FilmSchoolSF film acting student Lori McDaniel set out at the beginning of 2009 to make a short film. She had always wanted to write and direct films, and she had dabbled in no-budget digital shorts made for fun. This year, she was determined to make a “real” short film and take the plunge into writing and directing in earnest.
Her first stop was the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking’s (FilmSchoolSF) Acting for Writers and Directors Workshop taught by Jeffrey Weissman. Here she met an amazing array of actors, writers, and directors all marching to the same drum; the love of movies. She and Jack Kisor, a writer in the workshop, decided to write and direct a short together called “The Last Day” in which two lovers – one alive and one dead – struggle with the twists and turns of life…and death…as they talk to each other and the audience in both English and Spanish.
Once the script was written, it was time to find a crew and cast. A lovely twist of fate took Lori to San Francisco’s Seven Day Film Festival to watch her FilmSchoolSF classmate, Philippe Debaty, act in a film in the competition. Sitting right next to her was the film’s DP, Raul Varela, a film acting student from another institution. After chatting for a while, Lori asked Raul if he would like to shoot her film. Raul said “yes” and soon after this auspicious event, Javier Recalde, an actor/writer/director also from the FilmSchoolSF workshop, was cast as the male lead. Solana Crawford, an up-and-coming Bay Area actress, was cast as the female lead. Rounding out the crew and saving the proverbial day were Anthony Sabatino, along with friends Gavin and Steve, all SFSU film/video students.
And then, amid all the excitement of pre-production, Lori began researching film permits because the film was set at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Legally, a permit was needed and little did Lori know that permits require proof of film production insurance, which can price many artists out of their visions.
A lovely twist of divinity led Lori to Fractured Atlas, a non-profit that helps artists with critical requirements like film production insurance, health insurance, and funding. Their mission statement explains, “[w]e help artists and arts organizations function more effectively as businesses by providing access to funding, healthcare, education, and more, all in a context that honors their individuality and independent spirit.” Fractured Atlas helped Lori find inexpensive film production insurance with payments spread out over time, making it even more affordable. With over 50,000 members, Fractured Atlas can negotiate affordable rates for things like health insurance and film production insurance – the two biggest obstacles for a filmmaker.
“Fractured Atlas helps artists surmount the legal and financial obstacles that stand between them and their work. I can’t say enough good things about how much they helped me in this process. I was able to get insured quickly and inexpensively, meaning I could move forward as an artist,” said Lori.
“The Last Day” wrapped shooting on Monday, November 9th.
“Anthony Sabatino and I will be editing the film over the next two months. Our goal is to finish cutting by the end of the year and show the film in festivals here and in Europe, including Spain, which is Javier’s home country. We’d like to make a splash internationally from the beginning. We will be looking at international co-production possibilities in 2010, and of course, the next step will be another film.”
The Last Day
“Sol” – Solana Crawford
“Javier” – Javier Recalde
Director of Photography – Raul Varela
Production Manager – Jessica
Editor – Anthony Sabatino
Sound – Anthony Sabatino, Gavin, Steve
Written by Jack Kisor and Lori McDaniel
Directed by Lori McDaniel
UPDATE: More photos from the shoot!