Quick Bits

Just wanted to take a moment to give everyone a few updates (only one of which is strictly Tohubohu-related, but I figure that at this stage I can be forgiven a little digression).

First of all, the “director’s cut” of “Please Forward” is now up and available for viewing at our official site. Not a whole lot different from the original 48 Hour Film Project version, but just a couple of minor alterations that we hope will give it a little life beyond the 48 Hour audience. Give it a look and let us know what you think! We hope to start sending this out to festivals shortly.

Second, a sort of follow-up shout-out to Barry Gribble and the Integral Arts team for their independent TV pilot, “Dog.” Last time I mentioned that it had been accepted into the Independent Television Festival in LA (and, of course, dropped the little fact that I did a little production design work on it). Well, as it so happens, the pilot took home the Best Overall TV award! The pilot should be viewable at the festival site soon, so be sure to check back — it’s definitely worth seeing (as if the fact that they won the top award didn’t give you a little clue). Congratulations!

Edited to add: Actually, the pilot won’t be viewable at the ITV Fest site right away — because it’ll be screening at the New York Television Festival in September! And as a special bonus, you can check out the trailer for “Dog” right here! (It’s kind of NSFW, though the language is muted. Use your own judgment.) And if you look carefully, you’ll see one of my poster designs in the opening shot. Just sayin’.

Third, a call to arms for fellow filmmaker Francis Abbey, of Boxing Day and video blog “Running Commentary” fame (or notoriety, depending on your point of view). His latest feature, 6 Nonsmokers, is looking for background actors right now. As in this week — Wednesday and Friday, to be specific. It’s a non-union shoot (and not a paying gig), but does promise to be a fun time. You can check out the official site for details on the film — a comedy about conflict resolution — but as for the pertinent practical details, here goes: On Wednesday, they’re looking to shoot a big crowd scene at the Oxon Hill Public Library, and need to fill an auditorium with journalists and academics. And on Friday, they’ll be staging a college party along with some bar gatherings (a regular bar, country-western bar, and a club). If you’re interested, you can contact casting director Laura Carlson at lauracarlson74 [AT] hotmail [DOT] com. Preferably sooner rather than later.

And finally, I just wanted to call attention to some promising new web series for your entertainment (as if my ramblings weren’t entertaining enough). First is “Shrinkage,” starring Gia Mora as an online advice columnist with a less-than-traditional therapy style (written and directed by the aforementioned Barry Gribble). Next is the ever-popular “Appletinis with Ken,” starring Ken Arnold as... well, Ken Arnold — not exactly a “new” series, but I haven’t mentioned it here before, and it has featured a few Tohubohu veterans in the guest chair. And finally, there’s “ParaAbnormal,” a show about dysfunctional paranormal investigators, featuring Ken Arnold and “All Roads Lead Away” star Joe Hansard. So give ’em a look-see and spread the word if you’re so inclined — gotta do what we can to expand the audience for the DC indie production community!

That’s it for now — thanks for listening (or reading), and we’ll be back in touch soon!

“Please Forward”

It’s fair to say that the idea for Tohubohu’s newest short film, “Please Forward,” came to me in a dream. Seriously.

In the days before the 48 Hour Film Project, Bill and Robin were joking about chain emails and then thinking how that concept would be interesting for the movie. But with our genre and required elements still not established, they didn’t want to go too far down that road. (In the 48 Hour Film Project, you pick your genre out of a hat and there is a required prop, character, and line of dialogue.) However, that night as I slept, I took that germ of a concept, mixed it with The Office, and a parody video, “Flutter.” I dreamed about a mockumentary about a business that starts all of those obnoxious chain emails. When I told Bill in the morning, he laughed, but not knowing what we’d have to use when we wrote our film, it didn’t make sense to work up the idea. We thought about writing it up afterward for our own film.

When Bill went to the kick-off party and drew the Holiday Film genre, the idea came back into play: What if we went with the mockumentary, but it was at the office Christmas party? On Friday night, Bill and Robin started off the brainstorming and script writing while I finished up the Drama Club performance with my fourth grader (she did an amazing job as a chicken). Back at home, Robin wrote up the script as Bill and I made suggestions, selected our cast, and made phone calls. I ran around the house finding Christmas decorations.

Saturday morning, we headed into Bill’s old office building, where he had gotten permission to film. It was a great set-up for us, offering lots of spaces for scenes, but also lots of room to wait around. Even with only one day to film, there’s a lot of waiting around in the movies. Both of the girls came to be in the Research & Development scenes, and also to help with the clapper board, set decoration, and general gofer jobs. I took calls from our cast and crew, made sure everyone was where they needed to be, picked internal locations, decorated and took down sets, made sure everyone had plenty of food (very important), arranged the order of filming for scenes, walked the actors through some parts, and made sure all the paperwork was in order. Bill just directed the movie. Slacker.

We had a great time during the day, with a pretty relaxed feel considering our tight schedule. The actors gave us some stellar performances. Really top notch. I may be biased, but my favorite scene is with my fourth grader, where the marketing woman is trying to get some ideas about the next generation of chain email users, but is having trouble working with a kid. I also love my seventh grader as a typical teen, texting instead of thinking about the marketer’s questions. The party scene was the most fun to film, and I do make an appearance there as an employee.

We wrapped up at 10:00 p.m. and Bill went into the office to work with the preliminary edit. In the wee hours of the morning he came back to the house for a few hours of sleep, and then went back to edit the film and add sound effects, music, and credits. Oh, and play with sound levels and color correction and technical film kind of stuff. I saw a rough cut at 2:00 and loved it. I reminded him to temper his technical perfectionism and get the film turned in early — no last-minute run for the doors at 7:00.

He did turn the film in with time to spare. Robin has seen it and really liked it. Bill went off with a couple of other directors for a mini-showing at someone’s house and got great feedback and lots of laughs. I can’t wait to show it to you... but it will have to wait until after our screening at the AFI Silver Theatre, Friday at 7:00 p.m.

The 48 Hour Film Project takes place in cities all over the country, so if you’re interested you might check the upcoming dates. While we work with a set team, many other groups need to fill positions in the weeks and days leading up to the competition. On the website, you can indicate your interest in joining a team, and there are often meet-and-greet events to help fill positions. It can be exhausting, but it’s a blast.

— Pam W. Coughlan

Tales of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

No, we haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth — though lately it may seem that way. In all honesty, I think this may be the longest we’ve gone between updates in... well, a long time, anyway. Things are moving forward, if a bit more slowly than we (and no doubt many of you) would like. Alas, outside commitments have been a little more daunting than in times past, but there has still been some progress of note. Postproduction is moving ahead on “Number One With a Bullet”; the edit of the film is fairly well locked, we’re doing some cleanup work on visual effects, and we’re working on the score (and trying to license some other music). And, of course, we’re gearing up for this year’s 48 Hour Film Project; no date has yet been announced, but we’re planning on the first weekend in May (the usual weekend).

In the meantime, we’re working on several collaborative projects with the folks from Integral Arts, Team Jabberwocky, and the 48 Hour Film Project. Not a whole lot we can talk about just yet, but as soon as we can announce anything, you’ll hear about it here.


Edited to add: The dates for this year’s 48 Hour Film Project have just been announced: May 1–3. Be sure to mark your calendars, and let us know if you’d like to join in the production festivities!

Summer Progress Report

Okay, so summer slowed things down a bit. But I did want to give everyone a quick progress report, and to let you all know that tickets to the DC Shorts screenings are now on sale!

Editing on “Number One With a Bullet” is proceeding fairly well; we’re about two-thirds of the way toward a true “first cut” of the film. In truly nonsensical fashion, I’ve been working my way in from both ends — so right now, we’ve got scenes 1 through 9 cut together, and scenes 28 through 32, but nothing in the middle (other than a rough stringout). We’ll still have loads of work to do in terms of audio leveling, color correction, effects finalizing, scoring, etc., but once we get that middle portion finished, we’ll have something that we can show to people. Cast and crew get first dibs, of course, but after that, I’ll be sure to let people here know.

Individual screening tickets have gone on sale for the DC Shorts Film Festival. Generally speaking, you can just go to the DC Shorts website, then click on the “Films” tab to find either a particular film or browse through the schedule; then you’ll be able to buy tickets to a particular screening. A reminder that “All Roads Lead Away” is screening as part of “Showcase 3,” and we’ve got four screenings throughout the festival (you can direct-link to our screening schedule here). The first screening will also feature a filmmakers’ Q&A afterward — definitely the preferred option.

For the record, our screenings are:

  • Friday, September 12, 7:00 p.m. (with Q&A afterward)
  • Saturday, September 13, 3:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 14, 9:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 16, 4:30 p.m.

It’s also worth noting that thanks to the DC Shorts screening, “All Roads Lead Away” now qualifies for inclusion in the Internet Movie Database (joining our earlier entries “Quite Contrary” and “Machinations”). You can find the dedicated page for “All Roads Lead Away” here — go give it a visit, add your ratings and comments, etc. (Do note that last I checked, they were still adding some of the information, so there might be some gaps in the crew listing; if you notice anything missing, let me know and I’ll investigate further.)

And I’ll also put in a reminder to visit our MySpace page and our Facebook group; we’ll be posting occasional updates and information there as well (though we’re not abandoning the email list just yet).

That’s all for now — hope to see you all at DC Shorts in September!

Less Than One Week to Go!

In the frenzy of activity surrounding the finish of principal photography on “Number One With a Bullet,” it’s easy to forget that we’re shooting another movie in just one week. And at this stage, we’ve still got some pretty big holes to fill. So I’ll keep this message short (for me, anyway) and to the point.

We still need actors; a lot of our regular troupe will be unavailable this time around. As always, we can’t promise anything (since we won’t know what we’ll have until we write our script Friday evening), but if you’ll be available, please let me know — and if you’ve got any questions, please ask. Soon.

We need locations; I haven’t had time to do all the legwork I usually try to do beforehand here. At a minimum, we could use a house and/or apartment, an office, and some kind of recreational location (cafe, bar, restaurant, lounge, etc.). We’ll be shooting (mostly) across Saturday, so if you’ve got access to such a place, or have any contacts who can help us reserve some of these places, please let me know ASAP.

And we could still use some help on the editorial end, if only to alleviate some of my own impending exhaustion. Any availability overnight Saturday or during the day Sunday would be a big help.

Okay, that’s it for now. But as a special reward for listening, I’ll direct you to the brand-new trailer for “Number One With a Bullet,” now available for online viewing at www.onewithabullet.com. Okay, so it’s not the full movie, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do before that’s ready. Enjoy!

Not Slowing Down

I wanted to let everyone know that we officially wrapped principal photography on “Number One With a Bullet” this past weekend. And I’m only now starting to get back up to fighting strength. Which is a good thing — since we’re only two weeks away from this year’s 48 Hour Film Project. (I don’t know what I was thinking with this back-to-back scheduling.)

The shoot was intense, but hugely successful. We had the usual bumps along the way (not to mention more than our share of unusual bumps), but the whole team was running on all cylinders, both in front of and behind the camera. I’ve been looking at the footage, and some of it is absolutely amazing. Performances, look, sound, everything. My enthusiasm for this project has been wholeheartedly rekindled. I’m scrambling to cut together a full trailer for the film, so that we’ll have at least something to show everyone who put in so many long hours bringing this little idea to fruition. I’ll send out a note when it’s up for viewing, but just in case, be sure to check out the official site, onewithabullet.com, for updates. And then we’ll be diving full-on into the editing and postproduction process; there’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re definitely on track.

Which brings me to our second item on the agenda — putting together our team for this year’s 48 Hour Film Project, taking place over the weekend of May 2–4. We’re losing quite a few of our regular contingent this time around, so we do find ourselves in need of participants, especially in the editorial arena. So if you want to pitch in, drop me a line — and if we can use you, we’ll make sure to put you on the roster. (In keeping with our largely accidental tradition of never keeping the same writer twice, we’ve managed to ensnare... I mean, acquire the services of novelist Barry Lyga, author of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl and Boy Toy, so I want to make sure we can all live up to that standard.)

Of course, I may not be answering my email right away, since I’m on my way to Disney World with the family for a few days — I figured we could all use some quality time together after I effectively abandoned them for the past month. But I’ll be back next week, ready to go!

Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Lock and Load

Well, folks, we’re now less than 48 hours away from the commencement of lensing on “Number One With a Bullet,” so it seems like an opportune time for a news-blog update. It feels like I haven’t slept in two weeks, and it certainly doesn’t look like I’ll be getting any real rack time for the next couple of weeks either. I never thought I’d be one to espouse the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” philosophy (I like sleep — sleep is good), but lately it seems like I’m getting closer to that.

Of course, it looks like the big items (at least for the first weekend) are all in order. SAG paperwork, insurance, equipment, locations, shooting schedule... but it’s the nagging little details that seem to eat up most of my attention right now. Like, say, food. (Seriously — if anyone wants to handle making sure people are fed, please let me know ASAP. I’ll even send you a shopping list.)

And then there’s the stress of realizing that we’ve set ourselves a schedule that’ll make the 48 Hour Film Project look like a walk in the park.

But on the plus side, I have to admit that a big part of my insomnia is caused by my sheer excitement at the prospect of tackling a project this big. Sure, it’s still a short, but it’s twice the length of anything we’ve done before, and the production effort we’re putting forth dwarfs that of any of our past projects. I’m happy with the script, inspired by the crew, ecstatic about the cast, and relishing the adrenaline rush that comes with stretching our capabilities just beyond where I would have placed the breaking point only a few short months ago.

This past year has been a positive whirlwind of learning, and I think it’s only by forcing us to make the leap that we’ll really see if we’re ready to advance to the next level.

For those of you helping out with the production, I’ll be seeing you this weekend. For those eager to jump in on the 48 Hour Film Project (May 2-4), drop me a line (but please understand I may not respond in all that timely a manner). And for those who just want to watch and enjoy, I’m optimistic that we’ll have something truly worth your while in the very near future.

“Number One With a Bullet” Update

Well, things are moving quickly. Casting is complete, and we’ve got a phenomenal bunch of people on board! We had somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 submissions, and saw close to 120 different actors. The selection process was brutal — we had so many great candidates — but in the end, I think we’ve made the best choices for our little ensemble. Kudos to Bjorn Munson for organizing our casting, and thanks to Barry Gribble for letting us use the Integral Arts offices. And a special thanks to all the actors who came out and gave it a shot. I was truly humbled by the efforts you all put forth, and hope to see you again for future projects.

Preproduction is proceeding apace; with just three weeks to go before the cameras roll, we’re right about on schedule. And while I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressing just a bit (okay, more than a bit), I’m also getting more and more excited as the day grows closer. In fact, I’ve gone ahead and cut together a little “teaser trailer” that I’m hoping will get people psyched for the big shoot. You can view it at the film’s official website — onewithabullet.com — or via YouTube or MySpace as well. It really is just a teaser (since we obviously haven’t shot a frame yet), but I’m hoping it at least sets the stage for our little venture.

We’re still locking down some locations, so if anyone has any leads (preferably in or very near the city), please let me know as soon as possible; while we’ve got our main location (the office) all set, we still need a large house exterior and driveway, a walk-in-freezer (or wine cellar), and a well-apportioned study. And we’re also in the process of filling out our crew roster; if you want to join in, drop me a line ASAP.

And as if that weren’t enough, we’re also signed up for the 48 Hour Film Project, scheduled for the first weekend in May. So if you want to help out there, be sure to let me know as well.

Okay, enough talk. Go watch the trailer and have a nice weekend!

Official Casting Notice for “Number One With a Bullet”

All right, folks, here’s the official casting notice. We’re looking forward to hearing from some of you soon!

Tohubohu Productions, makers of multiple popular and award-winning short films, are set to cast “Number One With a Bullet,” a fast-paced black comedy short shooting in April of 2008. The film is being shot in HD in the Washington, DC, area, and will be produced under the SAG Short Film Agreement; both SAG and non-union actors are welcome to audition. Under the agreement, payment is deferred, but credit and copy are provided. On top of that, you’ll have a chance to work with an eager and dedicated team, have some great festival exposure, and very possibly get a pony.*

Principal photography will be over the weekends of April 5–6 and April 12–13, 2008

Please visit http://www.tohubohuproductions.com/bullet.html for background on the story, descriptions of the roles, and the audition sides.

Auditions are by appointment, and will be held in mid/late February to early March, with the first auditions being held this Sunday, February 17th. Interested actors may email their headshots (please keep file sizes below 300 KB) and résumés to casting-at-tohubohuproductions-dot-com for consideration. Please be sure to indicate your availability during the shooting dates and the role for which you would like to read.

* Or not very possibly, as the case may be.

Something Old, Something New

Just so nobody starts thinking that our older projects just sit on a shelf somewhere, I thought I’d pass along the news that “Machinations” has just been selected for the SFF-rated Film Festival in Athens, Greece — our first international screening. The festival’s in March, though we don’t have a specific date just yet (so you may want to hold off on booking your tickets for the moment).

Then there’s the matter of our newest project, “Number One With a Bullet.” Well, folks, we’ve been working like mad on the script, nailing down some key locations (and clearances), and trying to get the paperwork rolling. It’s been a much longer process than we had anticipated, though I think it’s been worth the wait. But finally, in the interests of getting our butts in gear, we’ve locked shooting dates: the weekends of April 5–6 and 12–13, 2008. We’re working backward from there — which means it’s time to start booking our cast and crew. As to the former, we expect to have a casting call out soon. Very soon. We’re looking for two leads, seven supporting actors, and three or four day players (plus assorted extras), and we’re planning to produce the film under a SAG short-film agreement (deferred payment).

As for the latter? Let us know ASAP if you can help out. We’ll need help pretty much across the board — starting with a dedicated production team. And department heads. And lots of equipment. Okay, so really everything.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the project (or who’ve forgotten in the many months since our last communication), here’s the skinny: “Number One With a Bullet” is a fast-paced black comedy short that we’ll be shooting in HD and submitting to the festival circuit. The story follows Jack Reade, a mild-mannered academic who finally has a chance to publish his own Great American Novel. But just as he thinks his tome will see print, Pete Willoughby, a smug and influential editor, informs Jack that the book will remain locked in publishing purgatory. After an accident befalls Pete, Jack forges a desperate alliance with Carrie Singer, a disgruntled employee who also happens to be the book’s number-one fan. Together, they concoct an insane scheme to cover up Pete’s death and greenlight the book. Unfortunately, the publishing process is chock full of approvals and before long, other denizens of Dennison Publishing may fall prey to “accidents.”

Speak quickly — the ball’s rolling...

Upcoming Tohubohu Production Plans

Well, it’s been a while, so I figure it’s way past time I sent out an update with our latest production plans. I’ll try to keep this brief, but those of you who’ve been reading for a while will know that my definition of “brief” differs substantially from most others’.

The first thing to note is that we will not be participating in the National Film Challenge this year. While we’ve had a good run at it in years past (and won two awards), we’ve decided that we’re better off producing something over which we’ll have more control, and that we can produce on a schedule we’re happier with. (And furthermore, I’m committed to working as a production designer on another short film this month — from some of the creative team behind Codeword Secret, “The Kumbio Takedown,” and Buddy Jackson.)

Which brings me to the second thing, and that is what we will be producing in the short term: the long-delayed short “Number One With a Bullet.” This story has been kicking around for more than two years now, and I think we’re finally ready to commit to making it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, “Number One” is a dark comedy about a struggling writer whose debut novel is about to be scuttled by his unscrupulous editor. That is, until the editor suffers an untimely accident — and the writer decides to turn things to his advantage. But what starts as a simple (if morally questionable) cover-up rapidly escalates as others in the publication chain get a little too close to the truth.

Bjorn Munson and I are still hammering out revisions to the script (from a story by me and Lauren Walsh), but we’re far enough along that I feel confident in starting preproduction. I’ll be directing, and there will be plenty of opportunities for help on this one, as the script is fairly ambitious. If you’d like to offer your services, it’s never too early to throw your hat into the ring; while this will be put together on a tight (i.e., practically nonexistent) budget, we are looking at ways to extend our professional “footprint,” so to speak. We’re targeting a November or December shoot date, though we’ll have some firmer details once we get the preliminary paperwork rolling.

Beyond that, we still have the script for “Some Kind of Hero” (a darker crime drama) and the Tohubohu.tv series Quorum on the horizon (along with any other scripts that may fall into our laps), but I’ll keep those details under my hat a bit longer. Well, except for the fact that I just announced them here...

We are also a step closer to incorporation as a nonprofit, in that our attorney (who leads a secret double identity as my brother Ken) has just sent me the latest versions of the paperwork (well, he sent them a while ago, but I’m just getting around to dealing with them). Ideally, we’ll get those filed before too long, so that “Number One With a Bullet” can be produced under that framework.

And that’s all for now. I’m looking forward to working with many of you again soon — take care, all!