The role of the young mischievous Devin will be played by nine year old actor Jesse Ray Sheps. Jesse Ray has built quite a resume for a young actor. He played the role of Tony in the movie Hard Sell (currently in post-production), appeared in many television programs and commercials and is most recently playing a series regular on Nickelodeon’s hit show Zack and Quack. Jesse Ray began his career at the age of 5 as an international model working on campaigns for H&M, Humira Pharmaceutical and Motts Apple Sauce. Jesse Ray has a strong creative side as well- he is currently working on creating his own animation series. He is represented exclusively by Abrams artists.
They say filmmaking is a collaborative art.
Yesterday, while shooting Day #3 on Stash, this proved to be absolutely true.
In truth, without the support of numerous people, there’s no way we have even been able to film.
We needed a heavy woods location and Inwood Hill Park, in the upper Northwest corner of Manhattan, was suggested. New York City is not a cheap place by any measure and our micro-budget doesn’t make it easy to take on extra costs of any kind.
With that in mind, Selena from the NY Film Commission was instrumental in pointing me in the direction on whom I needed to get approval to shoot at the historic New York City Park.
Daniel Mercado, the Manager of Inwood Hill Park, took my call the day before we wanted to shoot and approved the go ahead. Without his gracious consent, it would have never happened. I think this is especially impressive and reflective of how he runs business, when I got turned down by backup parks in Nassau & Suffolk County in Long Island, because they didn’t have enough time to accommodate my request.
Then there was the problem of feeding the cast & crew that totaled about 13 people. I had made numerous phone calls to restaurants in the area on both Friday and Saturday, not getting any place to commit to helping us out. Amazingly, with only an hour or two before when we needed it, I walked off the street into two first class restaurants that not only decided to help us but also gave us incredible meals. What was even more astounding about this was how they turned around our request within 1-hour’s time.
Gus Anton, who manages The Park View, was the first to assist us. Our DP Edwin Figueroa said he loved their food and suggested I talk to them. The Park View gave us an assortment of meals that consisted of; hamburgers, yummy turkey BLT with avocado, tuna and grilled chicken sandwiches, all coming with fries. Plus they provided a couple fresh made salads that the crew ate wholeheartedly, raving about the taste and fine quality of food. Not only this but they supplied us with eating utensils and even some of their employees to help carry all the food to a cab. I now know why Edwin & his girlfriend Tiffany love this place so much.
Francis Pereira-Billini, the General Manager of Mamajuana-Café was next to help us out. His superb restaurant supplied three massive servings of; tasty chicken with peppers & onions, white rice and delicious cheese fries. These came hot off the stove and were so heavy; I literally couldn’t carry them out with the things I had in hand for our shoot. A couple crew members were floored that they would be eating this quality of meal vs. what most micro-budget films provide.
For this night of shooting, we ate before the first shot was done and the crew couldn’t have gone to work happier.
I have the good people & caring establishments listed above for that. Don’t hesitate to choose either restaurant if you want excellent meals, in very comfortable settings, when you are near upper Manhattan.
By Tim Clark
“Was that a bug or a mouse?” asked Stash production designer Michelle Rickert as we both caught a glimpse of a creepy-crawler scuttling across the ground through the beam of our dim flashlight.
“A bug,” I said. “A really big one.”
“Oh…that’s not good,” said Michelle. “As a general rule, any bug that’s bigger than a mouse reeeaaallly freaks me out.”
I think it’s fair to say the entire Stash cast and crew was freaked out this weekend as we filmed a bulk of our key scenes in the middle of the woods into the wee hours of the morning. The hot, humid air was tainted with the unmistakable odor of Deep Woods Off but it did little to stop the myriad ticks, spiders, beetles, mosquitos and unidentified flying objects from attacking us. I’ve never seen so many swatting, gyrating and high-knee heebie-jeebie moves in an effort to avoid them.
While the bugs didn’t bother me so much, something else did.
Many times I found myself looking over my shoulder, away from the glare of the production lights. Anyone – or anything – could be out there. Watching. Waiting. A few times, I had to rush back to the home base where extra supplies, food and water were kept handy. It wasn’t exactly a short walk. Twisting and turning through a barely discernable trail in pitch-black darkness, completely alone, was unnerving to say the least. And of course the nature of what we are filming doesn’t help matters. Check out the creepy candle/feather freakout-on-a-log creation by Michelle Rickert below for a taste of what I am talking about. You’d feel a little nervous too, wouldn’t you?
Thankfully, after surviving the first day of shooting for Stash, I can say with confidence that all of this uncomfortable tension will permeate every single frame of the movie. In many ways, the woodsy location becomes another character in the film which is exactly what director Terry Wickham wanted to accomplish.
Characters come to life
So how do you turn woods into a character? You get a guy like Edwin Figeuroa involved (pictured below, far left), who is our director of photography. Simply put, the man knows his way around a camera and knows exactly how to position lights to make the dark woods come to life. Nearly all of our Stash scenes calls for a “surveillance” POV and I was amazed to see Edwin tackle this difficult task with ease by cranking a smaller (and very expensive) camera 50 feet above our heads and basically guessing where the camera needs to aim. Well, when you’ve got nimble camerawork as part of your DNA, there really is no such thing as guessing. Our man Edwin nailed each and every one of these surveillance shots perfectly.
Edwin is also the writer/director of another segment for Devil’s Five which adds even more connective character to the overall production.
Speaking of characters… our main character, Faith Daniels (pictured below with Director Terry Wickham), played by Almog Pail, is the glue holding the story together, walking us through five hidden stashes as the tension ratchets up with each one she finds. Her willingness to reach into a hollowed out log without hesitation or even climb a deer stand (used by hunters) is indicative of the level of professionalism the Stash production has been blessed with.
Almog also “gets” the character of Faith and even though her scenes during the first few days of shooting involved a lot of walking around and steadicam POV shots, there were still plenty of opportunities for Almog to take her character to another level via helpful suggestions about dialogue and character motivations. I can’t wait to see Almog flex her acting chops once again when we film her dialogue-heavy scenes over the next few weekends.
To the entire cast and crew of Stash, congratulations on a job well done this weekend. We battled carnivorous bugs, stumbled through the dark woods and survived severe thunderstorms. It appears you are all a hearty bunch and nothing will dampen your spirits. Just be forewarned that there is one thing you all can’t run from and that’s me. I plan on highlighting each and every one of your talents in future blog posts.
Stay tuned and keep kicking ass.
P.S. – Thanks to ALL of our investors, especially Rick Kern who has gone above and beyond, and Dan and Gina D’agostino who paid a visit to the set. You guys rock!