Conversations in a Coffee Shop: An artist blog

  • What we learned in the 48 Hour Film Competition

    How goes it good people, as some of you may know, we competed in the Chicago leg of the 48 Hour Film Competition, and though we busted our butts to meet the deadline, we came up short. Admittedly, I was upset, but you live and learn. Review what went well, what could have gone better, and come out swinging the next go round.

    If you're not familiar with the 48 Hour Film Contest, you pick a genre out of a hat, and are then given an object, a character, and a line of dialogue that has to be in your film. And of course, you have 48 hours to get it all done. We drew Thriller/Suspense, which is right up our alley, and rushed home to brain storm ideas. After about 20 minutes, we came up with the idea of a dead guy showing up to work, and freaking his co-workers out. Being big time fans of Darren McGavin in the old Night Stalker series, we thought it would be cool for the tale to be bit comical, and thus "Beyond the Door" came into being.

    Where did we go wrong? Our major downfall was that we started shooting crazy late. We couldn't get into our location until 5pm Saturday, and finished shooting at 12:40am Sunday morning. Got home by 1:15 and knocked out until 5am. Started editing like mad people, but realized right around 6:30pm; we wouldn't make the deadline at 7:30pm. Yeah, it pretty much sucked. But hey, we're already hyped for next year. Chicago 48 Hour Film Competition is going down baby.

    Big thanks to our cast and crew. Actors Andres Enriquez, Harold Dennis, and Bradford Stevens, brought their A games. And our two person crew of Jonathan Rhodes (DP) and Ronald Groves (Sound), made us feel like a small army set to take on the world. And also a big thank you to Jerry Vasilatos, the Chicago producer for the contest. He helped us out with all our questions, and encouraged all the film makers to try to finish their project no matter what. Yeah! Last but not least, we finally got a chance to use our Black Magic Pocket camera. The battery life was a challenge, but it's a kick butt camera, and well worth the investment.

    As for us, we're back to focusing on our feature "Chase: Tony Takes on the World" and looking forward to our Indiegogo Campaign kicking off in 2016. So stay tuned for details, and as always....

    Dream Big...Dare To Be Great

    Stacey Carp :)

  • 48 Hour Film Competition

    Good News Yall, we're competing in the  Chicago 48 Hour Film Project. It kicks off next week, Friday, August 14th; runs until August 16th, and it's gonna be a blast baby. Honestly, we're a tad bit nervous about the whole thing. We shot many a short film, but this will be the first time having a 48 Hour dead line to write the script, shoot the film, edit, and then deliver the film by Sunday evening. Never the less, we're looking forward to the challenge.

    We have an all star team on board: Actors Harold Denniss, Andre Enriques, La Quis Harkins, and Bradford Stevens. Music by Eric Deshaun Dorris. With Jonathan Rhodes as our cinematographer, Ronald Groves our boom operator, and Valerie Stevens as our trusty production assistant. And yours truly as the screenwriter and director. Yeah!

    We're planning to track the entire process with our trusty cell phones and cam corders, so stay tuned for a behind the scenes look at all the fun. Until then, have a great weekend, and as always....

    DREAM BIG AND DARE TO BE GREAT!!!

    Stacey Carp scouting locations. Yeah!!!

     

  • Fiscal Sponsor

    Hello party people,

    Hope you're having a great summer. Good news yall. From the Heart Productions just signed on to be our fiscal sponsor for our up coming Indiegogo Campaign. That's right, we're launching a new crowd funding campaign for "Chase: Tony Takes on the World", and it's gonna be a blast. For those of you who may not know, From the Heart Productions is a fantastic organization founded by Carole Dean that has over 22 years of experience of helping film makers produce their projects via The Roy Dean Film Grant, personal consultation, classes, crowd funding, as well as fiscal sponsorship. So what exactly in a fiscal sponsor? Well, in a nutshell a fiscal sponsor helps you find donors for your project, as well as helping prospective  donors find you. Nice!

    We're very excited about this next step. We've applied for the Roy Dean film grant numerous times before in past, and Carole Dean has always been incredibly insightful, accessible, and genuinely excited about helping film makers produce their films. Of course, as with anything great, no body can want it more than you. Ya gots to have a never say die attitude, a burning desire to win, and an insane work ethic to reach your goals. Never the less, you can't always do it by yourself, and it's so nice to have a helping hand guiding the way. Yeah!!!

    We're still in the early planning stages right now, but keep an eye out for updates. We're looking forward to launching our Indiegogo campaign some time in late September/early October. In the mean time my friends, have a great week. And as always....Dream Big! Dare to be Great!!!! Yeah!!!

    Stacey Carp

  • March 12th Shoot

    Keep it Moving Baby. We've been working on "Chase: Tony Takes on the World" for 7 years now. 7 years from penning the script to this very moment. And despite the challenges, the set backs, and life getting in the way; the fire to complete this film burns more intensely than ever.

    March 12th we got one more step closer in conquering that mountain, with a shoot down at Magnaimous Studios. Our amazing actors Michelle Coleman-Flyod, Anjelica Mason, Eunice Woods Nunnally, Foster Williams Jr., and Bradford Stevens knocked it out the box. And our fantastic crew with Sylwia Delon our makeup artist, and Darryl Parham, our DP and sound technician made the shooting day, "Easy Like Sunday Morning" (what yall know about the Commodores!)

    We're applying for the Illinois Film Grant to help complete production. We should know by Nov 2015 if we received it our not. But in the mean time, we're getting right back at it. We start shooting again in late July. Oh yeah. Can't stop, won't stop, GOTS TO KEEP IT MOVING!!!! Have a great week and as always....DREAM BIG AND DARE TO BE GREAT!

    Carp

    Here are a few pics from the March 12th shoot

    Sylwia Delon putting the finishing touches on Anjelica Mason

    The studio before the actors hit the set

    Darryl Parham zooming in on Eunice Woods Nunnally for her close up

    Foster Willimas Jr. in the house

    Darryl Parham. DP and Sound Technician extraodinaire

  • Never Say Die

    YESTERDAY, I was chilling in a coffee shop with Brad and our good friend Erica. With less then 12 days left in our Kick Starter Campaign at the time, she asked us, "What if you don't reach your goal?" We both laughed and said, "There's no such thing." She smiled and said, "Yeah, that's what I wanted to hear!"

    It's truly a blessing having good friends like Erica, and Brad. Folks who believe the impossible is possible; even in the face of tremendous odds. We've had a great time running "our little campaign that could" as we like to call it. With 10 days left, things appear challenging, but we still have all the faith in the world we're going to reach our goal. But no matter what happens, we already have things in motion to resume shooting in March 2015 and to complete production some time next year.

    If it's one thing we've learned over the years, is that a terminator, Rasputin, never say die mentality goes a long way not only in film making, but in life itself.  If it we're easy, everyone would do it. Yeah!

    Thanks so much to everyone who has supported our little campaign. Pledging your hard earned money, and/or sharing the link. It helped us out more than you know, and we greatly appreciate it.

    With only 10 DAYS LEFT to hit our target, it tis officially crunch time. Yeah! Our goal's in sight, and we can reach it with your help. Thanks so much good people. Have a great week and as always....

    Dream Big and Dare to Be Great

    CHASE KICK STARTER

     

    Stacey Carp

  • Chase Campaign

    How goes it party people,

    Stacey Carp here. Our campaign is live yall. We're coming to the close of week one, and I have to say it's been a tremendous learning experience. If we ever have a thrid campaign, we'll be a lot more savy, just as our very first campaign gave us tremendous insights for this one. Thanks for all of your support, and as always my friends, DREAM Big, and Dare to be great!!!! Yeah!!!!

    Stacey Carp

  • JOE

    How goes it my friends. Stacey Carp is in the house once again. We're crazy excited to say we have another film in the Hollywood Black Film Festival/Indi.com contest. The deadline for entries was extended, so our boy; actor extraordinaire Harold Dennis said, "Ey, why not shoot another film." And after brain storming ideas and pulling together some amazing actors at the last minute, we came up with a little joint called, "JOE". The story; in a nut shell, Satan, Lucifer, the Devil himself makes his argument on why he's been totally misunderstood over the years, and how human beings are actually responsible for their own pain and suffering. With one location, in a climate controlled environment; this was a piece of cake compared to the "Flying Man" shoot. But make no mistakes about good people, we had a blast shooting both of these films. Yeah!!

    Theresa A. Moore and Charles Hemphill Jr. play the owners of a small company in "JOE"

    Harold Dennis plays an employee "Joe"

    Bradford S. Stevens play the devil in "Joe"

    Brad and I have always had a love for great foreign films, a love of subtitles, a love of the musicality language. French, English, Spanish, you name it. Language has a beautiful musicality to it we can't get enough of. So we had the wacky of idea, that maybe the devil speaks a totally different language in the film. A language never heard before by humankind. And I got to say, there were countless times I almost ruined a take by laughing, listening to the giberish coming out Brad's mouth. Ha!!

    Voting for the Hollywood Black Film Festival/Indi.com contest kicks off Feb 19th; that's right this Wednesday yall!! 4pm central time and goes until Feb 26th 4pm central time. You can vote for more than one film party people, so if yall were to vote for "Flying Man" and "JOE" WE WOULD HAVE NOTHING BUT LOVE FOR YA!!! Oh yeah.

    We'll keep you posted on the results, but until next time my friends...Have a great week, and as always, Dream Big and Dare to Be Great!!!

    Stacey Carp

  • Flying Man

    How goes it my friends. Been a while, but we are back and better than ever. In the news, we have a film in the Hollywood Black Film Festival. It was really an out of the blue type of thing. Our good friend Harold dropped me and the good kid Bradford Stevens a line, just to see if we would be interested. Part of the challenge was to shoot a 3 minute short on a mobile device about a super hero, sci-fi, or horror theme; and since we had just shot, "First Fight" a few months ago, we thought why not. Kicked around a few ideas, and before you know it, we had a story yall!!!

    Let me say, first and foremost, there are a lot of great films in the competition. You know me, I love to see mad creativity and the stories people tell, especially with limited resources. That said, we're hoping our little film we makes some major noise, so we'll see what happens.

    The Film: Is about Dalmar Smith, who wakes up one day to find himself the only person left on the planet until he runs into a mysterious stranger with the ability to fly; and stars our good friends Harold Dennis as Dalmar Smith, and Nicholas Hart as the flying man. Mad props to those dudes, they worked their asses off on this joint.

    WHAT DID WE LEARN? Always a good question to ask oneself. If you're not learning, your slipping baby. And just as we learned a hell of a lot about shooting on a cell, with, "First Fight", we learned just a much after "Flying Man". For starters:

    BACK UP YOUR FOOTAGE: Common sense right, but we lost the entire morning of the first day. I just about flipped the fu#K out. As you can imagine, we shot so much, we had to drop footage to save memory on the phone. Long story short, we tried uploading to Drop Box, and their webiste was down that entire weekend. Fine, no problem, up loaded are shots to Google Drive, and for 24 hours, 24 straight hours our footagae was in a holding pattern, and wouldn't up load. When it was all said and done, we had to reshoot everything from that morning. Got Harold's scene that Thursday, and Nicholas that Sunday. A friggin' night mare at the time, but everything turned out for the best... Thank goodness.

    The positive, when we did we  re-shoot, we were prepared out the wazoo. We passed through Micro Center and picked up a portable flash drive. It's friggin' awesome yo. A little joint made by SanDisk, has it's own wifi, so as soon we we finished shooting, we sent the footage straight from the phone to the flash drive. You gots to love technology. So we ended up having everything backed up 4 places, on Drop Box (though I'm not a fan of this cloud shit, for obvious reasons), on the flash drive, on our desk top, and last but not least, our external hard drive. Better safe than sorry yall.

    GET A BATTERY PACK: Shooting video, zaps the battery life quick, fast, and in a hurry. The first day we had to run back to the car a few times to re charge the phone. Which wasn't all bad, it was cold as hell outside; but it really prolonged the shoot. So, that night, we picked up a sweet battery pack. It came out the box fully charged,  so  when the juice got low of the cell, we just connected it to the pack, and were good the rest of the day. Of course, you'll have to recharge the battery pack itself eventually, but it'll last ya a long time. And lastly...

    STAY POSITIVE AND KEEP PUSHING YO: The good kid Bradford S is usually an up beat dude, but I do have a tendency to get a little tense at times. Just a tad bit. Despite losing footage, shooting in the bitter cold, and getting sick as a dog.... this was an awesome friggin' shoot. Harold and Nicholas were pros baby, truly a blast to work with, and most importantly; we were doing what we love to do. Collaborating with other talented folks to tell a really cool story. It doesn't get any better than that yall.

    Check out some of the picks from the shoot, If you'd like to cast a vote for "Flying Man" go to the Hollywood Black Film Festival and let your voice be heard. Shoot for the stars baby and as always my friends...

    Dream Big, and Dare to be Great!!!

    Stacey Carp

    Harold Dennis as dalmar smith

    Nicholas Hart as flying man

  • Laser Focus

    Walked down to one of my favorite coffee houses, just outside Rogers Park, and sat in reflection over a large Green Tea Latte. Feeling stressed out, and pulled in a million directions, I started to reaccess my life. My goals, my career; were I am versus were I want to be. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing like being on the go. Between teaching youth, working with my theatre troupe, auditioning, and trying to get the film off the ground; nothing makes me feel more alive. But at what price? Have I been treading water the last year or so, and mistaking motion for progress. Doing plays and auditioning for commercials is fantastic, but what about the film? What about the film? What about the film!!!!!

    With only 24 hours in a day, it's only natural that certain things get placed on the back burner. But if those things are the things that matter most, it can be counterproductive to say the least. I felt bad about it a first, but I started thinking that I needed to be a little more selfish with my time. Not selfish, from the stand point, of "fuck everybody else, I got mine, you get yours" But selfish in terms of being  more "focused" on the task at hand. Hey, if this film is our baby; we need to start treating it like our baby. Not that we're gonna crawl in a cave and become a hermit, but it will mean cutting back. Cutting back a bit on teaching, though I love working with the kiddos; cutting back on doing shows, though I love being on stage, cutting back on a few things here and there, to move FORWARD with our dreams. Film making is marathon, not a sprint; but the time for laser focus is now. So here's to putting first things first, and making the damn thing happen!!! Oh yeah!!

    Until next time my friends, DREAM BIG AND DARE TO BE GREAT!!

    Stacey Carp