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In casting supporting roles, Vasilatos tried to select performers with a distinctive look, people with memorable faces. "Because we had such a variety of actors and actresses auditioning, we would be struck by how one looked or performed and re-wrote minor characters so that the performer could inject something of their own into it. One of the really nice things about "Solstice" that I'm very proud of is that it's inhabited with the most charming of characters, some of whom are on screen less than a minute. Their impact on Nick is important however, because it's through his encounters with them that he is led to his realization at the film's end."

PRODUCTION

 

With the cast set, Vasilatos secured the services of D.P.s John O'Shaughnessy and Jeff Gatesman and began laying down a schedule that would take advantage of the upcoming holiday season. "It was budgetarily impossible to 'create' our Christmas, especially since we were so dependent on exteriors that would reflect Chicago on Christmas Eve, so we had no choice but to wait." Working out the logistics and getting the snowfall that they needed for some key scenes, production took place for 26 days during November of 1992 through April of 1993. "When I wrote this script, I had a lot of pre-existing locations in mind, both interior and exterior" Vasilatos says. "I was amazed at how many people were willing to let us use certain buildings to bring the story to life." One such location was Six Corners, located at Belmont, Lincoln and Ashland. "The scene called for snow and Christmas decorations hanging between streetlight poles over the avenue. Since we had a late winter, most of our night time snow scenes had to be filmed in January and February. With the help of the Chicago Film Office, we made a phone call to the local chamber of commerce and they delayed removal of the decorations until we were able to get our shot. All in all, I'd say we got about ninety percent of the places I had originally envisioned."

Two of Vasilatos' favorite locations were the Music Box Theater and St. Alphonsus Church. "The sheer scale of these places helped legitimize the story and Nick's Christmas Eve sojourn, especially with the amount of extras we had filling each scene." The responsibility of lining up extras fell to production managers Martin Shannon, Mary Mitchell and Rica Lindstrom, not an easy task when dealing with the financial constraints of a low-budget independent feature. "We placed announcements on the Chicago casting hotline and in all the local industry papers; amazingly, we got the numbers we needed, in some cases over a hundred people at a time. In particular Marty was the executive producer of a local theater troupe, and was able to interest many people who were eager to get film experience working as extras."

POST-PRODUCTION

With production and final pickups wrapped in April of '93, Vasilatos, who had written, directed and produced the project, was now left with the monumental task of wading through hours of footage and editing the final film. "I didn't mind editing the film, because we had storyboarded it from start to finish. I had the advantage of knowing how the final cut was going to look while we were shooting. I don't think I would have been comfortable giving it to someone else to edit. Despite my closeness to the material, I can remain a pretty objective audience even while at an editing table."

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Silver Award - 1994

Bronze Award - 1995