Return to Sender: Storyboard

Due to some shuffled plans, I was able to start on pre-visualization for my next short film sooner than I was expecting. With my particular team, we have developed a way to start pre-production that runs very smoothly. It happens in stages.

During the first stage, I go through my script, and I think about how I’d like to see it transfer from page to screen. I pull out my own storyboard template, and I draw it out on paper. Now, I’m definitely not the best artist in the world, so my drawings really help no one out but me. (We figured this out while in production on Lights).

In the second stage, we take my drawn storyboard, and we turn that into a 3D visualization. To do this, I work with my cinematographer, and we figure out exactly what I’m trying to say, and we translate that into something that he can understand. In the end, my storyboard is a plan, and his 3D visualization ends up being the actual storyboard.

Return to Sender Shot 23

This process makes production run so smoothly. We can make a plan for shoot days and know approximately how long each shoot day will take. We can factor in set up time, lunch breaks, and factor in room for error. It helps to put together a production schedule, find locations, use time efficiently, and don’t even get me started on how well it works as a plan of attack for editing.

As I mentioned above, this is the process that I’ve developed for my films with the people I work with consistently. I’ve worked as a producer for other filmmakers, and they don’t all do the same thing. It really depends on the filmmaker.

With all that being said, the storyboarding process is now complete for my next short film, Return to Sender. The images included above are examples from that.

We’re still in pre-production, just moving on to the next phase of that. We still have location scouting to do and casting. I’m considering doing casting differently this time around than what I’ve been doing, but that will entirely depend on scheduling. I’m still up in the air about that.

Stay tuned for more updates on Return to Sender as the process continues!

Borealis – Two Year Retrospect

Over this past weekend, a picture showed up in my memory feed on Facebook. The picture was from the Borealis Film Festival, back in April 2015. In the picture, I’m holding the two trophies for the honors that my short films received. Lights won “Best Dramatic Film” and ms and me won “Best in Festival”

At the time, that was exactly the boost that I needed. Both of those short films were a culmination of everything I had come to learn during my academic career, and as my time in academia was ending, I was scared that I wasn’t where I should be.

I knew that the Borealis Film Festival wasn’t a huge prestigious event. It certainly wasn’t comparable to Sundance or Cannes. It was being held at my university, and there weren’t many submissions. Nevertheless, it was my first time showing my work on a big screen in front of people at a public venue. It was a milestone event for me.

When my films received the honors that they did, I was floored. It was an amazing feeling. What started off as an amazing feeling, however, soon became more stressful.

Despite the fact that the festival wasn’t prestigious, I started having lingering feelings of anxiety. Would my future work live up to this? How would my future work be received when compared to this? Did my career just peak? What if it’s all downhill from here?

These feelings aren’t good at fostering a creative atmosphere for writing new projects. I found myself growing stagnant. I was still working, but I wasn’t working on creating anything new of my own. I was too worried about meeting this imaginary standard I had set for myself. Nothing seemed good enough.

I’m still dealing with this anxiety, no matter how much I try to nip it in the bud. My work pace has slowed. I’m far more critical of myself. The best thing I can do with this hyper-awareness is try to use it positively. I can continue to try to create work that I’m proud to stand behind. I can continue to better myself and continue to grow. That’s the plan anyway.

2017, New Reel

One of the items that has been on my to-do list for nearly two years is making a new production reel.

The last one I made was in 2013, and over the years I have grown embarrassed of it. At the time, it was my first one. I had done a lot of work in the first year of my career, and I wanted to show all of that off. I put in every little thing I had done. It was sloppy. It didn’t hold up well. It’s been put on private at this point. We do not speak of it.

When it came to making a new production reel, I wanted to really focus it on what I do now. I wanted to focus it on what I want to do in the future as well. While I do camera work, for example, that’s not necessarily something I want to put in my overall reel. I would rather make a reel just for my camera work at that point.

What I wanted to do with my new reel was make it centered toward my work as a producer. I wanted to highlight the television shows I’ve produced and the short films I’ve self-produced. My skills lie more on the creative, storytelling side than the technical side, and over the years, I’ve come to accept that.

I still haven’t uncovered the perfect formula for a production reel, but for right now, this works.

Taco Night (2016) Online

Now that the Rode competition is over, it’s time to start promoting these films as films rather than entries to a contest.

With that in mind, check out Taco Night (previously referred to as Catharsis), a short action/drama with a touch of comedy, directed by Jason Rugg!

If you enjoyed the film, make sure to leave a comment or a like!

Also, as producer, one of my roles included filming a Behind the Scenes video. I’ll include that below so you can get an inside look at the process.

Catharsis: Post-Production

Post production work on this short film has been interesting. I mentioned in a previous post that we were having a lot of issues with the actors. We had some drop out at the last minute. We tried recasting, rewriting, reworking pretty much everything we could think of in order to get the story to work.

When it came to the production day, we filmed a couple of different endings so that we’d have backup plans in case our reworked ideas didn’t make sense.

Despite having a minimal amount of extras, when we sat down to look at an edit that was put together, I think it’s safe to say that we were pretty pleased with how everything worked. The director, Jason Rugg, had done a really good job filming the extras in such a way that you couldn’t really tell how few there were. That, when mixed with the quality of his Sony A7SII, made for a really good looking film.

This isn’t to say that we haven’t had further issues. Once the edit was put together, it was apparent that the voiceover didn’t match the level of intensity that the imagery provided. The voiceover was rewritten and rerecorded. The new version definitely flows much quicker, and it eliminates a lot of the issues that we were running into before, rather than trying to cover them up.

There has also been a significant change made recently. The director has decided to change the name of the short film to something a bit more comedic and memorable. Rather than Catharsis, the short film will now be called Taco Night. I won’t be changing the titles of previous posts, but I will add Taco Night to the tags for each one. Future posts will refer to the film as Taco Night, and Catharsis will still be placed in the tags.

The edit is coming along really nicely. A finished version should be available for viewing soon.

Catharsis: Production

I previously wrote about the pre-production on Catharsis, a short film project I’m producing for Jason Rugg. The production for this film began on April 29th, and it continued into April 30th.

There were several issues in the pre-production process which led to a lot of last minute script changes, we worked our way through these changes as best as we could on the shoot day, but it did prove to be difficult at times because plans were changing on the fly.

One of the biggest aspects of this short film has always been that the majority of it is a club scene. When doing a club scene, you need a decent amount of extras. After having a hard time having people commit to coming out, we finally got 8-10 extras for the scene. This is less than we were hoping for, but we made due. The director stuck with a lot of close ups, but it will definitely be important to be mindful of how often we show the extras in the final edit.


On the bigger production day, we had Scott Mackay on set. Filming his portions of the film didn’t take very long, but he was fun to have while he was there. We filmed some behind the scenes interviews with him that may eventually be used. His parts were filmed before any of the extras showed up.

Both of these scenarios were filmed on Saturday, April 30th. This was the bigger day of production with craft services and extras and such. Production actually started on April 29th though. On that day, we met with the main actress and filmed the scenes where she is alone, as well as her preliminary voiceover.

There are still some shots that we need to pick up, and if anything comes up in the edit, that will have to be addressed as well. I’ll be writing about the post-production process soon, but for now I’ll tell you, I’m really liking how Catharsis is turning out.

Catharsis: Pre-Production

I’m stepping into the producer seat once again, this time for Catharsis, written and directed by Jason Rugg.

I have a decent amount of experience producing short films, so I definitely enjoy using that experience to help out with films that aren’t my own. It’s an interesting experience that I first got with Rooty. I’m excited to be taking this experience into Catharsis and working with Jason Rugg in this context.

Rugg first sent me the script for Catharsis several weeks ago. In those weeks, it has morphed into a pretty amazing concept. It has the dark humor that Rugg has come to be known for, and it also has a decent level of action to it which is still something that’s new to me. It should be a fun and interesting experience.

Our work with pre-production so far has mostly dealt with casting. We’ve had several issues with it. We had an actress in mind for the lead role, but she unfortunately dropped out, and during that time we found ourselves at a loss. So much of the script had been catered around this particular actress, and it was difficult to find someone to fill the spot. I’m pleased to say that we did finally find an actress who will fit the role. Fingers crossed there won’t be any more issues on that aspect.

Rugg is looking to get Scott Mackay (a radio DJ and a bit of a local celebrity) to play the antagonist in the short film. So far this lead has been promising, and it looks like Mackay will be available. This will be a good deal, both for Mackay with his budding reality web series and for Rugg with this short film.

We recently sat down to formulate the schedule for the film, including when and where each shot would be filmed. This will help out a lot when it comes to the shoot day. While we’re still having difficulties working with actors’ schedules, the overall outlook for the film looks very promising.

We are still currently seeking extras to be in the club scene that will be shot on April 30, 2016. We recently only had a handful of confirmed people, and it would be swell if we could get several more. The opportune number of extras for this particular scene would be between 15-20. The last time I spoke with Rugg about the number of extras it seemed like we could possibly be reaching 16 people. No matter how many extras we happen to get, we’ll have to make due. We’ll see how this goes on the day of the shoot.