Gearing Up

Just a quick note this time, with a couple of calls to action (mostly because I don’t have time to craft one of my typically long-winded missives).

First, with just over three weeks to go, I figured it was high time we started locking down our available team members for the 48 Hour Film Project. Several of you have gotten back to us already about participating, but if you haven’t (or if you just want to confirm your earlier notice), please speak up ASAP. We’ll be fitting people into available spots as best we can, so the sooner you can let us know the better; similarly, the more information you can provide about your experience, skills, and preferences, the more likely it is that we’ll get that fit right. Along with that, if you have any ideas for locations, costumes, or special props, please pass those along as well. (I’m only half-kidding when I say we’re overdue to draw “Western or Musical” — so if, say, you have access to a ranch, or have a recording studio in your basement, now would be the time to say so.)

And second, along with that call, I wanted to make sure you all (particularly the actors among you) were aware of this Sunday’s “Pre-Henge” casting seminars, put together by Team Jabberwocky, the crew behind the Stonehenge auditions — which, not-so-coincidentally, are taking place the following weekend, with Tohubohu very much in attendance. First is a workshop with veteran actor (and Tohubohu alumnus) Michael Gabel on finding and honing the perfect monologue in “The Prepared Audition.” Next is a session with casting director John Strawbridge, “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Casting,” which will go through the often-obscured realities of the casting process. The two sessions are $15 apiece, or $25 for both (and free for CDIA students with ID) — check out the official site to sign up. (And on top of that, there will be a limited number of specially-discounted headshot sittings available — click here for more details or to sign up.)

That’s all for now — I hope to hear from quite a few of you very soon!

We Have Liftoff!

First and foremost, I wanted to announce that the new Tohubohu Productions website,, is officially live! After several years with the old layout, we were way past time for a little facelift. Though in actuality, this is more than just a cosmetic adjustment: In addition to all of the information on the old site, we’ve also got a more intuitive interface (including having these updates featured on the main page, rather than buried further down); full site searching capability; behind-the-scenes photos, storyboards, and videos; a discussion board; more contributor biographies; and there’s plenty still to come (including some special “members-only” access options)! As for additional features, we’d love your input, so let us know if there’s something we should add.

We’re also going to be relaunching the Producer Podcast in the very near future. We’ve already got some great commentaries on “Number One With a Bullet” in the can, and will be going back and revisiting some of our earlier productions as well. On top of that, we’re planning to have segments on filmmaking tips and tricks, interviews with some of our regular cast and crew members, and maybe even some outside-the-fold guests. (No promises on the frequency of episodes, but we are definitely working to make it a regular release schedule.) Got ideas for topics (or want to help out)? Drop us a line or make a suggestion at the aforementioned discussion board!

In production news, we had a great screening of our newest short “Green House” at the AFI Silver Theater for the international 48 Go Green competition (along with some other really creative entries). Our phenomenal cast ended up taking home an Honorable Mention award for their stellar performances, for which we couldn’t be more proud. You can check out the trailer for the film at — you guessed it —, and we’re currently looking into other screening opportunities (so stay tuned).

We’re also gearing up for this year’s 48 Hour Film Project — an annual Tohubohu tradition since 2004! Hard to believe we’ve been at it that long. We’re actively working on assembling our production team, so if you want to join in, let us know. As always, we can’t promise anything — we’ve had years where we’re scrambling for team members and others where we’ve got more people than we can possibly use — but please don’t just assume that we know you’re on board. (For example, we hear rumors that our friends at Integral Arts are planning to shoot a TV pilot that same weekend — April 29 through May 1 — and since we tend to share a lot of the same team members, we may be short-handed in some areas.) One area where I know we can always use some help is in sound recording (especially if you’ve got some of your own gear); but really, if you can contribute anything, don’t hesitate to speak up. And I have this sinking feeling that we’re way overdue for drawing the dreaded “Western or Musical” category, so any leads on Western-style gear or locations (or musicians and recording equipment) would most definitely be welcome.

That’s all for now. Be sure to check out the new site, and we look forward to hearing back from you soon!

48 Go Green Screening Details

Less than 24 hours to go before we’ll be busily hammering away at our official 48 Go Green competition entry (wish I could say I’m all rested up, but... not so much). But while our attention is pretty exclusively focused on getting that rolling, I do have a couple of quick updates I wanted to pass along as soon as possible.

First of all, we have our official 48 Go Green screening time set: Tuesday, February 22, at 7:00 p.m. As is traditional, the screening is at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, and tickets are now on sale at the official website. Grab ’em before they sell out! (There’s also a second screening of films immediately following our set, starting at 9:30, in case you’d like to check out some of the other entries.)

And second, the dates have been locked for this year’s (regular) 48 Hour Film Project contest: April 29–May 1, 2011 (pretty much exactly what we’d figured). If you’d like to join us, be sure to block off your calendars and drop us a line. (Um, but probably not until after this weekend — we’re a little busy to really deal with that just yet.)

That’s it for now (probably one of our shortest newsletters to date). Be sure to check out our official Twitter feed (yes, we’ve got one now: @TohubohuFilm) and Facebook page for the most up-to-date info!

Tohubohu Goes Green

First of all, welcome to the new Tohubohu newsletter mailing, Controlled Chaos. Pretty much the same update I send out every month or so, but with a snappy new look. And a name. Makes it feel more official, somehow. (I’ve done a bit of browser testing here, but if anyone has problems viewing this message, please say so — I may not be able to fix it with my rudimentary html skills, but I’ll do what I can.) The newsletter also showcases the new Tohubohu logo in the header — and to commemorate the occasion, I’ve put together a little compilation of the opening logo animations we’ve used over the years — starting all the way back with “Loose Ends” in 2004 and featuring a sneak peek at our latest. If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic, you can give it a look at our YouTube channel, where “Likes” and comments are always welcome. (You may also notice that we’ve taken to promoting the address over the one — still the same site, but we’re hoping the shorter address will be easier for people to remember. Assuming they can spell “Tohubohu,” of course.)

Speaking of material on outside sites, I’m trying to get better about updating the Tohubohu Facebook page. We initially had a Facebook group, but that didn’t really take off, and now that the page model is becoming more standard, I figure we’ll have another go. So head on over, give it a “Like,” and say hi. (No Twitter feed yet — that may be coming at some point, but I can’t even get around to updating my personal feed all that reliably — except, of course, over our filmmaking weekends.)

The big item on the agenda this month, of course, is preparing for the 48 Hour Film Project’s “48 Go Green” competition, which is now just two weeks away. (Wait, just two weeks? That can’t be right… Hmm, guess it is.) Looks like we’re getting down to the wire here — if you’re available the weekend of February 18–20 (with the big shooting day being on Saturday the 19th), please let me know as soon as possible. We’ve got a lot of our basic team assembled, but as always, there are some things we can’t get enough of. Locations being a big one; we’ve got a couple on tap, but would love to have multiple options. So if you’ve got a great idea for somewhere to shoot —remember, the theme is the environment, in case that gives you any ideas — please pass it along. And hey, if the environmental angle is what inspires you to join in with our motley crew, then I’m not above pushing that. (I do have to throw out my usual caveat that casting for these types of projects is always a crapshoot, as we don’t know what parameters we’ll have, so we can’t promise anything.)

Otherwise, it’s been a pretty busy month. I spoke at a panel discussion for TIVA on the subject of awards and promotion, and we had a really great turnout — I was glad to step up (or sit down, as the case may be) and represent, not only for Tohubohu but for the whole DC independent film community (no pressure or anything). I was able to attend the premiere of Saint Elizabeths Hospital: Voices From Within, which had a packed house and a fantastic audience reaction (some fantastic event photos are up at their Facebook page). Jabberwocky Audio Theater’s Rogue Tyger debuted its inaugural episode, “The Pilot, Part 1,” with many more to come across the next several months; be sure to check it out at the official site or subscribe via the iTunes directory (no such thing as too much promotion). Genesis completed its run at the Warehouse Theater — but if you missed the show, you can still see a sampling of the video work I contributed at our YouTube channel (probably the most disturbing piece I’ve done to date; not for the kiddies). And of course, we’re laying the groundwork for this year’s (regular)48 Hour Film Project, which we think (judging by past years’ dates) is going to be over the weekend of April 29–May 1 (though it could also be the following weekend — nothing’s locked down yet).

As a bit of a side note, if anyone is interested in volunteering to provide subtitle translations for any of our films, I’d certainly appreciate it. It would go a long way toward helping our prospects for international festival distribution. I’ve had this guy Google doing it, but he’s not all that reliable…

And with that, I’ll go ahead and sign off for now. We’ll be sure to let everyone know when we have any updates or screening info for the “48 Go Green” film (again — no such thing as too much promotion), but otherwise I expect things will be a little quiet in terms of communication until we get through the weekend. Talk to you then, and hope to see a lot of you soon!

A New Year Begins

Hope everyone had a nice holiday season! While I know it’s been a couple of months since my last message, it really feels like just yesterday that I was recapping the TIVA Peer Awards (and our jaw-dropping recognition therein). But now it’s time to get back to work, and I’ve got a few quick updates for everyone.

First of all, speaking of the Peer Awards, I’ve been asked to participate in a panel discussion — along with Andrea Kalin of Spark Media and Adam Hurst of Interface Media Group — to provide a sort of wrap-up to this year’s awards. Mike Sobola, the 2010 Peer Awards Chairman, will moderate, and the plan is to cover why one should enter competitions in general (and the Peer Awards in particular), selecting both categories to enter and works to submit, the importance of technical competence, and suggestions for next year’s awards. There will also be audience Q&A and screenings of clips from 2010 award competitors. The event is $10 for TIVA members (and full-time students) and $20 otherwise. I’d love to see some friendly faces in the crowd... maybe get a few softball questions.

(I’m also hoping to have a few copies of the “Number One With a Bullet” DVD — chock-full of bonus features — finished and on hand for cast & crew, so let me know if you’re planning to be there and I’ll bring you a copy.)

Next, a quick heads-up that Tohubohu is planning to join in on the 48 Hour Film Project’s “Go Green” competition, which runs across the weekend of February 18th through the 20th. Pretty much like the regular 48 Hour Film Project (which we’re also planning to do in a few months, of course), but with an environmental theme. While this is an international competition, DC is one of eight cities hosting a live in-person event — which means that we will get a local big-screen premiere. So if you’re interested in joining us for a little extra challenge, drop me a line soon!

And finally, I wanted to give a few quick notices about projects that are at least tangentially Tohubohu-related. One, Jabberwocky Audio Theater — spearheaded by Tohubohu’s own Bjorn Munson — has officially launched, and its first serialized radio drama, Rogue Tyger, will debut later this month; behind-the-scenes interviews have already begun airing (including ones with Tohubohu performers Nick DePinto and Neil Conway — and one with yours truly is coming soon). Check out the official site for more information, or search the iTunes directory for “Jabberwocky Audio Theater” to subscribe!

Two, Genesis, winner of the “Best Drama” award at the 2010 Capital Fringe Festival, is having a limited return engagement at the Warehouse Theater from January 20–30. Written by Evan Crump and directed by Tohubohu performer John C. Bailey, this is a truly compelling piece, and I was honored to be able to provide some videographic support for the produciton. Tickets are available online at

And three, the Saint Elizabeths Hospital: Voices From Within video diary project — put together by Joy Haynes and Ellie Walton (with some editorial assistance from Tohubohu veteran Ginny Filer and myself) — is having its premiere screening on January 29. The event is invitation-only and seating is limited, so be sure to check out the official site or email for details. This is an extraordinary project, and well worth checking out!

And that just about wraps it up for this newsletter. Best wishes to all, and I hope to hear from several of you with regard to “Go Green” very soon!

Back-to-School Update

Sorry for the long absence — it seems like only a couple of weeks have passed, when in reality it’s been quite a bit longer than that. In looking back I realized that we haven’t sent out a group update since before our 48 Hour Film Project screening back in May — so it’s effectively like we took our own little summer vacation (alas, if only we had really taken such a holiday...). But now with Labor Day upon us, it’s time to head (metaphorically) back to school...

Speaking of the 48 Hour Film Project, our screening at the AFI Silver went very well, and the audience really seemed to love it. Unfortunately, we lost out on the audience award to the Eastern Avenue Films entry, “Quelques Instants” — so (since we were out of the running for the other awards due to our late submission) that was the end of the road for “Liability” as far as the competition went.

But that wasn’t the end as far as we’re concerned — we are actively submitting “Liability” (and some of our other films) to festivals around the country, so we’ll be sure to keep everyone posted about any upcoming screenings!

Along those lines, because of our active festival submissions, several of our shorts have now joined our list of IMDb-listed films (bringing our total up to 12). As of right now, the films that have been newly inducted into the Internet Movie Database include:

The IMDb transfer process is a gradual one, and invariably introduces a number of errors and omissions (such as inadvertent duplication of people’s pages, mixing up of people with similar names, leaving off particular credits, etc.) I’ve been working to correct errors as I see them, but — particularly since it takes up to a couple of weeks for changes to be approved and made — there are no doubt still several mistakes. So if you see anything amiss, please drop me a line and let me know. (You can always create an IMDb account and make changes yourself, but I’d just as soon avoid duplicating any requests we’re making of the IMDb editorial staff.) A special congratulations to anyone who’s now listed for the first time!

We’ve also submitted some of our work for consideration in the 2010 TIVA Peer Awards — though given the rigorous judging process, I’m trying not to get my hopes up for anything. Still, fingers crossed...

In other news, the latest Stonehenge mass auditions (hosted by our cohorts at Team Jabberwocky) are coming up on Sunday, September 26, at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson in Baltimore. Tohubohu will be in attendance, so this is a great chance for the actors among you to shine — not just for us, but for a whole slew of area filmmakers. Registration is now open, so hurry over and sign up — especially since there are a limited number of audition slots. Those slots will be allocated by lottery, so (though there will be more applicants than slots available) don’t worry that other actors have already gotten in ahead of you — just make sure you’re signed up before September 11 and you’ve got an equal shot at one of those coveted positions. (As a side bonus, check out the Team Jabberwocky News Blog for Stonehenge-specific tips and tricks.)

And finally, I wanted to give a quick notice that “Number One With a Bullet” is finally in the can! With everything else going on, this one ended up spending a lot more time in postproduction than we’d planned. Not that we waited around — we’ve been sending it out to festivals even with temporary scoring and effects — but now we can say that it is officially complete! I’d love to do a formal cast-and-crew showing, so if anyone has an “in” with any promising screening venues, please let me know!

That’s it for now — hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend!


Once again, Tohubohu has ventured into the waters of the 48 Hour Film Project, and once again, we have succeeded... Well, in a manner of speaking.

The reality is that while we did produce a great little short horror film, “Liability,” we were late in making it to the final drop-off — and five minutes late is still late. Unfortunately, this means that while we will still screen at the AFI Silver Theatre tomorrow evening (and be eligible for the “Audience Favorite” award), we will not be eligible for consideration in any of the judged categories.

While most certainly a disappointment, I am comforted (at least somewhat) by the fact that every year we strive to do something more than the year before, to stretch our boundaries, to try new things. In a way, if we succeeded every time, then we wouldn’t really be challenging ourselves.

And the horror genre was definitely a challenge. But at every step in the process, everyone on the team worked like mad to make it a success. The individual stories of going above and beyond what I had any right to expect — from both cast and crew — are too numerous to mention.

(I did manage to keep tweeting our progress — though my tweets were understandably a bit sparse during the shoot itself — and I suspect that I’ll continue that tradition in the future.)

In the end, I’m really happy with the film itself. We had committed to producing a PG-13 film, which meant we weren’t going to go for a conventional slasher picture. So instead, we went with more of a creepy ghost story, a tale of justice and supernatural vengeance, of secrets, lies, and lawyers...

But of course, you can judge the results for yourselves: Tickets are still available for our debut screening tomorrow evening — Wednesday, May 5, at 7:00 p.m. You can purchase advance tickets at the AFI Silver website (and given the likelihood that they will sell out, I strongly recommend taking that course). Given that the only award we’re still up for is the Audience award, I really want to make sure we’re stacking that audience with as many friendly faces (or, more accurately, votes) as possible. And since all films in that screening fit within the boundaries of the PG-13 rating, you can feel free to bring younger viewers (thereby increasing our potential audience size).

Also worth noting are two special screenings coming up later this month. First is the Best of the 48 Hour Film Project on May 27, where the top films from this year’s competition will be shown, and the prize winners announced. (There is a different selection of films at each screening, so you can safely make a whole evening out of it.) And on May 28th, you can see the Best of 10 Years of the 48 Hour Film Project, showcasing the best films in the competition’s history — sure to be a memorable event. Tickets for both are also available at the AFI Silver website.

Thanks so much, and I hope to see you tomorrow evening!

Less Than Eight Hours...

Well, it’s almost go time for this year’s 48 Hour Film Project! I wish I could say that I’m rested and ready, but the reality is that I’ve barely slept all week. So this weekend will be... interesting.

That said, just like last year, I’m going to try to tweet our progress via my (personal) Twitter feed, (or @coughlan, for you Twitter regulars). I’m not going to even pretend that I’ll be blogging or sending emails out across the next several days, so if you want more than just the eventual recap (and no promises as to when I’ll get around to posting that), the Twitter feed is the place to find it.

Okay, call to action time: We do have our screening night set — Wednesday, May 5, at 7:00 pm, at the AFI Silver Theatre. Tickets are now on sale — so go to the AFI site and place your order. We’d really like to have some friendly faces in the crowd! (And since ours is officially designated a “PG-13” screening, you can bring the younger viewers as well.)

Well, that’s about all I have time for now — I’ve still got paperwork to fill out, gear to load up, a cooler to clear out, messages to send, phone calls to make, potential locations to sift through, actor lists to assemble, and more than a little last-minute shopping to do (so glad I decided to take today off from the day job). So I’ll sign off for now, and look forward to seeing (many of) you at the screening.

Off to make a movie!

Three Weeks Until 48!

Just taking a moment to remind everyone that there are just three weeks until we once again jump into the 48 Hour Film Project: April 30th through May 2nd. We do have the core of our creative group set, but if you’d like to join in on the fun (well, the chaos, anyway) and haven’t already let us know, now would be a good time. As is routinely the case, we’re supremely interested in any locations you may have at your disposal — the more unusual the better, of course, but frankly even the mundane (but available) is a big help. And, of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask (rest assured, there is a human being at the other end of this message).

On another note, we recently received word that “Uncertainty Principle” will not receive commercial distribution (in fact, the distributor opted to pass on the International Shootout films entirely). The bad news, of course, is that you won’t be seeing our little film (or any of the other competitors’) on DVD any time soon — but the good news is that you can watch it online right now! That’s right, we have put the movie on our site for the world to enjoy. So go to the site, watch — and be sure to tell your friends!

That’s it for today — just a short update, in light of all the work we’re doing (or trying to do) in advance of our next creative outing. (Please, hold your applause.)

We’re Back...

Long time, no speak. I had hoped to have news on the distribution prospects for “Uncertainty Principle” (which will, in turn, affect our ability to post the film online), but alas, we are at the mercy of distributors’ schedules. So no word on that front just yet.

But as the time for our next filmmaking outing approaches, I couldn’t wait any longer to send out the call — yes, we are participating in this year’s 48 Hour Film Project! The event will take place from Friday, April 30, through Sunday, May 2 (and unlike the recent International Shootout, for which we technically had an extra day, this event will run just 48 hours). For the most part, our shooting will take place on Saturday the 1st — though given last year’s down-to-the-wire scramble to get in under deadline, I would really appreciate some additional postproduction support on Sunday (not to mention that having help there will allow us to clean things up some more, or experiment a bit).

Space on the team is naturally limited (which is my CYA way of saying I can’t promise anything), so please let me know as soon as possible if you’d like to join in. Hope to see you there!

(On a minor housekeeping note, because of some administrative changes at Blogger, we’ve had to migrate our news blog to a new address: You can still navigate there from the main Tohubohu site — and the old address should redirect to the new. Same great news archive, less intuitive URL.)

“Uncertainty Principle”

Thought I’d send out a quick (and long overdue) note about our latest short film, “Uncertainty Principle,” produced as part of the 48 Hour Film Project International Shootout, and let you know about a special local screening this Saturday evening. (Nothing like giving you plenty of advance notice, eh?)

The competition itself — open to the top 100 48 Hour Film Project teams worldwide — saw 55 teams turning in finished films over the weekend of December 4–7 (we get an extra day in there to account for the need to mail the films in to the “central office”). Five local teams were in the mix — us, Integral Arts, WIT Films, DC Dogs, and Red Hat Memory.

The competition itself proved a bit unusual, as we found out Friday evening when we received our “required elements”... or, rather, when we didn’t receive them. That’s right — no required character, prop, and line, and no randomly assigned genre. All we had was a theme: The End of the World.

I’d say that we agonized for hours about what to do, but in reality we hit upon a basic idea early on (well, Robin did), and we were off and running. We were pretty limited in terms of available locations this time around, so that helped define the scope of what we were able to tackle. But thanks to a great script, a stellar cast (including John C. Bailey, Anna Coughlan, Erin Rose Coughlan, Linda Gabriel Deutsch, Belén Pifel, and Stuart Scotten), and a dedicated crew (both Saturday and Sunday were pretty exhausting shooting days), we were able to deliver a really solid entry, and one I’m personally really proud of.

Here’s the official “summary”: Dire warnings of immminent disaster have proven justified, as global destruction begins raining down from purple-hued skies. A Washington family struggles to cope with the advancing armageddon until a lone physicist proposes an unorthodox course of action.

Unfortunately, because the judging is still under way (the plan is to distribute the top 10 films commercially), we can’t post the film online, or even show you a trailer. (At the earliest, we won’t be able to show you anything until March.) But you will have one chance to see the film this weekend, along with entries from the other local teams.

There will be a special screening — a free screening, no less — of all five DC-area films at CDIA in Georgetown (where the old Foundry Theater used to be) on Saturday, January 16. The screening starts at 7:00 PM and is expected to run about an hour; the films will be followed by a filmmaker Q&A afterward (and having worked with several of these filmmakers before, let me say that they can be an entertaining bunch). This promises to be a fairly packed event — remember, these are entries from the top teams in DC — so be sure to get there early. (Directions are available at the CDIA site, and feel free to get back to me with any questions.)

Hope to see you there!

Counting Down... Again

Less than a week to go before we jump in on the 48 Hour Film Project International Shootout, but we still have some final details to get ironed out. Most significantly, just where to shoot. Turns out we don’t have a lot of our regular haunts available this time around, so if you’ve got any suggestions to offer up, please pass them along ASAP. The more interesting the better, of course (I have a fantasy of shooting in an abandoned steel mill), but even an ordinary apartment, office, bar, restaurant, school, or park will be helpful. We’ve got a couple of intriguing options out of the city (in some cases way out of the city), but I figure if we can shoot closer in there’s a greater chance that we’ll be able to keep everyone on board. (Yes, as a confirmed suburbanite, I’m used to driving, but not all of our city-dwelling brethren share my comfort level with distance travel.) Our main shooting day will be Saturday, but (since we’ve got the extra day for editing) we may do some additional scenes Sunday morning.

(And remember, if you’re going to be watching from the sidelines this time around, be sure to follow the weekend’s progress on my Twitter feed.)

On another note, I wanted to congratulate Erik Synnestvedt on winning a Silver Award for Acting on Camera – Dramatic, Male at the 2009 TIVA Awards for his work in “Please Forward.” So... congratulations!

Okay, that’s it for now — hope to see a lot of you in just a few days!