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[All Photos: Maryann Bates]

You ever have one of those experiences where you are dropped into a world where you recognise the words, but you are not really sure they mean when strung together? Well a few weeks ago, I had this very experience as I accompanied my daughter, Abigail de los Reyes, on her adventure to shoot the short-film, “Followed” directed by James Kicklighter and the team at Jamesworks Entertainment.

From the 12.15.10 press release:

JamesWorks Entertainment will begin principle photography on Followed, based on the short story from Hugo-award winning author Will McIntosh, on December 11th, 2010 in Macon, GA. Followed is the story of a socially-responsible college professor whose perfect world is threatened by the appearance of a tag-along zombie child.

JamesWorks Entertainment presents Followed, a Park Bench Pictures/Baby Dude Pictures production in association with Bright Blue Sky, starring Erryn Arkin, Edith Ivey, Sylvia Boykin and Abigail de los Reyes, directed by James Kicklighter, based on the short story by Will McIntosh, from a screenplay by Maureen Cooke and Mark Ezra Stokes, and produced by James Kicklighter, Kasey Ray-Stokes, Mark Ezra Stokes and Maureen Cooke. The executive producers are John C. Arnold, R. Lee Arnold and Alex Johnson, the director of photography is Jason Winn, with special makeup effects by Renonda Anderson and an original score from Bruce Kiesling.

I had a great time playing the part of “Stage Dad” as Abby went through the ups and downs of a very intense shoot.  The cast and crew took great care of her and Heidi Lancaster, Production Assisant Extrodinaire, gets uber-kudos for helping Abby navigate life on the set.

Granted a very small view of the movie-making world, here are my top 10 reflections from the week with the Jamesworks family. In no particular order . . .

Movie sets are not good for diets – I suspect that there is a stage of movie life where personal chefs come into the picture, but for most boot camps sets I assume the sandwiches and quick fast-food runs are more the norm.

Movie life is not glamorous – While we did send in a rider requesting “no blue m&m’s and white carnations in the morning” the glamour of the experience quickly died out for Abby after the second day of so much make-up and repeated shouts of “zombie face” and “no blinking” commands.

Children add an interesting dynamic – Because of the strict rules regarding child actors, the set seems to be driven by Abby’s hours: on set, off set, meals, etc.  Add in just general kids emotions and you can see what movies that have kids involved would usually take much longer to shoot.

Extras rock – With hundred of extras cast as zombies and background folks, they really go above and beyond when it comes to a shoot.  No pay, no guaranteed of screen time and in this case, FREEZING COLD temperatures earned these folks serious brownie points!

Speed is all relative – There was a good deal of waiting around between shoots and location changes.  Much of the day Abby played on her DS, I read and we waited for the “Bring in the talent”call to which Abby silently responded with e gleam in her eye, “That’s me!” Once shooting began there were then multiple takes with multiple camera angles all taking a good amount of time for even a short bit of film.

James Kicklighter, Kasey Ray-Stokes and Mark Ezra Stokes will be a movie rock stars some day – Sure, I am a newbie to all of this, but I can can only hope that good and talented people will succeed in all that they hope for.  As I watched James create scenes using Mark’s script all amidst Kasey’s management of the crew I was moved and thankful to be part of this project in some small way.

Actors are people too – While a small cast, Abby was welcomed to the journey by the three other primary actors, especially Erryn Arkin, the leading actor. Sylvia Boykin and Edith Ivey where great when shooting their scenes at making Abby feel comfortable as well.  The highlight though was probably all the time of Yo-Yo’ing and DS’ing that Erryn and Abby shared.

Production Assistants are simply awesome – With all productions, movies or otherwise, the nuts-n-bolts have to be executed by someone. The PA’s assigned too all aspects of the shoot were a joy to work with.  I will certainly leave people out but a special thanks to Katie, Abby’s stand-in and Renonda’s help with make-up, Ryan who shuttled us around and Heidi who took care of Abby on set.

Systems are systems are systems – I love watching and observing group dynamics and this was just as exciting as other groups.  From the early get-to-know-you time, to the mid-schedule lulls to the ending pressure it was like watching a family develop and grow.  Friendships grew, silliness was exposed and people were people like anywhere else.

Passion lived out is pretty awesome – By far the most exciting part about being in the midst of these folks who loved what they were doing was just listening to their passions expressed.  From the in’s and out’s of the editing process to camera work complexities to musings on the state of film-making today, it is clear that these folks are fed by this work that they do.  Can’t really ask for much more than that.

BONUS: Social Media Rules – This entire thing started with THIS TWEET from @barbaranixon to @jameskick and during the entire shoot #followedfilm was tweeted, facebook friends were made and one could tell that the buzz was great for this project.  You should be sure to like both JamesWorks and The de los Reyes Sisters on facebook. And if you are on twitter: James, Erryn, Mark, Kasey and the de los Reyes Sisters are must follows. You can also see photos that we took of the experience.

So there you have it, my novice view of Abby’s first (?) moving making experience.  We are exited about seeing the final product – sometime in later January – and then to see how it does in the film festival world.  We are hoping to make it to a showing or two if possible, after all that hard work, Abby’s surly deserves a little bit of glamour in her life 😉

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