Monday, December 31, 2007

MCC: Just Under the Wire (IT’S SUBMITTED!)

It’s official! Mad City Chickens has begun its trek into film festival submission land. This past week was nothing less than a crazed insane rush to edit the film into the best possible form before getting it postmarked by the deadline of 5:00 pm TODAY! We made it by 3:30.

Last night we saw no sleep. Instead, we spent the 24 hours dropping in b-roll stills and stock footage onto the time line. Musical accents, ADR, dialogue tweaking. The film is good (in our opinion), but it’s not yet great. Another couple weeks of editing and a few more on-location shoots would have done wonders, but a deadline is a deadline.

We’ll keep plugging away at it as we try to return to some semblance of normal living again. (The piles of clean clothes and dirty dishes are sure signs of a deadline-style life.)

If the film is accepted, we have until the 15th of February to deliver it. But of course, this is only the beginning. The festival submission circuit starts to kick into high gear come summer, and by then, Mad City will be polished to our liking.

Friday, December 28, 2007

the Typical Tarazod Day (of late)

The submission deadline is December 31st…the first film festival submission for Mad City Chickens. The film is not done, but it doesn’t yet have to be. All that’s required is to make it finished enough to be accepted into the festival. Consequently, the last two months have been an intensity of gathering b-roll, shooting pick-ups, recording ADR (Additional Dialogue Recording) and editing. Lots of editing.

Yesterday was a typical day: The morning started by going over the first 30 minutes of the film, making notes and corrections to what must absolutely be changed or improved upon before submission. Took short breaks to email and phone several people in the film, setting up times for ADR or in some cases, initial interviews (there’s still a few short segments yet to be filmed). This went well into the afternoon before having to change gears.

By 4:00 pm we were loading up the van with the lights and camera equipment. Our first stop was back to Nutzy Mutz and Crazy Catz where Liz Perry would do a few lines of ADR for us.

While there, we ran into the Lynch family, the folks who adopted our two hens. (We really liked our chickens, but with the film now consuming ALL of our waking moments, we found ourselves in the unusual predicament of having to locate a home that would have the time to care for them.)

It’s 8:00 pm as we pulled into the snow-covered drive of Susan Troller, a reporter for the Capital Times Newspaper. Susan would speak with us on camera about the article (Page 1, Page 2) she wrote on Liz Perry and Consuela, the factory farm hen that was found deposited at a local landfill.

10:00 pm. It’s dark, 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and snowing. We take a wrong turn and get lost out on the back roads of rural Wisconsin. It’s difficult to keep our eyes open as the adrenaline subsides and exhaustion returns.

11:00 pm finds us back in the editing bay capturing the footage we just shot today. Disaster! The camera was making some unusual noises during filming at Susan Troller’s. We thought it might be just the coming-in-from-the-cold, but now it appears there may be something wrong with it. The images we shot are all jittery and jumpy. (Not a good thing, especially since we still have three more shoots scheduled before the end of January…one all the way down to Austin, TX.)

We spend the next several hours taking the Susan footage into Adobe After Effects to correct the issue. Disaster is averted, but it’s now 3:00 am! We call it a night, but not before taking a peek into one of Tashai’s pet snake cages. Saffron the captive-bred ball python has finally shed her skin and is READY to eat. We sit in strung-out silence as Saffron has her meal.

A few hours sleep and today’s another day!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

MCC Shoot at Sundance Cinema

Today, we had the opportunity of shooting a scene at Sundance Theaters in Madison for our upcoming film, Mad City Chickens. (For those of you that may be asking why we are still shooting when we are so deep into post-production on this project, all we can say is…wait and see.)

We were led to the upper level by manager, Sarah Simonds, where we set up in one of the state-of-the art projection room areas. Expert projectionist, Hal Theisen, threaded some film for us and cranked up the projector so we could do the shoot.

Special thanks to location scout Janet Kjelland and all the wonderful Sundance Madison crew.

Monday, December 10, 2007

B-roll continues to Flow

Fellow chicken owners continue to assist us by supplying dynamite B-roll images to be used in our film. Stills of hens, roosters, eggs, coops…

Photographer Kristy Hanselman recently shared a profusion of chick pics for us to choose from.

Thanks Kristy!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mad City Chickens website updated

We’ve revamped our Mad City Chickens website. And more still to come in the weeks ahead.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sri Lankan Chicken Tales

Bahee Sathasivam shares a few chicken stories with us from his childhood growing up in Sri Lanka.

Chickens were more than just food to the kids, they were beloved pets. Catch Bahee’s and other international poultry tales in our upcoming film, Mad City Chickens.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mad City Chick…um…Snakes

Editing is never boring. Tiresome, tedious, time-consuming it is…but never boring. Mac’s Final Cut Pro non-linear app is dynamite to operate. It makes editing movies a real blast. It also works wonders on pacifying the kid.

In this case, the kid being one of Tashai’s captive-bred pets…a butter corn snake to be specific. She goes by the named of Chloe. With Chloe at the keyboard, my editing is always a bit more interesting.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chickens Demand Equal Treatment on Turkey Day

Thanks to Chris and Andy Yero for the photo of Andy’s mother with her chickens looking on (Highland, Wisconsin 1955).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Quest for B-Roll continues…

Still images work wonders as B-roll. We’re looking for both current and historical photos of chickens, coops, eggs…as well as period stock of the Industrial Revolution, Great Depression, World War Two, Post-War Suburbs and the like.

We’ve put the word out to some in the chicken community and are starting to get a number of favorable responses. But we still need more. If you’ve got high rez images that you think we could use in the Mad City Chickens film, don’t be shy. Time is running out.

Thanks to Carl Wacker for the above photo of his two daughters holding their hen’s first ever egg. Always a memorable moment for every chicken owner.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hungry for Chicken…B-ROLL

As we continue the push towards a final cut of our film, we find ourselves compelled–nearly obsessed–with the last minute scrounging of B-Roll…that all important footage needed for visuals of dialog or to be placed over cut and fractured video clips.

Today we visited a yard waste composting site in order to recreate 10 seconds of “landfill” footage. Having saved our garbage up for over the last three weeks (which really wasn’t that much since we recycle and compost), we had ample raw materials from which to “set decorate” the location. Of course, once the footage was shot, we cleaned up our mess and disposed of the refuge properly.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Gathering of the Mad City Chickens group

Last night we joined with Madison-area chicken owners at the annual almost-annual meeting of the Mad City Chickens group. Good food and chicken chat was to be had by all. Old timer “pre-ordinance undergrounders” were joined by several new faces, attesting to the growing urban chicken movement.

We spoke about our film and its post-production progress, but not wanting to give too much away, we only showed a couple short teaser clips.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Editing at the Speed of Light…sorta

Mornings, days, nights…even in our sleep…we continue our editing quest to complete Mad City Chickens before film festival deadlines expire. Yesterday saw the two of us tag-teaming on the Mac from sunrise to midnight. The result–a total of five minutes added to the final film timeline. May not seem like much, but hey, it’s a stellar five minutes!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Capital Times Reporter shares Chicken Experiences

Yes, it’s true…we keep saying that we’re deep into the post-production edit of this Mad City Chickens film. Yet,  what do we do? Head out again to shoot even more new footage!

Katie Dean, writer for the Capital Times, allowed us to haul our camera and lights into the newspaper’s Madison headquarters so we could ask a few questions about the April 2007 front page article she wrote on Backyard Chickens. See also the sidebar she wrote on the Mad City Chickens film when we still had plans to include a polka band.

The thing that seemed to intrigue Katie the most in her research was the fact that some chicken owners thought of their hens as pets. Much more than just egg producers…chickens were members of the family.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wading Deep into Chicken…Post Production

At some point in the process of filmmaking, all producers of feature-length movies come to know the meaning of the unattainable three: CHEAP-FAST-QUALITY

Unless you are extraordinarily charmed, you can have two, but not all three.
  • You can make a film FAST, but if you want QUALITY, it won’t come CHEAP.
  • You can always shoot a CHEAP film FAST, but you sacrifice QUALITY.
  • Finally, you can produce a high QUALITY movie on the CHEAP, but it won’t come FAST.

It takes TIME or MONEY to make a good feature-length film. As we approach the 2.5 year mark of Mad City Chickens, we obviously have gone with the TIME option. Now in the thick of post-production, we’re racing against film festival submission deadlines to get the movie done! We are hard at work applying a slew of cuts and fine-tune edits on a daily and nightly basis. We can only hope that viewers will think it was worth the wait.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Vintage Photos of the Murray McMurray Hatchery

Yesterday, we received a phone call from Bud Wood, manager and co-owner of the well-known rare breed Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa. He has graciously allowed us to peek into the hatchery vault to pick out vintage photographs of Murray McMurray and his early days with rare breed chickens. Look for these images as well as a tour of the state-of-the-art McMurray facility in the upcoming feature-length, Mad City Chickens.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Beanie the Chicken joins our film

We just got the news! Beanie the piano playing chicken has agreed to be in our Mad City Chickens film! We were contacted this week from her estate in Escondido, California, by her agent, James Walker.

Walker, a long-time associate of Beanie, says that the piano is one of her true joys in life. We are thrilled to include footage of her and her unique talent in our film.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trick or Treat Chickens

Our chickens, disappointed at not being allowed to wander the neighborhood last night in search of tricks or treats, demanded compensation. We gave in…

They loved the spaghetti.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mad City Chickens Nearing Completion

The Mad City Chickens movie was set in motion back in the summer of 2005 outside Madison, Wisconsin when we attended a gathering hosted by two of the founding members of the Mad City Chickens group, Alicia Rheal and Brian Whiting. It was a conversation with them and other backyard chicken owners that hatched the idea for the film–a short film–no longer than ten minutes.

Now over two years later, the feature-length project (approx. 90 minutes) is nearing completion. A finished, although not final, version will start the submission process to film festivals before the end of the year.

Monday, October 22, 2007

African Chicken Stories in the Studio

Gambian-born Sankulay Jallow, now a resident of Madison, WI, is the producer of the popular local television show, West Africa Experience: Music From the Continent, which airs on channel 4, WYOU. He took some time out of his busy schedule today to join us in the studio and tell us a few humorous “chicken” stories from his childhood back in Africa.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Isthmus Daily Page write-up on Not Docs TV show

Isthmus Daily Page writer Kristian Knutsen is back as he takes a peek at Robert’s cable television show Not Docs, a program that showcases short narrative films by independent filmmakers.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mad City Chickens Trailer #2 on YouTube

We’re really excited to announce that the second trailer for the feature-length documentary Mad City Chickens has been uploaded to our YouTube channel today.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Green Screening a Chicken

Production Notes: We finished setting up the green screen area to shoot the next batch of footage with our star chicken. What an experience!

Two important facts to remember:
1- Chickens don’t walk in a straight line…except when the camera is not rolling.
2- When the camera is rolling, chickens prefer to preen rather than perform.
The hens enjoyed the experience much more than we did. But then we discovered spaghetti. There’s nothing like a wet, wiggly worm-like piece of spaghetti to get your actors to move from point A to point B without hesitation or complaint.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Interview with Liz Perry of Nutzy Mutz & Crazy Catz

Liz Perry, owner of Nutzy Mutz & Crazy Catz pet supply store in Madison opened her doors to us last night to talk chickens. Liz made news recently (Page 1, Page 2) when she and her husband rescued a discarded hen at a local landfill. A special thanks to Vinny the cat and Posey the dog for being so patient with our lengthy interview intrusion.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Scarett Johansson promo for WYOU gets Press

A Scarlett Johansson promotional clip that Robert produced and edited--for Madison’s WYOU Channel 4--received some press yesterday. Read the Isthmus Daily Page article by writer Kristian Knutsen.

Watch the Scarlet Johansson video here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Piano Shoot at Ward Brodt

We had a successful shoot today at Ward Brodt Music Mall in Madison, WI. They graciously allowed us to set up a green screen in their piano showroom so that Nancy Rost could do her thing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More Chicken Chat with the Editor of Backyard Poultry Magazine

We had the great pleasure of interviewing Elaine Belanger, the editor of the periodical Backyard Poultry. She dropped by the studio in Madison today while on her way to the Illinois Renewable Energy Fair. We talked magazine biz, subscribers, circulation, and of course, chickens.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Cap Times talks Chickens

Check out the Capital Times article on urban poultry, factory farms, and a rescued chicken. Tashai even gets quoted by writer Susan Troller.

Cap Time article Page 1, Page 2

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mad City Chickens shoots Continue…

Three shoots in three days–all the pieces are falling into place for the Mad City Chickens movie.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Early Morning Shoots pay off BIG for Mad City Chickens film

We successful completed the most involved, enjoyable, and exhausting production days yet for the Mad City Chickens movie with two early morning starts. We were blown away by performances from Colin Cameron (a veteran of over 75 films including last year’s Buckystein), Pat Aspinwall & Justin Riley (the stars of the hilarious cable comedy series, Out to Lunch), and a superb cameo effort from musical performer Nancy Rost. Mucho gracious for all the hard work.

Our crew also kicked some serious chicken butt! Big gratitutes to Divine Grace for craft services and grip/PA work, Janet Kjelland for boom, Stephanie Wisniewski, Patti DiVita and Mikala for grip/PA work. This crew rocked! It could not have been done without them.

A special thanks goes out to Tom Giles who doubled as both location and talent scout. We’d also like to thank Einstein Bros Bagels on Madison’s State Street for their generous donation of bagels.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

La Fée Rouge is Now on YouTube

Our award-winning short, La Fée Rouge (The Red Fairy) can now be seen in its entirety on the tarazod youtube channel.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Mad City Chicken Tralier Gets Daily Page Press

The first teaser trailer for Mad City Chickens gets noticed by Isthmus Daily Page writer Kristian Knutsen. Read the article.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Mad City Chickens Teaser Trailer #1

The first teaser for Mad City Chickens is here! Uploaded to our YouTube channel today. “It’s not the film you think it is.”

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Drew Crew Puts Finishing Touches on Mad City Chickens Teaser

Today’s studio shoot went nicely, turning out to be an enjoyable experience for all. We finished up the last of the shots needed for the premiere of the Mad City Chickens teaser trailer. Up and coming child actor Drew nailed his role in front of the blue screen, and both he and his father were great fun to work with. We all celebrated afterwards with some ice cream.

Look for the teaser to be released on this Wednesday, July 4th.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First Glimpse of Mad City Chickens on July 4th

This coming July 4th will mark the release of the first short teaser trailer for our film Mad City Chickens. Look for it here on this site as well as on our tarazod YouTube channel. The film continues to advance through the post-production process with many long hours ahead of us. And with a number of scenes still not completely shot, we can’t state for sure the expected completion date. Yet even with our slim crew of volunteers and an even thinner budget, things are still moving forward and looking nice!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mad City Chickens Shoot With Actor Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson brought his talents and special brand of humor to Mad City Chickens today in an early morning shoot off the square in downtown Madison. Craig has been acting in theatre and on television for years. You can catch some of his latest work on YouTube in the tremendously popular series, Chad Vader. We also got some excellent production help out of script supervisor Janet Kjelland. A big thanks to both Craig and Janet for the great work!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Interview with Mother Earth News’ Editor-in-Chief

Meeting Cheryl Long, Editor-in-Chief of Mother Earth News, was a true delight! We discussed everything from their pastured-eggs study to new backyard chicken coop designs and from solar panels to wind power. We sampled heirloom herbs from her garden and took a test drive in a new prototype all-electric vehicle. Not only is Cheryl extremely knowledgeable in the realms of natural living and back-to-the-land skills, but she’s also an intelligent, well-spoken individual who is just a pleasure to be around.

We shot over 2.5 hours of footage which we’re very excited about perusing back in the editing room.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mad City Road Trip to Topeka

Today we drove over 10 hours to Kansas to prepare for our meeting with the Mother Earth News Editor-in-Chief, Cheryl Long. We hope to speak with her about the pastured-eggs study they are currently conducting, a study that is measuring the nutritional levels of eggs from free-range hens as compared to those found in regular supermarkets.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007

Mad City Chickens B-roll

Today, we did a few pick-ups to get some much needed B-roll for the Mad City Chickens movie. We revisited two different chicken households that we originally had shot footage at this past winter. Everybody’s got new chicks and the gardens are starting to pop. We wanted some spring shots without a snow covering.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Associated Press Turns Attention on Mad City Chickens

Mad City Chickens is picked up by Associated Press writer Colin Fly. The growing interest in urban chickens is making national news, and our film, which is mostly in post-production now, is catching some press. Fly’s article has appeared so far in nearly 20 newspapers nationwide from Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and the Twin Cities to Seattle, Portland, Denver and Anchorage.

Read the piece here.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Rain Delay

Rain, Rain, go away…this is why they shoot in LA.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Scouting Vehicles

We have a scene in Mad City Chickens that we’ll be shooting soon; it calls for a big flat-bed truck. Last night after work, we spent an hour or so the entire evening scouting out rental trucks.

Standing there in the parking lot at 9:45pm, trying to imagine if this particular vehicle would be large enough to fit our polka band, we suddenly noticed the sign that read, “People are not allowed in the back of truck.”Bloody Hell! Is no idea original anymore? Well, we didn’t want that truck anyway–too many logos we’d have to cover-up.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Traveling Light

One of the challenges of shooting an indie doc is to achieve good lighting without good lighting. A cold hard facts of filmmaking is the high cost of quality equipment, plus traveling with it by airplane has it's own issues. So we celebrated today when some long awaited feather-light gear arrived. Not only can we make these reflectors do the job on location, but they fold up nicely for those shoots where travel gear has to be kept to a minimum.