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“There was never a doubt in my mind;” says Ellenbogen, “from the moment I had the idea to make a film noir with a pop twist, lets call it ‘pop-Noir’, I was packing my bags for Sundance. This was about making a great film, on no production budget, and winning.”
To accomplish the goal of promoting Movie Magic Ellenbogen imagined a dramatic moment in filmmaking leading up to a meeting with investors, where a young producer, played by Alyssa Polacsek, could not meet the demands of the Veteran Producer, played by Bob Hartwell (Vermont State Senator from Bennington County), who is asking for a production schedule and a budget “that work”.
The cold, dark, and snow piled streets and alleys of Manchester provided perfect locations to create a beautiful, stark, ambiance. “Basically, we selected sites for exterior shots and then, on the spot, asked permission to shoot and even plug into existing electric boxes to power lights,” notes Ellenbogen. When shooting underneath the Kimball Realty sign off malfunction junction, Ellenbogen took the opportunity to avoid any problems by flagging down a Manchester police officer and informing him that a film crew was shooting if anyone called about a bright light coming from the rear of these Main Street buildings.
“Interior scene casting was perfect and thanks to hosts at the Dorset Union Store, Wilburton Inn, and GNAT-TV these interiors match the story and look great,” says Ellenbogen.
To heighten the drama, Ellenbogen chose Film Noir as the style, particularly referencing two films involving Orsen Welles, CITIZEN KANE and THE THIRD MAN. The creative spark from which the winning film came was the famous “Rosebud” scene at the opening of CITIZEN KANE. The meaning of “Rosebud”, a reference to a sled and his lost childhood, the dying word of Kane, eluded the intense efforts of the diligent reporters.
In CITIZEN PRODUCER, the Young Producer is more fortunate when she begs the Veteran Producer for the “secret” of success. He reveals “Movie Magic” to her, enabling her to succeed as a producer.
A few weeks before receiving the email from Entertainment Partners, Ellenbogen joined the Manchester and the Mountains Regional Chamber of Commerce and produced the Chamber-Daze event, PHOTO ASPECTS, at The Wilburton Inn to launch his photography business, MDE Photography. It was here that he met the GNAT-TV team with Garrett McCarey as well as Wendy Rae Woods and Senator Bob Hartwell. These introductions became instrumental in the production of CITIZEN PRODUCER.
“Would you like to go to the Sundance Film Festival this year? All your expenses will be covered.” That is how Elliot Long, co-Producer of CITIZEN PRODUCER and studio technician, cameraman, and editor at GNAT-TV in Manchester, recalls being asked to participate by Ellenbogen. “Basically, he said we were going to make a film and win.”
“In addition to a talented cast and crew, the most important element is food,” reveals Ellenbogen. “Without food, there is no film. The moment that Tom Norton of Mulligan’s joined the production to provide food for cast and crew for the two-day shoot I knew it was a done deal... Utah here we come.” It is important to note also that Ellenbogen was able to make this film on a production budget of $0 thanks to the investment of time, talent, goods and services provided by everyone involved.
Michael D Ellenbogen is a partial transplant from New York City who sought the quiet mountains of Southern Vermont to focus on his writing and photography. With six feature projects on his development slate, he returned to Park City for the fourth time in his film career. Past forays were as a producer of the indie hit MARGARITA HAPPY HOUR in 2001, followed by producing and festival programming trips including work for the Manchester International Film Festival in 2002. His interests range across filmmaking, art consulting, event productions, photography, and fine chocolate.
As a follow-up to CITIZEN PRODUCER, Ellenbogen will soon introduce a feature film project to the community of Manchester, hoping to expand the circle of partners and talent in the area to accomplish the producing of a low-budget romantic comedy written by veteran reality-TV writer Troy Devolld from Los Angeles. “Bringing a feature to Sundance next year is now my objective, and yes, I do believe it can be accomplished right here in Manchester.”
Entertainment Partners, a 100% employee-owned company recently released upgraded versions of both Movie Magic Budgeting and Movie Magic Scheduling, the industry’s most widely used production budgeting and scheduling applications. “We are delighted with the creativity Michael and his team managed to demonstrate while conveying how critical Movie Magic Budgeting and Scheduling are to effective production planning,” explained Ron Cogan, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Entertainment Partners. “This really exemplified the range of talent and engagement we see from our user base.”