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Dailies - Page 2 of 3 - Filmstigator

Michael Curtis


August 17, 2014

Philadelphia gets FirstGlance at ‘GIFT’

August 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

Great news to share this week on another fun film festival we get to be a part of!

Filmstigator is honored to be an official selection of the 2014 FirstGlance Film Fest held this October 17 – 19 in Philadelphia, PA.  FirstGlance has been named one of the “Top 10 Festivals for the Rest of Us,” and we’re really looking forward to attending the festival and screening with the attendees and other filmmakers in Philly.  We can’t wait to share ‘GIFT’ with the city of brotherly love this October!

Congratulations and thanks to our wonderful cast and crew!  The festival selections the film is enjoying are due in no small part to your dedication and efforts.  Your work is appreciated!

Here’s a bit more info about FirstGlance from their web site:

Since our inception in 1996, we have become one of the fastest growing truly independent film fests in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Named five times as one of the “Best Film Festival Investments” by Movie Maker Magazine and “One of the Festivals for the Rest of Us” by Time Magazine, FirstGlance has become a leader in mid-sized film festivals.

Applauded by filmmakers and attendees as one of the best programmed festivals, FirstGlance accepts all genres and shows an amazing mix of short and feature length films, the best indie films on the festival circuit, before they hit theaters. Audiences vote for “Best of the Fest” and are invited to come mix and mingle with filmmakers, cast and crew at great after parties.

FirstGlance Film Fests brings indie filmmakers and audiences together all year long too! With our short online contests, and our “Show Us Ur Shorts” mixers and screenings, FirstGlance Film Festivals works to get filmmakers the attention they deserve.

FirstGlance Film Festivals offer filmmakers great prize packages, VOD distribution opportunities, and a personal touch not matched by any other festival. With over 90% of feature films acquiring distribution after screening at FirstGlance Film Fests, it’s a great event to get your film more exposure and audience.

Come see what makes FirstGlance unlike any other indie film festival and thank you for your support.




Michael Curtis


July 12, 2014

Awards & Festival Update

July 12, 2014 | By | One Comment

The Waiting Game

Waiting to hear back from film festivals can be a trying process for a “not-so-patient” filmmaker. It deprives him of the chance to receive one of the most important learning tools he can hope for: feedback from general audiences.  Films are not made in a vacuum or for a vacuum.  I think most directors are making films to make some sort of impact on other people.  And that’s hard to do or to gauge when the film is tied up for months (or years on some films) making the rounds for festival consideration.

So it was with some relief this week that I learned ‘GIFT’ has been honored by several award competitions and has been accepted into its second festival. It was nice to get at least some limited feedback on the project via the awards, and it makes me look forward even more to being able to screen the film soon for festival audiences.

Awards for ‘GIFT’ as of Today:

2014 CINE Golden Eagle – Independent Short Film

2014 Best Shorts Competition – Award of Excellence – Short Film

2014 Best Shorts Competition – Award of Excellence – Trailer

2014 Accolade Awards – Award of Excellence  –  Short Film

2014 Accolade Awards – Award of Excellence  –  Directing

Current Festival Selections for ‘GIFT’ as of Today:

Isle of Wight Film Festival (August 12 – 18, 2014)

Festival de Cannes – Court Métrage (May 2015)

EDIT –  New Festival Selection for ‘GIFT’ just announced (July 28, 2014):

Napa Valley Film Festival (November 12 – 16, 2014)

Thanks to My Team

Any awards ‘GIFT’ receives are undoubtedly due to the creativity, perseverance, and effort of my stalwart cast and crew of fellow collaborators. You all gave so generously of yourselves to make the film what it is.  So congratulations and thanks again to all of you!  


Michael Curtis


June 24, 2014

Official Movie Poster Released

June 24, 2014 | By | 4 Comments

Today we are happy to release the official movie poster for our short film, ‘GIFT.’  The poster features frame grabs of our young stars Royce Mann and Katherine Shepler.

GIFT Movie PosterStaying true to our collaborative model, we reached out to DesignCrowd for help with the print design. DesignCrowd is crowdsourcing site where you can post a design brief and interested designers will submit their work.  In a matter of weeks we received more than 50 unique submissions in a design contest for the movie poster and post cards, and there were several that we liked a lot. Ultimately the winning design was chosen, tweaked a little here at Filmstigator, and sent out to the printer for final production.  We should have posters ready to ship this week.

In concert with the posters, we’ll be handing out post cards at any festivals where GIFT will be screening this year.  Here’s the design we settled on for our 4×6 takeaways:

GIFT post cardLet us know what you think of the post cards and poster!  Do you think they’re suitable for helping us garner interest in the film?

Michael Curtis


February 26, 2014

Listen to the ‘GIFT’ Soundtrack FREE!

February 26, 2014 | By | One Comment

Today we have a special treat in celebration of the completion of ‘GIFT,’ our first narrative film.  We’re sharing the entire music score from the film for free!

Ben Goldberg, a great friend and collaborator, has done an amazing job writing some truly gorgeous music.  We are honored to have his work present in so much of the film.

I hope you’ll love and enjoy the score as much as we do!


If you like what you hear, please comment, share with friends, and give some love to Ben in the comments section below!



Alex Whitmer


February 24, 2014

Guest Post: Screenwriting for Filmstigator

February 24, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

by Alex Whitmer

As there are many bits and pieces of my own childhood in the screenplay and story, ‘GIFT’ holds a special place for me. With that in mind, having ‘GIFT’ in the hands of the right crew and the right director with as similar a vision as possible was paramount.


A page from the ‘GIFT’ shooting script

I believe all writers are possessive about their stories, and, like me, hold a few near and dear above all others. Over the course of 50+ produced short scripts, I have come to terms with letting the creative collaboration process take over once a script is picked up. Most often that process brings many wonderful surprises and ‘hadn’t thought of that’ moments.

Katherine Shepler gets a touch up from makeup artist Tara Lynn Overby & 1st AD Melissa Bowers.

The creative input from the lighting folks, the sound folks, script supervision and costume, and on up and down the line, all coalesces to move printed word into moving pictures.

Michael liked the story, and he saw opportunities through a director’s eye that could bring ‘GIFT’ to fruition. After just one read-through of Michael’s new draft, I knew he had the intuition on where to take the story.

There was still casting to be done, and it is this process that gives the absolute and final voice to the characters on paper.

Sound man Tom Boisseau prepares to roll on a take.

Of course, there is a tremendous amount of support and direction, takes, make-up and editing–but in the end it is the actors an audience will attach to.  All the arts and technical knowledge and selecting just the right shirt and lens and light and cut all melt into the background. It’s just us and them.

Royce Mann, Katherine Shepler, & Michael Curtis on the set of ‘GIFT.’

I really can’t say enough about the chosen cast, and the beautiful and heartfelt performances they gave. I sincerely hope this film opens both big and small doors for them.

Being the quintessential hermitical writer, I was not on set during production. I much prefer the abstractness of pen and paper.  But from what I can see in the behind-the-scenes photos, the production stills, and the trailer, there was nothing but professionalism on the set. It just shows.

The locations are far better than I imagined. Beautifully haunting comes to mind. I’ve always been of the school that locations ought to be treated like any cast member, and chosen just as carefully. They bring that much to a story.

Working with Michael and this crew has been very pleasant, with communication open and thorough. I would recommend to writers looking for that special feather in the cap to leap at the opportunity to work with the Filmstigator team.


Michael Curtis


February 9, 2014

‘GIFT’ Trailer Released!

February 9, 2014 | By | 5 Comments

We’re very excited to share the trailer for “GIFT,’ the first Filmstigator production.  Please let us know what you think of it!  ‘GIFT’ will be headed to a variety of film festivals beginning in March 2014.



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!”