Tuesday, May 31, 2011


We finished The Lake Effect in the fall of 2010 and have been playing festivals since then. Tara and I have been lucky enough to attend some of those fests – we’ve been to London for Raindance and Phoenix for, well, Phoenix. We’ve had amazing screenings with packed houses, but seldom have we known people in the audience. It’s a terrific feeling to bring the movie to strangers, people who otherwise would never have heard of it. As I’ve discovered over the past two weeks, it’s an entirely different, wonderful and sometimes nerve-wracking, feeling to bring the movie to people you know.

Johnny and Ross, together at last. 
On May 19 we had our first, and likely only, screening in LA. The theater was packed with cast, crew, friends and family. Then last week, we held two screenings in Kalamazoo, MI and one in Saugatuck, MI, near where we shot, and not coincidentally, where I grew up. I found myself nervous for the first time in a long time screening the film. What if our fabulous editor Steve Edwards hated it on a big screen? What if Tara’s parents thought I’d dragged her to Michigan 8 months pregnant for nothing? What if my grandma didn’t get the jokes? What if my neighbor from 25 years ago said, “Oh she had such promise as a child, too bad she went into film.”? Despite my misgivings, all four screenings went WONDERFULLY! Better than I could have hoped. Below are my... 

Top Ten Favorite Moments from our May Tour

-Tara Summer’s mom seeing (and liking!) the movie.
Tara S. works a lot, in fact, you can see her in a new show called THE RINGER on the CW this fall, starring opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar. But her mom still turned out for our LA screening, to see her daughter do terrific work in our little movie.

-Standing with Tara M. on the side of the theater in Kalamazoo, watching the audience watch the movie.
I’ve seen THE LAKE EFFECT hundreds of times. I don’t watch the screenings anymore. Usually I have things to do while the movie plays – set up the merchandise table, call my husband to catch up. But on the 25th & 26th, Tara and I got to stand (heels kicked off) and peek at the audience as they watched the movie. Seeing people laugh at a joke, or cry during the birth scene makes this entire experience absolutely worth it!

-Finally nailing the PR thing.
I am not a publicist. I have no background in marketing. The whole thing alternately annoys and terrifies me. And yet, we needed people to show up for our screenings. About two and a half weeks ago I was banging my head on my desk in LA, despondent that no one in Michigan knew anything about our movie, convinced that no one would come. I had been sending out press releases, contacting Chambers of Commerce, tourism bureaus, etc. and had very little response. Then in one day, all of a sudden, we were everywhere. We had pieces in all the regional papers, radio interviews, two TV appearances, plus local news. We had three packed houses and could not have asked for more.

-Watching actor Chase Maser come into his own.
We cast Chase when he was a senior at Portage Central H.S. in southwest Michigan. He plays the baby daddy. This was his first film role. Since then, he’s graduated, moved to Chicago, starred in 2 more movies and just booked the lead in another one. I’m so happy for him and glad that he’s taken up the challenge. I’m sure we have not seen the last of Chase.

Me, Chase, and Tara, wrapping up the run.

-Receiving a great review in the Kalamazoo Gazette.
This is my hometown paper. They did a lovely spread on us in advance of the screening, which really helped get the word out. Then they asked for a screener so they could review the movie – before the screenings. It was a risk. I love our movie, but it’s not for everyone. A bad review two days before we’re trying to sell out screenings would’ve put a damper on things. Fortunately, film critic James Sanford really responded to the film. You can read his review here.

-Appearing on a Fox 17 lifestyle show out of Grand Rapids.
Tara M., Chase Maser and I appeared on “The One Seven” with local celebrity anchor Michelle DeSelms. It was short but sweet. We got the word out and Chase got to practice for his future appearances on Good Morning America. And my grandma got to call her friends to tell them to watch her granddaughter on TV. Here’s the clip.

-Reconnecting with people that I haven’t seen in ages.
For me, the Michigan screenings were really fun because, while there were tons of people who just read about it in the paper and showed up, I also saw a number of people from my childhood. I saw old neighbors and kids I played with on the beach when I was ten. When you haven’t seen someone in 15-20 years and they make the effort to come to your movie, first, that’s a really lovely person, and second, it’s a great way to catch up...

“What have you been up to?”


My only regret is that my time to chat with these folks was so limited. But I got a lot of email addresses, and facebook friends, so now I can better keep in touch.

-Getting some concentrated time in the car with Tara M. to talk about our next project.
She and I have both been crazy-busy the last month or so and our next project, THE CYNICS, has been on hold. It will have to wait another month while Tara finishes a few writing gigs, but during our long stretches driving around West Michigan, we were able to at least re-affirm our desire to make the film, and bounce ideas back and forth. We’ll keep you posted.

-Sharing the movie with people who love the Lake Michigan shore as much as I do.
We had a couple that came to the Saugatuck screening who had read about us in the paper. They both grew up spending their summers in South Haven on Lake Michigan and were thrilled to pieces to see familiar sights on screen. In fact, inspired by the movie, they were headed to Sherman’s Ice Cream after the screening.

-Being done.
I mean this in the best sense because I’m so glad we held these screenings. But it’s really nice to be done with them. Partly because it’s been a very busy month coordinating and doing the PR and I’ve been neglecting other projects and my family as a result. Partly because they went swimmingly and I’m going to ride this wave of satisfaction for a while. But mostly because it brings me a bit of closure on the entire experience of producing THE LAKE EFFECT. Not that there’s not more work to do, there is! And not that this is the end of the road for TLE, it’s not!! But we always wanted to share the film with our friends, family, cast, crew and supporters. It’s been on my mind since we started pre-production and gathered such a warm supportive group around us. And now we’ve done it, and they liked it. I’m relieved, gratified, a bit tired but most of all thrilled.

Thanks LA & West Michigan!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Ok, So I am on a plane to Michigan this morning for our mini-mid-west tour with THE LAKE EFFECT.

Hey Michaganders:  Does the state really look like this?  If so, how does that
whole "point to your palm" thing work at all?  How does your hand do that
top part -- wait, is that the upper peninsula??? I realize I could look all this up
but it's funner to wonder aimlessly about it here. 

We'll be staying at the lake house (where the majority of the feature was shot, doing three screenings, three high school workshops, two TV appearances, and lots of driving (everything in Michigan is very FAR from everything else).

The lake.  

I should also mention that we had an absolutely great screening last Thursday at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles!  Thank you to everyone for coming out and making it such a special night...  The very crowded house laughed, they cried... and aside from a little technical hiccuping, I thought it went wonderfully.

I will post pics as soon as I get them off my sister in law's camera (which she does not own a cable for).   It may be sometime in 2012.

Ok so today - I just want to share all the Michigan news that is popping up as we get closer to our screenings there...

A great review from MLIVE:

An interview with WMUK:

This from MLive.com

Our interview with the Holland Sentinel:

Our Interview with Radio Station WSJM AM 1400...

This from the Western Michigan University Newspaper:

This on the Michigan Film Office's Website:

Allegan County News:

....And more to come!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Media Contact: Jennifer Westin                                                      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
P: 310-883-5453
E: info@thelakeeffectfilm.com

April 28, 2011


LOS ANGELES—Covert Productions is thrilled to announce special screenings of the independent feature film The Lake Effect in Kalamazoo and Saugatuck. The film shot in southwest Michigan in the summer of 2009 and will screen for the first time in the Midwest on May 25, 26 and 28.
The film stars Kay Panabaker from Fame and ABC’s No Ordinary Family, Ross Partridge from the Duplass Brothers’ film Baghead and Tara Summers from television’s Boston Legal and Damages.
The Lake Effect features a number of local haunts including the Heritage Guitar factory, Bell’s Brewery, and Tot to Teen Village in Kalamazoo; plus Sherman’s Ice Cream, Phoenix St. and the Pier in South Haven.
A number of the cast and crew came from Kalamazoo, including celebrated actress Sharon Williams, Chase Maser (a Portage Central graduate with a burgeoning film career in Hollywood), and a cadre of interns from Western Michigan University’s film program.
Producer Jennifer Westin, a Kalamazoo-native, was drawn back to the state by its generous film tax incentive, as well as the incredible beauty of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. “Whenever I bring people from out of state to the beaches around South Haven, they are awed by the natural beauty of our coastline. I wanted to share that feeling with a broad audience.”
Thus far the film has won awards including Best Screenplay, Best Ensemble Acting and Audience favorite from prestigious festivals including the Phoenix Film Festival and Moondance International. The Raindance Film Festival in London named writer/director Tara Miele “a Top Ten American Indie Filmmaker to Watch.” FilmThreat.com called the film “a well-acted and terrifically realized relationship dramedy.”
The Lake Effect is a dramedy about a couple who retreats to their cottage on Lake Michigan to reconnect. Natalie’s biological clock is ticking; Rob’s resistant to change. But their holiday is interrupted when Rob’s estranged and very pregnant teenage daughter Celia lands on their doorstep.  His marriage on the rocks and his daughter in need, Rob must embrace his role as a husband and father before he becomes a grandfather.
Screenings are May 25 & 26 at 7:30pm at the Rave Theater in Kalamazoo and May 28 at 7:30pm at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Cast and crew will be in attendance.  There will be an Opening Night Party after the screening on May 25th.  (Tickets sold separately)
The trailer and more info on the movie can be found at http://thelakeeffectfilm.com/. Tickets are $12.50 and are available at www.brownpapertickets.com beginning May 9th!  
#  #  #
Please contact Jennifer Westin to arrange interviews with cast and crew.

Monday, May 16, 2011

REALITY CHECK from Producer Sara Quick

First things first:  If our updates and posts and twitters and e-blasts haven't convinced you already to get a ticket for this week's ONE NIGHT ONLY EVER Los Angeles screening of THE LAKE EFFECT, I highly recommend you buy your ticket!!!!!


Now onto this week's actual blog...

No one can deny that reality TV has transformed the landscape of television... As media evolves, it's amazing to me that at the root of good entertainment is still a good story.  I think reality and scripted TV are more closely connected than most of us realize.  With that in mind, this week's Guest Blog is from my dear friend and amazingly talented (and successful) Reality TV Producer Sara Quick... 

"Beginning, middle, and end. Those are three elements that every good story has. Without them the audience is left confused, frustrated, and often wanting more. Believe it or not, reality tv is no different. Though the chaotic, seemingly spontaneous nature of reality television may seem like just a bunch of footage slammed together to simply evoke the most shock and awe, there is actually much calculation that goes into crafting story. Throughout the entire process we are all constantly thinking about beginning, middle, and end. 

Sara Quick on the set of "Deadliest Catch."
Unlike scripted television, the story telling process in reality can be difficult to control. From the moment you are hired, to the day you collect your last paycheck you can pretty much count on one thing…..that everything will always change. The first step for a reality Producer is to come up with a series arc or theme for a series. Meaning, we have to decide what is interesting about these characters we're about to explore. So what should we focus on? This can sometimes revolve around a large project that the character is undertaking. In a docu-series reality show a character needs to have a goal, because just as in scripted, the audience wants to watch the character's journey. Since this is real life....the characters don't always succeed either. It's why reality tv is relevant. Life is not always perfect and neither are people. Audiences can relate to that. 

There's a common misconception that reality tv is scripted and some people often scoff when I tell them I write, produce, and direct reality tv. In actuality we just write outlines or treatments. We first come up with a concept for an episode, write what we “think” will happen, and then after we shoot we then have to go back and write what REALLY happened. The art of shaping a real person's story by crafting a beginning, middle, and end is what sets the genre apart from a documentary.  

As a Director/Producer it’s not my job to create the characters, but rather get to know my characters and then come up with storylines that embody who they are. I then pitch those stories to them and hope they get on board. If you don’t have a firm grasp on who your talent is, this part can be very offensive to the talent. Imagine someone coming to you and telling you how they would plan your day for you based on their perception of who you are. It’s a delicate line to walk.

Before you can create story though, your talent has to trust you. TRUST is a HUGE part of the job, and it can come in unexpected ways. On "Deadliest Catch" we had to gain the trust of some pretty salty characters in order to capture their world. It wasn’t until I accidentally fell into a crab hole on one of the boats that the fishermen and I created a rapport. I had to buy them a case of beer. (A tradition if you fall in a crab hole). You do whatever it takes.  

The interesting thing about directing real people is that you can’t control how they act. They aren’t getting paid to read lines, they’re getting paid to be themselves. That’s it. That’s their only commitment. To show up. The rest is just…ever changing. It’s then our job to produce a beginning, middle, and end, and in so doing create conflict and drama.

I have to say though, there is nothing more rewarding than creating an environment for characters and to watch them blossom, and to move with them and to constantly work at anticipating their every move. It’s like a choose your own adventure book. You lay out the options, the characters chose the path, you react with more choices, more options, more environments for them to grow in. Knowing that any moment they could blow like dynamite, or simply die a slow death by being a Producer’s worst nightmare….boring."

- Sara Quick is currently a Supervising Producer on the Women's Entertainment Network show "Bridezillas." She has worked as a Producer/Writer/Director in reality tv for a decade.  Her credits include; "Deadliest Catch", "LA Ink", "Split Ends", Amish in the City", "Shockwave", "Lobstermen", "House Hunters", and "Monster Garage." She and her husband own a Production Company that specializes in quality video and post-production services for reality and corporate clients. frequentflyerproductions.com 

Monday, May 9, 2011

If you screen it, they will come.

At least I hope that's true...

After much ado, tickets to see THE LAKE EFFECT are officially ON SALE!

To buy tickets for the LA screening @ the Downtown Independent @ 8:30pm on 5/19:

To buy Tickets for the Kalamazoo Screening @ the Rave @ 7:30 pm on 5/25 (and the after party) or 5/26: 

To buy tickets for the Saugatuck Screening @ the Saugatuck Center for the Arts @ 7:30 pm on 5/28:


Cast and Crew will be in attendance for Q n A's at all screenings!   Please buy your tickets ASAP to make sure that you get a seat!  Our screenings are limited and we’re expecting packed houses! 


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Ticking Clock

Okay so because I am under the ticking clock of my child's nap time and because I have a million things to do, I thought I would give you a quick lesson on a writer's best friend, ie:  THE TICKING CLOCK.

The ticking clock helps propel the story forward by giving us a limit to how long our lead has to: get the guy (or girl), win the race, or save the world. 

It is summarized well by Hitchcock who called it his BOMB THEORY - wherein he uses a bomb that the audience knows about but the characters in the play do not, in order to create tension and fear: 

"In dramatizing this fear, Hitchcock employs a technique he calls the "Bomb Theory." This scenario runs as follows: Two men are sitting at a table discussing baseball. They talk for about five minutes, when suddenly, there is a huge explosion, which gives the audience a terrible shock, which lasts for about about fifteen seconds. According to Hitchcock's Bomb Theory, when the scene opens, you show the audience that there is a bomb under the table, which is set to go off in five minutes. While the men are sitting casually discussing baseball, the audience is squirming in their seats, thinking Don't sit there talking about baseball... there's a bomb under the table! Get rid of it! The audience is overwhelmed with the sense to warn the characters of the danger which they perceive, and which the characters are not aware of. Hitchcock's method transfers the menace from the screen to the minds of the audience, until it becomes unbearable - at which point there is a climax. An important footnote to this theory: You must never let the bomb go off and kill anybody. Otherwise, the audience will be very mad at you."

This can work without a physical bomb, although I actually kind of enjoyed MacGruber when I caught it on cable. 

In a romantic comedy, the ticking clock is often the love interest's wedding or departure.  In action movies, it's the pending death of someone who's been kidnapped.  In awesome eighties comedies, it's the hip hop rec center that's going to be torn down.   In THE LAKE EFFECT, it's the pending arrival of Celia's baby.  

Anyway, right now, Luna's clock is a-ticking and I am off to get all my work done.