Emily’s Picture Behind-the-Scenes Look

UTV has tackled a project that they have never attempted before this semester: producing two short films in one semester. With a large group of eager students and a large fundraising goal, one might think this is easily doable but UTV has proven that as possible as our goal may be, it is only accomplished when every crew member is available. Again, UTV thanks its Indiegogo backers for making this goal possible and given every crew member the boost it needs to make these short films successful.

This blog post is a look at what occurred behind the scenes of this second production and how a collaboration of professional film industry member helped UTV crew members gain more knowledge of what it takes to lead a production that had child stars.

Emily’s Picture was written by NAU student, Sara Gill. It follows a young girl whose family is emotionally preparing for the death of their beloved grandmother. The young girl finds a way to channel this emotional time through a memento that reminds the audience that everyone processes grief in different ways. The cast and crew were excited to tackle this emotional drama and send this message to the audience. Pre-production began with the task of casting the role of Emily and a child wrangler.

A child wrangler is a crew member who is responsible for watching the child on set and helping them accomplish their best performance. UTV has never had to enlist this position before and relied on contacts developed by their earlier production, Act Your Age, to revisit the best, Dawn Nelson, from Phoenix, AZ. Her earlier work, upcoming schedule and requirements worked with UTV and was an easy decision. According to Santos Barbosa, “Her insight and knowledge not only of her craft but her experience in the film industry was helpful and inspiring.”

Coming fresh off their previous roles for the film, In Due Time, the following people came together to begin pre-production for the film: Santos Barbosa (the executive producer), Hannah Wheeler (the producer), Ryan Boivin (the director), Megan Deschaine (the assistant director), Tara Devoti (the director of photography), Payton Stafford (the production designer), Sarah Weems (the production coordinator), Daniel Brown (the casting director), and Sarah Wiener (the art director). Their jobs are to ensure that the task of a second film during one semester is no problem and that every element of pre-production is accomplished.

Santos Barbosa recalls the chaos that it pre-production, when asked his favorite part of the planning process, he had this to say: “My favorite part of the planning process was meeting and executing a plan that allowed for a smooth production phase. Working with the DP and the Producer on making sure that the shots and the visuals were well done and aesthetic was fun to do because in that situation, there arose collaboration and team work.” Organization is key when you only have four days to ensure all necessary shots are captured. From Friday, March 3rd to Sunday, March 5th and Tuesday, March 7th, we devoted the whole days to shooting.

Being on set always always crew members a chance at growth. Jake Dybdahl, the lighting assistant on set, explained that it was his first chance using a Aari light kit and how the experience was fun and new. He faced new challenges head-on like having to work on getting specific lighting and the awkwardness of having to stand in weird positions to get the perfect shot. Showing for this heartwarming film gave the crew a chance to not only work with equipment they haven’t used before, but exposed them to practice of working with children on a film set. Brianna Shinn, the assistant sound director and 1st assistant camera, learned that working with child actors requires more patience.

For many seniors, this was their last UTV62 production and the last day of filming was sentimental. UTV62 is going to miss our seniors very much and wish them the best.

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Featured: Payton Stafford, Sarah Weiner, Hannah Wheeler.

Overall, Emily’s Picture was an example of UTV62 working together to accomplish a project that represents how strong the NAU film program is.

Currently, Emily’s Picture is in post-production. This is being done by UTV’s Post Production Supervisor, Samuel Oshins. We are excited to move on towards its submission in the NAU Student Film Festival (along with In Due Time and Donor 160). (more about NAU student film festival + link)

Thank you to our Spring 2017 Indiegogo backers again, your generosity and support are never forgotten and always appreciated.

In Due Time Behind-the-Scenes Look

UTV has long been a resource to NAU film students and has offered its student the freedom to gain the necessary experience of creating a film start to finish with a large group of people. As a team, we have worked to perfect the studio method and create outstanding films as a result of it. In Due Time, our latest production, showcases the years of experience gained over the years. And if you are reading this, you are most likely an Indiegogo backer and are ensuring UTV had the chance to produce this film and for that, UTV thanks you.

This blog post is a look at what occurred behind the scenes of this production and how strong communication ensures its success.

UTV begins selecting its projects out of multiple script submission and finds one that is producible, marketable and well written. In Due Time was written by our staff writer, Jason Ferguson, with the concept that perhaps what you are searching for is right in front of you. If you aren’t familiar with In Due Time, it is the story of a normal guy who has suffered from a bit of bad luck recently. His girlfriend broke up with him and stuck him with the task of picking up her dog from the pound. This serves as a reminder that life is not going as planned. In a effort to start over, he purchases a watch that can predict the moment you meet your soulmate. Sporting this watch throughout town, (along with the dog he never wanted) he attempts to confront multiple woman with the possibility that the ringing of the watch at their presence means they are the one. This comedy takes a look at the concept of “soulmates” and how first impressions aren’t always correct.

During pre-production, we reflect on the advice of Miguel Alvarez, In Due Time’s director, who strongly states that “communication is always key”. Along with keeping a cool head during stressful times. The staff and crew use pre-production as the time to lay the foundation for this film. This team, along with Miguel, consisted of Santos Barbosa (the executive producer), Sarah Weems (the Producer), Ryan Boivin (1st Assistant Director), Megan Deschaine (2nd Assistant Director), Asha Hopkins, Hannah Wheeler and Magdalene Lim (Production Coordinators) and Megan Babbitt (Director of Photography) and many other cast and crew members. Asha and Magdalene had the task of casting one of the most important roles, the dog.

These two managers found Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ, a resource that was more than happy to lend us their space and one of their dogs for production. It was there that they found Roxie, a pit bull mix that would soon steal the hearts of everyone on set. It is because of the kindness of Second Chance to use their facilities and animals that we were able to shoot critical scenes in the film with ease. The rest of the location use you can find in our previous films and around Northern Arizona University. After ensuring locations were secured, we scheduled crew members and started composing a shot list. Organization is key when you only have four days to ensure all necessary shots are captured. From Friday, March 3rd to Sunday, March 5th and Tuesday, March 7th, we devoted the whole days to shooting.

The cast and crew found that the set process was exciting and eventful after many challenges presented themselves. For Azul Trejo, an Art Department Assistant, the process of creating a pregnant belly on one female actress was educational in the event he needed to do so in another professional shoot. The process of shooting was quick and efficient, with every member performing their designated task, to ensure smooth filming days so re-shoots would not be necessary. Kendall Harter, a Lighting and Audio Assistant, spent the long filming days learning how to perform different lighting techniques even with the process of having a midterm during a filming day. Kendall was present when needed and performed her duties to the best of her abilities despite the setback. When every crew member goes in with the same goal, the best outcome becomes possible. Brianna Shinn, Camera Assistant, was worried that she would mess up on set or cause issues but instead she shined on set and learned set etiquette.

Hannah Wheeler, the Script Supervisor, reminds us that smooth filming days are not always so easy. It takes a true dedication to your role to ensure continuity. When you have a high profile role like hers, she states you have to know your team and know how to do your job right. And beside from her position on set, Hannah had one of the most exciting and rewarding roles during filming. Read her testimony: “The best part of this film for me was getting to temporarily “foster” our star dog, Roxie. At the end of filming, we had to return her to Second Chance and I was sad to see her go… After spending four days with her, I knew she was a sweet girl who deserved to find a real home. Thankfully, she was adopted the very next day! A post I made on Facebook actually helped Roxie find her new loving owners, so it made me very happy to know I was able to help her find her forever home.”

After speaking with multiple cast and crew members, the one lesson that they agreed they learned was communication is key. You may remember that Miguel mentioned this in the beginning of production. When working together with such a large group, you have to not only hope it will work out but take the necessary steps to insure this. Even though the cast and crew are students at a university and are still learning the benefits of strong communication on a film set, the chance to try and fail on projects like these are priceless. Every film is not only a chance to gain better technical skills, but better communication skills. It is only when we work together as a unit that we can watch this film and afterwards and know that it was only possible because of every cast and crew member.

Currently, In Due Time is in post-production. This is being done by UTV’s Post Production Supervisor, Samuel Oshins. We are excited to move on towards our next semester project, Emily’s Picture.