PHEW! What a whirlwind it's been since moving to DC. I have a few projects in the works that I can present to you in just a couple of months. In the meantime, check out this article from the Chestnut Hill Local here.
And he won! American Apparel will be selling his bags in their stores nationwide. Congrats Tim!
Re: personal projects, a rough cut for Try Try Again is finished! And I should have updated this a long time ago, but I was on the Two Late Show at Philly Improv talking about the film! Read about it on Geekadelphia.
And a personal project that is just as major in my life as my film... we're moving to Virginia this month! I left the Fabric Workshop and Museum and will be starting a new position I'm very excited about. I'll be a Media Production Coordinator for an international media company. I'm looking forward to discovering a new place, but a little sad to be leaving the city where I went to undergrad, got married, got my dog, learned so much, and used lots of the local resources to incubate my filmmaking adventure.
We're about 50% done shooting my short film, Try Try Again. After this weekend we'll be 90% done and I'll start assembling a rough cut.
It's still in the pre-production phase, but my newest film is about a heartbroken woman who travels back in time to pursue her lost love. You can see the teaser we shot for it by clicking on the Film button on the top menu.
Consumption screened at last week’s Philly Shorts, an annual short film showcase hosted by Reelblack. There was a good discussion with all of the filmmakers (there were 9 films—all by people of color!) post-screening and there were interesting questions about my film, from the picture color to the biology of not consuming food. Consumption tied for 2nd place for the Favorite Film of the night!
. . .
I recently graduated from The New School's Media Studies program. I received a Master of Arts degree. While there, I learned how to read (really!--how to get the most out of what I'm reading, how to understand what I'm reading better, how to apply themes and lessons during practice), I gained some technical know-how (like designing and updating this website) that will help my career, I was able to practice filmmaking, and I got some teaching experience through being a TA. The most important aspect of grad school, though, was the mentorship from faculty and peers, whether friendly or professional. And Consumption, even though it felt like a completely indie, professional project, was my thesis.
Speaking of Consumption, there's a new interview on Proud2BeMe about the film: It focuses on the eating issue aspects of Consumption's story.
And as promised, one of the videos from the ELearning Panel:
It was a good discussion and a way to get involved in discourse about film and technology. There will be more panels and discussions. To learn more, visit the website.
A couple of weeks ago I sat on a panel for the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival. It was called "Panel Discussion & Collaborative Brainstorm: Will Online Education Transform the Way Filmmaking is Taught?" and it was about filmmaking, technology, and education. Some of the questions addressed were:
+As students/film educators, where are the weak spots for students that the classroom or traditional model of film school is falling short addressing?
+From your experience using online education, what has been helpful and what resources have missed the mark?
+How can the film business be more easily understandable to students through educational technology?
+And one of my favorites: Do we need film school to become filmmakers?
Consumption has been screened with the live improvised score. It took place at Filmtech School in South Philly.
The improvised score went smoothly and the music added to the film in ways I can’t explain. Being my own worst critic, I was very insecure about the film. Having the music manifested at the time of the screening allowed me to “zoom out” and view the film from a different perspective…in other words, to stop thinking about myself. The live score emphasized the project’s co-authorship. The musicians were Ian Rafalak (bass), Chris Aschman (trumpet), Matt Davis (guitar), and Ryan Socrates (drums).
Before the screening, there were a few local articles written about the film:Newsworks Chestnut Hill Local Weaver's Way The Shuttle (page 5)
Another great happening near the end of post production was that I received a grant for Consumption from the Delaware Valley Filmmaking Foundation. This allowed me to acquire sound mix and mastering services and have the improvised score recorded at the screening, along with some live sound mixing.
Like I said at the screening, I’ve learned through this 2+ year process that it's actually easy for people to throw a couple of bucks at something they’re interested in (which I’m very thankful for) or give a Facebook “like” (also thankful for), but it’s awesome seeing people leave their homes (and Netflix) and take time to support you. It’s really something! About 70 people showed up to see Consumption.
Consumption was part of my graduate thesis at The New School. All that’s left to do before I graduate is finish a paper about the filmmaking process/live score topic. I’ll be posting some excerpts of the film online and entering it into festivals. Ideally, the film will show again with a (completely different) live score. But ya know, funding.
I’ve learned so much making Consumption that I’m eager to go on to my next project. So what is that? To put it vaguely, writing and directing a lot more. Something that resonated with me last month was my friend Shelby, who’s an artist, talking about her work. She said that she doesn’t need to think her ideas are spectacular to begin making something. I thought this was an awesome idea because in the filmmaking community there’s a lot of pressure to be perfect. Every element. Sound has to be perfect…writing, composition, acting…your story must be formulaic. And if any of the elements are lacking, your film sucks. You have to be a kickass filmmaker-writer-director from the start. With this pressure, there isn't much room to practice and learn. But Shelby was saying that when you offer something, put yourself out there, someone else might find something in your work that you didn’t see. I think if independent filmmakers thought more like artists, we could make great strides in storytelling.
So I promised location insurance advice, and I have a gem. Before doing what I did, you might want to consult your lawyer if you have one, or a professional (that's a disclaimer I keep reading in film law books and articles, so I'm doing it too). All locations need in the insurance area (most times) is a certificate of insurance with their location listed on it (some might want insurance up to a certain $ amount). What my insurance agent figured out for me is since I'm renting an apartment anyway, I could get renter's insurance and add my locations as “additionally insured.” This worked for all of them. It's $18 a month, and I made sure with my agent that I could cancel after I was done filming. What started as a huge headache ended as pie!
In other news, Consumption is still in the post production process. I'm working out fine details in the rough cut and will have a small, private rough cut screening by the end of this month. The screening is set for March 28th and will take place in Philadelphia.
And...! The trailer is up!
I know that you’re supposed to pre-plan for unexpected expenses when planning your film budget. But I didn’t imagine we’d be spending $16 on water alone. We probably went through a case every day since we were filming in the summer. And it’s definitely a necessity/one of those base human needs that you have to provide while people are working/helping you.
Here’s a list of production costs I experienced during Consumption’s principal photography:
So $988.48 total was what I had to spend during Consumption's filming. And then there was cast and crew pay, which was an expected cost. About 75% of the costs above were expected, but not in the correct amounts. For example, a 3 hour shoot that turns into a 6 hour shoot begs for more than just water and snacks (and I know there are some things I'm not thinking of because I paid in cash.) So a key piece of advice that I kept hearing (and still hear) is to really plan to have more than you think you need (if you can).
After 2 years of writing and rewriting, months of planning and pre-production, and 10 days of shooting, I'm glad to say that Consumption's principal photography is wrapped! So much work has been put into this project so far (not just by me) and the return will be so worth it!
I learned so much about directing, acting, lighting, organization, money managing, etc., not just from doing some of these things, but also from being around and working with really talented and driven people for 10 days.
Setbacks and worries that I hadn't anticipated were solved and helped by people I hadn't asked to assist before hand. That's probably the thing I'm most thankful for in this filming process.
My favorite day of shooting was probably this day:
It was also my least favorite because we didn't get all the scenes we needed in the time I allotted for us to be in that location (which will probably call for one more day of shooting in the next few months).
I'm really grateful for the whole team that made the shooting of this film possible. Also for the ones who've been following the film's progress online (that's you).
Production budget coming soon. Screenshots coming soon. Trailer coming soon.
Wow, 5 days of filming done, 5 to go. I'm overwhelmed by my cast and crew's sharing of my vision—-everyone is doing great in manifesting Consumption's story—channelling their characters well, working hard, and problem solving.
We had a few “marathon” days last week, with multiple scenes within locations and lots of coverage needed. One thing I've definitely learned more about is scheduling and logistics. Things take more time than I expected, and that caused a major issue on one of the sets which may call for shooting later this year or critical thinking/creative writing in the script.
Overall, I'm really pleased with the way things are going. I'm so excited to edit the footage and share this story!
Our social media is way better now that we've been shooting. Lots of new media and activity:
There's one month left of pre-production for Consumption, and I'm realizing the cost of making a film. Online, I see a lot of budget examples from Hollywood films, which feel unrelatable and unattainable, since their budgets (and profit) are in the millions. For those of us with micro-budgets, I made a list of things to anticipate paying for that you may not be thinking of when planning out your pre-production budget: This is based off of my experience of pre-production for my short film, Consumption, and I tried to make it chronological (also, this list is for Pennsylvania):
This is a modest budget, and when fees were negotiable, I got a lower price. Keep in mind that I got some things (not listed) in kind or donated, including music, some wardrobe, props, etc. Another thing to anticipate if you're crowdfunding is site fees and reward fulfillment. I'll update this list in the next couple of weeks, as more pre-production costs are added. Then after filming, I'll post a list of costs from production.
Some potential locations: New Covenant Campus, Wissahickon by Forbidden Drive. On Monday Consumption's DP and I will visit the University of the Arts (my alma mater) to view more filming locations.
So far, my main piece of advice for independent filmmakers is…something about locations…I don't know, I haven’t learned the full lesson yet. But get those scouted and locked down ASAP. Early in pre-production if you can. I hate writing for locations, but I did keep it in mind while I was writing Consumption’s script. I have fairly simple locations, but even just finding an office to shoot in is difficult. Especially because most places charge by the hour. Although I do have to say that we have a pretty useful resource in Philly: Philly Space Finder.
Right now, my advice when figuring out locations for a micro budget film:
Do you have any location advice for me? email@example.com
Last weekend I presented at NYU’s Music and the Moving Image Conference about improvised film scores. The questions, comments, and conversation after my presentation were helpful and inspiring.
While in New York, I thought I'd go see Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety.” It was inspiring because for me, it prompted thought about the image and portrayal of black women’s bodies.
Definitely see it if you can. In all the pictures I had seen before visiting, there were only a few people. But there were hundreds of people there and more sculptures made from resin and raw sugar. The size of the sphinx can’t really be felt from photographs either.
Even though I'm in the midst of grad school finals and working on a few freelance projects, I'm finding time for an update. I think it's because it's all fun stuff that I'm excited to share. Also I've been reading Show Your Work, which has inspired me to give an update of what I've been doing in the past few, busy months.
Recently I've been working on a few freelance projects for musicians. Very good musicians at that, and I feel honored to be their media-maker!
Anwar Marshall, a Philadelphia drummer. I shot some portraits of him last week. This one will make it to my photography portfolio page...when I finally put it up.
This is a still from a short music/doc video I shot and edited for Upperfields. The song they're performing here is called “Untethered Bells,” written by the vocalist/guitarist, Shaun Gould. It's about how living a life of service to others leads to a freeing outlook, untethered to one's own ego...hence, Untethered Bells. Since I'm editing it, I've heard it over and over for the past 4 days, and it's still fresh. I'm just glad I can sing along now. Also pictured is Lee Clarke (keyboard bass and synth) and Justin Leigh (drums). This shoot was fun! And I'm excited to show the final results (and for another video to help my “Film” page on this website become more symmetrical).
Speaking of music, this month I'm giving a presentation on improvised scores at the New York University Music and the Moving Image Conference . My presentation/paper is called “Miles Davis' Elevator to the Gallows vs. Neil Young's Dead Man Improvised Scores.” I'm not only excited to be a part of the presentations this year, but I'm anxious to attend some of the talks. Included are presentations about Erykah Badu, Chinese cinema, Jackie Brown, video game music...
I worked as the editor on a feature length documentary, Give to Live. It's about foreign aid and charitable giving. More specifically, it prompts thought about ways of helping someone across the globe (or at home), and even addresses the fundamentals in our view of giving. This month it premiered at WilmFilm in Wilmington, DE. Below, the director, Justin DeLeon and I answer questions after the screening.
Now for my child (not Socks, the other child). Consumption. It's a short film about a society where food has been outlawed. The main character, Corinne, who has never had food in her life, discovers eating. She struggles with the feeling of hunger and addiction in a society where consumption is seen as barbaric. It will feature a live, improvised musical score. Shooting starts and ends this August.
Right now, I'm doing a lot of pre-production busy work. I like it. I like the scene breakdowns, choosing color palettes, figuring out what characters wear and when... then there's the business of finding locations, figuring out actors' and crews' schedules, etc.
What I don't like is finding out that costs are associated with every aspect of filmmaking. From fees to insurance to tiny things that add up, I'm realizing the actual cost of making a film. I guess that's another reason why it's my child. Aside from constant love and worry, it's expensive! (Parents, don't get mad at me here...you know I have no actual parenting experience so excuse the analogy). Speaking of costs, you can always donate to the making of this film here:
And don't forget about Consumption's social media. Follows and likes are almost as good as money (really).
Since the fundraiser, we've had a few local articles written about the film:
I've also hired a cinematographer, Brian Troy. I met Brian and his wife while they were making a documentary about High Point Cafe a couple of years ago. It's very easy to tell that Brian loves what he does.
I've cast most of the characters.
Don't worry. Socks did NOT help with the casting.
Here are some of them at our recent read-through:
Animator and illustrator Janelle Smith has been working on the storyboards for Consumption. I'm not going to say I'm excited about them being finished. Because I recently read Americanah, and one thing Ifemelu notices is how many times Americans say “excited” about everything. I mean, I am excited, but maybe I should expand my vocabulary, since I've already said excited one, two, three, four, five, six times... Anyway, I'm ready to accept the finished storyboards for Consumption. Because they inspire me and every time I see new frames Janelle sends, I get excited (dang it!) to shoot this film.
Do you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, encouragement, recommendations? Remember when websites would have guestbooks? I need something like that. Until then, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And I can't leave without recommending this book: Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.
I've cast the characters for Consumption. Everything's comin' up Milhouse!
In the center is Rhym Guisse, who will play the main character, Corinne. From top to bottom, left to right, we have Lexi Lebo (Young Naomi), Leslie Faith Jones (Nura Elling), Scott Kramer (Professor John Morse), Mike Sutton (the Dean), Nicole Scotto (Lahia), Nima Majzoubi (Jesse), Brandon Ross (SORC Worker), Corin Wells (Martina), Shawna Stoltzfoos (Tema), Tattiana Aqeel (Zoe), Bruce Clifford (Jamie), and Grace Gordon (Naomi).
I'm so overwhelmed by everyone's generosity! In 30 days, we raised over $3,500 for 'Consumption.'
I'm still in need of funds for post production and screening/performance, so if you didn't get a chance to donate during the Indiegogo campaign, you still can! Just click the "donate" button below.
Today I was on G-Town Radio/Ed Feldman's Morning feed talking about my film, "Consumption." It was really fun and the music was great! Chris and Ian improvised on trumpet and bass. Check it out:
And don't forget to contribute to the fundraiser on Indiegogo. To do so, or the view the fundraiser's progress and teaser, you can click on the widget below.
The fundraiser for my upcoming film, "Consumption" is live! You can click on the widget below to contribute.
I'm going to be on G-Town radio Tuesday (January 28th) talking about my upcoming film! The show is Ed Feldman's Morning Feed. Then Ian Rafalak and Chris Aschman of Trinidelphia are going to improvise on bass and trumpet in the style of music that will accompany the film. On that day, I'll post a link so you can listen online!
In late May/early June, I'll be giving a paper presentation at NYU's Music and the Moving Image Conference. You might already know that my film, "Consumption," will have a live improvised musical score. To gain more insight about improvised scores, I've been studying films that use this technique. The paper I'll be presenting at NYU is called "Miles Davis' 'Elevator to the Gallows' vs. Neil Young's 'Dead Man' Improvised Scores." Whew, that was a lot of quotes. Click on the link below to read the abstract. Closer to the conference, I'll post details about where/when the conference and presentation will take place."Miles Davis' 'Elevator to the Gallows' vs. Neil Young's 'Dead Man' Improvised Scores."
Consumption now has Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram gives a peek at the filmmaking process. Pinterest is especially fun because I've made some "inspiration" boards for the ideal look and feel of the film. Check them out! And don't forget to click Follow/Like/Pin It!
I'll be fundraising for my film this month! The Indiegogo campain will launch during the last week of January and you'll be able to see the full teaser. There will be creative perks and great incentives! And thanks to a generous donor, I can now reduce the crowdfunding goal to $7,900.
For my upcoming film, I have shot and edited a short teaser to use for fundraising purposes.
Look out for it, as well as our Indiegogo Campaign where we'll be raising $8000.00 to get the film made.
The main character for my upcoming film has been cast.
After many emails, auditions, and cold reads, I have cast Rhym Guisse as "Corinne."