Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kickstarter Update: Minimum goal achieved!

We've made it beyond our minimum goal of $3000, thanks to the generous support of numerous donors. This achievement ensures funding via Kickstarter. To all of our backers who have pledged so far, thank you.

And if you'd still like to show your support for "the mushroom movie"--you have until 6:31pm EST on December 3rd to make your pledge:

Donations $35 and above qualify for cool "forager-friendly" thank you gifts.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Production Report-Week 4

As previously mentioned, we had a week's hiatus before finishing up principal photography on Now, Forager. While a few of the cast and crew members had other job commitments, others would enjoy some well-deserved R & R. And the rest of us would be still working on production logistics non-stop...

Jenny "Queen of Locations" Harkins was hustling to find us our most challenging restaurant interior--an elegantly modern Asian-influenced fine-dining establishment. We needed a kitchen interior, a front-of-the-house interior, and a restaurant exterior. And we needed two full days to shoot all the scenes.

The difficulty: if a restaurant closes at all in New York, it's usually only for one day per week. To get a single location that matched our very specific decor and style needs for two full days--not bloody likely. So we divided the scenes into a back-of-the-house day and a front-of-the-house day. And Jenny scored us a couple of incredible locations...

For our Back-of-the-House/Kitchen, we shot one of the prep kitchens of the Thompson Hotel in Manhattan's Lower East Side. Lots of sleek new stainless steel appliances and equipment. A great layout with plenty of room to shoot. A beauty of a stove. It was everything we needed it to be.

But the Front-of-the-House that Jenny came up with was maybe the biggest location score of the entire shoot. 1 or 8 Atelier of Food in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was beyond our wildest dreams. Owners Maho and Shinji Mizutani have designed a restaurant that exudes brilliance in every facet. Sleek design, decor, and lighting (seen in the photo above); an inventive selection of house-infused cocktails; a full menu that offers top-quality sushi and sashimi plus a rotating selection of French-influenced entrees. They even featured a tasting menu of different mushroom dishes earlier in the fall season. Total simpatico. Julia and I went in for an amazing dinner
a couple days after shooting--the whole experience was beyond superlatives.

In the costume department, we also had the generous support of Michael Pittard and Maggie Kleinpeter of Supermaggie (who started their business in Brooklyn, and who recently moved their operations to Austin). They helped us outfit our chefs and restaurant staff in these scenes with their super-cool octopus t-shirts.

And that's a wrap for our interior locations. We still have to get a bit of fall driving footage, a couple more days of winter exteriors in December, some Additional Dialog Recording, some short animated sequences, and some time-lapses. But some of the hardest parts of production are now behind us.

Foragers--cast and crew--you have been amazing. Our deepest gratitude to you all. Now get some rest.
(Photo by Kelly Marsh)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

82% Funded with 23 Days to Go!

In just about a week, we've achieved more than 80% of our funding goal on Kickstarter. We are most humbly grateful for the love and enthusiasm of our friends, family, and supporters across the country. There are no finer communities to have roots in than Austin and Brooklyn.

Our deepest and most heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has helped spread the word, offered encouragement, and pledged a few bucks if they could. Cheers!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Production Report: Week 3

Now, Forager Week 3 started in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, shooting a restaurant interior at Chestnut on Smith Street.

It was very fortuitous that our intrepid location scout (Jenny Harkins) made contact with Chestnut's chef (Daniel Eardley) soon after his own foray into the woods searching for fall edibles. We had found a like-minded establishment--with a perfect interior for our
scenes. This wouldn't be the last time Jenny saved our bacon with a fantastic place to shoot.

Our next morning would be a venture into doc-style shooting, for scenes of Lucien at his win
ter job working in a bread bakery (located in Astoria, Queens). The afternoon was spent on various restaurant exteriors around Brooklyn--in Park Slope and Sunset Park. Special thanks to the folks at Moutard, Stone Park Cafe, and Hunan Delight.

We spent a full day in Manhattan for (mostly) exteriors. The East Village in the morning (where this photo of our lead characters hawking their wares was taken); Chinatown mid-day; and then a short round-trip train ride to NJ. Boom, boom, boom. We were on fire.

We rounded out the week with two days on Staten Island. I'm not sure how many films shoot in all 5 boroughs of New York, but the scrappy DIY professionals behind Now, Forager made it happen.

(Our Bronx shoot was in Van Cortlandt Park back in May--scenes of Lucien hunting for morels and ramps. 'Can one actually find morels and ramps in Van Cortlandt Park?' you might ask. My lips are sealed...)

Camp Pouch Boyscout Camp on Staten Island was a fantastic and fungi rich location. Jeremy (our sound guru) had his mushroom eyes on--finding a big Chicken-of-the-Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) log. We also spotted a big patch of stinkhorns (Phallus impudicus), a fruiting of shaggy manes (Coprinus comatus) and some blewits (Lepista nuda). I also found several Lactarius and Cortinarius species, as well as a patch of Hebeloma (these are hard to ID to species, but a typical variant has the common name "Poison Pie" if that gives you a clue as to their general edibility).

We also had the full moon working on our side for our Staten Island days--and we took advantage by shooting into dusk one day, and into the night on the next (at Wolfe's Pond Park).

Week 3--wrapped. The Now, Forager crew would get a week's hiatus while our DP Jon and our gaffer Brian went to shoot episodes of Chopped for the Food Network.

It was just the chance I needed to get back into the woods to shoot some more "mushroom porn" and gather a few more stunt fungi for our final scenes. The fall season was hanging on with some nice late hens, plenty more blewits, a late explosion of honey mushrooms (Armillaria gallica), and even some delicious gypsies (Cortinarius caperatus).

Did I mention how much we love this crew? Here's some of the gang on Staten Island at the end of the week.

(The photos in this post were taken by Jon Nastasi...on actual film, no less.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Support NOW, FORAGER on Kickstarter

We just launched a fundraising campaign for Now, Forager via Kickstarter.

Visit our Kickstarter project page to learn more. There are some super cool mushroom-themed rewards to thank you for your donation.

Production Report: Week Two

After a couple well-deserved days off, Now, Forager - Week Two started in New Jersey. First at Julian's Bait Shop in Atlantic Highlands (live eels!); then on to a surf fishing sequence at Sandy Hook where Jon Nastasi, our DP, donned waders and ventured out chest deep into the ocean to get some shots; then on to the pine barrens of Cheesequake State Park (my favorite name for a state park in New Jersey) for more fungi hunting.

These scenes featured some lovely lobster mushrooms (Hypomyces lactifluorum) and a pair of machete-toting Russian mycophiles (played with appropriate linguistic gravitas by Alex Mayzlin and Brandon deSpain). Thanks to to some weather disturbances over Newark, every commercial flight out of NJ was re-routed directly over our production, with planes passing every 90 seconds or so. That Jeremy Fleishman, our sound maestro, didn't slit his own throat with one of the machetes is a testament to his character.

We were back at Cheesequake the next day as well, to shoot the film's opening sequence, including an abundant fruiting of wild Hen-of-the-Woods (Grifola frondosa) mushrooms. I have to offer a very special thanks to local foraging legend George Johanson for loaning our production several of the most beautiful young Grifola specimens I've ever laid eyes on.

The next two days were spent on interiors--in the apartment of our lead characters, Lucien (played by yours-truly) and Regina (played by Tiffany Esteb). Filmmaker Joe Petrilla graciously let us use his Brooklyn apartment as our location. Thanks to Joe for not kicking us out after the first scene we shot, where I gutted and filleted two 20lb. striped bass on his kitchen counter. (Our producer, Kit Bland: "Get those fish out of there as soon as possible, please.")

We rounded out the week in the prep kitchen of the soon-to-reopen Brooklyn Star restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (thanks to chef Quino Baca and his crew for their support). Our good friend and master thespian Eric Dean Scott was back in town from his new home in Slovenia, so we were very glad to put his services to use for the day in a supporting role.

Also new to our crew this week was production assistant Juan Diaz De Lindo--who was on fire keeping our production running and taking amazing set photos in between (both of the photos in this post are his).

And that's pretty much how it happened. Two weeks down, two to go...