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The Challenge

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NCIS Challenge Coin

This past Friday I finished my fifth class playing an NCIS Special Agent in the Naval Justice School’s mock trial program.  When I first started in this program back in December 2016 I was simply cast as an actor, given background information to learn and literally jumped into the deep end of the pool. For those of you that have been following this blog for the last year, you know how much I enjoy this assignment. It’s important work. Not just for me as an actor, but for the school, the students and the military.

Now that I direct and supervise this program for the government contractor the responsibility level elevates. It’s not just important that I do my job as an actor, but I need to insure that others are doing their job as well. As a director my goal is that they present a strong performance on stage and off.

This round was particularly special for me when a recently retired NCIS Special Agent joined our group as an actress playing an “NCIS Special Agent”. Obviously, she brought a wonderful perspective to the part and was a joy to work with. But when she presented me with an “official” NCIS challenge coin, well that just made this round all the more exciting. But rewarding for me came at the end when I was getting ready to leave on Friday. One of the students walked up to me and thanked me for the work I did. Likewise, I thanked him for his service and the work he is doing. In the end, that’s what this is all about.

But as for out and about, it wasn’t all business. I had time in my schedule to visit the Audrain Automobile Museum to see their latest exhibit.  If you find yourself in the Newport, Rhode Island area, I highly recommend a visit.

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In First Signal a military satellite intercepts an alien signal.

In regard to visiting, I will be at the Joint Base Cape Cod for a National Guard training exercise on April 6-7 and 10-11. To quote from the registration link for those interested in being a Casualty Role Player, “The training exercises will simulate an emergency response to a manmade or natural disaster including a structural collapse and/or nuclear, biological or chemical incident.” I will be there in a production capacity. To learn more, and to be considered as a Casualty Role Player, please visit this link.

It’s hard to be believe that auditions for First Signal will soon be here. With auditions set for April 14 in Nashua, NH at the Nashua Library and April 15 in Natick MA at the Verve Crowne Plaza, we have some great talent scheduled.

With First Signal being the first installment of what I hope to be a franchise in this “First World” universe I created a decade ago, the challenge is finding the right actors for the right parts.  I’ve been fortunate over the years to work with some wonderful talent. Actors that are not only great at what they do on camera, but a joy to be around when the cameras turn off. That’s vital when casting a film. Because long after the last “cut” is heard and the cameras are turned off, it’s on to promotion and marketing.

Performance.

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The Breakdown

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A concept for the opening image of First Signal.

Whenever I start the process of preparing a project for pre-production I start to breakdown the script. Every filmmaker has their own process, but for me I start on page 1 and list what’s needed apart from the characters themselves. Aside from the three locations and uniforms, the majority of the breakdown notes for First Signal is stock footage.

I’ve posted about stock footage before and its importance in film production. Without stock footage First Signal would only come to light with a significant seven figure budget. One scene calls for a “Helicopter Taking Off From Roof”.  In the days before stock footage, such a scene would have to be produced. Now, it costs about $50.

For me the breakdown of a script brings the reality of production that much closer. Once that list is done, I just start to pull all these pieces together and check them off one by one. Of course, there’s always things that come up that seem next to impossible.  With Justice Is Mind it was the 11th hour securing of an MRI center to shoot the pivotal scenes of the mind reading process.

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Finding an MRI Center for Justice Is Mind wasn’t easy. But in the end it came together.

The one thing I’m adamant about when producing a film (or anything for that matter) is organization.  Nothing is worse than arriving on set and disorganization (or incompetence) seems to be the status quo. I honestly don’t understand it.

When I’m cast on a project I just do as I’m told. But I’m also observing everything. The one thing I have observed with these “large productions” is that there are simply too many cooks in the kitchen all trying to out maneuver each other. On a set there is only one cook, the director.  It’s pretty laughable when a production assistant gives you direction opposite of what the director just gave you. Their look when I say, “Well the director wanted me to do it the other way” is priceless.

As for communication, next weekend I’ll be posting a casting notice on Backstage and New England Film for the characters in First Signal that have not been cast. Auditions will be in April. These next two months are going to very busy. The next Naval Justice School class starts on Friday for the next few weeks, then it looks like I’ll be casting for a major military exercise in April and May.

Preparedness.

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Is this cloud formation hiding an Arctran?