Announcing A New Film!

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By Suzanne Cross O.M.G., we’re making a movie!  (To be more specific, John and I are producing a documentary film in rural Zululand, South Africa, next month.)  How did we get to this point and how will we ever navigate the journey to our goal? We invite you to come along for the ride. It began as a twist of fate.  In 2002, during an African safari trip, we made a side visit to the Nkomo … Continue reading

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We’re Making a Movie!

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By Suzanne Cross After some initial euphoria, alternating with panic, it’s time to settle in with a plan.  Booked flights for me, John, and Alexis (the NY filmmaker we linked up with, bringing with her a background of producer/shooter for docu-reality TV), who will meet us in Johannesburg.  The internet is a fabulous tool for action, so I log onto the San Francisco Film Society site and search for their next class.  Lucky for me … Continue reading

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The Gift of Passion

Nkomo Primary School Sign

By Suzanne Cross Under Four Trees is a film that tells the story of the Nkomo Primary School, its dynamic founder and Principal, Mrs. Zikhali, and how it has changed the Mnqobokazi Community in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.  The film captures the story of the community need, the opportunity that became a vision, the numerous challenges and successes, and how the School has improved the lives of the many children who are orphaned.   Under … Continue reading

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Equipment Needs & Wants

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By Suzanne Cross We’re getting in a film-business groove now and are ready to decide on the equipment we need.  Our first idea of using what was available fell by the wayside after our discussions about high definition (HD) verses standard definition (SD).  The used camera that was available was an SD model.  Since we realized the final, edited film was many months away and the new technology was quickly encroaching, we decided the better … Continue reading

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Contracts and Permits to Keep Us Out of Trouble

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By Suzanne Cross John, Alexis, and I are beginning to gel as a collaborative team.  John has taken on the story-board task.  Alexis will do the filming and provide us invaluable guidance based on her experience.  And I take on all the other (as yet still unknown) producer tasks.  John begins to write; Alexis is fine-tuning the equipment needs in New York; and I think I better check out getting a contract for her.  So … Continue reading

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What is an ATA Carnet????

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By Suzanne Cross Only six weeks before we leave now and we keep coming across new challenges to address.  Our South African consultant, Karen, who is diligently working on getting our permit to film in the rural school mentions we might need an ATA Carnet.  I spend lots of time on the web trying to learn and understand exactly what this form is and if it applies to our project.  I toss the inquiry off … Continue reading

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Where is “Under Four Trees”?

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By Suzanne Cross We are now beginning to get some questions from our blog readers who want to know more about where we are going and a preview of the people we will be highlighting in our documentary film.  First, about the where.  On a map of Africa, look south to locate South Africa.  At the southern tip is Cape Town.  Follow the coastline east up to Durban, and then continue on to the St. … Continue reading

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Throwing Out The Web-Net, Searching for Support

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By Suzanne Cross This no budget film is getting pretty expensive, so I finally make time to have coffee with a marketing and website consultant who we met at our San Francisco Film Society classes (see, “We’re Making a Movie!”).  If we can reach and touch more people, maybe there is a funder among them interested in assisting with the film production costs.  We also really wanted to share some photos and the film’s story … Continue reading

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Collaborative Nature of the Doc Film Business

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By Suzanne Cross After checking in with John about how the story script outline that he is writing is coming along, we decided we have not spent nearly enough time pulling together the whole story-boarding process, so we schedule several phone call discussions with our New York filmmaker Alexis (who will meet us in Johannesburg with our new film equipment).   We need to discuss the story format, content, and style, potential people we need … Continue reading

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Fiscal Sponsorship Decisions

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By Suzanne Cross So now that our website is in place waiting for our attention, the Facebook Page is getting some hits from our friends, and friends of friends, and the weekly examiner.com blog is gathering interest in our film production process, we need to search for funding to be able to complete the film.  However, donors and film funders do not just grow on trees, even if we have four trees!  We need a … Continue reading

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