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director

Episode 4: The Making of 'Uncovering Eden' That's A Wrap!

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Episode 4: The Making of 'Uncovering Eden' That's A Wrap!

THE FINAL EPISODE of 'The Making of Uncovering Eden' IS UP! Our filming location turns into a little house party after all of our dramatic scenes are finally completed... We couldn't have asked for a better last day to shoot! .... also Kevin's Champagne cam is amazing.

A special thanks to the Clark Family for letting us film in their home!

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Sophie Learns To Swim: A Struggle

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Sophie Learns To Swim: A Struggle

Director Chelsea Lupkin and Director of Photography Michael Russo work with actresses, Ally Thomas and Kailee Shollenberger.  Photo by Jimmy O'Donnell. 

Director Chelsea Lupkin and Director of Photography Michael Russo work with actresses, Ally Thomas and Kailee Shollenberger. Photo by Jimmy O'Donnell. 

I have a short film in the works and it's called "Sophie Learns to Swim" -- a coming-of-age story about a girl named Sophie who has to learn more than just how to swim if she wants to get through her summer holiday. 

The film was shot back in August and my team is just starting to work with the footage -- If you're an independent filmmaker, you know that actually getting the people and the tools to make your project is difficult. Add the fact that we had a major frame-drop issue (discovered after the fact -- I cried), making this film has been particularly hard.

When I say 'dropped frame', I mean that the camera failed to record all of the action. Despite that and having issues loading the footage into editing software and matching said footage with sound, I've been able to piece together a film that I'm excited to show.

I consider "Sophie Learns to Swim" a major stepping stone for five main reasons:

1. I worked with a casting director for the first time. (Sara Accardi found us our talented leads and thirty plus extras within two weeks. Wow).

2. I worked with young actors for the first time.

3. I faced my biggest editing struggle yet and feel that I've conquered the odds against me.

4. In it's rough cut stages, the film runs at about 6 minutes long and will be the shortest narrative I've created yet.

5. This was the second time I've worked on a large scale project with the same crew and I feel that we're really starting to become a serious production team, despite how small we are.

Do I think "Sophie Learns to Swim" is groundbreaking cinema?

No. But I'll be damned, if it didn't make me a better director.

Actors Gavin Becker and Makenna Stergion on set.  Photo by Jimmy O'Donnell.

Actors Gavin Becker and Makenna Stergion on set. Photo by Jimmy O'Donnell.

Director of Photography Michael Russo, Head Gaffer and Sound Operator Ryan Hansen, Director Chelsea Lupkin.  Photo by Jimmy O'Donnell.

Director of Photography Michael Russo, Head Gaffer and Sound Operator Ryan Hansen, Director Chelsea Lupkin. Photo by Jimmy O'Donnell.

Producer and part-time Assistant Camera, Kevin Johnsrud gets ready to slate.  Photo by Jimmy O'Donnell.

Producer and part-time Assistant Camera, Kevin Johnsrud gets ready to slate. Photo by Jimmy O'Donnell.

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Day 1 of Filming Uncovering Eden

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On Saturday, August 3rd, I drove to the train station to pick up Uncovering Eden’s cinematographer, Jason Krangel, and cast members Marrick Smith and David Laws.

I had been waiting for about five minutes when suddenly I heard a bang on the hood of my car and loud laughter coming from my aforementioned actors. They clearly had the uncontrollable need to scare the wits out of me… Clowns.

I took them over to the Johnsrud home to meet the rest of our amazing cast, Victoria Pedretti and April Woodall, and crewmembers Michael Russo, Kevin Johnsrud, and Chaz Boyd. (Erik Kristiansen, Toro Adeyemi and Ryan Hansen would complete our crew the following day!)

They bonded almost instantly and I felt a sense of pride for picking everyone involved in this project. The one rule that I follow when making a film is ‘always choose people that work well together’. Having a good vibe on set with a small crew is paramount in creating a successful project.

Once all the cars were loaded with our camera and lighting equipment and the actors were prepped, we headed out to our first location: a small, privately owned grocery store named Centre Fruit Gourmet. In all honesty, I think the owner allowed us to film there not just because he is ridiculously nice, but because my dad regularly buys their eggplant salad on a weekly basis.

Setting up our gear and establishing our lights was a breeze, courtesy of Jason and Mike, and we were ready to film within half an hour.

This was the first time that the cast worked together in front of the camera and it is literally the only scene that they would all be in. Whatever worries I had were quickly diminished as soon as I called ‘action’. It was like I wasn’t looking at Victoria, Marrick, Julia, David and April… I was watching Edie, Darren, June, Chad and Edie’s Grandmother in the grocery aisle… the scene that took place felt real to me in a way that I only imagined while writing the script. Seeing it on the little monitor of the RED Camera and even just watching them all interact was a director’s dream come true.

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In this scene, the cool kids interact with Edie, while her grandmother is blissfully unaware. Darren, played by Marrick, is starry eyed as he says hello to Edie, bumping into the aisle as he passes, while June, played by Julia, cattily assesses the situation. Chad, David’s character, delivers the blow that hurt’s Edie’s feelings. All in all, everyone took direction well and brought this scene to life.

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After a much needed lunch break of beer and pizza, (for everyone except Victoria and Julia who are 18 and 16 years old), we headed out to a public park for magic hour.

The scene we shot was with everyone having fun with some sparklers… I don’t want to give too much away, but this scene is juxtaposed with a very climactic moment later in the film.

We ended up using the Jib for most of these shots and Mike and Kevin kept running back and forth between the actors so they always had a lit sparkler… it was extremely chaotic and a huge amount of fun!

I was afraid we would be caught at some point with all of the smoke we were making and in about 30 minutes, we saw lights in the distance by the park’s patrol…

…Who then decided we could have a few more minutes because they thought it was very cool that we were making a movie and even asked if they could be in it. HA!

15 minutes later, we were told we had to leave because if police caught us there after dark, we would be slapped with a hefty fine. The patrol explained we actually needed a permit to film in the park… cough cough… and were nice enough to stick around until we left so we wouldn’t get in trouble.

I couldn’t have asked for a smoother first day of filming and I can’t believe how nice people were to my cast and crew.

… Day 2 was even better.

Check out more photos and behind the scene material on our Facebook Page and Twitter.

chelsealogotrans

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Why the Short Film ‘Uncovering Eden’ Needs to be Made.

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Everyone, all over the world, has seen or been bullied at some point in their life.

Bullies make us question ourselves and think less of the things that make us different. However, it is these very differences that make us unique and beautiful individuals. We should not shun our diversity, but embrace it because it is this diversity that gives us our self-identity.  Without it, who would we be?

The short film ‘Uncovering Eden’ is a coming-of-age drama about self-identity and anti-bulling.

The story follows 16-year-old Edie as she just begins to grow into herself in one of the most challenging environments of her life so far: high school.

Bullies and cliques are the cost of high school royalty and it embodies almost every social struggle imaginable. It is not a surprise that the greatest battle young adults face today with bullies is in high school.

Yet, not many films address the consequences of bullying, let alone why it happens.

As it stands, most films that are truly about bullying are documentaries. 2011’s ‘Bully’ about bulling in U.S. schools is probably one of the few films to document the true consequences of bullying and became a worldwide campaign.

But why does bullying occur? When I was writing the screenplay for ‘Uncovering Eden’, I thought about this a great deal.  Therefore ‘Uncovering Eden’ addresses the generational and cultural differences that have inspired such behavior.

The character, Darren, who is the object of Edie’s affectation, not only participates in some of the bullying that goes on but is also bullied, himself. He experiences peer pressure from his friends and intimidation from his Father, someone who is not only from an older generation, but a patriarchal figure to him.

‘Uncovering Eden’ is a film that tells a short story with a much wider picture. The internal struggle that Edie faces results in consequences with her relationship with her grandmother. Yet, despite everything that she does and strives to be, she will never be a member of the crowd that she so hopes to be a part of: Edie is too different from them.

‘Uncovering Eden’ is a short film that needs to be made because it addresses the nature and consequences of bullying. This short film sends the message that being yourself and not allowing others to dictate who you are, is worth everything.

Please make a pledge to this short film’s Kickstarter Project!  You can donate ANY amount that you want, no matter how big or small… Anything helps and we need your help in order to make this film become a reality!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chelsealupkin/uncovering-eden-a-short-film

… You can also get awesome rewards including an HD Digital Copy of the final film, a DVD with special behind-the-scenes footage, a signed copy of the production script and even posters!!

‘Uncovering Eden’ is a short film that needs to be made!!

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Full Synopsis:

Edie, 16, lives with her grandmother who tries to instill moral values and life lessons by using her Jewish heritage as a tool.

However, Edie finds her grandmother’s words to be constricting and tries to separate herself from what she thinks is the problem: her Jewish faith.

At school, Edie wants to fit in with the popular crowd, particularly because of a boy named Darren whom she has feelings for. But Darren and his friends, June and Chad are not the most tolerable of characters and their prejudices toward others not like themselves, drives Edie in a downward spiral.

As Edie struggles to find her way through adolescence, faith, and her first love, she learns that her actions have consequences and perhaps the steep slope she has chosen to go down will risk more than she ever thought possible.

Follow us out on Facebook or Twitter to be a part of this film!

@UncoveringEden or @ChelseaLupkin for more details.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email Uncovering.Eden@gmail.com

chelsealogotrans

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For Goodness’ Sake, Know How to Edit!

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I fool you not!! - Why Indie Filmmakers will take over the world.

Every member of the production team has been there.  The phrase, “hurry up and wait” comes to mind. But the word ‘wait’ stands alone.

I worked on a big commercial shoot a few years ago where I literally stood for an extra hour and a half because the director thought he should get more coverage than he already had. Trust me, he had enough.

A director who takes and takes and takes… and takes the same shot of a scene over and over again from multiple different angles because he thinks that the more coverage he gets will help the editors at the post production house have an easier time of making a brilliant commercial or movie edit is a lot to handle. See this run-on sentence? It’s like that.

FACE PALM.

This is an example of a director who does not know how to edit. As a freelance editor and someone who has many friends who work at post houses, this situation is daunting. Imagine having to look at 25 takes of an actor’s performance only to have to look at 25 more takes of the same performance from another angle (and maybe 25 more for good measure) and finally having to choose which take is the best fit!

Sure, an editor’s job is to put the shots together and ultimately tell a story in 30 seconds or 2 hours.

And yes, a good director should have as much coverage as possible to ensure that the commercial (or movie) will be a successful campaign and appease the clients and producers.

However, there are too many directors out there who go completely overboard and can’t tell when they’ve gotten the golden shot or need more coverage. They cannot tell the difference between overkill and necessity.

In my opinion, a good director should know how to edit. A director who can envision the whole picture and decide what shots he/she needs to make a good end product is someone worthy of the role ‘Director’… Notice the capital D.

Time and time again, an editor will have to work with the footage a non-editing-director has shot. That editor has a voyage ahead to produce a final cut.  It’s an editing nightmare because that editor has to appease the director, the clients, the production company, producers… you get the idea. Without going into tedious detail of how editing a cut in a post production house works, it’s safe to say that there are a lot of heads to please.

That said, working with a director who knows what their end product or final vision in Final Cut Pro or AVID looks like, is someone you want to work with.

Presumably, a director’s job is to take an idea and make sure that the rest of the team sees the same vision and translates that vision into a cohesive product. A director must be able to convey what he/she is looking for to the Director of Photography. A director must be able to direct talent to embody a script that he/she may or may not have written. A director has to make sure that the clients, sitting in the “video village”, are happy with the commercial as it is being shot.

That said, shouldn’t a director know how to edit? Yes. But, all too often, this is not an actuality.

This frustrates me. Some people would argue that a director is supposed to direct and an editor is supposed to edit. Period. However, if all creative people took the time to learn about each other’s craft, everyone would benefit. No one benefits from ignorance.

Please note that not all of the directors I have worked under are bad at directing. On the contrary, they are all much more experienced and knowledgeable than I am in their art.

I merely would like to suggest that directors should learn how to edit to better their ability to ‘see’ what they need as opposed to prolonging an already long 12-hour production day.

For any aspiring filmmakers out there, there is something to be said about being both a director and editor.

With the revolution of camera availability, namely DSLR’s, indie filmmakers can produce their art and have a hand in editing. This is fantastic! There is a new generation of directors, writers, and cinematographers who have an understanding of how to achieve the perfect final edit. This understanding makes them better at their craft.

What can we all take from this?

Power to the Indie Filmmakers! Patience, we will take over the industry soon enough.

chelsealogotrans

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Budget?! What Budget?! – How to Make a Film with the Bare Minimum

So you’ve written a script. Congratulations. Now it’s time to face the realities of production, namely your budget or lack thereof.

For the longest time I thought that making a quality short film or video would take money to produce, but it turns out that that’s not necessarily true.

Did you know that many cinematographers get their big break by making music videos? Usually, music video production is on a very VERY tight budget by industry standards and this forces cinematographers to be… shall we say, crafty?

If you can only afford fluorescent bulbs and work lights, you tend to be more creative than someone with a lot of luxury cash for extra coffee with the producers.

Production companies and scouts looking for the next big talent notice those who are particularly savvy in this regard. It’s impressive to find directors and cinematographers who can showcase how talented they are without gigantic light setups and full frame cameras. Those people are the triple threats. Strive to be one of them.

That said, you can do a lot of amazing things with little or no money in turning your short script into a reality.

When I made my short film, Flutter, I had nothing. Zip. Nadda… ok, I had 30 bucks toward prop food and pizza, but that’s still basically nothing.

What did I have? - Awesome people who knew what they were doing. I happen to own a Canon 7D (insert Canon endorsement here) and that is a more than adequate camera with the right lenses… perhaps you have friends who will let you borrow?

I also had friends who were part of film clubs and classes who had rental access to lights and shoulder mounts FOR FREE. Usually educational clubs and university departments are more than willing to help you make a project if it allows other students to ‘learn’ from the production experience. MILK THIS FOR ALL IT’S WORTH. There’s no need to feel guilty if everybody wins.

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So what about your location and cast? Do a few screen tests of your friends! Leave a few flyers in your city’s film office! Try Craigslist! Hold a bake sale!! Kick in the doors of your neighbors and ask them… no, TELL them that you will be filming in their house and that you will respect their place and offer them film credit and a slice of your aforementioned Pizza.

Trust me, you can accomplish a lot with (at least) a 30-dollar budget.

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See?! Watch the trailer for my film! HERE.

chelsealogotrans

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