Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shooting Days 1-2

Eli here. It’s been quite the two days. We’ve had early morning call-times, 12 hour days, and most importantly – a lot of fun! We’re practically halfway through principal photography and everything is going fantastic. We had a few road bumps along the way (several crew members fell out at the last minute), but a few really amazing filmmakers came to the rescue to round out a fantastic team. We have 3 more days of filming and I’m certain these days will go just as smoothly (knock on wood).

Sure, I can go into the technical specifics of the entire two days, but something tells me most of you don’t care about which lens we used or how Brian achieved a light set-up (aside from the occasional filmmaker). That being said, I have a feeling the film will speak for itself.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to divulge more, my alarm went off at five this morning and I’m falling asleep. This is a narcoleptic update... I don’t even have the energy to finish this

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Location - Park

Finding a park that's remotely interesting and fits the "look" we had in mind was actually quite the task. However, finding the park wasn't the most difficult part. Finding it was easy. It was figuring out how we were going to stage the scene that caused the most confusion. Since I really wanted a location that was adjacent to trees while Amorette rested on a bench, we had to intricately adjust the frame and blue print a plan for the camera movement. Here's the location we scouted. I'm confident, during principal photography, we'll answer the aforementioned concerns satisfactorily.

The Park: I really love how much character this park has. Everything from the unique trees, to the plush grass, to the wooden bridge. I loved it at first sight and can't wait to shoot there!

UPDATE: The Park location has been scrapped for a lovelier setting. The exterior of the house which is just as exquisite, and much less costly.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Meet the Crew - Volume 2

Meet the First Assistant Director

Derek Oishi is thrilled to be part of the “A Note To Etienne” Crew. Graduate of the University of Arizona (B.F.A. Fine Arts). Derek grew up in Sierra Vista, Arizona, where he discovered his passion for filmmaking and honed his skills in croquet and show-stopping karaoke.

Recent Credits include: Field Coordinator for the History Channel TV Show, That’s Impossible, 2nd 2nd AD for Sport Science for Fox Sports Net, Key 2nd AD for the feature film Yellowbrickroad, premiering at the 2010 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City. Derek was also 1st AD on several short films and commercials including, “Alma” (Best Shorts winner at the Reel Sisters Film Festival), “Junkyard”, “Déjà vu”, “Ruin”, “Solo”.

Film/TV Credits include House, The Office, Pushing Daisies, Hidden Palms, Pros vs. Joes, Beauty and the Geek, Fear Factor, The Big Give, and America’s Got Talent.

To my beautiful circle of friends, thanks for always believing and supporting me no matter what. This one’s for you guys! “One day more, another day, another destiny”

Meet the Script Supervisor

Maura K. Concannon manages the merchandise department of Boondock Saints Productions and also freelances as a Script Supervisor. Prior to joining Boondock Saints Productions in 2009, Concannon worked as a Production Assistant on various television shows and short films. Television credits include VH1’s TOOL ACADEMY, the John Wells episodic drama SOUTHLAND, HGTV’s $250,000 CHALLENGE and MTV’s A DOUBLE SHOT AT LOVE. She has had the privilege to learn from and work alongside talented individuals at Warner Brothers, NBC, VH1 and MTV. Concannon is fluent in American Sign Language and one day hopes to combine her love of film and Deaf Culture.

Meet the Make-Up/Hair Artist

Moira Taylor, a graduate of the University of Miami, is relatively new to the city of Los Angeles. After relocating here from a short stint in Kansas, she decided to follow her passion of all things beautiful and headed to Studio Makeup Academy to specialize in Beauty Makeup and Special Effects. She has spent the last couple of months working on anything she can get her hands on ranging from weddings to feature films and is quite excited to be working with the cast and crew of A Note to Etienne.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Visual Strategy

In this piece we witness Amorette go through a wide range of emotions and we are also peer into her mind as well. Our overall approach to support this visually is to switch between both Hi Def and S16. We will be using S16 to shoot everything but the scenes where Amorette is recording her message to Etienne, this will be shot on Hi Def.

Visually for these sequences we will be creating a very narrow field of view. The framing will enhance and immediately reveal to the audience how the character sees herself in the world she lives in addition to how she sees her relationship to Etienne.

Lighting wise we would like a sense of a catatonic atmosphere, hollow like a cavern in the beginning but towards the end of her interview a sense of rebirth for Amorette. Sometimes when you are in a room the sunlight, when its not directed at window, can have this barren atmosphere but as it peeks in the edge of a window the feeling shifts to a more hopeful atmosphere. This progression definitely parallels through the emotional journey.

For Amorette's memories we will be taking full advantage of S16. Film has this organic feel which parallel's Amorette's experiences which are full of life. Visually we want it to contrast Amorette's interview with vivid color saturation, wide angles with our characters being more prominent in the frame as opposed to withdrawn. The camera will flow and move within the space gracefully which compliments Amorette's analytical sense as she takes us through her thoughts. The light will be diffused with detail in the highlights and shadows. Skin tones will glow. Overall the feeling would be warm which would contrast her feelings of questioning the involvement of Etienne.

The end result will yield a visual experience that will support our central character's plight.

- Jorge Urbina, Cinematographer


Before I begin describing the storyboards, let me preface this post by admitting my lack of artistry. I'm completely aware of how terrible these drawings are and would be first in line at the scribbles and stick-figure conference. So there.

Storyboard 1: The first sequence is probably the longest sequence, because I really want to introduce both Amorette and Etienne in an honest, yet humorous way. Remember, I want to utilize the 16mm film and include the reds, blues, and green hues as much as possible.

Storyboard 2: Sound cues are important in this short film. Since the scenes move along relatively fast, all the components need to interweave seamlessly.

Storyboard 3: Since the short film is primarily voice-over, I wanted to include interesting camera movements to tell the story (along with production design and costume). Therefore, Jorge and I have a very specific blue-print of how we want the cinematography to translate to screen.

Storyboard 4: Lighting will also play a huge part in the film. Many French films tend to have more theatrical lighting that furthers the inner-thoughts of the characters, so I wanted to subtly include that in A Note to Etienne.

Storyboard 5: Probably the most difficult scene is the park scene. We're incorporating a crane in a specific choreographed shot which will depict the isolation she's feeling.

Storyboard 6: The final scenes will sum up the story of love and loss -- or more specifically, Amorette's feelings for Etienne that never really disappeared. Their relationship was real, but the love they used to share is no longer there. Make sense?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Etienne's Costumes

The concept behind Etienne’s costumes was basic, simple, and straight-forward. I was aiming for guy’s guy – relaxed, yet comfortable. Etienne’s an oblivious character. He’s the type of man who carries on with his day-to-day activities and appreciates routine – a creature of habit. I wanted his costumes to reflect that. Button shirts, flannel patterns, and jeans. Finis!

Merci Bien!

A big THANK YOU to our most recent donors and Executive Producers!

  • Steven Benavidez
  • Dolorez Benavidez
  • Joe Hernandez
  • Rick Campbell
  • Bev Campbell
We still have ways to go until A Note to Etienne is financed, so please support the film and its filmmakers and make a donation. Remember, every contribution is tax-deductible. So technically, you're lending the film a certain donation, and Uncle Sam is paying you back in April.

Donations of $500 or greater accredits you as an Executive Producer. That's IMDB, baby! ;) (P.S. If you help raise $500 or more from multiple sources (near and far), you get the Executive Producer's credit since you're, well, producing!)

Location - Amorette's House

In my opinion, finding the perfect location is on par of finding the perfect cast – it takes time, patience, and be prepared to see a lot of duds. However, the search for Amorette’s apartment was much simpler than anticipated. In fact, a friend who recently moved to Los Angeles suggested their place and it just so happened it was perfect. Below are the location scout photos of Amorette’s pad. (Special thanks to Tom Erickson and Kendall Anlian)

The Outside: This house was apparently made in the late 1800's and survived many refurnishes. Like Amorette, this house embodies so much character and personality.

The Entry Way: The green struck me upon entering - it was like being in a different country. Amorette's the type of girl who'd paint every room a different color. Another huge plus, almost every room of the house had a gorgeous chandelier.

The Living Room: When scavenging for the perfect location, it was extremely fortunate to find a space w/ natural light and big windows. DP Jorge Urbina approved - the wooden floors and wide-open space also didn't hurt.

The Dining Room: Another chandelier, another great room. For Amorette's dining scene, it was important to find a space that wasn't completely devoid of personality since the scene's supposed to be light and inviting -- much like the color on the walls.

The Bathroom: This is how we'll be introducing Etienne (yes, through a bathroom). I love this point-of-view aspect and linoleum tile.

The Bedroom: My favorite room of the entire house. This room screams Amorette and embodies her character so much. Everything from the chandelier, the wooden floors, the wall colors and orange blinds -- simply amazing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meet the Crew - Volume 1

Meet the Costume Designer

Joslyn Sifuentes originally from New Mexico & Arizona has been working as an Entertainment talent manager for the past four years. She has overseen the careers of Frank Stallone, Malcolm David Kelley, Clifford Banagale, Samantha Bailey & Trey Carlisle to name a few. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, she also was a part of the Arizona International Film Festival as the Competition & Filmmaker Director. She has had various jobs within the film industry including managing several student films and interning for the BBC & History Channel. She has joined A Note to Etienne as a casting associate and Costume Designer.

Meet the Production Designer

Gilberto Vega, a graduate of the University of Arizona’s media arts program, has lived in Los Angeles for the past 6 years. He has worked on various projects including films and plays as an art director, set decorator, production designer and prop master. He's part of the independent production group, Cove Entertainment, who have produced various short projects and a feature film. Currently, Gilberto is producing music videos utilizing various techniques including live action photography and stop motion animation.

Meet the Casting Director

Dylan Jury moved from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in 2005, after earning a BA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University. He has spent the past 3 years working as the Casting Assistant on many films including The Dark Knight, Drag Me To Hell, and the upcoming Zombieland. A Note To Etienne marks his first credit as Casting Director.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meet the Actor - Etienne

Lukas Delcourt was born in Bordeaux, a city in the West coast of France. His earliest recollection of wanting to perform was in Junior High where he was cast as Harpagon in L’Avare (a play by Moliere). From there, he went on to perform in various plays such as Hamlet, Phoebe and the Big Apple, and Grease. In 1998, he made cameos in over twenty movies and television shows including Dangerous Liaisons, Wazabi, and performed opposite Gerard Depardieu and Jean Reno.

In 2002, Lukas gained commercial representation and landed various bit roles until he landed his first prominent role in La Vie Devant Nous (the season’s finale). A year later, he gained notoriety from Star Academy (the French equivalent to American Idol) where 15 million viewers excelled him into the semi-finals, a 6-month tour, 2 million copies sold from an album created from he and the contestants, and an eventual solo contract with Universal Music. His first album, Tout Est Mal Qui Finit Bien’, was released in 2004, followed by the Prince cover, “Cream”.

At the end of 2005, he decided to devote himself entirely towards his acting career and landed a role in the critically acclaimed series, Sous Le Soleil (Saint Tropez) – a French show airing in 197 countries for an unprecedented 14 seasons. In 2007, he traveled to Guadeloupe to shoot the first season of Baie De Flamboyants, but decided to leave after the first season, pack his bags, and head to Los Angeles where was cast as Christian Audigier in the series West Hollywood among various other jobs including hosting gigs, commercials, feature films and music videos.

Although Lukas is fully aware of the risk it takes to start fresh in a new and unfamiliar country, it’s a risk he’s willing to take. He’s really excited to be a part of A Note to Etienne, and is touched by the passion everyone involved has put forth.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Merci Bien!

A big THANK YOU to our most recent donors!
  • Eleanor Dahners
  • Sally Alberti
  • Andrew Peralta
  • Seth Caskey
  • Connie Benavidez
  • Sarah Klein
  • David & Sylvia Fierro
  • Joe and Debbie Perez
  • Jimmie & Maggie Vasquez
  • Frank Benavidez
We still have ways to go until A Note to Etienne is financed, so please support the film and its filmmakers and make a donation. Remember, every contribution is tax-deductible. So technically, you're lending the film a certain donation, and Uncle Sam is paying you back in April.

Donations of $500 or greater accredits you as an Executive Producer. That's IMDB, baby! ;) (P.S. If you help raise $500 or more from multiple sources (near and far), you get the Executive Producer's credit since you're, well, producing!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

An Homage to Jean-Pierre Jeunet

If you haven't noticed yet, a great deal of inspiration has been drawn from the magical comedy Amelie. The camera movement, the colors, the performances - the movie is a modern-day masterpiece and has obviously influenced much of this film's look. In order to merge Jeunet's vision with my own vision, it was important to grab specific frames from the film as an homage as oppose to creating an identical cookie cut-out. Here are some particular frames that really popped out at me, which I hope to recreate in A Note to Etienne with cinematographer Jorge Urbina.

Frame 1: This may be my favorite still of the entire movie. Although the camera movement is moving closer towards Audrey Tautou, I'm particularly fond of the stagnant shot. The dutch angle has a sort of obscurity that's really interesting.

Frame 2: If you haven't noticed, I'm really fond of the high angles looking down. I think a great deal of exposition can be told through body language and production design, and as shown above, it can also be really beautiful.

Frame 3: Yes, another high angle. However, this shot's an over-the-shoulder shot where we see much more than what's being expressed. So much is going on this one screen shot, and you really don't need to know what's actually occurring. Pure genius.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Amorette's Costumes

While we're still several months before yelling the word "action", it doesn't mean we're at a shortage of work. It seems like pre-production is filled with countless errands and menial tasks. There's storyboards to create, locations to be scouted, rehearsals to be had, and careful decisions to be made. However, I think pre-production can be one of the most rewarding phases during the making of a film. Personally, the more intricate the planning, the better the product.

Which brings us to one of my favorite parts of pre-production. The costumes. Below are some image boards surrounding the look I want for Amorette.

Costumes 1: Amorette isn't your typical character. Her mind wanders, she's overly-analytical, and extraordinarily expressive. Her clothes should represent her individuality and creativity.

Costumes 2: Her wardrobe has a lot of vintage selections. She's the type of girl who enjoys going to hand-me-down shops and "digging for burried treasure". When she finds that certain polka dot dress or laced blouse, it makes her that much more original.

Costumes 3: I love the neutral colors in this particular dress. It's not too flashy, yet it's still extremely unique. Especially paired with black tights and a vivid turquoise necklace.

Costumes 4: I love utilizing patterns for Amorette. She's interesting, yet complicated - just like these skirts. Amorette's the type of person who isn't afraid to pair different patterns together. She's comfortable expressing herself through her style.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Merci Bien!

A big THANK YOU to our most recent donors!
  • Joey and Sue Samoy
  • Joe Hernandez
  • Dolores Perez
  • Steven Benavidez
  • Max and Barbara Ragsdale & Family
  • Robert and Mary Perez & Family
  • Wendy's Corporation
  • Paolo Presta
We still have ways to go until A Note to Etienne is financed, so please support the film and its filmmakers and make a donation. Remember, every contribution is tax-deductible. So technically, you're lending the film a certain donation, and Uncle Sam is paying you back in April.

Donations of $500 or greater accredits you as an Executive Producer. That's IMDB, baby! ;) (P.S. If you help raise $500 or more from multiple sources (near and far), you get the Executive Producer's credit since you're, well, producing!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meet the Actress - Amorette

Isabelle Giroux was born in Trois-Rivières, a city in the South of the province of Quebec (yes... French Canada!).  As a young girl, she would play with her friends, recreating film scenarios (The Princess Bride mostly -- the French translation of course) and taping diverse ideas/stories/songs/interviews on her Sesame Street recorder. Through her adolescence, she started singing in the Spanish choir and school shows, which eventually allowed her to study music in other cities. She began writing music, became involved with a blues band, and participated in several contests.  However, it was her personality and natural presence that would garner the most interest.  The way she stood on the stage, delivered a verse, and invoked laughter ultimately allowed Isabelle to shine.  As a result, she decided to take the leap and study acting and performance which would fundamentally captivate an audience. 

Isabelle has professional training from acting coaches, has auditioned for prestigious conservatories in Montreal and Quebec city, and was accepted into the competitive AMDA Los Angeles (The American Musical and Dramatic Academy). She decided to take another leap and go into the unknown once again, and headed to Hollywood in August of 2007.  She graduated from the AMDA Musical Theatre program in December 2008 and has since been leaving her marks within the Performing industry (Short films, Webisodes, Pilots, Music Video, Theatre) -- however, focusing mostly on a Film career. Being a gigantic Amelie fan, she is really excited to be part of A Note to Etienne. She surely loves Audrey Tautou's work, but don't think you'll see Amelie II: She ain't no Audrey: She's Isabelle Giroux!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Amelie Stills

The look and feel for this short was ultimately ispired by the stylized french film, Amelie.   True, A Note to Etienne has much more dramatic undertones, however this film will draw Amelie inspiration.   With fluid camera movements, quirky costume design and a complex set design (more on each later), this short will be a showcase for everyone involved.   Its not simply an actor's piece or director's piece, but allows the entire Etienne family to incorporate a valued participation within the film.  It's important to me that this film is a collaboration -- that it's a team effort.  After all, Amelie sure was and it's still one of the most visually prolific and mesmerizing film I've ever seen.

Amelie Picture 1:  If you remember this shot, the camera starts for birds-eye, then moves downward towards Amelie.  It turns nearly 180 degrees and hovers directly above her.  It's a really magical shot and really incorporates the entire mis-en-scene involved.

Amelie Picture 2:  This is such a memorable scene because of the vivid detailing of the lighting.  The blue is really beautiful.

Amelie Picture 3:  Location is really important for this film and 'Etienne'.  I really 

appreciate how they really utilized this backdrop.  
Amelie Picture 4:  This shot was spectacular because it's one of the few still shots in the film, yet still has so much movement.  Since it's shot through plexiglass, the director allowed Amelie to write the restaurant specials while Nino watches her intently.  Love it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Meet the Director of Photography

Jorge Urbina is an aspiring cinematographer from Mesa, Arizona. He began his studies working in theatre production at an early age in both community and school productions. During his college career, Jorge explored all key roles of film production to help strengthen his craft by creating and working on various shorts and features. In 2004, he earned his BFA Degree in Media Arts at the University of Arizona and is now currently employed with The School of Media Arts as a production lab coordinator while working as a freelance cinematographer. His most notable collaborations have been with Benjamin Lopez of Viento Fuego Productions and Patrick Roddy of Amateur Productions. In fall of 2007, Jorge was picked up by Ben to shoot La Venganza, a Spanish language feature, which earned distribution internationally on DVD and broadcast on Cine Mexicano’s satellite network. This past summer, Jorge was hired to shoot Goodboy, a feature film produced and directed by neo noir filmmaker Patrick Roddy. A Note to Etienne marks Jorge’s first collaboration with Elias Benavidez.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Image Boards

Since A Note to Etienne is a "French film", I'm dedicated to creating the short in a visually evocative and stylized fashion.  With visual pieces, it's very important for me to concentrate on the overall picture, yet still put stress on the nuts and bolts of each scene.  Obviously nothing is more important than the story, but I'm aiming for the tone and feeling of this piece to be as sincere and compelling as possible.  Meaning vivid, enchanting colors (blues, greens, reds) and inviting, fluid camera movements (we'll get more into that later).  

Just to give you a visual, here are two other image boards that I came up with to show the "look" I had in mind for this little French film.

Image board 2 - notice how the red from the house pops within the sea of neutral colors.  The juxtaposition between the vivid colors against the natural tones is suppose to symbolize Amorette's imaginative character.

Image board 3 - these images are suppose to articulate the very vintage feel I want for this film.  Since Amorette is a very analytical character, I want her to have a unique feel to her - she's different, yet engaging.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Meet the Producer

Allison Vanore is an independent film producer who was born and raised in Wall, New Jersey and now resides in Los Angeles, CA.  She has a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.  From 2004 to 2008, Allison served as the Director of Creative Operations for interactive design firm, Georgopoulos Design Environments, where she oversaw DVD, Blu-ray, Website and Video production projects for clients such as Disney, Sony, and Yahoo!  Most notable is her work on Tarzan II which won a Best Direct to Video DVD Award and award winning Yellowtail banner campaign in 2007.  In 2008 she produced three short films all of which are hitting the festival circuit.  Most recently, Junkyard won Best Film and Audience Choice Award at a Southern Arizona Thriller Contest.  Allison is currently in production on a feature romantic comedy, Hopelessly in June, among other projects. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

History of Project

At first, even considering creating a short film that’s spoken entirely in French seemed more of a risk than a feasible project.  After all, I’m not fluent in French and Los Angeles doesn’t exactly look like Paris.  However, when you think about it, when does art ever come easy?

After watching Julian Schnabel’s Diving Bell and the Butterfly, inspiration quickly transitioned into ambition and the thirst for creating something meaningful, as well as visually evocative, has never been so strong.  By the way, Julian Schnabel isn’t fluent in French either ;).

The story idea emerged after a close friend revealed the hesitations behind her long-term relationship.  She didn’t feel like she could offer anything else to the already faltering relationship and didn’t know how to tell him – she simply fell out of love. 

I knew my friend wasn’t alone in this love stricken society.  The city was filled with people going through the same feelings and emotions.  Therefore, I decided to take a survey.  I asked many close friends, old friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and family members a mere question: What goes through your mind the moment you decide you don’t love someone anymore? 

There had to be a “disconnect” from being “head over heels” in love to an absence of that feeling.  Through this research, I discovered that the small tics were the catalyst behind many failed relationships.  Certain irritations that once seemed insignificant transitioned into a noticeable force behind the break up. 

However, that being said, a surprising realization occurred.  From the 20-30 people I interviewed, one fact remained the same – they all revealed that they still love their significant other.  The love they shared was undoubtedly true.  It’ll always be true.  They just weren’t in love with them anymore.

Life is filled with unexpected instances.  However, an overall purpose is always waiting to be discovered through the seeps of the cracks.  Even if the relationship didn’t work out, the love never truly disappears.  It may not be necessarily palpable, but it’s true.  That’s my intention with this film.  That’s my story.

An image board used to express the feel and look of the project.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Amorette, an analytical and seemingly expressive 24-year-old girl, places herself in front of her camcorder.  She maintains a fidgety disposition under the dim half-light above her bed.   She begins leaving a message to her boyfriend, Etienne.  It’s difficult to convey, but she explains that their love has become disconnected -- a realization that sparked on October 12th, 2006 at exactly 12:36 a.m.

We flash back to that exact moment.  Amorette is awaken from her sleep from a piercing sound, which feels like Niagara Falls crashing through her eardrums.  However, after further investigation, she realizes it is Etienne urinating.  Thereafter, simple instances such as eating breakfast and watching television became ticking time bombs of irritation about to explode.

At dinner with Etienne, Amorette’s irritation becomes overshadowed by grief – by sadness.  How could something that was once so great suddenly just disappear?  She continues to analyze this relationship.  Through the resurge of all of the bad memories, she begins to recall wonderful memories they shared.  She remembers conversations they had surrounding marriage, romantic nights they spent together, and joyous moments spent at amusement parks.

 As she continues leaving her video note, she realizes that love can change shapes and forms – continuously transforming into something completely different, or unexpected.  Amorette’s eyes begin to tear up as she says her final goodbye to Etienne.  She reaches to turn off the camera before her final statement: Je n'oublierai jamais les choses qui m'ont fait sourire autrefois.  Which translates to, “I’ll never forget the things that once made me smile”.  Amorette turns off the camcorder.


This blog will be used through the different phases of A Note To Etienne - a 16mm short film that happens to be entirely in French.  It'll be sort of like a Director's diary -- where I'll be able to share my steps and creative process throughout the film's course.... and perhaps some frustrations.