Brooklyn Based Filmmaker

Making Ione’s Date (TBD 2014) and 600 Steps (TBD 2014) Pt. 1

Kitty Mirror
A shot from Kitty Ostapowicz’s 600 Steps

I was going to write about my Channel 101 NY commercials that followed a long drought of shooting, but instead I want to talk about our shoot on Monday, March 31st. I’ll get the to the Channel 101 commercials next week.

On Monday, March 31st, we shot four scenes at 1 Knickerbocker, a great restaurant in Bushwick. Two were for the final in my series of Ione shorts, Ione’s Date, and two were for actress and co-producer Kitty Ostapowicz’s first screenplay, 600 Steps.

The Ione shorts, if you haven’t watched them yet, are about Ione a punk rocker who is trying to get into law school and the conflict between her lifestyle and her dream. Ione comes from a feature screenplay of mine, White Wedding, she comes into the film seeming like a manic pixie dream girl but soon we find that she has her own dreams (practicing law). We started shooting the Ione shorts because Kitty Ostapowicz and I had worked a little bit together and we wanted to shoot again. First, she joined my, currently being re-developed, feature film Meme and then worked on my horror short Metatron. I needed to shoot more after Meme’s Kickstarter was unsuccessful and so I took some time to consider what we could shoot together. After skimming through old ideas and screenplays I looked at White Wedding again, which has been sitting in a folder because I need to work towards being able to secure a budget for it, and I thought Kitty would be perfect for Ione. Still, I didn’t want to shoot just a scene or two from the film. That would mean recruiting people for the other roles and I’m not quite ready for that, yet. So, I wrote Ione’s Wedding Problem both to see how Kitty would do in the role and to also challenge myself to do a little animation. I loved her performance and so a few months later we shot Ione’s Last Hand, which fleshed her out a little bit more. Then, after some discussion, I decided that I wanted to do one more and only one more Ione short. I thought a date would be a fun way to do it. I wrote a funny date scene but it just didn’t fit with the rest of the shorts. It was about a funny date and I realized that it needed to be about the conflict between her lifestyle and dream of being a lawyer and more than the previous two that conflict had to be foregrounded. So, I wrote Ione’s Date, which starts with a date and will end with Ione arguing with herself about the reality of her choice while hesitating to open a letter of either acceptance or rejection from a school.

600 Steps was written by Kitty a few months ago and is about relationships and loss. I don’t want to get into too many details about it, but I think it’s going to be a very visually powerful piece. I love what she’s written and that she wanted to work with me to make it. I think people are really going to connect with it.

We had these two short films lined up and started talking about where to shoot them. One is at a bar and the other at a restaurant. Kitty had connections to a bar in the East Village and got them to agree to let us shoot there for free. After taking into consideration exactly what we were going to shoot we decided to shoot both in one day. All the scenes were short and it would be easier to coordinate the location and the extras we needed for one day rather than two. Kitty busted her ass for this shoot. She put on a Producer hat for the first time and did a fantastic job. She organized the location and contacted dozens of people to be our extras. I think at one point we had 25 confirmed people. I secured the help of a bunch of friends and past collaborators to crew. I also contacted just about everyone I knew with a piece of equipment that would raise our overall production value and they all came through and loaned us their gear.

Everything was coming together. Then, on Thursday the 27th, when I had a string of meetings and work that made me unavailable, our location fell through. The man who was our contact texted Kitty to tell her we couldn’t use the place because he no longer owned it and couldn’t give us permission. I was useless, because of those meetings, so Kitty got on the line with everyone she could and secured us 1 Knickerbocker, which ultimately, I think, was an amazing get. It’s a beautiful restaurant and it’s very large. It was perfect for shooting in. We both went over there Thursday night and met with them and got the paperwork signed.

Monday came and it went fantastic. We lost some of our extras due to the location change and just that that’s sometimes how it goes, but we ended up with a great batch of people who did show up. The shoot went smoothly. We got started a little late and ended a little later than we had hoped, our ideal was to wrap shooting at midnight and be out the door by 12:30 and I think in the end we wrapped at 12:45 and were out the door right around 1:00. I’ve been reviewing the footage we shot and I love how it all came out. I think we got a great start to both films.

I’d like to extend a thanks to 1 Knickerbocker and Aimee Arciuolo in particular for letting us have the run of their restaurant on Monday night while they were closed. I also want to thank the great crew we had, who everyone should go out and hire for all of the things: Jeanette Sears, Christina Raia, Erin Clayton, Lauren Shaw, and Jesse Librera. Our two male leads: Vance Clemente and Drew Bruck who also should be hired by everyone for all of the things. And then all of our extras: Oksana Shestakova, Kristina Masters, Cameron Ketcham, Gregory Kong, Scarlett Costas, Kyle Bentley, Aimee Arciuolo, Stacy Mize, Brett Vanderbrook, Lydia Schmidt, Kathleen O’Leary, Benjamin Stonesifer, Denise Robinson, Lauren Shaw, and Naomi Steinhagen.

And Kitty deserves another mention for doing a great job producing for the first time on her first screenplay. Amazing work.

More on both of these projects coming soon.

Kitty in Ione's Date.
Kitty in Ione’s Date.

Here’s some behind the scenes photos from our shoot.