And That's a Wrap!

As the last day of production on Of Dust and Bones draws to a close, it seems surreal that come Monday, we won't all be back with the same beautiful faces and spirits we've spent the past four weeks with, and won't all be driving that last patch of one-lane road through Joshua Tree to Champagne Ranch for breakfast, with the endless desert sky and hills on one side, and Matt and Lauren's Burning Man RV as our backdrop on the other.

The journey so far hasn't been easy. We've endured heat waves, broken cameras, "misplaced" walkie-talkies, and a scorpion attack on our Director! Lucky for that scorpion, he chose the person least likely to seek retaliation (Jerry would probably have army knife-d it and lit it on fire), and lucky for us, well -- she's Diane -- and brushed it off as if it were a mosquito bite.

But despite the seemingly constant film of dust and sweat that coated everything and everyone on set, we'd be hard-pressed to look back on this experience with anything but fondness. This was, and continues to be, a film born out of love of storytelling and cinematography in its rawest form. Our DP, TJ Hellmuth, may have put it best:

[This film] has been not just a reminder of why I work in film, but it basically is the actual reason I chose my career in cinematography. I'm so proud of the work that everybody has put into this austere beauty and while we're hustling to get everything done today I'm trying to savor every last moment of working with all my incredible collaborators on this project.
-- TJ Hellmuth, Director of Photography

What has made this film what it is, and what has driven every collaborator on this project to do his and her part to their utmost for 12+ hours a day has been ... our set mascot Tennyson. But in all seriousness, what's made us excited to come to work everyday and too excited to sleep every night after getting back to our houses or hotels or tents (or treehouse -- hi Brant!) has been the knowledge that we're here making the film we set out to make. It's not a superhero movie, and there aren't any pyrotechnics -- although there is fire -- but rather, Of Dust is the kind of movie that made each and every one of us fall in love with film and filmmaking in the first place. This is the kind of movie rooted in the beauty and ugliness of love and loss and the shared human emotions and experiences that we've all felt in one form or another in our lives. So while we leave the desert now -- one car or truck or motorcycle at a time -- to go sleep under some air conditioning on high for a few days straight, we've all left a little bit of ourselves in the desert.

As our most loyal supporters, we want to thank you for your continued support. This film quite literally wouldn't be possible without you, and we'd love to keep you updated on the next stages of this movie. The film that has already begun to make its way to the editing bay, and our team is already hard at work laying the groundwork for marketing and distributing this film.

And we would love your help. 

Please share your favorite shots from our Instagram, featuring behind the scenes photos from set as taken by cast and crew alike (@ofdustandbones, #OfDust); tweet to us or about us at @rebelheartfilm; like us on the Of Dust and Bones Facebook page; and encourage friends, family, and fellow lovers of film to join our Newsletter at http://www.ofdustandbones.com/join-us/. We'll continue to post videos and photos from the past four weeks of production, and keep you updated on the latest in post-production, film festivals (fingers crossed!), and beyond.

Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts, and we can't wait to share this movie with you!

xx

The Cast and Crew of Of Dust and Bones

Meet our Cast & Crew: MICHAEL PICCIRILLI

Michael Piccirilli - or "Pitch" as we know him on set - is the leading gent of Of Dust and Bones. Pitch plays Alex, a news producer who recruits his best friend, Bryan (David Zaugh), to photograph the escalating tensions in Syria and the rise of ISIS -- not knowing that he was in fact leading his best friend into his last assignment. His guilt over his role in Bryan's death leads him to Clio (Gaynor Howe) through whom he wants to gain access to Bryan's last work. The tension between these two strong figures in Bryan's life and between their two opposing views on coping with the grief of losing Bryan reaches a boiling point in the desert.

HOMETOWN: Born in Sydney, now living in LA

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIES: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Knife in the Water, Bladerunner (Directors Cut) 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MUSICIANS: Bill Evans, John Martyn, Radiohead

ALL-TIME FAVORITE TV SHOWS: Breaking Bad, The Goodies, Seinfeld

FAVORITE NEW ARTISTS TO WATCH: Leif (Musician), Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck (Director), Diane Bell! (Director)

FAVORITE TV SHOWS CURRENTLY ON TV: True Detective, The Jinx, The Affair

FAVORITE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @ofdustandbones. Because it's our baby. 

BEST MEAL EVER: Egg sandwich after climbing 'Mt Whitney'

PLAY ANY MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS?: Guitar, Piano (well, that depends on your definition of 'play')

IF YOU COULD HAVE LUNCH WITH ONE PERSON (DEAD OR ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE?: Stanley Kubrick

IF YOU COULD BE IN SOMEONE ELSE'S SHOES FOR ONE DAY, WHO WOULD IT BE?: Stephen Hawking

MOST OUTRAGEOUS THING YOU'VE EVER DONE?: A stupidly high cliff jump

IF YOU COULD HAVE PERSONALLY WITNESS SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?: The lunar landing

FAVORITE PLACE YOU'VE TRAVELLED TO?: Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

AND WHAT'S NEXT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST OF PLACES TO TRAVEL TO?: Zion National Park

 

Instagram: @michael_piccirilli

 

Photo by Jerry White

Photo by Jerry White

Photo by Michael Piccirilli

Photo by Michael Piccirilli

Meet our Cast & Crew: GAYNOR HOWE

Gaynor Howe is the leading lady of Of Dust and Bones. Gaynor plays Clio, a widow whose husband's untimely death has left her withdrawn from the world she once knew, now living alone in a secluded desert home with only her thoughts and memories. Her quiet solitude is interrupted when her husband's best friend and producer, Alex, shows up on her doorstep.

HOMETOWN: London

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIES: Xanadu, It’s a Wonderful Life, Suddenly Last Summer

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MUSICAL ARTISTS: Blondie, Mazzy Star, Prince

ALL-TIME FAVORITE TV SHOWS: The Clangers, Breaking Bad, Still Game

FAVORITE NEW ARTISTS-TO-WATCH: Marielle Heller, Belgrave, Phoebe Unwin

FAVORITE TV SHOWS CURRENTLY ON THE AIR: The Affair

FAVORITE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @lifeunstyled because I love her writing and her style

FAVORITE TWITTER ACCOUNT: @rebelheartfilm because rebellious hearts rock

BEST MEAL YOU'VE EVER HAD: My husband's Sunday roasts

ANY PHOBIAS?: Questionnaires <-- Producer Bonnie Cao apologies for any trauma caused by this experience -- no actresses were harmed in the making of this blog post

DO YOU PLAY ANY MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS?: Didgiridoo

IF YOU COULD HAVE LUNCH WITH ANYONE (DEAD OR ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE?: David Bowie

IF YOU COULD BE IN SOMEONE ELSE'S SHOES FOR ONE DAY (ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE?: Brian Cox

MOST OUTRAGEOUS THING YOU'VE EVER DONE?: Pass!

IF YOU COULD HAVE PERSONALLY WITNESSED SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?: Roaring 20’s, Paris

WHAT'S NEXT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST OF PLACES TO TRAVEL TO?: Cuba

 

Twitter: @gaynorhowe

Instagram: @xanadu2020

 

Photograph by Tiffany Roohani @tiffanyroohaniphotography

Photograph by Tiffany Roohani @tiffanyroohaniphotography


Meet our Cast & Crew: DAVID ZAUGH

David Zaugh is one of the stars of Of Dust and Bones. David plays Bryan, a war photographer whose untimely death and haunting presence have left his widow, Clio, and best friend and producer, Alex, grappling with the grief of this loss in their respective ways.

 

HOMETOWN: Crystal Falls, MI

DO YOU PLAY ANY MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS?: Guitar

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE YOU'VE TRAVELLED TO?: PARIS

WHAT'S NEXT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST OF PLACES TO TRAVEL TO?: LA to Argentina via motorcycle

 

We'll keep you updated on David and his motorcycle antics as production goes on. On to Week 2 of #OfDust filming!

Twitter: @davidzaugh

Photograph by Rob Lewis @darefusionfilms

Photograph by Rob Lewis @darefusionfilms

Meet our Cast & Crew: JULIA VAN VLIET, Production Designer

HOMETOWN: Chagrin Falls, OH

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIES (3): This is a tricky question as a designer; as I wonder do I answer with the 3 films that blew my mind as designer or 3 films I just love and could watch over and over again...  Here are a few that I never grow tired of watching:  “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,”  “Out of Africa,” BBC’s 1995 “Pride and Prejudice” and “Valley Girl.”  The films that I have loved design-wise is long, but I love a film that takes chances like “Old Boy,” “Lucky Number Slevin,” “The Fall” (super gorgeous film), “Blade Runner,” the newest “Anna Kerenina” (which was a wonderful theatrical adaptation to film) and anything Baz Luhrmann does.  I’m not sure who was smarter to marry whom but Catherine Martin is a genius!

ALL-TIME FAVORITE MUSICAL ARTISTS (3): LOL!  Unless you're a part of “High Fidelity,” who has a constant top 3? (Which was such a great film of the best book by Nick Hornby)  A few artists that have stood the test of time for me:  The Police, Nina Simone and Queen.   However, it all depends on my mood… I have such an eclectic taste.  From old school Rap/R&B, punk rock, metal, 50’s country, and big band crooners to the occasional opera… Doesn’t it all set the stage for life?

FAVORITE NEW ARTIST-TO-WATCH: I feel like female comics are the ones to watch these days.  Amy Schumer is definitely breaking the mold but so is Mindy Kaling.   They wouldn’t have had their start if it weren’t for Joan Rivers, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Carol Kane, Chelsea Handler, Jeneane Garofalo Tina Fey, Tig Notaro and Sarah Silverman.  Funny ladies rule!

FAVORITE TV SHOWS CURRENTLY ON TV: Modern Family!  This show is so well written and acted.

FAVORITE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @wolfpack - This is a man that saves all the dogs that I want to save but don’t have this space to do so!  Bravo!

BEST MEAL YOU'VE EVER HAD:  I got treated to a 5-course meal at Jean George!!  Oh my, the best!!!

IF YOU COULD HAVE LUNCH WITH ONE PERSON (DEAD OR ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE?: Either Coco Chanel, Diana Vrieland or Elsa Sciprilli.

MOST OUTRAGEOUS THING YOU'VE EVER DONE?I’ve done too many to count.  I lived in NYC in the 90s and was young.  There was a lot to do that was outrageous!

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE YOU'VE TRAVELLED TO?: Greek Isles

WHAT'S NEXT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST OF PLACES TO TRAVEL TO?: Tahiti

 

Twitter: @juliavanvliet

Instagram: @jnv2design

The Journey Begins

Day One of production

Day One of this incredible journey is officially in the books.


It's hard to believe, but after months of writing and planning, of daydreaming and brainstorming, of shot-listing and set building, yesterday marked the official start of production for OF DUST AND BONES.

As you may know, this was my first time crowdfunding a film -- which made for a nerve-wracking start to an already anxiety-inducing process. In my experience, every film I've worked on has laid claim to a piece of my heart, and in turn put that piece on display to the world. And now here I and the rest of my production team were, putting the collective pieces of our souls on display and asking friends, family, and strangers for support in our vision -- and all before even getting started.

But watching this community grow has truly made this film what it is. Every member of our cast and crew is here out of passion for the project, and your support fuels that fire -- even on the coldest desert nights!

Over the past few weeks, our army of producers, production designers, cinematographers, and more have been working tirelessly to bring all the pieces of this picture (no pun intended) together. It is no understatement to say that the result has been magical. We watched a colorful and warm desert home transform into a spartan and cold desert hideaway. We location scouted through the Yucca Valley for just the right spot for Clio's stone 'cathedrals' and are incredibly excited about how it turned out.

Day One of production was a whirlwind of familiar faces and new additions to the team. The feeling in the camp was electric, with a united current of determination and excitement running through every person on set.

I've included some photos to give you a glimpse into our day -- for additional behind the scenes shots as production rolls on, keep an eye on our Instagram and Twitter (#OfDust).

Onwards!

Huge gratitude
xo Diane

Testing out the car rig

Ritualized Filmmaking

Although every film is unique in story, and process, they are all ultimately connected by methods that were put in place by our filmmaking forefathers. Yet, what makes filmmaking as an art, and medium so exciting is that it is contradictory in nature: it is constantly at odds with the formulas used to create it. Filmmaking is a ritualized process that also begs for rebelliousness, because the films that break the mold are typically the ones that succeed.

The beauty of ritual is that something superficially repetitive in nature can also foster transformation. Perpetuated by her unaddressed desire to rebuild from within, Clio's unabashed dedication to her need to build and make this monument, reminded me of the reason why I got into filmmaking. Creating something from scratch, and then slowly building upon that idea/notion until it reaches its intended form, has an immeasurable healing quality. Even better though, when one has the opportunity to share that experience with others.

Ritual, as it applies to OF DUST, means not only partaking in each step of the historically ritualized filmmaking process, but it also asks that both cast and crew be involved in the process of Clio's ritualistic monument making behavior, and to make a contribution to the heartbeat of this film: a seemingly solitary act then becomes a communal one. Just as Alex mirrors Clio’s ritual in an attempt to link two seemingly disparate lives and break her silence, our cast and crew have become further bound, and humbled in the process of building it.  

We find rituals to be particularly calming, mainly because we find safety in their ability to guide us to the next step. At the same time, rituals have the ability to surprise, scare and even amaze us because they can never fully be in our control. With these breaks, or natural lapses in our ability to predict all outcomes, rituals can lead to an exciting moment of self discovery, or moments of pure filmmaking. Ritual, if understood and accepted in all its forms, is in essence, pure filmmaking.

And so it snowballs: my thought process in conjunction with a film that we are drawing closer to each day. Whether one can personally relate to Clio's plight, or relate in general to the mind and body numbing pain of losing those you love, OF DUST is a film for everyone, because Clio's journey isn't unlike our own. Unabashed, unwavering, and necessary to the human condition, her ritual, no matter how stripped down, and our rituals, remain the foundation on which lives are built and rebuilt. And the starting place for which pure filmmaking has the potential to emanate. 

- Alexa Ammon (Producer)

@alexaammon

The Art of Shot Listing

We are exactly two weeks away from shooting my new film, OF DUST AND BONES, and the last week or so, my life has been devoted mostly to one thing: working on the shot list with the Director of Photography, TJ Hellmuth.

For me, this is one of the most pleasurable parts of preproduction. It’s when I‘m forced to tune into the movie that pre-exists in my head in a whole new way.

Normally, it goes like this. I read the scene aloud. Then I explain to TJ how I saw the scene in my head, and why I wrote it the way I did. I try not to be attached to this, because often it’s not the best version – I stay open to there being a better way. We then discuss the scene in depth – why is it in the script? What is it really about? What’s the story within the scene? What’s is the scene’s essence?  What are we learning about the characters, the story?  As we answer these questions, it usually becomes pretty clear how we need to shoot it.   Intuitively you sense the camera close to one character, profile of another; as you dig in, you know why you felt that way. And of course, if you’re lucky and are working with the right DP for the project, they’ll keep suggesting ideas that you never would have come up with on your own. The joys of collaboration.

Watching the movie in your head is the real pleasure. It’s also deceptively hard work. You play different versions…what if we went from a medium wide to a close-up there? What if we stayed on that character? What if we dollied in super slow? And each question requires you to close your eyes for a moment and play the scene in your head again, trying out different shots until the scene in your head plays most effectively.

Shot listing is slow work.  Other movies are discussed (for this movie, we’ve talked a lot about Gus Van Sant’s GERRY, Abbas Kiarostami’s TASTE OF CHERRY and Ingmar Bergman’s WINTER LIGHT and PERSONA), as well as photographs and paintings (all about Rembrandt for this).  References are googled, shared, discussed.  It’s painstaking work.

No matter how time consuming, I think this is an absolutely crucial part of the process of preparing for a film.

Obviously there are logistical reasons for it. The DP can make a solid list of gear that’s going to be needed, and share the detailed plans with the gaffer and grip so everyone’s on the same page and knows what to expect before they get to  set. Also the First Assistant Director will know how to schedule effectively (although a scene might be only 1/8 of a page, if it involves 7 shots, it’s going to take a while).

But for the director, it goes beyond this. It’s becoming cognizant in a practical way of the language of the film you want to make.

Sometimes when I’m doing this, at first it feels like the film in my head is always in my peripheral vision, and that I can never quite see it…but as the process goes on, it comes into clearer into focus. I become more and more certain of what it is we’re trying to capture, and that fills me with excitement and hope, because the film in my head is always amazing. A perfect film, before the realities of shooting kick in.

Of course, the shot list is not written in stone. On the day, you might discover in blocking with actors a far better and different way of shooting a scene. Only an idiot (or a control freak) would stick stubbornly to their shot list and not be alive to the truths unfolding before their eyes when on set. But if you’ve done the groundwork of a thorough shot list, guaranteed you’ll make better decisions on set.  You’ll have built a solid creative vocabulary with your DP, dug deep into film that you are making, and together, moment to moment, you’ll always know the best way to shoot your scene, no matter what you might have thought before.

- Diane Bell (Writer/Director)

Twitter: @dianebell1

Instagram: @dianebell

Twitter (#OfDust): @rebelheartfilm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ofdustandbones
Instagram (#OfDust): @ofdustandbones