Posts Tagged ‘Skip Rocks’

Brendon McQueen, Reach Film Fellow 08/09

Brendon McQueen, Reach Film Fellow 08/09

Congratulations to Brendon McQueen 08/09 Reach Film Fellow whose film Skip Rocks will screen at the 2009 Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival , taking place September 18th-20th in Sun Valley, Idaho.

This year will be the 5th Annual Sun Valley Spiritual Festival, whose mission is to “present films that explore spiritual traditions from around the world, as well as films that cherish the human spirit.” Brendon’s film certainly falls under this category, chronicling an elderly woman at the onset of Alzheimer’s sharing a childhood memory with her granddaughter. View the trailer here.

Passes to the festival can be purchased for $80 and the price for individual screenings is just $8. You can buy tickets here.

Last week’s rough cut screening and workshop was a useful and very productive experience.

My film, Skip Rocks, had enormously positive feedback at the preview — with many notable industry folks providing not only praise, but incredibly insightful comments on how to better our films for our audience.

Apart from the great individual comments, Ingrid Kopp from Shooting People and Leah Sapin and Felix Endara from Arts Engine provided useful information on audience building and outreach.

Later, we were lucky enough to sit down with Josh Blum from Washington Square films who shared his knowledge of the changing industry and, along with Jeremy Kipp Walker and Paola Mendoza, provided what can only be called a passionate purview on film and filmmaking. I will never forget having had the opportunity to sit at a table full of such creative, caring, and excited people talking film.

Reva also spent a few hours with me after the workshop going over some of the comments I received and suggesting how I might implement them. We are very grateful for the thoughtfulness and energy Cinereach has put into our films.

Many thanks to the other attendees, your time and consideration are invaluable. Thanks to everyone involved!!


»  Post Production

Since getting our color corrected film back from Postworks NY – Skip Rocks’ post production has been both a learning experience and as creative an endeavor as I’ve ever been involved with… There’s a saying that goes, “you have to kill your babies” when editing, especially when the film maker is editing, but after doing so, the film becomes what it should have been from the onset. We’re so excited to get preview feedback from Cinereach, the advisors and the other fellows next week… we hope they like what we’ve put together.

In other news, The National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) has agreed to come on board as a resource for our audience. NFCA “is America’s premiere organization for family caregivers reaching across the boundaries of diagnoses, age, and relationship to address the common needs and concerns of all family caregivers. Through education, support and advocacy NFCA empowers family caregivers to act on behalf of themselves and their loved ones, and works to remove the barriers that stand in the way of a family caregiver’s health and well being.” There’s a link on our website directing our audience to NFCA.
Once Skip Rocks is available to larger audiences, The NFCA has agreed to explore further information sharing opportunities. We hope this relationship will further our goal of raising awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease by connecting viewers of Skip Rocks to resources related to its themes, and helping audiences interested in these issues to find us.
Postworsks NY Supervised Transfer

Postworks NY Supervised Transfer

PS – Special Thanks to everyone at Postworks – their creative work and space was astounding!!

When I was making short experimental films and theater productions in school, I was working with no money, zero budget. I usually asked friends to shoot for me in exchange for some beer or food. When I made theatrical pieces and I needed to make costumes, I went to various post-offices in Chicago and took some of their overnight envelopes that are partially made of fabric. When I had enough, I sewed them together for costumes. Finding and making things with a limited budget is what I have learned in school. This remains a valuable lesson for my work.

So observes on the set of Skip Rocks

So observes on the set of Skip Rocks

Sometimes film students have the impression that the budget of a film will dictate its quality. This is not the case. I believe the most important thing a director must do is to figure out the heart of the story. Once this can be communicated to the cast and crew, the film is on its way. When there is passion and it’s clear, then everyone on the production will support whatever decision the director makes. If the film’s budget requires scenes to be cut, then the director can evaluate what scenes can go or be modified without sacrificing the heart of the story.

Brendon and So confer privately on the set of Skip Rocks

Brendon and So confer privately on the set of Skip Rocks

I feel lucky that I had the chance to visit Brendon on his set. I saw that he was thinking on his feet and working well with his crew. It remains to be seen how the film will be composed at the editing stage. I am excited for him.

While Skip Rocks is “just” a short film, Co-Producer Kacie Barton and myself aim to make a big splash in the marketing of the film. In an effort to raise an audience base and raise awareness for the film’s focus on Alzheimer’s, we’ve launched a website and a  facebook group. We hope these tools will help with the marketing of the film and allow us further opportunity in terms of our options after the film is completed.

Skip Rocks web page

Skip Rocks web page

The website offers cast and crew info, press links, a sponsor page, a tax-deductible link for fund raising, and soon enough, pictures from filming.

Check us out if you get a chance and feel free to join our facebook group for important updates on screenings, trailers, press, etc.

Phil and I stopped by Brendon’s set in Goshen, NY on November 23rd and were pleased to see things running relatively smoothly. Brendon kept his crew small, which saved budget and allowed him to roll with the punches on set. He seemed to have formed a great bond with his small cast (with whom he spent two long, cold days).

Brendon McQueen and So Yong Kim confer on set

Brendon McQueen and So Yong Kim

Brendon McQueen, Director of Skip Rocks, and DP Lindsay Mann

Brendon McQueen with DP Lindsay Mann

So Yong Kim stood by and made some helpful suggestions on lighting setups, the coverage of scenes, and more. She commented that she was pleased to see Brendon and Lindsay (his DP) working so well together and staying calm under pressure.

What a thoughtful and unexpected experience this has been so far!!! Cinereach has been incredible in all regards; from providing knowledgeable advisers and experts to offering us free film stock from Kodak! Last week was paramount for all of the fellows who I’m sure feel just as pampered and lucky as I do. 

Brendon McQueen at Cinereach HQ

Brendon McQueen at Cinereach HQ

Steve Garfinkle from Kodak shared his expertise on film stock, followed by a meeting with producers Jeremy Kipp Walker and Susan Leber who shared the importance of working with what you’ve got, mastering the economy of story telling and thorough pre-production; followed by an eye opening sit down with Director Edet Belzberg who stressed the significance of emotional trajectory; followed by a devastatingly funny and educational dinner with DP Ellen Kuras whose veteran status among today’s film makers is legendary. Followed by, Followed by, Followed by – it has been dizzying with all of the crucial information swirling about.

I liken it to a couple years of film school bundled into a couple days! Afia Nathanial’s script workshop was as insightful as it was fun! Getting a fresh perspective on our scripts has meant all of the difference as we begin plowing through pre-production. I meet with Paola Mendoza this week and can’t wait to hear about directing actors – especially children as this process is a concern of mine – having never done it before on such a well funded or well supported project. I can’t wait to meet my adviser So Yong Kim – I have a thousand questions for her. 

It should also be mentioned that the fellowship has not only provided top tier industry advisers, but has also been hard at work providing press, software, and endless moral support. I’d like to take a moment and sincerely thank all of the Cinereach staff, for without their hard work and dedication, none of this would have been possible. 

I anticipate the next couple of weeks being a labor of love as my team and I figure out pre-production. I recently locked locations up in Westchester (see the pictures here).
and look forward to casting over the next 10 days or so.

I’d like to welcome DP Lindsay Mann, AD Ben Goldman and Producer Victoria Katz on board!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Brendon McQueen is a senior at Columbia University. After a three year stint in Hollywood as an assistant, Brendon made the decision to pursue his film making and studies full time. He hails from LA and Sun Valley and legitimately loves editing, writing, wine, dogs, food, travel, and far too many movies. He is currently working towards compiling a rich and devastating reel.

Dena Greenbaum (Blues), Danielle Russell (Bridging the Gap), Jules Monteyne (I Go to War with Everything), Lindsey Mann (DP of Skip Rocks), Brendon McQueen (Skip Rocks)

Dena Greenbaum (Blues), Danielle Russell (Bridging the Gap), Jules Monteyne (I Go to War...), Lindsay Mann (DP, Skip Rocks), Brendon McQueen (Skip Rocks) - Photo by Andrea Fischman

Cinereach’s second annual Reach Film Fellowship program officially kicked off Monday, when we welcomed Brendon McQueen, Danielle Russell, Dena Greenbaum and Jules Monteyne to the program. They spent two days with us, doing workshops with the program’s advisors to get them started on their film projects. From this point, they will be paired up with their Mentors, prep, shoot and edit their short films.

Monday and Tuesday’s Presenters included Steve Garfinkel (of RFF sponsor Kodak), indie producers Susan Leber (Down to the Bone, Adrift in Manhattan) and Jeremy Kipp Walker (Half Nelson, Sugar), documentary director Edet Belzberg (Children Underground, The Recruiter), screenwriter/filmmaker Afia Nathaniel, director/actor Paola Mendoza (Still Standing, Autumn’s Eyes) and director/cinematographer Ellen Kuras (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Summer of Sam) gave their time generously and provided some welcome coaching. Cinereach staffers got to be flies on the wall in all those sessions (sometimes getting to participate when numbers were needed). Fractured Atlas is the fiscal sponsor to all our Fellows’ projects, and also came by to answer questions.

Each Fellow’s Mentor was also announced this week: Brendon’s Skip Rocks will benefit from the guidance of So Yong Kim (In Between DaysTreeless Mountain); Danielle’s Bridging the Gap will have Renee Bishop (of Savannah, GA’s Farmer’s Almanac TV) on its team; Dena Greenbaum’s Blues will benefit from Jeremy Kipp Walker’s (Half Nelson, Maria Full of Grace) expertise; and Nicole Kassell (The Woodsman) will work with Jules on I Go to War with Everything that Doesn’t Make Sense in a Bathtub.

We’ll track the progress of the Fellowship here on this blog, invite Fellows, Mentors, Advisors and Cinereach staff to blog, and also offer you some more detailed descriptions, photos and video of what the Fellows are experiencing so the wider Cinereach community can benefit as well. Subscribe to RSS feed to stay on top of the action!


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