The shoot yesterday of a short dramatic scene for a project I’m producing & directing at River Run Productions went very well. Thanks in large part due to the cast in the above photo. It dawned on me today that it was my first project to be cast via Facebook and I realized just how dependent I was on the Internet for much of the pre-production. Here’s a quick timeline of events that happened in about a two week time period.
Back in March of 2009 I wrote a post called Q&A with Movie Critic Colin Covert. Since Covert writes for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and had watched two box-office successes of screenwriters from Minneapolis (Diablo Cody, Juno & Nick Shenk, Gran Torino) I asked him who the next hot screenwriter from Minneapolis was going to be. Covert’s answer was Bill True (Runaway).
Bill mentioned my blog article on his website and linked to my blog. I followed the trail back and ended up becoming Facebook friends with Bill who now lives in L.A., but has many contacts in Minneapolis. I hadn’t found the right actor for this scene I was shooting and sent Bill a message via Facebook asking if he had any leads on actors in the Twin Cities around 30 that he’d recommend.
Bill connected me via Facebook with Mike Rylander (on the left in the picture) and I ended up going with him and it also led to me casting another Minneapolis actor Natalie Kane. They did a perfect job of playing a young Midwest couple looking to buy their first a condo in San Francisco. (And for the actors out there, it was 100% important in the casting that both Mike and Natalie had websites and links to videos of their work.)
The realtor showing them the condo was played by Brent Mattahias (in the center of the photograph) who is a public speaker based in Iowa and has various on-camera experiences. I met Brent on a shoot a couple of weeks ago and only got the idea for him as the realtor a couple of days before the shoot. Since I didn’t feel I had found the right person yet, I Googled his name, tracked down his email address and sent him a message, and the next day we talked and two days later we were shooting the scene.
The internet also played a key roll in doing research—at realtor.com—to find true places for sale in San Francisco. Finding out prices and features and benefits in the Bay area helped shape the dialogue of the script. At realtor.com I was also able to research San Francisco-like places in Iowa and Minnesota. That lead me to the condo at 1503 Pleasant St. in Des Moines and realtor Stacey Ward who paved the way for us to shoot at the condo.
On You Tube I was able to watch some House Hunter episodes for script writing inspiration as I could watch real life young couples and realtors interact as they looked at homes. And of course, I was able to email the script to the actors. I could probably come up with another dozen ways in which the Internet helped a cast and crew come together yesterday for a one-day shoot. (Of course, I should add that the intended use for the finished piece is the Internet.)
I was fortunate to work with a talented cast and crew and thank the Internet for helping pull all the elements together for a great shoot. The key thing for writers and filmmakers is to harness the Internet without getting lost in the rabbit trails it can take you. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, focus on getting productions done.
P.S. The arched doorway in the photo is a classic example of Italianate Victorian architecture. The style was very popular across the United States in the era of 1850-1880, in part by the rock star architect of the mid-nineteenth century, Alexander Jackson Davis. And if you are in the Des Moines area this weekend or next (Sept 17-18 & Sept. 25-26, 2010) you can tour homes in Historic Sherman Hill Neighborhood where this photograph was taken. (Learned all that on the Internet.)