Producing A Short Film

Producing.  I’m sure there’s an easier way to do it.  Right?

Like, at some point you’ve been organizing and coordinating and hand-shaking and trouble-shooting and promoting and agonizing and writing proposals and…

And then one day you wake up and someone says, “here, produce this film.”  And all you have to do is take out a few sheets of paper and call a few people and BOOM.  Instant film.

But, even though production is never going to be easy, it will get easier.  I learn through doing.  Usually I learn through failure.  Is that normal?  I don’t know.  Every film I produce is different; different actors, crew, story, genre, location needs, prop needs, vfx needs, music.

Every single project gives me unique experiences and deja vu.  We’re in the critical period for Your Sister Sent Me, a short drama that may turn out to be the finest film I’ve ever touched.  It’s awesome to work with the cast and crew.  It’s awesome to work with my fellow Producer.

It’s also a HUGE weight.  We might get on set and it rains.  Or, the actors don’t show up.  Or, the data gets corrupted after we transfer the footage to the computer.  Or maybe the director doesn’t get her point across right and the actors act badly.  Or maybe the dialog wasn’t good to begin with.

No matter how well you plan ahead, something is going to go wrong.  That’s life.  That’s one of the reasons films need producers.  To be there when something goes wonky.

This is the thought that’s keeping my fellow producer and me awake at night:  if we fail this, what happens next?

I’ll tell ya.  We get one day to feel crummy, eat sushi, watch Pacific Rim, and lament our choice of career.

Then we’re gonna get back up and make another film.  A better one.  That’s what filmmakers do.

me at Andrew's filming


Notes On A Casting Director

When I was in college I interned and then worked for a casting director.  She was a fabulous casting director and a very kind lady.  She taught me a lot and insured that I made it onto the set of a commercial and met various producers, directors and actors.

While I worked for her, I took the following notes.

On Directing

Be specific.  Notice the little things.  Give a positive re-direct.  Give a compliment if they follow your direction.  Reassure them that following you works–makes them look good.

React.  Show them you’re paying attention and you care about them.  Do what’s best for them.

You will prefer some actors over others–try not to show it.  It gets hard to give the same notes; if you have the time, do it.  Change your demeanor to fit the actor.

Sometimes one actor is good, but not his or her reading partner.  Try to imagine someone else with them.

Have answers.  Know the material.

Casting Directors are basically acting coaches.  They want the actors that are auditioning to look good for the client.  They want them to succeed.  Because of this, they make great directors.  A lot of my directing insight is from this great lady who allowed me to work for her.

These are some notes I took about auditioning, which is basically all the dos and don’t for actors who come to casting sessions.

Observations of A Casting Intern

People are not what they seem.  And a bad accent is a bad accent–so play it up that way.  Make no excuses because it just makes you look lame.  Take all criticism.  Above all, go for it bigger and badder than you ever planned.

Be confident from the moment you walk in the door.  Know when and how to be subtle.  Be changeable.

Know what you’re saying.

Dress to fit the role.  Ask important questions, like “where is the robber?”  so you know where to look.

When in doubt, improvise.

Know your lines, no matter how late you received them.

Have fun.

I will have to post more about Casting Directors and casting sessions later.  For now, remember that if you’re an actor, Casting Directors are on your side.

Your Sister Sent Me

I’ve posted on here before a little about my filmmaking and specifically my production company, DefineFast Productions.  A few days ago we released the 2nd episode of our comedy webseries, Things We Do in Public.  At the moment, comedy is pretty much what we’re known for.

Then Your Sister Sent Me went into preproduction.

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 10.52.38 PM

Your Sister Sent Me is a short film about a young woman who travels through time and returns to a traumatic day in her childhood where she discovers that there are some things you can’t change, and what it means to really be there for someone.

While comedy is my genre of choice–I usually want people to be happy–drama has its place.  Drama can convict us.  Make us think.  Make us…sad.

Who am I kidding?  Drama ruins your life.  But sometimes, it’s a good kind of ruin.

When I watch BrickMartian ChildWinter’s Bone or The Double, I get lost in that world.  Those problems become my problems.  Sometimes it’s good to feel, right?  That’s really what dramas do, isn’t it, make you feel?

If you want to feel, go to our Indiegogo and support the project.  Or just go to watch a funny promo video.  (Sweet, I’ll accomplish two things at once)

Microsoft Surface

A year ago at the end of this month, I blogged about the iPad and the Microsoft Surface.  I own an iPad, and I love it.  My iPad is almost as effective as my Macbook Pro.  The main reason I need the laptop is because I edit video.

I love my iPad so much I claimed it as my idea.  Check out my original thoughts on the Surface vs. the iPad, here.

This is the Surface.  It looks like an iPad, but it’s not.  It runs Windows 8 and the cover doubles as a keyboard.  I know, iPad sells covers that are keyboards.  Not the same.

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of trying out the Surface.  A friend of mine acquired one from France, given away for free at a conference.  That meant the keyboard was European, apparently.

I really disliked the keyboard, actually, because I’m used to the Mac spacing and it just didn’t work for me.  I tried the touch keyboard on the screen and that worked great.  I bet I would get used to the cover keyboard eventually.

The touchscreen, full-fledged laptop-ness is awesome.  You can slide through different apps, just like the iPad, but with the Surface you can have multiple windows open at once.  How cool is that?

My time with the Surface ended prematurely, as there was real filmmaking work to be done, but the memory will be treasured.  Someday I’m hoping the iPad will be as reasonable as the Surface, with multiple screen capability and extra ports on the outside.  I’m an Apple diehard still…

…But the Surface makes me question myself.

(This commercial also made me like them better)