Producing White Line Fever

Photo by Bill Manning Photo by Bill Manning

My friend Bill Manning had made me aware that Erin had recently put the word out that she was looking for some assistance in producing a video for her new single White Line Fever—highway lines, not cocaine. Bill and I hopped on a call with her and began brainstorming and planning. Her song concept involved guardian angels keeping her on the road literally and metaphorically on life’s path. Initially, Erin felt strongly about directing and editing the video once shot. This is not an unusual request, but I often find the motivation behind it is the artist maintaining control of the narrative—totally understandable. My role as director in this case isn’t necessarily to steer or change the idea, but to extend her vision for it. Yes, the visuals, camera angles, and on set direction would still fall under my purview as director, but only to service what is in her head based on meetings and conversations about the project. Erin felt very comfortable with this process and gave me her full trust to execute her idea. However, she did maintain editing control of the project, which we agreed to if my DP was allowed to grade the final edit.

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She already had the car and location for the main shoot available via family friends JC Picture Cars in Canton, GA. They are a local business providing quality picture cars from the 1910s-1970s for shows like Netflix’s Stranger Things and HBO Max’s Lovecraft Country. For this shoot, Erin had picked out a 1952 Plymouth convertible in a light yellow color. We began storyboarding and coming up with our lighting setups and G&E lists. And we settled on a very conservative but versatile setup with a single Skypanel S60, set of Titan’s (it is a music video after all), a 300dII as a backlight, and some 1k’s and Lightbridge reflector kit. This has to cover our neon cyber punk song breaks as well as our more realistic and grounded process setup for the verse’s and chorus’s.

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Our crew consisted of (Far Left) 1st AC Nick Hattings, (Left Middle) Director Kevin Keegan, (Right Middle) DP James Persinger, (Far Right) Key Grip Trevor Williams, and taking this photo, Grip, Bill Manning. We were also assisted by Erin herself, providing all costuming, her brother Ian Notarthomas H/MUA, and husband Sam Burchfield helping with playback.

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Our second setup was a more straight forward Titan tube setup with a DIY led cross made from IKEA strip lighting.

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Erin was initially opposed to this second setup, but once she saw the look of the lighting, the cross, she was sold and couldn’t believe she had ever pushed back.

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As with all setups, we ran through various parts of the song or the song in its entirety many times to get all the angles, moments, and narrative transitions covered. This took time but we were able to get it all in 1 day and a half of shooting.

Thank you to all the crew, angels, JC Picture Cars, PC&E, Cinder Atlanta, and of course Pip The Pansy for letting us making this amazing project with you!


Studio C41: Behind the Scenes of “Behind the Scenes of a Film Photography Podcast”

I’ve known Bill Manning for years now. He’s a good friend and a talented photographer and we’ve helped each other on various projects throughout that time. A little about Bill: Bill loves film, Bill shoots film, Bill has a film photography podcast. It’s called Studio C41: 1 Hour Photo Podcast.

Bill was asked to speak about his podcast at the UK hosted Photography Show, a photography conference that takes place in September. Like many other conferences, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the show to cancel the in-person event and went virtual. That’s where Woodlot Media stepped in. Bill wanted to produce a video for the virtual event that would tell the story he wasn’t able to in person. We had two weeks, which was a lot for what we could have done, but I and all those involved don’t simply settle for what will get the job done, we put our all into our projects. And with that, 2 weeks would require a big push.

Bill initially brought in myself and our friend Rachel High (producer on Dear Tori). We dug in and looked at Bill’s studio space in downtown Atlanta as the location. It’s a beautiful dilapidated factory building renovated for office space just south of the new Mercedes Stadium. The original flooring, brick, and exposed wood ceiling beams made it an obvious aesthetic choice as well as convenient.

We tasked Bill with writing his script and Rachel and I began discussing crew and the overall scope of what we wanted to do. It was decided that Rachel would be DP and operator and Bill was able to wrangle his long time friend, Kevin Terrell, to be gaffer. Kevin is a union electrician for film and tv and a freelance gaffer. From there, Rachel, in addition to creating the entirety of the shot list and shooting schedule, brought in some friends from other projects for 1st AC (Kayla Martin), Best Boy (Graham Gilley), and Script Supervisor/Teleprompter (Mitchell Germick).

We broke the script down into a chronological story taking place throughout an afternoon, evening, and into the next morning. Bill would go over some of the technical details to recording and hosting a podcast and then go into aspects of finding guests and questioning whether to monetize. We had five setups we had to create to support these topics, one of which needed to appear as if it wasn’t in the same location. Camera support was a combination of Dana Dolly, sticks, and gimbal.

1. Blanket Fort – A mock version of the former podcast space Bill and his co-hosts Steven Wallance and Jordana Russell used in the early days of recording. Affectionately known as the ‘blanket fort.’

“Blanket Fort” Lighting – A gel’d ellipsoidal is behind the desk that will bounce into the bead board suspended above creating a harsh overhead lighting source similar to flourescent office lighting.

“Blanket Fort” – Final Frame

2. The new Podcast area – Afternoon lighting with Bill seated at his desk with computer and mic doing remote interviews. We did most of the how-to and technology of the podcast here.

Main Setup – BTS/Lighting – 2x 1k’s, each through grid cloth t-bone’s. One for key, one for background. Two ultrabounce 4×4 floppy’s for fill. 1x softbox with grid crate for hair light.

Main Setup – Final Frame

3. Coffee Shop – We used a small corner of the room and dressed it as a coffee shop. Natural light, coffee shop sound fx, and a time-lapse with wait staff completed the effect. We ran a lot of Dana Dolly throughout the shoot. Some to keep the drier content interesting, but also to emphasize more impactful parts of the content, seen here.

Coffee Shop – BTS/Lighting Setup – Mostly natural, but we put a ultrabounce floppy outside the of the window, camera right as we were losing light fast. A 4×4 frame with opal softens the natural backlight we had from a slit in the curtains.

Coffee Shop – Final Frame

4. Night scene – We opted to shoot this at night, surprise! We were able to schedule this shot for one of the last in the day and ended up with some nice street light accents as well. Since Bill was talking about monetization here, we wanted him to appear small on the couch surrounded by space to emphasize the daunting decision that he as a successful podcast must make.

Night Scene – BTS/Lighting – 1k with diffusion, Honeycrate, and floppy’s controlling spill. The key light is motivated by a small brass practical fixture with a tungsten bulb and dimmer. Then we added an ellipsoidal providing some accent lighting on the floor to the left of bill.

Night Scene – Final Frame

 

5. Morning Scene – To wrap the story, we made it appear as if Bill stayed up all night working at the office and fell asleep at his desk. He abruptly wakes up and realizes he’s late for the virtual Q/A. We shot this midday and Kevin had to do some creative lighting to make it appear as if it was morning.

Morning – Final frame 1

Morning – Final frame 2

Final Frames

BTS Stills


SARcraft Survival – At It Again

My friends at SARcraft are still at it, this time for a series of videos that will go to an online survival class platform, OutdoorCore.com. First up was a video highlighting practical uses in the field for a shemagh. I brought in James Persinger, who was my DP on Dear Tori, to help shoot this one.

We ran James’ A7Sii on the Dana Dolly and my C200 on a hi-hat. Easy setup and only needed to bounce a little light JJ’s way when his positioning put him under the shade of his tarp.


Dear Tori – Production Complete

The heavy lifting, in some regards, is done. Production on Dear Tori is wrapped. Thanks to Duncan Stephan, our AD, we pulled off two 10hr days as planned, not including load in/out, and had a quick pick up for our final scene on the following Monday. I wanted to share some photos that Bill Manning graciously took from Day 1, they’re really fantastic! I’m so grateful to have worked on this film and made it a reality for the writers and all others involved. We’re now moving on to post production and should have that wrapped by mid-April.


Dear Tori – Fully Casted

Another update, we’ve successfully casted our four parts for Dear Tori (#deartorifilm). Thanks to Noelle Cameron and team for narrowing the short list!

Noelle Cameron – Victoria

Carole Wood – Karen/Mother

Ja’ness Tate – Western

Elias Banks – Robert

Thank you to all who submitted for the roles on Breakdown!


Dear Tori – Script, Crew, and Production Dates Locked

We’re currently on V5 of the script which is a good place to be as we need to move our focus to shot listing and blocking. We’ve also locked our crew for production and our dates. We’ll be shooting Mar 7-8, 2020 and hoping for two 10hr days to make it work. The script is currently 10 pages that take place across 3 story days and we’re hoping to split production evenly for the light needed for the day and night scenes across the weekend.

Crew:

Director/EP – Kevin Keegan

Producer – Rachel High

AD – Duncan Stephan

DoP – James Persinger

1st AC – Nick Neidhardt

2nd AC/PA – Conner Larson

Key Grip – Sarah Funderburk

Location Sound – Josh Crosby

Script Supervisor – Melody McLaurin

Production/Art Design – Lexi Cowling

MUA – Karri Manning


Dear Tori – Announcement and Casting

Woodlot is producing a short film in the next two months titled Dear Tori. This move into the narrative direction is extremely exciting and I feel privileged to be a part of it. I’ve also been tasked to direct which i’m simply grateful for. Our core producting group is made up of friends from Kennesaw State, including our two writers, Lexi Cowling and Melody McLaurin, our lead actress playing Victoria, Noelle Cameron, and our crew’s 2nd AC and PA, Conner Larson.

The story will center around a daughter, her abusive mother, and a series of deceptions that each have committed against one another, ultimately ending in a moment of triumph for the daughter as she moves towards independence.

We’ve begun pre-production and while this is a modest short film in terms of production scope, we’ve already seen an amazing reaction from friends willing to come in and offer there service and expertise to get this project going. Noelle, other than serving as the lead role of Victoria, will also be our casting director. We’ve already received ample submissions for the parts of Karen/Mother and also a VO only part of Robert, the father. I’m looking forward to how this will progress as we certainly want to make the most of any opportunity we can.


Bent’s Woodworking

I was referred to Jason Bent by a mutual friend, also from the woodworking community. We exchanged messages over Instagram, complementing each others’ work. After a few months, Jason emailed me wanting to pursue the production of a trailer for his ever-growing YouTube channel, Bent’s Woodworking. At the time of this writing, he has just shy of 70k subscribers and is posting twice weekly.

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Nova Scotia

Peach State Overland’s projects have taken me to some amazing places: Moab, the Outer Banks, and all over the Southeast. But this past July we traveled internationally to Nova Scotia. This was a three day drive up and back which gave us roughly 5 days on the peninsula as well as Cape Breton.

Our itinerary took us through Lunenberg, Cape Breton, The Cabot Trail, Meat Cove, rafting on the Shubenacadie river, some amazing food and even more amazing people along the way. Check out the entire series in the link below as well as a few frame grabs.


Two Tree Films – The Scare

While not a Woodlot production, my freelance work is every bit as important to improving as a filmmaker. With that, an incredible opportunity came up when my cousin, Greg Beck of Two Trees Productions, invited me to Ft. Worth, TX to help him produce his latest short, The Scare (working title). Read More