Premieres March 9, 2022 on Youtube.com
(links and other information TBA)
A Short Film
What It’s About, and “The Making of.”
What it is about
We, Elifaen is a very short film based on one of the most-commented-upon passages of The Bellringer. The passage occurs when Queen Serith Ellyn speaks privately to Robby Ribbon at Lake Halgaeth (Chapter 14, The Party by the Lake). What she talks about is integral to the story, and the things she touches upon recur in various forms throughout The Year of the Red Door. By the time this speech occurs in the story, readers know that Elifaen are immortal (or near enough). In spite of her youthful appearance, Queen Serith Ellyn is one of the oldest of the Elifaen, having been in the world from its earliest beginnings. Robby does not understand the Elifaen, and he knows very little about how they think or feel about things. The Queen tries to explain just one of the fundamental aspects of being Elifaen (and old): A deep awareness of change. She makes something of a confession to Robby about the Elifaen. “We Elifaen,” she begins, “are afraid of change. Perhaps we have seen too much of it.”
Readers have said that they relate to this passage.
Why it came to be
Technically, this film is a “book trailer.” But it really isn’t. It is not intended to sell books. In fact, it has very little in common with almost all book trailers that you might watch. At just over 5 minutes, it is well over the 90-second standard book trailer length. It is not full of book praise or tantalizing review quotes. It doesn’t even tell viewers where to buy the book.
This film is different. Intentionally. It is a “mood” piece. It was made to please readers and fans of The Year of the Red Door. I hope it does that. Especially because readers and fans of The Year of the Red Door have kept the story going by sharing it with others over the past few difficult years. I think that the reason that my books continue sell is because readers must be talking about it. It is certainly not due to any effort on my part. In fact, as far as I know any marketing that was going on began drawing to a close in late 2019 and ended completely by early 2020. 2020 passed and 2021 came and went with all of their turmoil and noise and grief. But sales kept quietly plugging along. The only explanation that I have is: Word-of-mouth. It rather astonishes me. It makes me feel blessed.
So “We, Elifaen” is one way for me to say “Thank You!”
(BTW, although I’ve been exploring making such a film as this for a long time, things suddenly began falling into place and coming together during the last week of December ’21 and the first week of January ’22. From then on, although the work was not rushed, striking the iron while it was hot did demand some rather intense work sessions!)
The making of
Two Ukrainian actors appear only briefly at the very beginning: They are Anton Burdalev and Dasha Sagirova, who represent “the Elifaen.” They were filmed by Evhenii Siletskyi in Ukraine. This portion was filmed by Evhenii as part of a teaser demo, but I’m sure he didn’t imagine that it would suit any specific project. I was lucky enough to license the footage from him, and he actually provided more than I really needed. His direction of Dasha and Anton was spot on for my needs, as having them turn to camera in a closeup, with little or no expression evokes just the melancholy mood for the narration.
The real heavy lifting is done by actress Amy Brown, who stars as the voice of Queen Serith Ellyn and who thus narrates the film. She is an actress and voice actor, and has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, BBC, and Channel 4, among others. In addition to stage and film, she also performs voice-over narration. I listened to countless audition samples of voice-over actors, but I kept coming back to Amy’s. I took a chance and contacted her, sent her the script and a few notes. It must have been my lucky day, because she agreed to take on the project. You’ll hear the results and I think you’ll agree that she’s wonderful.
When it came to film, and since I am in no way rich enough to afford my own movie studio, I began looking for high-quality “stock” footage taken by others. I contacted many filmmakers and I viewed hundreds of hours of film until I settled on what I thought I could work with. I looked for film that was as realistic as possible and that suited each of the key phrases. Thus was gathered footage from all over the world.
I took the same approach to finding music as I did for the other aspects, listening to countless hours of samples. Again, I was lucky to find a piece of music, somewhat ambient, by composer Turpak for the main body of the film. He calls it “Angels.” For the end roll (credits), a rousing orchestral piece, called “Storm the Gates” by Jeff Heim was perfect. Appropriately, it even has bells. And, again, I was lucky to be able to license both of those two pieces of music.
This was the most time-consuming aspect of the production work, at least as far as my part of the work goes.
After some follow-up emails to hammer out details, it came time to begin the editing, splicing, transitions, effects, end-roll, sound and music editing, speech-recording editing, and countless other minor tasks. End-roll credits formatting and design was also a tedious but necessary job. I hired myself to do all of that (I agreed to work for peanuts.). Although my previous experience with film/video and sound editing are not extensive, I think I managed okay. You be the judge.
From the beginning, I decided to go for an unusual aspect ratio widescreen (in letterbox) to give a more expansive feeling, especially for the aerial shots. Fitting some of the footage and transitions was a challenge. There were some “relighting” challenges, too. That is, I had to adjust the hue levels of some of the film. As far as sound editing of the narration goes, all that I really had to do was edit the break-timing in the narration, performs some compression and effects reverb. But the Amy’s narration was so clean that there was really very little that it needed–her acting and her voice did the work. Ditto for the music. I only had to do some very fine cutting and synchronizing, with just a tad of stretching. Otherwise the music pretty much “ready to go.”
Premiere date TBA (soon!) Click here for Update
As of this writing, the debut of this film is expected to be soon, in early- to mid-March. I will announce the date on this blog, via my newsletter, and on social media. (Please consider following or subscribing to one or more of those.)
I look forward to its release. I hope you enjoy the film as much as you’ve enjoyed the story that inspired it. I certainly look forward to hearing from viewers and finding out what you think about the film.
Stay tuned for the release date. Questions or comments? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Until next time!