Independent Star Film Fest online premiere

So, we’re gearing up for our final screening of 2021, which will be online as an official selection of Germany’s Independent Star Film Fest online festival. CAPTIVATED will be one of the films screened on their Vimeo On-Demand festival stream, available from November 13 to November 28th. I don’t have ticket information as this time, but the stream (and more information) will be available here:

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/ISF2021

(CAPTIVATED is “episode” #31 on the festival stream.)

My thanks to the Independent Star Film Fest for selecting our film for screening! 

More news to follow in December…

Thank you, NECPS! On to Germany!

My sincerest thanks to the New England Carnivorous Plant Society for their support in making the documentary happen, and for hosting our latest screening yesterday at the Tower Hill Botanical Garden in sunny Boylston, MA! I was delighted to return, and to have the opportunity to see the documentary on the screen that we captured on film five years earlier.

Our next piece of news is that we are an Official Selection at the fourth annual Independent-Star Filmfest Munich in Germany! The event date is November 13, 2021. The website hasn’t yet been updated with all of the selections, so I’ll have more information as it arrives…

October screening at the 2021 NECPS Show in Massachussetts

Greetings, all!

I’m very pleased to announce that the 2021 New England Carnivorous Plant Society Show will be hosting a screening of the documentary on Saturday, October 2nd from 3:00-4:00PM. This will be a slightly truncated version, for time, but I will be available to answer questions at the tail end of the film.

I’m so grateful to them for allowing us to screen, and I’m very excited to return to the Tower Hill Botancal Garden in Boylston, MA for this amazing event. I encourage anyone within driving distance to attend if you can. There’s so much to see, so much to learn, and there will be plenty of vendors on hand to offer a wide variety of plants to buy. I do hope to see some of you there!

More info is at the Tower Hill Botanical Garden’s website at https://www.towerhillbg.org/

Pertinent info pasted below:

World Premiere in NY. Italy and Texas coming soon…

Happy August to you all… Just wanted to give some updates on the screenings front.

So, I’m delighted to say that this film did in fact have its world premiere screening yesterday afternoon at the Strong Chance Film Festival in Brooklyn, NY. The entire festival was a delightful experience, and I’m so grateful to the festival for selecting this documentary for inclusion in this year’s slate.

Looking ahead, I was contacted by the organizer of the Sweet Life (Dolce Vita) Film Festival in Agropoli, Italy, that the documentary is an Official Selection for this year’s event, being held August 10-14. I don’t have the exact screening date/time yet, as their schedule (at the time of this posting) has only been released for the first day’s worth of screenings.

And moving into September, CAPTIVATED is also an Official Selection at this year’s Lost River Film Festival, in San Marcos, TX. This is the fourth year of the festival, which is held simultaneously across three different venues for a great variety of programming. Our screening will be at the San Marcos Public Library location, at 10AM on Saturday September 11. The screening will be free for all who may wish to attend. (Their website schedule will be updated with this year’s schedule in the next week or two.)

If the laurel for Lost River FF seems unusual, it’s because the traditional olive branches have been replaced with diving mermaids. From their message to me: “Our laurels are comprised of a pair of mermaid tales, as this magical  underwater being is San Marcos’ mascot with a storied history in our  spring-fed river, which emerges from our downtown and flows 260 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.”

Still more to follow…

IMDB, and Film Festival updates for June

I hope this message finds you all well! I bring some good news… We’ve gotten in our first month’s returns on film festival submissions, and while some of you may have already seen these updates on our Facebook page, I wanted to put out a formal update.

1) CAPTIVATED: THE ALLURE OF CARNIVOROUS PLANTS (2021) is now listed on IMDB. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt14636936/reference) The credits listed there should be complete, but if you find that your name is missing or misspelled, do let me know and I’ll work on getting it corrected. (Those of you with businesses will be listed under either Production Companies or Other Companies.)

2) The documentary won Best Documentary at Mabig Film Festival, a small festival from Augsburg, Germany now in its 3rd year, I believe, with a screening event in December. (https://www.imdb.com/event/ev0008446/2021/1?ref_=ttawd_ev_1)

3) It also won Best Documentary at the first season of Festopedia Cinemas and Scripts, a small event in India (https://www.festopediacinema.com/season-1) now accepting submissions for its second season.

4) …but the greatest news of all, for me personally, is that our film is an Official Selection for this year’s Strong Chance Film Festival, a film festival in its 3rd year in Brooklyn, NY, screening this August, with details to follow. I’ll be in attendance, and am very excited as this will be our first official screening! I’ll have more info on SCFF and our screening there, soon…
More to follow as events develop…

The film has been completed!

I’m delighted to report that the film is done. The final version is rendering in 1080p overnight, as we speak. My thanks to the principal subjects, whose feedback over the past week helped to introduce a number of minor tweaks to the film.

With the tweaks, the runtime shortened by about four seconds, but it’s still clocking in at just over 78 minutes. I’ve started a project page on FilmFreeway and will upload the full render tomorrow for festival submissions, and will be reaching out to a few other possible venues to see if anybody would be interested in screening it.

Once screenings start, we’ll have the streaming links for the backers who had that in your rewards. It will likely be through Vimeo, more info on that as it gets closer.

And once the screenings are through, those of you who had the downloadable copy in your rewards will get the links to that as well.

Annnnd once all that’s done, only then will the film be distributed wide, so you backers will definitely have a period of exclusivity, with my thanks.

Alright, I’ll keep you posted… Things are ramping up…

Low-res version of the one-sheet

Proof of Life, and two warring quotes

I hope this update finds you all well… If this is TLDR, and you need the key points to skip the rest: 

**Movie is basically at picture-lock. Runtime is 79 minutes. Score is done. Currently normalizing audio levels for dialog, score and voiceover narration. Will submit to cast and to NECPS for screening consideration in July for their fall 2021 annual show. Then festival submissions.**

The full story: 

Greetings, all. The last I provided an update was just as the pandemic was beginning, and I’d been holding off on doing any more Kickstarter updates until the movie was totally complete, mainly because I didn’t want to post another “Yes it’s still coming!” message, but today I received some encouragement to do so, just to provide “Proof of Life” of this project. In that vein, I’m going to try to give a general timeline of what’s been happening since the last kickstarter update about a year ago, so that you’ll all be aware that work HAS BEEN CONTINUING and is near completion.

March 24, 2020 – A rough cut assembly, including all credits and titles is completed.

March 30, 2020 – Rough cut is sent to composer Adonis Aletras for scoring.

April 14, 2020 – Score is completed.

June 13, 2020 – Completed the “Greater Good” coda segment, highlighting the “take home” message of the film, featuring interviews and footage from the non-principal subjects (i.e. Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Public Library, NY Hall of Science, Queens Botanical Garden) and rough credits sequences.

September 7, 2020 – Second pass at edits on rough cut, for clarity and continuity. Identified problem areas where camera was out of on interview subject. Began manual unsharp masking of all identified areas. (This would continue for several months into January 2021.)

September 14, 2020 – Final images for end credits requested from Corey Bennett. These are a treat. I won’t spoil them here.

November 14, 2020 – Voiceover narration recording sessions with artist Kristyl Cuenca-Sisko begin.

January 3, 2021 – Based on recommendations from Adonis Aletras, contracted someone to clean up some of the interview audio recorded in a greenhouse (with FANS!) in Ithaca. In hindsight, I had overestimated how well I’d be able to clean up the audio on my own in post-.

January 14, 2021 – Voiceover narration recording sessions complete!

February 15, 2021 – Video lock on film. Work on normalizing/balancing audio levels on dialog, voiceover narration and score begin.

So, yes, we’re almost there. Working on the audio levels has been nearly as time consuming as working on the focus issues in post-, but the end is at least in sight now. As of three nights ago, I had just made it to the “Summer” section of the film, so we’re getting there…

The goal is to get everything wrapped by July 1st, to send the final product to cast for them to see, and to the NECPS in hopes that they’ll find it appropriate to screen at their fall show. I don’t anticipate posting any more updates until July, at which point I’m fully anticipating the update to be “it’s finally done” because this project has been five years of my life, and I’m as eager to get it out there as you are to finally see it.

There were two warring quotes that have struggled for dominance in my mind over these past five, long years. 

“A work of art is never finished. It is merely abandoned.” (Da Vinci? And I don’t plan to abandon anything.)

The other quote was from Matt Kaelin, from the Spring section of the documentary…

“You can’t keep changing things forever. There has to be a point where you say ‘This is it.'” 

And (as I told him two weeks ago when I came across his line again) that point is fast approaching. But we’re not there just yet.

If anybody has questions, please feel free to post them here in Kickstarter as well, I’d be glad to answer if I can…

The end is near… (and by that I mean “completion”) :D

I had started two prior updates over the past few months, but never finished either, mainly because I found myself pulled back into editing, which took precedence… So, the good news is we’re nearing the end. It’s finally in sight

All that’s left for the rough cut are 1) the end credits and 2) a bit of temp voiceover for Iván’s autumn segment (which I’m hoping to do in the next day or two), and 3) “where are they now”. The first two should be done in the next week or two, but the Update segment will be a placeholder for now. (More on that below.) But yes, we’re almost there!

At this point, the film is looking to clock in at around an ~80-minute runtime. I’ve been in touch with our composer, Adonis Aletras, whom I’ve alerted to expect the rough cut by the end of the month to begin scoring. Hoping to have the finished score back by the end of Spring or early summer, but we’ll see how his schedule goes, with my deepest gratitude to be working with him again after over a decade. 😀

While he’s crafting his art over in beautiful Cyprus, I’ll be searching for a voiceover artist for the majority of the narration. Budget is tight, but I’ll do the best I can, cheers… And while that’s getting recorded, I’ll be assembling “Where are they Now” footage for the four subjects (pending their availability) and dropping in the on-screen text.

I’m still deciding whether to use text to name every species/hybrid that appears on-screen… I’m leaning towards towards indicating species/hybrid name only sparingly, because 1) I don’t want to mis-identify anything and 2) I’m worried that in most segments it will be a distraction more than an enhancement.

We’re so very close; I’m loathe to take time away from diving back in, but I DID want to share a portion of Matthew Kaelin’s Spring scene (with a temp music track) with thanks for all of your continued patience. I’ll have more updates once voiceover and music are done…


Oh yes, I’m still here. And yes, this film is still happening.

Someone on the outside looking in could easily draw the conclusion that with no update in over a year, this project is dead in the water. A reasonable supposition, given the lack of information, but I’m here to explain what’s happened in the past year, what’s changed in the project itself and where we stand today.

First, and most importantly: YES. The film is still happening. I’ve spent more than a few years of my life on fulfilling this dream, and you can rest assured I have zero interest in ever abandoning it. The film is still in editing, and as “proof of life” I’m posting this scene from the “Spring” portion of the film, from Eric’s segment. The scene uses a temp music track that was previously used for the trailer, composed by Adonis Aletras, and features Eric Kunz and Lisa Ortlieb, a high school teacher. Think of this as a small window into how the rest of the film is shaping up.

So, why is this taking so long? For three principal reasons: 1) I’ll be the first to admit that having only worked on scripted short films, I woefully underestimated how much time it would take to compose an unscripted, feature-length film. 2) There were work and life issues. My loving family, new responsibilities at my career/job, and a brief stint as an elected official to very low public office were all factors.

…but it was really the third reason that led to an over six-month hiatus from the project.

3) Risk management over rights issues.

Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that there were some concerns over some footage that was captured at a location that I mistakenly thought we had permission to use. After a bit of very amicable and good-natured discussion with the concerned party, it became clear that this was, quite simply, a miscommunication that we were all very glad to resolve on very friendly terms and in good faith. So this was not, itself an issue (with my thanks again to them for their understanding.)

The bigger issue was rather what OTHER, as yet unknown surprises might come down the line.

I have a friend who was one of the subjects of a different feature documentary, completely unrelated to the topic of this one. That great film was completed, released and distributed, only after which the filmmakers received legal notice from a rights-holder that their film’s title had inadvertently infringed on an existing trademark. That was ALSO resolved amicably, but THAT incident gave me pause.

For about six months I weighed the benefits of completing this project against the possibility of unknown legal problems down the road, simply for wanting to tell a story. In the end, completing the film wasn’t something I was willing to simply walk away from. Instead, to mitigate risk, ***I made the decision that this film will be released for free.***

This is no longer a commercial venture, it is now truly going to finish as a labor of love. CAPTIVATED will be released as a not-for-profit film, likely on free streaming.

I’ve been back in the swing of editing since late last year, and after unraveling a bit of the film to minimize risk issues, things are moving forward once again. The wait is admittedly longer than any of us would have anticipated, but don’t count this film out. It’s absolutely in progress. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the scene, and I thank you for your continued patience…

The Trailer is Live

Greetings, all, and happy new year!

Many of you are probably wondering what’s been happening with this project. Well, truth is, it’s been progressing continuously since my last update six months ago, despite my silence. I finally managed to finish annotating/transcribing the nearly 10 hours of interview footage, and the 1597 different shots that we captured in our year of filming. Granted, the process took me into September, nearly 3 months later than I had hoped, but it did get done.

I started cutting together the rough cut, and I’m about 15% (conservatively) in, but I decided to stop and cut together a trailer to show that, yes, this project is alive and kicking in post-production.

To that end, I’d like to welcome aboard Adonis Aletras, a gifted composer with whom I last had the distinct pleasure of collaborating with on two other film projects over a decade ago. Despite his considerable professional workload, he graciously agreed to score not only the trailer, but the film itself when complete. I can’t begin to express how excited I am to have the opportunity to work with him again, yet again from across the sea. (He hails from Cyprus, and I’ve never had the opportunity to thank him in person for his great work.)

Additionally, I’ve received some great self-shot footage from our cast member Anthony Saporito, which I’m looking to incorporating into the project as well, with many thanks to him! (Screenshots to follow in my next post!)

In the meantime, while I continue to press forward with editing, I’m pleased to present to you the Trailer for CAPTIVATED: THE ALLURE OF CARNIVOROUS PLANTS, embedded below, and viewable on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXll_910VEE

My many thanks for your continued patience. Rest assured, progress may be silent, but it is steady…

Onward!