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With a little help from my friends - Alive at 5 comes to life!


With a little help from my friends – Alive at 5 comes to life.

I’ve always believed Alive at 5 would make a good movie. As I was writing the manuscript, I kept envisioning jets flying overhead and deep-water shark attacks along with the sweet, slow seduction of the heroine by a wounded hero. But how do you make this vision come to life on video without hiring a big production team and spending ten of thousands of dollars? Here are my top five tips to making the dream in your head come alive for all to see and enjoy.

1-Enlist the help of your friends.

I work in TV, so I asked two brilliant photographers, Eric Moore and John Fulton, if they would help me by shooting a mini-movie. Both have their own equipment and do production work outside of their day jobs, therefore I didn’t have to rent gear.. While you probably do not have professional photographer friends – most own a smart phone now days and many digital cameras are high enough quality to use for book trailers. So, you could shoot video with a little guidance. Or you can ask that relative or friend that enjoys photography as a hobby to help. At least two camera angles of all scenes is a must. It is also wise to first write a screenplay for your book trailer highlighting the conflict, romance and action – then lay out the shots needed – and begin. Editing your video is relatively easy with Mac software that is simple to use and do not hesitate to search online for help or ideas on shooting the video.

I also asked friends if they would like to be part of the support team needed to produce and direct the trailer. Lots of people dream of acting and being part of a film production, so volunteers will be plenty. I was very fortunate that my friend Kellie Lightbourn agreed to be my heroin so I only needed to hire my hero. I also enlisted my friends Felicia Burton and Kristin Moore who came out to the filming location and held up reflectors and lights when needed. My son Barbaro played the dead body, sweating his *** off in the Florida heat under a shroud for hours. And his girlfriend played an extra, as did my daughter Jessica and her boyfriend. It was a family and friend affair.

Despite the heat and long days, we all had a blast. That’s important too. Make it fun. Bring water and food. And laughter. And don’t make a big deal when the non-professionals mess up. Remember they’re doing this for you for free! When you see the bloopers for Alive at 5 you’ll see how much fun we actually had making this movie.

2-Spend the money on the things you and your friends can’t do yourself.

Alive at 5 opens with a skydiving accident and reporter Sam Steele trying to figure out why the mentor she was doing a story on died while performing something he’d done hundreds of times before. So I needed to videotape a skydiving accident. Not easy, right? Luckily, I have a great Skydiving drop zone in my own backyard and already had established a relationship with the owner TK. He introduced me to a skydiver who shot jumps for a living. I paid him and a stunt diver to fake an accident for me – as that is something none of my friends had ever done before. Leave the dangerous stuff to the professionals!

I also needed to hire a male model to play the part of Zack Hunter. I called a few local talent agencies and asked them to send me pictures of male models that also acted and would be interested in starting in a mini-movie for a romance novel. I wanted them to know what they were getting into. ( Yes, you will have to be sexy with someone you don’t know ) Luckily most models are used to that. When I got the pictures, I looked for a man who fit my mental image of Zack – then made an appointment to meet with him and my friend Kellie – since she’d have to feel the chemistry – not me. We met James Bellamy in a restaurant bar and instantly liked him.

3-Enlist the help of Google or YouTube

Randy Swallows, my director of Ariel photography, needed a shot list. A what? I’ve never shot a movie. Never put together a shot list. So, I did what I do whenever I don’t have an answer. I searched on Google and up came numerous templates for screenplay shot lists. And they were free. I download one and filled it in. Easy.

YouTube is also great for video instructions on how to shoot video for a movie. Check it out. Lots you can learn for free – if you have the time and desire.

4-Make personal connections and barter when possible.

TK, the owner of Skydive City in Zephyrhills didn’t charge me a location fee in return for acknowledgement on my web site and a thank you in my book.

Randy Swallows, the talented man jumping out of the plane and shooting video at the same time, is interested in expanding his successful business by breaking into movies as a stunt photographer. He agreed to give me a deal on the cost if I gave him the right to use my script, shot list and finished product to help him land new jobs. Wait till you see what he shot for us! Incredible. Thanks Randy!

I also asked Vella Day, a fellow author, still photographer and friend, if she would take pictures behind the scenes. In return, I’d ask my friends to shoot an interview for her that she could use on her web site. I conducted the interview and edited it for her on my MAC. Once again, a trade of services where we both benefited, but no money changed hands.

Think out of the box- if you have a rental property –or a unique talent –you can trade services too. Maybe offer to write something for free like a press release or do social media in exchange for services you need on the book trailer.

I used my friend Kellie’s house for one of the shoots but many public locations you can use for free, like a park or a beach.

5-Don’t forget the legal stuff!

You need video releases for the talent who appear in your video and location releases for the privately owned locations you use. I even had the extras (yes, even my son and daughter) sign releases. And if you’re hiring someone to jump out of a plane like I did – don’t forget the liability release. You can hire a lawyer and set up an LLC to protect your personal assets like I did, but I also found many templates for releases on the Internet. Just depends on how risky your shoot will be and how much money you have to spend.

As I write this I haven’t seen the final project yet, it is currently being edited. But so far it has been a labor of love and it didn’t break the bank.

Alive at 5 the video trailer will be published on my web site on release day July 14th 2014. Until then, check out my video gallery of the Making of Alive at 5 and then go make your own magic!

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