So let's try and start as far back as we can. The day before I left I had one of the biggest days of my life.. I got my first manager (SCHWING)! It was a very surreal feeling, but a very scary feeling at the same time. On one hand it was an amazing. Finally someone was in my corner. Rooting for me. Looking out for me. Finally I had someone to open more doors than I was able to myself. The funny part? I had been turned down by a smaller firm for representation and I ended up signing with a bigger (and better) manager and company. Funny how those things go.
On the opposite side, it was scary. Now I was semi-legitimate. I mean, I've always taken myself serious as a filmmaker. I mean, I made a movie. But in the eyes of "Hollywood" I made a no budget movie. Even though Madison County cost more money than I've ever actually held in my hand.. some people in Hollywood have cars that are more expensive than my movie. So now, I had representation because of that film. It motivated me, yes. To think that because of that little film someone saw potential in me and said "we want to help this kid go further". But now.. I have to go further. Bigger obligations. Bigger commitments. Bigger responsibilities. Fuck it, bring it on.
I saw Insidious that same night. I bumped into several of my favorite genre filmmakers and got to chat with a lot of great people and most of all-- see a great film! The movie rocked. It was purely amazing. Very inspiring and I hope someone in Hollywood is taking note. And on a side note (here comes a mini-tangent), Insidious is proof that James Wan deserves an 8 Picture Deal. This guy obviously knows how to make magic happen. I hope Wan ends up running a company one day that produces 10 Insidious's a year! I think we need more filmmakers calling the shots because the moment a filmmaker makes a hit, the studios say "we'll take it from here" and green light sequels and remakes and all that bullshit to EXPLOIT the magic in a bottle rather than analyzing it and seeing how they can apply it to a different film. Take notes, Hollywood.
So off to Virginia I went the next morning. We landed to gray skies and storms. I loved it. What I didn't love was having to drive all over the east coast picking up people from different airports (cheaper flights-- gotta love low budget filmmaking right?). We didn't have PA's. In fact, we didn't have much of anything in Virginia. Just a crew. A camera. A LITTLE money. And a goal. We tech scouted for a couple of days and before we knew it-- the time had come to start shooting.
|Watching Madison County on the way to pick up department heads from the airport. It was like a moving movie theater.|
Just a little local love in that picture. The film started off pretty smoothly. We shot at this little gas station and besides a few hiccups, we were off and running. I could tell right away that our production would be a little messy-- but I was used to it. Low budget. No time. It comes with the territory. The one thing that did stand out to me? My crew was amazing. Let's talk about those guys for a second:
My Producers, Daniel and Ace: These guys were, as always, my saving grace. Even when times got tough we stuck together and got it done. Daniel was literally getting less than 3-4 hours of sleep a night and still running the producing side himself. Ace was just pouring out pure magic in front of the camera. This is easily the best for I've seen him in. He gave me gold. No matter how hard things got, Ace would always pull me aside and tell me that I'm doing a good job, or that WE'RE doing a good job.. and I may not say it back enough, so this is me trying to make up for it. Daniel, you and Ace are awesome. Three down and more to come!
My actors: Ace, Katie, Marshall, Lionel, Jack and Alan. What can I say that I haven't already? These guys were flawless. Katie had one of the toughest roles I've ever seen, being locked inside of a car for basically an entire film.. it's hard to pull emotion out of that situation but she brought it 110% every scene. I can't thank her enough. She's a director's dream. All I have to do is point the camera at her and it instantly gives me something phenomenal. She is out of this world talented. Marshall is someone that continues to impress me more and more each time we're together. He started out in Hostile Encounter and then to Madison. On this film, I gave him a different dynamic and he instantly got it and ran with it. The dude has natural talent unlike anything I've ever seen before. Not only that, but he has quite a knack for the FX/Art Dept. Lionel, Jack and Alan-- these guys came in for a couple of days and were exactly what this film needed. Each one just came in and played their parts perfectly. It's hard to give direction to someone who does what they do so well. No coaching required. It was truly an pleasure working with such talented actors.
My DP- Dan Hertzog.. a fucking talented DP and a blast to work with. He really slowed me down and kept me centered.. which is what I needed. Sometimes I get ahead of myself while shooting and he made me take it one step at a time. I remember one day while we were shooting ON OUR DAY OFF (that's how awesome he is) I wanted to simplify a couple of shots because I didn't want to spend the time tearing apart the car to get one little shot I may use for a few seconds. He said to me "We're here.. we've got the camera and nothing but time.. let's not make it easy on ourselves". And he was right. We ended up shooting the shots EXACTLY how I wanted them (without ripping the car apart) and it's honestly one of my favorite shot scenes.
My G+E team.. amazing. Flawless. There wasn't anything those guys couldn't do. We put so much responsibility on their shoulders and they handled every ounce of it. They made me want to be a better director and make the shoot easier for them because they were busting their asses so hard. Shane was our go-to on the lights. He was just on his game all the time. Jorge was the electrician and anytime we had a problem, that guy was on it. Always ready to work. Evan was the master at rigging up little lights in places we needed them the most and just always on top of things when we needed them. And Jeff was just an all-around badass on the Dolly, jib, and car-mounts. I want these guys on anything I do in the future.
My Camera Dept.. Josh and Carman, you guys were fucking ROCKSTARS. My 1st AC would nail shit in focus that I didn't think he'd pull off. I'd ask him before shots, "Can you pull this? Do I need to make this shot a little simpler?" and he'd turn to me and say "Nah, I got it". And he did. This dude is also responsible for one of the single coolest shots in the movie. He got the camera in a place I didn't think he could and get got one badass blood shot! Carman was super awesome.. especially since this was the biggest set he's ever been on. Just a total professional. Not to mention.. the kid's 18!
My Sound Team.. Cara and Phil. What can you say that hasn't already been said about Phil? The guy is my secret weapon. He's always ready to rock and roll and anytime I'm behind the camera, I want Phil behind the mixer. The guy is just on it all the time. Cara was a very welcome addition to the team. She was like a ninja with her boom mic. I've literally never been so unaware of the boom pole in my life. She was amazing!
My Production Dept was just an all-around good group of people. Jose was more than just a Script Supervisor, the dude was an all-star. Whenever we needed something taken care of, he was on it. He took on a lot of responsibility and carried a lot of weight. Another guy that's going wherever I go with a camera! Adam was a solid AD. I feel horrible that he had to jump on with such short notice, but he made it work and helped me keep track of our hectic schedule. My make-up artist, Mariah.. just super talented! Picked up so much slack and had to work with me up her butt all the time about how much time she DIDN'T have to prep actors and she made it work. All you can ask for in a make-up person, right? Zac Eglinton was the best behind the scenes guy you could ask for. Whenever we had something going on, he was usually catching it. He was another person that stepped up and wore multiple hats. Look forward to seeing his behind the scenes documentary! It'll probably be better than our movie :P
I also want to thank Alexis, Alice and Garrett for coming down and putting up with us for so long. It was super crazy and super hectic and we couldn't have done it without you! Thanks to M'Lissa and Randy Dunn for all their continued help and support! They're the people responsible for Madison County, which ultimately led us to Roadside! I'd also like to thank Randy Dunn Jr. for feeding us when we were starving and doing a damn good job of it! Also for letting some LA weirdos come crash at his house. I'd also like to thank all the folks in the Northern Neck of Virginia for their help and support! It was truly a blessing. Last, but certainly not least, I'd like to thank Dale and Kay Stegeman. Without them, Roadside wouldn't have been possible. Their belief and support in myself, Katie, Ace, Daniel and our entire team is what led to this film coming to fruition. I hope we made them proud and I can't wait to show them the finished film!
The film was not the smoothest shoot I've ever been apart of, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. I grew A LOT as a result of this film and I'm still growing every day. This is easily the best thing I've ever written and directed. I think it's going to turn out to be a great film. I'm super excited for what the future holds. Madison County is currently in talks with several companies for distribution and hopefully soon, Roadside will be on the table as well. I'm currently developing my next film with a producer I'm super stoked to be working with. I was approached to do a horror film in the sub-genre that I love and we've been building it from the ground up. Another producer who does what he says.. there's nothing that I admire more.
I'm also hoping to get back to writing on a couple of different scripts that I really want to do in the near future. I'm blessed to be super busy. I do need a vacation though. But aside from all of that I can truly say I'm happy to be where I am. I have a solid team around me. Great actors, great producers and great friends who make everything that much better. The people I'm working with right now and the people I'm about to start working with are the future of Hollywood and I can't wait to see them get there!
I'm going to work on releasing a few little sneak peeks at ROADSIDE soon. Stay tuned! Til next time..