Friday, September 2, 2011

Almost a wrap...

And that's a wrap...for now...

After a year of pre-production we finally went into production full force on August 5th. And on August 31st we wrapped up that portion of the shoot. We now have about ninety percent of the movie in the can, with the final three (possibly four) shoot days to be scheduled for (hopefully) early October. All of our interiors have been shot (minus a basement scene we'll pick-up in a half day soon), leaving us with just exteriors (probably two nights) and a brief driving scene.

Creepy sound guy Gabe Culkin takes on some light duty. 

It was a great month and it confirmed the work we went into planning the shoot really paid off. Because of some unforeseen scheduling issues we ended up working with five (yes, five!) directors of photography. This is not an ideal way to shoot a film but, because we had scheduled our shoot so well, we were able to integrate in all of those different personalities and work-styles and keep on schedule. And every one of those five guys was great to work with and the three that really came in last minute really worked their asses off to match the look we'd established in the early going with Christian Hansen, a look that was first implemented by Jacob Rosen (Jacob has shot most of the movie and his stuff is amazing). Those two gentleman got us off to a great start and allowed us to establish an efficient set workflow. Because of that Griff Johnston was able to step in for a night and get the job done. Rylan Morris Scherer came in for a few days and gave us some gorgeous moonlight footage. And Phillip Harvey stepped in at the very last minute to shoot the last couple of days at our principal location and he knocked it out of the park. Again, this is not the ideal way to shoot a movie, but we rolled with it and made it work. It's a credit to those five guys that the footage we have looks so great (and consistent!). 

Interns, grips, gaffers, and ACs: Evan Elwell, Todd Michael Johnson, and Myles Basterrechea.

The amazing efficiency we maintained would have been impossible without our amazing interns from Seattle Central Community College. Evan Elwell, Todd Michael Johnson, Myles Basterrechea, and Gabe Culkin worked their butts off non-stop to make sure lights were positioned, candles were lit, scenes got slated, and duvetyne (the stuff we hang outside of windows to make it look like it's night outside when it's actually noon and 80 degrees)got hung. You guys are awesome.

We also had one intern from the Art Institute of Seattle, Sam Shideler.

Sam Shideler in a rare moment where he actually got to sit down.

Sam does everything and without him it's likely we would have drowned in duvetyne. Besides working with us (hanging duvetyne, doing construction, repairing beds, stepping in as assistant director) he's also in school and he writes and directs his own web series, The Dirty Do-Gooders. He also plays ukelele and sings like an angel. Frak!

Our assistant directors, Jared Hagen and Nate Souza, made sure everyone kept on schedule and even found time to hang clothes pins (C-47s) from the most unlikely of places. Jared traveled up from Arizona to work with us for a few weeks and Nate came up from Portland. They made the shoot efficient AND fun. Jared also started creating Reunion sequels (there are 24 of them now planned) in his A.D. notebook (Nate also helped with the sequels). Nate also wrote a little backstory for the mop featured in the movie. And taught us all new things to do with scalpels. Love you guys.

Nate Souza enjoying a snack.

Jared Hagen tells me what he thinks of the last take.

And what can I say about our cast? They were amazing. Fun, talented, hard-working, and up for anything. They were bruised, scraped, and more. And they never complained. You'll be seeing tons of pictures of them so I'm not including pictures of all of them here (or this blog will be way too long!). But, huge thanks to Brian Sutherland, Alison Monda, Jesse Keeter, Bjorn Whitney, Megan Lacki, David Nail, Tessa Marie Archer, and Jordin Buttenob.

D.P. Jacob Rosen frames a shot, Brian Sutherland tries to remember his lines, and Alison Monda swallows a bug.

One of the biggest challenges for a no-budget movie is feeding cast and crew. A huge thank you to my wonderful wife, Jennifer Coons Bell, for buying and preparing meals for our rowdy bunch. Jennifer arrived an hour before everyone else to make sure coffee was brewed and food was set out when everyone else arrived. And while we were off shooting she was busy preparing lunch and afternoon snacks. She's amazing. I love you!

Breakfast is served...wait, are those Pop Tarts?! Yay!

And finally, a special thank you to our producer, Matt Ralston. A movie requires a producer. They put all of the pieces into place to make sure the movie happens. Matt went above and beyond the call of duty, putting his blood, sweat, and yes, I'm sure a few tears, into making Reunion a success. We first discussed making this movie a couple of years ago and there's no one else I would have wanted to take this long journey with. Matt, you are amazing.

Matt Ralston hanging out.

It's been an amazing ride so far. I cannot overstate how grateful I am to have had the chance to work with all of these amazing people. It's absolutely the best cast and crew I could have asked for. Thank you everyone!

And now, a couple of uncorrected, straight from the camera (compressed h.264) stills from our last day at our principal location.

Jesse Keeter in Reunion. (shot by Phillip Harvey)

Brian Sutherland in Reunion. (shot by Phillip Harvey)

Be seeing you...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Horror Film In Progress

Well, after more than a year of pre-production, we are finally in production. Our first official shoot day was June 27th, but that did not require the presence of any of our actors. Our first day with cast on location was last Friday, August 5th. It's been an amazing first week of shooting.

From left to right: Alison Monda, Tessa Archer, Megan Lacki, and substitute Director of Photography Jacob Rosen. (photo by Adam Smith)

Our first three shoot days (August 5th, 6th, and 8th) were our busiest of the shoot as far as how many cast members we had on set. Brian Sutherland, Alison Monda, Bjorn Whitney, Megan Lacki, David Nail, and Tessa Archer were all with us for most of those three days and it made for a boisterous set. One thing we quickly learned is that we have a great cast and crew. Everyone gets along and, on a small crew like ours, it helps keep everything running smoothly.

Intern/grip/AC Todd Johnson, Tessa Archer, DP Jacob Rosen, me, and sound recordist Gabriel Culkin. (Photo by Adam Smith)

Those first few days of shooting marked all of Tessa Archer's days with us. Sniff. She was great on set and terrific in her scenes. Wrapping with her on Monday, knowing she wouldn't be back with us, was sad, but we all hope we work with her on many projects in the future.
Tessa Archer (Photo by Adam Smith)

Monday also marked the first day on set for Jesse Keeter, who plays our bad guy. Jesse is giving an amazing performance and he's just getting started. He's the nicest guy you would ever want to meet off camera, but on camera he's something else entirely. The transformation is fascinating to watch.
Jesse Keeter (Photo by Jeremy Bell)

After three relatively blood free days (our substitute Director of Photography almost got conked on the head by a falling light), we finally got Bandersnatch Studios on set to do some blood work on Tuesday. And it's been all blood all the time since.

Tools of the trade. Bandersnatch's brushes. (Photo by Jeremy Bell)

Jesse in the early stages of a Bandersnatch attack. (Photo by Jeremy Bell)

It's been an exhausting and exhilarating week. After spending most of the pre-production time trying to put this together with my producer Matt Ralston, who has done an insane amount of work to make sure Reunion can be successful, it was great to finally bring on some more collaborators. 
Matt Ralston, me. (Photo by Adam Smith)

All of that pre-production time has paid off in spades. With our minuscule budget and tight actor schedules, it's imperative that we keep to the calendar Matt put together before we started. We've done just that and have even put two kills behind us (don't worry -- there's more!).

On monitor: Jeremy Bell and Alison Monda. In background: Assistant Director Jared Hagen, sound guy Gabriel Culkin, DP for the day Jacob Rosen. (Photo by Matt Ralston)

Special shout out to our interns from Seattle Central Community College -- Todd Michael Johnson, Myles Basterrechea, Evan Elwell, and Gabriel Culkin. They are interns in name only. They've gripped, they've gaffed, they've recorded sound, and they've been assistant camera (they run the iPad slate!). 

Watching playback. Foreground: Jared Hagen and Matt Ralston. Background: Director of Photography Christian Hansen, David Nail, Jesse Keeter, Todd Michael Johnson, Evan Elwell, Jeremy Bell, Myles Basterrechea, and 2nd AD Nate Souza. (photo by Adam Smith)

Another shout out to an intern who is not really an intern, this time to the amazing Sam Shideler from the Art Institute of Seattle. Sam has already saved our asses a number of times with his problem solving skills. Sam has his own web series, The Dirty Do Gooders. You should all watch it here:

And finally a huge thank you to Brian Sutherland, Alison Monda, Bjorn Whitney, Megan Lacki, David Nail, Tessa Archer, Jordin Buttenob, and Jesse Lee Keeter for being such an amazing cast. It's been said that directing is ninety percent casting and I'd be hard pressed to argue that. Lesson to all of you who plan on making your own movie, web series, whatever -- take the time to get the cast you want. You'll thank yourself later. And if you luck out the way we have and have a cast that is also a joy to be around, so much the better.

Matt Ralston, Bjorn Whitney, Brian Sutherland, Tessa Archer, and Megan Lacki. (Photo by Adam Smith)

So far, so good. Can't wait to see how all of this turns out so we can share the gore with all of you. 

Special thank you to Adam Smith for being our set photographer for a couple of days (and more to come). Check out Adam's work here:

And now, a few stills from the movie. These are straight from the camera, compressed h.264, no color correction applied. They are, for now, just a tease...

Brian Sutherland and Bjorn Whitney in Reunion. 

Jesse Keeter in Reunion.

Tessa Archer, Alison Monda, Megan Lacki, and David Nail in Reunion.

Tessa Archer and Brian Sutherland in Reunion.

Brian Sutherland and Alison Monda in Reunion.

That's all for now.

Be seeing you...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our new Sarah

While it was devastating to all of us to have to part ways with Trin Miller, we were fortunate to have a ready replacement who will be able to step in at this late date and allow us to not miss a beat.

Our costume designer, Megan Lacki, also originally auditioned for Sarah. And she had an awesome audition and will now step into Sarah's shoes.
Megan Lacki as Sarah

Megan is already familiar with the script and ready to get to work tomorrow morning. After making the dresses the other two women will wear (and the one Trin would have worn), Megan will take a deep breath from all that hard work (she's been working very hard!) and dive into some sweet character work.

While we're still mourning the loss of Trin, we could not be happier that we were fortunate enough to have someone as talented as Megan on hand so we can forge ahead and keep to our very tight schedule.

Welcome to the cast of Reunion, Megan!

Be seeing you...

Some sad news...

It's with great sadness that today I have to announce that we've parted ways with the lovely and talented Trin Miller, who had been slated to play Sarah in Reunion.

Two days ago (Tuesday, August 2nd) we discovered an issue that had arisen from Trin's involvement in another feature, which she's wrapping up this week (we start shooting tomorrow, August 5th). After trying to work around the problem that evening, and then sleeping on it that night, I discussed the matter with my producer, our director of photography, and our assistant director, and ultimately made the call to make a change.

It was a very difficult decision to make and the ultimate responsibility for that decision is all mine. We called Trin yesterday afternoon and it was a call we dreaded making all day, but as hard as it may have been for us to make, I have no doubt it was even harder for Trin to hear. She has been a passionate supporter of Reunion -- talking us up to her many friends on Facebook and to her many followers on Twitter (@trinmiller -- you should totally follow her). 

We can state, unequivocally, that we are all Trin Miller fans. We were thrilled to have her in the cast (I've worked with her before and so has our assistant director, Jared Hagen) and had been excited to get her on set. She's a delight as an actor, and an even bigger delight as a person (she bakes brownies for the crew!). We wish her nothing but the best and I hope I get to work with her on many projects in the future -- and you shouldn't hesitate to consider her for one of yours.

Take a moment please and let Trin know you'll miss her in Reunion. I know we all will.

Be seeing you...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Indiegogo Update

Hello. We have less than two weeks remaining in our Indiegogo campaign and could still use all the help we can get.

Here's a refresher on how it works. When you donate you donate at a certain level and get whatever reward is offered at that level. The more you donate, the cooler your reward. At the $100 level we're offering a USB thumb drive made from our KILLER's THUMB!
That's going to look sweet jutting out the side of your Macbook Pro! If you and your officemates pool your money and donate $2,500 you'll get one of the original Pig Masks (the one I was going to keep for myself!) designed and manufactured by Peter Orr. I will sign it and I'll force the cast to sign it! It will really dress up your office.
I see you...

Now, you might click to Indiegogo and see we've raised $1000 toward a $10,000 goal and say to yourself, "That seems unlikely". Don't let that deter you from donating! $10,000 was a goal that would have allowed us to use more FX than we now will, but if we could raise an addition $4,000 we could scrape by (barely). Indiegogo does not require projects to meet their goal to get the donations. If you donate to through your Paypal we get that donation immediately, you'll know you're getting a reward, and the following people will be able to eat:
Brian Sutherland
Jesse Lee Keeter
Alison Monda
Bjorn Whitney
Trin Miller
David Nail
Jordin Buttenob
Tessa Marie Archer
These are real people with real appetites. Don't they look hungry? Consider donating now at to make sure they get fed their kibble. 

Thank you!

Be seeing you...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meet the new Lucy!

Today I have the pleasure of introducing our newest cast member, Tessa Marie Archer! Tessa will take on the role of Lucy.
Tessa Marie Archer as Lucy

Tessa brings a wealth of acting experience to the role, on stage and on camera, including time as Belle from Beauty And The Beast at Hong Kong Disneyland. She has also portrayed Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Kim Possible at The Walt Disney World Resort. 

Tessa is currently starring in the web series Glitch (produced by Reunion's leading man, Brian Sutherland) with fellow Reunion cast members Jesse Lee Keeter and Trin Miller. Head over to Facebook to give Glitch a "Like".

Welcome to Reunion, Tessa! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

You Can Help Make a Horror Movie!

It's been a long ride to get this point. We've had nearly a year of pre-production. A successful three month Kickstarter campaign that ended last December. We've cast our actors. We've (well, Bandersnatch) has molded heads. Locations have been secured. A teaser trailer was shot and released. And the script fought me every step of the way through the final re-write but finally succumbed to a beheading that left it twenty pages lighter and a whole lot tighter.

And now, with less than three weeks to go before we begin the shoot in earnest (one scene was shot on June 27th), we need your help to make Reunion be the best little horror movie it can be.

While our Kickstarter campaign gave us a great start, that money has been spent. Special FX and makeup costs (a must for the kind of blood bath we're aiming for) have ended up being a little more than we anticipated (and worth every penny!). And, we're proud to say, every one of those pennies has stayed in the Seattle area, going to the talented folks at Bandersnatch Studios (they are nicer than anyone you've ever met who spends their days up to their elbows in gore).  We've supported schools by shooting (and paying, happily, for the privilege) a scene at Centralia High School (my alma mater!). We've hired the gifted Seattle Central Community College graduate (soon to be no more - check out The Stranger's article about the travesty by clicking on this link) Christian Sorensen Hansen to serve as the Director of Photography, ensuring the film will look amazing. And the biggest chunk of our money went to a local Normandy Park family. For the month of August we'll be renting the house (for our principal interiors, where 90% of the film takes place) they've been trying to sell, putting some money in their pocket while they try to find long term tenants. The rest of the Kickstarter cash has gone to props, insurance, rental space for auditions, and gear rental.

So, as we near the start of production, we still need to scrounge up some more scratch, if you know what I mean. That will go to cover food costs (we have a cast of eight and about that many crew to feed for most of August and a couple of days in July, no small expense). We also need extra money to cover set dressing, additional props, possibly more makeup stuff (the blood never stops flowing!), and even a little bit for our actors, who we will work to the bone. 

This is a micro-budget production (by most standards we'd be considered no-budget) so we're stretching our dollars as much as we can. But every little bit extra helps (and we really need to feed people, or, you know, they'll die for real).

We are currently running our second crowd-sourced funding campaign, this time through Indiegogo. As I write this post there is just under three weeks left in our campaign.

If you would like to help get an independently produced horror film made, please consider donating as little as $5. Every donation gets a reward. Even if you can't donate, or have donated but want to do more, you can still help us by getting the word out to anyone you think might want to see their name in the credits of a horror movie.

We have brand new rewards this time around. If you donate $100 you will get a THUMB DRIVE. "Big whoop" I hear you sayin'. Big whoop indeed. This is a THUMB drive. As in, a USB flash drive, in a THUMB! Our killer's thumb, to be precise. Believe me, you want this thing sticking out of your Macbook Pro when you're writing your novel at the fair trade coffee house. Check it:
And, to top it all off, I'm personally adding a new reward right now. Only one of these will be offered. The first (and only) person (or persons, if you work in an office and want to pool your dough) to donate $2500 will get one of the original pig masks designed and constructed by the amazing Peter Orr just for Reunion. See a little of the masks in action in our teaser trailer:

I'm offering my personal mask, the one prop I most want to take home myself. I will sign it. I will force Jesse Lee Keeter, our bad guy, to sign it. The rest of the cast will sign it. And you can display it on your mantle, in your office, over your toilet, wherever you see fit.

So check out our Indiegogo, donate as little as $5, and help us get the word out. There's still twenty days (as I write this) to make Reunion as disgusting as it ought to be. Help us make it happen.

Be seeing you...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Dreaded "Scheduling Conflict" Strikes Again

One thing about no-budget feature film productions is that they invariably end up with a tight schedule. Juggling the availability of eight actors in the dog days of August is tough, even when not dealing with continuity-challenging blood baths (which we are!).

And so it is that we must, regretfully, part ways with Jen Page, who had been slated to play Lucy.

While we're sad to see her go and that you won't get to see her in Reunion, there are plenty of other ways to get your Jen Page fix. And you totally should.

Jen is a key part of Project London

Their website describes the movie like this:Project London is an independent, almost no-budget, feature-length, live action movie with vivid, intense, and marrow-vibrating visual effects and animations created with the open source software Blender (and other traditional software) and 250 (or so) worldwide volunteers. It’s led byThe Triumvirate and set in Seattle, Washington. 

Jen also stars in the web series (with Reunion's Trin Miller!) The Dirty Do Gooders.
You can check out Episode 1 here:

For more on Jen Page and the projects mentioned here, visit the following links and be sure to "Like" Project London, The Dirty Do Gooders, and Jen Page on Facebook.

Best of luck, Jen! You'll be missed, but we'll try to spill lots of blood without you. First pint's in your honor!

Be seeing you...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reunion Teaser Trailer

Long time, no post. Damn. I thought I was going to do better. Oh well. The re-write I had been working on fought back hard and took a while to overcome. But that's done and now we're busy rushing toward production, which begins in earnest on July 28 and continues, basically without pause, through August. 
We did shoot one scene already, on June 27th. It was a half day shoot that didn't require any of our principal actors. It was a nice way to ease into production. Shoot for four and a half hours and then take a month off. Nice.
Of course, we haven't really taken a month off. We finally found our principal location (interiors only -- exteriors we'll shoot later at a separate location). The script breakdown was completed last week and Matt's been furiously trying to work around actor availability (we love our actors!) to schedule the rest of the shoot. We also will be checking in soon with Bandersnatch to see how our makeup fx are coming along. 
Our lovely costume designer, Megan Lacki, has nearly finished work on the first two dresses our actresses will wear.

As July rolls on props need to be acquired. Set dressing needs to be figured out. Storyboards must appear out of nowhere (meaning I'm sick of drawing them). 
But, things are coming along and we couldn't be more excited to finally get started on the actual production side of things.
And now, here's a teaser! 

Be seeing you...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Making progress

As we race toward the end of May pre-production is quickly ramping up.

Our cast is complete. We started that process all the way back in December and the long search was totally worth it. The cast we've assembled is amazing. We can't wait to get them in front of the camera.

Construction on one of the key props you'll see in the finished film is nearly complete. Peter Orr (, has completed a clay model of what will become a mask worn in the movie. We're saving the big reveal for later, but here's a sneak peek:

The work of Peter Orr

Last Thursday Matt and I drove up to watch the Bandersnatch Studios guys ( cover Jesse Keeter's head in goop. We need an extra Jesse head for...something. Here's a time-lapse video of the malarkey that Matt put together:

We've secured the school we'll be using in a flashback scene. With that done, we have our first shoot date! On June 27th cameras will roll for the first frames of REUNION. Better go storyboard...

More later.

Be seeing you...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Final cast member announced!

And that's that. Casting complete. And we are thrilled to introduce Reunion's Adam: Bjorn Whitney!
Bjorn Whitney as Adam
Bjorn literally became Adam before our eyes during his final audition and it was crystal clear he was the final piece to our puzzle.

Bjorn spent two seasons with Shakespeare Northwest, playing Ferdinand in The Tempest and Marc Antony in Antony and Cleopatra.
He's appeared in numerous short films and web shorts, including The Adventures of  Chadwick Periwinkle (premiering online this summer)and Fearless Episode Hunters (a short film from Temporal Studios).

Your next chance to get a look at Bjorn in action is May 30th. Love and War, a short film featuring Bjorn in the lead role of Rafe, premieres that day at SIFF.
Bjorn as Rafe in Love and War

Bjorn loves all three Star Wars movies and we can't wait to hang out with him on set.

Welcome to Reunion, Bjorn!
Be seeing you...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Another cast member revealed!

We are pleased to announce the latest addition to our talented cast, David Nail. David will take on the role of Brandon.
David Nail as Brandon
David has been acting, directing, and designing for live theater for fifteen years. He's been seen on stage and screen in industrial films and live performances for the Dallas County Community College District, Sally Beauty Supply, American Airlines, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Texas Instruments, the Fort Worth Zoo, the State Fair of Texas, and GTE. He's also appeared in commercials for Pizza Hut, Einstein Brothers Bagels, and Doritos. 
Recent stage work has moved him from Dallas to Olympia to Gloucester to Seattle to Palm Beach. He appeared in the world premiere of Israel Horovitz's SINS OF THE MOTHER, as well as in its Northeast and Southeast premieres. SINS OF THE MOTHER should get its Broadway debut next season.

Follow David online at:
Welcome to REUNION, David! 

Be seeing you...