Available Now on Steam

At long last, Catching Up is now available for purchase through Steam.  You can purchase it now, thanks to our partnership with Devolver Digital Films.

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Finally complete

So, after years of quiet this website is stirring to life again with an update – Catching Up is finally officially completed.

The longest story made the shortest, there were problems with the sound mix and the music for the film, and I got a little distracted making another film and so my short got shelved.  But thankfully that other film led me to meet two really talented guys, Rob Rusli and Steven Hudock.

Earlier this year, my dad, who was the inspiration for this film, passed away.  Steven and Rob helped me pull together the pieces of the movie and usher it through to being finished.  Steven did a brand new sound mix from scratch, and Rob not only served as a post production supervisor but also wrote a few pieces of music to help round out the piece.  Overall, I’m very happy with the result and so happy that we’re very close to being able to bring the finished product to you.

I’m also working on polishing and updating the website with new information, and removing outdated info and links.

Watch this space, we’ll have an announcement soon about where and when you can finally see “Catching Up!”

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American Visions Awards

Last night was a wonderful night both for Catching Up and for our crew.  We knew that we had an award winning script on our hands, but now we can say we have an award winning film.  It was a complete and utter shock to me to win the Outstanding Thesis category, because I knew the competition was amazingly strong.  The only downside of the moment was that my good friend Mariana’s amazing documentary “The Loudest Show On Earth” was also nominated in my category, and we knew only one of us could win.  I’ve seen Mariana’s film, and it is phenomenal.

But the best thing about the night was seeing so many of my friends and colleagues cross the stage.  Crew members of Catching Up accounted for four other awards last night.  Vanessa Bradchulis, our amazing casting director, won the ASMP Award for Photography as well as Outstanding Single Image.   The latter she shared with Silvio Carrillo, who was Best Boy for our film and took many of the amazing production stills that we have.  Of course, our 1st A.D. Jason Fraley also won Outstanding Short Screenplay for his script Liberty Road.

I was also happy to see my friends Ellen Tripler, Brad Allgood, Katelyn Morey, Dave Joyce, Anthony Brenneman, Meghan Kotlanger and Teighe Thoreson win various awards for their work.  They’re all talented people that I’ve worked with on various films and projects during my time at AU and I’m proud of them.

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Thanks and congrats

I’ll post more on this later, but the American University Visions Awards were tonight. Catching Up was selected as the winner for Outstanding Thesis Project, and I could not be happier.

Quite a few members of our crew took home awards for their films and photographs as well, and I am extremely proud of them all.

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Tornadoes and my hometown

The news is covered with stories right now of the tornadoes in North Carolina.  But a week before, two tornadoes touched down in Pulaski, Virginia to little fanfare outside the local population.

We shot “Catching Up” on location in Pulaski, and many of the people who assisted us with the process were affected by these tornadoes.  As far as I know, this was the first time in recorded history a tornado has been confirmed in the town, which normally has relatively mild weather (aside from yearly flooding along Peak Creek).  It was some of the worst weather related damage since Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and the newest estimates of the damage are over $5 million.

As I’ve talked about before, part of the process of filming “Catching Up” was about me revisiting the places that made me who I am and going back to my childhood growing up in Pulaski.  It is a place that is important to me, not just because most of my family still lives there.  Seeing the pictures of the damage  was liking seeing somebody rip apart photos from my childhood.  These places were familiar, they were a part of me in a way that’s hard to explain.

The first (and stronger) tornado’s path went across the neighborhood where my grandmother lived when I was growing up, where my aunt and brother still live.  It broke apart homes that I rode past every Sunday on our way to visit.  When I worked for The Southwest Times, I wrote a feature about a man who lived two doors down from my grandmother.  I took photos of the creek near the church we attended when I was in pre-school.

Everyone’s homes were more or less okay.  Everybody I know in that part of town had some property damage.  One person who helped with the film has declared their home a total loss.

I have no doubt that Pulaski will rebuild and that the community will remain strong.  But they probably won’t be able to do it alone.  If you are in Southwest Virginia and would like to help by volunteering, the best place to find current information is the Town of Pulaski Facebook Page.  They are also posting information for donations, though if you are interested in donating you can contact me or comment on this post and I can let you know some of the organizations that are currently helping out.

I could not have made this movie without the community in Pulaski, and I am hoping that they get through this stronger than they were before.

Photo Source: Town of Pulaski Facebook Page

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My own “Thoughts from Home”

Today I was watching a video by one of my favorite YouTube bloggers, where he goes through a quick tour of the more memorable places in his hometown:

Several years ago, I actually went on a drive with my mom to take photos of a lot of those types of places for me.  But I realized while watching that Catching Up was also a video memory of sorts because I naturally gravitated towards locations that were significant to my life.

Throughout the course of the film, we see:

-Main Street, across from the Pulaski County Courthouse.  We actually set up our camera cart and filmed just outside of a now closed shop where I worked for the summer after my freshman year of college.

The Pulaski Theatre, where I saw my first movie.  It’s also where I saw E.T. for the first time (well, the first twelve times if I’m being honest) and where I learned to truly love cinema.  It’s newly restored and re-opened and I couldn’t be happier.

-The hill near 6th Street Park where I practice pulling out on an incline in a stick shift.  That’s also where my two best friends and I went walking after a snow storm to go play in the park in the snow, a fond memory for all three of us.  Incidentally, I also lived just a block away from there in 2005, just before I got married and moved to Northern Virginia.

-Loving Field, another place where I learned how to drive.  My brother took me out there to practice with his truck not long after I got my learner’s permit.  In the film, that’s where Suzanne finds herself stranded after her truck breaks down.

-We filmed the car interiors on the road outside Jordan’s Chapel, my church.

-The house I grew up in is also seen in the film.  It was pretty weird to explain all the lights and excitement to the neighbors.

-And of course, there’s the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and the jail itself, where half of the story takes place.  The film is pretty much about how significant the building was to my life.  Not only did I go there to visit my dad, but we would watch parades from either the parking lot or the roof (depending on if we wanted to catch candy or not).  When I was a reporter, I would drive there every day to find out if there were any stories for that day’s paper.

There are a lot more locations in Pulaski that are significant to me, many of which I couldn’t include in the film.  I could probably make an entire short just at PCHS.  But this is certainly a film that is rooted in my own experiences growing up.

We’re actually almost done with it, I can’t wait to start to show it to people.  But until then, enjoy the trailer one more time!

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Lock it up

It’s official: Today I declared Catching Up picture locked.

What does this mean?  Basically when you’re finishing a film, there are three main things that need to be done to it.  You have to edit the piece, color correct it to make it look as beautiful as possible, and edit the sound to make it sound as beautiful as possible.

The last two things are entirely dependent on finishing the first one.  Color correcting and sound editing are tough processes, and the only things that you do them on are the shots and sound that are actually making it into the film.  There’s no use fixing up a take you’re not going to use.

Because of the way it works, you have to finish editing the piece first, and decide that the film is “picture locked.”  This means you’re not touching any of the edits any more.  Time’s up, hands up, utensils down.

This is a huge step, and quite an accomplishment.  I could not have achieved it without the help of my editor, Banu Debre, who has been absolutely wonderful.  She made the absolute best of everything that I gave her.

The colorist and sound editor are going to have all the footage by the end of the day on Monday, and we’re going to work tirelessly to get this film done in time for the Student Academy Awards deadline on April 1st.

We got this.

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DC Film Salon and new article

First off, many thanks to Joe Flood for posting our trailer on his website, joeflood.com.

Last night I also attended at talk with the DC Film Salon (presented by the DC Film Alliance) about Film Festival Submission Tips and Strategies.  The panelists represented three local festivals, DC Shorts (where our script was a finalist last year), the Rosebud Film Festival, and the DC Independent Film Festival.

The panel was really phenomenal because it helped me to start solidifying the goals that we have for the future of Catching Up.  We’re are in the middle of formulating our film festival plan, so it was the perfect timing for this kind of talk.

Everything is looking up, don’t forget to check out our trailer and leave a comment letting us know what you think!

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The Official Trailer!

It’s time to unveil the trailer for the film. Please enjoy, and tell us what you think!  We can’t wait to show the film to everyone.

Many thanks to Colin Foster for editing the trailer, and to Michael Farkas for the music.

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Tom’s Tattoos

Last night, I was finally watching the first few episodes of Face Off, a new reality show on SyFy.  It focuses on special effects make-up artists.

What in the world does this have to do with Catching Up?

In the second episode, the first challenge the artists were given was to design tattoos for themselves.  The host introduced the challenge by saying that any good makeup artist should be able to create a believable tattoo for the screen, that the design can say so much about the character and reveal things that dialog could not.  (I’m paraphrasing here, the episode is not up on Hulu yet, but I’ll post a link when it is).

I started laughing when she was halfway through her explanation.  I talked about this in my thank you post for our makeup artist, Kelley Coleman, but in Catching Up, Tom’s tattoos are a vital part of his character.  When you see our trailer, the first thing that you will see is a rose design that Kelley painted on Tom’s arm.

She and I had a few long conversations about the different ways she could accomplish the task, and they were all the different ways that the artists on Face Off used to apply their own fake tattoos.  We talked about the designs, even if the tattoos should look like they were done by a skilled artist or not.  We decided on the rose on his forearm, and flames creeping up his neck, which you can almost see in the photo here.  I sadly don’t have any that really show them off, but when you see start to see clips from the film you’ll see what I mean.

It was so much fun for me to watch that first half of the show (though I love the entire show, I adore makeup artists) because I had lived through something so similar.  Sometimes when you watch a reality show, you wonder how those challenges have anything to do with the reality of the profession.  You watch Top Chef and they have them create a dish out of the vending machine, and you think “really?  That’s what makes a top chef?”  But this was a challenge that I can tell you really was presented well, and was something that really is vital to the filmmaking process.  And I personally think Kelley would have aced it.

Photo Courtesy of Katie Neff

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