January 8, 2009
A young girl faces an unsettling evil in "Rite," which plays the Sundance Film Festival Jan. 16.
Here's the lowdown:
A young girl faces an unsettling ritual.
RITE began as an argument in 2002. Writer/director Alicia Conway was watching a documentary made by her friend Keren Markuze entitled "The 8th Day," about two Jewish couples struggling with whether or not to circumcise their unborn sons.
Alicia was troubled by the couples' family members' interviews. Some of the family members were incensed that the pregnant couples were using non-religious considerations when making their decisions. Alicia's roommate at the time couldn't understand Alicia's outrage that these couples were being shunned for asking questions and making informed decisions, which sparked a spirited debate between Alicia and her roommate about the importance of mindfulness and consensual participation in cultural ritual.
Because of that argument, Alicia sat down and wrote the first draft of a script that would become RITE. Alicia put the script away for several years, but finally finished the script in early 2008, drawing on her now-abandoned Roman Catholic upbringing - she attended Catholic school from kindergarten through twelfth grade - as well as her own views on other cultural rituals, such as female genital mutilation, scarification rituals, body modification; secular rituals like the wedding ceremony and funerals; and daily rituals than many people don't realize are rituals or customs, like having a morning coffee or saying "God bless you" when someone sneezes.
The result is a story about a young girl who is undergoing a ritual that does not actually exist in any culture, but it has elements of familiarity that many people will recognize, along with horrific elements that are not so different from things human beings actually do as a matter of cultural practice. Alicia's hope is that RITE will prompt people to think about and discuss the brutal things people do to each other in the name of tradition.
In early 2008, Alicia approached producer Aaron Goldstein about making RITE. He came on to produce the project and pre-production began in late May 2008. Key crew included casting director Leah Stanko-Mangum, director of photography Stephanie Martin, costume designer Kevin Ackerman, associate producer/editor Ben Rock, production designer Cassie Allebaugh, and composer Kays Alatrakchi. The lead Girl was played by Tabitha Morella, with a cast that also includes Kelly Holden-Bashar, Jon Hughes, and David Bickford. The two-day shoot took place on Saturday and Sunday, August 2-3, 2008, with one pickup day about a week later.
RITE was shot on the RED One camera, with Tims Johnson from Blacklist Productions (www.blacklistproductions.com) providing the camera and technical support during production and throughout post-production.
Editor Ben Rock cut the film in Final Cut Pro 6 by converting the RED files to the ProRes codec for later matchback. Because the film had several slow-motion sequences, the original RED files varied as either 2K or 4K files.
Colorist T.J. Ryan used Color 1.0.3, which was released just before the color grading session and provides support for the RED plug-ins for Final Cut Pro.
Visual effects were done by Tom Moser of Moser Brothers (www.moserbrothers.com) in Adobe AfterEffects.
Tims Johnson proved a valuable resource during post-production because he diligently stays on top of the latest announcements and improvements in the RED workflow and trouble-shooting the inevitable issues every project faces in post.
Check out the official site here.
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