The First Two Days

46772_432167224884_557254884_4805758_4349233_n Sorry I haven't had a chance to blog yet…I've been busy directing.  The filming has been going great. I couldn't be more pleased with how things have turned  out.  Everybody has been giving it their best and although it has been hard work, it's been a lot of fun.  We've  even managed to dodge all the thunderstorms…despite the dark clouds that keep rolling in.

Our first day began  at 6 p.m. at Roxi Witt's home, which we essentially invaded (I bet  this is the first, and last, time Roxi ever lets a film crew in her house). The first night jam-packed in all of our most difficult scenes. In fact, when we were planning our shooting schedule, I assumed we wouldn't finish our work and would have to push a good chunk  of it to Saturday, and then  come back to the location at the end of our shoot on Sunday to pick up whatever bits and pieces were left.

But I am pleased to say things didn't turn out that way. We only went an hour over…but we still managed to get all of our scenes. The only thing that had to be pushed were some "Drive Bys" of our protagonist in his car, which would ordinarily be handled by a second unit anyway, but we snagged those last night.

On our second day, we started at  Danhauer Drugs in Owensboro, where the friendly staff was extraordinarily patient and hospitable to us as we re-arranged their store and occupied  most of the available  space. We also got a big assist from Russ Day of the Sheriff's Department, who added considerable "production value" to our little film with his participation.

We were slow starting out Saturday morning. but made up for it as the day went on. We were an  hour ahead going into a company move back to Roxi's house and didn't have to drop a single shot or trim a single scene. Things bogged down a bit at Roxi's, but it was an ambitious day and yet we still managed to complete all of our work. We are going into our final day Sunday with nothing that we need to pick-up.

I am so impressed by the inventiveness  and creativity of the crew, particularly our camera and lighting team (PJ Starks, Adam Tyler and Lewis Chaney). Their can-do attitude and their obvious enthusiasm for film-making is refreshing and pumps everyone up. And there's no way we could have done so much in so little time if not for my assistant director Rachael Nunn… who has been doing an exemplary job despite breaking her arm a few days before shooting. 

And I really, really, REALLY lucked out with the cast. Our three leads — Eric Altheide, Sebrina Siegel, and Todd Reynolds — are just terrific. They have nailed every scene they've been in, making my job so easy and a real pleasure.

We'll have some behind-the-scenes photos to share with you soon…


Two Days and Counting


I arrived in Evansville, Indiana on Tuesday afternoon, grabbed a rental car and headed for the local Barnes & Noble, which kindly loaned us the remaindered books we need to dress our sets. We owe them a great, big, THANK YOU.  Without them, we'd be sunk. I loaded the books in my car  and went straight to one of our four locations — Sureway Grocery in  Henderson, where I met our gaffer Lewis Chaney and  the store manager,  who is incredibly enthusiastic and helpful. It's the perfect location for the opening scenes of our film and I saw exactly how I wanted to shoot it… and how I could steal a lot of coverage with my second camera as I went along. I used my little Flip HD camcorder to take some rough approximations of my shots (for myself, not for anyone else to see) 

I drove through a sudden, powerful thunderstorm between Henderson and Owensboro… the worst downpour  I've ever experienced….and had to pull off the road to wait  it out. Thankfully, it passed in about fifteen minutes and I drove on.

My first stop in Owensboro was at Danhauer Drugs,  where the end of our movie will take place. It's going to be cramped, and cluttered, but I am going use that to my advantage from a story-telling standpoint. I'll play up how cramped it is, working with it rather than  against it. I figured out how I wanted to re-arrange displays, what I'd have to cheat, and how I could accomplish what I  wanted with as few set-ups in there as possible. It's going to work just fine.

My final stop was at the home of Roxi Witt, where we will be shooting the "middle" of  our movie. I walked through the house, figured out what furniture and decor needed to be moved out, what we'd have to bring in, and where we'd have to put it.  I figured out my shots, used my little Flip HD camcorder to try get'em down for myself, and then called it a night.

This morning, after sleeping for 12 straight hours, I found a booth at the Waffle House, had breakfast, and spent the next two hours going over the script, marking the key dramatic points, the key tonal shifts, and the moments when  I felt a close-up was essential, which cameras would take a character's move, etc.  Then I went the Riverpark Performing Arts Center,  met Roxi and a team of PAs, and went back to her house to "direct" re-arranging and set decorating.

I went from there to Don Moore Chevrolet, which is kindly providing the "picture cars" for our film, then returned to Riverpark to do an interview with the Messenger-Inquirer, then  went to Brescia College to  give a two-hour talk on TV writing. Afterwards, I met with PJ Starks (DP), Rodney Newton (producer), Lewis Chaney (Gaffer, Location Scout), Adam Tyler (Camera), Pablo Gallastegui (Script Supervisor) and Rachael Nunn (First Assistant Director) to  go on our tech scout of the locations…so they could hear what I had in mind, offer their advice, share their  concerns, etc.  

They asked good questions and  had some great ideas. I changed  my thinking about how to stage one of  the scenes and I liked what we came up with much better than what I initially had in mind. That process also gave me the first chance I've had to convey, face-to-face, exactly how I  see  the movie —  the characters, the tone,  and the look. They got it right away. It came through in their ideas and questions, which were all, as we  would say in the TV biz, "on-franchise." They clearly got my thinking on how I want the movie to look and feel.  

The one location I haven't seen yet — since it depends on Fire Department approval — is the desolate spot where our protagonist burns the evidence of the murder he just committed. That location/decision won't be set until tomorrow… so I'll drive out to see it  before or after our production meeting.

I left the tech scout around  11 pm feeling really good about the movie… and confident in the team that Rodney and PJ have brought together for me to work with.  I'm sure we are going to have a a lot of fun and believe we'll get the movie done on time and on-budget.  

Tomorrow I'm going back out to Roxi's place to trim two bushes myself that are in one of  my shots. That's what  a hands-on director I am! After that, I have a seminar to lead at Kentucky Wesleyan and it's back to Riverpark Performing Arts Center for our production meeting. 

(Pictured above — Lewis Chaney,  Lee Goldberg, PJ Starks in Danhauer Drugs in Owensboro, talking about a shot. Photo by Rodney Newton)

Six Days and Counting


We start shooting REMAINDERED in Kentucky next week. I can’t wait. 

We landed a terrific discount store location in Henderson this week, thanks to the beyond-the-call-of-duty efforts of our gaffer Lewis Chaney, so I’m greatly relieved. Not having a key location this late in the game was my biggest worry going into production. We still have one more location to find, but we have a couple of options  in play and a good place in reserve if they fall through.

Yesterday we were able to distribute our “first draft” shooting schedule and distribute call sheets to our crew.  I also tweaked the script a bit to factor in our new location and some production concerns. Now I can start obsessing on the little details…

But I’m going to be doing more than just directing the movie while I am in Owensboro. I’ll also be leading three, two-hour seminars on film-making….

So I was up until 3 a.m. this morning preparing the presentations that I’ll be doing at Brescia University on Sept 8, Kentucky Wesleyan on Sept 9, and Owensboro Community Technical on Sept 13 in conjunction with the production of the movie. For instance, for the post-production seminar at OCT, I edited together a reel with all the dailies from a scene in my movie FAST TRACK, then the rough cut of the scene, and then the final air version so I could walk them through the steps.

Now that I’m finished with that, I can concentrate entirely on prep… we have one last conference call/production meeting on Sunday, then I fly into Kentucky on Tuesday afternoon. I will scout my first location an hour or so after I land… and then I will try to see the other two before I go to bed that night.  

Wednesday I will update my shot-list and give it to Rachael Nunn, my extremely capable A.D. (who has been doing a tremendous job even though she broke her arm a few days ago!) so we can revise the shooting schedule. Then I have an interview with the local newspaper, a seminar to teach at Brescia University, and then a reception to attend afterwards.

Thursday I have another seminar to teach and a tech scout to the locations with the production team, followed by our production meeting. That’s going to be a long day.

Friday I have rehearsals with the cast… and then we start shooting that evening…and on through the weekend. Editing begins Monday, when I also have another seminar to teach. We’ll edit some more on Tuesday and, with luck, I’ll have a rough cut to take back to L.A. with me on Wednesday. 

We’ll do the rest of the editing online…and have our first screening at Bouchercon on Oct.  16.

I will keep you updated as we go.


Remaindered In the News

REMAINDERED was the good news/bright side in an article in today's Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer about the unfortunate cancellation of the NDX Film Festival. The article said, in part:

Though the festival has been canceled, a short movie will still be filmed in Owensboro in September.

"Remaindered" was written and will be directed by Lee Goldberg, a veteran TV writer, author and member of the Mystery Writers of America. The film was set to premiere during the NDX Film Festival.

"Remaindered" is about a once famous and successful author who is on a downward spiral in his career and in the midst of a self-funded book tour. The movie takes its name from the term for a book being relegated to a store's bargain bin. Students taking classes in the recently created theater arts degree program will have the chance to participate in the filming.

Newton said he and Goldberg hope to show "Remaindered" and "Murder in Kentucky," a short movie filmed during the 2009 International Mystery Writers Festival, in October at the RiverPark Center. A round-table discussion about filmmaking and what filmmakers learned from the two movies would then be held, Newton said.

Roxi Witt, general manager of the RiverPark Center, wrote in an e-mail that RiverPark staff members need to discuss the possible showings with its board of directors at this month's meeting."

Attention K-Mart Shoppers


In REMAINDERED, the short film I will be directing in September in Kentucky, the central character is a once-successful writer now on a self-funded book tour through rural America, signing at K-Marts and stores like it. The story unfolds at two discount stores and a house. We've locked down the house location, but we are still looking for a discount store to shoot in (and that would double as two different stores). It hasn't been easy. We're only four weeks from filming and a couple of possibilities have emerged… but the uncertainty is driving me nuts.

I suspect whatever location we end up at will require some adjustments to the script and some cheating. For example, one possible location is an office equipment store…which makes no sense at all story-wise. But if I use an establishing shot of a discount store, and then shoot tight in one corner, and have a bunch of people pushing shopping carts filled with groceries, garden items, etc. past where my protagonist is signing books, I might be able to sell the notion that we are in a K-Mart or Save-A-Lot…and not in an office equipment place.

But I sure hope it doesn't come to that…

What to Wear…or Not

I’ve spent a lot of time tonight trading emails and photos back-and-forth with our two leads — Eric Altheide and Sebrina Siegel — discussing their wardrobe for the film.

Wardrobe is not my strong suit (no pun intended. Okay, maybe intended a little). And it can be awkward discussing what I’d like the actors to wear… or not wear…and what I’d like to see…and not see…in seduction and love scenes. It’s not so hard this time, since we aren’t going to actually see anybody making love, but it’s still a delicate topic, even when the nudity is more implied than seen. So tonight I talked about different kinds of briefs with Eric and the choices in bras, nighties, and the like with Sebrina. It was fine…and they immediately understood what I was going for.

It was more awkward for me when I exec-produced FAST TRACK, a TV movie/pilot I also wrote, and that we shot in Berlin a couple of years ago. In that film, we had two sex scenes…and a key dramatic moment centered on a guy catching his lover as she’s having an orgasm with another man. Discussing what we would see, what we wouldn’t see, and how the seduction and those scenes would be staged, was something new for me. And, to be honest, I worried about how I’d be able to discuss it with the actors.

But I knew exactly what I wanted, and what I needed, in order for the scenes to work dramatically and visually.  And I figured that all I really had to do was convey that vision to the actors, and then the actual details (what to wear or not to wear, what to touch or not to touch, etc.) wouldn’t be so hard to discuss, because they would understood what I was going for, too. And that’s how it went. They trusted me… and I trusted them…and it turned out very well.

I can already tell that the same is going to be true for REMAINDERED.  


Remaindered Cast

We've cast my short film REMAINDERED, which I wrote and will be directing in Owensboro, Kentucky in early September, thanks to Zev Buffman, Roxi Witt and all the other terrific folks at the RiverPark Performing Arts Center

Eric Altheide is Kevin Dangler, a once-bestselling author trying to get back to the top… 

Resized Bill Spangler shot 3
Sebrina Siegel is Megan, his adoring fan (perhaps too adoring)

Todd Reynolds
And Todd Reynolds is Detective Bud Flanek, Owensboro's answer to Columbo (as he also was in my buddy David Breckman's film MURDER IN KENTUCKY). Robert Denton and Lisa Baldwin play supporting roles. I can't wait to start working with these terrific actors, who were found thanks to the tireless efforts of our casting director Lori Rosas and our producer Rodney Newton.

I'll be keeping you updated on the production of the movie here and on the Remaindered Production Blog...and the Remaindered Facebook group