Day 11 An Interview with Karen Baird

Here is a great interview with the hilarious Karen Baird, who plays Bessie in the film. I told you I went to the premiere with a friend, well we have been friends for around 25 years. We plan to become Bessie and Agnes.

Bessie and Agnes

Tell us a little about yourself.

Karen: I was born in Connecticut to a very talented family. All of my brothers and sisters and my Father were very musical. My Father could even make playing a comb sound wonderful – whereas my Mother always said she had a rocking chair voice and we would go to sleep rather than listen to her. My sisters and I never did dishes without singing in our little trio. I was the youngest, so I always sang the melody. After moving to CA I became involved in several singing groups and was bitten by the acting bug. I even met my husband while playing opposite him in a musical in Los Angeles. I love performing. I love the opportunity to create and “become” the characters the playwright has given me to develop.

How did you get involved with this project?

Karen: My agent sent me an email regarding the audition for The Miracle Maker. I was in Idaho visiting my daughter when I received the information and almost didn’t consider auditioning. But the very last day to submitting the audition I convinced my daughter and grand-daughter to play the other characters in the sides I received and my grandson was the “filmer” on my IPhone. You can’t imagine how delighted I was when John Lyde, the director, contacted me saying he wanted me do the role of Bessie.

What was you favorite part about making this movie?

Karen: I loved every moment of filming. Being able to perform with Anne Sward was pure delight. We just hit it off and had the best time together. And working with such a talented cast and crew was beyond my expectations. I have never worked with such a fantastic group of people. The director, John Lyde, was incredible. Everyone was a joy. Every day of the shoot was fantastic.

Is there a funny story you could share about the filming, or a particular scene that would be interesting readers?

Karen: Filming in Heber, the last day of the shoot, it grew dark, rainy and very windy. It was quite the shock to see the makeup tent literally blow away!!!!! The makeup crew was then transferred to a stable building that turned out to be a tattoo parlor! Pretty funny, but we were all grateful. Then the wind calmed, the rain turned to sunshine and we were able to complete the shoot. Talk about a little miracle.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about this movie?

Karen: One of the underlying themes of The Miracle Maker that really touched me is how we can all become part of a miracle, part of a change for the better, part of improving our situations by changing our attitude and allowing the “miracle” to happen.

How do you feel about Miracles?

Karen: I do believe in miracles. I know, without a doubt, that miracles do happen. Interception and promptings can change our lives. We just have to be sensitive enough to respond to the those promptings.

11696496_494208240755010_7915590407135775532_o

DAY 10 Behind the Scenes

Sometimes I talk to much so for today’s post I am just posting ten behind the scenes pictures.

11402818_485665141609320_3195540890826214511_n

11427839_486707108171790_7723853127815214306_o

 

11265374_494208090755025_4110331709742279311_n (1)

 

11140044_487015274807640_3526590543382733327_n

 

1965590_487015311474303_5334525154854270745_o

 

11140395_487015411474293_8409785677873524283_n

 

11269778_487015388140962_8633080914728456469_o

 

10496222_487015471474287_3155949967191550456_o

 

1534839_487015634807604_8955919379018551597_o

 

10514166_487219231453911_2190167953031596717_o

 

Thanks so much to all the cast and crew for all your hard work.

Day 9 She’s Little, but She’s Mighty.

11703436_494209760754858_7910342719273664081_o  11224505_486650644844103_596175926145608649_o

 

Meet Kalea Atkinson, a tiny little actress who is destine to become a big star. Acting is in her genes. Both her older siblings act too, and Kalea had her first acting experience when she was two. Miracle Maker is her first feature film.  Her mom Kalani helped to get an interview with her.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Kalea: I am 8 years old. I have one brother (12 years old) and one sister (16 years old). My favorite color is pink. I want to be an Olympic gymnast and I workout 18 hours a week right now. I love owls and acting. I am also a good student. People say I am very mature for my age but that I look like I am 6. I was actually born early and weighed 4 lbs when my parents brought me home.

How did you get involved with this project?

Kalea: I auditioned for the part of Rae Grant. I sent a video audition to the director and he picked me to play the part.

 What was you favorite part about making this movie?

Kalea: I liked acting in the scenes because they were so funny. I also loved getting to be around all the kids. I made some good friends on the set.

Is there a funny story you could share about the filming, or a particular scene that would be interesting readers?

Kalea: As soon as they would call cut when I was filming the scene at the Miracle Makers house, I would start singing One Direction. Jason Wade and I would sing the song together. He would make the music for me and I would sing.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about this movie?

Kalea: It was a fun story to be in and watch. When we filmed in Heber, I couldn’t wear shoes and there were pokey things on the ground so I had to be carried a lot.

How do you feel about Miracles?

Kalea: I think they exist because when I watched the Cokeville Miracle it was a big inspiration. It was a miracle those kids and teachers survived.

1896918_487219444787223_2232618646458687310_n 11665647_487219368120564_4026723415397796044_n

Day 8 An Interview with Shaunna Thompson.

When I wrote the book I literally was the sad woman in the story, so that part of the movie was super important to me. I absolutely loved her in the movie. She was played by the very talented Shaunna Thompson. She was sweet enough to answer a few questions for us about the movie. A big thank you to her and I hope you enjoy the interview.

IMG_3176

Tell us a little about yourself.

Shaunna: I have been a stage actress for 35 years and a film actress for 21. I’m a classically trained pianist and a vocal instructor at a performance academy for children and teens. Currently, I serve as the music director for the musical theater program at American Fork High School and am also one of their Shakespeare competition coaches. My husband and I serve in an English-speaking branch presidency at the MTC. We have two children and two grandchildren. They are the joy of my life!

 How did you get involved with this project?

Shaunna: I have been long-time friends with both Sally Meyer and John Lyde. I’d do anything for those two! They’re kinda the best!

 What was you favorite part about making this movie?

Shaunna: Getting to look as old and tired as possible! I’m trying to gracefully accept that I’m getting older, ha! Playing character roles is so much fun, really stretches you, and is such a great opportunity. I loved not having to looked pretty! An actress could go through the roof seeing herself look like a mess on a big screen. But I loved it!

 Is there a funny story you could share about the filming, or a particular scene that would be interesting readers?

Shaunna: While filming my scenes in the bed, no one who sees the movie would ever suspect that it was 105 degrees outside and about 120 in the cabin. I HAVE NEVER BEEN THAT HOT IN MY LIFE! We had to soak my petticoat with water just to keep me relatively cool under all those layers of clothing and bedding. In between takes, I remember thinking, “I’ll just lay here and die. Then they’ll be sorry.”

Is there anything else you would like people to know about this movie?

Shaunna: It was a pure pleasure to be a part of this movie because it felt like we were all a team. No divas, no drama, just good people making something good together. That’s why I’ve been an actress for so long. I love creating beautiful things with beautiful & creative types.

 

 How do you feel about Miracles?

Shaunna:I know miracles happen. I look for God’s hand in my life, every day, in the form of miracles, big and small, and He is so present! He hasn’t forgotten us. I believe He send miracles to us, often times, through others. This makes my heart so grateful.

 

 

 

Day 7 Living the Dream. . . Literally!

Miracle_Maker_updated

A lot of people are asking what it was like to go to the premiere of the movie. The best way I can explain it is to tell you to think of a really great dream. It feels like that, only way, way better because it’s actually happening. Throw in the fact I got to enjoy it with one of my best friends for the last twenty years, and it’s even better- plus she bought me popcorn. Top ten best days of my life for sure.

First of all, the whole creating something in your mind and then seeing it come to life thing is crazy. I actually did picture the Miracle Maker looking very similar to the way he did in the film. The rustic clothes and even the knapsack he had. I was really nervous about going. I’m more of a jammies and t.v. kind of person, not a dress up and go to a premiere kind of gal. I mean, I want to. I’m definitely willing, but my very normal life hardly ever requires it. Sally, the screenwriter and I had been emailing back and forth, and she help keep me from totally freaking out. I was running late,because I got the theater confused with another that has a similar name. (Of course I was running late. I’m always running late.) Once we finally arrived, there was a line, but for the first time in my life I got to bypass the line, and we were waved in. That alone was worth writing the book for.

We picked seats near the top of one of the biggest theaters I have ever been in. I was trying to be incognito, but I was freaking out. (Crying at the drop of a hat freaking out) I couldn’t help it. I had been working on this dream for years, and now I was literally seeing it come true before my eyes. Before the movie started, the creative director and publicity person for Covenant, who was in charge of premiere, came out and did a drawing. They also introduced me and told the audience I had written the book that the movie was based on. The audience cheered for me. Seriously, they clapped and yelled, and my mom wasn’t even in the audience making them do it. It was amazing. Then we watched the movie, which I loved. They did such a beautiful job on it. At the end of the film the credits started to roll. I was preparing to squint at my name in little tiny print at the bottom of the screen, but right after the director’s, and then Sally’s name, my name popped up. It was all alone on the screen, black background, white letters, it said, “Based on a short story by Ann Acton. It was huge, like the size of my living room huge. I swear that time actually stopped for a second. I leaned over to my friend and said, “You’re seeing this too, right?” Just in case, because it really felt like a hallucination. But no, it was real. I was actually seeing my name on a movie screen. Mind blown. It wasn’t even on my bucket list because really who would reasonably put that in the bucket.

After the filming, I got to go up with all the actors and director, and Sally.( as if I actually had anything to do with filming) They were so gracious. It really had very little to do with me at all, but I was all in for whatever they were willing to offer. It was sort of nerve wracking waiting for audience questions, but it was fun. My critique group had even searched out the publishing house’s media person and sent flowers for me. I felt like Miss America, but less hungry. I also found out I knew the publicity person for the film and she took me around to meet the actors and get pictures. Lots of pictures. Memo to me: learn how to pose for pictures. Yes, I’ll admit. I hugged Jason Wade. He was just too amazing, and I’m a hugger. Sorry, Jason. All in all, it was a wonderful night and I will forever be grateful for a wonderfully humble screenwriter like Sally Meyer, and great publishing house, and the fantastic cast and crew for making my dream a reality.

MIracle maker theater Jason Wade Miracle Maker premiere MIracle Maker premiereIMG_8093

Day 6 Picts from the Set

On the sixth day of blogging I decided to give you six new pictures from the set and six facts about the filming.

155 (1 of 1)

 

Fact 1- Director John Lyde, filmed Miracle Maker in 12 days. ( Ya, that’s super quick, but don’t let the time fool you. He is able to do quality in a crunch.)

179 (1 of 1)

Fact 2 – The movie was filmed  at This Is the Place State Park in Salt Lake City, old town Heber City, and American Fork. Lyde also got a few shots from a ghost town in California, but there were tons of tourists that had to be edited out of each one.

47 (1 of 1) (1)

Fact 3- The wonderful actress that plays Sarah Cronin is Caitlin E. J. Meyer. She is the screenwriter, Sally Meyer’s daughter.

69 (1 of 1)

 

Fact 4- The actress that plays Rae Grant stole the show in most scenes. Her ability to ad lib and roll with a scene impressed even veteran actor Brian Krause. “Where did you get this kid?” was his response after one of their first scenes together.

47 (1 of 1)

Fact 5- Lyde admitted that Actors on horseback makes for an interesting shot. If you see worry in the eyes of Caitlin Meyer, or Melanie Stone in the buggy scene it’s probably not for Oliver, but for their lives because of the speed they were going. However, Lyde revealed that it was the mouse scene and not the horses that proved to be challenging. The mice refused to stay still, even when given cheese.

8 (1 of 1)

Fact 6- This cutie, Cooper Johnson, played Oliver in the film. He was supposed to release this pigeon to bring the Miracle Maker. The crew purchased the pigeons for $5.00 each, but none of them wanted to fly. They just kept coming right back. Rumor has it that they were offered to Johnson for doing a great job filming, but his mom said, ” No way.” ( I don’t blame her on that one.)

 

 

 

 

Day 5 The Real Miracle Maker behind this project.

Sally

After the story had been chosen for a movie, somebody still had to figure out how to get a full length film out of about a thousand words. This is where superwoman comes in, or as she is more commonly known, Sally Meyer. Sally is a screenwriter.  To be more specific she is a fantastic screenwriter. She has written for many films and shorts including, Your So Cupid, Christmas Oranges, and Christmas for a Dollar.  She has also even tried her hand at producing and directing. In short, she is just all around awesome and I couldn’t have found a more fitting writer to transform Miracle Maker.

Here is the interview I had with her:

Tell us a little about yourself.

Sally:  I was born in Staffordshire England, and was raised there until I came to the United States, in 1974. Growing up, we were a little like the Firth kids in Miracle Maker. We always had food to eat, though. My mother was a single mother raising four children. We didn’t have a television, (that’s aging me) while I was little, and so my sisters and I spent our time reading books, playing outside until dusk, and making up our own adventures.

Perhaps that was one of the blessings of being poor, because it gave me such a love for a good story. I loved to escape into a good book. We always waited by the door for when the postman would drop our weekly girls magazine through the letterbox. And we devoured it page by page.

How did you get involved with this project?

Sally: I have had the blessing of being able to work with Covenant on other films, Christmas Oranges, Christmas For A Dollar and He Knows My Name. Ron Brough sent me the booklet written by Ann (Acton) and asked if I thought I could make it into a screenplay. There are a lot of layers in the book, that I could pull from, and I jumped in. I loved the simplicity of the story, and the message. I love that I along with everyone else who either read the booklet or watched the movie can know that we can make our own miracles and they don’t have to be large. Also I think we can provide a miracle for those around us, by simple service and love to all.

 What was you favorite part about making this movie?

Sally: Oh so many things, I loved being on set with all the children. I love children and dogs, chickens not so much. And, it was really wonderful to see their delight and innocence as they tackled their parts. I really enjoyed working with John Lyde again. How he can make such a wonderful movie, breaking all the rules (no children, no dogs) and in a matter of weeks, I just can’t figure out. But he does it over and over again, and continues to put out these films that are family friendly and uplifting. I also had the pleasure of working with Marybeth Sprows, one of my dearest friends. It’s always like a party when Marybeth and I get together on set. Also working with my daughter Caitlin Meyer Stewart, who played the part of Sarrah Cronin, was a delight. I think watching the actors put their own special touches to the characters is one of my favorite parts. Of course I imagine them as I  write, but then once on set, the actors make that character their own. I never get tired of seeing how it all unfolds.

Is there a funny story you could share about the filming, or a particular scene that would be interesting readers?

Sally: Oh, there are so many stories!! One was the last day of filming and we had a full day, many extras, a baby being born, oodles of children and a dog. And then … the heavens opened literally and we had a huge downpour for about an hour or so. We had to stop filming and just keep the cameras and ourselves dry. This of course put us back on our schedule, but John once again managed to finish the day and get the shots off.

Being with the kids is always fun, Kalea Atkinson who plays Rae Grant is a hoot, she’s a very dedicated little actress, and when we filmed any scenes with Kalea, she was able to make it her own, and steal it. There were times when everyone had to really bite their lips not to burst out laughing until John said ‘Cut!” We never knew what spin she would put on her scenes.

There are a lot of scenes that I love. I love when Mary Keating (Shaunna Thompson) says “Help me out of bed.’ as she’s jumping out on her own two feet. I like the ending scene when the baby is born, and Elias Grant (Adam Johnson) realizes what a miracle another little girl coming into his life is.

I love the last scene with Matthew (Jasen Wade) and Oliver (Cooper Johnson) part ways. The lines are so sweet and tender as Matthew says goodbye to his friend, and lets him know that there are other people he must go to. So many metaphors there to our Savior and his mission on earth.

Working with Brian Krause is always a pleasure and once again he worked his magic as he created the multi faceted character of James Booth. He was able to soften as the story unfolded, much like Ebeneezer Scrooge, which I patterned his character on. It’s hard to play a bad guy who softens, and get it right.. we just don’t like him at all when we first meet him, but we care for him at the end.

Any scene with Agnes (Anne Sward) and Bessie (Karen Baird) was a delight to watch. They are such seasoned actors and it was a joy to work with them.

I loved working with all of the actors, Melanie Stone (Lily Booth) and Jake Stormoen (Thomas Keating) were wonderful in all their scenes.

And I can’t forget James Schafer whose beautiful score is the cherry on top of the cupcake for me!! It’s such a beautiful score, which pulls you into the story from the opening credits to the end credits.

Is there anything else you would like people to know about this movie?

Sally: Well, there’s a little secret, in that as I wrote the movie, I decided that I would use the names of my family, my children and grandchildren as the characters’ names. My father’s name is James Booth, my mother’s maiden name was Lily Booth. Caitlin Meyer Stewart played Sarrah Cronin which is the name of one of my daughters. Sarrah. And Jenny Grant was named for my oldest daughter Jen. So, that was a fun little thing I did, that no one will notice except myself and my family, but they loved it.

How do you feel about Miracles?

Sally: One of my favorite miracles in the bible is when Christ heals the ten lepers. It resonated with me as a child growing up in England, as I read that story. I could not understand why the other 9 never went back and thanked Him. Perhaps this is something we all should take to heart, that He has blessed us so much, by giving His life for us, and taking our sins upon him, that we should always thank him, daily, and not be like those who forgot in their joy of being healed and went on their way rejoicing.

I loved the message of the story that Ann wrote, and how we sometimes look for bigger things to come, while ignoring the small daily miracles that occur in our lives.

I was able to meet Ann at the premiere and that was such a wonderful evening and being able to stand there with her after the film, was a great experience for me. Without her story, there would be no movie, and I’m grateful to her for writing such an inspiring message.

I believe in Miracles. I hope you do too.

Day 4 The Making of a BooK, or a Booklet, or a What. . .?

I wanted to use this post to tell you about the publishing journey for this project, and how a little children’s book evolved into a full movie. I originally submitted Miracle Maker in 2009. It was the first thing I had ever submitted to a publisher. Okay actually that isn’t quite true. During the “New Writer” phase I talked about in the previous post, I just started piling stuff up and I wanted to do something with it. Now remember I didn’t know I was a writer, so I didn’t anything about how writers got anything published. So I decided to use logic. (Just so you know the logic of publishing is it’s own animal, but we’ll talk about that another day.) I had a Christmas story that I wanted to publish, so I took out one of my favorite books and found the publisher inside the front cover. Then of course it was TO THE INTERNET * insert amazing announcer voice here*. I looked up the publisher’s address. Didn’t look at submission guidelines, didn’t know not to include my own terrifying artwork, and I believe my query went something like this. I know this isn’t very good, but I kind of like it and I was sort of hoping you could make it wonderful. Well, shockingly that manuscript was returned. They did include a very short and professional form letter letting me know my story would not be published.  Again, shocking.

With Miracle Maker I had the help of a critique group (which I highly recommend) who helped me learn about submission guidelines and query letters. It took 7 painful months  before a wonderful editor pulled it from the slush pile. I got the email that they had decided to publish the book early one morning. I was just flipping through my emails, laptop in hand, about to sit on the couch. When I saw this email with the publishers name attached. I opened it quickly and in scanning saw the words,  ” We have decided to publish your manuscript.” I was so stunned I missed the couch entirely and ended up on the floor yelling, “Oh my gosh!” over and over. I ran through the house yelling the news. The hubs was excited for me, and I’m sure the kids were too, but since most of them were under 12 I don’t think they really understood what I was excited about and really just wanted to go back to bed.

The project changed a lot after that. Because of the recession we had to wait for publication because the book market was just as slow as any other market and the publisher had some projects piled up that needed to be made first. Then we had to find just the right illustrator. In determining and contracting at this point a lot of changes started to happen to Miracle Maker. It went from being a sort  of medieval fable, to a Christmas book, to a Christmas movie with a western theme. I hadn’t know they were going to make it into a movie.  I was just told they were working on something and that they didn’t want to tell me about it until things were more solid.  I imagined all sorts of things at this point. I was sure they were going to make a musical out of it, which I still would love to see. In the end, when they told me about the movie and the addition of a booklet I was blown away, but I didn’t fall off my chair again. It felt too unreal.I just sat there stunned and tried to not freak out over the phone. I had never even dreamed of having something I’d written become a movie. And now I had three projects from this one little book.

 

Day 3 What Miracle Maker is all About

For the third day of Miracle Maker blogging  I wanted to post this great video that shows the power of kindness. We all talk about how terrible this world is getting. If we want to change we have to start making those little differences in peoples’ lives everyday.

Day 2 The Making of a Miracle Maker.

Miracle Maker cover

So, yesterday I told you my AHA moment when I got the idea about how service is working miracles. Today I’m going to give you the background behind the actual story, and how I began writing. Well, the idea about service just kept rattling around in my brain and in my fingers, because I got really into doing service. It was an amazing experience. I would make food and then pray where I should take it, because after all, who doesn’t want to make miracles. Now keep in mind I didn’t have a job then and just a few little ones, so I had lots of time to fill. I don’t know if I really started it to be kind, or just to have something to do while the hubs worked some intense hours. Whatever the reason, I was on a mission. I would help anyone I could. I had so many amazing experiences where I literally felt like I was being used as the Lord’s hands. It was awesome. Wish I could say I kept it up, but instead I had another baby, got a job, and generally got caught up in life. But for a glorious six month period I actually was a real miracle worker. By this time my husband, bless his heart, figured out that I was a writer, still hadn’t clicked for me. I had sketched out a Christmas something-or-another for a party at the last minute. ( My only speed.) He was sure it was brilliant. I promise it was only a little better than average. You need to keep writing he said. So I did. I had a job baking biscuits, and pies that started really early in the morning (like O dark thirty early) and I would just bake and think and write out some ideas. I wrote a Christmas story, a song, a bunch of crazy poetry– Believe me I am no poet. Well all this stuff just kept pouring out of me and I had nowhere to put it.  In 2002 we moved to a little town in Northern Washington and not long after, I met a wonderful woman named Liz Adair.  She introduced the world of writing to me, and I found out there were lots of us who talked to the voices in our heads– and it was a good thing.

I attended writers meetings where I wrote on a monthly prompt and made up short stories. Then one day I actually started scheming out a novel. I went on vacation, sat on my mother-in-laws porch,drank herbal tea for a week, and I wrote my guts out. Here I had a gloriously lovely time finishing up the most hideous piece of literature that the world will never know. It was a fantastic experience that produced an incredibly flawed book. My mother wouldn’t even edit it because she said it was a mess, but the story was okay. So no grammar, check! Plot, it could use one, check! But oh the characters. I loved them, and that is when I fell in love with writing. So I kept working and working and progressing. Still can’t figure out where a comma goes, but it’s a lot better. Fast forward to 2006. Still writing, but busy. Kids, work and that life stuff. Then my husband got really sick, like in a bed for a long time sick and we lost everything during a two year health struggle. I was running a daycare out of my home, but it didn’t pay half of what the hubs job had.

During a particularly bleak day when the power was about to be turned off for the second time, ( The PUD lady hugged me it was really sweet) I went upstairs and decided to write down this story that had been banging around in my head for years and become a famous author and save my family. Now, any of you who have been published are at this point laughing hysterically, because you know that being an author isn’t really high paying gig, but I didn’t know that at the time.( SHHHH don’t tell any of the other authors who don’t know yet, they might write some really great stuff.) I wrote the story down in about fifteen minutes. It took about two years of editing and a wonderful critique group at a writers group to get the story where I wanted to submit it, but the main idea really just flowed out. And here is the interesting thing. When I read back through what I had written, it was an answer to a prayer. I had thought I was writing to save my family, but what I read was my answer to save myself. It was a very personal answer about how I could be happy while I was going through this horrible time in my life where everything was falling apart. All the lessons I had learned were there, and I could use them to save myself. I started to do service again and found happiness. Life got better over time, although there were many years of struggle ahead. The most important thing though, is that God had given me an answer to overcome this trial. He knew me and my struggles. I could get through this. And that is the story of how the Miracle Maker story came to be.

Miracle Maker cover