Anatomy of the Tide
The last time we checked in with these local filmmakers in the February, 2011 issue of TheScene, they were in the last fundraising stages to make their independent film and eager to begin shooting this summer. The good news is that the film is officially greenlit to shoot September 5 with rising, young stars from Los Angeles and New York attached to the project.
The film will be shot in and around Rockland and Vinalhaven and focuses on two boys in their final summer of adolescence as they’re forced to manage a dark secret on the secluded island where they’ve grown up. The producers just finished an extensive casting call session in New York City this past spring and have already brought on Susan Traylor (Heat, To Die For), and Nathan Keyes (The Good Doctor, Worst. Prom. Ever.) with more cast to be announced soon.
Every independent film needs all of the help it can get. Because of the producers’ strong relationships with the Midcoast waterfront community, they will have unfettered access to a range of resources, from lobster boats to stellar locations. “Ryan Post (one of the film’s producers), and I have our own boats so we know so much of this territory ourselves,” says screenwriter/director, Joel Strunk. “We have already found some amazing places.” Strunk and cinematographer, Daniel Stephens, just finished their first draft of a "look book" for the film. “It's going to be beautiful—Maine as it's never been seen,” says Stephens.
For more information about casting and blog updates behind the scenes, keep up with their website, Facebook and Twitter feeds.
(Untitled) Camden Maine Film
Emily Best, producer and actress in the still untitled Camden, Maine film shot this summer, is talking to me from her car as she drives back home to New York City on a dreary, rainy day. The film just finished shooting two days earlier. She tells me the rest of her cast and crew are most likely sleeping, having collapsed in an exhausted heap after a grueling 24-day shoot done during mostly nights.
Not only did they shoot this independent film shoot at a breakneck pace between July 12 and August 7, they did so with a tiny crew—only 17 people—so everyone, including the actors, did the job of three or four people.
The Maine roots on this film start primarily with Caitlin FitzGerald, the cowriter and lead actress, who grew up in Camden. Her family and friends provided much of the community support needed to get through the shoot. FitzGerald, noted for her roles in It’s Complicated as Meryl Streep’s daughter and as the female lead in Ed Burns’ newest film, Newlyweds, said it was her dream to return to Maine this summer to make this small narrative movie based on the loss of childhood friends that both she and cowriter Caroline von Kuhn experienced in their 20s.
The synopsis of the film follows Charlie, a young journalist, who learns her best childhood friend Katherine has died. She returns home to Camden, Maine, where she hides at dad’s camp to write the eulogy. Stuck in the process, Charlie sequesters herself further until two other close childhood friends, Grace and Jen, arrive at the house to drag her out of her solitude and help her write a definitive portrait of Katherine.
“We set out as six women to tell a story that was very personal,” Best says. “We all stayed together in four different places in Camden and it was a real family vibe.”
Most of the shooting occurred in private homes and in outdoor locations around Camden. Cuzzy’s Bar and Grill served as a backdrop for some pivotal scenes. “Cuzzy was an absolute king among men,” says Best. “For three nights in a row we shot from 2 am to 2 pm. He was there the whole time and played himself in the movie. He also let us shoot out at his house on Megunticook Lake.” The scene at Cuzzy’s that took place over the three consecutive nights was in the back room upstairs by the dartboards as Grace and Jen force Katherine out of her solitude and go out for drinks.
The micro budget of this film was $200,000, which relied on a lot of help and donations from the Midcoast community—everything from manpower to bug spray. “There were so many people who were unbelievably helpful,” says Best. “The Community School put some of us up. Rock City Roasters took care of all of our coffee needs. Market Basket provided catering and I will tell you everyone on set said it was the best set food they’d ever eaten. David Berez, owner of Post Office Editorial, Inc., was an endless source of help. We actually ended up living at his house and it became the production center. We also rented office space from Karen Hansen, who owns Connect Space. Jack Churchill hooked us up with all of his film kids at the high school; they ended up being an amazing source of help as interns. Maine Media Workshop was really fantastic as well. At one point we got desperate for crew and they put out a call and got us some extra crew.”
Once everyone gets caught up on their sleep, the next steps include editing the film starting September 1. The film is estimated to be about 90-100 minutes and they’re aiming for a spring release to coincide with film festivals, including the Camden International Film Festival. “Ben Fowlie (CIFF’s founder) was actually in our movie and he was a wonderful source of help as well,” says Best. With more exposure, the filmmakers are hoping to pick up a distributor.
“Maine really provided the perfect backdrop to tell this story,” says Best. “There is something about Maine in the summer that is so vibrant and so alive that teases out this dichotomy between grief and the joy and forces you to grow.”
For more information about the future of this film and blog updates, keep up with their website, above.
I'm pleased to announce that Anatomy of the Tide, a feature film crafted in Maine, is set to shoot this September! With a Maine writer, director and cinematographer at the helm, this award-winning script is already attracting young, rising stars to its cast. Details on WHO to follow soon!
Check out their new website and please LIKE them on Facebook and FOLLOW them on Twitter.
From the cinematographer, Daniel Stephens: "Thank you all for your support, your help, your love and your continued enthusiasm and belief in this great film. We could not make
this happen without you."
Local Filmmakers Gear Up To Make a Maine Waterfront Film This Spring
Not since In The Bedroom has there been a community-wide flutter of excitement knowing an independent film company is coming to town to film a movie. Only, in this case, these guys didn’t have to fly in from Hollywood. They’ve been living here, working here, sharing a beer at local watering holes all along.
Anatomy of the Tide is a feature film by Midcoast Maine writer/director/producer, Joel B. Strunk whom the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences honored with a Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Award.
Strunk is a tuna fisherman who fishes out of Rockland and has worked in and among Maine’s waterfronts all of his life. His script Anatomy of the Tide placed in the top 30 out of 6,500 scripts for the Nicholl Fellowships this past year, a notable feat in itself. It is a coming-of-age story about three island boys in their final summer of adolescence, who look beyond an ocean that has incarcerated them since birth to plot their hopes and dreams. Dark secrets, fearful parents, and wealthy seasonal influences all combine to make this story a recipe of tragedy and triumph.
The production budget for this independent film is about $1 million, similar in budget to In The Bedroom. Anatomy of the Tide will be shot and produced here in Midcoast Maine and surrounding islands by Two Tides Entertainment and its production team. When all the necessary funding is in place, the goal is to start pre-production in the spring and shoot for five weeks in July and August.
As with every film project, there is always a good back story. One day a few years ago, Strunk was listening to a record album his late father had made. Judd Strunk was a high-profile musician in Los Angeles in the 1960s-1970s who knew a lot of entertainers in the industry. Feeling nostalgic about his father as he listened to his music, Joel Strunk turned the album cover over to see who produced it and found a name he didn’t recognize: Charles Kipps. “When people you love pass away,” says Joel Strunk, “you always try to find living pieces of them in other people.” On a whim, Joel Strunk called up Kipps in L.A. and left him a message that he was Judd Strunk’s son—and—if that meant anything to him, he’d love to have a conversation. Kipps immediately called him back and a connection between the two immediately formed. Kipps, a former Motown record producer, who’d made seven gold albums with Aretha Franklin and The Temptations, also happened to be a film producer whose credits included Fat Albert, a feature film for Twentieth Century Fox co-written with Bill Cosby, and Frame of Mind. Kipps asked to see the Anatomy of the Tide script and after reading it, offered to sign on as the film’s lead producer. “Charles doesn’t do anyone a favor if he doesn’t like a script; but in this case, he loved it,” says Joel Strunk. “He told me: ‘Stop focusing on agents and selling your script. Do it yourself. You raise the money—I’ll give you the talent.’ ” Tom Craig, a former senior V.P. of Universal Pictures and United Artists that helped green light such films as Shakespeare in Love, Prince of Tides, and Rain Man, got ahold of the script next through his Maine connections and became the next producer to attach to the film.
Now they had to find a cinematographer. In 2006, Strunk met Daniel Stephens, an award-winning cinematographer who was teaching a lighting cinematography class at Maine Media Workshops. Stephens had come to the Workshops in 2002 and loved his experience so much, decided to make Maine his home. He currently works as a cinematographer and partner in the Maine-based production company goodfocus, llc. After Strunk and Stephens collaborated on making a commercial together, Strunk asked Stephens to be his Director of Photography on Anatomy of the Tide. And with most of the necessary pieces in place, they were ready to go to the next level.
Just like In The Bedroom and Islander, what’s exciting about this particular film is that it will be actually shot in Maine. If this sounds like an obvious thing to say—it isn’t. According to Stephens, many production companies don’t actually come to Maine to shoot Maine films because Maine, unlike other states, is perceived as not being very film-friendly. Take Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey as well as Canadian provinces—they all give a 25%- 60% tax credit incentive for filmmakers. That means for a $1 million movie, anywhere from 1/3 to over 1/2 of the film's qualified expenses can be reimbursed to the production company in the form of a tax credit. Maine only reimburses up to 12% of wages paid to Maine residents and 5% of other qualified expenses—which is why from a business standpoint, a production company has more incentive to film in Massachusetts or Canada. “A lot of times, they’ll say the Canadian coast looks a lot like Maine and assume most people won’t tell the difference,” says Stephens. Another obstacle is that there aren’t a lot of production facilities in Maine, although that’s starting to change in Portland. Still, that adds up to additional expenses when the cast and equipment has to be trucked in from away. “While [out-of-state film production companies] are infusing some cash into the Maine economy, at the end of the day,” says Stephens, “most of those people they are paying are from somewhere else.”
That’s why this Maine waterfront movie is getting so much local support. Written by a Maine fisherman—and underwritten, to a large degree, by hard-working Maine people: doctors, lobstermen, boat builders, trap manufacturers, fishing fleet operators, aviation professionals, and other waterfront folks and businesses--Anatomy of the Tide plans to be giving as much as it gets from the state it proudly represents. Says Lea Girardin, Director of The Maine Film Office, “I think very, very highly of these guys. It’s a wonderful project; it’s a terrific script. It’s the kind of project I will obviously do everything in my power to help out and I’ll make the same commitment to them as they are making to Maine.”
“Almost everyone who works in this film (with the exception of some of the lead cast) will be from Maine,” says Stephens. “The crew and cast will be from here and we have some amazing crew resources.” Local lobsterman Ryan Post, a vocal proponent of the Maine lobster industry, is also a producer of the film. Because of Post’s strong relationships with the waterfront community in which he was born and raised, he has access to the kind of people, locations and resources in Maine most production companies would never be able to approach without some kind of “ambassador” to the area.
Most of the scenes will be shot in Rockland and potentially, North Haven or Vinalhaven. “We may not have a big production studio here, but look around—the state of Maine is our studio,” says Stephens. “We have some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States. And Mainers certainly can ‘tell the difference’” he adds. “This is what Maine really looks like. I’m excited with this film because here’s a chance for me to
practice my craft at home, which I don’t get to do very often.”
To find out more about the progress of Anatomy of the Tide, stay tuned to The Killer Convo on Facebook, which will keep the film’s fans and followers up to date with news on the lead cast, shooting locations and how locals can get involved.
The Killer Convo
This blog is a is a killer roundup of all arts, entertainment, brewery & distillery, food trucks, happy hour happenings in the Midcoast Maine. Feel free to email me anything about Midcoast arts, entertainment & the creative economy.