As 2013 Comes to a Close

Shooting a music video in McCall, Idaho, 2013

Shooting a music video in McCall, Idaho, 2013

What a year we have had at Two Cats Fighting! We went to numerous film festivals and worked hard on a music video that is still in post-production. We fill our days and nights with movie making magic and wouldn’t have it any other way. Since our last blog post, not much has changed, which is good. It means we are still going strong on creating that music video with Project213 and that things are progressing.

We wrapped that particular project in early October and have been steadily working on post-production. This is a three-part music video and the very basic first draft of the first music video is complete and looks good. We are still pushing to complete this project by the end of 2013, which is fast approaching, but we still have a few weeks before the end. While we are completing that, we are preparing for an underground film festival that we are bringing to Boise in 2014. BFUG: Boise Film Underground is our little film festival child inspired by the many film festivals that we attended this year.  It will bring experimental films that don’t get screen time to our little town of Boise to share with the masses and leave audiences scratching their heads.

Boise Film Underground

Boise Film Underground

After attending Sun Valley Film Festival, Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF), and Local Sightings Film Festival in Seattle this year, along with Sandpoint Film Festival last year and being accepted into Pollygrind Underground Film Festival in Vegas this year (but being unable to attend), we realized that film festivals are where it happens. What is it? It is film. It is collaboration. It is inspiration. Yes, we spend as many of our waking moments as possible creating films, but these film festivals remind us WHY we make films. They remind us that there are others out there like us. They remind us that it is not for nothing, but for something that we make these films. And because we have had the opportunity to feel special at these film festivals, we want others to feel the same way. So, we want to bring a film festival to Boise. We want others to have the same welcoming experience that we did. We want others to be inspired. Keep your eyes and ears open for BFUG a FUGging new festival coming soon.

Until next time, Peace out film lovers,

Stephanie Michelle Lokelani, Producer

Summer Update

To say that this has been a busy summer would be quite the understatement. And the summer isn’t even over yet! In fact, it has been a busy year. Two Cats Fighting Productions found ourselves at two film festivals this past spring: Sun Valley Film Festival in March for our music video “When Frida Became,” and Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF) in May for our music video “Everybody Masturbate.” In January, we produced the short film “Chug – A Cautionary Tale,” and have been steadily working on a new music video for Project213.

We spent months in pre-production making sure that everything was perfect, and on July 6th, we rolled camera for the first time for this epic music video that will involve greenscreen suits and dancing teddy bears interacting with humans. Every day that we shoot for this project we learn and figure out something new. Maneuvering a teddy bear to make him actually look like he’s walking across the screen while his two human co-stars walk with him is quite the feat. We storyboarded every shot of this seven minute music video and planned out all the details down to what the bear will be wearing. It is quite an extensive project and we couldn’t do it without the storytelling and directing brain of Katie Preston and the music of Jared Hallock. The concept for this project is completely unique and will be a fresh take on the act of living life. We all live life from day-to-day and Katie paints an honest picture of just how mundane and equally creative that life can be.

Nearly every weekend so far this summer has been spent working on this project and we hope to wrap and start editing before the beginning of fall. While we are in full-swing with this project, we are also prepping for a new short film. Location scouting has taken us on some fun hikes and is allowing us to explore our more creative side with storytelling. And while THAT is going on, we are in pre-production for a feature film that we are planning on shooting next summer. The first few drafts of the script have been completed and we have already had a table read with the lead actors. It was such an experience to hear my words come to life with their voices. This will be our first big attempt at a feature film and I can’t wait to get my hands on that camera and start shooting.

Until then, I leave you with a project we worked on last summer, but have only now released. We haven’t released it for any other reason except to say “Here! Watch and hopefully enjoy. And maybe if you want to give us money to produce this we wouldn’t be opposed to that either.

This particular project is a teaser for another feature film that we would like to make in the near future. In June of 2012, we dragged a number of our friends up to a cabin on a lake in beautiful McCall, Idaho and fed them, filled them with booze, and let them enjoy a weekend together. All while reciting lines and stretching their acting wings to perform different scenes from a movie that they haven’t even read yet. All they really know about the film is what the teaser shows, and of course, what our logline says:

Five years after the passing of a mutual friend, a group of acquaintances retreat into the wilderness to carry out his dying wish and discover that which may seem like the end is only the beginning.

Now, back to working on those films and waiting to hear news of other film festivals that we hope to attend this year.

Until next time, Peace out Film Lovers,

Stephanie Michelle Lokelani, Producer

Sun Valley Film Festival: There and Back Again, Part 5

Sunday came too soon and we were already saddened by the closing of Sun Valley Film Festival. But with an extra jump in our step and loads of inspiration, we were ready to conclude this awesome weekend with some short films, ice cream, and an awards ceremony.

I don’t quite recall in what order the ice cream eating happened, but it happened, and it was damn good. We were unable to catch the first Short Film program as that was showing just before our music video showed the day prior, but we were able to attend the second Short Film program. I always love watching short films. One, because those are mostly what we make, and two you can really get an idea of what other films people are making. Short Film programs allow you to experience a number of films from different genres and different areas of not just the US, but the entire world. We were given the chance to see some GREAT shorts and came away very pleased with what else this wonderful independent world of film makers has to offer.

Concluding the short film program, was a long Q&A in which the audience got to ask the different filmmakers questions about their projects and process. It was definitely a wonderful addition to the program.

From there, we headed back to our condo as we had to say goodbye to half of our party. Some people had to work the next day, so a few of us were left behind to attend the closing ceremonies.

Sun Valley Film Festival was very accommodating to their film makers and really made us all feel like we were a part of something grand. They had free wine and beer at the closing ceremony and gave off a very welcoming vibe. The welcoming vibe was there all along, but to feel it contained in a single building at the end of the festival was a great experience. Jodie Foster handed out the “Best in Fest” award and also received a Key to the City of Sun Valley, presented by the Mayor. She said something that really stuck with everyone (I am paraphrasing): Remember this festival the way it is now.

This year was only the second year for the Sun Valley Film Festival and already they had doubled their numbers in terms of attendance, and I believe in terms of film submissions. Jodie Foster, in her words, made us recognize that that weekend of film was akin to a young Sundance. While I have never attended Sundance, especially in its younger years, I might have to agree with her. It was intimate, inspiring, and everything I could have asked for. A huge thank you to the people who organized and executed the entire weekend. We will most definitely be returning, with or without a film in hand, that’s how wonderful this film festival was.

Until next time, Peace Out Film Lovers,

Stephanie Michelle Lokelani

Sun Valley Film Festival: There and Back Again, Part 4

Cast and Crew of "When Frida Became" at the Sun Valley Film Festival, 2013.

Cast and Crew of “When Frida Became” at the Sun Valley Film Festival, 2013.

On Saturday morning, we decided to “stay in,” and make each other breakfast. We woke up a bit later than the day before, started the coffee pot, and got to cooking. I have to say, I thoroughly love cooking breakfast with, and for, my friends. There was much laughter, great breakfast smells, and lots of talking. Not to mention a killer breakfast. We shall have to do it again some time.

The reason we chose to spend the morning cooking for each other, was because at exactly 2:45pm, our music video, “When Frida Became,” would be showing to an audience at Sun Valley Film Festival. Can I get an AAAAHHHHH!!!!! Nerves were high that morning along with excitement. Our faces couldn’t hide our joy and apprehensiveness at having a film of ours show at a film festival. I mean, this is one of the many reasons why we do these film projects: so people can see it. And one of the best places to show your film projects is at a film festival. To other people. Who are also there to appreciate and watch film. So, to say we were nervous, might be an understatement. At least for myself, I guess I can’t speak for anyone else.

After breakfast, and after we couldn’t stand being in that little condo staring at each other any longer, we left for town and to drink. We needed to loosen up somehow. So, we hit a local pizza joint for drinks. Then the time came to head to the theatre and prepare ourselves for our showing.

It was a small intimate theatre that could seat about 30 people. We took up two-and-a-half rows. Hey, when we’re asked to represent, we REPRESENT! The other music videos shown during this time came from all over the United States and showcased some very talented musicians and film makers. We were honored to be chosen and shown among these other great works of art.

As soon as the lights went down and the promo video for Sun Valley Film Festival began, a couple of tears slid down my face. This was a dream come true and we were living proof that if you work hard enough, you can see your projects come to life on the big screen. I am so very proud of the work that everyone put into this project. Watching “When Frida Became” at the 2013 Sun Valley Film Festival was an experience that I wouldn’t have missed.

After the showing there was a Q&A for one of the projects shown, and that was that. Everyone clapped, the lights came up, and we exited the theatre in silent excitement. As soon as we were outside in the open air, we gave each other hugs and congratulations. We’d made it through watching our film at a film festival, and we all survived.

Of course, more drinking was in order, so we headed to a local bar to share a couple pitchers of beer and bask in the glory of being movie stars. Unfortunately, no one asked for our autographs, but, who’s keeping track?

The one movie we chose to watch that Saturday was “Starlet,” by a young director named Sean Baker. This feature film, starring Dree Hemingway is making it’s rounds, and I can honestly say that I know why. “Starlet,” is an incredible film about a unique friendship between a 21-year-old woman and an elderly stranger. Trust me when I say, you must see this movie. It is being talked about by many and the director has made it to a list of top up-and-coming directors. That’s saying something. It really is a work of art and the acting helps pull you into the story. We all have odd friendships, and this particular film really allows you to examine your own friendships and what those people mean to you.

After that amazing film, we headed to the main event to see Built to Spill and Finn Riggins in concert. Imagine standing in a bar in Sun Valley, listening to awesome local music, and bumping into famous people who are at the same bar listening to the same bands! Yeah, that was our Saturday night.

Peace Out Film Lovers,

Stephanie Michelle Lokelani

Sun Valley Film Festival: There and Back Again, Part 3

Cast and Crew of "When Frida Became" with Stephen Gaghan at Sun Valley Film Festival

Cast and Crew of “When Frida Became” with Stephen Gaghan at Sun Valley Film Festival

Friday morning came early and bright. We had a long day ahead of us and we were already dragging ass. But it was a good drag, because we were living the life of filmmakers on a mission to learn, absorb, and participate. First on the docket was a Coffee Talk with Stephen Gaghan, Academy Award winning writer of “Traffic” (2000) and “Syriana” (2005). He blew us away with his knowledge and expertise on the Hollywood film industry. He told us of his adventures while writing both “Traffic” and “Syriana” and left us wanting to know more. All I could think was, “I want that life,” and he kept our attention for over an hour. If anyone ever gets the chance to listen to Stephen Gaghan talk about his career, we highly, highly recommend it.

Our first movie of the day was an independent film called “This Time Tomorrow,” shot in Philadelphia and New York, about a young man who calls up his ex-girlfriend the day before the last day of the world, December 21, 2012. We’ve all had those thoughts about what we might do before the end of the world, and this filmmaking team presented us with their interpretation of what a single person might do before his impending death.

From there, we watched “Starring Adam West,” about the life of our beloved Batman. This film wowed us and even made us shout for joy at the end. I won’t give any of it away, but let’s just say that I have a new found respect for Adam West and he has another fan to add to his long list of fans. What an incredible man, and I am so privileged to have been able to see this movie before it hits the larger theatres. If you ever get the chance to watch “Starring Adam West,” our entire Frida team gives it a huge TWO THUMBS UP.

Somewhere in between all of these films, the group of us sat down for food and drinks and to enjoy each other’s company. But we do that anyway… when we’re not working on other projects. ;)

The final film we watched on Friday, was “Craters of the Moon,” shot entirely at The Craters of the Moon national park in Idaho. It was an intense film about a couple who got stranded in the middle of a snow storm and couldn’t get out. What each of these people did to “survive” was what made this story an interesting ride through the human psyche.

Our asses were sore and our legs stiff from watching so many movies in a single day, but we had no complaints. We still had more films to watch. But for this group of misfits, we headed back to our little condo to party, talk, and discuss the films we were lucky to have seen.

Peace Out Film Lovers,

Stephanie Michelle Lokelani

Sun Valley Film Festival: There and Back Again, Part 2

We attended the Sun Valley Film Festival about two months ago, but it still feels like yesterday. Our party, which included seven of us, left Boise at 7:30am on Thursday, March 14th and arrived in Sun Valley at about 10am. Our first stop was Head Quarters to pick up our festival passes and schedules. As soon as we had our badges in hand, we were whisked away to a private corner in the VIP lounge for an interview with Michael Guillen. I’d say we started the weekend off the right way. It was wonderful chatting with him about our music video, When Frida Became, and going into detail about how the project was born, created, and executed. Everyone on our team got “face time,” and had the opportunity to indulge and tell their side of the story. This interview took us all by surprise and made us feel welcome and accepted at our first ever film festival.

When I talk about us, I’m talking about Gene and I; the man behind the music, Jared Hallock of Project 213;Ben Hamill, our animator; and Erin Westfall, our lead actress/dancer. We also had in tow, Katie Preston the directing genius behind our other music video Everybody Masturbate, and Erin’s husband, Alfonso. And us all stuck together the entire weekend. We shared a condo in Elkhorn Village, which was about a 10-15 minute drive from the heart of the Sun Valley Film Festival. We shared food, booze, laughter, and deep conversations. Friendships were strengthened and understood to a degree that none of us thought possible. This weekend of film and friendship surpassed our wildest imaginations.

After our interview with Michael, we grabbed lunch at a local coffee shop that also served mimosas (we had to start this weekend off the right way), then headed to the condo to unpack our overly stuffed vehicles and pick our rooms. Gene and I shared the living room with Ben, in front of the fireplace and next to the kitchen – it was perfect.

After we unpacked, we rushed to the screenwriter’s workshop with Will McCormack, writer and actor in Celeste & Jesse Forever. He had a table read of a television pilot that he has written with local actors, then opened the workshop up to questions about writing for film and television. He was real and shared the nitty-gritty of filmmaking with us all. He didn’t sugar coat it, and still left us all wanting to pursue this finicky career. This was our first brush with a celebrity at the Sun Valley Film Festival and we were already in love with the entire event. There was a whiskey reception in which some of us had to choke down whiskey, forgetting that we don’t like the flavor without a mixer, and some of us had more than one shot enjoying the fire as it dribbled down our throat.

From there, we headed to Sun Valley Lodge to await the first movie showing, Running From Crazy, a documentary starring Mariel Hemingway, about her personal journey regarding her family history of suicide. This movie made us cry buckets of tears as we watched and sympathized with Mariel, understanding the effects that suicide can have on family members and friends who have lost a loved one. After the film, Mariel, along with director Barbara Kopple, opened for Q&A, answering questions about Mariel’s life and the process of creating this moving documentary.

After the film, and a brief respite at the condo, we journeyed back to town for the opening night party at a bar called Casino. It was a tiny, hole-in-the-wall place, packed from door, to wall, to pool table. We all ordered a drink and stood hellishly close to each other trying not to bump passers-by or get hit by a pool cue. It felt like a high school party, where everyone thought they recognized everyone, but everyone just stayed in their tight-knit group. The act of networking hadn’t quite made its way into anyone’s system. Once we were decently drunk, we decided it was time to finish the party at our condo. So, we stumbled into the night (with the exception of myself, of course, the ever faithful DD) to find some grub and head to our weekend-home. Our first night as film festival attendees was a beautiful success.

Peace out Film Lovers,

Stephanie Michelle Lokelani

Sun Valley Film Festival: There and Back Again, Part 1

It is nearly 11 PM on Tuesday, March 12th, and I am no where near wanting to go to bed. In fact, I just opened a beer. And so did Gene. At 7 AM on Thursday, we’ll be hitting the road and stuffing five people in our little Honda Civic, named Falcore, and heading to Sun Valley for the second annual Sun Valley Film Festival. We will be spending four glorious days sharing a condo with some of the best filmmaking collaborating friends this side of the Mississippi, and watching tons of independent film from Idaho and the world. There will be celebrities – and I’m not talking about the stars from our music video, When Frida Became – but some lesser known actors like Jodie Foster. We are ecstatic and yes, to some degree a little nervous, and looking forward to our first film festival.

When Frida Became was accepted into Sandpoint Film Festival in 2012, but we were unable to attend as we had just moved into our first house the weekend before. Jared Hallock and Katie Preston of Project213 were able to go and REPRESENT us proudly. They returned with nothing but fun stories to tell and an urge to create something for next year. So, with their great reviews, we’re prepping ourselves for what could be the best weekend of our lives.

I’ll try to keep up on the Two Cats Fighting blog while there, but I can’t guarantee anything. I mean, if Jodie Foster wants to hang out I’m not going to ask for a rain-check because I need to update our three fans as to what we did at the festival that day. But I will do my best to keep up on Twitter, you can find me at @stephsmile and also on foursquare as Stephanie Michelle Lokelani.

Peace Out Film Lovers,

Stephanie Michelle Lokelani