The Duel YouTube Pic

An unnamed hero faces imminent danger as he confronts a gluttonous mob boss and his two henchmen. Just as he is about to make his move, something unexpected happens that completely changes his world.  This film premiered at the Phoenix Art Museum on August 10th 2012 for the IFP Beat the Clock Challenge 2012. It was Nominated for best trailer, Awarded 3rd Place overall and Best Actress (Chelsea Samuelson). It screened at the Phoenix Film Festival during

an IFP Short’s Finals showcase at Harkins Theatres Scottsdale 101 and took home 2nd Place overall. It was an Official Selection of Phoenix Comicon 2013 and nominated for several awards including: Best of Arizona, Best Narrative Short, and Best Action Adventure.

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Crew:

64330_314153972046078_2092282656_nProduced by: JP Frydrych and Craig MacDonald
Directed, Shot, and Edited by: Robert Garcia
Written by: Nicki Legge
Set Photographer: Jacquelyn Nelson
Makeup & Wardrobe: Devon Garcia
Script Supervisor: Chelsea Samuelson
Behind the Scenes: Herbert Steve Hernandez
Lighting Technician: Jeff Elwell

Sound Design: Nile Popchock

Cast:

Hero: JP Frydrych
Villain: Herbert Steve Hernandez
Comic Book Boy: Craig MacDonald
The Duel ActressComic Book Girl: Chelsea Samuelson
Henchmen: Jonathan Levy Maiuri & Mike Diaz
Damsel and Jackie: Nicki Legge
Extra’s:
 Alvis Scary and Cool Kat Lyss

Special Thanks to:Haus Murphy’s
Drawn to Comics
Kathy’s Corner Boutique
IFP Phoenix

The Duel 3rd place

Award Nominated Comicon

Poster GriefBy: Nicki Legge

One of the most impressive projects I have seen bouncing around the wide world of Facebook is a feature film called Grief. With Kevin R Phipps at the helm, this film has snowballed into a substantial project with some of the most talented actors and crew on board. Grief delves deep into a surreal world of life and death, following a main character, Kari who unexpectedly takes her own life, leaving her friends and family to plummet through the unforgiving stages of grief. With the combination of impressive special effects, and phenomenal acting, Grief is sure to be a film that you do not want to miss. Kevin was kind enough to tell us about his inspiration for Grief and the long, rewarding path he has gone down to breathe life into his creation.

How long have you been involved in filmmaking?

I have been involved in filmmaking for about 7 years now. I started out as an animator doing motion capture etc. and then did comic book coloring for some major comics like X-men and Gi-Joe for about 6 months. Then I decided I didn’t want to be in a cubicle anymore so I said, “Let’s make a movie!!” I had no idea what I was getting myself into. LOL I have been professional AD for about 4 years working on some great projects like Oil of Olay, Kelloggs, Qwest, and Head and Shoulders among others, all while gathering more and more knowledge about directing, which is where my heart really lays.

What made you interested in creating films?

Well to be frank I asked this of myself about a year and half ago. I said, “Why the hell are you doing this?” The truth is when I started I wanted to feel worth it… to be validated. I was searching and giving pieces of me to the audience and hoping they liked it. If they did then I would find my worth through that. That wasn’t really healthy for me and since, it has changed. Mostly, it has been about challenging the audience, finding truth in acting, and I have learned you can inspire and change the way people see things as long as you tell the truth with your work. Mostly though, I want to let the audience lose themselves for a couple of hours and forget the craziness in their lives. They can smell and taste the truth in your work and if you’re lying or not willing to go down the rabbit hole fully, then they will be weary of your work.

What made you interested in coaching actors? How has this affected your writing/directing style?

This is a really great question. I got interested in coaching actors when, after seeing my first feature, I realized that I wasn’t there for the actors to allow them to feel like they could truly let go. I had no idea what I was doing, and I could have been more conscience of them and what a truthful performance in the imaginary circumstance is. So I started studying, acting with a passion because I knew actors were the face of the film, and without them being able to be their best, your film is dead… After learning the Meisner program, I realized I wanted to give back to AZ and share this powerful program to help actors find their truth. It really has become a huge part of my life, and to see them grow and change has been a blessing.

Meisner 2013 class graduation showcase.

As far as writing and directing, it has definitely had a huge impact on my directing. I am flabbergasted that most film schools teach lighting, camera, art, etc. to directors, but they don’t teach how to work with actors… so many directors have no idea how to speak the actor’s language. In fact, most have no idea if the actor is really being truthful… I beg all directors to please learn how to work with actors; it’s a must. If you don’t know how, then you have no business directing…Too many beginning directors get focused on “I need you to cry here!!!” But what does that mean? Where do the tears come from?

Incidentally, I am working on an 8 week intensive program for just directors who want to learn how to work with actors… It will truly transform the way you see your films, and I can’t wait to see some amazing things the directors will come up with afterwards.

How many projects have you completed (rough estimate is fine)?

I have directed 1 feature (and I’m working on another right now), about 7 shorts, 4 music videos, and a handful of commercials. I’ve been an AD on about 8-10 features, 9 shorts, and about 12 commercials.

Have you received any awards or recognition?

I have a few awards, for my first feature. I won best audience award at the fear festival, which in turn got me distribution. I got 2nd place at the SCC film festival for my short, Sitting. I got best live action short at the Phoenix Film Festival about 6 years ago…. My favorite is the audience award; that is what I find to be the most rewarding because they are my target, to speak in marketing terms. If they are happy, then I am happier.

What do you love the most about film?

Film can be the most exhilarating, sometimes most frustrating drug addiction I have ever known. Mostly, I love the massive amount of creative people you put into a room… all fighting for the same cause. Artists can be known to be introverted, but here they are forced to speak a language together, and it just works. I didn’t understand the family thing until… a couple years ago… I saw the wave of emotions and personal journeys, and at the end we all loved each other. It was amazing. I also love it when the actors find their space and truth on film. They just get it, and it’s extraordinary; it can make the crew and me cry and laugh. It truly is a magical experience that can’t be traded for anything.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I love with my heart. I come from a place of love even when I may not be feeling well. That sometimes I’m introverted, and most of the time I get excited about just being around people and helping them on their journeys. Oh, and I love chocolate pudding on my pizza… Don’t ask. And Transformers.

Where did you get your inspiration for Grief?

I had just got done doing a program in the mountains called the Mankind Project. I had hit rock bottom, lost my home, my car and my job all at once. I had to rebuild, and that meant becoming more aware of who I was as a person and learning to let go of my past to find my present. So, after I got done with the program, moved back to AZ, and started teaching again, I started to become interested in how you can really find your own truth by hitting the bottom. So I started writing Grief to help actors go the deepest they have ever gone. It started out as one story, then ended up being six stories all tied into each other.

Did you do any research on the stages of grief while you were writing the script?

I researched a couple of different takes on the Grieving process. Of course there was Kübler-Ross’s take on the grieving process and her five stages. There is a newer thought that it’s seven stages, but I find that Kübler’s has those seven, she just condensed them…. It was absolutely imperative to research it because each stage is the “theme” of each of the characters stories. So whenever I felt I was getting off track, I would read my research again and go noooooo, she wouldn’t do that that’s more like Denial.

Each of your characters seem to have such different and unique personalities; did you base any of them off of people you know, build them around their stage of grief, or did you have another method of breathing life into them?

I did a ton of things when doing this script. They are very unique and different, but Kari, the main character bonds them all. I used some people I knew or know, I used myself in a few different places like anger and the alternate version of Kari. I even did this great thing where I had two actors improv some scenes that I outlined, watched them work, and recorded it. It was amazing, and they came out to be some of the most fun characters in this film. They are going to get a special thank you because they really brought a new awareness in my work.

How long did you spend in preproduction?

I guess about 3-4 months. I am not really sure because it was a back and forth thing. Part of the purpose of this film was to go on a raw journey for myself and see what would come out of it. We are flying by the seat of our pants sometimes, and other times we do heavy pre pro. We are shooting this film a few days at a time every two weeks. That gives us time to do some more pre pro for the next few days that are coming up. Sometimes you just have to do it, and the footage has been amazing! The producers and most of my crew I have worked with before and we trust each other. It’s their journey as much as it is mine.

How long do you anticipate production and post-production will take?

We are editing as we go. We finish scenes; they go to the editor for a rough cut. I have scenes we shot the day before rough cutted the next day. It’s awesome!! I highly recommend it because it would tell me immediately if we missed anything or if we want to get more. Post production is estimated at 3 months I believe. We are trying to hit some festival deadlines.

It looks like you have some impressive special effects in the film. Are you working with an effects artist and if so, who?

There are some awesome effects, and we are doing them live; no CGI. The film is about not only what is going on inside, but each character has a manifestation on the outside as well, a more physical denial or anger if you will. My effects team is collaboration with three talented ladies, Vicki Xericos, Vanessa Siler, headed up by Dania Garza who has been amazing at the makeup and visual effects. I like having a makeup artist doing the effects too because Dania understands painting with makeup so she uses layers to find the realness… these 3 have been awesome to work with; I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I keep challenging and they keep meeting me with awesome results. We puked up another person the other day but that is all I am telling you.

I know that you had an Indiegogo campaign back in 2012, have you utilized any other means of raising funds for your film?

We did! It went well. We also did a home auction and donations. I have sold things to make this film. Most of the stuff is just material things, stuff I don’t touch anymore or don’t need. It has been great in simplifying my life. The amazing donations have kept us a float and we are almost done so it’s working. But you are always hustling. Make no mistake my producers and I are always thinking of new ways to do this or do that. If you have a passion for something, you will find a way; if not then you may have to ask yourself if it’s what you really want.

Have you learned anything new from your experiences with this project?

Do everything from the heart with a little sprinkle of logic so you’re not flying blind. If it’s not from the heart, then no matter how much cool stuff you do it’s going to be missing something. I also have discovered that if you have a great project, you will be humbled and honored at the gifts you will get from the world around you. I am an AD by trade so I understood my limits and how much we should be shooting a day as to not burn us out and have a quality project. Some people think it’s great to burn though a film as fast as possible; unfortunately I have seen the results, and I know they could have done better.

Do you have an estimated premiere date?

January. Earlier for festivals, but I believe we are shooting for early January.

Do you have any other upcoming projects planned?

Next up is “Iniquitous,” with my good friend and partner Andre Payton as the exec producer, and my friends and partners, Ruben Angelo and Jason Wiechert, helping on the production side. It’s great! It’s about a troubled woman who lost her mother when she was young. She then decides to purposely get possessed with her mother’s spirit to save her, and of course it all goes wrong and she ends up with a different person inside of her. Andre had approached me with the film, and I wasn’t sure at first because I didn’t know what I could offer to the genre. When we decided to make it so that she purposely possess herself, that was where I was like, “I don’t know that I have seen anything like that! LETS DO IT!!!”

Then we are working on to a couple of others. I have “107/Juliet,” my first action film and an awesome film written by my personal friend Josh Mathieson… and another personal project called “Mend.”

Is there specific contact information you would like us to list in the article for interested parties?

Check out Rangelo Productions on Facebook! And check out the site page which is almost done. Also, Epic Sky Productions on Facebook!

By: Nicki Legge

Desiree Srinivas

“I’m surrounded by people who are capable of changing the world someday.”

It is not particularly often that you find an actress with looks, talent, enthusiasm, and professionalism all wrapped in one, but Desiree Srinivas achieves all of these things flawlessly. Jump Ship Productions has had the pleasure of working with her during the IFP Breakout Challenge in 2012, and she was an absolute delight throughout the project. It seems lately that I cannot go to a major function without running into her, and she always happens to be working on some interesting project, literally right there on the spot. Since Desiree is currently doing so much within the industry, we thought it would be the perfect time to write about her as our Filmmaker of the Week!

Desiree comes from a family that appreciates the comforts of a good salary, so it was not easy for her to take the plunge into the film community; however, now that she has, she cannot imagine ever living without it. She is currently starting her second year at Arizona State University as a Marketing student. She did try exploring her options in theater for a semester but decided that it would be better to “get (her) coaching for acting and film outside of school and focus on a degree that will benefit (her) in more ways than one.” Desire has been involved in the AZ film community for a little over a year, but she says “it feels like so much longer with all of the change and growth I’ve experienced over the last year.” Her ultimate passion is acting, thinking of each character as a different variation of herself; however, her hunger for film is insatiable so she takes every opportunity, in front of or behind the camera, to be on set.

When divulging what she loves about film, Desiree’s passion absolutely shines through. She says “I think the greatest thing in film is the insane amounts of passion… Getting the opportunity to immerse myself within this small film family has made me realize that I’m surrounded by people who are capable of changing the world someday… Film lets me tell a story. It lets me convey, and hopefully evoke, emotion in someone… though I haven’t been in this industry for long, I can honestly say having the accessibility to do that has already changed me as a person.” Thus far, Desiree has been involved in (roughly) 15 or so projects, including student short films, feature films, television, and a variety of other film-related shoots. She was the main actress in Jump Ship’s own Face of Innocence. She was recently involved in a film in the 2013 Almost Famous Film Festival’s 48-Hour Film Challenge.

Helsing

Most recently, Desiree has begun working on a new film called Helsing with ARTofWAR Pictures.  Her good friend Ryan Johnston has had the project brewing in his brain for some time. With her help fleshing out the story, as well as the talents of Will Hirsch writing the script, they were able to bring the idea to life on paper and have taken considerable steps toward bringing it to life on screen. Helsing is a spinoff of the notorious story of Van Helsing, with an original script and a unique western and steam punk-infused style.” Aside from helping with the story, Desiree will also be playing the Vampire Queen Moria, “the first victim that Dracula ever turned into an immortal vampire, who serves as the antagonist against Van Helsing in his never-ending hunt for Dracula.”

Desiree uses an array of techniques to get into character, switching it up as she needs to for different types of roles.  She says “for Helsing in particular, I am going to be doing something a little different. Over the next month, I plan to meet with Ryan for multiple rehearsals to work on the character development for Moria. I also plan to work closely with Wardrobe (Autumn Lewis) to get comfortable in the gaudy, eccentric wardrobe pieces… in order to evolve into this character.” Desiree considers this her most difficult role to date, but she plans to make it her strongest performances. ARTofWAR is in the processes of putting a Kickstarter campaign together in order to raise funds for the production. The team has already done some impressive work on the film, securing locations as well as a full cast and crew, and even completing their first day of filming. You can check the film out on Facebook, and keep an eye out for their Kickstarter; it starts next week!

Aside from being a talented actress, Desiree has also started doing a little modeling. With a few gigs under her belt already, she recently filled in for a missing model at a booth during the Phoenix Film Festival Industry Night for Brian Pulido’s new comic book character, Maria Muerta.” Her friend, Sage Greenawalt, asked if she could fill in for the missing model; his father, Mark Greenawalt, “is a notorious, insanely talented body painter,” and he was doing the makeup for the model that night. They loved Desiree so much that they brought her back on for Phoenix Comicon. Desiree is interested in dabbling in modeling a bit more alongside acting. If you are interested in working with her, you can find her on Facebook or email her Here.

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By: Nicki Legge

Steve Wargo

“I am a businessman who creates films for a living. I am not an artist.”

Several weeks ago I was Facebook stalking one of my favorite fellow filmmakers, Mike Rea, and I noticed a series of very intriguing photos from the set of a film called Poison Sky. Soon after, another one of my favorite people, Nile Popchock, suggested Steve Wargo as a Filmmaker of the Week. Since two of the most talented people I know in the Arizona film industry seemed to speak so highly of the same person, I decided to do a little research on his project Poison Sky. I was absolutely blown away by the scope and professionalism of the project, so I contacted Steve to do an interview.

Steve Wargo has been “in the video production business since 1981 when Director Ken Kennedy asked (him) to shoot a new open and a new close to his Nick Nolte film, Aggie.” He has been involved in over 7000 video projects, nine short films, and six feature films. He even acted as an extra in Used Cars, The Gauntlet, and Cloud Dancer. Instead of spending big bucks on film school, Steve “hooked up with seasoned veterans and learned from them.” His absolute passion is camera work. He loves to be the one “creating the image.” He says that “film is all about the message.  It’s a communication medium that can have an entertainment wrapper.” Steve is constantly inspired by “directors who find a new way to present their images to their audience. Alfred Hitchcock had his style; he scared the crap out of people in a very subtle way. Quintin Tarentino has an alarming style. If we were to do what he does, it would not have the same level of acceptance.”

When I asked Steve to name one thing he wants people to know about him, his answer was far too good to paraphrase. Steve says, “I am 100% serious about my job – FilmMaking. I have a reputation of being a hard ass on set. Well, the professionals that I work with will tell you different. There are a LOT of people in Phoenix who want to be filmmakers and there are a few who really have the potential to go all the way; the remainder are dreamers who think that being on set is the time to socialize, tell jokes, talk loudly, and just generally act like children. Well, the children on our sets don’t act like children. They act like “actors”.  Actors read their lines, get into their ZONE and become one with their character. I am a businessman who creates films for a living. I am not an artist. Almost all of my projects are paid. When we do free charity work, those jobs are treated the same as any paying jobs.”

Most recently, Steve has been working diligently on a film called Poison Sky. “In 2000, (his) friend Tony Kyle informed (him) that there were planes spraying chemicals on the populace of the United States. (Steve) laughed at him asked him what he was smoking. But, found out later that a whole bunch of people believed the same BS.” He decided to do a little research, and became fascinated with what he found; he even “started to keep records of what was going on in the sky above us.”  In 2001, Steve wrote a screenplay entitled Chemtrails, DFA. The timing was not right for his screenplay to come to life, so Steve continued doing research over the span of about ten years. Steve says, “I started with a small film that I hoped someone would be interested in but it has grown far beyond my expectations due in part to my cousin, WGA writer, Julianna Joyce Feher, who has taken the film to an entirely new level.” Poison sky is not only going to be a full feature, but it is “the first of a three picture franchise.”

Poison Sky

Once he got the ball rolling on Poison Sky, Steve needed to do a little casting; he went into great detail about his process:

Protagonists:

Tyler Gallant was recommended by Steve Briscoe… I invited Tyler to meet with me, Yvette Edmond and Georgia Tavera at Outback at the Scottsdale 101. We talked for two hours and I selected Tyler based on his person, his political convictions, his patriotism and his darn good looks.

Nicole Randall attended a fundraiser that I was part of for UMOM… with me, Diane Dresback, Yvette Edmond, Steve Gottry and a few others. Nicole… had just recently sent me a headshot and resume. We all sat at a few tables and just talked about things. As I looked at Nikki, I realized that she fit the part of Samantha to a T. I gave her what I call a table audition and selected her to do the part. I chose wisely as she does a great job and she is very physically appealing.

Antagonists:

We wrote a very lightweight part for our Bad Guy. This was a character that we would only see in small parts, like a jaw, eyes, back of the head, a shadow. Over time, we felt the need to develop this character further and went looking for our villain. An actor friend, Arlene Newman-Van Asperen called me to recommend an actor named Glenn Plummer, star of South Central, Southland, and Sons of Anarchy. We looked him up and we were intrigued. I sent Glenn a note, along with a script and he called me two days later and we did a deal over the phone.

Now, we needed a sidekick for our villain. In actuality, the sidekick is a more dynamic part for reasons that I can’t disclose at this time… I called a friend to get the phone number for Trisha Mann in L.A.   I had worked with Trisha on a project about 8 years ago.  I offered her the part and she snapped it up.

On Sunday, June 2nd, we met with Glenn and Trisha at LuLu’s Restaurant in Van Nuys  and sealed the deal. Glenn was a perfect choice because he has been a Chemtrail enthusiast for years. He already knows the subject. And, to top it off, he and Trisha played husband and wife in a film last year.

Poison Sky already has a huge following on social media sites, although it comes with no surprise since the film has such a controversial subject and such talented actors. Steve even received a check from an investor in Hawaii who did not even ask for a contract due to Steve’s reputation for ethics and honesty. He says, “That completely blew me away and it still doesn’t seem real.”  Steve hopes to premiere Poison Sky in the fall of 2013. He is also “in development on (his) next film and has secured two of the actors so far. (Plus he has) five more films in the cue.” If you are interested in contacting Steve, he can be reached HERE. You can also check him out on IMDB. Read more about him in MyLife Magazine.

By: Nicki Legge

Favor Movie PosterAt the beginning of April I found myself stumbling through the halls of a Harkins, wide eyed and overwhelmed by the sight of independent movie posters and enthusiastic filmmakers. Jump Ship Productions was honored to have our short, Titus, play in one of the Arizona Shorts blocks, and while that was exciting in itself, my favorite part of the festival was actually watching other people’s films and talking to their proud creators. After a whirlwind weekend, I saw many films that will stick with me for many years, but the one I loved the most was a delightful dark comedy called FAVOR.  This independent feature was written and directed by Paul Osborn. It took home the award for Best Screenplay, which Paul has won before at the Phoenix Film Festival.

FAVOR is about Kip Desmond, a man who has everything but stands lose it all when his fling on the side ends up dead. He asks his longtime friend, Marvin Croat to help him dispose of the body, causing an unexpected series of events that leads them both into a dark and dangerous place. This film kept me guessing and sitting at the edge of my seat through the very last scene. If you missed FAVOR at the Phoenix Film Festival, it will be making its Hollywood debut on Saturday, June 8th with the Dances With Films festival at the Mann’s Chinese Theater. I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Paul about his experiences with his film FAVOR and as a filmmaker in general.

Get Your Tickets!

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How long have you been involved in filmmaking?

I’ve been pretty obsessed with movies and television since birth, and was directing Super-8 movies in my backyard long before puberty hit.  Whether you define it as a calling or a sickness, it’s hard-wired into who I am.

What made you interested in creating films?

I’m interested in making them, I expect, because I love them so damn much.  It’s really that simple.  When I see work on the screen that I really dig, it makes me want to go create my own flick.  The continuum of cinema is kind of like one big conversation.  Some movie fans are willing just to listen; others like me want to have our say.

What do you love the most about the filmmaking?

I love completing any part of the journey where you can step back and see that what you just did works.  That might be nailing a scene in your script, finding the right actor, getting the dialogue to snap the way you want it to on set or getting a sequence to work in the editing room.   But in between those moments it’s a struggle.  I wrestle a lot with my own creative limitations.  Filmmaking is less about loving the process and more about being addicted or involuntarily compelled to do it.  As I mentioned before, you can label it either a calling or a sickness; both terms are appropriate.


You are obviously a talented writer and director, are any there other roles on set that you also enjoy?  

On the set of FAVOR

On the set of FAVOR

I’ve done a lot of other production jobs in my youth – assistant director, props, sound, camera.  None of these are as satisfying as directing.  I did operate camera on FAVOR and most of OFFICIAL REJECTION, and while the technical and physical challenges of doing that while trying to run a set and monitor performances can be a bit much, I found I really liked the control it gave me.  A side benefit of shooting FAVOR myself was it put me right up on the front line with the actors instead of dozens of feet away tucked behind a monitor.  I think that translated into an intimacy on-screen we wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.

How many features have you been involved in?

I’ve been involved “above the line” in three: FAVOR and OFFICIAL REJECTION, both of which I wrote, directed and cut, and TEN ‘TIL NOON, which I wrote.  I was also either a producer or executive producer on all of these.  Prior to that I’d been an editor-for-hire on a couple of features and worked in various crew capacities on about five others, starting with the John Travolta flick CHAINS OF GOLD when I was still in college.

I know you have received Best Screenplay TWICE from the Phoenix Film Festival (which is the award I have always coveted the most). Have you received any other awards or recognition for your films?

I’ve actually been really lucky with the awards thing.  TEN ‘TIL NOON and OFFICIAL REJECTION each won nine awards during their festival runs, although not nearly all of them were for me.  I’ve also won awards for editing movie trailers and, if you want to go way back, for my student work.  You gotta take awards in stride, because you want the work to be about the work, not the statuettes.  And I never expect to win anything, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice when it happens.  I was a horribly un-athletic kid and jealous of other boys that had walls full of trophies and ribbons.  So when I look at my Copper Wings, I figure it’s just life finally evening out.

Did you and Leslie start working together and then get married, or did you get married and then start working together? What are some of the pros and cons of sharing your life’s passion with your spouse? (This is especially interesting to me because our producer is also my boyfriend)

Well, for starters, we were friends long before there was anything romantic going on, and there was already a pretty solid foundation of professional respect established during that time, but yes, we were dating when I brought her aboard OFFICIAL REJECTION as a producer.  That was her area of expertise, so it made sense.  I think our professional relationship works because we’re interested in different sides of the process – me more the creative, her more the business and logistics.  We also communicate well and since she’s my wife she’s already hip to my bullshit.  If something’s not working in the movie, she’s in a position to just blurt it out without pretense.  The last thing you want is a partner who’s just a “yes man”.  And when I have to work late on the flick there’s no spousal backlash about missing “couple time” – usually she’s the one shoving me into the editing chair or onto set.

What is your favorite project so far, and why?

That’s a tough one.  By the time I finish a movie I’m honestly completely sick of it.  Probably better to ask me in about ten years.

Most artists look at a finished product and think of all the ways they could have made it better with more time, money, or even more knowledge. If you could remake any of your films from scratch, as if the original never existed, which one would you choose and why?

None of them.  It’s true that when I look at them all I see are the flaws and what I would improve with hindsight, but they reflect who I was when I made them.  When you make a movie, or at least a feature, it’s a process that swallows you up and doesn’t spit you out for years.  When you emerge, you’re a different filmmaker and you want to tackle different things, not go backward.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

About me personally?  I guess I’d want them to know that I’m not nearly as dark as the movies I make.  I’m a friendly guy, honest.

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981491_10151594966714242_1814446343_oWritten By: Nicki Legge

Several months ago I heard that a local film company, Running Wild Films, posted a full length feature that was completely improved called 1 (Improvised Feature Film). Like a good little film nerd, I decided to stop what I was doing (soul crushing work in a cubicle) to indulge in a little YouTube viewing action. I was familiar with the majority of the actors in the film, however one, Amber Michelle Davis, was new to me and I was completely delighted by her performance. I have since noticed Amber in multiple other films. Jump Ship Productions had the pleasure of interviewing Amber about her experiences in the film industry.

Amber has been involved in the film industry “for the better part of two years.” She says that acting is her first love, so it’s no surprise that she got an Associates Degree in Fine Arts and Theatre from Scottsdale Community College. While in school, “one of (her) acting professors encouraged a bunch of the ‘theatre actors’ to audition for some student films.Amber says, “I really began to love the filmmaking process on the set of the first film I was cast in. I had only ever done stage performances up to that point… Once I was on set I quickly fell in love with the camera.” Since her love of film sparked, she has participated in roughly 20 projects! She has been especially active recently. Amber says, “A very dear friend of mine has recently been a catalyst in reviving my passion for story telling through film. His passion for truthful and provocative storytelling is not only admirable, but contagious.

Out of all the projects that she has been a part of, Amber’s favorite is 1 (Improvised Feature Film). She says that, “It was the very best experience as an actor. We were all given character breakdowns and relationship cues, but the dialogue and interactions were all improvised. It was so freeing to just be in every moment and respond truthfully to my fellow actors. The process was liberating.” Aside from the improve feature, Amber has been involved in many other projects with Running Wild Films. Thus far, she has been cast in two of their 52 Short Films, “Liar” and one that is “due to shoot in July called “The White Stocking.” Amber says that the guys at Running Wild Filmsare phenomenal and (she) feels very fortunate to be included in anything they do!Amber even recently ate two crickets in support of Running Wild.

Amber won an outstanding individual performance award for acting at the A3F 48 hour challenge for her performance in “Itty Bitty Bang Bang” with Running Wild Films. Most recently Amber took home the 1st Place Best Actress award at  this years “Film School @ SCC’s Film Festival” for her performance in “Eduardo and Ted“. She says that she “was completely shocked both times!” She found out about the project through “the great Facebook,” but did not plan on auditioning until a friend of hers dragged her down. She says “to say the least, I am very thankful!” Not only is Amber a talented actress, she is also a professional makeup artist. She can not only make people look beautiful, but she also loves to play around with making them ugly. Amber says, “I’m not a huge fan of ‘real life’ gore, but I adore made up gore. I have had a lot of fun playing tricks on my mom with some of my makeup wounds.

Aside from her upcoming shoot with Running Wild Films, Amber is has also been cast in “another short at the end of June called Friendzone.” She will also be participating “in a film called Russel Benson’s Last Day.” If you are interested in contacting Amber, you can email her here, and you can find her on Facebook!

Written By: Nicki Legge

389553_2536081441655_1885901135_nAs technology advances, it seems like more and more films are using Visual Effects (VFX) and Motion Graphics to aid in the telling of a story. Filmmakers are doing amazing things with technology, building entire worlds on a computer. I have heard a lot of great things throughout the community about the talents of Logan Hennessy, but I had no idea how impressive his work is until I recently stumbled across his VFX/Motion Graphics demo reel on Facebook. I was absolutely blown away by the before and after shots throughout the reel and I immediately knew that I had to share his story by making him the Jump Ship Productions Filmmaker of the Week.

Logan is originally from Spokane, Washington. Before he moved to Arizona, he was attending a local community college, not particularly satisfied with the direction it was taking him. “One fateful night” as Logan says, he was watching the Appendices for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and something clicked. Logan “always liked making videos with (his) friends, but it never really crossed (his) mind that you could do it for a living!… (he) became infatuated with the behind the scenes of a film set, and decided then and there (he) wanted to go to film school.” He decided that Phoenix would be a good place for film school, so he turned to the trusty internet to find schools in the Phoenix area.  Logan “found (his) school, and moved across the country in a little less than three weeks from the night (he) watched those Appendices.” He says “it’s the greatest decision (he) has ever made.”

Logan began school in January 2010 and recently graduated “fluent with After Effects, Cinema 4D, 3DS Max, and Boujou.” He chose Collins College because “It had great facilities including two large sound stages and a massive green screen.” My favorite question to ask filmmakers is whether or not they believe film school is necessary. I think Logan hits the nail right on the head with his answer.

It is true that film school is completely unnecessary and the degree that you get from it will rarely get asked for. Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, and David Fincher never went to film school, heck, Steven Spielberg was turned down from film school twice. The only thing anybody really cares about is if you are good. Really good. If you have an uncle that runs camera for Hollywood feature films, you can start from the bottom there and learn a massive amount… in a very short time. 

The problem lies there. Not all of us have an uncle in the business, and we have literally no connections into Hollywood – THAT is where film school comes in. You essentially pay money to make connections. Yes, you learn some stuff in school, but you learn most of it on real sets. So that is the answer, you go to film school in an area that has a film community in order to meet like-minded individuals… building a network and learning all you can.

Logan was “drawn to visual effects and motion graphics because (he) does not want any barriers.” One of the biggest limitations for independent filmmakers is the lack of budget. Logan “decided (he) would not allow (himself) to have any restrictions if (he) didn’t have to. If (he) comes up with a story and needs the setting to be a post-apocalyptic wasteland, (he) can do that.” Logan says that it is difficult to choose a favorite project or graphic, every time he completes a project he immediately thinks of something bigger and better to do. Although if he had to pick one,   Logan says “it would probably be one of the first difficult shots I ever did… on a video I co-created for a video game that was being released that year (“Battlefield 3 Live Action Gameplay Trailer“). The climax of the video is a first-person perspective and as the character looks up into the sky, two jets collide and explode, followed by one of the jets falling into the screen and on top of the character. It was two years ago, and I’ve learned so much and honed my craft a lot since then, but seeing people’s reaction to that shot for the first time still gives me goosebumps.”

As much as Logan loves VFX and Motion Graphics, his true passion is working hard on set. Logan says “I learned visual effects so I could have no boundaries, but I’m a filmmaker at heart, and there is nothing like being on a film set. I really like to direct my own films, but when working for others my favorite aspect is being behind camera. I like to be able to have an impact on the look of a film, and being a camera operator or Director of Photography is one of my biggest goals as a filmmaker.” Logan has completed four of his own videos, most of which can be seen on his Youtube channel, ENRELEM, but he has worked on countless other projects through school and with other filmmakers.

“The best recognition I ever got was when me and a buddy released our fan-made trailer for an upcoming videogame called “Battlefield 3”, and after the second day that it was on youtube the creators of the video game posted it to their twitter and facebook, and subsequently it started showing up on gaming websites all across the internet. It received a lot of praise and was the first time I really felt like this is the only thing I could be doing with my life. I’ve never felt so giddy in all my life than the morning I woke up and saw the video had jumped 40,000 views overnight and the top comments said they were sent by the game’s creators. I can’t wait to do it again!”

The absolutely most important aspect of filmmaking to Logan is simply telling an incredible story that captivates people and forces viewers to learn a little about themselves and grow with the characters on the screen. He strives to never stop learning and never stop improving so that he can be the best filmmaker he can be. Now that Logan has graduated college, he plans to pump out consistent short films with his longtime friend Nile Popchock for their youtube channel, ENRELEM. He says, “the internet is an incredibly powerful tool for filmmakers, and if we can consistently create jaw-dropping films I don’t think there is any better option to get exposure… Making films is a gift from me to the audience, a chance to bring them into a world I created that they could only imagine in their dreams. I really do believe that through continuous, excruciatingly hard work I’ve got a shot at doing just that.” Logan is active on Facebook, he can be reached at (509) 979 – 7015, or you can email him HERE!

By: Nicki Legge

Photo By: Brandon Sullivan

Most families have activities that they enjoy doing together, like family game night, Sunday dinner, or camping. Diane Dresback and her sons, Devon Dresback and Trenton Kennedy, spend their family time exercising their creativity and making award winning films together. Most recently, this extraordinary family took part in the Almost Famous Film Festival’s (A3F) 48 Hour Challenge where they took home Best Overall Film; Audience Favorite; the Brock H. Brown Best Script Award; Best Director; and their two main actors, Colleen Hartnett and Rafael Munguia, both took home awards for Outstanding Individual Performances.  This year’s A3F 48 Hour Challenge produced a collection of some of the best 48 hour challenge films I have ever seen, and their film, Afterword really stood out as the most captivating and visually beautiful of all top 20 films. Jump Ship Productions had the pleasure of interviewing all three family members about their experiences working together on and off set and creating their film Afterword.

I find it impressive that there are three award winning filmmakers in one family; do you have any other family members that work within the film industry?

DIANE: The only person I met only a few years back is my uncle, James Marino, who lives in San Diego. He is always there with positive words of encouragement for us! I am hoping to actually have an opportunity to work with him on a project at some time in the future.

Do you all usually stick to the same roles when you work together (i.e., Diane as the Producer, Trenton as the writer, and Devon as the Director)? When you work separately, do you also stick to the same roles, or do you take on other responsibilities as well?

DIANE: Mostly when we’ve worked together on projects, yes we have stuck to the same roles. Although, I will say that we all venture across boundaries at times to get whatever needs to be done, done! That involves acting, shooting and editing.

On my own projects, I typically write, direct and also end up producing and editing, if needed. Having said that, I often seek input from both Devon and Trenton on my scripts as they really do give me very honest feedback…no fluffy stuff! Which is helpful.

What inspired each of you to venture into the wonderful world of filmmaking?

TRENT: I’m actually a video game designer by day. My girlfriend Deanna Nygren (3D Artist) and I just moved back to Phoenix to start a small independent game studio. We were in Austin, TX for several years working in the game industry (on games like Halo 4 and DC Universe Online). I’m primarily a designer, but I did do some writing on DCUO; hearing iconic characters like Batman (Kevin Conroy), Superman (Adam Baldwin), The Joker (Mark Hamill), and Lex Luthor (James Marsters) read lines I wrote was truly thrilling. (Luckily I had editors supporting me so it made it sound even better!). Games are my first love, but film has always been my mistress on the side. I’m grateful I can ride Devon and Diane’s coattails and help out.

DEVON: For me it began as an obsession with blowing things up around 14. My friends and I would get our own chemicals offline, mix them ourselves and film all the glorious destruction. I was quite the crazy little pyromaniac. From there it spawned into an interest in “special effects“. You know, fake videos of blowing up the dog, ripping my friends in half, normal kid stuff like that… But around 16, I really started getting interested in narrative film.

DIANE: Right out of college, I was co-owner of a production company, where we filmed corporate and personal events for about seven years before I returned to corporate work…. After being in love with creative writing as a kid, I had a writing professor my first semester of college that convinced me that I shouldn’t be doing any creative writing. So, I spent years in corporate America writing business documents, reports and training programs. About ten years ago, I had a personal situation occur that inspired me to write my first feature length screenplay. It was Trenton, who was still in high school at the time, who convinced me I could do it! And I did. Of course, it took a few years and I went through some terrible drafts…but, I finished it. Around that same time, and after 26 years in corporate America working mostly as a manager and senior executive in the travel and financial industries, in 2007, I returned to the production world only now with more of a focus on narrative filmmaking. And you are right, Nicki, it is wonderful!

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“We were in Austin, TX for several years working in the game industry (on games like Halo 4 and DC Universe Online).”

One of the things that I find to be most important on set is chemistry between the crew members. Does it seem to be easier to work with each other because you already have that family chemistry, or are there different aspects that become more difficult on set?

TRENT: A producer is already like a mother in a lot of ways! It definitely helps to know exactly what to expect from team members. It makes it much easier to concentrate on your own role and trust the rest have it handled. I hadn’t worked with most of the rest of the team, but Devon and Diane had, so again it was just a matter of trusting their judgment. They pulled together an awesome crew and three great actors.

DEVON: Chemistry is everything for me on set, and I choose my cast and crew very delicately. Patience is everything, because one bad attitude can bring down everyone’s moral. It’s actually surprisingly normal to work with family on set, because they understand the process and the time it takes. Also I think it’s because we usually share a similar vision, so there’s not too much conflict.

DIANE: I have come to understand how to work best with my boys. I know when I need to keep my mouth shut and go with what they are saying and when I need to put in my opinion, based on my experience. I believe all three of us recognize that we bring different strengths to the table. I don’t behave like a mom on set…although, I do sneak a hug once in a while when no one is looking just to encourage and acknowledge them. Ha!

Do you find that a lot of your conversations off set revolve around filmmaking or the film industry in general, or do you tend to keep the “shop talk:” separate from family time?

TRENT: I am immensely grateful to have such a creative significant other (Deanna Nygren). We can’t help but “talk shop” a lot, but we do try to keep a balance. It’s impossible not to share in each other’s excitement. The amazing art she creates is a huge inspiration for my ideas.

DIANE: Admittedly, conversations with Devon and Trenton often revolve around filmmaking and film projects. I like to say that our conversations are always creative. Recently, we started playing a board/roleplay game that Trenton is teaching us. There are a lot of similarities with filmmaking in character development and storytelling. My boyfriend, Rick has never been around filmmaking, so he enjoys hearing about it (thankfully!), but I try not to dominate our conversation…although I could talk for hours about indie filmmaking!

What made you decide to participate in the A3F 48 hour challenge this year?

DEVON: It’s always a great competition but I wasn’t originally planning on entering. However my brother had just moved back into town and my mom totally pulled the family card, saying we hadn’t worked on anything together as a family in a long time. I’m extremely glad she convinced us though.

DIANE: I love supporting Jae Staats and Jason Francois by participating in their A3F film challenges. Plus, it had been a couple of years since Devon, Trenton and I had done this particular challenge on the same team. The last A3F we did together was back in February 2011, when we surprised the audience by making two films that played off of each other….different perspectives. The idea, which was Devon’s, was really clever and lead to another insane weekend. Oh, did I say that I was half way through producing a feature film when we took the weekend off to make those two shorts in 48 hours? I think a little insanity runs through this family!

Where did you find your inspiration for “Afterword?”

TRENT: Having our actors and a main location lined up helped immensely when writing the script. Imagining what sort of characters they would be good at playing was important. The stories I love tend to have very gray characters. They’re clearly flawed, but there’s something about them that draws you in.

Afterword is centered on two imperfect characters looking back on their past relationship. My inspiration came primarily from the idea that with time comes perspective. It’s always easier to see what went wrong in hindsight. The real question (and one that Afterword leaves up to the viewer to answer) is, does that new perspective actually change anything?

Trent, did you work closely with Devon in terms of visuals while writing the script?

TRENT: Devon and I have many similar tastes. Writing with your actors in mind helps considerably; writing with your director in mind is equally helpful. I gave Devon an idea of how I pictured things, but the best part of working with him is seeing what he pictured when reading what I wrote.

Devon, one of the things that I found to be the most impressive was how rapidly the emotion in the film turned from happy to sad. Was it difficult to get your actors to flip that switch so quickly (especially under the pressure of a 48 hour time crunch)? What techniques did you use to help them change their mood?

DEVON: I’m glad you mentioned this. From the first talk of this idea, this specific dynamic is really what drew me in. I wanted these characters to be comfortable enough with each other to address the lower points in their past, but also the audience needed to feel just as comfortable, like they had lived through the moments with these characters. The climax had to carry weight, and we did as much as we could to ensure a connection between audience and these characters. Shooting the locations with their respective dialogue was a trip! The moods would rapidly swap and the actors were extremely versatile. I used a couple personal techniques, but also actually developed a few on accident. Colleen asked me about one, and if I had done it intentionally. I said no, but next time I will have. I felt the fluctuation of the dialogue and mood between the two characters came off surprisingly real and not as forced as I had feared. This was due largely in part to Rafael and Colleen, who are both incredibly adaptable actors. Also, 5 minutes is quite a short time to expect compassion from the audience, so our gimmick really allowed for us to cover a lot of emotional ground.

Actors Afterword

Rafael Munguia and Colleen Hartnett, both took home awards for
Outstanding Individual Performances.
Photos By: Brandon Sullivan

Obviously there were some parts of the dialogue that had to be said in certain locations, like talking about stir-fry in the kitchen; however other pieces of dialogue weren’t necessarily location specific. During the shoot, did you already have an idea of when you wanted to transition from one location to another, or was that decided in post-production?

DEVON: This was a huge concern of mine from the get go. Even though I loved the idea, I had an inkling that we might be shooting ourselves in the foot. One missed line of dialogue with 6 very scattered locations could cause some serious issues. Luckily my brother really nailed down every piece of dialogue and every location. It was a terrifying script to flip through though, because it was written exactly how it played. So returning to a location later in the film meant that the dialogue would be scattered throughout the script, and jump from page to page…even when it was just a couple words.

The dialogue seemed to flow so seamlessly from location to location, did you have to do a lot of ADR work to ensure that the sound would be consistent throughout all of the locations?

DEVON: Surprisingly, no. We only had to ADR two lines I believe. But at one point we were battling a juke box, and in between every song we would have about 10 seconds for Colleen to get her line. It was about as indy as you can get.

Trent, story is such an important part of filmmaking, and without the proper structure within a script, a story can fall apart very quickly. Have you attended any classes on writing or received any formal training?

TRENT: Not beyond a couple classes in college. I credit any useful techniques I’ve picked up to my joy of reading. Afterword uses a lot of repetition which gives it almost a poetic feel. I wanted the characters’ change in perspective to be evident. I love how much meaning comes through in how a line is spoken. Saying the same line but with a different emotion changes the meaning drastically. That’s difficult to do in written text, but it’s something we take for granted in speech because it comes naturally.

What was your favorite part about this challenge?

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On the Set of “Afterword”

TRENT: Even though nobody was getting paid, our cast and crew were truly professionals. It was not an easy shoot but I didn’t hear one complaint the entire time.

DEVON: The screening. There’s always just so much energy, and nerves flying around in that theater. Almost on cue every time, the film before ours will begin to play and that feeling will set in. Excitement, terror, nausea, what if we missed the boom in one of our shots (which we definitely did). It’s this strange barrage of sensations that really is irreplaceable.cast and crew were truly professionals. It was not an easy shoot but I didn’t hear one complaint the entire time.

DIANE: Gosh, it’s hard to say, I love the whole process as well as the screening. But, if you let me pick two, I would say the first one is when we finally wrapped. It was a satisfying feeling knowing (hoping) we captured everything. Plus, everybody was so exhausted, it felt good to congratulate and thank them all after such a long day and night that was nonstop. The second part was seeing the rough cut of the film. This time we were fortunate to have very talented Jerrod Saba as our editor and TJ Bucco had designed some wonderful music. Watching that first cut gave me chills because at that point, I knew we had a good little film.

What was your least favorite part?

TRENT: The drunks at the bar location. Someone should probably tell that story…

DEVON: Drunk bar patrons. Seriously, telling them “quiet on the set” was like taking the binkies away from a room full of toddlers. It didn’t help that they were there for the most emotional scene in the movie. I’m not terribly confrontational, but there was a moment where one of the guys yelled some really off color things in the middle of one of our takes, and I was about to go full David O’Russell. I felt awful for putting my actors through that especially in a scene where they were both exposing everything they had as actors. But despite the drunkard’s efforts, Rafael and Colleen were both exceedingly professional, and both went on to win awards for their acting.

DIANE: Well, it would seem that I should say, dealing with the drunks. However, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say although it was a tough section of the shoot, as the producer, I felt extremely happy that I was able to hold together all the pieces – the bar patrons who were drunk but were also customers of the location we were shooting in, the bartender who was concerned about her customers, the unrepeatable comments being made to me by a completely inebriated man while I was trying to coerce him to stay quiet for 30 seconds, an irritated writer who didn’t like what that guy was saying to his mother and an upset director because it was extremely challenging for his actors. It was one of the more difficult situations that I have experienced as a producer/crew member, but the bottom-line is that we got the shots we needed, didn’t get kicked out of the location, didn’t have any fights breakout and Devon got the performances he needed to make that scene work. I chalk that up as a success! I like challenges. I kind of thrive on them, actually.

My least favorite part of the shoot? Trying to hold those darn bounce boards still in the wind at the first outside location.

Diane, working under such an intense deadline can kill any production, but your film looked like it was shot over a couple of weeks rather than a couple of days. What are some of your tips and tricks for keeping your production organized and on schedule without losing any of the quality?

DIANE: As soon as we settled on an idea and I found Trenton had written a great script, I no longer stayed involved with the creative side but switched immediately to figuring out how we could make this crazy production work within the time constraints before us. I am an organizer…always have been even in my corporate days and now in my film work. I took the time to figure out very thoroughly and quickly the best order for locations, all the wardrobe changes our actors needed, the props and the set design pieces that we had to haul around in my car for this film. You have to stay focused on the task at hand and just push through things. I rarely sit down for a break…I just keep going (3 hours sleep out of 60 from Friday morning to Sunday night). And, like any good indie producer, I keep the production moving forward.

ninthTrent, when writing for a challenge like the A3F 48 hour, does it seem to hinder your creativity to be given the line of dialogue, prop, and theme, or do you find that it helps jump start the creative process?

TRENT: I find it’s very difficult to start a creative endeavor without some constraints. Luckily life tends to give you an endless supply. Not identifying or working within your constraints is why many projects fail. The line of dialogue, prop, and theme are very minor constraints when you compare it to the 48 hour time frame. But I guess that’s half the fun!

Devon, are there any things that you wish you could have done differently if you had more time, or were you able to get exactly what you wanted from the script in the time that you had?

DEVON: Yes. Everything. Always. Haha, but I was definitely satisfied with how it turned out. Most of the things resulted from a lack of time, like always. But everyone worked excruciatingly hard, and I couldn’t have dreamt of a better cast or crew.

What steps did you take prior to the kickoff to prepare for this challenge?

TRENT: We tried to have some story ideas ready, but they all got scrapped fairly quickly. I was actually glad about that. One of the best parts of this competition is the all night script writing. Light from the sunrise making you squint as you try desperately to polish off the script before your cast and crew start showing up… I wouldn’t have it any other way.

DIANE: I had nailed down the bar location and we had the three actors.

I was rather impressed with the number of locations and how seamlessly they flowed together during the film. Aside from the bar, did you have any other locations in mind before the kickoff, or did you find them all within the 48 hours?

DIANE: I was pushing for one or two cool locations at the most, but that just didn’t work within the creative process. So, early Saturday morning we were deciding on the other locations…a total of six in twenty hours of shooting. Killer, but everyone wanted to make this work and make it look great. Our DP, Charles Cartwright did a good job dealing with all the locations and their varied lighting and sound situations.

Diane, I can only imagine how proud you must be of your amazing children and all of their accomplishments; if I were in your shoes, I’m sure I could never get enough of working together as a family. As a producer, do you often steer toward projects that you can involve them in, or is it more of an added perk when you find projects that you can work on together?

DIANE: I convinced them both to do this film project. I love working with them but many times it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes, Devon and I compete against each other in these challenges (it’s a friendly competition). In fact, for the 2011 A3F 72 Hour Musical challenge, we both wrote and directed our own films. His team took first place for Secret Agents and my team took third place for WISH Inc., amongst other awards. That was another fun night for us.

How many projects have you done together (either all three or just two of you)?

DIANE: This was interesting to actually go back and count how many films we had done together. This was the final count: All three of us – 8. And, for just Devon and myself – 4 more.

Do you have any future projects in the pipeline, either together or separately?

DEVON: We’re currently developing and writing a web series that we hope to kickstart in the summer. It’ll be the biggest project we’ve worked on together to date.

DIANE: Together, we want to do a web series later this year. For me individually, I have a feature film script I hope to find funding for, and I currently am working on a short film that someone has entrusted me to write and direct. Last year, I worked with Bret Kalmbach and several others shooting a teaser for a potential future film that we are in the final stages of finishing up and will post online soon. I also have some other client projects underway.

What do you think sets your team apart from other teams that participated in the 48 hour challenge?

DIANE: I always have the ultimate respect for any team that participates in these challenges. It is not easy and it takes a hard working team to stay with it and get it done. I don’t know that we are set apart from other teams. Everything just gels when everyone on the team works towards the same goal…without egos or complaints, all focused at trying to make the best film possible within the time constraints at hand.

On the Set

On the Set of “Afterword”

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.

ninthFifty-five teams from Arizona, Southern California, and Nevada, participated in this year’s challenge with 47 teams making the deadline. The theme was Something Magical, line of dialogue, “I can’t believe it worked.” and a Ring as the prop where a character had to put on or take off a ring.

Top 20 Public Screening Tickets
The Top 20 Public Screening takes place February 28 at 7p.m. at AMC Arizona Center 24 Theatres in downtown Phoenix. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

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Top 20 Teams (listed alphabetically, these films will screen on Feb. 28th)

Bogdan & Friends
Follow Your Poem Productions
Fortune & Merit Productions
Half of a Half Productions
iDokie Films
Jump Ship Productions
La Linea Productions
Lethal Hobo Productions
Luke Hansen/Ignominious
Midnight Specialist
Mindclover Productions
Myyyyles Productions
N’Raged Media
Running Wild Films
TEN/ONE Films
The Collective
The Junk Drawer
ThinkTank Creative
Toast Productions
UAT Hyped

Honorable Mention 10 (plus ties, listed alphabetically, watch these film on Vimeo!)

Art of War Pictures
Blue Harvest Productions
Broken Door Media
Cobra Kai Films
Dark of the MATINEE
Imperio Azteca Productions
LishKohn Productions
LJR Productions
O’Connell Family
Pops Says NO Productions
Seriously Dude Films
TEAM 48SHIRE
Ugly Baby Studios

How It Works?

Teams create a 1-5 minute film in just 2 days or 48 hours. In addition to meeting this challenging deadline, teams must also incorporate this year’s official guidelines (theme, prop and line of dialogue).

Films that meet the guidelines will be reviewed before a panel of judges who will select the Top 20 films for the Public Screening on February 28 at AMC Arizona Center 24 Theatres in downtown Phoenix.

Rules

The A3F encourages complete artistic freedom, but do have some rules that pertain to the film challenge.

  • Films must be 1-5 minutes in length including all credits.
  • Teams must own or have rights to their music and permission for all locations.
  • No explicit violence and gun use will be *critiqued.
  • All footage must be shot within the 48 hour time-frame, animators are allowed to pre-build templates.
  • Teams, cast and crew must promise to have fun and become Almost Famous!

Judges Panel
Jason Francois – Lead Judge/Assistant A3F Director.

Bill Pierce – Film Critic. 

Lee Ann Cone –  Script Supervisor

Jay Lee – Filmmaker

Joel Kaye – Cinematographer

Jae Staats – A3F Founder/Director

Jump Ship Productions entered Mr. Wallace The Great. Get your tickets now!

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