Highfield

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24 November 2014:  Sunset, Heckfield, Hampshire.  Went to this beautiful place to paint a sunset and wasn’t disappointed.   A low mist descended, which made everything feel so romantic.  The downside was that it got really cold - so I was pleased to get back to my car and turn the heater on full!   I altered the tree a bit when I got back to the studio - making it more impressionistic to fit in with the rest of the painting.

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Behind the Scenes stills from an upcoming musical series for the CW Seed & New Form Digital

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Though this series shares the same creative team behind the short film I Ship It (myself, Brian Grider & Kirstyn Hippe, as well as much of the same key crew), we’re playing with new characters, new stories, and a new spin on a familiar universe. Thanks in large part to my wonderful cast, these characters and this story became real to me in ways I never imagined on the page, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

I’m anticipating some inevitable comparisons between this and the short film I Ship It, and while we hope that people who enjoyed the short film will enjoy this story, the two projects are intended to stand separately and your mileage may vary in either direction.

I loved Zoe and Charlie and the performances that Mary Kate Wiles and Sean Persaud gave in the short film. I think the story we told was special, and I was so happy to see people respond positively to it.

Our characters in this series - Ella, Tim, Sasha, and Denver - have different ways of responding to similar starting situations, and eventually find themselves on a new path of their own that explores fresh themes and different musical formats. I quite like them a lot, I hope you’ll give them a shot. :)

I also wanted to give a shoutout to our principle cast. Helen Highfield, Riley Neldam, Yasmine Al-Bustami, and Jacqui Calloway are some of the most giving, present, generous actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with and I love them all to pieces.

It occurs to me that because this project is the largest scale production I’ve ever tackled from development through production, it might be worth diving into the process a little more while it’s still fresh in my mind, as I’ve done in the past on projects like Kissing in the Rain and I Ship It. Mostly for my own sake of cataloguing how my directing process is evolving/changing/staying the same over time, but if you’re curious about process-type things, maybe you’ll get something out of this too.

If you’ve ever wondered how I work with actors on a lengthier, shippy af project, here’s the answer!

Before production, I like to get to know my actors better so I can hear their voices as I tackle rewrites tailored towards the cast / location specifics. On this project, I was working with actors I’d never worked with before or known previously. They killed it in their auditions, but as a filmmaker, unknown variables are always kind of a scary thing. It’s why I tend to work with the same people over and over in my cast and crews - over time, you build a team of people who you trust to deliver. 

That being said, working with new people challenges me to try new methods and shake things up. It takes me out of my comfort zone, which I think is always a good place to push towards as a filmmaker. And in the best, most rewarding situations, it helps me discover new ways to work and be better. This shoot was a best case scenario in that respect.

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