Return to Sender: Post Production

While I haven’t written much about it on this platform, we’ve been working on the edit for Return to Sender for a while. We were actually so excited about it that we had rough edits of the first and second shoot days within a week of them being shot!

Post production can tend to be a long (and to many, boring) process. When I make routine updates about it, it can often feel like I’m reiterating the same thing over, and over again. “The edit is underway! We’re making progress!”

For this reason, I decided to wait to post about the post production process until it was on the verge of being completed. It’s just easier to talk about that way.

So, we had the rough edit taken care of pretty quickly. It was really nice to see the footage come together to bring my story to life. I can’t thank my cast and crew enough for helping this become reality.

The biggest issue we had to tackle with the basic edit was getting the pacing just right. There was one scene in particular that involved the lead actress where this was very important. The pacing of this scene could make or break the film overall. It was very important for me to get it right.

This took a good chunk of time. We even had to take a step away for a bit in order to come back with fresh eyes. I felt it was necessary to break away from the fond memories of the shoot day in order to focus on what would be best for the edit. There may have been shots that I absolutely loved on the day of the shoot that just wouldn’t help in the big picture.

I needed the pacing to be able to tell the story on its own. I wanted the emotions to carry through, even if the film were to be watched with no sound. It was a big hurdle to cross, but I think we got there.

Once we finally got the basic edit the way we wanted it, the film was sent for color grading, sound design, and original music.

This portion took a good chunk of time as well, but it wasn’t nearly as difficult as the pacing. I really handed this portion off to my post production team here, and they did a fantastic job. I just had to approve things.

Ryan Cwiklik stepped in to provide original music once again. He has also done original music for my films Lights and ms and me in the past. This time around, he also took on the sound design. I really have to commend him for this because I’m not the best at translating my thoughts about audio work.

He understood all of my weird lingo. There needs to be more of the “ting ting” and less of the “groan groan” here. I’m a fan of this but when we get to this point, “it’s too much ouch.” Oh, I was a joy to work with. There were a lot of laughs at my expense.

Erik Leal took on the foley with a lot of my help. I always enjoy foley. It’s fun stuff. We recreated sounds that movie goers really don’t think twice about, but it all comes together to make a better viewing experience.

After that, it all came down to color grading and a small bit of visual effect. At this point, we’ve finished that up, and we’re doing final checks and creating credits.

It’s time! It’s almost here!

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Return to Sender: Prop Design

In the same way that set design became an important factor in the production of Return to Sender, prop design became pretty integral as well.

I think, for the most part, the set design played hand in hand with props, in the sense that the sets helped solidify character traits. There was a whole other level though that, again, was entirely new to me.

One of the props was a huge factor in the film, and it took a while to get it exactly right. There is a box in this film, and it plays a pretty big role. My initial idea was to make it look like a package that had traveled the world, but I could never get it to look right, and it never looked good on camera.

The box that we ended up utilizing in the film fell into my lap after Valentine’s Day. I received a gift in that box, and after a bit of thinking, we realized that it would provide the best look on camera. This box ended up changing some of the wording with the script. It worked with the overall theme I was going for though, so I think it was a beneficial change.

This box will be used in promotional materials, so I feel comfortable sharing a picture of  it here. This is the final design for the box which was used in the film.

The other element of prop design that came into play was with our detective characters. We spent a good deal of time trying to figure out if it was necessary to get holsters and weapons for our detectives, but when we examined the script and where the detectives would be positioned, this was deemed unnecessary.

Overall, we ended up going with a sort of clip on badge. We designed the actual badges ourselves. They were placed inside of plastic lanyard style holders. We used the head shots we received from our actors as the pictures on the badge. We figured they would be small enough to be passable.

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out for what the roles in this film were. If the roles were on screen for longer and in more than just a sitting position, then we probably would have gone more in depth.

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As with my post about set design, I think my experience with props in this project will push me in the direction to pay more attention to these details in future productions. It’s about time really. I should be paying attention to things like this.

Pin 5:29 – 60 Second Version

If you’ve been following the production of Jason Rugg’s Pin 5:29, then you’re in luck because the 60 second version of the film is finally here!

Check out the film below.

There may very well be a longer version that is released at a later date. This longer version would explore a more atmospheric pacing in the beginning to give a more detailed backstory leading toward the eventual end.

Stay tuned!

Pin 5:29 – Production

While 31 Days of Reviews was dominating my blog, I didn’t have much time to write about the newest production I’ve been a part of. Throughout October, I jumped back into the producer’s chair for a new short film by Jason Rugg called Pin 5:29!

I don’t have a ton of insight about pre-production because I was incredibly busy with other things. The other producer on the film helped with casting and some script doctoring. I managed to be able to help with securing the location and planning for the actual shoot day, making sure everything ran on schedule and all that.

On the day of the shoot, we had an early crew call. This allowed us to get the equipment set up and start practicing all the things we would have to do. It helped us to be a lot more prepared. When the actor showed up at his call time, we were able to brief him, get him in costume, and jump right in.

Everything was in the same location, just different rooms. This made it easier to transfer equipment from scene to scene. It was just a matter of moving things. We had craft services set up in a nearby room. I think the location served everything really well.

For the most part, we shot in chronological order. I had it organized as much as possible by what lens we would be using to get each shot. There were definitely some interesting shots included in the shot list for this one. You can get a peek at one of the interesting shots in the picture below.


There were a couple of hiccups along the way, something I attribute to having one less set of hands than what we were planning to have. In the end though, we finished everything pretty close to the scheduled time, and the director is very happy with it.

From what I’ve seen in editing thus far, it’s looking really good. The director is excited about it. I’m excited about it. I can’t wait to show it off. We’re aiming for a 60 second cut at first. There may be a secondary cut that is a tad longer, but for the time being, the 60 second cut is the main focus.

Stay tuned for Pin 5:29!

3:03 at Stormy Weather Horror Fest

It is a pleasure and an honor to announce that my short film 3:03 was selected as a semi finalist for Outstanding Female Filmmaker at Stormy Weather Horror Fest Summer 2017.

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It really is an honor to have been nominated as a semi finalist. There were a lot of great horror films in this competition, and to be considered on the same level as the other semi finalists is really just the best feeling. It’s hard to really put it into words. It’s just really nice.

Thank you to the people behind Stormy Weather Horror Fest for watching and appreciating my work. Thanks again to the cast and crew of my short film for sticking by me and helping me out so much. Thank you everyone who has taken the time to view my work and share in the experience.

If you have yet to see my short film, 3:03, you can view it below.

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.

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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!