The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Have you heard this terminology from me before? Something is familiar here...
One of the biggest, bestest, most amazingest moments of note is we began production on Sidestep Film. Like. It's happening. Like. We completed one whole scene (well...half of the whole since we'll be cutting between this and our lead's face throughout). And not just ANY scene, but the one that takes place in New York City with Forest VanDyke playing our lead's best friend, Michael.
I have to say I was moderately heart broken when I found out we'd have to push the shoot dates for the San Antonio Unit, but I wouldn't have it any other way now. This thing wanted its New York voice heard first. And we all heard it. It felt good to kick this it off in my element - dodging on-coming traffic through a crowded crosswalk full of elbowing pedestrians.
My heart is singing.
I can't describe the sense of flow I feel when we're filming. And even when we're working through technical difficulties (which is inevitable). We've all come together to create something special. And how freaking lucky are we that this is what we're doing today?! I mean. Come on. We are full on guerrilla-style filmmaking with our skeleton crew of seven. This is pretty great.
And this team! Let me tell you about this freaking team!!!
Forest provided us all with the highest quality of performance. Funny yet heart-warming.
Rich showed up with some great stedicam skills. Intuitive and effortless.
Taylor jumped in and somehow filled in all the gaps. Like. All of them. Communicative and strong.
Trevor brought a sharp eye to his AC skills. Pleasant and focused.
Marc did whatever it took to get the sound right. I mean...whatever it took.
Kat jumpstarted the project's aesthetic dressing Forest in the hottest wardrobe. Fierce and unapologetic.
Camden kept us on time, nourished, and safe. Vital (and lovely!).
Everyone had a great demeanor and was a joy to collaborate with. You know people love what they do when they want to continue working after scheduled wrap. "One more take" was requested and quickly granted. Maybe more than once. Thank you, to each of you who made Day One of Sidestep such an incredible joy.
I hope to work with each and every one of these folks again on future projects.
Next up...huge meeting this week to map out our plan of execution over the next several months. Making this thing happen.
Hey everybody meet SIDESTEP's lovable Jules played by Alisha Banks. Alisha is an Austin original commercial and film actress. An actual trained dancer, she pursued her love for the arts through dance and theatre, studying at Ballet Austin's Academy and performing in musical productions such as "West Side Story", "Anything Goes", and Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I." But that's not all! Her bright smile has appeared in commercials for Google, Shiner, WellsFargo, LL Bean, Dell, Fiat, and the spokesperson for Sparefoot.com.
She is represented by Zephyr Talent Agency and is thrilled to be working on Sidestep!
And we're thrilled to have her!
#sidestep #stepstogether #makeitbetter#womeninfilm #localfilm #safilm
Not an easy one to write...
I've directed many different types of films. I don't mean genres. I mean - they each have their own personality. Some are reserved and allow you to delicately take the lead as they flourish into something beautiful and grand. Others are like a wild beast you must tame and you only have the power to hope it doesn't destroy you along the way. And then there are the accidental gems that extend a hand and gently nudge you to remind you you never had control anyway, "Get out of your own way," they whisper. Ok.
The only thing they all have in common is that each one is unique. They all have their own breath, their own rhythm. I find the best way to approach each one is with a strong team. So I surround myself with the best person for each job - sometimes this means the person with WAY more experience than anyone else on set and sometimes it means the person with absolutely no experience who is hungry to create. But it's always a competent, collaborative and creative team.
It's important to me to create a safe space on set where everyone is allowed to grow. I encourage newbies to ask questions. I'd prefer to answer a million questions and have you learn than have you scrambling for the answer on Google search (...been there...) and end up causing a delay in production. And I sure as hell listen to my seniors. You are the guiding light and your wisdom is highly valued. A film crew quickly becomes a family. I sort of imagine we all landed in this industry after escaping some dysfunction. I mean, right? Let's create a healthy version of a family you enjoy visiting (don't worry, Mom, I love visiting). Of course, conflicts will arise. Open communication and transparency are the only ways of getting through them.
So. All this to say. Sidestep is a new film personality to me and we're still feeling each other out. We were originally scheduled to begin filming tomorrow. In fact, I should be reviewing my shot list right now instead of writing this note.
But we realized we needed more time. And more funding.
Simple as that.
Under the original deadline and budget, I found myself making endless compromises until I no longer recognized the story. It was no longer within my grasp. Yes, the story will organically change and breathe and take a life of its own. And I'm excited to see it grow into something I can't even imagine - something only a team of creative individuals can develop together. We made the decision to postpone production in order to give us the time to have those conversations. And raise more funds. We are moving forward with our New York Unit next week, but principal photography is rescheduled for later in the summer.
The best part of the reschedule has been the team's response. I was concerned about losing momentum, knowing everyone has been working very hard very quickly under this intense deadline. I didn't want to unravel their efforts. I am pleased that every single person has come back with enthusiasm, support and a sense of relief. We were all feeling the pressure and now we have the room to do this right. So. Much. Gratitude. To these people.
There is a scene in Sidestep where one of the characters accidentally steps on the other's foot as they begin to dance. They then take a moment to recompose themselves before they find their flow with the music and with one another. This reschedule in production feels an awful lot like that moment - I eagerly jumped forward before my partner was ready and I may have scuffed a boot. But we've shaken it off, I've apologized. My partner is back in hand and the eye contact is strong. We're connected again and now able to step into this dance together as one.
Let's cue the music.
Need a dance partner? Meet a DANCER in front of the camera, our actor, "Michael" aka Forest VanDyke. Every actor, like every hero has their origin story, this hero's gateway into acting was... singing! Talk about a triple-threat!! Having hailed from Austin, Texas he has always had this innate calling to music, living his passion first through singing gospel at church as both a canter and church choir, to singing in the reputable Austin Children's Choir, and later the the prestigious Princeton American Boychoir School (#blessed). He performed at Carnegie Hall ya'll!! That was in High School, come college he graduated with a BFA in Acting from Texas State University. Post-college he already started to work professionally by moving to the#bigapple, booking his first national tour gig earning him the coveted Actors Equity Cards. He the joined the international singing/recording group, Teatro, with TEATRO now apart of Broadway Pops International. Besides that Forest has since worked on new productions with wonderful directors and artists like Saheem Ali (A Free Man of Color, Goddess), Kevin Del Aguila (Altar Boyz, Peter and the Starcatcher), and John Rando (Urinetown, The Toxic Avenger). Forest is clearly more than just a "DANCER" he is a multi-talented tour-de-fource. We here at SIDESTEP are happy to take these next couple STEPS with him on our SIDE.