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A Fun and Educational Weekend

Roberta Munroe and the RishesWhile editing Saying Goodbye, we sought the insight of many people, one of which was the fabulous Roberta Munroe.  After talking with her and reading her book How NOT To Make A Short Film: Secrets from a Sundance Programmer, we kept thinking how much easier things would have been if we'd known some of her pearls of wisdom BEFORE we filmed the movie.  With that in mind, we suggested to the SC Film Commission that they bring Roberta in for one of their workshops.  And fortunately for the aspiring filmmakers of South Carolina, they did!

On Saturday, Roberta came to Charleston to present a crash course on making short films.  She started off the morning stressing the importance of a strong story and returned to that key point many times during the workshop.  She also showed us three short films that are among her favorites to give us a feel for the tight, layered storytelling needed in shorts: Taika Waititi’s Academy award nominated Two Cars, One Night; Joshua Leonard’s heartbreaking The Youth in Us; and Trevor Anderson’s quirky documentary The High Level BridgeThroughout the rest of the day, Roberta gave tips about the various stages of production, and then wrapped it up in the afternoon with advice about film festivals and distribution. It’s hard to believe she covered so much in one day, and our heads were close to bursting with information overload. 

Then on Sunday, we were privileged to be included when five of the current SC Indie Grant projects screened their rough cuts for Roberta to get her feedback.  It was fun to see the variety offered by these grant projects from comedy to drama to surreal fantasy to two documentaries about completely different aspects of life in South Carolina.  Roberta’s advice to these filmmakers on how they can improve their projects was enlightening, and it will echo in our brains when we make our next film.

As informative as her workshop and the screenings were, the highlight of the weekend was having dinner and drinks with Roberta on Saturday night.  She’s warm and witty and so enthusiastic that it’s no surprise she’s had so much success.  Getting the chance to know her better and hear some of her war stories made it a weekend we will never forget.  Hopefully we’ll cross paths with her again soon on the film festival circuit.

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Pop Open the Bubbly!

Saying Goodbye is finished!There are several reasons to celebrate 1-1-11:

First of all, it’s the start of a new year.  So Happy New Year to all the fans of Saying Goodbye!  We hope you stick to your resolutions and that your dreams for the year come true.

We’re well on our way with our dreams, because at long, long, LONG last the movie is finished.  The burned DVD is even labeled, “Final. FINAL” so you know we’re not playing around.  The music has been added and all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed in the credits.  WE ARE DONE!!!  Whoo hoo! 

It may have taken us a while to get here, but we’re really happy with our movie; and we hope it means as much to everyone who watches it as making it has meant to us.  And we are so grateful to everyone who has helped us get to this point - thank you!  

So what do we do now that we have a finished movie in our eager little hands?  We submit it to our very first film festival of course!  Saying Goodbye has now been submitted to the Atlanta Film Festival.  The AFF is a great festival which happens to be an Academy Awards qualifier for shorts, and since three of our lead actors (Edith Ivey, Mary Elizabeth Cobb, and Michael Scialabba) are from Atlanta, it would be a great opportunity for their friends and family to see the movie on the big screen.  Keep your fingers crossed that we get accepted!

Our 2011 has started with a bang, and we hope to keep the momentum going as we submit to festivals over the coming months.  Keep an eye on the blog, facebook, and twitter to see if we’ll be playing at a festival near you.

Happy New Year!

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Saying Goodbye to Senia Phillips

Marmalade in Senia Phillips' chairWe were saddened to learn that Senia Phillips passed away on December 21st.  Senia was the owner of Southern Animal Talent Agency and the trainer of Marmalade and Mason, the feline stars of Saying Goodbye.  We never had the pleasure of meeting Senia in person, because she was in poor health at the time of the shoot, but from our conversations with her on the phone, she was a wonderful person.  And her care and passion for animals was obvious, which automatically made her ‘good people’ in our books. 

We knew she’d been having health troubles, but we had no idea they were so serious, so we were shocked to hear she had passed at the young age of 56.  Our hearts go out to her family and friends (and animals), since it’s especially difficult to lose someone so close to the holidays.  We know all the animals she’s loved and adored over the years were waiting for her at the Rainbow Bridge

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Death Cat Claus

Merry Christmas from Saying GoodbyeDeath Cat wishes everyone a very happy holiday season!

It’s been a very busy year finishing up Saying Goodbye.  We are thankful for all of our fans who have been so supportive and enthusiastic.  Stay tuned in the new year as we start entering film festivals.  Hopefully we’ll be playing at a festival near you.

Because of its popularity last year, we are offering an encore presentation of our holiday animation.  Watch it below or play it on YouTube.  Enjoy! 

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season, and we hope you have a wonderful 2011!!

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On the Road Again

Mike McGinnisThis morning we hopped in the car and headed up to Charlotte for another exciting moment in the making of Saying Goodbye – the live musicians playing the score.  We arrived at Concentrix where Fred Story took us through the score one more time for any potential last minute changes.  Did we want an extra flourish here?  Did we prefer an oboe or a violin for this section?  After we were sure we loved it, it was time for the first recording session.

Phil ThompsonIn the score, there are three instruments that have solos, so these were the parts Fred was recording live in the studio.  Michael McGinnis was first up playing the guitar, which gives the score its southern flavor.  Phil Thompson was up next to play the clarinet, which added a rich, warm tone to everything.  And finally Jane Hart Brendle played the violin to give sections of the score an evocative feel. 

Jane Hart BrendleIt was so impressive watching and hearing these amazing musicians do their thing.  They came in with no prior knowledge of the score - Fred handed them the sheet music, they watched the sections of the movie where they’d be playing, and then they played it without any hesitations or stumbles.  Now we know these are professionals and it’s what they do for a living, but it’s still impressive to watch, since we used to practice the piano for hours and still stumble our way through our lessons.  

Fred then mixed the recordings of the three live musicians with the rest of the score, and it sounded fantastic.  Fred kept telling us how different the score would sound with a few live musicians (instead of the pre-recorded loops), but we were astonished at how much more alive it sounded.  The musicians brought so much feeling and emotion to what they were playing that Jocelyn got teary during the recording sessions.  Many thanks to Mike, Phil, and Jane for bringing that extra oomph to the Saying Goodbye score.

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Happy Halloween!

Reaper StuffyStuffy the Stand-in had a blast this past week trying on various Halloween costumes.  But of course on actual All Hallow’s Eve, there was only one thing the mascot of Death Cat Entertainment could dress up as – the grim reaper. 

Genesis Studios had a Halloween soiree and of course Death Cat was the life of the party.  In the picture you can see he is surrounded by some of his friends from the crew of Saying Goodbye (Darrell, Brian, Laurie, Will, Jocelyn, Cliff, and John).  Stuffy the Stand-in and the rest of the Saying Goodbye cast and crew hope you have a spooktacular Halloween!!

Saying Goodbye Crew Halloween

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Spinning the Vote

Spider StuffyStuffy the Stand-in had one last costume he wanted to take out for a spin and it was driving him up the wall not to wear it.  So he thought he’d drop in to the website and wear it while hanging around to hear the results of all the costume voting:

Saturday – Lobster
Sunday – Cow
Monday – Bee
Tuesday – Dinosaur
Wednesday – Witch
Thursday – Tourist
Friday – Black Cat
Saturday – Devil
Halloween – Death Cat

We hope everyone has enjoyed the week-long Halloween fashion show.  Thank you to everyone who left an opinion for Stuffy the Stand-in.

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We sliced and diced some pumpkins this weekend and (surprise, surprise) I carved mine into a cat; so I had to share my masterpiece with everyone.  I hope you’re having a wonderful Halloween weekend!

Death Cat Pumpkin

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Classic Showdown

Stuffy the Stand-in is back to his regularly scheduled costume confrontation after taking the day off yesterday to celebrate National Cat Day.  Today's costume faceoff is timeless: good vs. evil . . . heaven vs. hell . . . angel vs. devil.  Articles written about Oscar the death predicting cat often refer to him as the Angel of Death and say the fact that he comforts people at the end of their lives is a force of good.  Other people think a cat who can predict when people will die is the work of the devil.  Stuffy the Stand-in is representing both sides of the debate today.

So if a death predicting cat crept into your room, would you view it as a blessing or a curse?  Fly on over to the comments and let Stuffy the Stand-in know if you prefer your cats angelically beautiful or devilishly handsome. 

Angel Stuffy

Devil Stuffy

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Happy National Cat Day!

October 29 was National Cat Day, so Stuffy the Stand-in decided to skip his usual costume conundrum and select his own outfit (you can enjoy his Halloween fashion show here and vote for your favorites).  Since it was such a special day, there was only one thing Stuffy the Stand-in could dress as . . . a cat!  So he decided to be a witch’s black cat.  We think his choice is the cat’s meow!

Kitty Stuffy

Every October 29th, National Cat Day shines attention on the fact that an alarming number of cats need to be rescued each year.  We grew up in a house full of animals, and all of our current “babies” are rescues; so we were proud of the fact that Marmalade and Mason, the feline stars of Saying Goodbye, were adopted from shelters.  We have a great deal of admiration and respect for all the people who work and volunteer at shelters to improve the lives of all our furry friends, and we want to thank them for all that they do.

National Cat Day is also about celebrating the cats in our lives.  So because of that, we are reposting the Kitty Cat Dance, since it shows why cats are such amazing creatures: they are independent, clever, stubborn, and absolutely adorable.  If you own a cat, make sure to give him/her plenty of love today, and if you don’t have one, consider how you can help your local shelters.  

Have a purr-fectly wonderful National Cat Day!