As Aaron and Mario were ensconced in their house in the woods editing, we also began making arrangements for moving our entire operation to Los Angeles where further finishing work on the film would commence once we had a “locked picture” in hand. The reason for planning this move from one coast to the other was because, after much research and investigation and receiving quotes for the work that needed to be done, we realized we could finish the post work on the film less expensively in Los Angeles than anywhere on the East Coast. The sheer volume of post production work in L.A. actually made for lower quotes and therefore a favorable cost Read the rest of this entry »
Next we headed into the post production process, which lasted from the end of the shoot in mid-November until the end of April–approximately five and a half months.
The first step, once we’d caught our breath after the wrap party, was to begin the editing of the film. We were fortunate to be able to rent an isolated and beautiful country house for this purpose right next door to my home in the Stoddard hills of southwest New Hampshire and just up the road from where Aaron lived. Our editor Mario Ontal, who had worked on a number of John Sayles’ films, moved up from Read the rest of this entry »
And so the shoot progressed…
One of my favorite shots in the film–a shot that comes late in the movie at the highpoint of the story–is of the classic New England clock tower on top of the Unitarian Church in the middle of Peterborough. We were lucky enough (I’m noticing I’m using that word “lucky” a lot) to have our second unit catch a huge flock of pigeons nestled on the tower one afternoon.
After setting up camera, one of the crew slammed two pieces of 2×4 boards together with a load whack. And suddenly all the birds took off together in a burst of energy and fluttering wings, made a wide Read the rest of this entry »
Let me give you a taste of what I mean by that.
During the morning of the second day, the shoot was scheduled for outdoors. But about 9 a.m. a steady sleet suddenly began falling, so we decided to turn to our contingency plan and shoot inside the bed & breakfast.
This also happened to be the day that most of the crew was grumbling nearly to the point of mutiny because the hot water wasn’t working that morning at the Maplehurst Inn in nearby Antrim, where most of them were staying, and they came to work feeling miserable to begin with.
Then, about 10 a.m., our one gigantic generator Read the rest of this entry »
So now we’d arrived at the third phase of the process–the adventure of the shoot itself.
Actors began arriving the day before from all over the country. As with every film, we shot the movie out of sequence to make the most efficient use of our time and resources, so when actors arrived they only stayed in town long enough to shoot their scenes and then they were gone again. All except David Strathairn, of course, who played the lead character and was with us for the duration of the shoot.
The Peterborough Manor where we housed the entire cast for the duration was an exciting place for those three weeks what Read the rest of this entry »
Pre-production also is the time that the shooting schedule is revised and refined until every minute is accounted for. This is the job of the 1st Assistant Director and we had the best in a man named Greg Smith, who had ADed on Adaptation, Being John Malkovitch, and The Ice Storm among others (since our film his credits include Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning). Greg studied every location, talked at length with Aaron and our director of photography Christophe Lanzenberg, and created a game plan for the shoot that made it possible to complete the film on our very tight eighteen-day schedule with very little overtime.
At the same time the schedule was taking shape, Aaron spent a good part of the pre-production weeks scouting locations Read the rest of this entry »
Needless to say, the key to any successful enterprise is good planning and preparation–planning and prep down to the last detail–and that’s what the pre-production phase is all about.
We were fortunate to have made an early connection with producer Mark Constance, who for many years had worked in L.A. as a second assistant director on major films like Being John Malkovitch. Some years prior Mark and his family had moved to New Hampshire, while he continued to work both coasts on films. When Aaron and I first met him at a small coffee shop in downtown Keene, we hit it off right away. Mark became “Mr. Prep” for us, serving not only as a hands-on producer, but Read the rest of this entry »