Raising The Stakes

Joseph Will is a man faced with the realization that he’s spent his entire life to get where he is today, and it’s not where he wants to be.  he has a job that he hates, a relationship with a woman he doesn’t love, and he’s about to meet the women of his dreams.

As with most dreams the reality is never quite the same and he finds himself caught between his desire to tell teh truth, and facing the consequences from a psychotic name Donovan if he does.

At some point everyone has to take a look at their own life and decide what they’re going to do with it, it’s that time for Joseph.

A story from every day life, Raising The Stakes takes a look at life in our generation, and one man’s trek through part of it, from the viewpoint of people of this generation.

raisingTheStakes-featuredRyan B. Smith – Director/Producer (seated)
Mr. Smith spent on the coasts working on low budget films, learning what it takes to make a successful film before moving to Colorado in 1995.  He formed Emerald Oceans Media Group, and after a few years produced their first full length feature film.  Ryan has also written several short stories and is finishing up his latest screenplay entitled Beyond Salvation.

Richard Cook – Writer/Lead (far left)
Mr. Cook is an Arizona native who grew up on a ranch near the Mexican border.  Wilcox was the nearest town and was so small it couldn’t support a movie theater.  That’s why Mr. Cook calls the VCR man’s greatest achievement.  Mr. Cook went to  Arizona State University where he planned to study political science.  But he quickly changed his mind and his major to acting.  As a freshman, Cook was one of eight students selected the university’s acting program but after the second year switched his major to English.  “I learned I would rather be a writer than an actor”, he said.  “I immediately switched gears and began writing screenplays and short stories.”  After an extended postgraduate stay in France and a stint as a standing for Alan Alda in”Flirting With Disaster”,  Cook came to Denver in 1995 to work with national writer, Rick Ramage.

Jim Furrer – Director of Photography (far right)
Launching his career as director of photography in 1983, Jim earned screen credit on the 1997 motion picture “Raising The Stakes” and went on to film features “Sign Of The Times”, “Moosie”, “Behind The Mask”, TV pilots “Class” and “Alex and Jody”. He shot 2nd unit on “Princess and the Dwarf” and on “Switchback” starring Dennis Quaid and Danny Glover; plus cinematography on “Tantalus” for the BBC.

Joseph Richard Cook
Lana Courtney Moorehead
Donovan Jay Casey
Theresa Catherine Curtin
Darren David Russell
Beth Andra Wasilik
Shawn Chris Colbe
Charles Nick Succaro
Announcer at Train Station Will MacNeil
Announcer at Club Ryan O’Bryan
Bartender Randy Franks
Adam Ben Hickler
Waiter at Bar Kip Yates
Waitress at Diner Shelly Bordas
Receptionist Krystal Thomas
Jude Steve Posusta
Brian Josh Hartwell
Ticketing Agent Carrie Lee Patterson
Darren’s Friend at Club R.J. Manrique
Party Girl 1 Heather VanVleet
Party Girl 2 Angela Cordova
Club Dancer 1 Josh Rubio
Club Dancer 2 James Gammage
Party Goers Patrick Beach
Micky Gutier
Karen Holzer
Patrick Beach
Catherine Bussaco
Natalie Valdez
Dia Rael Kline
April Pearce
Jack Slavin
Jamie Brewer
Produced & Directed by Ryan B. Smith
Written by Richard Cook
Executive Producers Ryan B. Smith
David Noble
Richard Cook
Director of Photography Jim Furrer
Edited by Will MacNeil
Production Manager Andra Wasilik
Production Designer Steven Busto
Gaffers Nelson Goforth
John Murphy
Key Grip John Powell
Grip Ray Stiles
First AC Chris Bullock
Second AC Chris Hall
Loader Kellie Ryan
Key Makeup & Hair Davida Simon
Additional Makeup Sherrie Duncan
Additional Hair Michele Raftery
Sound Mixer Steven Dalton
Boom Operators Sean Richardson
Keith Banks
Steadicam Operator John Hankammer
Script Supervisors Jim Hesse
Lois Houston
Still Photography Vivian Wiggans
Graphic Design Jim Hesse
PA Micky Gutier
Additional Services
Film Processing by Western Cine
Film Finish & Blowup Metropolis Labs
Film Transfer by Crosspoint
Edited at Colorado Studios
Negatie Cutter Carl N. Hunsaker
Trailer Edited by Greg Stouffer
Titles & Opticals by Title House & Mark Allan
Production Insurance Dawn Sanderson, Sunrise Insurance
Lighting & Grip Equip Gripworks, Inc.
Camera Equipment Film/Video Equip Service Co.
Post Sound Sweetening Post Modern
Post Sound Supervisor Dave Emrich
ADR/Foley Editor Will MacNeil
Optical Sound by Western Cine
Catering Joan Biros, Lombardi Catering
Filmed with Arriflex
Photographed on Kodak
American Gothic World Abbey
Endings & Bridges
© 1999 World Abbey

Porchlight Melora Hardin
The Melodrama
© 1995 Dancing Moon Productions

Mysterious eitherigo
Live At Akashic
© 1996 eitherigo

Curves Jux County
Simon’s Eyes
© 1995 Bovek Music

Simon’s Eyes Jux County
Simon’s Eyes
© 1995 Bovek Music

All You Can Eat The Autono
© 1996 Chuck Snow

Balle De Muerte The Autono
© 1996 Chuck Snow

And Another One The Autono
© 1996 Chuck Snow

Everybody Knows Sponge Kingdom
Sponge Kingdom
© 1996 Sponge Kingdom

Diamonds Adrian romero & Love Supreme
Radio Feee Cola
© 1996 Deep Fried Records/AJRO World Sand Music

Feel It DBA Pound Boys Productions
© 1997 Look At You Music

The Theme DBA Pound Boys Productions
© 1997 Look At You Music

Trophies Adrian romero & Love Supreme
Radio Feee Cola
© 1996 Deep Fried Records/AJRO World Sand Music

Jimmi Traveller Adrian romero & Love Supreme
Radio Feee Cola
© 1996 Deep Fried Records/AJRO World Sand Music

The Whereabouts of Annie Genuine
© 1996 Genuine

Freight Train Lauren Bundy
© 1997 Windire Records

Wide Awake Genuine
© 1996 Genuine

Changing Days Lauren Bundy
© 1997 Windire Records

C.H.I.R.P.A. On Second Thought
Don’t Drive Angry
© 1998 Bottle Rocket Records

Stealth Hidden Agenbt
© 1998 Careful Productions

Stone Vido Sun
© 1996 Soak

Equinox Laura Steele
© 1999 Get Real Productions

Slow & Low Ryan Smith
© 1999 eoMedia Group

Credibility Groove Ryan Smith
© 1999 eoMedia Group

Voodoo Melody Ryan Smith
© 1999 eoMedia Group

A short editorial from the producer/director – Ryan B. Smith Independent filmmaking?  I’ve never been quite sure if that’s the proper word for what we do. According to Webster’s Dictionary Independent is defined as; secure by oneself: standing alone; free to do as one pleases.

Let’s take a closer look at that, shall we? I don’t know how you’ve made your films, but I had so many people around me at times I started to get possessive about oxygen. Standing alone? I thought I just covered that. As for the last, I still laugh when I see it. There may be some of you out there who are so amazingly talented that they can run everything themselves, in that case I guess that applies. Myself? I always need the cooperation and input of those around me to produce a great picture, and I think that’s what we’ve done this time around. Sure, there’s things that still drive me nuts every time I see it, things that make me ask those questions you’ve all asked yourselves at one time or another. “Why didn’t we cover that angle? What do you mean we’ve only got two takes on that shot? Are you sure we can’t fake the audio? A boom ????? – Where did that come from?

Of course by calling ourselves independent filmmakers we’ve placed ourselves among good company, I mean – look at some of these other independent projects. The English Patient ($7 million) Pulp Fiction ($8 million) Usual Suspects ($8 million) (I don’t know the exact budgets, but these are figures I’ve heard which I hope are relatively accurate.)

What does a budget like that mean to an independent filmmaker? I guess it means you don’t have to ask your department heads… “Are you sure you don’t know somebody who would let us borrow that for a couple of days, we promise to take really good care of it?”

Why do we do it then? So that someday we can make the pictures we want to, AND pay the bills.

Production Footnotes

We had a thirteen day shoot schedule over two and a half weeks, that meant we had to average roughly eight (8) pages a day. The first day we managed barely three (3), by the eighth we forced out twelve (12) pages during a fourteen hour day.

We had budgeted for a 6:1 shooting ratio which allowed us essentially four takes per scene (accounting for roll outs & camera loading), I think that’s why we managed to get so much done. I mean, after the fourth take it was time to move on – it really makes you get the stuff you want without wasting a lot of time.

Amazingly we had only two or three scenes blown by an actor during production (we’d spent nearly a month rehearsing), trust me, it really made all the difference in our film. By the time the camera rolled, each actor was really into their role and could concentrate on the performance and not the lines. It’s kind of amazing in retrospect, but we lost our two main actors shortly before production began, the people who stepped into those roles worked extra hard to get up to speed and I honestly couldn’t see the picture without them now.

Sure we had our share of problems; we had an entire outdoor scene using the available lights ready to go as I called the production, “Sound… rolling, Camera…speed, Ready and…. THE LIGHTS TURNED OFF, every single one – the timing was kind of eerie. We had to pull up every available car, turn their headlights on bright and shoot the scene that way. (The entire scene lasts for about 4 seconds in the finished film) We spent nearly three hours trying to get that scene shot, must have been close to 3am when we finally finished.

You also have to be willing to go that extra mile. How many times have you heard that? There is a shot where the T-Bird with the main characters is pulling to a stop at the curb, only thing is they have to hit an exact mark with the car so that the camera won’t have to move when they stop. Because it’s dark the driver has no way to see the mark, and a boulder in the road isn’t going to work. Solution? The director (ME) stands in the middle of the road with his hand outstretched in front of him, just out of camera, and waits as the driver pulls toward him hoping he’ll remember to stop at his mark – that being when the left front of the car hits the directors hand. (He stopped)

Despite all this (including freezing in the back of a pickup during a night of process trailer shooting), I can’t imagine wanting to do anything else. Am I crazy? Probably, but at least it keeps with my personality and friends.

Language English
Production Countries USA
Running Time 88 minutes
Original Format 16mm
Aspect Ratio 1:1.33
Screening Format 35mm
Aspect Ratio 1:1.66
Sound Format Optical Track (mono)
Copyright 2015 eoMedia Group, Inc.