November 15, 2006

HC Newsletter - November 15, 2006


It is hard to believe, but it has been close to a month since we completed principal photography on "Humboldt County." After a brief decompression period, we dove head first into post-production, and now find ourselves once again all consumed.

Danny and Darren have been working with our editor, Ed Marx, 10-16 hours a day, scrutinizing the footage and piecing together our first cut. It will be several more weeks before this primary pass is complete, but all parties agree the result will be as promising as we had hoped.

Simultaneously, we are in the initial stages of selecting the vendors and individuals who will help transform this film into a full-blown motion picture. Critical elements such as sound design and mixing, digital effects, titles, and an original music soundtrack will be added to the project over the next several months. If all goes well, we will have a finished product by the end of February, at which point we will focus all our energies on selling it.

We remain extremely tight on the financing side and are reticent to cut corners (due to financial limitations) in this all-important phase of the project. If you know of anyone who you believe may be interested in participating in this opportunity, please don't hesitate to contact me with details. For those of you already involved, if you have not already done so, I ask you to consider increasing your investment.

I will continue to update you with our progress as we reach notable milestones. In the meantime, treat yourself to some turkey with all the fixin's.



October 22, 2006

HC Newsletter - October 22, 2006


I am pleased to announce that yesterday we completed principal photography on "Humboldt County." We each have a multitude of tales from the experience; so many, in fact, that it would be too difficult to chose one in particular to detail here. I will, however, share two photos: one of (most of) the primary cast and another of (most of) the crew.

Editing of the film has already begun, and we plan to have "picture lock" by early next year. During and following this process, we also will be editing and enhancing the film's sound -- including adding music -- as well as incorporating a couple computer generated effects. Once the film is complete, we will be exploring a number of paths to securing distribution.

There is a great deal of work to be done, but the results of the production phase have put us in a cautiously optimistic frame of mind.



October 12, 2006

HC Newsletter - October 12, 2006


Late last night we completed the 15th day of our 20-day production, and all aspects continue to go remarkably well. The weather has held up -- only one day of light rain -- and the "dailies" we have been watching of the film we have already shot consistently astound even us.

Below are a few stills from the past week, including one of our directors in costume. (They are playing supporting roles as well.) If all goes according to plan, we'll be finished on Tuesday, and then it's on to the editing process.



Chris Messina (MAX) and Jeremy Strong (PETER)

Jeremy Strong (PETER) & Peter Bogdanovich (PROFESSOR HADLEY)

Jeremy Strong (PETER) & Fairuza Balk (BOGART)

Frances Conroy (ROSIE)

Brad Dourif (JACK)

Jeremy Strong (PETER), Danny Jacobs (STEVE), Darren Grodsky (BOB)

October 3, 2006

HC Newsletter - October 3, 2006


A quick note from Danny, Darren and I to announce that we have completed 8 of our 20 shooting days, and the production is going unbelievably well. While there have been plenty of bumps in the road, we've had far more good fortune than we could ever have anticipated. (For instance, when you budget several thousand dollars for a shot of a helicopter, and then the coast guard decides to do a demonstration of their new whirlybird at one of your primary shooting locations two days before you start production, and they allow you to film it, Lady Luck is clearly on your side.)

The performances have been outstanding, the locations stunning, and the crew remarkably efficient. On top of all that, we are currently on schedule and within our budget.

We are moving through the production schedule very quickly but are managing to keep on top of it all. From what we have seen thus far -- and I'm sure those of you who have visited set can attest -- we appear to be well on our way to making an entertaining and thought-provoking film.

More to come...


September 24, 2006

HC Newsletter - September 24, 2006


It is hard to believe, but after several years of effort on the part of countless individuals, "Humboldt County" will finally start production tomorrow, September 25th.*

It would be impossible for me to express the excitement Danny, Darren, and I are experiencing. In the past month, the project has undergone momentous changes, not the least of which is the assembly of over 40 crew members, each of whom will spend at least the next four weeks bringing this film to life. We have also managed to wrangle quite an impressive cast. Since the last newsletter, we have added the last few actors needed to round out our cast, including two highly-regarded veteran actors:

- Brad Dourif, who is attached to play JACK, first made his mark as Billy Bibbit in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest," a role for which he received an Oscar nomination and won a Golden Globe. Since then, he has been in over 100 films, including "The Lord of the Rings" movies. His recent role on HBO's "Deadwood" recently earned him an Emmy nomination.

- Frances Conroy, attached to play ROSIE, was also the star of an HBO series, "Six Feet Under." Her role on that highly acclaimed show garnered her four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe award. She has also been featured in dozens of films, including "Crimes & Misdemeanors," "Scent of a Woman," "Sleepless in Seattle," "The Aviator," and "Shopgirl."

Those of you who have been with us for some time will recall that Jeremy Davies has been slated to play the part of MAX. As our production dates approached, it became clear that he and the directors had mounting creative differences, so we elected to recast that role. We were very lucky to find a brilliant actor named Chris Messina to replace him. Chris, who has become renowned in the New York theater over the past couple of years, also had a recurring role on "Six Feet Under." He has appeared in a number of feature films, and he recently played the lead role in "Ira and Abby," and independent film that in July won The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Film festival.

Since several (or all) of the actors' names in our cast may be unfamiliar to you, I have attached a visual reference since their faces are likely more recognizable. It is notable that we have four actors who have worked on critically acclaimed HBO original series, namely "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under," and "Deadwood," which underscores the strength of our material, cast, and potential in the marketplace.
Needless to say, there is a lot more to share. At the moment, though, I have to get back to work on our preparation. I plan to send more frequent updates over the next several weeks, so keep your eyes out and your fingers crossed.



*The fact that our shooting schedule coincides with my wedding, which is next weekend, is definitive proof of Murphy's Law.

September 1, 2006

HC Newsletter - September 1, 2006


It is hard to convey how much has happened in the month since our last update. I probably should have sent out an edition of this newsletter a week or two ago, but we have all been so overwhelmed that time got away from us.

The most important news is this: We are officially in pre-production and plan to start filming "Humboldt County" on September 25th. We reached our minimum capitalization several weeks ago and have spent all of our time since then assembling our crew, scouting locations, negotiating equipment/material deals, casting our remaining actors, raising additional financing, and preparing ourselves for the forthcoming production. We have a little over three weeks until we start shooting, and our rapidly growing team has been a tremendous help in managing the myriad tasks we have in front of us.

We will be filming for four weeks, six days a week, and the vast majority will be shot in Humboldt County itself (Arcata, Eureka, and the surrounding areas). Our crew size will average 40 people, but there will be "heavy" days when the number of cast members and extras will put us close to 70. All of the department heads we have hired -- and plan to hire -- have a wealth of experience with feature films and will be invaluable in ensuring the film is delivered on time and within budget.

There have been many additions to the project in the last four weeks, but one of the most notable is Fairuza Balk, who has been cast in the role of "Bogart." Fairuza is an alluring and accomplished actress who is recognized as both an independent film stalwart (American History X, Personal Velocity) and a bankable star of studio films (The Craft, Almost Famous, The Waterboy). She, like the others we have cast, is remarkably passionate about this film and has already spent many hours of her personal time with Danny, Darren, and the other actors rehearsing. In addition to being a stellar actress, she has a phenomenal voice, and next week we will be recording the song she will be singing in the film. Full credits, photos and a biography for Fairuza can be found at:

There is much more to share with all of you, but right now I'm afraid my time is better spent focusing on the project. We hope to have a rudimentary website up soon that will provide more frequent updates, but you can count on these newsletters appearing in your mailbox as often as we can manage.



August 1, 2006

HC Newsletter - August 1, 2006


I apologize in advance about the relative brevity of this update. Our planned start date (now mid-September) is rapidly approaching, and we're in a frenzied state trying to assemble the last few elements that will enable us to begin production. We continue to focus on casting, financing, and evolving the script, which is where our attention has been concentrated for several months now. We have also been speaking with many established producers over these last weeks and have learned that, for better or for worse, the casting and funding challenges we've been facing are the norm rather than the exception when it comes to independent filmmaking.

On the casting side, Jeremy Strong, who will be playing our lead, Peter, is turning out not only to be a magnificent actor, but also surprisingly well-connected. Since joining the team, he has introduced us and the project to countless well-known actors and prospective financiers. We have spent the vast majority of our time over the past few weeks auditioning dozens of actresses (and singers) for the lead young female role, Bogart, and we should have someone very alluring attached within the next two weeks, if not sooner. In less fortunate news, Teri Garr has had to drop out of the project due to conflicting commitments she has with a pharmaceutical company for whom she is the spokesperson. However, there are an abundance of talented actresses who are appropriate for that role gives, so we are confident we'll be able to find someone equally or more talented to replace her.

Based on feedback we've received from our cast and others, we have made some notable improvements to the script over the past month, and the reaction we've been receiving is outstanding. The changes have focused on deepening the character "arcs" (i.e., their change in behavior over the course of the story) and intensifying the intrapersonal conflict. If any of you are interested in the latest version, let me know and I'll be happy to forward it.

On the financing side, we've made progress both in raising additional funds and in attracting new prospects and partners to the table. That said, we're up against a wall and need to take a big step forward in the next week or two. As always, if any of you could make an introduction to a friend or colleague who might be interested in this opportunity, please do so now. We are asking each of you to give it 30 seconds of thought, as it could determine the success of the entire endeavor.



July 7, 2006

HC Newsletter - July 7, 2006


The "Humboldt County" casting train continues to pick up speed. In the past week we had the incredible fortune of finding and casting the actor we have long been seeking to play Peter, our protagonist.

Though we considered many recognized film actors, it has always been our hope to "discover" someone unknown for this role. We have been auditioning actors for months now, and nobody -- no matter how many or few films they had made -- seemed right. Then a few weeks ago, we spoke to a well-regarded casting director in New York and asked her if she knew of anyone who might be right for the film. We told her we were looking for the equivalent to Dustin Hoffman before he made "The Graduate."

She replied, "I know exactly the guy for you. His name is Jeremy Strong."

Jeremy read the script and loved it. He auditioned for us on tape from his agency in NYC, and we had never seen someone so ideal. Last week we flew him out from New York. He impressed us to no end with his knowledge, talent, and passion.

Jeremy is a theater actor who trained at the Yale Drama School and has been making a growing impact on the New York theater scene since arriving there. His recent performances have been described as "excellent" (New York Magazine), "memorable" (The Hollywood Reporter) and "close to perfect" (The New York Times). His reputation in the film world is rapidly increasing as several casting directors have seen him in action and want to put him in something soon, so we feel as if we found not only a spectacular actor but also someone with a lot of momentum.

We are certain that, once you have a chance to see him perform, you will be as excited about him as we are.

More to come.


July 3, 2006

HC Newsletter - July 3, 2006


The holiday weekend and July's seemingly early arrival have led to a slightly delayed "Humboldt County" newsletter. For that, I apologize.

As expected, June has been a momentous month for us. We made some significant progress with casting and are now in late stage negotiations with several of our lead actors. We also generated interest from a few film financiers and distributors who are interested in helping make this project a reality.

With respect to cast, we should have some formal announcements in the next week or so. Though their deals are not yet finalized, we're thrilled about two actors who have recently signaled that they want to join the project:

- Teri Garr (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tootsie, Mr. Mom) is an Oscar-nominated actress who has worked with Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, Sydney Pollack, Martin Scorsese, and Robert Altman, will likely be playing "Rosie" in our her film. To date, the films in which she has appeared have earned over $1B in worldwide box office gross.

- Peter Bogdanovich is a legendary auteur who has directed such classics as The Last Picture Show, What's Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, and Mask. He has also had a long career as a character actor, most recently in the HBO hit series "The Sopranos." We are hammering out the details of Peter coming on board "Humboldt County" as "Barton Hadley," Peter's father, and as a consultant to the directors. His involvement promises to be invaluable to us.

We continue to search for the final few actors for our ensemble cast. As I've mentioned before, please keep in mind that our attached elements could change at any point. Until we start filming, there are no certainties in the world of filmmaking.

All that good news aside, we are now at a critical juncture. Because of increasing weather uncertainties come fall, we must initiate production of this film by late August or early September, which are only a handful of weeks away. If we are unable to raise the remainder of our required financing in the very near future, our production may be delayed indefinitely. We are confident we will make a magnificent film, but it looks like it is going to come down to the wire. As always, we appreciate your ongoing support.



June 1, 2006

HC Newsletter - June 1, 2006


With the arrival of summer right around the corner, the "Humboldt County" project team, like the country as a whole, is feeling the heat. Our start date is fast approaching, and we have a veritable mountain of tasks to accomplish over the next few months. Luckily, our momentum is still growing, and the advancements we continue to make give us more confidence than ever in the potential of this film.

A few brief notes about our progress over the last month:

- Casting: As most of you know, Jeremy Davies signed on to play the role of "Max." Not only is Jeremy a tremendously talented actor, but he is also astoundingly passionate about the project and has been a big help to us in attracting other actors to it. He is working remarkably hard to make this film a success, making him an invaluable asset to our team. This month brought some frustrating news for us. Several of the actors we had targeted for major roles in the film -- and who wanted to play them -- had their TV "pilots" picked up for fall broadcast. While this is terrific news for them, it means they are unavailable to us this summer. Nevertheless, we will persevere and anticipate having another announcement or two in the next few weeks about additional cast members.

- Production: We decided to postpone our estimated start date by 5 weeks to August 14th. Much of the motivation behind our eagerness to start production in mid-July was to enable us to attract actors during the summer television hiatus, before TV shows began shooting their new fall seasons. However, many of these shows will begin shooting earlier than anticipated, thus preventing some actors from working with us. (Also, as mentioned above, a number of film actors who were eager to play roles in "Humboldt County" have been cast in television shows this fall as well.)

Because there is now less pressure to complete our production before the fall TV programs begin shooting, we have slipped our "go" date by slightly over a month. This has the added benefit of giving us more time to prepare. Part of this preparation includes our continual improvement of the screenplay. As always, if anyone would like to read the latest version, please let us know.

- Financing: We identified a number of new investors this month who seem intent on participating in the project. We are also engaged in early discussions with two film financiers/distributors who have expressed interest in funding the remainder of our budget. All the same, we still haven't reached our minimum capitalization and thus are not fully "greenlit"; this is a milestone that is not only required, but also now urgent. As always, we appreciate any and all introductions to individuals or groups who you believe might be interested in participating.

Keep your fingers crossed and your hopes high. June promises to be a monumental month.



May 9, 2006

HC Newsletter - May 9, 2006


We are pleased to announce that Jeremy Davies (Solaris, Secretary, Saving Private Ryan, Spanking the Monkey) is now officially attached to "Humboldt County" in the supporting role of Max.

For those of you not immediately familiar with Jeremy, you can review his image and credits here: He is a remarkably talented actor who is highly regarded across the industry, as evidenced by the fact that he has been cast by many of the premier directors working today, including Steven Soderbergh, Lars Von Trier, David O. Russell, Wim Wenders, Werner Hertzog, and Steven Spielberg.

We couldn't be more thrilled to have him involved. And Jeremy is so outwardly enthusiastic about the project that it's entirely possible his excitement exceeds ours.

More to come...


May 1, 2006

HC Newsletter - May 1, 2006


Welcome to the "Humboldt County" newsletter, May Day edition.

What has the team been up to for the past month, you wonder? More of the same, and then some. We continue to multitask across several areas, including casting, financing, and writing, and because we're fast approaching our start date, we have recently added a few more endeavors, like location scouting.

As I explained last month, the casting process is time consuming and intense. It also tends to drag on longer than filmmakers wish it did. Throughout April, Danny, Darren, casting director John Jackson, and I continued to spend countless hours in meetings and auditions with actors interested in the film. This process has not only given us outstanding exposure to the pool of available talent, but it has also caused an unexpected frenzy in the acting community about the project. (Apparently, when actors read a script they like a lot, they tell their friends, who tell their agents and managers, who call the filmmakers to ask them to consider their clients.)

About ten days ago we decided it was time to conclude our meeting and audition schedule, so we could make offers to the actors about whom we felt the strongest. While we await their responses, we are focused on making further improvements to the script and completing our financing. We will naturally keep you updated on any official cast commitments. Though we hesitate to predict anything in this industry, we anticipate that we'll be able to secure at least one or two attachments this month.

In other news, while other members of the team were busy auditioning talent a couple of weeks ago, I took another voyage up to Humboldt to shift our production process into the next gear. I spent a good deal of time with the Humboldt County Film Commissioner, who set up interviews for me with the local newspapers, radio station, and television news team to start spreading the word of our forthcoming production. The primary purpose of these interviews was to garner support from the locals, who we need on our side to make the production a success. I also asked the readers/listeners/viewers to help us to identify specific locations we will need for the film. The response from the community was overwhelming. As a result, we now have several viable options for a number of key locations.

This month promises to be our most critical yet, so once again thank you for your support and encouragement.



April 2, 2006

HC Newsletter - April 2, 2006


April has arrived, and with it comes another issue of the "Humboldt County" newsletter.

March was an exciting month for the project. Though we continued to evolve the script, flesh out the team, and attract financing, the majority of our time was focused on assembling our cast.

February and March in Los Angeles are traditionally very busy ones for actors. It has been "pilot season," the time of year when all of the major broadcast and cable networks produce "pilot" (trial) episodes of each television show they are considering debuting in the fall. Almost everyone in the industry is focused on these series test shows, and nearly every actor in town is vying for roles on one or more of them. During this madness, it has been a challenge for us to rise above the fray, but we have now made significant inroads into each of the six major talent agencies. They have each reviewed our project internally, and -- based on the almost universally positive response -- they are all actively working with us to place their clients in the film.

Over the past several weeks, we have had numerous meetings with agents and actors in an effort to identify the best cast. We have been auditioning film actors, television stars, and lesser-known yet extremely talented performers alike, and we are optimistic about our prospects. If all goes according to plan, we should be in negotiations with one or more of our lead actors sometime later this month. Soon thereafter, all of the wheels will be in motion, and we will be well on our way toward our production start date of early-mid July.

More to come soon. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support and encouragement.



March 1, 2006

HC Newsletter - March 1, 2006


This being the first day of March, it's time for a fresh edition of the "Humboldt County" newsletter. February was an active month, and we made some marked progress. Here is a bit of insight into our efforts and accomplishments during the last four weeks:

1) Script: Based on recent feedback and notes we've received from a number of respectable sources (many of you included), we have completed another version of the script. Structurally, thematically, and tonally, the screenplay is the same, but we have enriched several of the characters and enhanced Peter's (the protagonist's) internal struggle and conflict with others. The script will continue to evolve until the day we start shooting, but we are confident that these recent improvements make this version the most compelling by far.

2) Casting: We continue to engage in lengthy discussions and/or face-to-face meetings with the most prominent talent agencies in town with the aim of attracting their clients to this film. As I mentioned in last month's newsletter, casting is a slow process. Industry practices only allow us to make one offer at a time for each role, and it can take nearly two weeks for a response. We have had a couple of meetings with interested actors, but at this point, we haven't made any hard commitments. We promise to share names of actors as soon as we make any deals, but for now we're going to keep this information confidential, for obvious reasons.

The most significant development in the casting area this month was Darren & Danny's decision to adopt different roles in the film. Previously, Danny was going to play the lead role of Peter, and Darren was going to play Max. Danny & Darren will now be playing Steve & Bob, two supporting characters who are Humboldt born and bred. This change was made to improve the chances of attracting more widely recognized acting talent to the project as well as to speed up the process of fully financing the film.

3) Financing: This month was filled with meetings with prospective investors. We are increasingly upbeat about achieving our financing targets in the not-too-distant future. This is not to say that we've stopped pounding the pavement for funding, though. So, as I do every month, I'm asking you all to introduce this opportunity to anyone you think might be interested. It's very important, as without sufficient financing, we can't make this movie.

We have also been making progress in assembling our crew and in identifying locations in which to shoot. We have a good deal of work ahead of us in every area, but our growing team will help us to divide and conquer.

Finally, due largely to the change that we made to the cast last month -- namely that we're recasting the lead roles -- we have elected to push back our start date to mid-July. It is possible that we'll begin production earlier than that, but this rescheduling should give us ample time to complete our cast, finalize our financing, and over-prepare for the our next set of challenges.

Until next time, please don't hesitate to contact me, to ask a question, voice a concern, or shout some encouragement.



February 1, 2006

HC Newsletter - February 1, 2006


Welcome to the February edition of the "Humboldt County" newsletter. The last month has been another busy one for us. We've been making considerable progress on many fronts, including evolving the script, fleshing out our crew, and pursuing the balance of our financing.

Most of the remarkable events from the month occurred during our trip up to Humboldt County. Danny, Darren, and I made the 10-hour drive from Los Angeles to Eureka/Arcata and spent four days laying the groundwork for our production. We spent two full days with the woman who runs the Humboldt County Film Commission. During that time, she not only oriented us to the area, but also gave us an understanding of the benefits (financial, labor, etc.) of filming in the region. We also befriended a professional location manager and several of the professors and film students at Humboldt State University. The bulk of our trip, however, was dedicated to identifying locations for our shoot. We were very fortunate and found several viable options for our most prominent sets. Furthermore, we began to negotiate discounted rates with a number of hotels, caterers, and other service providers to ensure the production will be both inexpensive and comfortable. At the end of our trip, we spent a night with Darren's aunt and cousin -- two of the people who inspired the script -- in their remote cabin in the woods. For me, personally, it was a magnificent introduction to the Humboldt culture and the "off the grid" mindset.

Other news from January is that we have begun the casting process. We are currently focused on casting most of the significant roles. Early signs indicate this process may move more slowly than we wish given there are many gatekeepers (i.e., agents, managers) between us and the actors we would like to attach. Nevertheless, we are confident in our position and will keep you posted as we make headway.

Finally, it should be noted that we continue to meet with newly identified prospective investors. In fact, last month two of our existing investors hosted events where they introduced us to others who they believed might find the opportunity appealing. The lesson: Don't be selfish -- share us with your friends.

Until our next update, please do not hesitate to contact me and keep spreading the word about "Humboldt County."



January 2, 2006

HC Newsletter - January 2, 2006


Now that 2005 is in the past, and 2006 is fully upon us, it's time for another "Humboldt County" Update.

Though the entertainment industry was essentially shut down for the second half of December, we continued to move forward on several fronts. Highlights include:

1) Crew: We continue to meet candidates for our film crew and recently selected an outstanding Production Designer named Jodie Tillen. The Production Designer, for those of you who might not know, is the individual who creates the detailed look and feel of every location in which we will be shooting. Jodie has worked as a Costume and Production Designer in both film and television design for over thirty years (as can be seen in her credits here:, and her most recent project, "Brick," sold at the Sundance Film Festival last year for ten times its production cost. But just as impressive as her experience in the industry is her passion for this project -- she's almost more excited about this film than any of us are. We're thrilled to have her on board. We are manically interviewing for other key personnel, such as our editor, and will update you as progress is made.

2) Cast: We are planning to begin the casting process in earnest this week. We are considering fairly notable actors for several of the film's prominent roles, but we will also consider unknowns for the more minor characters. We're confident in the appeal of the script and the filmmaking team, but since our budget is relatively small, we may face some challenges in convincing agents to allow their clients to consider the project. Again, we will provide updates to you as we receive commitments.

3) Financing: We continue to make progress with our fund raising efforts and anticipate that January will be a strong month in this area. Because we are aiming to begin production this spring, we plan to (and must) have our financing in place relatively soon. There is still time, however, for others to participate financially in this film, so we encourage you to inform friends and colleagues of the opportunity.

As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with general or specific questions. We wish you the best in the first several weeks of this promising year.

Warm regards,