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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Linda Nelson on Delivered!

Interview with producer Linda Nelson on her upcoming film with director/actor Michael Madison, Delivered (2011).


ME: Hi Linda. How are you? Can you tell us about your new film Delivered. This is your second time working as a team with Michael and Jennifer right?


LINDA: This is our third film of Linda Nelson and Michael Madison/Nelson Madison Films.  On our first film, we were producers and distributors. On our second film, which was a very low budget straight to DVD film, we did everything.  Michael and I wrote.  He directed, acted and edited. I shot, produced and distributed.  Our biggest problem was that we only had a standard definition camera, so it didn't look good enough. It was done right when everything was switching over to HD.  For DELIVERED, we knew we wanted to shoot with the RED camera, so there would be no compromise with the way the film looked. We developed and wrote the story and while we were flushing out how we would get the film made, we hired Brandon Manbeck to write the screenplay.


ME: What inspired you to make this film?


LINDA: We both like old school films with people like Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, crime films like those made by
Michael Mann, and the beautiful epic films made by directors like Sergio Leone. Movies that inspired us were BULLITT (1968), VANISHING POINT (1971), and TRUE ROMANCE (1993).  We knew we wanted an anamorphic aspec ratio, interesting and diverse characters, cool cars and some really human relationships. We always wanted a role for Michael and the idea from the beginning was to surround him with a great cast.  We were able to accomplish all these goals with DELIVERED and have made an "epic film on a micro budget". We took advantage of the new SAG Ultra Low Budget Agreement, which allowed us to mix veteran SAG actors with new, talented non-SAG actors. This also
kept the cost down. 


ME: Can you share with us about how hard it must be to make an action/thriller on a low budget?


LINDA: With careful planning, massive collaboration and the hard work of our dedicated cast and crew, DELIVERED is the epitome of the new breed of independent film. Half professionals, half students, DELIVERED has the feel of a studio film. Shot with the RED camera and the first feature to use Adobe's CS5, the production value is light years beyond what was possible just a few short years ago. Michael and I carefully developed this crime thriller with no clear way to
finance the production. Once the script was fully developed, we employed a number of cutting edge tools to help keep our budget under control. New pre-visualization software was utilized to storyboard each scene of the film, so that there would be no surprises once we got on set. A sophisticated, yet in-expensive scheduling program helped us to develop a schedule we live with. We used social media, like Facebook to audition many of our cast members and to scout locations.

The entire film was shot within SAG's required 35 mile limit, so that there would be no travel expenses or per diems. Our production office served as a "base camp" where everyone reported for makeup prior to going to the set. The only exception was a four day trip to the desert to film our motel and driving scenes. We knew that producing DELIVERED would be a difficult task from the beginning and understood that the better we planned, the smoother the production would go and the lower our budget could be. The budget was destined to be under half a million, even though we had hoped to raise $3 - $5 million originally, when we wrote the story. A contemporary crime story that touches on current social issues like the war and the recession was of interest to us. We also knew that we wanted to have a beautiful woman and a classic car to add to the interesting criminal characters that would round out the cast. A great story, diverse rich characters and beautiful locations combined with a skilled and hard working crew were all necessary if we wanted to accomplish our vision for the film. From the beginning, we wanted to shoot with the RED camera. It was the first affordable HD Camera that could use film lenses, yet have a resolution with at least the same resolution as film. Film was out of the question because of the cost - not just the cost of renting the equipment, buying film and lab costs, but the time lost to developing dailes to make sure we got the footage we needed and the cost of transferring the film to tape or digital files.


ME: Where did you shoot the film and how long did it take?


LINDA: Much of the film was shot in Burbank, where there is a handheld rule in effect. No tripod (or fixed camera)
- no permit required. Since film permits in LA are quite expensive and cost the same for small independent productions as they do for the studios, this really helped. Practical locations were used in all instances and most were donated. Our local Budget Truck Rental provided a reasonably priced grip truck to hold all our rented equipment, so we could move quickly from location to location. This was essential, since we had over twenty-five locations to shoot in 27 days. With a collaborative team of seven professionals and seven interns, we kept the crew to the bare minimum. Our professional crew included an experienced DP, who owned a RED camera and a sound recordist. This allowed us to maneuver in small locations, but have enough hands to load in and out efficiently. All props and wardrobe were prepared and packed for each day's trip to set by a well oiled machine led by Jennifer Nelson, a high school arts teacher, who conducted a classroom on set with students that had been studying set and costume design, makeup, prop building, lighting and sound for the previous four years. This crew of graduating high school seniors worked with great enthusiasm and gratitude for the opportunity to be involved with a feature film at such a young age. We were thrilled to work with them and plan to continue this tradition.


ME: What about things like editing and music… How did you handle that on such a low budget? 


LINDA: Once DELIVERED was "in the can" or "on the RAID", as I prefer to say, the huge task of
editing began. Michael who directed and acted, would also edit. As producer, I would also assist with editing and color correction. We had numerous offers from composers interested in writing the soundtrack and settled on an
experienced TV composer looking to transition into film. Shooting on RED produced a massive amount of data that needed to be organized and reviewed. The initial rough cut was three hours and then it was time to start the real job of telling the story. While Michael worked at honing the story to about an hour and a half, Linda started work on the color correction. Mostly, the color correction was about matching shots consistently throughout a scene. There were a number of scenes that were shot with less light than we would have liked, due to budget constraints, but digital enhancement allowed us to adjust the exposure and reduce most of the noise produced by adding light. Digital foley work was also required to enhance the visuals, so that we could have clear dialogue. Because we have many practical locations where we could not afford to close streets, we had to deal with a lot of external noise. Creating a believable emotional connection to the film falls firmly in the hands of our composer, who was very open to our suggestions and visions for the soundtrack.


ME: What do you want audiences to know about your film and what you really wanted to say with them?


LINDA: We want our audiences to know that our vision is to spend all our time making movies that entertain, that reflect the human condition and relationships that we can all relate to, even though we might not ever find ourselves in the same situations.  Hopefully we can inspire anyone interested in making movies to pursue their dreams and never give up. If you want to do something badly enough, you can make it happen. Making a film of this scope can seem
extremely overwhelming, but if you just keep working on it and find others that are willing to share your dream, you can get it done. DELIVERED is a contemporary story with subtle references to current social issues like the war and recession, but it has timeless themes of loss, betrayal, love, family, and revenge that draw us into the story and we hope that our audience can get caught up in Shane's journey as he innocently gets involved in a big mess that
has to be unraveled. 


ME: I know this isn’t even out yet and you have your hands full with Delivered but what do you see yourself working on next?  


LINDA: We are excited about showing DELIVERED at film festivals and then to move on to our next project. We have a number of fine scripts in development and would also like to write a sequel to DELIVERED.  Depending on the opportunities that present themselves as a result of the work we put into DELIVERED, we'll choose our next project. We have a great believable sci-fi film that will appeal to all ages, much like ET, a great ghost story that straddles contemporary life and the American Civil War, and several contemporary comedies. Much will depend on financing, but we now know that we can make a great film with a small budget, but it sure would be nice to be able to have helicopters, dollies and cranes to get those "big" shots that we'd love to incorporate in our
filmmaking. With DELIVERED, we've proven that we can take a film from concept to the consumer completely in-house, so we know that will be attractive to investors and even studios.  We're up to the challenge and look forward
with excitement to the next shoot. 


ME: Can you give our readers a synopsis of your film to whet the appetite until Delivered is available for release?


LINDA: A heartfelt crime thriller, DELIVERED is an intimate tale of loss, betrayal, redemption and bittersweet revenge. In the spirit of films like BULLITT, VANISHING POINT and TRUE ROMANCE, this film is packed with twists and turns, a cool car and a couple on the run. DELIVERED is a contemporary and subtle exploration of the effects of war and a
global recession. Alienation, PTSD, loyalty to friends and family and a strong desire to set things right, lead Shane down a difficult path with dire consequences. As a young vet, Shane returns home to a financially broken and widowed Mom and he is determined to get back her home which was lost to foreclosure while he was off fighting the war. After finding out that she is working two jobs to make ends meet, Shane promises that he will get their old house back. Reluctantly, he takes an armed courier job. Not really wanting to carry a gun, it is the only job he can find. Luckily, Mom saved Dad's classic '67 Mustang which is the perfect vehicle for Shane to use for his job. It also provides an emotional connection to his Dad and is a great source of comfort.

After several routine deliveries, Shane's boss sends him on a special assignment. On the way to pick up a large amount of cash which will ultimately be exchanged for a rare piece of art, Shane stops at a roadside diner for a bite. On the way back to his car, he sees a young woman being molested by a drunk trucker and intervenes, offering the beautiful girl a ride to the next town. Lonely for some female company, he decides to spend the night in a desert motel before leaving the next morning to finish his delivery. Duped by a drug crazed young Japanese man, Shane is forced to shoot the son of a murderous gangster in self defense. On the run and inadvertently entangled in an art theft ring, Shane and the girl seek refuge at the home of a friend. Now he must untangle a web of lies to discover his own truth.
Japanese gangsters, an Armenian art dealer, a retired proctologist and a beautiful young woman compliment a young vet in this well rounded ensemble cast of unique characters. Set in Los Angeles and the dusty desert towns of Mojave Desert, the backdrop of DELIVERED provides a fresh view of California that we rarely see in films. Well known character actor, Toshi Toda, famous for his elevator scene in CRANK and his work in LETTERS FROM IWA JIMA, plays the head of a Japanese gang into art and murder. Brian McGuire, playing Shane’s high school buddy, is a frequent collaborator of Alex Holdridge, who’s last film, IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS was a recipient of the John Cassavetes Award last year. Alana Stewart, fresh from her highly praised documentary about the life and death of Farrah Fawcett plays the Mom with great tenderness. Director Michael Madison plays the lead role as Shane Green, a quiet, understated man that will do whatever it takes to survive.

Interview by Vanessa McMahon on July 19, 2010





Director Michael Madison and Producer Linda Nelson of Delivered (2011).

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