Stars align

DSC_0132

Quick update: the film is shot and we’re officially in post-production! Yup, it just goes to prove that even with a not-so-successful crowd funding campaign, one can still make a film.

We have one pick up day scheduled, which was always on the schedule (advice for newbies). To sum it up – and really not do it justice – it was an incredibly amazing and wonderful experience! Here are the answers to many questions I’ve been asked:

  • No, everything didn’t go perfectly well. But they never do. Use those events to your advantage.
  • Yes, 13 days to shoot a feature is really crazy.
  • Absolutely, I’d do it all again tomorrow.
  • Yep, working on the next project (and a slate to go with it)!
  • Yes, working locally is wonderful. The talent in Portland and surrounding areas is truly plentiful.
  • Of course I used a casting director! Lori Lewis at FreeSpirit Casting is my go to gal!
  • Well, going SAG-AFTRA is a complicated decision, one which every small production must weigh carefully. I’m thrilled with my SAG actors and wouldn’t trade that for the world (SAG-AFTRA actors on Lily are Stephana Johnson, Emily Sahler, Dana Millican and Robynn Hayek).
  • Sure, more money, more time, more everything would have been great, but there’s nothing like a small crew and time crunch to soar your creativity through the roof and magically create team-building into an art form.
  • Of course I learned a lot! Every production teaches you an incredible amount of lessons and reinforces what you’ve already learned. Trust your gut! And it absolutely helps to be prepared as much as possible ahead of time. I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned again, and learn more. As I used to tell my actors in my Casting Director days: “Every audition is a learning opportunity.” Every moment on set, whether your own or someone else’s, is a learning opportunity. Be humble and be open to it.
  • There’s so much to share, that I’ll do it piecemeal, but these are the questions and comments I received most often.

It must be said that I worked with an incredibly professional team on set and now in post-production. So much attention goes to the actors, but I’d like to take this opportunity to give another shout out to this crew on set: Bradley Sellers (DP, Producer), Eric Macey (AC), Steve Waters (Gaffer), Patrick Blevins (also Gaffer), Rose Barclay (M-U/H), Interns Kathryn Crombie and Brent Bailey, and Jennifer Rose Shafer (AD). My post-team of Derek Nickell and Bradley. And I’ll take the next opportunity to highlight our actors and others on set!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this site, but check in with our Facebook  and Twitter pages, where we post tons of pictures and updates!

Thank you for supporting LILY ON SATURDAY. Astounding!

~Christine

When an actor asks…

“Am I physically right for the part?” and many actors have and do, my only response is:

“It’s not so much about appearance as how one plays the role.”

Our Trevor, played by Michael Patrick Connolly can certainly attest to that. His character description was for a runner, blue eyes, and dark, longer hair. But he played the role! Here he is in character “after a run”!

Trevor_sweaty

C

Casting Mode – Part II

Casting LILYWe are again entering casting – and what an exciting time it is!

Our first session gave us our three leads in the immense talents of Stephana Johnson, Emily Sahler and Michael Patrick Connolly. Nearly six weeks ahead of production, we’re now casting the last roles. Lori Lewis of FreeSpirit Casting is so amazing! Not only is she a truly wonderful person, but she really has an amazing eye for talent.

It’s so wonderful being able to hand over this part of the job to someone who is so capable. I’ve worn the Casting Director hat for eight years, but as Writer/Producer/Director, that is one role I’m not leaving to chance. It’s a complicated role. They not only find the actors and set up the auditions, they do negotiations and contracts, have an incredibly instinct, and help fulfill the vision of the film. In this case I’m absolutely bragging about Lori.

As we get closer to our production date, we’re also hiring the last of the crew and working on equipment as well as schedules, legalities, logistics and the last of our locations. Whew! And every day I’m grateful I get to be a part of it.

I’ll get to work with incredibly talented professionals who will be as diverse as can be imagined, but we’ll collaborate to create one vision and one product seamlessly. That is the rewarding and miraculous part of filmmaking – teamwork! 

I suppose it’s like that in any industry where many groups of individuals most cooperate to create one thing – a car, a building, a magazine. But I’m entranced by the film process – how a writer creates a world, a production team makes it into something tangible – a reality, and then a post-production team fulfills the vision. And how at every step the entire vision can be altered.

So the next step is matching roles with local actors here in the Portland area. We’re proud to draw from our local talent pool, for both in front of and behind the camera! Even after several table reads, I still get giddy when actors read aloud lines I’ve written – how they take them and transform them into something I didn’t imagine or absolutely did. There’s magic in that.

And is there a secret to picking the actor? No. It’s something that happens right in front of your eyes and you just know… On occasion, the most marvelous things happens: there are several actors to choose from for a particular role. Portland talent is so prolific. I can’t wait until auditions!

We’ll announce our complete cast after May 5th. Stay tuned.

Thank you for supporting our film – it really means the world to us!

It’s no small thing…

DSC_080913_0513 CUIt’s no small thing you do by contributing to a film crowdfunding campaign. Besides that rewarding feeling one gets for helping out -I love that feeling when I contribute to a campaign – it directly impacts our economy.

Making an Indie film makes a huge impact, and not just by bringing a story to life – the inspiring and empowering story of Lily and her friends, in this case – but how it affects the economy and communities in which it is filmed and from where the crew and cast hails.

By reaching funding goals, it allows a production to hire more crew  than if they didn’t meet their goal. In turn, this production contributes to the economy of its communities by paying these crew members a living wage. They can in turn make purchases and investments, stimulating their own local economies.

By reaching funding goals, it allows a production to rent or purchase more equipment, also directly affecting those businesses that will rent or sell the equipment, directly affecting their staff and those communities in turn.

There are expendables and other things a film production requires, from camera and electric, to wardrobe and meals, to admin costs like insurance and other professional fees, hospitality and travel. It affects a ton of industries one doesn’t normally associate with a film production.

Contributions in crowdfunding add up and really make a huge impact.

For LILY ON SATURDAY’s Indiegogo campaign, our lowest perk is set at $5. For $5,000, you can become an Executive Producer!

We know not everyone can’t contribute money, but we ask you to spread the word by sharing our Facebook page, Lily’s Twitter and Christine’s Twitter, check for updates on our website and watch our teaser video and additional videos and pictures on our Indiegogo campaign. We have some lovely perks.

Please help us spread the word about LILY ON SATURDAY – help us bring this story to life and raise awareness of topics like domestic violence and suicide – but also hope and empowerment.

Our deepest thanks to you, our supporters!

FOUND THE EXCUSE TO WRITE ABOUT WOMEN IN FILM – AND OTHER SORE TOPICS

Lily_UnicornAs my team and I head into pre-production for our dramatic feature LILY ON SATURDAY, I’d like to share how our film is challenging so many of the norms and even breaking the rules – and we’re having fun doing it.

We attribute much of this to the nature of independent film, which according to recent articles in the trades is making a resurgence. As someone who watches more indies and foreign films than anything else, I’m not surprised and wonder what the fuss is really all about. I would love to know how your productions are faring in regards to the topics below.

Women in Film – a loaded topic, right?

Hollywood films are coming up short in the female department – actresses, directors, crew above and below line. But what about indies? Those numbers look much better – might explain why I’m in Indie film.

V Renée wrote this great article based on Fandor’s infographic about female directors over a 10-year period ending 2012. If there’s a 50/50 ratio of graduates from film school with a focus on directing, why are only 4.4% of the top 100 box office films directed by women? That equates to 41 female narrative directors versus 625 males. In 2011, women directors in Hollywood shrunk to 5% – the numbers were up. Sundance is a bit better, seeing 23.9% of their films directed by women. The dismal numbers continue with only 4 Oscar nominations in 85 years and 15.24 male directors for every female director. But overall, 16.9% of narrative films are by female directors compared to 34.5% of documentaries.

I’m lucky to be the Programming Manager for POWFest, where the only rule to submit a film is that you must have either directed or co-directed the film. I think there’s place for everything. I organized a panel this year that my friend, Dawn Smallman, moderated and addressed the topic of “Beyond Gender Disparity”. She spoke eloquently about how being a woman documentarian is an advantage and got the panelists to highlight their advantages.

So, I like to think that it applies to narrative projects as well and that’s the attitude I’m taking – thank you, Dawn. I’ve never let my gender affect my work in this industry, or any other I’ve been a part of. I’m a female director with shorts and commercial work under my belt, and years of casting and other below-line jobs. The first feature I worked on, on which I wore many hats including a producer role, is about to get world-wide DVD distribution. Now I’m tackling my first feature directing job on a screenplay I wrote. And it’s the first in a slate of films. Am I hindered by my gender – I don’t think so.

What about the Bechdel Test?

What about it. If you haven’t heard, it’s a test applied to a film that passes it if at has at least two women who talk to each other about something beyond a man. My argument: it’s easy for a film to pass it and be a terrible film demeaning women, just as a great story can fail if it has only one woman lead, for instance. There are so many pitfalls in trying to apply this rule but it brings to light a disparity that is important to address and bring into the conversation: women in film. Ironically, LILY ON SATURDAY passes the Bechdel test, and more.

How do we fix it? We do something about it. We find and/or create the opportunities to direct. Is it that easy? It just may be…

Beyond the Norms

LILY ON SATURDAY also features women and men in their 40s and beyond – another shortfall in Hollywood films. You can visit our website for story details, but suffice it to say that Lily and her best friend, Caitlin, have more important things to talk about than only their love lives. Every character has something to overcome, including Trevor, the sister’s boyfriend, and Greg, the mysterious Sheriff.

So, let’s talk about taboos – or, everyday fodder in our lives. Suicide, masochistic tendencies, affairs, mental illness, domestic violence, drugs. These tragedies in our lives can accumulate – but so can hope. Life is about balancing these.

There are other kinds of “discrimination”. For instance, my producing partner, Derek Nickell, finds he can’t apply for a slew of projects because he’s male and because he’s a Veteran.

He wants to work on narratives with good stories, and that often involves stories about women, like LILY, but they’re looking for only women on their projects. What kind of box does that put women in, I wonder. It seems they’re taking the box they’ve been excluded from jumping into and boxing themselves in. Sure, it may be subject-matter sensitive, where a male on set would jeopardize the subject from sharing her experience, I see that, but for narratives?

And what about being a Veteran? My husband is a Vet, too, and I saw how readily he was stereotyped for having been in the military and had to work twice as hard to prove his skillset. Derek certainly experienced that as well. There are many impediments in society we must overcome as people – and as filmmakers.

My crew is composed of men and women. I don’t look at their gender as a deciding factor; I look at their skills. Bradley Sellers is our Director of Photography, the first person to come aboard the project, and he just so happens to be male. He was attracted to the story and the fact that the script is structured for “indie-ease” – good story with a small cast, small crew and few locations. Derek came aboard for the same reasons.

Last but not least…

I’d like to share with you our Indiegogo campaign at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/lily-on-saturday/x/1180255 where you can find out more about the LILY ON SATURDAY film. We’d love for you to contribute if you can, and if not, we’d greatly appreciate you sharing the site on your social networks.

This is how Indie films get made – through cooperation. Thank you for your time and I hope you’ll leave a reply about how your film project is faring in the new paradigm of Indie Film.

STEERING, NOT ROWING

 

DSC_081713_0926When things fall into place this quickly and effortlessly, is something greater at play?

When I’m not having to row the boat alone while steering with one knee and tossing buckets of water off the otherside, that’s also meant to be, right?

So what is it about the making of this film that has moved to the fast track? I think it’s relegated to a rhetorical question, but I’m truly fascinated by it.

When I wrote the script for LILY ON SATURDAY, it came out of nowhere, living a life of its own as if I was able to see into a parallel universe, unobserved, as the story unfolded. I watched as it played out for three days. And on the drive home from my retreat with my best friend, I wrote down the story of Lily and her adventures at her retreat over a five hour drive, while driving. Yup. Really. (Nope, no accident or ticket.)

So, again I ask myself: How do these sorts of things happen? It’s not completely effortless. The script got written and rewritten multiple times. I had several table reads for it. I tried twice to get the project off the ground but it never went  far. Until now.

My friend Michele just wrote me a note to trust the universe. I told her I do – I’m just in awe of how helpful it’s being.

I’ll enjoy the ride and steering the ship while it’s moving. But I know that one reason the ride is going so smoothly is because we have an incredible group of people on this team. I know I am lucky.

First, I found the most amazing DP: Bradley Sellers. I contacted him, met with him, pitched the film, and he was interested. I felt beyond lucky. “He’s so talented,” I kept gushing to my husband. I was able to watch one of his features, “Redemption Trail”, due to some lucky coincidences.

I was a Casting Director for the last 8 years. One of the actors I used to cast contacted me and said I needed to meet his nephew who just moved to Portland. I contacted him and Derek Nickell is now a Producer for LILY and an editor – and sometimes we finish each other’s sentences. Kismet? Sure. I’m a lucky gal.

One of my best friends, Robin, put me in contact with one of her dear friends, and Shari Blair has spent countless hours creating mood boards, making mock-ups of the main location, and even created the Lily logo! She’s our amazing Production Designer, along with her hubby Robbie. Again, what a lucky person I am!

I met Lori Lewis from Free Spirit Casting, only to later learn she was a Casting Director. I approached her and sent her the script with my crazy deadline: we have one week to audition three leads so we can shoot a trailer in two weeks. Amazingly enough – she made it happen, with over 200 actors submitting for three initial roles! We’ve cast Stephana Johonson (Lily), Emily Sahler (Caitlin) and Michael Patrick Connolly (Trevor).

Chris Sisson helped us produce the teaser, to whom I’m ever grateful. He put together such an amazing crew: Sean, Tristan, Alison, Rose and Lilah! We could not have done this trailer without them!

One thing that a project such as this makes one do is knock on friends’ doors. It’s a great excuse to reconnect, but I certainly don’t want to make a pest of myself. I’ll be knocking lightly, maybe leaving a little envelope at the door for them to peruse at their leisure. No matter what, I’ll appreciate the time they’ll spend reading the letter, maybe making a few copies and posting it here and there. Okay, let’s update that metaphor: we’ll ask them to forward the email to a few friends and maybe post it on some of their social networking sites. (Never want to work with an outdated metaphor.) Our family, friends and colleagues are the first line in any marketing campaign – and we are ever so grateful for their patience and support.

Not to say that everything is always smooth – it never is. The seas are sometimes rough. We’ve been knocked about a bit. And with a crowd funding event on the horizon, I know there’s a chance that the winds won’t always inflate the sails. But we’re taking very deep breaths to do what we can to keep the ship moving.

As I steer this little ship along, I’d like to give a big thanks to all those wonderful and amazing folks who’ve come aboard, listed above, and also the ever supportive hubby Mitch, and daughters Alex and Emma, friends like Mariann and Robin, Lisa, Ana, Tara, and the former Lily family – Kate and Matt!

Thanks for your support in advance.

The Indiegogo campaign goes live tomorrow – on Monday, April 7th! I’ll be knocking lightly then!

Thank you, friends!

Christine

BLOOM

It’s looking like spring in the North West as rain showers intermingle with warm, sunny days. Wherever you go, there are sunny daffodils lining roads, crocus grow like purple lawns, and plum trees are blooming against blue skies.

Also coming into bloom is our feature, LILY ON SATURDAY.

Watching the small pops of color grow against the greenery and the empty branches nurturing buds is the perfect metaphor for the Lily Project. We’ve cast the three main roles (to be announced shortly from over 200 submissions – thank you Lori Lewis) and have our crew for the teaser trailer lined up.

DSC_0668

We’ve just completed the walk-through for Saturday’s teaser shoot with Producers Chris and Derek, and DP Extraordinaire Bradley. Check out our Creative Team Page.

We are a few weeks away from launching our crowdfunding campaign! With a portion of our funding already in place, we look forward to sharing some behind the scenes glimpses into the making of LILY ON SATURDAY.

We believe that a good film doesn’t need to cost millions to make. Just like spring, a few dapples of color have a remarkable effect. With a good story, talented local actors, and a great local crew, it’s remarkable what can be achieved.

Follow our progress here and watch for additional cast, crew and fundraising news!

Thanks for following the Lily Project.

Christine and the Lily Team