The River Bride: Synchronicity pt. 1

This is part of a series I’m writing on how I came to be involved in the short film The River Bride.

My dad was an odd duck, even to those of us who knew him best.  He possessed an unequivocal vocabulary that he wielded like a fencing foil; it was targeted for effect, not an instrument of brute force.  He was also a big believer in God, sacred geometry and the power of dreams.  From those elements he embraced a philosophy embodied by a word, synchronicity, that he used to describe things that by whatever manner were happening simultaneously for the greater good.  I’ve never been one to buy into my stupid old man’s theories, but the more life that unfolds, the more I’m forced to realize that it was synchronicity that brought me to The River Bride and I’d like to share the details in order to illuminate why I believe that.

I first met Caitlyn Larimore on my first commercial shoot. She was cast as the actress in a spot for the Bend Film Festival and I was there on behalf of Limbo Films, doing what I always do: whatever it takes, but mostly lifting heavy things and moving them around.

Bend FF

It was a hurried day and we were on either side of the invisible curtain that separates cast and crew, so I didn’t talk to her in the course of the shoot, but at the wrap party among the various agency people and crew with long-standing relationships, I noticed Caitlyn sitting with her ear to a plastic cup away from the crowd. An odd scene to be sure especially in contrast to the glad handing going on around me.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“The warm soda is making the ice crack and pop and it sounds incredible.”

After a few minutes conversing, it came to light that this shoot was her first professional work outside of completing a theater degree and the only reason she was still there was that her car had broken down. We were both on our first shoot. Syncronicity. That also meant she was going to be forced to stay with the rest of us in a house that someone had generously donated to our Portland based crew. With a dozen crew and 4 bedrooms, some of us were going to literally end up outside, and I counted myself among them.

Following a sleepless night that saw half a dozen horn-blaring trains pass within a half mile, I was ready to pull my sleeping bag over my head and grab a few Zs. Then the sliding door opened and Caitlyn emerged with a cat that she was teasing with a piece of string.  I mumbled some pleas for decency and she responded by throwing the cat on my head. I was awake, to say the least, and our friendship was forged.

Having spent the next few weeks editing said spot, I became aware that not only was Caitlyn a charming and slightly weird person, but she was also a talented actress.  I was in the beginning stages of casting a music video and thought she’d fit the bill for a part.  She agreed to give it a go and ended up co-starring in my first music video.  After that, she asked me to help her shoot an entry for an Old Spice commercial competition, which I gladly accepted.

jeff_oldspice

It became readily apparent that we had a similar sensibility and that helped foster a relationship that found us helping each other out where we could.  Given her talents, Caitlyn’s star ascended higher than the Portland stratosphere could contain–Leverage and Tampax came calling–and she moved to L.A. to do commercials and, at least for awhile, joined Upright Citizens Brigade. I bring that up because I didn’t have the stomach for Los Angeles and am insanely jealous that she had any association with UCB, both rating her highly on my admiration index.

We kept in touch and talked whimsically about future collaborations from time to time, but nothing of note happened until Caitlyn sent me an early draft of The River Bride to provide notes on/proof read.  I was immediately taken with the story of struggling writer Gene and desperate and aimless Amy primarily because of the way the script balanced dark reality with humor. My favorite films tend towards black comedy, and though this isn’t that exactly, it grabbed me for similar reasons.  Synchronicity.

Throughout the revision process we found ourselves routinely on the same page, literally and figuratively, and as the script took shape I thought more and more about how I’d love to direct it. I’d been taking some time off from extra curricular projects in an effort to focus on my family, but was looking for a project, so when Caitlyn asked if I’d direct I jumped at the chance.  Timing and interest, well, you get the idea.

The River Bride Poster

We set things in motion from a preproduction standpoint almost immediately as we wanted to get it shot and edited in time for the upcoming festival season.  We discussed potential artwork for a poster and Caitlyn unknowingly sent me a link to a poster for Outsourced, the very film that I spent two days rotoscoping into the rearview mirror in the spot for Bend Film Festival.

Then, I lost my job. Initially this seemed like it would spell the end of my involvement, but as luck would have it, my inquiries for a recommendation from my Limbo Films, led to both a contract work position and an offer to help produce The River Bride. As the venerable Ted Theodore Logan said: “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”

So, here we are launching a crowd funding campaign to help make this thoughtful, funny script a set of frames strung together in a manner that you, our potential viewers, will see it come to life as a living, breathing thing.  All this because on our first commercial a car broke down, ice was broken and a cat was thrown. What’s the word for that again?

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