Comments or questions for Colleen? Leave a comment on her blog.
August 31 2006
Mortal Wound is finished.
I started the day with my favorite headshot photographer, Susan Rothschild! I tell my actors that while I love her work, they are certainly free to choose whomever they wish to snap their all-important photos.
But the vast majority choose Susan because our experience is that her headshots help my actors get work. She does black and white photos - which I tend to favor as a film director because I'm only interested to see if the actor can speak with his or her eyes and color pictures tend to feature a bunch of photographic elements that are irrelevant to me.
The actor on the other side of the camera, AJ Tolliver, came to the session completely prepared. I make sure all my actors are prepared with specific outfits we've already reviewed on camera as well as time emoting so they feel they can move easily and know how they look when they are in a variety of subtexts.
Susan, by the way, is a makeup expert. She is paid a bunch of money to do the make up of celebrities visiting the Northwest for prominent affairs, photo sessions and television interviews.
My tall British friend learned her trade by being a prominent model several years ago in the years of the supermodel! She not only knew the greats - she was one!
Here's one position I recommended for AJ that will look totally hot in her new 3/4 headshot (showing her body instead of just her head!)
Then it was off to Bad Animals sound studio to work with sound engineer Dave Howe! Brittany was already there watching the maestro at work!
We added Dave Chick's score and all the ambient sounds normally in our environment that we go crazy avoiding when we actually do a shoot! Breezes, leaves slapping the window, cars passing, sirens in the background, dogs barking, you name it!
I then dashed the sound track back to Modern Digital post production house for them to marry the sound track with the picture and credits and voila!
I'm happy to report there is no rest for the weary! We are already hard at work on our new short narrative project, FREEDOM, which we will be shooting the end of October or beginning of November. I wrote the story/script treatment, which Brittany registered with the Writer's Guild of America and am already writing the script, which we'll copyright with the US Library of Congress. It has already been cast.
I'm also finishing the comedy feature script NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, which we will be shooting next year. I should say I'm tending to them after spending a little quality time snogging with my wee family, celebrating the polish of Mortal Wound!
Tomorrow is a major step for me.
I'll be writing in a whole new blog world - which I'll be posting myself.
After many years of posting what I write nearly everyday, and with my deepest gratitude, webmaster/friend/writing partner John Beresford is passing the baton to yours truly.
The "major step" part is that I don't consider myself the most computer literate writer, so doing it myself? I take a deep gulp and prepare myself to move forward.
John assures me that he will be overseeing this blog project until I have my posting act down, which is reassuring. And he'll be posting photos for me until I can do it myself.
The cool part is that you can comment instantly after reading ye olde blog now.
We tried a guestbook with comments before but it wasn't protected like this format is so spammers took it over before we blinked.
Thank you for reading my blog. We are receiving massive hits - some people tell me they start their day with my blog. So I'd love to know what you're thinking!
See you tomorrow on the new format!
August 30 2006
Many people have asked me about how people break into the voice talent arena with the biz of show.
This is a highly competitive field, and there are lots of amazingly talented voice artists working; in addition lots of stars whose voices are recognized easily by us are lending their vocal talents to commercials, documentary narration and other work that requires voice skills.
While most voice workers record in studios, the folks whose pear shape tones are most frequently employed can set up a special studio-quality telephone line in their homes and work from there.
For everyone else making their way up the food chain - or wondering how it's done, here's a basic outline of what to do and what it takes.
1) do vocal exercises to not just increase the quality and range of your voice but its stamina. You can spend hours recording a job. There are vocal coaches with whom you can work - there are also people who train individuals to do voice over work.
2) collect tons of scripts for narration, commercials and character voices - you can record those you see on TV or hear on radio and type them up to use as scripts with which to practice.
a. you can write out good commercials, narrations and psa's that you
particularly enjoy or appreciate
3) select the scripts that would make the most of your vocal talents/skills and would be most entertaining to practice with
a. break them down, work them up, rehearse for performance
4) when you believe you're ready, you can go to a studio and record them - there are some that are economical. It's a good idea to have the recording session supervised or directed by someone who knows the business and works in it. From this session you'll get a master cd.
5) the CD should be a maximum of 2 minutes with as much variety in the voices used as possible.
6) make copies of the CD
7) create a cover for the CD that's catchy, with a list of your samples with times of each for the inside and of course your contact information.
8) for regional use, it's fine to combine narration, commercials and character voices on one CD; for larger markets, a separate CD should be made for each category.
9) get listed with online voice talent services *that are effective,* and ask good agents to listen to your CD to consider representing you.
10) drop off your voice CD to local recording studios/advertising agencies in your local town as well are other markets in your region.
There are books that cover this subject as well, which might cast a little more light on the subject for you, as well as give you some decent ideas on which you can build.
And get to work! ;-)
August 29 2006
Today we had a meeting with Dave Howe - super sound engineer at Bad Animals sound studio. It's one of the hottest, best sound studios in the US - lots of *major* talents record there!
We're adding all sorts of "sweetening" to the film - that is, all the sounds that fill the environment of the film. And I throw *everything* in. Trains, trucks, cars passing by; light rain, breezes - all the noise that surrounds us all the time that we tend not to notice. But we sense something is wrong when we *don't* hear them.
We're not sure exactly what is wrong ... just that "something" is missing.
Lots of beginning directors are afraid to fill the sound track with those noises for fear that they'll interfere with the actors' dialogue. Nope, it actually enriches them!
So after going over my list of requested sounds, Dave will figure out what he has in his sound library, what sounds we want to foley (foley=creating the sound we want and recording it) and what sounds we already captured at the shoot itself.
Then it was off to Modern Digital and a credits session with Effects Wizard Zach Paul.
Zach put all the credits together and in the film where they belong, how they should be written and the exact length they should be. We treated the opening credits in a different way than most films - we think they look pretty sharp.
Zach and our credits
I asked Zach to please make the end credits 2:00 minutes, since Dave Chick's closing theme is pretty terrific - and I'd like you to hear it as long as possible. Otherwise the credits could be as short as a minute.
Tomorrow? Dave actually puts the sounds in where we agree they belong - how many, how loud, how long, how often. Along with inputting Dave Chick's music, of course. I also have a morning photography shoot with one of my actors, so I'll arrive as soon as I can because the sound/music add is my favorite part of post production.
Then we rush the sound/music track back to Modern Digital for them to put them together on a proper format for us to dash off to film fests to meet submission deadlines, as well as to submit for Academy Award consideration.
So far the top pro's with whom we've worked have only seen the unfinished film -- and they've been extremely complimentary of Mortal Wound. And we haven't even asked what they think of it. So we've been feeling pretty good about the outcome of all our hard work!
August 28 2006
Our "Mystery Actress" has been approached about portraying a lead character in an extraordinary film to be made by an extraordinary Academy Award-winning director. So far she is his first choice for the role.
Alas for you, it remains important for her to keep a low profile until the deal is sealed and we're able to announce anything - which could be a while.
But once again, congratulations, Mystery Actress!
I *love* that my actors 1) are getting so much (and high profile) work; 2) don't have to leave Seattle to land these projects as we've all been told time and again they "have to;" 3) are being noticed because they can do the work beautifully and 4) are such great people to be around - they have great attitudes and are so down to earth.
Trust me, if you didn't know they're outstanding film actors? You most probably wouldn't think of them as film actors, or have any idea of the list of other (and high profile) terrific and dedicated artists they know and hang out with if you saw them grocery shopping or walking down the street.
IMO, it's a positive reflection on the American film industry that more and more producers and directors are looking for genuine artists and "real people" who act rather than people who just want to make money and be "stars."
As for making decisions, the mother of one of my successful actors wondered if leaving another (yet unsigned but prominent) deal in favor of another prominent deal would harm her "career."
I suggested to her that the actor not think in terms of "career," but of what elements in her life - working and personal - make her happy, feel accomplished and successful.
For example, has she done this before? If she has, she might be bored because it wouldn't present the creative challenge she needs. Would she be deeply impassioned about the work? Would she be proud to be associated with the director and/or script? Is this a task she would love to take on? Does the script reflect something about which she cares deeply? Does the project mean a lot to her personally and/or professionally and/or would it be just plain fun to do with a bunch of wonderful people? Would the people involved insist she relocate when she does not want to - rather than be readily available to jaunt to LA or New York to work on projects when they're being produced?
These are elements I suggest take precedence over just the notion of "career." People who work from these points of view tend to be highly regarded and respected in the industry.
Many agents would disagree with me, but I'm a coach, so my interest in my actors does not reflect a financial interest. My fees remain the same no matter what - although the nice gifts I receive when they succeed are always appreciated! Not expected, mind you - but appreciated!
August 27 2006
Here's the Mortal Wound set fishbowl with my new neon tetra fish!
Take your last look because as of tomorrow - shocking news - it's being replaced with a much larger aquarium with lights, temperature, pH gauges and more fish (they love to live in schools!) with a long list of other making-fish-happy stuff!
August 26 2006
Color correction is the post production process of matching the color of all the scenes in the film so they all look like they're part of the same film! Like if an actress looks orange in one scene, but appears covered with blue tones in the next -- um, a correction is needed.
The room we use at Modern Digital has a full sized screen - and since we shot the film on 35mm, it's pretty impressive.
We can also spiff up some scenes with shading and at least partially correct problems we had with framing and focus. Or I should say Tim Maffia from Modern Digital can!
Although Tim has been working in the film industry since before the notion of digitization, he's a whiz at working his bank of computerized equipment to take care of every frame of your film with TLC. Although filmmakers need to tell him what we need or want to see, his experience comes in very handy when he makes a recommendation to spiff up a scene.
Although Mortal Wound is only 12 minutes before credits, our session took 2.5 hours because we were careful to address every single, tiny detail we possibly could to make your film watching experience the best possible.
Brittany brought her wee pup to her first color correction session ever. Fortunately, her dog is not in our desired demographics so we didn't take it personally when he decided to nap during most of our work screening the film!
One of Modern Digital's "secret weapons" is senior producer Kathie McCallister. She's the person you'll deal with if you decide to have Modern Digital perform your post production.
Something you should know about Kathie: while I am known as a very chipper, positive, upbeat person ... compared to Kathie I am downright *morose!* She's a joy to work with -- and worry not - she will explain every process with you if you are new to the world of first class post production!
August 25 2006
One of my actresses has been offered the lead role in a commercial feature film - because she doesn't come across as a "trained" actor, but as a real person on camera.
Another actress amazed producers looking for the host of a new, fun, learning science program -- because she not only comes across as a real person, but did all sorts of stuff she knew would appeal to the kids who would be in the audience. She made the program interactive instead of "educational." We both know that kids learn better and faster when they're involved in the learning process rather than just being told or shown something, and tailored her audition around that.
The producers were very clear about not wanting "trained actors" because, although the show is funded and everyone is paid, they're seeking actors who come across as real people who act, not actors who try to act.
This is happening more and more - and I say this to actors who have been trained in a way that would keep you somehow distanced from the genuine soul of a character. From giving the character the complete freedom to be who she or he is. Let 'er rip!
I advise my actors not to come from a place within themselves, but to find the place within that character ... sort of like stepping into the hologram of another person whom they can freely be without fear or trepidation.
However you are trained, however you access your characters, I hope you always get a reality check for your performance - how much like a real person are you coming across?
Here's one hint: anytime you feel yourself "trying" to behave or act .. it's over for the camera. It can work for theater, but for the camera? Nope. You either convey the emotion or you don't. When you try to look a certain way for the camera - like try to look sad, mad, glad, whatever - you're not really just being whatever emotion the character is supposed to experience, and that comes across as phony.
In addition to directors seeking more "real" people and untrained actors (or trained actors who actually come across as real people - some of my actors have actually just brought in a snapshot of themselves rather than a headshot so the producers/directors don't consider them "trained" when they come in the door!), if you're in a great harmony boy or girl singing group - reminiscent of Backstreet, N'SYNC, or even the Spice Girls - Simon Cowell is looking for the next big singing group act.
Good luck -- and as I tell everyone - get to work! And I mean that in every conceivable way! ;-)
August 24 2006
Today I had an extraordinary session with one of my actors who discovered many truths about himself.
It was a tough and tender experience for both of us; he left a grateful man.
There were tears of sadness and tears of joy; there was the release of burdens and insights that inspired a light of realization that will positively affect the rest of his life.
I tell my actors and writers: as much as we know and understand ourselves - that is the extent to which we'll be able to know the characters we portray and create.
We all may be vastly different, but having a basic understanding of our own truths makes a huge difference in spotting false notes within characters we portray or write.
It takes enormous courage to even walk through the door to be coached one on one - there's no escape from .. you! Where ever you go, there you are. And there are no excuses, no reasons to hide or lie if you want to be a successful artist.
I love my actors. They are such special, inspirational people.
I love my writers. They are such adventurous, inspirational people.
I love my work.
August 21 2006
My goodness ...
For now, her identity must remain a mystery to you.
One of my actresses, who recently hung out with the likes of Charlize Theron, has been cast as the lead in a network drama series pilot. It's successful producer, story, character, concept, etc., is also top secret.
As soon as I can tell you who she is (with her photo of course) and wassup with her and her projects - I shall!
She has also been tentatively cast in a story arc for a top-rated TV series and been cast in one of three lead roles for a feature film produced out of LA, which she starts shooting this week.
That she's getting all this high profile work is sensational, but there's a very important reason *why* she is being cast, and I hope other good an deserving actors are paying attention.
She is getting cast - after these producers/directors have seen literally thousands of candidates - because she *behaves naturally* when she "acts" for the camera.
She simply *is.* She comes off as a real person behaving from a place of genuine emotion instead of someone trying to appear or pretend or remember something in an attempt to feel something (or look like she feels something).
There is no stiffness, no overacting, no staring eyes, no stilted presence.
Of course there is the CP secret of subtext, which always results in a personal and effective performance.
And while she has been coached, like Jodi Foster, she's never taken an acting class.
This does not mean that acting classes are necessarily negative; Meryl Streep, Hugh Jackman and other great actors are the products of excellent acting educations.
It does mean that classes should be chosen carefully, however, just as a carefully as choosing a coach.
Personality-wise, the Girl has worked hard to know herself, is extremely down to earth, laughs easily, takes her work very seriously and herself lightly; she has extraordinary confidence and the air of a bona fide artist that is undeniable.
Congratulations, Mystery Actress!!!!
August 20 2006
What a way to start the week!
My coachee, mentoree, dear friend, webmaster and writing partner John Beresford has finished the first draft of his novel! I'm so proud.
Not just that he has completed the first draft -- but that the story is so good, the characters so well thought out and the writing only gets better and better.
I can't tell you the title -- not because he doesn't want me to, but because I think it's in his best interest not to make it public until he has a deal with a publisher because it's such a hot topic and a tip-off to what the story is "probably" all about.
Do you have any idea how many people, when they find out what I do, tell me, "I've always wanted to write a book/screenplay/short story, (what-evah)." Or, "I've always wanted to act, work in films, direct (what-evah)."
My only response is, "Well, then, do it."
But of course 99.99% of the time they don't. It's the rare person who steps up to the plate and does the laborious, tedious, stomach-wrenching, crazy-high getting work it takes to do any of those things -- at least well.
John has not only written this novel (already on his second draft), but has gone on to write poetry that was published, lyrics that have been produced in song, is a popular professional blogster in the UK and has a fabulous personal life and family to boot!
Congratulations, John. I can hardly wait to announce your deal with a publisher! You ROCK!!!
August 18 2006
I thought you might like to see what we did with the location where we shot Mortal Wound.
This is the main area of drama before we painted, cleaned, brought in our own furniture, lamps and other large furniture item along with all sorts of other house gear from Cecilia White and HomeStage
And this is what it looked like after our hard work and movie making magic!
August 17 2006
Gotta pimp some of my filmmaking peeps today!
Editor John Boucher is also a writer/director. This is what he does when he isn't working on projects like FYP's Mortal Wound.
And here is his muse
You can tell who wears the pants in their family! ;-)
And here's our music maestro Dave Chick - whose soundtrack for Mortal Wound is coming along beautifully. It's another outstanding reason to watch the film!
We'll soon have the entire credit list posted on the FYP Productionz website - there are more photos up there now of the shoot.
The fish are getting along swimmingly and so much fun to watch! I'll post a photo of them soon in the fishbowl we used on the set of Mortal Wound.
August 16 2006
The US has been at war in Iraq 1,247 days today - with no end in sight.
Hitler and the Japanese were defeated, ending World War II, in 1,245 days.
You do the math.
August 15 2006
Hmmmm. As I told you, one of the goldfish in my set fishbowl died and (Donner! Party of two!) the other two ate him.
Unfortunately, the other two didn't make it, either - I think it was something they ate.
So thanks to FYP's intrepid investigator Tanya Woo, the bowl now has a water filter, snails, three cute plants and three new fish - not gold. Tiny fresh water fish considered "hardy." And they seem to be doing very well - they're really cute: red, white and blue.
I mean that's what color they are - not their names (although it does remind me of the film trilogy by Kryzsztof Kieslowski).
There was a bit of drama with the post production process of Mortal Wound today, but it was quickly resolved and only resulted in a bit of a delay in the process. Now the edited piece will be conformed from the digital editing information to the Hi Def tape; Monday we'll be performing the color correction process at Modern Digital.
I meet with Dave Howe at Bad Animals Thursday evening to set up our sound sweetening and music add session. "Sound sweetening" is the process by which we add all the sounds of atmosphere we actively work to avoid while we are filming. Cars driving by, planes overhead, barking dogs, sirens, all those things that create the sense of the life surrounding the lives of the characters.
We add the music created by Dave Chick after that - incidental music here and there rather than a musical score and an ending theme for the closing credits.
Then Modern Digital gets the film again to put it all together in the proper format for us to submit to all the film festivals and for Academy Award consideration.
And I have to take good care of myself.
Like lots of writers, I have a propensity to become a little depressed after completing a project. Saying good-bye to complex characters I've lived with for months and learned to love unconditionally - no matter how dysfunctional - can be tough. But I have to get ready to say adieu next week. I think it's more of a challenge to move on when one also directs the script - bringing life to the characters through actors who have the courage to temporarily take on those personalities - especially when they do such a fine job of portraying them!
Writing my new comedy feature script is fun, but after a whirlwind - very long - day of coaching, I'll get back to it tomorrow after a good night's rest and a tough workout!
August 13 2006
This joint is jumping.
One of my actresses has been auditioning for a major (and I do mean major) producer/director/writer in LA and he thinks she's great for a pilot he's going to be shooting; she auditions for a network tomorrow.
The potential MTV VJ who lives in New York City I'm coaching is all that and a bag of chips. I think you will *love* her, but I don't know if MTV is actually ready for a strong young woman who is real, who has a personality, is madly in love with music of all kinds, who has points of view along with a clear and beautiful presence.
She could host any music show and be a viewer magnet - she's warm and welcoming and - for want of a better word - inclusive. She makes you feel included when she speaks with you (not "to" you).
I'll introduce her to you when she's ready to kick some MTV or other TV music network booty - because there's no doubt in my mind that she will be a most engaging, engrossing host! You ROCK, GIRL!!
Seattle actress/coachee AJ Tolliver was just cast in a film that will permit her to show another side of her acting chops - she starts shooting like any minute!
Some local top level folks have contacted me to show their support for new feature projects I'm undertaking with Brittany, which is very exciting. There's also another short film I'd like to do for an actor I coach - who is brilliant performing a certain type of role - if he can find the money to fund the production.
Sigh. I've decided I may not be a fish person. One of the three teeny tiny goldfish I have died. Apparently his two bowlmates didn't take it too hard since they ate him. Eeeeew. Donner, party of two.
Off for a long hike today - I've been steadily and happily losing weight and have a bit more to lose before I reach my ideal healthy poundage!
August 12 2006
The "fine cut" is finished, now Modern Digital is ready to conform the edit with the excellent tape to which the 35mm film has been transferred on Tuesday.
Wednesday, I'm following every frame during the "color correction" process - because of camera problems that occurred during the shoot with focus and framing, we'll be using every tool at MD's command to make the film live up to its potential.
It's no accident we have a good film. The extensive preproduction work and preparation in every department definitely paid off, even with camera problems.
Speaking of which - tomorrow I shall have a working camera! So you'll see lots more pictures on my blog again!
movieScope editor Eric Lilleor contacted me yesterday with a list of actors I'll probably be interviewing over the months - and I'll just say this: you will not be disappointed. And they should have a *lot* of great information for you if you're a serious actor, writer, director or producer. Many have held more than one job on their films - usually producer and star or one of the lead actors.
Sometimes the only way an actor can get a film made in which he or she believes is to agree to star in it (whether or not they really want to!).
Critics are all too eager to point out casting "errors" .. which can occur in these situations.
Speaking of critics, a great thing about having a short film in film festivals is that you are among several others who have been selected to be screened or entered in competition. Which means that the description of the film you read is short.
Something very disheartening to me is the detailed outline of films seen by critics. If you've read a New York Times review of feature films, they often explain every detail of the plot and characterizations - and my films are intended to surprise you in the same way life does (not as a gimmick or for shock value). If a critic takes that element of surprise from the audience, you're watching the repeat of something someone has already described to you and that really hurts.
It seems that only when critics are *warned* not to kill the surprise ending of the movie (The Sixth Sense, The Crying Game) do they go out of their way not to disclose important information geared to surprise you in a way that will kill your enjoyment of the film.
For films like mine, there are surprises that unfold just as your day does. OK, it's not *this* boring, but it's something as casual as you expect your wife to bring you a burger for lunch and she decides to make it a salad instead. We have little and big surprises happen throughout our day - some of which change our lives, our attitudes, our expectations or our outlook on life.
I wish critics wouldn't kill those great moments in movies they see, but would talk instead only about the experience they had viewing the film. Like there were no surprises; like the characters felt contrived or real; like the acting felt ... the story felt ... the directing felt .. without ruining the experience for someone who has yet to see the film.
I'll never forget one review of my short film Life As Art in a Seattle "alternative" newspaper written by a guy who saw himself as hip, hep, now and wow when it comes to films. He totally missed the point of my film - but instead of just talking about his experience watching it - which didn't seem like a bad thing for him - he went on to "translate" it and completely misconstrued what he saw. If he found something in the telling lacking, I would have had no problem reading about it - probably learned from it, in fact.
Fortunately, he was the only critic who missed by a mile, but from his comments about the work of others as well, I think he was only out to make himself sound cool and smart instead of actually being interested in discussing filmmaking.
That's the most wonderful thing about blogs - as people who work with me know, I'm not defensive, but if someone gets way out of line, unnecessarily rude, crude or off-base? Um, I can at least set the record straight. :-)
August 11 2006
Today we finish the "fine cut" of the film - preparing it to be conformed to the high quality tape on which the film's master copy will be made.
Something about editing. As editor John Boucher points out, the script is the guiding light for everyone to follow during the production, but the film is actually "made" - that is, assembled, in the editing process.
There are stories of movies actually being MADE in editing. As in the case of Annie Hall, where the film shot did not resemble the film made because the original cut that matched the script was so bad.
But characters were developed in the original shoot and the acting fine - both of which made the "re-make" possible. If you don't have any idea of who your characters are or their development, and didn't shoot either, my hunch is that the film would never come off as well as this Academy Award-winner.
True, "if it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage."
BUT! If it ain't in the camera .. or on the film .. it ain't .. ain't .. I can't think of anything that rhymes, but essentially it doesn't exist.
You can only "fix in post" what actually makes it into the editing suite.
Ok, that being covered what really makes a film work is the willingness of the director to cut absolutely everything unnecessary in the film once the essential story is assembled.
Including our *very favorite* shots, scenes, lines, whatever. And believe me, that hurts like *hell!* My very favorite shot of the entire production, one I so meticulously set up and we captured beautifully? Just did not work. And we tried to make it work - but no. In the end it had to go. I'm just a *bit* of a drama queen when it comes to such things, so I carried on pathetically when I realized I would have to cut my very favorite shot. There were other things I wish I could have kept - they looked so GREAT!
But no, the shots, scenes, dialogue, I *had* to cut simply didn't advance the story, help you gain a greater understanding of the characters or story, or they were unnecessarily redundant.
The reason is simple. After the film is shot, it's actually no longer "ours." It's yours. It's the audience's. It's done so you can reap the most benefit from spending your time with this film. And guess what? You're pretty smart, so I don't need to beat you over the head with what I'm saying or the characters are portraying. If it feels that way? Cut it.
Lots of actors who try directing films tend to make the mistake of keeping the characters when they come in too early and stay on them until after the action is long over because they believe it's somehow character development to let you see everything the character experienced emotionally and physically from the get go.
One of the films that, IMO, suffered from this is Stanley Tucci's "The Impostors." This film would have been a smash, IMO, if he had just tightened all the entrances and exits of the actors in the entire film. As it was, it dragged through no fault of the story or actors. I was so looking forward to this romp, but because it was bogged down with too much unnecessary information, I became bored.
This short started out - the full story assembled - at more than 20 minutes long. It's currently 13:30 minutes without the credits, and should come in about 13:30-14:00 minutes with credits when we finish the fine cut today. John says every second we've cut is a "good cut." It makes it tighter, more interesting, more engaging and keeps you wondering what's going to happen or be said next.
I sure hope so!
Flipping into my old journalism mode:
Congratulations to British intelligence for capturing 21 (at this point - they're seeking to arrest five more) would-be suicidal mass murdering terrorists before they could board planes heading from London to the US. They were to have a "dry run" for a plan to use liquid ingredients that, mixed together, would create significant explosions. Each of the men was to carry a different liquid aboard a US bound flight in their carry on bags.
Interestingly, it was the Brit's intelligence work in Pakistan that tipped them off and led directly to their arrest. All the suspects are second generation Pakistanis British subjects.
Now there's an idea - preventing terrorists from inflicting horrific death tolls by exercising excellent intelligence work instead of sending warring military soldiers in an attempt to "kill all the terrorists." Are we supposed to invade Britain now?
I hope that soon Western political leaders start to understand that the way they are currently dealing with Middle Eastern issues is infuriating and therefore radicalizing second generation European and British Muslims who do not live in the Middle East, and who previously had no interest in fomenting such horrific acts. Naveed Afzal Hag, the gunman who shot and killed a woman in the Seattle Jewish Federation (an educational and charity organization), wounding five others recently is also a second generation Palestinian Muslim living in the United States - he's an American citizen.
And remember "al Qaeda" is not the single organization now that it once was. It's comprised of individual "cells" throughout the world with the goal of killing Western people and attacking Western iconic targets. Each of these cells may or may not have any communication with the likes of Osama bin Laden and others associated in the past with al Qaeda. bin Laden is the person Western political figures have identified as the iconic leader of a suggested single organization, which, again, according to enlightened intelligence organizations, no longer exists as a single unit.
Now if only US airlines would insist on having the same degree of security for the cargo stored in the belly of those same jetliners for which you are screened and barred from taking any liquids or gels!
August 10 2006
The "rough cut" of the film is finished - Friday we complete the "fine cut."
We're still suffering from some focus problems, but the acting, story, writing, etc., should (hopefully) distract the critics enough that they won't mention them.
It looks pretty good - and should look just fine when we finish the fine cut. The fine cut is where we solve timing, angles, dialogue, etc., issues so it flows smoothly.
From the fine cut we complete with editor John Boucher, we head back to Modern Digital to "conform" all our digital information onto the quality digital transfer tape MD's Tim Maffia did for us last week.
After the conforming, which will address all sorts of issues from color correcting to shading problem areas to - whatever makes the film look as good as it can? We head off to Bad Animals, where Dave Howe will help sweetening the sound and add the music written by Dave Chick.
Then? It's off to a number of film festivals for their consideration!
Meanwhile, my actors have been doing *sensationally!.* One actress (who wishes to remain nameless) has been cast in a lead role for a feature film out of LA, but all her scenes will be shot here; she was recently fêted at a major New York City winter fashion show of a top international designer, where she met, among others - Charlize Theron! Another actress has a supporting role in a film, and another- well, I'll update my congrats page soon so you can read all the details!
And, in the midst of a full coaching schedule, I'll continue to write my comedy feature Nothing But the Truth until it's completed!
August 9 2006
As we fervently edit Mortal Wound, and will be for at least a couple more days, I must tell you how much I am enjoying having fish!
Originally, I got three tiny goldfish for the shoot - a visual metaphor for the story.
I am now looking at three little fishies happily swimming in set designer Shefskie Paba's two gallon fish bowl from the set sitting on my living room coffee table. No one else would take the fish cast home.
I've never considered myself a "fish" person. I have two five-pound (trained!) Pomeranians and an 18 year old cat - but never imagined I'd learn how to take care of, let alone enjoy the wee creatures.
But here I am - staring at them playing, zipping all 'round the large (to them) bowl, munching on a plant rooted in small aquarium rocks at the bottom, playing, hiding in some green stuff that came with the plant or resting. Fascinating little guys.
Fish are supposed to be very calming as well. It is mesmerizing to watch them.
The fish lady at the pet shop told me that all I need to do to take care of them properly is keep the distilled water *cool,* because it can't get warm, not to overfeed them - primary cause of pet fish death, and to have a nice plant in the bowl for them to play in and eat. I asked if there was anything else they needed to be happy and healthy and she said, "Not really. No need to take them to the vet every few months, take them for walks or give them vitamins."
I'm surrounded by smarty pants - even total strangers!
I am getting some snails to keep the algae out and a few other things to make life more interesting in there for them.
FYP Productionz' Intrepid Investigator Tanya Woo says that a fish bowl with fish located where it is in my home studio means good luck; three of them means new life and most importantly the combination of all this means money and good energy will be flowing here! :-)
Meanwhile, always looking out for me, Mortal Wound executive producer and lead actress Brittany Quist told me that for our next project she thinks we should use an *elephant.* You know, another animal I'd have to adopt and take home after the shoot.
I'm surrounded by smarty pants - even good friends! ;-)
Speaking of Ms. Quist, she shot her Dodge commercial yesterday, and it was a real whirlwind! She said that if she didn't have the knowledge and experience that she has? It could have been very difficult. But knowing what she does, and having done all the work she has - training and experience - it was very fast but she was right on top of everything they asked her to do in the production.
And she did it all with her own warm personality and charm, not trying to be anyone other than who she really is!
We chatted a bit about people who want to do "big" projects; to "make it" right away, and how that can be a set up for failure because so much is expected of anyone hired for major jobs. Many don't realize that if they haven't pursued the training and/or experience to prepare themselves - personally and professionally?
Sadly, the outcome can be very poor and the career very short.
I expect Brittany to have a very long, successful and most importantly - *enjoyable* career!
August 8 2006
Whew! Got a nice report from editor John Boucher on the rough footage, and he seems to think that we'll work around the problems of framing and focus just fine.
From his email to God's ear, yes?
Today we start the official edit - John has done an "assemble cut," which is the very basic edit of the narrative story as he understands it from reading the script.
From here, starting this morning, he and I will include and exclude whatever we need - sound, dialogue and visuals captured on our 35mm shoot - to make it a great experience for you when you see the film. As much as we want to satisfy ourselves in the filmmaking process - the real reason for making films is you. We want to make it worth your while to spend time with this story and these characters.
The primary edit will be for the large screen, but because it's an intimate, touching drama, it should translate just fine onto the smaller screen.
One of the issues I need to address as we edit is the film's length. As it is, script supervisor Kay Taylor deduces Mortal Wound runs longer than 15 minutes without credits, and we need to keep it under 15 minutes with credits.
After the rough cut is finished, we'll do the fine cut. Then we add sound sweetening (all the background sounds you hear that you think are taking place in reality but are actually added), then we add Dave Chick's music - which should be *sensational.*
Someone wrote me today that my enthusiasm for the project is "infectious," and that's great to hear.
I think we have every reason to be enthusiastic - I'm just going through some pre-editing jitters (read: uncharacteristic demi-panic that almost no one except Brittany knows I experience) having seen some problems - which John feels we can deal with nicely. But I'm a hands-on perfectionist and need to get my grubby little mitts on the editing process so we can make the very best film possible!
Because I've focused so much on what needs fixing, I'm not sure I've said this: most of the film is *gorgeous;* everyone associated with it should be proud.
Wish us luck!
Meanwhile, I'm having a blast writing (in my "spare time") my feature comedy "Nothing But The Truth," which will star Brittany as the wacky Angela.
Last, but not least: here are more Mortal Wound set photos by Sarah Latour!
August 7 2006
Wow, have I received a fantastic education about the ground lens/ground glass from a group of international professional cinematographers! Thank you, gentlemen.
I'm sorry I had to learn it this way, *after* shooting our more expensive 35mm film, but I'm grateful for the lessons because it reinforces what I already knew and didn't do.
Basically, that I need to look through the camera first, no matter if there is a video tap or a DP I trust; and I need to ask all the questions necessary to make sure everyone is properly set for a shoot. It's not that anyone intentionally means to mislead anyone - it's just that, as Brittany also discovered during preproduction - it's crucial that we double check to make certain every detail is appropriately correct. Without intending to insult anyone, we need to know for sure that every "t" is crossed and "i" is dotted.
Despite the fact that the Director of Photography and 1st Assistant Camera ought to have caught the ground lens problem straight away, it's "my" film -- that is, the director is ultimately responsible for whatever happens and ends up on the screen. I ought to have looked through the lens - if I did I could have most probably at least asked a proper question or two about the framing because I have a high end director's viewfinder that shows what the camera should see and I've looked through a lot of viewfinders in the past.
I say "my" film in quotes because as you have read, without the entire crew and cast doing their jobs properly and well, serious problems can occur from something as small as a lens in the viewfinder called the ground lens. It takes a village!
The ground lens should have nothing to do with the out of focus problems we have in the first couple reels of film, so we'll have to establish what created that because it appeared completely in focus in the tap. (The video tap is a small TV screen that should show what the camera sees - it's set in front of the director and script supervisor so we can make sure what is captured on film or video.)
I'll have to track down exactly what caused the focus problems.
And I'll take you with me as we solve framing and focus problem in the editing process - which hopefully will save you grief making your own films!
Interestingly, every new film *should* bring with it new experiences and lessons in telling stories and developing characters for the screen even for the most experienced filmmaker. It's not like we fall back on the same old processes if we're interested in spreading our artistic and technical wings .. well, that is unless you're shooting crap - and without mentioning the comedians who tend to make them .. just notice the films that appear to be completely formulaic and use few, if any, original filmmaking techniques.
Meeeeow! But! They don't want to mess with success, so I can't blame them for sticking with those cash cows!
Meanwhile, since I have some time while the sound is being synched to the motion picture and the basic narrative edit is being cut by editor John Boucher, I'm continuing to write my comedy feature Nothing But The Truth. This script definitely needs a budget; I think audiences will enjoy the heck out of it - young and old! I'm writing it with Brittany in mind for the wacky lead role of Angela.
Here are a few more photos from the Mortal Wound shoot taken by Sarah Latour!
August 6 2006
Senior colorist at Modern Digital Tim Maffia transferred the film to Sony HD (Hi Def) Cam SR tape yesterday. Yes, his name is pronounced just like the familiar cosa nostra term - he gave us a transfer we couldn't refuse! (I kid .. OK, I admit, my sense o' humor is pretty much MIA with all the work on the film + coaching, etc.)
Meanwhile, his work is *impeccable!* I'm literally thrilled to have the opportunity to work with this guy. I know a fair amount, but my knowledge doesn't come close to his acumen; he's been at this for 20 years; five of them at Modern Digital.
As the director, it helps if you come into editing with a decent education and understanding of the process .. but it's *most* important to know exactly what you want to see so you can explain the vision to your editor and others part of the process. They have the expertise to help you achieve your vision IF you've captured what you need on film - the old chestnut "we'll fix it in post" is pretty much a myth for lots of problems.
Simply put, the HD Cam SR is the highest end transfer we can get - there is 12.5MB of data in EACH 35mm frame captured on this tape - which now makes it possible for us to do a final cut digitally without losing any data that we worked so hard to get on the film. Other tapes are less expensive but all cost you data. There's less data captured by lesser quality tapes.
We have a mini-dv dub, however, for our editor John Boucher to work with after he transfers it to a hard drive for his MAC. He's putting a clear narrative skeletal cut together for us to come in and start doing the creative work Tuesday. We're lucky - John is a busy guy and is kind enough to put this project at the top of his priorities. Thanks, JB!
We're going to be in a bit of a pinch time-wise, because although the editing should be done in a week, we'll have to wait a couple days for composer Dave Chick's music. As I write this, he and his family are on their way to Toronto, where they are moving. He'll be working in the thriving film and television industries there when they arrive.
Long distance music work is not a problem for me.
Annie Wallace in Manchester, England, did the fantastic score for a project I did last year, "America's Firefighter." Between the internet and phone, it worked out perfectly. And gave the American TV pilot a genuinely unique, intriguing and captivating sound with her music.
So we'll undoubtedly make some changes when I hear his final work - we've already had a couple meetings here before he left so he knows from whence I am coming and exactly the sound I seek.
Meanwhile, wow. We ran into a problem with the first couple reels of the film (1,500-2,000 feet) that we *will* make work, but I have to admit I was pretty shaken up when I saw it. There are some focus and framing problems. Some of the crucial shots are out of focus and some of the framing cuts have heads cut off.
The wrong ground lens was used for the camera. We're shooting 1:85 ratio (rectangular) and the ground lens used was regular (not super 35mm) 1:33 (which is more square, like 16mm or video ratio you'd see on a regular TV screen).
No use shooting 35mm film if you're not using 1:85 aspect ratio, right?
I've never encountered this sort of snag before, but filmmaking is all about learning and problem-solving, isn't it? So I know Tim and John will help me make this work. I have some ideas, Tim came up with some great notions; I know John and DP Ben Niles will, too.
The average audience member will never know we faced these problems, but filmmakers, I know your stomachs are hurting as much as mine knowing we have to fix this.
One thing: as the director, from this day forward I shall *always* ask the DP if the camera shop put in the right ground lens!
It will take us a little longer to edit because we'll be in a repair mode, but because the music is coming a few days later, that won't be an issue.
Brittany wants to submit the film to Sundance by August 14th to make the early entry deadline; I hope we can make it. If we can't we'll only miss it by a day or two, which will cost us an additional $10.00.
Here's the thing: if I hadn't sat in on the transfer? I would not have caught this problem early on - and therefore started working on its solutions - until we were in the editing room.
IMO, that's a bad place to discover this serious a problem. It gives the edit process a negative (sic) start and I've never let that happen in any editing suite. We need to start off in a positive, problem-solving mode.
I called John several times through the transfer process to describe *exactly* what was going on with the film so he knows precisely what we'll be facing when he gets the tapes today to synch sound and start working on the edit.
Which means he's not stuck with the task of learning about the problem and having to tell me the "bad news" - which would have *really* made me flip out because I would not have seen the problem first hand to see exactly what was going on and where. As it was, I was upset briefly but flipped into a problem-solving mode. Fortunately, Brittany was there to encourage a complete "fix it" mode.
The vast majority of directors and DP's (directors of photography) don't watch the transfers because, well, as Tim says, it's often like watching paint dry .. but most importantly, especially when we're shooting feature films, directors and DP's are busy filming while the transfer takes place!
We *all* sit in on the color correction sessions, however!
Me? I know how every frame of film turned out, what I can use for editing, what I'll need to lose only because I sat in the transfer.
Ben was on a well deserved vacation - he's been working 'round the clock - and was suffering in the extreme because he couldn't be at the transfer. Ordinarily he would have been right by my side. He captured some really beautiful shots - the lighting was *fantastic!*
Brittany joined me for the last couple hours of the transfer and was, I think, mesmerized with how everything looked - the framing/composition, lighting, set, her performance, the performance of the other actors. She has every reason to be proud of her work as a first time Executive Producer, co-producer and lead actress. From here, btw, she goes to doing a national TV commercial for Dodge that she's shooting this weekend.
She'll be with me through the editing process as well - I hope to pass on to her what I know about writing and directing so she can do that work as well if she chooses. It only helps her primary passion (other than her husband and wee dog of course!) - acting!
Meanwhile, you'll see a scene with a fishbowl in which there are three fish. I borrowed set dresser Shefskie Paba's 2-gallon fish bowl, bought the three fish (each of whom represented a character trapped in this film), aquarium rocks, food and plant for them to play/hide/sleep in. I'm not a fish person, so I've had a rather steep learning curve - never thinking that *someone* would have to adopt them at the end of the shoot.
I am looking at three little fish happily, playfully swim in Shefski's bowl, which is sitting on my coffee table. They're fun and amazing to watch. Fortunately, my cat is 18 years old and her eyesight isn't what it used to be, so she is totally disinterested.
I asked the fish lady at the pet store what I had to do to keep them happy and healthy. And, ahem, alive.
She said keep the (DISTILLED) water cool, and to feed them every 3 days and then very little. The most common cause of pet fish death is overfeeding.
Now, knowing all the photos I've included in past blogs, you may well be wondering why I suddenly stopped posting them. My camera was stolen. Ouch. It was in a bag of stuff sitting outside my house - with everything I needed for a preproduction trip.
I had to dash inside for just a moment. When I came back out, someone had stolen my leather cap, storyboard notebook (they won't even know what it is) and my camera. Which will cause him all sorts of grief because it's a temperamental little thing.
I know it was a student on his way to a nearby summer school. I'm very patient about these things - I'll catch him sooner or later and especially get my cap back. It was one of 50 special hats sent to me when I was suffering through chemotherapy. I talk to the kids so they'll help me get my stuff back from the Jerque.
Anyway, I'm getting a replacement camera, so soon I'll resume my photo-inclusive blog entries!
August 5 2006
Well, this director is over the moon!
Modern Digital will be post producing our film exactly the same way as we'll be doing our feature films!
Basically it means that we will assure the quality of all the elements captured on our 35mm film. Often independent films use post production procedures that result in the loss of some aspect of the film shot - like color.
The film is being processed/developed even as I write this. Tomorrow Brittany and I are delivering all 9,000 feet to Modern Digital, where they will begin the transfer process to a digital format, which will allow us to edit it more quickly than on the film deck (though I do love to edit film on a deck).
The original film negative will remain pristine. The process used by Modern Digital will allow us to actually do a negative cut if we find an investor who would be interested in supporting the "complete" process.
Following our edit from a lower quality tape, sound and music elements are also added.
Then Modern Digital will create a high quality copy using the digital information created during the edit, color correct (make sure all the colors are true to their hues!) it, add credits, then create a DVD, which we will submit to film festivals and for Academy Award consideration.
If you're not taking notes on this - don't worry. There won't be a quiz and I'm sure I'll be discussing the post production steps over the next several days of editing!
Meanwhile here are a few photos taken by Sarah Latour of the shoot!
August 4 2006
After the film is processed (developed), it will be transferred to a digital format so we can edit it very quickly compared to cutting a work print on an editing bench.
There is someone who needs a special mention now that I'm going into the editing suite with John Boucher: Kay Taylor.
Kay is our script supervisor, and in case you don't know who that is - the script supervisor is the key person on set to keep track of *everything* that's going into the camera! Her notes are invaluable for helping us find exactly what we need while we're editing - sound, picture, movement, interaction, special effects, everything.
She is a veteran of 20 years' experience and has worked with huge Hollywood productions as well as wee indie's like Mortal Wound. She comes with a wealth of insights and "war stories" about the famous and infamous that she shares willingly.
It means a lot to me that she appreciates my work as a writer and director as much as she does. This is our second project working together - she was kind enough to take a serious pay cut to work on Mortal Wound (stay up for three days without sleep as well as do a kickass job!).
A great script supervisor is my right hand when it comes to keeping track of every detail - continuity, film footage count, hair, make-up, costumes, specific shots, angles, lighting, background, everything!
And I am definitely grateful to have her on our team because KAY ROCKS!
August 3 2006
While there was shocking international coverage of a man who claims to be Muslim shooting a woman to death and injuring several others at the Seattle Jewish Federation - a charity and education center here - local television and newspapers have continued reporting on its aftermath.
Muslim leaders here have denounced the gunman and his use of violence; Jewish, Muslim and Palestinian friends here have gathered to protest the violence and have spoken up, noting that Seattle people of all faiths tend to mix it up here.
I recall after 9-11, some mosques here were vandalized. People of all and *no* faiths volunteered to keep watch 24/7 to prevent further damage. Interestingly, at that time, there was no response from the local Muslim community.
I'm very happy to report that those days are over. One Muslim leader speaking on a Seattle TV newscast last week said that his community supports working with groups of all faith and that they denounce any use of violence against anyone because of their faith.
Now *that's* the Seattle I know and love!
July 31 2006
For a maiden voyage, Brittany and I worked extremely well together on the short film we're producing and making for FYP Productionz, Mortal Wound. Me writer/director/producer, her executive producer/co-producer and actress.
I'm also mentoring her to be a writer and director as well as producer. I recommend people intern with mentors they admire to find their own way to and through their chosen life's work.
While I've had a number of successful working relationships over the years, I have to say this is by far the best and most enjoyable. I've also run into some nasty bumps with married business partners whose spouses (husbands or wives) became too uncomfortable with their partners working in the biz of show, especially when they started to experience genuine success.
I think the partners were upset that their partners would come home sky high with the joy of pursuing their passions and having such a great time doing the work.
When we do something we love - work doesn't feel like work, the hours swim by quickly and we're so grateful to be doing what rocks our world that we tend to be happy and positive just about all the time.
Something I discussed with set designer/dresser/friend Shefskie Paba recently is the phenomenon that the only thing that creates success is failure. That is, by learning from what doesn't work. But when we're pursuing our passion, "failure" doesn't feel like failure. It only feels like an adjustment made on the journey we love to be on.
Like Thomas Edison's comment that while he appeared to "fail" more than 6,000 times before he finally perfected his invention of the light bulb, he only saw himself making thousands of adjustments until he completed his task. The journey was just as fascinating and fulfilling as the destiny - because reaching a destiny only means the beginning of a new journey!
It helps if one's partner also has a passion that makes a difference in their lives. It's not only healthy for both individuals, it helps any relationship! There are always shared passions (the relationship itself, kids, animals, favorite past times and activities), but it's fun to tune in to what is new and exciting in the realm of the other person's passion.
Jealousy can also be a problem - not just of the work (which is totally not glamorous but can be misperceived to be) but of the people some of us know and hang out with who to us are mates (friends), or work partners or cast and crew members - and to others seen as "high profile" personalities.
The wife of one male production company business partner I had several years ago insisted her husband leave the business and our partnership because she believed her husband and I had become better (though strictly platonic) friends than they were.
So he quit to appease her and work on their friendship. I hope they're happy, but wondered why she could not appreciate that he could have had two different types of friends - one with whom he was in business, the other his wife.
Brittany's husband has been very cool with all her work as producer and actor, which is terrific. But he also has activities about which he is passionate.
I always recommend couples get into counseling up front if there is a concern about the other's work/interests/activities that she or he sees as somehow threatening. It is normally a problem of communicating feelings that grows if it's not addressed early on. Most partners claim to be supportive in the beginning while actually harboring feelings of jealousy or - most usually - believing that it's just a phase and that so few people actually succeed in this business they find it hard to believe their partner will succeed. Then when their partners do start a successful career or bump up an already successful path, the partners are shocked, freaked and they implode.
Fortunately, that's in the past.
It's been fun and rewarding to experience Brittany's total dedication and collaboration, as well as her business/financial acumen, her acting skills and talent without having to be concerned that her husband/life partner will one day get crazy and insist she withdraw from the work about which she is so passionate! And it's been fun and rewarding to see her enjoy so many activities with her husband, friends and family that make her happy as well!
July 30 2006
My second 14+ hour night shoot went spectacularly, although I find that going three days on almost no sleep makes me rummy. If we had to do it one more day without more than a few hours' rest? I'm not sure I could do much more than mumble incoherently.
Kyle and Drew did such a great job with the lights - there were some special lighting effects that made a great difference in the ambiance of the film. Director of Photography Ben Niles was tireless in his efforts - which included several scenes in which he hand held the 50+ pound 35mm camera.
"Set angel" Sam Akina - a tall, handsome young man whose passion is making films - his own and helping others - not only made a positive difference in the crew, but amazed me with how much food he could consume! His metabolic rate is phenomenal! And thanks to caterer Brad's cooking, we ate *well* during the shoot. Actually, we didn't consume nearly as much food as crews normally do - I think because we were so slammed with and dedicated to the work we didn't take a lot of time to eat or focus on food.
Set designer/dresser Shefskie Paba was Shefskie-on-the-spot, making sure everything was ready for each scene to be shot - from candles being lit to a cigarette setting the carpet aflame (you'll just have to see the film to check out this special effect!).
Sound is unbelievably important to films - I say that because so many people mistakenly believe that somehow it's *all* about the picture, and sound affects about half of how we perceive those images. Steve Bechtold and boom operator/actor William Wiese made certain I won't have to worry about the quality of sound when I go into the editing suite with editor John Boucher.
I've never had to ADR or loop any of my projects - film or video - and I would *definitely* not like to start with this one!
ADR=automatic dialogue replacement. Lots of people mistakenly use the term when they mean "looping." Looping means that you have actors re-record their dialogue in a studio because their lines were somehow lost, garbled or overridden with errant sounds during the shoot. They "lip-synch" their lines, looking at a screen showing them "speaking" the lines. Automatic dialogue replacement is done when we want the words recorded to *change* on screen. It's most popular use is to replace profane lines spoken originally with euphemisms so the non-offensive words can be inserted for television or ancillary (i.e., airline play) screenings.
And the acting -- well, let me just say that after one extended scene, Brittany received a heartfelt, well deserved ovation from all of us on set. Impressive. Ethan Hoyt and Richard Topping can be equally as proud of their performances.
I should be able to share some photos of the shoot with you next week - set photographer Sarah Latour took a ton of shots! On film, and she'll transfer them to a digital format for me to share with you. We need them for film festivals and competitions applications.
Despite the "late" early morning time - nearly 7am for me - I still had to pack out and bring home a lot of equipment I brought for the shoot from the set. Fortunately William was kind enough to play chauffeur for me and has a large truck (he's a contractor!) that could carry most of it. I'll get the rest - including a couple sets of lights I use in my acting coaching studio - tomorrow.
I'm not complaining - the camera and sound crew have many times over the amount of equipment to haul out.
We shot exactly the amount of film I predicted - 9,000 feet - leaving a thousand feet of "just in case" footage, which is a great relief to me. I was making script changes up to the very end - which strengthened the piece without any artistic or story interference. Since I'm both the writer and director, it's easiest for me to keep streamlining and sharpening the work - making decisions that work on behalf of script, shooting and performance quality. Collaborating with a talented DP like Ben, insightful actors like Brittany, Ethan and Richard, and experienced crew members like Sam, Drew and Kyle make a big difference, too.
Now's the time when we hang on to make sure the film is developed properly and nothing goes wrong with the processing so we can proceed to transfer the images to a digital format, making the editing process a hundred times faster than physically editing a work print of the film. As much as I love editing film itself, the time saved on a digital format (in our case a Hi Definition hard drive format) is so profound it would be an extreme waste of time and money to do otherwise.
Modern Digital is transferring our film print, so we should be ready to tackle the editing work by this coming weekend.
I hope I'm making sense! Time to catch up on some badly needed rest! We'll see how the film turns out (physically) in the next few days. I can hardly wait!
July 29 2006
Our first night of shooting was *long* (I arrived at 3pm Friday, locked up the set at nearly 6am Saturday) and definitely rewarding. I wasn't tired; we got some good stuff and that will keep any director wide awake. Not just because I'm happy with what was captured but figuring out how to make it even better for everyone - especially the audience - during the rest of the shoot.
The crew and cast could not have been better - amazing lighting, set, sound, food, photography and acting.
We go at it again tonight - but because we're all humming along, now, we should not take as long to accomplish as much as we did last night. Getting everyone synchronized can take time, but we're all in the same groove now.
I need to cut some of the script; we've used half our film and shot not quite half the script. While the opening scenes were demanding, film-wise, it's better to make sure we're completely covered for what we have left to shoot. I am *so* grateful we are shooting 35mm film. It's going to be beautiful.
Even after we edit it - and let's say we're proud of our film - the final judge of how good and entertaining Mortal Wound will be is the audience. I hope we're giving you a good ride you can't take your eyes off!
The only thing I would change is that I'm upcutting my "CUT!" That is, I need to give it a beat or two after the line is said or movement made before I say it. My fear of running short on film for the project is driving that, but I figured that if I tighten the script even more, that will alleviate that fear and I won't do it.
Meanwhile, I know two people who have decided they're not cut out for the biz of show. Our hair and make up/wardrobe artists are working on a set for the first time. Despite the fantastic job they're doing, when they discovered how tedious it is - and that they can *never* leave the set? They decided watching paint dry or grass grow is more exciting and not as exhausting!
Meanwhile, the nightmare of violence grows and I'm trying not to let it distract me too much until the shoot is over. The Jewish Federation in Seattle - a group that supports various Jewish charities and educational causes - was attacked yesterday by a lone gunman. One person was shot dead, several wounded.
It's hard to believe these days that Seattle has in the past been renowned for being a peaceful, peace-loving community.
I hope one day people understand that they only have to *decide* to solve a problem, to stop hating and that trying to make changes with violence always fails sooner or later. The moment we do, it will all stop. And it seems like ordinary folks will have to be the people who create that change because leaders are too steeped in maintaining their power and aggravating centuries-old grievances.
The same is true of world hunger, the abuse of children, and domestic violence. When we decide we want to live another way? We will.
July 28 2006
Rehearsal went extremely well yesterday.
It wasn't too long or drawn out. I don't wear people out during rehearsals. We're all prepped and ready to put our hearts, souls, talent and skills on the line to make this film something we can be proud of.
We shot part of the run through on a dv camera so we could see how certain shots looked - very hot!
A splendid dinner was prepared by caterers Brad and Tammy - who are ardent supporters of indie film, so they created a superb, elegant salmon dinner which they served outside on a long table for the 8 of us there. It was fun sharing a lovely meal with the actors and some of the crew - a time to bond and get nurtured for the long hours of hard work ahead.
Today is the first day of the shoot and the first thing on the agenda is preparation. The set is completely prepped - Shefskie and I painted the entryway to the house dark brown at the last minute because the original mint green color was just wrong for the film. The props and visual metaphors are set. The actors are ready to go - make up tests, costuming and hair went well.
Now we're setting up a 40 pound 35mm camera but the majority of time is taken setting up lights properly - once we're set up, shooting should go quickly. We're starting at 4pm, expecting to shoot until 4am - when we'll have breakfast. Dinner prepared by Brad and Tammy will be served at 11pm.
The story takes place at night, so we have some scenes we can shoot before sundown that can be made to appear as if they take place at night, but most of the work has to be done during the hours it's actually dark.
After being anally anal during prepro, it's time to have fun with everyone - we can because everyone is professional and eager to do a smashing job - and bring our spirits up for the shoot!
I had a tough couple days recently - I've become so attached to these characters that preparing for the shoot means that the time to say goodbye to them is drawing close. I always miss the characters upon the completion of a shoot.
After the shoot, we're heading into editing, but sometimes it's a little depressing to say goodbye to something for which we have been preparing for such a long time.
In my experience, it's akin to the "down" time of finishing up a play, when everyone goes their separate ways.
The best part of being part of a production company - in this case FYP Productionz - is that there are already more projects being developed that we will be producing - so the excitement of creating something else we're proud of is right around the corner.
July 27 2006
Today we have dress rehearsal
Make up and costumer Kelli Huber's role becomes more paramount - she's been testing make up styles on leading actress/executive producer Brittany Quist. In her role as Shannon, there are specific make up requirements for reasons you'll see immediately when/if you see the film, Mortal Wound.
Costumes are key - and while Kelli made a special shirt for actor Richard Topping in his role as Bill, like most independent projects, everyone is bringing their own clothes for us to pick from to match their character. Fortunately, because the actors at this point have a pretty thorough understanding of their characters, our decision-making process is made easier.
We'll run through the blocking of the script with all three actors (Richard and Ethan Hoyt, who plays Roger) are coming up from Portland. Because Ethan is a SAG actor, we're duty bound to be careful to observe SAG rules working with him, and he makes that easy.
This is a SAG sanctioned production, meaning that we're observing SAG rules for our SAG (and other) actors. We're hoping to pay folks more WHEN (not if) it's picked up for distribution or a cable television network like IFC, Sundance or LOGO pays us to show it.
Brittany and I have each performed the work of about three or four positions - that's what I love about indie films - in order to afford to make a 35mm film, post producing it on HD. We're also not paying ourselves anything so we can put that money into the film and pay our cast and crew - all of whom are working for well below their standard rates because they want to be part of this production. Believe me, this is not a case of "you get what you pay for," because these folks are tops in their fields.
I only hope I live up to their expectations as writer/director, creating a script with which they can be proud to be associated, and pull it all together, making it a memorable experience for audiences who see it on the big - and ultimately smaller TV screen.
I'm trying to get through this without getting too crazy over the insanity of what's going on in the Middle East. One of my actors, who is Jewish, is considering joining the Israeli army. I'm going to try to talk him into pushing his acting career - he's extremely talented and gets good work - so he can make a difference as a role model and champion his cause in ways other than carrying a weapon. Whatever he chooses, I wish him well and safety. He's a good man/person and has a gift to share with the world. I would hate to see that gift taken from us.
July 26 2006
Crunch time for the short film we're making this week, Mortal Wound (I'm writer/director, Brittany Quist is executive producer and lead actress) starting with a full day rehearsal Thursday, then shooting Friday and Saturday nights - it's a night shoot.
Director of Photography Ben Niles is great to work with - has lots of fine ideas; his first camera assistant Sam Akina is a successful film director in his own right ("Bullets, Blood and a Fistful of Cash") - but is known as a "set angel" by everyone who works with him. He's so positive and full of energy and cinematic knowledge - he's a pleasure to be around. We're lucky to have this team on hand.
Shefskie Paba, our set designer, is a busy, busy man! He's in such high demand, it's terrific that he's made time for Mortal Wound - he said it was the script that attracted him to the project to begin with. He's a joy to be around and work with. I hope he's pleased with how much the script has improved since the initial version he read.
John Boucher is our editor - another successful director in his own right; I'm really happy he's on board.
Had another meeting tonight with composer Dave Chick - and he introduced me to a sensational sound we're using for the credits song; he already came up with some unique tones and riffs he's fluffing up that we're using for incidental music in the film. As I reported earlier, I don't hear the need for a full score in this film.
Brittany and I ran through blocking and lines this morning of the entire film (it's about 12-14 minutes, but the run through took about 3 hours) on the set; we caught some problems that could have cost us time (= money!) on the set if we hadn't caught them now.
I swear, I do not understand why so many directors don't like to have rehearsals. My actors gain a deeper sense of the characters and always come up with reactions that add a special dimension to a film when they're allowed to be with the characters over a period of time. They cannot "act" in a drama like this, they must only *be* the characters. Any acting will seriously hurt the project.
Ethan Hoyt and Richard Topping round out the cast, and we're blessed to have found them! Don't tell them, because I don't like to speak about these things too soon, but there are other roles I have in mind for these guys in future FYP Productionz projects. Brittany agrees!
I did the final rewrite of the script late this afternoon and sent it out to everyone. Cut a fair amount of dialogue in favor of letting the actors express themselves emotionally (=acting!). I asked Ben if there were one thing he could change about the script, what would it be ... he didn't feel one of the lines fit the character about whom it was said; I agreed with him and cut it. Not just a hat rack, this DP!
He asked if I was nervous (I think because we're shooting 35mm film); I said nope - not with the cast and crew on board!
Now I have to redo the shot sheet (a basic list of shots I'd like us to get) to match the newly rewritten script. So far there are 210 - but don't get excited .. that number will shrink amazingly when Sam and Ben establish how many of those shots can be made in the same camera angle, etc.
I just like to establish in my mind every shot and how it will be edited. I see it edited in my head as I shoot it.
Meanwhile, I've been asked to coach a future MTV VJ in New York City. It's a long distance gig - I was suggested to her by a publicist in NYC, which is pretty cool.
So many people have encouraged me to move to LA or NYC, but I like the Great Northwest too much. Trees, moderate weather, a creative mojo in the air, and I especially appreciate the lack of pressure of writing or creating in a specific way that is encouraged especially in LA.
And with my actors getting more and more work while still living in the Northwest, there's less of a reason to move - for them or me!
Brittany just landed a national commercial I'll tell you more about when it can be made public. If they play the TV ads as often as I think they might, you *may* well demand you want to see her doing something more than pimping a particular brand of car! ;-)
She and I are already developing the feature documentary, STOP, about stopping domestic violence. A veteran production manager has contacted me about helping us with it - it's a cause she cares deeply about. We must be doing something right to attract such top talent to work with us!
July 24 2006
One of my actresses told me of an audition she turned down because the place it was held was "creepy." It was in an apartment in a dicey part of the city, dark and on an upper floor. She cancelled her audition when she saw the place.
She asked me to tell you what I tell my actors: If the place an audition is being held feels too weird or creepy or just makes you feel scared, leave. Call them to cancel if you decide not to go in. I suggest you tell the people involved why you're canceling so they can either decide to make changes that make actors feel safer and more comfortable - like finding a safe place to hold auditions - or not.
My actor - who gets a lot of work - says she really hates auditions that are held in people's homes or apartments. I asked her how she felt about working at my place - my studio is in my home.
She told me while my studio is in my home, when you arrive you see cameras and lights and plenty of evidence that this is a studio. Actually, my house is more a studio than a home.
Literally every room has been a set - every piece of furniture here has been dismantled, moved, rebuilt or altered to be used in shooting legitimate films, acting scenes and educational videos. Are you listening IRS? ;-)
So actors - you're uncomfortable, even scared? Don't go in - especially women, but men as well. There's nothing wrong with taking a pal along with you - or another actor.
Auditioners - consider how vulnerable actors are when they enter your audition area. Most actors, unfortunately, are trained to be people pleasers - trying to be who you want them to be. That leaves them in an incredibly exposed, potentially endangered position. Too many novice auditioners aren't aware of this - and there's only one way they will improve: first to want to do better - and to educate themselves (or get some help from actors who won't audition for them).
July 22 2006
We started building the set today after several days of painting and cleaning the house (I even fixed the toilet!) we're using to shoot the film. A construction company is going to demolish the place after we finish shooting the film, so they allowed us to use it at no cost. It helps that we're only going to be shooting there for a few days, too.
By building it, I don't mean with nails and boards - I mean we started bringing in furniture and lots of items we're using for visual metaphors.
Shefskie Paba is pouring his heart into this project, and we could not be more grateful to work with such a great set designer and person. We're still short several items, but fortunately, because we started working on the set some days in advance, we have time to find or create what we need.
When there's a slim budget, it's important to a) know people who have stuff; b) have stuff ourselves we can use; c) be able to make what we need or d) have someone brilliant like Shefskie around to invent what's needed!
Every detail is significant in a scene - everything in a frame is a character and if it doesn't serve a purpose, it shouldn't be there.
Interestingly, there should be the feeling in this film that something is missing in the environment - I think I figured out how to get that feeling - now it's up to Shefskie to make it happen!
Tomorrow I have a meeting with the director of photography Ben Niles and editor John Boucher. We'll go over every scene to make sure the story is told visually as it should be! We'll figure out camera positions, angles, etc.
Most directors turn their films over to editors after they shoot their films, I like to bring my editor in at the script stage because I want to be sure he has everything he needs when we move into post production immediately after the shoot. Editors are *great* for pointing out that little detail we should be sure to capture that makes a scene sing!
The meeting should be fun, informative and help gain even more insight into the characters and story - which means all that good stuff ends up on the screen for audiences to enjoy!
July 20 2006
A terrific composer has joined the team - Dave Chick.
I decided the film doesn't need a full score, but only incidental music with a closing credits song.
Dave sent me his sample CD several weeks ago and it's very impressive. Brittany and I met with him after he read the script and he was quite enthusiastic about it - as well as with the idea to minimize musical input because I believe that natural and ambient sound will serve the drama more.
Dave's easy to work with, creates for the commercial and independent projects and he's fast!
He already sent me samples of musical sounds we discussed - he'll have more for us early next week.
All this in the middle of working on a musical feature film.
Sadly for Seattle, he's leaving next month.
Lucky for the huge film and television industries in Toronto, Canada, he'll be working there when he arrives next month. Have fun Dave, eh?
But not before brilliantly finishing our project! ;-)
July 18 2006
I miss Jerry Orbach.
July 17 2006
For the past two days I've been in director's heaven.
Charles Wilkinson, author of The Working Director, whom I've had the pleasure of meeting, says that the more we directors have the opportunity just to sit on/with the set, the better our work will be.
I couldn't agree more.
So the past two days - Saturday and Sunday, when everyone else has the weekend off - it's just been me, the location house set, paint, brushes and rollers, soap and water.
I've played music that represents the characters' emotions before and after the dilemma they face in the film. Fortunately the neighbors don't live too close to the location house - so blasting it loudly doesn't disturb them.
Wandering through the house, I hear the characters laughing, bickering, eating (a healthy meal) quietly, taking showers together, making love, entertaining family and friends, listening to a baseball game while doing projects around their home (I was listening to a Seattle Mariners' game as I worked - they lost. Bugger) and just hanging out reading. Each in their own world; one holding a secret that would destroy this tranquillity and their lives as they know them forever.
Making and keeping it real is what it's all about for me.
Wandering through the house. Listening. Looking. Observing. Touching. Smelling. Feeling. Experiencing. Watching a sunset from the dining room window as I imagined they did often.
Watching an imaginary fire in the fireplace - which will be real when we roll the cameras.
Developing a sensitivity and sensibility of the characters that makes them more real for my final script rewrite.
Directing this piece is a real challenge because even though my actors are terrific, if I don't do my job superbly, it can sound more like a soap opera (over dramatized) than a drama that will suck you in and keep you on their emotional roller coaster until the last frame runs through the projector.
We're shooting 35mm film, which will give us terrific depth of field. My FYP Productionz partner Brittany Quist is doing an outstanding job in her first shot at being an Executive Producer. She's a fast learner, great negotiator and most importantly, is giving me everything I need to make this as successful a shoot as it can possibly be while keeping within our very small budget.
One way of making that possible is that we are not paying ourselves anything so we can pay those working on the project - all of whom are top quality people who are passionate about filmmaking, the Mortal Wound script and working with us so are accepting lower than their standard rates for this outing.
More, anyone on a project with me has to be willing to work as hard as I do - which is asking a lot (right, script supervisor Kay Taylor?? ;-), and they're right alongside me, digging in and doing even more than they signed up for.
I can't tell you how much that means to us because every cent of the budget and every task we're performing is going directly into the film so it will show up on the screen. One requirement I do have for people who work with me? We all have to check our egos at the door. All that energy goes into the project, not into someone's swelled head. Including mine!! ;-)
We're going to be sure everyone working with us gets proper credit and believe me, we have *very* good memories when it comes to remembering people who give us a helping hand for future projects that we're developing.
Back to work for me - painting, cleaning, sitting, listening, observing, feeling, experiencing and writing.
July 16 2006
Ah, the glamour of making a film in the world of indies.
We've been cleaning, painting, schlepping props and furniture and plants and all sorts of things into the house we're using for the film's set. And there is so much more work to do!
Top set designer/dresser Shefskie Paba is working with us on Mortal Wound. He's known for creating fascinating and fantastic props as well. The place should look *fabulous* for the film - needless to say, everything in a film frame is a character. If it doesn't serve a purpose, it shouldn't be there. I love collaborating with great artistic minds like Shefskie's!
Director of Photography Ben Niles and I are also working out shooting sequences and will be working on rehearsal sessions with actors and stand-ins over the next two weeks. Unlike many directors, I firmly believe in rehearsals. It helps us discover so much more about the characters and the story than if there is no process to move with everyone and observe. Fresh performances abound because of these discoveries!
We found a house that is going to be torn down - so it's free. You might check with construction companies or city government departments that license construction projects if you're looking for a house to use for a film set that is free.
Firefighters also use houses for training - setting them ablaze. Perhaps they can be used for free sets before they're immolated.
State film offices also have listings of homes whose owners are willing to let film crews use them as locations; most are not free.
Back to the glam work of prepping the house/set - the fireplace needs to be cleaned.
July 15 2006
The great thing about satirical news is that we generally need to have a good idea of what's *really going on* in order to completely understand the humor. Being equal opportunity provocateurs, satirists love to ridicule any target that attempts to be hidden or manipulated by those with power over us average folks, but deserves to be exposed and exalted into public visibility.
The sad thing about satirical news is that too frequently we believe it tells us more of the truth than "real" news outlets.
July 14 2006
I'm on FIRE, directing-wise, working on the short film Mortal Wound we're shooting at the end of the month.
Figuring out the content of each frame, the frame's composition, movement of the camera and actors (including the movement of hands, how and where props are handled), how to get certain special visual effects without having to use computers as the primary visual source (which I think are generally lacking), as well as visual and symbolic metaphors.
Working with a topnotch crew and cast who are helping me put this vision on film - as they make their own significant individual contributions - makes it a joy to work my a** off on every minute detail.
I *love* doing this stuff!
Directing a film as well as maintaining a *stuffed* camera acting coaching schedule, I have to watch my energy. I will still have "director's pall" - nearly translucent, pasty skin - by the time filming starts, but I won't look quite so funereal if I eat healthy, sleep enough, pamper myself with massages and laugh loads before the camera turns!
July 12 2006
Yesterday I worked all day long with the cast of Mortal Wound - Ethan Hoyt, Brittany Quist and Richard Topping. I think we all agreed the day exceeded our expectations; performances should be excellent.
Here's a rundown of just a few things we covered:
We delved into each character's motivations, backgrounds, subtext, reactions, sensories and physical attributes (that the actor may or may not have in real life), measured everyone for costumes and practiced some camera acting techniques that are peculiar to this film because there are three characters and it's a very intimate film.
Brittany cried on cue(s)! She's been learning how to do this and pulled it off -- Richard, who was sitting next to her, gave her props for pulling it off even in an informal character developing situation!
I don't believe in having actors put themselves in a sad, miserable or tortured state to cry -- I teach them to cry by using physiological cues we all give ourselves when we're about to shed tears, then simply ... dare I say it? Act!
They danced, walked, moved, played a board game and performed other normal lifestyle actions as the characters.
We also did a table read of the script; I edited it as each actor discussed the subtext for every statement and word said by his or her character.
One more rewrite should put it in shooting shape.
Tomorrow I meet with the set designer/dresser - someone I'm so incredibly excited to work with! He's got a reputation for being brilliant and easy to work with - I've met with him and he's (most importantly) very enthusiastic about the project and especially the quality of the script. I'll tell you his name as soon as I've permission from him.
I can't tell you how much it means to me when top crew folks (who work ten times more than the rest of us so-called "above the line" jobbers - like actors and directors) love my scripts! They see a bazillion of them, and as one exceptional crew member told me, "I read hundreds of scripts and almost none pop out as great. This one really pops out. It's great."
Despite his high compliment, I continue the rewrite daily to improve it - scripts don't become better on their own.
So much work to do before the shoot!
After enjoying a long breakfast with some dear friends this morning? I'm back at it!
July 10 2006
Tonight we're going to the location where we're making the film - a house that will be torn down as soon as we finish the shoot!
It's a perfectly lovely house, but it will be demolished to build something else in its place.
I'll be looking at it to plan lighting schemes, angles, etc., with the director of photography, color schematics with the set designer/set dresser and taking tons of photos for us to work with along the way. I also hope the editor can make it - editors can make that special suggestion that creates the difference between a good and great scene.
I'm holding a full "play day" Friday with the actors to help them settle in the skins of the characters. The more comfortable they are with the movement, probable camera positions, physical interactions (actors have to be incredibly close to one another physically in order not to appear they are standing across the room from one another!), character's sensibilities/reactions, and the more time they have with me interacting with them successfully, the more relaxed they will be for the performance - which is paramount.
Actors who feel safe and relaxed have no fear - they take their performances to places they never thought possible. It's incredibly rewarding to see that magic!
For sure, that magic doesn't happen without a terrific dp (director of photography), set designer, lighting, sound and of course the rest of the crew. I'm such an anal pre-production freak, I like to have everyone in the same "safe" space as the actors. They can't waste time or resources, but they can sure spot the magic and go for it!
It's a most wonderful feeling, when everyone pulls together for the same cause - to create a tremendous film with which they can be proud to be associated.
That's the goal. And now it has to be built one frame at a time *before* the film is made. A good film, IMO, is always made in pre-production so everyone can feel free, excited and highly motivated during the shoot. Good scheduling is a must. If I say we're shooting until 4a.m., we stop at 4a.m., we don't keep shooting for hours more because we were disorganized somehow.
Of course there are always emergencies when *everyone* agrees we need to push a little farther, a little harder because of an unforeseen glitch in the shoot. But those instances should be rare, especially on indie shoots, where everyone is there more for the art than they are for money so there is a need to respect everyone's time and talent and not make them feel exploited or taken advantage of.
It may be my vision as the writer/director, but filmmaking is a collaboration -- without everyone else's 100% passion and participation? Um .. you are looking at either a bad movie or, worse .. a .. blank .. screen! '-)
July 8 2006
Hey! I have an idea!
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert continues to recover from emergency surgery last weekend.
His wife Chaz Ebert reports they have great faith in his medical team, adding:
"Medical issues aside, I am asking you to pray for Roger during his period of recovery and to visualize him being enveloped in healing light."
And she says he wants us all get out and watch movies!
**Here's my idea!**
Help Roger Ebert recover!
Instead of sending him a get well card or flowers, watch a film and send him your movie ticket stub!
Stuff it (or them!) in an envelope addressed to:
PASS IT ON!!!
As for me, I'm going to look for his currently highest rated film (4 stars!) - one that struggled for years for a North American release - Three Times by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien
BTW, Chaz Ebert's full statement can be read here, along with the complete story of his emergency surgery in the Chicago Sun-Times.
July 6 2006
I just heard from a dear friend and colleague who worked in the Seattle film industry until the end of last year when she joined her husband, who was transferred to an out of the way, fairly isolated, rustic community.
I counselled her several months ago, coaching her a bit on her writing and explained how to get her professional writing career underway.
Check this out - her first article was published!
*And* she was paid for it! Amazing!
And hey, no pressure, babe - but get cracking on your book now! ;-)
July 4 2006
I'm excited to announce that we have cast FYP Productionz' first project - a short, touching drama, MORTAL WOUND.
Playing Roger is talent powerhouse Ethan Hoyt.
FYP's own sensational Brittany Quist plays Shannon.
Fantastic British actor Richard Topping is Bill.
Quite unintentionally, it turns out that all three are represented by Ryan Artists in Portland, OR. This will be a SAG sanctioned shoot.
All roles are exceptionally challenging and will require a lot of work between now and filming at the end of July; we hope to start rehearsal this week. I'll start collaborating with the makeup/hair/costumer artist immediately.
We're still interviewing amazing crew folks - some are on board already; we should have everyone and the budget in place by the end of this week, as well as designing the production.
There is a very special element we hope to bring to the project - we won't know if we can afford it yet, but we're crossing our fingers and hoping a *great* deal can be struck!
I've rewritten the script a couple times so far, and am very pleased with its development - it's getting tighter, brighter and deeper. I'll keep improving it until we shoot!
Here's something that most actors don't seem to understand about the auditioning process.
We hope and pray as every person walks in the door that he or she is the *right* person for the role! It is the greatest relief when we realize we have the perfect cast, because I believe casting is such a significant part of the director's job.
Confidence is everything. If the actor is the character, the character isn't participating in an audition or job interview - the character is just being who he or she is without stress.
July 3 2006
Please hold a good thought for Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert.
This best friend of filmmakers the world over - independent and commercial - had yet another long, difficult operation in his salwart battle against cancer.
We're sending you and your devoted family our prayers, good wishes and healing vibes (Seattle's well known for them!), Roger.
July 2 2006
I've been asked why I write more than one project at a time, why I try to work on more than one project at a time.
I've never believed in the phenomenon of "writer's block," so I've been very fortunate not to suffer from it. I think part of the reason I don't is that I keep myself fresh for each writing project by moving from one to the other. So maybe I have experienced writer's block, but because I'm always working on at least one or two more scripts or projects -- I don't *believe* that I've had it.
It's also less painful if something goes awry with a project. Since there are several others, losing one for whatever reason doesn't hurt quite so badly.
I've known writers who have invested every hope they have in one script (or book), and suffered acutely for it when they didn't win a writing contest, find an agent, sell the script or get it produced.
I've also know of writers who have a huge hit, then ... nothing. Or they may have a couple hits, then ... nothing. In too many cases that's because they haven't developed work habits that support a career.
Part of my "life's mission" is to de-mystify the process - of writing, of filmmaking, directing, producing, etc.
Which is the primary reason I write this blog.
That and to show you what determination and dedication it takes to put all this together.
Believe me, I'm at the bottom of the industry food chain, and I write like a whirling dervish every day because I love to write - I can't *not* write. I'm always bustling with ideas and learning all I can to improve my work and my craft.
So lots of times, while all the other kids are out playing, I'm at my keyboard, clackety clack clack clacking or working with my actors!
And don't feel like I'm missing out on a thing. :-)