Thursday, May 23, 2013

Screening Night

It has arrived! Tonight is the night we screen Finding June for an audience here in Hollywood at El Cid bar and restaurant. El Cid is an classic Spanish-style dinner theatre venue, and we get to make use of their gorgeous interior stage and screen for our showing. I wish each backer could come to watch with us tonight, and celebrate the making of something important, and the contributions that all our backers have made. Our thank you list will be long tonight. I will update with photos from the pink carpet once we get them back from our photographers! I'm excited to share this on a big screen!

Other important news: Lunafest. We did not make it to the final 10 films. My view, though I wish we had made it, is positive. Lunafest received 925 submissions. Yes, nine hundred twenty five films from all over the world. Finding June made it to the very last cut which consisted of 40 top-choice films. That means a panel of real filmmakers, festival launchers and industry know-alls watched our film and rooted for it all the way until the very last round! That's something I count as a small victory, as this project was a first in so many ways and was successful on a budget that IMDB sent warning messages about, for fear I had left off one zero when I entered the amount. (Where I live, "low budget" means a few million bucks). I'm happy with our film, and I'm proud of everyone involved 1,000%. It's possible that the Bay Area hosting of Lunafest show our film anyway as a local guest spot film.

The primary concern for Lunafest seems to be the length. Most Lunafest films are 10 minutes long, and a 20 minute film was not fitting well with the program they were shaping. Also, several people commented that the Pink Wings paper we see during June's breakdown had a lot of information and it as easy to miss the most important parts. Other comments included that the timeline around the interpreter/Farsi woman argument in the parking lot was unclear to some. We have deleted that parking lot scene between the Farsi woman and interpreter (sorry Sara and Lindsay!), and it flows much more smoothly this way. We also re-shot the Pink Wings brochure with a new page design so it is obvious what the audience is intended to read. I think this makes the story and the ending much more clear. We will upload a version of this to Vimeo as well.

We have submitted to several festivals, and are still waiting. I get almost daily updates from the submission site and we are carefully reading through the festivals and selecting whic ones fit our film, our audience and the rest of the festival portion of our budget.

Something that I've said to a few people about hearing from Lunafest, and something I truly feel, is this: All of those people involved with that judging panel saw our film, and that means that each of them the next time they are in a coffee shop or at a bar or shopping and they see someone using American Sign Language, they will have a different perspective than if we had never made this film at all.

Friday, April 26, 2013


My dad made the good point that since people had enough faith to donate their dollars, it would be a good idea to share the budget breakdown. If you're anything like me you might have wondered something like: SIX THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED?! What in the heck for?? Here is a breakdown of our funds so that- as my dad put it- you can rest assured we didn't spend 3 grand on the film and the rest on a big party.

Our grand total raised on Kickstarter was $7,100. This was perfect because Kickstarter, and their affiliate Amazon, keep roughly a combined 8% in various fees, putting us at the amount that we had originally hoped for. ,P. Our final budget breakdown looks roughly like this:

Camera/Lighting Gear Rental: $1,500. This included our steadicam, shoulder mount, our camera body, 4 lenses, and that truck of other filming goodies you may have seen a few posts ago. It came to a total of about $70,000 worth of insured gear.

Grip Truck Rental: $200. We have to lug all that stuff around somehow...

Crew: $1,700. This money was for all of the people behind the scenes. Our 5-day paid crew included our Gaffer, who works right next to the Director of Photography to achieve the desired lighting, our Key Grip who sets up the lights, Best Boy who works hands on assisting lighting set-up (and million other tasks, thanks Kyle!) a sound mixer and boom operator, two make-up artists.

Production Design/Props: $190. This paid for things like printing posters for the hospital and support group, thematic elements we needed to add on set, and props for the actors.

Insurance/Permitting: $233. This is so we can safely film, and have ourselves and our gear covered if anything happens.

Food: $440. To film all of this on schedule means long hours-- easily 10 a day. The SAG-AFTRA union,-and our own sense of responsibility!- requires a certain amount of meals according to hours worked, and available water and snacks. This amount covered 5 days, three of them included two meal times. This came to 7 full meals for our cast and crew of between 7 and 18 people depending on the day, and snacks for keeping healthy energy all day.

Transportation and Stipends: $785. This covered stipends for actors, and gas; two of our locations were an hour out of LA, and gas was covered for this amount of driving.

Post-Production: $1,000. Editing and sound mixing! My favorite part. It truly flows and sounds like a film, and I couldn't be happier. This part of post-production was the last step before uploading the final version to Withoutabox for festival submission, and to a private link on Vimeo for our backers.

This is a total of about $6,000, which leaves $500 for festival submission fees, and for sending DVDs to our backers within that incentives bracket. Festival fees range anywhere from $40- $150, and we have our eyes set on many. Now comes the game of picking which are best for us in order to reach a large audience, generate the kind of exposure and awareness we are trying to cultivate, and get discussion started! Off we go. I'll update for every festival we submit to from now on.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


We submitted to our first festival! We are in for LUNAFEST. What a file-uploading nightmare... hours of what appeared to be a progress bar, or apple's spinning wheel of death, and failing-to-load internet pages. Scary deadlines looming, clocks ticking and birds waking up and chirping at 6am reminding us to get some SLEEP, and more of those scary bulging eyeballs I finally managed to get back into my head last week when we were done with the sound-syncing! Whew. But, we're normal again because the file worked, our film is in! And because Ruan's sister, Charne, got a new puppy which is cute to look at when you feel a little insane.

LUNAFEST is a traveling festival that brings national attention to films made for, by, and about women (who have lots of help from non-women too; I have not/will not forget that part!) to maintain and unify a strong female community. Luna's traveling festival benefits local non-profit organizations in the areas of the festivals, as well as to their main charity the Breast Cancer Fund.

For all of you LA folks, one of this season's LUNAFEST showings is this Thursday in North Hollywood, if you're interested in going. I'm waiting for a call back about captioning for those who need it, and if I hear back I will update on that, too.

Getting the final audio track was AWESOME. So cool to hear that real quality we'd been hoping for, to have the original music composition fit in so nicely, and get those captions added! We spent many hours working on the best way to add captioning for some scenes; we had a new challenge come up, and wrestled with a few ways to resolve it.

Several scenes happen in a support group room with both spoken dialogue and signing. In a few moments during these scenes, the spoken dialogue and the signed exchanges between June and her interpreter are different. Because the whole film is open captioned for accessibility, we need to make sure both speaking and signing is captioned for the audience. If we have two captions on top of each other, it's hard to follow who is where. It would look like this:

JUNE: blah blah really long sign dialogue sentence.

MODERATOR: really long spoken english sentence blah blahhh.

These would pop up every 4 seconds, and you'd send too much time figuring out which caption is one you needed to be reading, not have enough time to finish reading the sentence, and miss the action. So after figuring the hard way (meaning, after captioning the whole scene one way), we settled on keeping the spoken lines on the left of the screen in italics, and the signed dialogue under the signer in regular text. June sits on the right side of frame most of the time, so captioning under her was the best fit. This keeps the eyeballs happy, makes visual sense, and the viewers can expect where to look for any access needs and wants.

What a process! So many hours are required to make the quality we see in the end, I almost had no idea just how long and detailed it would be. We are so thankful to have a wonderful group of people supporting this part of the project. And I've learned a ton about what we will do next time. Yeah! next time.

You guys! We're so happy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Two fancy acronyms are in the mix!

This morning one of our actors, BJ Allman, and I went to Dooley Noted Audio for an ADR session. The original sound we captured for BJ's lines was with a lavalier mic. The quality of this sound, when plugged into the real-deal machines, was too dirty, and not usable. A lot of noise is picked up on the mics that we don't hear until the playback with higher-tech equipment, and the noise was just too noisy! and the lines quiet. Luckily, we found out last night, and we were able to get into the studio and re-record the lines in this scene early this morning. I owe huge, over-sized, plush, cashmere, whatever really-good-stuff thank yous to Colleen at Dooley Noted-- she has been fantastic in helping us get this film out fast, without compromising the quality.

Sweet studio set up!

Acronym number two: VFX. Visual effects. I hate to say it but: Ruan is stuck doing this at 1:30am to fix an Anna-mistake. I don't want to give away too much, but what I can say is that this particular scene used multiple locations to create the right look-- from both featured shots the same production design elements should be visible. *&#^$*. I forgot to bring an important production design piece to our second location, and we didn't catch the mistake in time. It needed to be added in-- I'm sure it wouldn't have slipped past you observant people, so it had to be done! We brought the object to his home, Ruan filmed it with full lighting set up in his garage against a studio wall, and is now using motion tracking to add it into the scene. I'm grateful that he's a man of many skills, and that we're going to be able to keep the consistency. Lesson learned.

Final film soundcolorcaptionsawesome THIS WEEKEND.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

On the chopping block: 7 minutes.

With some good rest having re-fueled my brain, I can now coherently share the last day of picture editing. It is a big relief to have this big chunk done, as all of the other elements-- color correction, audio, scoring-- rely on this process being complete.

By yesterday morning (or... two days ago evening, yesterday afternoon, 4am? who knows), Ruan's office looked a lot like a dorm: a lot of socks on the floor, a nap spot on the floor, M&M snack mix bags, pistachio shells, gatorade syrup, melted iced-coffee, wires and iphones and CDs, half eaten tortillas, questionably runny guacamole, cereal bars, and 4 wide eyeballs. We were seriously hunkered down. By midday we happily trimmed the last clip of the final scene we had left to work on. Then we got ready to watch it over, thought about what fresh yummy lunch we could make, talked of a jog later in the afternoon, maybe a rent a movie and put our feet up, get some wine...?? The possibilities were endless, and seemed so relaxing and like the things real balanced people do. Then just as we were ready to watch, movies and jogs and sugarplums dancing about our heads, Ruan's mouse hovered at the end of our last scene, and he looked at me. Not a good look. Then he delivered the news: twenty-seven minutes.

oh. BLEEP.

Our festival short film rules say 20 minutes is the max. In this editing situation, 7 minutes is FOREVER.

Nope, I thought. Simply, NOPE. I like it all, it works this way, this is the story we are telling, and Ruan you maniac we're not cutting 7 minutes from this film.

But we had to. And we worked all day, and up until around midnight cutting that 7 minutes out of the final edit. We must have gone through and through and through that film at least 11 times, each time shaving a mimute, or 2, or 45 seconds. We didn't have even ten seconds of time to spare, because audio needs to time to bring quality into the work as well. The longer we wait to give the final film edit, the less time they have to do their work. By midnight yesterday my eyeballs had found their way safely back into my head and my scales receded, and we had 20 minutes and 4 seconds. Ruan's cold sweat dried up,

It occurred to me as we were trimming down our edit that finding rich details in a mere second, or finding one look, one line, delivered so well that it tells a full feeling as fast you can blink is a real art. It's an art that happens in the shot choice, in the directing, in the performance, in the editing, and in coalesces in a magical way sometimes. It's a doozy. And discovering this is what got us through, as we began to get the hang of not relying every time on one long beautiful 9 seconds of a moment between actors, and instead recognizing the punch these performers delivered in one powerful second of being in the moment with each other. I won't say it wasn't stressful, or that I didn't almost deny Ruan the right to eat because those bleeping-ing 7 minutes we had to trim... but we made it down to the time we need, and I don't feel that we sacrificed story to do so.

Again: Ruan's patience is a blessing, Jason Roberts' our 1st AD is a rockstar for his enthusiasm and willingness to help at every stage, each of your (72 of you Kickstarter backers!) support is inspiring and motivating. Thanks also to my dad for his daily emails of encouragement, my mom for her positivity and guidance for LUNAFEST, Ruan's parents for feeding us and keeping us warm and with a roof while we've gone through this process for the last several days. Looking forward to details soon about how the audio mixing is going!

Friday, April 5, 2013

done editing holy smokes we did it

16 hours today. I kid you NOT. and wham, bam, film complete!

tomorrow: paragraphs. juicy details.

time to sleep, dream about the film, and send REM-thank-you's to the people who have made all of this possible.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Filming Fin!

Our days are becoming a blur over here, and our nap-times are certainly irregular as we edit our way through the footage. But what I can say for sure is that Tuesday night in a quick 45 minutes we shot two final inserts and a brief moment between two actors that we'd been missing. And that, folks, is a 100% WRAP on everything! We have less than half to go in terms of editing, and it's been easy so far to slip in those insert shots.

I have to admit, filling in little pick up shots here and there was a nice way to hang on to the filming process. A little bit of production-ending denial. But in a metro parking lot in Hollywood, our small group of four had an official "hurrah!" to the last, no this time, no really though this time, okay actually definitely, we're WRAPPED! And it's alright. It was great to work with this talented cast, and I am ever grateful for their hard work and performances. I'm lucky I get to revisit their talent everyday through editing and look long and close at the details of their performances on the screen. I'm looking forward to carrying their work with me through the rest of post-production, and the next chapter of Finding June.

Which brings me to... Matt! He's my friend, and he's awesome at music-everything. He has been working on some scoring for the film and is such a trooper for working with us on our deadline. He's been playing with musical themes on ukulele and piano to get a feel for what fits with the shots I've shared with him. Big thanks and lots of love to him for being on this project with us. Very soon we take his recordings, plus our audio and a locked edit of the film, and give it over to Dooley Noted Audio for mixing. And then change-o presto: Finding June is off to Lunafest film festival.

Jason Roberts our 1st AD and a producer, the lovely Amber Zion and Ruan, getting ready for a take.