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HERE to Premiere in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2011

by Braden King, Co-Writer / Director
December 28th, 2010


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We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that HERE will have its World Premiere in U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.  The official Sundance announcement can be found here.  For those making the trip out to Park City this year, the following are the film’s screening dates and times:


Friday, January 21, 5:30 p.m. - Library Center Theatre, Park City


Saturday, January 22, 9:00 p.m. - Tower Theatre, SLC


Monday, January 24, 11:15 a.m. - Library Center Theatre, Park City


Wednesday, January 26, noon - Eccles Theatre, Park City


Thursday, January 27, 3:00 p.m. - Screening Room, Sundance Resort


Thursday, January 27, 7:00 p.m. – HERE [ THE STORY SLEEPS ] @ New Frontier, Park City
SPECIAL SCREENING – Live Film and Music Event w/ HERE Composer Michael Krassner


Friday, January 28, 9:30 a.m. - Holiday Village Cinema II, Park City


See you in the snow!


Postcards from HERE: 03

by Braden King, Co-Writer / Director
July 15th, 2010


The third in a series of impressionistic video “Postcards from HERE” by filmmaker Ava Berkofsky that chronicle and explore the experiences, landscape and moods surrounding the making of the film.

You may wish to pause the music player (at the top right of this page) before starting the video.

One Year Ago, On the Eve of Production

by Richard Wright, Production Designer
July 13th, 2010


The following is a note from Director Braden King that was forwarded to friends and family by Production Designer Richard Wright on the eve of production last summer.  The note had originally been written to King’s own friends and family, but he sent it on to cast and crew.  A time capsule from the start of the journey that’s continuing in the edit now.

*

Hey everybody,

Here is a portion of a note written by the director to his friends and family.  I thought it was nicely written. 
Not sure if it will answer any of your questions about what I’m doing here, but thought you might appreciate it.

We start shooting in less than a week.  Home in two months!

– Richard

*

As usual, have been wanting to write.  Days are certainly passing quickly.  We were on another country-wide scout from last Wednesday to Saturday night and a lot of the loose ends were tied up on that trip.  Things feel about as dialed as they can be under the circumstances right now.

I’ve continued to be so impressed with the crew and feel beyond confident in them.  Their attitudes and can-do spirit has meant a lot to me – in so many ways they’ve kept ME going.  So that end of things feels really, really good.  Ben Foster came on the trip with us and the more I get to know him the more lucky I feel that he’s over here with us.  In many ways he’s been teaching me.  I couldn’t ask for anything more from an actor – especially here.  Lubna arrived two nights ago and is working hard on her Armenian dialog as she settles in.  The entire team is just working very, very hard to get everything ready for our start in one week.  It’s kind of amazing to think and feel that once we start shooting it’s a reverse countdown to being done.

The idea that this could actually be “finished” – at least the shooting – feels incredibly liberating and light and as hard as I know the shoot is going to be, the idea that each day is one more off the list is really exciting.  I don’t want to make it sound like I’m dreading it – not at all – it’s more that it’s finally being accomplished.  An amazing feeling.

No matter what happens, I think we are making something pretty special here that definitely transcends being just another film. We’ve met such incredible people and seen such incredible things.  The spirit of the crew is something to feel.  We have crew from the U.S., Armenia, Denmark, Serbia, Peruand the U.K – there may even be more I’m not thinking of.  It’s an international production of very committed people who have really taken their own ownership of the project.  It’s not mine anymore – it’s theirs.  It’s ours.

It never seems like there is enough time to fully prepare but I feel confident that all the work done over the past few years will lead me and the entire crew through the shoot.  I should have some time this weekend to make my final pass through the script before we start next week.  Once we do it’s going to be a crazy traveling road show, that’s for sure.  35 crew members, ten vehicles (maybe even 12) plus actors… it’ll be something.

*

To the crew:

My heartfelt thanks to all of you for all of the hard work I’ve seen you putting in.  Know that it’s noticed, felt, that your energy has fed me and the film.  It’s beyond appreciated; it’s sincerely special.  I can’t help but feel that somehow we’ve begun to transcend Making a Movie.

Something else has begun, something wonderful.

“FORGET YOU ARE MAKING A FILM.”
- Robert Bresson, NOTES ON THE CINEMATOGRAPHER

Let’s rock this thing.

- Braden


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Postcards from HERE: 02

by Ava Berkofsky, HERE Documentarian
February 16th, 2010


The second in a series of impressionistic video “Postcards from HERE” by filmmaker Ava Berkofsky that chronicle and explore the experiences, landscape and moods surrounding the making of the film.

You may wish to pause the music player (at the top right of this page) before starting the video.

Room 44 – Hotel Shushi, NKR

by Dani Valent, Co-Writer
February 10th, 2010


August 27, 2009

View through uneven glass, past wasp husks pasted to the render, a hanging vine of electrical cable, to a lightening sky, rain easing. Shushi sounds like rain dripping onto tin, a sluggish rooster, a Lada door creaking open and clunking closed then its thin, trusty motor catching, rising, carrying, and gone. Behind the hotel, apartment blocks, five stories, charmless and dilapidated with hopeful laundry flags on balconies and pegged to long strings that connect the buildings like tendrils. One block is mostly abandoned – one apartment glows sprucely, sadly, from its crumbling façade. In the foreground, stepped, untended garden beds tangled with wildflowers and weeds, chickens scratch around a broken bathtub, twists of rusted metal, a playground with cheerfully painted metal equipment sprouting from gravel. And now as the rain stops, people emerge: a soldier, a man in jeans kicking stones, two men building a stone wall that imperfectly separates nothing from not much else. The air is cool and, later, we will see a perfect unbroken rainbow beyond a church beyond a wrecked car beyond a scrambled verge, beyond.

 

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Postcards from HERE: 01

by Ava Berkofsky, HERE Documentarian
December 22nd, 2009


The first in a series of impressionistic video “Postcards from HERE” by filmmaker Ava Berkofsky that chronicle and explore the travel, experiences, landscape and moods surrounding the making of the film.

You may wish to pause the music player (at the top right of this page) before starting the video.

Notes from HERE

by Braden King, Co-Writer / Director
December 8th, 2009



The Sundance Institute, which played an invaluable role in the development of HERE (I was a 2007 Sundance Writers and Directors Lab Fellow), recently asked me to put together some reflections on this summer’s shoot for their alumni website.  The following essay was sent out as part of their December 3 “InSider” newsletter and posted to the Sundance “Posse” site (bookmark it!).  It seemed like a good way to introduce the stories from HERE that we’re going to be telling as post-production continues.

*     *     *

This summer I spent four months in Armenia directing HERE, a 35mm landscape-obsessed road movie that chronicles an intense and impulsive romantic relationship between an American satellite-mapping engineer (Will Shepard, played by Ben Foster), and an Armenian expatriate art photographer (Gadarine Nazarian, played by Lubna Azabal).

The film was developed in part at the 2007 Sundance Institute Feature Film Program’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs. When Ilyse McKimmie from the Feature Film Program asked if I’d be willing to collect a few thoughts about my experiences during production, I immediately said yes.

But then came the wait. And then came the weight.

*     *     *

“You must be exhausted, elated, depressed, broke, happy, and drunk all at once.”
– David Riker, Writer / Director (and 2007 Screenwriters Lab colleague)

I’d been home for a week or two when I received Ilyse’s request in early October; it seemed like a good way to start processing what I’d just been though. It had been difficult for me to keep much of a journal, and I thought this might be a good way to navigate the intense memories and experiences of the shoot. But then… nothing.

During my worst battles with the screenplay the blank page had never roared so loud. I became so good at not writing this piece that I finally realized there had to be something I was trying to avoid, something I didn’t want to confront (at least not yet).  It wasn’t that I wasn’t intensely proud of what the cast, crew, and I had accomplished this summer – I was.  But it had been, as they say, an experience.  I had no answer when friends and family I hadn’t seen for months asked, “How was it?  How do you feel?”

I felt numb.  Used up.  Spent.  Exhausted.  Ultimately, in all the right ways (I think).

*     *     *

“I mean, it’s not coming back from Vietnam, but it is coming back from Armenia.”
– Lubna Azabal, co-star, HERE

It was an adventure. It was magnificent. It was terrible.  It was hard. We were the first American production ever to shoot in Armenia.  There is almost zero domestic film infrastructure. Few outside the capital speak English.  Everything – equipment, film, expendables, supplies – everything had to be shipped in and out through a byzantine ex-Soviet customs “system”.  There are no labs. The schedule was crazy – I don’t think we spent more than three or four nights at any single base camp over the entire 40-day shoot. People got sick from the food and sick from the weather. Picture cars were impounded due to mismatched picture plates. Producers had to be bailed out of jail. Hot springs weren’t hot – they were freezing. The Russian military detained half the crew for hours and tried to take our cameras and film on the Iranian border. We found poisonous vipers in the fields where we shot the film’s final scene. And, oh… I almost forgot that I broke two ribs in a rather unglamorous accident on a night shoot just a few days in.

By the start of the second week I was obsessing about the corner I’d painted myself into.  How did I ever think this was a good idea? Bringing 40-odd people into a multi-national makeshift convoy through the Armenian landscape and land-mine strewn areas of Nagorno-Karabakh suddenly seemed completely insane.

Which it was.

In other words, it was perfect.

*     *     *

“We are the road.” – Ben Foster, co-star, HERE

With the tiny bit of reflection I’ve been able to have since returning, the accomplishment I feel most deeply is that the production allowed those who heard its call to bring so much of themselves to the journey. HERE was not controllable, but alive, breathing.  The film brought cast and crew together from the United States, Armenia, France, Denmark, Peru, Serbia, the United Kingdom, and more.  Like the film’s characters, we found ourselves somewhere new, somewhere unmapped, exploring uncharted territory – both literally and metaphorically. We lived with Will and Gadarine. We took the same trip.  In the end, that’s exactly what I’d hoped this experience might be.  HERE is a film about mystery, wonder, and the inexplicable – the limits of logic and the divinity of everything we don’t know but that we can feel. The production itself became about all of those things, too. We encountered great difficulty, but through it found great revelation.

I think we’re all still recovering. It seems like everyone is feeling the same thing: the only people who can really understand are the ones who were there.  We’re like some kind of crazed war veterans, for God’s sake – a newly marked group of cinematic soldiers (some literally: ten returned with maps of Armenia freshly tattooed on their bodies) who slogged through these ridiculous, sublime trenches together.

For me, filmmaking is always (ideally) like being confronted with a wave you’re not quite sure you can take. You either start paddling and surf it, or it pounds you right down.  (Often, both happen in the course of a given day or a given hour).  That feeling is one of the things I’ve grown to love most about the process.  I couldn’t be more proud of (and thankful for) everyone – cast, crew and supporter alike – who heard the call and rode this wave.

Our rallying cry continues as the edit begins: “Onward!”


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