One More Hill to Climb, Baby!

Running the meeting

Me, at a production meeting for “Isn’t It Romantic?”

The title of this post will be recognized by any long time New York Ranger fans. They were part of then radio play by play man Howie’s Rose’s call of the goal Stephan Matteau scored in double overtime that eliminated the New Jersey Devils and sent the Rangers to the NHL finals, where they defeated the Vancouver Canucks and won the Stanley Cup in 1994. What does this have to do with anything? It’s playoff time and I thought this would be a fun way to announce that my feature romantic comedy screenplay, Soul Mate is headed to the finals!

On April 26, eleven scripts were announced and low and behold, mine was amongst them. I have now won a free Stage 32 Next Level webinar and the logline for Soul Mate will be sent to over 500 industry professionals. Not to mention the chance to win the Grand Prize or one of the second prizes.

I’m thrilled. No question about that. This is actually the second contest where Soul Mate has been a finalist. It got down to a final six in the 2012 Wild Sound Summer Screenwriting Contest. So people think it’s pretty good.

At the start, I said I hoped to at least make the finals. I’m very happy to be there, but I would be lying if I said I don’t care about winning. I want this. Badly. Nearly all Stage 32 contest winners have gotten agents and their scripts optioned. That would be a very nice career boost. With everything else that’s been going well, this would just add to the momentum. In a very big way.

The winners will be announced on May 17. I will post my results then. So if you’re interested, and I think you are, tune in then.

In case you’re curious, you can hear Howie Rose’s amazing call and see the goal on YouTube. Let’s hope I go all the way as my Rangers did that magical season.

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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!

Distribution!

Things are going swimmingly for MY SPIRITED SISTER. We resume preproduction this week, right on schedule to be prepared for our January 11 start of production. The crew is just about fully in place, we’ve got a great line on locations and a good group of actors to audition. However, this post is about our last project, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?

A company called Indie Pix offered us an online distribution contract for IIR a couple of months ago. Their web site offers films for rental or purchase and they also distribute through Amazon, ITunes and other online outlets. We carefully checked out the contract and the company and were very pleased to sign.

The official release date is April 15, 2014, (Jackie Robinson Day. I’m the son of a Brooklyn Dodger fan. I had to acknowledge that.) Cooper and I are very excited. As she called it, “our little movie that could” is making us proud. To know that it will be out there, available to entertain, is a great feeling. Our first film to boot. I knew this partnership would yield results and I’m not surprised it’s happening this quickly.

It’s a good deal money wise, but we’re just happy to know that it will be out in the world, representing us and providing a few laughs for a world that desperately needs them.  Art for art’s sake is a wonderful thing, but creative projects are more rewarding when they are shared. So mark your calendars. Coincidentally, that’s right around the time we anticipate a final cut of MY SPIRITED SISTER. It’s going to be a fun spring.

Feeling Restless

With production on MY SPIRITED SISTER pushed back until January, the normally hectic pace of preproduction has slowed considerably. It was absolutely the right decision and we now have the opportunity to do some revising to the script. Being able to engage in writing and creativity in general is very welcoming. But I am feeling just a bit antsy.

It’s very similar to the way I was feeling in early March. We had just finished ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? Its film festival debut was still about a month away and things were feeling a bit anticlimactic. We hadn’t started work on MSS yet, so I was chomping at the bit to get going on a project. I’m feeling almost like that now. After all the work on the script, promotion and the Kickstarter campaign throughout the spring and summer and the preproduction work in September, it feels like we’ve downshifted all the way to first gear. I love being busy and engaged in a full schedule.

Fortunately, it won’t be long until things pick up. We’ll be back at full speed in preproduction in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we are polishing the script. Once we resume, the pace will pick up again. It’s nice because we’ll have a head start. We’ve put together most of the crew, we’ve got a great line on locations and we’ve already chosen the actors we want to see. So it should be a comfortable frantic feeling, if you know what I mean.

So, I’m hanging in, brainstorming with Cooper and biding my time. I love filmmaking. Even the bad days are better than most of the regular days of my otherwise dull life. It makes me feel useful, like I actually make some kind of contribution to the world. So, bring on November!

An Anniversary

Today, October 13 is a significant day in my filmmaking career. It was on this date last year that production began on ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? My first day on set as a director as well as my film acting debut. Well, not really acting. You all know the deal, I’m a performer, not an actor. Nevertheless, it was a memorable day.

I went back and read my post from last year. Hey, somebody has to read these things. I still remember the excitement I felt, the thrill of my long time dream coming true. I also faced my baptism by fire that day, when we fell behind schedule and I adjusted the shot list to get us caught up. At the time, the finished film was months away, but I did what I could to make sure I had sufficient coverage for the “inn scene”, the longest and most complex of IIR. (For the record, it works!)

Funny story about that day. Throughout preproduction, my script supervisor kept drilling into everyone the importance of not having any food or drinks on set. Basic rule, no problem there. When I first arrived, I was carrying a cup of coffee. I went to the room we were shooting in to consult with my DP. After a minute or so, my make up artist called me to the make up area to talk. As I left the room, I put my coffee on an end table. Within a minute, my scripty rushed into the make up area flustered. “Paul, you better talk to these people! There’s a coffee cup on set!” I responded, “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of this!” Hilarious. I sneaked to the set and grabbed my cup. Nice to make an impact my first day on set.

So happy anniversary, not only to me, but to my wonderful partner Cooper and everyone who was present that day. Appropriately, it was today that I mailed our distribution contract to IndiePix who has picked up IIR for online distribution. So October 13 of this year is significant as well! Who says thirteen is an unlucky number?

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.