Brackish Waters Filming

Lights, camera, and puns! (Brackish Waters Film Post #5)

Sunday’s call sheet was small. Two actors, the director, and the producer/cinematographer, et al, who took off his acting role to be behind the camera. 

Can I just say I LOVE that my costume requires me to wear sneakers?

We had one scripted scene to shoot with me and the other actor and few short shots of just me. One was to be ad-libbed. Even though improved stuff terrifies me, I’ve started to feel comfortable with the cast and the overall process so it makes it a bit less daunting.

One thing I have learned, however, is that with this cast, my pun game has to be on point from the moment I walk in. My scene-partner, Tim, is a pun master…I’m talking groan inducing puns, so it’s a mental challenge to try and keep up. I feel bad for the poor director who takes it all in stride but secretly would probably like to pelt us with olives. (10 points if you know what movie I vaguely referenced.)


Tim the pun master


After the scripted dialogue, we moved to my character’s bedroom to shoot a few scenes of me tossing my horrid hat, and talking to myself in the mirror. As one does. Mercifully, we only had to do this take twice because this thinking on the spot thing is for the birds!


danielle as terri in mirror
Artsy shot!


Because it was a small group called for the shoot and there was only one page of dialogue we were able to wrap by 6:30 even though we started at 4:00. Not too shabby. I was home by 7:30. My wine barely had time to miss me.

Until next time…

Danielle Bannister, author, and ad-libber


Brackish Waters Filming

Lights, camera, and missing pants (Brackish Waters Film Post #4)

Filming happened on Sunday out at the home of the director of Brackish Waters (Shelly Curtain). I had been invited along, not to act today, but to come as a writer. She wanted me to meet the other actors of the film, and to blog about the process in a day of filming. I opted to give a little blow by blow of the day so that those of you who have never worked in film get a sense of how a film project might be. 🙂

2:10 PM Despite my best intentions to be on time for filming on Sunday, I was early. By a full 20 minutes.  Oh well, I’d rather be 20 minutes early than 5 minutes late.

The cast began showing, in makeup, around 2:40. They had been off site at Linda Gibbons-Bets salon getting their hair and makeup done. As soon as they arrived they began to feast upon the proffered cookies and coffee (actors do love to eat.) While I sat in the kitchen, the six actors in the day’s shoot proceeded to get into costume. With only one bathroom and a schedule to keep, the cast did what casts do. They drop trou and get into costume wherever they stand. Modesty isn’t something afforded when you’re an actor. It only takes one 30 second full costume change backstage to get over that shyness.

Once the cast was assembled under one roof it was time to hurry up and wait. Costumes needed tweaking, lights needed adjusting and lines needed to be rehearsed.

Tony Rolfe, Hoyt Hutchins, Nolan Ellsworth, Dena Sozio, and Cora Hutchins

3:02 The coffee pot is done, making a few of the younger cast members happy. The crew is still futzing around, while the actors are still in the kitchen downing food (in costume…gasp!) That had my theatre training up in arms, but this is not the theatre. And I am not the costume mistress. I will bite my tongue.

3:20  A quick line run through before going onto the set. While the actors ran their lines, the extras were excused to grab some lunch. Guess the cookies and donuts weren’t enough.

While they run lines, the photographer (Dena Sozio) goes through the shots she took of the actors in costume.

3:40 The actors came back with their chicken making the entire set smell like a KFC. (Now I want mashed potato and gravy. Mmmm)

3:43  A full hour past call time and we are about ready to rock. I tucked myself into a corner of the room where we’d be filming along with the sound operator and photographer.

Asha Kirkland ran the sound today so Cora Hutchins (the normal sound op) could play an extra, Nolan Ellsworth ran the clapboard so Hoyt Hutchins could perform his role and here’s Dena with her trusty camera.

3:55 pm Actors are in place. Lights are up. Camera in position. Sound/clapboard ready to rock…Wait, hold the phone. There is a second table in the shot. That means it needs to be set.

4:04 First take of the day. (2 pages in this scene to film)

4:08  Take two

4:13 Take 3

4:17  Starting to get a rumbly tumbly of my very own…Hope it doesn’t pick up on the boom mic a few feet away from me.

4:22 Take 5

4:28 Take 6 That’s a wrap…For that angle. Now they need to set up to do the same shot but from a different position so that when it’s edited together by Tim Pugliese (who also plays Darius and is the film’s co-producer) the action is broken up by multiple angles.

The extras are being sent home as they won’t be in this shot.

While we were breaking I went to sneak one of the cookies to calm the hunger monster but alas, they had all been eaten. Sad panda.

4:39 Take One (Same scene new angle) Boom. Nailed it in one take. Ta da!

4:44 Prepping for the next scene. Lights rearranged, camera reset. New actors coming in.

More food that isn’t mine is being consumed by those around me. Hungry Panda.

Ah poo. Our daylight fell. Not the sun in the sky. That’s still where it’s supposed to be. But the filter that was attached to the window to dull the intenseness of said sun, slipped and fell to the floor. Luckily, it fell after a take but it does mean a few minutes to retape it back up.

I opt to go out in the kitchen to stretch my legs…I look out side and see one of the actors is getting a haircut. But of course. His hair had grown since the last time they shot. Consistency is key in film. Thank goodness Seamstress Shari John was on site with her trusty scissors!

4:58 I FOUND 2 COOKIES!!!!! All is well with the world again.

5:00 Ready to rock again.

5:02 Well, almost ready to rock…resetting

Director/producer Shelly Curtain giving Tony Rolfe, Tim Pugliese and Cora Hutchins some notes before filming

5:07 Take 1

5:09 Boom. That take was in the bag. Resetting to Winter! We’re cruising now! Or we will be once we turn the summer set into a winter one. A few set pieces get moved around, lights adjusted… and then, while things are being set up, the entire cast/crew (not me-cause I don’t sing) breaks out into A Whole New World from Dinsey’s Aladdin. Naturally. Theatre (and apparently film) peeps are cool.

5:14 The room gets oddly quiet as we hear from the kitchen: “Shelly where are my pants?”

5:19 Pants have been located by the actor (and put on in the middle of the kitchen) as we do a quick line through before filming begins. There are four pages to this scene.

5:26 Take one

5:28 Take two. While it sounded/looked good from my viewpoint the actor was not in shot.

5:30: Regluing one of the actor’s mustaches. (It keeps coming off because Tim enjoys delivering really BAD puns. A few are so bad you can’t help but chuckle. One side effect is that it also loosens Spirit Gum…(the glue used to hold on fake mustaches)

5:37 Take four (I’m not sure where take 3 went. I missed it!)

5:45 Take 6 (Take 5 was full of off camera sneezes) The mic they are using is good. It picks up EVERYTHING though. Even that sneeze from the assumed safety of being outside.

aaaaaand we just discovered that the 6 takes we just filmed have to be scrapped. There was a light tree in the way. This one:

Naughty light!

5:46 Take one-again.

It’s an emotional scene with lots of lines. It must be hard to stay focused with so many people watching you. Toss in the fact that you have to also make sure you’re in the shot and don’t hit any of the things around you…I’m glad I wasn’t filming today. Lots of pressure. The actors did well to stay on task.

5:55 Take 9 winner, winner chicken dinner. That one was a good one!

We now need a close up on the actor delivering his emotional monologue but before we do that…

6:01 We pause for a few posed photos before the photographer needs to leave for the night.

6:12 Take one of the close-up.

6:15 Take 2 (stash fell off)

Stay on stash! He needs to get ready for his close-up!

6:16 Take 3

6:21 The last shot of the day needs to be done before we call it a wrap. My hunger has mercifully wained itself into submission. The director blocks out the scene, which has to be done in a small space so they run it a few times to get the feel of it.

6:30 Take one-The cast is getting a little punchy. It’s been a long afternoon.

6:33 Take 2- Good except the end of the scene the actors got out of the shot. Movement is soooo limited in film. You can only move as far as the stationary camera goes. (We don’t have one of those mounted camera do-hickeys)

6:35 Take 3-Action tweaking. A few acting notes.

6:38 Take 4- almost there…

And one of the actor’s suspender’s snapped. Whoops.

6:43 Take 5- And that did it.

And that’s a wrap! For that day anyway!

With the announcement that we were free to go, my hunger came back a new, so I gathered my things and walked out through the kitchen to get to my car, passing a few of the actors in a mid-costume change in their underwear.


Until next time…


Danielle Bannister, Author, and behind-the-scenes-secret-spiller




Brackish Waters Filming

Lights, camera, boats! (Brackish Waters Film Post 3)

On Sunday I had my second day of shooting for a local indie film called Brackish Waters (You can read about casting and the first day of shooting here and here)

My first day of filming had me soaking wet from a rainstorm, on Sunday, I got to be dressed in a long skirt and shirt on a hot and buggy day. Good times.

The morning started with hair and makeup on location. (How fancy!) We were shooting one of a few external shots of the film. This particular scene takes place outside the Inn where most of the action of the movie happens. The director’s parents have a  camp and since the Inn is supposed to be by the water, it turned out to be a pretty groovy spot.

We sat up some wooden chairs and placed that water view behind us.

2017-07-17 05.15.20.jpg

Now, for those who know me well, you’ll know that nature and I don’t always get along. And trust, me, there were a lot of creepy crawlies. *shivers. Like ants crawling on the prop paper I’m reading before a take or a bee thinking the fake flower in my hat was real or simply just the gazillion other flying bugs looking at me as a good option for a landing strip. Even with all that nature, however, I walked out of there without a single bug bite! Nature 245,340/Danielle 1

The movie is set, primarily, in the early 1900’s, but does involve some time travel. Can you tell which one of us is stuck in the wrong era?

Cut frame Darius and Terri
One of these things is not like the other…one of these things just doesn’t belong…everyone sing!

The character I play, Terri, is the unfortunate traveler. That works out GREAT for me because I get to wear sneakers (it’s in the script!) and get to feel uncomfortable in the awkward clothes. Dude. I can do that. I loathe dresses and most girly things so I’m not having to act there.

The scenes we shot that afternoon consisted of a series of my character reading some news articles out of the newspaper. She’s trying to acclimate herself to her time via the news. It’s probably a grand total of five minutes of actual scene time. However, the shooting time was about three hours, thanks mostly due to boats. Lots of them, enjoying the water on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. Jet skis in the 1900s aren’t exactly an ideal thing you want passing through your shot. We had to shoot fast in between boat passes. And chop saws. I kid you not. The neighboring camp decided to use that block of our filming time to cut wood. Haha! That meant that when there was a second of quiet we had to shoot and shoot it fast. Talk about pressure to perform!

cast&crew2 a1s7
Waiting for the boats to pass. Again.

Once we wrapped those scenes we had one last shot where I was walking down a road. No lines! Woot woot! But it also meant I wasn’t near the breeze of the water, so it was hot, hot, hot! Mercifully, they only had me do the shot twice before they wrapped for the day.

All in all, it was a good day. Then again, any day I can escape nature unscathed is a good day.

Stay tuned for more.

Danielle Bannister, author and nature-avoider


Brackish Waters Filming

Lights, Camera, Action (Brackish Waters filming Post 2)

This past Sunday was day one of filming for my scenes in the movie Brackish Waters. I went in not really knowing what to expect, other than we were slated to do two and a half pages of dialogue. It may not seem like a lot but those short pages took about three hours to shoot.

A large part of the film happens in an inn, which the director has converted her own actually living room into a dining area and a living room area (or were they called parlors back then?) Anywho, it’s a smallish room to begin with, but then you add a bar area, tables, and chairs, and then the camera stand, the light towers, microphone, and extension cords galore…well, it restricts the space physical space in which you have to act. As a theatre actor, I’m used to taking up space. This did not afford me that luxury. In fact, the acting space was so tight that my butt hit the camera in one scene, ruining the take. Thank’s a lot butt.

In film, things aren’t always shot in sequence, which confuses my pea brain. You often do the same shot twice too. Once from over one actor’s shoulder then  from the other. Each time you change angles…you have to change the lights, the microphone, the camera and all of the props you’ve touched (or haven’t touched yet) back to their starting point.

For instance, the scene we shot on Sunday required a lot of prop use, which meant when ‘whiskey’ was inadvertently spilled on the white tablecloth, we had to stop everything, move all the dishes on the table and get a new tablecloth put down. Then, we had to place each of those twelve or so dishes back on the table in the same spot it was before the spill. A tedious task to be sure.

The first shot of the day was me coming into the inn. Soaking wet from a rainstorm. I’m told there is video of me as the director gleefully doused me with water. If I get access to it, I’ll share. 🙂

For the rest of the shoot, I was continually ‘freshened up’ to keep the look of drowned rat up to par.

This scene we shot happened at night, in the 1900s (where my character time travels back too) so the room had to be dark and look lit by candles. How do you do that when you’re filming during the day? Black trash bags in all the windows, naturally!

Three hours with a constant state of wetness was beginning to prune my hands and made me feel rather soggy. So you can imagine my joy when they decided they needed to get one more angle. 

After we wrapped for the day, I may have done a little jig before changing into the dry clothes I had brought with me.

I don’t have a call sheet for when my next scene will be, but I’ll keep you posted. If you want to read post one of the process, (casting) you can read that here:

Brackish Waters Filming, Uncategorized

Brackish Waters Filming (Post 1)

A few weeks ago, I was cast in a movie that’s being filmed locally here in Maine. I thought I’d do a blog about the experience and take you along for the ride.

The casting of this movie actually stems back a few years when I was in a ten-minute play festival that the writer, Shelly Curtain, had entered for submission to the festival. I was cast as a woman named Terri. A woman who traveled back in time. Just like Claire in Outlander!!! Ahhhh! (The writer had never heard of Outlander before I mentioned it…she will by the end of this shoot! Fair warning Shelly!) Anywho, the play ended, we all went our separate ways. In the years that followed, Shelly turned the ten-minute play into a full-length play, and then into a screenplay. She cast all her parts and had even begun filming, but there was one role that had to be recast. The role of Terri. The very same part I played in the theatre version.

Fast forward to this year and the local middle school’s speech competition where I was one of the judges. Guess who I was paired up with as a judge? Tim Pugliese. The lead actor of Shelly’s movie. Tim and I spent much of the day together exchanging bad puns and past role experiences. Shelly was there too and she and I worked as judges later that day and after then, some time after the competition, we got to chatting and she asked if I would be willing to audition for the role. Small world.

This is Tim as Darius Reed

To make a long story short, too late (10 points if you know what that movie that’s from) I was sent a monologue and a scene to read with Tim. Get this: the fictional town where this story takes place…it’s the same fictional town I made up for Doppelganger! Bucksville. Her town was in Maine, mine in New Hampshire. But still, how freaky is that?

Anywho, I arrived at her house where most of the shooting will take place and was surprised to see that she had literally transformed her house into the set of a 1900’s inn as the script dictates. It was wild. Like walking onto a stage set in someone’s living room.


We talked a bit about what the movie was about, where they were in the filming process and what sort of time commitment was going to be needed etc., then it was down to business. Acting time. The monologue was a tough one. The emotional tone bounced around a lot, as a good monologue should. Anger, sadness, laughter. My audition wasn’t as polished I had practiced at home but it did the trick. I was offered the role on the spot.

The first day of filming for me will be on Sunday. I have about six lines in this first scene (mercifully) and I’ve got them down. In theory. It will be interesting to see how long shooting six lines will take. I’m guessing a wee bit longer than it would take to rehearse six lines in theatre haha.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how my first day of shooting goes.


Danielle Bannister, author and movie actress. hehe