The Thread Between Us
As Jane (Olivia Jacobs) travels to her new life at school, she thinks back to her childhood and the affect her older sister, Bren (Kirsten Kellersberger), had on her life.
Starring: Kirsten Kellersberger, Olivia Jacobs, Morgan Pyle, and Angela Ramsey Robinson.
Get Involved and Get Credited
Our goal is to connect with people by telling stories that we believe in. However, telling a story takes time and money. So far, all of our short films have been self-funded. This time we want to involve others in the process! Donating is a meaningful way to show your support, contribute to the project, and get some fun rewards! Support contributions will go towards set meals, travel expenses, payment for our cast and crew's hard work, and distribution.
All contributors names will be in the closing credits of the film, regardless of the contributed amount.
Below is a list of additional rewards contributors can get!
- Up to $5: Contributors will receive copy of first 15 pages of the script.
- $5-10: Contributors will receive copy of first 15 pages of the script and Digital copy of Short Film before release date.
- $10-15: Contributors will receive copy of first 15 pages of the script, Digital copy of Short Film, and Digital copy of Soundtrack.
- $15-20: Contributors will receive copy of first 15 pages of the script, Digital copy of Short Film, Digital copy of Soundtrack, and invitation to cast and crew private screening.
Score Breakdown: "Nine Years Ago" from The Thread Between Us
The rough cut is finally complete! We are starting to get the dialogue settled and the score in place. I am about half way through scoring the film, but I thought I would take a break from working and share some of my progress. Today I want to breakdown the opening song, “Nine Years Ago”, from the film. Enjoy.
Crew Profile - Agnes Filiatreau
With any film, sound does half the work; which is a lot of work for one person. As we were wrapping up Pre-Production, we began looking for somebody we could trust to fill the role of sound recordist. We were introduced to Agnes. Before production began, we met with Agnes to spend time with her and learn about her experience with sound. Agnes was so knowledgeable, humble, and attentive. Gracie and I felt comfortable giving her responsibility over something so important to us. Apart from Gracie and myself, Agnes was the only extra crew member we had on set. Her primary role was sound, but she helped us so much with everything from moving stands, to lighting and composition, and even simple things such as cleaning up. She is a great person to have on set and we are so thankful she decided to work on this project with us!
Cast Profile - Angela Ramsey Robinson
For our last cast profile we want to talk about the actress Angela Ramsey Robinson. When Gracie and I were looking to cast the character Tara we didn't know anybody who would fit the role. We ended up posting a casting call through our Facebook page and Angela responded to the call. Working with Angela was a great experience. She put so much effort and attention into the character and it really shows in the film. The character Tara has the least amount of screen time so we only got to spend two days with Angela, but it was such a treat when we did. Angela is such a creative person and she really added the chemistry and dynamic we needed from that character.
Tara is Jane and Bren's mother. In the plot of the film the audience doesn't get to see Tara that much and the perception of her is seen through Jane's eyes. There is so much subtext and internal conflict Tara deals with as a single parent. Even though the story is not about Tara, she has a major influence on the way the characters interact with each other.
Cast Profile - Morgan Pyle
When Gracie and I began creating the character of (Young) Jane, we were concerned about how we could find an actress. We didn’t know of any child actresses who fit the age and would commit to such a demanding role. Luckily Morgan responded to our casting call. It was such a relief to Gracie and I when we met with her at the read through. She took on the character perfectly. Morgan is extremely professional and very talented as an actress. Her preparation was amazing to both Gracie and I every time we had a shoot. Morgan really took on the role and endured long days. Kirsten and Morgan had such great chemistry on screen and on set. It was such a fun experience having Morgan around.
The heart of the story gets shown through (Young) Jane’s perspective. Jane is conflicted about her sister moving away from home. Jane has always grown up with Bren and she doesn’t know how to handle life on her own.
Cast Profile - Kirsten Kellersberger
For our next cast profile we want to talk about the character Bren. Bren is played by Kirsten Kellersberger. Kirsten was the first person we contacted for the project. We met Kirsten a little less than a year ago and wanted to work with her ever since. We did a read through with Kirsten and Olivia and Kirsten fit so well with the character of Bren. Kirsten was so well prepared for every day of shooting, it was so helpful for Gracie and I to work with somebody as professional as she. Kirsten's part was the most demanding out of all the characters, and Kirsten did an incredible job filling out the role and adding so much to the story.
Bren is Jane's older sister and is the backbone of the story. Throughout the film we see the way Bren comforts, encourages, and builds up Jane. Bren is sort of the "mother figure" to Jane and at the same time her best friend. The story unravels the way relationships change over time and how they can affect us.
Cast Profile - Olivia Jacobs
It’s been a while since our last post. That is primarily because we are in the post-production stage. We are currently working on the rough cut of the film and this process will take some time as we do not want to rush it. Until we have more content to show, I would like to take the next week or two to show off some of the cast.
First, we will start with the main character, Jane. Jane is played by Olivia Jacobs. Olivia was the second cast member we brought into the production. She was recommended to us by Kirsten. We met up with both Olivia and Kirsten and had a read through to determine which characters they would best suit. It was obvious to Gracie and I that Olivia was perfect for Jane. Olivia really brought the character to life and we are extremely happy with her performances. There were a few times when we were filming and we stopped seeing Olivia, we just saw Jane. This was exciting because Olivia did such a good job with the character that she was the character.
Jane is wrestling with questions about change. Jane’s thoughts are centered around her childhood and particularly her sister, Bren. Throughout the story Jane sees the way her relationship with Bren changes over time and a part of Jane wants it to be the way it used to. In the story we follow Jane through a voice over as we relive some of Jane’s memories.
Production is beginning to wrap up. We have one more day scheduled to shoot and a few pickup shots. On day six we shot three scenes and we are very happy with how they are turning out. For the blog today I want to focus on only one of the scenes.
To give you some context to the scene, this is the first time the audience is introduced to all the characters. This scene is mainly to show the relationships between the three characters, Jane, Bren, and Tara, and how they interact with one another. It is a fairly simple scene where they are just chatting about their day. Tara tells Jane she has to eat her peas and Jane does what she can to avoid eating them. For the blocking in the scene the only character that moves away from the table is Tara. She recedes into the background behind Bren to wash dishes off screen, as she cleans off the table. This allows Jane and Bren to interact without Tara knowing, where Bren exchanges the peas from Jane’s plate to her own, so Jane doesn’t have to eat them.
We open the scene with a close up of Jane’s plate as she rolls the peas around. She avoids eating them even though Tara insists on it. The camera pans up to show Jane’s look of discontent. Tara is placed opposite of Jane. Tara and Jane do not always get along in the story and have different understandings about the circumstances in the story. So we wanted to visually show that by having them framed opposite each other. Bren is a balanced character in the story, and during this scene, is the mediator and between Tara and Jane. We wanted Bren to sit in-between Tara and Jane and we framed her in the middle of the screen to reinforce her position as the mediator. We have one angle of two character together, Bren and Jane. In this shot Bren scrapes the peas of Jane’s plate without Tara knowing (Tara is behind Bren cleaning up the dishes). This is the only angle we see two characters in the same shot. We did this to reinforce the bond between Bren and Jane.
The whole scene is only shot in four different angles. We wanted this scene to be simple and to the point visually. By giving each character their own space, the audience gets to see who they are individually as well as look into the relationship between Bren and Jane in the two shot.
For lighting we really wanted the background to fade away. So we lit the characters faces with a china ball and flagged off the background. In this picture with a False Color LUT on it you can see the difference in brightness between the characters and background. (False Color LUT is the measurement of darkness to brightness in a frame. Dark blue being the darkest part of the image, and pink and green being brighter).
Here is a BTS where you can see the flag and china ball. We adjusted the image to taste in the grade.
We are now halfway through production. It has gone by so fast. On day five we shot two scenes that take place back to back. In the scenes, we get to see Jane visit Bren a few years after the flashbacks.
We started the scene by shooting our characters the same side as the key light. To us shooting into a key light naturally feels lighter. We also gave our characters more space in the frame by using a slightly wider lens, a 24mm. This also allowed our main character to be looking left to right, which is more balanced traditionally.
As the scene progresses there is a moment where the conversation shifts. We used a motivated insert and then cut back out into the scene where the camera has switched sides, the camera is now shooting into the shadow of the characters, to us this is more dramatic. We also switched to a 35mm lens to get a little tighter and have a shallower depth of field. We also placed our character on the edge of the frame giving her less "look room". We also removed Bren from the foreground making Jane feel more isolated. We wanted to really emphasize the tension the character felt.
We used the window to provide ambience in the room and used a china ball for the key light. We flagged the china ball to avoid any spill onto the background and used a silk to soften the shadows on the actresses faces. We tried to keep it natural in the grade. We didn’t do much besides adjust the skin tones a little. The grey/blue walls added nice color contrast from the skin tones and in the grade we slightly exaggerated their hue. This is a major scene in the film. We don’t want to elaborate on it too much right now, but the performances from the actresses really brought the emotional level we needed. We are so excited to show everybody.
Beginning of conversation
Shift in conversation
Day Three Continued
Here are some stills from the rest of the kite flying scenes. As I mentioned in the previous post, in this scene the actresses are wearing sun-hats. We used the hats as a way to soften the light on their face. We then used white foam boards to add some shape by bouncing light back onto their face. Overall we are happy with the way it turned out. We wanted this setting to feel very bright and warm, so in the grade we pushed the colors towards yellow in the grass and trees, warmed up their skin tones, and pushed cyan in the sky.
This is the first scene we recorded with dialogue. Our sound operator, Agnes Filiatreau did an excellent job. Unfortunately during the day the cicadas were pretty loud so I am having to smooth that out as I begin premixing the dialogue.
Kirsten Kellersberger and Morgan Pyle did such wonderful jobs bringing this scene to life. They have great chemistry naturally and it really played well into the scene. Additionally we had some extra help from Shannon Pyle and Olivia Jacobs on set that day. We are so thankful for our great cast and crew!
Last Sunday we shot two scenes at a park in downtown Bowling Green. One scene took place during the middle of the day and the other took place at sunset. Both scenes required our actress (Morgan) to fly a kite. Luckily the wind was working in our favor, so we could shoot a majority with her actually flying the kite. The whole cast and crew did an amazing job and we can't thank everybody enough for their help. Another thank you to Scott Harris (yes he's my dad) for taking some photos of the day.
For the mid-day scene we knew the lighting was going to be harsh. To help soften the light on the actresses faces we decided to have them wear sun-hats. The characters wear sun-hats throughout the story at different times, so we decided they would wear them in the middle of a sunny day. The hats broke up the harsh light on their faces very well. We used two white foam boards to bounce soft reflected light back onto their faces to give their faces some dimension.
For the sunset scene we went a completely different route, we put them right in the sun. Typically you would see the sun used as a backlight. However, in our story the light from the sun is supposed to glow on their faces, so we decided we’d try it out and see how it works. We are happy with the results, its not the most flattering type of lighting, but it serves the story for what we want.
The sunset scene we shot Sunday is a flashback. During the film we will intercut another sunset scene that takes place at a different point in time. Color and lighting were two things we wanted to contrast between the two scenes. In the flashback we wanted it to feel very warm and organic. So we shot right before the actual sunset and shot in a green field in the park. The glow from the sun and green grass naturally gave us warm colors and we dialed in a more uniform palette in post. To contrast this, we wanted the current time to feel much colder and darker. So we shot on top of a parking garage. The concrete naturally gave us a washed out look and in the grade we pushed the colors towards Blue and Magenta. I have posted two stills from the scenes below so you can see them side by side.
Morgan Pyle, Kirsten Kellersberger, Gracie Harris
Today we had some the cast over and read through the different scenes. The rehearsal went great and everybody’s chemistry was so fun. Morgan Pyle will be playing a young version of Jane and Kirsten Kellersberger will be playing Bren (Jane’s older sister). This is our first time working with both of them and we are excited to have them on board with the project.
Gracie and I are both planners and we think preparation is crucial in filmmaking. We have rehearsals to make sure everybody is on the same page as to what is going on in the dialogue, and more importantly, the subtext of the story. Above are two pages from the master copy of our script. It has everything labeled and highlighted from scenes, characters, props, time of day, locations, and directing notes. This allows us to see everything we need to know quickly, we try to be as efficient as we can be on set. Behind those pages are our storyboards, but we will spare you the sight of our drawings. Neither one of us can draw! Gracie and I both use this copy as a guide in everything we do. This week is our last week of prep before we begin shooting the bulk of the film. We will have a few more rehearsals, but after that we will begin shooting!
Day One Continued
From our last post I mentioned we didn’t get our wide shot on our first day of shooting. Last night we had the opportunity to try again. We are very happy with the results and the clouds and sun worked out perfectly for us.
If you live in Bowling Green then you already know how gorgeous the sunsets are. Last night we got extremely lucky. The clouds and lighting were how we imagined in our storyboards. We took advantage of the fluffy clouds to defuse the sun and bounce light around in the sky. The birds flying overhead was just icing on the cake.
If you’ve used a GH4 for any period of time then you already know how noisy it can get in underexposed parts of the image. Our challenge was to find the moment when we could get proper exposure in the shadows as well as avoid overexposure in the sun. Last night the clouds did an excellent job giving us just enough light from the sun. We were able to keep detail in the highlights and still get a bright enough image to work in the shadows. Did multiple takes and waited for the sun to hit just the right spot to give us color separation between the magenta and blue in the sky.
In the grade, I darkened the image quite a bit. Our goal was the have our character be in silhouette to draw the audiences attention towards the sky. From there it was a matter of dialing in the colors to the palette of the story.
Yesterday we began production. We wanted to ease from pre-production into production since we have a such a flexible schedule. So we decided to start by shooting the scenes with no diegetic sound (the scenes will have a voice over). By starting this way we could really focus on getting the look we wanted for the film. Audio is a whole other beast we’ll have to manage.
The actress playing Jane is Olivia Jacobs. Olivia did a fantastic job yesterday taking direction and using her eyes to give the audience a sense into Jane’s emotional state.
Most of the lighting was natural. We scouted locations during pre-production and shot at times where the sun was at our advantage. However, we did have a small LED light just off screen filling in Olivia’s face. From there, we really shaped the look in post. Unfortunately, at the end of the day the sunset wasn’t quite like we wanted, so we will have to finish the rest of the shots another day.
Rolling Shutter and Dynamic Range Test
Today we did our last test before we begin shooting. For anybody who doesn’t know, we shoot with a Panasonic GH4. It’s quite a beast in terms of it’s flexibility and mobility. However, it does have some pretty bad rolling shutter and a limited dynamic range (in VLOG around 11-12 stops supposedly). Our test today was getting footage inside a car while driving. So this was a perfect place to test rolling shutter and dynamic range.
When shooting in a car, camera shake is bound to happen (especially with our budget). So our first goal was figuring out a way to minimize the shake and rolling shutter. We ended up using pieces of cheap acoustic foam as cushion underneath the camera. We mounted the camera to a quick release plate to give the camera extra footing on the foam. We sat the cushion on the dashboard of the car and I held the camera. It actually worked out quite nice. It’s not perfect by any means, but for us it was enough. We don’t mind a little vibration when shooting in a car, we just wanted to watch out for any "jello" effect. For the shoot, we have scouted locations with smooth roads which will help reduce the vibrations greatly.
Another limitation we wanted to test was the dynamic range of the camera. We have shot scenes in a car before with our set up. Both times we shot with the camera’s internal codec. Unfortunately, when shooting internally with the GH4, overexposed parts of the image glow and often have a pink tint. So during our test today we underexposed the shadows and watched background sky to make sure it didn’t blow out. We are fairly happy with the results. After correcting and grading the image, we think it is very usable. During our shoot we will be using an Atomos Shogun to bypass the internal codec of the camera. If you use a GH4 and do lots of grading like we do, I highly recommend looking into the Shogun. It makes the image much more flexible in post.
For our test we used: Panasonic GH4 in VLOG lite, Rokinon Cine Lens 24mm, Colored with Color Finale, Denoised with Neat Video.
Frame Rate and Coloring
The other day we did some testing. We wanted to try two different frame rates to see how the motion of the kite would look. We chose 36FPS to give it more smoothness. We didn't want the slow motion to be noticeable, so 48 and 60 wouldn't do (we tried it). We did some testing at 24FPS, as well. The 24FPS looked too choppy for our liking. The scenes with the kite need to be peaceful. We have labeled which clips are 36FPS and which are 24FPS.
On top of frame rate testing, we also wanted to do a small color test. During this test we used a low quality codec to save time and space, so please forgive the noise and artifacts. We knew going into this film that coloring would play a huge part in the audience's perception of these scenes, so we wanted to go ahead and begin experimenting with color.
The music in the video is a demo track for the short film: Why do You Want to Leave? - Hunter Harris
"Why do You Want to Leave?" is written for a scene where Jane and Bren have a dialogue while flying the kite. This scene Jane is looking for understanding as to why life happens the way it does.
"Flying the Kite" was the first song written for the script. One of Jane's best memories as a child involves she and her sister flying her kite. This activity occurs multiple times in the story and we want the audience to experience it the way Jane does.
Prop has Arrived!
One of our props has finally arrived! Throughout the story, Jane and Bren fly a kite together. We chose an orange kite with red tails to contrast the blue sky. We wanted it to pop on screen. We both love flying kites and can't wait to test it out!
We ordered the kites from a company called Into the Wind. They make great, high quality kites. They also have tons of additional information on kites and tutorials!
Script is Finished!
We have officially finished our script and can't wait to begin production!
Our story follows eighteen-year-old Jane, who is moving away to college. As the story unfolds, we relive Jane's memories from nine years ago - the summer before her older sister, Bren, moved away for school. As time passes, we see how the relationship between two sisters changes.