Friday Mailbag (February 15th Edition)

Here’s a recap of this week’s Friday mailbag from our Facebook page!

Goldie Reynolds asks “When’s the movie coming out?”

Our premiere date is all depend on our first festival date as most of the big festivals want that “World Premiere” status for your first outing. We’re aiming for a full release this summer!

Millie Smith asks: “Who pick the name of the movie and why? Cass is such a spiritual place on earth i cant wait to go back to visit.”

GREAT question! We took a long time trying to find the right title for the film. The original working title was “Memories of Ghosts” which was a play on the idea that history is, at times, referred to as “ghosts of the past.” Somehow that felt a little too “thriller/suspense” movie… For awhile it was “Sweet Voice Calling” which felt closer, but not quite right.

Then, as we were looking at old railroad terms, Kim stumbled upon the “angel’s perch,” which is a reference to the seats in the top of a caboose and it just fit on so many levels. We kept trying other things, but felt nearly as right as that. And so our story found its name… 🙂

Rick Riblett asks “While filiming, were there many changes from the original script or was it pretty locked in?”

Though the script was pretty much locked in by the time we arrived in West Virginia (three weeks before we started shooting), we were tweaking the script literally right up until day one. And, even on set during the shoot, we’d tweak a line to clarify or to make it feel more natural coming in the actor’s voice.

The story never changed, but there were moments of magic that happened when the actors or the director had an idea to try a line a little differently. But, we only tweaked when we felt it served the story we were telling and got us closer to that goal.

Craig Selwitz – “After the festival circuit, any plans for something like a large outdoor screening at Snowshoe during the Summer?”

That’s certainly something that we have considered (you’re not the first person to suggest that!) and we’ll be talking with our partners at Snowshoe Mountain Resort to see what we can work out.


Friday Mailbag (February 1st Edition)

Lots of great questions this week on our Facebook page! Here’s what we’ve got!

Sara Spector asks: “Did you have the music score in mind before you shot the film? Or did it come after?”

When J.T. wrote the script, he knew pretty early that he wanted to incorporate bluegrass, traditional and old time music into the film because it invokes such a strong sense of place and really helps to establish the world of the film…that, and he’s a big fan of the music.

As we were working through the edit, we pulled a ton of different temp tracks to get a sense of how it would all play in the film but, when Chris Eldridge joined the team, we gave him free reign to write and create. He has written some really beautiful music that both supports the story and settles us into that world we were trying to create on screen and we couldn’t be happier with the results!

Wanda Starke asks: “Did you use any local people and if not, why?”

As a matter of fact, we did! Two of our lead actors are locals. Michael Holstine plays our Doc Snyder and Homer Hunter plays the role of Delbert, who is the local postman and leader of a local band that’s also featured pretty heavily in the film! Dwayne Kennison also joined us in a featured role.

We also had a ton of locals get a taste of what it takes to make a movie happen by joining us for crowd scenes and small parts!

Trent Zundell asks: “Did you have scenes that you envisioned in one type of weather but you had to change because the weather wasn’t cooperating? Or was weather just something you hadn’t any specific notions about?”

YES! We had a fairly elaborate plan for a “cake walk” scene that was to take place outside the community center but, on the day we had it scheduled (and the day on either side), it just poured the rain and there was no way around it. We moved it inside a large hall and our (BIG shout out to our Art Department) decked out the space and made it beautiful.

Mike Long asks: “Comment about working with rail equipment (In this case, the Cass Scenic Railroad’s equipment) and what challenges that posed to your production.”

The toughest thing about working with the train was the sound. Believe it or not, steam engines are pretty noisy at times! We had one scene that we shot while the train was at the depot and we had to time our takes out with the engineers releasing of the steam. The microphones pick up all kinds of noise and, because we use different shots, that noise varies a little and requires some work to smooth out.

The folks working the train at Cass were a huge help, though…doing all they could to minimize the sound and help us stay on schedule!

Bigger budget films would just reschedule that day but, with so many moving parts on a very tight budget and timeframe, we had to constantly adjust.

Thankfully, though, there were a few other big outdoor days that were just gorgeous.

Pat Sergent asks: “What cameras did you shoot with? Does anyone shoot film anymore?”

Thanks to a new filmmaker’s grant from Panavision, we shot on a RED camera, which is one of the highest quality digital cameras available. Independent film is tough…while film will always have its place in moviemaking (certainly on a higher budget level), for cost effectiveness and flexibility, digital is the way to go right now.

Susan Breece asks: “What were some of the favorite things that the cast and crew liked about West Virginia?”

To be perfectly honest, the cast and crew didn’t have too much time to do much outside of filming. There were a few hiking days but, outside of that, most people took days off to sleep. We think everyone is looking forward to coming back and having a little time to enjoy themselves!


Friday Mailbag (January 25th Edition)

Every Friday on our Facebook page, we open up the “Friday Mailbag”! Got a question for us about making movies? Angel’s Perch (within reason, NO SPOILERS PEOPLE!)? Anything else? You can ask us about anything and we’ll do our best to answer it! Here’s what we got this week!

Millie Smith asks: “When you guys were on the church steps filming the movie how difficult was it filming due to the rain?”

Our whole first week of filming, we were battling the rain. It would come and go, off and on all day. In fact, we had to move one whole scene inside the Masonic Lodge because of the rain. On a film our size (with only 18 days to shoot the whole film), weather can be a killer.

But, we have to give props to our amazing crew, who just threw on the rain gear and kept us moving forward, quickly shooting when the rain stopped to get it done. With any other crew, we could have easily fallen behind.

And, week two and three were gorgeous!

Aubrey C Skeen Jr asks: “When will this movie debut?” and Noah Morrison asks: “Will you show it at one of the theaters near Huntington West Virginia?”

Our premiere will all depend on our first festival date as most of the big festivals want that “World Premiere” status for your first outing. Our hunch, however, is that it’ll be this summer!

And, with regards to showing in Huntington, you can bet we’re going to be bringing this film home for people all over WV to see it. We were fortunate to have a number of folks reach out with an interest in helping us get it into WV theaters and, once we know that first festival date, our WV premiere and screening schedule will all fall into place.

Carmen Cavallo asks: “How much more difficult is it, if at all, do a movie in a more rural area like Cass than in a more urban area?”

Great question! Every location comes with some challenges and we knew this would be no exception. The toughest thing about shooting in Cass was getting the people and equipment we needed to the location. We had to find the right vendors who had what we needed, weren’t too far away, could give us a rental for the 3 weeks we needed it and had a truck we could rent to get it to and from the rental house. And flying people in on our budget meant car rides to and from Pittsburgh and D.C. to shuttle folks.

The BEST thing for us about shooting in Cass were the people and organizations who were willing to help (which are much harder to find in the cities). Local organizations like Cass Scenic Railroad, Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, NRAO Green Bank Science Center and the countless number of volunteers (friends, family and strangers) who came out to lend a hand however they could.

Oh, and the scenery….can you BEAT that SCENERY?! 🙂

Kim Hodge Burnett asks: “So of all the things that go into producing a film, what’s been your absolute favorite part and what’s been the worst part?”

Wow! Tough question… I think the best part of working on this film has been meeting and connecting with a ton of amazing new people who we now consider friends. It’s been an incredible two years bringing us to “now” and we feel like a whole community of people have joined us to make this movie. It’s been humbling…

The worst part? The ENORMOUS amount of detailed paperwork required to get everything done and done right. So many details and one misstep can cause a ton of problems. Thankfully, there’s two of us. 🙂

Susan Breece asks: “How long does it take to set up lighting for an outdoor scene and for an indoor scene?”

It totally depends on the time of day and how big the scenes are. Lighting for indoor scenes is a little easier because the light around you isn’t changing so much. Outdoor can be tricky because of the sun and clouds constantly changing. PLUS, you shoot each scene from different angles so, even when you finish shooting the scene focusing on one character, you’re going to move the camera and lighting equipment to get “coverage” on the other character.

Generally speaking, it took about an hour for the first set-up of a scene and about 20 – 30 minutes to change angles during the day. Though we did have a couple of larger scenes and night shots that took a few of hours to set up!

Trent Zundell asks: “When you submit the movie to a festival, is it automatically shown at that festival or does it go through a selection process before being entered into a festival (or does each festival handle things differently in that regard)?”

Great question! Festival competition is pretty fierce, especially for the “Top Tier” festivals (Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, etc.) Believe it or not, Sundance received over 12,000 submissions this year! There is a team of folks at each festival who watch every film and whittle down that list to a select few that will compete for various awards.

BUT, as you work your way through the circuit, depending on your reviews and success in the higher level fests, smaller festivals will actually invite you to screen with them. For a film our size, those smaller fests give us a chance to screen all over the country!

That’s it for this week!


Meet our Composer: Chris Eldridge

25088_362544499579_6896699_nWe are THRILLED to introduce you to our composer, Chris Eldridge. We met Chris through an amazing set of circumstances (shout out to The Bluegrass Situation!) and could not be more thrilled to have him on the team. Chris is probably best known for his work as the guitarist for The Punch Brothers and, prior to that, his work with the Infamous Stringdusters.

With an enormous amount of talent, family roots in Charleston, WV and also having been touched by Alzheimer’s through his grandmother, he was the perfect match to help us create the musical landscape of Angel’s Perch. And, for a first time composer, we can tell you he’s killin’ it! 🙂

Chris brought together an extraordinary group of musicians to bring his music to life including:

Rayna Gellert
Adam Hurt
Paul Kowert
Dominick Leslie
Kristin Andreassen

Stay tuned for more on all of these artists!


Feature in this week’s Pocahontas Times!

It’s a Wrap: ‘Angel’s Perch’ Completes Filming

It was a bittersweet day Saturday for the cast and crew of the Cass-based movie “Angel’s Perch.” The group gathered at the Artist’s Gallery in Green Bank for the shoot for the movie about a man who returns home to assist his grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

The movie was written by J.T. Arbogast and is based on his own grandmother, Dess Kane, and her struggle with the disease.

“Polly,” the grandmother character, is portrayed by Joyce Van Patten, a veteran of stage and screen.

Van Patten said her three weeks in the county were a wonderful “vacation” from the hustle and bustle of the city.

“You are in the middle of nowhere, there’s no cellphones and I enjoyed conversation,” she said. “It’s lovely. Everybody wants to talk. People don’t do that enough, so it’s a very nice thing.”

Click here to read the full article!