Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We Love Soaps

We were so very excited to learn that Ragged Isle has been nominated for 7 We Love Soaps Indie Soap Awards. You can check out the full list here.

Okay. Maybe not everyone sees Ragged Isle as a soap and it is not in the traditional sense of the word but neither are a few of the other series nominated this year. Ragged Isle does, though, have a soapy element that goes back to its original birth as the SoapNet - Soap U contest project, Criehaven. Now, we have dialed back the overt soapiness in Ragged Isle but it is there and we embrace it. It's there is in the poetic opening monologues, the long held looks, and the drama of love and serialized mystery.

We have made no secret that Dark Shadows, a sixties Gothic Soap Opera has been our main source of inspiration. I have said this countless times - there would be no Ragged Isle without Dark Shadows. Every time Barry and I would watch an episode of Dark Shadows we would be inspired to start a project and Barry kept going back to Criehaven. After enough Dark Shadows episodes I began to believe that we should make this happen.

My point is this, Ragged Isle owes its very existence to soaps and we are so proud to be nominated for these Indie Soap Awards by the soap community, which has been very supportive and accepting of us. Thank you, We Love Soaps.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wrapping Ragged Isle and Acting On Camera

Wrapping shooting for good on Ragged Isle is a strange feeling. I'm cushioned from the finality of it by the anticipation of Barry's final finished product. Ragged Isle yet to come, like the Ghost of Christmas Future. I'll get to see the fruits of my fellow actors' performances forever, so in a way, I'll get to hang out with them forever. But there is of course a feeling of loss. The filming and acting of this story has completed, and I won't get to have fun any more with Deputy Dan, and Julie Kats-in-a-casket, and Rose, and Thorn, and Hoffman, and all my pals. That fun is over, but as the sorrow would set in, the anticipation of having it show up looking a zillion times better than I remember keeps the melancholy away. It's an amazing phenomena, I'm standing right there when it's being filmed, but when I see the final product on the screen, it's been somehow transformed into this infinitely bigger, epic, vibrant, compelling thing, nothing like I remember in the moment. Like it's been hit with a heavy dose of magic. With regard to the Ragged Isle story itself, which I can't hype up enough, as good as the acting, imagery, and sound is, it's just gravy on top of the perfect roast. It makes something that was already completely delectable even more rich.

The process of filming this project, from an actor's point of view, was a new thing for me. I've acted in plays, but before Ragged Isle the only time I had acted on camera was a few lines (about twenty five minutes work) in The Dodd's Criehaven, back in 2007. Time enough to get freaked out by a camera lens and learn how to screw up the simplest lines, but not enough time to get comfortable with acting on camera. I haven't exactly mastered anything since then, but I have had some time to work on the on-camera acting, and to observe the filming process.

I'm very emotionally attached to Ragged Isle. I've never been this into a project before without being at the helm. Before RI, I had never been asked to cowrite / co-create before. This was my first time working in a group. My second highest compliment to the Dodd's would be: You taught me how to work with other minds, the power of it, and you gave my director-type ego a lesson in when to sit, watch, and listen. My first compliment would be: Your show is awesome.

I have a fond on set memory of learning to read Barry's reaction to an idea that he hated. He would avoid at all costs making a person feel low for their idea, while perhaps calculating a way to cut it out later. I learned to read his expression and take the pressure off by quickly saying “you hate it”, to which he would confess “yeah”. When you gave him an idea he could use, there was no doubt: “I like it”. Incredibly gratifying. I learned from Barry that it's possible for the guy who ends up being right to not be me. I know how that sounds, but I'm special. I learned that there are two ways to do things on Ragged Isle shoots; Barry's way now, to the best of your ability, as close to how he's describing it as you can, or Barry's way later, after a period of trying to get him to do it a different way. Which is not to say he's not receptive to ideas. When you're right, you're right. No can one can possibly see the whole picture as clear as the director, so to try to predict or assess the tone or context in a shot yourself is wasting yours and the director's time. Many lessons learned, but the biggest Ragged Isle challenges for me boiled down to trying to tackle this character, between myself and Barry, and trying to learn to act on camera.

Film acting is very different than stage acting. Please don't imagine that I'm talking about a big stage for me, or a big play, I'm talking about three plays at a Grange Hall, but live theater nonetheless. I've decided that stage acting, though perhaps more courageous, is way easier. You have linear, forward moving flow, the audience and happenstance to push you on, and there's no stopping. A play moves along closer to real life, though exaggerated. Your character can build up to an emotional reaction in real time, and feed off the momentum and set up of your fellow actors. You can 'try something' with tonight's performance, different than last night, after thinking about it all day. Camera acting, on the other hand, is broken up into a thousand separate pieces, out of order, with a thousand stops and starts. You have to snap into an isolated moment's head space from a dead stop, launch completely into the proper emotional context, sometimes after a long wait, sometimes after fifteen or thirty takes in a row, and sometimes after a number of false starts. And there's so much to remember in that moment.

Here is a typical filming moment: Get ready, wait... (I'm taking a breath, leaning forward to take a step, remembering that this time it has to be more like pleading, not so resigned, like I'm being strong for uncle Ted, but not in complete acceptance of what uncle Ted did, and the whole thing needs to move faster) “Annnnd... Hold on, can you scrunch down a little, good-now you're out of her shadow and I can see your expression, boom up a little...more...good, Rose, sit up a little straighter, up on the cushion a little. Should I use this other pillow? No, it looks good. I'm almost out of battery and we need to get this shot. Barry, Barry Dodd? What babe? Do you think that door would be locked, because how could he get in? I mean, I'm just saying. Babe let me just get this. Can I just cheat you to your left a little, about half that, split the difference, does that look dark to you, what's changed with the light, can we fix this with a bounce? Greg, can you hold this right here, thanks man, a little higher, OK stand by, slate it, put it right in front of his face, more toward me, higher, ok, episode fifteen, scene four, shot three, take, ummm, three! Snap! Standby, quiet please! And....Action. “Dan, where are you going with that hatchel?”-Dammit! I'm sorry, I mean hatchet, there's no such thing as a hatchel. What's that? Greg says there actually is. Let's go again. It's OK, still rolling, take it from “Dan”, stand by....wait for that motorcycle.”

Often times this is what acting on camera is like, times however many takes and separate set ups, and while you're doing it you're either hungry, or thirsty, or have to pee, or you can't stop yawning, or burping, or passing gas, or whatever. There is an endless list of things that can make a take completely unusable too, with no choice but to do it again: screwing up your lines, lighting issue, trucks, dogs, traffic, helicopters, car doors, batteries, boom mic in the shot, actors talking off camera, focus, performance, objects being fumbled, dropped, or just falling over, or perhaps, despite the conditioning, an actor feels compelled to take a nice long look right into the lens during the take, and then has to confess it. Any one of those things renders the take unusable in the editing room, even if that one was the best performance of your life. You have to do it again, and while you try to quickly recapture the emotional place you got to with that last take, there are two people coming down the road with a dog. We're going to have to stop, say hello, explain ourselves, define what a web series is to them and their dog, and give them a business card in hopes they'll be interested enough to click on their first webisode.

For another matter, how and where you're physically positioned in a shot can be an issue. What's being captured looks great in the frame, but in reality, you're shoved hard into the corner, crouching a little, looking smug or whimsical, maybe roasting or freezing to death. You've been looking to your left for three hours, and your neck if stiffening. There is a nail sticking into your back. The nail is older than you are, and you're forty four. You pat down your forehead full of sweat, or perhaps fold your hands under your arms and shiver, between every take. I remember one time there was a shot where I needed to kneel down on one knee for an hour. I can't actually do that, but it's embarrassing to announce this information to the room, so I just did it. It's not the years honey, it's the milage. It took three days to walk right again, but as it is said, pain is temporary, film is forever.

At the end of it all, the two things that I remember kicking my ass more than anything with camera acting was hitting my mark (basically walk to this spot and stop, while talking, which is harder than it seems), and remembering to carry out the action or adjustment Barry just gave me, the one that I just understood and agreed to ten seconds ago. He explains it, it's clear, it's simple, I agree, he says action, and I forget to do it. If that makes no sense to you and you've never acted on camera, give it a try and it will.

Working with Barry and Karen, and Greg, and everyone was a blessing, a thrill, and an education. I felt sorry for the Dodd's at times. I saw the burden they were under, the anxiety, the pressure, the unforeseen sideswipes from left field, the total disruption of their lives and home, all for this independent web series. No big payoff, no big deals, no big funding, just creativity, faith, and hard work. Lots of hard work. They are a truly courageous pair. I also saw their love of the project, their passion, their pride in the team, and their satisfaction from the quality of what was being captured.

I must finish with my favorite Karen Dodd story. We were shooting on location, and had some time to kill between the shots we had finished and the arrival time of some extras. I noticed Karen had put down her clipboard, and had begun to pick up leaves, one at a time. Karen and I are very different people, and I imagine that we've found each other's actions confusing on occasion. I just assumed she was picking up the leaves because she just didn't like how they made the lawn look cluttered, some sort of obsessive compulsive eccentricity, and quickly dismissed the oddness of it. In actuality, she was preparing the outdoor shots coming up to look like Summer instead of Fall, preserving the script's continuity. In the absence of a rake, she was picking them up by hand, one by one. It was quite a sight to behold when she was finished, a whole lawn cleared by hand. I would have helped if I hadn't figured it was some kind of Zen thing, and if my Sheriff pants had allowed bending over.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Flashback Random Image of the Day

As I perused our season one footage tonight looking for an image for our latest trading card, I happened upon this frame from the raw clips.  I liked it so much I decided to share it.  This is our good friend Dominic Lavoie playing the part of Mac in our pilot episode.  I just love everything about this image.  The look of excitement on his face as the boys motor towards the restricted zone, the great lens flare coming from the boat lamp, the composition of the shot... everything.  Sometimes even though a frame really catches my imagination the clip it's from is ultimately unusable in the actual scene.  I'll keep all the raw footage forever though because there's tons of neat stills like this one to be found and shared.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Click on the picture above to enjoy some snapshots from Ragged Isle's
wrap party. In celebration of wrapping principal photography on Seasons
2 and 3, the cast and crew turned out to sing some Karaoke with
"Kill The Karaoke"s live band, Trainwreck, at the Bayside Bowl on
Wednesday, December 7th. Fun and beverages were had by all. Photos
from Barry Dodd, Michael Batchelder, and more.


At the first official writers meeting for Ragged Isle, when Barry, Karen, Rick, Jake, and I started mapping out the story, we talked about introducing a character to the island who would be investigating the mysterious goings-on (the exact nature of which we hadn't yet determined).

Rick, who we knew for sure would be playing Sheriff Rick Dalton, began questioning what kind of authority this new character would have over this tight-knit island community. I immediately responded with a rundown of the official backup the character would have at his disposal. Rick had more objections, and I kept arguing right back. Our voices may have gotten a bit loud.

Barry, watching us both with amusement, suddenly turned to me and said, "You've got to play this part."

I rejected the idea immediately. I'm no actor, and the little acting I did in college was... unpleasant. But Barry kept bringing it up, and I finally relented.

You can decide for yourself whether or not that was a good idea when season two debuts in May, but I did have fun. Mostly.

There were some days when I would come home with a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach that I had perpetuated some pretty dreadful acting onto the rest of the world. But Barry has asked me to trust him, promising me that I will not look like a fool.

So, I'm trusting him. For now.

But it's a long wait until May.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mixed Emotions

On December 30, 2009, my friend and colleague Barry Dodd came into my office and asked me: "What are some strange things that can happen on an island?"

That question began a project that has consumed most of my creative energy for the past two years. Last night, we finished principal photography on seasons two and three of "Ragged Isle," which will complete the series, and the story we set out to tell.

I have mixed emotions.

First of all, I'm thrilled that we finished what we started. That never would have happened without the dynamic duo of Barry and Karen Dodd, who have kept the project afloat when folks of lesser mettle would have abandoned ship long ago. I am grateful to them for asking me to take part in "Ragged Isle," and for trusting me with so much of the writing. (Barry now has the enviable or unenviable -- depending on how you look at it -- task of sifting through all the footage we shot this year and crafting 12 episodes out of them.)

I'm also so grateful to the actors, all of whom brought their A game to the project. I'll share one story about one particular actor, though there are just as many equally powerful stories that could be told about any of our actors.

Last year, we asked Suzanne Rankin to accept a part on "Ragged Isle." For Season One, we needed her for two scenes, both in the background, and neither with any lines. We asked her to trust that we had something special in mind for her next year, and she did. She made the trek from her home on Matinicus all the way to Gorham to stand in the woods with four other actors, and then, later that same day, sit in a town meeting hall in Bath. She did both with charm and grace and told us she'd see us next summer.

Well, shooting actually lingered on past the summer this year, but yesterday, we shot Suzanne's Season Two/Three scenes, and she was wonderful. She completely nailed it, and I think they will be some of the most powerful scenes of the series. I'm so glad she gave us such faith.

(Again, all of our actors gave us enormous faith, and I'm grateful to and amazed by them all. Suzanne's story is just one of dozens I could share.)

I made great friendships on the sets of "Ragged Isle," and strengthened the friendships I had already. I feel blessed to be a part of such a creative and talented community of artists.

(okay, here comes the "but"; the title of this post is "Mixed Emotions," after all)


I feel deeply sorry that I no longer have a reason to see all these wonderful people on a regular basis. I will miss them all.

Still, the best is yet to come. We still have two seasons of story to tell, and I can't wait to share it with all of you.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Sunday will be the last official shoot for Ragged Isle and it is weird. Just weird. I am ready for this part to be done in a way but then in another I am very sad. It has been such a wonderful experience to be on set with all of you. I have such pride for all that we accomplished these past two years. It has been such a roller coaster of stress, joy, anger, fear, and bliss. I could not have asked for a better ride. Sunday will be wonderful and upsetting. I look forward to it.

I am not sure what exactly lies ahead for Barry and I, well, except for at least another year of Ragged Isle. It's strange really. Throughout this I have said that this will be my only project and that I will be done after this. Now, as the end of shooting draws near, I have started to change my mind. Barry has some great ideas and I think maybe we should keep going and do more projects. Nothing will be to the scope and scale of Ragged Isle but why stop when there are so many stories to be told.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Random Ragged 11/22

I certainly will miss the beautiful sunsets on Ragged Isle shoots.  I wish I could live there.  At least we've got plenty of footage to help us remember.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Amie's last day of shooting

After 2 years of smiling, being overall cheery and positive, Amie finally cracked.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Did you know that he used to be the lead singer in a rock band?"

Remember at the talent show in episode nine "Last Night on Earth" when Rachel is teasing Sheriff Dalton about the band he used to have called "The Horror?"  Well, they really do exist and are actually quite a legendary band in Maine.  They got back together on Halloween and played to a packed house at Geno's Rock Club.  Ironically it's the same room that we shot that episode!  For those brave enough to check it out, here is the entire concert.  If you look closely you'll see Kathryn Morrison (Madame Clelia) front and center in the crowd in a beautiful black swan costume.  Happy extended Halloween everyone!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Random Image 11/4/11

                                              Ian Carlsen as Paul Soucey

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Season One trivia

Did you know that in episode one as Vicki awaits the ferry, a voice says "5 minutes to ragged isle." It really is about 5 minutes before she gets to the island?

Rick Dalton is the person that discovered that fact.

Extra little bit of trivia, the director Barry Dodd is the voice,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Random Image 11/1/11

                                  Kathryn Perry as Agent Allison Thorne.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A quick message of thanks to those that shared and donated to our IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for our production.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Random Image of the day

Kathryn Morrison on her last day as Madame Clelia.   
You were amazing, Kat!  Don't ever leave the island.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just for fun

On a night when I should be taking a break from Ragged Isle I find it nearly impossible to get it out of my head. I guess that's what being this embedded in a project for so long will do to a person.  So as I sat trying to watch a movie and relax I almost unconsciously picked up the laptop and built a wallpaper for season two.  It's nothing official.  Just for funsies.  Thought I'd share it with the blog readers.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Random Image 10/15/11

Sebastian Carlsen returns to the cast for season two.  He doesn't much look like he's in a joking mood!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pilot dies in Matinicus Island crash

Our hearts go out to the family of pilot Donald Campbell of Waldoboro.  Campbell was delivering freight and groceries to the island which neighbors our beloved Criehaven.  


Photo courtesy of the Bangor Daily News

Sunday, October 2, 2011

New video for IndieGoGo campaign

I thought maybe refreshing the video on our campaign front page might get fans excited and help us inspire more people to donate to the production fund.  It's truly amazing to see the response so far.  To see people rally around a project like this and do what they can to help us succeed is so uplifting!  Hopefully we'll reach our goal.  I have faith in the fans of Ragged Isle!

Please click the campaign above and watch our new video.  When you are done, please consider sharing our it on your facebook/google+/twitter/linked in and via email to all your friends and family.  Let's  make this campaign a success!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oh, My.

I counted the pages of the Ragged Isle script today for the first time - 98 pages. That explains a lot.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ragged Isle Launches campaign to raise funds for seasons 2 & 3

Please check out and share our Indie Gogo campaign to raise the nescessary funds to complete production of seasons 2 and 3 of our series.  We can't do it without you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Inspiration And Fuel For Life

  • "Little by little, one travels far." - J.R.R. Tolkien

    "It's stasis that kills you off in the end, not ambition." - Bono

  • "You can only come to the morning through the shadows." - J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Days to remember

We're heading up to Harpswell again on Saturday to shoot at the private beach that doubles for Ragged Isle's "off limits zone."  We are so lucky to have a location like this.  In the midst of shooting in heavily populated areas in the heart of tourist season and amongst working fishermen and fleets of cars, it is such a luxury to be able to have a peaceful location such as this to shoot at for a day or two.  These are the days I will miss.  I must remember to enjoy them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Random Image of the Day

Today's image is of Julie Katsarakis (played by Amie E. Marzen.)  Last we saw her, Rose Fuller was rushing her to safety at the Ragged Isle Lobster Festival.    How long she remains safe on the island is yet to be seen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Weekend To Remember... Once We Survive It

Well, the weather has washed out a scene once more but we will try again next week. Grr.

This weekend we really have our hands full, though, so there is no rest for the Ragged Isle team.

Friday we are shooting one scene and a portion of another scene in Gorham. Thank you, Todd (Harrison Shaw), for the use of your truck, Eric Burke's truck in our world, once more.

Saturday we are shooting all of the remaining scenes at Rose's house, some of the montage for the first episode, some scenes from the past, and all the scenes in Vicki's room. I think that is all. What that means for us is that we have to transform most of the main living area of our house into various Ragged Isle sets. I have learned one major thing from this experience -- we have a crap ton of books. We shot in a couple rooms last year, one room was actually two places, but this is stepping it up a notch or ten, which is fine because if you have a house, use it and use it a lot.

Now on to Sunday - we will be shooting at another lovely location in Harpswell courtesy of April Joy Purinton, the rockin' 2nd AD of Ragged Isle. There is a dock or two involved as well as her brother's lobster boat. Fun. Fun.

There is a lot of Ragged Isle being shot this weekend so we'd better all hang onto our butts and go along for the ride. It's going to be a crazed adventure. Just what we do best.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Random image of the day 9/4/11

Yet another brand spankin' new cast member on the island.  Here we see Daniel Noel sneaking about in the woods on Ragged Isle.  Who is his character?  Who is he peeping?  You'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Just in time!

We shot a couple quick but important scenes this morning and it looked like it was supposed to rain this afternoon but the big gaffer in the sky decided to wrap things quickly for us.  We got our scenes done but got a little wet on the walk back to the vehicles.  In this picture we see another in our cadre of new actors.  There are many suited characters making their way to the island in season two.  This one played by Doughty.  Why there are so many suited people walking around our little island will remain a mystery for now.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Hungry Beast

I am in the process of scheduling the last few things that are not yet scheduled and preparing myself for the fact that the weather may also force some schedule changes. That is okay. I am feeling like it is time to just schedule things and hope for the best and get this "in the can." 

When I look back at the random images and the lined script I see that we have actually shot a great deal. I was very pleased with the progress and the footage looks amazing.

As far as shooting goes we have a small shoot in the early a.m. tomorrow, a small shoot on Wednesday and Friday, a huge shoot on Saturday, and hopefully, a huge shoot on Sunday. We shall see. We will be shooting through the month of October for sure.

This project is a beast but it will not eat us alive. Of that, I am certain.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our last random image for August

Bob Greeley and Kip Weeks play two new characters in Ragged Isle. Who they are and what their impact is will remain a mystery for now, but I can tell you how extremely lucky I feel to have them in our series.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Random image 8/30/11

Adam Cogswell returns next season as Louis Gilbert. No hat this time for the young man. And a tie! Pretty fancy schmancy for the island.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A new face in todays random image

There are over 10 new faces in our cast as we capture seasons 2 & 3 this summer. We'll try not to spoil any surprises for fans with these images but we can say that this mystery character is being played by Allison Gray.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Beautiful Gift

So, today was a great lesson in shooting in the uncontrolled outdoors. We had boat noise in a plethora of sounds and distances, dogs barking, people talking and yelling, boats being hauled out, a CB blaring, the wonderful smell of fish, just people and boats everywhere, and potato salad with no silverware. Okay, so the last one was just me being forgetful. Still, I think I have shown that we had a day of challenges but not altogether unwelcome ones for me and the kind that you have to roll with because it is what is it. Sure, there was some impact on the sound and maybe things are here and gone in some shots but I would not have changed it for anything. It was fun in a way that had my continuity hat spinning and me sputtering but fun all at the same. I was in my element. There is nothing I would rather do than hang out on a smelly fishing dock and watch the action and I am not kidding. It was wonderful. A real Maine working waterfront that is this side of Ellsworth. It is a part of Maine that I do not see day-to-day as I did as a child but one that I miss dearly and was so glad to see in full swing today. It is a welcome part of Ragged Isle and we have April Joy Purinton, 2nd AD, to thank for this beautiful gift. Oh, did I mention the air show nearby?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Ragged Isle is coming from inside the house!

A motley crowd of "Ragged Isle" cast and crew descended upon my home on Sunday morning to shoot a few pivotal scenes for season three in my basement.

I can't reveal much more than that -- like for instance whose basement it is on the island, or what's down there, or what happens to the people who venture down the stairs -- but I will say that there's at least one sequence that's absolutely wild, and the actors involved proved to be more than game. I can't wait for people to see it, but that won't happen for more than a year.

Meanwhile, my wife, who remains unspoiled for everything that's to come in upcoming seasons, did her best to ignore what was going on with the shoot, not to mention all the off-camera chatter among the crew.

On Wednesday, I get to utter my first line as an actor on "Ragged Isle." After more than a year of watching these talented folks serve up such great performances, I'm more than somewhat nervous.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Ragged Image

The man who runs the Ragged Isle Star, Vance Trundle (Denis Fontaine) got himself in the middle of a sticky situation at the Lobster Festival on the island. What could be next for this character?