Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A LETTER TO WELL MEANING PEOPLE

Dear Well Meaning Person Who Wants Help With Your Project:

I appreciate you thinking highly of me enough to come to me for help.  I sincerely do. I've worked very hard to get to the place where people can come to me with questions.  It proves to myself that what I've done in the past hasn't been in vain... the long hours, stormy nights, shots in the mugginess and freezing cold, they actually did propel me into becoming the professional I am today.

And while I am friendly, and while I am nice, whether you understand this or not: I cannot work for free.

I work. HARD for a project.  I give up time with my family. I give up time to work on my own creative projects. I literally bust my butt to ensure I give 110% on your work of art. I sweat. I bleed. I cry. Over each project I'm over.

I've been asked to critique scripts for free, to provide crew, to write, to produce, to direct...

And for that, I need to be compensated. Not only me, but ALL filmmakers.

Our dedication and love of what we do, has made it easy to exploit us. We need to eat. We need to provide for our families.

Don't you?

So, the next time you approach anyone to work on your awesome project, consider offering them compensation.

We're worth it.  ~SC


A Good Article On Why Writers Should Be Compensated Too




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Be Smart About Your Work

This may be an epiphany to some; to others you may already know this:  making a movie is tough business. 

The reason why so many people think they CAN make movies is because we (professionals) make it look easy. Because we know what we're doing. 

And how do we do that? SIMPLE. 

You surround yourself with people smarter than you, and you trust them when weigh in. 

If you have a demolition expert that graciously donates their time to come to your set, and he says to you, "Hey, when they take out that building, they would put the charges on the beams, not just leave them on the floor,"  what's the correct response?

A.  Oh, it'll be fine.  No one will catch that. 
B.  We don't have time to change that.  (When it takes like, fifteen seconds). 
C.  Oh, that was a PA's job.  (curses furiously and continues with scene)
D.  Really? Thank you for that! (calls over AD, shares info, and lets AD handle the change). 

I'll give you a hint. It's:

It's ALWAYS D!  Listen to those around you who KNOW what they are doing! Believe it or not, they want to make a great movie too. They don't want to be attached to a piece of dog poop. And if you're making a film and you're ignoring everyone around you, that's what you're going to make.  

I'm not talking about your expertise, because I don't care where you went to school, or who you know, or what you've worked on in the past.  

Listening will be the difference between you making a good movie and a great movie.  

I'm NOT saying to give away your creative control. Or your status as producer to have the last word. Or as director to determine what the shot is.  Obviously, you don't lose control of your set by making it a collaborative frat party.  But if your DP says, "The lighting won't work for this shot," and your answer is, "We'll fix it in post."  Then the entire set will know that you are not a dedicated director, but lazy.   That you have unattainable expectations.  And that you do not value those around you. 

And that word travels fast. 

If you're producing, you're over a bunch of departments. If one is lagging behind and your answer is to publicly call them out and chastise or blame them, you probably need a different job. You keep everything running smoothly. And by having those smarter than yourself in the key positions: DP, Set Design, Editing, etc., you allow them to make calls, and you stand by them... unless absolutely necessary.  If there's a reason for the delay, ask the department head. It could be something easy for you to fix. And that IS your job as the producer. 

No matter the position you are in on a set, you are making magic. You're transforming worlds and bringing an audience with you.  

Why micromanage that? 

So be smart.  Surround yourself with people smarter than yourself. And tell them that. They love it. And listen when they talk. 

And always be grateful. That will weather storms and any trials that come up on a set. 

If your crew feels valued, there is nothing they won't do.  But they can't and won't feel valued if they are ignored. 

~SC

How well do you think Band Of Brothers would have fared if Spielberg had not listened to his advisors and crew? Food for though. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BACKGROUND! The TV drama I'm producing!

I've been working and working and working on living the dream. Why? Because honestly, I've been dealt a pretty crappy hand in life, and I want to show my kids that if you focus, work hard, and don't give up, you can create your own future.

Hopefully, BACKGROUND! will be part of it.  BACKGROUND! is a television drama series created by Joe Carroll to bring the life of "extras" on a set from the background to the foreground. I had the wonderful privilege of producing this amazing work.

Currently, we are awaiting to see which network is housing it. We are set to release 2015.  Our goal is to have an unknown cast, because, isn't that the point of the show?  We want to use our local talent, too, and get them the recognition they have been fighting for and deserve.  We're SO proud of everyone that is a part of this show.

We'd LOVE to have you be a part of our social media outreach, too!  Feel free to follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @BACKGROUND_TV  and Facebook: facebook.com/backgroundtv


ALSO!  If you have any pix of yourself on a set, please upload them to twitter or facebook!  #BACKGROUND_TV  and #InTheBackground  

If you have stories, feel free to share! This experience is interactive! We want you to know, that you're NOT cattle in our eyes! YOU DESERVE TO BE NOTICED!!!!

~SC

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Alabaster Phoenix






Last shots of The Alabaster Phoenix take place tomorrow night and I couldn't be happier.  This short film has been a first on a few levels.

First of all, our director, Tala Hobballah makes her directorial with this film. Tala is my co-producer on my projects and mentioned she wanted to start directing.  This was the perfect film for her to ease into the director's chair:  a silent film with only a few words spoken at the end.



Our crew are members of a filmmaker's meetup.  They all have strengths they bring to the table.  We have a DP we've never worked with, and he's had some great ideas.  Our AD sometimes needs to be reeled in from breaking out into song, but all in all, he's a keeper.  Our producers, Dudley and Michael have done very well in securing sites for filming as well as helped out on actual shoots, whether it's holding the boom, moving the dolly, or racking focus for the camera. Team effort, you know.  Our resident newbie, Jon, has been almost in every possible crew position and has done a wonderful job. He is even in a scene (along with yours truly!).  We've had some folks come in and volunteer as PAs, David and Tracey... they have been fabulous to have on site.



From here, it goes to editing.  From editing, it goes to scoring.

I am SUPER excited that our musical composition is going to be scored by David Gaines.  This is such a blessing to me because:

  1. he writes gorgeous music
  2. he's my high school choir accompanist that everyone loved
I'm so glad to be able to utilize his gifts for a project that I created.  That give me a warm fuzzy when I think about it. 

On top of that, Buffi Holland, one of my best friends in the universe, has the role of our hero, Ellen Mayhall and she brings her to life just like I knew she would: authentic, genuine, effortless. 



I'm excited to finish it up. :)

Stay tuned! :D

Saturday, April 5, 2014

From Writing To Directing To Producing

It's been over a year since my last post.  Shame on me. I've been literally swamped.

Without going into every project I've worked on, let me just say tomorrow, a children's television show that has been the desire of my heart to create is FINALLY being filmed!  I am executive producing and head writer of the show. I'm so excited. Tala Hobballah, Michael Haney, co-producers.

On top of that, I have cast some of the best kids in the region to be hosts. One of them, is sweet Noelia, a little one with Down's Syndrome.  I love being able to use the show as proof that kids with special needs can be viable to a production.  She is so excited and we are too!  What a cutie pie. I mean, look at her!

Isn't she precious???

I'll share more about the show once we have it filmed. :)  Let's just say it's pretty awesome!!!! 

I've also written another short film called The Alabaster Phoenix and stars my BFF and biz partner, Buffi Holland has the lead.  So very excited about that too!!!  Logline: A fragile widowed woman grapples with despair and loneliness by discovering her purpose in life.  Lots of locations, and I'm thrilled to possibly be using one of my favorite composers in the universe on this film. Films May 2014. Michael Haney, Dudley Jacobs, producing. 


I'm also producing a short film called PHASE 6. Phase 6 is about governmental population control via the use of flu shots.  It's a sci-fi thriller complete with CGI special effects, so I'm eager to see how this turns out and to work with Jeff Dolan, the director. :)  Starring Keagan Haney, Caleb Shore, Kim Kinsley, and Richard Chilton.  Films June 2014. 

Recently I completed filming a television pilot with the amazing Joe Carroll, writer and director. I earned a producer credit on this one. Can't share the name of the project... YET.  It's a superb concept and I hear it is gaining interest by various sources. As well it should. It's impeccably made and Joe has a keen eye for detail. Shot on the RED camera, the images are crisp, concise, and stunning to watch. 

AMAZING cast.  Photo by Michael Walters

I'm also producing a television show for The Children's Kindness Network called Moozie The Cow.   We have got a great music director, Sara Beck, and Executive Producer, Elandriel Lewis totally has a heart for kiddos.  Research consultants and casting the kiddos  are Colleen Russo, Emily Drossner and Christina Longo. I call them The Vandy Posse since they are all Vanderbilt minds. Ryan Rehnborg is animator. Starring Nina Borum and Caleb Shore.  Moozie the Cow is currently in production. 


So that's my irons in the fire at the moment. I have a few productions lined up to produce... Christopher Siaens "RAIN" is one of those projects. Tala Hobballah has a series she wants me to help her with, and of COURSE I will. Tala is amazing and I cannot say enough things about her and her awesomeness! 

Hopefully I will have a chance to be on here more! I hate such gaps in my entries. I will attempt to do better for you, my ever faithful fans!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Make Your Character Earn it

Hello Fans!

One of the things that is the most boring in a film is when something just happens. The hero mysteriously finds the clue he's looking for.  He stumbles across a gun that is in the plain open. He hasn't had to WORK for anything.

Part of a great script is watching the hero's journey, and your hero's journey NEEDS to be fierce and treacherous.  We NEED to feel the highs and lows with him/her. We HAVE to BELIEVE that everything that promotes him/her comes at a price. He/she needs to earn every bit of info, every weapon, every THING that he needs to fulfill his quest. We are traveling with him/her.  We need to go with the hero to every gun runner, every crime spot, etc.

If you want to go on a great journey  I suggest watching CHINATOWN with Jack Nicholson. Robert Towne did a masterful job of writing, and Roman Polanski, who directed, only added brilliance by removing all voice overs by the character, Jake Gittes, stating he (Polanski) wanted the audience to discover the clues as Jake found them. It worked. I mean, an Academy Award won't lie, right?



Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't Call The Shots... Seriously.

Hello all!

Happy 2013!  Wow have I been busy! Whew!

First of all, let me give you an update. MADAME KOROVA was sucessfully filmed and is in the post production phase.  We all cannot WAIT to see this hit the festival circuit. It turned out to be so much fun to direct.

The talent agency that I own with my completely best friend in the whole wild world, Buffi Holland, has taken off at lightning speed and is flourishing.  You can check out S.T.A.R.S. Talent at HERE if you would like more information. Recently we have booked talent on CATCHING FIRE of yes, THE HUNGER GAMES fame and LAST VEGAS starring Robert Deniro, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, and Morgan Freeman.  I'm a proud mama, too... my daughter just got cast in a feature film herself! She starts filming in the fall in Indiana.

Because I've been so busy, I haven't had much chance to write (as you can see from the state of this humble blog!) HOWEVER, I thought I would swing by and offer you a useful screenwriting tip.

When you are writing a screenplay, never, NEVER, NEVER EVER EVER EVER write in or call the shots. I don't mean calling the shots as in deciding what's going on with your character, I mean, writing:

INT. MEDIUM SHOT - VICKI POURS FOOD INTO DOG BOWL

Don't do that.

"Why, ScreenwriterChic? Why should I not do that? How else are folks going to know what I want in this scene?"

Well, to put it bluntly, it ain't your baby anymore. And it's not your job to tell the director what to do.

Once your script has been handed over to a director, it's the director who adds vision to the story and makes it complete.  You have given the framework.  Don't be sad! Your idea may be cool and all, but it's really awesome to see a director come on board with a fresh set of eyes and incorporate their vision with yours. And think about this too... if you put in camera angles and look like a complete noob and an inexperienced dreamer, you will annoy your reader, which is the person you want on your side, believe me! The reader passes on your work of art to the studios.

Now, if you absolutely HAVE to get a certain shot across, there is a way to do it and look professional and NOT step all over the director's toesies.  OR annoy your power wielding reader.

That is in scene description.


EXT. MT. FUJI - DAY

A small speck in the snow, Jessica rummages through her pack.

No food. Disgusted, she throws the pack and SCREAMS.


Okay, did you see what happened here?  A small speck in the snow?  Did you see an aerial shot with that?  And when Jessica couldn't find any food and tosses the bag, you were closer up in your mind's eye, weren't you?

Your scene description frames the picture in the mind of your reader. It's the same as calling your camera angles, but it's a much more appropriate way to do it so you don't have an offended director. Or reader.

And that's what you want, isn't it?