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Va. man turns mid-career strife into feature film

Friday - 3/15/2013, 1:05pm  ET

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The character in ''The Nextnik''mirrors filmmaker Mike Kravinsky's story of moving forward after a mid-career crisis. (Photo courtesy of Mike Kravinsky)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Losing a job is difficult for anyone -- the "what's next" can be be both heart-wrenching or exhilarating.

One Arlington, Va. man has turned reinventing himself into an award-winning film, "The Nextnik."

In 2010, Mike Kravinsky accepted a buyout after 29 years as an Emmy-winning ABC News video editor.

Facing a midlife job loss, Kravinsky's search for a second chapter in life led to launching a website about career and life changes.

"If you're starting something new, it's sort of frightening, because you're basically starting where you were when you were in your twenties," says Kravinsky in a WTOP interview.

Now, Kravinsky's first movie, "The Nextnik" has won local awards, is being shown at film festivals and can be streamed online.

In the film, fictional character Larry Zimmerman was laid off as a company executive after 25 years on the job and at the age of 55.

"He basically has to decide whether he is going to go back into the same field, or just use this as an opportunity to try something new," said Kravinsky.

Kravinksy said the first step toward reinvention is the most difficult.

"The biggest challenge would be 'how do you start, what do you do?'" recalls Kravinsky.

In "The Nextnik," Larry experiments with several careers, looking for the one that's the best fit.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, and always at the front of his passive- aggressive girlfriend's mind, is that Larry could accept another similar job that would pay the bills.

The internal conversation pitting "comfortable but boring" against "new, scary, and a life's dream" is difficult for anyone facing mid-career choices, according to Kravinsky.

"The Nextnik" was filmed on a budget of $25,000 in the D.C. area with familiar locales in Arlington, Fairfax, Leesburg, Va. and Rehoboth Beach, Del.

"The $25,000 was spent mostly on the actors, crew salaries, location fees, meals and insurance," says Kravinsky.

Businesses including Silver Diner in Clarendon, Burke Lake Golf Course, Zephaniah Winery in Leesburg, and GreenMan Juice Bar & Bistro in Rehoboth granted permission to film in exchange for film credit.

Kravinsky says he was able to get the movie made because he personally filled as many roles as possible to keep costs down including writing, directing, producing, editing, transportation, getting meals, and securing locations.

Kravinsky says the sweat equity is worth it to live out his dream.

"I'll feel that I'm getting somewhere in filmmaking when the credits go by on a film one day and one of them will say, 'Assistant to Mr. Kravinsky,'" he says.

"The Nextnik" has been nominated for Best Drama and Best Actor (Rick Kain as Larry) in the Trail Dance Film Festival in Duncan, Okla.

In the role of girlfriend Emma, Connie Bowman won the DC Peer Awards. The film also screened at the Alexandria Film Festival.

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