Today was our first stunt training day! Justin and Mike did a fantastic job working with the cast, and Devon, John, and Nick rolled with the punches (pun intended) throughout the day. We’re extremely excited to begin filming in just 3 more weeks!
We're pleased to announce that we've reached 15% of our fundraising goal for Rooks! Please share this link with your network, and consider donating to the cause if you can. Just $10 gets your name in the credits! Each subsequent donation tier includes even more rewards, so no matter how much you donate, we're happy to show our appreciation. Thank you!
The fundraising campaign for Rooks is now live! We're so excited to begin production in a few months, but in the meantime, we're asking you to share this link to the campaign page, and if you can, please consider donating to the project. The cast and crew are incredibly thankful for all the support.
Cinematographer Sarah Elizabeth Bailey will shoot Rooks, supported by assistant camera Bobby Hill. Rachel Natzel will storyboard. Following our success with shooting one sequence of Crossing using this method, Sarah will shoot much of the film with the built-in 4K camera of the iPhone 11 series, as well as the built-in 4K Dolby Vision HDR camera of the iPhone 12 series, aided by the cinematography app suite designed by Filmic Pro.
The entire cast and crew of Crossing shares in this celebration… I’m humbled to be recognized by the Global Monthly Online Film Competition.
Happy Birthday to the incredibly talented Nicholas Pitcher! Nick composed the music for Crossing, and we’re thrilled to confirm today that he’s returning to compose an original score for Rooks.
Yesterday, June 26, we began preproduction for our latest venture, a feature film entitled Rooks. We had our first meeting as a cast and crew, bringing together the largest group we've ever worked with. We look forward to bringing you more updates this summer as we plan our production.
TLDR: You can rent Crossing for $5. Buy it for $8 for a limited time. Check out some Easter eggs in the film below.
Crossing is now available to rent on Amazon Instant Video for $5! If you haven’t had a chance to check out the film yet, now’s a great time to do so! Renting gives you access to the film for 48 hours, but if you’re interested in a permanent purchase, that’s also still available, and in fact, it’s on sale right now for $8. Any support you can offer us is greatly appreciated. If you’ve already purchased the film, thank you! Please consider writing us a review or leaving a rating on Amazon. It boosts our exposure!
Since the film has been out for a few months now, I thought this would be a good time to highlight some of the "cameos" and Easter eggs. Below are some behind-the-scenes photos revealing, I think, all of them.
Beth’s book Wesword Bound by Tara Ann Shaw references Wes Hutton, script reader Tara Prochorena, and art director Tanner Shaw. Her current read is The Homestead, published by Szostak-Wink Publishing, referencing Jordan, Alicia, and Brenda Szostak, and Donna Wink. The book is written by JoAnne Rogowski with a foreword by Denise Ménard. The book on Tom’s bureau is called Imperfect Armor, and it’s by Devon Kinsley, referencing propsbuilder Kinsey Manchester and writing consultant Devon Edward. Caroline did an awesome job of creating book covers that looked realistic, and also totally ridiculous if you look closely enough!
The coasters in Beth’s living room are from the “new restaurant that just opened” that she mentions, which is called “Maynard’s Bar.” The college recruiter’s business card on Tom’s mirror features a reference to every single film by Christopher Nolan to date, as well as a hidden reference to Bob Maynard. On the ticket to Alison’s high school play, the title is Epsilon Agent, which references the film I made in college. The other stars of that play are Elizabeth Hoyt and Christine Eddy. The Pitcher Theater is named after our composer, Nicholas Pitcher. And the phone number is a reference to my time in Scouting, being a part of Troop 109, 2010-Jamboree Unit 527, and the leadership course NYLT (spelled with telephone digits as 6958).
A few others that couldn’t be visually displayed here: Kim Prochorena Natzel is the voice behind Alison’s voicemail. Jacob’s wife’s maiden name is Ferguson, referencing our lead propsbuilder Caroline Ferguson. Jacob mentions Alison’s friend Cassandra, which references Cassandra Renee, and he also mentions a priest called Father Charles, which is a reference to both Charlie Neumann and the priest I grew up seeing each Sunday, Father Chuck.
The credits are also full of fictional people, including assistant propsbuilder Lucy Finn, named after Lucy and Finn, two dogs who walked with muddy paws across the “Welcome to Crossing” sign to help make it look older and dirtier. Transportation manager Sam Bluebird is actually my car (the Altima was once called the Bluebird, which works well since my car is blue). Personal assistant Natalia Carr is Tanner’s car. Sam and Natalia both appear in the background of one of the last shots of the film. John’s car, a Honda Civic, becomes Tom’s car on-screen and is credited as his personal assistant, Charlotte Siviconda. Rachel’s, Eleanor’s, and Ryan’s cars all are credited as their respective assistants: Frank Sonata, Dorulo Berry, and Chloe R. Vance. And finally, listed under special thanks is Barry Gimbalbrand, which was the production’s name for our gimbal.
Working on Crossing was a ton of fun. I’m excited to confirm that I am writing a new script, and though it’ll be awhile before I have anything official to announce about it, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve already written more references and Easter eggs into that script than all of what you see above. And there’s plenty more to come. I guess I’ll get back to writing now…
Nicholas Pitcher’s fantastic score for Crossing is available now! Check it out on Apple Music/iTunes below. It’s also out on Spotify. Huge thanks to Nick as well as Eric Hagmann and Jeremy Quick for creating this beautiful element of the film.
Hi everyone! I wanted to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who supported the cast and crew of Crossing by purchasing and watching on Amazon Instant Video. I’m excited to share that the film has been streamed for a total of 1,280 minutes, and has been purchased 28 times!
If you have seen the film, please consider writing a review on Amazon. It helps us to gain more exposure in the service, and we’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thank you again... it means so much to all of us!
The Crossing Digital Premiere Event begins tonight at 7pm. See you then!
Making Crossing was no easy feat, especially this year. This team made it happen. I can't wait to show you their accomplishments one week from today!
Join us for the Digital Premiere Event on December 18 at 7pm, and let us know you’ll be watching.
Crossing premieres 2 weeks from today on Amazon Instant Video.
Join us for the Digital Premiere Event on December 18 at 7pm, and let us know you’ll be watching.
We were very disappointed to have to cancel the in-person premiere for Crossing. It was an event to which we were all very much looking forward, and it's the kind of celebration we hope to be able to host next time we're ready to premiere a film.
Despite that setback, we still think it's time to share our work with the world. Just... a bit differently. We’re very excited to share that Crossing will be available for purchase and rental on Amazon Instant Video.
Viewers do not need a subscription to Amazon Prime: only an Amazon account is needed to purchase or rent the film. You can then watch the film on any device that supports Amazon Instant Video, including Fire TV devices and tablets, Google Chromecast, smart TVs, gaming consoles, and iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS devices, as well as on a browser on macOS or Windows.
Now for the details: from December 18, 2020, Crossing will be available for purchase in the United States for $9.99 and in the United Kingdom for £9.99.
Though we won't be in the same room, we'll be together in spirit on December 18 at 7:00pm EST. The cast and crew will be watching; we invite you all to watch along with us, to hit the play button right at 7pm and enjoy the experience of being "together" while watching the film. The film runs for 50 minutes, but if you need to pause it for a moment, don't worry. We've built some extra time into the schedule.
At 8:00pm, we invite everyone to join in our Digital Premiere Event on YouTube. Our Master of (Digital) Ceremonies Devon Stanley will host a panel featuring actors John Prud'homme, Rachel Kelley, Ryan Anastasi, and Eleanor Langthorne, art director Tanner Shaw, composer Nicholas Pitcher, and writer/director Robert Maynard. Devon will lead the charge, but we'd love to hear your questions, too! The YouTube Premiere feature allows you to live chat with us while the panel is streaming, so you can post your own questions. We'll do our best to answer them all!
If you reserved a ticket for the Crossing Premiere Event at Red River Theaters, we want to thank you for your support. We'll email you links to purchase Crossing on Amazon Instant Video and to stream the panel on YouTube. If you didn't previously reserve a ticket, but you're interested in joining us for the Digital Premiere Event, fill out the form at the page linked below to receive updates as they're made available.
For those who can't join us on December 18, Crossing will continue to be available for purchase, and will also be made available as a rental in early 2021 for $4.99 / £4.99.
We know it's not the event you were expecting. And it's certainly not the event we were hoping for. But we're excited to share this film with you, all the same.
All roads lead to Crossing. We hope to see you there on December 18.
All roads lead to Crossing... eventually.
This year we’ve seen no shortage of delays and cancellations due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, Crossing is no exemption. In a world dominated by disappointment, it’s a shame to have to delay the release of a film that esteemed film critic Fäke Persson of the well-known newspaper The Unprecedented Times called “one of the least cheery films of the year.”
But here we are.
Nevertheless, there’s a plan in place to get the film out there. We’ll share more details next week, but for now, we want to thank everyone who’s been following along for your unwavering support. We know this is a rough time for everyone, but the excitement and positivity you’ve shown us has been an incredible gift. One day, we hope to repay the favor with a film you’ll enjoy. I mean, Mr. Persson is still crying about it. But what does he know, he’s not even real.
Stay safe, everyone. We look forward to welcoming you to Crossing... soon.
I’ll let Nick explain in his own words his process for working on Crossing: “Music composition is an incredibly personal process. When I begin a new piece, I spend hours at a piano with a particular sound in mind, but no hard and fast ideas. As I improvise new sounds based on my theoretical knowledge of music and the sound I'm after, I write down anything that I believe comes close to fitting my intention. Once a few ideas are down on paper, the process of editing and tailoring them to fit the scene can begin, which for me was a labor-intensive note-by-note process. Each note of each melody has some intention and direction behind it, and perfecting the relationship between each note, the line as a whole, and the intended effect on the audience is a balancing act which I have little practical experience with before working on this project.”
It’s funny… for this article, the above paragraph is how Nick described his process. In texts with me, however, he simply wrote, “Much of what I'm doing is just f***ing around until something sticks.” And no, folks, he didn’t use any asterisks.
My role in creating the score began with offering simple sound and melody ideas to Nick and then working with him on refining certain details as he developed the music you hear in the film. We discussed countless composers and scores throughout our planning process, but the names that I recall coming up most often were Ludovico Einaudi, Marco Beltrami, Gustavo Santaolalla, Hildur Guðnadóttir, John Paesano, Peter Sandberg, and Ludwig Göransson. Part of what I love about that collection of talent is their drastically different styles and approaches to crafting music, and the very distinct corners of the world from which they all hail (two are American, two Swedish, one Italian, one Argentine, and one Icelandic).
The score for Crossing features 9 tracks:
1. Borders (3:46)
2. Dawning (2:00)
3. Cloverleaf (1:54)
4. Tau (4:16)
5. Mirror (2:33)
6. Herald (2:29)
7. Laminin (3:39)
8. Hachikō (5:22)
9. Over (1:56)
At face value, none of these titles seem even remotely related to our story. But Nick cleverly found ways to weave references to crosses, transitions, and intersections into the titles. Borders signify a beginning, a transition, the boundaries we experience in life, the invisible walls which protect us from feeling too much, and the progression of time which plods along unaided. Dawning can be synonymous with learning or becoming enlightened, a concept often represented by a cross in Christianity. The shape of a Cloverleaf of course resembles that of a cross, a rare natural beauty. Tau is a Greek letter that looks like our capital T, itself an intersection through which only one line passes, while the other is unable to continue. A Mirror displays an inverted image, but the symmetry of a cross results in an identical image, and thus crosses exhibit a degree of fortitude and steadfastness. Herald references the Heraldic or Maltese Cross, and is linked to the concepts of an official messenger bringing news and of seeking solitude on an island, such as Malta. Laminin is a cross-shaped protein found in all living things, responsible for helping to attach cells to one another. Hachikō is the name of a famous dog from Japan whose owner passed away, after which Hachikō continued to loyally wait for his owner at the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo every day for nine years before dying as well. Over, specifically in the phrase "crossing over," again suggests a transition to a new physical place, as well as offers a suitable final title.
It should be noted that, much like the film itself, the score would never have been possible without the dedication and hard work of many individuals. Amanda Roswick and Justin Hubbard both contributed extensively to solidifying the raw ideas and rough drafts, bringing them to life and allowing them to be even further built on.
Perhaps most notable, though, are the two performers, because without them there would literally not be any music. Jeremy Quick recorded a guitar performance for a duet, bringing a beautiful humanity to Nick's already fantastic score. Eric Hagmann, meanwhile, performed every piano note you hear in the film, and went a step further as well, mixing and editing each track. Eric's talent wowed me in every track... I can't wait for everyone else to be able to hear why!
The score for Crossing will be released online on December 12, the day after the premiere, but we decided to post one of the tracks early: listen to Borders at the link below.
Learn more about Eric and Jeremy at their websites, linked below, and support their music!
See Crossing on December 11.
I shot a feature-length film in college, which was a ton of fun despite the many challenges we faced. With Crossing, though, I knew I wanted to up the ante. There would be plenty of opportunities to improve on the visual style of the film and hopefully to create something of higher quality, and I wanted to take those opportunities at every turn, if I could.
One area I knew I wanted to improve on was the resolution of our recordings. Filming on digital was always the only option for a production of our size, but prior to Crossing, I only used a DSLR shooting in Full HD, 1080p. We still used that camera (a Nikon D3300) and resolution for about 21% of Crossing, but the option to shoot in 4K was too enticing to ignore. 4K DSLRs, while fantastic in their quality, were far out of our budget. Thankfully, many of us were walking around with 4K cameras in our pockets already.
iPhones have been able to shoot 4K for about 5 years, and I’d done some work with iPhone cameras in the past. The biggest issue they have is stabilization: trying to avoid jitter and generally keeping an iPhone still while recording is extremely difficult. Tripods are an option, but I’ve never been a fan of the true stillness they necessitate. I like to be with the camera, and I like to encourage a feeling of momentum using an even slightly mobile camera. So with tripods out, some other form of stabilization was required to make filming on an iPhone possible.
The answer is a gimbal: a motorized arm that uses sensors to counteract motion in the wrist of the camera operator. Effectively, it ensures the camera only moves smoothly and minimally. I used an Oslo Mobile 3 gimbal to shoot Crossing, and I can say without doubt that a large number of shots would never have been possible without it. I worked with the gimbal in the months leading up to production to acclimate myself to it, but the true test of its capability was the very first shot we filmed. The camera had to move backwards, pass between two camera operators, and time its motion with a moving vehicle. If memory serves, we had the shot done in about an hour after only 4 takes. It set the tone for the production: using the gimbal would be a challenge, but the footage we’d record would far surpass anything we could do without it.
The camera itself is an iPhone 11 Pro Max, recording at full 4K quality. Much of the film was shot at 2160p, though we did natively shoot one sequence in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, which worked out to something like 1606p. Actually, I ended up loving the 2.39 framing so much that I opted to crop the rest of the film, which had been shot in 16:9, in order to fit the 2.39 scenes. That in and of itself was a bit of a challenge, but I find it looks much more cinematic.
The stock camera app on iOS is limiting, but not terrible. However we did upgrade to using an app called Filmic Pro for our final day of filming. The app opens up countless settings to the user, notably including exposure, focus, and color balance. It also records with a higher bitrate: the 15-minute sequence we shot that day is by far the best looking of the film.
I edit in Final Cut Pro X, which functions both as an editing suite and a tool for sound mixing and implementing visual effects. Several shots underwent work in CoreMelt’s SliceX Plugin, allowing further visual manipulation. The final film was exported on November 4, 2020, with a total runtime of 50 minutes, 22 seconds.
See Crossing on December 11.
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.