Tag Archives: Feature Film

script supervisor extraordinaire tamara hansen proves to be an invaluable asset to hollywood filmmakers

The extensive and superior role of a script supervisor requires immaculate focus and attention to detail, not to mention the ability to overcome high-stress situations when unexpected curveballs are thrown their way.

With a superpower-like range of skills to her name, leading script supervisor Tamara Hansen is undoubtedly the ultimate behind the scenes ninja when it comes to filmmaking.

Script Supervisor extraordinaire Tamara Hansen – photographed by Rolan Shlain

A true master at multitasking, Hansen’s ability to go above and beyond her general job expectations made her an invaluable member behind the scenes of the recent 2020 conspiracy thriller film “18 ½”. 

The dark comedy was produced by award-winning filmmaker Terry Keefe (“Slaves of Hollywood”) and directed by award-winning producer, author and screenwriter Dan Mirvish, who was recently named one of Variety‘s Top 50 Creatives to Watch.

The film, which stars two-time Primetime Award winner Jon Cryer (“Two and a Half Men,” “Pretty in Pink”) and award winning actor John Magaro (“The Big Short,” “Carol”), is a 1970s era Watergate scandal conspiracy thriller about a Whitehouse transcriber who obtains the only copy of the infamous 18 ½ minute gap in the Nixon tapes. 

Hansen’s role on set was to ensure continuity and prepare the edit logs for all departments, including camera, lighting, sound, wardrobe, make-up and sets, helping to prevent any errors that could occur between takes. 

Considering the size of each department, Hansen’s scrupulous organizational skills along with her ability to facilitate clear communication channels between all teams were integral to ensuring that production ran smoothly.

“For a director, having a strong script supervisor is essential. Tamara was a wonderful creative collaborative partner to work with, dedicated to the film, and loyal to a fault in helping protect my creative vision for the film,” says “18 ½” director Dan Mirvish. 

He adds, “Tamara is easily the best script supervisor I’ve ever worked with, and she’s an invaluable member of the filmmaking creative community… We couldn’t have made this movie without her.”

Unfortunately, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the production of the film took an unexpected halt in March and only recently completed shooting in late September. 

“Tamara’s calm but determined personality was exactly what our cast and crew needed,” says the film’s producer Terry Keefe. “Nerves were very frayed because of events happening in the outside world.”

Director Dan Mirvish adds, “She’s always got a welcoming smile on her face, whether it’s first thing in the early morning, or after a long night’s worth of filming. She’s incredibly even-keeled and supportive even when the rest of the crew is freaking out or panicking.” 

“Dan always listened to my notes which was great,” says Hansen. “Now that we’re in the edit, Dan is sending me cuts of the movie to get my notes and thoughts on it, for a final edit, which is very exciting and I really appreciate his trust.”

The highly anticipated film is currently in post-production, and expected for international release in 2021.

Behind the scenes with Tamara Hansen – photographed by Greg Starr

Her exceptional work as the script supervisor on the 2020 horror “Dreamkatcher” had the film’s award-winning writer and director Kerry Harris (“Grip and Electric”) dubbing Hansen as the “Google” of filmmaking. 

“Tamara is quite simply indispensable and I fear by singing her praises I may not find her available for my next film,” says Harris. “That said, the filmmaking world deserves to know.”

“Dreamkatcher” tells the chilling story of a young boy trapped in a nightmarish entity, and stars Radha Mitchell (“Man of Fire,” “Finding Neverland”), Henry Thomas (“E.T the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Legends of the Fall”) and Lin Shaye (“Insidious,” “There’s Something About Mary”).

After applying for the role via a job posting, it was her strong determination to follow up with the director after several weeks of silence that essentially landed her the job. 

“I remember not hearing back from the line producer and thought I didn’t get the job,” she says. 

“After two to three weeks I followed up and she let me have an interview with the director. I found out later that the director didn’t like any of the others who interviewed previously that’s why they were still looking. This is the best example for when persistence works out.”

Given that Hansen is extremely diligent when it comes to detail, it was her ability to maintain strong continuity between each department that ensured every shot remained unanimous in order to cut together for the final edit.

Her flawless edit logs became invaluable to the film’s editor, who thoroughly relied on her notes to effectively bring the whole film together. 

She adds, “I made sure the editor had a record of what the director’s choices on set were, what takes he liked best, what worked out great and what didn’t. I made sure everything stayed cohesive and would cut together in the edit.”

The film, which was released in April 2020 by global entertainment corporation Lionsgate, is streaming across major digital entertainment giants such as Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix.

Official “Dreamkatcher” Trailer (2020)

But it’s not just Hansen’s studious leadership and organizational skills that sets her apart from the rest. 

Notorious Hollywood directors and producers often rely on her ability to make decisive verdicts on set, which inevitably improves the final result of the shoot. 

Her ability to actively support the production team extends to include more than just full-length feature films, and over the years she’s applied her unwavering work ethic to the detailed world of documented television series. 

The historic docuseries “The Food that Built America,” which was narrated by award-winning actor and producer Campbell Scott (“The Amazing Spider Man 1 & 2,” “Jurassic World: Dominion”), tells the unknown stories of the innovations and rivalries behind the American food industry’s best known tycoons. 

“Working on a tv-show is more fast paced than filming a movie,” says Hansen. “It was a recreation show, which was very interesting, because we recreated the stories of how Heinz Ketchup was invented, how McDonalds became a franchise etc., It was interesting learning and recreating real life events.” 

Coming off the run of an incredibly strong first season, which drew over 18.8 million viewers, the hit series has been renewed for a second season by leading documentary channel History, which will include 18 episodes.  

Hansen was asked by the show’s line producer to return for season two, however due to her prior commitments on a soon to be announced independent film, she was unable to commit.

“The Food That Built America” television series – History channel

When a director or producer requires integral information, whether a slight detail in a costume change, or whichever lens was used in the film’s opening scene, it’s guaranteed that with Hansen’s precise memory and intricate edit logs, she’ll always have the answer. 

“18 ½” producer Terry Keefe says, “Tamara has an almost photographic memory, or maybe she has an actual photographic memory that may be a superpower, she keeps that a secret.. that really comes in handy in her work.” 

With a stellar repertoire of success to her name, and with consistent praise from honored Hollywood filmmakers, it’s no surprise that Tamara Hansen is renowned as the ultimate right-hand woman when it comes to filmmaking.

Star Wars Dreams are Reality for Actor Orion Lee

Star Wars

There are some films which immediately inspire awe and respect everywhere in the world. The Star Wars franchise is one of the most enduring and beloved of all. The world created by George Lucas has spanned four decades now and expanded the possibilities of transporting audiences to a different time and place. Being in these films is the tipping point for actors from being known in their own country to instant global notoriety. Orion Lee is fully aware that his role as officer Suday Bascus in Star Wars: The Last Jedi makes him the envy of Star Wars fans everywhere, as well as a member of a highly exclusive club of actors. This Walt Disney Pictures/ Lucasfilm production includes members of the original first film like Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher along with the new generation such as Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Benicio Del Toro, and of course Orion. While the film’s multiple Oscar and BAFTA nominations, along with nearly $1.5 Billion in WW gross are momentous, it’s the fact that his character will live in the audience’s hearts for decades to come which is the most meaningful to Orion.

The Star Wars franchise is known for not only its iconic main characters but for the embrace of the supporting ones by fans of the films. It’s a badge of honor for them to be familiar with these characters, their backstory, and the actors who portray them. Orion’s presentation of Suday Bascus is that of a member of the First Order military. In the middle of an extensive battle with the Rebellion he is the vital link between captain and crew. Bascus and crew display the timeless scenario of warriors struggling for their lives and what they believe in, whether you agree with their cause or not. As their ship’s defenses go down, they are confronted with the very real possibility that this could be their end. Lee confirms that he didn’t start from zero in becoming familiar with the mindest of a soldier as he had appeared in Columbia Pictures’ Fury starring Brad Pitt, Michael Pena, and Shia LeBeouf. While he rewatched The Force Awakens to get the feeling of the First Order and what they stand for, there was one unexpected factor which benefited his performance that was not completely pleasant. Orion relates, “The First Order costumes had very high necks. As a side effect, if you stood in any other manner than completely and perfectly straight, you’d choke yourself. This was a very effective means of reminding all the cast the way they had to stand in a military context.” He adds, “Being immersed in the world of Star Wars can be jarring at points. The destroyer set is so detailed and complex yet the outside is just wooden slats so it’s funny being in the destroyer and then walking out to see the exterior so plain. Of course, the outside of the destroyer is surrounded by green screen so that the Rebellion bombers can be added in later by the fantastic VFX team.”

Orion thanks casting director Nina Gold (known for her work on Game of Thrones, Les Miserable, The Kings Speech, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the Star Wars series) for offering him the role without an audition. The role of Suday Bascus simultaneously made him a part of the largest Science Fiction Franchise in history and allowed him to work with acclaimed professionals like director Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick). Lee comments, “I love Rian’s other films. I was really impressed by how well versed he is in the Star Wars history. There was a moment where we were waiting for something technical and Rian was completely up for doing an improvisation to potentially add another scene into the movie. He works so nimbly and knew the universe so well that within a few minutes we had worked together to create a new scene and shot it. It was fantastically exciting to work with such a flexible and knowledgeable professional.”

Though he’s an adult and an accomplished actor with a very impressive resume of roles in well-known films and television programs, it’s obvious that Star Wars: The Last Jedi serves as that same childhood touchstone for this actor as it does for all of us. Orion relates, “As a child, I’d play Star Wars stories with friends, imagining myself piloting spaceships and using the power of the Force. To find myself as a part of creating the stories that will lead another generation to do this; It’s very special being part of that magic and that myth. The most challenging thing was actually balancing the excitement of being on the set of such an iconic story while keeping everything grounded at the same time. It’s easy to think of it as a game, remembering all the times in youth when you and your friends played Star Wars, but it resonates so profoundly with kids and adults because it deals with universal themes in a relatable down to earth way. I’d have to snap out of the ‘Oh my gosh this is so cool. Pew pew pew’ moments and get back to the acting work of the imaginary circumstances.”

JOHN ALBANIS BECOMES A GLOBAL SENSATION WITH HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS

There are times when you hear about someone taking on a task so difficult, so trying, that you wonder, “Why would you put yourself through this?” Mind you, we’re not talking 127 Hours/James Franco difficult. The film Hector and the Search for Happiness (starring Simon Pegg as Hector) is truly a global experience in terms of the action on the screen and the filmmakers journey to create it. A virtually army of professionals (numbering nearly 600) shot on four different continents, dealing with differing time zones, languages, and currencies to create this masterpiece. To coordinate as well as lend creativity required a very special producer, which is exactly what John Albanis defines. The film’s director, Peter Chelsom, brought John onto this project because of his practically inhuman ability to coordinate and facilitate, all while lending an artistic eye. In order to keep the integrity of the script, a number of producers contributed financially to the film while Albanis’s role was to be the “boots on the ground” in charge. Attesting to the accomplishment of the film’s intact vision are the many awards and nominations it received. These include: 2015 nominated for a Canadian Screen Award, 2015 Leo Awards – nominated Best Motion Picture, nominated Best Production Design in a Motion Picture, nominated Best Musical Score in a Motion Picture, and many others (including a win “Jury Prize” for Peter Chelsom at the Monte-Carlo Comedy Film Festival and a win for Best Foreign Comedy Trailer by the Golden Trailer Awards). A truly stellar cast including: Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Stellan Skarsgard, Christopher Plummer, Jean Reno, and others was required to deliver incredible performances. Peter Chelsom was required to direct and guide the performances while Kolja Brandt captured them on camera. All of this would have been for naught if John Albanis had not set the table perfectly for all of these artists…and the table required was massive!

When Chelsom requested Albanis to join the film as a producer, it was primarily because of their successful work history (the two have worked together on multiple feature films). When you are about to spend a year of your life biting off more than you can chew, you want someone you trust sitting next to you chewing even faster than yourself. Proving that he was much more than a coordinator or purse string guardian, the relationship between John and Peter would be based on encouraging and advising creatively. Albanis notes, “I had a history of working with Peter and by this point, we’d also become close friends. I wanted Peter to bring more of his personal artistry into this film. I’m a huge fan of his early two films, which were European indies: Hear My Song and Funny Bones. His direction is masterful in those films because the tone is so unique to him. The films he’s made in Hollywood are also fantastic (and certainly financially successful), but they didn’t showcase everything that Peter was capable of achieving. For Hector, Peter needed to get back to his roots and be more creative. This mandate spilled into every decision we made. A lot of the more creative aspects of the film were brainstormed between us early on. A good example of this is the treatment of Hector’s travel journal, which we decided to animate because it afforded us some wonderful thematic and editorial transitional opportunities.”

It’s impossible to separate the diversity of stories in Hector and the Search for Happiness from the diverse situations in which the production was placed to create it. The essence of the story is that Hector (Simon Pegg) is a psychiatrist who feels disillusioned by the mundane nature of his life and emotional experience. On a quest for his own happiness, he seeks out what it is that cultivates this emotion in others. He travels the planet, interacting with and experiencing lifestyles and people completely unlike himself…only to discover that the source of happiness was always with him. The filmmakers were insistent on not using soundstage trickery to “resemble” the feel of each location, meaning that the production travelled to each location, spanning the planet with John Albanis leading the charge. Because he was in charge of scouting locations, this meant that John travelled the globe twice for this film. He explains, “We felt it was crucial to the film’s success to physically go to each country to follow Hector’s journey. And yes…we all wanted to prove it could be done. Hector was an extremely ambitious project with a modest budget — yet we still managed to film across 7 countries and 4 continents including: Vancouver (Canada), London (UK), Johannesburg (S. Africa), Shanghai (China), Los Angeles (USA), Ledakh (India), and Germany. From the very beginning, we viewed it as four indie films that made up one larger story.” A larger studio may have requested a different tone for the film so, rather than rob it of its heart…multiple entities were called upon to aid a financial hand to the artistic integrity. Ultimately, London’s Bankside Films understood the filmmakers vision and agreed with it.

Travelling to exotic destinations with world famous actors may seem glamorous, and it is at times. Producing is a demanding job that requires a clear head and split second decisions at times, especially when in foreign lands. Sometimes the situation calls for a calm demeanor in the most troubling of circumstances. Relating a particularly unsettling experience during the filming of Hector and the Search for Happiness, Albanis recalls, “There’s a section in the film where Hector travels to a Tibetan monastery. We were originally going to film the monastery sequence in rural China. During my initial scout, I sourced the most beautiful monastery in the remote Kangding, Sichuan region of China, which we’d planned to shoot immediately after Shanghai. However, upon arriving at the location, there was unrest between the local monks and the Chinese military police (unrelated to us), so we could no longer film there. This was disastrous for the film and a horrible way to end the production. We went on a hiatus for a few months to game plan how (and where) we were going to film the monastery sequence, which was pivotal to the story. Ultimately, we discovered similar-looking monasteries in Ledakh, India. However, by this time, due to budgetary restraints and cast availability, we were unable to get our entire crew to India. So we decided that I would go to India to produce and direct all of our wide exterior shots, working with a 100% Indian crew and casting a double for Hector (Simon Pegg). I then met back with the rest of the crew along with our cast in the Bavarian Alps in Germany to shoot the interiors, mid-shots, and close-up shots. Coordinating how these shots worked together was quite complicated and each shot had to be precise and storyboarded in great detail.”

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Hector and the Search for Happiness is a warm and tender film yet; it is also uncomfortable. What happens to Hector and those around him is sometimes joyful and affirming and sometimes frightening and unsettling. The adage, “It’s about the journey, not the destination” is accurate and somehow too simplistic to convey the tempering which we humans need to be forged into thankful creations. If the experience solidifies a sense of self, then John Albanis might be the most actualized producer in the film industry today as a result of Hector and the Search for Happiness.