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!!!