Refuge The Movie
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Going to the Post  

Posted by:

Mark Medoff

,  July 6, 2009.

July 4.   Monsoon rain last night.  Always good to be reminded where the leaks are in the homestead.  Real life diversions from the solipsistic business of prepping-to-shoot.

Linda Hamilton and Chris Payne Gilbert arrive today (they are driving together from L.A.) -- hopefully by noon so I can begin rehearsal with them this afternoon before myriad other activities are scheduled: meetings about schedule, wardrobe, "beauty" shots, camera and make-up tests; driving practice (RV and ATV) for Linda and Chris.

There aren't a million details, though it seems that way.  Ginger guides us through the maze of challenges, large and larger:  the unions (SAG, WGA, DGA), housing, locations, vehicles, catering, psychotherapy; she is one of the great pro talkers and, as such, can talk to and befriend virtually anyone.  A great gift in a business where normal citizens can quickly become resentful of the self- importance of moviemakers.

First A.D. Laura Medina and Second A.D. Marissa Macias deal with the same not-a-million details everyday.   Laura replaced my nephew Brooks Medoff as First A.D. only a week ago; having worked together before, Laura and I were able to skip the getting-to-know-you part of the director/First A.D. relationship and leap into the work. Like Ginger, Laura is a master logician and tactician.  Young Marissa has managed the morass of names and locations and i don't know what all she has in her notebook with the agility of someone far more experienced in feature moviemaking.  Laura will be the perfect teacher for Marissa and her Production Assistants (P.A.'s).

Ginger has ordered me to let them handle everything unrelated to directing the movie.  So yesterday I canned peaches in the morning, painted the house in the PM. Actually,  I stared at the script, at the schedule, made notes, tried (as ordered by Ginger) to quit screwing with the script, at least until I hear the actors read it.

I have been practicing going to bed at 9:30, turning off the light at 10 PM, and trying not to get up for good at 4:40 (no clue what my body is thinking about that precise time) but at 5:30-6:00.  Though storing up sleep isn't really like stocking up on nuts for the winter.  The necessary energy will be there when we start shooting because there is no alternative to possessing the necessary energy.  Every day.  Fact is, even at my advanced age, I will have the energy of several twenty year olds once the gates open and the race is on.  Though, reminder to self:  SIT DOWN WHENEVER POSSIBLE.  Back and leg aches are inevitable, as it is very hard for me to sit while everyone around me is on his/ her feet, breaking respective rear ends to get the set ready to shoot.

Tonight Linda, Chris, Laura, my family (all three girls and their families are here) are going to Meson de Mesilla (the beautiful B&B where our out of town teamers and investors are staying) for dinner and fireworks.  Tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday I hope to get in good hunks of time rehearsing.  My experience in movie-making is that real rehearsal, the sort we do as a matter of course in the theater, is rare.  Often what is billed as rehearsal with the actors turns into conversations between the director and D.P. about where the camera is going to be.  I plan to have no one in the morning rehearsals in my house but the actors and me.  (Though grandchildren will have free rein to come and go.  Children are good to have around rehearsals, in theaters, on sets.  Very important for them to see how people doing what Poppy does concentrate and collaborate; conversely, for the moviemakers, children remind us that we are not entirely sacred, just professional pretenders.)

Monday-Tuesday Reuben hits the road without the First Team Actors to collect shots inside and outside the RV, on highways and byways.  We have a three-part environmental progression for the movie:  high desert to farm land to cityscape.  Wednesday, we put Linda and Chris in the RV and start recording scenes.  Much then depends on Dave Wheeler, Sound Mixer extraordinaire, to tell me whether the vast amount of dialogue I've written is comprehensible against the engine noise of the Hero RV.  (We can't afford a process trailer large enough to haul the RV, but we do have alternative ways of getting clean dialogue for those scenes where Linda or Chris is actually driving the Hero RV.  Dave also tells me not to worry -- he can perform magic with new software to minimize engine or other noise.

Lotta dialogue.  Big risk.  Need fabulous actors to go with fabulous sound mixer.  Both Linda and Chris come from the theater; they have probably forgotten altogether and long ago how to mumble dialogue.

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FIRST TIME EYES  

Posted by:

Marissa Macias, 2nd A.D.

,  Las Cruces, NM, June 18, 2009.

Going into my last semester of my senior year at New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute I have worked on 47 short films and projects.  I thought I had a pretty extensive idea of how to make a film.  I was wrong.

When I was offered the opportunity to work on REFUGE as the 2nd Assistant Director, I was beyond thrilled.  I knew it was going to be an amazing experience and that I would learn so much.  Let’s just say “learn so much” is a serious understatement.  Getting a fast paced crash course in feature filmmaking is more like it.

I consider myself a very organized and detail oriented person; it’s one of the reasons I want to be an AD and producer.  But the number of details that go into making a feature length film like REFUGE is shocking!  It’s great and fun but shocking.  You need to be able to think of everything and anything all at once.  The on the job training that I’m getting from Mark, Ginger and Brooks will last me through-out the rest of my career.  A career that, thanks to REFUGE, is starting sooner than later.

Many of the jobs I have been asked to do include driving.  I’m measuring the distance from base camp to a location, looking for locations or driving to meetings.  All of this driving has made me realize something I’m a bit embarrassed about.  Even though I have lived in Las Cruces for all 24 years of my life, if a street is not connected to University Avenue, Solano, or Lohman…I have NO idea where it is. It’s shameful and I don’t really know how that has happened.  What should be 10 minute drives are usually 25 for me.  I use one the familiar streets and roam around till I find what I’m looking for.  Since an AD’s job requires her to be as productive as possible, I decided this routine was counterproductive and have changed my ways.  Let’s just say that Map Quest and I have become friends.

Brooks, our 1st AD, has explained that once principal photography begins, some of my duties will include making call sheets, handling tons of paperwork, organizing the PA’s, and on larger days, wrangling all of the extras.  I have to admit that I’m excited about working with the extras.  As a former Peter Piper Pizza hostess I thrive on the energy of large, loud and rambunctious crowds.

One of the reasons I love movies is because you can get lost in the story, take a break from your world and enter another. Nothing…I mean nothing pulls me out of a movie like an extra staring right into camera smiling, or an extra walking across frame when she’s clearly not supposed to.  It is going to be one of my goals to make sure this never happens and to make sure that Mark never has to yell at an extra because he or she is ruining his shot.  It may turn out to be a hefty task but I think I’m up to the challenge.

Now I obviously consider myself very lucky to be working on this film but even luckier because everyone I have been in contact with has been great.  Every phone call I have made has been met with a friendly voice on the other end.  Since I was born and raised in Las Cruces, I knew our town is a great supporter of the arts and full of friendly people. To see it put into practice is wonderful and makes me proud to come from this community.

FIRST TIME EYES

Marissa Macias



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TAKING REFUGE IN LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO  

Posted by:

Ginger T. Perkins

,  LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO, June 9, 2009.

I grew up on a little cotton farm 5 miles south of “Medda,” (spelled, in real life, M-E-A-D-O-W), Texas, and 30 miles south of Lubbock, Texas.  My graduating class numbered 22 and there were 100 students in the entire high school.  Everyone knew everyone else, and, when you’re a kid that is a blessing as well as an inconvenience…secrets just didn’t exist.  But there wasn’t a door you couldn’t knock on if your car broke down; there were gifts for babies and weddings; food and flowers for funerals;  always another place at the table for meals; a home-baked pie for the new family in town; and graduation ceremonies, school plays, basketball and football games were attended by everyone in the community.  Everyone took care of everyone and, for me, it was a glorious life.

Though I now live in Los Angeles, California, I have been spending a lot of time in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and it’s like being back in Meadow, Texas for me.  I am again reminded, after living for most of my adult life in large cities abroad and across the US, how wonderful it is to be embraced by such generous and thoughtful people who want me and the film I’m working on with Mark Medoff, REFUGE, to be a success.  Conversations with people in Las Cruces whom I’ve never met often start with, “What can I do for you?” and they don’t back off when I actually tell them how they can help! 

Of course it doesn’t hurt that I’m working with Mark Medoff who, along with his wife Stephanie, are residents of Las Cruces and have given so much to their community through the years.  But the extent to which people are willing to share whatever they have with us for the film is amazing and beyond what many across the country might be willing to do.  Men and women who own and run their own companies and other good citizens of Las Cruces are loaning us vehicles, their homes and business properties, food, equipment, their time and expertise, and are even accommodating our crazy requests and time schedules.  We are getting discounts and trades and gifts and helping hands all across the valley. 

The folks of Las Cruces remind me every day how good and decent and generous people can be and are.  No one has asked for anything from me in return for their many kindnesses.  They’re just happy to be able to help.  And I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise anyone that these same hard working and talented people helping us with REFUGE are helping others every day and without a lot of pomp and circumstance and front-page coverage.  Las Cruces feels like my home from those years when I was growing up and everyone took care of each other: a refuge.

We’re keeping a list of all these fine folk and they and you will see their names in the movie’s screen credits.   They are important people, so pay attention.  REFUGE wouldn’t have had a chance in the world without them. 

 

TAKING REFUGE IN LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO

Ginger T. Perkins



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