Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Reality of Emotion

We tried to capture the raw emotion of our characters and kept the camera on them well after the director yelled cut. Sometimes your best stuff comes when the actors don't think you're rolling...

Test Screenings

Are these a necessary evil or a collaborative way to have a better film? We've had a few of these screenings so far and we can honestly say they help. They help to cloud your mind and confuse you even more. It seems like all the positive comments get lost the second the words hit the air, while the negative ones cling to you like a thick fog and keep you up for days.

The best way to handle all the notes upon notes that you get, is to sift through them and understand that it is okay to disagree with some. You'll soon learn the opinions you value and the ones that seem out of left field.

There is simply no way of knowing which notes are "right" and which are "wrong". It's best to give each one it's fair attention and pay attention to the ones that you get more often. If a certain sentiment is being repeated over and over than it has to be treated with some validity whether you agree with it or not.

We learn so much at each screening we have and have been given the opportunity to see our work from so many different angles, angles we never even saw in the beginning. It truly is collaborative and it helps you to move outside of your comfort zone.

As we gear up for our biggest test screening yet... I can't help but wonder - will we let them eat popcorn?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Get Those Rights!

We're weeks away from picture lock and in that weird place most indie filmmakers find themselves of beginning to adjust to letting go of some of their temp music. We've learned through experience to not fall in love with temp music, but it's almost impossible. You wouldn't have put it in there in the first place if you didn't think it properly captured the tone and feel that you were going for. And over weeks and weeks of watching your film dozens upon dozens of times in all kinds of forms and lengths those songs begins to embed themsleves into the fabric of the film. They become not only inseperable of the image, but seemingly essential to tell the story, YOUR story.

So how do you defend against falling in love with a track you can't get? First off, you don't use something by The Rolling Stones (even though Russell played "Fool to Cry" on set dozens of times). Self-awareness is a virtue. Procrastination is another option! We're only half-joking. Filmmakers are a delusional bunch. Why not push that delusion just a little bit further? Festivals accept cuts with temp music. Some even allow you to play your film at the festival with music you dont have the rights to, or with just "festival rights". So you hold onto the idea that at some point some kind of set of circumstances will come into play where you'll be able to lock in all of your temp tracks. It's just a matter of time!

The most rational solution it seems is to do exactly what we're doing on this film: use music that feels right, that's not universally ungettable, and then sic your pit bull producer on the case to do whatever is possible to GET THOSE RIGHTS!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Writer/Director Russell Costanzo

Russell Costanzo originally wrote and directed the short film The Tested a few years back. It went on to win best of fest at the 2006 Los Angeles International Short Film Festival and best cinematography at the 2006 VisionFest Film Festival.  It also went on to make its television debut on BETJ.  After the win, he developed the story into a feature film and shot in the summer of 2008 in New York City.

Monday, January 19, 2009

From The Wire to The Tested

Nathan Corbett (Donut from The Wire) plays "Curtis", the bad influence on Dre who tries to bring him over to the dark side. Dressed like this... who wouldn't want to be down?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Don't sleep on James

Tobias Truvillion plays James, a guy from the streets that values family, control, and respect. The actor impressed us so much with his total absorption of the role, that we sometimes forgot that he was playing a part.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Getting the Look

We relied on companies like Nike, Adidas, Exact Science and others to help give the characters an authentic feel. Our make-up and wardrobe department did an excellent job keeping our actors looking like people you'd run into in your own neighborhood, and the production design helped to make the whole film feel "lived in".

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's On!

Both Sides of The Coin

Synopsis: One year ago while on duty as a plain clothes cop, JULIAN VARONE gunned down an unarmed teen. In that time DARRAYLYNN WARREN, the teen's mother, has spiraled into a pit of despair, while his brother, DRE, has gone another route... ganglife. As for Julian, it's time for him to get back to work.

It is a story about redemption, injustice of poverty, the cycle of violence and how these three lives, affected by a terrible tragedy, cannot find closure without the other.

This film explores a tragedy from both sides: The victims are no longer obvious and both sides suffer.


Things got pretty hairy on set at times but the crew always reacted fast and swift and whatever the disaster of the day was, it was fixed with the quickness

Post Production

We did most of our editing at postworks and created a "beautiful mind" scene wall for quick reference

writer/director Russell Costanzo and producer Melissa B. Miller

writer/director Russell Costanzo with Frank Vincent

Mother Nature

Mother Nature. She doesn't care that you've been working on this film for five years. She doesn't care that you've rented your equipment and the actor is due back in LA in two days. When she rains, she pours! Thankfully when we shot in August of 2008 - most of the rain would start, rain enough to give me a panic attack in front of the investors, then stop - allowing us to shoot again.