by Sam Zalutsky
Spalding MFA Screenwriting and Playwriting Faculty
From April 11 until May 1 I directed my second feature film, Seaside, in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, and along the Oregon Coast (Seaside, Cannon Beach, Arch Cape, and Manzanita). Seaside, a revenge thriller, is a project I’ve been working on since 2011. (Yes, movies take a LONG time!) I shot the film with actors from both New York and Portland and crew from Oregon. Everyone was really dedicated and hardworking; the shoot was very intense but really rewarding. My New York actors included Ariana DeBose (Hamilton, Motown, Bring it On); Matt Shingledecker (Rent, West Side Story, Wicked); Steffanie Leigh (Mary Poppins, War Paint, currently in rehearsals in Chicago); and Sharon Washington (Dot, The Scottsboro Boys).
We shot in Portland for the first five days and then moved to the coast for the final two weeks or so. I chose to make this movie to take advantage of resources I had to keep the budget as low as possible. So we stayed at my parents’ beach house, my godparents’ beach house, and another beach house that I found online. My Portland producer, Alyssa Roehrenbeck, who found all the crew, also made deals with a number of local vendors for discounted equipment and even a great deal of in kind donations, including coffee, challah (!), liquor, beer (an important incentive for the crew after long 12 hour days), and many meals. At this level you have to be very scrappy. And people in both Portland and the Coast are incredibly supportive of the arts. We really lucked out in so many ways.
I’ve included some behind the scenes shots and some stills from a scene in the second half of the movie. But you can see many more pictures and follow our progress on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @seasidemovie.
Here I am talking about how to shoot a scene with our Director of Photography, Phil Anderson, at our main house location in Arch Cape, Oregon. So many locals in the area donated their locations free of charge, including the Funland Arcade, a favorite of mine since I was a child, the Seaside Visitors’ Bureau, Yelda’s Boutique (a local thrift store), and the Seaside Police Department.
Here are three crew members waiting for darkness in the beachside yard of our main location in Arch Cape. We had to limit our night shoots since we didn’t have the budget for lots of lights, but we did do a few night scenes in and around the house.
Here I am watching a rehearsal through the monitor while our Director of Photography, Phil Anderson, and First Assistant Camera, Brandon Bondehagen. The monitor allows me to see exactly what will be on screen and block out everything else, which isn’t always easy when there are people around, crashing waves, and bright sunlight.
Here is Ariana DeBose, who plays our lead, Daphne. And while we had a fantastic Production Designer/Wardrobe Designer named Jade Harris, who did about five different jobs, Ariana is actually wearing my sweater (funny random fact).
Here Daphne (Ariana DeBose) has a conversation with Angela, her mother (Sharon Washington).
This shot is of Ariana, Sharon, and then Jana Lee Hamblin, a local Portland actor, who plays a tough attorney. I found Jana working with casting director Simon Max Hill in Portland. Simon casts Portlandia as well as many of Kelly Reichardt’s films. I worked with him to find the local roles and with casting director Jordan Beswick to find our leads. I first worked with Jordan on my NYU MFA thesis film, Stefan’s Silver Bell, and then my first feature, You Belong to Me. One of the best parts of the film was getting work with some previous creatives like Jordan but also to find a whole bunch of new talented people to collaborate with and to do it all in Oregon. The film is a twisted story but it really is a love letter to my home state. And as I’m about to begin the post-production process with my editor, Maeve O’Boyle, I have really fond memories of these three weeks.
Thanks for your interest and support. Again to follow our progress you can find us @seasidemovie.
Sam Zalutsky’s new short, How to Make it to the Promised Land, was recently selected as the Short of the Week at http://www.Shortoftheweek.com. He won a Jerome Foundation Production Grant and completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for the film. For his first feature, You Belong to Me, he was short-listed for the Independent Spirit Award’s Someone to Watch Award. It was released on DVD (Wolfe), Pay Per View (Warner), and Logo and is out on DVD and/or TV in the UK, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, Sweden, and the Benelux countries. The film screened at film festivals on five continents, including Palm Springs International, San Diego FilmOut (Audience Award, Best First Feature), NewFest (Honorable Mention, Feature Film Jury), and Outfest. He also is a director/producer of the webseries, The Go-Getters. Sam’s previous short films have screened at dozens of festivals, won numerous awards, and all received distribution on various platforms. Sam has taught at Bennington College, NYU Tisch, and Tec de Monterey (Querétaro, Mexico) and has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Fundación Valparaiso. He received his BA in studio art from Yale University and his MFA in film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Follow him at on twitter/instagram @zalutsky. You can see more of his work at http://www.sazamproductions.com.