Debra Kirschner is an indie film director and screenwriter. She specializes in telling honest stories about believable, funny, flawed characters in both realistic and extraordinary situations.
THE TOLLBOOTH premiere, Photo Credit: Sari Goodfriend
(L to R Cinematographer Stefan Forbes; Actors Jayce Bartok, Marla Sokoloff & Ronald Guttman; Debra Kirschner)
She is best known for writing, directing and independently producing the acclaimed indie feature THE TOLLBOOTH. This coming-of-age story features a stellar cast; including Marla Sokoloff (The Practice, Fuller House), Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Idina Menzel (Frozen, Wicked), Liz Stauber (Almost Famous), Jayce Bartok (The Station Agent, SubUrbia), Ron Guttman (Mad Men, Hunt for Red October) and Tovah Feldshuh (Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Kissing Jessica Stein) and had theatrical, DVD and VOD distribution in the United States and Canada.
She is presently in early pre-production with her next feature, MALLWALKERS, for which she won the New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) Ravenal Grant for a second time woman feature director. She developed the project at Cine Qua Non International Screenwriting Lab, Stowe Story Lab and NYWIFT's "From Script to Preproduction" Incubator. The project was invited to be part of the inaugural NYC Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) Financing Lab.
In her spare time, she creates satirical resistance videos for the activist group Rise and Resist, including the game-show parody, "WHO WANTS TO BE AN OLIGARCH?" which can be found on the Rise and Resist YouTube channel: bit.ly/rarvideo
Debra has written and directed several short-form projects, including her web series, THE HAPPY MOMMY HUSTLE, about two sisters, a working mom and a stay-at-home mom who grapple with their choices, their limitations and the unsolicited opinions of strangers. These sketch-comedy webisodes air on the dedicated channel youtube.com/thehappymommyhustle.
A prolific writer, she has several scripts in various stages of development, including three original television pilots. Her comedy television series FROG KISSERS is about single women who live in Staten Island and are determined to prove the adage “you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince” by kissing frog after frog after frog. This is based on a true story – Debra and her best girlfriends challenged themselves similarly several years back... and as a result laughed instead of cried through several romantic misadventures. Debra wrote and directed a ten-minute pilot sample of FROG KISSERS, which premiered at the International Television Festival. She is developing this into a single-camera series.
Debra has also created two original dramas; IN TRANSIT and SKETCH. She is developing treatments and show bibles in conjunction with these scripts.
Earlier in her career, she wrote and directed the short film CHANGING CLOTHES, which toured festivals around the world. She also collaborated with Emmy-nominated, DGA-winning director Tasha Oldham to write the short film PICKLED, which Oldham directed as part of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women.
As an adjunct professor, Debra teaches Screenwriting at Montclair State University and Digital Video Production at Fordham University. As a teaching artist, Debra helped traditionally unheard writers find their own stories. She started and led the creative writing program at the Hoboken Shelter in New Jersey for nine years, and for two years she led a writing workshop for women over fifty-five at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn who helped inspire MALLWALKERS.
An active member of the New York creative community, she is as a member of NYWIFT, Film Fatales and New York Writers Coalition. She and her husband Drew Yearian launched Kirschearian Productions as a platform to produce and create more stories alongside their creative, happy life.