Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 28, 2003

Winsted woman working with movie special effects

By Julie Yurek

If the film director wants a door for a prop, he's going to get it ­ and it's Sandra Martin's job to find the right one.

Martin, 40, of Winsted, is an intern working on a short film project by David Carter.

She is an art director student at BrainCo College in Minneapolis.

Carter works at the Twin Cities advertising agency Fallon McElligott. He makes short films for BMW cars, she said.

The short films are extended commercials that are on the Internet, she said "He makes them look like mini-James Bond movies."

Martin is in charge of special effects, getting props ready, and making sure the props look the way the director wants them to, she said.

Last week she and Tim and Jan Broll of Waverly worked together to shoot five bullets into a door, which is an important scene for the approximate 15-minute long movie.

The Brolls are handgun specialists. Martin, her husband Donald, and the Brolls have known each other for years and Martin sought their assistance on the film, she said.

Martin was to find a .38 caliber gun or larger, blued in color, and it just so happened that Tim's father has one, she said.

Last Monday night, Martin and Tim shot five bullets into the door at the Brolls home in rural Waverly. They have a permit to fire guns, she said.

The film location is in Minneapolis, but real bullets cannot be fired in city limits, so that's why the door had to be shot up at the Broll residence, Martin said.

Tim was on the set over the weekend to shoot blanks at the set in order to get the sound and the smoke from the gun, Martin said.

Martin had to find an identical door to the one in the home being used as the set. "The owners didn't want their door shot up," she said.

Martin searched different salvage places, looking for a door of the same height and width, she said. She was originally supposed to find two doors on her tiny budget of $20 for both doors, however, she was finding doors in the price range of $50 to $70 per door, she said.

She did find a door, but it looked like someone had taken a hammer to it, she said. She puttied the holes, and primed and painted the door to match.

Broll fired five shots into the door at chest height, Martin said.

When Martin brought a digital photo of the shot up door to the director and producer, they asked her to have the door re-shot because the bullet pattern was too "neat," Martin said.

"They want it to look more scattered and random," she said.

"They also wanted a bigger gun used to get bigger bullet holes," she said.

So it meant more puttying, sanding, and shooting.

"I'll never watch a movie the same way again," she said, laughing.

Martin got involved in the film when she received an e-mail at school. She originally was slotted for wardrobe, but she interviewed with the art department and landed the special effects position, she said.

Filming for the movie, "Exposure," began Friday, continued through the weekend and into today, she said.

It's a dark, suspenseful movie, she said.

A man buys a Polaroid camera at a thrift shop and it turns out it takes pictures of what is going to happen in the next day or two, Martin said.

The film can be seen on in the Twin Cities the Bryant Lake Bowl, which is a bowling alley and a cafe near Martin's school, she said.

Short films are shown at many film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and the Cannes Film Festival in France, and it's a category for Academy Awards, Martin said.

School's in session

Martin just began her studies as an art director.

Her first tri-mester was in the fall of 2002, she said. The program is a seven tri-mester course, and she will graduate Christmas 2004, she said.

"It's the perfect fit for me," she said.

"I've had so many careers up to this point because I've never really been happy with what I've been doing," Martin said.

"Even though it's been around for a long time, I feel like I really discovered something. It's like 'I could have been doing this 20 years ago!'" she said.

What got Martin to go back to school was she began making her own marketing materials at the company she currently works for, she said.

Around that time she read a magazine article that profiled the art director at Target who is responsible for Target's image change a few years ago, she said.

"When I read the article, it was something that was already on my mind," she said. "I thought, wow, what a fun job!"

When she looked into BrainCo, she considered either graphic design or art director, she said.

"Graphic designers are more on the fine artist side of the business. They would design CD covers, magazine editorial spreads, and company letterhead. Art directors are in advertising and commercial projects," she said. "Art directors don't need to know how to draw real well, but should have an eye for how things should be put together."

"An art director's job focuses on how an advertisement looks, or how a scene looks in films," Martin said.

After she graduates, she would like to work in advertising, she said.

There are many advertisement agencies in the Twin Cities, she said.

The company Martin is focused on is Hunt­Adkins. "Its specialty is funny, crazy ads. Most agencies specialize in a certain item or theme, such as Corvettes, Harley Davidsons, or BMWs," she said. "I try to find the humor in things."

Martin and her family, which include her daughters Jenny, 17, and Kaleh, 15, have lived in Winsted for 12 years.

"I mainly got involved in the movie because I wanted Kaleh to look into filmmaking," she said.

Kaleh is always making movies with the video camera, Martin said.

Martin got Kaleh signed up as a camera intern with the movie, she said.

She will be on the set with Martin today.

"I just want her to see that it's something she likes to do and that she can make a career out of it," Martin said. "Fun things can be jobs and careers."

Martin also asked Jenny if she wanted to be involved in the movie as an intern, but she declined, Martin said.

When Martin and Kaleh started going to meetings about the movie, Jenny wished she had said yes, Martin said. "But all the positions had already been filled by that time."

Martin would like to see young people start to look at and think about more creative fields, she said.

A person's personal interests can be a career, Martin said.

Schools need to refocus on art and music programs to allow students the chance to try them, she said.

"When I was in school, art was a credit class that we had for an hour every day. Now, it's more like once a week or once a month," she said.

Martin also works about 20 hours per week at Superior Senior Services as a sales person in the New Hope office.

Superior is a "human resources helper," Martin said. The company recruits and screens candidates for other companies. More than half of the companies candidates are people over the age of 50, she said.


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