If you happened upon a bunch of people furiously moving camera gear, lights, stands, cables and other filmmaking equipment in the area last weekend, you may have witnessed the filming of “The Maury Island Incident,” a locally-produced movie that was shot in Burien, Des Moines, Tukwila and on the waters off Maury Island.
The short film is based on the true story – taken directly from declassified FBI documents – of Harold Dahl’s June 21, 1947 UFO sighting near Maury Island and the first reported ‘Man In Black’ encounter that happened the next day. An investigation followed that resulted in a mysterious crash of a B-25 carrying “slag” evidence from the encounter, which killed Capt. William Davidson and Lt. Frank Brown (this film will be dedicated to them). This case went all the way up to FBI Executive Director J. Edgar Hoover, who expressed personal interest in it.
Written/Produced by Steve Edmiston (The Day My Parents Became Cool, Crimes of the Past and others), and Directed/Produced by Scott Schaefer (Bill Nye the Science Guy, The Arsenio Hall Show, Almost Live! and many others), production took place at a home in Tukwila, in boats off Maury Island, at the Tin Room Bar in Burien and at the Landmark Event Center in Des Moines between Friday, June 28 and Monday, July 1.
The main management team also includes Executive Producer John White, along with Laura Beth and Scott Peterson (SAFE Boats) and Danny House, owner of the Tin Room Bar/Theater.
A crew of 31 or so – recruited and assembled by Line Producer Elizabeth Heile – along with an excellent, all-local group of actors put together by Casting Director Stephen Salamunovich, “The Maury Island Incident” is slated to be completed sometime this fall. The film – which won an “Innovation Lab” award from Washington Filmworks in June – will then be submitted to various festivals, turned into online webisodes, and if all goes well, perhaps made into a feature-length film or TV series (email email@example.com to learn on how you can help us do that…).
HOW IT ALL STARTED
The idea to make a film started on June 21, 2012, when Steve Edmiston threw an outdoor party to commemorate the anniversary date of the Maury Island Incident near his home in Des Moines. I attended, and having known of the incident from my days as a Director on a UFO TV show called “Sightings,” I asked (or perhaps told) Edmiston if/that he wanted to make a movie about it. Over several months of talking, we finally put together a treatment and floated the idea on his blogs. Then, on Dec. 5, 2012, we held a pitch/fundraiser meeting at the Tin Theater. Afterwards Danny House introduced us to John White, who loved the story idea so much that he decided to help us make the movie.
GREAT PRE-PRODUCTION WAS VITAL
In order to actually make a movie, you need to build a team. “Find the best people available, hire them and let them do their jobs,” was the common statement made by numerous Directors I studied. I personally recruited Boydstun, Steve recruited Elizabeth, she recruited a production team, and so on and so on…until we had a real, full, professional crew excited to make a great movie!
GREAT ACTORS + GREAT CREW = GREAT EXPERIENCE
One of the most important things we did was hire Casting Director Stephen Salamunovich, who auditioned over 80 of the best Actors and Actresses in the northwest, gave recommendations and helped us put together an amazing cast. Each Actor brought his or her own skills to the shoot, and we encouraged collaboration. Most studied the story, asked questions and provided new insights we hadn’t thought of. What a pleasure to work with such pros, who consistently amazed the entire crew with their acting abilities, not to mention patience and ability to memorize, start and stop on cue and always give us great takes (and outtakes too!).
THE MOST AWESOME PRESSURE COOKER GIG EVER
If you’ve ever worked on a movie set before, you know just how busy and crazy things can get, with crew members each doing their jobs like efficient worker ants, always striving to get things ready for the next shot as soon as possible. A Director (me, in my first attempt at shooting a film despite 28+ years’ of directing/writing TV) working with actors, as well as with a Director of Photography (Mike Boydstun, who I’ve known since we both worked on “Almost Live!” at KING-TV), discussing each shot and preparing, all the while managed by an Assistant Director (Laura Jean Cronin) who’s making sure things are running on time, that equipment is set and ready, then at the right moment shouting “QUIET! Roll audio! Roll camera!” allowing me to say “And…ACTION!” (TIP: including “And…” is vital as it prepares everyone for the “Action!” part) and for us all to shut the heck up and get the shot.
Then…doing another take “just for insurance” or perhaps “holding for sound” when airplanes (or buses, loud cars, people, etc.) went by, or a dozen other reasons why we want to try it again…all as our A.D. is asking if we’re ready to move on yet…whew! This was the most intense production experience I’ve had since 1992 when I had the opportunity to direct Arsenio Hall in a comedy sketch on the New York street backlot at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood (Mr. Hall would only do one take, and was accompanied by a large, burly entourage driving tiny golf carts!).
On Saturday, June 29 we shot on the water, using two production boats and a “hero” boat called The Reliable. The good folks at the Des Moines Marina let us use their party dock for our temporary production offices, and since there wasn’t much room only essential crew members boarded the boats. Shooting on a small 1945 Tug Boat was cozy and very difficult. Just moving the crew out of the way of each set up and shot was tough! Add to that a very talented child Actor (Justin Howell), a Golden Retriever (“Kova”) and her Trainer Katherine Martucci, along with camera gear, props and crew, then throw it all onto Puget Sound and you can imagine what a logistics nightmare it almost became. But we got all the shots we needed (I think…) and Mt. Rainier appeared in all its glory for our hero shot towards the end of the day.
IT’S NOT OVER YET!
We’re now moving onto post-production, where Mr. Boydstun will edit the film into a cohesive story using synched sound from Kyle Porter. Luckily, since he was the Cinematographer, he (hopefully) got all the shots needed to complete the film. If not, we’ll get creative and figure things out. Once a rough cut is made, we’ll review it, revisions will be made, and we’ll watch it again. We’ll then “lock” the picture, get our special effects created and inserted, add all-original music from local musician David Templeton, then sweeten and mix the audio and voila…our movie will be done and ready for the world!
We’ll then move on to the film festival circuit, entering, promoting, marketing and trying to monetize our baby, hoping always to turn it into something bigger that we can all work on again, maybe as early as next summer.
EVEN THOUGH SHOOTING IS DONE, I STILL DREAM ABOUT IT
You can always tell you’ve been under extreme stress, when – even after a big project (in this case, the filming) is finished – you still dream about it every night. We finished shooting on Monday, July 1, and as recent as Thursday night, July 4 I still had dreams about it. In my nocturnal visions, we’re usually setting up a shot, running very much behind schedule with LOTS of pressure to start filming again, when I suddenly look at the monitor and wonder “What is this shot? I don’t remember this? Why are we filming the back of a truck covered in canvas? That’s NOT in the script!” Another variation is being in the editing room, watching footage and wondering where this or that great shot went that I swear we got, then realizing we forgot to record it! It’s like the classic dream of having to take a test in a class you never had, knowing that if you didn’t pass you wouldn’t graduate.
My personal wish is to make this the absolute BEST project I’ve ever worked on, and to somehow parlay it into more movie work that both highlights and stimulates the economies of our great communities.
WATCH FOR THE LOCAL SCREENING AT THE TIN THEATER
We’ll screen the film locally at the Tin Theater, so stay tuned for more info as we get closer. We can’t wait to show it to you!
Here are some photos taken by official Still Photographer Michael Brunk (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):
- Tony Doupe as Harold Dahl
- Allen Fitzpatrick as the original Man In Black
- John Patrick Lowrie as J. Edgar Hoover
- David S. Hogan as Agent Mitchell
- Jodie Harwood as Helen Dahl
- Justin Howell as Charles Dahl
- Chris Soldevilla as Fred Crisman
- Lisa B. Hammond as Miss Gandy
- Danny House as Tin Room Owner
- John White as Man on street
- Laura Beth Peterson as Tin Room Waitress
- Rick Walters and Aaron Breitbarth as Boat Workers
- “Kova” the dog as “Sparky” (the Dahl’s dog)
- Directed by Scott Schaefer
- Written by Steve Edmiston
- Executive Producer: John White
- Co-Executive Producers: Laura Beth & Scott Peterson, Danny House
- Producers: Scott Schaefer, Steve Edmiston
- Line Producer: Elizabeth Heile
- Casting Director: Stephen Salamunovich
- Associate Producer: Nancy Pappas Barnhart
- Director of Photography: Mike Boydstun
- Assistant Director: Laura Jean Cronin
- 2nd Assistant Director: Rick Walters
- Assistant Camera: Eric Remme
- Still Photographer: Michael Brunk
- Aerial Photography: Kelvin Hughes
- DIT/Slate: Jeff Vanderpool
- Sound: Kyle Porter
- Editor: Mike Boydstun
- Sound Design: Kyle Porter
- Music: David Templeton
- Production Manager: Nikki Sherritt-Lewis
- Production Designer: Lisa B. Hammond
- Prop Master: Jared Thomas
- Set Decorator: Beth Peterson
- On-Set Dresser: Darren Edwards
- On-Set Dresser/Props: David Templeton
- Set Dresser: Terry Wright
- Set Dresser: Thomas Gilbert
- Props Assist: Daniel Desrosier
- Costume Design: Ashley Russell
- Costume Assist: Chloe McNutt
- Makeup: Renee Majour
- Makeup Assist: Helena Caldwell (of Serenza Spa & Salon)
- Special FX: Adam Rosand
- Key Grip: Jimi Hicks
- Gaffer: Mark Bueing
- Swing: Ron Novak
- Locations Manager: Will Chase
- Script Supervisor: Andy Spletzer
- Set PA: Jake Anderson
- Set PA/Intern: Vixxen Pavy
- Set PA/Intern: Bill Herling
- Production Accountant: Jonica Combs
- Set Medic: Shawn Dailey
- Craft Services: Shannon D. Stabert
- Dog Trainer: Katherine Martucci
- 1947 ‘Man In Black’ Buick provided by John White
- Craft Services Donations courtesy Salty’s at Redondo, Azteca of Burien
- Historical Consultants: Charlette & Philip LeFevre of the NW Museum of Legends and Lore
- Special thanks to the Des Moines Marina
- Special thanks to the Cities of Des Moines, Burien, Tukwila and Maury Island
- Special thanks to the Maury Island Incident Historical Society
- Shot at Maury Island, Landmark on the Sound (Des Moines), Terry Joaquin house (for sale in Tukwila), Tin Room Bar (Burien)
- Camera boat: SAFE Boats
- Picture boat: “The Reliable“
More info at http://www.
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