Special Post: The Anne Beal Edition (pt. 2)

From the journal of Anne Beal (see previous post):

A heated game of scrabble. I guess we played scrabble at some point?

As an animation, film and video student, my summer with Kazoo Films was priceless. Observing Nandan set up his shots gave me insight into cinematography; working with Bruno + Harrison gave me the opportunity to see a beautiful creative and collaborative relationship. I appreciated Forrest as a grounded and wise collaborator…and for introducing me to the project. He generated so much interest in the film – the film couldn’t exist without him.

Some practical things I learned: in the bonfire shoot, Nandan used large squares of foam core spray painted silver to reflect light from the fire and provide more/prettier light for the camera. In indoor shots, like the kitchen in [one of the farms], he hung black fabric around the light bulbs he brought to control the path/distribution of light. Seeing these things applied on a live set has served me well in my education! I’m focusing primarily on animation at RiSD right now. One thing I was worried about was not getting enough experience in live action on a set. I got that this summer, and amidst the lush mountains of WNC at that!

I learned so much about organizing a production. I became really good at talking to strangers and new acquaintances about things we needed for production. In my first week I went around to about a dozen establishments in Hendersonville, Asheville, Flat Rock and Clay County asking proprietors to donate props. I had to be really convincing and professional and assure them that our project was worth while, and that we would take care of their items. I was pleased to learn that people in our community were so willing to help!

As we got into filming, my responsibilities developed into organizing and shopping for and preparing food for the crew and cast at shoots. Also, I had a car, which was really helpful in running errands. We also used it as a dolly in one shot at six in the morning in downtown Marshall….yessssssss.

I got to spruce up the sets, too, which was a lot of fun – like playing house sometimes. Making a living space convincing on camera – that’s another thing I learned.

The Red Rose o' England

Thanks again, Anne. You are the best.
Keep an eye on this blog, folks. Things are getting interesting again in Kazoo-land (hint: rough cut).

Special Post: The Anne Beal Edition (pt. 1)

Greetings Kazooers,

Today’s post is from Anne Beal, the unofficial (not that anything about this film was “official”) fifth member of the Kazoo Crew. There isn’t really a title in the professional film world that captures Anne’s role on the set of “If I Had Wings To Fly” (or whatever). She was the art director, transportation captain, craft services specialist, general production assistant and much, much more.

Anne introduced herself during pre-production and said that she wanted to help in any way she could, which was nice, but we were a little skeptical because a few people had said that and then hadn’t really followed through. Anne, however, proved to be indispensible, invaluable, and great, and the movie would not have happened without her. Period.

So the forthcoming two posts will give us an idea about Anne’s perspective on the silliness of this summer’s fLim-making. The images were scanned from the notebook she kept with her at all times. The reflections themselves were transcribed from the same. Enjoy!

love, Bruno

Magical Adventures

-to a medicine man’s wagon

-to an enchanted farm

-and a still-in-time farmhouse, preserved with grandma’s comb and powder still preservedĀ on the vanity. The calendars in the wall – a smiling Jesus for every year – stop around 1973. That’s how we found it. We filmed another farm in Marble, NC, outside of Murphy – we turned abandoned places into living sets for our story. We gathered old and new friends from across the country to piece together this malleable and rich story, each scene shaped by the collaboration of Bruno and Harrison’s vision and the personal embodiment of the characters involved. The people we cast adopted our story and enriched it with their individual voices.


On the crew side of things, we learned as we went – how to organize our shoots and how to communicate with the cast – and how to feed everyone! Our first big shoot, the bonfire scene, challenged us with a remote location (bathroomless, waterless) and extreme heat from a roaring fire! We had about 15 to 20 musicians, plus some friends and family, and we (in the midst of our excitement and other logistics we were working out in preparation) kind of forgot, or didn’t realize, we would need a TON OF WATER to keep everyone hydrated. By the end of the night, after hours of prep and hours of shooting, we had run out of water and were passing around a bag of fruit and drinking the juices. The most delicious fruit salad I have ever eaten.

The Bonfire Scene

Our next big shoot (in between “big” shoots we had moderate shoots with about 5 crew and 2-10 cast) was the sqaure dance scene! Friends and family rallied behind us to house, feed, and dance with us at the [John C. Campbell] Folk School. We were really prepared this time (my mom cooked a whole 30 person batch of pasta!) and even a bag of extra costumes!

To be continued…

Editor! (and working title(!))

Hello friends and Kazooers around the globe,

We have officially started editing!

A good friend of ours named Jesse arrived in Marshall, NC from New Jersey last sunday, and began his return trip early the following Saturday. What did Harrison, Bruno and Jesse do in between? They watched every single frame that Kazoo films shot this summer.

Homecoming in Texana

We went through the film, scene by scene, from beginning to end. We talked about what takes we liked, what was essential, inessential, the overall flow, tone, and the ever-elusive “pacing.” Editing is hard in a lot of ways. Harrison and I have been living with this film in our heads for a long time – it has existed in theory, on paper, in words, in sketches, in our imaginations, so it’s very nice to have someone coming at it with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. Another hard thing: Harrison and I love everything we shot, but we now have to face the possibility that to include everything that we like might make for a VERY long movie. Jesse, ever cold and clinical, will be able to tell us bluntly yet insightfully what material is moving the story forward, and what is “fat.”

What’s next? Jesse is taking the footage back to his New York studio (small apartment) to give body to the limbs, bones, and organs of our story. He’ll be getting back to us in the next few weeks with a first cut for Bruno and I to watch. Chances are this cut will be far too long but don’t you worry dear reader, Harrison and I will be the only ones who need to watch this version. From there we’ll skim away, slowly honing the story and it’s themes. After we’ve gone through this process a few times we’ll open the film up for some test viewings. Maybe some lucky blog readers will get a sneak peak!

Kisha and Felix attend Texana's Mt. Zion Church

Jesse taking the footage frees up our hands to start working on the next steps – finding the best person to master the sound (a job of equal importance to editing the picture), creating promotional art, and researching the best film festivals for us to enter.

So keep kazooing along!

Love, Bruno and Harrison

P.S. Reveal of working title: If I Had Wings I Would Fly

What is the movie? “The Blind Pig and the Acorn” features Kazoo Films (Kazoo Films in E-ink!)

Yesterday’s entry of Tipper Presley’s excellent Appalachian culture-themed blog features in-depth interviews with Harrison and myself. For anyone out there who is still wondering what exactly the film is “about” this could be a pretty good clue – Tipper asked some good questions. Thanks to Tipper for the publicity. And thanks go to Tipper and her daughters Katie and Corie for appearing in the film as well!

Check it out HERE.

Marble House, photo by Tipper Pressley

Thank you to all

As the days go by and Bruno and I handle all the footage we shot I wanted to make sure you know we haven’t forgotten about you. So please forgive me for filling your inbox with no-news messages but I wanted to extend a thank you to everyone. A film is nothing without an audience and we can’t get over how wonderful an audience we’ve had so far through this blog. Our film is owed to all those reading this and those who have participated. So, happily and simply, I would like to extend a thank you. We’ll be working hard to keep up our end of the bargain and make a film for all of you. Keep an ear turned our way. Things may be slow for the next couple months but when we start screenings we’ll be back on it letting everyone know when and how they can see the final product.
Harrison, Bruno, and Kazoo Films

P.S. If our film excited you and you’d like to get in on some other cool projects check out newhardentertainment.com. Our camera man Nando is in Detroit right now doing pre-production for a film of his own. Then he is off to Buenos Aires with Newhard Entertainment to start work on Zach Weintraub’s new film.

What do we do now?

The dust is settling after a frantic 6 weeks of filming. Forrest has moved on to Finland, Nandan has moved on to Detroit. And Harrison and Bruno are right here in Madison County where you left us.

So, you might be asking, what is next for the film? Well, I might answer circuitously, there are five stages of film-making: Development (where you come up with an idea, write a story, lock some key actors and crew members, figure out where you are going to shoot), Pre-Production (budgeting, fundraising, scheduling, casting, acquiring props, locking locations), Production (actually shooting the movie), Post-Production (Organizing the dailies, editing, recording extra music and sound, creating a sound mix), and Distribution (submitting to festivals, having screenings, trying to sell it or at least get it SEEN).

It should be obvious to those who were dealing with us this summer that with OUR film these supposedly distinct phases completely ran together in an exciting and jumbled mess of fun and terror. At least the first 3 did. But, we now find ourselves safely and cleanly in “post-production.”

You've got a long row to hoe, guys. Have another waffle.

So what does this mean for the boys? What are they actually “doing” now? Ok, I’m getting there!

First, we are gearing up to fund-raise for our post-production and distribution costs. Between foley sessions (in-studio sound effects recording – everything from footsteps to doors slamming to corn shucking. Our film doesn’t have the extravagant sound effects needs that a gruesome horror or sci-fi movie might, but there are plenty of sounds that need to be added, stuff you will just take for granted in the final film), and off-screen music and extra dialogue recording, all of which usually requires renting studio time and paying technicians. Plus the costs of creating film art – posters, promotional materials, DVDs, labels, and we have a lot to pay for. And I didn’t even mention the fees for submitting to festivals, which really get hefty.

But what else are we doing besides gearing up to solicit donations?

Well, at the moment, we are labeling our footage. We shot almost 30 hours of video and it all gets dumped onto an external hard drive with file names like B1000CG67884, and so before we can do any editing, we have to rename every single file to something like “Farm 2 – Felix gets butted by the goat – angle D – take 14”.

Then and only then can we begin “syncing.” Explanation: all of our video and all of our audio were recorded on separate machines. On set, once camera and sound roll, or “speed,” we always clap before saying action. This is so that the moment of hand hitting hand on video can be synced up with the clapping sound in the audio file and the two files can be linked in Final Cut. This is also why they use clap-boards in old movies and stuff. Once all of our files are synced, then we Pro-Res them, which basically means we uncompress them digitally so that we can see them with more fluid motion and higher resolution. Then it’s editing time.

O, I almost forgot! Trailer #2 is coming down the pipeline. Get ready!

That’s a Wrap

Well, we are done filming.

I think we all have a lot of thoughts and feelings running right now, but it’s hard to make sense of it at the moment, so I thought I would share the instantaneous reactions of some of the key Kazoo players.

Harrison: “I’m just a normal guy again!”

Bruno: “I blacked out. What happened?”

Forrest: (over the phone) “I’m not good at instantaneous…uh…how about, wooooo!….?” (He calls back 5 minutes later) “Ok, I have something. Make a trailer!”

Sadie: (over the phone) “Weeeeeeeeeeeoooooooo!!!” (I’m holding the phone away from my ear)

Anne: “Loss.”

Nandan: “Edit it. I want to see a cut.”

Medicine Show Sunday

Sunday August 15th 2010, 2pm, Hayesville Town Square, be there!!!

Dr. Ryan and Felix will be showing the powers of the Miracle Elixir; Dom Flemons will be delighting with musical bravado; members of the Runaway Circus will be astounding with acts of daring; and the Kazoo Films crew will attempt to capture the scene….

Bring the whole family!