Fireworkers – Day 2

Started the day with an amazing drive from Saint Stephen to Saint John where we took a ferry about three hours over to Digby, Nova Scotia. The hour drive was truly stunning. The tree line here is very different from anywhere else I’ve ever been. It’s incredibly dense and solely populated by trees with needles. I’m used to trees with leaves scattered in the mix. Not here. Along the way there were pockets of wetlands and rivers that reached out to the bay. Picturesque to say the least.
Gene and I wanted to jump out and grab some footage, but the script doesn’t call for it and we were tight on time to get to the ferry. Plus, we could have spent all day just shooting b-roll there since it was so beautiful. But, as it was, we powered through and got to the ferry.

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This was the first time I’ve ever been on a car ferry. And the first time I’ve ever been on a boat where we were far enough out to not see any land. Pretty wild. Added to the experience was a thick fog that swallowed the boat whole about a half hour into the trip.
Besides getting a ride over to NS Gene and I also had some work to do: we shot the first footage of the film today. There’s a few shots of my character traveling and we shot that on the ferry. Just as the fog surrounded us. Very pretty. And incredibly moody.

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Once we landed in NS we got to our home base location and unloaded the gear. I stayed back at the house and did some acting work as Gene and Christina went to pick up Will, our DP, and Drew who’s playing Becca. It was nice getting back to the script after having spent so much time in the car over the last couple days where I couldn’t look at the script at all. I was able to answer some questions and do some ditch digging over the drive. The main priority now is to get these likes down solid. We’ll be moving incredibly fast through the shoot. I don’t want to be the guy holding us up. Or worse, feel like I’m not doing my best work. John, my character, is incredibly angry over the loss he has experienced. The pitfall is to simply play anger. But I’m trying to hook in to John’s inability to let go of the hope and joy of what could have been; thinking/daydreaming about it, only to snap out of it and realize that dream will never happen.

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Fireworkers – Day 1

After twelve hours of driving and a less-than-fun thirty minutes spent with Canadian Border Control, Gene and I finally got into Canada. It was a perfect view looking back at the states:Image

We’ve got a three hour ferry ride tomorrow, but this is the fun stuff; getting to see everything come together on our little experiment. It’s been a great day as Gene and I have hashed through finalizing details as well as starting initial talks for the next project. More on that later….

Right now, it’s time to get some sleep while I can. Store up. Not possible, but I’ll try anyway.

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FIREWORKERS – It Begins

I’m headed out of the city in about 10 days to do a movie called Fireworkers. The movie is being written/directed by Christina Lind and produced by The Neboya Collective. The goal of the project is to tell a beautiful story about love and friendship while pushing the boundaries of traditional filmmaking. Christina and her fellow producer at Neboya, Gene, set out to fill the cast of six with actors who each had experience producing films. As we’ve been working our way through preproduction over the last four months, and as we’re getting close to getting on location, I realized that this is shaping up to be a project that I want to document.

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Our last production meeting before we’ll be on location..

I’ve been terribly neglectful of documenting my experiences over the last year. A lot has happened in that time; mainly an incredible amount of learning through doing.  All-the-while, How We Got Away With It has been playing festivals around the country and inching its way to a distribution agreement.

Fireworkers is an ensemble based film, about a disparate group of friends who are brought together through the last wishes of a dear friend. As part of Christina and Gene’s vision for the project, each of the six actors are taking on producing duties as well as acting. So, this will be the third film I’ve produced in two years. Pretty exciting stuff.

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Writer/Director Christina Lind in the foreground. Actor/producers Heather Lind and Gene Gallerano behind.

I’ve realized over the last year that I’m a bit of a production junky. It’s certainly the most exciting part of the process for me. I’ve got a ton of work to do over the next ten days, before I get to the place I want to work from, acting wise, but my character, John, is shaping up in my imagination. I really need to do the hard work, the ditch digging, now so I know where I’m going once we’re on set.

More to come….

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How We Got Away With It BTS

As we’ve been putting the final touches on the film and are very close to finishing, I’ve begun to assemble the Behind The Scenes (BTS) material for the DVD and web promotions surrounding our festival run and eventual distribution. We’ll be featuring deleted scenes, on set production photo and video, as well as an interview featurette with the cast and crew.

Mikal Evans Interview

I did a series of interviews over the last few months focusing on six set questions which I asked each of the interviewees. I shot the interviews on the 5D MkII, working alone, usually just me and a fellow cast or crew member. Given that we’re almost a year removed from our shoot, it was a great opportunity to sit and listen to my colleagues talk about their experience on the production.

Cassandra Freeman Interview

I’ve been cutting the interviews together in FCPX, which is perfect for this type of project. The difficulty has been deciding what to feature and what to cut from the piece. This has proved to be a classic situation where I have had to make a determined effort to remove myself from the interviewee and the subject matter. Being that I’m so close to both I haven’t wanted to cut anything. Hahaha. But as I sit and watch and listen, watch and listen, the story of the behind the scenes life of this film is becoming clearer. I’ve found that this has not been something I can rush; I can’t muscle it. I watch, make a few adjustments and watch again. In many ways the cut is arranging itself.

Jon Lindstrom within my FCPX storyline

This process has really given me a great deal of respect for documentary filmmakers. I can’t imagine the grind they must go through. The time needed to log and cut footage is remarkable. The documentary filmmakers have a different way of seeing things and a greater patience than us narrative guys.

The BTS extras on DVD’s are always something that I’m excited about. I love getting a peek inside the world of the film. And the BTS extras are usually very informative. They’ve certainly helped me along the way. I hope that our BTS package will do the same for others.

Jacob Knoll Interview

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DGA: New Trends in Distribution of Independent Films

On tuesday night, Jon and I went to an event at The Directors Guild of America that was focused on new trends in distribution of independent films. Obviously, given that How We Got Away With It is almost finished, this is a very pertinent topic for Jon and I.

The panel consisted of Jeff Smith, influential film publicist, Eamon Bowles, of Magnolia Pictures, and Jed Alpert, former film publicist turned mobil marketing guru. It was moderated by filmmaker Alex Gibney, a brilliant filmmaker in his own right, and the event was introduced by Steven Soderberg. Needless to say, there were some heavy hitters in the room.

This was my first event at the DGA. Jon is a member and we were lucky enough to receive a full waiver from the DGA for Jon to direct How We Got Away With It. Though they were sticklers at first, as we went through the process of securing Jon’s contract, they were thorough, organized and timely. None of which I could say about our dealings with SAG, of which I am a member, as was the rest of our cast.

I digress. Back to the DGA. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the evening would be an intimate gathering of about 20 guests sitting in on the discussion. The DGA has a beautiful space on 57th street and the evening was catered with an open wine and beer bar. The event was really well set up and run.

It was interesting to me that indie staple directors such as Mary Harron and Tom DiCillo were at such a simple event. But as Jon pointed out, the DGA is tight knit and every indie director is basically in the same boat, with the exception of a small few who cross over to the studios from time to time. ie. Soderberg. I was also very impressed that Eamonn Bowles was sitting in on the panel. Eamonn is a heavy hitter in the indie world and Magnolia is at the forefront of indie distribution. Especially given that their parent company owns Landmark Cinemas. They have pioneered the VOD pre-theatrical release to great success. Which is something other theaters have prevented studios from attempting.

Jon heading in for post-discussion discussion.

Overall I found the discussion to be very interesting. Especially given that Jed, who represents technology and a very forward thinking, was at odds with Jeff and Eamonn on a number of topics. That said, I agreed and sided with Jed every time. Overall I found the event to be a bit behind what the filmmakers in the room needed. Every filmmaker that I spoke to in the room had a film in postproduction that was made, like ours, for well under a million dollars. Yet, in his remarks, Eamonn Bowles noted that Magnolia rarely looks to films under a million dollars for acquisition and theatrical distribution because “they rarely have the traits we think our necessary for a theatrical run.” ie. star power and production value.

In a sense, Jeff Smith and Eamon Bowles, though they are at the forefront of indie theatrical distribution are still behind the eight ball. This is something that I have been doing a lot of research into of late, given that both How We Got Away With It and BRIDESBURG were made on micro budgets.

If a company like Magnolia won’t even look at our films, given our budget, how do we get people to see it? That is where I found Jed Alpert’s comments to be spot on. He spoke to filmmakers building a core audience that they can use to bost their awaremenss and distribution. His comments were very much in line with the book I read Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul. This book and what Alpert had to say are exactly what most of the filmmakers in the room needed. As well as what most indie filmmakers I know need.

If technology has helped us indie filmmakers create content with very high production values, but on a lower budget than indie labels are willing to look at, how do we overcome this? Or better yet, circumvent it?

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Bonnaroo, recap

First off, I’ve gotta give credit to the staff at Bonnaroo. They are top notch. Can’t imagine the work that goes into a four day festival with 90 thousand people attending. And, given all that, we never encountered a grumpy staff member along the way.

Matt’s shows we’re extremely successful. They killed it. I’m excited to start cutting together some video from the festival. I fell really good about what I acquired and I think it will give you a feeling of the excitement that was in the air.

Matt Sucich and the band plyaing Cafe Where at Bonnaroo.

It was a great four days to watch artists at all points of their careers. There were a number of times where I was completly taken by the hardwork that goes into a bands ascent. In particular I was very moved watching Dawes on one of the larger stages. Especially considering only two years earlier they were playing the same stages Matt was playing. A truly remarkable ascent that can only happen by grinding it out every single day.

Matt Sucich on the Solar Stage at Bonnaroo

Present company excluded, the best show that I saw at the festival belonged to Fitz and The Tantrums. they played with a passion and abandon that moved me to tears. They were genuine in their thankfulness and they just flat out tore up the stage.

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Bonnaroo, here I come.

I’m headed to Nashville, Tennessee tomorrow for the Bonaroo music festival. I’m going down to shoot performances for Matt Sucich and his band. Check out his website for two free downloads from his forthcoming second album.

Matt is a very talented singer songwriter who I’ve known for years. He’s got two songs on the How We Got Away WIth It soundtrack and he’ll be helping with the music for BRIDESBURG. I’ve been shooting Matt’s shows in NYC over the past few years and I’ve had the opportunity to grow into a the outstanding artist he has become.

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B-Roll shot of me interviewing Matt.

Matt and I have also been working on an EPK for him over the last few weeks which I’ll be posting when it’s done. It’s been my first shot at such a piece and has been a great learning experience.

Neither Matt nor I have been to Bonaroo so we don’t exactly know what to expect. Which has made planning very difficult. Hahaha. I’m limiting my gear as much as possible: 2 DSLR’s and 3 lenses each, tripod, monopod, Rode Video Mic Pro and a Zoom H4N, bunch of batteries and memory cards.

I’ll be updating from the festival. Assuming we’re not knee deep in a mud-fest.

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