Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Extreme Gratitude

"Oh Thomai, you surrounded yourself with such lovely people..."
Danny Carpenter, Sound

He was talking about how amazingly sweet, talented and skilled the cast & crew I brought together for this short film are.

Sweetness abounds.

Crew Props:

I'm so glad Tarina Reed, the DP, fought for the lenses she just had to have for this-
and that Roger Mayer, the indie film producer hero was able to finagle them at not even 1/10th their usual cost. Tarina's ability to make what we see in our minds eye happen with a camera is ridiculous. She shares her talent and skills without ego, and with the stamina of a Midwestern (Michigan) woman who started her camera career in the armed forces. I love workin' with T.

Jesse James Smith, her 1st AC, totally brought that undeniable 1st AC, Zen to the show. Clean, clear, tall glass of water, Zen. Welcome to L.A. Jesse!

Roger Mayer, Producer, has been in the indie film trenches, from festivals to production and on, for so long, he was able to pull not one, but several location options for free/favor return out of his hat. He instinctively knows what to do and when- both really big things and little things, like having the most perfect music on in the car on route to day 3's set. I'm looking forward to accessing his brains film expertise / database for post when he returns in a week and a half. Several productions have an umbilical cord connection to Roger right now; Inspire Expire is super blessed to be among them.

My L.A. niece, Asia Alexis Coleman, Co-Producer, brought Roger on board. Like Roger, Asia has the ability to charm deals out of thin air for a production. She pulls bizarre-o deals out of her hat. Things like convincing the man at the bus headquarters to let us use the bus, and a bus driver, for free, for 30 minutes.
She starts a job today that she's super excited about. I know she'll do fine.

The minute Dave Paige, 1st AD, walks onto any project -I immediately relax.
He walked in the door and I felt my shoulders drop down from my ears with a swoosh. He kept us going in his calm, cool and collected with a sweet smirky, punkity rockity, way. It's smooth Sailin' all the way with Dave. And he did it with only 1 PA / 2nd AD.

Sherry Gunderman, the Script Supervisor, has no idea what an angel she is (OK, so her halo is slightly off kilter, but that makes it more interesting). She sees EVERYthing, which is common for a scripty of course, but, she sees it from a creative artists POV, so it's not just the rote detail tracking. She offered incredible, scene saving suggestions all the way through, while also being able to express compassion for the character, to me- the writer/ director. And she's fricken funny! The effect is maintaining the feeling as well as the continuity, with joy.

Words can't express the level of gratitude I have for Eddie San Chen -period.

When Eddie says he has your back, he means it. He gave us equipment and got his team, who I love, on board. My favorites, Sonoko Shimoyama (Gaffer) and Sergio Villegas (Best Boy) worked like a well-honed machine along with Sonoko's guy, Aarin Stinde (Key Grip). They move like the wind and they did it without walkies on this one. I felt safe with those three doin' their thang with us. Words fail to describe the energetic connection I feel with them. I just adore ‘em.

Sonoko Shimoyama, Gaffer, is one of the most bad ass, kick ass women I've ever worked with on set and she is the only female gaffer I know. She knows her stuff, it shows and everyone respects that. To top it off, she's humble about it. She's an extremely rare gem and a GREAT leader.

Sergio Villegas, Best, looks like a star and he's built like a pit bull. He's an observer and a thinker- quiet action, doesn't need to show off, just has it together and does his job with man grace. He's fun to pick on when he's on set- Eddie gets him good.

Aarin Stinde, Key Grip, was new to me so I was really impressed that he stepped up to this particular, extremely low budget plate. For him, this was probably a favor to Sonoko. I so appreciated his presence and look forward to seeing him on set again.

Roger added Franco Lentini as a G&E swing. He's from NY and he's Italian, so of course we got along instantly. He's one a those strong guys everyone knows has a huge heart & you can tell he loves being in production- it must seem so easy to him after being a NY cop for 10 years.

Hanz Lefterios Dalken, Production Designer, stepped it up 100%. My apt. became Hope and Imani's apt. He painted the walls, moved the furniture, made art with the 7 year old actress, framed and placed photo's in just the right place, set dressed, re-set the set dressings over and over again, kept track of the props, and stayed calm, cool and collected throughout the whole shoot. He and Dave must be from the same smooth sailin' with an edge, planet.

When Bo Sundberg said he wasn't available to be the soundman on this one, but that he had someone who was family to replace him- he meant it. Danny Carpenter, Sound, fit in as family immediately. I knew he was awesome when he offered to carve the lamb at our pre production / Greek Easter meeting. He has a sweet grace and a twinkle in his eyes. We worked together for 3 days and I feel like I've known him for years.

Haruyo Fanta, Key Make-Up Ninja extraordinaire brought it, as always. Everyone loves Hari and after working with her on set, everyone wants to be a make-up ninja. She works at lightning speed. I met her on a job that was far beyond the usual production challenges and watched her and Misa rise above ordinary capabilities under those extreme conditions. She raises the bar.

Mika, Make-Up & Hair, started off the show, working on the day Hari wasn't available. Mika's got style. I think the time our lead actress had in the chair with her on Day 1 calmed her nerves and helped her ease into character. Mika had to get natural AA hair from big to flat & under a wig, to big again several times.

I only know one wardrobe person who really enjoys doing the job- and she is in NOLA. My L.A. sister, Belinda Ellis, stepped up to the wardrobe plate- THANK GOD! Cause I am not into shopping, ironing or even thinking about clothes. Belinda is actually a producer, line producer, and prod. acct. who can also do just about everything production related- she has almost 30 yrs in the production trenches. Tarina asked, "Where did you find Belinda? Every time she opened her mouth to make a suggestion, she had exactly the right solution for whatever problem was presenting..."
Belinda is a Topanga gem. She was also (hear) here to let me and the crew know that the asthma attacks being presented on film were spot on and exactly like the ones she witnessed me having in the pre-advair and singulair days (daze).

Ryan Ashford, our Editor & SAG actor who played Nate the neighbor, trained Nick Nikolov to be our P2 tech. I think I caught maybe 3 glimpses of Nick during production. He was literally just pluggin' away on the computer the whole time. We start the assemblage today or tomorrow.

Ellen O'Brian, P.A. / 2nd AD, is being trained by Dave to be an awesome asset to any production. I'm so glad she was here, totally ego free, to help us with all those things that fall through the cracks on productions that don't have such enthusiastic production assistance.


2 of our 4 actors were Sag and 2 were first timers.

This was, Anishika Jontae, our lead actress', film/HD debut. She had to transform into a mom with severe, triad asthma for the role of EVA PIECE aka Hope. We had a small crew, un permitted locations and all those things that come with gorilla film making.  New to the medium or not, we only had a few takes to get each scene. Thankfully, Anishika's humble, rehearsed her ass off and she takes direction well. I was literally jumping for joy.
After  describing Anishika as a hybrid combo of me, my sister FOrk and our other sister Ayanna,  Fork said, "She has the makings of a super hero!"  It's true.

Danny Billet blew us all away with his charmingly creepy, bad guy interpretation of Gary.
He is a total pro, came completely prepared, asked one or two intelligent questions about which direction to go in and did a phenomenal job. Roger saw him in a play the night before I auditioned actors, playing a professor or some such- nothing like the character in this film, and a light went on in his head. I had been thinking to go in a completely different direction, but, when I witnessed what Danny was bringing to the role- I knew he was going to take that scene to a whole new level. Did I mention he's incredibly professional? We needed someone who could just come in and nail it- and he did it with an adorably, dimpled smile and easy grace. I expect to see him on screen a lot in the future and hope to work with him again.

Ife, who played Imani, Hopes daughter- acted like a seasoned pro on set. This was her acting debut and yet, no one had to explain set etiquette to her. She is a natural. She had several approaches to one of the scenes.... and had the crew in stitches a couple times with her "I'm sleepy walking", interpretive dance. All I had to tell her was that it was too big and she brought it in and we got the scene. She's usually smiling so I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to get her to have a stoic expression when her character is awakened at 3:30 AM, but she did it. Her only request was that her parents not be within earshot. Bright girl.

Ryan Ashford (I'm his L.A. mom) played Nate. It was nice to get him on camera again.
He's one of those rare multi-talented people who was raised by conscious people. After Nick and I gather the assembly in Ryan's office with Ryan's equipment, Ryan will step in and edit it. Ryan has edited less interesting, less exciting stuff for me-industrial's and the like and turned straw into gold. On this job, he'll be a diamond cutter and polisher.

So, today is (equipment) returns and then onto post...

and hopefully raising some more funds.


fork-journal said...

EVerything showed up for this story ...but more importantly it was made by you and great people -- who know how to get the job done right ...the review reading is seamless and wow to that budget --you all rock ---your experience and knowing is priceless ...yes super hero

ajontae said...

Im soooo excited and impressed by all the people who came together to share their beautiful love light and energy in this piece. I am so grateful to be a part of it. Thank you.

Thomai said...