That's a Wrap!

Muck production started early Friday morning, July 31 and ended almost one week later at ~1:15am Friday, August 7.  In that time span, we shot close to forty separate scenes at over a dozen different venues.

 WVWC Physical Plant dressed as the Upshur County Sheriff's Office.

WVWC Physical Plant dressed as the Upshur County Sheriff's Office.

Our production was intense and grueling by necessity, but we all buckled down and soldiered through it. I can’t thank my cast & crew enough for their focus and dedication to this project, and I’m happy to report that we captured all the requisite footage without a hitch!

 Shooting at The Centennial Motel.

Shooting at The Centennial Motel.

Aside from the tireless efforts of the cast & crew, there are dozens of individuals and organizations who helped bring Muck to life. It's impossible to thank everyone enough for making this production possible, but I’m going to give it a try. Here are just a few of the many, many individuals and organizations who contributed in ways large and small to the making of Muck:

Thanks again to everyone who helped make Muck possible! Now, it's on to post-production! Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for production stills, additional podcast episodes, and our official trailer, which we hope to have ready to share sometime in the early fall!

 The Nolte Family's cabin is the site of Muck's climactic closing sequence.

The Nolte Family's cabin is the site of Muck's climactic closing sequence.


CALL FOR EXTRAS!

Did you ever want to be a part of a movie production? Here's your chance!

We're looking for a variety of men, women, and children to play extras in select scenes of the upcoming short film, Muck. Opportunities  include:

  • Saturday, August 1 - Downtown Buckhannon, Times TBD
    • A man and/or woman with a leashed dog;
    • Several townsfolk of all ages engaged in routine activities for one-off shots of the town.
  • Monday, August 3 - Doughnut Shop, 10pm - 1am
    • A few late night patrons.
  • Tuesday, August 4 - Skateland, 4pm - 8pm
    • ~20 men, women, and child extras. Ability to roller skate helpful but not required.

Requirements for participation include a positive attitude, ability to follow instructions, and signing consent forms on location.

What's in it for you?
- All extras will be named in the film's credits;
- The Skateland shoot will include free pizza for all participants;
- No pay.

To be considered for a role as an extra, please email our Coordinating Producer, Jaclyn Boudreau, at: jaclynboudreau@gmail.com. Be sure to include a recent photo (or take a quick "selfie") and let us know what dates & times you're available.

Although we can't guarantee everyone's participation, we will try to accommodate as many people as possible. Reply soon! The shoot is rapidly approaching!

*A final note: being an extra can be fun, but at the end of the day it’s still work. Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes it’s boring. We run a courteous, professional operation and expect cooperation from all participants at all times. It’s important for anyone who wants to participate to understand this in advance.

 

 

Table Read

The full cast & crew of Muck assembled for a full table read on the evening of Thursday, July 23 at the offices of Freethink Media in Washington, DC. This date had been marked on my calendar for several weeks. As it approached, I grew increasingly anxious. I was confident in talent that emerged from our casting call, but so much of acting is about striking a connection with your fellow cast members and feeling a connection with the material. Would the actors hit it off? Would we gel as a team? How would everyone react to my latest draft of the script (admittedly, about 90% there, but still in need of some tweaks)?

This was our first team meeting - an opportunity for everyone involved in the project to connect and review the material for any last minute revisions. We also had some important administrative business to tend to - lodging, meals, transportation, logistics, and such. A busy but productive agenda, for sure.

To ensure a successful meeting, my lovely mother, Cindy Raffety, in her typical gracious form, sent me a care package of goodies to share with the team. What better way to inspire the cast & crew in advance of production than to introduce them to some of the local flavor of central West Virginia!

 A note from my mother lists the contents of the care package she sent for cast & crew.

A note from my mother lists the contents of the care package she sent for cast & crew.

I'm happy to report that the care package worked! I couldn't imagine a better outcome from our gathering. Everyone brought their "A game" to the reading and we all had a blast. I'm so humbled to work with such an amazing team of professionals. To a person, we left feeling inspired, confident, and ready. Principal photography begins in exactly one week! Onward and upward!

 

Why Buckhannon?

My family moved from Washington, DC to Buckhannon, West Virginia in the summer of 1983. I was on the verge of 3rd grade. I didn't know it at the time, but I'd spend my entire childhood in "Sunny Buck," as well as my college years at West Virginia Wesleyan College (class of '97).

Although I came to The Mountain State as a transplant and I haven't lived there since 2000, I still consider West Virginia my one, true home. I'm eternally connected with the place and people of Buckhannon, and while nowhere is ever perfect, I wouldn't change a damn thing about it.

One thing that makes Buckhannon (and more broadly, West Virginia) so special to me is that it's truly a "community of individuals." There's an independent streak among the populace, such that most folks are inclined to live their lives how they see fit without casting judgment on their neighbors. Yet there's also a strong sense of community among Mountaineers. To put it colloquially, West Virginians have each others' backs. I rather like this duality - a place where you can be left alone, yet embraced at the same time.

That's not to say the residents of West Virgina are perpetually agreeable. Far from it. Mountaineers are some of the most opinionated, hard-headed folks you'll ever meet. We're not bashful about speaking our minds and, in particular, will gladly call out BS when we see it. This brings me to the subject of my post - an old letter to National Public Radio written by the late James Liotta, the father of one of my high school acquaintances, Carter Liotta.

Carter is a Facebook friend. Like me, he no longer resides in Buckhannon. But Carter routinely posts commentary about the town and state he's from, sometimes in reverence, occasionally in frustration, and always with the best of intentions.

A recent post of Carter's caught my attention:

So if you’ve ever wondered why I bother writing some of the nonsense that I do, the answer is because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This is a letter from my dad to National Public Radio in 1993, defending the city of Buckhannon. Turns out that yellow caution light was just a rumor after all, and some of those traffic lights have since vanished.
— Carter Liotta
 Letter to NPR

Letter to NPR

I asked Carter if I could post his father's letter because to me it represents (with biting humor) the extent to which the people of Buckhannon - and more broadly West Virginia and Appalachia - take umbrage with inaccurate depictions about our home. It resonates with the story I'm telling in Muck because like many outsiders, the lead character - Albert Edwin Carter - comes to Buckhannon with a certain set of assumptions and misconceptions. It's doubly fitting that Mr. Liotta's 1993 letter was addressed to NPR. In my story, Albert is a brash, young journalist for a fictitious podcast called "The Muck" - a show one might imagine hearing on NPR. I guess Mr. Liotta's letter is, as they say, "truer than fiction."

 

 

Why Muck?

It's a tiny miracle that any film is ever made. There's so much time and effort required. So many moving pieces. So many opportunities for things to go wrong.

Yet here I am, hard at work on my latest project - a short film called Muck - which, I assure you (as with any other movie I've ever made), will be "my best and most ambitious work yet!" I wouldn't have it any other way.

Explaining how Muck arrived at this point would take more time than I can commit at the moment. But briefly, Muck is the result of the convergence of three streams - story, talent, & opportunity:

Story
To date, I've worked almost exclusively in narrative comedy. In Muck, I'm branching out in a big way. At its core, Muck tells the story of a podcast journalist who's out of his element and in over his head, uncovering clues about a missing person cold case that seem to raise more questions than answers. The idea came to me in bits and pieces over time, but viewers will note some obvious influences - Fargo, Twin Peaks, Winter's Bone, and more recently, True Detective & Serial. Whittling the story down into a manageable and satisfying short film remains quite a challenge. Ideally, the audience will leave Muck wanting more - there's plenty of room to expand it into a feature or mini-series.

Talent
Over my ten plus years of indie film-making, I've worked with all sorts of cast & crew. I can say with confidence that this production for me represents the most impressive collection of talent with whom I've ever collaborated. We still have a long way to go, of course, but in recruiting cast & crew to participate in Muck, the alignment of professional schedules and creative interests just seemed to miraculously "click." I couldn't be more delighted with the core team of creatives involved in this project, and I think we have an opportunity to make something incredibly cool and special.

Opportunity
I've always wanted to shoot a film back in Buckhannon, West Virginia, the town where I grew up, and a place I'll always consider my true home. But for an indie producer like me, it's just not an easy thing to do logistically. Thankfully, over the course of the past year, my frequent collaborator, Travis Edwards (DP & Editor) agreed to go "all in" with me on a "big" project in 2015. It took us some time to settle on Muck, but once we decided to move forward on it, there was no looking back. Three, weekend-long scouting trips to Buckhannon this past spring resulted in the fun side project "Buckhattan," an separate idea that we've fashioned into a promo video for Muck. Two birds, one heavy stone, but hey - as my hero Lafayette would say, "Cur Non? (why not?)" This the year to make it happen. As the old line from Shawshank Redemption goes, "Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'." 

So here goes nothing, and here goes everything. Thanks in advance for sharing the ride and welcome to...The Muck!