Tomorrow is the big screen debut of the two films that the River Run Productions team produced as part of The 48 Hour Film Project/Des Moines. If you happen to go to the screenings at the Fleur Cinema & Cafe then we’d appreciate a big shout out for the films “No Day at the Spa” and “The Masks we Wear.”
Tomorrow is also when we plan on debuting the films online.
One question I was asked a couple times was, “where did you find all these people?” Meaning the 17-18 people we had working at various capacities on the films. The short answer is everywhere. I have long been fond of the Tom Peters phrase, “Always be looking for talent.” The main reason for that is when you need someone is the wrong time to begin looking. It’s hard to find the ideal person in a short period of time.
But if you are always looking for talent you have a funnel of people you can tap into. It may be a photographer, a writer, or an actor that you saw months or years ago and you just wait for the right opportunity to be able to work with them. Ideally, you make contact with them and establish a relationship so when the opportunity comes it has a natural flow to it.
Here’s an example of how I was able to “find all these people.”
Actress Tory Flack: I met Tory’s mom at Toastmasters and a couple of years ago she told me her daughter was a theater major at the University of Iowa and gave me her daughter’s headshot. About a year and a half ago I used Tory as on camera talent for a video I did for an economic development group. Anybody who is willing to stand outside in zero degree weather in front of the American Gothic house in Eldon, Iowa for a video shoot is somebody I want to work with again. Recently she graduated from Iowa (remember the same school Diablo Cody and Tennessee Williams graduated from) and just finished doing a Shakespeare play in Cedar Rapids and will soon be moving to Chicago to pursue a career in acting.
Actress Emily Stortz: I had not met Emily until she walked into our office Friday night. But I had seen her a couple weeks prior in a local production of Joseph’s Amazing Technocolor Dreamcoat. She played Potiphar’s wife and did double duty as one of the dancers. While the cast of 50 performers did a fine job there was a “in the moment” quality about Emily that I thought would play well on film. (I was not wrong there.) I got a message to her and she called me on Thursday and two days later she was in a lead roll in “A Day at the Spa.”
Actress Emily Rozinek: Emily is a model from Cedar Rapids and who I worked with at the end of last year on a video for Beam Electrolux. She was curious about the process of the 48 Hour Film Project and was open to working behind the scene moving lights. But when you have someone who looks like Sandra Bullock when she did the movie Speed, it’s probably best to put her in front of the camera. She has a spunky/sassy personality and she brought that to her role.
Actress Cassie Milbrandt: I was Director of Photography on a short film a few years ago where Cassie was one of the actresses. She was just 17 then and you could tell she had not only talent but was committed to acting. She is now a student at the University of Northern Iowa here in Cedar Falls and it was great to work with her again.
Co-Director/Editor Josh McCabe: Anyone with as many tattoos as Josh has (and rides a motorcycle) has to be creative right? We found Josh about a year and a half ago when we called UNI and asked then to recommend their best student for a paid internship. So Josh quit his job at credit union and came to work freelancing for us. He went to LA for a few months to do an internship with Mark Steines at Entertainment Tonight, before returning to UNI to graduate last spring. Josh is part of the new breed of young creatives who can shoot, edit, and do graphics among a few other things. Josh and I co-directed the two films and he edited “No Day at the Spa.” (Josh was born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa so his passion for film production is mixed with that good ole’ Midwest work ethic. (Which comes in handy when you’re kicking ideas around at 4:30 in the morning before an 8 AM shoot.)
Much of the crew was made up of various people I had worked with in the past mixed in friends of friends. The level of experience ranged from some who were working on their first film(s) to Jon Van Allen who not only has a full grip truck and 30 years of production experience, but has recently worked on several independent feature films shot here in Iowa.
I have no doubt that there are several people who worked on this film (even as production assistants) who will go on to make there own films. And there are probably a few who watched the messy process of making two films at once on little sleep and have no interest in ever working on a film again.
All that to say that there are talented people in every city and town—you just have to always be looking for them. Find ways to connect with them. That could be via Facebook, mutual friends, work situations, etc. Be bold. You never going to offend anyone by telling them you admire their work. Even if you have little experience do not fear approaching an experienced cameraman, editor, or actor.
Remember enthusiasm is infectious. When I was briefly a walk-on football player at the University of Miami I remember a player telling me that he’d “walk through fire if Coach Schnellenberger asked him to.” When look back on the program that program that has won five national championships in the last 28 years (more than any other school in the last 30 years), I believe it was Schnellenberger’s passion and enthusiasm that laid the foundation for the program. Of course, mixed with his ability to always be looking for talented people.