From the continuing series on the people who made Crossing... this week’s focus is John Prud'homme.
When I asked John what made him say yes to his role in the film, his answer wasn’t about the character or the story. He simply said, “Well, I was gonna hang out with you anyway, and making a movie sounded like it would be fun.”
It’s a stark contrast to the reasons his fellow cast members offered, but I think part of what made John a great fit in his role was that he had absolutely no experience acting prior to our first day on set. Tom is a unique person to portray, and his persona benefitted from John’s equally unique approach to developing him, answering every question and rising to every challenge from the perspective of a non-actor.
Part of what John said he enjoyed most about being on set was getting to meet and work with new people. “I only met Rachel and Eleanor at their auditions, so we sort of started in this almost professional relationship, and then become friends as filming went on.”
John noted that one of the moments from set he most enjoyed was his first day of filming with Eleanor. The first time any actor works with another, especially when some degree of chemistry is essential to the story, there’s always some apprehension. Luckily, in our case, it was short-lived: “We got over our nervousness very quickly and just did the scene. It was great.”
John is most looking forward to hearing the music in the final film: “When we’re on set, we’ll watch playback, but it’s hard to imagine what it will really look and sound like in the final cut.” He remarked that although he’s heard pieces of the music here and there, he’s very excited to hear it all added to the film.
When he’s not acting, John is a controls engineer. He’s also learning how to play the guitar and enjoys long boarding and hanging out with his friends. And procrastinating. Took him forever just to answer all my questions so I could write this article!
See John as Tom in Crossing on December 11.
From the continuing series on the people who made Crossing... this week’s focus is Nicholas Pitcher.
One thing Nick and I have in common is our high regard for the score of a film. It adds a new character to the story, one that guides the audience through the emotional beats of the film. Nick is an incredibly talented bassoonist, but his skillset doesn’t stop there: I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with him where he doesn’t play something on whatever instrument happens to be nearby. He was my one and only choice to compose music for Crossing… he probably read some of the earliest versions of the story and has been helping to tell that story since long before anyone else even knew Crossing existed.
Nick and I have a great relationship, despite this entire process being remote. Nick began writing the score in Arizona and completed his work after moving 3 times and finally landing in Colorado. In the same timespan, I never traveled more than 300 miles from home. Thankfully, we know each other’s styles quite well! On our collaboration, Nick says, “There aren't many opportunities to write music with this much freedom and trust. Rob and I met in New Hampshire and have worked together on a few projects in the past, but he had not yet approached me about composing a completely fresh score for one of his films. Knowing Rob's style and approach, I knew that it would be a great experience that would allow me to write with my own style, intention, and tastes… His help throughout this process was invaluable as a springboard for information. He was always willing to spend time on the phone with me to nail down the character of a scene, or the specifics of how the music was meant to interact with a particular moment.”
Nick says he is particularly drawn to the first track of his score for Crossing, entitled Borders. Ironically, though, he says his favorite moments from the film feature no music at all: a series of scenes in which the lack of score creates a strong tension.
Nick and I share a love of the Harry Potter series, due in no small part to the beautiful scores of the eight-film saga: “The music, written first by John Williams but then picked up by Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexandre Desplat over the years, is a whimsically transformative masterpiece of intent and wonder. When composing my own music, I am constantly reminded of the intensely thorough design of William's music, which seems to dig even deeper than the pictures on the screen to add to each scene. His use of motif, leitmotif, returning melodies, and shift in tone throughout the film were handled with such care and practice that the following composers had no choice but to follow in his footsteps as they set out to score the films which came after. What a magical masterpiece!”
In his free time, Nick enjoys watching movies and tv shows, playing games, solving puzzles, and embarking on what he described as a “tricky” job-hunt. Luckily, if Nick’s musical ability is to be taken into account during that job-hunt, I doubt it will last very long.
Nick and I are co-writing a short piece for an upcoming week about the score itself and the process by which it was created. Be sure to check it out! And hear Nick’s score in Crossing on December 11.
From the continuing series on the people who made Crossing... this week’s focus is Eleanor Langthorne.
I was about to call action on the second shot of the entire production. John and Eleanor had rehearsed the scene, they'd been made up and dressed, and we'd done as much preparation as we possibly could. It was time to go. And just as I was about to say the magic word, I looked through the viewfinder of the camera and saw the actors... doing Sharpay’s warm-ups from High School Musical. A barrage of "Brrr Brrr Brrr Mah!" followed by a duel between Eleanor's ridiculous laughs and a confused but characteristically happy smile on John's face.
That's the moment I knew Eleanor was going to be a great fit on our team. And coincidentally it's one of her favorite moments from production.
Strangely, months earlier, I wouldn't have expected to be in that position. I recall being incredibly nervous asking Eleanor to be a part of Crossing. I knew she'd be great as Alison and that she would bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the set. She is a professional, after all. A professional whom I doubted would even respond to an invitation from someone she barely knew from college to audition for a film that had a slim chance of taking off.
I guess I said something right in that invitation, because she did respond. We're all very lucky she did: Eleanor is a brilliant collaborator and a talented performer. She delivered a truly fantastic performance, despite not having as much screen time as her fellow actors.
On developing her character, Eleanor said, "When I first read the script, I immediately felt a lot of empathy for Alison... Her story was one that I felt like I could portray truthfully, which I think is such an important aspect of acting." Alison is arguably the most difficult character in the film to portray, but Eleanor was up to the challenge, and had a "delightful" co-star in John to help the process along. "It was really such a great experience all around... Filming scenes with John was a lot of fun. Plus, everything was so organized and ran really smoothly! Pretty much every project is destined to have some hiccups during shooting, but we were really fortunate that everything went as planned." I guess Eleanor didn't get the memo about the production-stopping rain during Ryan's scenes!
Eleanor cites Meryl Streep a large part of why she decided to pursue acting, and notes that her favorite film is Scott Pilgrim vs the World. A winning, if unusual, combination, to be sure. Eleanor spends much of her free time writing lyrics for and recording with her band. If all goes according to plan, their first album is due out by the end of 2020!
Eleanor says that on premiere night, she's most looking forward to seeing the scenes that she had nothing to do with: "There’s something really cool about reading a screenplay and then seeing how it translates to the screen without knowing or being part of any of the in-between process." Until then, a weekly mini-article about the film will have to suffice.
Eleanor's band is Vices Inc. Follow their page linked below and support their music! And see Eleanor as Alison in Crossing on December 11.
From the continuing series on the people who made Crossing... this week’s focus is Caroline Ferguson.
Caroline was the lead propsbuilder for Crossing, in charge of designing most of the props and creating a few of them. Caroline is and has always been a talented creative, and her skills as an engineer made the role a perfect fit for her.
Crossing is far from the first project Caroline and I have worked on together. We’ve known each other since 2006 (yikes, time flies when you’re making movies), and she has been a part of every film project I’ve ever worked on, in some capacity. She not only helped with the production design of the film I shot in college, but she also portrayed a character in that film. A villain, in fact. It’s no surprise then that her favorite actor is the late Alan Rickman: “There was always a lot of nuance to his villains, and his performances become better with every watch.” Her favorite film, meanwhile, is Forrest Gump.
Two of the biggest Crossing projects for Caroline were constructing a large wooden sign and designing a series of Easter egg-filled book covers. “I like a challenge!” she says. “I used to build stuff more creatively all the time in high school and college, so it’s nice to draw something out, plan a build, and execute for fun. Even photoshopping the book covers was just a riot for me, adding tons of puns and crazy book descriptions.” The book covers are her favorite prop, though she remarked that she loved grinding dirt and grass into the wooden sign to age it.
Caroline is a little over halfway through a PhD in Bioengineering, so most of her time is spent in a science lab. She is also famous for shutting down production of Crossing for a weekend so that I could film her wedding. But I think we’ll let her slide on that one.
See Caroline’s work in Crossing on December 11.
From the continuing series on the people who made Crossing... this week’s focus is Rachel Kelley.
Rachel portrays Beth in Crossing. Even before she auditioned, I knew she would be able to pull off this role: Rachel has always masterfully balanced a fierce pride and a charming humility. She embodies so much of what Beth is meant to be.
Crossing was Rachel’s first film, but she drew heavily from her own experiences as a big sister to build her character: “I often see myself as the giver of advice/someone my brother can always lean on. I found a lot of similarities between me and Beth…” Due to the nature of her role, she only ever acted alongside John Prud’homme, who portrays her on-screen brother. She says this also worked to her advantage. “I never met the other actors until after we were done filming. It allowed me to keep my energy focused on my little brother.”
Rachel did indeed keep her energy focused on John. In her favorite scene, she and John perform a stunt together, and while Rachel walked away unscathed, John inevitably found himself hurting after every take. About that experience, she said, “Sorry John. You were great, and also thank you— not sure when I’ll ever get that opportunity again!” Rachel and John were fantastic together, at one point extensively rehearsing part of a scene so that we could film it as a single 3-minute shot. That shot remains uninterrupted in the final cut of the film, and it’s something Rachel is looking forward to seeing.
When she’s not acting, Rachel spends as much time as she can outdoors and staying active, as well as studying various languages to fulfill her linguist nerd side. Her favorite actress is Kate Winslet: “I strive daily to let my inner Rose out 🛳🌹”
See Rachel as Beth in Crossing on December 11.