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Confessions Of A Working Director - 11/25/2008

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For our currently-in-production feature film, we spent November 6 through 11 shooting in a small town called Hermann, Missouri.  Hermann's economy is centered on the variety of winery, bar, and bed 'n' breakfast establishments nestled in the hills overlooking the Missouri River.  The town is a thriving tourist destination, especially during Oktoberfest.

Cast and crew lived in one house for the duration, where we were very well taken care of by crew member Marla Wallace.  In addition to being one of the nicest, most generous people in the world, Marla is an excellent cook.  Cast and crew were extremely well fed!  Marla was so nice to everyone, and took such good care of us, that this extremely difficult six day shoot seemed much less grueling than it actually was.

Our first scene was shot at the Hermann Motel, where Amy Rose came in to act in the movie for a day.  If you picked up the DEADWOOD PARK DVD, you got a glimpse of Amy in that feature.  Also on that DVD is a music video we made, which Amy stars in.

Our second day of shooting was supposed to be at the Hermann City Cemetery, which is situated at the top of a hill.  The temperature was so low and the wind was so powerful, we only got a few shots off before we had to call it quits and vacate the location.  Not only was the bitter weather uncomfortable for all cast and crew, I could not get a steady shot.  Even with the camera on the sticks and weighted down, the violent winds added camera shakes to every shot.

I re-arranged the entire Hermann shooting schedule and we forged ahead, moving indoors to continue shooting.  We went back to the cemetery the next day (when it was only painfully cold, not deadly cold) and shot everything we needed to shoot there.  This exhausting day of shooting was a real test of my cast and crew's tenacity.  It was extremely cold and the wind still had a lot of bite.  Everyone was uncomfortable.  Actors had to shed their outer layers for each take and then perform as if they weren't turning into blocks of ice.  I am proud to say that all involved did an excellent job, despite the freezing weather.

One of the amazing actors in this cemetery scene was Sarah Swofford, who plays a lead in this movie.  Sarah was brutalized in a supporting role in SUGAR CREEK.  She was Rogue Cinema's "Sleepover Girl Of The Month" last May, she increases t-shirt sales by the billions by modeling them over at horrormerch.com, and she was recently interviewed for the GoreZone Magazine MySpace page.  She's also performed a variety of voice acting roles for animation (PUMPKIN SCISSORS: INFERNO, to name one of many).

We shot at a variety of locations around Hermann.  Everywhere we went, people were unexpectedly nice to us.

Wicked Pixel Cinema HQ is in St. Louis.  In the St. Louis area (about an hour and 45 minutes away from Hermann) people are much less kind.  Generally, St. Louis people like to butt into your business and then try to make your business all about them (read about The Gary Situation two "Confessions" entries ago).  Furthermore, this usually comes with snotty attitudes and various attempts to fuck up whatever it is you are trying to accomplish.  Sorry to sound so negative about my current home town, but in my many years of living in St. Louis, yes, I've found about 80 percent of the population to be this petty and unpleasant.

Therefore, when Hermann residents approached us, we were on guard and expecting the worst.  To our shock, everyone was polite, friendly, respectful, and well-wishing.  We interacted with local business owners, city police officers, county police officers, a postal delivery man, and various random citizens on the street.  All of them were extremely nice to us.  We felt very welcome in Hermann, Missouri.

I don't want to paint Hermann, Missouri as some kind of utopia of kindness and perfect human beings.  One or two individuals were jerks to us.  But in our days of shooting in Hermann, Missouri, 95 percent of the population was unbelievably wonderful.

At the top of the list of wonderful Hermann residents were the owners of the Time For Pie coffee shop.  They allowed us to shoot a scene on the sidewalk in front of their shop.  The entire time we shot in Hermann, it was very cold, so during our shoot at Time For Pie, actors were hanging out inside, warming up.  Plus, we kept trotting through the establishment to use the bathrooms.  Most business owners would get sick of this real fast, but the husband-and-wife owners of this coffee shop seemed overjoyed to have us there.  We bought cast and crew lunch from them and we were out of there by noon.  If you ever visit Hermann, Missouri, go grab a cup of java, a bite of dessert, or a tasty meal at Time For Pie.  You'll experience great food and some very, very nice shop owners.

Keep reading these journal entries for more news about this current project, including more exciting casting revelations!  Eventually, I'll even tell you the title of the movie!

Thanks for reading!
Eric Stanze

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