Thursday, October 3, 2013

From First Gear to Festival Premiere: Looking Back on Production, Taking ODD BRODSKY the Film Festival Route & Why Cindy Baer Keeps Going Back for More

The feature film ODD BRODSKY began as a passion project for director Cindy Baer and cinematographer Matthew Irving Now, after a seven-year journey including developing, shooting, editing, visual effects, sound and music, the film is ready to make its world premiere at the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival on October 4th and October 5th—and this has Baer ecstatic. 

“My husband Matt and I came up with the idea for ODD BRODSKY in 2006 when my first feature was playing at a film festival in Massachusetts. I shopped the script around but found it impossible to raise a real budget in this horrible economy. I was about to give up after a few years trying. That's when industry friends starting coming together to make it happen!” said Baer. “We prepped for about 2 months, and then shot at the end of 2011. We’ve been working hard to complete it and are so excited to see it on the big screen.”

Audrey (Tegan Ashton Cohan) and Camera One (Matthew Kevin Anderson)

Why Continue the Festival Route?

ODD BRODSKY is Baer’s latest film and her second full-length feature to be accepted into a film festival (her debut feature Purgatory House screened at 25 festivals and her short film Morbid Curiosity screened at 28 festivals) so taking the film festival route was always on her mind. But why continue the festival route? According to Baer, for exposure and validation. “More and more films than ever before are being made and more films than ever are going the festival route.  This makes the competition greater than it’s ever been as the larger star-studded films compete against tiny movies for highly coveted screening slots” explained Baer. 

“Getting into a good festival can help to garner press and reviews, and for the smaller films that don't have big stars, it can help validate the movie to an audience and to distributors. Smaller festivals are great too. The opportunity to bring your movie to a community and present it on the big screen before a live audience and do a Q&A is wonderful.  And if the audience likes your movie, they'll tell others about it.  In this day and age it's all about getting people to know your project," said Baer. "Nobody is going to watch it if they don’t know about it.”

Baer and husband Matt Irving Hard at Work
Delivering Quality Shots with a Tiny Budget

Being a micro budget project, Baer found herself wearing different hats in every department, and despite having limited resources she and her producing partner Thomai Hatsios were able to pull off traditional production values not found at the low-budget level. “Everything is lit, and the camera work is smooth and lyrical as opposed to handheld and frenetic. We're extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish in the 20 day shoot-- our feature spans multiple time periods (1971, 1980 and present day), has over 30 locations, rain, smoke, kids, animals and even a musical number! Over 50 actors had speaking roles, and the majority were women, which is not common.  There's also dozens of complex “real world” visual effects which help to fully create the world of the movie. And no story about Hollywood would be complete without a glimpse of the Hollywood sign, which we were grateful to have licensed.”

Tegan Ashton Cohan as Audrey and Jim Hanks as the actor who plays God (in pink)

Choosing the Right Gear

Budget also dictated Baer and Irving's choice in format and support gear; however, they found that choosing vendors that fit the budget was a no-brainer, and ultimately decided to go with Canon DSLRs and Redrock Micro rigs to shoot the film. 

“Canon DSLRs deliver by far the best image for the price, and the Redrock Micro rigs are the best I've found in terms of build-quality and flexibility. Even when we did go handheld, the Redrock Micro rigs allowed us to make it as smooth as possible, to deliver the more "classical" studio film look” recalled Irving. 

“We used the DSLR Field Cinema Bundle and added the microFollowFocus and microMatteBox Deluxe. Once fully built, the shoulder rig/follow focus/matte box combination--together with the Canon 5D Mark II--became our "studio camera" for the show.  We would keep it built in this configuration whether we were on sticks, dolly, or handheld.  The thread on the bottom of the shoulder rig was a genius addition from Redrock Micro, which allowed for this flexibility," described Irving. "We were able to go from sticks to handheld in no time at all; we merely had to release the plate from our Sachtler tripod and we were good to go.”

On Set with Redrock Gear 

Baer and Irving enjoyed the modularity of each piece of Redrock gear they used on the shoot, adapting the gear to their own specific needs and making it work quickly and easily. “The Canon 5D Mark II is an amazing camera, but it can experience some warping and rolling (commonly called the "jelly roll" effect) if certain vibrations are present during the shooting. The Redrock shoulder rig eliminated this problem by adding just the right amount of bulk and weight, while providing a more sturdy contact point with the body. In my experience, a handheld shot literally goes from "unusable" to nearly Steadicam-smooth when you use the Redrock Micro rig.”

Preparing for the Next Scene

Irving credits the gear in helping to achieve a smooth and lyrical feel in the shots and had such a great experience would use them again in future projects. “I would use the rigs again in a heartbeat. In fact, I consider the shoulder rigs (together with follow focus and matte box) to absolutely integral tools whenever I'm shooting with Canon DSLRs.”

Director Cindy Baer

Film Festival Tips

The film festival circuit can seem daunting and impossible, but Baer recommends it for small indie films hoping for the opportunity to find new audiences. “Besides being fun, you get to visit places you may not otherwise go, discover great movies that you may never have a chance to see again, meet amazing people, and make friendships that last a lifetime. My tips about festivals would be to create a strategy and do your homework. Most festivals will not play you if you've screened at another festival in their city, because it will be harder to get people to attend. It’s important to submit your movie to a festival that it would actually be a good match for.”

For more on ODD BRODSKY, Cindy Baer and Matthew Irving, check out:

ODD BRODSKY website:

Cindy Baer website:
Matthew Irving website:

Contemplating the film festival route? Check out these tips for filmmakers from Sarasota Film Festival director Tom Hall. 

For more on the Redrock Field Cinema Bundle, microFollowFocus and microMattebox Deluxe, visit  

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Do you have tips for submitting films into film festivals? Share them below! 

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