I think a few of my friends were skeptical when I said I wanted to make a book trailer. I’d seen several on media sites and some were fantastic – like movie trailers – and some were not so great. I was lucky enough to know a fantastic cinematographer who was willing to take on the project. Because I couldn’t afford licenses for music, Sam went to friends of his, who created the soundtrack.
If you’re not familiar with Sam Nuttman, take a look at his website. http://samvisuals.com
We spent a lot of time getting ready, which was a learning experience for me. Sam read the book and pulled out the scenes he thought would translate to a short video. He then created storyboards and he worked on dialog and timing, since obviously a video that is less than two minutes can’t show a whole novel.
Kaiti Hylands created character sketches for our storyboards. https://www.artstation.com/kaitikat
I put out a ‘casting call’ for friends, asking them to come out in the rain for two days, for no pay, and just to hang out and have fun. And believe it or not, they did! An added challenge was making sure everyone stayed in their ‘pods’, kept their social distancing in place, and wore masks.
I couldn’t figure out antlers for the windigo monster, played by the only one with acting experience, Jim Burgess. But my friend Sabrina jumped in, finding antlers and showing up with a box of bones, ace bandaging, bags, rope, and moss. Jim showed up more prepared than I was, with costuming and props.
We shot scenes with the Windigo along a popular hiking trail. There were hikers that passed on the trail during the time that Jim and his antlers moved through the trees. I wish I could have known what they were thinking as they picked up their pace.
We need to applaud Beth, the sister of my friend Karen, who came to be in the video and got more than she expected. Sabrina and Karen had way too much fun using fake body parts. Beth had to lie on pavement in the rain for the shots. At one point, Sam yelled ‘cut!’ and those in the scene all wandered away. But Beth didn’t hear, so she kept lying there in the rain, perfectly still, true to her role. Next to her, Sam had the camera rolling for the next shots. Eventually he glanced down and saw her, asked if she was comfortable, and let her know she could get up. I have to admit, there was a lot of laughing. I’m glad her scenes ended up in the final cut. She deserved it.
The crew did an awesome job with makeup, not only creating injuries, but taking my friend Gloria Two-Feathers, who is a children’s author, and transforming her into the Stone Woman.
We shot scenes at night in the parking lot near the Index Town Wall where rock climbers go. We’d hoped to show a part from the book where a piece of scalp is on the hood of a car. So my husband took a hunk of chicken, rubbed in dog hair I collected from our floor, and topped that off with fake blood. After filming, instead of bagging it up to take home and throw away, he tossed it into the woods, thinking it would be raccoon food. Unfortunately, it was pitch black out there. He ended up tossing it so that it hung up on a branch at the edge of the climber’s trail, much to the consternation of climbers who later saw it. That scene didn’t make the final cut because the chicken just kind of went ‘splat’ on the windshield.
Angela and her wonder-dog Bailey, normally work ski patrol, with Bailey excelling at avalanche rescue. Angela had to run and fall at the right spot so that she landed in front of a severed leg (fake of course). Bailey loved this new game, running along with Angela. Sam was on the ground, camera in hand, and Bailey would get in front of him so her bottom was in his face, tail going madly. At one point she thought the leg was much better than a stick to shake and run around with. We wondered then if we could do some sort of blooper reel.
Having never been involved in something like this, I thought people would show up, say their lines, and go home. I didn’t realize that they would have to say their lines multiple times. That some would have to fall to the wet forest floor over and over, landing just right on their mark. That some would have to drive an old truck many times through shallow flooding conveniently provided by local beavers. All these friends ended up out there in the rain for two full days.
I started this wanting something to look forward to and something that would be a fun day with friends in a community I love. And that’s exactly what it was.
I now have a professional book trailer that I’m almost afraid is better than the book (being my own worst critic).
But more importantly, in this horrible year of 2020 with so many sad things surrounding us, there are two days that will be gems in my memory, filled with laughter and rain and woods and mountains and most importantly, friends.
So, if, after reading all this, you’d like to see the end result, here you go. https://vimeo.com/479128404