The title of my last blog was The Festival Rollercoaster begins and I didn't even know how true that was. What happened with Stunt Mom and the Big Apple Film Festival is probably not common and I might not have shared the story at all if it wasn't for my last blog. I got a no! I got a "not accepted" email from Film Freeway telling me that Stunt Mom was not accepted into the Big Apple Film Festival Women's Filmmaker Showcase. And I told you all, I wasn't proud to admit it but I did actually cry. I know, and don't worry, I usually have thicker skin than that, but some days are harder than others to stay positive. So then on January 15th (a full week later) I got an email from the Festival Director asking if I would still be interested in screening with the festival. Um...yeah! Here is the funny thing, I don't know what happened. Was another film that got accepted unable to screen for some reason? OR (and this scenario is my favorite) did festival guy #1 love Stunt Mom, and festival guy #2 well, not so much love, so he pressed the NO button. Then a HUGE knock down, drag out fight ensued and guy #1 WON!!! Yay!!! Yippee!!! Congratulations to guy #1 for fighting for what you believe in. Ok, I have an active imagination but I am Stunt Mom after all! So I got accepted to the BAFF. I did an interview, I screened my film, I got the fancy pictures in front of the pink wall and I met some amazing filmmakers. And so, the rollercoaster took on some very interesting turns. Since then Stunt Mom got accepted to the Garden State Film Festival and the Artemis Women in Action Film Festival, and you already know about the Queens Film Festival, so all is very good. Today, I got another "not accepted" email but I assure that I didn't I cry and I really wasn't disappointed at all. Look at what this little film has already accomplished! It has far exceeded my expectations and I am absolutely thrilled. And hey, maybe in a week or two I will get an email changing that no to a yes. You never know! Stranger things have happened!
Ok, folks I will start with the great news! Stunt Mom got accepted into the Queens World Film Festival! That was my first choice, truly one of the best festivals! And it really is because of this first big "yes" that I feel free to write about the feelings behind this process.
As an actor, I audition for roles, sometimes how good your work is has nothing to do with if you get the part. Therefore, a lot of things have to go right to get hired. It is grueling, emotional and sometimes downright painstaking. We aren't in control of who hires us, therefore we aren't in control of how much we work, therefore we don't have a lot of control over our lives. I recently began audiobook narration as a means to bring in some extra money. I was thrilled to have some instant success. My training as an actor and a singer lent itself very well to the art form and I was getting requests for some jobs without even auditioning. I thought, well, "I have some control." Some control is right. After those projects ended I wanted to do another book and guess what I had to do. You guessed it! Audition! So now I am auditioning as an actor and auditioning as an audiobook narrator. I don't believe in the word rejection when you don't get the job. It is simply not getting the job. As long as I do good work, I'm generally happy with that. But as time and auditions go on, it does tend to wear on you. And then there is that total lack of control again. So what do I decide to do? Create my own opportunity! Write my own short film! Talk about rewarding, talk about taking control, and feeling empowered! It was wonderful! Now, after I made the film I had some choices, after all, it is mine to do with as I choose. I could have just released it online for anyone and everyone to see. At first, I thought this was a great idea, no stress! Just show it off to anyone who wants to see it and then move on to my next project. But then I had a conversation with someone who asked me a simple question. She said, "Did you make the film to be viewed on people's phones and computers, or do you want it shown on a big screen?" Well, the answer was obvious. The point in taking control of my own destiny was to make something big happen, to see this film on a big screen and to create more opportunities. The kind of opportunities that Festivals provide. And that brings us to now. I can't control who accepts my film into their Festival. My only control was where I chose to submit it and the specific cover letters I wrote, and then it was out of my hands. How funny, that I purposely put myself back into this situation with the very project that was supposed to give me some control. Well, the first place I submitted was to a monthly screening series in Brooklyn that I regularly attend. I know the producers and submitted my film in person. The theater is gorgeous and right in downtown Brooklyn where so many of my friends would be able to come. Knowing the producers personally, I thought that might give me a better chance to get in. They were very kind and very quick in turning the film down. Even though I really wanted it and really thought I had a good chance, I wasn't terribly disappointed. After all, I'm used to this process. Stunt Mom just wasn't the right fit. I get it. But now I have to wait another two months before I find out anything else. No problem, I just put it out of my mind for a while. On January 5th there were two Festivals that were supposed to notify. Half way through day I went online and saw that one changed the date to January 12 (which incidentally is today) the other hadn't made a change. The day went on and I couldn't stop thinking about it. No response. All weekend, no response. Monday rolls around and I'm actually quite anxious. The day went by painfully slow and then in the late afternoon I got the "not accepted" email. Well, I'm not proud to admit it, but I cried. Why did I cry? Why did I care that much? Yes, it was a Manhattan Festival but there weren't a lot of events surrounding it and I didn't even know too much about this one in particular. But I just felt defeated. I put myself out there and my work out there and now I just received a second "no." This was when it occurred to me, I chose this! But there is no other choice. You can't be an actor that doesn't audition. You can't be a filmmaker that doesn't try to expose your work to the world. You can't be an artist without taking risks and opening yourself up. It doesn't matter what career you have, you can't control how others react to you, perceive you, hire you, say yes or no to you. We have control over our own actions! That is where we have control and that is it! I chose to submit to Festivals and I'm glad I did. Although, it might not have been easy to admit that if I didn't get into any. I need strength to reveal my vulnerability. The next day I got a very BIG "YES!" Getting into the Queens World Film Festival and being notified a week before scheduled was just absolutely joyous! This was the one I wanted most! In my own borough, gorgeous movie theater, many filmmaker events. Heck, while I've been writing this blog I got an invitation to the first event next weekend. I'm thrilled! But the only thing I know for sure is that Stunt Mom couldn't have gotten in if I didn't submit it! You don't get the highs (or the lows) of the rollercoaster if you don't get on the ride. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. You get it, right?! I signed up for this, I take risks and they don't always work out. But I will always keep trying. And I will let you in on a little secret, I really only needed to get into one Festival! Just one big screen, just one yes, to truly make this feel like a win! And I got it! There are 9 Festivals left and from this point on, anything else that happens is just a bonus!
,It's 2018!!! Happy New Year! And with this New Year comes new excitement! Stunt Mom has been submitted to 12 Festivals. Notifications will be between the end of this month and the end of March. I can't wait to let you know what happens. Have you been looking forward to a sneak peek of what this film is about? Well, good news, the official Stunt Mom Trailer is done! To have a look, go to the bottom on the homepage! And get ready!!!
Post-production on Stunt Mom is complete! Yahoo! Yippee! Please do your happy dance now! I admit it, to me, it felt like an eternity! But I have heard that we actually got through post pretty quickly. Some of it was really fun and creative, especially the music! I really love the music! And I had never done ADR before, that stands for Automated Dialogue Replacement and it means that the actor has to record their lines in a studio because the sound wasn't great on set. And then you take those lines and match them up to the lips. It is kind of crazy, but I enjoyed it! Some of the process was a bit more tedious but luckily I didn't have to do that nitty-gritty tough stuff. I am so proud and so excited about the final product! So, here is the plan; Festivals and Screenings! I want everyone to get to see it, but let's face it, I would like as many of you as possible to see it on a big screen! I will be submitting to Festivals on the East Coast from Philly up to Boston. At this point I am focusing on the Spring circuit, meaning the majority of these are in March and April! I will keep you posted on getting accepted into some of these amazing Festivals but there will also be a few screenings! So stay tuned for more info on when you will get to see Stunt Mom in action!
I had the great pleasure of hanging out this week with two women that both unknowingly inspired Stunt Mom so I thought this would be a great opportunity to share.
The phrase "Stunt Mom®" was coined by commercial Casting Director Stacy Osnow-Gallo who referred to me that way once she discovered my background in stunts. The idea to write a short film with that title was put in my head by my amazing acting coach Bill Timoney, when I told him what Stacy had called me. But honestly, that could have been the end of it because writing, producing and starring in your own short film is a lot of hard work, expensive and time consuming for anyone, especially a busy mom.
I found myself becoming intrigued by the idea and I started to really get inspired by women making their own films, first off was Hollis 'Fox' Wansley with her film "Night Runner" currently in post-prod. I had to meet her and talk to her about it even though I knew that I couldn't do what she did. Then I came across, Natalie Kim with "See Me See You" that I had the chance to see and was completely blown away, by her acting and the level of production. I thought it was taken out of a major motion picture. Every aspect was stellar. I had to meet her! So we found a time for a Skype meeting. We had a wonderful conversation and she shared quite a bit with me about the process and I was left feeling like, "well, she's amazing but I still can't do that, because I have 2 kids." After we got off the phone and she texted me, oh by the way, I also have two kids and my youngest is a 10 month old baby! Yikes! That blew me away! She's a mom and not just mom, but a mom of a baby, and she did that! Well, I can't use that as an excuse anymore. Then I started coming across these other moms that are creating their own work and using their MOM experience as part of their work. Liz Grosinger Samuel created a webseries called "Momtress" she's an actress and a mom. We actually did a commercial together but never met on set and discovered each other after it aired. Dina Drew Duva has a network called Mom Cave TV and wrote and produced a short called "Mama Drama." And Jeanine Bartel is the producer of a hysterical webseries called "Mother Judger." These women inspire me! Gotta love the Momtress, Mama Drama, Mother Judger names and add am thrilled to add Stunt Mom to the mix!
Then I realized that my age and motherhood are not excuses! I have mom friends who are still currently working as professional Stunt Women, Amy Jordan, Marybeth Ortiz, and Caroline Leppanen Vexler to name a few. And I have a mom friend who got into the BEST shape of her life at 50 years old, Tracy Kay Griffin's body seems impossible! Her stomach is a washboard and the rest of her is chiseled to match. She didn't make excuses, she did it!
All these women are amazing and whether they know it or not, they inspired me to make Stunt Mom! And I did it! I'm so proud of myself but I couldn't have done without inspiration.
SO THANK YOU ALL!!!!!!!!
Oh, the post production fun! I admit it, I started with the fun stuff. First I started researching the deadlines for Film Festivals. Fun, but time consuming, so I took a break. Then I though, wait, I gotta get this baby on IMDB. So I opened up the page and 2 hours later it was submitted. Yep, that's how long it took to fill everything out. Is that why some people don't submit their projects to IMDB? I don't know, but I am glad that I did it because now, it's on. It makes me so happy to see my film, my silly idea, turn into something real. Then today I got together with Shannon who is not only the Director but also the editor. She has completed the first rough cut of the film. By the way, that is like, record time. People just don't usually get it done that fast. So we watched it through and made a few decisions on what to extend, to trim to ... whatever. But I will mention a very important moment. After we filmed, she asked me how involved I wanted to be in the editing process and I'm grateful that I'm smart enough to know the answer. I answered, "very little." So all those amazing cuts from all those takes, were all put together by Shannon. I got to come in at the last minute to make a few tweaks. I guess that is one of the perks of being the Producer, but as the star, it is hard to be objective about your work as an actor. And just like we did on set, we worked together very well and we are that much closer to our finished product. There is still much more to come and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you. But for now, check us out on IMDB.
So there is no doubt about it, the last day seemed like it was the easiest shooting day. We only have 3 short scenes in two locations. We did have to drive but both locations were easy to park. In fact we didn't even need sound. And one of the locations we needed to have almost no crew so we could film quickly so we didn't use a PA. This is how it went, Day 1; complicated travel, locations and timing. Day 2; basically one location but a lot of filming to get through. Then we had 2 days off to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done and know that we only have a little bit left. The last day was just me, the director and cinematographer. But here is the part that made this day the easiest for everyone but me; Day 3 we filmed the majority of the stunts. Everything that I had been working for, taking classes, preparing, training and getting stronger for, was all on Day 3. So yes, I celebrated the success of the first 2 days but I was very aware of what was left to do. And ok, I admit it, NERVOUS! Well, here is the great part, I did it! In fact, we added things! I was so ready, that I was able to keep going and get every shot that we could possibly allot into the given time in the location. I couldn't possibly have been more excited! There you have it, 3 days of filming and they all went by smoothly and without a hitch. I am so proud to say that Stunt Mom has finished filming.
What lies ahead is editing and a music score to complete the actual film. On my end (as a Producer) I need to submit the title to IMDB, finish post production paper work with SAG, tend to the fundraising campaign and manage the budget, and put together my list of film festivals to submit the film. I will continue to keep you posted on that process and our progress. But the good news is...we are close!
We filmed Stunt Mom in 3 days! If I weren't also starring in it, I'm sure I could have blogged each night and let you all in on the fun details as they unfolded. But as the star of Stunt Mom, I had to take care of myself physically as well. So let me start with Day 1! We began with the busiest and fullest day! Three locations, two of them were outside. Specific times that we had to be in certain places and actors meeting us half way through the day. All my work as a Producer was showing up right there. I had never met the PA that I had hired. I had never met the Sound person that my Director had hired. We all had to convene on my friend's apartment. A friend that was doing me a big favor. I will start by saying that no one was sick, or had to bow out at the last minute. The weather was sunny with blue skies, wow, just like I had in the script. The only snafu was that the DP couldn't find a parking spot. But guess what, my husband was there and was able to take the car to park so that Steven, the DP, could unload his equipment and get to work. We shot 3 scenes in that location and man, my crew blew me away. Amelia, the PA that I hired on the phone, who I had never met, stepped into the first shot as BG and then ran the slate, took set photos and held lighting, most of which she did without being taught what to do. She was so set savvy that she made it look easy. She helped the day run so smoothly! We walked to our second location and poor Maryclare had the hardest job running sound on one of the noisiest corners in Brooklyn. And then we had to travel by car and subway to our third location, The Brooklyn Zoo! This place is AMAZING! My whole crew and other cast member turned into kids in the adult jungle gym of this parkour space. This last scene we shot was one of the most complicated and we only had two hours. Well, we made it there on time. We got use of the space, just as planned and we completed the scene from all angles in the allotted two hours! So what I'm getting at here is that everything went exactly the way that it was supposed to go! Yep, it was that great! Day 2 was less complicated in terms of travel and specific timing but we had to shoot twice as many scenes. So it could have been so easy to get off schedule. But we didn't get off schedule. Actually, the Director, Shannon Morrall was so good that she said we were behind schedule when we sat down to dinner at 5:10 (instead of 5:00) To me, that was pretty stellar! By the way, Shannon Morrall is a natural director, she has such an incredible eye, a confident and playful demeanor, an ability to get things out of actors and always stayed calm and in charge. I am so lucky to have got her at this point in her career because she will be very successful! More than half the scenes on Day 2 were outside shots and the weather was clear once again. Mind you, there were thunderstorms the day before and the day after shooting! This just makes me believe that this Short Film was meant to be. I know that I'm not giving you much detail about scenes or locations and that is because I want the Film to come as a fun surprise. I don't want to reveal too much so that you can enjoy it more the first time you see it! There is a Day 3 of filming to tell you about as well, but I'm going to save that for tomorrow's post, I'm tired and there is still lots of work to do. I'll tell you all about that as well. Thanks for tuning in, I'm so excited to share the finished product with everyone!
Do you remember that Disney commercial where the little boy says, "I'm too excited to sleep"? Yeah, it's kind of like that. So today, let's see, I did the grocery shopping for crew snacks and the on screen meal. Made a couple last minute changes there as well. Good news is that the last minute change made my day easier. Then I bought the last prop, a hula hoop! I really love hula hoops! Then I finished all the necessary signs. Then I got to prepping the food. I made these super yummy mashed potatoes with the skins still on. I love potatoes! Ok, just a little more. Now, I know I told you that I had all my wardrobe figured out, but really it was everything except the last scene. Well, that was a doozie! And when I finally figured out the last scene, it ended up using the shirt from the first scene so I had to make more adjustments. That's how it goes. I'm a bit undecided on my shirt for the first scene but we aren't filming that tomorrow. Wardrobe, props, snacks, makeup, waivers, shooting schedules and band aids are all packed up. Tomorrow we have three locations and my team, cast and crew included, is ready! As for me, "I'm too excited to sleep!"
Yesterday, as exhaustion set in I realized that I needed to take a break from everything. Most of the day I rested. Oh, except for one thing, I hired that last member of the crew. Yep, that happened on the day off. I posted for the position, sent emails, and made calls until I found the right person. So now the crew is set. Amelia Spitler is our Production Assistant and she is excited to be a part of this! Wow! That feels so cool when someone is excited to be a part of this film and this process. My whole team is like that! It's awesome! And even though I was completely exhausted last night it was easier to fall asleep knowing that position was filled.
Today has been non stop, confirming locations and travel, posting on social media, and securing the official SAG-AFTRA Signatory Status, woohoo! And even more! I'm creating those last props, making signs and finishing last touches. Oh, and I finally finished choosing all of Stunt Mom's wardrobe. Lots of sporty outfits and bright colors (pictured below). I even thought that I could sneak in a run while taking the kids out for a bike ride. Turns out that Tony can ride his bike a lot faster than I can run. But at least it was a great workout!