I was there on set the day the corsets arrived. Handmade. Designed to the exact measurements of our female leads, with detailing to even match the personalities of the characters. Imported all the way from the Ukraine where they were professionally hand-created to 1910 specifications.
I was there the day CNC Service Technician (read: machine fixer) Jonathan Hurd spent hours with our production manager Ruth Voetmann tinkering with a vintage typewriter. By the end of the day it was typing away. (By the way, did you know that an old typewriter ribbon is actually ribbon--that is, fabric? It's similar in look and feel to a hair ribbon, and then impregnated with ink.) You will see a hundred-year-old working machine in The Lumber Baron's office scenes!
I had the privilege of hearing hair designer Natalya Bartelt's plans for the show. Everything was taken into account in her research. Because fashions at that time took their cue from Europe, our actors and actresses wear styles that had had time to travel across the Atlantic and disseminate to the Midwest. Characters that are more sedate keep older, more traditional styles while the more fashion-conscious young ladies pick up the newer trends.
And I was there the day writer/producer Karen Hurd and Ruth toured the Cook-Rutledge Mansion and decided it would be The Lumber Baron's home. From exquisite woodwork, to elegant furnishings, to authentic embossed hand-painted leather wallpaper, the mansion is something that couldn't be re-created anywhere else. In fact, one of the crew with the best eye for artistry and authenticity, our director of photography (DP) Travis Higgins, said that being able to film on this set was a big inducement for joining the crew. He's right: we literally are in the lumber baron's world for this film. Trying to re-create something similar in a studio wouldn't have the genuineness, details, or richness. It would fall flat. Instead, we get to live and breathe the real lumber baron universe.
So when you get to watch The Lumber Baron, take a minute to marvel at the authenticity. Every detail is designed to transport you back to 1910 and the glitteriness and grittiness of the lumber baron's world. From costumes, to props, to hair and makeup, to set, you will lose yourself in The Lumber Baron era. Enjoy it.
Starting a project as monumental as The Lumber Baron takes a lot. For one, it takes a great deal of writing. Our screenwriter Karen Hurd labored months over the screenplay that finally made it into the actors' hands. This motion picture: it's definitely worth the thousand words poured into it.
The casual film-goer may not realize how many iterations a screenplay has before hitting the set. In the case of The Lumber Baron, the screenplay received ten different rewrites. And we're not just talking about a mini switch of lines for one character. These are deep shifts that allowed the story to blossom.
What all changed? Well, some amazing stuff. Like, Mary Catherine took on more action, moving her from a nice sister hanging in the background to a woman who has a serious hand in her family's fortune. Daniel Jr., our hero, became more real and sharpened as his character was developed. The villains and vain neighbors were transformed into three-dimensional beings. We see the "bad guys" are really people like us who made a few terrible decisions. They're real, not cardboard cut-outs. And the treasure everyone is talking about--that was shifted and enhanced. What originally was the answer to the if-there's-a-treasure-what-is-it riddle is better than ever.
So the months of writing, and re-writing, and re-writing were worth it. The thousand (or more) words that have been changed are making this motion picture breathtaking.
Come along. Let's see this picture.