In the fall of 2009, Michael became a producer for Novato Public Access Television (http://www.npat.org) and began videotaping his first project: the performances at "ACT To End Family Violence", a fundraiser for Marin Abused Women's Services (http://www.maws.org) that Michael produced in October, 2009.
Michael learned some hard lessons when he viewed the resulting video footage. His main camera had not been turned on during almost the first half of the show and the digital recording system for the wireless lavalier mics wasn't urned on for the second half of the show. Main lesson: have an assistant director who can make sure everyone's doing their job!
But Michael was told by more experienced filmmakers that, often, such "errors" can lead to good results. "It's easy to make a bad film from good footage. But you can make a good film even from bad footage." So Michael proceeded to learn the hard way. From November, 2009 to June, 2010, taught himself how to use the FinalCut Pro film and video editing software that NPAT provides to its producers. He got so involved and "addicted" to editing his footage that he borrowed money from a family member to buy his own iMac so he could edit around the clock.
Here's a "trailer" that Michael produced along the way...
After his rough cut was shown to some friends and colleagues in June, 2010, Michael went back into the studio to shoot more footage of professional and amateur actors (including an 89-year-old neighbor and his 15-year-old nephew) to produce PSA-type informational segments to include between the performance segments.
You can see these "family violence facts" on the film's Facebook page...
The film had its first public screening on October 7th, 2010, in San Rafael, CA. You can find more information about the screening here...
There are several segments from the film on You Tube at:
On October 1, 2010, Michael joined the independent film co-op Scary Cow, where he hopes to learn a lot more about filmmaking.
October 2010: Michael's film "ACT To End Family Violence" is submitted for broadcasting by Novato Public Access Television (http://www.npat.org) and the Community Media Center of Marin (http://www.cmcm.tv).
April 2011: Michael finishes principal photography for his short film, "My Business". You can see photos from the sets, cast and crew on Facebook:
March 2012: Michael finishes editing "My Business" and screens it on March 3 at the Round 16 Scary Cow Independent Film Festival at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, CA.
You can watch a "teaser" trailer for the film here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNl3RywgHss
Michael also pitched a new film idea to the Scary Cow Round 17 Pitch Meeting on March 11. "Buckeye" will be an experimental drama centered around a buckeye tree. It stands alone on a grassy hillside, surrounded by nature as well as human beings, over whom it seems to have an unexplainable and possibly malevolent influence.
June 2012: Working with a stellar Scary Cow crew, including Chris Hebert (director of photography), Kevin David Jones (assistant cameraman/director), Pauline VanBeek (production sound), J. Carlos Salazar (grip and production assistant) and Monica Villavicencio (production assistant), as well as the talented actors Sheila Savage (playing VIRGINIA) and Karl Mossberger (as VICTOR), Michael completes principal photography on "Buckeye" in Novato, CA, at the Deer Island Open Space. Here's the film's Facebook page, with production stills and other information about the film...https://www.facebook.com/shortfilm.Buckeye
In this interesting panorama created by Production Assistant J. Carlos Salazar, we can see on location (from left to right) actress Sheila Savage (against the tree), director Michael Mesmer, assistant camera/director Kevin David Jones (with reflector), cinematographer Chris Hebert, production sound recorder Pauline VanBeek (foreground), and production assistant Monica Villavicencio (with reflector). Missing are actor Karl Mossberger and, of course, Carlos, who took the picture :^)
July 2013: Michael's short film "Buckeye" wins a Members' Award at the 20th Scary Cow Independent Film Festival at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, CA. Selected by members of the Scary Cow film collective as one of the best short films in the screening, "Buckeye" was created by an amazing cast and crew (see next item below).
February 2014: Michael's short film "Buckeye" is entered in the Shorts Showcase competition aiming to win airtime on PBS. Watch the movie here and "like" it to vote for it:
April 2014: Michael's short film "Buckeye" is selected as a finalist in the Shorts Showcase program on PBS/KVCR (Southern California), and airs April 19, 2014.
May 2015: Michael's short film "Sparkle!" begins principal photography in Novato, CA. Cinematographer: Garrett Low. Lighting Director: Bob Sitzwohl. Assistant Director: Henry Lee. Producer: Mollie Carol Isaacks. Art Direction: Katy Tiemann and Marisa Arigona. The film has a Facebook page with preproduction and production stills; test videos; cast and crew pix; and more: