Saturday, August 17, 2013

An amazing first week of shooting!

Director and "Man of the People" Brian Kirk pretending to put wires where they should go.

My new favorite person in the whole wide world who is not part of my immediate family, Madylin Sweeten!

Mady's acting skills were AMAZING.

And she was a very good sport to put up with Mr. Amateur Hour (a.k.a. Brian Kirk)

Sweating like John Walsh is after me (prior to hair, makeup and wardrobe).  Thank you, Craig Henne for this brilliant observation!

L to R: Fernando Barron II, the best DP in the biz, me, Mady, and Antonella, the Sicilian Sensation, and PGA staffer (as well as actress)

Fernando Barron II doin' what he do!

A pic of Fernando taken by Mady.

We transformed my kitchen into a set!  MADY SWEETEN... in MY kitchen!  She was even gracious enough to pretend(?) to enjoy my Ray Romano impression!

Cast Party: Theresa Carissimi (Victoria) with Craig Henne.  If you've ever doubted Craig's similarity to Uncle Sam, doubt no more.  

My wife Donika Kirk with Mady Sweeten.

Mady with Fernando Barron II.

Young Kevin (Erich Schuett) with Magistrate Barry Fleischer (Neil Berliner).

Piankhi Iknation (Officer Williams) with Erich Schuett.  

Mady with Erich. 

L to R: Theresa Carissimi, Brian Kirk, Lulu Braha (a.k.a. Mady's mom in the land of make believe). 

Mady, Gary & Lulu Braha.  Thinking of casting Gary as a gangster.  But he's too nice.  ; )  

Rose Warner (a God-send to this production) with Mady and Diana Warner.  

Young Kevin with Uncle Sam.  Erich is so awesome that I'm rewriting the script to give him more lines!

Beauty and the Beast. 

Mady with Jamie Lynn Spears (she's aged well, no?)

Dominic Carissimi (casting him as a gangster, easy call) with Mady. 

Me with young me.  I think I robbed this kid of all hope!!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's official...

The script for Sam & Me is now registered with the U.S. Copyright office.  All I had to do was say that Lois Lerner is a good friend, and they rushed it right through!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Two HUGE gifts

We had a modest goal to raise money for the rental of specialty lenses and to cover food, travel & insurance expenses.  Thanks to two major donations from some wonderful people, we're able to do all of that, and more.  But we could still use your help.

Before we know it, we'll be in the post-production and distribution phases, and as my high school motto once read: "Success Breeds Success."  Please consider a direct donation by visiting or you can find us on

Friday, August 2, 2013

Former star of Everybody Loves Raymond joins the cast!

Remember Ray Romano's super-cute kids on Everybody Loves Raymond?  Well, Madylin Sweeten is all grown up, and she'll be joining us in mid-August to play the role of Lauren in Sam & Me!!!
Aside from her role as Ally on ELR, Sweeten was in the award-winning film American Splendor (2003) among others.  She is an accomplished actress who performs with Second City in Los Angeles.  We are beyond grateful for her participation in our film.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thank you, Michael Moore!

Turns out, Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival also offers a film school!  

So I strapped on my combat boots, put my wedding ring on my right hand, and headed on over to the beautiful campus of Northern Michigan University.  By the way, August in northern Michigan is like Tuscany (I've never been, but I did see Under the Tuscan Sun).  

The three-hour audio workshop I attended was just $5.  FIVE BUCKS for three hours of amazing knowledge from Adam Forgione of Pennylane Productions.  How can they offer this for just $5?  Turns out the session was sponsored by "evil" for-profit corporations like Shure and Roland (say what you will about America's most notable anti-capitalist, the guy knows how to save and make money).  

Every volunteer and attendee I encountered was extraordinarily kind.  One dude let me borrow a sheet of paper.  Nobody asked to verify my ACLU membership (or lack thereof).  I asked one volunteer if she's met Michael Moore.  She told me he was mere feet from her the other day, but that his entourage whisked him away (some "men of the people" need heavy security).

Surprisingly, there's no liberal or conservative way to discuss the pros and cons of zeppelin mics vs. dead cat mics (though most liberals I know would prefer we call them pine-cone mics).  My notes from the amazing audio workshop are below.  
  • The closer you get to a subject, the more bass you get.
  • Never use compression while recording.
  • You always want to get the strongest signal possible without clipping.  
  • Take the clip and windscreen off a lapel mic, role moleskin around the mic in a cylindrical fashion, then use medical tape to attach the mic to the inside of a shirt, pocket, or hat.  Tie a loose knot in the wire to prevent movement noises.  The moleskin cylinder will prevent much of the body and clothes contact that make for unwanted noise.  
  • When the button below is NOT in the straight line position, it means it will reduce wind and low end rumble.  

  • You can use your field recorder as a counter-weight on a boom stand.
  • Adam says the Shure VP89M is the best shotgun mic out there for the price.  A lapel mic is NEVER better than a shotgun mic.  
  • In addition to a trailer, offer a 15 minute teaser for your film as you generate buzz / funding.
  • The cheaper the mic, the more noise you'll get.
  • Dead cat mics and Zeppelin mics are great for wind.
  • Don't "fix it in post," rather, "nail it up front."
  • Adam recommends Sound Soap for post-production noise reduction
  • If you're going to use a laptop instead of a field recorder, make sure you have a good pre-amp.
  • E-Lithium Energizer batteries are recommended over standard batteries (6 hours vs. 2 hours recording time)
  • This software will make audio syncing effortless.
  • Ultimately, the story rules.  Don't forget, content is king.  
Thank you, Michael Moore, for founding this film festival, and for bringing in great people like Adam Forgione.