Back to Owensboro

I'm flying back to Owensboro today to finish up the post-production on REMAINDERED. With luck, I'll have the finished film and all of the elements (original footage, music, audio, project files, time-coded dailies, etc) on a hard-drive or two in my bag when I get on the plane back to L.A. on Monday.

This trip wasn't in the original plan,  but it's proven to be too difficult and time-consuming to edit from afar…and we haven't even started the sound mix and picture adjustments yet. But the guys have been doing great work and I'm confident we can hunker down and finish everything this weekend.  

And that would be fantastic, because the film has to be finished, polished, and audience-ready when I leave for Bouchercon in San Francisco on Oct. 14 …the premiere screening is on the 16th in front of a very influential audience. 



Looking Backward and Forward

Sebrina Eric Back 3
It’s been almost two weeks since we wrapped REMAINDERED and yesterday I was finally able to see — after some tech problems and delays — all of the footage we shot and an editor’s assembly of most of the movie (minus one scene).

I am extremely happy with what we’ve got and thrilled with the performances by the entire cast. The cast and crew did an amazing job….far exceeding my expectations.  

Today I sent the editors — PJ Starks and Rodney Newton — detailed notes on all the scenes and now I am eagerly awaiting their next pass, which I hope to see in bits and pieces over the weekend and into early next week. Hopefully, we can get the film locked next week so we can start working on the sound & music mix.

But this editing from afar is extraordinarily frustrating for me. I’m back in L.A. and the editors are in Owensboro, Kentucky. I’d much prefer to be able to sit in the editing room with them while they do my notes…as I have on the hundreds of hours of TV that I’ve produced.  If things bog down too much, either on the editing or the mix, I’ll fly back for a weekend and work with them to get it done in time for our Oct. 16 premiere screening at Bouchercon in San Francisco.

While reviewing the footage and the editor’s assembly, I was struck again by something writer/producer Michael Gleason taught me. You have four chances to make your show. There’s the show you visualize in your mind… there’s the show that’s created in the script that you write….there’s the show that’s created in filming…and there’s the show that’s created in editing. There can often be a considerable difference between each of those creations…and each stage offers you the chance to “rewrite” the story, if not on the page than in the performances, the shots, and in the final editing.

The movie isn’t exactly what I imagined when I wrote the REMAINDERED short story or the script. Surprisingly, in some ways, Lee the Writer and Lee The Director ended up being two different people with  sometimes differing takes on the material. I found myself changing the tone to some degree, and the characters, in the way I directed the actors and in how I chose to shoot it… and, now, in how I am choosing to edit it. It’s been fascinating and fun for me.

Eric Signing 2

I found that directing was like writing with cameras. I was surprised by how clearly I saw the movie in my mind when it came time to actually shoot it. I knew exactly what shots I wanted…which helped me make my days (time-wise and budget-wise) and made it easy to decide which of my crew’s clever ideas to accept or reject.

I made some mistakes, of course.  There’s one shot I’m kicking myself for not getting (I didn’t think I needed it and I was wrong) and one scene I wish I’d staged a little differently in the master (but it’s not a big problem).

There was one location I wasn’t able, for various reasons, to see with my own eyes until we shot there (I approved it based on photos). The location was a big mistake in so many ways, but we were able to cheat it, thanks to the cleverness of my “indie” crew. It works, though not nearly as well as I would have liked it to. In that same scene, there was one seemingly simple prop I didn’t see until it was time to shoot it…and took for granted that it would be right… and, of course, what I got was totally wrong. We had to cheat that, too, but we made it work, though again not nearly as well as it would have with the right prop.

And there was one critical piece of set decoration that turned out completely wrong, which would have been a crippling problem for us if not for some amazing, last-minute help from the terrific folks at the Evansville Barnes & Noble. 

We overcame all those issues… and made a film I know that I am going to be immensely proud of. But I learned an important lesson from making those mistakes, all of which were entirely my fault. Next time, no matter how overly meticulous or controlling it may make me seem, I’ll make sure I see every single thing in advance and not take anyone’s word that something was done the way that I wanted it to be. I will need to verify everything.

Oddly enough, my biggest mistake was on an issue not related to filming. I didn’t personally see to it that we had an on-set photographer to take production stills… and that mistake has become a real problem for us now as we’re preparing our publicity. We have hundreds of behind-the-scenes production photos taken by crew people…but we have only four…yes, you read right, four…pictures that could be considered production stills (scenes in the movie). And those were taken by chance by a member of our crew. We could use frame grabs, but since we didn’t shoot this film in high-def, the quality is going to be poor.

But those are all minor quibbles in what was a fantastic experience with a great crew of talented, and hard-working, local actors and film-makers.  I loved directing and can’t wait to do it again…and maybe, if I am lucky, it might be with the same group of people.

(Pictured above: Eric Altheide and Sebrina Siegel in frame-grabs from the time-coded “dailies”)

Remaindered Movie Poster

Here's the preliminary movie poster for REMAINDERED, designed by Brian Bolin and featuring a photo by Neil Kellen.


 Which tagline do you like better…

1) The Bargain Bin is Murder

2) A Novel Way to Die

(You can click on the image for a larger view)

Remaindered in the News, 2

Lee Directs

REMAINDERED made today’s Evansville Courier-Press. Out of all of my credits, why does the Evansville press keep rubbing my nose in BAYWATCH? 🙂


‘Quiet on the set!’: Part of short film shot at local Sureway store

By Donna Stinnett

Sureway customers picking up their groceries this past Sunday at the Watson Lane location may have been a bit surprised to find a movie crew shooting in the store while they shopped.

The scenes were for a short film called “Remaindered” by writer and director Lee Goldberg, who has written for the television shows “Monk” and “Baywatch” and who was an executive producer for “Diagnosis Murder.”

Goldberg has had an association with the International Mystery Writer’s Festival in Owensboro. “Remaindered” is being sponsored by The RiverPark Performing Arts Center, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Brescia College and Owensboro Technical College.

This current film, which was largely created through the production and acting assistance of local volunteers, will premiere Oct. 16 at the World Mystery Convention called Bouchercon being held this year in San Francisco.

Lewis Chaney, who premiered his own locally made feature-length film, “victimEYES,” last fall and who worked with Goldberg on “Remaindered,” described it as a “very dark comedy” about an author who commits a murder then realizes he’s done away with his only remaining fan.

A crew of about 25 to 30 worked on the scenes shot at Sureway all day Sunday, Chaney said.

“It looked like a full-scale production,” he said. “And Sureway was wonderful to us. They gave us tons of access.”

“It’s giving local filmmakers and local actors a chance to experience the way we make movies and TV shows in Hollywood,” Goldberg said in an interview with WEHT Channel 25, where Chaney is an assignments manager in the newsroom.

“Obviously it’s not a full $25-million Hollywood production or weekly TV series, but we’re using the same principals of pre-production and shooting on this little film that we’d be using in a Hollywood production,” he added.

Henderson residents Chaney and Neil Kellen, who is a co-worker, fellow filmmaker and who was technical consultant for “victimEYES,” designed the lighting for “Remaindered” working with independent filmmakers P.J. Starks and Rodney Newton, who made “Hallows Eve: Slaughter on Second Street.”

“This really helps legitimizes what we’re doing,” Chaney said. “It’s really cool for the local indie filmmakers.”,p>
Other locations used in “Remaindered” included a private residence and Danhauers Drugs in Owensboro and “a couple of desolate areas around Owensboro for driving shots,” Chaney said.

The Happy Accident

  Lee and sebrina 1 From Sebrina Siegel, our leading lady on REMAINDERED...

I once had a friend ask me what a “happy accident” was, and I explained the term (which I had learned as a photography student and frequently used) as best I could. I so wish I had had the filming of today’s final scene for REMAINDERED to give as an example.

We’re at the Sureway in Henderson, Kentucky, surrounded by about 20-30 crew members, extras, and local observers, and we’re filming our last scene…which is actually the first scene of the film.

It’s a wide shot, an attempt to get the entire master scene and include the grocery store background, the extras picking their produce and ignoring “Kevin” (actor Eric Altheide), the crazy wart lady (actress Lisa Baldwin) walking in for a short, absurd discussion, and finally, the fatal meeting of “Kevin” and “Megan”. The steadicam is slowly making its way around the area and just as the scene begins an old (very) man walks in to frame behind his grocery cart. He slowly pushes it up to the table, looking curiously at the books that are displayed just so and the “author” next to them, likely wondering, “Now just who the hell is this guy?”

The man, his gums smacking and lips actually flopping around a bit, touches one of the books, maybe trying to figure out if it’s something he’s read. And on cue, Suzy, the wart lady, comes into the scene, choosing to stay in character as she asks about wart cream and steadily ignoring the elderly gentleman standing next to her, gums visible as he gapes at her rudeness.

After a few looks at this crazy woman, the man slowly takes his hand off the book, and glances again at our “author”, now even more curious but not about to interrupt the wart lady. He backs his cart away from the table…and over to the bin of potatoes behind our “set”.

Somehow…and we really don’t have any idea…he still hasn’t noticed the many lights around the table, the steadicam or its operator, Adam Tyler, who is slowly moving around the space, the gigantic, fuzzy boom that is directly over our “author’s” head, or the huge crowd of onlookers just past the table who are stuffing their fists in their mouths and banging each other on the back, trying so hard not to laugh out loud.

The other extras are cued in as the dialogue continues between the actors, and they wisely, as if they’ve done it a million times, ignore the gentleman at the potatoes and still hit their marks, even if he is a bit in their way. The wart lady is discussing cats now, and the man continues to glance over a few times, even while holding his potatoes up in the air for inspection. They look pretty good, so he moves over to the apples…which happen to also be within the frame. These don’t require as much inspection so he chooses his select few and hobbles out of frame, slowly pushing his cart, and our scene continues to its finish…without a hitch.

It took our AD, Rachael Nunn, a few tries to get this man to understand that he’d wandered onto a film set, and that we really, really needed him to sign the release…this footage was not to be lost!

And so ends the third day of shooting REMAINDERED, the short film written and directed by Lee Goldberg. It seems to me that just the fact that I was lucky enough to be cast as the female lead in this project was a happy accident. I learned of the auditions only the day before they ended, and learned from casting that the video auditions needed to be in that day as well. But a call to the producer bought me a weekend, begging John to video it and play my off-screen partner got me the audition tape, and I was lucky enough to get the part.

I was a bit nervous, working with a director who has that caliber of success in Hollywood, but numerous email conversations about character, wardrobe, and angles eased the jitters.

I won’t go day by day, but I will say that I’ve learned so much about…well, so much working on this project.

I learned that nerves are good for me. I learned that having a kick-ass, completely together AD on set is imperative to the film’s success.

I’ve learned that I want to hire Pablo as my own personal assistant – just long enough for him to organize everything around me.

I’ve learned that implied nudity means that it’s easy to cover you in ways to make the audience think you’re uncovered, but it’s much more difficult to keep covered while the crew is trying to “imply” the nudity (I am happy to report that we were completely successful with this…thanks to the use of many safety pins).

I’ve learned that it’s possible to wrap on time with the right amount of preproduction preparation and a strict AD.

I’ve learned that the lighting crew can literally save a scene.

I’ve learned just how much talent we have in N.W. Kentucky.

And I’ve learned that Lee Goldberg is not only a great writer and producer, but an outstanding director who is not afraid to give direction, and when he does, does it well and with purpose.

Really, what a great experience.

It’s a Wrap

We've wrapped REMAINDERED. I'll blog more about it later tonight or tomorrow.  But in the mean time, there are a ton of "behind-the-scenes" photos up on the Remaindered Facebook Group page. The image above, of a killer reading  "Forensics for Dummies" after killing a woman, was my inspiration for the short story REMAINDERED….and that has now become a short film, too.  This is not a screen grab…it's a posed photo that Neil Kellen took "recreating" the scene that we'd just shot.  But I love it.