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Three Weeks And Counting
We are three weeks away from shooting and still have a lot of things to put together. My Director of Photography, Richard Vialet, and my UPM, Lucky Manning, were both working on a mutual friends movie "The Lost Coast Tapes" and I get them both back this week. We're going to have a production meeting this week and start doing some location scouting and shot listing. We also are doing our second week of auditions and we're looking to cast the Stacey, Amanda, Marie, Sydney and Christine roles and hopefully we will officially sign everyone that we have offers out to.
Today I went to Church for the first time in a very long time. I needed it. Was the first I went since my mother passed away. Today an interview I did a couple weeks ago posted to Eurweb.com. It was titled "The Best R&B Music Video Director You Never Heard Of". I was too humbled. Today I also did some script analysis work. Judith Weston's books on directing have really helped me.
Today we pushed really hard to get our leading actor signed. There is a lot of legal jargon that we kept going back and forth on so I guess that is what is making it so hard. And today we sent an offer out to the actress that I want to play the leading role of "Faith Davis" our leading man's love interest in the film. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised at the choice that I made. We also sent out the breakdown to cast some of the smaller roles, Stacey, Amanda and Mr. Edwards. Our budget isn't huge so some of these roles we have to cast ourselves and we are casting these three in particular on Tuesday. We posted the breakdowns for these roles on Actors Access, Breakdown Express and LA Casting as well as on our facebook page and tumblr accounts. We were running around all day doing a little bit of everything but when the breakdowns posted we had over 1,500 submissions for all the roles. We had one of our interns assist us in selecting who we wanted to bring in. Problem was that we didn't send it out until late in the evening. Hope some people come out.
Today is the day our auditions for the roles of Stacey, Amanda and Mr. Edwards and the day of our first official production meeting. Our auditions started at noon and we saw some really talented and beautiful actresses. We were going for more of a look than anything else so we didn't have traditional auditions, it was more of an interview and looksee. Way more people showed up than I expected them to and by the end of our sessions we had to bring people up in groups of three and five. The thing about it though is that no matter what the setting, star quality shines through no matter what the circumstances. We definitely found what we were looking for.
After our auditions ended we had to get ready for our production meeting. This was going to be the first time I had an opportunity to get everyone fired up about the project. I gave a passionate speech and explained to everyone why this project was important to me and why it was personal to me. Some tears came out as I expected them to when I started talking about my mom but I think I got my point across.
Some people on my crew (mainly the vanities) expressed concerns about matching shots when we went to Chicago as we were gonna hire a separate crew there. It got me thinking about a few things. It is costing us around 20 thousand to travel to Chicago. As important as shooting in my hometown is to me, tonight I decided to shoot the entire film in LA. This will allow us to put that money back into the project and hopefully make a better movie. I should have made this decision a long time ago but it helped me to hear my crew voice their concerns to me to make it realer. I did it, it's done.
Today our casting director did some pre-reads for the roles we are bringing in tomorrow. Our executive producer Ellis Hobbs also flew into town today. As crazy as it all seems we are both putting up half of the money for this film and this will be our first time meeting in person. It helps that we have similar NFL backgrounds and he is a man of God like me. He got into town and I introduced him to some of my team. We went to Roscoes and just had a discussion about the overall goal and feel for the film. It's good to know that we are on the same page. Today I also wrote the biggest check I ever wrote in my life and it was to our film's bank account. It was crazy seeing that amount on that check but it felt good to be able to put my money where my mouth was and to be fully invested into this project. The negotiations picked up with our potential leading lady as well. They presented their counter offer and we agreed to it, so it's only a matter of time until we sign her as well. The cast that we are putting together is pretty amazing considering our budget.
Today was nothing short of amazing. We auditioned for the roles of Sydney, Marie and Christine. These roles are for the leading mans family that are somewhat based on my own family. Time after time, legend after legend came in to read for us. Actors and actresses that I grew up watching on TV and some that my mother grew up watching on TV came in and brought so much fire and passion to their auditions. I was beyond flattered. It was also so helpful to hear the words spoken by actors and actresses of their caliber. Again, this is going to be way harder than I thought it was. I'm not looking for a name actor in any of these roles per see, just the best actors and actresses that will bring that reality to it, especially in the role that is based on my mother.
Today the music video I shot a week after my mother's funeral premiered on Essence.com. It has been getting some really great feedback and is by far the best thing I have shot so far. God is good. Also on a really random turn of events our Executive Producer, Ellis Hobbs, went on the ESPN show Rome Is Burning and did a live interview. He shouted me and some of the crew out and spoke on what he was doing with the film project. I had 10 people call me during the auditions to tell me about it. It's crazy some of the things that are already happening with this project and we haven't even shot it yet.
Tonight was a long night as we finally got the okay to put a press release out about the film and we were scrambling getting the information to put it together. I also had to pack for LA and export the shortned version of the Kindred music video I shot because their was an issue with it.
Today was hectic. I got three hours of sleep before I had to pack and go to the airport. Today was also the day of the auditions for the role of "Von" our leading lady's son. We were also scrambling to get the press release put out before it was too late in the day. All of this happened as I attempted to get on a plane to go to New York. My flight got delayed four hours because of bad weather in Atlanta and by the time I got to ATL they had canceled my flight and now I have to spend the night here.
The woman that is doing our PR Latanya Story is a beast. There was some confusion about the press release that we were trying to send out and she was so amazing in helping us getting everything squared away. We got approval to include the leading lady in our press release today as well as we are in the final stages of closing her deal, but we didn't get approval from her team until late this afternoon so we decided to put it out on Monday instead of today. Ellis, Scott and Michelle held me down in auditions today and they told me that we have our Von and that he has star quality. I am relived, that was one of the roles i was really concerned about but we're gonna bring him back next week so I can check him out in person.
This weekend I am going to be in New York shooting a music video for Eric Roberson and Chubb Rock for their song "Summertime Anthem". When I get back next week we are going to turn everything up a thousand percent. We are only going to be two weeks away. Can't wait, I'm ready.
-Matthew A. Cherry
"It's not that I'm ignoring you. I'm just giving myself my full attention."
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