Jocelyn Rish's picture

Kickin’ It Old School

Old School ScheduleBrian mocked me for doing this, but it made planning the shooting schedule so much easier.  We have the EP scheduling software, but even though it has a snazzy drag-n-drop feature for the scenes, I find it tricky to read the scene strips.  The characters are assigned numbers, so I have to remember if the cat is 3 or 4, etc.  The strips are all the same size, so it’s difficult to tell at a glance if the scene is long or short.  The software does a lot of cool stuff, but I was having a hard time figuring out an ideal schedule that took into account actor availability, wardrobe/makeup changes, and whether a set was already lit or not.  So I decided it was time for an arts & crafts project. 

I cut/taped index cards to visually represent the length of each scene.  Then I listed the characters in the scene in their assigned color.  Each set also had its own color, which I used to write the scene number and description.  I also wrote in any special notes, like whether the scene was emotionally demanding or whether a drastic hair/makeup change was needed. 

I laid them out on Brian’s kitchen table, and we were able to experiment with combinations, then see at a glance if the schedule was balanced or had any snags.  Once we were happy with it, we plugged the finalized schedule back into the software.  I know it’s ironic that the gal who works at a software company preferred to use index cards, but the system worked great.  And even with the cutting, taping, and fun with markers, I still think we figured out the schedule faster (and with a more logical design) than we would have while squinting at small strips on the screen trying to remember who the heck 7 is.  And despite the initial mocking, I think Brian liked my system too!

Brian Rish's picture

WANTED: A great actress and a beautiful crier

Just got off the phone with Richard (our casting director). He's about to start making calls in search of our young leading lady Kathy--the bubbly nurse who wears her heart on her sleeve.

Richard asked us to rank our wish-list actresses in order of our preference. He'll start at the top and keep going down the list until he gets a "yes." The tricky thing is because of our budget, when he contacts the actress's people he is basically offering her the job. So if she says "yes" there are no auditions, no read-throughs and no take-backs. Which is a little scary.

Everyone on our list is a VERY talented actress, but we have not seen most of them in a role that requires a wide range of emotions and real tears. So what if we love her, she says yes, and we're all excited, only to find out on the set that she can't cry to save her life. Or what if she gets all red, puffy and gross with snot running out of her nose... we did not budget for a snot wrangler!

Hopefully one of our top choices will say "yes," and we'll get someone who is both a great actress and a beautiful crier.

Jocelyn Rish's picture

Picking Sides

No, Brian and I aren’t fighting and forcing the rest of the crew to pick a side… at least not yet.  And for the record, I’m always right, so it’s safer to pick my side in any argument! 

Actually, we just finished picking the casting sides, which are excerpts from the script for an actress to read for her audition.  With my wishy-washiness, it was tough to pick the perfect scene to judge whether the actress would be able to capture the true essence of the character.  “Oh, we have to use this one because she cries.”  “And we have to use this one too, because she’s dancing.”  “But wait, we also need this one because we have to make sure she can do that eyebrow quirk perfectly.”  And before I know it, I’ve picked the entire script. 

So we took a step back to decide exactly what each character had to nail to be convincing and used that to guide our picks.  We ended up with two scenes for each character, a high point and a low point, to see their range.  I can’t wait to see the candidates reading our lines!

Jocelyn Rish's picture

The Truth Hurts

Brian and I had our first in-person meeting today with Richard Futch and Matt Sefick about casting.  Richard had some hard truths for us about which actresses we can realistically afford with our budget.  My countless hours of searching for the perfect people on IMDB circled merrily down the drain.  Good thing Richard delivered the message in such an upbeat way.  He even had audition footage of some very promising (non-famous) candidates, so that helped sooth the sting.  It will be a treat seeing some of these very talented actresses audition using our script.

Death Cat's picture

Been There Done That

Matt SefickOne big challenge for our shoot will be to keep the balance of teaching the students while filming an amazing movie, especially in such a short timeframe.  The solution?  Get the help of someone who has done it before. 

Matt Sefick was the producer for The Four Children of Tander Welch, which was the first movie funded by the SC film grant.  Matt has agreed to be our 2nd AD and student wrangler.  Having already been through this process, he will be a great source of advice and probably a few “I told you so’s.”

Death Cat's picture

Hawaii here we come!

Our first check!Look what just came in the mail! It’s the check for the first third of our grant money. Do you think the film commission would send out a search party if we skipped town for an extended Hawaiian vacation?

Death Cat's picture

Congratulations Richard!

Richard FutchSouth Carolina casting director Richard Futch has been honored with acceptance into the Casting Society of America (CSA).  Futch received notice from the board of the CSA last week in the offices of Army Wives where he has been the SC Casting Director since its debut in 2006. 

Why is Death Cat excited about this?  Can’t we just be happy for someone else’s good fortune?  Okay, we’re excited because Richard is the casting director for Saying Goodbye, so his new elevated status will surely help us too!

The S.C. Film Commission called Richard the state's premiere casting director since the mid-1990s.  If it filmed in SC, he most likely had a hand in some part of the casting.  

In addition to Army Wives, some of his other credits include The Notebook, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and the new Kevin Costner movie The New Daughter.  So Richard is old friends with our feline star Marmalade.

Brian Rish's picture

Dear Death Cat…

Death Cat LetterI bet the mailman, er, mailwom--, I mean mailperson was nervous today delivering the first piece of mail to Death Cat. Hope they don’t call PETA.

Death Cat's picture

We do exist!

Death Cat's certificate of existance

Yay! Death Cat now officially exists. We even have a certificate to prove it. It cracks us up that they actually call it a "Certificate of Existence."

It's also a little scary that all it took to "exist" was a check for $110 and a smile.

We told you earlier why we call ourselves Death Cat - so earlier this week when we created our production company, only one name seemed appropriate… and thus Death Cat Entertainment, LLC was born.

Death Cat's picture

USC = One Stop Shopping

The media arts students won’t be the only ones at USC working on the project.  After talking with Susan, we've decided to open the project up to ALL interested students.  From theater to marketing to music and even pre med (if any future doctors want to play one on the big screen first), we really want everyone to get involved.

Heading up our theater outreach efforts is Richard Jennings, a professor in the Theatre Department.  In addition to being our liaison with the theatre students, he is opening the doors to all kinds of resources including makeup, hair, and set design.  He's even helping us find background extras. What an asset Richard is turning out to be, and how cool is it that this project is giving so many students such a unique opportunity?