Posts Tagged ‘production design’

The Lucky 6 – a Flagship for the Future?

Friday, June 21st, 2013

I thought I would write this personally because it is a project that I have a lot of faith in & hope for its future.  While I was serving my first Ringling College class, I sat in on a meeting that was spearheaded by Brad Battersby, Digital Film Department head & Tony Stopperan, college president’s assistant & Asolo Repertory alumni.  They proposed a radical idea of collaborating between the two institutions & creating a full length feature film over the summer using students as the crew & faculty as department head mentors.

l6RingbotUp to this time, no film college has been successful at this endeavor but Brad felt that with the right mentors & the right students with the Asolo actors, it could be done.  I felt that I should show my support for this project & offer my experience & services.  I met with Brad & discussed the production & shortly thereafter I was asked to come aboard the film as Production Designer mentor, a position that I would share with a colleague, Sheryl Haler; she over costumes & I over art & sets; we collaborated over the entire look of the film.  Mise en scene!

We started pre-production the day after classes were over for the college; I had to get classes covered at Riverview for the next month in order to commit full time to the production.  The production was opened to all the departments at Ringling making it a true collaborative cross disciplined production.  We had 60 + crew that housed BOAD, Digital Film, Illustration, Computer Animation, Photography, Asolo Rep & a couple of alumni.  The students became immersed into the reality that is filmmaking on a professional scale.  The schedule was a standard 6 day, 12 hour staple that easily ran into 14 to 16 hour days with 7 days being the norm for all professional & a few crew members.

This reality became too much for some of the students & though we had some drop from the production, their fingerprints are still on the film & those that stayed the course became part of a team that didn’t compromise on creativity, design & story.  We shot on two Red Epic’s & two Scarlets as well as a couple of GoPro’s & a Canon 5D Mark III based on what was called for in the scene.  We had some truly amazing locations that were donated to us, some wild props, automobiles & a techno-crane & we met some truly terrific Sarasotians.  The footage that we came back with, before color correction is truly breath-taking.  l6Mansion01

Due to the high profile nature of the two institutions, we had a great deal of media coverage & I know that they will continue to watch us as we head into post production.  We even worked several of the media into the storyline & they were able to become part of the film.  This was an ensemble piece & the actors we had from the Asolo, 5 graduates & 1 first year, were a pleasure to work with & brought their own flair to the characters.  Each of them were very humble, took direction well & were quick to ask & offer suggestions to the betterment of the process.

I met many wonderful & talented people & got to work with some industry superstars with impressive credentials.  My colleagues & alumni that I came to know on a personal level were dynamic & collaborative; we had wonderful discussions throughout the production & we really worked well together.  Yes, with any film there are hiccups & never will you find a production that doesn’t have issues to overcome, but I would say that any complication that arose was thought out & creatively handled.  I was pleasantly surprised by the outcomes of many of the production days & though exhausted, every morning I woke excited about the upcoming day.  I mean throughout the course of this film, I designed sets, choreographed a couple of small fight scenes, directed a couple of scenes & acted in a small role.  I love what I do.

I watched as the students became more & more proficient at this craft as they worked along side us as crew & colleagues.  Some really shined & became examples for those in their departments.  They have amassed invaluable tools, skills & work ethics that hopefully will be shown & handed down to the upcoming classmates.  If this film does what is expected of it & is successful, then this summer film program will have a strong foundation to stand on.  What does that mean for the students?  It means that they will have feature film experience on their resumes before they head out to find their paths in this industry.  To paint it into a possible perspective, I have a high school film student that was accepted into the film program at Ringling just before we went into pre-production.  He became a member of the crew on this film.  If successful & this program repeats itself, he will be able to have five features under his belt by the time he graduates.  Many graduates don’t have two much less any upon graduation, only student shorts.

l6Mansion02In closing, I have enjoyed being on the ground floor of this initiative.  I hope that I imparted some knowledge, dedication, work ethic & creativity to those I worked with.  My hope for this grassroots project is that it becomes successful, expands, inspires others & sets a blueprint for other filmmakers in the future.