My Spirited Sister Update

Cooper and I are now back in full swing in preproduction on MY SPIRITED SISTER. Things are progressing nicely and there are a few updates to report. First, we realized that the story and characters lend themselves to the sitcom format, so we are rewriting the script. We’re very excited and have great ideas. It’s going to be a very funny pilot.

We have also hired a DP, a vital position to be sure. He’s young, talented and very creative. We really like his work and he impressed us in the interview. He’s got equipment and solid experience and we feel that it will be a great collaboration. The crew is now almost completely in place. We just need a crafty, a person to handle setting up and taking charge of the food. It’s an often overlooked, but very important part of a shoot. We have a few ideas and we’re hoping to have someone soon. We’ll be setting up a tech scout at our location soon for our DP, 1st AD and Production Designer. This way, everyone can get a look at where we’ll be shooting and work out the logistics for the look of the show.

We have auditions scheduled for December 7 at the Shetler Studios in New York, the same place we held auditions last year for ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? We’ll be filling out the remainder of our roles and we’re really excited to see the actors we’ve chosen to see. We will then have a table read to start the rehearsal process.

Finally, MY SPIRITED SISTER, is now on IMDb It’s very cool to see your project listed and it’s also helpful for promotion, marketing and publicity. It also builds our personal pages. Take a look at the listing.

So, there you have it. The wheels are in motion. We’re on track to be ready to go on our January 11 start date. Stay tuned. It gets more exciting from here!

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New Production Dates for “My Spirited Sister”

Yes, I know. It’s been over a month since my last post. My apologies, but Cooper and I have been incredibly busy in preproduction on MY SPIRITED SISTER. Preparation is perhaps the most important part of the filmmaking process, and MSS is a much more ambitious project than ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? was. Plus, we had a bit of a setback.

As mentioned in earlier posts, we had retained our editor from IIR and he was going to serve as our DP as well. Unfortunately, he had to pull out of both jobs. He is always very busy and our project was more than he could handle with his very full schedule. So, in addition to every other job, we’ve had to search to fill those positions. As a result, we felt it would be best to postpone production.

We will now be shooting the final three weekends in January, including Monday, the 20th, Martin Luther King Day. The extra time will enable us to fill out the crew, finalize casting and locations as well as prepare our shot lists. It’s quite a task when you’re the writers, producers and directors, even with two of us. It was a little disappointing to have to wait a bit longer. We’ve been so eager to get going. But it was the prudent decision and will allow for a better shoot and final project.

We’ve got some good candidates for DP, including one we really like. He’s interested and we should be able to make a deal. Regarding casting, we ran a notice on Backstage and got a ton of submissions. We went through them all and chose and notified the actors we wish to see. We’ll be holding auditions in New York again, like last year. Similarly, we’ve got a good handle on locations.

We’re very happy with the crew we have too. We found an excellent 1st AD with plenty of experience. She’s organized and hardworking and is taking quite a load off us during preproduction. We also have a production designer this time around. That will make a big difference. Visually, IIR is adequate, but it could be a lot better. Some of that has to do with the lack of set dressings. We didn’t have anyone dedicated to that job. We’ve got an ambitious, young hair and make up artist, a good sound recorder and some good PAs. We have a gaffer this time too, Cooper’s fiancé, Jimmy. It’s going to be fun having him on set.

Speaking of which, Jimmy and Cooper have been planning their wedding throughout the preproduction process. Simply amazing. I don’t know how Coop does. If I go to the bank and the dry cleaner in the same day, I need a nap! Their wedding is two weeks from today. I’m really looking forward to it. They’re two terrific people and really good together. I’m also going to be shooting footage on the second camera for their wedding video. Now I can add “Second Unit Camera Operator” to my resume.

So, there you have it. You’re up to date and know when the shooting starts. I will try to be better about posting. I know my fans eagerly anticipate these posts. Both of you.

Week One Tasks

The first week of preproduction is now well underway. Cooper and I are up to our elbows in work, but we’re off to a great start and on track. Her organizational skills are vital to this partnership. I contribute boundless energy, dogged tenacity and the ability to do more than one thing at a time. I do need to have someone help put my focus in the right place., which takes us back to Coop. Complimentary skill sets, just like when we’re writing.

We formed a new production company. Last year, we called it Chegg Productions, a name coined by our editor Matt, a combination of “chicken” and “egg”, as in, which comes first. We are now 202 Productions, named after Cafe 202, a coffee shop on Route 202 where we did a lot of the writing of MY SPIRITED SISTER. 202 Productions is officially registered as a business, and we’ve got a business bank account for our funding. Much better for keeping track of the budget.

We’ve also got the first draft of our budget. In films, budgets are revised, just as scripts are. We have almost double the funding we had last year, but we still need to spend it wisely. Using what we learned while making ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? has been a huge help.

We also have our shooting dates locked in. Six day shoot, the first three weekends in November. No three week break in between like we had last year. What a momentum killer that was. So glad we don’t have to do that again.

We’ve got our Line Producer/Unit Production Manager, Director of Photography, Editor, Gaffer, Sound Recordist, Post Production Sound Mixer, Hair and Make up artist and our 1st assistant director for the first weekend. It’s a great start. We’ve got feelers out for a Script Supervisor, Production Coordinator and Production Assistants.

We’ve started discussing casting and a couple of actors have asked us for the opportunity to audition. Very nice. It’s a great project and people are interested. It’s always helpful when your cast and crew are excited about the film.

Casting is really one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire filmmaking process. Cooper and I both love it. We were very excited to discuss it today in a phone call. We’re really eager to start seeing actors as well as begin rehearsals.

Location scouting is also one the tasks we are starting. It’s fun too and essential to our success. We’re also hoping to find an art director/production designer. That was one of the areas where ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? was lacking. This time, we don’t want to neglect that aspect of production.

That’s enough of my rambling. You’re up to date. Nothing truly exciting has happened, but it will. Stay tuned.

Kicktraq

Kicktraq is a great web site that until yesterday, I didn’t know existed.  In fact, I didn’t realize that the MY SPIRITED SISTER Kickstarter campaign was listed on the site. It provides statistical analysis on Kickstarter campaigns, using an algorithm to project the final outcome, successfully funded, over funded, or, dare we say it, failing to reach the goal.

For a math geek like me, it’s a fun to explore our page.  There are charts and graphs.  Beyond my fascination with numbers, it is a very useful tool.  It’s not so much that the predictions are 100% accurate (movie campaigns generally follow a reverse bell curve and often experience spikes) but it is a good way to gauge where tweaks must be made in the life of the campaign.

So take a look and see what you think.  In the future, this site may become a very reliable way of predicting a campaign’s chance of success.

MY SPIRITED SISTER on Kicktraq.

Caption Contest!

Caption this photo to win a signed poster that was used in "Isn't It Romantic?"

Caption this photo to win a signed poster that was used in “Isn’t It Romantic?”

As post production continues on ISNT’ IT ROMANTIC?, I’m also making efforts to promote the film.  It’s actually starting to take on a life of its own and we’re generating a little buzz.  I would like to make that buzz bigger.  So I came up with an idea.

We are running a contest on the movie’s Facebook fan page.  The photo above is a screen capture taken from the film’s footage.  Interestingly, it did not occur during a take, so it’s not an interaction between characters, but rather between director and actor.  I thought the body English and facial expressions were interesting, so I chose it for the contest.

Visitors to the FB page can leave a caption as a comment.  The contest runs until January 31.  The writer of the best caption will receive a poster for Danny Kresky’s fictitious film, SOUL MATE.  The poster was used as set dressing in the opening scene of ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? and it will be signed by yours truly and Cooper Campbell, pictured here with me.  So, you essentially get six autographs, the two writers, the two lead actors, the main producer and the director!  What a prize!

Margie Ferris (left) and Madeline Jaye rehearse their scene on the set on Day 2.  In the background is the prize poster.

Margie Ferris (left) and Madeline Jaye rehearse their scene on the set on Day 2. In the background is the prize poster.

So check out our fan page.  Enter the contest, look at the outtakes and like us!  Who knows, you may end up with a piece of movie memorabilia.  ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? is rapidly nearing completion and will be hitting the festival circuit very soon.

A Few More Shots

Although production officially wrapped on Saturday, there were a few shots left to capture.  We needed some shots of the Kreskys’ car traveling for the montage of the trip to the inn.  No need for full cast and crew, and in fact, it was just me driving the car with my DP capturing the images.

The montage will have music under it, so we didn’t need sound.  Exterior, so no lights.  We did have to be careful to keep the camera at enough of a distance that you can’t see there’s only one person in the car.   I didn’t want to drag my co-star around unnecessarily.  We also had to keep the camera back in the shots from behind the car.  The license plates wouldn’t match.  I had the fake Danny Kresky vanity plate on my car when we shot on our location property.  I couldn’t take that chance while driving on public roads and highways.  Thus, in these shots my actual plate is on the car.

I also got a look at the footage and at a very rough cut of the entire film.  Not bad.  My DP threw it together just to see how the shots fit.  My editor is very experienced and talented and I have no doubt he’ll do a great job.  I believe we have the makings of a pretty good movie. Good feeling.  After all, we put a lot of work into this.

I’ve been going over the entire process so far and looking for mistakes I made and what I will do differently next time.  As a first time director, it was inevitable that I would make some mistakes.  I did some things very well but there is plenty of room for improvement.  I absolutely will direct again and next time do it better.  Learning and improvement was a big part of why I made the movie.

Day 4 Is Done and We’re Wrapped!

This will be a quick report.  I will post a more detailed one about Day 4 and the entire production process this week.  I may have a few pictures too.  I’m just still a little tired.  Saturday was a long hard day.  Today, my DP and I got some pick up shots of the Kreskys’ car driving on country roads.  We’re finishing them on Tuesday.

We shot four scenes on four different sets and then got some extra coverage in the form of close ups of Diana for the inn scene we shot on  day one.  Twelve hours of shooting.  Long and tiring and things got a bit tense a few times between different team members.  We kept it together though, got the shots and it was a lot of fun.  Plenty of stuff for the outtake reel.

I kept up the jokes, something I normally do anyway in social situations.  Being a comedian is in my blood whether I am on stage or not.  I love making people laugh and it helps keep the crew loose and having fun.  We had some hilarious moments.  We shot a scene between Danny and Diana in their kitchen that involved the most intricate prop work in the movie.  Two large bags filled with groceries dumped on a counter and me pulling out a box of cereal and eating some.  Lots of little adjustments needed to make everything run smooth.  It was pretty funny.  I may post some video clips at some point.

One particularly funny moment was when we were getting our final shot.  It was a simple scene of Danny and Diana entering the inn and walking down the hall to the lounge area.  There was only one line of dialogue.  It was mine and a very easy one.  My final line to be captured.  In one take, I blew the line.  As I called cut, all of us, me included, broke into laughter.  My last line and I couldn’t get it!  Nice moment at the end of a long day.

That’s all I have time for right now.  As I said, look for a more detailed post coming soon.  There’s a lot more to tell.  This was quite an experience and hopefully I gave my editor enough good footage to cut a good movie.