That’s a wrap…

July 7, 2009


Heating Up


The Lexington crew finished re-shoots and pick-ups today and officially wrapped the long, interesting, and exciting production experience that has been…Ecopiphany. Coincidentally, the weather in South Carolina has been perfect for the team’s “vision,” at a constant 90-100 degree heat with plenty of humidity. It really brought out the edge Harrison needed as the environmentally ignorant main character. Honestly though, several scenes had to be cut short, omitted, or completely re-worked in order to survive the long hours it took to shoot some of the scenes. Today, for example, the team wanted to add the aspect of a flower as a symbol of epiphany for the main character in the desolate, HOT, almost lifeless interpretation of a future of constant global warming. It was so hot out, that none of them could find an adequate, blooming flower that would suffice. They had to use the blooms of a large tree in order to make it work. I guess that was a good example of life imitating art…

It has taken the team 5 months to prepare a rough cut of a 10 page script, and none of them ever imagined that they would need to invest so much time into the production. Since the rough cut was posted, they have received tremendous suggestions and observations to which they are reviewing each and every frame with a much more critical eye. We thank everyone for these suggestions, and welcome more! I see this as essential work to complete a nicely polished final cut, but I do wish (at times) that I was on the beach, or at the lake, or on vacation somewhere instead of sitting in front of a computer screen looking at the same few seconds of footage over and over and over and over again. Post-production takes so much more time and effort than actually filming the movie. The crew is learning a lot about matching cuts, adding sound and polishing dialogue, pacing, and most importantly – using only what is essential to the overall message of the film.

Some observations from my perspective as production supervisor:

People (the public) are very interested in filmmaking. I watched as several passed us by and waited – if for a moment – to check out what is going on. Their interest and curiosity overpowered their instinct to ignore us, and after talking to many who just came right up to me and asked while filming was going on, they even agreed to log on and check out our rough cut on the WGBH website!

Evan, Padraig, and Ishan, even Harrison, have learned and have grown so much in the past few months. From a teacher’s perspective, I have noticed their skills increase each day, so much so that I took a much less active role in the process every time that we met. Today, they finished the parking garage scene by themselves, because they no longer needed my help and advice – it was a great accomplishment.

In a much more significant sense, however, (not even having anything to do with film) I have seen these students grow socially, responsibly, and emotionally. I think this is an aspect of the process that WGBH (unknowingly?) incorporates into each Open Call. These young filmmakers are certainly learning more about specific issues of our time and providing an excellent voice for each topic covered, but they are also learning a lot about themselves, and how they fit into this great big world. I have watched as my students worked together, laughed, yelled, struggled, overcame…all to accomplish something that ultimately will prove to them that they can achieve anything. And I think that is what this is all about. Ecopiphany has not just become a chance for these three students from Lexington High School to have their voice heard on the topic of Global Warming, it has been a chance for them to find their voices – and with that, a powerful sense of confidence, enthusiasm, personal strength, and passion.

What an amazing experience this has been…

but it’s not over yet…

More stats:

Total run-time: 00:10:01 (will be shortened)

1 lost cell phone

2.58 gallons of Dr. Pepper consumed (by one person!)

8 trips around the parking garage in my car for one scene

9 Locations used (we thank everyone for their cooperation!)

4 extras – 1 not used (sorry Connor)

approx. 175 miles driven by Harrison

100…MANY hours on visual effects by Evan

2 out of 3 times Padraig lost (one by me, one by Harrison)

5 GB left on our editing computer from 75 GB (that is how much we filmed)


Ecopiphany on a roll…

June 15, 2009


Heating Up


It is always interesting how fast time flies when you are doing something that you greatly enjoy.  We started this “little” project about four months ago, and we are still going strong.  I just checked our production schedule today and I said to myself, “Wow!  We’ve been working on it for that long!?  It certainly didn’t seem like it.”  But it’s true…and we’re STILL not finished.

The crew from Lexington High School consists of Evan Wu, Padraig Kelly, and Ishan Patel.  I mainly serve as their supervisor, producer (if I can be called that), and coordinator – I’ll also add blog creator too…because they are high school kids, and they have such busy lives.  Anyway, the whole idea for Ecopiphany came from a long discussion in class one day after school.  It was a group consensus that they did not want to do a documentary because they wanted to “be different,” their terms.  So they wrote up a short script, filmed the pitch, and here we are.

It’s tough because they want to make it look so professional…but we just don’t have the resources yet.  We are using basic digital camcorders, makeshift equipment for dollies and depth of field, locations based on availability but mostly improvised…it’s tough.  The great thing is, they are not disheartened.  They are having fun, doing a fantastic job with what they’ve got, and producing some great footage.  On the positive side, our post production work should look amazing!  I’ve been involved with filmmaking off-and-on since college so I was able to teach them how to use the FinalCut Pro software and little things on After Effects .  Evan is a whiz-kid on After Effects (he’s the one who made the effects on the pitch reel).  I literally spent several of my planning periods at school watching the tutorials at so that I could catch up to him.


Stats so far (more to follow):

Crewmen (Ishan & Padraig), Crutches (Evan)

Footage = approx. 3 hrs. 21 mins. (which we have to edit down to 5 – 10 mins.)

Lead Actor = one Harrison Ayer: a very talented student from Lexington High School who stepped up when our “professional” was unable to work with us. He is doing a great job.

Trips to Columbia, SC (main location) – 5

Times Padraig forgot to start filming – 3

Times the crew forgot to turn the camera off – a lot!

Days lingered of “Totally Ripped Abs” – 2

Perfect shooting days – 7

Times Ishan was in the frame of a perfect shot – 1

Times Evan said “That’s a hole in my heart!” – countless (but we do have a name for our production company now, haha!)

They only have two more days of filming left, but we have already started editing some of the footage together. Now that school is out, they will meet with me in order to finish the rough cut on time.

Whew…it’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.

– more later…