Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pre-Production: What's It Really Like?

I used to get really annoyed with other blogging filmmakers who left out important posts, like what it's really like in pre-production, how you know when "pre-production" starts as opposed to planning your movie for months on end, what you actually have to do in pre-production...

Until I entered pre-pro madness myself. Now I understand why they don't blog about it. It's not that they don't want to. It's that they're just too busy, and way too stressed to stop, reflect and write it all down.

So here I am. A few days before rehearsals and one week before the cameras roll. Time to talk about pre-production and just get it out and onto the screen.

Let's start with a few questions I had before starting this first feature film.

What's It Really Like in Pre-Production?
A whole lot of anticipation. Like having a crush on someone for months and months and months and then...well, I hope it's like going on the first date but I really don't know yet, because we're still in the anticipation stage. It's scary, and exciting, and nerve-wracking, and overwhelming, and a roller coaster ride.

I've never planned so much in my entire life. I was an inner city school teacher in Hackney & Brixton (2 of London's toughest neighbourhoods) for grades 5 & 6. I know how to plan. But this is so much more. It requires thinking through so many more details than I've ever imagined possible.

But it's also really sexy. Like a first date - this could be the real deal right? This could be the ONE! Oh God, what if it's not the one? There's a bit more on the line here than just a bad date, but I'm sure you'll know what I mean about the anticipation factor anyway.

When does pre-production actually start?

This is a question you have to answer for grant applications like Telefilm in Canada and one that I still can't quite figure out. Does it start from when you first come up with the idea for the movie and register the domain name? Or does it start a few weeks before when you're accumulating the props? Or when you're casting?

I've decided the answer is this: Pre-Production officially starts when you eat, sleep, and dream your movie. You work 14-16 hours/day to prepare. You create budgets - the one you dream of having the money for, and the one you actually have, and then another one somewhere in between. You get your cast (for us, we hired Kristina Agosti - the world's greatest first-time Casting Director and friend, thanks K), your crew, your props, your investments.

I know this is a vague answer, and won't be good enough for a grant application, but really - that's the honest answer. I hear we're in pre-production until the cameras arrive and start rolling. Makes sense to me.

What Actually Happens in Pre-Production?

Everything. Virtually every little thing. Jen (our writer/director and my sister) finalized the script, the story boards and the shot lists. Our Story Consultant worked for about 3 months helping Jen make it the best script possible.

Our Line Producer/Production Manager, Emily Silver, organized a tonne of spreadsheets that we've shared on google docs (thank you google - those things have saved us hours of meetings!), including: the cast & crew list, cast sizes, cast allergies, crew allergies, production placement attempts, product placement successes, locations, maps to the locations (thanks to Amanda Verhagen, our second Production Manager), call sheets, budgets, contracts, release forms. The virtual paper-work is endless.

Speaking of paperwork, 2 books became the best resources we could ever ask for in pre-pro:

Film Production Management 101 by Deborah Patz

Variety's The Complete Film Production Handbook by Eve Light Honthaner

Almost all of our contracts have come from the second book above (and editted by our lawyer to make them suit our needs & for Canada rather than the USA) and the first book is just really great for figuring out who does what, when and how. I don't know why I said that in reverse order. Guess I have contracts on the brain.

What Else Do You Do In Pre-Pro?

For me, the big focus has been on how to get this thing not only made, but also sold. So I read a lot about distribution, film festival secrets, social media marketing - all things that we'll start planning in post-production, but are great for me to know about now. We have a distributor reading the script now, and we're applying for post-production funding help from Telefilm so I've had to be a bit more organized than a typical indie-film producer.

It means I have to really focus on the "chain of title", the releases, the product placements - all things that a lot of people don't think about until they're in post-production. I drive my sister absolutely insane with my relentless persistence that we need permission to use every single little logo or product in the film. But that's why she's the creative side of our team and I'm the business side - for me, this isn't just an art. It's also a way to make a movie that people will hopefully get to see in the theatres. At least, I really hope they will. I plan for it. I dream it.

Questions? Suggestions? Comments? Advice? Please share below!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Movies That Make Me Really Nervous to be a Filmmaker

Yesterday I asked the fans of Locked in a Garage Band on facebook and my followers on twitter which movies they'd recommend for their soundtracks. Now I have an incredible list of movies to see, some for the first time and some to watch again but this time with an ear to the music.

BellaNikki85 (Nikki Alonso of HardCoreIndie fame) suggested Kick-Ass, which was perfect for my research into coming of age teenage comedies with awesome music that I still hadn't seen.

Too perfect in fact. I just finished watching it now, and have already hit "play" with the directors commentary.

I'm scared.

This movie really does kick-ass.

The director, Matthew Vaughn, keeps talking about how they had such a small budget, and uses the term "no money" so many times that it makes me dream of the days when I can say such things about my own $30 million dollar movie.

One day right?

In the meantime, I'm reminded that every great movie has a really great script. It's all about the story after all. And that, we have. Thank frakk my sister can write a kick-ass script. How she does it, I have no idea. But me, I just work on the money. And getting more. I have a bunch of awesome meetings lined up this week with potential sponsors for product placements. Love those! Especially over wine. Lucky me!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Show me the Money! Crowdfunding Your Indie Film with Victoria Westcott - that's me!

Woohoo! So excited that this workshop is almost sold out already!

Crowd Funding your Indie Film with
Victoria Westcott

Victoria, BC, March 17th , 2011 -

This will be a hands-on, interactive workshop to help filmmakers learn the ropes of crowd funding from the first idea to the final two minutes. Victoria will focus on what lessons she learned in her own crowd funding campaign (she raised $20,000 for her feature film Locked in a Garage Band) and will use examples from other recently successful campaigns.

“As a group, we will examine what works, what doesn't, and what we can do for our own projects,” says Westcott.

The workshop will be a hands on opportunity to look at what will work for individual projects.

“Whether you're in pre-production, production or post-production - all types of projects can use crowd funding so let's help each other with planning different fundraising campaigns,” says Westcott.

Victoria Westcott - Producer

When she was sixteen-years-old, Victoria convinced the good people of Nepean, Ontario to give her enough money to fund an eco-trail building excursion through the jungles of Costa Rica. Sheʼs been convincing people to give her money for her intrepid endeavors ever since. From volunteering for a cataract surgery in Bangladesh to working in an English school in Guatamala, Victoriaʼs ability to put words (and dollars) into action knows no bounds. And since she already owns and operates a successful recruitment company, what better career path than independent movie producer?

Her vast experiences in both the cuddly world of volunteerism and the cutthroat world of business have proven to be the ideal preparation for writing (and sticking to!) budgets, hiring great cast & crew and getting through all the legal aspects of filmmaking.

Most recently, Victoria & her writer/director sister, Jennifer Westcott, managed to "crowdfund" $20101 for their upcoming feature film, Locked in a Garage Band. 68% of those funds were raised on the final day - in the last 10 hours mostly through Twitter & Facebook.

The Details:
Date: April 2nd, 2011
Time: noon-5pm
Place: CineVic 1039 Lee Ave. Suite #1931
Price: $20 CV/MN/VIFPA members $25 non-members

For Information Contact:
Krista Loughton 250-389-1590
Link to the event on Facebook:


About CineVic
Cinevic is an artist run cooperative facilitating the expression of unique, innovative voices in the ever-evolving language of film.
We are located in Victoria, BC, Canada at 1939 Lee Ave. Suite #1931 -- office hours are Mon-Fri 9:00am to 1:00pm.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kickstarter Update #16: Press, Auditions, Fundraising Part 2, Workshop Love & a Picture of me with Don McKellar

I just wrote a ridiculously long kickstarter update which you should go check out, so I don't have to write it all out again. It's here.

I included the above photo of me with Canadian actor/screenwriter/filmmaker/superstar Don McKellar, who I met at the Victoria Film Festival. Figured I could add whatever photo I wanted, and today was as good a day as any to post this one. I lurve him.

Okay, off you go. Over to the kickstarter update. Nothing else to see here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Casting & Talent Agents - How to use Breakdown Services

Last night, we submitted the script for Locked in a Garage Band to Breakdown Services. We did one round of auditions way back in October and cast 3 of our characters so we could have just re-run the same ad and posted the other character breakdowns on the same sites (like Mandy, Backstage, Craigslist, etc).

But we remembered hearing that Breakdown Services was free service for filmmakers to use, and that they read your script and write the character breakdowns accordingly. That intriqued me. I always like someone else doing work that I then don't have to do. Awesome!

That's not all though. These guys are fast! We only sent the script last night, and received the breakdowns this morning. Love that.

Then, after you've approved their breakdowns & story line, they submit the details to all the talent agents in your desired area.

In the past 3 hours we've received 351 headshots & resumes.

I have to stop myself from logging in every five minutes to see what other actors are in the pile. Luckily, that is our Casting Director's job - the beautiful & talented Kristina Agosti. Otherwise, I'd waste days on there oooohing and ahhhhing. I'm a sucker for a good headshot, and get horribly irritated when actors show up & look nothing like their pictures, so it really is best that our CD does the weeding out (based on experience, skills, etc).

The main reason to submit to Breakdown Services is actually to get your script into all the agents hands in one go. If your script is as good as you think it is, then the first hurdle is accomplished just in getting it to the right agents. They pay attention to the breakdowns, rather than scouring websites (that actors are on, but not necessarily their agents).

I'll keep you posted on how it goes for us, but right now I'm feeling pretty confident.

Anyone else out there have experience with this kind of thing? Please share your thoughts below. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Last Man on Earth

My sister filmed this short with her kids during a snow day a couple of weeks ago. Our brother, Garett Westcott, did the music. He's also doing the music for our feature film.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Unique Film Funding

That's me! On the A Channel yesterday. That was fun. Thanks guys. Ya'll ROCK our socks.

If you missed the kickstarter campaign, you can still donate here:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Crowdfunding WIN! Or How to Raise 65% of Funds in a Day

Wow. Can you believe that graph?!

If you missed it, Friday March 4th was a pretty cool day in the life of Locked in a Garage Band. Our kickstarter campaign ended at 9:54pm and we just managed to raise the $20 000 needed with 2 minutes to spare. Kickstarter is an "all or nothing" platform, so if we didn't raise what we asked for, no money would have changed hands. The fact that we raised 65% on the final day is huge, and for those of you on twitter on the day, you could see the pledges coming in from around the world.

Just a week ago, I had an experience of a lifetime in attending Elton John's Academy Awards Viewing party. Friday night beat that.

Not to say the party wasn't everything I thought it would be. It was. And more. But having hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of people around the world tweeting about our movie, making pledges and increasing their pledges was absolutely incredible.

It was the best day of my life.

So how did it start?

I woke up at 7:30am to a tweet from @LordBronco in Portland telling me to get up & start tweeting. We had both participated in @LMcNelly's epic kickstarter win (in which he raised $7000 on the final day of his campaign "A Year Without Rent", also mostly through twitter), so I trusted Lord's advice. I've never met him in person, nor have I ever met Lucas McNelly - but I just knew I should listen to him.

Throughout the day, Lord Bronco gave me tips that I followed. He told me to tell stories about the cast & crew, to give some insights into the movie and the shooting of our teaser/trailer. I took it one step further and told stories about my sister & me and how we grew up on a farm outside of Ottawa. I tried to be funny, I tried to type fast, and I tried to be honest. My sister took over for about 30 minutes while I took a much needed break to purchase wine, and while I was gone she told funny stories about me. Some were true, and some weren't. She's a screenwriter after all.

I was told to be careful not to tweet more than 350 times in an hour, which I laughed at. How could anyone tweet 5-6 times/minute? But I remembered that Lucas got kicked out of twitter in the final hours of his kickstarter campaign, so I tried to be careful.

There were moments when we thought we wouldn't make it.

There were moments when we thought we were losing our minds.

At one point, I offered to name my first born after the next backer and 2 people backed us at about the same time - Dom Zook and Vanda. That was funny. So funny that I had tears streaming down my face at the twitter discussion I was having with complete strangers around the world. I think Vanda's in Prague, and Dom Zook is in LA.

We loved the comments from people pouring in to encourage us to keep tweeting. In the last hour, I think my entire twitter stream was about our movie. Whatever else people had been tweeting about was silenced in my world.

In the last few minutes I was eventually kicked out of twitter. We raised the money at 9:52. I had just enough time to tweet "APPLAUSE!" and twitter booted me out. What timing!

Today, a journalist from ATV called me to do an interview about the incredible last minute success of our kickstarter campaign. Another journalist from Douglas Magazine set up an interview with me for Wednesday afternoon. You know what's awesome about all that? I'm not having to come up with great press releases! The media is calling us! YEAH! That's the way we like it. Any indie filmmaker will tell you that.

When we researched how others were successful with kickstarter, we found blog posts that really helped us. So I'm hoping to write a post that tells you a bit more about how we worked on the campaign and what worked for us.

I'll also share a bit about what to say to people who say things like,
"Have you heard about indi-go-go? You get to keep whatever you raise even if you don't get the full amount!"
My answer:
"Oh yeah? Interesting. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip, but we like the 'go big or go home' approach and we think we'll get it,"

What I was really thinking was
"Uh yeah we've heard of indi-go-go! Of course we have. We've done our research! And we chose kickstarter because we want more than a couple of grand! AND WE'LL GET IT! Someone else raised $100,000 for their feature film. We can raise $20 000. I used to go door to door for Greenpeace. Now we have the internet! Just you watch. We'll show you."
See why I didn't actually say what I was thinking?

A whole lot of people will offer advice. Some of it you'll listen to, and some of it will cause you to cringe. Sometimes you'll wonder what the hell you were thinking when you clicked "sign up." But if you believe in your project, and you're able to put your life (and pride) aside for a month or more, then you're good to go.

Anyway, more to come on my thoughts on crowdfunding. If you have any questions now, please let me know in the comments section! This really is an incredible filmmaking community and I'm happy to share my experience with anyone who asks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thank YOU!

Every single time someone pledges to our kickstarter campaign I get an email to let me know. And every time someone tweets it, I also get an email about it. I check facebook every five minutes. Every single time one of you sends us your words of encouragement, we feel just a little bit more confident that we'll reach the full 100%.

I'm a pretty upbeat person, but asking for money from people is hard on the ego.

But you know what? You guys and your amazing support seriously does make it so, so worth it.

I just wanted to let you know that.

Thank you. You rock.

Even Stars Need the Porta-Potties: Elton John's Oscars Party 2011

Here I am, ridiculously nervous standing outside our hotel in West Hollywood, waiting for my taxi to Elton John's Oscars Party last Sunday night. I was one of less than 1000 people who were lucky enough to attend the event.

My sister, Jen Westcott, the writer/director in our team, opted out of the party so she could enjoy the luxury of watching the awards from the hotel room without her 3 kids crawling all over her. She ordered room service, had a glass of wine & enjoyed the solitude. Jen's also a bit of my opposite in that she's much more shy than I am. Most people would never know that to meet her, but it's true. The whole idea of a schmooze-fest like Elton John's party just doesn't turn her crank, whereas I love that kind of thing! Guess that's why I'm the producer eh?

So what would you love to know? Hmm...

They mispelled my name...but I didn't care. I tweeted it anyway!

There's an article all about my experience in today's Times Colonist which you can read here. Read all the way to the end to hear about stars using the porta-potties.

Here I am proving that indeed - the washrooms were porta-potties! And no VIP loos either. Imagine being in line when Heidi Klum needs the loo. Yeah, that's exactly what it was like. Too funny!

There were a few highlights for me in particular.

Seeing Florence & the Machine perform in such an intimate setting was absolutely the best thing that's ever happened to me. I only recently bought their album, and while I enjoy it, it's nothing compared to seeing Florence Welch belt out those tunes in person only a few feet away from my table. That woman has a voice and a half!

*This isn't my video, but I found for anyway!

When Elton got up to perform with her, the whole room erupted. And then, to top it all off, Florence had us jumping up and down in our highest heels! It was AMAZING. My feet killed afterwards, but I was a proud jumper who couldn't care less in that moment. Plus, I was dancing right beside Jenna Ushkowitz who was also seriously loving the performance. We joked that it would be incredible if Florence came on Glee.

Also, meeting Chris Colfer and Ashley Fink from Glee. Amazing. Saw Glee on Oprah last year (before Ashley had joined the cast), and as a former teacher, I'm their biggest fan and told them as much. Very cool kids!

Malin Akerman is also a very cool person to talk with. I had the pleasure of speaking with her a few times throughout the evening as our table hosts were good friends with Malin. She asked where I was staying and when I told her "West Hollywood" she replied that she loves it there! In particular, she enjoys having a coffee at 8am without her hair or makeup done, and not being hit on and don't I just love that?! Yeah. Not so much my reality but hey, I liked laughing with her about it anyway. Such a sweetheart and from Canada ta'boot! Photos to come...

And of course, the speeches about HIV/AIDS and what the event was all about were pretty amazing. David Furnish (another Canadian and Elton John's husband) spoke eloquently and inspired us all to take more action. I hear that 4 million dollars were raised that evening. Wowsers!

Now, if only a few of those folks would spare a couple more dollars for our kickstarter campaign.... cough cough.

As for the actual awards ceremony, we watched the Oscars during dinner (which was incredible btdubs) - so that means, we didn't actually get to hear most of the speeches as people chatted throughout. As a movie lover, I gotta admit - I was kind of envious of Jen back at the hotel room watching in silence from home. Not that I would have traded spaces with her for anything - I just like watching the Academy Awards! So, I'll do as my host says she does - watch it tomorrow after I've slept and caught up on work stuff.

I know, I know - you'll tell me that it was a trainwreck and the worst academy awards ceremony in the history of awards ceremonies (that's what twitter's all a'buzz about anyway) but I don't care. Because when I watch the awards, I'll be thinking: that it just might be my sister up there one day, accepting the award for best original screenplay, or best director, or hey, even me for best picture. Not that they ever award "coming of age comedies!" but in the words of Justin Bieber, never say never.

Oh, he wasn't there by the way. Sorry to say. ;-)

More stories & photos to come I promise! But right now, back to plugging our kickstarter campaign to death. I know you're sick of it. I am too. But just pledge what you can, post it, repost it and then we'll all return to life as normal, but this time with enough money to make our movie! Come on folks. WE CAN DO THIS!

70 people have backed us so far, we have only 3 days left and if I can get invited to Elton John's Oscars party after making a goofy beatbox video with my sister and some of our cast in our garage, then by George - surely we can raise $15 000 before the campaign ends in just 3 days. Right?! Are you with us?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jodelle Ferland to Play Lizzy in Locked in a Garage Band, the movie

Once again I'm blogging from the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver. This time, I'm on my way to LA for Elton John's Oscars Party tomorrow! WOOHOO!

But in other exciting news, Jodelle Micah Ferland has agreed to play Lizzy in our movie, Locked in a Garage Band. Jodelle played Bree Tanner in Twilight Eclipse, and Sharon/Elissa in Silent Hill. She's been in a tonne of tv shows & movies, so check out her IMDB page to see her full resume.

Needless to say, we're really excited! We have another actor from the Twilight movies reading the script, and we're working on casting a few more of the lead characters with other stars. I'm looking forward to meeting up with some actors this weekend - watch this space!

6 more days on our kickstarter campaign.
Please keep spreading the word & getting those pledges in! We're 19% of the way there, so this is going to take one heck of a push to make it to 100%.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How Local Media Attention Can Help Independent Filmmakers

Remember the front page article by Michael D Reid in our local newspaper, the Times Colonist, a little while back? That one article opened up a tonne of doors for us. Thought I'd let you in on all the amazing things that came as a result of that article.

1. Garage Bands Rally Around the Movie, Locked in a Garage Band.
First off, Devin Perfect, of the local band, Handsome Distraction, contacted us and offered to help by hosting a fundraiser gig with local garage bands. We went for a quick drink, chatted more about the movie and his band and our similar philosophies around indie music & movies. Very cool guy!

In the end, we agreed that he could go all out in getting local bands to rock out here in Victoria at Lucky Bar, and in exchange Jen & I would do our very best to promote Handsome Distraction. That was a no-brainer for us. The band's name is awesome, and you gotta love garage bands rallying around a movie about a garage band getting locked in their garage for a day.

Jen's already re-written the script so Handsome Distraction is mentioned a few times (in context - the garage band who gets locked in the garage has an upcoming gig where they open for Handsome Distraction...see? Makes perfect sense right?!) And we're stoked about the gig here in town. Local band, Everybody Left & guests will perform on March 9th at Lucky Bar. RSVP here:

2. We hired a Production Coordinator who rocks!

Emily Silver came a'knocking! Emily went to film school (Jen & I didn't) and has been working for the past few years on her other passions - rowing & coaching. After reading the article, Emily's boss encouraged her to contact us & offer to volunteer so that she could pursue her first true love - filmmaking. We met up for coffee and hit it off immediately. Her film school experience really helps us with the nitty-gritty details that we would miss otherwise. For now, Emily's volunteering as the Production Coordinator but I really hope we can actually afford to pay her soon. That would rock.

3. Money, money, money!
We got a tonne more pledges on our kickstarter campaign & emails of encouragement. So sweet! One person even mailed us a card with a cheque because she wasn't technically inclined enough to figure out the kickstarter pledges. Awesome. Cheques are great people! So's cash. ;-)

4. More articles to come!
I met Michael D Reid in person at the Victoria Film Festival a couple of weeks ago, and mentioned that I was invited to Sir Elton John's Oscars viewing party by an angel investor. What a great story eh? Michael just contacted me and asked if he could do a follow-up story on Tuesday following the Oscars and of course I said "You BETCHA!" He'll be phoning me the morning after and getting in a quick interview as I head to the airport in LA to come back home to Victoria, BC. Wonder what will happen as a result of that article? WOOHOO!

I guess the point here is that every little bit of media attention helps. The more you put yourself out there, the more you'll get in return. We are so blessed!

I tear up with gratitude when I think about all the incredible people who believe in us, want our movie to succeed & will do whatever they can to help. From a small pledge on kickstarter, to a newspaper article, to a fundraising gig, to an invite to Elton's party where the movers & shakers play, to a large pledge on kickstarter, to a Twilight star being cast (watch this space Twi-hards!)'s all so overwhelming & FRIKKIN' FANTASTIC! Woohoo! Thanks everyone. You seriously ROCK!

The Sound of

Just changed the name of our beatbox teaser to "The Sound of Awesome" - recommended to me by a fellow filmmaker with more experience with you tube.

Let's hope it helps it go viral!

9 more days left on our kickstarter campaign, and I'm not going to freak out that we're not at 25% yet. I head to LA on Saturday for Sir Elton John's Oscars Viewing Party - and I'm on a mission to get someone there to tweet the campaign. Shameless? Sure. I figure with enough champagne in me, I'll get the nerve to ask someone. Who? No idea. Watch this space!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Roller Coaster Continues

I'm sitting on the ferry, traveling from Vancouver back to Victoria, British Columbia. Figured I'd use the free wireless to update y'all on today's emotional roller coaster ride.

I started the day without much sleep last night - I have this irrational, and completely irritating habit of not being able to sleep the night before I travel. I have no idea why this happens. I'm usually a really great sleeper (and napper too!), but in any case, this morning I was off to a bit of a rough start.

I headed over to Jen's place to pick her up, with just enough time to catch the ferry. I had an important meeting with a producer in Vancouver, and since we live on an island we have take a ferry and if we miss it, we have to wait 2 hours until the next one. So I arrived with the clock ticking, only to find out that Jen had 2 sick kids at home, and a duty day at one of the kids'pre-school. ARGH! Her hubby couldn't do the duty day as he needs a new police check, so our hands were tied. After a mild freak-out (on my end), and a few outbursts of "God Dangit! We were going to get SO much done on the ferry!" and some other swear words... I sucked it up and went on my lonesome.

side note: I should tell you here that I'm a new driver. So, driving in Vancouver isn't really my cup of tea just yet.

Anyway, I made it to the meeting after 3 hours of travel, and it rocked. Seriously, this producer was awesome at helping me learn what I need to know, and with offering free advice & contacts for me to follow up with. SCORE! He helped me to realize that there is indeed money out there for us, and all I need to do is ask for it. Double-score! Being in Canada does make it easier for indie filmmaking. Or so I'm told anyway. I'll get on his suggestions tomorrow.

I also had a conversation with a movie star's mother today. We're trying to book her daughter for our little movie, and let me tell you - talking to a star's mom is the same as talking to any mom - they all just want to know that their kids are awesome. Same as teaching in inner city schools really. I'm happy to say that she loved our script as well. Woohoo! More conversations to come I'm sure.

To finish the day, I went to meet up with our Director of Photography, at the IKEA restaurant - because sadly, we don't have an Ikea on Vancouver Island, and it was the only place I thought I knew how to get to without getting lost. And lost I got. So very lost.

It took me 2 hours to meet him, after breaking down in a parking lot (I'm not even kidding - I wailed! And boy oh boy, am I ever happy the star's mom didn't hear the f-bombs I dropped!). Our poor DP was waiting forever for me! What a great guy. I heard loads of stories about what he's working on now, particularly about directors smoking joints on set while he waits for them to get back on task.

Second side note: Seriously? Seriously?! We are so going to ROCK this movie if that's what happens out there on other indie sets. We're 2 women, one a former-innercity-school teacher, the other a mom with a masters degree, a photography background and 3 kids - we're focused, driven and on task, and ... sober on set. Um, yeah - no wonder so many people want to work with us!

And now, here we are. I'm back on the ferry. This time it's rocking back & forth, which is really rare for this journey. I can't wait to get home, get back to focusing on the kickstarter campaign, and get back to bed. Tomorrow I'll rock the new ideas, get my dress fitted for Elton John's Oscars Party (is that for real?!), meet up with a great friend and one of our most supportive investors and hang out with Jen and the kids. WOOHOO!

See how it's all up...down...up...down...and loop-di-loop?

Friday, February 11, 2011

How to Get Hired and How to Get Fired on Independent Film Productions

Check it out! I finally wrote my blog post for Karen & David's blog, Film Courage.

What are you waiting for? It's not here. It's over there!

Please leave a comment if you read it so I know I am not talking to myself (not that I don't, I definitely do talk to myself. A lot).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Actors Review the Script

We have a story consultant who's working with Jen (the writer/director in our team) but figured it was time to send the actors and a couple of movie industry friends the script as it is now.

Here are the emails I've received so far:

"Omg, omg,omg...

This was fantastic Victoria. I was expecting it to be good but I was honestly blown away.

I was lying here reading it by myself and laughing out loud...a lot.
'This shit just got real' is a killer line.

Can't wait to see the finished product."

the best.

I can't wait to do this.


"Omg!!! I love it!! Soo funny :) this is gonna be fun, u have some good writin skillz ma-lady"

And in other news, it looks like I'm going to be in LA on February 27th heading off to an Oscars party. Woohooo!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another weekly update: This week's theme - the rollercoaster

1. The Times Colonist article came out on Tuesday, and I didn't even know we were on the front cover until I received a few tweets of congratulations. Crazy! And I looked crazy in the photo, but that's cool. It was a really fun photo shoot.

2. We received a tonne of emails from folks we don't know to say congrats on the movie. FUN! One stood out in particular. It was from a woman who always wanted to act in movies, but her parents wanted to keep her safe from the possible rejections. She's proud of us for taking the leap forward and sent us a cheque in the mail. Woohoo!

3. Our kickstarter campaign leaped from 7% to 10% in a day - mostly because of the Times article. Score!

4. Received an email from local garage band, Handsome Distraction - they want to help us fundraise, with a view to being in the movie somehow. Met with Devin over a drink and discussed the movie, his ideas & how we can collaborate. I love people that just get on with things, pitch their ideas & take charge. AWESOME.

So, we agreed that they will organize a local garage band gig here in Victoria & we'll spread the word about them, give them credit in the movie & do as many shout outs as we can. Good times.

The other idea that's brewing is a massive garage band contest where indie bands submit their music on facebook or our website and their fans vote. Our promise would be to watch each & every submission and choose the best ones for the movie. Any ideas on that one?

5. I pitched to Awesome Shit Club - a local group that has people give $50 into a collective pot and invite people like me to pitch their awesome ideas. There were 10 pitches, kind of like Dragon's Den, but very local. Great ideas! The winner was the "Doc-Bus" - a couple of women who want to buy a bus & travel the country showing documentaries. At least I lost to a fellow filmmaking enthusiast.

6. Speaking of Dragon's Den - it's a dream of mine to one day have dinner with the dragons. I just know we'll really get along over wine & good food. So, when I saw the tweet that CBC Vancouver was holding a contest on their facebook page for Brett Wilson, I had to enter. We had to submit a 60 second pitch video on their page in the hopes of being 1 of 3 selected to pitch to Brett in person at a mall in Vancouver today. We lost (theme of the week? ugh...) - but I loved doing the pitch. You can see it on the bottom of their facebook page.
We also posted a funny outtake video on our facebook page, where Jen's one year old daughter ends the video with a "Woooo!"

7. I went to two of Philip Bisset-Caveneiro's talks where he also plugged our movie. What a kick-ass business man/entrepreneur/philanthropist/friend.

8. Jamie Gale & I met in person, after tweeting for a couple of months. Local mortgage broker for high-end properties (Go Jamie!), and movie lover. Love that!

9. Experienced the total emotional roller coaster of crowd-funding for indie movies. From "FRACK YES! We can do this! AND IT'S SO FRIKKIN' FUN!" to "Oh gawd, am I really asking people for money AGAIN?"

My shoulders hurt, my neck is killing me, I haven't worked out in ages, I'm afraid I'm being a bad friend - it's like I have a new boyfriend and all I want to do is talk about him (blah blah blah - movie this, movie that - blah blah blah)...but then I hung out with a great friend this week, laughed about this very neurosis & since she does have a new boyfriend she completely understood. I love her enthusiasm for her guy and I'm happy to listen to her talk about him non-stop, so we're okay. I can talk movie and she can talk boy. Phew!

10. Hired Andy Dooley as my life coach. Yup - I know... I need one. Andy's a really fun, super-positive, silly guy and I know I need to get all the help I can get in these next few months. No idea how I'll pay him, but hey - that's what he's for right? To help me see clearly, find more $, laugh more, make it all he's a good friend and I feel really comfortable being honest about my ups & downs these days so I think we're a good match. Stoked!

11. Had great chats with Adam Daniel Mezei, a PMD and reporter with Film Courage who is at Sundance this week. He does a live video every morning at 9am from Sundance and I've managed to catch at least half of them. Great guy!

12. Speaking of Film Courage - they asked me to write an article for their website/blog and man oh man, have I ever got to get on that! It's been weeks since they asked, and I really want to do it - but for some reason, I'm totally blocked. Help!

13. Bought my gold & industry pass for the Victoria Film Festival, where I plan to meet Dan McKellar & Bruce McDonald. Set up a meeting with Mongrel Media, Canadian indie distributors.

14. Jen whipped up some promo postcards for me to hand out at the Vic Film Festival and when I have meetings with folks. Had them printed at Staples - 1000 postcards cost $333 - and they're not even cut straight! ARGH. Fingers crossed that they bring in the funds to make it worthwhile.

15. Met with our designers via skype. I love these guys! I'm struggling with the purpose of our website in pre-production, as the site will launch March 4th (the date I set which depended on when I get paid so I can pay them), and we start shooting April 4th. We only have a few cast members and will be doing more auditions in a few weeks, so the garage band isn't really all there yet.

Their concepts are awesome - the problem is me. Their idea is to have the website tell more of the back story behind the band, which I love - but I wonder: why aren't other indie's doing this? Or are they? I need to see some quality indie film websites that launched in pre-production. Today's task: web searches. If you know of any sites I should see, please let me know. Although I doubt you've even read this far into the blog post as I am saying way, way, way too much today. Just so much to say!

16. AHHHHHHH!!! I'm overwhelmed. Can you tell?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Film as a family affair - First Article in the Times Colonist about Locked in a Garage Band

Film as a family affair

Check it out! Jen & I were interviewed by Michael Reid, of the Times Colonist (Vancouver Island newspaper that goes to 72 000 homes) and photographed in my garage.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Holy shnikey - a lot has happened this week!

Here's the list of schtuff we got to do this week:

1. Jen whipped up an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) in a couple of days, using photographs from our amazing photographer, David Bukach. She included quotes from fellow screenwriters, the synoposis, our bios and our production & distribution plan. I wanted to find a publicist to do the job, but in the end, the indie-DIY approach seems to work best for us anyway. Jen even quoted Donald Trump ("Think Big & Kick Ass") which just makes me giggle. How many indie's quote The Donald I wonder?

2. I sent off the EPK with a short little email about us as sisters making a film set in Victoria to a few media folks. Michael Reid from the Times Colonist (a Vancouver Island newspaper that goes out to 72 000 subscribers) interviewed us the same night, and sent over a photographer the next morning. Once again, Jen & I were in my garage getting photographed. My neighbours are starting to think I'm nuts. Or maybe they already did? Our feature will come out on Tuesday.

3. I had 3 meetings this week with local businessmen that I wanted to get feedback from, advice & maybe even pledges from. One was particularly awesome. He loves movies and immediately got excited about our journey & being involved. Score! A wicked pledge later (on our kickstarter campaign - we're now at 7%!), and plans for further involvement and I ended the week on a super positive note. Thanks Philip!

4. I did my first ever skype podcast interview with Nick in London, England - from the Clapper Bored. Fun! See this post.

5. Jen came up with a brilliant idea for fundraising - go through the Canadian Who's Who, look for people with an arts interest & ask them via email, including our EPK and the website. So, off I went to the local library (the book costs $200!), to start the hunt. There are 13 000 biographies, in alphabetical order, and...what was I thinking?! It's a daunting task.

2 hours later, and I was only at W. I started at Z.

I decided to include everyone with an email address, rather than focus just on "arts" folks - since my own bio wouldn't show arts, but I would love to receive such a request from a filmmaker. Still, it seemed like an awful lot of time to go through the whole book. Surely, this thing is online?!

We did some more research, this time with wine in hand at home, and found out that yes - the book is online at the U.Vic library (and likely many others!), and with a student or faculty login I can see the whole thing. Only problem is that UVic's latest edition is 2006. The best part is that I can do searches, which highlight the keywords - so I can search for "filmmaker" - go through all 13 000 skim find the folks I will write about the art of filmmaking with.

Seriously, I just might be crazy to do this.

And I question - is this spam?

I'm thinking no, because each email will be personal to the reader, and each person listed in the Who's Who wants to be in there, recognized as a Canadian with klout. So, surely they want to be contacted?

Anyway, lots to be said there. BTW, the book exists in America and England - go nuts!

6. Twitter fun! I always meet such interesting folks on twitter. One mortgage broker tweeted on Friday that his schedule was quite light the next few weeks, so if any tweeps want to meet up let him know. We've never met in person, so I threw my name in the hat. We're meeting on Monday to discuss Locked in a Garage Band. Stoked! Can't wait to hear what he thinks, what advice he has, and hey, maybe he'll make a pledge? That would rock.

7. Design fun! Met with our designers via skype and I must say - these two seriously rock. It's refreshing to speak with web designers who know movies. Every time I make a reference to another flick, they know it! Again, score! Check out their "Prostrate Czech" website - so funny.

8. Received an email from a fellow Victoria filmmaker that pretty much said, "Call me. I have input for you." - Oh. God. My heart skipped a beat. I worried that we were doing everything back-ass-wards and this guy with 25 years experience (that I don't know btw) was going to tell me as much. I even called Jen to ask what I should do. She, being the wise sister, told me man up & make the call. This guy was awesome! He loves what we're doing & had loads of great feedback for me. Woohoo!

9. Just found out - mercury is retrograde from March 26-April 23rd. So. We're shooting while Mercury is retrograde. Shit. We have to be really clear, really prepared, and patient with delays & miscommunications. Did I mention we're shooting over 10 days?

10. My nephew turned 5. Took a break from focusing on the movie & got to play soccer in the park with a bunch of little kids. Perspective is everything.

11. We managed to watch the entire season 1 of United States of Tara. I call it "research." I love this job!

Wonder what's going to happen this week?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Funny Podcast Interview with Nick from The Clapper Bored

I just completed my very first podcast interview. I love listening to podcasts and have always thought that I should start my own, but must admit that I find the task of learning just how to do it daunting. And let's face it - I'm swamped with making a movie as it is!

So I was pretty excited to be on a podcast at all. I absolutely loved chatting with Nick in London from He's a great guy with a funny concept - we chatted about Locked in a Garage Band and movie making in general and then jumped into the "Famous scene of the week" which I got to choose. And then we discussed the "movie of the week" - also my choice. I won't give it away here, but will tell you that I got my Molly Ringwald on. *swoon*

I'll post the link to the podcast here when it's up. Happy days!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Don McKellar & Bruce McDonald at the Victoria Film Festival 2011

When I was in high school in 1992, I watched Highway 61 and Roadkill over & over again. And now, flash forward to 2011 and I'm making my first movie (Locked in a) Garage Band and dream of meeting the guys that inspired me way back in the day.

So guess who's coming to town in a little under 2 weeks? Yes, that's right - my high school filmmaking heroes: Don McKellar & Bruce McDonald.

O. M. G.

I'm going to meet them. They don't know it yet, but it's going to happen. Just you watch.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kickstarter Campaign for Locked In a Garage Band

How excited am I?! We already have 19 backers for our $20 000 kickstarter campaign, and almost $1000 in pledges. Awesome!

We can't do it with your help, so please keep on spreading that word. It's been really cool to see people pledging that we don't personally know, and I suspect they heard about the movie from people like you - reading this blog, or following my tweets, or maybe your friend posted the video on your facebook. However you came across our lil' project, please help us turn our dreams into reality.

Exciting news for Victoria BC residents - Jen & I will be on Chek news this coming Monday night at 7:00pm and again at 10:30pm. We did an interview with Gordie Tupper in my garage, the same place we shot the teaser. It was pretty funny. Jen loathes being in front of the camera, but I suspect you won't be able to tell that from the video. Hope not anyway! And I'm just a big goof, so...well we'll see how it turns out.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On Patience & How I Need Some

When I was at the Austin Film Festival this past October, I kept hearing fellow filmmakers tell us newbies that we needed to learn patience.  Our first scripts probably wouldn't be the ones to sell, and it takes 6-10 years to make it in the industry.  "Just be patient," we were told.  I probably heard those statements in various forms about 20 times over the 9 day festival.

As a former primary school teacher, I like to think I can be patient.  Key word: can.  It doesn't mean I like to be. In fact, I think that's why I enjoyed teaching in primary schools - those kids move fast!  I had to move faster than the kids, keeping one step ahead of them at all times, particularly in inner city schools in London, England - or else fights would break out, kids would be hurt and I'd ultimately feel like a really rubbish teacher (like my use of "rubbish" there? Oh, the British! I love them so).

But now, I'm making movies.  And let me tell ya - it takes a whole lot of time to go from point A to point B in the movie world. And we're moving ridiculously fast according to our film-making friends who have already made their first features.  Apparently, it takes at least a year to go from script to final movie.  We're doing it in 6 months. 

Jen, the writer/director in our sister-filmmaking team is much more patient than I am.  She's already written 12 scripts, had a bunch of options and a Praxis contest win, and she manages to write while her 3 kids are running around the house around her.  I'm not even kidding.  I call it the circus over there. 

Our website's not done yet, so we're holding off on the kickstarter launch until it is.  Any day now folks!  At least the teaser is out there and getting loads of great reviews & retweets on twitter.  Now, my patience is being tested as I click "refresh" a gazillion times a day to see how many people have seen it.  I hope to reach a level where I stop refreshing.  If you haven't seen it yet, here it is.

Please share it!

Also, if you have any tips or tricks for learning to be more patient - send them my way.   I need all the advice I can get!