Friday, July 31, 2009

Roles for Nighthawks

This is just a reminder for those who have contacted me in regards to roles for Nighthawks. It's true that I've started casting for some of the roles in the first installment of the project but there are many roles I've yet to fill for the next couple of episodes so, please, don't feel your being overlooked as I will be contacting you for reads once this all gets underway. If everything goes as planned this may go on for sometime with some very interesting and out there stories.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Another casting session

A big 'thank you' to all who showed up for the last auditions. Now it's time for round 2. A pretty notice like the previous one will be posted shortly but in a nutshell it will be at Cinevic again this Saturday, Aug.1 from 10 am to 5 pm. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Non Union Casting Call:

Nighthawks – Independent Feature Film

Written & Directed By: Art Messenger

Produced By: Robyn Unwin, Melissa de Haan, Jordan Clark


FRIDAY JULY 24th, 2009 5PM-10PM &

SATURDAY JULY 25th, 2009 9AM-4PM


Cinevic Society of Independent Filmmakers
2202 Douglas St
Victoria BC

The following is a call for the upcoming project entitled "Nighthawks" which is the story of Lee, a returning Afghan vet who, after returning to his rural home, makes the decision to pursue his artistic hopes in the city. Guided by a childhood friend Lee comes to the city and soon meets fellow artistic bohemians who share the same hopes and aspirations he does all the while dealing with the realities of living in the hard world of urban street life; a world fraught with drugs, violence and emotional pitfalls. Lee's experiences of dealing with the homeless, the addicted and the disenfranchised lead him to better understand the world around him, his art and, most importantly, himself


Gender/ Age



Male 25-35

Both mischievous and irreverent Dylan is still capable of insight and thoughtfulness. Lee's best friend since childhood. 



Female 20-30

Somewhat hard around the edges Sam is a woman used to a certain amount freedom and has no problem 'calling 'em as she sees 'em'.



Female 20-30

Carm has an exotic flair who, like Sam, prefers to call her own shots but generally has a more gentle demeanor. Sam's closest friend.



Female 35-45

Barbara is a local gallery owner who's interest in the arts almost matches her 'cougarish' nature. Outwardly confident and chic she's most comfortable when she 'lets her hair down'.



Male 25-35

Isaac is the local tough guy who has his hand in drugs, prostitution etc. Isaac's ambitions to climb the crime ladder leads to confrontations with Lee and his friends.



Male 55-65

Tom is Lee's father. A rugged hardworking country man with a wry sense of humour.



Male 20-30

Lee's brother. Pete is somewhat more stoic than Lee with a more 'common sense' approach to life.



Female 20-30

Young and beautiful Stacy is the love Lee leaves behind. Feisty and usually good humoured Stacy has a bit of a rough and tumble aspect to her.



Male 20-25

Lee's younger brother. Kyle has an adventurous streak and has been known to get in trouble on a few occasions. 



Male 35+Chris has been living on the streets for some time. There is a certain sageness and gentleness that belies what we might perceive would be the case considering how hard life must be for him.         

Please book your time through 

You may also show up during the times specified – we will get you in as soon as possible. 

Sides will be provided beforehand for confirmed appointments and also at the casting sessions.

For more information please visit

Thank you.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Congrats to fellow filmmakers

I'd like to send out a hearty congratulations to both Jim Knox and Louie Lawless on the completion of principal photography for their respective projects which happen to be feature lengths as well. I was lucky enough to be involved in Jim's shoot and was blown away by the professionalism and work ethic of both cast and crew. I heard the same was true for Louie's shoot as well. 
Jordan Clark, one of the co-producers fro "Nighthawks" is in the final stages of post production for his latest documentary "The Aswang Phenomenon" which I was privileged to see at a recent screening. Just goes to prove that Victoria is loaded with very talented and and hardworking members of the filmmaking community.  

Long overdue update

Sorry about the lengthy delay in updating the old blog. Much has been happening in the last little while that put it on the back burner more or less. Some may already know this but the project was put in a bit of jeopardy due to a change of City of Victoria permit policies. On the surface it appeared so bad I was even contemplating taking "Nighthawks" to Vancouver. Luckily these proposed changes have been put off until the fall and even with that I've been assured by the city that it won't be as draconian as it first appeared. So Victoria is still a 'go'. That being said the casting process is going to proceed in earnest very shortly. Confirmation from Cinevic that their space will be available for Friday the 24th evening and Saturday the 25th day is all that's needed to get the ball rolling so stay tuned. Ana de Lara and Melissa de Haan will be sending out notices shortly. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Scheduling change

Seems that due to a couple of circumstances I'm going to have to push back my scheduled start date of early July to probably the end of July at the earliest. First reason is the decision to use a new camera whose low production numbers and unanticipated popularity has made it a very hard to get item. I've pre-ordered two and I know for sure I'm getting one which is good but I won't get my hands on it until the beginning of July and our DOP, Dan Carruthers, and I are going to have to spend time getting to know the thing inside and out. The plus of this is that we may very well be the first to put out a feature with such a camera which will help marketing the film that much easier.
The other reason is that my friend and colleague, Jim Knox, is shooting a feature in June and finishing on July 1. This didn't at first seem to conflict with my project and I'm even co-producing on his but what's come to light is that key personnel that are working on Jim's will not have the time for pre-production planning on mine. This includes Dan and his crew and Art Dept. people. amongst others, hence my decision to push things back a few weeks. I'll certainly let you know how things are going.    

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dusting off the blog

Catching up time. Have spent far too much time researching the marketing aspects of the project. Everything that's turned up and all the advice I've been generously endowed with is that the only thing that should be concentrated on at this moment is the feature length pilot idea. So here's the game plan. I 'sew' together the script that's circulating out there at the moment with content I have already written for future episodes as well as writing what would have been termed 'The Beginning'. That was already in the process of being written so no problems there. I still plan to start shooting in early July but there may be a little hitch in that as I have kind of gambled on the release date of a particular camera which is being produced in frighteningly low numbers. I've pre-ordered it some time ago but that doesn't insure anything. Competition to get one of these is the camera geeks equivalent to a 3 for 1 bra sale at Walmart. Not pretty. This project will be one of the first feature films shot on this kind of camera which is and looks like a simple DSLR, I kid you not.

Other news: I 'm pleased to announce that Ana de Lara has graciously announced that she'd love to help out with the casting process. Within a 1/2 hour of saying 'yes' she had already worked out one of the problems I'd been having for some time. Thanks Ana. With Ana on board we can really begin the casting process in earnest while I take care of the writing and more of that nasty paperwork. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Casting Soon

Hi all. Been talking to other filmmakers around town recently and it sounds like I wasn't the only one busy with other projects in the last little while. Congrats to all that got another shoot under their belt.
I'm starting some reads next week and will be in touch shortly about trying to arrange a schedule. My plan is to do small groups at a time so that there isn't that awkward 'bottleneck' feel when reads are, supposedly, done like clockwork. This process may take two weeks but we'll get it done. Some of the roles are for the still incomplete 3rd episode but I have enough material that 'sides' shouldn't be an issue. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm Back

My apologies to everybody that's been following this blog. For the last few weeks I was involved in the pre-production as 1st AD for Bryan Skinner's new project. In a strange quirk of fate I also ended up as one of the Executive Producers as well. Not a combo I'd recommend for new filmmakers as it just absorbs all sorts of time and energy but I also have no regrets as this is going to be one wonderful little film once finished in post and working with a great, cast, crew and director is always a welcome opportunity.
Now that I've got that behind me it's full bore ahead with putting everything together for "Nighthawks". I promise to be in touch soon with casting details and a progress report on times and schedules.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Good news, bad news time. There is a broadcaster that is at least willing to have a look at "Nighthawks" which is good, of course. The bad news is that if, admittedly a big if, they are interested in pursuing it they would most likely insist on setting it up with a known producer who would in turn pass it along to a known production company which would mean their own casting and crew. Not so good. With all this in mind I think I'll keep plugging on my 3 episode approach and cut some of the footage into a feature length which can be entered into festivals and be used as a calling card for all those involved, including myself. If after that they are still interested in a series then everybody who helped with the feature would have at least a chance of being asked to go further with it. So, in the meantime, I've been trying to put a budget together for the shoot. You'd think it would be easier considering the amount of '$0.00's I've been entering on each line. Any rich uncles out there?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


For any readers of this blog who are fellow filmmakers I've added a link to 'Indiecine' in the links section. A friend and I have started a short, intensive course which should help all would-be filmmakers understand the steps required in achieving their goals. I'll let the website speak for itself but if I were to sum things up in a nut shell it would be that we would encourage analyzing any project from a feasibility standpoint and to provide an understanding as to how important the proper documentation is when it comes to marketing said project so that an audience will have the opportunity to actually 'see' the final product.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Broadening The Scope

Thanks to the good fortune of having advice from some industry professionals and with the positive feedback I'm getting for the script I've decided to broaden the scope of the upcoming shoot. All in all I hope to have the first three episodes shot by sometime in the fall. Except for the pilot I plan to work the shoot as a series of vignettes or shorts that, for the most part, can be shot on a weekend, in the evenings or in a timeframe that doesn't over tax peoples schedules or their goodwill. There is another core group of characters to be introduced so casting is still very much up in the air. For the moment I have to suspend the meet and greets I wanted until I have a solid gameplan in place for the project.
With all the footage we'll have in the can I will be able to do what I wanted to do from the start; a feature length which will qualify for more film festivals while still having material for a broadcaster if the series idea finds an interested party. Lots of work ahead.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More email fun

I'm afraid I have email problems again. I believe Shaw is doing an upgrade to their High Speed in my neighbourhood which may be the cause. I know I've sent out emails to a number of people but they don't show up in my 'outbox' so my assumption is they're just floating out in cyberspace. I'll be working on this but keep watching the blog for updates.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Musical Good News

I just received some good news from the fine folks at Warner-Chappell. I've been given the greenlight to use Blues Hall of Famer, Nick Gravenites' song "Heartache People" for the online trailer and for Film Festival use. It would be hard to describe how important I feel this song is in the project as it says everything I can't about it. It still cost a bit which means I'll be forced to eat Kibbles and Bits for the next little while but there you have it.
I still have to make sure that the license is okay for Canada and a few other legalees things but it looks good for now. 
I've added a link to the iTunes store for you to be able to download the song if you so desire. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Progress to date

First, my apologies for not keeping the blog up to date. Much ado at the moment. One of the things is determining the method with which we'll be shooting the project. If we go one way we can start earlier if we go another it will have to wait a little bit. In the meantime I'd like to meet each and everyone of our potential cast members just to get acquainted a little. Then on to some auditions and reads. Expect phone calls or emails in the next few days.
As I stated in earlier blogs I was unable to get all characters in the pilot I would have liked. Most of them won't surface 'til episodes 2 or 3 but I'd still like to meet. When it comes time for reads I have samples of some of the future character's dialogue. Failing that I might have you read for another role just to have a look. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Unions and Guilds

As much as I support and admire the work of guilds and unions the sad fact is I've had to push back the inclusion of some very talented actors because of the lack of budget to live up to their terms even with a low budget agreement waiver. If any actors interested in the project are ACTRA or UBCP members, or plan to join soon, please let me know as soon as you can. It won't stop me from considering you but I might have to push back your inclusion until Episode 3 or later when, if picked up, there will be a 'real' budget in place. Thanks for your understanding in this.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

First Draft Complete (Finally)

The good news; first draft done and registered with the WGC so on to the fun stuff. The bad news; try as I might I couldn't get all the characters in that I hoped for and some of the characters weren't developed beyond a cursory introduction. That will have to wait till Episode 2.
Now I'll start sending out character profiles and some sides for the roles that I think each of you is best suited to. Please keep in mind that there is sure to be a major rewrite before I send off the full script. For those who's characters aren't in the pilot, but I'd like to pursue in future episodes, I'll be in touch to let you know what stage things are at.
Thanks everyone for your patience.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shooting Dates

Listening to some peoples schedules and now with the availability of an HD camera to shoot it with it would seem that sometime in June would be the most likely scenario for 1st day of principal photography. I wish I could be more specific at this point but... If June is a problem for anybody let me know as soon as you can.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Script Development

As part of the process of defining a market it was necessary to tear the original script apart and rebuild it to match certain formats. Happily we've come up with a timeline that will allow the inclusion of most of the characters I didn't think I'd be able to use in a shorter piece. So I'm now in the process of smoothing out the awkward cuts where these 'tears' took place. This also entails relooking the character profiles I've developed earlier so that the characters indeed match well to some of the scene changes. Nothing about the feel of the project is different and most of the roles and subject matter will be just as challenging. In the near future I'll be sending these character profiles and some sides for the role I think you're best suited for so you can get a feel for it and then you can shoot me back any questions you may have.  

Melissa de Haan

I'd like to take the opportunity to welcome Melissa de Haan onboard as the 1st Assistant Director. Melissa, a very talented filmmaker in her own right, has agreed to help get this project off the ground and keep it flying smoothly once airborne. Her job is not an easy one but so necessary for the project to have any chance at success that too much can't be said about it. I can personally say that I couldn't be happier because Melissa, Dan(the DOP) and I have worked together before and the fit just seems right.  

Production Company

The production company is now officially in place. Corner Booth Entertainment Ltd. is now incorporated. As stated earlier "Nighthawks" will be one of, hopefully, many projects in the works. I hope to have a website up and running in the near future to cover everything.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Film Slam Congrats

Kudos to all of Cinevic's final Film Slam event participants. It was nice to see a few of the faces up on the screen who are interested in "Nighthawks". Too bad about the techno difficulties but that might have been a VEC ploy to increase liquor sales. Sorry about not introducing myself to those who have yet had the pleasure but everybody seemed pretty content with the usual milling and shmoozing that I felt it best to leave that for a later date. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Casting Dates Update

My apologies people but the Jan. 24th date I hoped for conflicts with Cinevic's Film Slam shooting and screening. I will keep everybody up to date as best I can for a new time to do the casting. Please keep checking the blog as things can be extremely fluid at this stage and probably will be for a time as schedules are worked out. I hope you'll bear with me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

John Emmet Tracy

A special thanks goes out to John for putting me in touch with so many fine and talented young actors. I've worked with John on a couple of projects in town and the one thing I've always come away with is the level of professionalism he brings on set and if there's a nicer guy in the biz, I've yet to meet him. John stars in Bryan Skinner's (another nice guy) "Tumbling After" which is doing really well on the festival circuit right now. I think it's 7 festivals and counting. I've provided a link so check it out.

Corner Booth Entertainment

Once I file the incorporation papers the production company's name will be Corner Booth Entertainment. The project will still be "Nighthawks" but I have a myriad of other scripts I'd like to develop so it seemed like the right thing at the time. When I have the chance the website I planned to put together will be based on the company's projects which will be used to promote this particular story and the others I already envision. Lot's of stuff for the future.   

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Casting Dates

I know everybody's been interested as to when auditions may begin. I'd first like to address those from Vancouver, and further afield, that are interested in the project. I was hoping that Saturday, Jan. 24th might be a convenient time for you. If this is a problem please let me know. I'll be more specific with times but the location will probably be at Cinevic, 2022 Douglas St.. For local Victorians I'd like to try for the same date but obviously we're a little more flexible as we live here. I'll keep everybody up to date as to how this develops.  

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Our Cinematographer

Lucky for us Dan Carruthers has agreed to be the DOP for "Nighthawks". I've known Dan for a few years now and have worked with him on a few projects. It's been a real pleasure to watch him get better and better with every project. His work on Michael Farrell's "Lions, Tigers, Bears", which will be screened at the upcoming Victoria Film Festival, is brilliant. Go see it. Dan has an instinctive ability to make people look good when they need to look good and bad when... well you get the picture. I know he does. Check out the link to his website.

Cinevic's 2009 Film Slam

Would just like to wish all cast and crew participating in Cinevic's upcoming Film Slam good luck. I understand it's to be their last one. Having talked to a few who are entered I promise to keep my online chatter to a dull roar till after the event is over. I appreciate the need to be psyched and focused. Again, good luck to all.  

Production Dates

Production dates are contingent on what gets tackled first. If the first priority is the short film then I foresee a shoot date for some time in late March/ early April. If I somehow get the funding for the feature length pilot before the need to shoot the short ( a recent conversation has led me to believe this is a possibility) then I would guesstimate pushing things back at least another month. There would be a much bigger script to deal with as well as more locations and cast.  2nd unit shooting has already started with more to come when the weather starts to be a little more reasonable. If there are potential cast members reading this please e-mail me with dates and times that might be a problem for you especially those living in Vancouver.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Story Lines

The project is intended to be an episodic drama and as of this date there are 12 different scripts plus a feature length pilot episode at various stages of completion. I won't post the synopses of any of them on this blog but will, instead, e-mail them out when the time's appropriate. In the meantime I thought I could throw out a couple of the more colourful titles I've tentatively come up with for some of the episodes: ""Dylan, Doris & a Doobie", "Poor Chaquita", "Death of Freddie", "Mitzi a L'orange", "George the John and Young Margaret" amongst others. As strange as the titles may appear many of the stories are based on true events. There's one or two thrown in that are pure fiction. Maybe we could do a poll once I release the scripts to see which is which. The important thing for now is the completion of the aforementioned short which was, regrettably, an idea that has come a little later than it should have.  

Musical Sidebar

To all potential cast and crew. I'll give you all a shiny new looney if you'll go to your nearest iTunes and download a song called "Heartache People" by Big Brother and the Holding Company. This song, I feel, truly captures the spirit of what "Nighthawks" is about. I'm presently in discussions with the rights holder for the song to be used in the project. Unfortunately the writer and performer, Nick Gravenites, is recovering from surgery at the moment. Let's all wish him a speedy recovery.  A Blues Hall of Fame inductee Nick can be seen on YouTube still cranking out great blues riffs and bellowing out the lyrics with his gravel on gravel voice.
With "Nighthawks" I plan to use music much in the way "The Sopranos" did. The trick is to find obscure masterpieces that work for the project. I've got a small but growing list already. It's so eclectic and strange that if it were turned into a soundtrack album I would expect to see a lot of 'WTF's in user comments. Many of the songs perfectly match some of the stories in development while some are just for the fun of it. Stay tuned. Ha.

Intentions for "Nighthawks"

I'm sure there must be many questions as to where the project will be heading if everything goes as planned.
Initially the idea was to produce episodes for webcasting which would generate revenues on an ongoing basis but the prospect of at least one private investor being interested has lead me to rethink the marketing aspect. If the funds could be made available through this investor then a budget might be put in place to truly plow ahead with a thorough and well conceived feature length pilot. To pique the investor's interest my contact recommends that a short film based on the "Nighthawks" premise be shot. From a marketing sense it seems like a good idea. There will be the short itself which can be screened at film festivals in front of would-be broadcasters and distributors. From that footage we can put together a kick-ass trailer/promo piece and there'd be plenty of material for web based marketing. However there are a few things about short films I'm not keen on. First is shorts give no time for subtle character development which is crucial for the stories I've envisioned. By necessity most shorts tend to club you over the head with blatant character traits to establish 'who they are'. Second, I always pictured this project as an ensemble piece and a short film is going to relegate important characters and good actors to cameos and bit players.. Third, there is little to no dough in the kitty for this at this stage( now's your chance to run. I'll understand). For those still interested it's quite likely that the short, at least, will have to be on a differed basis. I have no intention to ask for volunteer help on this but a deferred payment for the short is the best I can think of. If it makes money we all make money.
There's still the prospect of approaching a production company to be involved but there's a real chance that they'd want to use in house crew and talent which would mean we could all be out on our ear, including myself, after investing a good portion of time on the project.

Is it worth it? The scripts will tell. I'll address that issue in the next posting.   

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Inspiration for Nighthawks

As this is just a blog and not something more formal, i.e. a website I thought I'd start with where the idea of "Nighthawks" springs from. 

After a couple of years of strange trials and tribulations I was able to get a few bucks together to open, what would now be considered, an alternate or underground art gallery. It was 2500 sq. ft. of wood floors and brick walls above a pawn shop downtown. Large enough to hold almost any oddball artistic event you could think of it soon became home and haven to some of the most eclectic and bizarre group of artist types you could imagine. As most events were at night and the after events were even later many of us soon considered the night the only time to live and, like vampires, soon started avoiding the daylight as if our lives depended on it. It was even stronger for me as I actually lived in the gallery and living downtown 24/7 can be a real eye opening experience. A lot of harsh and brutal things can take place when the lights turn low and, yet, there were moments of true beauty and inspiration that move me to this very day. It's this world I'm striving to recreate. It was a world of beauty and hypocrisy, of violence and compassion, a world capable of representing the best and worse in all of us. There were deaths; some tragic, some violent. There was needless suffering either by hate or, worse, indifference but there were also stories of strange sex, love, happiness and, above all, fun. It's these contrasts that I feel are worth exploring. I hope you'll feel the same way. 

The beginning.

Welcome to my "Nighthawks" blog. Hopefully I can keep everybody interested in the project up to date while the website is being constructed. Stay tuned as I attempt to put things together in a somewhat coherent fashion.