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L.A. theater veteran wins LAFF documentary award for 'Make Believe'

June 29, 2010 | 10:30 am


"Make Believe," an offbeat documentary about six young magicians who are competing for the title of Teen World Champion, won the documentary award this weekend at the Los Angeles Film Festival. For producer Steven Klein, the win represents the culmination of nearly 15 years of work as both a theater and film artist in L.A.

Klein is a founder and president of Firefly, a small outfit that produces stage and screen projects. Among its most notable ventures have been a number of projects staged at L.A.'s Black Dahlia  Theatre, including Geraldine Hughes' "Belfast Blues," a play that ran in 2003 at the Black Dahlia and subsequently transferred to the off-Broadway Barrow Street Theatre. 

Steven klein The company also has produced Jane Martin's "Flags" at the Black Dahlia and New York's 59E59 Theaters in 2007, and Austin Pendleton's "Orson's Shadow" at the Black Dahlia in 2001.

More recently, the company produced Itamar Moses' "The Four of Us" at the Elephant Theatre Lab in 2008.

Klein started his career as an actor and his first L.A. stage appearance was at the Celebration Theatre's production of "Shopping and ..." in 2000. "I used  to think of myself as an actor who was willing to do the dirty work in order to get jobs for myself. And then I realized that the dirty work is called producing," he said in a recent phone interview.

Currently, Firefly is working on a commission of new play by Jim Knable, transferring a show to an off-Broadway theater and working on various film options. The company also is considering adapting "Make Believe" for another medium, but Klein declined to be more specific. "I can only say we are considering adaptation possibilities of 'Make Believe' for a different form or forms," he said.

"Make Believe," directed by J. Clay Tweel, doesn't have a U.S. distributor yet, but Klein said that there were some discussions underway since the documentary won its award.

Splitting his time between Brooklyn and L.A., the 34-year-old Klein said he wanted to continue working in both stage and film. "My whole mission is driven by the belief that both media have great value," he said, "and I think there's a lot independent cinema can learn from the process used in theater."

-- David Ng

Top photo: A scene from "Make Believe." Credit: Los Angeles Film Festival.

Bottom photo: Steven Klein. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times