Monday, December 8, 2008

Play with us?

Do you really want another boring blog about how we are still editing the film? I didn't think so. Would you rather look at these freaky dolls instead?

Making a documentary film that revolves around dolls makes for interesting conversations. For example. a friend and I were talking about that unshakable feeling that dolls might just spring to life in some creepy way - like a head swivel or that they might flash a maniacal smile. But what's creepier than a doll that springs to life? One that dies some horrible death?

Perhaps the charm of the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (the dollhouse crime scenes) is that they blur reality, as well as fantasy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


DocUdog, Sunshine Marks is wagging for what's right!

Hey Twin Cities documentary filmmakers and aspiring filmmakers - Docuclub is back!

This friday night (Nov 21, 2008) marks the return of MN Docuclub at IFP MN.
Happy Hour (many folks brings food or drink to share) from 5 - 6pm. And then it's docs galore until 9pm (ish).

Please come and show your support of the indie doc community while meeting and mingling with local filmmakers and aspiring filmmakers.

Want to know more? Check out:

I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

(Sunshine will be there in spirit, barking us on.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Edit Update - Our Wildest Dreams

This is John today, editing our documentary. We are laying in John Waters' narration while getting nit picky about every shot we use. In other words, it's a good, good day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

John Waters Hangover

We can't seem to shake our John Waters hangover and it appears we're not alone. It's nice to hear from so many John Waters' fans! It's been very, very cool to talk to so many of you who appreciate his genius.

If you want to know what John is up to, don't delay logging on to Dreamland - the ultimate guide to John Waters:

On a separate but related note, I teach documentary storytelling classes and I'm constantly amazed by how many students tell me that they "don't really watch documentaries." Yet, they think they can make one...hmmmm. Anyway, I am constantly suggesting docs and recommending people watch at least one doc a week. And now I'm going global with this assignment. So, for all you aspiring documentary filmmakers out there, watch John Waters: This Filthy World. Watch it and the extras, and then write to me suggesting next week's doc assignment.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

One More Photo From the Recording Session with John Waters

For some reason, this photo didn't load for the last blog. So left to right, that's producer John Dehn, Detective Rob Ross (his eyes are open in our film) John Waters, and Susan Marks.

More About Our Date w/John Waters

Susan says:

So, we arrived at Producer’s Studio (which I HIGHLY recommend if you are ever doing post work in Baltimore - they worked on The Wire and Generation Kill) and suddenly we were in the company of legendary filmmaker, author, actor, teacher, etc., John Waters.

Now when you think of John Waters you might not normally think: lovely, charming, sweet, and dashing! But he’s all that, plus smart as a whip, funny, entertaining, and most generous with his time. I’m far from easily star struck, yet I was struck by how he must be the smartest and funniest person in any room he enters.

How lucky are we to have him as our narrator?

We loved hearing about his upcoming projects (movies, a new book and something he’s not at liberty to talk about yet) and we loved showing him a ten-minute clip from our project.

John was kind enough to agree to an impromptu interview. Perhaps it will be a DVD extra for our documentary. We could have interviewed him for hours!

We introduced John to Baltimore Homicide Detective, Rob Ross. Rob is in our film and proved very helpful in our recording session when we need a little expert advice over a bit of homicide-related narration.

When it was all over, I felt a pang of sadness. I couldn’t believe it was really over.

Afterwards we met our homicide detective friends again for lunch at a wonderful oyster bar before we hopped a plane back to Minneapolis. During lunch Detective Ross asked us if we were happy to go home and we spontenously said no.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Our Date with John Waters

John Dehn says:

Last week we made our third trip to Baltimore and recorded the voice for Our Wildest Dreams with John Waters. It was the pinnacle of a two-year experience not unlike Waiting for Guffman. The difference being that John Waters was ready and willing a while back, we just needed more time to construct the program before we were ready for him.

Looking back, the whole experience seems a little surreal. What we got was great, but my memories seems to come in weird flashes.

FLASH: Wow Producers Video is a nice place and it’s stuck at the end of a residential street. Back it the midwest we like to put our production facilities in the middle of bland industrial parks with lots of big trucks rumbling by.

15 minutes later, John Waters walks in.

FLASH: He’s either sucking on a throat lozenge or a jolly rancher from the dish in the waiting room. Which is it?


He’s watching a ten minute segment of our rough cut. I’m watching him.
He tells the sound engineer to turn up the volume on the DVD. YES!

FLASH: He chuckles at the funny parts. He says he likes the music, and asks who did it. He asks more questions. He says our rough cut is good.


He does the read. He takes all our input and uses it. He lets us a record a Q&A session with him.

FLASH: He’s really funny!

After the recording he’s loose and talkative. He let’s us take photos. He’s never in the least bit hurried.

He loves talking about crime and all the current investigations with Detective Rob Ross, who’s come for the recording session. He signs an autograph for my daughter.

FLASH: He’s a really, really nice guy.

FLASH: Susan made all this happen. SHE’S THE BEST!

FLASH: That was fun. Can we do it again?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope you are taking the day off. We can't stay away from our dead dolls, so we are doing a bit of editing this extended weekend. Things are starting to flow nicely. I can tell that some of you are anxious to see this film get finished! Thanks for all the inquiries. We've been a little busy with everyday work, but Our Wildest Dreams is never far from our thoughts and conversations!

It's seems fitting on Memorial Day weekend that we mention that memorial is certainly a factor in this documentary film. Death represented through dolls helps make the issue of murder much more "friendlier." And death as entertainment is another safe way to explore something so dark. Still, we find ourselves thinking about victims and their families a lot. As we go through our footage, it's the words of the detectives, morgue technicians, among others, that always bring it back to the sad reality of our film.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dead dolls never get old. Never, ever, ever.

A still from Our Wildest Dreams: A True Crime Documentary of Dolls & Murder

(Lazy) Susan says:

It's been a pretty eventful week on Our Wildest Dreams. John is busy editing (and I love what he's laying down!) John has also been working on music for the film. I've been trying to finish up the paper edit. We recorded some scratch narration of me. I'm just a placeholder for the real deal. We are set to record him in August.

This week I've also been communicating with one of the detectives in our film. He's so interesting and says things that other detectives just don't say, but here's the catch: He works undercover in the prison system. (not in the United States) So, we are trying to figure out a way to include him without blowing his cover. Tricky stuff. But it just might work!

Hey, have you checked out The Rake?? I'm thrilled to be in it!

Meanwhile, John and I are teaching a doc class at IFP! It's not too late to sign up! Contact me if you need some info.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On Access

Skull from the Body Farm

Susan says:

Sometimes I'm blown away by the unprecedented access we've been granted for this film. We get to go to places most film crews don't. And every now and then someone reminds me of this, especially when it comes to the Body Farm. It's no secret that the Body Farm is selective with access to their site and the Bone Room. It makes sense; they need to be.

We've also been on a ride along with a homicide detective in Baltimore (amazing in many ways!), and we've shot in a morgue (twice!) and training sessions for detectives and FBI agents.

Along the way, people have opened up to us and told some insightful and shocking things about their work with dead bodies and law enforcement. It's almost overwhelming to hear their stories. They know things that most of us can't even imagine. Not in our wildest dreams.

I think that with great access, comes a great responsibility to tell their stories with as much integrity as possible. No one was under any obligation to let us in, let us film, let us ask questions. You may ask what they had to gain by granting us access and sharing their stories - and the answer is nothing. Or not much. It's kind of amazing.

It's worth noting that our filming hasn't taken place in public spaces, except for two museums.

We are so unbelievably lucky. Our lives have changed so much by what we've witnessed and it is our sincere hope that this gift of access shines throughout the film.