November, 2008

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Carole, left, directing crew from her film.
Five Questions +2 for
Carole Holliday

The veteran board artist creates her own opportunity to direct,
making the short film, "Witt's Daughter".

1. What is Witt's Daughter?

Witt's Daughter is a film that I produced, wrote, and directed for my production company "Crowded Metro Films". 

Synopsis: A stiff-necked Lieutenant Witt returns from the Korean War. His three-year-old daughter treats him as an unwelcome stranger.   The young father, who's used to commanding situations, butts heads with his adorable little girl as he attempts to force her to love him.

Still image from Witt's Daughter

2. How did this project come together?

  I have wanted to direct for a long time, but not live action.   Live action was something that seemed to big and scary to attempt.   At one point, I was in between jobs, praying about what to do next with my life and read a verse in the Bible that said  "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands... so that you will not be dependent on anybody."  

It struck me right there.   I needed to stop looking for someone to give me a chance.  I had been planning to redo my kitchen, so instead I decided to make a film. I should start by saying at fist I was planning on making an animated film. However, I looked at the amount of time it would take to do the film myself - forever.   That's when I decided to do a live action film. It was something I could afford with the money I had.

3. Why this story?

I chose this subject is because I wanted to do a story about a father and child. Playing a writing game of "What if"  I came up with the story idea:

"What if you had gone away to war and the only thing that kept you alive was getting home to your baby girl-- but when you got home, your baby girl had forgotten you."

It was a poignant thought, and something I was eager explore.

4. Was it difficult to do a period piece in terms of costumes, locations, props?

A friend owned a bright blue convertible Sunbeam Alpine.  It was mistaking the year of the car - a 1954 model, for 1953, which caused me to set my story at the close of the Korean War.  I had a house, built in the late 1920's and it was decorated with handed down antiques.  I also had boxes full of 1950's dresses I had gotten from Ebay.  I would sew what I else I needed, and crawl thrift stores for other items for little inexpensive props. Now that the elements were in place, I began to write. 

Still image from Witt's Daughter

5. Coming from an animation background, how did you prepare yourself to work in live-action?

I already knew how to stage and compose from my story boarding background.  But for everything else, I studied a lot of things online.  I took a class at UCLA Extension for making a short film, and I went to lots of lectures that were part of the Below the Line Screening series.  A lot of animation practices transferred over,  my sense of visuals and storytelling.   My cinematographer chucked when I  told him "I want my film to look like a mix of Haddon Sundbloom, Andrew Loomis and Disney's  Bambi."

Images for this article are the property of Carole Holliday.
©2008 Moore Studios, Inc

In casting, I also designed the look of the cast the same way that I would design a cast of characters in animation. Animation acting tends to be more broad than live action acting.  I almost missed casting my wonderful lead because when he was in the audition, he did not appear to be doing much of anything other than saying his lines.  however when I watched him in playback, I was stunned to see just how much was actually going on.  He was the one guy who's performance made me cry during the auditions.  

My crew was great and patient. Though my cinematographer and I would discuss shots, I had to show up with what I wanted shot in the first place.  Once we were shooting, my cinematographer would occasionally point out when I was choosing shots that were not going to hook up in editorial.

Carole (left) directs crew (with beer).

+1. How would you characterize the overall experience?

I decided while working in principle photography I had discovered my passion.  I had been scared because I didn't know how I was going to handle the crew.  It seemed too big and daunting.  But I made sure to have a crew, and not do the typical scene where its the director and the cinematographer doing the whole thing.  So I had a 1 assistant director, 1 and 2 AC, gaffer, several grips, best boy, studio teacher, sound man, and make up artist.  My cinematographer and production designer routinely asked how many hours I had slept, manly because I didn't do much of it. "You need to get at least six hours." They'd say.  But I didn't seem to need it.  I was having too much fun.  I enjoy storyboarding.  But I found that while I was on the set, everything was electric.  There was the sense of immediate creation, collaboration, and intense and wonderful passionate camaraderie. 

+2. How much work is involved promoting your film compared to the actual production of the film?

The biggest challenge in doing this film has been getting the film into festivals. Because anyone can make a film these days, everyone is making a film these days.  Therefore, Witt's Daughter has to compete with the large number of films that are vying for the small number of slots.   

Promoting the film has been as much of a job as creating it.  One thing that is helpful is a web site called Without a Box which is a one stop shop for film festival submission.  I go there and look up festivals and submit through their system.  Another thing I discovered in my research is that often times, festivals will look for blogs.  So I have taken up blogging regarding the film as well.  

October 25 was the festival debut of Witt's Daughter at the Hollywood Film Festival.  I am currently waiting for results from the film festivals in which its entered so far. Please check the Witt's Daughter website


Sneak Peek at the "Phantom Harbor" pilot episode, as featured in FLIP # 15!

by Shannon Shea

After missing the first deadline, I set my sights on September 22nd and worked like an idiot trying to get it done. When I missed THAT deadline I swore it would be on the internet by Halloween. My website is no where near being finished so I HAD to put it on YOU TUBE.

Why'd it take so long? Honestly, because I am SLOW. That's the reason I'm an administrator these days and not an actual sculptor/painter in make-up effects. I'm way too meticulous. You can tell in the quality of the drawings in the animation sections. Some are very tight and done with a ball point pen. Towards the end, they are scans of my boards that I "filled in" with a ball point pen. I hate to admit that I had to compromise but I had to. Also, everything with the exception of the post production was done IN MY GARAGE...A one car garage at that! It was like working in a hot submarine. Building the goblin puppet wasn't exactly a walk in the park.

There is no waste. If you weren't going to see it, it wasn't done. If it wasn't going to be featured or lit, it wasn't finished. I concentrated all of the quality on the stuff you were going to see and let the ancillary stuff fall off. When I started shooting myself (!), my wife, Tracy asked if she could watch and then retracted the statement fearing it would distract me. On the contrary, it was better performing FOR someone. She's a classically trained singer so as she watched, she started noticing little things like: "You're not breathing...BREATHE!" which led to her directing much of the live action. Now, I know many people roll their eyes at spouses "directing" but the proof is on the tapes. I'll have to release a "before and after" set of clips so that you can see what a mess I was (either so understated it was boring - or a complete HAM). She really knew how to encourage my performance.

I just got Adobe CS3 so I can build the graphics. The site is just waiting for the new pages. In a couple of weeks or so? I'm already writing the next episode but it is more ambitious than the first. Fortunately, I seemed to have picked up a crew now! Thank GOD!

Maybe I am insane but what the hell. I made what I wanted to find hidden on the internet somewhere. Something that harkens back to those relatively harmless horror shows like Zacherley and The Ghoul, and Morgus, etc. but with more of a Rod Serling edge. Hopefully, as the episodes progress, they'll be even more fun. I do hope to get a blog going and an e-mail set up so that viewers can contact the Captain... And watch out for Goblins...they don't vanish easily so you'll be seeing more of them on the ship.