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The making of HEY, Kiddo

To BIAFF 2010 results | To Full Making Of Index

At BIAFF 2010 The Space Between won a 4-Star Award with Hey, Kiddo.

What has a theater group got to do with film making? Borrow a few actors perhaps, but what else can it do for film makers?

Still from 'Hey Kiddo'.

Southwest Utah is a conservative area and The Space Between Theatre Company (TSBTC) was founded to introduce theatre and arts events that were outside the rather anodyne local productions. The objective was not to offend but rather to educate, open a window on an exciting world and stimulate the local population. A population that was changing as the area grew and the local community college morphed into a four year college with plans to become a university.

Ned Cordery shooting a scene.

The theatre group mounted plays such as Waiting for Godot, Cabaret, Facing East and works by local playwrights. Music and play readings are a part of the offering. A film unit was created for recording rehearsals and grew into a production unit with a life of its own under The Space Between umbrella. First video promos were made and then in 2009 it was decided to hold a script writing contest, the winning script to be produced and sent to as many festivals as possible.

We had three judges; two lecturers from the communication/theatre department of the local college and a professional actor. We received twenty entries; the winner was written by Dan Hesse, a retired lawyer who has written several short stories but this was his first attempt at a film script. So Hey, Kiddo was born: a story of two recovering alcoholics from opposite ends of the social scale and how they help each other. We had our winner and so we set to work.

Day 1 - The Auditions

Our director, Douglas, is an experienced theatre director/actor and has appeared in films and TV but never directed a film. He set up the auditions through the members of TSBTC, his network of local actors and by advertising in the local newspaper. There was an excellent turnout for the leads, both in their 40s, some acting experience required but not necessarily in film. The selected actors were Dianne Marius, an experienced stage actor with no film experience and Roger Dunbar a well known local actor/director with limited film experience. Ten extras were recruited for a half day shoot.

Day 2 - The Read Through

Douglas and Katie discussing a scene.
Douglas and Katie

With everyone present, Director, Actors, Writer and crew; the actors read through the entire script. Dan made changes as required and we all got a feel for how the script would work. It looked as if the finished time would be between 20 and 30 minutes. We wanted to get under 30 minutes as a number of festivals set this as their short film time limit. We also decided on the "look" of the film. We decided to go for well lit and photographed, no hand held, HD and thus 16:9. We also reviewed our crew:
  • Director: Douglas Caputo
  • Camera: Ned Cordery (and co-producer).
  • Sound: Alberto Kniepkamp
  • Location management: Iris Vazquez
  • Props & wardrobe: Bri Buckley
  • Grip: Dan Hesse(also the writer and co-producer).
  • Continuity: Susan Kniepkamp
  • Coordination: Katie Hulet
  • Post production: Edit Ned Cordery, sound by Alberto Kniepkamp.

The first requirement was to get permits to shoot on the city streets and around the County and Federal offices, plus a location for a meeting. We decided to apply for permits rather than take a guerilla approach as we are trying to establish ourselves as a vital part of the community. Iris was completely successful with all our objectives.

Days 3/4 - Location Shoot

Shooting the car sequence. The "homes". This sequence was to set the contrast between "Kate" and "Dave's" life styles - their homes and their transportation - as they set out for a meeting: "Kate" in her tiny apartment and on bicycle; "Dave" in his substantial home and in Porsche Boxster.  

We used a dolly for a tracking shot, which worked well. We tried a small crane for the departing car, a shot which was not entirely successful. We also shot a later scene of "Dave" being awoken during the night by a phone call from "Kate" as she left for Bakersfield .

Shooting the car sequence.
Still from 'Hey Kiddo'. Still from 'Hey Kiddo'. Still from 'Hey Kiddo'. Still from 'Hey Kiddo'.

Day 4 - The AA Meeting

It was decided not to show the actual meeting but rather people going in; the sound of the meeting over "Kate" arriving late and then the discussion between "Kate" and "Dave" after the meeting. We shot this in the courtyard of the local Episcopal Church ,who gave us free rein in exchange for a new tree for their garden. The discussion between "Kate" and "Dave" was under a canopy so we had to use additional lighting: two 1000 watt halogen lights with blue gels. The extras filled in the background. This sequence involved long dialogue passages that were shot from four different angles.

Day 5 - The Office Visits

This required "Dave" to drive "Kate" to a number of offices to complete her probation and pay off debts. It was a long and busy day.

Still from 'Hey Kiddo'. Still from 'Hey Kiddo'. Still from 'Hey Kiddo'. Still from 'Hey Kiddo'.

Day 6 - The Picnic

This was shot in the Pinion/Juniper zone on a day when the "no see'ums" (insects) were biting. There was another dialogue sequence and the wind overcame the "fuzzy" on the microphone. The was overcome by Alberto lying on the ground with the mic and Dan holding a blanket just out of shot as a windbreak.

Day 7 - The Road to Bakersfield

Picture of cast and crew on their way to a set up on Bakersfield Road.This sequence was supposed to be shot at dawn but due to other commitments we had to shoot in the evening. It looks like dawn provided you don't know the area and we had to shoot "backwards" as the lighting decreased rather than increased.

Post Production

This began immediately the shoot was completed. There were four hours of HDV shots, these were loaded into the Mac and edited in Final Cut Pro v 5.

The Director supervised the edit and decided that he didn't like the close-up shots of the actors as HD is so revealing of every blemish, so few cutaways were used during the dialogue sequences.

The soundtrack was sweetened and the dialogue equalised by lifting out the edited sound track, writing to a CD as an AIFF file and then passing to Alberto who did all the post sound in Cakewalk. He then wrote the new file to a CD and it was dropped back into the FCP timeline. Amazingly, everything was still in sync! Music was selected from the AudioNetworkplc music library. They have a full professional music library but have special rates for home/student productions of $1.50 per song the commercial cost is about $150+ per song!

The finished run time is 21 minutes. Four stars at BIAFF is a fair result we feel. On to our 2010 script competition and a new production!

- Ned Cordery

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