With our first poster currently in the design phase and having written the trailer this week, there is one group that needs to be thanked for their participation in Justice Is Mind—the over 50+ extras. Without their support, Justice would have resulted in a much “smaller” look for it was the extras that gave the film the scope it needed in the areas of the story that called for it most.
For actors working as an extra it can be both a rewarding and daunting experience. There can be a lot of waiting around and in some cases (especially the studio level films) you may never actually be seen on camera. Sure, on the studio films you are getting a day rate, but it’s not about the money it’s about the craft. On Justice I wanted the actors participating as extras to know that I endeavored to not only make sure they were seen on camera, but that their very participation was vital to the film.
Case in point the Board of Directors of Reincar Scientific. When I was updating the script, I added a few scenes that were intercut over the testimony of Dr. Eve Pullman, the inventor of the FVMRI procedure. Logically, the company that funded this process would be following the story intently. After posting for executive “extras” on New England Film and with the assistance of Carlyne Fournier who played Dr. Even Pullman, not only did we have enough members for the board—but it was standing room only!
Another example of actors coming together was in the courtroom scenes for both the jury and the audience. After another round of promotion to constitute a full jury, Mary Wexler, who plays Judge Wagner in Justice Is Mind, was just terrific. We were in the enviable position of having more actors than we needed for the jury. From the bench, Mary took the reins as a judge would to ask prospective jurors questions—in this case their availability for the days needed on set. For those extras that didn’t make it on the jury, their participation as extras in the courtroom audience was just as vital.
I would also like to take this occasion to mention Sheila Mandeville Grant who played the jury forewoman. Sheila and I went to school together in Spencer, MA and graduated the same year. She has been such a wonderful supporter of my projects over the years. In the case of Justice her daughter Kelly Grant and Kelly’s boyfriend Nicholas Boyle participated as jurors. The David Prouty High School (alright I’ll just age myself) class of 1983 was a big part of Justice Is Mind—Mary Wenninger (our financial backer with her husband Stefan) also graduated the same year.
From the wedding of Margaret Carpenter to Henri Miller, to the FVMRI Operations Center, the actors that participated in Justice Is Mind as extras brought an enthusiasm to their roles that increased the dimension of the story on a variety of levels.
This director sends you an “extra” thank you and for bringing “justice” to your part.
It was Saturday, October 13 in the middle of the afternoon. I was sitting in the jury box at the Massachusetts School of Law thinking to myself for a few moments as I watched the scene unfold in front of me. For this particular scene I didn’t need to sit behind the cameras, I wanted to watch from another angle. The actors and crew knew what they were doing. But for this moment, I wanted to see the story I wrote two years ago come to life.
About a week earlier I reorganized the production schedule to end principal photography of Justice Is Mind with this scene. I wanted to conclude our weeks and weeks of work with a pivotal moment in the story that involved as many of the actors as possible. For anyone who has worked on a film set, there is a certain camaraderie that builds between the actors and the crew. I believed ending with a scene of substance was in order.
Scene 74 was the bail hearing of Henri Miller. Played by Vernon Aldershoff in the short film, Evidence, and having reprised his role for the feature, I could not be more proud of his performance. The complexity and depth he brought to this character is what truly makes a writer/director smile. Sitting behind him was Henri’s wife Margaret Miller. Played by Robin Rapoport in the short film and back for the feature, this is an actress whose performance range is inspiring. I should know, I played opposite her in a film last year and didn’t even recognize her when she auditioned for the short film version!
In this same scene were the other two co-stars of the film. The wonderfully talented Kim Gordon who played District Attorney Constance Smith brought a dynamic to the character that had me wishing I wrote more dialogue for her. And then there was Paul Lussier who played Henri’s lawyer and friend John Darrow. The passion he brought to his character made you feel for his client who appears all but guilty of the crimes he was charged with.
Behind the cameras (we generally used a two-three camera set up) were two of the most talented people I know. Jeremy Blaiklock, our director of photography, who I worked with on Evidence, set the example through his dedication and creative approach to photographing the story. And then there was Jared Skolnick who while originally signed on as our still photographer brought his artistic talents to bear with additional angles. Suffice to say, the coverage we achieved was impressive. I’m also happy to say that Jared is serving as our editor.
So it was at the end of Scene 74 when a voice inside me said “Cut!” rather automatically for the last time. It was then that Kim Gordon turned to me from her desk and said, “Well, the magic words!” For a fleeting second I just looked at her in confusion then said “Magic words? Oh…That’s a wrap!”
And with that, Justice Is Mind wrapped principal photography. I know I can speak for all of us when I say, what a ride it has been! 15 locations, a crew of 16, 35+ speaking parts and well over 50+ extras. Justice Is Mind is independent film at its finest. We proved that when outstanding talent on both sides of the camera come together, anything is possible.
But in addition to the cast and crew of Justice Is Mind there are the locations and sponsors that made this endeavor not only possible, but will present a quality on screen that will put this film on the same playing field of any studio level production.
As we enter post-production you can look forward to stills, posters, the trailer, the launch of the website and all kinds of promotion as we build up to the world premiere of Justice Is Mind in 2013.
To the actors, crew, location partners and sponsors, I say thank you again for not only believing in the story, but in me. I know how much time you gave up and how many schedules were reorganized. But on that last day of principal photography, we didn’t just pull a rabbit out of a hat with what we accomplished; we brought magic to the world of independent film.