2011 Feature Film shot in Camden, ME
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Category — Generosity

Thank you for The Strand.

This is a very belated ‘thank you’ to all the people who came out to see our movie when we screened it in Rockland Maine this August. It was an evening that still gives me a  rush when I think about it; ‘Like the Water’ on the marquis, a line of people around the block, such a great and enthusiastic response after the screening.

It was thrilling to screen our movie in a theater I had spent so many hours in growing up. One of those moments where you think: “Ah, if only my younger self could see me now.” It is a satisfaction devoutly to be wished. But beyond the full-circle pleasure of screening our film at the Strand, the true joy of the evening was the incredible turnout; the people who showed up by the dozens to support us and witness our work. While there were some in the crowd who were strangers to me, the majority of the audience I knew well and have known most of my life.

It is a humbling experience to make a movie; the number of people required who come together around a single purpose never fails to awe. It often feels, on a movie set, that there is a kind of perfect storm of industry; that somehow everyone knows where to be and what to do and all these efforts combine to create the  miraculous moment the camera can roll and the director can call ‘action.’

It has occurred to me that – if you’ll forgive the metaphor – my life as an actor has been in many ways akin to a movie set, and that any accomplishment I have made, is due in such large part to all of the hands and voices and talents and love and support of all the people I have been lucky enough to know. Particularly, particularly all of the people who were in the theater on August 8th.


If you weren’t lucky enough to come from a small community, with little nightlife and one hell of a community theater scene, then let me tell you: the people who come out to watch you perform in your bad and usually long and usually musical performances, are an invaluable gift to any wannabe child actor. When you walk onto the stage at the local opera house and the seats are filled, you feel a little infinite, a little famous, and really proud and excited to be a storyteller; you feel that this thing you love very much is indeed a worthwhile pursuit. And that feeling will sustain you, years later, when you are living in LA and out-of-work and wondering why the hell you have subjected yourself to this career path.

The trouble with being an actor is that you can’t do it without an audience, and to those who took the time to be an audience me as a child I have to just say Thank You Thank You Thank You. So many of you were there at the Strand that August evening, and I can safely say: I would not have had the gumption or the desire to be an actor let alone make a movie of my own had I not had a lifetime of support from all of you. It is a gift beyond measure and I strive every day to make you proud and return that gift in this way that I know how. Thank you.

September 14, 2012   No Comments

Belief in the YES

We got to premiere our movie in Waterville, Maine at the Maine International Film Festival — an amazing experience for all of us and also a lovely reunion with each other and the various people who helped make this film happen. After the screening which I was newly moved by–we made a GOOD movie on top of everything–the six of us who started the project plus our director of photography and our editor, all women, got up to do a Q&A. Being in front of an audience to answer questions about a film that is dear to your heart and that the audience may or may not have just enjoyed is nerve wracking. I was thankful that the questions were fantastic, insightful and enabled us to talk about the process of making a super low budget, first time movie in some depth.

So there were good questions and good answers, and then Gary Wheeler, one of the wonderful people who gave of themselves to help us make Like the Water, asked a final question of the group: “How did this process change you?” The girls started answering on the opposite end of the line and I started racking my brain for an answer. As the microphone was passed to me I realized the gift that our summer in Maine had given me: a belief in the yes. I’m generally a person who believes that people are going to say no to me. It’s just the way I approach the world. But in order to film our first movie for a very tight budget and in the great outdoors within a month, we needed all the yeses we could get. So I had to start asking for stuff, for free, on a daily basis. The funny thing that I never expected was that the people of Camden, Mid-Coast Maine, and the State of Maine at large offered our movie the yes before I could even ask, cheerfully and without asking for payback. One day when I stopped for gas at my favorite filling station between Camden and Rockland, I was talking about needing a ladder. We had an 8 ft, we had a 10 ft, but we needed a 14 ft for a specific shot we wanted to do. The cashier heard me and asked what I was up to. I told her about the movie and she said, “Well let me go out back and see if we have one.” They didn’t and we ended up finding one someplace else and got the shot we needed. But a week later I was at the same gas station and the same cashier was there and when she saw me she asked, “How did that ladder thing work out?” I was struck that she remembered me and wished us success. She embodied the yeses and the open arms we were welcomed with during our time in Maine.

Those open arms have not only continued to surround Like The Water but have made me more confident in the yes of life. It has changed me. It’s a powerful way to view the world and is due entirely to my experience in Maine making our movie.

August 6, 2012   No Comments

A Real Dude.

I know we’ve talked about so many great women involved in this production but I want to take a moment to talk about a dude. A gentleman and a badass. A real dude.

Ryan Croke

It takes a great, confident, kind guy with a sense of humor to work on a film crew with so many women, especially with a female producer, director and DP. And we lucked out with each person – guy or gal – who came onto this project. I constantly could not believe my luck or why these talented folks would want to jump on board with a first time director but jump – and jump fully – they did.

The dude I want to write a few words about is one Ryan Croke. Ryan had worked before with Eve Cohen, our cinematographer, and we were fortunate that Eve convinced him to come along for the ride. Ryan’s role was that of Grip but with our tiny crew (and even tinier budget) he served so many roles; it feels like false advertising that he is listed in our credits simply as “Grip.”

On one of our rare days off during our six-day shooting weeks, Ryan joined me on the front porch of the Mountain Street house in Camden, where we unwound each day by talking of life and film and drinking our free, sponsored PBRs. On this afternoon, before we joined the rest of the group for a lake swim, I got to hear about an incredible story Ryan was bringing to life through film.

I cannot begin to do Ryan’s friend Grant’s story justice, so I am not going to try. Ryan has promised to share his story in another post shortly but in the meantime, please do see his link below. Ryan spoke to me of Grant’s life – his injury, his recovery, his spirit, his continued athleticism and his joyful, adventurous living. Ryan’s celebration of this inspiring man reminded me of the power of documentary film, not just narrative, in portraiture, in expressing the gift and challenge it is simply to be human. Grant’s story and very person could hold one captive for hours, as it did me that July afternoon last summer with Ryan on the porch. Through his filmmaking, Ryan will be able to share this story – a story which really needs to be shared.

Each day I was in great awe that this cast and crew, most of whose experience greatly outweighed my own, were here serving this film with me and giving their every fiber of energy and talent. Hearing their stories of their own film pursuits was pretty awe-inspiring as well. Here was Ryan, having flown across the country to give his summer to work for next to nothing in Maine, taking on every responsibility that could come up on set and never losing his chill, positive vibes. Such a rock to each person lucky enough to meet him, such a giver. A true gentleman. And a badass. A real dude.

June 15, 2012   No Comments

All Roads Lead to Maine.

Tenants Harbor, Maine.

I received the news of the Maine International Film Festival invitation while at my parents’ home in Exeter, New Hampshire, only a short 15 minute jaunt to the border of the great state from where our film was born. With not a moment of hesitation, we jumped at this serendipitous opportunity to bring our film back to the state where the incredible generosity and spirit of its residents allowed our work to come into existence and constantly surpass our (already high) hopes at each step of its life.

As I drove to Maine this past Friday night, a wave of nostalgia and excitement hit me as I returned to LIKE THE WATER territory. This past weekend I went to Portland to attend the Camden International Film Festival’s screening of Tyler Hughen and Kahlil Hudson’s LOW AND CLEAR, an exquisitely shot and edited portrait of two men, their friendship, their expeditions fly fishing. LOW AND CLEAR was the SXSW Audience Award winner at the 2012 festival for Best Documentary and very worthy of its accolade. CIFF, under the great leadership of its Founder Ben Fowlie (who we lucked out to get as an extra in some long overnights and hot days last summer in our film) brought LOW AND CLEAR and one of the film’s talented co-directors Kahlil Hudson on a tour of Maine to Portland’s Space Gallery, Rockland’s The Strand and North Haven’s Waterman’s Community Center. I got to catch this film at its kick off in Portland.

Seeing a great film in the state of Maine? What more could one ask for on a Friday night!

After a packed screening and Q&A, we headed to a brand new bar in Portland, LFK, launched by some folks involved with LIKE THE WATER, including Johnny Lomba who led the way with music for our film during our shoot and last Fall and Kate Smith, our talented Production and Costume Designer. LFK just opened this past week and in the massive crowd that was a Friday night out in Portland, I got to meet the owner of the home on Tenants Harbor, where we shot the Lobster Bake scene in our film. An easy consensus among cast & crew, this Maine picturesque location quickly became a favorite two days of our group. We found ourselves having to take moments to ask one another if this was actually our reality – this place too beautiful for words (snap shot above!). Because of his friendship with Kate and his naturally generous disposition, this man had given over his family home to a film crew for two days of intense shooting –never having met us, no questions asked, no hesitation, simply saying “Yes, by all means. It’s all yours.” Incredible.

Maine. The state that has not slowed for one moment in its generosity and support of our work there. It was good to be home. I hope others find such incredible luck in their lives to find a road to that leads them to Maine.

May 20, 2012   No Comments

The crowd who made it possible

Hey friends-

We’re going to spend the next couple of weeks in tribute to the crowd who made this film possible, many of whom are working on incredible projects of their own.

This is a photo of the whole cast and crew together at the end of our first week, and fourth overnight in a row. For me, it was level of exhaustion and elation I hadn’t before experienced. But I think everyone looks spectacular! And a HUGE thanks, of course, to Cuzzy’s Bar and Restaurant for loaning us his awesome Camden spot for three nights. (And special thanks to his amazing staff who had to work around us three mornings in a row during the high season!)

May 14, 2012   1 Comment

Trust Your Own Taste

Along the way we have not only found advisers and mentors whose expertise has been invaluable, but we’ve also often found their advice saves us from succumbing to the plague of self-doubt with which any young entrepreneur and probably every young artist is intimately familiar. There is always that voice that says “What makes you think you’re so special?” or “Why would anyone care what you have to say?”

Tom Heller has produced such films as Win Win, 127 Hours, Monogamy, Precious, and Mother and Child. You may notice a thread connecting these movies: they’re all good. I chased him down to see if he could tell me how to be like him, since his is a career I truly admire not just in its accomplishment but also in its integrity. He met me for coffee one bustling afternoon near Washington Square Park right around when NYU was getting back into session. I had a thousand questions from the broad to the granular, all of which he answered with patience (lucky for me) and expertise.

When I asked him what advice he would have for a young producer, he recounted the start of his own career in films as a talent agent for writers. He said he would often gamble on a new writer, lesser known, based on his own feeling about their capabilities. He said he would pick up some clients that colleagues told him he was crazy to pick up. He stuck to his guns. He told me, “You have to trust your own taste.”

This small stretch of monosyllables would make Shakespeare proud. First of all, it’s iambic. Secondly, it packs into a few words a life’s worth of struggle, and all of the seeds of the principle to guide it.

As we launch into our post-production phase and start to think about putting our little movie out into the world, these pangs of doubt can become more acute. However, Tom’s advice continues to be a beacon: we have a story to tell, and we have to trust in our own way of telling it .

 

September 2, 2011   No Comments

The Grand Finale.

While the incredible work and spirit of our actors and crew has never ceased to amaze me in how much work outside of their roles everyone is willing to take on to get through the shoot and have a great film result, it is really the dedication to the story that constantly moves me. We are a young group, freshly (many of us first timers at our positions) into the world of filmmaking and the respect, patience, generosity and flexibility with which we all merge into each day on set never slows. The actors and crew serve as art department, props, costumes, clean up, our DP arts, our AD grips. We started this project as simply a project and it quickly developed into a film as our script evolved and as the film we needed shoot to capture this story grew exponentially. Our crew and cast remained the same man power and as a result, it is the biggest collaboration and most work I’ve ever been a part of. Successfully so with what we have shot this summer. I feel honored and indebted to each person I get to serve this film with every moment of every day.

I have to share the work around our final shot that began at dinner last week and resulted in Wednesday night’s magic. While the shot was a huge success, it really was the spirit about which this came about and was executed that tells the most about how this film has worked. Under the incredible leadership of our DP Eve Cohen, our crew has been working long hours and stepping into bigger roles than they had signed up for. Even with all this work, they took the time to make Eve and my dream come true of the last shot being from the middle of the lake looking back to the dock. Over dinner after 12 hour days, Eve, Liam, Ryan, Ari & I daydreamed, drew, plotted until we had a plan. Most of my contribution to this was simply beaming, eagerly nodding, asking how I could help and buying drinks. I will not do justice to all the steps that went into pulling this off (and hope Ryan shares his brilliance in this coming about) but in brief, our crew dedicated their day off to pick up a boat in Camden’s harbor, Alli & Conor drove it in her truck out to Jefferson, while the rest of us caravanned (with bathing suits, towels & beers in tow) and we spent the afternoon setting up the boat, kayaking, canoeing, swimming and shooting rehearsals of the scene with our handsome crew posing as the beautiful girls. It was the most fun I’ve ever had. Though we did wrack up: a canoe overturn (almost a concussion), a foot sliced in half, many debacles with the boat, massive spiders & general hilarity which added to the greatness of the day.

The day of the shoot there were thunderstorms, so we waited a second day. Cables, the Sony F3, the EX3, lenses were not going to be put in the water when lightning was overhead. The next day we went down to the water, the crew working with the greatest focus and care. The actors, so used to helping anyway they could, were landlocked while the rest of us were in kayaks, canoes, boats in various formations for both scenes. Our other essential crew who were not in the water hid behind trees along the shore, their work an equal part in bringing this moment about.  We shot the scene and then the finale (which had to be a one take wonder due to actors & wardrobe getting wet) we had one chance for it to be pulled off. Eve & Ari took their positions with the cameras, the rest of us formed a line to hold up the cable between the two so it didn’t land in the water and we were ready to go. The actors’ and crew’s shared passion for all the creative, logistical work to bring about this moment and all the work of the actors to get to this shared space was so thick in the air, that we got the shot.

With actors like Caitlin FitzGerald, there are so many moments when everyone on set is moved to tears. I experienced the most beautiful acting moment, yet again on this set, when our four lead actresses approached the lake and shared a word-less scene on the dock before our finale. The crew’s baited breath and the space they created for these actors to step into as well as the actors tender care of one another and admiration for the crew brought this moment to fruition. On the other side of the dock in the water, I sat in a kayak, pulled by Sheldon, as Ryan pushed the canoe with Eve & Ari who were shooting this scene from our man-made (literally) water dolly. The crew’s, actors’ and my joy at what the crew had pulled off to bring about this moment was palpable on set and as a result in this moment in the film. We are each a filmmaker serving this story and I am one lucky, lucky girl.

The crew of our film sets up for the final shot.

August 6, 2011   1 Comment

Must. Have. Coffee.

We knew we needed coffee and lots of it (60 pounds minimum) to keep our hard working crew sharp and awake during long shoot days. We wanted it to be good and local, too. Erica Anderson, our wonderful prod supervisor/2nd AD, wrote to area coffee roasters asking for donations or a bulk discount. Rock City Roasters in downtown Rockland came through with more than flying colors. Though in the middle of a move, Yvonne and her crew helped us out with an initial donation of 20 pounds of their delicious North Beach Espresso, ground for our industrial size percolators. And today, we picked up another 20 pound donation.

The shop at 252 Main St in Rockland is adorable and very worth a visit. Thank you Yvonne and Rock City Roasters!

July 20, 2011   2 Comments

Shoot Day 1 – Yes.

We loaded the production vehicles, filled our (reusable) coffee cups, and as a caravan of nine vehicles departed from Camden for Jefferson – our first shoot location – at 5:15 am on July 12, 2011.

A fog had descended upon what had been an otherwise gloriously sunny Maine coast, and by the time we reached our half-way point, it was pouring rain. Though we had scheduled all exterior shots, fortunately, we had prepared a solid weather contingency so we were still feeling good. The rain grew more intense, and at least in our car we were cackling with laughter because of course the first day isn’t supposed to go the way you planned.

We pulled into the driveway at the Jefferson location and began to unload, still in mind for a 7am call time to be set up and ready to block the scene. The rain had tapered off and the rolling green hills of Jefferson were blanketed in a thick mist, which slowly lifted as we got closer to call time.

We stopped for breakfast, and I have to say, Market Basket MADE the morning with a wonderful spread that the crew talked about for the rest of the day. (SO MUCH BACON. YES.)

At 7am, the mist had lifted into the perfect cloud cover for shooting film, as though mother nature had set up a giant silk just for us. Pretty soon after, you could see a patch of blue in the sky big enough to make a pair of big man’s britches, as my grandmother would say, (a tiding of good weather to her), and sure enough, the sun broke and gave us a beautiful morning sky for our first shot.

The first shot of our film “cut” at 7:45 am, exterior in Jefferson, just as planned.

Yesterday was like heaven only apparently we’re working.

It will be hard, grumpy, frustrating, and many other things before it’s over, but in that moment, it was perfect.

 

July 13, 2011   1 Comment

Day 4 – This actually happened

So the best laid plans of mice and movies…

Of course our intention was to write every day, and give you the full countdown, and then the full build-up. However, Camden has been so absorbing and we’ve been so caught up in the pleasure and planning of being here, we’ve been neglecting to update you. Like in all film as we understand it, there’s the way you plan it and there’s the way it goes.

I wanted to share with you just one example of many of the ways Camden manages to express a level of unimaginable generosity:

The Camden/Rockport area is a film center as home to the Maine Media Workshops, which have been training film professionals in many ways: MFAs, professional certifications, and summer enrichment. When Caitlin and Caroline put the script together and we confirmed we would shoot this summer in Camden, there were A LOT of people we were told we must meet for their experience, contacts, generosity, locations, and general goodness.

One such person is Jack Churchill. Whereas he used to travel the country working in film, now he teaches film studies to high school students, collects and fixes motorcycles, and keeps spirits up around Camden. Jack has helped us find many young people eager to get some film experience in his high school class, and he speaks like a beaming father of the work his students produce.

Emily and I met up with him Thursday afternoon on his semi-regular perch that is the bench in front of Cappy’s Chowder House at the literal center of town. Jack has a jovial face and white beard, and you can see his smile from a block away. We approached and exchanged our niceties and I noticed he was wearing a bright yellow shirt (under his green fleece) that said “Trust me” in tiny letters and then PRODUCER in huge red type. Then it went like this:

me: I gotta get me one of those shirts.

Jack: You the producer?

me: Yeah…

Jack: Well I wore it just in case…

And then before I could say anything, THE MAN HANDS ME THE SHIRT OFF HIS BACK. Then he casually puts back on his green fleece, zips it up, and sits down on the bench to give us a wonderful lay of the land on Camden, his students, and other folks we should contact. He knew just about everyone who walked by us, too, and greeted them with his glowing smile.

I thought it was just a figure of speech, but his shirt was a literal expression of all that Camden has done for us to this point and continues to do, and it was so fitting that it happened RIGHT in the center of town.

July 2, 2011   1 Comment