We just got back from Los Angeles and another successful shoot with the main family in our film. This trip we spent time in a cool looking downtown warehouse at a video game company where the girls got to design their own characters and play on the software used to create the art for video games. In a time when many schools are cutting art programs altogether, it was an amazing opportunity for the girls to hone their creative skills in a professional, high-level environment, using real-world tools.
We also spent time in Hermosa Beach at “Beach Day” which is LA’s equivalent of park day. In the summer, Beach Day is a regular event and there were lots of other homeschooling families present from many areas of Los Angeles. It was a great opportunity for the family to meet other homeschoolers, have fun in the waves and yes, dare I say the “S” word, socialize! Here’s a shot of a quick interview we did on the beach, and contrary to popular belief, the sun doesn’t always shine in LA. It actually got cloudy and a little cold and the girls were shivering!
We’ll continue to check back in with the family over the next few months, but in the meantime, we’ve got a few other things to accomplish, namely beginning the massive task of sifting through what we’ve shot with them so far so we can start putting together parts of their story. And we still have a few other people to track down and interview. More on that soon. Thanks for following our progress. We appreciate your support.
As I type this, the Unschooling Summit interview of our Director, Jeremy Stuart, is underway. Included in the PDF emailed to summit attendees is a tip on how to receive credit on the website and in the film credits via the donation button on the upper right corner of this site.
Last week we were in LA filming the family for a 2nd time. The shoot went very smoothly. For the first time we got to spend time with the father of the two girls, plus had a great in-home consultation with Michelle Barone who happens to live nearby.
As expected, the story continues to unfold. We’re looking forward to a third shoot in about a month, which will be interesting as traditional school will be out of session.
Last week we started the homeschool journey with a family who pulled their kids out of one of the best public schools in Los Angeles. This family will drive the narrative story of our film. Their reasons for pulling their kids out of school wasn’t what you might expect.
They did not pull them out because of grades, bullying, bad teachers or administrators. It was the recognition that their two daughters were losing interest in learning and what was being taught in the classroom was not being absorbed, nor was it useful in real life.
With our limited shooting budget, we can’t afford to film several families, nor have a family back out after starting the filming process. So we had to be very careful in selecting the right family. Months ago Jeremy & I both met with the family separately and we both came away knowing this was the perfect family for our film.
We only had three days to shoot last week and there were a few unknown variables that we had to contend with:
Airplane noise: this family lives close to LAX & there are plenty of planes flying overhead. Would we be able to capture great audio?
The family: would they interview well, would they be comfortable in front of the camera, would they get comfortable with us being in their home?
The DP: Knowing we would be filming in LA, we needed a director of photography based there. Jeremy knew Billy from work decades ago, but had never worked directly with him (Jeremy had edited some of Billy’s footage back in the day). And I had never met Billy. Would the three of us make a good team?
Monday morning we found out the answers to all these questions. The family was great on camera, Billy was a great match, and the airplane noise wasn’t a problem. Over the next couple days our relationship with the family grew as did the mutual trust. The camera became invisible and the story unfolded.
The only thing that went wrong was a single piece of hair. Reviewing footage Monday evening, we noticed a strange line in the footage from one of our cameras. Turns out a single piece of hair was lodged inside the camera’s housing. The good news is that it was not critical footage (not an interview or important moment that could not be recreated). We were working together so well together that recapturing the footage the next day wasn’t a problem.
They say the most important thing to keep in mind when starting a business, or hiring a film crew is to pick people you like, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with them! I’m happy to say both the crew and the family are fantastic! We can’t wait to film again in May.
Our next post will be about our NY trip that is wrapping up today. Let us know if you enjoy hearing how the production is going. Thanks again for your support in this adventure!
I had a chance to catch up with professional voice-actor James Arnold Taylor, who is one of the larger backers of our film project, Class Dismissed. Chances are you’ve heard one, or many of his voices before. Some of his work you might recognize:
Obi-wan Kenobi of the Clone Wars (Movie and TV series)
Leonardo – TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Johnny Test – Cartoon Network hit series Johnny Test
Green Arrow – Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Plus many, many other TV shows, movies, video games, TV & radio spots.
But, more importantly, James and his wife Allison homeschool their 7-year old daughter in Santa Barbara. During my visit James was kind enough to say a few words to the homeschool community:
As we near the end of our Fundraising Campaign (only 9 days left!), it’s interesting to look at where the funds have come from. Below you will see a map of the states donations have come from. If your state isn’t colored green, you may want to represent your state by donating to our cause (it’s tax deductible & includes perks). I’ll update the map before the campaign is over.
States Supporting A Homeschool Documentary:
As you can see, there’s a slight West-coast bias, which is probably due to Jeremy living in California, and myself in Washington state. There’s still a few states with high homeschool populations who either haven’t heard about the film, or aren’t ready to donate yet (hopefully this changes over the next 9 days).
Not shown on the map are two international donations: one from England and one from Germany. The Germany donation is most surprising because homeschooling is illegal in Germany. We hope our film will help German regulators rethink their stance on homeschooling!
Thanks to all who donated or helped spread the word. It’s crunch time for our fund-raising campaign. Our goal is to at least raise $5k to fulfill NHEN’s donation matching challenge. We appreciate any help you can provide in raising funds over the next 9 days!