When I attend an event where there are panels, screenings, Q&A's, etc. I always make sure that I'm Tweeting and updating on Facebook and the like about my experience.  Part of the reason is that it helps me remember what I'm listening to and experiencing (like taking notes).  The other reason is that I'm able to communicate the information that I'm taking in to my network.

For instance, while at ITVFest and NYTVFest this year I attended as many panels and Q&A's I could.  At the beginning of each panel I would tweet who was on the panel - Name and Company.  As the panel began, I would tweet key points, quotes from the discussion, including the name of the person talking and a hashtag or twitter handle for the event.  Examples from ITVFest and NYTVFest:

@alliecine I'm at "Building Your Career as a TV Writer - panelists Mike Betancourt, Sarah Fain, Halsted Sullivan, Eric Wallace & Maria Ferrari @itvfest

@alliecine Coffee chat will be with John Axelson "Polish your Pitch" @itvfest

@alliecine "Show tape in your pitch. 4-6 min or less." -Scott, A&E @nytvf

@alliecine "We are moving towards realtime storytelling it's like sitting in a circle telling stories, getting feedback, feeding on energy." @nytvf

@alliecine "Brands don't see just video views as success. It's all about activating the audience." @nytvf

What happened when I did this?  I had more ReTweets and new Followers in a week than I normally do.  I had people thanking me for tweeting the information.  I had people recommending that other follow me immediately if they wanted to get in on the information I was tweeting.

Also, as I was tweeting, if I found the panelists on Twitter I would use their Twitter handle when I was quoting them.  What did that do?  These people who I was tweeting were seeing what I was doing and therefore noticed me.  I even had a panelist at ITVFest call me out for it:

@mikerotman I'm secretly hoping @alliecine will be highlight tweeting from my #itvfest panel on Monday.

I had the festival directors thanking me for promoting the festivals and their panelists.  Win-win for everyone involved!  And how it helped me even more... as I had an audience following my tweets carefully, when I did tweet about my show and screenings, I had people paying attention and sharing the information.

@alliecine Heading in for the 6:30 screening of @solotheseries at @itvfest!

@alliecine http://twitpic.com/2s0it1 - Us at the awards ceremony! @nytvf @robgokee

So if you're hosting an event, attending an event or looking for someone to help with all of the above - you know where to find me and hopefully these tips will help you promote your event and share the knowledge - after all, that's what Twitter and social media are all about.

After a successful IndieGoGo campaign we were able to put the $7100 raised towards shooting Episodes 4 - 9 of SOLO The Series which will finish out Season 1 of our series.  Our goal was to raise $13K and if we had been able to do that in time, we would have been able to pay a small stipend to our cast and crew for their time, energy and creativity.  Luckily, we have a passionate team that stood behind us regardless of the pay!

Ext. Drizhal House - Night.

Here's a run down of our week of production:

Thursday

Production Meeting with our Team: Frederick Snyder (Director), Raphe Wolfgang (DP), Chris Szadkowski (Production Design), Andrew Seely (AD), Jonathan Nail (Creator) and me - Allison Vanore (Producer).

Friday

Meeting w/ Corina Spadoni - Wardrobe

Equipment Pick-Ups

Saturday

Prepare and send out Call Sheets

Finalize the remaining crew & cast schedules

Sunday

Shooting in the Artemis Breakroom.

Pre-light: Spent the night lighting the spaceship in Jonathan's garage, building dimmers and eating pizza.

Art Load-in: We were wow'ed by Chris' props and techy/electronic capabilities.

Wardrobe fittings

Rehearsal on set / choreography

Monday - Day 1 - Spaceship

Call time 5pm

Wrapped at 4am

Tuesday - Day 2 - Spaceship

Call time 5pm

Wrapped at 4am

Scott (Jonathan Nail), PHAL, and Gaffer, Brian Carroll in the Artemis.

Wednesday - Day 3 - Spaceship

Call time 5pm

Wrapped at 5am

Thursday

Since we wrapped early in the morning this is a "day off" however due to running out of time on some coverage, our camera team decides to shoot for a couple of hours to get coverage of PHAL and Scott in the ship.

Friday

Call time 6am

The morning scenes were supposed to take place outside and included a pool and hot tub... this morning was extremely cold and the yard we were shooting in was shaded so the look and the performance of the actors was greatly affected by the location and weather.  After discussing these problems, running through the first shot a few times and then trying to subdue an extremely excited and loud squirrel in the tree above, we decided to scrap the location and change the scene.  This scene will be shot on an upcoming weekend in November.

Becks (Michele Boyd) in bed & Production Designer Chris Szadkowski preps for the shot.

Wrapped at 5pm

Saturday

Call time 7am

This day consisted of a lot of blocking and dialogue between characters, Gerry and Ratish, as well as a few new additions.  We ended the night with a lot of laughs as we added a few touches to the Becks bedroom scene that has to do, yet again, with shoes.

Wrapped at 7:30pm

Sunday

Call time 11am

Sunday felt a bit schizophrenic because we shot Yakuza scenes in the dining room, Green screen in the living room and then Office scenes in the office and Ext. night shots... we were all over the place!  At the end of the night, we were borrowing Jonathan's neighbor's car for the last scene and after about 45 minutes of the car sitting there with the headlights on... the car died.  Go figure.

Lexi Collins (Kimberly Atkinson) of Entertainment Wow

We didn't have the car on due to sound issues but the lights were on for the look.  A dead battery ended our night a bit early and a shot or two short.

Wrapped at 11:30pm

After wrapping these 6 days we began the editing process with our editor extraordinaire, Frank Mohler.  At the same time we have about 2 and a half days left to shoot so our time is spent location scouting and getting wardrobe and art set for the last few scenes of the show!

At this point I have seen rough cuts of Episodes 4, 5 and 6 - and I'm excited because it's looking great!

More to come soon!  For more photos from the shoot, check out our Facebook Fan Page for SOLO and the official website.

by Allison Vanore, Producer of "Hopelessly in June"

There’s nothing better than a well oiled machine.

These two weeks in August are really the busiest and most important weeks of our entire production. With a sudden influx of talent and resources, we are kicking it into gear and pumping out the film in a few big days on set!

Really it all comes down to preparation. All of my work is done before we even set foot on set (for the most part). If we’ve done our job preparing then it goes smoothly. What this preparation means is having all of my duties complete. A peek at my “to do” list... [more here]

This Thursday (tomorrow) marks the beginning of the Independent Television Festival in Los Angeles, CA.  We are lucky enough to be attending and screening SOLO The Series at the festival on Wednesday, August 4th at 5:45pm.

The festival starts with a Show Creator Luncheon where we will receive our credentials and information about what to expect at the festival.  After getting my passes I'll head home to get ready for the ITVFest Gala that night!

Those in attendance from our show will me (producer & director Allison Vanore), creator & star Jonathan Nail, composer Rob Gokee, cast Michele Boyd, Jason Burns, Amol Shah and casting director Laurie Records.  There will be a red carpet event prior to the Gala: photos and interviews for the cast.  At the Gala I'll be mingling and networking with the other show creators, actors and producers.  We'll be promoting SOLO to the party goers in the hopes that we will fill the theatre for our screening on Wednesday.

Outside of our screening I'm also looking forward to many of the panels/seminars they are hosting.  Saturday there are two panels that I'm looking forward to hearing: Development: Selling Your Show and Building A Career as a TV Writer.  Sunday I'll also attend Representation: Getting That is Half The Battle and The Studio System. Then on Tuesday I look forward to attending Getting Sponsors for your Show.  It will be awesome to hear what the festival has to offer the show creators while we screen our shows and meet each other.

Shows I'm looking forward to seeing at ITVFest: Anyone But Me, Hamilton Carver, Fall of Kaden, Squatters, Cell The Web Series and Going to Pot.  See the trailers here: Page 1 & Page 2.

If you plan on being at ITVFest please let me know so we can meet up!  I'm hoping to hit up a few of the coffee mixers and a few of the night events.

Again, SOLO The Series screens Wednesday, August 4th at 5:45pm at Laemmle Sunset 5 for ITVFest.  Buy tickets here.

Check out Allison Vanore in her interview about her work on Hopelessly in June.

An Interview with Allison Vanore

"...When I first met Vince, they seemed to be “half done” with production.  Soon after that the production team and writers sat down and decided they needed a complete script overhaul and plan because this short film (it was originally going to be a 30 minute short) was going to be a feature film...."

Check out the entire Hopelessly in June blog here.

Writers are a breed unlike any other.  They are usually the first glimmer of light, the first spark of imagination, the first stroke of a pen, the first click of a key in any project.

Personality

I don't feel like there is a specific type of personality for a writer - they come from all backgrounds and with varying imaginations.  I know writers who are very big on research and technical information while I also know writers who are about discovering something completely odd or something unimaginable.  A writer must be dedicated to their craft and must find the way writing works for them.  I know for me, when I write, it's not until I've worked out the story and the ideas and the characters all in my head before I even put pen to paper.  Yes, a pen.  I write everything free-hand.  It's only for the second draft that I'll type it onto my computer.  Transcribing allows me to edit while I type.  For other writers, it's all about outlines, character background, timelines, and research before writing anything in script format.

Prep

Once the script is handed over to a Producer, Director, or Executive Producer, the writer needs to be open to suggestions, changes and additions.  A writer is usually just thinking about the story and the characters and the world that is created can be anything on paper. However, as a producer I see a script differently.  The first things I think when I read a script are...

  • Is it innovative and well written?
  • How many characters?
  • How many locations?
  • Are there special effects required?
  • Are there visual effects required?
  • Is it set in present time or is it a period piece or future/sci-fi?
  • Is it marketable?

All of these items, except for the first, are a big deal when you talk in terms of money and logistics.  If you come to me with a script that takes place in one apartment with two characters and no effects then it's going to be much easier and faster to pull off then a vampire period piece with 10 main characters and 100s of extras.  That said, a two character drama might not be as marketable as a vampire movie (at least now, in 2010)... so it all depends on what your abilities, goals and resources are.

Production

Once production starts, changes to the script need to remain minimal however as the actors get into the script with the director, this is the time that the writer needs to be willing to see, hear and adjust.  One thing I recommend is having a table read as production starts so everyone, including all key production personnel can hear the script read out loud.  We recently did this for a project I'm in pre-production on.  We had our Director, Writer, Executive Producer and Art Director all in attendance to hear the script.  What this does is make it real for everyone.  It allows you to imagine it on a different level - it's the words coming to life.  A sentence that is genius on the page may not read the way you intended or a line you deemed serious could come off extremely funny.  It is that moment that a writer needs to recognize that changes will happen and you can either be a part of it or not - we hope you are.

Tips for a Screen Writer

If you are making edits, let your film crew and cast know.

The worst thing to do as a writer is to constantly make changes without letting anyone know.  I have worked on a handful of films where the writer is making changes up until the day of the shoot.  This becomes a problem for everyone if they aren't aware that changes are coming.  Actors need time to prepare their lines (at least 48 hours) as well as all other key crew are affected by changes.  If you change: INT. OFFICE DAY to EXT. PARK BENCH DAY because it shows more of a bond between the characters that they spend time together outside of the office, this affects Art Department, Grip and Electric, Location, Transportation, and other set logistics.

Stay involved in the production.

Don't consider your job is over when you hand a script over to a production team.  You should be a part of the process - it will only make the film better.  Even in the editing process, if you are able, you should be in the loop.

Listen and watch your team.

Whether it's a table read or a rehearsal, listen to the words and watch the body language and choices of the actors.  If something isn't working and the Director is having a hard time making a section work, make suggestions and adjustments.  Keep that communication open.

Recent Writers I've Worked With

Elias Benavidez writer of A Note to Etienne

Jonathan Nail writer of "S.O.L.O. The Series"

Boris Kievsky & Konstantin Lavysh writers of "Purgatory, Inc."

Marty Blackshear & Vincent Brantley writers of Hopelessly in June

As many of you may know, I've been working with Cornbread Films for over a year and a half now on the feature romantic comedy, Hopelessly in June.  We've hit our final stretch and we are days away from setting our schedule for the end of production.

What has been a long process has also been an amazing one.  Not only is this the first feature film I have had the pleasure of producing, it's also the first time I'm working with Director Vincent Brantley (Jason Blackwell), Executive Producers Jay Vetter (established Art Director: Shallow Hal, There's Something About Mary) and entrepreneur Jerry Mosley.  Each of them supportive, motivated and talented.  I've learned a lot from them and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the team.

Speaking of our team, the team that we've built and worked with for the span of the project is also amazing, talented, hard-working and determined to see the project through, just as we are.  Although many positions have turned over throughout the process due to changing schedules, other opportunities, etc., the film is stronger because of the large network of resources and people involved.  Another plus to the length of time we've shot is that our team is now much like a television set after 5 seasons of production.  We all know each other, know how to work together and know what to expect.  Our sets are laid back and fun and therefore the scenes we shoot are free flowing and exactly what we hope for - if not better.  With the absence of negativity or stress we can all let our creative juices flow.

Regardless of the pitfalls we've encountered (and there have been a few!) the challenges have only made us stronger, more creative and more resourceful.  Whether it's shooting guerrilla style in the heart of Beverly Hills without a permit or faking a dog funeral in a city park where the ranger thought we were actually burying a dog and families were coming over to give their condolences, our film will be all the better in the end.

So let's raise an apple martini to the completion of Hopelessly in June!

I invite you to follow the film on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook so that you are in the loop when our inspirational, metropolitan film about culture and love in Los Angeles hits the big screen.

~Allison Vanore, Producer

3

The Social Butterfly. The hardest crew member to nail down unless you have a bit of cash.

Personality

"Hopelessly in June"

Makeup Artists (MUA) are one of the crew members who must be both talented at what they do and personable.

You may think that all members of a crew should be personable (I agree but this varies depending on the position), but Makeup Artists specifically need to have a special touch since they are dealing with talent personally, some insecure and others just yearning to look the part.  Talent needs to trust that their Makeup Artist is doing what the Director wants, what will make them look the part (and usually: look good) and also, not use anything on their skin that may give them an allergic reaction.  The second that trust is broken you are left with an insecure actor which is not at all beneficial to any production.

Prep

I always appreciate a Makeup Artist who asks the following questions as they take on a job:

Can I get a copy of the script?

Can I get headshots or screen grabs of the talent?

Do I need to worry about continuity with other scenes and if so, do you have screen grabs from that footage that I can take a look at?

These questions - although obvious - are important especially if a Makeup Artist is coming into a project after production has started.  There is nothing worse than a MUA getting to set, jumping in feet first and doing the wrong look/type of makeup for a character.  As a Producer, I certainly don't have the time to think about these things and make sure the Director is communicating this information as I hire you.  So please just ask!  Ask as many questions as you can!

On Set

"Love Sick Love"

When you arrive on set, find your designated space to set up and do so immediately.  You are the first stop when an actor arrives.  If you are not on time the entire production can be held up.  When you get underway, estimate the amount of time you will need to complete each actor's make up.  There is nothing worse than seeing a MUA chatting away with the talent (while working) with no idea when the make up session will end.  If the AD or the Director asks how long it will take, have an answer and be accurate.  Two seconds is not an answer unless the talent is standing up from your chair.  If your MUA is also doing hair, the process will take longer and the AD needs to know just how long.  When you are on set it's all about timing, scheduling and accuracy.

Last Looks

After rehearsal the AD and/or Director (and sometimes the talent) will ask for Last Looks. There's nothing worse than calling Last Looks and the MUA is no where to be found.  Once you are done with talent in the chair, bring your makeup bag and be on set.  Look at the monitor and know what needs tweaking before someone calls Last Looks.  When they call you in, jump in, make adjustments quickly and clear frame.

One of My Favs

Erin LeBre

Erin LeBre is one of my favorite Makeup Artists as she possesses all of the characteristics I mentioned above. Additionally, if she can't work with me on a production, she is ready and willing to help fill the spot with someone competent and she'll give them notes and a mini-interview so that she knows the person she is giving me is on top of their game.  Erin also is one of the few who never has a problem with talent.  She makes talent feel comfortable and secure.  Erin always asks questions about he production needs and the talent.  She takes make up notes for continuity so that we can continue shooting a scene another time if necessary. She's quick on her feet and when presented with situations like sun burn or horrible tan lines - she jumps in and does what she can to remedy the situation.  And the talent always looks amazing!

To contact Erin LeBre directly click here or please fill out the contact form here and I'll make sure she gets in touch.

Final Thoughts

Although it shouldn't matter (but it certainly does) the first red flag when hiring or meeting a MUA is when they aren't wearing any makeup or their own makeup doesn't look good.  If they can't put their own makeup on, then they have no business doing someone else's.

When you are able to, hire a MUA and a separate Hair Stylist so that they both can do their job to the best of their ability.  If a MUA isn't strong with hair, and you ask them to style hair, you are setting yourself up for mediocre hair and a hold-up in your schedule.

Special Effects, Prosthetics and other fun stuff - this is a different skill set than Beauty/Glamour make up.  Make sure you are upfront with a MUA about the needs of the production before asking your MUA to produce a wound on your talent's body or help with blood.  Also, these additional requests mean additional money, so be prepared to pull out the wallet.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to talk about the different members of an indie film crew and what I feel is important for these individuals to possess. It'll be the do's and don't's and I'll even feature some of my favorites and a few true stories!  From Make Up Artists to Production Assistants... it will all be here: From a Producer's Perspective.