Movie Making 101

Picture courtesy of BenBois and Wikimedia Commons
Picture courtesy of BenBois and Wikimedia Commons

We are thick into preproduction of my first movie, “Most Likely to Die,” and I feel like I’m getting my Master’s degree in movie-making.  Now, for the most part, I’m on the sidelines looking in.  I am super, super lucky that Mar Vista Entertainment and Snowfall Films are producing, because they’re both fabulous companies that treat writers like family.  I’ve been kept on the project 100%, doing the production rewrites and director’s notes.  So while I have no real say in the production decisions (and frankly, I want a producer with experience calling the shots, as opposed to me, with opinions galore but not much production savvy to back ’em up), I have been kept in the loop.  Breaking news this weekend: casting.

The film’s a cabin-in-the-woods horror story about a ten-year high school reunion, so most of the characters are in their late twenties.  But there is a lovely little cameo in the film for an older actor.  The producer called me the other day to say that three wonderful actors were all duking it out for the part: Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Ironside, and Jake Busey.  I nearly swooned.

We’ll know tomorrow who will play the creepy caretaker, Tarkin.  Since “Most Likely” is rather like “The Breakfast Club” gone horribly wrong (there’s even a line in it referencing the movie), my heart belongs to AMH for the role.  But any of them would be amazing.

This is the reason one makes movies.  For the little fun moments, the chance to work with fantastic actors, the little wins along the way.  I am so lucky to be part of the team.

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Murder at the Beach!

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Bouchercon 2014: Murder at the Beach is two whole months away… How will I stand the wait?

In addition to the usual amazingness of the mystery world’s premiere convention, this year I have the privilege of moderating a terrific panel.  Writers of historical mysteries, Emily Brightwell, Susanna Calkins, Charles Finch, Eleanor Kuhns, and Suzanne (S.K.) Rizzolo will be discussing “Chills, Thrills and Mysteries in the 17th – 19th Centuries.”

I may swoon.

But I will try to hold it together long enough to get the discussion rolling.  I’m particularly interested in learning how they navigate the relationships between their characters — because while we are all still human beings, then as now, the lives of people in that era were so deeply circumscribed by class and gender and race.  And relative power.  That kind of story creation requires a deft touch, and I can’t wait to learn from the masters.

Plus, I want to hear how they manage to carve out time to write when there’s all that tempting research to be read…