Monday, March 29, 2010

Julia in Town

Just spent a great working weekend in Montreal with Miss Julia Stone and Macha Grenon. "Daughter" and "Mother" had brunch together on Saturday and Julia learned much from her fellow actor and mentor, Macha, including a great Dolly quote. Apparently, when asked how she came to be so successful, Ms. Parton replied, "Well, I guess everyone thought I was as silly as I looked!"

We left Macha and went to Mariane Carter's well-hidden studio in Lachine, where we proceeded to play dress-up with our living doll, Julia!

Two weeks to the day before we go to camera and looks like Elizabeth and Ruby have tons to wear!

Thanks to Julia, her mom Sue, Macha, Mariane, her seamstress Marielle and Artful Art for a very rich weekend of work and wardrobe.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

If Wishes Were Horses...

...we'd be having a stampede!

Sweaty but smiling, Barbara, Claudine and I emerged from the production office today - triumphant. Finally, we have determined that we will be shooting our film on - wait for it - FILM!

All Super 16mm of it.

We could never have made this piece of the puzzle work within our budget were it not for the generosity of Gaston at Kodak and the hard work and determination of Barbara.

Thanks to you both, we now have film stock to shoot on! And a few more fish to fry before the whole package is in place.

So let's turn up the heat! Because apparently, we do love to sweat.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Win a Place in the Film's Climax!

Attention: All Dolly Lookalikes, Worshippers and Wannabes - win a chance to be in the film we're making in Montreal!

Go to our Fan Page and read all about it! Can't wait to see you knock our socks off!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Right This Way

Hi! Welcome to the production office.

The beginning of last week, the offices were up and running and looking swank - big shout out to JEAN-MAURICE who gave us the ways and means and walls and light to start us off with a bang. He worked miracles to get us out of the gate on time.

So now that you're here, come and meet a few of the gang:

Virginie (leggo of my P.O.) Léger!

My faithful sidekick, first assistant director, Francine (already seeing double) - Langlois.

Always looking on the bright side of life, D.O.P., Claudine Sauvé.

First crew read through.

From Fracine (left to right) Mariane (costume designer), Pierre (props), Suzanne (art dept. coordinator).

Tough room.

But lots of love!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hubba Hubby!

As of 3 pm EDT, we have our Phil! Our entire Gray family is cast!

Gil Bellows (Shawshank Redemption, Ally McBeal, Love and a .45) is now officially husband to Macha Grenon's Marion and dad to Julia Stone's Elizabeth.

I am ecstatic about Gil's valuable addition to our film. A wonderful actor, he's also a red-blooded Canadian boy who's always stayed true to his Canuck roots by working on homegrown productions, while still spreading his wings far beyond our borders.

Welcome home, Gil!

Manitoba Moments

Day 3 of our 3-day Manitoba scout:

Just as the omnipresent fog had lifted, we backed our 12-seater beast up to take a good look at the flat splendor before us, and... well, when they say a picture is worth a thousand you-know-what's, I think they had something like this particular picture in mind...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Posting Pics from the Peg


As I said on the Facebook Fan Page:

"I am just now starting to realize that this is actually really happening! Walking in to a production office all up and running just because I had an idea over coffee in my kitchen about 5 years ago was a pretty effective way to bring it all home to me today, though! The thought, "What have I done?" briefly crossed my mind.

But then it went away. And left an overwhelming sense of wonder. Which was then quickly replaced by a feeling that I was catching on fire..."

We returned yesterday from our intense and oh-so fruitful scout of Winnipeg and outlying areas only to walk in to our brand new, very own production office - created solely for the purposes of making this movie. And let me tell you, the whole thing is a major rush!

Speaking of rushes though - now that it's almost midnight here in Montreal, we are four weeks less a day out from our first day of principal photography. Untold amounts of big, medium and small things to do and think about and lock down between now and then. And they're all important.

So I'll be changing things up a bit here from now on - instead of keeping to my regularly scheduled weekly posts, I'll be flash blogging! Basically just spitting out pieces of news how, when and where I can.

For tonight, let me introduce you to a few of the places and people we were lucky enough to see and spend time with these last few days in Winnipeg... (pictures below). A big shout-out to Manchester Mike (our fearless, resourceful Locations Manager), Larry La Art Director (and a shrewd problem-solver) Wanda-ful (our production manager out Manitoba way), Marlow (the man so mysterious even his wife calls him by his last name), Martin Ellis (2nd Assistant Director who moonlighted to scout a lot of our locations together for us at a distance - Quit your day job, Martin! Come play with us!) Jim Heber Master Caster, Joe and Monique running the office and of course, our Buffalo Gal producer, Liz (Loves Her Art) Jarvis. WE WOULD BE LOST IN THE PRAIRIES WITHOUT YOU!!!

With all the crazy fog every single day we were there, we were almost lost in the prairies WITH you!

One big happy, full family...

And of course, the Manitoba mammothness in the dessert department continues...

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on (and off) the road!

Monday, March 8, 2010

What a Woman!

I cannot think of any greater poetic justice than Kathryn Bigelow's historic win at the Academy Awards last night.

For the first time in its 82-year history, the Academy saw fit to honour a WOMAN in the "Best Director" - and 5 other categories - including the really big kahoona, the one so glorious they save it for dessert: "Best Picture"!

Even though 1 in 82 still equals a lot of catching up to do, there is undeniable justice to be celebrated in this recognition.

The poetic part though, comes in the timing.

And I don't just mean that in the way, as Babs opined, "The time has come", but in the way that it happened at exactly the right moment in time to really give it some poetry ...

I mean, how delicious that this very resounding and very public shattering of such a solid glass ceiling took place on the "eve" of International Women's Day?

That kind of irresistible coincidence really only happens in the movies, after all...

And how fun, that on the eve of us making a movie called, The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom - which is nothing if not a film for, by and about women finding their voices - that this historic breakthrough is ringing in our ears as the camera is about to roll on a Dolly-driven dream?

Finally, and here's the best part, Kathryn Bigelow's acceptance speech... Given the same podium and opportunity others before her have taken to make all manner of loaded political statements, here is what the first woman ever to win an Oscar for Best Director in 82 years of the Academy's existence had to say:

There is no other way to describe this. It's the moment of a lifetime. First of all -- this is so extraordinary to be in the company of such powerful -- my fellow nominees -- such powerful film makers who have inspired me and I have admired for -- some of whom -- for decades. Thank you to every member of the Academy. This is again the moment of a lifetime.

I would not be standing here if it wasn't for Mark Bohl who risked his life for the words on the page and wrote such a courageous screenplay that I was fortunate enough to have a great cast bring that screenplay to life. Jeremy Renner. Anthony Mackey and Brian Garrity.

And I think the secret to directing is collaborating and I had truly an extraordinary group of collaborators in my crew: Barry Akroyd and Kelly Juliason, and Bob Murawski, Chris Innis, Ray Beckett, Richard Stutzman. And if I could also just thank my producing partners, Greg Shapiro and my wonderful agent Brian Suberal, and the people of Jordan who were so hospitable to us when we were shooting.

And I'd like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world and may they come home safe.

Thank you.

Spoken like a true girl. And how awesome is that?

Monday, March 1, 2010

We are Family...

It's the day after those thrilling Olympic Games ended and there's most definitely something new in the air...

Something about Gold. Something about Canada. Something about Vancouver.

Something about Julia.

Throughout this exhaustive casting process, we've been blessed with many very strong, very talented candidates for the role of Elizabeth from all across Canada. After seeing and/or spending valuable time with all of them, the very difficult choice has been made at long last:

I am thrilled to announce that young Ms. Julia Stone from Vancouver, BC is our Elizabeth!

Some of you might remember - we first saw her on the Facebook Fan Page. Her tape was posted just before Christmas. Even as we continued to explore our short list of possible Elizabeths, there was something to Julia's tape that made us want to see more of her. We requested another self-tape - and in the space of the six or seven weeks between the first and second tape, we saw some really exciting growth in Julia's acting skills and on-screen presence.

Then as we continued to narrow down our choice bit by bit, this bright, soulful young lady came out to Montreal from Vancouver with her dynamic young mom on a complete act of faith to workshop with us! We all understood it was a long shot. Nonetheless, it didn't take long for everyone in the room to feel she had a real shot. Macha (who will play Marion), Barbara and I all felt and saw very quickly that Julia had that "je ne sais quoi" that, with a little work and time, translated into - Elizabeth.

So, I'd like to officially say here, Welcome, Julia! Or as they say in Vancouver: Bienvenue!

We are SO glad to have you on our team, and in our family - both on and off-screen...

I'd also like to say a big thank you again to all the girls who auditioned. It's been a real privilege for me that each of you would give your time and your talent to audition for this character. I just wish I had a movie big enough for every one of you to have a role! If you love to act, though, please just keep doing what you love - it's bound to pay off in some way!