Written by Allison Vanore!
Written by Allison Vanore!
Written by Allison Vanore!
What happens after months of planning, fundraising, coordinating schedules and stretching every dollar? Principle Photography.
On May 16, 2013, I made the trip from NJ to NYC to pick up our cast and crew for the 42 Seconds of Happiness shoot. This was the first time ever that I was making a film with more cast than crew. We had 10 cast members and a very small but dedicated crew: Writer/Director/EP: Christina Kallas, Producer: Allison Vanore, DP: Dave Sharples, Sound Mixer: Jason Obenschain, Camera Op: Ben Neufeld, Boom Op: Daniel Lugo, DIT/Catering: Rob Gokee, Camera/Production Assistants: Erik Smith and Holland Farkas and BTS: Alex Gloor. Along the way I also picked up some rented and borrowed equipment. Luckily we have extremely supportive people around us which made our limited budget possible on every level: transportation, equipment, location, catering, craft services, art dept and of course, the many donors and supporters since the beginning of this process.
We embarked on a journey to shoot a feature length movie with up to 3 cameras and 10 cast members at a time for extended takes. Yes, the stress level was high. No one really knew how well this would work. All we knew is that we had months and months of preparation and extremely talented people. In the indie world, that's really the best formula to have. That, and a lot of trust.
Let's talk about trust for a moment. There we were, with 10 actors and almost as many crew members and only 3 of us had read the full script. There were two reasons for that. First, Christina had been working with the actors/characters for more than a year - but until they had experienced together fully the story leading up to the film, we wouldn't know what would happen in it. Second, the point behind Christina’s process is that the authenticity of experience and feeling of being "in the moment" is more important than anything else. Christina was only going to give cast and crew the info she felt they needed prior to each scene. This kept it fresh and spontaneous - and all of us alert and open to surprises. Sometimes that meant actors didn’t receive their pages but the night before, others directly before the scene. Sometimes actors, especially those who weren’t driving a specific scene, didn't receive anything prior to that scene. Christina had a strategic plan for when she would give which pages to which cast member. Her goal was to keep the emotional intensity alive that she had been able to create in the room, this time combining it with a screenplay of classic structure while at the same time allowing for accidents to happen - and embracing such accidents and including them in the story. If you ask her, she will say that this would not have been possible if she hadn't worked with the actors for a year on the story and characters. She will also say that this is only possible with professional actors who have solid improv experience and who are able to work from a screenplay and still go off on a riff where the occasion arises. If you ask me: That's a lot of trust. Christina’s instructions to the actors were: you can do no wrong, you can take your time, you are free to move as you want, do not be afraid of silence or time going by without action, do not be afraid of anything, you are the center of this universe.
I can't give too much away. I will say that we had quite a few surprises for the actors and the crew, and the result of withholding information made for remarkable moments within the film.
One of the biggest challenges that we had outside of the specific nature of the film and our limited crew and budget (as if that's not enough) was that we were shooting for only 5 intense days. This stemmed from Christina and her experience shooting hundreds of hours of footage for the 42 Seconds of Happiness webseries. She knew the formula. If we shot about 42 (sic) hrs of material we'd end up with about 100 minutes of finished (edited) footage. Or, like we continued to joke on set, we were making an epic trilogy. We won't really know until we get into the editing room.
Some of the most amazing scenes to experience for me were the Intervention, the Dinner and the Swing Set. I know these don't mean anything to you but they were packed with emotion and beauty. Not to say there aren't many other scenes that tug at your heart and soul but I can't give those away.
Our success isn't possible without the sheer talent of our amazing cast: Lauren Sowa (Alis), Robert Z. Grant (Tomas), Catherine Cobb Ryan (Vineke), Toni Robison-May (Felice), Chris Veteri (Ike), Laura Pruden (Sila), John J Concado (Marc), Becca Ayers (Cybil), Margaret Kelly Murphy (Maria), and Vandit Bhatt (Ben). They brought their talent and dedication and held it for hours on end. There were moments where I, from behind the camera, was shaking and close to tears. What a performance by all!
We were lucky to have Director of Photography, Dave Sharples, on our team. Dave was ready to go and lead the charge to shoot handheld for scenes that lasted over an hour per take! Thankfully he's had years of experience at NFL Films and gigs like shooting the World Series of Poker that prepped him for shooting like this. And even when doubt could have taken over, we always got beautiful shots and unwavering effort from Dave.
Sound. Oh boy did we have our work cut out for us. If anything made me nervous it was making sure we captured sound from all of our actors on (and sometimes off) screen. And with that many actors and no clear idea of where the actors or cameras would go, we couldn't get a boom close to a lot of the action. Additionally, 10 actors mic'd and mixed at the same time really is a two mixer job - due to our resources that wasn't an option. Still, the amount of gear you need for a shoot like this doubles. Luckily we remedied both in a way that worked. We had one extremely dedicated Sound Mixer, Jason (who I don't believe ever slept during those 5 days) and our Boom Op, Daniel, and a donation of gear that got us to our 11 channel goal. Also, an area of our location where most of the action took place was laid out in a way that allowed us to boom from above. It wasn't easy but we got through it. I think Jason is still hearing 10 voices in his head.
I suppose the big question is: Did it work?
It was such a huge experiment and we did accept that we could fail. Christina and I went into this knowing that was a possibility and knowing that, had a liberating quality. What I can say is that it was magic. Yes, we were ecstatic that it worked out so well. There were, of course, some serious challenges, I won't lie. But the way we were able to accept and embrace the challenges, any challenges made the film that much better. We have a beautiful story and we took a unique journey to get there. All I can hope for is that our audience sees the magic that we all felt while making this movie. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We have a long post-production process to get through before it's ready for the big screen. By now I know that it will most probably be as unusual as production was. I hope you'll stay with us for the journey.
There's only two weeks before we go into production on feature length improv film, 42 Seconds of Happiness. I can't believe how time flies! It's actually incredible that I've been prepping for this shoot for months and months from across the country. Not having met any of the actors or even Christina in person. Yes, there have been hours of Skype meetings and phone calls which makes us forget that we haven't met in person. Christina and the cast have been working so closely for over a year. For them, perhaps this will feel like a finale. For me, I'll just be getting to know them.
I'll make sure to update you all as the film gets closer even though time is getting shorter. I fly out to NJ a week from today (and Rob is coming with). Then I'll have a week to get the location ready and to pull all of the last-minute items together... props, set dressing, equipment, food. I've definitely got my hands full!
Oh and by the way, now is the time to catch up on the story so far if you haven't already... visit our YouTube channel to take the journey with Alis, Tomas, Vineke, Peter, Felice, Ike, Marc, Sila, Maria, Cybil, and Ben.
I have always been fascinated by experimental films or at least the idea of them. As an artist and a filmmaker I am drawn to stories that examine what makes us human. How we interact with each other. What makes us angry, sad, inspired, brave. I love films that explore the human condition. I also think that through different processes we can learn more about ourselves and in turn we can become better people in a more compassionate world. I remember reading In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch before I ever went to college. I always loved telling stories in this visual medium but I had never thought about it from this perspective. Why does a film have such an effect on us? Why does this medium work? Murch writes, "from the moment we get up in the morning until we close our eyes at night, the visual reality we perceive is a continuous stream of linked images." There was brilliance behind his text. I wanted to make films that were extensions of our reality. I agree when he says, "the perfect film is as though it were unwinding behind your eyes, and your eyes were projecting it themselves, so that you were seeing what you wished to see. Film is like thought. It's the closest to thought process of any art."
While I watched my share of artsy and experimental films in college I really didn't find one that spoke so clearly to me until I watch Dogville by Lars von Trier at the Sedona International Film Festival in 2004. This minimalistic film, segmented by chapters and plot points telling us what was about to happen, opened my eyes to a way of storytelling that more closely resembled theatre than film. Shot in a void with only a few walls of a set and a handful of props, great acting and a very powerful story, it pulled me in, horrified me and left me wanting to understand how he pulled it off. Now, Lars von Trier is known for his Dogme95 films and this one did stray from the rules a bit however it was unlike most of the films I had seen up to that point. Von Trier stated, "My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings." There is a lot about his Dogme95 manifesto that resonates with me and has remained in my head since. I could go on and on about this but the point of this musing is to get us to why I'm involved with 42 Seconds of Happiness. And there is a connection.
Thankfully because of social media and the webseries world I met Susan Miller and worked with her on Anyone But Me. Being connected with Susan online allowed her colleague, Christina Kallas, to somehow happen upon my blog. I'm not sure what it was that she saw on my site that compelled her to contact me - I suppose I could ask her - but all I know is what she saw, felt, experienced on my site was a clue for her. I was the right person to pull into the world she created around 42 Seconds of Happiness.
42 Seconds of Happiness is a scripted & improvised, narrative feature filmed cinéma vérité style. If you don't know what that is think of it as an experiment where our actors all arrive at a location in character and live/interact in that state for a duration of time while guided by Christina Kallas through scripted plot points. We'll shoot around the action as unobtrusively as possible. There will be no cutting, no takes, no tweaking the lighting, no make up or wardrobe. It will be us filming "real life" as it unfolds. Our own version of Dogme95 if I may be so bold as to compare our film to other films of this sort.
Of course as a producer I'm always looking at things from two perspectives. The logical side of my brain said 'Oh no, a film that we love but with no funds in place. A huge challenge.' The right side of my brain pushed back and said, 'Of course we're going to do this. It will be hard. It will be an uphill battle. But it must be created.' With no money but a cast and a creator 100% behind the idea of this film after the series, I joined the team and brought my friend and talented director of photography, Jorge Luis Urbina into the fold.
What have we agreed to? Well, I've agreed to help pull this film through the fundraising process even though I feel I am close to exhausting my network on such endeavors. There are so many campaigns out there on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter and I have asked for support on numerous projects already. I know I'm asking the world... but I can't help but try. Jorge and I have looked at the film's budget from a very unconventional perspective. We're ready to shoot this with little to no resources but a few things have to happen. We need a location to shoot, sound equipment and a sound mixer, and we need to be able to feed our cast and crew for the length of our shoot. Our absolute minimum budget for this is $5,000. Yeah, it's nuts, I know. A feature film for $5,000?? I would have been the first person to tell you that it can't be done. And I did. But you know what? It can. But only if people care and if we get some help from like-minded people. So far we have 55 donors and for that I am extremely grateful! The stark reality of our situation is however that we need more. Either a few hero donations in the thousand dollar range or many smaller donations.
Yes, this is a film that has no place in the world of studio films but it's a film that has a ton of heart and has the potential to reach a wanting audience. So I implore my friends, family, colleagues, and far-reaching network online to lend a hand or a couple of dollars to this small but ambitious film. Our fundraising campaign ends tomorrow night at midnight, Sunday February 3, 2013 at 11:59pm PST. And we have improv-inspired perks that I feel are very unique and worthwhile.
Other things you can do: If you know of a farm-house, bed and breakfast, inn or the like that can sleep up to 15 people in the NY/NJ/Conn area please let me know. If you have a few bucks to spare, please donate. If you have a network of people, please help us spread the word.
This film is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of this Alliecine Production must be made payable to Fractured Atlas (via IndieGoGo) and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
When we talk about filmmaking we normally talk about 3 stages: pre-production, production and post-production. All very important stages, however, there are things before and after these 3 stages that make or break a film's success: development and distribution.
Luckily for the Love in the Time of Monsters producing team, we had a successful development process which included testing the waters at The American Film Market in 2011. We asked questions, pitch our "in development" film to 50 distributors and took in all the insight and tips we could get.
This year with post-production in its final weeks, we set off to the 2012 American Film Market at the Lowes Santa Monica Hotel with a kick-ass sizzle reel of our soon-to-be-completed film. The relationships we forged last year paid off and we now have distributors and agents alike vying to see the completed film. So what's next? Finish the film, hopefully screen at a large festival and sell the film to the highest bidder. I can't wait.
Cost of Capital Ep 3 - "The Reversal" is now live! If you haven't seen the first two episodes, now is your chance so visit CostOfCapitalTV on YouTube and catch up!! Please "like" and comment to let us know what you think.
I was recently introduced to writer, Christina Kallas, via Susan Miller (Exec. Producer/Writer of Anyone But Me). Christina founded and runs the Writers Improv Studio in NYC among the million other things she does (and I thought I was insanely busy!) One of the projects she's developing is called 42 Seconds of Happiness, improvisations on love if you will. In short, Christina took her fully developed screenplay, gathered a group of talented actors and loosely guided them on a journey through the story via improv and threw a camera into the mix - recording it from within the story. This project is just now being released online as a webseries. When you see the episodes you'll see raw footage of real emotion. And it's going multi-platform. As the next chapters unfold you'll see social media and technology play a part. Additionally, you'll see a feature film develop. Christina explains 42 Seconds of Happiness here:
This is about love and creation. How can you love when you fear losing? How can you create when you fear being rejected? It all boils down to the same question. And if fear is part of the equation, then you love and create focused on the result, and for the wrong reasons: to get approval and security. Approval and security is what fortune and fame are for, and it is also what relationships and marriage are for. It's all about fear - you are separate from me, you are separate from the other. What happens when you do that? You lose. It's a never-ending cycle.
Improv is the only way to get out of this cycle. Improv is about letting go, about accepting, about being in the moment. There is no past and no future, and we stop controlling. There is no right or wrong, and we stop fearing. There is no you or me, and we are one. 42 Seconds of Happiness is that moment when we are in the moment.
We record every step since the beginning of this project. We are broadcasting this development process, as a web series made from these improvisations, even the camera is part of the improvisation. We launched on September 1st, 2012 and will continue broadcasting the improvs until the movie is released. One of our fans has described it as watching “real people going through real stories in their real lives.” Honestly, that is the biggest compliment for me.
I'm intrigued, inspired and jumping in feet first. I'm excited to work with Christina on this project and look forward to experiencing the story as it unfolds into the feature film we're shooting in the new year.
For the film version of 42 Seconds of Happiness, we're bringing on a Director of Photography and a sound team which the webseries do not have (due to the necessities of something Christina calls "emotional doubling"). We will still however, respect and work within the improvisational process and philosophy which is important to this project - the closest we can think of in terms of films already made is the aesthetic/look and feel of films The Celebration or In Your Hands.
Here's a trailer for the webseries (below). We hope you check this and the episodes as they release online! Subscribe to the YouTube channel here.
We welcome and encourage your support by following, liking, and sharing information about this project with your friends and family.
Official Site: http://42secondsofhappiness.wordpress.com/
You've heard about Cost of Capital since December of 2011 when Goldie Chan and I begin shooting a 6-episode dramatic series about the shadowy world of investment bankers created by Brian DeChesare. It's been a long road of production, pick-up shoots and post production but all the hard work has paid off. Not only do we have an amazingly talented group of people in front of and behind the camera but we can now also say we've got the best audience as well.
Last month we launch our Official Trailer and we have over 17K views to date. A week ago we discovered to our astonishment that we ranked on IMDb's Movie Meter at #4 and Popular TV at #2. This means that we were one of the most searched shows/movies on IMDb last week. Our rank changed from 67,000 to 2. How does a webseries with no released episodes rank this high on a site next to Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Dark Knight Rises? Well, we'd also like to know so we can do it again and again! The only thing we can say is that our social media efforts and creating something for a captive audience on M&I has paid off. We've used Email Marketing, Facebook, Twitter, CrowdSpring, Video Content, Blogs and a Live Event to spread the word. And it's working.
This week we were proud to release Episode 1 "The Idea" & Episode 2 "The Fundraising" online and people are eating it up. I'm so happy to hear people say, "professional TV quality," "this should be on HBO," and "it looks so good and the characters are so compelling." How can I not be proud? Another amazing thing to see is that our cast and crew are also proud of their work as well. They are promoting and talking about it as much as we are - as they should - but it doesn't always happen. And I say "they should" because it's their careers they are promoting. If you are proud of a job well-done then get the word out and promote. We all do it. That's how the world will find out who you are. Unless the eyes are on you, you may continue to struggle and doubt yourself. Shout from the rooftops and share your links. We're all routing for Cost of Capital together.
We submitted Cost of Capital to the IAWTV Awards this week and may submit to others in the near future. The release schedule for the rest of the show is listed here.
Lots of very exciting news this week regarding Cost of Capital, the new webseries I produced with Goldie Chan. We're having our very fancy Premiere Party at Dim Mak Studios Thursday, September 13th. RSVPs are almost closed (we're almost sold out!) so get your ticket soon! Meet Cost of Capital and Mergers & Inquisitions founder Brian DeChesare and join the cast and crew on the red carpet as well as photographer, Michael Jackson, and Red Carpet Host, Cyndee San Luis! While everyone is enjoying drinks from the bar, we'll be announcing giveaways to some lucky guests. Around 8pm we'll be screening Episodes 1 and 2 in the Dim Mak Studio Screening Room.
There is no one way to find funding for your project. Whether it's donations or investments that you're after, people still need to know the same thing. Who are you? What is your project/story? What's your project's goal? What is the budget? What is the timeline? And, what am I going to gain from this? The answers all vary but this is what makes your story unique and important.
Last year, you may remember, we produced the TACOathon. This was an eight-hour fundraising live stream to raise money for two projects: A Boy's Life (short film) and Replaced Series (indie TV pilot). I, Allison Vanore (Producer of both projects) and Rob Gokee (Music Composer for Replaced) went head-to-head raising money and eating tacos. Every $50 donated to one of the projects would mean that rep would have to eat a taco. Now this may seem strange, crazy or just plain stupid HOWEVER that day we raised close to $2,500 total for the two projects. That's more in one day than any other day we were fundraising. Why did this work? It's because Rob and I have a large, supportive network online and offline, Rob also has a reputation for being taco obsessed and we can stream from our home for 8 hours without much technical support.
What do you need to produce a TACOathon?
Graphics to support the show (Taco Count Photos for Twitter and Facebook)
Chat Room Moderator (Krista Vanore)
Twitter and Facebook Updater (Diane Beck)
A Guest Interview per Hour: Vianessa Castanos, Jamie Fishback, Alicia Ying, Robb Padgett, Heath Vinyard, Sheila Daley, Laurie Records, and Eli Benavidez (all of whom have a large social media presence and network to draw from)
Taco Ingredients prepped and ready to cook
Laptop w/ a built-in camera (and internet connection)
Promotion to your networks at least a week prior
After our show aired we had a few friends and acquaintances try something similar. One of which Rob actually took part in: The Destructathon (raising money for Hollywood Wasteland).
There's no wrong way or right way to raise money. They key is, be creative, think out of the box and do what your network, friends and family will find entertaining. We knew that our networks would pay money to make Rob eat tons of tacos. And they did.
To watch the TACOathon, visit our YouTube Channel.