Monday, December 3, 2007

Uncooperative Weather

Well, there's a grey rain cloud icon and high wind warning for Tuesday (tomorrow), so we've reluctantly postponed the jib shoot. I want a nice, sunny day (preferably not too cold) for the exterior beauty shots especially. Joey doesn't want to shoot in 40 mph winds with a jib, so there you have it. We've re-set our sights for Tuesday the 11th, but the deeper we go into December, the more problematic the weather could be. I am comfortable with our decision not to shoot tomorrow, though, because as the sun went down and thick grey clouds rolled in, it looked like the Apocalypse out there.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Site Survey for Jib Shoot

Today we did a site survey at the B&O station with jib operator Joey Walker of Waterview Media . We scoped out possible exteriors and interiors for the actual shoot on Tuesday, December 4th. Joey will be using a Cam Mate jib with a 30-foot adjustable arm, so we'll be able to swoop up to the roof of the station and all around. He seems like a good guy and a dedicated craftsman. We'll be using our DVX-100A mini-DV camera, which he assures us will balance on the end of the jib like the bigger cameras do. The weather was gorgeous today (for November, anyway) and we're crossing our fingers that Tuesday will be sunny and not too cold. But the forecast I heard on the radio on the way back said the weather will take an icy turn in the next few days. Blech. Anyway, we'll take some sunshine and blue sky regardless of the temperature. Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Giving voice to "1945"

Friday after Thanksgiving we went back into the studio at Jeff Gruber's Blue House Productions to record the vocals for our original song, "1945," written by Amy Shook and Felicia Carter. The vocalist was Jeremy Ragsdale, a jazz singer and jazz voice instructor based in Annapolis. He performed the vocal as a kind of cross between Tex Benecke and Nat King Cole (if such a thing is possible), and did a great job of interpreting the song about a soldier coming home to Silver Spring at the end of WWII. Jeff G. once again lent his impeccable ear to the session. After an hour, we had it, and were very happy with Jeremy's vocals! Visit Jeremey's website You may also want to visit Felicia Carter's site or Amy Shook's myspace page

Monday, November 19, 2007

Recording the Soundtrack

We were in the studio today at Blue House Productions in Silver Spring, recording two new original songs for the documentary soundtrack. Songwriters Amy Shook and Felicia Carter wrote "1945" and "The Diner Car Song" and recorded it with Amy on bass and Felicia on vocals. Rounding out the session were Bob Butta on piano and Frank Russo on drums. This reunites the musicians who played on the soundtrack of our 2006 documentary, "Heart & Soul: The Life and Music of Frank Loesser." "1945" is a feisty swing number about a soldier coming home to Silver Spring from WWII. "The Diner Car Song" is a cool, smoky tribute to the dining cars of yesteryear. It was exhilarating to hear Felicia, who's described as combining "the tone and drawl of Billie Holiday with the emotive leanings of Judy Garland" work these songs as only she could. Frank, Bob, and Amy went to town on drums, piano, and bass as they always do. We had the benefit of the sharp ear and technical prowess of Jeff Gruber, owner of Blue House Productions, to capture it all on his Pro Tools system. Editor Sean Cooney and I are already laying these songs into the rough cut as we speak. The original soundtrack will be available on CD once the documentary is released in early '08.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Unexpected Find

When you produce a documentary like this, one of the best aspects is getting unexpected gifts --- archival items that you didn't know were out there. Marylin Slatick of Montgomery Preservation, Inc. and oral history researcher Walter Conklin dropped one of those unexpected gifts on our desk the other day in the form of an old, yellowed newspaper article about former station agent Russell Main. The Maryland News, September 3, 1964 issue features a write-up under the banner "Kathy Leary's Column" about Russell Main's retirement as station agent after 47 years of service. Better yet, there is a photo of Mr. Main and his wife Virginia with the station platform in the background. We were really excited about this, because none of the other photos we had of Mr. Main and his family placed him in the context of the station. Now Line Producer Jimmy F. Cooney is on a mission to see if there's a photo archive that might hold this image from the Maryland News (now defunct). He's checking with the Montgomery County Historical Society. Fingers crossed, because the yellowed, pointillist-looking newspaper photo will not hold up too well on television. Go Jimmy. And thanks Walter & Marilyn!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Upgrade Adventure

After many years of editing this project on Final Cut Pro software, we have upgraded to the latest, greatest version --- Final Cut Pro 6.0. I'm always a little nervous when we upgrade editing software, because you have to hope that the new version doesn't trip you up somehow. Our editor, Sean Cooney, has just emerged from the edit suite to report that, so far, the new software is working smoothly. Whew. It features some new toys like enhanced color correction (which we'll need after shooting for 5 years!), and a DVD studio. We are finishing up the rough cut as we speak. It's looking good, and we're especially jazzed about the original score. More on that in a future post.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Welcome to our new blog for the upcoming documentary, "Next Stop: Silver Spring," about the history and restoration of our local B&O railroad station, scheduled to debut on WETA TV in March, 2008, and also to be released on DVD. This film is a sequel, of sorts, to our documentary, "Silver Spring: Story of an American Suburb," which was released in 2002. We began shooting the restoration of the railroad station before "Silver Spring: Story of an American Suburb" was finished and included a vignette about it in that film. Then, we thought that the station history and restoration would make for an interesting documentary in its own right. What's more, "Next Stop" features an original score by regional songwriters and musicians. Our nonprofit production company, Silver Spring Media Arts, Inc., is producing the film in cooperation with Montgomery Preservation, Inc., which saved the station from demolition and restored it to its vintage 1945 appearance. On this blog, producer/director Walter Gottlieb will provide news about the documentary and behind-the-scenes anecdotes as the documentary nears completion. We hope that all of you will enjoy reading about its progress, and commenting, too.Thanks for tuning in!