Cup of Cheer
The film follows Mary, a big city journalist who heads off to her charming hometown of Snowy Heights to write an article about the town's world famous Christmas cheer. But upon (literally) running into the grumpy but endearing Chris, the owner of Cup of Cheer, Mary learns that his charming hot cocoa shop is going to be shut down on Christmas Eve. And it's her ex boyfriend that's shutting it down. Using her big city smarts and her Christmas cheer, Mary unites the town in an effort to save Cup of Cheer, and to save Christmas.
True Perspective Films and Sideways Dog Productions
Shot on Red Scarlet-W
with Atlas Orion's
Making Cup of Cheer
Director Jake Horowitz and I had previously discussed numerous projects before. After a few experiences of losing funding, we decided to pull our resources together and create a film for a minimal budget that would be an easy seller!
And so, Cup of Cheer was born. A Christmas parody film, that points out the tropes and cliches of the Christmas classic films and repackages them into something ridiculous and enjoyable.
Combining forces of my production company, True Perspective films, and Jake and Andrews company, Sideways Dog Productions, we managed to pull together a few thousand dollars from interested parties and private investment. As a cost saver, we decided to run this during the quietest part of the year, and by far the most difficult to film in Canada. This however did give us a very realistic feel to our winter world!
Knowing that we would be struggling for time and money, I came up with the idea of shooting anamorphic as a way of covering up for a certain lack of production value. It seemed like an appropriate spend to have some great lenses that would create instant value without any extra time and cost expenditure on set. The cost effective nature of the Atlas Orion's combined with their more modern aesthetic that many other anamorphic lenses, made them a no brainer for this production.
Despite my original concern of not having enough time and budget to be able to make everything look as premium as we wished, our production designer, Jess Craymer, pulled everything out the bag and went above and beyond, bringing the piece to a level far beyond what I could of imagined at this price point. This power house of a designer dressed an entire street in Orillia, ON, and brought us back to Christmas in a matter of hours!
Shooting in temperatures as low as -30c with wind chill, made for some serious challenges... I got very close to losing a toe on two separate occasions, and the snow one evening completely covered all of our equipment, and caused havoc for our little 2000w gennie. However, the crew ploughed on and we got some amazing shots through all this!
Jake's previous film had shot in Orillia, ON, and the town Wass super excited to have himself and another production back. The town lent us everything they could with regards to permits, giving us the opportunity to shoot throughout the town and in numerous shops that added a fantastic amount of production value to a very low budget piece!
Lighting a piece like this for me created an interesting challenge in finding a way of being creative with the comedy genre. Luckily a lot of comedy these days leans more away from rather flat and low contrast looks, and Jake and I were very happy to do the same. My aim was to create premium finish to the piece, with high saturation in the primaries and still keeping a good level of contrast both in luminance and colour, without going to crazy on the lighting ratios.
Movement throughout the piece was kept fairly consistent using the dana dolly and Kessler pocket jib pro. Both very cost effective pieces that added a lot of production value to what we were doing. Handheld was kept to a minimal and mostly everything was very stable, and alway had some slight sliding movement to keep the pace of things feeling fast. Combined with an almost consistent underlying score, this movement effect really worked!
Personally, I have too many brilliant moments to recall from this piece, but one that certainly stands out, is the kitchen scene, when our actor Steve Kasan, removes his police hat, to reveal hidden smaller police hat below. For some reason, his infallible poker face for this moment, had everyone on set cracking up! Well done Steve!