Greetings, here’s the latest news from the world of Turnip Films.


In June, we finally finished all the work on Endings.

Endings was a different film for us. It has the most personal story of any we have tried to tell so far, being based, in part, on the death of Janat McQuaid. And that personal quality is its strength – and perhaps its weakness, too. It’s too early to tell. But this has us thinking more about the concept of making everything “personal” in some way. It seems like a very important aspect of any story or performance. There’s a short blog post about this idea of what “personal” means, here.

Endings has the best acting of any film from Turnip. This isn’t because actors we previously worked with were not good – the problems in the past were mostly with the material (blame the writer) and the director (blame the director). Endings went to places that allowed actors to bring a lot to the performance and it shows. Once again, the fine work of DP Aravind Ragupathi and crew delivered a lovely vision of the film.

Some things we learned

The DVD of Endings has all the PR material, a dialog list and the trailer on it. It’s also probably the last DVD we produce. Apple has abandoned support for DVDs and Adobe has just announced end-of-life for their DVD creation software. Turnip has some customers that still depend on DVDs, but web-based video is obviously taking over. We will be putting more energy into our Vimeo page next year.

I’ve always said that audio is the most difficult technology in filmmaking. It feels like Endings is a film with a truly decent (almost professional?) sound mix. We spent time doing things like adding in the sound of a wine glass being set down as well as seeking the advice of smarter filmmakers (e.g. Stephen van Vuuren) on such matters. The overall level of “polish” is the best we’ve done.

The Future of Endings

Endings is now being submitted to film festivals. Our philosophy has evolved over the years where festivals are concerned. Basically, we are no longer interested in trying to get into a large number of festivals; we’ve gotten into festivals that weren’t worth the travel. We are no longer interested, in general, in purely local festivals. We are only submitting to festivals where acceptance would mean something valuable. So, Endings may not get into any of the festivals at that level, but if it does, it will be a great day.

We are also working on a feature-length script based on Endings. That isn’t to say that Turnip is currently planning to produce a feature film, only that the ideas and moments in the short seemed to have so much hidden behind them that we wanted to try to see if we can bring those out in a longer work. You are invited to read (and give feedback on) a short piece of the beginning of that script, still a work-in-progress.

Other Film Work

A couple years ago, we shot One Last Sunset for Kevin Richmond. It was a zombie movie but one with a real human story at its core. The result was a 40-minute film. Recently Kevin decided to write an entire backstory and enlisted us to shoot the additional scenes and storylines that will bring the film up to feature length. The new backstory is essentially a love story, told in a somewhat unusual style, so it was satisfying to work on the project again, despite those pesky zombies. And we met some new folks who were super helpful, especially Christian Cooke, who did a bit of everything, never complained, and was a life-saver.

As the result of a happy accident, we got to know local Durham writer and novelist, Robert Wallace. (No, not the Big Fish guy) Bob happened to be a finalist in a short play contest around that time and we directed a staged reading of his play First Kiss. We drafted a screenplay, based on the stage play and are working with Bob towards a short film script and hope to produce this film before the end of the year.

We’ve been blessed with a plethora of commercial jobs earlier this year. One of them, for a group at Duke University Medical Center, re-enacted the transfer of a patient from the OR to the ICU. It gave us a chance to hire actors we’ve worked with for better money than Turnip Films usually pays!

A long-simmering project that we plan to bring back to the top of the list this fall is a documentary we shot a couple years ago about a shop in the Bay Area that designed and built museum-quality frames for a host of San Francisco collectors and galleries. It was our last project shot in standard definition and will be our major learning project for Adobe Premiere as we finally accept that Apple has abandoned professional editing.

Film Music Event! September 8th at 4PM at the ArtsCenter

Not to be missed by anyone who enjoys a film. Multiple composers have scored the same lyrical, dialog-free short film. We’ll watch them all and discuss how the music changes the feeling of the film. Check out this page. The film was specially crafted for this event by Ajit Anthony Prem and it is both lovely and ambiguous in the right way.

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