Saturday, September 30, 2006

“Still Life” Principal Photography - Day 2 (Saturday)

Tremendous day of shooting. Crew call at 8:00am, cast call at 9:00am. Crew was right on time and we spent the early moments chatting and reviewing the shot list and started setting up our first shot which included Marilyn and Ivan. So, after spending some time clearing out the garage (our first location), I get a phone call from Marilyn. See, she agreed to shoot this film with us even though she has a very busy schedule and is used to working on much larger films (and getting paid for them quite frankly), but out of the kindness of her heart and because she liked us and she liked the script, she agreed to work with us. She mentioned weeks ago that there was only one thing that would prevent her from shooting the film. If her daughter went into labor a week early. No problem, it was a risk we were willing to take. So, as I was saying before, I got a call from Marilyn. Turns out her daughter was en route to the hospital. I thought we were screwed. In fact, Marilyn apologized profusely and asked if she could push her scenes back a couple of hours. Umm, yeah, no problem (I thought she wasn’t going to show at all!) Whew. So, we had a lot of interiors that we needed to shoot later in the day, so we got all of those going, pushed back Jim’s call time and got the schedule underway, though in a slightly different order than I’d planned. You gotta roll with the punches.

I mentioned yesterday a special guest might show up. Well, riding in on a bolt of lightning in a wing-ed chariot, arrived Larry Boulden, lighting/grip/gaffer/filmmaker extraordinaire, raising the professionalism level of our shoot exponentially. After he lit our first scene, I knew we were in for a treat, especially having wrestled with the lights for hours last night trying to get the breakroom scenes lit properly. I am not a lighting guy. I know what looks good in a monitor, but I don’t know how to make it happen. Guys like Larry know how to make it happen. And he did today, time and time again. What a tremendous treat having him available. Thanks Larry.

Okay, my requisite thank you paragraphs. Biggest ups of the day go to Chris Harrell for the use of his fine pad. While he slaved away all day selling furniture, we captured every angle of his house on tape. Thank you Chris. Secondly, thanks go to Stephen (you can plant your flowers now) and Chris, Paul and Mike for the use of their houses as well. The odds of us finding a neighborhood where we could shoot three houses side-by-side was so low, but thanks to Matt we found these. Awesome.

Huge thanks goes to our fantastic cast as well. Marilyn for coming in and performing great against significant odds, Jim for coming in and having to wait several hours before we could shoot him because our schedule got jacked up, Ivan for continuing to personify his character and turn in a great performance, and last and certainly not least to Cristy for sitting on set for about six hours before your 15 seconds of screentime. What a trouper. I’m thrilled with the performances of each of you.

Last but not least, huge thanks to crewfolk Larry, Jason, Matt, Julie and Rick. You’re all doing a tremendous job. You all have a place on my future films. Big thanks also to Leon and Pete for coming out for a few hours and giving us some much needed assistance in the world’s busiest/loudest/errr…scariest? neighborhood. Can those shell casings be submitted as evidence?

Great job again Luis. Great script…it’s coming together nicely.

Congrats on your new granddaughter Marilyn. I assume she’ll be named Marc!

Tomorrow’s another day. Crew call 11:00am (I’m sleeping in) and cast call at noon. Until then…

“Still Life” Principal Photography - Day 1 (Friday)

To blog or not to blog, THAT is the question. It’s after 1:00am and we have a crew call of 8:00am. Some quick math puts that at less than 7 hours. Common sense would have me sleeping right now, but I guess I’ll throw out a quick blog first.

Day one of principal photography for our newest short film “Still Life” went really well. My first thank you goes to Mr. Miller and Mr. Miller for the use of their fine facility. They were extremely accommodating and made us feel very welcome. The location ended up looking great on film (well, tape) so we’re thrilled.

So, this was Luis’ first performance in front of the camera. And he did well. It was fun watching him improve over the last several days, thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of Ivan and his broad knowledge and background in acting. So it goes without saying that Ivan did a tremendous job. Luis’ acting work is done for the film now, but Ivan’s is just beginning, so I’m looking forward to his performances throughout the rest of the film.

The second thanks goes to the managers at the Millard K-Mart for letting us use their office supply area for our quick pick-up scene. They were extremely friendly and helpful and allowed us to shoot only semi-gorilla (full gorilla can sometimes lead to litigation or possibly gun-play, so it’s nice to avoid that when you can).

Full-on thanks to Julie, Matt and Jason for handling all of the behind camera work so professionally as well. Solid crew so far and we were able to make our first day (film talk for getting through your schedule as planned).

And my last thank you does NOT go to our waitress at the Village Inn who obviously had a lot more important things to do than filling our drinks, taking our order and/or bringing our food. I guess I will keep that thank you to myself.

Tomorrow should be a good time. Early cast call is 9:00am so we get to see Marilyn and Ivan go at it for their first couple of scenes, we get to see Cristy drop in and give us one quick scene, then we get to spend the day with Jim and Ivan working through their various scenes. I’m looking forward to it.

Crew-wise, we have some special guests that might be gracing us with their presence but I don’t want to jinx it so I won’t say anything until they actually show up and help out.

More tomorrow. G’night.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

“Still Life” Rehearsal Three

Alright, we’re ready to shoot this thing. Our last rehearsal included Cristy, Ivan and Luis and we walked through all of the necessary scenes and they went great. I’m feeling real good about the production so it should be a fun shoot. Jason came over with the camera and we looked at some of his test footage and it all looked pretty sharp so we should be able to capture some nice images. I’ve got the lighting and audio gear rented and Luis is banging through the prop list so we should be in good shape in 48 hours. We’ve had a fun time hanging out with “Denise” and I think she’s enjoyed everyone’s company as well. She’s proven to be quite photogenic.

I have to finish the shot list for the dinner scene then we’re ready.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

“Still Life” Rehearsal Two

We just wrapped our second full rehearsal with all the trimmings and it went great. The cast is really pulling together and everyone is finding their characters. We’ve got our last rehearsal tomorrow night then we’re ready to shoot. Great job everyone, I’m looking forward to Friday night.

Monday, September 18, 2006

“Still Life” First Rehearsal

Tonight was the first rehearsal for our next short film “Still Life”. Luis, myself and our cast gathered at Marilyn’s house at 7:30 and we did our initial read through, after which we discussed dialog and character notes, then we worked through the script more slowly a second time focusing more on the characters, performances, mannerisms, etc. As we discussed the various aspects of the story and delved deeper into each character and their relationships with each other, the performances got tighter and the characters began to emerge. A very cool process to be a part of. After the evening was over, it was clear that everyone involved to this point is excited and I feel we can make a really good film. I’m thrilled with the actors that we have and I’m looking forward to getting them on set and seeing what they can do.

Our next full rehearsal is next Tuesday evening where we should iron out all of the dialog and start working on the physical parts of the script. Then we shoot.

Kansas International Film Festival – Day 3 (Sunday)

Our last day in Kansas City and we’ve only got two films slated for our viewing pleasure. I’m kind of documentaried out (yes, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a word) so I wanted to see a narrative film. The only one showing at the first screening of the day was a film titled “The Forgiven” directed by Paul Fitzgerald. Oddly, it was a film that Jeremy and I hadn’t heard of so we had very little information going in, but as we sat in the theater, we were completely blown away by the story and in particular by the performances. The four lead characters were tremendous, and while they were not big names (mostly a lot of TV roles in various dramas), all of them were top notch. The only thing that I can see that would keep this film out of mainstream distribution is the lack of high profile actors, but if you have a chance to see it anywhere, do so. It screened at Sundance last year and I can see why.

The last film of the festival (for us anyway) was a documentary that Jeremy had been looking forward to seeing by Kirby Dick entitled “This Film Is Not Yet Rated.” The film takes a shot at the current MPAA ratings makers and the studio film “insiders” and it raises a lot of very interesting points. Yes I do have some very strong opinions about the subject matter and the way it was portrayed, and no, I will not go through all of them in a blog. I’m happy to have the conversation anytime though for anyone interested.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

After this film and a little more hanging out with some of the KIFF board members, we headed back to glorious Omaha.

So, my three days at KIFF were fantastic, I had a great time, and we were treated extremely well by those putting on the festival. I’d like to say special thanks to Ben, Dot, Brian, Ben, and Michael for a giving us the opportunity to enjoy their festival as VIPs. We look forward to hosting you at OFF07.

Kansas International Film Festival

Kansas International Film Festival – Day 2 (Saturday)

This will be our busiest day.

We started off at the early screening of “Last of the Spanish Mustangs”, a terrific documentary by Len Johnson about the shrinking wild horse population in the United States. I’d seen this documentary before as we screened it at the 2006 Omaha Film Festival but it was a great chance to meet Len and listen in on his Q&A. The film really moved the audience and we enjoyed a spirited question and answer period and afterward had a great time talking with Len. He gave us some insights on his upcoming project so I look forward to checking that out also.

Last of the Spanish Mustangs

The next film on the docket was Alex Karpovsky’s “The Hole Story”. I was intrigued by the synopsis of this film which is why we picked it and we weren’t disappointed. Well, I guess I was disappointed, but certainly not with the film. More on that in a minute. The film follows a documentary filmmaker on his voyage to uncover the “truth” behind the mysterious stretch of open water surrounded by frozen lakes for hundreds of miles in all directions in the dead of winter in Minnesota. The excitement in the filmmaker and his crew builds as they journey to this phenomenon, only to find that it has frozen over the night before…which puts the documentary, and the filmmaker, into a downward spiral of disillusionment and confusion as they try to unravel the mystery within a mystery. It was clear in the filmmaking style and through the process of the film as the filmmaker’s life slowly disintegrated around him that this whole film…was a farce. A well crafted and entirely enjoyable “mockumentary.” Which a very large percentage of the crowd did not get (and thus my disappointment…in the crowd). I will tell you that this was one of my favorite Q&A’s as audience members asked specific questions about the happenings in the film, and watching Alex struggle to find answers without telling the people asking the question that they were stupid. It’s not real. He said so. Stop asking. Cracked me and Jeremy up. This was one of my favorite recurring jokes of the weekend.

The Hole Story

After that, we peeked into the end of “Mojave Phone Booth”, a narrative feature film that we screened at OFF06 so we could listen in on the Q&A session with writer/producer Jerry Rapp. This film showed in the big theatre and was well attended and they had a great discussion as well. We spent quite a bit of time with Jerry throughout the festival and learned of his upcoming projects as well so hopefully the Omaha Film Festival crowds will get a chance to see some of his other work.

Mojave Phone Booth

Cut to: Marc driving frantically across town to pick up a tremendous slab of bbq ribs from KC Masterpiece and getting back to the hotel room to watch the opening kickoff of NU vs. USC. There were some sad endings to the films we watched this weekend, but the game had the saddest ending of them all.

After the game, I headed back to the festival to catch as much of the documentary “Novem” as possible. After going through all of the festival literature before heading to KC, this was one of the films I was most looking forward to and it surely didn’t disappoint. I caught the last 40 minutes and was completely blown away. I won’t give anything away, but I will suggest to anyone that loves good music, to try to find this film as Brad goes through the process of getting it distributed. I did purchase the sound track and have been listening to it all day. Good stuff, I want to see the rest of the film.


This film was in the last round of films for the night, so afterward we snuck into the end of the screening of “Creepshow” (full access passes are great) and got to see the last couple vignettes of that fine (ahem) film. It was cool again to be in an audience of horror lovers with George Romero and Tom Savini in the building.

Did I mention KC Masterpiece for dinner? Well, I should also mention Gates BBQ for lunch as well. Does it get better?

Day three, here we come.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Kansas International Film Festival - day 1

Jeremy Decker and I are having a great time at the Kansas International Film Festival. We saw two great films yesterday and are scheduled to see several more today and tomorrow.

Yesterday we saw the independent comedy “Quick Pick” written and directed by Williams Vazquez. The crowd really enjoyed this funny film about a down-on-his luck guy who purchases what might be the winning $135 million lottery ticket…if he can only find where he put it. We had a great time enjoying this film and hanging out with Williams and actor Luis Palomo afterward at the after party.

The other film we saw was “Night of the Living Dead” and we shared the evening with none other than George A. Romero and Tom Savini. The theatre was sold out and 90% of the crowd was wearing black so it was a great crowd to enjoy the film with. Some people even had zombie makeup and fake blood. At least, I assume it was make-up and fake blood. Hmmmm.. Anyway, Mr. Romero and Mr. Savini were both at the after party as well so we had a great time chatting with them, getting pictures and autographs and doing all of the cheesy fan stuff.

The after party was attended by at least 400 people and the wine and cheese and fondue were flowing so it was a great night. I managed to make it to bed before 2:00am. Barely.

We’re getting ready to head over to the theater now for more films so wish us luck.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Kansas City Film Festival

Jeremy and I are off to the Kansas City International Film Festival tomorrow and we're hanging out through the weekend. It'll be fun getting the red carpet treatment at someone else's festival. Wish us luck. We're looking forward to checking out some great films, meeting some directors, and maybe spending some time with Mr. George A. Romero. And yes, we'll be wearing our Omaha Film Festival shirts. Gotta keep it real.

In "Wisdom" news, we did a photo shoot with Cristy last night for the poster and DVD cover and it went really well. Thanks to Jason for his exceptional photography skills.

In "Still Life" news, Luis and I checked out another location tonight and it was absolutely perfect for the Mr. Jenson character's house. We have to iron out the details and let them read a script, but it's looking great and all of the pieces are falling into place. We've got a rehearsal scheduled for Monday evening so we're really looking forward to that.

Talk to you when we get back from KC. Go Huskers.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - Never Forget

Pray for our country, pray for out troops, pray for our president.

"Wisdom" photoshoot and "Still Life" updates

We've got a photo shoot scheduled with Cristy on Wednesday for the poster and DVD artwork for our upcoming short film "Wisdom". The mock-up that I did looks good, but I used an actual frame from the film and the poster would be greatly enhanced if we actually shot some images specifically for the poster. We've enlisted the talents of local photographer Jason Gerber to shoot for us so we're looking forward to getting some nice images.

In "Still Life" news, things are progressing nicely, but a lot needs to get done in the next couple of weeks so cross your collective fingers.

I had an interesting phone call earlier today about a possible feature film as well to be possibly shot sometime in the next six months so it will be interesting to see what happens with that over the next couple of months. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"Still Life" script updates

Spent some time tonight eating crab legs and tightening up the script for "Still Life". I'm feeling better about the script and like our new ending...good stuff. More location scouting is scheduled for Thursday night and the initial meet and greet with the actors and crew sometime next week. Progress.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

"Still Life" cast announcement

It is with great pleasure that we announce the cast for our upcoming production of the short film entitled "Still Life".

Ivan Lovegren as Chad
Jim Shaul as Mr. Jensen
Marilyn Tipp as Annie Mae
Luis Jimenez as Smith
Cristy Ferm as Denise

We are very excited about this cast though it was a difficult one to choose because of the great auditions that we had, but we are thrilled to be working with each and every one that has accepted the roles.

This has been an extremely busy week for "Still Life". Luis and I have been looking at a lot of locations, working on the script, and securing the various props that will be needed for the production. Of all of the films I've worked on, this one is the most prop-heavy, so accumulating the various items is turning out to be a fun and interesting scavenger hunt. Also, this is my most difficult film from a location stand point as we need three homes side-by-side that we can shoot in and around (suggestions welcome). As always, we will overcome.

An initial read through and rehearsals will be scheduled throughout September and we are looking at principal photography from September 29/30th through October 1st.

This film should be a lot of fun.
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