Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Location: Ruth's House (Ellen's mother)

Above are photos of a potential location for Ruth's house (for the first scene of the film). I have preliminary approval to film here for one day (I am acquainted with the owner). Alternately, this could possibly be used for Dr. Larson's house. It's located in an older neighborhood in Stillwater.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dr. Larson's Pocket Watch

Here are photos of a pocket watch that was owned by my great-grandfather. He lived in a small farm town in western Minnesota. Mark (my brother) found this watch in an old chest. It will be fun to use a family heirloom in "The Egg Timer."

The "Look" for "The Egg Timer"

I've been thinking about a "look" for the film after several of our team members asked me about it. I studied cinematographers at film school and my favorite was Nestor Almendros who did cinematography for "Days of Heaven" back in 1978. I would like "The Egg Timer" to have that kind of atmosphere and lighting and minimalist style.

Country Road

Here's a country road for the scene where Ellen picks up Ryan. It's located near Afton in Washington County.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Potential locations -- Photos!

Hi Everybody,

Mark Thompson and I went out location scouting today in Afton. We found some interesting locations for the abandoned farmhouse and the doctor's house. The first two photos are of an abandoned farmhouse. The second two are the doctor's house and backyard:

Coming up: Auditions at A & E Casting

On Friday, December 19th A & E Casting will hold auditions for "The Egg Timer." I'm really looking forward to this process, keeping my fingers crossed that we'll find just the right actors for our roles:)

Meeting with Mike Tabor

Mike and I met on Wednesday afternoon. I wanted to talk to him about what I had learned in my various meetings and get his advice on some things.

Mike asked if I felt the script was close enough to a shooting script so that he could begin to do a script breakdown to determine just what we need in order to shoot the film. I told him I thought the script was close enough for a breakdown, though there may be some wordsmithing as we go along. We're still on track for a shoot the last two weeks in March.

We talked about locations and finding a location manager. Mike was going to contact a couple people to see if we can get some help in this area. We also talked about getting help for art direction, costumes and props, as well as looking for someone to do sound on the shoot. Mike also said it would be important to have a good makeup person because "everything shows" on the Red camera.

I will follow up on finding an AD for the shoot (perhaps Molly Getty can help on this), as well as continuing to look at potential locations. Mike suggested that we may want to have walkie talkies available on set, so I will follow up on this too.

I asked Mike if he felt we were in a good position at this point in pre-production and he told me that he thought we were just fine.


Last Wednesday, after my meeting at Audioquip, I met with John Sims of SimSound.

John and I talked about using the Red camera. John was a little dubious about the audio features of the Red camera. He suggested that there be a double system for audio on set. He talked about using a hard drive recorder with timecode; or, as a fallback, using a DAT. The issue is that the DAT does not do HD format, so I should check with Splice Here to see if there are any issues syncing up from either WAV or DAT files in the final mix. I will check on this.

John likes the Schoeps mic and the Sennheiser 416. He described the vampire clip which is small and can be hidden. He said a "turnaround cable" turns a mic into a wireless so cables are not in the scene. He also offered to let me use his blimp on the shoot if I need one. He told me a lot about using mics on set, including making sure the actors are wearing clothing that does not make a lot of noise. (very interesting!) He suggested cottons, and natural fibers. Don't get the wireless mic too close -- it should be placed at the sternum.

John recommended strongly that there be a two-person sound team -- a good boom operator and a mixer. Make sure that we get ambiance and room tone at all locations. And that we record outside sound, such as cars driving by both from outside the car and inside.

He suggested that we need to get good sound reports on each shot -- scene/take/timecode. (I told him I had an excellent script supervisor - Mark Thompson - who gets reports from both camera and audio after each shot)

John said that when we shoot inside a house we should check for floor creaks and use rubber mats if that's an issue. Always be aware of the noise environment you're shooting in.

John also strongly suggested using a process trailer during the car scene because it is a much quieter environment if the car is not being driven.

John went through the entire script of "The Egg Timer" and told me what sound issues I would be dealing with during the shoot. He was great and told me that he might be able to do the sound himself for the car scene. That would be fantastic. He will also try to find a sound person to work on the film.

Thank you so much, John!


Last Wednesday I met with Roy Welter at Audioquip. They will be providing the sound equipment for the shoot.

Roy showed me the various kinds of mics they have available, including Sennheiser, Schoeps and Countryman. He wanted to know whether audio would be going to the camera because there are usually only two channels of audio into the camera and sometimes the sound person wants to capture other tracks of sound separately for use later in the sound mix. He said that the sound guy also may want to have backup sound in case anything goes wrong with the primary audio.

Thanks to Roy and everyone at Audioquip for helping me on my film!


Last Tuesday I also met with Dawn Mans, Greg Meyers and Chris Beales at Cinequipt. I haven't been to their new location and it is beautiful - much larger than the old location and with a lot of amenities, including a very large studio!!!

I briefly told them the story of "The Egg Timer" and described the various scenes that we will be shooting. I told them that I think we're coming down to a decision to use the Red camera. They suggested that I make sure I have a good DIT person on set -- that's the person who works with the cards or drive from the camera.

We also talked about what equipment to use for the car scene. They mentioned that "Props on Wheels" has a process trailer -- a trailer that carries the car where the actors are. It's pulled by a truck and at least parts of the scene can be shot from a camera in the truck. Using a process trailer allows the actors to focus on acting rather than driving and it frees up some space in the car with the actors. I will be following up on this suggestion. They also said that Cinequipt has a hood mount and a door mount for a car shoot.

Dawn, Greg and Chris were very helpful and I really appreciate their willingness to help me on this project.

Meeting with Motion 504

Last Tuesday I met with Andy Reynolds at Motion 504, a computer graphics company. I watched the reel for the company and it had a lot of very cool effects! Watching the reel gave me a few ideas about the opening credit sequence for "The Egg Timer." I'm thinking of images of dye-colored dna/rna genes moving about on the screen and then coalescing into formations on a genechip probe array, a device used in genetic research. I think this could be colorful and interesting and represent the world that our hero has lived in --- far different from the bare black and white landscape that she travels to during the story.

I mentioned my idea to Andy and he thought it sounded very interesting. We will pursue this further as our production comes together. Andy also said that Motion 504 could put together graphics for the television news report which is part of the opening scene. He suggested that I always keep on the look out for opportunities to use computer graphics throughout the film and also suggested that I should try to have an effects person on the set if we are thinking of using any graphics in post production for that scene.

It was a very interesting, informative meeting. It will be exciting to see how computer graphics can enhance the visual storytelling of my film. Thanks so much, Andy and everyone at Motion 504.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Follow up Meeting at IFP

On December 2nd, Matt Ehling, Lu Lippold, Jane Minton and I met at IFP. We talked about the status of the project. We talked about the opening scene which is a television report about the discovery that Ellen makes at the beginning of the film. There's a possibility to get help for this scene from either Channel 9 or 11 (Diana Pierce and Dennis Doda were two names mentioned) It's also possible we could use Cable Access facilities to represent a newsroom if we decided to shoot the scene showing a newsroom.

We discussed possible locations for the film. Washington County (South or North) may have the kinds of country roads and houses that would be good in the film. (Since our meeting I have talked to a friend who lives in Afton and he has suggested a few homes in the Afton area that we will investigate.) Other possible locations would be highway 13 in Mendota or West Carver County which has some small historic homes. John Springer's name came up as a possible contact as he has used a number of locations that might be suitable for "The Egg Timer". I will be contacting him in the next week or so. Matt also had a lead on a farmhouse that might be good for filming. He will get back to me.

We talked about using houses in foreclosure as potential shooting locations. Need to find out where to inquire for these kinds of houses.

I mentioned that I may be using a classical sonata as music for the film. I play piano and there is a movement from Haydn's Sonata in E Minor that I think would be good for the film. Heidi at Splice Here said I could use their recording studio (which has a Steinway piano) to record the song.

We talked about a time schedule for completing the film. Right now we're thinking of the end of July for a preview of the film. However, we need to make sure that post-production (at Motion 504 and Splice Here) can meet the schedule. Spring is their busy time.

After the meeting Lu introduced me to Christopher Grap, the Production Services Manager of the Minnesota Film Board. He suggested that I register on the Film Board's hotline and post requests for locations or other services I need for the Egg Timer on that webpage. I will be checking it out.

It was a very good meeting and everything appears to be on track!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Final Cut Pro class at IFP

Hey, I forgot to talk about the fantastic FCP class I took at IFP a week ago. It was an introduction to Final Cut Pro and Paul Bernhardt did an excellent job of teaching the basics of the editing program. Paul had us edit a 30-second film in order to learn the various audio and visual elements that are brought together through smooth transitions to create a film. He also taught us about formats and other very useful information to get us going on film editing. Thanks so much Paul!

Meeting with A & E Casting

This past Wednesday, November 26, Molly Getty and I met with Toni and Eric at A & E Casting (they are located in a cool building in Northeast Minneapolis). It was a very good meeting. We went over the character descriptions and I gave Eric and Toni some of my suggestions for possible actors to fill the roles.

We've tentatively decided to hold auditions on December 15th. I will attend the auditions, so I can watch the actors performing live and also give some direction.

A & E will also video the performances so I can watch, after the fact, how the actor's performance translated through the camera. Acting for theater can be quite different from acting for film.

I'm looking forward to this process because there are so many talented actors in the Twin Cities; and it will be exciting to find the faces and performances that best tell the story of "The Egg Timer."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Molly Getty and Mark Thompson

Just wanted to introduce you to two people who will be part of "The Egg Timer" team.

Molly Getty and I were in film school at MCTC together. We worked together on several short student films. I really got to appreciate Molly's dedication and resourcefulness for accomplishing just about any task related to the production of the film. Molly was Robert Altman's assistant during the filming of "A Prairie Home Companion" and she was so good at it that she was hired to stay on with his production company in New York City where she worked for a year and a half until the company was disbanded at Altman's death.

Molly will be a great asset to "The Egg Timer".

Mark Thompson worked with me on my final film project at MCTC. He has also worked on other short films as script/continuity supervisor and production assistant. He is very detail-oriented and meticulous, always making sure that we get the coverage we need on every shot. I know Mark will be a great asset to this production. He also happens to be my brother:)

Call for Locations!!!

I'm putting out a call to everyone to be on the lookout for possible locations to shoot the various scenes in "The Egg Timer". I've put a photo below of a house in a small town that has the right look for Doctor Larson's house. We're also looking for a country road that's fairly deserted. Let me know if you have an suggestions or ideas. Jeff Stonehouse suggested that we should try to find locations well within an hour's drive of the Twin Cities so we don't spend too much time commuting rather than shooting.

Here's what's happening next.

This weekend I will be taking a two-day Final Cut Pro class at IFP (thank you, Jane). I began editing on FCP while I was earning my film degree at MCTC, but then moved over to Premiere Pro since I had a brand new PC at home. These past three years I've honed my editing skills on Premiere. However, I think these skills will transfer to FCP with a little practice so this weekend should be very helpful. We will be doing the off line edit of "The Egg Timer" on FCP.

Early next week, I will be meeting with Toni and Eric at A&E Casting to begin the casting process. I'm really excited and eager to begin searching for talent for "The Egg Timer"

Here's what's been happening

Hello Everyone,
It's been awhile since I blogged, but -- rest assured -- I've been very busy!
During the past week and a half I've met with many of my Freshfilmmaker "Mentors." they've all been fantastic, and given me a lot of great suggestions.

I met with Mary Ahmann (off line edit consultant) She gave me some really good ideas on the script, and shooting for the edit.

Bix Skahill (my very funny script consultant) and I spend a fantastic hour and a half at the Spyhouse Cafe going through the screenplay scene by scene. Bix had a lot of excellent ideas, both about the overall mood of the story and about transitions and character. I am working on a rewrite now and hope to have a shooting script done in the next week or so. I will be adding one more location (Ellen's apartment) to the story, changing the opening scene and combining a couple of other scenes, plus adding a couple of shots that Bix suggested and that I think will really add to the story.

Last Friday Jeff Stonehouse (DP consultant) and I met at the Daily Grind cafe here in Stillwater. We talked about format for the film, as well as mood, and logistics for shooting, particularly with regard to locations. Jeff indicated that he would like to shoot the film if he can work it out with his schedule. I am so excited at the possibility of having Jeff be the DP on the production.

Jeff and I discussed the possibility of using the "Red One" camera to shoot the film. We also discussed the possibility of super 16 mm film. I am researching films to get an idea of the look I want for "The Egg Timer," so I can give Jeff (and the people at Splice Here) some of my thoughts on mood, light and color for the film.

I also met with Alex Rosenstein who is the legal consultant on the project. We went through the various legal issues that typically come up during a project of this kind (location and actor releases, dealing with SAG contracts, bond/insurance for the shoot). I may be creating a production LLC for the film, probably at the beginning of 2009.

This past Tuesday, Mike Tabor, Molly Getty and I met with Heidi and the great team at Splice Here. We discussed the various format options. We are leaning toward either HD with prime lenses, or the Red camera which has a more filmic look to it. While film would give us great latitude and beauty, it may be too expensive and more difficult to shoot. We're keeping all options open. (Regardless of the format for the shoot, I will be doing a complete shot-by-shot storyboard --- I believe in the Hitchcock method)

Heidi gave us a tour of the facility at Splice Here and it was fascinating. I may be able to work on the off line edit at their offices --- and I can see that I will have fantastic help from all the people at Splice Here!!! Heidi gave me some reels with samples of the various aspects of their production facilities. It's all very new and exciting to me and I hope to really learn about the hitherto mysterious post production process as we put this film together.

It's been a very productive two weeks and I want to thank everyone so much for all their help.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm still learning about using a Blog, obviously. The following photos are ideas for the Doctor's house location in a small town.

November 11, 2008

Here are photos of some ideas I have for locations:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"The Egg Timer" Starts Ticking!

Hello to everyone who will be part of the production of “The Egg Timer.” This blog is being created by Emily Haddad, writer/director to talk about the process of turning the script for “The Egg-Timer” into a short film.

It’s been almost five years since I wrote the first draft of “The Egg Timer” as an assignment for a screenwriting class at MCTC. I wrote it during one of the most difficult times of my life -- I was taking care of my mother who was dying of a terminal illness. It’s not surprising that, at its heart, the story is about the relationship between a mother and daughter.

The story has been rewritten many times during these past years and I have tried on several occasions to put together a production plan for shooting the script. I was never able to obtain the resources I felt I needed to do the story justice….until now, with the assistance of the Fresh Filmmaker Grant from IFP and the Twin Cities film community. I want to express my very heartfelt thanks to everyone who has volunteered their help to put this story on film.

Here’s what’s been going on:

October 28, 2008 -- Meeting at IFP:

I met with Jane Minton and Lu Lippold from IFP; and Mike Tabor and Matt Ehling, the two producer mentors for the film. We talked about first steps.

We set a tentative shooting time for the end of March, 2009. We believe the shoot will take from four to six days.

We need to finalize the script into a shooting script. I will work with Bix Skahill on this.

After the script is finalized, Mike will do a breakdown and budget so we can begin to scout locations for the scenes and put together equipment lists, and production plan. This should be completed no later than end of December, 2008.

I will be preparing character descriptions and sending them along with the script to A&E Casting to assist in casting the film.

We want to set up a meeting with the folks from Splice Here as soon as possible so they can have input with regard to production and post production on the film.

I would like to meet with every member of the team some time during November or early December.

We briefly discussed cinematography and the possibility of shooting with a “Red One” HD camera.

We discussed several crew positions to be filled, including a line producer and art director. Any suggestions for these positions would be appreciated. Other positions to be filled will be identified at future meetings.

Week of October 27, 2008

I forwarded the script to Bix Skahill. He will read and get back to me so we can discuss and finalize to a shooting script.

I contacted an actress I have considered in the past for the part of Ellen to see whether she would still be interested in reading for the part. She is leaving for Europe but wanted to get together when she returns.

Set up a meeting for Monday, November 3rd with a woman who may be interested in being Line Producer on the film.

I worked on character descriptions. I will be sending these out to Toni Trussoni at A&E Casting along with the script the week of November 3rd.