special Jury Awards, based on a “best of category” determination by panels of distinguished jurors. Special Jury Awards winners in turn automatically compete for CINE’s top film and video honors—the CINE Masters Series Awards, which recognize the highest-ranking winners in five professional divisions, and the CINE Award of Excellence for the most deserving student/non-professional work. The CINE Masters Series Awards are sponsored by Henninger Media Services, which is providing a total of $25,000 in film and video services to the winners. The CINE Award of Excellence is sponsored by Eastman Kodak, which has traditionally provided product grants to winners and runners up, and an invitation to the producer of the best student film to join the Kodak delegation at a prestigious film festival or other valuable networking event.

Wells and Niedland are currently in development on a feature-length television pilot and series based on Opportunity Knocks. In addition, the short film continues to be well received on the festival circuit.

Opportunity Knocks held its world premiere at the 12th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival in April of 2007, where it opened for the feature film a Lobster Tale. Much of Opportunity Knocks‘ cast and crew were in attendance, including Rogers who also hosted the Black Tie Gala. Nearly 200 film-goers turned out for the premiere including several of Rogers’ fans traveled over 1,000 miles to be part of the festivities.

Please visit for additional information on Opportunity Knocks. For more information about CINE, the Awards Competition, or the awards, visit the website at