Blizzards, Farmers and Free Roast Beef

Bev (her name in the film and in real life) came down from Minneapolis for the scene. Her granddaughter (middle) and daughter (right) joined her as extras. A three generation adventure!

I wanted to share a couple of short, sort of recent film related adventures.

The Sedona Festival director called to invite us to their festival (yep-an old fashioned phone call) while we were in the car driving from Vermont to Minnesota in a blizzard to shoot another scene. (who does that?) Even though our film was complete (pretty much…) we wanted a stronger ending so we pulled everything together one more time.

Six of our actors and our ‘regular’ sound person came down from Minneapolis. We found and rented an Alexa camera and Optica Elite S35 lenses (Zero Dark Thirty, Robin Hood) from an interesting guy with a magic company in Sioux Falls who uses the equipment to shoot magic videos. Also from Sioux Falls, we were lucky enough to find a wonderful hair and makeup person. Rob our DP flew in from New York.

40 extras. We needed farmers. I figured recruiting farmer extras in the winter would be easy since they would all be at home doing nothing, but no…turns out, we were competing with the local lumberyard who was having their annual FREE customer appreciation beef commercial dinner (in Minnesota the noon meal is dinner) followed by ‘must be present to win’ door prizes.

Farmer of the YearThe gangs all here.

Food. I was freaking out about meals until I remembered I could do the cooking. (dah) My cousin Susi came up from Iowa to help. A few people asked where the meat was but that was the closest thing we got to a complaint. It was actually really good food if I do say so myself 🙂

We shot at one of the Lutheran churches in town. We borrowed plates and silverware from one of the other Lutheran churches in town. We got a 30 cup coffee pot and mismatched coffee mugs (that we labeled with masking tape and people’s names for the day) from Carol, the once Tyler High School home ec teacher that married the once Tyler High School math teacher. We composted (or would have if there had been scraps to compost). Good green indie film making at is finest as usual.

Mind you, this is all for a 46 second spot in the film. Satisfying with a bit of a twist. Was it worth it? YES! YES! YES! And you’ll have to see the movie to see why!

March 20th, 2018|


A bunch of people WE DON’T KNOW filing in to see our film in Sedona.

We just premiered at the Sedona International Film Festival.

We didn’t win the ‘Audience Choice Award’..but we were RUNNER-UP! “A fraction of a percent” (festival director quote) behind the Dutch film, Adios Amigos but ahead of The Insult, an Oscar nominee. Crap. Vince is kicking himself now for giving Adios Amigos a ‘5’ vote. I’m (Kathy) kicking him too, but I guess that means that we won the ‘US Film Audience Choice Award’…or would have if that had been a category 🙂 I nearly choked when I heard our name called! I knew I loved our film, but was surprised that everyone else did too. Vince, of course, figured we’d win.

We’re used to being judged with a stop watch and are still getting used to a world where the judging is subjective. Obviously Sedona was a good audience for the film (one Q and A lasted over half an hour and no one left!) and we may never show the film to an audience as receptive again. But it doesn’t matter because having this much fun at least once is good.

The film screened twice and both screenings were sold out. We’re wondering if we should just bag the rest of the festival circuit so we can end on a high note!

We’re just starting our festival year and we’ve been accepted to a couple of other festivals but have to keep them a secret until they announce their line-ups.

‘Hap and Ashley’ had always been the working-title. Sometime last fall we changed it to ‘Farmer Of The Year’. We half-planned to change it again but didn’t get around to it and now I don’t think we should.

We’ll be posting screening opportunities (or try to) when (and if) there are more, so keep checking back for a screening in the theater near you!

More later but now I’ll shut up so you can watch our trailer…

PS I wish I had better pictures…but I don’t.

March 8th, 2018|

Now Hear This!

Another film-associated trip to Minnesota.  Minneapolis this time.

Bad sound can bump a viewer out of a film much more easily than bad picture and why we just spent 3 days in Minneapolis working with an audio engineer. Another thing we’ve never before done!

In the last post I told you about sending off the whole film on that little tiny drive to the audio engineer. Having received it, he and his group of sound editors spent a month* doing their stuff. Stuff like, reducing or eliminating noise that shouldn’t be there, laying in ambience**, recording and/or placing foley***, smoothing out rough dialogue, blending in voice-over (VO) and the list goes on…

Then, it was our turn.

He buzzed us in from the landing at the top of the stairs and before we knew it, we were watching our film on a 13′ foot screen in a Dolby-certified dub stage and taking notes. Then coffee, followed by going through the film frame by frame, addressing the notes. After that, we watched the film again. More notes. Then we addressed those notes. Then, watched it again. Took a 4 hour break and watched it, again. 3 long days, seven screenings and amazingly enough, we still enjoy watching it.

*during that month, we worked on the score (60 music cues) with our composer, a music licensing company and some voice-over artists. Again…all things we’ve never done.

**also known as ‘atmosphere’. Unique and subtle sound found in the location’s environment. Sounds like,
wind, rain, running water, subtle radio and TV, thunder, rustling leaves, distant traffic, barking dogs, an air conditioner, a lawn mower…

***reproduction of everyday sound effects to create a sense of reality within the film. Generally unnoticed by the audience. Often recorded specifically for a scene in post-production. Swishing of clothing, footsteps, squeaky doors, creaky stairs, breaking glass….

Even though we have plenty of work left to do, the film was done enough after those 3 days for us to feel OK about submitting to our first festival.

FYI. With credits the film is just under 1:44.

September 28th, 2017|


An ocean break during a mountain bike ride.


A collarbone break after a mountain bike ride. (not pictured: 3 broken ribs and a broken finger).


Isn’t there some saying about how most accidents happen within 50 feet of the house?  Riding up to the house at the end of a mountain bike ride, a piece of the driveway sloughed off under my (Kathy’s) tire resulting in the broken collarbone et al.  So much for being that amazing First Assistant Camera I’d hoped to be for our pickups.  But, even with handing off my first AC duties to Vince* we got all of our shots.  More on that in my next post.

From the Cape, we’d zipped off to Vermont for an overnight to pick up the trailer, more equipment and props.  We’d scheduled our Vermont arrival time to be able to fit in a bike ride…but not a trip to the emergency room.  The best laid plans…. Then, we drove to Athens (another overnight), where we picked up the Red Scarlet (camera) and Zeiss prime lenses graciously loaned to us from the Ohio University MFA Film department.

We don’t physically edit during road trips (wouldn’t that be interesting?) instead, we have one long film meeting.  I have a big thick 3-ring binder divided into categories (titles, ADR**, voiceover, pickups, music queues, special effects…) and an agenda.  We start with roll-call and when everyone (both) is present, we start.  Sometimes it takes a while for both of us to be present even though we’re both sitting there .

And when we are understandably tired of talking about the film (after 3 years, that happens) we have a deck of well used Trivial Pursuit cards for fun.

*kidding…Vince was always going to be our first AC

**automated dialogue replacement (ADR): re-recording dialogue (with original actor) after the original film shoot to reflect dialogue changes or improve audio quality.
ADR may add new character or interpretation to a shot. Just by altering a few key words or phrases an actor can change the emotional direction of a scene.  Also known as looping.

Looking from our editing bay out onto Cape Cod Bay.  A pretty inspirational setting.  Lucky us.


Film status report: A month of Cape Cod sun and salt air saw our film briefly dipping into the 1:41s before creeping back up to the high 1:42s.

July 21st, 2017|

The Difference Between A Pickup And A Pickup

One kind of pickup.

For the record, our film is hovering around 1 hour 44 minutes.

We just moved our portable editing suite (which isn’t really all the portable) from the yellow house in Athens, Ohio to a weathered cedar (not yellow) house on Cape Cod to see what effect a little sun and salt air has on the ol’ 1-44.  Our next stop will be back on location in southwest Minnesota … spreading out across South Dakota and maybe a little Wyoming… for pickups*.  Thankfully we won’t have to re-shoot any of the scenes with our actors but nonetheless, each pickup shot has to be planned and scheduled.  One example of a ‘pickup’ on our list is a boom shot of a tractor pulling a manure spreader into town, past the town line sign.  Why isn’t anything ever easy!?

We shot this on location somewhere around Tyler last summer and for our pickups, we have to wait until the countryside looks like this so the shots we get this year will match the shots we got last year. 

*in filmmaking, a pickup is a shot filmed after principle photography has ended.   It enhances the narrative and may be used for a transition, to fill in gaps, smooth or join cuts.  The need for a pickup often becomes obvious during the editing process.

p.s. Kathy’s Dad Howard (Barry’s stunt double) says he gets asked all the time when the film will be ‘out’ in fact the other morning at coffee he heard it was already out.


June 4th, 2017|

Lock Down

The film is down to 1 hour 48 minutes. That’s 12 minutes (a lot of frames (17,280) shorter than last time we talked) and we still have all the scenes except the one casualty from last month. In 3 to 4 weeks we should be able to lock the picture (‘picture lock’ in film speak).* This doesn’t mean the editor would have to break something to get in to a make a change but at that point changes would be time consuming and expensive. For instance, the film score (composed after ‘picture lock’) is written to coincide to specific movement and emotions of the film…something you don’t want to mess with once it’s done.

*’Picture lock’ is a stage during the film edit. It occurs after which all revisions that change time or selected shots are done. ‘Picture lock’ is essential so sound, visual effects and color editing can be proceed without having to be redone.

May 1st, 2017|