In Their Own Words

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On our first day in seventh grade at Horace Mann Arts and Science Magnet Middle School in Little Rock, Arkansas, we entered the Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) classroom. The EAST program began in Greenbrier, Arkansas in 1996 and has since spread to 170 schools all around the nation (as of 2009). EAST provides all the technology and support a student needs to go out and help the community. Two years before, a group of students from Mann EAST had made a documentary on the Japanese-Americans interned at Jerome and Rower, Arkansas called Arkansas' Forgotten. We had decided we wanted to make a film also, but it wasn’t until we saw that documentary that it really seemed like we actually could. The documentary wasn't just good; it sent shivers down our spines and sniffles all around the audience. We turned to each other and said, “We have to make a film as good as or better than this.”
We never meant to enter our first film, Separate But Equal, into any film festivals. We made the film just because we could. We entered it into the History Day Competition just because we happened to be in the history club at school. When we failed to advance past the regional level, we planed to simply put it in a cupboard and move onto something new. But our EAST facilitator, Mr. Richard Washam, wasn't going to let us. On March 31, 2006, he came up to us with an entry form for the T Tauri Film Festival (for more information see www.ttaurifilmfestival.org) and told us to fill it out and get it in the mail by that afternoon because it was due the next day. No way were we going to say no to a teacher, so we did as he asked. We got it to the post office five minutes before it closed. We never thought we'd win. When we heard we had, we were dumbstruck. From that point on, we were officially filmmakers and there was no turning back.

We were in the car with our father shortly after we won at T Tauri when, jokingly, he said, “I guess now you will have to start up your own production company.” By the time we had pulled into our driveway, DoubleTroublets Productions had been born.
We returned to EAST as eighth graders. We knew we wanted to make another documentary, but we still didn't have a topic. Our mother had recently completed the book Rising Tide by J. M. Barry. She told us how unknown the flood of 1927 was and how interesting it might be as a documentary. As we had no other ideas, we said yes. That year we got more adventurous. We travelled to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville's library to get most of our information and then traveled to Forest City for, if nothing else, some nice pictures of the Arkansas Delta. We came across the Saint Francis County Visitor Center and thereby the footage by accident. We got lost, saw the sign pointing to the museum and decided to stop there and ask for directions. Inside, we got started talking to the curator, Harvey Hanna. We told him we were there to research the flood, and he said he just happened to be researching a different flood when he came across a German website with all this footage from 1927. He offered to send it to us. We thanked him and left with directions, doubting we would ever hear from him again. Three weeks later, a package from Harvey Hanna arrived with a note apologizing for the delay. The footage he sent saved the film as we had nearly given up from lack of pictures.

After Watching the Waters Rise, our name had gotten out. We were at the Clinton School of Public Service doing a Q & A for one of the documentaries when Mr. Matt Dozier, president of the EAST Initiative, approached us. He had a proposition for us. He was assembling a team of students to make a short promotional film and two commercials for the Arkansas Department of Education's new, advanced school curriculum, Smart Core, during the summer of that year. We said yes. A month later we were introduced to our teammates: Neelam Vyas, a rising tenth grader at Little Rock Central High School, former Mann EAST student, and the “cover girl” for one of Mann EAST's longest running nature projects; Justin Rowland, a rising senior at Bryant High School and an expert in SoftImage and editing; Romero Pleasants, a rising senior at McClellan High School and a proficient music composer; and Lauren Dozier, a rising seventh grader at Mann. Our facilitators were Mr. Washam and Come Early Morning production assistant and EAST alumni Christie Kratz. We were given a two-week crash course in every aspect of filmmaking from filming to lighting to editing. Two weeks later, we began filming. Our main job was lighting, although we all did a little of everything. We used our earnings from that summer to buy our iMac and Final Cut Pro Studio 2.

We started at Little Rock Central High School and its EAST program in the fall of 2007. We had decided over the summer to focus on Fort Chaffee and had already traveled to the University of Fayetteville. However, by the time we returned to school, we still hadn't figured out how the story ended. Our father said he didn't think this subject was possible and we should choose another one, but we said no and persisted. We eventually found the ending in January, four months after we started researching and one month before our first competition. Later our father confessed that it was our best film yet and he never should have doubted us. Needless to say, we don't let him forget it.

For our birthday, in 2007, our grandfather gave us a PanasonicDVX100b camera and a professional lighting set. With those additions, our studio was complete.
In November of 2007, we were asked to travel to Washington, D.C. with Neelam and Lauren to present on EAST and our work on the Smart Core films as keynote speakers at a luncheon at the States Educational Technology Directors Association meeting. Mr. Dozier and Ms. Melanie Bradford, the technology director of the Arkansas Department of Education, were our chaperones. We spent a few days touring D.C. and a few nights getting lessons on how to give a speech from Mr. Dozier. It was our first major speech.

We first heard about the 48 Hour Film Festival in 2007, but our parents decided we were too young to enter. We convinced them to let us the next year.  We sent out emails to all our acting friends, but only one was available: Janean Jordan. At the time, Janean was a student at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School. We had met at Mann and she had worked with us before on Watching the Water Rise. Although our team was the smallest, we still managed to complete the film in 27 hours. Perhaps it was our inexperience when it came to writing fiction, but the film proved the old saying “slow and steady wins the race.” Our film entitled Just Plain Odd, about an incompetent and talkative cook auditioning for a part on the Abreaction Television Station, won no awards in the competition.

Shortly after the completion of Return To Sender, we got a notice from the T Tauri Film Festival saying that they were accepting applications for four positions as teen net advisors for their upcoming website for youth filmmakers nicknamed “The Galaxy.” We applied and got two of the positions. Our job description included writing reviews of films and websites, writing tutorials based on our experiences, and giving advice to anyone who asked for it (and some who didn't.) We were forced to resign full time work the following fall when school took priority. 

DoubleTroublets Productions had taken off after the Smart Core Films. We were hired to make a short film for the Wolfe Street Foundation's annual Oscar Night Watch Party on films with a connection to Arkansas that won at the Academy Awards. The film was called Arkansas at the Oscars and included film clips from Gone With The Wind, True Grit, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Our next commissioned work was two films for The Colon Club (for more information on The Colon Club visit www.thecolonclub.com.) Will To Fight: The Making of the Colondar was a thirty-minute documentary on the history of the Colondar. Stories From The Front was two and a half hours of personal stories from survivors of colon cancer and The Colon Club staff. We worked on those two films from July to October of 2008.

In the fall of 2008, we returned to Central as tenth graders. Unfortunately, we were unable to fit EAST into our schedules that year, but decided not to stop making films. And so we began work on our fourth documentary, A Soldier in Skirts. Perhaps the hardest film to complete as of then in our career, it was finished three months behind schedule just days before our first competition. It was done mostly on the weekends and breaks. Our sisters soon tired of our lectures on women's rights in the military pre and post war. The original idea was actually to follow a set of letters written by an Arkansan in the Women's Army Corps, but upon finding an old, forgotten memoir in a collection at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, we changed the focus. That was in January of 2009.

Our tenth grade year was very active on the film front. Despite no longer being in an EAST class, we remained very close to the program. We became EAST ambassadors, traveling to conferences and interviews with Mr. Dozier to advertise and promote EAST. At the EAST Conference, we were presenters of a presentation on how to make documentary films called “What's Up Doc.?” We gave the presentation again in June of that year at the Arkansas Bar Association meeting. In addition to our EAST work, we helped launch a film club at Central. We were also asked to once again film the Wolfe Street Foundation's annual Oscar Night America Gala and create a seven-minute film of the event.
We will return to Central next year and plan to continue our filmmaking. Our tentative next documentary topic is the establishment of the censorship committee in Little Rock in the 1940s and 50s.

Watching The Waters Rise Trivia

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  • This is the DoubleTroublets second documentary.

  • The letter was first read by the DoubleTroublets' classmate and team member, Janean Jordan, but due to poor sound quality, it had to be rerecorded. Their neighbor volunteered. Janean was later given the leading part in the DoubleTroublets' first live action film, "Just Plain Odd."

  • During the making of the DoubleTroublets' third documentary, "Return to Sender," interviewee L.D. Holt died. "Return to Sender" is dedicated to him.

  • The DoubleTroublets were once asked why the "Special Thanks To" list in the credits was so long. They said it was because they'd forgotten where they put their special thank you card stationary. 

  • The film was edited on Casablanca. Casablanca does not allow the editor to edit audio and visuals at the same time. This is why the audio fades and transitions are so bad.

  • This and "Separate But Equal" are the only two documentaries made by the DoubleTroublets that do not have the DoubleTroublets Production logo at the end. DTP was not formed until after the completion of "Separate But Equal" and the logo was not designed until shortly before the completion of their third documentary "Return to Sender." The opening does label this film as a DoubleTroublets production however. 

  • The Corp’s footage was found on a German website by museum curator Harvey Hanna in Forest City, Arkansas. It took three days to fully download.

  • The person who reads the letter from Marjorie Gaston is the DoubleTroublets’ neighbor, Molly Carroll. Molly is actually from Baltimore and acted the southern accent for the letter.

  • In the letter, the greetings is “dear Bouise,” although the caption above the papers in which the letter was found say Marjorie Gaston only had a sister named Louise. Bouise was either a nickname for Louise, or the person who copied the letter into the files made a mistake.

  • The DoubleTroublets’ EAST facilitator, Mr. Rick Washam, recorded several letters from a relief worker that unfortunately were cut from the film due to time restraints.

  • Although the film is about Arkansas during the flood, at one point the narrator mentions that the Cumberland River in Nashville reached an unheard of height. The Cumberland River is in Nashville, Tennessee. The DoubleTroublets didn’t realize their mistake until they heard it in a competition three months after it was completed. Geography is not their strong point.

  • When the narrator talks about how the soil was richer than ever before, it shows clips of people shoveling dirt into bags. The people are actually sandbagging the levees.

  • When the narration talks about camp life, a clip of a camp is on the screen. This clip was too short, so the DoubleTroublets doubled it. You can see a man in a nightshirt up front walk halfway past his tent, then suddenly return to where he started and continue forward again.

  • Ruth Lincoln, the first interviewee, is the oldest woman in Arkansas at 111 years old. She is the grandmother-in-law of Senator Blanch Lincoln.

  • Interviewee L.D. Holt was the DoubleTroublets’ history teacher’s father.

  • Sammy Peters, an artist friend of their father, discovered the songs heard throughout the film.

  • Many of the pictures seen in the film came courtesy of Pete Daniels, author of Deep’n As It Comes.

  • The DoubleTroublets got the idea for the film from their mother.

  • Their favorite story was about the police chief in one ravaged town putting a sign up in the square reading “no fat people are to go swimming as the water rises a few inches every time they go for a dip.” Unfortunately they couldn’t work it into the narration.

  • The DoubleTroublets traveled so much for the film that they put a map on the wall and stuck pins in it to mark where they had been. The map with all its pins still hangs on the wall after two years. They have no intention of taking it down any time soon.

  • This is the last documentary made before the DoubleTroublets received formal training on how to make a film. 

  • At the end of the interview clip of Ruth Lincoln, a faint "che-che-che" sound can be heard. This is the sound of one of the DoubleTroublets' partners swinging his arms in a nylon jacket behind the camera. In the other half of the clip that is not shown, you could actually hear Emma whispering at him to stop because she wouldn't be able to edit it out. 

  • This was the last documentary made with additional team members. 

  • The interview with Ruth Lincoln was arguably the hardest one the DoubleTroublets have ever conducted. She could not hear above a certain pitch, so all the questions had to be relayed to her through their father. She was also partially blind and could not see where the camera was. Consequently her eye line is all off. 

Separate But Equal Trivia

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  • This is the DoubleTroublets' first documentary.

  • The DoubleTroublets' named the film after their sister's speech "Separate But Equal." It wasn't until later that they learned what this meant and its foundation in the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling. 

  • The subtitle, "The Ruling That Changed The Future," actually refers to the Brown v. Board of Education ruling which deemed the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling of separate but equal unconstitutional. They came up with the title early into the research and didn't realize the two parts of the title conflicted until it was too late. Out of embarrassment of their own stupidity, they rarely refer to it by its full name. 

  • It is the DoubleTroublets least favorite documentary.

  • This is the only documentary that Sarah filmed the interviews while Emma asked questions. Once they looked over the footage and saw the bad framing, frequent zooming, and overall poor job Sarah had done and listened to Emma stumble over questions, they knew they had to switch places. 

  • This is the DoubleTroublets only film edited using iMovie.

  • This is the only DoubleTroublets' documentary that is not a DoubleTroublets Production. They would not form DoubleTroublets Productions until after this film was completed. 

  • The film was originally going to be about seven of the Little Rock Nine who had transferred from Horace Mann to attend Central. It was going to be called “From Bearcats to Tigers” (Bearcats are Mann’s mascots, Tigers are Central’s.) Eventually they decided the Nine were too picked over and chose to focus on the entire desegregation act. They later narrowed it down to just Arkansas desegregation.

  • Interviewees Arthur and Scott Gillium are the grandfather and uncle of Archer Tribbet, who is credited as a photo researcher.

  • The original version of the narration was recorded on a Dictaphone, but was discarded because it was hard to understand. The last line of the narration “we are all equal” is actually cut from the first recording.

  • The speech recited at the end was written by the DoubleTroublets’ second oldest sister, Grady Bailin, for her communications class in ninth grade at Little Rock Central High School.

  • The interview with Herb Rule was the first interview the DoubleTroublets ever conducted.

  • For a short time during the interview with Herb Rule, every time he opened his mouth, a dump truck would go rolling past the window and drown out his voice.

  • The interview with Herb Rule was done at the DoubleTroublets' mother's office, The Rose Law Firm. This venue was used again for David Martin's interview in "Return To Sender." Both Rule and Martin are partners at the firm.

  • The ending quote is from the DoubleTroublets science teacher at the time, Daryl Newcomb.

  • Skip Rutherford judged the film at the Regional History Day Competition. The DoubleTroublets interviewed him later for "Return To Sender."

  • Towards the end of the film, during the speech, a picture from a high school yearbook appears on the screen. It is from Little Rock Central High School's 2004 yearbook. The DoubleTroublets' sister, Grady Bailin and author of the speech is on the left side. 

  • This is the first of two credits Grady Bailin has received in a DoubleTroublets Production. She is also credited in Return To Sender as the composer. 

  • When the narration lists the Little Rock Nine, it uses their current names. Most of them, however, are mispronounced. For example Minnie Jean Brown Tricky was called Minnie Jean Brown Trickily. Whether this was caused by a bad source or just a slip of the tongue is unclear. The narrator also mispronounces Governor Faubus' name on numerous occasions. 

  • A section of this film is on the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. The DoubleTroublets are currently juniors there. 

Meet You In Jerusalem Trivia

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  • The women in the conference room are eating chocolate chip cookies and drinking tea. The twins always edit with chocolate chip cookies and tea close at hand.
 
  • Sarah came up with the idea of a narrative documentary after watching Twelve Angry Men. She required that Emma watch it with her to prepare for filming. Now it is one of Emma’s favorite films.
 
  • The original plan for the film was for it to be an ordinary documentary, but problems with sound and “hitchy” footage made the twins reconsider.
 
  • In preparing to submit to their first film festival, the twins spent many days debating whether the film should be entered as a documentary or a narrative.
 
  • The title “Meet You In Jerusalem” came after a comment made by the twins’ history teacher the last day of Gila’s visit. Their teacher was planning to take a group of students to Jerusalem that summer and had just finished arranging to meet Gila there.
 
  • The conference scene was filmed at the Rose Law Firm in the same room that the twins used to interview David Martin for their third documentary, Return to Sender.

  • The twins’ mother collects teapots and kindly lent one for the conference room table when they needed something to hide the microphone.   
 
  • Although Sarah wrote a script for the movie, she encouraged the actors to ad-lib so they wouldn’t sound so rehearsed.
 
  • The entire conference scene was filmed in only four hours.
 
  • One of the participants had to leave halfway through the filming. Almost the entire shot list had to be scrapped and rewritten only an hour before filming was scheduled to start.
 
  • Two cameras were used to film the conference scene: the twins’ standard Panasonic (nicknamed Mindy) and a new camera bought specifically for the film (nicknamed Mork.) The twins didn’t know it at the time, but the cameras were of radically different quality that no amount of post-work could fix.
 
  • The film broke the twins’ four year winning streak at the T Tauri Film Festival.

  • The original script called for seven women in the conference room, but the last one couldn’t make it to the filming.

  • The entire film was edited in only four days during the twins’ spring break.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Interview with Alex Richardson of The Tiger, April 30, 2009, on getting into the Los Angeles Film Festival.

A: How do you normally get ideas for the films?
S: We have general guidelines for our topics like it has to connect to Arkansas and it has to be between 80 and 30 years ago. We use the National History Day's annual theme for a baseline as well. For instance, last year's topic was Conflict and Compromise. From there we ask some of our historian friends and wait for inspiration to strike. Most of the time we are drawn to a topic because of an interesting story or fact. For Return To Sender, the hook was a story of a woman calling a hospital late at night screaming, "There's a naked Cuban in my tree!" We just had to explore that story further. Unfortunately we were unable to fit it into the narration.
E: We get ideas mostly from the community. Return To Sender and SIS (A Soldier in Skirts) came from the Old State House Museum. We have two historian friends who love to give lectures and are always happy to point us in the right direction. Watching The Waters Rise came from our mother, but that's a totally different and longer story that is very boring.


A: And, once having an idea, how long does research and preproduction take?
S: Research and preproduction can take anywhere from six to eight months. We got the idea for Return To Sender in July of 2007 and finished the narration in January of 2008.
E: Sarah does most of the pre-production. I am an editor, meaning my part doesn't come into play until after most of the research is done, though I can tell you it takes Sarah anywhere from three months to six months to get enough info for the narration. After that, it takes me about three more long months to get interviews lined up and complete the editing process. Movie making isn't for the faint of heart--just the naive. 


A: How do you go about planning your shots and the script?
S: Because it is a documentary and not a live action film, there is no planned shot list per say. We just walk around with our camera looking for interesting angles that we can use later. I organize the script chronologically within a topic. For example the Cubans' arrival paragraphs comes before the paragraphs discussing the riots. For the most part though, writing narration is just like writing a detailed history paper except you have to keep in mind what footage you have to go with it.
E: Our script is Sarah's narration, so the research is how we get our base line. The narration gives me a place to begin. I start to listen for good interview segments that tie in and start tagging pictures for as many lines as possible. As far as shots go, mostly our documentaries only involve interviews, but on the rare occasion that we do need other footage we play it by ear. Or in the case of Return To Sender, whoever could get the perfect shot or had the brilliant idea first got to shoot it. At Fort Chaffee, Sarah was the one sitting on the side of the car closest to fort, so she got to get that great shot we used for the credits, but for my favorite picture of the flag, I was the one to get stung by barbed wire while Sarah was yelling at me to get higher.

A: Who generally takes on which duty?
S: I generally do most of the research as well as all of the reading. I also prepare for interviews. I write all the narration and any supplemental papers like bibliographies too. Emma sets up most of the interviews. Anything to do with the camera is her territory as well. We both edit although she is the head editor just as I am the head researcher.
E: Sarah is the writer/head researcher. She collects all the information while I search for visuals. I am the tech/head editor. I worry about the visuals and interviews. I am also the one who has the uncomfortable job of tracking down interviews, despite my numerous horror stories, the highlights of which include me calling a dead woman and calling Senator Pryor Senator Bumpers. Anyway, as I like to say: Sarah makes a paper; I make a movie.

A: What software and hardware do you use for shooting and post-production?
S: I'll let Emma handle this one.
E: I use Final Cut Studios 2 for editing. It is one of the best editing programs around. My camera is a DVX100B Panasonic. I know that probably doesn't mean much to you, but let's just say my camera is COOL. It is a professional grade, rated 9 out of 10, and boy is it nice! All manual... heaven. Two summers ago we worked for the Arkansas Department of Education during the summer and we bought a great Mac and high-end speakers with our earnings. We also have a light set and four lapel mics. Our grandfather and parents have been very generous. We are now proud owners of everything required for making amateur films.


A: How long does post-production take, normally?
S: Again, Emma question.
E: Post-production takes about six months on-and-off. It took me almost a hundred hours to get SIS ready for its first competition, but I'm still fine-tuning it. Return To Sender ended up taking from early January to maybe mid-June before we decided it was a picture lock (no more editing allowed). That was at version 7.2. 

A: Which of your films would you say is your favorite?
S: I'd say our newest film, A Soldier in Skirts is perhaps my very favorite in terms of topic and overall production, but I am most proud of all the research done for Return To Sender. When we first started researching, we couldn't find an ending. Our father told us to give up, but we refused. After six months of constant hunting, we found out what had happened to the Cubans. We used multiple newspapers, had nine interviews, and collected over a hundred government memorandums. The stack of research was six inches high.
E: Asking me which is my favorite movie is like being asked what your favorite book is: it's impossible. I guess my favorites include DAREDEVIL, I love Daredevil period and the Director's Cut had great camera angles. LEGALLY BLONDE, (do I really have to explain this one?), LOVE ACTUALLY, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE - though don't tell Sarah. All those movies are perfect examples of excellent screenplay, directing, acting, shooting, and editing. In other words, perfect examples of everything that makes a film great. Now ask me again in six months and my answer will have changed again.

A: This is your career of choice, I'm assuming. If you have any other ideas, feel free to list them.
S: I don't think I will continue to make films in the future. Currently we are employed as a part time writers/critics for the T Tauri Film Festival. I love critiquing films. One day I would like to be a on-staff movie critic and columnist for a newspaper. I am also interested in becoming a film historian or film producer.
E: As much as I love film, I really don't much care for the actual editing part. Mostly I love pitching and showing our films. I love to give speeches and I love to lecture, so I am leaning heavily toward history professor. I plan to get a Ph.D in European or American history, with perhaps a degree in film and technology, but that all depends on what lies ahead. I do know one thing: I'm not going to be a linguist.

A: Who is your favorite filmmaker, and why?
S: I like so many that it's hard to choose from. Generally I like any really good filmmaker but my favorites might have to be Ray McKinnon (an adopted Arkansan and producer/director/writer/star of The Accountant, winner of the 2002 Oscar for best live action short), Bas Luhrman (director of Australia, Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge, and Romeo+Juliet)  and Joe Wright (director of Pride and Prejudice 2005 and Atonement). I also like Joss Whedon of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer:” TV series.
E: Once again, I'm not sure who my favorite filmmaker is. I wish I could answer this, but I'm sure Sarah's given you something to work with.

A: What's your favorite movie, and why? If you have favorites in several genres and want to type a lot, feel free to list them.
S: Again, naming my favorite film is like choosing a star from the heavens. I guess some of my all time favorites are Just Like Heaven, Pride and Prejudice (2005), Persuasion (1997), Australia, Moulin Rouge, and Across The Universe. Each of them are exemplary films that can combine wit, humor, drama, and romance in a satisfyingly round way. They are all examples of excellent film work. One day I hope to be involved in the making of a film just as powerful and wonderful as those six. I will watch any film in any genre as long as it is not horror/thriller. I also don't like anything to do with skipping part of your life like Click. My least favorite films are Twilight, In and Out, Johnny English, and Dan In Real Life. My favorite actors are Amanda Root, Keira Knightly, Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo, James Marsters, Jason Statham, and Hugh Jackman. My least favorite actors are Ben Stiller, Nicholas Cage, Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Adam Sandler, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
E: My favorite genres are British comedy (not as crude as American), action, superhero, and pretty much everything but horror. I hate horror. It's the only genre I don't watch or care about.

A: Will you be participating in any particular events at the Los Angeles Film Festival?
S: I'm not really sure what we will be doing at the film festival. We will probably do a Q&A session following our screening and maybe go site seeing. There might also be a gala, there usually is at these kind of film festivals. If so, we will definitely be going to that.
E: I am still getting over the fact that we're going to L.A. I guess a part of me dreams about us being on stage, talking about our film and Steven Spielberg, or someone like him, standing up and clapping. But then I remember that's reaching past the moon and into never-never land. 


A: What're you most excited about regarding the trip?
S: My father has a gallery exhibition in LA so we'll probably go visit that. I've never seen it so I'm really looking forward to that. But really I'm just excited about going to LA in the first place. I've been to northern California, but never to LA before. It will be a whole new experience. Besides, what filmmaker doesn't dream of going to Hollywood? I mean it's right up there with getting to the Academy Awards.
E: I am so excited, I don't know what I'm more ecstatic about! When I remember starting out with Separate but Equal, thinking it was just a grade and comparing it to what has happened since, I just want to laugh out loud. Who knew?

A: What is your favorite part about the process?
S: My favorite part about making a documentary is the satisfaction that comes from knowing you have preserved something that might have otherwise been lost. Death is such an inconvenience. Every person has a story and every story deserves to be told. The worst tragedy in my opinion is dying without a chance to tell your story. Whenever the stack of research gets too high or the editing machine looms to large over my shoulder and I want to just give up, I ask why I do it, why I suffer, is it really worth it? And the answer comes back to me: yes, it's always worth it.
E: I love to be noticed. Call it ego or call it right, I don't care. I am proud of what my sister and I have accomplished and I love to talk about it. There is nothing I like more than going up on stage and saying, “this is who I am and this is what I do." Just the thought of speaking in front of a crowd of people makes me want to jump in excitement. That's the coolest part. When we first started, I could barely get out a comprehendible sentence in front of my teachers; now I live for giving speeches in front of hundreds of people.

A: Is there any advice you'd like to share with aspiring filmmakers?
S: I started making my first film when I was 11 years old. My older sisters doubted that we would really make a film. They said we were too young. But we didn't hear them. In the past four years since then, I have learned that we were hardly the youngest ones to ever attempt such a feat. I've seen seven year olds win at film festivals, ten year olds try to compete, and eleven year olds beat the best. The truth is, you're never too young to make a film. All you need is the willpower to go through with your dream. Where there's a camera there's a story, all you have to do is find it. It doesn't matter how young or how old you are; a camera has no age limit. Being a youth filmmaker isn't easy. Sometimes you can feel so alone in the world, like you're the only one out there doing what you are doing. But you need to know you are not. Reach out into your community--into your school--I promise you there will be somebody like you somewhere. You are never alone. Finally, submit to every film festival you can. It doesn't need to just be a youth film festival. Every festival you submit to gets your name out a bit more. Every award you win gets you closer to the Academy Awards. Never give up just because of one failure; it's just one judge's opinion anyway. If you know it's a good film, then it's worth the effort.
E: Here's my advice: Don't look before you jump, because if you do, you'll realize you are biting off more than anyone can chew. Expectations are tough, but you have to ask yourself if you want to show your children/grandchildren photos of you when you were young, or a film. So yeah it's a lot of hard work, but it sure feels great when you’re done. 

A: What do you think of the documentary, as a genre, I guess? Do you have ideas outside of it, and do you feel limited at all by working exclusively to make documentaries?
S: I like documentaries for the most part. I don't, however, like it when they get too long. I once saw a documentary that was two hours long and only repeated the same fact and example over and over again. I think the perfect documentary is no more than 60 minutes long, preferably less than 45. Even I who love history can't sit down and really pay attention to anything longer. I never feel limited by working on documentaries. For one thing, we don't just do documentaries. We have done multiple promotional films, two television commercials, and three live action films. Truth be told, I feel more constrained by live action than history. When you do live action, you have to think of a plot and plots invariably turn out sounding clichéd. But history is already written for you, you don't have to think of a story line. Besides, there is always a new untold history story just waiting to be brought into the light. It's so much more rewarding knowing you have saved a small patch of our story from being forgotten. Plus I'm rubbish at writing dialogue.
E: Don't get me wrong, I love history, but I wouldn't mind branching out. Making films is not an easy task, and editing actual films - as in live action- is even harder. Maybe one day I'd like to do a feature length film, but for now, I'm happy with what we've got. 

ARtists: A Conversation Trivia

tw2


  • Sarah was not the primary interviewer for the film. This has only happened once before, with their first production, Separate But Equal. Instead the twins’ father, David Bailin, who has assisted them on all of their previous productions, filled that position. As an artist himself, the twins felt that he would be able to connect better with the interview subjects, or as they put it “he speaks fluent Art-ese.”


  • The original idea for the film was to have it more as a “conversation over coffee” than as a more traditional documentary. This was done for two reasons. One, the filmmakers were experimenting with a new method of interviewing that would make the interview subjects feel and look more relaxed. Two, due to the number of subjects involved and time restraints, the filmmakers feared they would be unable to focus on each artist individually, but still wanted them all to have a part in the movie.

  • With few exceptions, all the art shown in the film was displayed at the art opening.

  • Filming began in the middle of February and continued every weekend until the first week of April.

  • At the height of filming, the filmmakers averaged three interviews a day.

  • Only one artist included in the exhibit was not featured in the documentary.

  • Despite traveling all around Arkansas every weekend for three months, the three-man crew only spent one full night away from home.

  • To get as unrehearsed responses as possible, Sarah attempted to keep the conversation prompts a secret until the individual interviews. This proved impossible as many of the artists were friends with each other and they compared notes.

  • The artists were not read a list of questions in the traditional manner. At the beginning of the interview during the sound check, Sarah read a series of what she called “conversation prompts” with the instruction that the subject was to talk about whichever one they remembered when the interview officially began, the theory being that if they remembered it, it must be important to them for some reason. (Incidentally this is the same method Sarah uses to write the narration for the twins’ other documentaries.) Although many of the artists claimed not to remember any of the prompts, it became clear early on that by the end of most of the interviews, the artist had answered every one of the prompts in some way.

  • Although Emma did not look at a single one of Sarah’s notes, every clip she chose when she edited was one Sarah had noted as important during the interview.

  • The film is dedicated to Sally Williams, a former Arkansas artist and a major supporter of the art community in Arkansas. The twins decided to dedicate it to her after hearing three artists in a row site her as a major influence on their work and career.

  • The twins took turns editing the interviews. Sarah took all the even numbered interviews, and Emma took all the odd. After all thirty interviews were cut, they each worked for an hour before switching. In true DTP fashion, many times Sarah took the editing chair only to find Emma had rearranged her segments. Sarah fixed them and the cycle continued until one of them gave up or found something they mutually agreed was better.

  • The twins were not planning to make another film before college, but the continued pleas from their father to do this for him convinced them.

  • The twins did not miss a single day of school to work on the project—a first in DTP history.

  • This is the only film since their first that was declared finished more than twenty-four hours before it was due. The twins site the fact that their father misread the calendar and told them the wrong due date for this miracle.

  • The twins attempted to dub Maxine Paine’s interview several months after the film’s official completion, but they were unsuccessful.

  • Only six artists were not interviewed in their studios.

  • Several of the artists credit the film for inspiring them to work because they wanted to have something to show the film crew when they came.

  • This is the first of their documentaries not to have a direct connection to the Rose Law Firm besides the fact that the twins' mother is a partner there.

  • While traveling in northern Arkansas, the crew visited Mr. Jodie Jones and his wife. The twins interviewed Mr. Jones for their second documentary, Watching the Water Rise.

  • Although on the title screen in the movie, ARtists is written without the capital R, during production it was always written as ARtists. The postal abbreviation for Arkansas is AR, so ARtists is the shorthand version of the film's full title, Arkansas Artists.

  • The font of the title screen is based off the writing on Arkansas' license plates.

  • The twins never officially decided whether to call the film Artist or Artists. The title screen titled "Artists," but the twins call it "artists" and "artist" interchangeably.

  • During production, the film's title did not include "A Conversation." That part was added when the twins decided the film's format needed some explanation.

  • The twin's father jokingly refers to the documentary as "the film about artists that doesn't show any of them making art." Time restraints both with allotted interview time and movie length meant that there was no opportunity to show the artists working in their studios.

  • The twins had only a two week window between accepting the job and the first interview.

  • The twins' older sister, Livy, was a studio aid for Holly Laws during the editing of the film. At one point Emma had a question about the materials Holly used to make her Levittown houses and texted Livy to find out what it was. Livy texted back the chemical name for the plaster. When Emma asked what that translated to, Holly reportedly said, "Tell her to look it up, damn it!" 

  • When the twins sent out the request for pictures, Sarah asked that they include some baby pictures for the section of the film that talked about whether they'd always planned to be an artist. Emma was against the idea and only Holly Laws' "baby" picture ended up in the film.

  • At the end of Holly Laws' interview, Sarah asked if Holly were good at making gingerbread houses, to which she responded that of course she was. The picture of young Holly standing beside a giant gingerbread house was meant as an inside joke.

  • Although most of the twins immediate family has been credited in one way or another in their films, this is only the second time one of their family members has appeared on screen. The first was their grandfather in A Soldier in Skirts.

  • There is no music in the film. The twins have had trouble with music in the past and decided not to risk it.

  • When Sarah imagined the film, she always pictured black screens separating topics; Emma was against the idea. She said she could put the interviews together in a way that "flowed." Sarah was doubtful but let her try. 

  • This is the last film Sarah and Emma made together before being separated for their year abroad before college.

  • When the film was selected as part of the WorldKids International Film Festival in Mumbai, it became the first of the twins' films to be seen outside the U.S.

  • Fearing she would need to write narration, Sarah read some of her father's art textbooks before filming began. No narration ended up being needed, but the refresher course in art history turned out to be useful when some of the artists got technical during the interviews.

  • Knowing the DTP tradition of chocolate chip cookies, Sarah's best friend made her a batch of them before their first car trip. Sarah claimed the last one, but Emma and her father ate it while she napped. She didn't let them forget it for the remainder of the production.

  • Les Christensen and John Salvest are married, a fact the twins' father was not aware of until he scheduled their respective interviews. He also didn’t expect Les to be a woman.

  • The tight scheduling of the interviews meant that the crew often ran late. The only time they arrived early to an afternoon interview was Les Christensen's interview. Unfortunately they had told her the wrong time and she thought they were an hour late.

  • In 2008, Cindy Momchilov interviewed the twins' father at her camera studio. Sarah used many of her questions as inspiration when writing the conversation prompts. If Momchilov noticed during her interview, she didn't say.

  • Warren Criswell was nervous and refused to do his interview without the dog in his lap. That dog is officially the first non-human interview the twins have ever done.

  • Many of the artists had studio pets. Among those pets were dogs, cats, and lots of chickens.

  • A deleted scene shows Sarah being attacked by a flock of chickens after Holly Laws' interview. No chickens were harmed in the making of the film, although several did flee the coup.

  • David Bailin nearly fell asleep during his interview because he had been up all night the night before working on the exhibition.

  • Sammy Peters was the first interview and David Bailin was the last.

  • The twins missed their senior prom to go to the exhibit opening and film premier.

  • Many of the artists met each other for the first time at the exhibition. Emma couldn't stop remarking how strange it was to see them introduce themselves because to her, they'd been talking to each other for months.

  • After the twins left for their year abroad, their father attempted to make a version three of the film without his introduction or the dedication, but he was caught by their mother and forced to trash it.

A Soldier In Skirts Trivia


10MINUTE BREAK

  • This is the DoubleTroublets’ fourth documentary.


  • The film was completed two months behind schedule.

  • This is the DoubleTroublets first documentary not done in EAST. 

  • The original reader of the Ruth Memoir was Emma’s Pre-Cal. teacher, Summer McFarland. She is credited in the documentary under “Special Thanks To.”

  • The original focus was on another Arkansas WAC, Era Hardy. Instead of a memoir, the narration was to include clips from her letters that she wrote home to her parents every week. The focus changed in January when the DoubleTroublets came across Ruth’s memoir.

  • The DoubleTroublets found Ruth’s memoir in the last file of the last box they looked through at UCA. They had considered not even looking at it, but decided too anyway. After reading the first page, they changed their focus.

  • The title remained in dispute right up until the day of their first competition. It was actually registered under a different one. Some of the options were “Lots of Love, Era,” “A Soldier and a Gentleman,” and of course, “A Soldier in Skirts.” “A Soldier in Skirts” was their first and last title although Sarah still prefers “A Soldier and a Gentleman.”

  • By the end of February, it was still unclear if Ruth was living or dead. The DoubleTroublets knew nothing about her life pre and post war. They eventually tracked her based on a newspaper article written in 1998 saying that she worked at the Bald Knob Area Chamber of Commerce. From there they found her number and got in touch with her daughter, Emma Jean Frippen, née Chaney. They completed her life story a week before the first competition.

  • One of the interviews, Marvin K. Bailin, is their grandfather. He insisted that his entire rank was listed in the film.

  • There were more interviews, but the DoubleTroublets decided they needed to make a choice: either they could tell the story of the WAC or the story of Ruth. They chose Ruth’s and consequently cut interviews.

  • In the subtitle under Merle Wilson, it states that she was a WAVE and a WOW. A WAVE was the equivalent of a WAC only in the Navy not the Army. WOW stands for Women’s Ordnance Workers. Basically it means she was a Rosie the Riveter except she worked with explosives.

  • The person that plays the music, Maureen Adkins, is the DoubleTroublets piano teacher. They’d have done it themselves, but they decided they wanted the audience in the theater not running from it.

  • A girl in secondary school sang the songs.

  • The narration was actually written around the memoir instead of the memoir being placed in later wherever it might have worked.

  • The picture of the present day female soldier is Leah Babb, Ruth’s step-granddaughter. She is a member of the National Reserve and has just returned from Iraq.

  • The documentary’s nicknames is SIS.

  • The opening line “They were the daughters of suffragists, the mothers of feminists.” comes from a poem Sarah wrote entitled “These Women of War” for fun a few weeks into the research. (click here to read “These Women of War”, keep in mind that poetry is not her strongpoint.)

  • Ruth's younger brother was at Pearl Harbor on December 7th. He was not harmed. 

  • One of Ruth's barrack mates in Europe was the sister of a member of the crew that dropped one of the atomic bombs on Japan.
  •  
    Ruth was a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy. 

  • This marks the first time Sarah has been heard in any of their films. She was the voice of Ruth.

  • Even the DoubleTroublets themselves had problems differentiating between the narration and the memoir. At one point Emma congratulated herself for pronouncing the name of the German general correctly only to realize that was in fact Sarah's voice. 

  • Emma was nervous about reading the names of so many foreign cities. As it turns out, the only thing she mispronounced was Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia, or so she's been told. The correct pronunciation is still unclear. There is still also some debate over whether Sarah correctly pronounced General Gustav Jodl's name. 

  • This was the first documentary to use the DoubleTroublets' current lighting set for interviews. 

  • The Marvin K. Bailin interview marks the first interview of a non-Arkansan they have ever done. He is from South Dakota.