Friday, December 31, 2010

Locked in a Garage Band - the Teaser Launch for Kickstarter

Here on the west coast, it's 7pm at night. In Austin, Texas it's 9pm, where our incredible  editor is finishing up the final touches of our kickstarter video so we can launch it tomorrow, the 1st day of 2011. 

The creative folks at Sang Arts worked their butts off to get our movie logo done in time, and they're currently working on the website ( as I type this. They're in Chicago - also 9pm on NYE.  I really hope they're at least having a pint or glass of champagne while they work.

I'm drinking my first glass of wine to bring in the new year, thinking of how frikkin' incredible this whole process has been.  It's only a teaser - not even the whole movie! But it was wicked-fun, and I just know you're going to love it (please, please, please love it!), and I'm feeling really awesome about using kickstarter to raise $20 000 for the cost of production in April, 2011. 

Here we go folks! Hello 2011.  Hello Locked in a Garage Band - from pre-production, to production in April to a finished film by September 2011.  Hello, incredibly talented, positive, super-amazing folks that love people like us following our dreams & making movies from scratch.  YES.  If 2011 is anything like this moment in time, then it's going to be a really, really great year. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Riding the wave of emotions. How do creative types deal?

Yesterday, I tweeted:  

VictoriaWestcot Riding the wave of emotions from "OMG this is frikkin' awesome!" to "This is getting real & now I'm scared!"... how do creative types deal?

I received a flurry of amazing replies from fellow filmmakers.  Here are a few of my personal favourites:


  Know the feeling. The more awesome things get, the scarier they get. Just means the payoff is better when you rock it! 
We drink. A lot. 

amen RT @ We drink. A lot.

And some more RT @ amen RT @ We drink. A lot.  
- Elation can look like fear from the wrong angle. Just remember why your heart is racing and you'll be fine. 
I'm a cork. No matter how deep I dive, I always surface
#HowIDeal sweets, mind numbing electronica music, walking by water, incense, writing about it, tea, espresso, booze, movies
I must admit that my consumption of wine has increased since venturing on this filmmaking business.  At least I'm not alone in that one eh?

I really appreciated the outpouring of love from filmmakers all around the world, most of whom I've never met, but they piped up to offer advice.  Makes me love this journey even more.

Thanks tweeps.
  You rock my socks.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How to Shoot a Teaser/Trailer (in the Rain)

Photo from @YukariP's phone, our Line Producer and Twitter Queen.

I know I need to write down my reflections on shooting our teaser/trailer yesterday, but I must admit - I'm knackered!  So this will be short, but sweet I hope.

We shot on the Canon 5D with separate sound files over about 5 hours yesterday afternoon in my garage for our feature film, Locked in a Garage Band.  We were shooting for a teaser/trailer that will be 45 seconds long and should be complete and ready to show the world by January 1st 2011.

The day's objectives were to have fun, get to know our cast & crew & see how we all get along before we go into April's 10 day shoot, and to cut a teaser that will be used in our Kickstarter campaign and in our social media marketing efforts.

It's all to create buzz, get more $ in place and start building up an audience for our movie.

Read on for my thoughts & advice on how to shoot a teaser/trailer ... in the rain.

But first, check out our weather report for this week:

11°C | °F
Current: Showers
Wind: W at 21 km/h
Humidity: 88%
10°C | 7°C
8°C | 6°C
7°C | 4°C
6°C | 4°C

  1. When shooting in the Pacific Northwest in December, prepare and plan for rain.  Just the way it is I'm afraid. 
  2. Garbage bags are really handy.  They can protect gear from rain, be used as hair protectors and of course, be used to collect garbage at the end of the shoot.
  3. Hiring a competent, fun crew is really awesome.  Love our crew!  Seriously - they came up with great ideas, made us laugh, had an incredible selection of tape in every possible colour of the rainbow, and hardly took any time to stop & eat.
  4. When people are working for free, you gotta feed 'em well.   Actually, even when people aren't working for free, you gotta feed 'em well.  And not just sugary junk.  That'll cause lots of problems a few hours later.
  5. Bringing a Wii or other game system will make for a fun day.  Click here to see a picture of some of the cast playing Mario Cart.
  6. Make a schedule & stick to it.  We told everyone that we hoped to get them on the 7pm ferry back to Vancouver, but in actual fact we had planned to get them on the 5pm. So when we wrapped and packed up at 3:15, in time for them to catch the 5pm ferry, the entire cast & crew were super-impressed.  They told us horror stories of shooting independent movies until 7am when being told they'd be done by midnight.  Yuck!  Under-promise, overachieve. Such a simple rule.
  7. When it's done, you might feel a rush of emotions, ranging from relief, to sadness that it's over to elation that the day rocked.  I felt all those feelings this morning and must admit - it was really overwhelming & unexpected!  I even had to go for a jog to re-ground myself.
  8. Back up your files & then back them up some more.  We didn't so much learn this yesterday as know this already, but I might as well add this to the list.  We purchased a 1 Terabyte external hard-drive from our local Apple store, and sent it on to our editor in Austin, Texas with our teaser/trailer files from the day.  We backed it up on my laptop and my sister's desktop, plus our sound guy & DP have copies.  I think we're safe.
What am I missing?  Please leave your million bucks below & let me know what you think, want to know, or care about.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reflections on Holding Auditions for Locked in a Garage Band

We held auditions in Vancouver this past weekend, for our first feature film, Locked in a Garage Band.  I thought I should write down a few reflections about the process before I forget.

Here goes:
  • Casting Directors rock.  Seriously, I don't know what we would have done without Kristina Agosti, our incredibly positive, happy & hilarious casting director.  Kristina knows my sister, Jen, the writer-director in our team, from Jen's Praxis screenwriting win last year.  She was one of the actors hired on as a reader for Jen's Christmas script.   When she saw our casting call, she gave us a buzz to discuss the film & we hired her on the spot.  Kristina's well connected in the Vancouver acting community, as an experienced actor herself.  Plus, she's funny & ridiculously easy to work with.  Score!
  • Being organized is key.  When Yukari (our line producer) and I sat down to work out the audition schedule last week, we really focused on having room to catch up on any missed time, just in case we needed it.  This made it so we were never more than 10 minutes behind schedule, which the actors really appreciated.
  • Being frugal doesn't mean being dodgey.  We managed to get our audition budget down from $850 to $440 by simply looking at all our options.  At first we looked to acting schools like Shoreline & VADA in Vancouver but their prices (while reduced) were still too high for us.  So, we then looked to community centres but they were mostly booked by the time we contacted them. Finally we looked to hotels.  In the middle of a meltdown about budgeting, I remembered that I have lots of airmiles from all my travels and credit card purchases, so I was able to use my points to book us a hotel room for free.  We then chatted up the Westin Conference booking person and convinced her to cut us a deal for the actor's waiting room. Ba-da-boom!  Instant savings.  But that's just the money stuff. The interesting point here is that we heard so many of our actors saying that it was such a relief to be in a nice hotel for a change.  A few of the women said they were used to going to dodgey back-alley type auditions.
  • Being positive makes for a positive experience for all.  Quite a few actors sent us emails or gave us thanks at the audition for being so enthusiastic and positive with them.  They said that they're used to going to auditions where the producers don't even speak to them and it's all business all the time.  Our film is a comedy, so we laughed quite a bit during their auditions and I imagine that's what they were referring to.  I also made sure to say "Have fun!" when I brought them to their first auditions, and thanked them for returning to the call-backs. Some of the women even said that it was refreshing to go into an audition run by women for a change.  Weird - I'm always shocked to see how few women are in our positions, but I guess that must be true.
  • Videos are essential. We used Jen's Nikon D90 to record the auditions and review them all again, some even 5 times!  Watching them audition in person is cool, but we had heard that it was really important to see them on camera as well and I'm relieved we followed that advice.  It really helped us to remember their performance a few hours later, and to see what they'd look like on the TV screen.
  • Snacks rock.  'Nuff said.
  • Skype auditions are always an option.  We had more than 250 submissions just from British Columbia actors alone.  I didn't count how many out-of-province submissions, because I had to just delete them all - but I think it was probably at least 500.  All the way from Ireland and England to all across the USA, we had actors that we thought would be perfect in the roles, until we saw their locations.  In the end, we gave 2 auditions via skype, but only to 2 actors - a guy from Austin who I met at AFF and a girl from London who I met in Alaska this summer.  Both are experienced actors, and fit the roles perfectly.  My sister resisted the skype auditions and felt like we were wasting their time, until she met them online.  They both nailed their auditions & were hired within a few hours.  Even though we had seen 7 actors per character in Vancouver, 2 of those characters ended up being cast by skype.
  • Follow your gutt. It's always right.  I relate auditions to dating - if I go on a date with a guy and feel iffy afterwards about whether I want to see him again, then I know it's a no.  I do the same thing in my day-job where I interview teachers to work abroad.  I have to trust my gutt.  It's always right. So when we were unsure of an actor for a specific character, we ended up just not casting the role.  On the other hand, Jen is creating a character for one actor that wasn't right for the part he came in for, but showed such enthusiasm and talent that she just had to hire him.  That was a gutt-decision.
Any questions? Comments? Suggestions? Ramblings?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Step by Step: From the script to the auditions for a Micro-Budget Independent Feature Film

I'm so ridiculously excited to meet the actors coming to our auditions this weekend in Vancouver.  To help other indie-movie-filmmakers  and film-obsessed folks out there, I thought you might like to know more about the process.

1.  Jen, our writer-director and my sister, finished the first draft of the script, which was specifically written for our first film.  We wanted to follow our mentors' advice by filming a 90 minute movie in mostly one location. I say "mostly" because we do have some flashbacks that will show other areas of our city, Victoria BC, and the actors' histories within it, but otherwise the movie will take place entirely in a garage.

The script is by far the most important part in the movie and we're already working with professional readers to edit, advise & improve.  Jen writes in between taking care of her 3 kids (ages 8, 4 and 10 months) and 14 year old dog, Brian.  I'm amazed at how she manages to write anything at all, but this is how she completed her Masters Thesis (while her first baby was sleeping) so it's just her routine.

2.  Before leaving for Austin Film Festival, I met with a Director of Photography in Vancouver with a RED camera.  I saw his reel, had a glass of wine & a quick discussion/get to know you session and said yes right away. He's a really great guy, super quick to respond to my questions (which is really important to me.   I loathe waiting around for people to get back to me and we've hired most of our crew based on how they are as people, not just their talents/skills).

3.  After AFF (I wrote about the AFF experience in previous posts), Jen & I worked out a schedule based on our own limitations - our mother is coming to town for 2 weeks over Christmas so we had to decide to either get started before Christmas or start afterwards, which would put us back into January.  I'm on the road for most of January with my day-job, so the idea of pushing back our auditions until February wasn't really sitting well with either of us.   One thing Jen and I are particularly good as is just "getting it done!" so we opted for an earlier start.  Which meant that we scheduled our teaser/trailer shoot for Dec. 11th (3 days before mom's arrival), and auditions one week before - Dec 4th & 5th in Vancouver.   

We're shooting the feature film in April over 2 weeks, but we wanted to shoot a teaser/trailer first in order to get the experience we need, work with our cast/crew and see how we all get along, and also have something to show investors.  Since we're new, we know how important it is that we prove we're not morons - hence, a cool teaser/trailer that will hopefully be well received.

4.  We announced the Casting Call, including brief character breakdowns & a logline on various actor sites including: 
  • (both our ads were flagged & removed from Craigslist, which was weird but I hear from actors that ads looking for 18-20 year old actors are often fake and/or porn shoots - definitely not us!)
  • on twitter & facebook - which lead to Cinevic, Victoria Film Commission, CCPA (Canadian College of Performing Arts) and Victoria Film School all forwarding the Casting call to their contacts.  Very cool.
  • Jen contacted an actor she knew from her Praxis Screenwriting win last year, and asked his advice on securing a location to hold auditions in Vancouver.  This lead to his amazing advice & support, which brought us even more actors from his own coaching in Vancouver.  
  • Another actor that knows Jen from her Praxis win contacted her to ask about Casting Director opportunities which then lead to us hiring her.  She then spread the word with her own contacts in Vancouver, bringing us even more talented, experienced actors.
5.  With our Casting Director chosen, Jen & I could relax a bit and let Kristina take the reigns in who to short list for the auditions.  We're casting 6 lead characters: 3 girls & 3 guys.  Kristina's an experienced actor and wants to build her own Casting Director experience so she's at a perfect time in her life to work on a micro-budget with us, plus we just all get along so well.  We're paying her so little and yet she's already worked her butt off this past week!

6.  I contacted a couple of editors that I know and discussed the teaser/trailer that we're shooting, and whether they could help us out.  I met one of the editors at AFF, over wine (I sense a pattern here...), and we really hit if off so when I asked him about the teaser/trailer idea and if he's musically inclined and able to edit it over the Christmas holidays, he agreed.  He's planning to get the teaser/trailer "in the can" by Christmas - woohoo! Love that speed!  We are paying him but very little, and if it goes well then we'll hire him on for the feature film edit as well.

7.  I searched for audition spaces in Vancouver and finally had the brilliant idea to check my aeroplan points to see if I could book us a hotel on points.  A couple of phone calls later, I booked Jen & I a night at the Westin Grand in Vancouver on my points & managed to talk the meeting-rooms coordinator into letting us use a tiny board room for only $100 a day for our waiting room.  Phew!  Other places in Vancouver were as much as $2000/day for micro-budgets (what kind of micro are they talking about, eh?) so the savings for the auditions was a big deal to us.  Plus, we have to get from Victoria to Vancouver by ferry and buy food for our fabulous Casting Director and volunteer actor-reader.  

8.  Jen & Kristina got 250 actors down to 45 we would audition.  Jen worked on the "sides", which are the scenes that the actors audition with, and Kristina edited them to make for better opportunities for the actors to really show their stuff.  I love the way that Kristina literally edited the sides with a Sharpie marker and scanned them back to us, making the sides look kind of bad-ass old school.  

9.  In the meantime, Yukari, our script supervisor/line producer and I met to go over the audition schedules. She's a great organizer, and while she typed into the excel spreadsheet all the possible times for each actor's audition, I baked cookies for her time.  I make a mean oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

10.  Jen emailed all the selected actors on Wednesday night and has been slotting them into their 8 minute time slots every time they write back to say "yes."   She loves getting emails from really excited actors, who says things like, "You bet!" and "WAHOO! I'll be there!" and "I love the concept, can't wait to audition for the role."  Very cool actors.

11.  Today we received an email from a photographer who wants to volunteer to shoot our stills during our teaser/trailer with a view to being hired on in April when we shoot the actual movie.  We've also received emails from make-up artists and hair stylists.  I heard that this would happen once we announced auditions, but I was still surprised to see how many people want to work for free just to gain experience & the movie credits. 

We're off to Vancouver on Saturday morning to start the auditions at 11am.  We would have started earlier in the day, but with the ferry schedule we won't make it to the hotel before 10:30am.  Ah, life on an island eh?

Watch this space for updates on how the auditions go & what happens next in shooting our teaser/trailer.  Please leave me a comment below or ask any questions you like. Thanks!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ramblings on Casting, Auditions & Working with a Family

It's Casting Week here at Elgin Road!  Which means, we're holding auditions in Victoria & Vancouver - a feat in and of itself.

According to the ACTRA low budget union agreements, we're supposed to shoot in a location where the actors can return home every night - which means, we either can't hire actors from Vancouver & shoot in Victoria, or we can't hire Victoria actors and shoot in Vancouver.

Or option C: we don't sign with the union.  We had planned to just rent a house with a garage (since our film is set in 1 location - "Locked in a Garage Band" - get it?), and accommodate all our traveling actors in the location for the 2 week shoot, but now we have to rethink that plan.  If we go union. 

Oh and one more strike against going with the  union is that we can't hire any non-Canadian actors.  So, if an actor from Seattle comes up to Vancouver & nails the audition, we can't hire them.  If we go union.

Or, we could just say, "&&^$ it! We're doing our own thing!"

Which is much more our style anyway.  We won't be shooting ridiculously long days.  Jen has 3 kids, ages 8, 4 and 1 so there's no 12-15 hour days happening on our shoot - she hardly gets any sleep as it is!  Plus, we're not A-holes.  We treat people really well, feed them great food and are doing this movie for fun so, hopefully everyone will enjoy working on the set and not complaining that we're dickheads for not going union.

The only down side is that great, experienced, union actors want to audition and they can't if we don't sign.

Ugh. Big decision folks.

So, what else is happening?

Oh yeah - all these resumes & headshots are pouring in.  It's absolutely amazing to see how many incredibly talented people want to work with us.  There are a tonne of musically inclined actors applying because of the garage band theme, and I have to admit - I'm kind of intimidated by their resumes.  But maybe they won't be nearly as cool in person?  Some are sending in You Tube video clips, which are really great.  Most of the time.  Some are random - of course. It wouldn't be an open casting call without some randoms right?

We've been shooting funny videos on Jen's Nikon D90 all night to test it out & see if we can use it to shoot auditions this weekend.  It only runs for 20 minutes at a time, but so far it's holding up really well.  The auditions are planned for 8 minutes each, with a 2 minute break between each actor for Jen & our amazing Casting Director to take notes, discuss quickly and reset the camera.

Jen's kids are super-hyper about being on camera, which we mistakenly did right before bed-time, so I type while Jen & her hubby try to get the kids wound down & ready for bed.  They love their routines and tonight was definitely not a normal night in the living room.

Seriously, how are we going to shoot a movie without dirsupting their family routines too much?  The kids are in bed by 7pm.  

The joys of casting, auditions & working with a busy family.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Casting Call - Locked in a Garage Band

Can't believe we've already put out the call for actors for our little feature film.  I've already received 80 CVs and headshots, and it's only been 24 hours.  Some are seriously random, but most look really amazing.  I guess that's what happens in an open casting call right? 

And now we have our first scheduling conflict - I've announced the audition dates on a tonne of sites, and now...I might have to schedule them for one week later.   But I'll sleep on it and see if somehow by the time I wake up, it will have sorted itself.  C'mon universe - make it easy will ya?

We also have actor-friends in LA, Austin and London, England who want to audition virtually, which I really want to figure out how to do.  Surely, others have held Skype auditions in the past? 

Here's the casting call:

'Locked in a Garage Band'

Elgin Road Production Company is casting Locked in a Garage Band, a non-union micro-budget feature film in which a garage band is inadvertently locked in a garage for a day. 10-12 day shoot on the Red Camera scheduled to start mid-Apr 2011 (paid).

A teaser/trailer is being shot on Dec. 11th 2010 in Victoria or Vancouver (TBA) - - Meals/transportation provided.

Auditions in Victoria on Dec. 2nd and Vancouver on Dec 4th & 5th. Read on for details.

Seeking—Richie: 18-20, Lead Guitarist (with some musical skill, but not necessary), very good looking, any ethnicity, manipulative, ladies man.

Scott: 18-20: Lead Singer (less than 20 seconds of actual singing involved), any ethnicity.

Jason Schinder: 18-20, Drummer (again, very little actual drumming involved), Jewish, comedic actor, our comic relief.

Abby: 18-20, good girl, wants to be the lead singer (should be comfortable singing), any ethnicity.

Meadow: 18-20, rebellious, edgy. Guitarist (again, very little actual strumming), any ethnicity.

Laura-Kate: Goodie two shoes, daddy's girl, preppy, any ethnicity.

Send pix, résumés, and email address no later than November 30th, 2010. Successful candidates will be sent sides and details about their audition dates/times via email on or before Dec. 1st, 2010.

Food & Transportation provided for Teaser/Trailer, & 10-12 day feature film shoot is paid.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Films & Filmmakers I loved at Austin Film Festival 2010

The Austin Film Festival was amazing, as we all knew it would be.  Here are a few of the flicks I managed to catch and my two cents on why I loved them.  I'm no film reviewer, but figured you might want to hear my brief thoughts on each movie I managed to catch.

I'm sure you've heard the hype.  It's all true. It's awesome.  Go see it.  You'll see what I mean.  Natalie Portman shocked me at how frikkin' amazing she was in the role.    It was well worth the long lineup down the street to see Black Swan.

Made in Dagenham - so funny!  I saw this directly following Black Swan, and it was such a lighthearted treat to watch.

Sons of Perdition is a documentary about three boys that leave their polygamous compounds and head out into the world.  Fascinating stuff, very well done.

Okay I'm not a big Monopoly player, but I met the filmmaker and he's a cool guy so I had to go and see his movie.  This doc was a surprisingly sweet movie, and reminded me of the documentary about the kids who go to the National Spelling Bee Championships.  What was that one called again?  Anyway, it was very sweet.  Go and see this doc if you can find it!

This movie was AWESOME.  Seriously, funny movie in a Shaun of the Dead way .  We saw it at the Alamo Ritz, which deserves a post all to itself. 

Mark Potts is a really great guy, so I went to see his film but it was sold out.  Which was pretty sweet for a student film!  He gave me a DVD afterwards so my sister & I watched it when we returned from Austin.  I saw Mark speak on a couple of the panels at AFF and he has some good DIY stuff to say for indie-filmmakers.  I like his "just do it!" approach to filmmaking.  My favourite Mark Potts quote from the panels was his response to the "how did you get your budget?" question - which was simply "Student loans."  Spot on.  The movie is cute, well worth a watch.  Reminded me of Trailer Park Boys.

My sister & I saw A Savior Red on opening night because we really liked the filmmakers.  I especially enjoyed chatting with them daily at the Driskill Pub.  It's definitely an intense flick with a soundtrack that matches the tone really well.  I can see these guys doing really well.

I missed all of Ed Burns' talks, which frankly, was very lame of me!  But my reasoning was that I kept meeting all these cool filmmakers at the Driskill and if they asked me to see their movies, I just had to go & support them & their projects.  Next year, I'll make sure that I set myself some clear objectives so that I don't miss anything I really want to see. 

I met some amazing people at AFF and can't wait to return next year, hopefully with our movie being shown.  That would be very cool.  Watch this space for more news on how our feature film is coming along.  My head is swimming in legal-speak of pre-production, but we're about to shoot our teaser.  I'm stoked to say the least!

What about you?  Any films I should see that you recommend?  I'm particularly interested in independent films, but of course I will take all recommendations.  Thanks!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I love the South

A couple of days ago, as I was reading the Austin Film Festival Program & filling in my calendar with workshops & movies I hope to see next week, my phone rang.  I own a business not related to the production company my sister & I are starting, so I'm fairly used to blowing off telemarketers that call my business trying to sell me something I totally don't need.  So, when I picked up the phone and a Southerner from Go Daddy answered I was pretty close to giving him a quick excuse about how I didn't want more domain names, thank you very much.

But then I remembered that the night before I had purchased 6 domain names for our movie - 3 with the movie's title in various forms (ending in "" or just ".com") and 3 for the individuals in our team. My sister, the writer-director, our brother, the musical genius and me, the producer.  So, the guy from Go Daddy wanted to chat about the domain names.  Not so interesting right?  Wait, it gets better.

It turns out that he knew a few guys back in the day who started out from nowhere just like us and two of them made it pretty big while one is still working as a server at a local restaurant. 

He laughed and said, "You know, it was so cool to see them get big in Hollywood like, because these were just regular guys.  I mean, I knew the dog in their movie because it's their mom's dog! These were regular neighborhood kids!" 

So I of course had to ask, "Oh yeah.  Who are they?"  

"Well, have you seen Bottle Rocket?  That was their first movie with the mom's dog I told you about."

"You know the Wilson brothers? You're kidding me." 

What a great conversation we had after that. 

And I felt so excited all day because everyone really does start at the same place we are.  With a whole lotta heart, a bunch of amazing people who believe in us and our project and the focus to get 'er done - we're going love this journey we're on.  If we do manage to make a movie that people actually go & see, I think I'll call that guy from GoDaddy and thank him once again for the conversation about Luke & Owen Wilson and their mom's dog.

Other ramblings & news:

We leave for Austin in 3 days. I've had my toes painted purple for the Oct 20th Wear Purple event and will be sure to don my purple scarf in support of the teenagers out there dealing with homophobia & bullying.  The event was started on facebook by a high school student and now has over 100 000 people RSVP'ed to attend, and I'm hoping I'm not the only one at AFF who knows about it.  Oh wait, my awesome sister is coming and wearing purple too.  We'll be the dynamic purple duo - watch out Austin!

We're stoked for the first night's Film & Food event with Edward Burns.  If I meet him I will probably get too star-struck to even say anything. Ever since I watched the Holiday, I've been in love with his voice.  His movie making, and acting and directing and writing and all that jazz are pretty awesome too.  But I'll admit it, I have a massive crush on his voice.  That's kinda weird right?  Who gets nervous just to hear someone speak?

I'm seeing his new movie, Nice Guy Johnny where Ed will be speaking afterwards.  Will I have to leave the room before he talks just so I don't "Squeeeeeeeee"?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Movies to Inspire Moviemakers

I love talking about movies I love.  
Hare a few that I bring up in conversations over and over again.  Many of these movie-makers have inspired me to embark on this journey of learning how to make movies with my sister, the writer/director in our team. 

Just seeing the pictures above makes me ridiculously grateful for the incredibly creative people out there making awesome movies.  If we can make anything even a tenth as great as any of the above, I will be a very happy camper.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Learning the Ropes of Indie Movie Making - Web Links to Help

I admit it. I'm having the time of my life.  Putting myself through self-directed film school is absolutely the best thing I've ever done.  It's awesome.


I'm overwhelmed by how much I have to learn.  Already, I've:
  • attended Dov Simmen's 2 Day Film School
  • read Dov's book "From Reel to Deel"
  • pulled out all the best weblinks from the book & bookmarked them to look at later
  • read the Guerilla Film Makers Pocket book
  • pulled out all the best weblinks from the book & bookmarked them to look at later
  • read the Independent Film Producer's Survival Guide
  • pulled out all the best weblinks from the book & bookmarked them to look at later
  • read Digital Filmmaking 101
  • pulled out all the best weblinks from the book & bookmarked them to look at later
  • do you see where I am going with this....
  • I have so many bookmarks to "look at later" that I don't know when I'll have the time to actually look at them.
So, to help you indie filmmakers out there, here are the bookmarks I've made so far:

Learn Screenwriting, Creative Writing, Movie Making & Filmmaking
Samuel French, Inc. The House of Plays & Musical Plays for Over 175 Years
Breakdown Services, Ltd. -- The Communication Network to the Entertainment Industry
Online - Playback
Hollywood Entertainment Breaking News - Nikki Finke on
Welcome to Detonation Films! - The Filmmaking Community The DVX100, HVX200 and RED source.
Modeling Auditions Acting casting calls
Find Auditions at Explore Talent for modeling and acting - casting calls Acting Auditions Baby Modeling Auditions Extras Casting Calls Acting jobs Modeling jobs child modeling Agents become a model
FILMMAKERS ALLIANCE - your community = your film
FILMMAKERS ALLIANCE is a filmmaking support community dedicated to the advancement of true independent cinema.
freesound :: home page
Freesound: collaborative database of creative-commons licensed sound for musicians and sound lovers. Have you freed your sound today?
International ArtHouse films. Spotlight on World Cinema. Classics and Foreign films on DVDs.
International ArtHouse. Spotlight on World Cinema. Classics and Foreign on DVDs.
JoBlo Movie Network: Movie news, reviews, trailers, release dates and more!
The one-stop movie site for all of your film needs: new movie previews, wallpapers, video reviews, news, free screensavers, trailers, scripts, screenplays, movie trivia quizzes, message board, weekend box-office, release dates, wallpaper, poster shop, pc games, upcoming movies, celebrities, release dates, dvd reviews, interviews, horror reviews and movie shopping
Making Of – How to make movies, with actor, actress, director interviews, trailers, clips, photos, and more
MakingOf homepage that provides a behind the scenes look at new unfiltered film content. This includes viewing photos, footage, movie trailers, and exclusive interviews with actors, directors, writers, and producers.
Microfilmmaker Magazine - Issue #57 - August 1, 2010
Microfilmmaker magazine provides free tips, tricks, reviews, discussions, and critiques for low-budget and no-budget filmmakers to help them make the best films possible.
Movie Marketing Madness | Movie marketing news, reviews and opinion by Chris Thilk. Independent Films
Open Film | The Online Platform for Filmmakers & Film Festivals. Short films, Independent films contests
Openfilm is the Premier Online Platform for Filmmakers, Film Lovers, Film Festivals and Film Contests. Where Creativity Meets Opportunity.
ProductionHUB Homepage
Production guide and directory with crew, equipment, digital media, pre-production, post production, production support and talent services. Search, get listed, or request a production quote.
Take Zer0 - everything you need to know before take one
Everything you need to know before take one.
Royalty Free Music and Sound Effects from
Royalty free music and sound effects that fire up your soundtrack without burning a hole in your budget...with individual tracks and genre-based collections for download or delivery in MP3 and uncompressed AIF and WAV formats, with intuitive search capabilities to find the right one fast.
YouTube Pushes Free Full-Length Movie Section - Here's What to Watch - Cinematical
After becoming a mecca for everything from fan sobbing to music videos and pirated films, YouTube finally decided to get into the legit film rental
Movies | Reviews | Movie Times | Hollywood News | is the only 100% pure entertainment online source for movies, movie reviews, movie times and hollywood news.
Funny Videos, Comedy, Humor, Animations, Flash Games, Tournament & Blogs | Atom is the web's daily source for funny videos, original web shows, animations, short films, games, blogs, contests and more web comedy. Watch and share our videos, then upload your own - you could earn money and TV glory on Comedy Central.
Exhibits Collection -- Cinema! What goes into the making of your favorite movies? Explore key players in filmmaking, from the director to the film editor. Brush up on
FilmSecrets - Dynamic Film Resource
FILM SECRETS - Dynamic Film Making Site: Learn to shoot, edit, light, budget and make films.
Movie News, Film Reviews, Interviews, Film Festivals | Welcome to MovieMaker Magazine
MovieMaker is the nation's leading magazine on the art and business of making movies and the most widely read magazine on independent film in the world. Feature article topics include moviemaking techniques and how-to trends, technology, criticism, behind-the-scenes accounts of the business of moviemaking and in-depth interviews with the world's leading actors, directors, cinematographers, producers, screenwriters and editors.
Welcome to Next Wave Films
American Film Institute
The Independent | Obsessed with independent film since 1978.
Film School - 2-Day Film School
Film School by Dov Simens, offering 2-Day Film School, DVD and Web Film School
Sundance Institute
Founded by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that actively advances the work of independent storytellers in film and theatre.
CD / DVD Duplication, CD / DVD Replication, CD / DVD Duplicators, CD / DVD Printers, Blank CDs and DVDs
Disc Makers is the nation's Low Price leader of CD Duplication, DVD Duplication, CD Manufacturing, DVD Manufacturing, CD Replication, DVD Replication, CD Duplicators, DVD Duplicators, Blu-ray, USB, and Merch.
DVFilm - Digital to Film Transfers, Raylight Software for Desktop HD editing
Entertainment News | Movie News | Hollywood News
THR provides quality movie, entertainment, and Hollywood news to expand the reach of its brand through an increasing array of digital platforms.
Digital Video, Pro Camera Equipment, HD, 3D, Blu-Ray and Professional Production News -
Entertainment news, film reviews, awards, film festivals, box office, entertainment industry conferences - Variety
Breaking entertainment movie news, movie reviews, entertainment industry events, news and reviews from Cannes, Oscars, and Hollywood awards. Featuring box office charts, archives and more.
Millimeter | featuring camera reviews, video editing, HDV, storage, networking
Millimeter stresses workflow and integration, whether traditional or IT-based. Topics include cameras and camera accessories, video editing, digital content creation, storage and networking, music libraries, audio, and more.
RES - The latest news and information on digital filmmaking
RES is online community where you can share the latest news and information on digital filmmaking. To share your news just submit a story, link or video!
Tutorials, Reviews, Tips For Film, HD, HDV, Video | Studio Monthly
Video Production, Final Cut Pro, Storage, Pro Camera, Sprintcam, Sequencing -
I seriously need to organize these bookmarks into categories like, "the technical," "the gossip,""the legal," and "WhereTF do I put this?"

I like those categories actually  - better get on it.  Oh man, Thanksgiving weekend - thank you for giving me 3 full days to focus on movie making!

Off to the Austin Film Festival in 10 short days. Jen's working on her pitch for the Pitch Competition which I'm convinced she will win.  Watch this space for more.

Any weblinks I should have here but don't?  Please share your thoughts below.

Friday, August 27, 2010

How did Sci-Fi Trump my Comedy Week?

Yesterday I went to my local indie-video store and tried to rent independent feature films in the comedy genre, but ended up taking home 2 comedies/dramedies (Slacker & Bottle Rocket) and one sci-fy - Primer.  I'm looking for inspiration by watching other no-budget/low budget films.  I've already watched Primer twice in the last 24 hours, and while I don't want to make our first feature film a sci-fi flick, I do really appreciate all the geeks out there that make these kinds of movies. I loved Lost (until the ending - what a disappointment!), and enjoy a good Alien and Cloverfield type movie, as well as Battlestar Gallactica and Firefly.  So I probably should have known how much I'd love Primer.

So much so that I'm going to watch it 3 times in 24 hours by watching the movie with the Director's commentary tonight.  I'm seriously confused by the science & the plotlines which revolve around time travel and twists that die-hard fans pull apart in online forums that yes, I consulted today.  It only cost $7000 to make in 2004, which is about the budget we're working with.

I'm also keen to watch Bottle Rocket again today, but Jen just suggested "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" which I'm always up for.  Oh man, I love that "who pooped the bed?" episode.

We've been working on Jen's plot and characters for our first Elgin Road Production Company movie, which Jen says she will need a few weeks to really hash out.  Her kids return to school in 2 weeks (thank FRACK! I love my nieces & nephews more than the sun, but dang, they need to go to school so Jennie can write), but I'm really hoping that Jen manages to at least get the treatment done before September kicks off. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This week's Self-Directed Film School Assignment: Low Budget Comedies

Last weekend I watched a few movies that are beloved in the indie-film world - El Mariachi, Paranormal Activity &  Reservoir Dogs.  My sister and I watched the flicks to inspire & educate ourselves after taking Dov Simmens' 2 Day Film School in NYC and reading a few great books about being independent producers and filmmakers.  We're starting our own production company and are still in the initial research stages.

I noticed that many "low-budget" indie flicks are action or horror and while I appreciate them, I'm more interested in making our first movie a comedy.  But before we start, we like to do our research and find others that have already made their first movies on low budgets in the comedy genre.
At first it seemed impossible!

Until Jen put out a box of VHS tapes on the curb and discovered a long-forgotten favourite - Bottle Rocket. It was Wes Anderson & the Wilson brothers' first film, which started as a short & they later developed it into a feature film.  We love these guys, and Bottle Rocket was an all 'round awesome movie.  So, my assignment for this week's self-directed Film School is to find a copy of Bottle Rocket and watch it again.  Woohoo!  I am seriously loving film school.

Do you know of any other great first movies in the comedy genre?  Ideally, they would cost less than $20,000 so we can see what others have done with similar budgets.  Please share your thoughts below.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

So You Want to be An Indie-Filmmaker? Watch what I learn...

Yesterday I posted my Summer To-Do List (aka my version of Film School for Dummies - meaning, me!).  Last night I rented 5 movies as part of my own personal assignment for this weekend:
  • The Swedish film based on the book by Stieg Larsson, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (because I just finished reading his three books which, by the way, are fantastic.  I wanted to see what the original film was like before the American version with Daniel Craig is made - not so much "film school" but pure film student joy)
  • Paranormal Activity - because we it's all the buzz in indie-filmmaking these days.
  • El Mariachi - the famous first movie by Robert Rodriquez, who wrote "Rebel Without a Crew" - one of the many amazing books about making movies on a limited budget but with loads of style.  Not that I'll be making action movies right away, but it's cool to experience his point of view as a writer/director/producer/editor and everything else in between.
  • Reservoir Dogs - Tarantino's first biggie, which I know I should have seen by now.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I still need to see it.
  • the Coen Brothers, Burn After Reading - because again, I haven't seen it yet.  It wasn't their first, and really, I should rent their first, but I usually love these guys & just felt like a good ol' comedy to balance out the action & horror above. 
I enjoyed watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and will be seeing the second in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire at my local indie-cinema next week.  It's dark & depressing material, but dang, that Lisbeth Salander keeps me coming back for more.  She's so bad-ass-autistic-crazy-punk-rock and refuses-to-be-a-victim-cool.

Paranormal Activity is indeed a scary flick, and I was impressed at how this computer-geek put together the whole movie, but ... well, it's no Blair Witch.  That movie kept me from camping out for years.

I watched El Mariachi today with Robert Rodriquez commentary.  He's awesome.  I love his "you wanna make movies?  Get out there and make 'em!" attitude.   I think there should be a film school class where the students just watch his film with commentary & read his book & discuss.  Then they have to make their own action films for under $7000.  That would be an amazing class.

Tonight I plan to watch the other 2 flicks above, although Jen (my sister, co-producer & creative side of our team) has already seen them and I suspect she won't be to interested in watching either.  I may have to watch them on my own tomorrow, after I put in a few hours at my day-job.  I'll let you know what I think and what the next assignments are for this week.

Any suggestions for other movies I should be watching this week?  Please leave your comments below & let me know your thoughts.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Movie Making for Misfits

We're making a movie!  I'm joining forces with my screenwriting sister to make our first feature film. I just need to make sure that we get everything for super cheap, pay & feed our crew and keep on budget. Jen will be the creative side of our team and I'll be the business-brain. Easy peasy right?

Here's my To-Do List for the Summer of 2010:  Hot pink text means that I've already accomplished the task.
  • Read: From Reel to Deal by Dov Simmens, The Guerilla Film Makers Pocketbook, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriquez.  Read 'em all. They're awesome.  Now I need to re-read them, this time taking notes.
  • Read the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris so I can apply his principals to my day-job. Work about 3-4 hours/day, which gives me time to focus on movie-making. Love this new freedom & inspiration.
  • Attend Dov Simmens' 2 Day Film School in NYC.  It was awesome. Anyone interested in movie making should take this course, and listen to what he says. Sit in the front 3 rows if you want to ask questions, but be careful - he will blast you for stupid questions.  I didn't ask any, but I really didn't feel like I needed to. 
  • Buy Dov's DVD series.  On sale for $295 instead of $595 - score! Plus, I figure this is way better than film school tuition and certainly faster. 
  • Watch the DVD series, taking notes as I go.  Use his workbooks.   One DVD a day?
  • Set up business (Elgin Road Production Company) and blog.  Cost $75 for the name and $40 to register the business. I know blogger so it was easy to set up the blog. Don't like the colours, but will shell out cash for designer when I'm loaded.  It'll happen. One day.
  • Make business cards that say "Producer" and start telling strangers that I am a producer when they ask what I do.  So far so good.  The business cards cost $50 and only took a few days to arrive.  The first few times I told people I was a producer I felt like a real fraud.  Then I started to believe it - which is the point anyway.  A few people pitched their ideas to me.  It was pretty cool to be pitched to, especially considering the fact that I'm really just learning the ropes here.
  • Look into attending TIFF as an "industry" person.  Costs $610 + taxes, takes place in a few weeks...not sure if I can swing this.  Just want to be a fly on the wall so that the next time I come with a movie in hand I'll feel more confident.  Still looking into aeroplan miles, and have a free place to stay so may swing it after all.
  • Watch El Mariachi (Robert Rodriquez first film, made for $7000 without a crew.  Can't wait to see it after reading his book all about the process).
  • Watch Hitchcock's Rope & Lifeboat. Done.  Both good inspiration for one room, 90 minute script, low budget.
  • Need to find more films set in one room, with 90 minutes - stage plays basically, turned into movies.
  • Go through blogs from's 50 Best Blogs for Moviemakers & start following the ones I am most interested in. Read every day, for less than 30 minutes so I don't get overwhelmed by too much information.   Focus on a "need to know" basis.
  • Need to set schedule for the year.  Specifically: script completion (sister's job), auditions for actors, finding crew, etc.  Start with the treatment so we can copyright it before we launch into the social media action plan (which will involve using blogging, twitter etc - to show the process, adventures & misadventures in making movies - but we need to copyright the treatment & eventually script before we tell the world what we're doing)
  • Location - think we've found it, but need to ask for permission. Or just do it and apologize later? 
  • Product placement - think of businesses to ask (ie, drinks for cast & crew, food, etc - maybe even a hotel to house cast for the week?). 
I know there are a thousand more things to do but I'm pleased with my progress this summer.  We only really started thinking about the idea of making our own production company 2 months ago, and now that I've read a few great filmmaking books I am feeling much more confident in our abilities.  As my sister keeps saying, "Dumbasses make movies all the time!" so clearly, we'll be successful.  Fair enough.  We also refuse to listen to anyone who says how hard it is.  Frack that - it's easy!  Everything is easy if you look at it right.

If you've stumbled across this blog, please let me know what you think & share your two cents & advice.  Comments are loved!