Happy Father’s Day to all you Dad’s out there! We’re here in Lancaster planning for the first day of shooting for the United States of Autism movie which is only 2 days away. That’s right folks! We’re less than 48 hours to kick-off for the first autism film to capture the triumphs and tragedies of diverse families all across the nation, all in one place, and all to change the course of autism forever.
Rene, our DP, is in town going over the new equipment. Rosleny is learning all the setups and take-downs. Sugey is figuring out the final changes to our shot lists. Cassie is sleeping after finishing her last horror movie shoot, 7 straight 20 hour days, and joins us tomorrow. We’re all excited about the future, the possibilities that are unfolding before us. Everything seems to be coming into focus.
The first shots take place at 8pm on Tuesday at the Lancaster Amtrak station. Be sure to follow us if you want to know how a movie like this gets made as we blog everyday from the set. We love you all, and can’t wait to hear from you when we’re, as Willie Nelson says, “on the road again!“
Getting the word out about an independent film can build like a sweeping current, coming out of nowhere and taking a nation by storm. We’ve had the TV commercials and the blogs. Now, we broke through the first barrier on the radio waves with one of the fastest growing radio shows in the nation at the Autism Women’s Network. A unique organization that focuses on the need of females on the ASD spectrum, we are excited to have their executive director Sharon daVanport in our film as an example of what an activist can accomplish with a few dollars and a desire to make a difference. Both Sharon and her co-host Trish engage their listeners on some great topics, and last night was no different.
It was an exciting opportunity to discuss how the film came about, what our goals are, who some of the families are, the diversity we’re looking to bring out, and a few surprises. Ultimately, we hope it came across how seriously we take the responsibility of this film to reflect and inspire the ASD community, as well as those around the nation who may not know anything about our challenges and triumphs. Be sure to check it out, and as always, feel free to contact us and tell us what you think. Thank you to all of our fans for listening as we look forward to checking in with the AWN from the road.
Let’s keep that current going and growing!
Some people have had some questions about the article, so we’d like to clear a few quick things up.
We will be leaving from Lancaster, PA on June 23rd, so we are not starting the film in California. Also, many have had questions about the genocide comment. The quote should read “(Some) people…”, as we all know that not everyone believes genetic research will lead to genocide. Also, the term genocide is a wonderful attention grabber, but “eugenics” is probably more accurate. After having numerous conversations with friends in the neuro-diversity movement, this is a legitimate concern and something worth capturing in the film. Inside the autism movement, we are aware of the use of these terms and their implications, but we should also understand that for many people out there in the world do not understand the differences per se, or the problem.
Liz has written a great article about what our goals are to sidestep these controversies, and focus on the families which is our goal. We hope you enjoy the article and look forward to hearing your comments!
If you’re in the Philadelphia and Central Pennsylvania TV markets, get ready to see us, the United States of Autism Movie and the Tommy Foundation, on NBC TV!
The Pepsi Refresh Project sent out an NBC crew to visit us and put together a 30 second spot on Friday. They were here for about five hours during the shoot. Our crew (Rich, Sugey, and Cassie) got all our equipment and headed over to one of our local families home, Barbara and Cesar Figueroa. There, we simulated an interview for our film and some time with the family. Afterwards, they came back to the Everts home and conducted the interview and profile shorts.
The crew was extremely friendly and interested in getting the most out of the story of autism and the community we represent. We were very impressed by their technical knowledge as well as how they handled the children affected by autism.
We ourselves were able to grab a little footage of them interviewing us of our own. However, due to some computing challenges, it won’t be ready until next week. Stay tuned for that next week!
The NBC spot should start airing by June 8th in select markets. If you see us, just let us know!
The most difficult thing for a production crew to find is the right camera for the job at the right price. There is no perfect camera, and you’re always thinking of trade-offs. Well, after 6 weeks of discussion and reviews between the Director of Cinematography Rene S. Duran and Executive Producer Richard Everts, the clear winner is the Sony XDCAM EX3.
First, it’s quality is the best you can get for under $10,000 retail. It shoots in full 1080p HD natively in 24fps with 1/2″ CMOS Sensors instead of the typical 1/3″ inch you see in prosumer cameras. This is important because it can more easily be transferred to film for theater distribution (it shoots at 23.98 FPS for you technophiles), it meets broadcast quality standards for TV Channels like Discovery and PBS, and it shoots forgivingly in poor lighting conditions.
Second, instead of tapes, it uses Sony SxS cards, a tape-less format which speeds up the on-site workflow and post-production editing process, a must have when gathering nearly a hundred hours of footage. For those not in film, that means we save nearly 100 hours of time sitting in front of a computer digitizing the footage. That’s 100 hours we can spend correcting colors, audio tracks, editing transitions, and a host of effects.
Lastly, it’s extremely portable with an easy shoulder mount and weighs in at less then 8 lbs ready to film. Can you imagine running after children and other active individuals for 40 straight days with a 15 or 20 pound camera? With the EX3, we have a quick beat on moving around and capturing those key moments that make a film pop.
For our filming purposes, we’re using 2 Sony EX3’s for our shoots. We’ve rented the equipment from 2 great companies who’ve given us excellent deals based on the work we’re doing. For nearly the same cost of purchasing equipment that would not be broadcast quality, we were able to rent top notch cameras for a set time. The trade-offs are always in timing (we can not deviate from our filming schedule) and unfamiliarity (a week of rental for crew to train). However, the final decision was that these trade-offs were less important then people taking the film seriously, if only because we did as well when deciding on the quality of our presentation. After all, if we don’t think we’re worth top quality, why would anyone else?
We’re excited to use the Sony EX3 system as our choice for the film. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be discussing more of our tools we’ll be using on our filming shoot so you can get an inside look at what it takes to make a 40 day miracle.