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Casting Call: Male actors needed for short film Ellie

A still from the unfinished 2014 "Ellie" shoot (actors Nathan and Kevin)

A still from the unfinished 2014 “Ellie” shoot (actors Nathan and Kevin)

I am working on pre-production for my upcoming short film “Ellie“, and I’m looking for two male actors – one adolescent, and one adult. Here are the details:

Needed: ADOLESCENT MALE actor for lead role (STEPHEN), and ADULT MALE actor for supporting role (DAVIS).

Production Title: Ellie
Production Type: Short film
Genre: Suspense
Director: Morgana McKenzie
Producer: Charlene Laporte

Short synopsis:
Ellie is a short suspense film about an adolescent boy STEPHEN and his concealed fragile plans to escape an isolated country house, it’s owner DAVIS, and the other inhabitants, despite the risks to him and the others in the house.

A BlueCat screenplay competition reviewer said this about the screenplay:
Ellie is a short film that manages to, in a small amount of time, create such impressively fascinating characters, and atmosphere, that one can’t help but want to know and see more. The mysteries abound in the story – from who Ellie is, to what Stephen might be lying about, to what Davis’ role is in these children’s lives. It is disturbing, but gripping all the same.

Compensation: Yes. Low pay. Amount tbd.
Other provided: Food and lodging during the production. IMDB credit.
Production location: An isolated, but modern, chalet has been rented for a week in the Quebec countryside, about an hour from Ottawa. The chalet can accommodate up to 10 people, and the small cast and crew will stay at the chalet during the shoot.

Production dates: The production is scheduled for Monday August 24th through Sunday August 30th. However, the actors will only be required on location as follows:

  • The adolescent actor for the role of STEPHEN will be required on location for 4 days (Tuesday until Saturday) during the week.
  • The adult actor for the role of DAVIS will be required on location for 2-3 days during the week.

Rehearsals: Up to 3 rehearsal sessions (in Ottawa; not on location) planned for late July or early August.

[STEPHEN] – Male; adolescent, looks between age 13-16; light build, possibly small for his age.
Stephen is an adolescent boy attempting to plan his escape from an isolated country home, while concealing those plans from the other inhabitants of the house. After years of coping with his circumstances, Stephen is nearing his mental breaking point, yet he must try to contain his fear and despair a little longer. These are key elements of the required performance: alternating between barely-contained fear, and coldly unemotional.

[DAVIS] – Male; caucasian; looks between ages 30-45; height at least 5’10″; fit build; tidy appearance.
Davis is the charismatic owner of the isolated home, and its inhabitants. Davis long ago chose Stephen to be a permanent resident in his home. Davis is confident in his control over Stephen, but now senses that Stephen may be hiding something.

Next step:
Please email (see Contact page) with the subject line ELLIE. Include your resume, and a headshot. Please include photos and video clips / acting reel from past work.
Auditions will be scheduled for one or two dates (tbd) in June.
Note that the production dates are firm, as the location is already rented. Do not audition unless you are available for the production dates.

Background:
Ellie will be a suspense film in the classic Hitchcock sense, not a horror or thriller.

There will be no scenes of sexuality, explicit violence, or religious themes. Suspense will be generated from the tension created through the performances of the actors, and the viewer’s thoughts/fears about what occurs in the house.

Morgana attempted to shoot Ellie in the summer of 2014 at a filmmaking production camp (see blog post), but was unable to complete it due to scheduling challenges. The screenplay was developed under the mentorship of Emmy award-winning writer/director John Jacobsen.

About the Director: Morgana McKenzie is an award-winning youth filmmaker. In 2015 Morgana was awarded Best Director Under 25 at the inaugural Ottawa Independent Video Awards, and she was named Best Emerging Female Filmmaker in 2014 at NFFTY (the world’s largest film festival for filmmakers under age 24).

Her recently completed short films “We All Go the Same” and “Kurayami no Wa” have won awards for Best Music Video and Best Thriller, respectively. Her 2014 short film “GIFTS” screened at over 25 international film festivals and won over eight awards.

Morgana’s most recent work is not publicly available, due film festival submission requirements. However, we’d be happy to provide password protected links to Morgana’s recent work upon request.

A month of insanity

Awesome people

Colour-grading Kurayami no Wa

Colour-grading Kurayami no Wa

I feel like I blinked and woke up in mid-May.

The past few months have been absolutely insane, attending festivals for both “We All Go the Same” and “Kurayami no Wa”.

I was still wrapping up the final colour grading for Kurayami no Wa (even on the plane), so I wasn’t able to submit it to NFFTY 2015. That being said, I’ve been off my website for some time, so a well deserved update is now here.

NFFTY

I attended NFFTY last year for “GIFTS“, and had an unbelievably amazing experience. I was able to come back again this year with my music video “We All Go the Same”, and this year was even more wonderful.

I got to reunite with friends, meet some new ones, and I even got to explore a little before the screenings.

Opening Night was a blast. I hugged so many people I’m sure people thought I was crazy. Before the screening, I had the opportunity to go up and talk about being a female filmmaker.

 

“Building A House: Drama, Dialogue, and Directing” with James Foley

“Building A House: Drama, Dialogue, and Directing” with James Foley

The rest of the fest was filled with panels and some really, really great youth shorts.

NFFTY 2015 was a hit. I love NFFTY, and look forward to it so much during the year. It was great being able to come back and experience it all again.

Thank you to the NFFTY staff and the rest of the people that helped make NFFTY 2015 a really great one.

 

 

CineYouth

Ivana Noa and Justin Leyba (photo via ActionBooth.com)

Ivana Noa and Justin Leyba (photo via ActionBooth.com)

Two weeks later I flew out to CineYouth! I attended CineYouth last year for my short film GIFTS, and came back again this year for my music video and my thriller Kurayami no Wa. CineYouth is great. It has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, and Festival Director Rebecca Fons adds an extremely fun and happy vibe to the festival experience.

At CineYouth they had a button maker. I repeat, they had a button maker!

At CineYouth they had a button maker. I repeat, they had a button maker!

Of course, more photo booth photos were taken, only this time I made the mistake of doing the “jump and smile” pose while wearing a dress. Thank goodness for wearing shorts.

I got to reunite with my lovely Belgian friend Ivana Noa who I met last year at CineYouth. She’s one of the coolest 12 year olds I know, so you can find out more on her and her work here.

Kurayami no Wa was an extremely intense film to execute; from pre-production to just finalizing the edit. This made it even more wonderful to receive the Best Thriller Junior Division award at CineYouth.

At the end of the fest we were all a little mopey considering the jam-packed couple of days were now coming to a close. But, I love CineYouth, and I know I’ll end up seeing these people again whether next year or not, so I was happy for the time that I had with them.

In the spare moments between attending festivals and trying to complete math homework, I was still tracking other festival screenings.

Longleaf Film Festival

GIFTS, took home Best Student Made Film and Best Narrative, Student Category at the Longleaf Film Festival in April! This was an incredible surprise and honor. GIFTS was the little train that could, and it amazes me to see its still making it’s way through the festival circuit.

Lovett School, High School Film Fest

We All Go the Same was awarded Best Music Video at the Lovett School, High School Film Fest! This is the first award for my music video, a film that was meant to be a “small side project”, so naturally I was ecstatic. Thank you so much to everyone at Lovett for this!

Ottawa High School Film Festival

While I was attending CineYouth in Chicago, Kurayami no Wa was screening at the Ottawa High School Student Film Festival, and won first place!

As a part of the award, Kurayami no Wa will screen at the Ottawa International Film Festival in October. I had happy cast and crew attend to represent me (as I was at CineYouth). And, they all had a blast watching great films and dancing with Karl Wolf, who performed a great half time show.

This past month has been amazing, and thank you to everyone that helped make it that way. It’s been insane, and I look forward to see what insanity is in store next.

Best Director Under 25, Ottawa Independent Video Award

2015 Ottawa Independent Video Awards Best Director Under 25 Award

2015 Ottawa Independent Video Awards Best Director Under 25 Award

In a night filled with great socializing, networking, some awesome short listed filmmakers and talented folks, I was extremely happy to attend the inaugural Ottawa Independent Video Awards.

I attended not only because I was nominated in two categories (Best Music Video and Best Director Under 25) for my music video “We All Go the Same“, but also to support Ottawa’s indie filmmaking group, which I haven’t networked with in the past. I’m thrilled Ottawa is having more events like this to support indie filmmakers.

To my complete surprise I was awarded “Best Director Under 25”! Other than the fact I almost pulled a Jennifer Lawrence and wiped out on the way to get my award, I was extremely happy to accept the very “sharp” award (see photo above).

I do want to give a huge thank you to my cast and crew who worked their butts off to make this film possible. In particular Julia Frangione, my assistant makeup artist (a.k.a. partner in crime) who worked tirelessly with me to get the overall looks right at 5am call times. I share this award with you Julia.

The night was a wonderful hit, and I look forward to seeing more of what Ottawa’s indie filmmakers have to offer.

Morgana receiving her award at the OIVA gala

Morgana receiving her award at the OIVA gala

We All Go The Same at KCFF

I’ve been completely focused on editing my thriller Kurayami no Wa for the past two weeks, but I wanted to give you some festival news!

After a year of being in the festival circuit, GIFTS has received four more festival acceptances since the beginning of the year! It warms me to see that GIFTS still lives out in the festival world. The only one I can publicly announce right now is the screening at the Providence Children’s Film Festival.

In addition, my music video, We All Go The Same,  has been accepted at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF) and will be screening on Saturday February 28th! I am excited to be attending along with several members of the cast and their families.

A huge thank you to Lucia Alloggia who allowed me to have both of her daughters, Laura and Victoria, in We All Go the Same. Below is a still of Victoria alongside the matching portrait painted by Lucia. I will be updating the We All Go The Same page soon with more photos.

A still from We All Go the Same

A still from We All Go the Same

Ottawa Family Living Magazine Article

Back in September, I needed volunteers to help move two car-loads of equipment out to the forest shooting location for “We All Go the Same”. Three people on Twitter volunteered to help: Pete Patterson (@OttawaPete), Karen Fox (@SoupFox), and Pam Dillon (@PamnDillon). It was a very long shoot day, that wouldn’t have been possible without their help moving equipment very early that morning.

A bonus on the shoot day was that pro-photographer Charlene Burnside (and awesome friend of ours) was on set for part of the day taking production photos!

Fast forward a few weeks, and Pam asked if she could write an article for the upcoming issue of Ottawa Family Living Magazine, about my film work. I hadn’t met Pam before the shoot day, but it was a really fun process doing the interview with her! I can’t thank Pam enough for taking an interest in my film work.

The result is a wonderful five page article, with Charlene’s amazing production photos.

The magazine is available throughout the city, but for those of you who can’t get a copy, the article is also available online.

Click photo to view the Ottawa Family Living Magazine article.

Click photo to view the Ottawa Family Living Magazine article.

Fav Film Friday #16: Foam Drive Renegades


A short film by Adam DeViller (@AdamDeViller)

A gang of petty criminals enlists the last-minute help of an irrational acquaintance to pull off a robbery.

I really loved this short film, it was the perfect combination of dark comedy, great editing, fine details, and fantastic acting featuring some friendly faces (Glen Matthews and Josh MacDonald). Well done to everyone who worked on this epic short film.

P.S. Also see the related Fav Film Friday #9: Game, starring Glen Matthews and written/directed by Josh MacDonald.

Six Weeks Since My Last Post

Fairy looking down at Little Red.

Fairy looking down at Little Red.

We All Go the Same

It’s been over a month since my last post, because I’ve been busy rehearsing and shooting a (unofficial) music video for the Radical Face song “We All Go the Same“.

Creating the music video should have been a fairly easy shoot, as the song is only three and a half minutes long. But, the story behind the music video depicts characters from fairy-tales, and that required some detailed makeup and prosthetics work, creating costumes, as well as a ton of effort building a set of fairy-wings with a TEN FOOT WINGSPAN!

Once the music video is completely finished, I will write up a longer blog post about the shoot and the prosthetics, but for now I just wanted to share some of the production photos from the makeup/prosthetics tests, on-location rehearsal, and finally some stills from the actual shoot. You can check out the photos on the “Production Photos” page.

Article on SVNFilm.com

I had the pleasure of meeting the publisher of School Video News and SVNFilm.com, John Churchman, at CineYouth Chicago back in May. John asked if I would write a brief article about the process of making GIFTS, and I thought it sounded like a great opportunity.

And today, the article is published. Please check out the article on svnfilm.com.

 

Prodigy Camp Experience

A month ago, I went to Seattle for a week of indie filmmaking at “Prodigy Camp“. I received a scholarship to attend Prodigy Camp back in April at NFFTY, and was incredibly excited to go!

The first few days went by, and I loved every aspect of the camp. Attending lessons, meeting new people, really everything. I played different roles while I was there: grip, sound, and acting (the acting was a new and pleasant experience).

I acted in Elijah Seneker’s film, “Facebook Friends“. It was a last minute request, but after gladly accepting and reading the script, I was more than happy that he asked me. By far the most fun I’ve had on a shoot. I wrote a brief blog post on it and included the finished film, here.

I really learned a lot from being on set, and around the DP’s (Directors of Photography). All the staff and interns were so nice, answering any questions I might have, and helping out with anything I might need. Stefanie Malone came by one night to talk about NFFTY, and we had an opportunity to chat before her presentation, which I really enjoyed.

On to my shoot…

Before coming to camp, I prepared a script entitled “Ellie”, which is about a teen boy trying to escape from his long-time captor.

A still from the "Ellie" shoot - Nathan and Kevin

A still from the “Ellie” shoot – Nathan and Kevin

I had the wonderful opportunity to work with some great actors, including Nathan Gamble (which I was very excited about), and I had a great producer Adam McArthur, so I was really excited to start the shoot. However, as the shoot went on, I became more and more stressed. Feeling stressed on shoots can be normal, but I still found myself feeling uneasy. That feeling came because of a couple of reasons:

1. We had only a three-hour shoot window, and we started 20 minutes late because the shooting location needed some last-minute prep before we could start. I’ve had people suggest to me in the past to do things like 48-hour film festivals, but I’ve kindly turned them down because of the fact that it’s really difficult for me to work under such time constraints. I meticulously plan my shoots, but capturing an entire short film within a handful of hours isn’t for me.

2. That being said, although I was really proud of the screenplay I came up with (and my mentors loved the screenplay too), it was way too difficult to shoot this screenplay in three hours. Maybe if we had more rehearsal, and I had more time to communicate with the crew prior to our three-hour shoot, it might have been possible. But frankly, the screenplay I came up with was not meant to be made in that short amount of time.

3. This was my first time working with a Director of Photography (DP). Traditionally, a DP is in charge of the camera work, and a Director…directs, without handling the camera. Although I did take the camera in my own hands at some points, I still found it really difficult having to direct actors, crew, and a DP all at once. Especially when I had only just met them.

4. I also, sadly, found it difficult to connect with my DP on an emotional level, which is crucial when working on set with anyone. You need to be able to work with people that you can easily connect with and have the same vision, so the shoot can be done in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible. If you can’t connect, it makes the shoot a lot more difficult to get through. This had nothing to do with my DP’s technical or artistic abilities, but having to work with someone who you’ve never met before, only to find out that you approach things differently when you arrive on set, becomes a problem. Trying to sort this out on set, in a three-hour shoot, can be disastrous.

One of the things I walked away with however, is realizing that the point of camp is to make friends (or “connections” if we’re being professional), learn from the lessons and discussions, experience the different roles in the shoots, and just have fun while doing it all. The final product of a short film is a bonus. It’s great to have it, and I would have loved to finished “Ellie”, but the experience is as important as the outcome. What I took away, was an amazing experience, and yes it stings to not have a film as a final product, but I’m happy with what I’ve learned and taken away from it all.

And I do really want to especially thank Rick Stevenson (founder of Prodigy Camp) for his understanding and handling of a difficult scenario. For the session on the last day of camp where everyone presented their finished films, Rick suggested that I present some of my footage and talk openly about what went well, and what didn’t. Laura and Ned Hosford, who both work as staff and act at Prodigy Camp, were also really supportive and fun to work with.

I plan on going again next year for “Production Camp”, which is a three-day version of Prodigy Camp for the alumni, and would love to be an intern for Prodigy camp as well (wink-wink nudge-nudge). For my film at Production Camp, I am going to prepare a story idea and have a simple concept around it. I did a Fav Film Friday on a Prodigy Camp film “Well” that is similar to what I’m talking about.

Prodigy Camp was amazing, and I thank all the staff and fellow campers that made the experience the way it was. I can’t wait for next year.

Fav Film Friday #15: Well

A short film by “Rosa Berndt”.

I worked as “grip” on the set of “Well” at Prodigy Camp. As the shoot went by, I became incredibly excited to see the finished product. And when the screening day came, I was astonished at what came out of the small three hour shoot.

Rosa’s film, to me, is the definition of a film that you do with a three hour time constraint. She had a one page script with a simple concept, and then finished off the film with some beautiful visuals, working with Director of Photography Andy Maier. The overall simplicity and beauty make a great short.

Aside from Rosa however, I do think that Dylan Bachmann sold the role perfectly. Props to you my friend. Rosa put so much heart into the piece, and it’s evident in the final product. Keep doing what you’re doing Rosa, and I wish you luck in your future projects.

Fav Film Friday #14: Prospect

A short film by Shep Films (@Shep_Films)

“Prospect is the coming-of-age story of a teenage girl on a toxic alien planet. She and her father hunt for precious materials, aiming to strike it rich.”

Soon, I’ll post a blog on my experience in July at “Prodigy Camp”, but for now I want to start things off with a bang with a Fav Film Friday on “Prospect”!

I had first seen the Kickstarter campaign for this, and when the final product came out, I was in awe. It’s great when you get to see the original idea spiral out into something so much more.

Looking past the evident overall beauty, and production value, I admired how the director had moments focused on the father and daughter’s relationship. This is something that I often find is lost in sci fi’s and thrillers; the relationship between characters gets buried behind all the action, and loses it’s meaning. Prospect doesn’t lose it. Even in high moments of intensity and action, the connection isn’t lost.

I love long steady shots, so this film really won me over, because it had a lot of them. It also shocked me how smooth they were, considering all the logs, sticks, and branches around the camera operator. I can’t imagine trying to operate a steady cam while running through that. It obviously paid off in the end.

Prospect didn’t end how I expected it too, but I still loved the film tremendously overall.

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