Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

non-profit independent filmmaking Archives - Filmstigator

Michael Curtis


September 1, 2015

ReelWriters Announce Winners

September 1, 2015 | By | No Comments

Recently I’ve been preparing to cast and direct a table read of “Gravel Heart” for the upcoming DC Shorts competition (September 18th). I’m also working on a feature-length screenplay in every spare moment I can find. So it was nice this morning to get a surprise break by finding this in my in-box:


Congratulations to the other winning screenwriters and thanks to the dedicated readers and organizers at ReelWriters for the opportunity to be a part of this year’s competition. The prize money we receive will go towards eventual production of “Gravel Heart.”

Fingers crossed for the fast-approaching DC Shorts Festival where “Gravel Heart” is one of six Finalists competing for fame and glory (and more importantly, prize money that could go toward production!)

Michael Curtis


March 7, 2015

Filmstigator Selects New Film Project

March 7, 2015 | By | No Comments

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 11.04.13 AM

GIFT, the inaugural Filmstigator project, has been successful – screening at almost a dozen film festivals in the US & Europe as of this writing.  The film has been invited to screen next month in Los Angeles as part of NewFilmmakers LA.

While we’re pleased with how our first film has done thus far, we want to keep moving forward with new films that challenge our collective.  That’s why we’re excited to announce the next Filmstigator project:  a short called Gravel Heart.

We encourage anyone interested in working in independent film to contact us and get involved. Some of the GIFT  team will undoubtedly return to work on Gravel Heart, but we also expect many new faces on this production.

We are looking for producers, production assistants, members of the sound and camera teams, lighting crew, fight choreographers, animal trainers (canines), crowdfunding gurus, location scouts, props masters, caterers, and a number of other positions.  So if you want to get involved in independent filmmaking in Georgia, this is your chance.

We will be workshopping the Gravel Heart script with actors in Milledgeville this month to make final screenplay tweaks before moving directly into pre-production.

Principal photography is loosely slated to begin in October 2015.  A crowdfunding campaign is planned for this summer.  There are many ways to engage and take ownership of various parts of this film, so we encourage you to step up and take on this new project with us.

A few things about the Gravel Heart story…

Logline:   A 14-year-old puts his life in jeopardy when he confronts a neighbor for killing his dog.


Based on actual events, Gravel Heart is a gritty coming of age story exploring loss and the limits of retribution.  We plan to film in rural and semi-rural locations as close to Atlanta as possible.

Tentative plan is to shoot the film in 4K on a Canon C500.

The film requires a 4-person cast and extras.  Actors interested in auditioning should contact us immediately.  We will also put out a general casting call online.

Are you interested in being a part of this project?  Contact us today for more information.  And please sign up here on the site so you’ll get email blasts when we crew up in late summer for filming.  So much needs to be done prior to that, however. So don’t hesitate to contact us if you have a passion for indie filmmaking.


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


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.

Michael Curtis


September 30, 2013

Behind the Scenes Photos – “GIFT”

September 30, 2013 | By | No Comments

We’ve now wrapped our first weekend of production on “GIFT.”  It was an amazing experience in many ways, and we are really excited about the shots we’re getting out of the RED Epic.

Things are pretty busy as we prepare for the next couple of weekends of filming (in Atlanta & Milledgeville). But we hope to post a more in-depth update later this week.  In the meantime we wanted to share a few behind the scenes photos with you all.

Special thanks to crew member Tendal Mann for capturing these stills!

Working with the Paralinx Arrow wireless transmitter allows director Michael Curtis to interact with actors while still monitoring camera.

Working with a Paralinx Arrow wireless transmitter allows director Michael Curtis to interact up close with actors while still constantly monitoring camera.

Actor Royce Mann as Aaron.

Actor Royce Mann as Aaron.

Associate producer, Susan Curtis, and Assistant Director, Melissa Bowers, hold the chaos at bay.

Associate producer, Susan Curtis, and Assistant Director, Melissa Bowers, hold the chaos at bay.


Actors Royce Mann & Katherine Shepler relax between takes.

Actors Royce Mann & Katherine Shepler relax between takes as Chance White (2nd Unit DP), David Ross (AC), & Todd Harvey (key grip) prepare for the next shot.


Director, Michael Curtis, blocks out the action with lead actor, Katherine Shepler.

Michael Curtis (director) blocks out the action with lead actor Katherine Shepler in our amazing Jekyll Island location.

Thanks for following and supporting our film. We encourage any writers, actors, and filmmakers interested in working on meaningful independent film projects to contact us and get involved today.


Michael Curtis


September 24, 2013

Going Big

September 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

Independent filmmaking, especially in the no-budget or low-budget arena, will make a pragmatist out of you in a hurry. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that the best camera you have for a project is the one you have access to. As much as I love gear–and I do–I understand that there are a lot of cameras that could be great for our project.  Even DSLRs could have worked fine for this intimate, small film. If your story is strong, camera choice is not the most important part of filmmaking.

In the case of “GIFT,” our current short film project, the camera I originally planned on using was the Canon C300.  I love this camera.  It produces a great-looking image, it’s small and easy to work with in tight places, and it is great in low-light situations.  And it isn’t plagued by the image compromises one faces when using DSLRs.  Most importantly, this is a camera I already own, so for indie projects that means not having to burn money on camera rentals.  Since I started pre-production and script selection for this project back in May, I have been planning on using the C300.  It was a given.  And I felt totally comfortable with this choice… that we weren’t really sacrificing anything.

Yes, in the back of my mind I would have loved to shoot this project on a 5K sensor to be able to deliver a 4K master for any film festivals out there capable of screening at that resolution.  But with limited funds, I knew I needed to conserve resources and use the money elsewhere.

But that all changed this week.

One of the things I am most enjoying about our collaborative is getting to meet and work with so many filmmakers I didn’t know before.  We had some personnel shuffling recently on the crew of “GIFT,” and I am pleased to announce that Tom Pritchard will be our new Director of Photography for the project.  Additionally, Chance White will be serving as our second unit DP at Jekyll Island and will also be working as Tom’s AC for our location work in Atlanta & Milledgeville.  They are both super guys and I am so happy to be working with them.  Their energy and enthusiasm are so welcome on the film.  I can honestly say that we have an awesome team filled with positive attitudes across the board.  That is so very, very important.  And I am honored and humbled that all these various artists believe in the project enough to commit and give it their all even though none of us are exactly getting rich on this film.  To say the least.

So what do I mean by “going big?”  With new team members come new approaches and perspectives.  We needed a camera that could shoot high-speed imagery for a few slow-motion sequences I have planned.  Chance owns a RED Epic, and he offered to bring that along for shooting the slow-mo sequences.  But the more the three of us talked, the more it seemed like the entire film should be shot with the Epic to keep from having a mismatch in the look of the film by switching between the two cameras with two different sensors.  So that’s what we collectively decided to do.  And now “GIFT” will be shot in its entirety in 5K.  Epic.

RED Epic Cinema Camera

RED Epic Cinema Camera

This is only possible because of Chance White’s generosity toward the film and the incredible deal he’s given us to make using the Epic possible.  I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity he’s given us to create an amazing short film with this very cool camera.  Tom, Chance, and I are all pretty anxious to get going on the film.  We begin principal photography in just a few days now.

We’ll keep you updated with progress on production and post some photos and possibly some behind-the-scenes video clips as we go.

Be sure to subscribe to the site for updates as we post them.  Thanks for your support of our film! We’ll have many more after we wrap “GIFT!”






Michael Curtis


September 10, 2013

Pre-production Update on “GIFT”

September 10, 2013 | By | One Comment

Lots of progress has been made recently on our first narrative short film project.  Here’s a quick update.

Last month, in collaboration with Stilwell Casting, we found a great group of actors for our film. Veteran child performers Katherine Shepler & Royce Mann won the lead roles.  They are joined by Raymie Lewis and Melissa Etheridge to complete our small ensemble.


Throughout pre-production we have been humbled and honored by the passion and enthusiasm we’ve seen from the many people involved who are making the film a reality.

Our crew positions are nearly filled.  Many professional filmmakers have volunteered their services for free–even when offered pay–in order to bring the film to fruition.  It’s been humbling and exciting that they’ve connected enough with the script to want to do that.  With no outside funding for the collaborative (yet), these individual “gifts” are making the production of our film possible.

Principle photography is slated to begin in late September, and the film will wrap its production phase by mid-October.  We will be shooting in some great Georgia locations:  Atlanta,  Milledgeville,  and Jekyll Island.

There’s still more to be done as we move ever closer to shooting, and there are many areas where we could use your help.  So if you’re interested in helping support grassroots independent filmmaking in the southeast,  please contact us immediately.

We are still seeking a few key (experienced) professionals to complete our production crew.  And there are a number of additional support roles we would welcome if you have the time available.

Of course, if you are interested in helping the project but lack the time to get involved directly, we welcome financial contributions of all sizes.  Now that we are a non-profit,  donations we receive are tax-deductible for our donors.  But beyond that you will have the satisfaction of supporting artistic expression in Georgia.

We will post again soon.  We plan to give weekly updates during production featuring stills and behind-the-scenes video clips.

Don’t miss out on our exciting first production!  Sign up for updates on the site and please comment on the posts.  Your support and encouragment will help us make a better film.  We can’t wait to share the finished product with all of you!

Michael Curtis


September 9, 2013

A New Name… A Broader Scope

September 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

The Milledgeville Film Collaborative has now become!

We have filed as a 501(c) non-profit arts organization in Georgia,  and our new name–along with recent re-organizational efforts–will help sharpen our focus and further define the goals for our non-profit independent filmmaking endeavor.

The new moniker also helps reflect a broader, statewide scope.  Instead of the Milledgeville Film Collaborative, our new name is Filmstigator – the Georgia Film Collaborative.  Since we aim to support, create, and instigate indigenous filmmaking throughout Georgia–not just in Milledgeville where we are currently based–the new name is a more accurate reflection of what we’re about.

Production processes have not been impacted in any way, and we are still moving full speed ahead with our first narrative film project, entitled “GIFT.”