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January 2014 - Filmstigator



January 29, 2014

A Crew Member’s Perspective

January 29, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

With post-production coming to a close on “GIFT,” I thought it’d be appropriate to share some crew member perspective on this project before it sets off for the festival circuit.

First, a smidge-bit of history on my joining the project. When I was brand new to Georgia last summer, I started out pouring my time into finding crew jobs. I wanted to make it here in Atlanta as a full-time freelancer, but had no contacts, and really no good place to start.

Crew member Josh Deisler on the set of "GIFT."

Crew member Josh Deisler on the set of ” GIFT.”

During my search, I crossed paths with Michael Curtis, the director of “GIFT.” Looking through his past work, it was clear that he valued quality in filmmaking. I wanted to be a part of what he was doing. After emailing with him, I soon discovered his Filmstigator project. As I read over the blog and FAQ, I was certain that I was talking with someone who had a true passion for film, something that I had not seen much of since my time in film school.

When Michael offered me the chance to work on his indie film project “GIFT,” I jumped at the opportunity. I knew Michael could do great work, so I couldn’t wait to hop into a full production with a non-profit film organization.

I must say, my first day on set was an interesting one. Within the first two hours of loading out equipment and setting up lights, there was an unexpected run-in with a stealthily-burrowed wasp nest. Stings were delivered, equipment was left for dead amongst the ferocious cloud of yellow-jackets, and grown men were sent running and screaming like little children. We were off to a rough start.

Tom Boisseau & another crew member battle the yellow jacket hordes on our Atlanta set.

Tom Boisseau & another crew member battle yellow jackets on location in Atlanta.

But in my first hours of pandemonium on a multi-day shoot, I noticed something right away. This crew stood strong in the face of adversity and pulled themselves together in full force. Luckily, no one had a reaction to the stings that warranted any medical attention. Still, getting stung sucks, and usual at least warrants some whining and complaining.

But there was none of that. Zero. Instead, benadryl and antihistamines were acquired immediately. People were constantly checking on sting victims’ conditions. Stories of past wasp encounters were swapped. Everyone supported one another in any way possible.

But that wasn’t the cool part. What amazed me was that those who had multiple stings pushed onwards and worked harder than before. A group of individuals who were mostly doing this project as a means to give back could have easily packed it up and said, “this isn’t really worth the hassle,” or “let’s try again another day,” but it WAS worth the hassle to these people. I had seen plenty of crew members whine and complain at much smaller incidents. Not these guys.

I was already proud to be working amongst them. And that theme of dedication carried on for the entire duration of the shoot. People volunteered to take on multiple crew positions. Shots were never rushed, but instead ran at a calm, steady pace. Even as we shot through the night on a late shoot day, people were constantly pushing themselves through sleep deprivation and adverse conditions in order to create something great.

Amongst all of the passion put into the film, Michael’s was never in question. Whenever I thought about how tired or worn out I was, I looked to him. Despite the probable frenzy of thoughts and distractions running through his tired mind, he continued to operate (or at least maintained the image of operating) with focus and clarity, never losing his temper or flinching in the face of a new problem.

I’m confident that the dedication put into this film will show when it has its rounds on the festival circuit, as it truly was a labor of love. I’m proud to have worked with the crew that I did, and I’ve even had the opportunity to continue to work on other projects with some of the individuals that I met on this shoot.

If you have the opportunity to do so, see this film, and keep in mind that it wasn’t made possible because of big budgets or big names, but rather through the dedication of a group of filmmakers that wanted to seize the opportunity to give back to the film community. And if you’re in a position to do so, I wholeheartedly recommend getting involved with Filmstigator. It has been the most rewarding film experience I’ve yet to encounter.

Michael Curtis


January 20, 2014

More Poster Possibilities

January 20, 2014 | By | No Comments

We’re having fun playing with various poster designs for ‘GIFT.’  Let us know what you all think of the various options!




Michael Curtis


January 19, 2014

Production Stills from ‘GIFT’

January 19, 2014 | By | 4 Comments


Aaron (Royce Mann) makes a friend in the forest. ©2014, Filmstigator, LLC.

For the last few weeks we’ve been developing an electronic press kit to accompany ‘GIFT’ at film festivals. EPKs make it easy for festival organizers and journalists to quickly get lots of information about your film at once–production notes, synopses, reviews, cast & crew lists, posters, production stills and so on.  They’re an essential part of the overall film package that helps people get a sense of what the film is about and what went into creating it.

We thought it would be nice to share a few of the production stills here to give you all a sneak peek at what ‘GIFT’ looks like.  We’ll also be editing a trailer over the next couple of weeks, and we will certainly post that on this site as well as a new standalone web site we’re developing just for ‘GIFT.’

During pre-production I had developed detailed “mood boards” showing the looks, color palettes, and overall visual tone I was going for.  I went back and reviewed those notes recently, and I was struck by how close we had come to those early concept images in the finished film.  Other posts on this site have talked about how hard our amazing crew worked to deliver this level of cinematography, and I am excited to finally have the chance to share production stills with you.


Zoe (played by Katherine Shepler) discovers something unexpected. ©2014, Filmstigator, LLC.

An action sequence from 'GIFT.'

An action sequence from ‘GIFT.’ ©2014, Filmstigator, LLC.

A major prop in the film:  a 1926 Underwood typewriter that I found on e-Bay and had refurbished by Fielding Whipple, an octogenarian office equipment repairman in my home town.

A major prop in the film: a 1926 Underwood typewriter that I found on e-Bay and had refurbished by Fielding Whipple, an octogenarian office equipment repairman in my home town. ©2014, Filmstigator, LLC.

An action shot from 'GIFT.'  Actor:  Royce Mann.  Location:  Jekyll Island, Georgia.

An action shot from ‘GIFT.’ Actor: Royce Mann. Location: Jekyll Island, Georgia. ©2014, Filmstigator, LLC.

Zoe leaves the shed.

Zoe (Katherine Shepler) retreats to safety after an altercation with Aaron (Royce Mann). ©2014, Filmstigator, LLC.

Aaron in the woods

Aaron seeks solace in the natural world. ©2014, Filmstigator, LLC.


Royce Mann plays Aaron, one of the main characters in ‘GIFT.’ ©2014, Filmstigator, LLC.

Please let us know what you guys think of the production stills!


Michael Curtis


January 18, 2014

Progress Update & Poster Mock-up

January 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

A brief update on our progress on the film…

Sound design has been completed, and I’m quite pleased with the results.  We’ll proceed with the final mix once the music score has been finished and recorded.  Our composer, Ben Goldberg, is making great progress on the music.  Almost daily we’ve been on the phone or trading emails as he posts new music cues for the film.  It’s been a pleasure collaborating with him on the tone and feel of so many key moments in the movie.  The hardest part now is remaining patient while the music is finalized, copied out for the musicians, recorded, and ultimately mixed.  We’re getting very close to final completion now, and it’s exciting!

Picture has been locked on the film for several weeks, the visual effects work is done, and next week “GIFT” will be color-graded.  That will be the last touch we make to picture before submitting the film for festival consideration.  Once the film has been graded, we’ll be editing a trailer that will be posted here and on IMDB.  We can’t wait to hear the response to the trailer!

We’re also making good progress on the electronic press kit, and the Union Recorder newspaper published a story recently on us here.  We’ve been playing around with several potential poster designs that will accompany “GIFT” at film festivals.  We wanted to share one of those designs here and get some feedback from you all.  Any thoughts you’d like to share on the poster mockup?

"GIFT" poster 1

Stay tuned for more updates on progress over the next few days.  We’re on track to wrap up the film by the end of February if not a little sooner.  We will post some images from the final color correction session when we can.  Thanks for supporting Filmstigator and “GIFT!”