Posts Tagged ‘IFP Breakout Challenge’

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 Legge Conundrum Still - Bill WetherillI am a firm believer that every person on a film set ought to understand how a story should unfold or they have no business being there. Although you cannot have a good story without exceptional writing, since film is a visual medium and we cannot rely on to tell our story, actors take a big part in conveying our message to the audience. I have recently noticed several of our talented Arizona actors have not only been branching out to roles that are more involved behind the camera, but also succeeding more than I saw coming. I think that it is the understanding of what it takes to tell a story without words that gives these creative connoisseurs their ability to transition so flawlessly. Bill Wetherill is a key example of the successful actor gone brilliantly rogue, which is why we chose him as Jump Ship Productions Filmmaker of the Week. At the young age of seven, Bill was told that he would have to go to summer school because he was behind in reading. While most children would consider this an unfair burden, Bill made the best of the situation. He says somehow those wonderful teachers taught me how words made stories and ignited my imagination. I would devour books after that.” Bill’s family didn’t have a television until he was about 12, so he spent most of his time reading book after book, often one a day. It wasn’t until he turned 14 that his love of stories turned to film. A new video rental place opened down the street from his house, so he and his friends would rent every film they could carry and spend the whole weekend watching them. Although Bill grew to love movies, he never quite built up the courage to pursue filmmaking as a passion until about three years ago when a friend convinced him to join Rebel Filmmakers Meetup (now known as Filmstock Social). Once Bill got his feet wet at the social, he spotted an audition notice and decided that it was time just go for it. He was cast in the first role he ever auditioned for. Through this project, he began to get to know the AZ film community. Then as he sat in the audience during the Phoenix Film Festival just a few months later, he became inspired by the short films. He decided that he wanted no regrets in life, and a filmmaker was born. Bill went on to graduate from Kevin Phipps’s Meisner course. He says “I felt that it was important for me to work on learning some solid acting skills and not solely depend on ‘natural ability’ because I didn’t want to be the weak link in someone’s passion project.” Originally, Bill thought his talents would best be served as a writer or director, but acting became his portal into the film world. Although acting will always be his first love, Bill decided to create Resonant Films “to build on the idea of making films that resonate with people.” As of now, Resonant is a “concept company” and is solely comprised of Bill, however he says, “I look to connect with like minded people to produce quality films that connect with the audience.” He launched the company last year when he shot his film A Day on Bleaker Street for the IFP Breakout Challenge in 2013. This was Bill’s first time writing and directing a film. It received 3rd place and Best actor, and went on to be accepted into the Jerome Film Festival, the Phoenix Film Festival, and the Logan Film Festival. Bill decided to take part in the Breakout Challenge again this year with his second film as Resonant Films. He likes this challenge in particular because, unlike 48 hour challenges, it allows filmmakers the time to really make a quality film with a well thought out story behind it. The idea for “Conundrum” struck Bill about a year ago, and has been lingering there ever since. Bill and his collaborator, Kristin LaVanway decided that they wanted to pursue this story if the challenge requirements allowed. The film came about as a social commentary, highlighting the struggles of a man who is trying to live a normal life after getting in trouble with the law. Bill Wrote, Produced, and Starred in “Conundrum”. He says that writing the film helped him tremendously as an actor because “I already had a vision of the character so I had already done much of my character prep in the writing process.” Bill appreciates the importance of quality cinematography and audio. (which can be a rarity in these challenges). Although his team did run into some technical issues, he says that having thorough pre-production and an amazing team made the wrinkles easy to iron out. The only difficulty they encountered was running a little long one night of the shoot. Bill says “we just kept going ‘til we got what we needed and not too soon as the roosters literally crowed and the sun began to rise.”Conundrum” went on to win 2nd Place, Best Actor (Bill Wetherill), Best Cinematography (Jason Ryan) and Best Sound Design (Christian Ruckdaschel & Jonathan Grove). Bill is currently in preproduction on a feature film called “Brazilian Wood that he is co-producing with Kristin LaVanway and will also be acting in. He is also taking part in a few short films throughout the valley. Bill is most definitely interested in collaborating with everyone and anyone. He says “I am an actor after all!” If you are interested in getting in touch with Bill, you can reach him through facebook, or email him HERE.

Conundrum – Trailer from Kristin LaVanway on Vimeo.

Written By: Nicki Legge

Most of us have grand dreams when we’re kids about what we want to be when we grow up, but as we get older and learn the ways of the real world, a lot of us lose that childlike belief that we can do anything so we settle for something more practical. There are many things that I like about filmmakers, but the one quality that I absolutely love the most is our ability to hold onto that childlike love for filmmaking and our drive to never stop until our dreams come true. Jump Ship Productions recently participated in both the IFP Breakout Challenge and the Almost Famous Film Festival’s (A3F) 48 hour film challenge, and during both there was one group that caught our eye. LJR Productions put out two delightfully whimsical films that were very obviously made with a lot of love. We had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Ray, the writer/director and owner of LJR Productions about his experiences.

Jon Ray is a perfect example of a filmmaker who will never give up on his dream; he wanted to be an actor as a kid, and even skipped school to go to an audition for a feature film, but unfortunately there weren’t too many productions in his hometown of Tyler, Texas. He got his start as a filmmaker in 2001, “when (he) shot 3 episodes of a Claymation series called ‘Toby Bear.’” From there, Jon received his first paying gig as “a PA on a Wonder Woman music video,” and he became a working filmmaker (which is a major accomplishment in itself).  Jon gained experience as an “actor, A.D., cameraman, boom pole, script supervisor, special FX, prop maker and of course PA.” From 2007 to 2012, Jon’s film career slowed down. He worked on finishing a degree in Digital Video at UAT and got “caught up in the game of making a living,” putting his family’s needs first.

In Dec. 2012, Jon decided it was time “to walk away from a 12 year career in Information Technology and change career fields to TV/Film,” and now he is able to do what he loves full-time as a freelance Videographer and filmmaker.  So far, Jon has “directed at least 11 shorts films,” not counting ones that were made for film school. He says, “I’m working my way towards Hollywood. One of my ultimate goals is to write and direct a studio film. Afterwards, I’d be happy going back to being an Indie or taking on more studio projects, but at least I want that one shoot in LA.” He is currently under a six month contract doing video work, but after that’s up he plans to “go back to working for my wife’s production company Sysnia Creative, where she is developing a TV show and has years of experience working on other TV shows.”

Jon has participated in six 48 hour film challenges with the IFP, the National, and most recently the A3F. His film Ring of Time was my favorite of all of the honorable mention films (and would have made it to the top 20 if I had been judging). One of the things that I personally found to be impressive about his film was the sheer size of the production that LJR pulled off in just 48 hours. They had a huge cast and what appeared to be several different locations. Jon says, “I signed up for the challenge a week before it began so I didn’t have a lot of prep work. Also, I only had 2 actors who were committed to the project, no location, no story idea and not much in the way of funds… Within the week leading up to that Saturday… we grew to 26 cast/crew members. We obtained access to a very nice mansion in north Scottsdale, thanks entirely to my producer and wife Samantha Ray… My secret was the mansion though in regards to locations. The place was so huge and the property varied so much I was able to stage all my scenes from photos of the place I got the night of the kickoff.”

Jon only knew five of the people involved in his production when the challenge kicked off Friday night, and one of the things he is most proud of was his ability to “take a group of people who have never worked together and forge them into an awesome cast and crew to make great art.” Jon says “It was amazing to see everyone come together to help bring my written word to life within such a short period of time.” What most people don’t understand about filmmaking is that getting your film shot is only half the battle. Postproduction is where a film really comes together, and Jon worked very closely with his wife, who edited the film while he worked on pulling together other information for the entry. He hoped to save time in post by using royalty free music, but he wasn’t satisfied with anything he found “So, being a keyboardist and composer, (he) wrote every bit of music you hear in the film in the final 2 hours before (they) left to turn the film in.”  

It was difficult for Jon to cut down such a grand idea into just 5 minutes. He learned during this challenge that the widely known rule that one page of script equals one minute of screen time does not always work out, and he ended up with about a six and a half minute film. Although he had to cut out one and a half minutes, Jon was able to keep everyone’s scenes, which is something he is very proud of. Jon says, “I feel like we are the underdogs, team wise. No one really knew LJR Productions or me and it was a group of mostly strangers who came together to make a great little film. As this was my most ambitious 48 Hour film project to date, I was hoping it’d at least screen with the top 20, but regardless, the feedback has been great and I’m proud of this film and the work everyone on my team put into it. We had some real professionals on hand that if not for them being there, might have made this a much more difficult interview to answer.” 

Jon is currently working on three documentaries, one of which is about his own struggles to make it to Hollywood. Jon says, “Regardless, what ends up happening to me, I plan to eventually release a documentary showing my ups and downs to hopefully inspire others to reach for their dreams and believe in themselves. It starts with letting go to all the things holding you back and then believing that with skill and effort the journey will take care of you… Never give up and never stop believing.” He is also writing two feature films and plans to start production of one of them later this year. One is “a paranormal thriller… the other bigger budget film is a high fantasy about knights and the Fae realm.” Jon has “started acting as an extra for other productions in order to be a better director, by understanding the process in front of the camera,” and offers his skills as an extra and production designer to interested filmmakers. He can be contacted HERE or through the LJR Productions Facebook Page, and you can see his work and look for cast and crew calls on his website.

Get your tickets for the IFP Breakout Challenge Screening HERE!

The Face of Innocence Postcard 4X6 FrontThis project is especially significant to me because it is my first drama. When we all got together to brainstorm concepts for the Breakout Challenge, I was particularly drawn to this one. I have never had the privilege of working with a story so full of complex emotion, and with such a heavy subject matter, I knew it would truly be a challenge to make it into something beautiful. The Face of Innocence has been Jump Ship’s most ambitious project to date; we had the most locations and biggest crew of any other project that we have done together. I cannot express how lucky I am to have such a talented collection of people in my crew. We managed to make it rain on the coldest night in December, push through a 16 hour day with a broken Dolly and overheating hard drive, and my exceptional AD took the reins and directed the opening scene while I was stuck on the other side of town with a broken-down truck. This project is the perfect example of how you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. Together we made a film that we can truly be proud of.

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See our latest film at the Phoenix Art Museum Thursday Feburary 7th. Get your tickets for the IFP Breakout Challenge Screening HERE!
Get Your Tickets!Get Your Tickets!Get Your Tickets!

Director: Robert Garcia
Cinematographer: Robert Garcia
Editor: Robert Garcia & JP Frydrych
The face of innocence Credits PosterWritters: Nicki Legge and JP Frydrych
Produced by: Craig MacDonaldJP Frydrych
Original Score By: Nile Popchock
Set Photographer: Jacquelyn Nelson
Makeup, Wardrobe and Props: Devon Garcia
Behind the Scenes: Craig MacDonald
Lighting Technician: Mike Rea
Sound Mixer: Nile Popchock
Boom Operator: Ryan Ammann

Jacob Szczpynski: JP Frydrych

Detective DeAngelo: Jonathan Levy Maiuri

Cassandra DeAngelo: Desiree Srinivas

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Written By: Nicki Legge

Mike ReaThis past weekend, Jump Ship Productions took on one of our most ambitious films to date for the IFP Breakout Challenge, and with bigger films come bigger crews.  One crew member who especially stood out to me was Mike Rea, our amazing Lighting Technician. No matter how impossible the task seemed, Mike not only gave us exactly what we wanted, but he did it with enthusiasm. He also volunteered to be the Director of Photography for our unit 2 team, and did a stellar job; he is responsible for some of my favorite shots in the film. Mike grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona. He moved to the valley in the summer of 2008 to start film school at Collins College, and he’s been making films ever since.  Mike loves everything about film. He says that growing up, “When I had free time, I watched movies, when I was sick, sad, happy, angry, it didn’t matter. Movies have always been there for me.”  He has already been involved in more films than he can count, and doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon.

Mike has always been inspired by his “idol, Trey Parker, Co-creator of South Park,” along with other big names like Bill Murray, Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock, and The Coen Brothers. But aside from these Hollywood stars, his biggest inspiration comes from his family. Mike says, “I am a very lucky guy; my parents (certainly including my stepmom) have been unbelievably supportive throughout.  My brother, his fiance, and all 3 of his kids are always asking about my projects and they all keep me going when it gets difficult.” All of the visual aspects of film are what Mike finds to be the most fascinating. He believes that “With lighting, you can create a mood without anyone on screen saying a word. With the right lighting you can make the audience uncomfortable, happy, or even scared.” Although Mike is very passionate about lighting (and this shows in his work), he believes that “camera work is possibly the most important aspect of filmmaking.” He hopes to work his way up to be a Director of Photography, and then finally a writer/director.

Mike in Action

Mike in Action

Mike believes that every project has “its own unique charm.” Because “Every set is different and every crew is different… (he) gets to interact and learn from all different kinds of filmmakers.” This has created an environment where he continues to learn and grow; he has not yet left a set once without learning something valuable. Mike is always up for a challenge because “it keeps him on his toes,” so when our producer, JP Frydrych, invited him to join our crew for the IFP Breakout Challenge, Mike accepted with no hesitation. His favorite part of the challenge was “Meeting new people and reuniting with old colleagues.” And although his least favorite part was being outside and wet on one of Arizona’s coldest nights, he learned that “As a team, we were able to achieve a really cool rain effect” with the proper placing of lights and a garden hose.

Mike loves to keep himself busy. He says “There is always stuff on the horizon, just need to keep your eyes open.” He is willing to work with any production crew, and believes that “No one team is perfect, no one team has all the answers. But if I can get in with several companies and groups, then that’s just more people I can learn from.” Mike is an extremely talented Lighting Technician and DP; he would be a wonderful addition to any crew. If anyone is interested in contacting Mike, contact him here.