Monday, April 11, 2011

SNEAK PREVIEW is right around the corner!!

After nearly two years of blogging about this film, pre-production, production, post-production and distribution.... it's exciting to be able to announce the film's unofficial PREMIERE.

DATE:  Friday, April 15
TIME:  8:30 pm
LOCATION:  The Starry Plough, Berkeley
3101 Shattuck Avenue

What started as a writing project on the front lawn sitting in the sun with Mick Erausquin (my co-writer) evolved into planning, fundraising, producing and directing.

Some interesting tidbits learned along the way:
  • I love writing, but after years of trying to pawn the film off to a director I found that I absolutely LOVE directing. Who would have guessed that? Try it all because you never know what you might have a knack for.
  • I knew I would be a good producer, but it's still producing and it's still business. I can do it, but I wouldn't wish it on you. Unless of course you're a screaming negotiator.
  • Two things you should never ignore: makeup and hair. Wow.
  • Trust the advice of your caterer. People need food. It makes them happy. A happy crew is a good crew.
  • Lights can create magic. Plan around it. It takes time to set up. And then be grateful you took the time.
  • Think it all through. Every step, every shot, every angle. THEN try it. Don't assume anything.
  • A wise person once said to me, "You have three films. The film you wrote. The film you shot. And the film you edit." Do you hear the angels singing with this one? I sure do. 
  • Do your homework. Read other writers. Study other directors. Listen to soundtracks and composers. I spend most of my free time watching movies and wondering how they got that shot, why they cast that person, and why the director decided to go uptempo on the music in the slow scene.
Making a movie is like conducting an orchestra. All the musicians have to do their part or the piece falls apart.

In the end, I'm not ecstatic about the film truthfully. But I am quite proud. It's a charming little piece, with some laughs, some melancholy, some gravitas, and it comes from a real place of heart and history. We will do more films and they will be more -- more powerful, more funny, more insightful, more paced. But it's a good start. I'm okay with that.

Ultimately, this event is really about showing gratitude for all the people who helped make this happen and believed in this project. It may sound trite to say that it does take a village, but in truth we can't do anything of real substance alone. In the words of Yoko Ono, "We are all in this together. You and I, we are married to each other."

We all need to be grateful for the angels in our lives. And this film had its share of angels, cast and crew in particular. But the biggest wings go to those people who were there for nothing but FAITH.
The Driver (that's Sam because she pushed me to do it, and she did it with love, charm and creativity. Her style is all over this and I could NEVER have done it without her)
The Coach (AD, who always had my back and kept encouraging me and stood beside me throughout)
The Saviors (my investors, especially Jason, Jim & Mary, who believed ALL THE WAY)
The Captain (Matt, the captain of all things post production and one of the most generous and kind people I know)
The Carpenter (this means Scott our fearless editor, who cobbled together moments that I only had in my head with very little direction and a huge amount of nerve)
The Visionary (Mike, because in the end he stepped up when none of us could and made all the best suggestions when I couldn't)
The Candy Man (for the music from a real pro, Douglas couldn't have been sweeter. He added sugar to a very dry cookie)
and The Baker (Mick, who wrote this story with me, let it cook, then swooped in at the end when everyone else had moved on, to continue to contribute to its final shape)

The party will be a good one. See you there!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bringing in the hired guns

Monday night I drove to Oakland and picked up the Master Drive. We're officially done. Beyond doing a re-cut, re-shooting or diving into days of anal color correction, I have corrected every little thing that could be done. It's almost surreal, but that big nasty cloud in the back of my brain is gone now, that haunting list of tiny things that needed to be fixed to make it the best it could be. (10 points to anyone who knows which movie I'm referencing here)

Reviewing the opening credits in After Effects

I've watched the film probably as many times as the editor. Each time there was always something nagging at me, the same scenes, the same little moments that looked a wee bit off. I took the time and figured out how to re-link the files, capture stills and do some minor color correction. But my pathetic attempt at correcting those horrific yellow mirror scenes was hopeless. The images turned into gray scenes from a rainy day. No bueno. And then I realized that the entire opening credit sequence needed correction as well, which meant that I had to pull Matt back into the process to re-render and pull up the edits since he had created the sequence in After Effects. It was like being trapped on the freeway by a gas truck and a bus. All I wanted to do is change lanes and move forward, but all I could really do was spin my wheels like a slow-moving pace car.

Aaron Fischer making color corrections
When this process started a couple of months ago, Richard (our illustrious sound editor) recommended to me an editor who's a real pro at color correction, Aaron Fischer. I had emailed Aaron at the time but with limited investor money left there wasn't much we could do. So now I called him and we talked. We realized that we could do those few scenes over 2-4 hours. So I negotiated a price and made a couple of phone calls to raise the money. A check was in the mail and we set the date for January 29. We were on. And no delays were allowed because Miss Claire (Matt's wife) was delivering their first child sometime during the beginning on February. Nothing like finding the last possible window to open before going down in flames.

Matt & Aaron figuring out the workflow
I sent Aaron a link to the film and on Friday night I watched it again. I took notes on every flicker that I could, all those moments that stood out from the rest of the film. And the credits. I reviewed everything and made sure that those people who supported this film were given their due, and was able to fix one of the songs that didn't have the first names listed (much gratitude to the power of the Internet here).

It was great being back in director mode. After settling in with fine wine, crackers, cheese and some tasty mustard, Matt and I powered through in 4 hours. Aaron was done after 3 hours. After another day to render all the files, we were done. So I bought some cake and celebrated.

It's always the little things that teach you the most... like knowing there are layers to color correction, and you either have to delete the old one or add to it, like knowing sometimes you gotta bring in the hired guns to get the job done... 

And now we're ready for prime time showing. The premiere is set. It's gonna be a rockin' party.

WHEN:  Friday, April 15
WHERE:  The Starry Plough, Berkeley
3101 Shattuck Avenue
TIME:  Doors open 8 pm
Film starts at 8:30
Film Q&A starts at 9 pm
Two Sticks plays from 9:30-10:30

For your enjoyment, a copy of the DVD cover. Kudos go out to our designer LeeAnn Nelson, who creates magic for us. It looks fabulous!