From the beginning of this project we were fairly certain that one way or another we going to have a special premiere for the film here in New Hampshire.
After all, the film was entirely shot in Peterborough—the same town Thornton Wilder used as his model for his wonderful play “Our Town”—and we raised roughly 90% of our financing in the state. In a very real sense, the production was a grand partnership with many NH people and organizations and we knew we wanted somehow to celebrate that fact when the film was finished.
With no indie distributors knocking on our door offering us a decent deal, we finally decided to take matters into our own hands 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 »
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 »
Raising the money was a difficult and arduous job and took us over a year. With the help of our lawyers, this step began with creating a lengthy document called a Confidential Private Placement Memorandum, generally referred to as the PPM. This was the legal vehicle by which people could actually write their checks and become investors. Everything had to conform to strict securities laws as we were selling private equity shares in a new company.
Understandably the controls on these kinds of ventures (including what one can and cannot do when pitching to potential backers) have to be tight, although I must admit the hoops we had to jump Read the rest of this entry »
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Another aspect of the development phase was deciding where we would shoot the film.
This actually was not an issue for us because from the beginning we knew that if our first movie was The Sensation of Sight it had to be shot in Peterborough, New Hampshire–the setting Thornton Wilder used for his famous play Our Town. Our story and this lovely, small New England town was a match made in heaven.
Since Peterborough was only a half hour’s drive from our film company’s home office, we were able to case out the town in depth quite early on and realized that we could shoot the entire film Read the rest of this entry »