Archive for the ‘Film Maker of The Week’ Category

By: Nicki Legge

Isla-Isabel2As a filmmaker, the process of making a film can mean a number of different things to different people. Some people consider film a form of art, some think of it as a business, and some of us think of it as a way of life. Despite what it means to us, all true filmmakers have one thing in common, our passion. Making films is something we do because we want to and because we love it. It is obvious when watching the mini documentary, “Los Amigos in Baja California,” that Cat3 Productions is passionate about their work. This is why, for the first time in Jump Ship history, we are bringing you two filmmakers of the week, Brice LeCarre and Ivan Nevares, both owners of Cat3 Productions.

Brice and Ivan began their film journey with a deep love for still photography. Due to their “intense desire to create,” they decided to make the transition to moving pictures and formed Cat3 Productions in fall of 2012. They attribute the easy transition into the film world to the wonderful advances in technology over the past decade. They became absolutely addicted to the “challenge of blending a million parts, seemingly unrelated to one another, to appear to belong together seamlessly. Don’t forget the rich experience of like-minded people working tightly together to achieve a goal.” They came up with a simple, yet important slogan that perfectly describes their approach to filmmaking “Explore, Discover, Capture;” these words are the guidelines that they live by.

With their newfound love of film, Brice and Ivan decided to do a film challenge. They participated in the 2013 IFP Breakout Challenge and submitted their film, “The Recipe.” They say, “It was our first film and it showed, but we will never forget the experience.” Brice and Ivan work so closely during the process of making a film that it is hard to give a firm definition to who takes what roles, but they say that Ivan would be considered the Director of Photography and Brice would be the Director. When I asked what they loved the most about film, they said “From an intellectual perspective, it is the process itself, from the original idea throughout its developmental period, its evolution, to finally seeing the film come alive in the edit bay… It is exhilarating. From a technical perspective, it is the camera work, whether in the field on a documentary or in a controlled environment on a narrative project. The complexity of the camera and lens is a fascination for us.”

Despite how much they fell in love with the craft of filmmaking, Brice and Ivan did not call themselves filmmakers until they began working on their documentary about the Sea of Cortez. They say, “First, this documentary is by far our biggest endeavor and requires us to cast aside any doubt on our abilities to produce a great film… Then, we realized the hundreds of little moments, captured in the present with our cameras, are exhilarating. During those moments there is no doubt in our minds that we are filmmakers.” They didn’t initially intend for the project to be so large. The conversation was simple.

IVAN: Brice, you know I own a sailboat in the Sea of Cortez. Wanna shoot some video down there?
BRICE: Sure, let’s do it.

CoPro0078-0195Once they were at the Sea of Cortez, the idea of making a documentary began to blossom with every new thing they learned about this magical place. They say “We want to show the beauty of the Sea of Cortez but also how that beauty is revealed against some social issues that are at odds in the region. Most of these issues revolve around the local and commercial fishing industry, to be sure. There is also the tourism impact, the ecological push, the corruption and so on.” They plan to show all sides equally with an unbiased eye so viewers can come to their own conclusions. The more digging they do on each of these subjects, the more they learn about the sea. This discovery of things they had not previously thought of has become their absolute favorite part of filming this documentary, on top of getting to spend so much time in such a beautiful place.

Ensenada-ChicaLast year, Brice and Ivan estimated that they were about 80% done with the project, but as they uncover more secrets of the sea, they realized that they have a lot more to discover. They now believe that the project is about 30-40% complete. They say, “Our latest trip in April turned over several stones sending us bouncing in different directions. As an example, in august, we are taking our cameras for an interview at Biosphere 2 in Tucson. Someone is recreating a controlled ecological representation of the Sea of Cortez, inside a laboratory environment. This interview could shed some eye-opening light on the interactions we have already captured on film and take us in yet another direction.”

It’s difficult to imagine that there could be so much hard work involved in spending their days at such a serene place, but maintenance on the sailboat alone is taxing enough without the added tasks of shooting a documentary on top of that. They say “A sailboat needs care and maintenance and becomes the priority. Once the boat has been taken care of then filming becomes the priority. Sometimes we have set up interviews and those timelines have to be respected.” But despite all the hard work, they still manage to find a day or night here and there to relax and take in the sea. They say “Spending time in the Sea of Cortez definitely had an effect on our souls. It is extraordinary to spend the night at anchor in a deserted island under the Milky Way. No internet. No TV. No phones or other distraction of the ‘civilized’ world. It is rejuvenating in every aspect when your world is the sailboat and your backyard is three-quarters the size of Arizona.”

Cat3 is planning to have the Sea of Cortez documentary completed in the next one to two years depending on how far down the rabbit hole they go. They also have several other projects in their infancy that you can keep your eye out for. They say “Beyond that, we are always open to helping other filmmakers with our camera work. Every project we do is a challenge to be conquered and we learn something new and amazing about our cameras, our abilities and the world of filmmaking.” If you would like to get in touch with Cat3 Productions you ca reach Brice at 602-751-6291 and Ivan at 480-381-8236. You can also email them HERE and visit their website HERE.

Los Amigos In Baja California from Cat3 Productions on Vimeo.

By: Nicki LeggeMike FOTW

With such an amazing film community here in Arizona, it is so easy to accumulate incredibly talented friends. These are people you know you can always rely on to tackle any project by your side, regardless of how crazy the idea may be. One of the people that I am proud to call my friend and fellow crew mate is Mike Daiz, a man who was on the very first Jump Ship set and has grown with us over the years. Jump Ship recently went through a large transition, one of the main changes being the move away from film challenges toward other ventures. As we’ve been gearing up to take on the biggest project we have ever set our eyes on, we’ve also been working on a strange little short film involving a devious Banana. We knew that we could rely on Mike to help us bring our vision to life, and boy did he rock our socks off. We are proud to name Mike Diaz as our Jump Ship Productions Filmmaker of the Week.

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Every filmmaker has an origin story that they hold close to their heart. For Mike, his story begins five years ago with fantasy football and his best friend, Jonathan Levi Mauiri. One day they decided to film a video making fun of their fantasy football league, and they had so much fun that they kept making more. Mike says, “Back then we were using this humongous old school camera; It looked like we had a RPG on our shoulders! The camera had no functioning battery pack so we had to use extension cords to lug it around on our shoots. The quality was horrible, but we made up for it with a hilarious story to tell! We were naturals!”

Mike has always had an affinity for telling stories, using his words to captivate his family and friends by painting a picture with his famous Mike Diaz charisma. He says “Comedy was my medicine, and I loved making people laugh!” The film community was a perfect way for him to exercise his talents. He is absolutely in love with writing, although he says he feels like he has been acting all his life. Mike believes “nothing is more fulfilling than immersing yourself in a role, and shooting the video in your mind of this character’s life!” With that much love for the craft, Mike and Jon decided to build their own production company, A Mexican and a Jew Productions.

With such an amazing name, I had to know just how they got the idea for A Mexican and a Jew Productions. Mike says, “I remember the day it came to Jon, and I. We were trying to think of a name that stands out, and conveys the kind of personalities you were dealing with. Our good friend Chrissy Jensen was on the phone in a meeting at her work, and somehow the phrase ‘Well you are a Mexican and a Jew, right? Why not A Mexican and a Jew Productions?’ We immediately started laughing, and apparently the people in her meeting did too. And so it began!”

A Mexican and a Jew Productions is a company with a lot of talent and even more heart. Mike says Jon is my brother, the best man I know, and I love him very much. He’s the one that has encouraged me, even when I don’t believe in myself. It’s because of him I believe we can do this!” His favorite part of filmmaking is all of the wonderful people that he gets to share his creativity with. Being surrounded by hard working passionate people who grow to become your friends and family is what he lives for.

Because of his absolute love for film, Mike is an invaluable asset to have on set. He is willing to do any job, no matter how big or small. When we asked him to be a part of our project “Who is the Mannequin?,” he “didn’t hesitate to climb aboard!” Our tight knit crew has grown into a pretty amazing family. As Mike puts it, “This is a crew filed with hardworking people that know how to have fun! It’s in between takes, that’s where you really get to know people!” But aside from having fun and bonding, Mike really stepped up to the plate during this shoot. Not only did he make a darn good dolly grip, but when our boom mic operator had to leave early, Mike took the reins and dominated a position that he had never done before. He says “I’ve never run sound before, so when I was asked I was a bit reluctant. I stepped up to the challenge, learned as much as possible, and believe I did a good job!”

You can see the fruits of all the hard work that went into “Who is the Mannequin?” at the Filmbar Phoenix on July 31st. A Mexican and a Jew Productions also just finished working on a Promo video with the local band, No Gimmick! You can go to the CD release party tomorrow at Pub Rock Live. Not only is Mike a permanent member of the Jump Ship family who also runs his own production company, but he is very interested in working with anyone and everyone in the film community. He says “In Arizona there is strong art culture, where local artist from all walks of life band together to help create, and promote each other’s work. Working with other production companies is not only something I would love to do, it’s also a duty in my opinion. One such production company that has always stepped up to plate and helped us out is Lucky 20 Pictures. Talented, hard working, and lovable group!”

You can find A Mexican and a Jew Productions on facebook, or you can contact Mike via email Here  or phone at 480-444-9649. He says “I’m a shake hands, and kiss babies kind of guy; give me a call! Do it!”

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By: Nicki Legge

Ian Freemanified

Ian Freemanified

Over the past decade, nerd culture has been on the rise to the point that it is no longer considered “uncool” to enjoy a good comic book or to be overly enthusiastic about a game. One of the things that have come out of this newfound acceptance of all things geek is a large amount of fan films based on some of our favorite characters. We can now not only openly enjoy the stories and characters in a comic, game, book, etc. but we can see them come to life before our eyes, sometimes better translated than others. I recently had the pleasure of beating Portal and Portal 2 for the first time and got my first exposure to Half-Life, which takes place in the same universe (I know, I’m a little late to the game). I absolutely fell in love with the universe, so when I saw that Ian James Duncan was hosting a Kickstarter to do a Half-Life series, I was insanely excited. Then when I watched their Kickstarter video and saw the level of professionalism and just plain talent that they were bringing to the table, I knew I had found Jump Ship Productions Filmmaker of the Week!

Often times we filmmakers are born when we see a movie (or movies) that really touches us. For Ian, his inspiration came in the form of The Game, The Shawshank Redemption, and American History X. He says that these films had “a profound effect” on him. On top of that, the game Half-Life was “a game changing piece of entertainment and certainly influenced (his) decision to get into film.” Although his interest in the industry was growing, to Ian, the world of film seemed fascinating and captivating, but impractical as a career path; Hollywood was thousands of miles away on the other side of the planet.” This all changed while Ian was vacationing in Florida and he happened to stumble onto a film school campus. Suddenly the world of film seemed like something that was actually attainable. He went to film school in 2001 at Full Sail University, but his film career didn’t fully take off until he moved to LA in 2006.

Ian has always been a big fan of PC gaming, his favorite games being First Person Shooters like Wolfenstien 3D, Doom, Quake, and Unreal, but he says Half-Life… was it for me. The story was so compelling and tied to a video game genre I loved… The game changed my life.  I now work in the video game industry because of that game. I have fantasized about working at Valve, read their handbook….  Basically cyber stalked the company.” Ian decided to turn this obsession into something of his own. He started playing around with the idea of doing a fan film, so he created the company Chariotdrive to give his new project a home. He did a few shorts, including “Enter the Freeman,” which displays an amazing attention to detail and some insanely realistic effects. Ian says “the plan was to grow the channel. But then nature intervened… This time around the films will probably live on Infectious Designers site and YouTube channel.”

Ian launched an Indiegogo campaign on February 2, 2013 for The Freeman Chronicals, which is a Half-Life series with Enter the Freeman as the first Episode. Brian Curtin with Infectious Designer reached out to see if there was any way he could help the campaign. Infectious Designer also produced a Half-Life fan film of their own called “Beyond Black Mesa” that displays an amazing use of visual effects on a small budget, so Ian simply said “let’s team up!” Ian says “We bring the pre-production and production on this one, and Brian will work mostly in post. The writing, props, production, casting, campaign has mostly been done on our side and I think the reverse will be true in post…  But we are essentially one production for this.  We will all be traveling to the locations for production and all be working on the post.  Brian is a very talented filmmaker, editor and VFX artist so he will be involved as much as he can be.”

The number of episodes in the Freeman Chronicals relies entirely on how much money they can raise. The indiegogo campaign back in 2013 raised $22,265 of their $75000 goal, and now they are back at it again with a Kickstarter campaign that has already breached their $12,000 goal by far. Ian says “Originally we wrote a detailed treatment for five, ten minute episodes but when the indiegogo campaign failed we realized that it was just not possible.  The idea was to get economies of scale and add things here and there but with the primary photography done.  The plan now is to do one episode and then put all into that one.” They have a total of six episodes currently written and ready to go if they can obtain the funding for each one.

The Freeman Chronicals take place “Early in the first game after Gordon reaches the surface and starts to face off against the marines,” but the series will not be playing out any of the scenes from the game itself. Ian says “playing out scenes from the game would be dull and predicable.  There is also no real antagonist in the game that we could use at this budget.  We put a nice one together for the series and have kept it for this single episode. This sort of fits in in there somewhere as a lost episode for people who know the game well.” They plan to use some of the effects that made “Enter the Freeman” so impressive in their upcoming episodes, including the all too real headcrabs, designed by Steve Wang, who worked on big budget films like Predator, Underworld, and Hellboy. Ian says Steve made the first headcrab for his son for a Halloween costume.  That’s how we were able to get something so amazing on no budget…  It’s only that he is a big gamer and Half-Life fan himself that he agreed to let us use the mold that he sculpted the first time around.” 

The Freeman Chronicals will be shot in the San Francisco Bay area, and possibly some areas of Los Angeles. Ian and his crew are pouring all of their free time into bringing their vision to life, putting all of their efforts into this project. As it says in their Kickstarter video, they value quality over quantity. If you would like to check out their Kickstarter, or watch the original short, “Enter the Freeman,” and Infectious Design’s short “Beyond Black Mesa” you can find them HERE. If you would like to reach out to Ian, you can either contact him through the Kickstarter page, or email them HERE.

By: JP Frydrych

249042_10200227483724665_1713961734_nWe started to run these articles with intent to highlight filmmakers on a weekly basis, but it turns out that with only two people running the articles, Nicki Legge and myself. It can become a difficult juggling act between productions, work, personal endeavors, etc. I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that we take every aspect of Jump Ship very seriously, including the articles. We want to give each person that we write about the justice they deserve because we pick people that we feel take this stuff as seriously as we do.

I met Charles Peterson last year at Phoenix Comicon; he had a few films playing and I had the pleasure of seeing two of them. From the few words we exchanged at Comicon, I can tell you that Charles is very passionate about his work, and although his work is extremely edgy, he’s probably one of the most grounded people I’ve met. Comicon has a block of films that screen really late at night. I am referring to the 18+ category. I found it interesting that I met Charles at the Con in the middle of the afternoon, considering there are tens of thousands of people that attend Comicon and the 18 + section usually screens at around midnight. The other reason I find this intriguing is because in 2012 one of my films was part of the 18+ films at the Phoenix Comicon. When Charles told me his film was playing in that category, I felt compelled to make my way back to the screening hall later that night. Let me tell you, Charles’s film blew my submission out of the water! The film I saw was Sex and Violence, and it rocked my world. Without giving too much away, the title hits the nail on the head. We didn’t pick Charles as Jump Ship Productions Filmmaker of the Week because we met him a year ago though. We picked him because he is working on a new short film that sounds really good.

Typically we write an article style piece about the Filmmaker of the Week, but Charles’s attention to detail and his wonderful grammar has inspired us to share his comments as raw as the essence of all of Charles’s films (Interview Style).

Nicki: How long have you been involved in filmmaking?

Wow, since I was a kid and made home videos. I took it seriously back in 2000 with a short film I made in black and white called “CD-ROM”. The film was heavily inspired by David Cronenberg’seXistenZ. There was a contest online that I wanted to do and the idea was to film, shoot, and edit a short entirely by yourself. When I looked at the deadline it had already passed. The idea of shooting a short like that inspired me to still do it as a personal challenge. This is one of my favorite “old school” films and one that I’m still proud of considering the time it was made. In 2004 I wrote and directed an unfinished film called “The Slick White Rabbit” starring Patti Tindall, Shannon Power, and Mark Ray. The story was about Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick finding her inspiration through drugs to write the song “White Rabbit”. In 2009, I had the pleasure of working with seasoned actor Corbin Bernsen for the movie “Closets” produced by Old World Producers Group. While the film was a complete disaster from the beginning, it was an honor to work with such a professional actor. I would not trade the experience for anything.


Nicki: What sparked your interest in film?

HBO and Showtime. When I was a kid my mom had cable and subscribed to HBO and Showtime and I would watch a lot of movies on there. A lot of the films may have been too mature for my age range. “Ghostbusters” is so much better watching it as an adult. I must say the year that really pushed my interest in film was the summer of 1996. In my opinion, the best summer movies came out that year – “Twister”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Independence Day”, etc. It was around that time that I really decided to make movies professionally, or try to. DVDs had started to surface and I loved that technology so much that I would buy every movie that came out. I purchased this one flick that was rated NC-17 because up until that time I had never seen a film so rated.  That movie was “CRASH” (the David Cronenberg version). I watched the movie and hated it. I didn’t get it and it really disturbed me. It was a movie that I could not get out of my head. Why did I keep thinking about a motion picture that didn’t arouse me, or even make sense?  I actually had to buy the book and read it to better understand the movie! To keep this short, I read the book and it was actually very close to the film. You just have to accept what these characters are doing. I have a deep love for that film, it took me on a journey that I have never seen or experienced before. Now going back and watching it today, it is a beautifully presented dark film that I think is done very tastefully, and that is why I love film. Take me on a journey that isn’t everyday normal life.

Nicki: I see that you do a lot of writing, directing, and producing. Are there any other roles that you enjoy behind and in front of the camera?

Actually, I hate the writing part. I do not consider myself a good writer at all. I would rather collaborate on the writing process with someone else. That being said, I really love the editing aspect of film making. I think it’s where the movie comes together as a whole. I love operating the camera, too. I love bringing other film makers on board as producer under the Cool Wave Pictures banner to build our team of talent. Kenneth Miller and Cody Everett are prime examples of that. They are very talented people and I am honored they allowed me to produce their films. In front of the camera? Yes, I confess I have done it, but try to avoid so at all costs. Haha.

Nicki: All of the films of yours that I have seen have a very dark and cynical feel. Even “Clint,” which is an all-around fun film, still had a bit of a sinister element to it. What is it that draws you to this type of film?

I think what draws me to the dark material is a fascination for the human mind. I want to take my audience on a journey they would never take in real life. I’m not a dark person at all.  I’m actually nervous, shy, and maybe a little neurotic at times. I don’t try to be dark and cynical on purpose, but it’s those types of films that get me excited and for whatever reason I latch on to. Maybe it’s my love and fascination for David Cronenberg’s work. I don’t know. “Clint” was actually a fluke. I just got into DSLR cinema and was really anxious to film a movie on the new camera. At the same time Cameron Cooper sent me a crappy cell phone video of him doing a Clint Eastwood impersonation and he wanted me to put it on YouTube. I told him it looked like crap and that we should entirely improvise a short. We came up with an outline and filmed it the next day. We needed actors so I called up Patrick Adam and Carrie Fee. They agreed to do it and the finished product is something more than we expected.  With “Sex and Violence” I wanted to explore sexuality in a married couple’s life, so it was obvious we had to make a dark film. Having Javier Gomez as my DP really made that happen visually. What excited me about the films that I collaborated with Jose Rosete on (“Win, Lose, or Draw”, “Schism”, and “Sex and Violence”) was that he writes his screenplays with a lot of reality in them, and sometimes real life is dark and sinister. Happy films, or films with happy endings, just don’t interest me. “Clint” wouldn’t be as fun with a happy ending. I love the way that film ends.


Nicki: I’ve noticed a lot of familiar faces between your films (Carrie Fee, Patrick Adam, Jose Rosete, etc.). How did you meet your key actors and what makes you bring them back on set?

I met Jose Rosete on another film set while casting for my short “Laws of Deception” in 2006. He was eager to do the film and the rest is history. Not only is he a brilliant actor, but a brilliant writer as well.  We would end up collaborating on several other projects over the years. He is a joy to work with. Patrick I met on a casting session for “The 11th Aggression“.  I initially cast him in a small role, but when the lead actor dropped out he took over. After that, I cast him in “Win, Lose, or Draw“, “Sex and Violence”, “Clint”, “Closets”, and “Schism”. I consider him a good friend and would cast him in future projects.

Carrie Fee I actually met through Patrick Adam. She came from the world of theater and “Sex and Violence” was her first film role. I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for her the movie would never have come out the way I envisioned it. She portrayed the role of Cassandra so perfectly and beautifully, which was not an easy thing to do – not just for the nudity, but for the craziness that Cassandra projected. I cannot think of another actress that could own that role like Carrie Fee did. I owe a lot to her for the incredible performance and her professional attitude regarding the film.

Nicki: How long has Cool Wave Pictures been around?

Cool Wave Pictures started back in 1993 as a potential software production company. When I was in high school I took a computer programming course and created a game. I wanted to come up with a company name, but had a hard time settling on one. I do a lot of thinking while in the shower, and when I was putting on deodorant the scent I was using was called Cool Wave. So I called my pseudo company Cool Wave Software. When I started film I carried the name over. First it was Cool Wave Studios, then it changed to Cool Wave Pictures in 2002. Wild Rain Pictures, also part of the Cool Wave label for internet productions, came from a deodorant scent as well.  So I suppose I owe a lot to Gillette. To this day I still use Cool Wave deodorant.

Nicki: When did you create Cool Wave Post?

Cool Wave Post & Digital Media was created in 2012 to assist companies with their video production needs. We have worked with several clients including Sweet Corn Organic Nursery, The Village Health Club & Spas, British Automotive Repair, and others to name a few. Our goal is to create high quality video productions for anyone’s budgetary needs.

Nicki: What is the basic premise for 3 cars?

The story of “3 Cars” follows politician Hugo Parker, who’s likely to win an election to become state senator. He is running against his father’s principles to spite the former politico. The movie is basically a political thriller where everyone, it doesn’t matter what side you are on, is shady, dirty. I don’t really follow politics because there are always dirty games being played behind the scenes. It’s basically a fuck you to politics, but first and foremost a family drama.


Nicki: How did you come up with the concept?

The idea of “3 Cars” came while I was pondering how cool it would be to start with one car parked in a neighborhood and travel to another car parked elsewhere. I always wanted to do a political thriller, again an FU to politics. After I wrote a draft of the script, I enlisted Michael Sallustio to do re-writes. Our final shooting script is labeled draft 9, but I think we must’ve done 12-15 drafts over time.

Nicki: How long do you anticipate the finished product will be?

I think the finished product will be anywhere from 12-15 minutes. When doing a short film, not only do I direct, but also edit. I think it’s very important for me to cut my own films. While engaged in the editing process you are still directing your film, plus I love working with Avid. To be honest, I really don’t know how long the film will be. I usually don’t worry about that unless the film drags. Pacing is everything! I don’t think a lot of film makers know pacing. You can set yourself a goal, but the story can’t be too slow or too fast. I’m sure I’ll have to make sacrifices to make it work, but it’ll be well worth it.

Nicki: When do you anticipate the film will premiere?

Since this is an early 2014 production, along with my other film “Homecoming”, we may have to do a screening/premiere separately – hopefully getting into the Phoenix Film Festival next year. If we can get them done sooner, maybe Jerome this year. I would recommend checking our website for the latest screening information at www.coolwavepictures.com.

Nicki: Do you plan to take the film to any festivals?

Submitting to film festivals is a given with all of Cool Wave Pictures’ shorts. I always try to have their world premieres at Phoenix. “Laws of Deception” was the first short film that was an official selection and we had a great time at the festival. Chris Lamont and Jason Carney run an incredible festival and we are so lucky that it’s in our hometown. I have had my shares of rejections and I know it’s a difficult process to select everyone’s film. To me, Phoenix is the big dog in Arizona.

Nicki: What do you hope the audience will take away from the film?

You can want the audience to feel a certain way, but sometimes you are surprised by what people tell you after the film. With “Sex and Violence” I wanted the audience to feel disturbed, depressed, and even horrified at what they just saw. I got exactly that. That was the first film I’ve made where people – strangers even – came up to me and told be how disturbing the film was. I wasn’t insulted, I was proud! “Homecoming” is starting to take form as an intense drama, while “3 Cars” will be an intriguing thriller/drama. You can rarely predict how an audience will feel.

Nicki: What other projects are you working on right now?

I am working on “3 Cars” and “Homecoming” back-to-back, which I will never do again, but it’s been fun. I am also doing pre-pro on a feature film tentatively titled “DARK”. A film that follows the investigation of a sex club (think “Eyes Wide Shut” merged with “The Ninth Gate”). I really want to push some boundaries with that film – no holding back! I want it real and gritty. Everyone tells me that I need to turn “Sex and Violence” into a feature, but I won’t unless Jose Rosete is on board – which is a long shot. I am certain I will be working again with Kenneth Miller and Cody Everett on their future projects, and hope to build my team up even more! I just want to make films, because I love the art form!

By: Nicki Legge

A few weeks ago, Jump Ship Productions attended the screening for the IFP Mystery Box Challenge at Harkins Theatre Scottsdale 101. While I always enjoy watching all of the films, normally at these screenings there are usually only a few that stand out above the rest. At this particular screening, I was blown away by the quality of films that were played. It seems that local AZ filmmakers are really stepping up their game, so when Kyle Gerkin heard the name of his film, “After the Beep” called as the Best Overall Film, he was caught delightfully by surprise.

Like many of us film enthusiasts, Kyle’s love of the craft began as a child when he watched two of the greats, E.T. and Return of the Jedi, in theaters. He says “I felt like there was a kind of magic at work when the lights went down and I was transported to another world.” That feeling stuck with him and turned into a fascination that only grew stronger when he held a camera for the first time. During his childhood, Kyle loved to borrow whatever camera he could get his hands on, round up all of his friends, and shoot anything and everything he could come up with. He always had some sort of script pulled together, but being a child, he didn’t have any kind of budget to bring his stories to life. He says “those films were uniformly terrible in every way… but I did learn how to be creative within low budget constraints, since our budget was always zero.”

Kyle’s interest in film continued on into college. He enrolled in Scottsdale Community College as a Film Production major, however his time there was cut short when he became a father. Kyle left school to work full time in Corporate IT. While he says that IT work was “financially rewarding,” Kyle also says that he was “starving creatively.” A little more than a year ago, his very loving and supportive wife convinced him to leave his stable job behind to take one with more flexibility so he could explore his creativity. He says I’m forever grateful for that, because I know I couldn’t have done it without her support and encouragement.” He immediately joined Kevin Phipps’s Meisner acting studio, which introduced him to all sorts of talented individuals within the AZ Film Community, and he’s been making films ever since.

Among the wonderful people that Kyle met was Michael Hanelin, who has been doing a lot of casting for Running Wild Films. Naturally, Running Wild asked Kyle to act in a couple of their shorts for their anthology, 52 Shorts in 52 Weeks. Aside from pumping out short films like it’s going out of style, Travis Mills has also been teaching locals his style of filmmaking. Kyle decided to “try his hand behind the camera.” He took Travis’s class and created his first film”Foster, You’re Dead.” Kyle says that Foster is still his favorite project to date “because (he) was so closely involved with every step of the process, and (he) had to overcome some significant challenges… so it was a tremendous learning experience, and all the more satisfying when it was completed.”

Kyle took part in the IFP Beat the Clock Challenge earlier this year as a producer, writer, and actor for the film “The Neighbors.” His whole team enjoyed it so tremendously that, once it was over, they decided that they would sign up for the Mystery Box Challenge as well. In this particular challenge, Kyle really liked that the genre was open, and that every team had different props and lines of dialogue. He believes that it allowed for more creativity among the teams. At the kickoff, Kyle’s team was given an old “1980’s era answering machine, with faux wood paneling and full cassette tapes” as their prop. Unfortunately October was a very busy month for all of the members of the team, some even had to drop out of the challenge, so they needed to come up with an idea that would be exceedingly simple.

When actor, Shellie Ulrich suggested that they focus the whole film on the answering machine, they knew that they had their concept! It was simple and would not require a whole lot of time to shoot, and it had the potential to be really interesting. Kyle played around with the idea of telling the story of one full day through messages on an answering machine, but then decided that it would be more impactful to tell a story of a woman’s entire adult life. This film was beautifully executed with amazing voice acting and convincing set design. This team managed to tell an entire story with an inanimate object and a pair of hands. After the Beep took home Best Overall Film and the Best Use of Prop, but more importantly, you could really hear and feel the emotional reactions of the audience throughout the film, and in my opinion that is the best prize of all.

Kyle will be participating in the Filmstock iFest Competition as the director for Running Wild Films. He is “also working on a screenplay for a film that will hopefully be produced by Running Wild.” He will also be acting in several upcoming films. Kyle says “Every time I attend screening events, I meet more talented Arizona filmmakers that I would love to work with. I love the collaborative nature of filmmaking. I love that it truly takes a disparate group of people coming together and working as a team to produce a good film.” If you are interested in collaborating on a project with Kyle, you can email him HERE.

By: Nicki Legge

Greg Bronson

Still from Break Down

Arizona’s film community is composed of a cornucopia of talented individuals, from those of us who are just starting out trying to find our niche, to those of us who have been in the industry for many years. I still consider myself a baby in this wonderful community, so I tend to get extra excited when I have the privilege of meeting our more seasoned members in person. The past several weeks, Jump Ship has taken a break from posting articles so we can concentrate on our latest film, Break Down, which was our submission to the IFP Phoenix Mystery Box Challenge. When producer, JP Frydrych, told me that we booked Greg Bronson to play our antagonist, I was absolutely ecstatic.  He has been around this industry for quite some time and I have always heard only wonderful things about him. I must say that all of those things held true when it came time to shoot the film; Greg is not only a talented actor who is also punctual and respectful on set, but he is a kind person with tons of interesting stories about his time in the industry.

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Greg grew up in quite a large family, full of people to shower him with attention and care. While he loves his family, being raised in such a mob has its downfalls. Greg felt like a wallflower; he “considered (himself) shy and without much personality.” One day he decided that he wanted to break away from the wall. He wanted a challenge, so he decided to take the plunge into acting. Greg has been a part of the film industry now for almost 30 years! He says “I’m still quiet and reserved, but I have a certain confidence that I lacked then.” His “first time, being in front of the camera was on a Morning Show in Roswell, NM in 1985.” Although he was scared to death, nothing could stop him from pursuing his new-found dream. He got his first film gig as background actor in the film Speechless with Michael Keaton & Geena DavisGreg says, “After doing a ‘rally’ scene with at least 500 people… one of the P.A.’s was sent to ask me if I would like to be in another scene as a ‘backstage hand.’   Well, that put me on stage… within 10ft of Geena, and I was bitten by the bug.”

Seeing as everyone in the community says that Greg has the best stories about his time in the industry, I had to ask what his favorite story is.

I guess my favorite one would be from the set of The Rockford Files: I Still Love L.A. I had the extreme pleasure of talking with James Garner for about two hours.  It was after a scene and the crew was setting up for the next shot, rather than go down to the street to have a smoke, I decided to see what I could find inside.  (This was before all the non-smoking regulations) Opened one door and inside, all alone, I found him having a smoke.  Asked if I could join him and he said, ‘Sure, come on in.’ I was dressed in a Police Officer uniform so he may have thought I was part of Security.  We had a wonderful conversation about his career and life in general.  He was having extreme difficulty with his feet hurting.  I totally lost track of time, but was asked to stay for a short scene in the garage, so I knew I wasn’t in any trouble for disappearing for so long.

Although Greg is known for acting, he is no one-trick pony. He has had his fair share of experience behind the camera as well. He says, “Working crew is tough.  You have to have the patience of a rock to enjoy the work. There are very busy moments, to moments that you don’t want to hear a pin drop, because it will be picked up by the sound.” He likes to joke around that “Being an actor is the easiest job in town… just the hardest to find,” but all jobs within a film production are difficult in their own ways. “From the moment of the casting notice, our job begins.  And then if we are accepted to the role, there is a lot of prep to ‘find’ the character that best portrays the director’s vision.” Greg reiterates that all jobs on a film set are equally important. He loves the sense of family that we have here in our wonderful community and most of all, he loves “being able to bring a writer’s ideas to life.  Characters in a film fulfill our hopes & fears, dreams & desires… our fantasies. Actors bare their souls to this end, existing to serve others.”

Throughout his time as a filmmaker, Greg says that he is quite proud of the respect he has given himself, which has in turn brought about respect from others. Along with confidence, self-respect is one thing that actors must practice in order to be successful. He says “I refuse to work on a feature film that has the intention of making a financial gain on their work, but has no intention of compensating the actors for their involvement.  I’ve turned down a couple of great ‘roles’ because of this, and truly believe, it’s a form of abuse.” Since he is more experienced than many of us here in the AZ film community, Greg says that he realizes that he has a responsibility to all of us “to set a good example, advise the novice actors on how to achieve their goals, and challenge upcoming directors so that they can get a better performance from their actors.” Greg has watched this community grow and evolve, pushing the bar higher and improving quality each year. He is proud of all of our efforts as a community, and he is “most proud of the productions that (he) gets to work with (his) better half” (who I believe is the beautiful and also talented, Dawn Nixon).

Seeing as we are all one big family, and we are all here to help one another learn and grow, Greg has proposed an idea that I think is quite brilliant. He says, “I’d like to suggest that a committee of sorts, be formed, that can review and critique a film before it’s released.  Thus giving the filmmaker a chance to re-write, re-edit, re-cast (if necessary) to make needed changes, making their project more marketable.” I know I personally would take advantage of such a committee, and I can think of a few people who would make fantastic members, Greg being one of them. On the flip side, he stresses that you should never take critical reviews too seriously “unless they’re positive,” he jokes. “We can’t please everyone all the time.  And if you’re like most of us, of course you feel you could have done better.  I’ve had my share of good & bad reviews but at the end of the day, I’m doing what I love, that’s what counts.”

Production Still from Break Down

Production Still from Break Down
Photo by: Decorated Photos

Greg took on the role of Wade, a gruff auto mechanic with a devious hidden agenda, in our film Break Down, which was our submission to the IFP Phoenix Mystery Box Challenge. He seems to take a lot of villainous roles within our community. He says, “I do enjoy playing the antagonist roles. Probably since that type is opposite of my nature. That’s what is so wonderful about this business, we all have so many different facets to our personalities and we get to ‘play’ with them during a scene.”  He has participated in very few film challenges before because he has mixed emotions about them. On one hand, the overall quality of the final films is sometimes lacking due to the time constraints and rule restrictions. Greg says, “I certainly respect the filmmakers who take on the challenge, because it shows how well they can work together under such extreme pressure.” On the other hand, these challenges are designed to do just that, challenge filmmakers to “up their game” while competing with their counterparts.

We were all extremely excited to work with Greg on our film Break Down, and I am also very glad to hear that he was happy to work with us. When I asked him why he chose to take the role of Wade, he told me, “I’ve seen the quality of work that Jump Ship Productions puts out.  I’m a stickler for good sound, cinematography and story, and Jump Ship always has a great final product.  The crew is like a well-oiled machine the way they work together.  And production was right on schedule, I was wrapped earlier than expected. The footage will confirm that I had a LOT of fun with ‘Wade!’” (Thanks, Greg!)

Aside from Break Down, which you can see at the Harkins 101 on November 14th, Greg took part in the recently premiered film, Cowboy Zombies, which I have heard great things about. He also has several other films in the pipeline. While many people here in the AZ film community are striving to make it to Hollywood, Greg worked in L.A. for 15 years, and he says “I would pick the industry here in Arizona hands-down.” He considers this community his family, and would not trade it for anything. If you are interested in working with Greg, he can be reached HERE!

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By: Nicki Legge

Lee_Quarrie_HeadshotThere are a few very special people within the Arizona film industry that I hold in extremely high regard; they are out there on the front lines every day working hard and really getting their hands dirty on any set they can. When one of these people tells me to check out a project or a person, I know that it comes with a level of experience and knowledge that should not be ignored, so when Nile Popchock suggested that I check out Patchwork Dreams, I knew I would not be disappointed. Lee Quarrie is the writer, director, and producer for Patchwork Dreams. This amazing film has taken her to new heights in her career, and she has chosen to share this experience with local filmmakers with the motive of bringing work to the very community that raised her as a filmmaker.

Many of us today are grinding away day in and day out at jobs that we hate, dreaming about all of the other, much more wonderful things we could be spending our time on. Lee spent many years of her life doing “soul-sucking” jobs that left her feeling unfulfilled, but then she found film. Lee says “I believe that a person should do what she loves, and do it with all of her heart.  Filmmaking is what makes me curious about the world… it makes me ask questions, probe and inquire.  Being a filmmaker means I am constantly engaged in creating art.  So the moments of time that are less than exciting suddenly become about informing the larger process of being a filmmaker.  Being bored or sad becomes research.  Then suddenly I’m no longer bored or sad; instead I’m asking myself questions about a character or a relationship or situation in which a character is bored or sad.”

Lee graduated from Arizona State University with a Masters of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Digital Media.  “It’s not a film degree; rather it’s a theatre degree that focuses on creating media for live performance.”  She was incredibly grateful for her advisor who recognized her interest in film production and pushed her in that direction while she got her degree. Lee wrote and produced a live, mediated play for her thesis called Mother and Daughter Live! 2.0. During the play, live performers interacted with several characters who were filmed in advance. Lee began her filmmaking by taking several classes at Scottsdale Community College, where she began to refine her skills.

All her life, Lee had loved being an actor and hadn’t really imagined doing anything else, but as an actor she found that she had to do things she didn’t particularly enjoy in order to make a living. Lee says “My reaction to unhappiness is to find something else that interests me. When I found myself dissatisfied with acting and my professional life, I decided to take a screenwriting class, and that hooked me in.” Now, her two favorite roles are writing and directing. Lee says “I’ve produced most of my own films, but enjoy the writing and directing so much more when there is someone else doing the production work.”  She says that as a writer “my mind is constantly noticing stories, shots, characters and relationships.  I believe that having a mind that works like this makes me a strong writer. That and lots of practice, bad writing, practice, accidental good writing, practice, and constructive criticism.”

Lee has done approximately 15 short films, most of them for 48 or 24 hour challenges and won several awards.  In October 2012 she won Best Director, the Brock H. Brown Best Script Award, and 2nd Place in the Almost Famous Film Festival 24-hour challenge for her film “Second Chance.”  She has also won several prized for her submissions to IFP Phoenix Beat the Clock Challenges. Her film, “M.O.P.! An Intergalactic, Melodromatic Rock Opera won the Audience Favorite award and Best Use of Prop. One of Lee’s two favorite films “The Line Up” took Third Place and the lead actress, Jennifer Pfalzgraff not only won Best Actress in the initial competition, but also took Best Actress in the final round at the end of the year.

Photo by: Laura Durant

Several months ago, one of Lee’s friends posted a link to a script competition on her Facebook wall.  She says “Funny thing to me is that he’s not a writer; he’s a gaffer. So it was one of those moments where the Universe got the information under my nose in a roundabout way.” She decided to take a stab at the competition and wrote Patchwork Dreams, about a migrant worker in Beijing who dreams about creating something meaningful. Lee has a friend, Maggie, who spends several months a year in China. She used her as a great resource to understand what life is like in Beijing, in addition to doing all sorts of research about migrant workers.  Lee says “I felt that the migrant workers of China and the migrant workers of America had similar tales to tell.  I’d also recently found myself fascinated with kites for some reason.  The two ideas meshed in my imagination and became Patchwork Dreams.”

Lee ended up winning Grand Prize for the her submission to the shorts competition. She was flown out to Beijing to be honored in a ceremony, and was awarded with a $10,000 production budget. Pre-production began immediately after she found out she had won. Lee says “I received an email on May 15 that I had been selected, and we began shooting on August 8th.” Because the Arizona film industry had been so good to her, Lee knew she wanted to bring the work here.  She found her actors through durantcom.com and social media and messaged several directors, producers, and casting agents for recommendations.  She says “The crew was mostly a crew of people I had worked with on previous projects.  I was very happy to have each one of them on board because it was the first time I was ever able to pay any of my crew. I wanted to be able to give them the opportunity to earn a wage rather than donate their time for food and credit.”

Once she had her cast and crew, it was down to business. Lee was able to find wonderful locations, including the Phoenix Hostel and Cultural Center and The Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix. Lee says “It’s my understanding that the Cultural Center has never before permitted a commercial film crew to shoot on their premises, so I consider myself truly blessed to have been able to utilize their unique venue.” They also had to build one of their sets and were able to make it happen at the Stagebrush Theatre in Scottsdale.  Lee says, “They were so helpful and generous with us  If they had charged us what their services were worth, we wouldn’t have been able to afford them.” Production took about five days over a ten day period from August 8 through 18th and post began immediately afterwards. The final cut of the film is due on October 1, 2013, so Lee and her crew are hard at work to make the deadline.

Lee plans to submit the film to multiple international film festivals, and it will also be viewable in China through their online television presence LeTV.comLee is also working on a script for a feature length film and is “actively seeking representation as well as writing and directorial opportunities.” Lee is a big fan of collaboration. She says “I consider filmmaking the ultimate collaboration.  I’d be a fool to think I could do this by myself!” If you are interested in working with her, you can contact her HERE.

james2

Photo by: Sara Nevels with Talk Studios

By: Nicki Legge

One of the most important elements in a well-made film is audio. You can have great acting, beautiful sets, and flawless camera movement, but if the audience cannot hear the dialogue or the sound is too inconsistent between camera angles, the mood of a film can be absolutely destroyed. Unfortunately sound is not something you can see, so it all too often overlooked by a lot of independent filmmakers. Last weekend Jump Ship Productions went to the IFP Phoenix’s Beat the Clock Challenge screening to view all of the films that were submitted this year. Normally there is a certain list of awards that are given away at these screenings, but this year the IFP is doing something different by adding a specialty award for each challenge. The award for the this challenge was Best Sound. A very wise man once told me that “a great sound guy is one that goes unnoticed,” but this time he was noticed, and that guy was James Alire.

James says “Film production was never on my radar as far as what I wanted to do with my life. I kind of fell into it and have been hooked ever since.” He started out with a passion for music, playing bass and drums for various bands. When he stepped into a recording studio for the first time, James got a taste of something that he could really sink his teeth into. He decided to go to school at The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences which was focused on audio engineering,” and he dove straight into the recording studios once he graduated, “recording albums of various genres for both signed and unsigned musicians.” From there James began doing live sound and running audio for different venues around town. James says “One day I responded to an ad about recording audio for a short film, which also happened to be a 48 hour film challenge short. I have been hooked on film audio ever since. We actually took 4th place on that film challenge, I believe.”

James has been doing audio for films for about three years now, but his interests are growing. He has begun also producing, writing, and consulting on cinematography and production in general. He says “If I had to give a rough estimate, at the current time I have worked on 6 features and about 20 short films, with plenty more on the horizon.”  There is a special place in James’s heart for every project he has worked on, especially the ones that he worked on in Post, but he does have two favorites. “One would be the first feature (he) ever worked on, ‘The Big Something’ from Running Wild Films… because of the camaraderie that was developed during the long two weeks of filming. The other would be the latest feature (he) did post on, called ‘Cathedral Canyon’ from Movies Making a Difference Productions…There was some pretty big talent in it, and the film ended up winning “Best Feature” at the 2013 Jerome Film Festival.”

Like most filmmakers, James loves to take a script, a bunch of symbols carefully arranged on a piece of paper, and see what happens to it once you put it in the hands of an even more carefully assembled group of artists. He says “It reminds me of my musician days where you would be sitting around and come up with some random riff, then after everyone puts their talent into it, it results into an amazing song.” But unlike other filmmakers in the valley, James learned his trade before he was ever even interested in the film world. He says “I think something that separates me from other film sound professionals out there is my background. A lot of people, who are very talented in this community, went to film school and from there moved into sound. There is nothing wrong with that, but I feel film schools don’t teach enough about sound and the physics and fundamentals of it. I went to audio school, and learned how to make films after that. I feel like that gives me a different perspective when approaching the sound for a film since my decisions put sound first and I don’t get distracted by the aspects of filmmaking itself.”

James started his own company, 5J Media back in 2009. At first he mostly did “mobile recording for local bands in the valley,” but since he has gotten more involved in the world of film, he started offering film related services as well. Now 5J Media will come do your production and postproduction audio, mixing of music and spoken word as well. On top of audio, 5J can also do web design and graphic design work to suit your needs. James says “I don’t think a lot of filmmakers in the valley have access to an experienced sound person. Usually they just take turns holding a Boom, recording into a small recorder or into the camera. Granted you can get good audio this way, but having someone that is focused on audio, and knows what they are doing, makes a huge difference.”  5J Media offers a much needed service to independent filmmakers throughout the valley.

This year during the IFP’s Beat the Clock Challenge, James decided to hop on board with the Running Wild team. He first met the boys at Running Wild when he replied to an ad they posted “looking for an audio person when they were beginning to make their feature ‘The Big Something.’” He has since bonded with the group and can be found as the sound mixer, editor, or designer on many of their films. This year the IFP decided to hand out an award for best sound, and after reading about James’s experience, it is no surprise to find out that he won the best sound award for their submission Star Babies, taking home a shiny new shotgun mic. as an award! James didn’t only do sound; however, he was also involved in writing the story, and on top of winning the best sound, Star Babies also won Best Film!

James is “currently working on post -production audio for two films, ‘The Men Who Robbed the Bank’ from Running Wild Films and ‘Reckless Abandon’ from BreadCrumb Productions.” He is also planning to start doing an audio mix for two shorts he ran production on last year as well as the post for all of the Running Wild Films52 Shorts in 52 Weeks.” He says “Needless to say I will pretty busy for the rest of this year.” That, however, will not deter him from jumping into other projects that are thrown his way. James says he is very interested in working with other production groups throughout the valley. He says “I like to see the different ways people make films and it allows me to constantly evolve the way I work, which helps me become an adaptable sound professional.” If you are interested in working with James, you can email him by clicking Here, and you can find more information about him Here.

James also recently wrote a blog detailing what went into the “Star Babies” film from a sound perspective that you can read it by clicking Here!

DougBy: Nicki Legge

One of my all-time favorite genres is film noir. In fact, my acting debut was supposed to be the lead female in a neo-noir film called “The Case of the Missing Floozy” (yes…  I was playing the floozy), which was a sequel to The Case of the Missing Pants, written, directed, and starred in by our very own Robert Garcia. Unfortunately the Floozy was never finished, and I was left longing for the creative intensity that is noir, so when I spotted a post about the premiere of a noir film called “Blackout” on facebook, I was very excited to say the least. Douglas Monce wrote, directed, shot, and edited “Blackout” himself over the past four years, and it is finally ready to premiere this Saturday! Because we here at Jump Ship Productions love noir almost as much as we love to promote our fellow filmmakers, we thought it would be a perfect time to write about Douglas as our Filmmaker of the Week.

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It seems to me that most filmmakers I talk to had one specific cinematic moment or one movie that flipped some sort of creative switch, forever transforming them from a movie watcher to a passionate movie maker. For Douglas, that switch came when he was 11 years old in the form of one of the most influential films in history (in my nerdy opinion), Star Wars! Douglas says, “It was a one, two punch of Star Wars and Close Encounters in 1977. Star Wars got me interested in how films were made, but Close Encounters made me realize that there was someone who had a vision that shaped these films. I didn’t know at the time that someone was called a director.” Once he realized he was interested in making films, Douglas wasted no time; he borrowed his father’s Regular 8 movie camera and made his first film, a stop motion animation of a leaf going across (his) driveway.”

While in High School, Douglas “was bored out of (his) mind… and frankly wasn’t going to graduate on time;” however, when he found out that Scottsdale Community College (SCC) had a superb film school, he worked hard to get his GED just so he could go to film school. He spent many years at SCC off and on attending different film classes, but never felt the desire to pursue a degree; he was more interested in putting his knowledge to good use on set.  He has since completed about 29 short films! During his first film festival at SCC, Douglas “won first and second palace super 8 film. (His) second year, (he) won best 16mm film and was given a special achievement award from SCC.” Douglas, however does not measure his success by his awards, so after SCC he did not enter any of his films into any more contests.

Douglas says, “In the past I have tended to be something of a one man crew. I write, direct, photograph and edit my films.” He is not the biggest fan of writing; however, in order to make a film you generally need a script and he does not know anyone at the moment who would be happy to write scripts for him, so he does it himself for the sake of the art. He considers directing, shooting, and editing “to be the 3 parts of the same job. Creatively they determine the look, the style and the pacing of the film, and (he) wouldn’t consider turning them over to someone else.” He is, however, learning how wonderful it can be to with other creative people on his latest project Space Rangers.  He says, “There is something amazingly wonderful about asking someone in the art department to create something, and having them come back later, and it’s better than you could have imagined!”

Space Rangers

Space Rangers

Like most filmmakers, Douglas’s favorite project is generally the one he is currently working on. Right now he is submerged in his project Space Rangers which is allowing him to exercise many new forms of creative muscle; however, he is still extremely excited to show the world his film “Blackout” this weekend. He says, “I’ve been working on this film for four years, and there were times when I wondered if it would ever get done. But it’s finally come together with the right composer, George Streicher for the music, and the work of David Stipes, Ryan Quackenbush, and Walter Buzby who helped me finish some visual effects shots; keeping the 21st century out of the frame has not been easy.”

When Douglas was 16 years old, he saw the film The Big Sleep on television, which sparked his interest in film noir. While he wrote the script for “Blackout” he watched every noir film he could get his hands on. He even found himself repeatedly watching several of his favorites like Out of the Past, The Dark Corner, He Walked by Night, and Somewhere in the Night, especially observing the works of John Alton. He says that Alton is “the dean of film noir cinematography.  If you are a young cinematographer and want to study lighting, you can’t go too far wrong looking at the films of John Alton.” Aside from watching a ton of movies, Douglas also read several novels by Raymond Chandler and studied some still photography by George Hurrell, “who shot many of the most famous movie stars in the 40’s and 50’s.”Douglas says, “One of my most valuable resources for research however was a 1953 Sears and Roebuck catalog that I bought off of ebay. If you want to find out how people lived in a particular year, the Sears catalog is an amazing place to start.”

Douglas began writing the script for “Blackout” about three years before he ever began shooting, and “it went through many changes before (he) settled on the final storyline.” After he had a solid script, he began the pre-production phase, which took approximately six to eight months. During pre-production, Douglas says, “There were LOTS of costume tests, which were a good excuse to also do a lighting test. Getting the look right was important and the costumes and lighting were a huge part of that.” To help out with costumes, Douglas brought on Katherine Stewart, whom he had worked with as the director of photography on a project called Mantecoza. Douglas says, “This girl is amazing. She can go buy a suit at Goodwill for $20, and 2 days later it’s on my actor looking like it’s a brand new suit off the rack in 1953!”

Although she did wonders with costumes, Douglas actually originally brought Katherine on to help out with casting and acting. Douglas says, Katherine is quite a force in local Phoenix theater, and brought in most of the cast. She has amazing instincts for casting, and really brought in some fantastic actors.” He was absolutely delighted by the performances of his cast. He says that they each brought elements into their characters that would have never crossed his mind. Susan Kaff, the creator of Mantecoza, helped Douglas find many of the crew members. He says “This was really the first film I ever made where I literally wasn’t doing EVERYTHING behind the camera. It was quite an experience to let go of that and trust other people to do it. I must say everyone who worked on the film did a great job.”

Creating a film that takes place in the 1950’s is not an easy task. Aside from finding believable costumes, there are also sets, and props. Most of the props were purchased on ebay, with the exception of one of the guns. Douglas says, “The guns were all airsoft, except the gun that our Villain carries around in the train yard scene. With all the running and shoving the gun into the side of my lead actress, I wanted something soft, so art director Susan Kaff made a mold of the airsoft gun, and then created a rubber version of it.” One of the hardest props to find was vintage cars that were in good enough shape to fit the film, and then finding owners that were willing to let them use the cars.

Locations were also difficult to find, especially since most places are designed to cater to 21st century. In fact, one of the scenes was shot almost a full year after the principal photography was completed because they could not find a location that fit their needs. Luckily they were able to find real locations for just about everything, they only had to build two sets for the entire film. “One was a police interrogation room, which was constructed in a warehouse from flats borrowed from Katherine’s theater. The other was the inside of a shack that is supposed to be out in the middle of the desert. It was… basically a lean-to against the front of a wooden shed. There was nothing to that set so it had to be lit very carefully.” Douglas says,“One of the most spectacular locations is the Arizona Railway Museum. They let us shoot out there in exchange for making a promotional video for them.”

Once the pre-production process was over, Douglas was finally able to start shooting this film that he had worked so long on. He and his crew had “21 days of actual shooting with three or four days of pick up shots. But that was spread out over the better part of a year.” The rough cut of “Blackout” was actually completed within two months of completing principal photography; however Douglas had a hard time finding music that really brought the story to life. His “original plan was to buy library music actually recorded in the 1940’s and 50’s, but (he) soon discovered that buying the rights for about 30 min of music would cost more than the whole movie did.” He looked into other more modern options, but still was not satisfied. Fortunately, “about a year ago (Douglas) ran across a sample of some music written by George Streicher on youtube,”and he knew he had found his composer. While the music was coming together, Douglas got in contact with Mr. David Stipes to help out with some visual effects. David “brought in a couple of his former students and they really did an amazing job. There are only 5 effects shots, but they just help make the world of 1953 come to life.”

If you are interested in seeing “Blackout,” it premiers this Saturday at the Pollack Tempe Cinemas. Tickets are only $10, which includes movie, collectible premiere ticket and access to the after movie Q&A with the cast. Douglas also plans to take the film to multiple festivals, so hopefully you can still catch it on the big screen if you can’t make it this Saturday.  You should also keep a lookout for Douglas’s newest project, Space Rangers, a retro sci-fi webshow, influenced by sci-fi films from the 50’s. Douglas says, “We are hoping to do our effects as much old school as possible with models and matte paintings. Oh and there are lot s of pretty girls in it, too so there is that!” If you are interested in working with Douglas, you can email him Here. If you have questions about Space Rangers, you can send a message Here.

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ShellyBy: Nicki Legge

Last year Jump Ship Productions worked on a little film called TITUS for the IFP Masterpiece Challenge. The film required a child actor to play a very key role, so JP Frydrych got to work doing what he does best and found us a wonderful little girl named Emmy Boucher to play the role of Young Samantha. JP and I decided to meet up with her parents before the shoot at a Filmbar event to talk a bit about the story and get to know them a little. Both of her parents were wonderfully fun and interesting people, but her mother in particular sparked my interest. Shelly Boucher is not only a talented mother, but she is a talented filmmaker as well. She has been involved in both creative and commercial projects for over a decade and told us all sorts of stories about her time in the industry. Shelly is currently working with Future Legend Productions on their newest film The Tent, so we thought it would be a perfect time to write about her as our Filmmaker of the Week!

Shelly “grew up performing in a dance company and doing lots of stage and theatre,” and with a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in theatre, it is no surprise that Shelly would be drawn to the world of filmmaking. Although Shelly is new to the independent film scene here in the Valley, she got her start in the film industry over a decade ago. Shelly says “I started off as a production assistant and worked my way up to production manager in what I affectionately refer to as commercial-land.  I was an actor in a TV promo and met a production coordinator in 2001.  I asked him to hire me and lucky for me, he was working on a film called Eight Legged Freaks.”  Shelly was happy to take on the role of locations production assistant, and her production career took off.

Shelly says “I came into the industry as big films were leaving AZ, not so much a tax credit thing, but Canada and New Zealand were really taking off.  I did a few features and then transitioned into just commercial work.”  One of her favorite campaigns she worked on was the Sonic commercials with the two goofy guys talking in the car, but Shelly has seen quite a lot in her career so far “from turtles racing, to petting a Clydesdale,  to having to do crazy things for egotistical directors of photography.”  Although commercial work is not always the best way to vent your creativity, Shelly says “I learned a lot along the way about managing a schedule and a budget. More importantly, I learned how to put a shoot together, which has helped a lot since transitioning into more indie film.”  Recently Shelly has decided to rekindle her love of acting and she says “I am so happy I took the risk.  It has paid off in spades.”

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Not only is Shelly a talented filmmaker, she says that “more than anything else, I’m the mom to three awesomesauce kids!” Her daughter, Emmy, is interested in acting, and I must say that everyone on the Jump Ship Crew was incredibly impressed by how patient she was on set and how well she followed direction, especially since TITUS was the second production she had ever been a part of! Her son also dabbled in acting a bit in his youth, but has since turned his energies to basketball. Her youngest is the wild one of the bunch and will probably be famous someday.  Shelly says “They inspire me to greater things everyday, that and they beat my bootie at wii bowling (yes I realize we are soooo 2008).”

Shelly became acquainted with the talented people of Future Legend Productions about a year ago, and since then her relationship with them has flourished. She says I’m pretty sure they’ve changed my life. I count them as part of my family now.”  Most recently, Shelly has begun working with Future Legend Productions on their newest film, The Tent. The Tent is a powerful story about a young girl trying to help her sick brother by taking him on a journey through their imaginations, using the family tent as a means of travel. Shelly says that “The story reminds me to put imagination in everything and to go for it every day.” In the film, she is playing the mother, “a strong woman facing adversity and an uncertain future.” On top of acting in the film, Shelly will also be producing! She says, “I’m excited to have two really creative roles in one film, being an actor and a producer can be daunting, but it is exciting as well (maybe I should ask JP hehe).” They already have several of their locations lined up, but they are on the lookout for more. Shelly says “I am really excited to shoot on the beach and our scene at the carousel should be pretty powerful.”

Future Legend Productions is currently running an Indiegogo campaign for The Tent with a goal of raising $3,500 by July 31st.  They have quite a few perks that make the donation worth it, including a digital download of the completed film! Shelly says “We have lofty goals for The Tent.  We are following the time parameters for the bigger festivals, and our ‘in-sight’ goal is to be accepted to Sundance–who doesn’t love Utah in the winter?! Future Legend Productions had a film screen at Cannes last year, so I am pretty excited about the end result of The Tent. Even if it only aired in my living room, I am proud to work with such creative and supportive peeps. I believe in this project and love the ride.”

Shelly is always looking for “looking for quality people and projects” as an actor. She says “I feel lucky to have found this–especially because I’ve really only been on the ‘acting side’ for just over a year.”  She is absolutely inspired by all of the passionate filmmakers she has met over the years. She says “If I could share anything of myself it would be to laugh every day, and eat a cupcake.  God is good! And I am greatly blessed!” If you are interested in working with Shelly, you can reach Here!