To all our friends who were hoping for behind-the-scenes footage on our DVDs – do not despair! Due to time and budget restraints, we weren’t able to include bonus features with the release of our movies, but we’d like to begin sharing some of our stories, pictures, and video clips with you now. We hope it will give you a little taste of the challenges and blessings we’ve experienced in our adventure of filmmaking. Enjoy!
Our journey started on a rainy Sunday afternoon about thirteen years ago…Driving home from church, we were stunned to find our second car totaled in our driveway. A hit-and-run driver had lost control of his pickup, crashed through our front yard, into our car, and the side wall of our garage, wreaking havoc along the way. Thanks to our neighbors’ quickness to track the guy down, we received a generous insurance settlement to pay for the damages.
The timing of this unusual incident was interesting…Just the night before, we had prayed for the Lord to direct us and provide for us with regards to starting a home business. With the insurance money from our wrecked car and damaged house, we made do without a second car and instead purchased our first video camera. Thus Little Crew Studios was born!
Despite the warning: “Never make a feature film first,” and the cautions about the challenges of working with children and animals, we launched into the production of an action/adventure feature film, using an all-children cast (our own kids) and animals! At first we worked on the side while Joel maintained his full-time job, using his time off to write our script and build our set.
Two years of weekends and holidays later, we had our storyline and most of our outdoor set buildings finished. Finally we were ready to shoot. Joel took a week off so that we could make our “big push”…
Eager and ambitious, Joel and I (expecting baby #5 in 2.5 months), Amelia, Harrison, Addison, and two-year-old Brendan made the hour and a half trip down to the location of our set to begin filming. The night before, we had printed a map of the City of Refuge …our costumes had just arrived …we had our gear… we were ready to roll!
It required two days of work initially for our decorators and landscape team (comprised of Grandma, Auntie, Amelia, and me!) to clean up the outdoor buildings and set which had sat neglected for some months. Joel and the grandpas finished their creation: a rock-bed river flowing beneath the bridge leading to the City of Refuge.
[Side note: To our dismay, when we later shot the closing scene of the City of Refuge, we realized that the river hardly showed, much as we tried to work it in! All those weeks of work for a brief glimpse! That was to be the first of many lessons learned the hard way.]
The first day of production we were up early, happy to see a bright, sunny day awaiting us. By the time we had the kids dressed in costumes and our gear set up, it was mid-morning, and the sun was high and bright. And we had… shadows… and hotspots…we could not capture anything useable! Lesson #2...
While we waited for the late afternoon sun, we decided to work on some indoor shots. Our indoor set was constructed in a 5 x 14 stone root cellar ten feet under ground. We split it in two – making one half the City of Refuge office, and the other Walter’s workshop. With our kids’ short height, we thought it would make a perfect-sized set, but we soon found that it was a challenge maneuvering the camera around in the tight spaces - Joel could never pull back far enough to get a wide angle. It was total frustration. Lesson #3...
But our enthusiasm revived when we went back to the house to look at the few seconds we’d managed to capture. We liked the look our camera produced, and it was exciting to see even a little bit of raw footage. It gave us fresh energy to go out and try for more!
And so we set up a pattern: we got up early, did some outdoor shooting before the sun was fully up, moved to our indoor set once the sun was high, then during the afternoon let the kids nap while Joel looked at the footage and planned our evening shots. We were happy to be making progress – but by the end of the week we only had 3 useable minutes. Three. Minutes. At this rate it was going to be years, not weeks. The realization slowly started to sink in - making movies takes time – a lot of time.
To be continued...