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THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) · Short Film

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) is an American short film about a few famous and not-so famous people during the gold rush in Sacramento and Nevada County in Northern California. Researched, written, produced, directed, and edited by Gerald Martin Davenport and produced by Tamara Davenport.

The film follows William Wimmer, the youngest son of Peter Wimmer and stepson of Jennie Cloud Wimmer, through the recounting of his life from a journal he kept. The journal drops from a shelf of books while Sierra searches for any evidence that proves what her dad said about the family's connection to the gold rush in California, while taking a break from packing her great grandmother, Cecilia's, belongings.

THE GOLdEN TREE began as a story based on the gold rush in California in the format of National Treasure on the drive home from the cast & crew call for Access Sacramento's screenwriting contest A Place Called Sacramento on the evening of May 13, 2009.

1 Plot

After a father peaks the interest of his daughter, Sierra, about their family's connection to the discovery of gold in Sacramento, California, instead of packing her late grandmother's belongings, she begins to search her grandmother's house for proof. Going through the books about the gold rush on the bookshelf, she is about to give up when a small, very old, journal drops to the ground that is written by her great, great, great, great uncle, William Wimmer. Inside the journal is a folded piece of paper which looks like a crude map drawn by a child indicating the location of buried gold under THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Before Sierra tells her dad about the journal, she takes a break and begins reading it. She learns more about the history of the discovery of gold in Culoma, California, and about her family and how they lived from 1849 to 1855.

William Wimmer recounts his experience living at Sutter's Mill when John Augustus Sutter visited to confirm with James Marshall the discovery of gold. William tells of his stepmom, Elizabeth Jane “Jennie” Cloud Wimmer discovered gold in the area six months earlier.

Sierra reads that for ten years William would take the gold nuggets that he would find that the men left after cleaning the race and bury them under a tree near Sutter's Fort. Sierra convinced she has the map to that gold, a treasure hunt begins for THE GOLdEN TREE.

1.1 Tagline

What will you find buried beneath your family tree?

3 Production

3.1 Development

3.1.1 Story/Screenplay Planting The Seed

Read the Weblog version: Aria Pictures PCS Journey Part 3: THE GOLdEN TREE

Back in 2009, Kyriè, Gerald and Tamara's daughter, was taking an acting workshop with Ryan McKinney at It Factor Studios in Sacramento. Gerald went down with Tamara and Kyriè and watched. After the class Ryan reminded everyone to go to Access Sacramento for their casting call. “They need actors, and it's a good place to get experience.” Gerald looked them up online and saw that they were also looking for crew. “I am crew. I am an editor, camera person, and music.” He gathered up a few demo reels and résumé and attended the event on Wednesday, May 20, 2009.

Gerald likes to show up early to get the lay of the land and often times getting to know people before the hectic crowds show up he arrived an hour before the event started. While he was standing around, someone told him he had to get in front of a camera to do a video introduction. “But I am crew.” He told them. “Oh, then you don't have to do it.” Later he was told he had to, and they would let him cut in line since he was there so early. Gerald told them he would wait his turn, “I am not in a hurry.” Gerald shared his demo reel and résumé with a few producers and landed an editing job for Detective A.

I have been up in this area since 1979, and this is the first time I heard of this event. And they have been doing it for ten years? ” He stayed till the event was over around 9:00pm. On the drive home he asked myself “What would I put in next year as a story, if I were to enter?

By the time he got home, which was over an hour drive, Gerald had a story and plot sketched it out. It had elements of The Never Ending Story, Goonies, and National Treasure. Needs Water

Gerald entered his ideas, dialog, and action into Final Draft 7 and in a matter of days, the three young men were added and they were following John Augustus Sutter to find out where he stashes his gold. One of them is a Maidu Indian named Arlen hired by Wes and Bart as the tracker. Gerald titled the story The Treasure.

Gerald began looking through some history books that he owned and books his in-laws had. “I did not want to be influenced by other gold rush or cowboy stories or movies. I wanted it to be my own unique creation. However, there is more written about outlaws and bandits than respectable people in history books..”

Gerald kept the timeline of story back in 1850 during the latter part of the gold rush in California. The three young men were searching for easy gold by stealing it in an non-aggressive comedic way; however, Wes and Barter, name change, were inept highwaymen always getting into trouble doing the oposite of what Arlen recommended they should do. In the end, John Sutter takes Arlen is as his a adopted son, while Wes and Barter end up with nothing.

What is a gold rush movie without goldminers digging or panning for gold on a river, creak, or a little stream? It needs water.” A few days later, Gerald changed the opening scence with a story that someone was reading from a book about the 1850s. When the person is interrupted, the story cuts to the present. The opening story is about a miner panning for gold on a hidden, little stream in the forest, and gets robbed by two bandits. The present is a girl doing a report on the gold rush for school. University, high-school, or grade school? Gerald could not decide, each had its own interesting story possibilities.

A slight plot change when Gerald had the girl research and investigate, with some of her friends, the possibility that there his gold hidden inside the pillars and on the grounds of the State Capitol Building, and other prominent buildings in Sacramento. She read clues from the history book she was reading. “This would be cool to involve important buildings in Sacramento that were built during, or in relation to, the gold rush. That says 'A Place Called Sacramento' more than some of the films last year.” Real Life

After three months of writing, and changing the girl doing a school report to the same girl, now named Sierra, helping her dad pack her great-grandmothers house, but takes a break to read a book. Gerald also had an idea that Sierra and her dad find out that they are connected to the gold rush somehow. Either great grandma has a secret stash of gold or some other secret.

The story was working and the writing was flowing until Gerald wanted to add the theme about the gold being hidden in the pillars back into the story. The story fought him. Nothing Gerald did made any difference. Until he removed the pillar theme. He sensed the story was telling him that it wanted real life. “The story felt flat, lifeless, and uninspiring when I brought back the theme that gold was hidden in the pillars of prominent buildings. I swear I heard the story tell me 'I want to live, give me real life.' ”

Gerald knew the only place to find realism is in history books. Gerald took Kyriè to the library and found many books on the Gold Rush in Northern California, focusing on Sacramento and Nevada County — he brought home ten. Gerald looked for a family that Sierra and her dad could be related to and found John Sutter. Gerald felt Sutter was boring, and too obvious. James Marshal would not do as he died broke. Sam Brennan was California's first gold rush millionaire, but he also died broke only after his wife divorced him and took half of what he owned. There was John Bidwell, who is the founder of Chico, but his family stayed up in Chico during the gold rush. Gerald learned that some of these men did not have children, or, if they did, they left the area before or during the gold rush.

Gerald did not know what he was looking for, he felt he would know it when he found it, he just knew he wanted an obscure, unknown, but influential family during the gold rush. “Heck, I would have taken an Indian, Mexican, or any other minority family, which is what I was really looking for, because I feel the the non-european nationalities were the real shapers of California.”

As Gerald kept reading, he realized, “If you were not a white, well-known, influential, Male with money, you were just a mention. For example, John Sutter came to the US with some Kanaka's, Hawaiian's, Mexican's, and so forth, but none of them were ever mentioned by name, just the white prominent males — talk about racism.” Gerald remembered what his History Instructor told the class at Sierra College. “Written and spoken history is one person's interpretation of what happened. Just because you do not read about women outlaws, does not mean that there weren't any.”

Gerald was about to give up when he was just scanning, flipping, and cross-referencing a book, not one of the ten history books from the library, and came across a phrase “Jennie told him it was gold before she put it in her lye pot.” There was nothing else about this Jennie in the entire book. “That is it? Jennie told him it was gold before she put it in her lye pot? I screamed at the book, more like yelled, or scoffed. And at the other ten books. Then at the lazy history people. Jennie who?

Gerald searched online and he found that Jennie was Jennie Cloud Wimmer who was then Jennie Wimmer. Jennie was James Marshall's cook at Sutter's Fort in Coloma. Gerald felt a warm feeling of discovery and enlightenment through his soul. a breath of air was taken in and exhaled in relief. “I found you.

Sierra and her dad now have the Wimmer's they could be related to, and be connected to the gold rush. The story came back to life. Sierra finds a journal written by William Wimmer, her great, great, great great? Uncle. The journal has clues to where gold could be buried. Gunplay, Horses, and a Wagon

On Monday, November 16, 2009, Gerald had an eighteen page rough draft screenplay of The Treasure. “I realized it was too sweet. And it needed a better title.” Gerald added in some gunplay, as much as he was against it. He realized it was the way of life back then and the story wanted realism.

Saturday, December 5, 2009 Gerald finished the tenth revision. “I had a cohesive and entertaining story, although still rough, and still titled 'The Treasure.' ” It was 32 pages with 14 characters, real people represented in the story. It played as an outline of what happened during the gold rush, and not just in Sacramento. The gold rush in Northern California cannot be told without mentioning many other towns, cities, and counties such as Nevada County, Grass Valley, Nevada City, Placer County, Auburn, and Placerville to name just a very few places that played a major role in the gold rush of 1848 in California. Western Slang, Lingo, and Phrases

Adding accurate historical events was not enough to make the story as authentic as possible, the way they talked is as important as the clothes they wore. Gerald also researched slang, lingo, and phrases of the old west through books, a few existing movies, and several websites, such as Legends of America, which has a more accurate library of material than any other history website.

Gerald spent many hours rewriting dialog to fit the characters and the era they were in. One character has one of Gerald's favorite lines. “Goney off his chump, gonna scratch with five beans in the wheel.” TRANSLATION: That stupid fellow crazy in the head, gonna fight with five bullets in his revolver. Of course, the Goney is the fellow without a gun against a gang of five outlaws. Trimming Branches

On Friday, December 18, 2009, Gerald had written twenty revisions to the now titled Gold Rush Story that was sixty pages long. It included gunplay, horses, and a wagon — and much more. Gerald realized the Access Sacramento contest was only for a ten-minute film, which means he needs to cut the screenplay down to ten pages. Industry standard for a screenplay is a page a minute. Sixty pages would come out to be roughly an hour long film.

I deleted characters, locations, props, and action that were not pertinent to the story. It was a hard task to do because, I felt I had some great writing, dialog, and action. I also had to delete things that I did not think I could secure the resources for and fit into the ten-minute time frame like horses, let alone acquire insurance for them. I also needed to trim down my delusions of grandeur since I had trouble finding actors for Paint 2006. No one knows me in Sacramento. I am not going to get that many people to help me or want to be in my film.”

Gerald cut so much that he only needed three actors to play young William Wimmer, a miner, and an outlaw. Gerald already secured his son, Aria Leven Davenport, to play older William Wimmer, his daughter Kyriè Sierra Davenport to play Sierra, and Gary Udell to play the dad.

Saturday, December 19, 2009, the screenplay was down to fourteen pages. “I know it should be more, but I write my screenplays with direction for the actors and camera which adds more pages to what really should be there. I write stories that camera direction is PART of what moves the story, and actor direction is to give the actor, and to remind me, the feeling or mood the character should be in at that time.”

Some people, who think they are in the industry, tell me how I write my screenplays is not the right way to do it. “Never add camera or actor direction, that is up to the director and actor.” This I know. But when I will be the Director, Camera Operator, and Editor, I do what I want to do to MY screenplays. When I send a screenplay to a contest some, not all, of the direction is taken out — I leave the camera direction in as I write visual stories and if you take away the camera direction the story looses some excitement and meaning.”

Gerald Thursday, January 7, 2010 journal

Gerald reviews the fourteen page screenplay with Aria, Kyriè, and Tamara.

The opening scene there is a miner, known as MINER, and two outlaws, or bandits, named ARLEN and BARTER who rob the miner.”

It may have been a subconscious use of Richard 'Rattlesnake Dick' Barter's name, before Gerald decided to use him as the actual character. However, it was not him being portrayed at this time.

We come out of the opening scene with a 'Never Ending Story' feel to the present day with dad, known as DAD.”

Gerald already had Gary Udell in mind for the role. He worked with Gary on Detective A. Gerald liked his style of acting. He was easy going and did what was asked. Gerald felt, give Gary a professional production, he would be a great actor in any movie.

Sierra, the daughter, the one that the story would follow on her journey to discover her ancestors.”

Sierra played by Gerald and Tamara's daughter, Kyriè Sierra Davenport. he character of Dad is based on Gerald and his enthusiasm for Genealogy and history. The character of Sierra, is based off of his own children who do not find genealogy interesting. So Sierra was not a far stretch from how Kyriè really felt about the whole family history and genealogy thing. Most of the dialog was pulled from real life.

Sierra and Dad take a side trip to see Sutter's Fort.”

Gerald knew getting to lens at Sutter's Fort would be an issue, but he kept it in anyway hoping he could make it work somehow.

After the trip to Sutter's Fort, Sierra, looks for clues and information in regards to their 'so called famous' family back in the gold rush. Not finding anything in all the old books that her great great grandmother Cecilia has, she sits down exhausted. At that point a journal drops from a hidden location next to her. She begins reading it and take a trip back in time to 1860, and we meet MARTIN.”

Martin might be played by Gerald and Tamara's son, Aria, or Aria might play one of the outlaws in the beginning — or both, only because after doing several movies in the area, Gerald knows how difficult it is to find actors. He figures Aria might have to play two characters as Gerald may not have enough interest to get three actors, which forced the shrinking of the screenplay from sixty to fourteen pages.

We also meet Martin's younger brother BENJAMIN.”

Martin and Benjamin were based off of early information Gerald found about the Wimmer's. It was not a complete or thorough research as he should have done at this point in the screenwriting process.

The Gold Rush Story cast of characters and possible cast looked like this:
Barter = Aria
Dad = Gary Udell
Sierra = Kyriè Sierra Davenport
Martin = Aria?
Benjamin The Title

Gerald finished with the rewrite to ten-minutes. Version twenty-five was ready to submit, but Gerald was not happy with the title "Gold Rush Story." Gerald read the screenplay to Aria, Kyriè, and Tamara. They discussed the flow, changes, their likes, any issues that might come up, and the title.

William buries the gold near The Golden Tree.” Gerald mentions The Golden Tree several times and asked them what they think the title should be. Aria answered with “Dad, you said the title ten times already.”

Gerald noticed that the title had two meanings.

  1. The family found out that their family tree is connected to the gold rush.
  2. The gold that William buries is under a tree.

Gerald has observed many things in his life, and one of them is how to separate yourself from others — how to stand out from the crowd. One way to do that is to give your material a unique identity — a branding that stands out. He wanted the film's title to be an identifying signature. The font, color, and style of the title adds too that signature. He tried uppercase for all letters; it stood out, but was not unique. He tried a lowercase 'g,' but that just looked out of place. He then tried a lowercase 'd.' With the title written out as THE GOLdEN TREE, most people do not notice the lower case 'd' but they sense something unusual about the title. A connection is made to the film. If the title was written as The Golden Tree, it does not have any connection, ownership, or identifying signature.

What about the relevancy and connection to the story? Why is the 'd' lowercase? Gerald decided it had to be the way William Wimmer wrote it in his journal and on the map. The significance for that reason was to be revealed in THE GOLdEN TREEs — the continuing history of the gold rush. What is with the lowercase 's' ? Version 25

On Friday, March 5, 2010, after a few more revisions, Gerald was pleased with version 22. He told everyone that he had completed the story.

Gerald added the factual Rattlesnake Dick character information in place of Barter, adding new and more exciting dialog to the story. On Monday, March 8, 2010, Gerald completed version 23.

On Thursday, March 18, 2010, as the deadline approached for the contest, Gerald had a few minor and significant changes to the story without making it longer or adding any characters. Gerald felt it kept getting better and better. “Aria, Kyriè, and I acted it out for Tamara, and she liked how it flowed. Watching Aria and Kyriè act out the parts showed me the characters coming to life, and I could not wait to see it on the big screen.”

It was Saturday, March 20, 2010, and Maureen's birthday, Tamara's mother, and they went to celebrate it at the Young's house. The Davenports volunteered Mathew, Tamara's brother, Gerald 'JJ' Young's son, to play Benjamin while they acted it out for Maureen's birthday guests. They loved it, and Mathew was pretty good as Benjamin.

Friday, April 2, 2010, saw a few more changes to THE GOLdEN TREE and version 25 — yes, twenty-five significant changes, not counting the hundreds of minor fixes and alterations. There were 24 revisions to the story since its inception on May 20, 2009. If Gerald was counting, there was closer to one-hundred and ninety-eight modifications made — if he was keeping count.

[^2]With some money saved for Aria's 20th birthday, Gerald asked if he wanted to spend it on him or use it to send it into the contest and the making of the movie. Aria answered, “Dad, send in the screenplay to the contest. I know it will win.”

3.2 Casting

3.2.1 Access Sacramento's Cast & Crew Call

Access Sacrament A place called Sacramento marquee.

2010 A Place Called Sacramento marquee. Make a movie this summer.

Gerald received notice in early May of THE GOLdEN TREE's selection as one of the ten winners. He went down to Sacramento at the Coloma Center for a welcome meeting with Ron Cooper and Michelle A. Barbaria to get his packet when a lady came in, interrupting Ron in the middle of his presentation, to get her denial packet.[A]

The 2010 “A Place Called Sacramento” Cast & Crew call was held at the Coloma Community Center on May 19th from 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM. Gerald had a table with his son Aria Leven Davenport and Gary Udell to help with questions and talking to anyone who would come up to the table — Gerald did not think there would be many, if any, takers.

People started coming to the table at 5:30 PM talking about the movie and dropping off their bio and headshot. They were told by some of the event organizers not to begin, but the people kept coming to the table, even during Ron Cooper's talk and introduction. When it was Gerald's turn to talk, he forgot his reading glasses and apologized to everyone.

Sorry for taking too much time I do not want to bore you with what I wanted to read. We are looking for people interested in learning how to make a movie, being part of a team, and want to share their talents. It is about the Gold Rush in Sacramento and John Sutter. Thank you for your time.”

Gary Udell holding THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) sign for the table the 2010 cast and crew call.

Gary Udell holding the THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) for the table at the Access Sacramento: A place called Sacramento 2010 cast and crew call

That was half of what he had prepared, and he forgot to say the title and what characters he needed which caused chaos when the line officially started they had three of them: one for Gary, one for Gerald in the middle, and one for Aria. The first person in front of the queue was Claire Elizabeth, and she opened up with “I really like the idea of your movie, as I love history and spent the night at Sutter's Fort.”

Gerald sadly looked up at her and said, “I do not have any roles for girls. I am sorry.” The crowd standing in the queue spread out and gave Gerald hard looks as well as a few questions. He returned with: “I do not have any now, but that will change now that I have met Claire.” The crowd returned to their spots in the queue and Gerald breathed a sigh of relief and began reworking the story to add more characters.

The outer queues talked with Aria or Gary but wanted to speak with Gerald, since he was the writer, producer, and director, this made the evening longer as he went from the left line to the center to the right and so on until after 9:30 PM when the event organizers were taking the table from them. One of the last few people that came to the table was Courtney Leonard-Maye, a beautiful, young, Black woman. Gerald became nervous, as he was not making a movie about the struggles of the Black people — not in 10 minutes anyway — and he did not want to put her into degrading role and then pretend he knew how to write about the plight of the Black people — He was not going to give her a role of a slave, he does not believe in it, even if he was making a period piece. She came up with a smile and glowing energy. Gerald explained to her the story he was making and his concerns. Courtney did not mind what role she played which surprised him and he told her, she was in that night and she would love the role.

Toni Corbett's picture in a picture frame in THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Toni Corbett portrays the Great Grandmother in THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) with just a headshot in the film.

An unusual first-time casting situation for Gerald occurred when Toni Corbett walked up to the table and handed Gerald her Bio with a great headshot. Looking up at her after thoroughly inspecting the front and back of the papers she gave him — Gerald always looks, reads, and examines anything anyone hands him out of respect, courtesy, and professionalism — he asks her, “What if you were in the film, but not in the film? ” Toni looked confused. “What I mean is, what if you being in the film was your headshot used as a photograph on a mantle in a scene where the lead character talks to your picture, and we see it full size on the screen? Would you be interested in that? Be the Grandmother? ” Toni paused for a moment or two and then smiled and agreed.

Gerald went home with ninety bio's and headshots — and he thought he would not get close to ten. He received another fifty via email the proceeding weeks. “Where were these actors when I did Paint?

3.2.2 Version Thirty

Gerald started rewriting THE GOLdEN TREE on his way home, just like in 2009 when he drove home from Access Sacramento's 'A Place Called Sacramento' Cast & Crew call. He wondered how many actors he could use in a 10-minute movie.

Gerald revisited the sixty-page Gold Rush Story and used that as the basis keeping the more difficult and complex elements such as gunplay, horses, and a wagon out. Knowing he has people that want to be in the movie, he can work on that, but he still has no one to help him produce or make the film.

Gerald dug deeper into the Wimmer Family Tree and found it interesting, odd, and peculiar. The characters of the Wimmer family he originally wrote in the sixty-page version matched the people in the Wimmer family, including their ages at the time the story was taking place — almost like it was supposed to happen. The Wimmer Family included Jennie, Peter, Sarah, George, and William in the 1848 scene. In the 1859 scene, there is older Sarah and older William, which also includes Benjamin and Martha Jane.

Gerald was involved in researching his family's genealogy before his involvement with THE GOLdEN TREE began; it would be a valuable commodity during the writing process. He learned more about the Wimmer Family Tree than he knew about his own Davenport or Brakensiek Family Tree. “I enjoy learning about history and digging into the past. Genealogy is just digging into your Family Tree. It is like a treasure hunt. You never know what you will dig up.”

Gerald had a two bandits in the story, but with the influx of actors, he wanted to add more. He looked at Richard 'Rattlesnake Dick' Barter again and learned that he was part of gang that included, Romera Carter, An unidentified Mexican, Cyrus Skinner, George Skinner and a few others known for their robbery of stagecoaches. The gang is also notorious for the Well's Fargo heist that has never been solved. Rattlesnake Dick was also a local to Northern California and his grave is in Auburn.

Gerald added three more outlaws to the story for a total of five: George & Cyrus Skinner, Rafael Escobar, and Rattlesnake. Gerald added another miner, took the name Arlen from the outlaws, gave it to one of the miners, and named the other Henry.

Gerald added a sister for Sierra named Brooke, adding some fun dialogue and action between the two characters. Gerald also reworked the scene when John Sutter and James Marshal meet the Wimmer family on the North Fork of the American River, where Jennie tells them that it is gold she found.

There was a scene with a dance in a barn or community hall where William talked with Samuel Brennan and his date Mee Lien. William had an encounter with Rattlesnake Dick and Cyrus Skinner, but he did not know they were outlaws, just rude and obnoxious guests. And he meets up with a love interest in Victoria Marie and her over-protecting brother, Zeke. Gerald changed it from a dance to a walk down a rock path or road that led to Sutter's Fort. William was walking from the fort to bury some more gold.

A Place Called Sacramento by Ron Cooper a book created for the film THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

A Place Called Sacramento book

A Place Called Sacramento by Ron Cooper - a book created for the film THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Always rewriting, researching, and making the story more fluid, entertaining, and tighter[B], Gerald finished version twenty-nine just before production began, but one more last minute idea arose when Aria started working on the artwork for the book Sierra reads in the film.

Gerald Thursday, June 17, 2010 email

From: Editor Gerald
To: Access Sacramento - Ron Cooper
Sent: Thu, Jun 17, 2010 2:07 pm
Subject: Name and menton in movie
Mr. Cooper.
I am wondering if you would give us permission to use your name in our movie? It is a secret, and a surprise, but I realized I should get permission first. It is in NO WAY derogatory, mean, nasty, ugly, or in bad taste toward you, but an homage.
- gerald davenport

Ron Cooper Thursday, June 17, 2010 email

Sure..... anything for an homage.... ron

Version thirty has the addition of Ron Cooper for the artwork for the book Sierra reads in the film. “The addition of Ron Cooper into the story was asked and granted after THE GOLdEN TREE was already an official selection. Something I did not think would be allowed to happen.”

3.2.3 Audition Conditions

Having over one hundred and twenty people to sort through and not looking forward to a long day or several days of auditions, Gerald devised a plan where he did not have to say no to the actors; they would say no to him. Gerald had enough info from the actors he met at the cast & crew call and trusted his judgment with the actors who sent in their information via email. As much as he wanted to get to know the actors better through auditions, he bypassed them and sent out an email with certain conditions the production would have, such as locations, wardrobe requirements, and some of the actors would be seen but not heard in the 10-minute version. Still, their scene would be in full in the extended version. Gerald was hoping that just because there were so many having interest and submitting their bio, he wondered if their interest would continue after the conditions and terms he is sending them so he can cover the characters in the extended version.

Gerald Thursday, May 20, 2010 email

Thank you for the response we got at the cast & crew call. WOW. Ninety people were more than we expected, and five were crew members. We are honored and delighted to have piqued your interest. I know most of you went around to every table, and I think that is great, but thanks for stopping by and talking with us, especially after I sounded like an idiot at the podium.

Everyone is important to me, and I know this will sound quite odd to some, interesting to others, and exciting to the four sitting in the back row — yes, I am a kid at heart who loves life and having fun but with a business side, anyway.

After many hours of viewing your headshots, remembering that evening, and making notes on how I can involve everyone without making them an EXTRA — I'm not too fond of that label on people who are actors. However, I understand that sometimes that is how you get into the biz, but, still, I'm not too fond of that word for real actors.

I have come up with a plan — again, review the odd, interesting, and exciting sentence above, but add peculiar to it — that will incorporate the seriousness in this project. There are plans to create a 30-minute short cut down to 10-minutes for the PCS requirement. What does this mean?

In the 10-minute version, everyone will have time on screen, not necessarily heard. And it may only be for 30-seconds, but in the 30-minute version, you will have lines, be on screen longer, and can use it for a demo reel — which is why most of us are doing this: to increase our body of work and experience for those A-LIST films!

Many people scoffed at the idea — and you may be one — that says, I cannot take everyone, I cannot show everyone in 10 minutes, or “You are an idiot, Gerald.” Be that as it may, I have my reasons. Now here is where you might back out of this project. I understand it is called 'A Place Called Sacramento' and therefore, most people think it will be lensed in Sacramento. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We already have locations in GRASS VALLEY and NEVADA CITY, along with the Sutter's Fort and other areas.

I would love to have everyone in the film, and I am working on doing it. But ninety people to cast, make that one hundred and twenty, some came in the email that was not there that evening, but out of the one hundred and twenty, I have fifteen that I am still trying to fit in. Come on, it was initially a cast of nine, and I only needed six that evening, but with such an outpouring of people, which I never thought I would get, I am revisiting scenes I took out for fear of not getting anyone.

Well, there you have it. If you can make it up to Grass Valley when we lens, dates coming real soon, and you do not mind the short time on screen, but having a 30-minute version to show off how you choose, then we would love to have you without a reading. I know I am a kind-hearted softy that cannot say no, but I may have to. Individual emails will go out after this weekend to inform you about the roles we would like you to do, so if you can reply with yea or nay or any questions, please do so.

There will be no hard feelings for those who do not accept or cannot meet the conditions and terms. I understand the difficulties and unusual requests we ask of you.

Peace, and again, thanks for the interest. I am humbled to have met everyone and some that I did not. I apologize. My abled-bodied assistants Gary Udell and my Son Aria, we're there to service you as quickly as possible and give everyone the attention they deserve. Again thanks, and I look forward to having you aboard — if you can help out as a crew, we need some critical spots filled, and then you MIGHT be able to do a walk-on as a BACKGROUND actor, NOT an EXTRA. Peace - God Bless - gerald davenport

Gerald received emails from people accepting the conditions and terms within an hour of sending the email. A few people replied, thanking Gerald for the opportunity, but they turned down the offer to be in the film for many reasons they could not commit. Gerald did not receive anything from most of the one hundred and twenty. Gerald was not hurt, saddened, or upset about getting rejections — he was prepared and was hoping most of them would turn him down. The diehard, dedicated actors who accepted were whom Gerald wanted to work with, no matter who they were.

A few of the actors Gerald connected with at the Cast & Crew call had not responded, giving him cause for concern. Gerald waited as long as he could before committing to people who responded to provide them with the role he was waiting for the other person to accept.

The count was twenty-three, but two more wanted in. Gerald liked these two, so he wrote them into version thirty-one giving him twenty-five actors for a 10-minute film.

3.2.4 Film Contracts and Agreements

Contracts and Agreements for a film protect the rights of the film and the people involved. They are necessary to be established with the cast and crew before principal photography begins. Everyone signs a Model Release giving the filmmakers the right to capture the likeness of the actors physical features and vocal features for the sole use in the film or to market the film either in print, digital, or video. and crew — yes crew get photographed for production memories and behind-the-scenes documentary or presentation — minors have a their own version of the model release.

  • To demonstrate the filmmakers intent to operate with the highest standards of professionalism.
  • Reinforces the commitment. The process of writing down the contract's terms and signing the contract forces both parties to think about, and be precise about, the obligations they are undertaking.
  • Clarifies the agreement. When the terms of a contract are written down, the parties are likely to create a more complete and thorough agreement that anticipates and then addresses potential problems.
  • Encourages the parties to take their promises seriously. It is harder to back out from a written contract than an oral one.
  • Keeps the parties from making up the rules as they go along.
  • Guards against forgetfulness. With an oral contract, the parties may have different recollections of the agreement. A written agreement can eliminate disputes over who promised what and when.
  • Indicates that the negotiation stage is over and that the final terms have been reached.
  • Serves as a record of the agreement for others who were not the original negotiators or signatories.
  • Provides reasonable assurance that the contract will be enforceable in court.

Getting everyone involved with the film to fill out contracts and forms and turn them in before production begins is a arduous task that can be a headache for productions who are not organized; however, even on organized productions, there is always someone who has not turned in their legal agreements which can cause problems to the production.

Movie mogul Sam Goldwyn was right when he said “A verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on.” Although many of us prefer to conduct business on a handshake, vague verbal agreements can result in ugly misunderstandings.

Most disputes are not intentional but rather the result of confusion that could have been avoided by a focused discussion delineating responsibilities followed by a written agreement. Of course, no piece of paper will compensate for lack of integrity or mutual respect. Even when the parties completely trust a “gentleman's handshake,” without a written contract, each is taking a risk that expectations might not be fully understood. Written agreements are the most reliable way to establish that a deal was actually made and what the terms were.

Before anyone is allowed on set to be capturedto halt once it is noticed, or will they have a difficult time getting the actor or crew member to return the signed forms once their day is done.

THE GOLdEN TREE was the first production Gerald did not do auditions in the traditional way. The actors were cast via email or over the phone. The contracts and forms were sent to them via email to print out and sign and bring on their first day of production. Principal photography could not begin until all actors and crew were signed in and legal. It was a good thing that Gerald brought extra copies as some actors and crew left theirs at home on the counter, in the printer, or never read the email or newsletter. Being a small production team, Actors wanted to talk to Gerald about their character, wardrobe, and dialog, and vice versa, but he was the person that reminded them to turn in their forms before production can begin.

No matter how organized a production is, there is always someone who has not turned in their legal agreements. Either production halts once it is noticed, or will they have a difficult time getting the actor or crew member to return the signed forms once their day is done — do it before they go on camera or touch any equipment.

3.3 Pre-Production

Pre-Production technically began the day Gerald submitted the screenplay to Access Sacramento. Gerald notified friends and family that he entered a screenplay contest, and if selected, they get to make the film, and it will play at the Crest Theater in Sacramento. Some asked if it was for pay. Gerald informed them it was all volunteer.

Pre-Production began after the email notification that THE GOLdEN TREE got accepted into the contest. Now it was time to get things in motion to make the film.

Gerald Monday, June 7, 2010 email

On 7 Jun 2010, at 19:22, Editor Gerald wrote:
To Philip Bloom. Greetings, I know you are a busy man, but our knowledge is limitless when it comes to video and film. A friend of mine recently got a Canon7D and we are lensing a short 10 minute movie for Access Sacramento's film contest.

I have FCP 5 and want to know the best way to convert the h.264 files to be able to edit and then export back to HD files. You tutorial on the 7D was absolutely wonderful until I realized I do not have the prores codecs.

Philip Bloom Monday, June 7, 2010 email

Go with apple intermediate codec gerald. works a treat in FCP 5. Philip Bloom

3.3.1 Big Little Production

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) introductory newsletter “Branches and Leaves”.

Branches and Leaves - May 26, 2010

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) introductory newsletter “Branches and Leaves” which was renamed to Roots of Gold.

A theory Gerald wanted to put into motion that did not happen on Paint 2006 is to make the film look and feel like a big production. To give the people involved a sense of grandeur, yes, but also to provide them with a great experience they will hold onto for a long time. Gerald created a website for THE GOLdEN TREE (2010), THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Official Facebook profile, and a newsletter called Roots of Gold for the film. He wanted to do everything he could to show the cast and crew that they were welcomed and appreciated for helping him make the story come to life on the big screen.

The newsletter keeps people involved in the film up-to-date with everything about the production, creates an exciting buzz about the film, actors, and crew, and lets them know they are a part of a family and are essential. Many newsletters introduced the cast and crew or explained what happened on a production day.

Roots of Gold in PDF.

3.3.2 Gathering Wardrobe

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) “Roots Of Gold” newsletter.

Roots Of Gold #4 - May 29, 2010

Wardrobe discussion - It has the wrong date. The 2 is missing in front of the 9.

One of the requested requirements that was asked of the actors was that they gather clothing for their own outfit, if they could. As it ended up, all but two came to the set with authentic look clothes for the era they were portraying.

Gerald gave them a hand with guidelines, information, and images for them to reference in a few of the Roots of Gold Newsletters.

Rob Tillitz Friday, May 28, 2010 email

I did some research on clothing — my (MINER) partner, Bill Bettencourt, said Levi's, but I was uncertain about this because Levi's were not around in 1849 the year of the Gold Rush (nor were they in 1848, 1856, and 1859, the dates we portray). They were not introduced until a few years later (to be exact, not until 1870 and the company itself says 1873).

Rob Tillitz Friday, May 28, 2010 email

I have some ideas, but have not attained anything yet. I saw one drawing of a miner where he was wearing a Spanish style canvas men's blouse-type thing, that made him look good, and liked that with Levis and some not-pointed-toe western boots. Also saw a miner, very iconic and the same pic on many sites, that was wearing an old long-john top. Now, with the script, and that I have a date, with a better sense of the character I'll come up with something good, and work along with my scene partner Bill and figure it out. - Rob Tillitz.

Rob Tillitz takes his role in a film very seriously. He researched the clothing, purchased an authentic pistol and holster of the era, two gold pans, a hat, and boots that complete his character Henry and Bill's character Arlen, so they look good together on camera.

Dan L. Walters Monday, July 19, 2010 email

Gerald, Today I went to the Costume Store for my wardrobe. They did not have a thing for me to be James Marshall. But, God went ahead of me, because the young man told me of a costume shop in Auburn. It was if the lady (Nancy?) was waiting for me. She had everything I needed. I went in with a picture of James Marshall, and she outfitted me just like the picture. She has an EXTENSIVE inventory, much more than the Costume Shop and she is extremely well informed. The shop - The Mad Hatters, 140 Hoffman Avenue, Auburn, 95603. 530.885.8860.

There was at least two others from our Cast who had already been in the store. It is of no coincidence that I found this place. God blessed me - again! Blessings, Dan L. Walters

3.3.3 Finding Crew & Equipment

While attending the Sierra Mousetrap Mac User Group in Nevada City in 2009, Brendan Brooks showed up with his home-made steady cam. The word got around that Gerald was heavily into filmmaking and the guy to go to for help, and Brendan needed help with Final Cut Pro. The two made a connection with video and film, but would not be revisited again until Gerald needed someone with a camera to make his film.

With Brendan aboard, a Mac User Member, Jim Heck, heard about the project and offered his talents and skills as still photographer. Steve Stubbs, a friend of Brendan's, started out as the production audio/boom operator, but had to leave the production allowing Aria Leven Davenport, Gary Udell, Jim Heck, and Jeremy Heck turns at operating the boom and recording audio for the film.

Aria Leven Davenport, Kyriè Sierra Davenport, and Tamara Maureen Davenport were major supporters of the film in many positions on the film, from acting to artwork, as well as, holding the reflector, to property masters.

Gerald and the production were lucky to get Megan Alicia Engle to be Script-Supervisor because she was so organized and supportive on set, but most importantly when the production needed authentic weapons for the outlaws she knew her dad, Noble Engle, had just what they needed. Noble came on as the Gun Wrangler bringing his collection of old west pistols.

3.3.4 Finding Locations

With the casting almost completed and the actors gathering their wardrobe & learning their lines, along with the crew behind the camera gathered and preparing for production, the final and third important thing THE GOLdEN TREE needed to begin production are locations to record the scenes.

Gerald volunteered Doug & Maureen Young's home for Sierra's room, but he needed a river bank for the Miners and Outlaws and the scene with John Sutter, James Marshal, and the Wimmer family.

John Murray Tuesday, June 2, 2010 message

Did you know that if you go to the very very back part of Pioneer Park in Nevada City, and I mean past the horse shoe pits in the very very back, there is a stream area with might work for you. Its accessible and flat and pretty.

Oregon Creek half way up to Downieville off Hwy 49 (off a quiet spot of the Yuba River) might be good too. It seems to me you should have no problem finding something that will work.

There is a spot near the lower parking lot (off of Park St.) at Pioneer Park (where the picnic tables are) that looks a lot like the lower photo. If you walk up the creek a ways, you'll probably find one that looks similar to both. There's also a spot, with a little bridge over it, on the Buttermilk Trail above the Yuba that has a similar little stream (but it is more seasonal).

Tamara told Gerald about Peggy Levine and her North Star Historic Conservancy that was restoring the North Star House designed by Julia Morgan just passed the Nevada County Fair Grounds on Old Auburn Road. Peggy gave permission to use the grounds after their Farmers Market was over at noon.

On Wednesday, June 9, 2010, Gerald visited the North Star House properties to see if it would work for Scenes 13, 14, and 15. The place was smaller than he imagined from what it looked like with the online map. Peggy Levine told Gerald that they were removing trees from the north-westerly side to create a bigger car park and it may not be what he is looking for to put into his movie. When Gerald visited the site on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 to do some scouting, what he found was absolutely perfect for the movie.

First look at the North-Westerly portion of the North Star House property - view one

North Star House property North-Westerly portion view two

North Star House property view two: Test Run of action #1

With help from Kyriè Sierra Davenport

North Star House property view two: Test Run of action #2

With help from Kyriè Sierra Davenport

Marty Coleman-Hunt Wednesday, June 23, 2010 email

From: Marty
Date: Wed, June 23, 2010 11:08 am
Regarding the stream for the film shoot, did you make it out to Joe Byrne's Dry Creek? It's a bit more accessible than the Bear River located on this map, though both are spectacular. Let me know if Dry Creek doesn't work and I will arrange for a visit to Garden Bar on the Bear. When do you want to do the shoot? I ask because fire season is quickly coming upon us and we will close Garden Bar for safety reasons within the next month.
Marty Coleman-Hunt
Executive Director
Nevada County Land Trust

Gerald Wednesday, June 30, 2010 email

Greetings Sutter Creak City Council and government powers that be.
Access Sacramento for the past 11 years has put on a a screen writing contest called “A place called Sacramento” and my screen play was one of ten chosen, out of 45, for this years event to be shown at the Crest Theatre on October 3rd.

I live in Nevada City and my story is called The Golden Tree, which is loosely based on the gold rush in Sacramento and it's surrounding areas. As you can see, if you have gone to the website, we have Rattlesnake Dick, James Marshall, John Sutter, and one bandit who was hung in Jackson by the name of Refael Escobar, as well as, other famous people.

Anyway, we have been looking for the perfect place to record two scenes that are near a creak / stream, in fact, on the beach area, as miners do a little gold panning before getting robbed by outlaws. The movie is to be 10 minutes long and it is all volunteer: cast and crew, except I have to feed everyone top keep them happy. We are a small group, with small equipment, but a big idea about making a good little movie to showcase everyone and the places we have been.

I have been all over the place in Sacramento, Auburn, Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Coloma and not finding or being allowed to access to the perfect spot. RON COOPER --- the head guy at Access Sacramento, sent me this earlier today:

Have you ever been to Sutter Creek, about a 40 minute drive from Sacramento out Hwy 16 Jackson Highway. I grew up there and played in the creek at the place I am describing. The Creek runs through the town and the city owned park has a nice picnic grounds, little league ball field and they might be thrilled to have a movie shot there by volunteers. It is perfect for what you are looking for.... much closer than Bridgeport and a nice place to visit. Call the Sutter Creek City Hall for details..... good luck.... ron

So I am doing as he suggests to find out for sure what here is and if it is even possible to do something like this in your neck of the woods. - gerald davenport

Gerald Wednesday, June 30, 2010 email

to: broderickhouse at marshallgold . org
Greetings. I am not sure of you can help me, but maybe you can send me to the right place. I do not know if you know about and their 11th annual film contest called "A place called Sacramento," but I was one of the 10 winning scripts out of 45.

My story is called The Golden Tree and it goes back in time back to when Marshall discovered gold. This is a 10 minute story, all volunteer (although I do have to feed them), and it will be seen on the big screen at the Crest theater in Sacramento on October 3rd.

What I am looking for is a creak or stream and a little beach where we can video a scene or two. We are a small group, low footprint, and honestly, a group of wanna be film makers that are professional in nature and respect property and going through the proper channels. do you know of a creak or stream that we could use? Is the location at the mill available during off peak times?

Gerald Wednesday, June 30, 2010 email

Greetings Kathleen Dodge.
I have contacted you before, but this time we actually got something going and it's through Access Sacramento, not sure if you know or have heard about it, but I am one of the ten winning screenplays for the 2010 Place called Sacramento contest.

Not sure if you can help us out or are connected in anyway, but I am looking for a stream or creak to reenact Sutter's Mill stream (soft flowing, quiet) where Marshall found gold on July 24th with 9 actors and on July 31, I need the same location but a little more rocky for a scene where bandits rob some miners with 7 actors.

Again, if you do not know, this is all volunteer work to educate, have fun, and spread the word about Sacramento's growing film community, so we have little to no funds for what ever may be needed, but then again, it all depends on the fabulous location we could use, but honestly, we spend the money on food for everyone — most important.

We have worked with the Nevada County Land Trust in Grass Valley for a few scenes at their North Star Properties and have volunteered our time to help do what needs to be done, if there is something like that we can do for the community or land owner, let us know.

Steve Dakota Wednesday, June 30, 2010 email

Dr. Bill Gallant, DVM, El Dorado County. He may have the location you're looking for. A fork of the American River runs through his backyard. He's expecting your call. Tell him I referred you. - Steve Dakota

The location opportunity came from Steve Dakota who had a friend that lived on the North Fork of the American River in the city of Lotus, California — a couple of miles from the exact location where James Marshall discovered gold, and one of the scenes that was in the screenplay. Gerald had a wonderful visit with Dr. Bill Gallant a retired Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, who gave Gerald the VIP tour of the area including visiting Sutter's Mill and the museum.

3.3.5 Screenplay Breakdown and Scheduling

When Gerald did Paint 2006, there was not much of an issue with breaking the screenplay down for scheduling — it was a small production. THE GOLdEN TREE had twenty-eight actors, five locations, six days of principal photography, and a traveling crew of ten (most had not worked with each other before) with equipment, props, and food. Gerald wanted the schedule to be as simple as it could.

Gerald tried grouping the scenes by year. 1848 Sutter's Mill, 1855 Miners and Outlaws, 1859 Sutter's Mill, and 2010 Family. That helped schedule a location for the Group and kept things easy and straightforward.

1848 Sutter's Mill and 1855 Miners and Outlaws could use the same place but on different days. This location was essential to establish that the miners were gold panning and John Sutter was inspecting his mill. It was the hardest to find and scheduled last for the production. Gerald was searching for a small creek or stream through a park or something, but professionally he knew he needed something more reliable and controllable.

1859 Sutter's Fort had three locations for the scenes. The scenes with older William, Benjamin, and Martha Jane needed a tree-lined area, the scene when older William is walking alone, and the scene when older William meets up with the miscellaneous cast of characters on the rock or dirt road.

2010 Family had four locations. The scenes where Sierra is reading and her Dad and sister enter the room, the scene where they are searching for THE GOLdEN TREE (2010), a montage of scenes at Sutter's Fort — the actual fort, and the scene where they think they find THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) and start digging.

Once the first few locations were secured, dates were scheduled and the cast & crew were notified.

3.4 Filming

On Set at the Young's House for the film THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Behind the scenes - Young's House

l-r: Kyriè Sierra Davenport as Kyriè, Megan Elisha Engle: 2nd Assistant Camera, and Brendan Brooks: Cinematographer.

With no group or scheduled rehearsals, principal Photography on THE GOLdEN TREE began on June 19, 2010.

3.4.1 Principle Photography Young's House: June 19, 2010

Gerald needed a comfortable, safe, and familiar place to start the film. That place was the Young's House in Nevada City, California, thanks to Tamara's parents, Doug and Maureen Young. This allowed the key personal to learn and adapt to the person that controlled the production which one the Cinematographer Brendan Brooks. The first scene to be captured was SCENE 2: INT. ROOM: PRESENT DAY - DAY. But before that could happen, Gerald, Tamara, Aria, and Kyriè were working hard finishing up the props, screenplay printout for the script-supervisor, shot-list printout, and many other things — and not just for Scene 2. They are planning on capturing Scene 14: EXT. SPARSELY WOODED AREA: 1859 - CONTINUOUS later that day at the North Star House, but they had 4 hours to capture all the scenes that take place in Kyriè's room. Scenes 2, 4, 8, 88, 11, and 16

Using Kyriè's real room, Brendan Brooks, Cinematographer; Steve Stubbs, Production Sound & Boom Operator; Megan Alicia Engle, 2nd Assistant Camera; Jim Heck, Still Photographer; capture the action between Sierra, played by Kyriè Sierra Davenport, Brooke, her younger sister played by Karly Avva, Dad, played by Gary Udell, and a special appearance by Toni Corbett as Great Grandma Cecilia in the form of a wonderful photograph in a antique frame sitting on the book-shelf.

Gary Udell handled the burgers on the bbq and the other food was already prepped for when they finished with the Young's House. Lunch was eaten quickly and equipment, actors, and crew were loaded into vehicles and headed toward the North Star House in Grass Valley, California. North Star House: June 19, 2010

The North Star House was used for two days for THE GOLdEN TREE and the first day was a surreal experience for Gerald as he drove onto the property past the house he looked toward the house and there was Aramis Liam and Claire Elizabeth running in the yard wearing their wardrobe for the film in slow motion. If anyone one has ever been to the North Star House and the property and then viewed two kids wearing 1800s era clothing, you would also be transported back in time — it was a positive and warm feeling that the film and story were on the correct path, as though they were being watched over by something bigger than them. And this was not the first sign that things fit perfectly.

As introductions were taking place, the crew was setting up the crane for a scene with William Wimmer played by Aria Leven Davenport, his younger brother Benjamin Franklin Wimmer played by Aramis Liam, and his even younger sister Martha Jane Wimmer played by Claire Elizabeth. The north-westerly lot of the property was in process of being cleared and leveled of trees for a new car park and there were many trees cut down with stumps about 2 to 3 feet tall that fit perfectly into the idea that this was somewhere near Sutter's Fort in Sacrament, California.

Gary Udell took over the audio duties at the North Star House when he was not on camera. Aria helped out as 1st assistant camera, helping Brendan Brooks. Megan Alicia Engle continued as script supervisor, Tamara and Kyriè, when she was not on camera, covered the craft and kept everyone hydrated.

Scenes 14 and 15 with Aria, Claire, and Liam were captured. The three got along together really well on and off camera almost enough that you could see Aria being the big brother to the two of them.

Gerald began searching on the property for an aera that was easy to access and could pass for trees to be over 150 years old so they could capture Scene 17, the last scene in the movie where Kyriè and Brooke were watching their Dad dig in the dirt for the treasure. Finding the perfect place just past where they were earlier in the day. The sun was going down and was a perfect mix of dark with some hues of light peaking through so the camera can pick them up, the scene was rehearsed then captured. The only time on the film that Gerald touched the camera when Brendan was there was when he moved the framing of the three a little to the left of the screen so there was more blank area to the left — when Brendan turned his back. Gerald did this because he wanted as much of the 10-minutes the film was allowed to be to tell the story. “If you put ending credits on their own in a short film, that is time taken away from telling the story. Instead of a 10-minute film, you have a 9, 8, or worse, a 7 minute film. I want every second I can get. So the credits are going to be shown as Dad digs for the treasure. Sutter's Fort: June 24, 2010

There was an idea that we would be able to set up a small team to do scenes 5, 6, and 7 outside and inside Sutter's Fort in Sacramento, California. After sending email queries and finally calling them, we found out that permits are needed and 6-months advanced notice to do such a thing.

Gerald came up with a plan to use Brendan's camera, microphone, boom-pole, and audio recorder to capture scenes outside the fort quickly and not draw too much attention. Gary Udell, Kyriè Sierra Davenport, and Karly Avva along with Gerald, operating the camera, and Tamara, operating the slate and audio recording, achieved an inconspicuous presence until one of the actors, Steven Sommers, whom was cast in the movie but not yet done his scene, visited them and made a lot of commotion.

When they were done in the front of Sutter's Fort, they waiting 30-minutes in the car in a car park under trees for the dust settle. Gerald (carrying only the camera), Gary, Kyriè, and Karly paid to get into the fort. Expecting someone to ask about what they were doing out front or with the big camera, they went inside in separate groups — no one bothered them.

The Canon D7 is a regular looking camera that takes excellent video in 2K. The plan was to make it look like Gerald was just taking pictures of the three while they toured the fort. Scene 7: EXT. INSIDE SUTTER'S FORT: PRESENT DAY - DAY had little written dialog for Dad. Gary began giving the girls a real tour of the fort until he saw the camera and added a few lines to fit the film. North Star House: July 17, 2010

A short, little, rock road with the North Star House in the background is used for Scene 13: EXT. DIRT ROAD: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, 1859 - DAY. The scene follows older William Wimmer played by Aria Leven Davenport, as he carries a tin filled with gold to bury it but on the way he encounters several groups of characters.

Coming out of the brush and trees onto the road, William sees Samuel Brannan played by Steve Dakota, and Mee Lien played by Yinique Myo-Flores, Brannan's attaché to China.

Second group of characters older William Wimmer encounters are two outlaws seen at the beginning of the movie. Rattlesnake Dick played by Jason Michael Shannon, and Cyrus Skinner played by Alex Harris (XVII). The two outlaws ridicule and heckle William's family beliefs and jokingly say that he is hiding gold in his pockets and he has got a whole pile of it buried near a tree not realizing how correct they were, they let William go and continue following Brannan.

Scene 13 continues with the third group of characters William encounters. A love interest, Victoria Marie played by Haley Hicks, mostly on her part. Benjamin and Martha appear and tell William dad needs help with the supplies, but Martha begins a jealousy tussle with Victoria ending in both clinging to William. Older Sarah Wimmer played by Susan Slaven enters the scene and asks William about his future and upsets Victoria. Zeke played by Rob_Hayes (IV), Victoria's older dimwitted brother, comes in late and does not like what William is doing to his sister and challenges William to a duel. William plays it cool and explains he has things to do.

Rachel Oldman Tuesday, June 22, 2010 email

On Jun 22, 2010, at 9:51 PM, Rachel Oldman wrote:
I wanted to share a funny thing Claire said to me today... Claire was at Haley's house today and she figured out that Haley's character is playing the girlfriend of William and she said how fun it would be to be in the scene like either a jealous little sister or a pest little sister teasing William about the girlfriend. I told her it would be funny but Gerald is probably fighting the movie being long already...but that is how her creative mind works LOL

Gerald Tuesday, June 22, 2010 email

Rachel. Well, I have been doing some thinking about that after looking at the footage and no fault of anyone's except myself. I would really like to redo the scenes we did with Aramis and Claire. The shots were not bad — a little dark under the hat, but i can fix in post. All my fault for not bringing the silks (white sheets to cut the dark shadows) or use more reflectors. I missed this cause I was not looking at the monitor, I was depending on my other crew and we were in a hurry to get everyone one back home — a grand gesture on our part, but causes one to rush and overlook a few things.

There were also some angles that I was not happy with but could live with — again, in a rush, lots going on and a lack of communication on my part to get it done fast. Also a few takes Claire was looking right into the camera on some of her better acting takes.

As for as adding her to the July 17th scene with Haley as a jealous or teasing sister, I am on the side of jealous, as the other scenes do not show a teasing sister, especially when he holds her hand, Martha Jane is William's baby sister.

I already have a teasing sister, SARAH WIMMER in that scene, she is 23, William is 19, Benjamin is 11, and Martha Jane is 8 in 1859 the year we are representing. In fact Benjamin and Martha Jane are half brother and half sister to William. Same father different mother.

What I am trying to say and ask, or put on the table is: If you two are willing and would like to, I can add her in SCENE 13 and then we can do some pick ups for Scenes 14 and 15 (the one's we did) hopefully the cut tree trunks are still there.

Now would be nice to get Aramis in the scene as well to really pick up Scenes 14 and 15.

Gerald verified that Aramis and Claire could be there on July 17 for scene 13, so he added them to the scene toward the end. Martha Jane heckles Victoria Marie as the jealous sister, pushing each other until William breaks it up, and older Sarah shows up. Adding Benjamin and Martha Jane to scene 13 also helps set up the scene where Benjamin and Martha Jane show up when William is heading to bury the gold.

Gerald planned for Scene 13 to be done in one shot using the steady cam, but after three tries and timing not working, they abandoned it the day going by. With no shot list, they improvised the camera angles and captured each group in several takes to get enough coverage of each character.

Scott Slotterbeck contacts Gerald wanting to come up and watch the production and capture behind-the-scene images. It was an unusual request as Scott said he wanted to come up and scout the location before joining the team. After meeting Scott when he arrived in his loaded classic 70's car — looking as though he lived in it — Gerald felt more comfortable after contracts were signed.

Another addition to the crew at this time was Danny Gray, a composer from New Rochel, New York that was going to score the movie. Lotus, California: July 24, 2010

An early morning wake-up call to gather everyone up to get to Lotus, California, just 3 miles north of Coloma where Sutter's Mill is located and the discovery of gold in Northern California.

The day was filled with excitement to be on the actual river 3 miles from the place they were portraying. History was in the air, and the thrill began on Scene 9: EXT. SUTTER'S MILL-RACE: SATURDAY, JAN 29, 1848 - DAY a 7 and a half page scene with young William Wimmer, played by Adrien Bourassa, and his older brother George Wimmer played by Nolan Bourassa. The two boys were following their father, Peter Wimmer, played by Steve Sommer, to meet with John Augustus Sutter, played by Mark Hoffman, and James Marshall, played by Dan L. Walters. Standing on the riverbed of the American River, the group discusses what they should do with the gold glimmering in the water and how to keep it secret.

Sutter introduces his wife, Anna Dubeld Sutter, played by Meghan Malia Bird, who asks to see this gold they are discussing. Sutter asks Anna, "Can't you see them glimmer in the water?" Jennie Wimmer, played by Amber DeAnn, enters and explains how she found the gold and threw it in her lye pot. Beatrice, played by Courtney Leonard-Maye, and young Sarah Wimmer, played by Grace Rose, confirm the story about the gold.

Before they could finish all the takes on the river bed, Aria Leven Davenport tells his dad, Gerald, that the water is rising already. It what rising around 9:30 A.M. and not slowly but an inch a minute. CUT! WATER RISING! was the call and a mad dash to get all equipment and personal out of harms way.

Gerald recalls his thoughts at that point.

Gerald Saturday, July 24, 2010 journal

My first thought was Get the equipment up on the bank before it gets wet. We had cameras, lights, extension cords, cases, sticks, a table, papers, sandbags, reflectors, wardrobe, and craft down on the rocks of the river bed. My feet were getting wet as the water was rising so fast. I looked down and where Aria showed me the first time the water was below a rock that was 8 inches in height. A minute later it was almost covered by the water.

After the equipment and personal were safe and dry, I thought about how this really messed up production. There is no way we are going to be able to come back another morning. There goes the film. Brendan Brooks splashes past me with the last item and says to me. “Don't fret, we can finish up on the bank and no one will ever know.”

I thought about it a bit and felt the water rise on my legs and before i walked up onto the bank of the river, the water was reaching my knees.

The cast and crew took a few moments to catch their breath and laugh about the ordeal. Brendan and the camera crew set up to continue in medium and close up with the river in the background. Every once in awhile they would have to cut when a rafter filled with ten people floated by.

The day ended with Scene 10: EXT. SUTTER'S MILL-RACE: THURSDAY, FEB 3, 1848 - DAY where YOUNG WILLIAM WIMMER'S HAND COMES INTO FRAME AND GRABS THE NUGGET. Young William Wimmer brings his wet hand and the small nugget up to his eyes then puts it in a jar filled with golden flakes and pea sized nuggets as he walks the river bank. A voice over explains the situation.

Gerald Monday, July 26, 2010 email

Miss Rose, you were marvelous. I would love to hear you sing more, cause if your singing is as good as your acting, it will be like a song from heaven. Thank you for your time and efforts, say hi to mom, sorry I did not get a chance to give you a big hug for your efforts. Are you coming to the party this saturday? If so, I was wondering if you could be at the location at 8 am, so we can get some footage of you and the other youngens near the water to make it more authentic?

Gerald Monday, July 26, 2010 newsletter

Nope, this is not the pretty format, it takes too long, and I need to get this information out ASAP. We had a long, grueling, but very fruitful day Saturday, July 24 — I took on such a big long scene and Brendan questioned me about it months ago, but I said we can do it. They can do it. And we did — about 90% of it anyway.

I want to thank everyone again. I am sorry that I did not get the chance to thank everyone in person for coming out and putting up with the distance, location, heat, and us. THANK YOU. Everyone was great. The cast was fabulous and the crew was exceptional. I want to thank you personally here and give you a well worth and most definitely earned adjectives like tremendous, stupendous, prodigious, phenomenal, remarkable, exceptional; astounding, amazing, fantastic, breathtaking, staggering, unthinkable, unimaginable, incredible, unbelievable, unheard of, untold, undreamed of, beyond one's wildest dreams; informal mind-boggling, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, and MORE.

I just can't give one person a tremendous and another a stupendous without feeling like I gave someone a higher compliment than the other cause YOU ALL DESERVE EVERYONE OF THEM.

You are all so important to this project, but if I were to give anyone something a smidgen more than the actors and parents it would be to my trusted, beaten up, and hard working crew. Cause when the actors take a rest, they do not.

I THANK YOU FROM EVERY God given cell in my body. As I said about the July 17th cast and crew — NO WORDS CAN DESCRIBE my elation, humbleness, and gratitude and it would be futile to even try. I can only say: THANK YOU ALL CAST AND CREW of July 24th and I want to give everyone a big hug. If I decide to do this as a full feature, everyone of you will be cast without hesitation.- gerald davenport

Beth Cameron Monday, July 26, 2010 email

Thank you, you rock. Oh you are legend. Every other set we go to they ask about your movie as they have seen the movie trailer pictures etc. So people are wondering - beth

Yeah people hear aramis was in THE GOLdEN TREE and comment “Oh, I saw the trailer. What was it like? ” Just thought might bring a smil to your face to know have a good week. - beth and aramis Lotus, California: July 31, 2010
Gerald Tuesday, July 20, 2010 email

From: TGT
Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 1:52 PM
To: Slotterbeck
Subject: BTS pictures and footage.
I have a question for you, and want to wait to see you in person, but I know I will forget, but maybe you can remind me. Will you be coming to the wrap party, and if so, would you mind being the BTS / interviewer?

We will set up a place with some chairs and so forth so you can sit people down and ask them a few questions about their time on the movie and then, if I remembered correctly you said you have editing software, if you wanted to edit that as a feature on the DVD with your BTS pictures?

Scott Slotterbeck Tuesday, July 20, 2010 email

On 7/20/10 2:26 PM, Slotterbeck, Scott wrote:
Yes, I'm planning on it, and yes, I'll be the BTS photo/videographer. Sounds like a fun project to put together a disk with the photos and the interviews.

Scott Slotterbeck Tuesday, July 20, 2010 email

Sent: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:40 PM
I have a camcorder with a mic input and a EV 635 mic, but I also have a lavalier mic (wired) which is what I used for my interviews with the WWII vets. It provides pretty good sound.

I'd welcome any questions, but I usually ask things about background, what got you into acting, what they think about period movies, trite things like that. I do like to improvise.

Gerald Monday, July 26, 2010 email

Greeting everyone. I have added some lines, moved some lines, and changed some direction to make it easier for us to complete. I have Bill and Rob — the miners — coming at 6 AM. The crew will be there by 5 or sooner. We have lights. If we can get some establishing shots on the river bed then if we have to finish it on shore, we can do it in close up. But we need the outlaws to be there by no later than 7 AM, as early as 6 AM would be great!

I have 3 extra actors coming around 8 AM to get some establishing shots on the river that we missed last Saturday. So no matter what we are doing, I need 30 minutes for them. We need to be off the river by 9:30 AM, or we will be swimming down stream. I have a shot list ready and what lines they will be done in.

As far as I know CREW IS: Brendan Brooks, Jim Heck, Aria Davenport, Megan Alicia Engle, Noble Engle, Michael Carl, Susan Slaven, Tamara Davenport, Steve Slotterbeck, with the possibility of Jeremy Heck. Could use more. If anyone wants to help and get there early. Going crazy, getting nervous, wanting to get all we need to make this thing great for all involved.

KEEP IN MIND THAT location B is the location for the production. Location A is the location of the party that hopefully will begin around 1, maybe sooner. WHAT HAVE I missed? - gerald

The last day of principle photography is in the same location as the week before, but with a new group of actors — the miners and the outlaws that open the film. The day started around 5 A.M. due to the week before the water rose earlier than 11 A.M. when they were told it would.

The film starts out with a long opening credit scene from first morning light following the river down stream where Scene 1: EXT. BANK OF A RIVER: 1855 - DAY begins with Arlen played by Bill Bettencourt and Henry played by Rob Tillitz. The two miners discuss the proper way of pannin when Henry hears a noise in the woods.

The diversion allows Rattlesnake Dick, George Skinner, played by Joseph Baldridge, Rafael Escobar, played by Carey White Jr., and Romero, played by Noble L. Engle, to sneak up behind Arlen and Henry. The outlaws play with words with the two miners until Arlen realizes what is going on and turns to leave when a gun cocks that is held by Cyrus Skinner. Henry goes for his gun but brother George tells Henry "Don't be stupid, now." Arlen gives up his gold pouch to Cyrus and the debate begins about how much it is worth which is cut short when Sierra stops reading because her father comes into the room.

The scene picks back up as though Sierra goes back a sentence or two to re-read and Rattlesnake Dick thanks Arlen and Henry for all their hard work.

The water began to rise again, a little earlier than the Saturday before, but they were prepared and continued on the bank without any break in the action. Principle photography ended around just before noon. Everyone helped clean up and put equipment away so they could head over to the Wrap Party[1] that started at 12:30 at Henningsen Lotus Park located at 950 Lotus Road, Lotus, California 95651, just a few miles from where they were filming.

3.4.2 Additional Photography North Star House: August 14, 2010

Scene 12: EXT. FOREST PATH: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8, 1859 - DAY did not get captured for some reason or another the first or second time they were at the North Star House which caused confusion between 11 and 13 in post-production. There was not flow, no transition between the scenes. Gerald borrowed Brendan's camera and fixed that with scene 12 with Aria. Young's House: August 15, 2010

Since Gerald had the camera for a few days he decided to re-shoot and get some different coverage of Scenes 8, 88, 11, and 16 of Kyriè in the room as she searches the books, finds the journal, and reads it. Bridgeport Covered Bridge: September 18, 2010[^3]

Brendan and Gerald got up real early and headed to the Bridgeport Covered Bridge at the South Yuba River State Park in Penn Valley, California to capture b-roll for intro credits for the longer version of the film — at that time there was speculation that it could be around 30 minutes.

Over 3 hours of time spent capturing an hours worth of video starting with the early morning, calm, serene pool to the active, rushing rapids of the river.

3.5 Wrap Party[^1]

The wrap party started at 12:30 P.M. right after principle photography. Val Hicks and Rachel Oldham prepared the food and set up the tents and had everything ready for the cast and crew to enjoy.

Scott Slotterbeck set up an area near the party but far enough away that the noise did not effect him capturing testimonials from actors and crew.

3.6 Post-Production

Gerald Monday, July 5, 2010 email

From: Editor Gerald
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 2010 07:29:57 -0700
To: Trish McCleskey
Subject: Sorry for being a pain

Trish... I am ready to get off your list of pains in your side. I have not found anything, but I am now looking for two different things and will make a selection for sure this time. I am in need of something. I am looking for a creak/stream or a field with a single oak tree or something like that. - gerald davenport.
CODE: C5965H

Trish Thursday, July 8, 2010 email

Hi Gerald, I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I've been out of the office for a few days. I'm more than happy to help you find footage any time. I've gone ahead and set up a clip bin for you which contains the few shots we have of a lone tree. I'm not sure we have exactly what you're looking for on that front.

I've also added a sampling of the creek/stream footage we carry. There's a lot more where that came from so if you have a specific angle, size, terrain, etc in mind, let me know and I can narrow that search down for you. Let me know if you need anything else. Trish

Trish McCleskey
Sales & Marketing
Artbeats, Inc.

Monday, August 2, 2010 message
9:19:09 AM Megan Alicia Engle: well working on this has given me a whole new appreciate for movie making!
9:19:27 AM Gerald: sorry to not have been able to give your more
9:19:50 AM Gerald: there were things I had no control over with such a large ensemble.
9:19:52 AM Megan Alicia Engle: no no it's ok!
9:20:11 AM Megan Alicia Engle: This was my first time on an actual set so I appreciate being able to learn so much
9:20:25 AM Megan Alicia Engle: classes and being on set are completely different beasts
9:20:50 AM Gerald: when it's 3 actors or so, I can control more things, but with such a large cast and crew, I can only be in one place at a time, I needed a craft services manager, an assistant Director, a production manager, and...
9:22:11 AM Gerald: but see a craft services manager takes care of the food area on set keeping the area clean, ready or takers, you know, fills cups with fruit, water, and so forth and hands them to the actors who come up.
9:23:12 AM Gerald: Assistant director helps with organizing the actors, getting them to the set for their scene, telling them to get ready, telling other cast to be prepared, basically a traffic cop
9:24:24 AM Gerald: production manager is there to make sure the director gets the shots, angles, takes, and so forth from the script to make sure coverage is covered
9:25:22 AM Gerald: we were nearly technically a full blown production and needed those people to help me and the other crew to stay on top of the production.
9:25:48 AM Megan Alicia Engle: that would have been very nice to have
9:25:50 AM Gerald: AND: also, other than Brendan and myself, everyone else was new to this.
9:25:57 AM Megan Alicia Engle: yup! all green.
9:26:03 AM Megan Alicia Engle: and you had to try to teach us at the same time
9:26:11 AM Gerald: so, I relaxed and let it happen, because we were there to learn
9:27:24 AM Megan Alicia Engle: well next time you have more experienced people!
9:27:33 AM Megan Alicia Engle: I thought Jim had helped you before the first day
9:27:37 AM Megan Alicia Engle: I did not realize that was his first time as well
9:28:08 AM Gerald: He thought you and I worked together before
9:28:13 AM Megan Alicia Engle: lol
9:28:20 AM Gerald: thought you had done this before too
9:28:21 AM Megan Alicia Engle: here we all were thinking the others had experience
9:28:28 AM Megan Alicia Engle: nope you were trying to wrangle all the newbies
9:28:33 AM Megan Alicia Engle: and keep us in order
9:29:14 AM Gerald: it was a chore, but the key people, Brendan, Jim, and you made my life so much easier. I knew I could rely on all of you to be there
9:29:23 AM Gerald: we sure did miss you the saturday before though.
9:29:36 AM Gerald: hope you had fun and behaved at this party i heard about
9:30:01 AM Megan Alicia Engle: I missed it too! haha of course I did! It was fun but unfortunate that it was on the same day wish I could have been in two places at once
9:32:49 AM Gerald: I'm glad... I was lost without you, but susan covered it as best as she could
9:33:12 AM Gerald: slate doesn't sit, doesn't leave the camera area.
9:33:36 AM Megan Alicia Engle: no sitting
9:33:52 AM Megan Alicia Engle: I can't really stand to sit still unless I need to write things down
9:34:06 AM Gerald: but again, I do not blame anyone for their lack of trying, and I know to calm myself cause it was volunteer and newbies, but I think we did really good for what we had
9:35:23 AM Gerald: Well I tried to make your life a little easier and give you more responsibilities cause I know I could rely on you
9:35:49 AM Megan Alicia Engle: i appreciate that very much and hope I can help with other things too!
9:36:01 AM Megan Alicia Engle: as far as editing goes i was wondering if I could come watch the magic?
9:38:05 AM Gerald: I have one last shot to redo with aria carrying and burying the tin instead of taking the gold out of a pouch
9:38:18 AM Gerald: plus September 7th will come real fast
9:38:40 AM Megan Alicia Engle: ooo that is when it's due isn't it
9:38:44 AM Megan Alicia Engle: I can't believe how time is flying
9:39:21 AM Gerald: when this is all said and done and I get the longer version done, I've got to get it to my finance people to look over.
9:41:32 AM Gerald: your dad was a trooper and a glutten for punishment
9:42:39 AM Megan Alicia Engle: He was THRILLED to be there
9:42:44 AM Megan Alicia Engle: and to end up being in it
9:42:52 AM Megan Alicia Engle: He is just sorry he didn't know the script better
9:43:02 AM Megan Alicia Engle: I told him not to worry about that it's not like he knew
9:43:10 AM Megan Alicia Engle: that he'd really need to know it in and out
9:43:40 AM Gerald: it was fine...
9:43:48 AM Gerald: I felt bad putting him under that pressure
9:43:58 AM Megan Alicia Engle: I think he's immune to pressure
9:44:01 AM Megan Alicia Engle: he's far too easy going
9:44:03 AM Megan Alicia Engle: to feel pressure
9:44:09 AM Gerald: I was going to have Aria dso it but not take his mask off, but someone said "Noble" and he heard it and I could not renig on the deal
9:44:31 AM Gerald: he looked excited about it
9:45:55 AM Megan Alicia Engle: I think people maybe have noticed Aria was an outlaw and William
9:46:00 AM Megan Alicia Engle: Even with the bandana
9:46:03 AM Megan Alicia Engle: Did you ever hear from the actor?
9:46:25 AM Gerald: Well if he had a hat on covering the long hair it might have worked
9:46:38 AM Gerald: Yes I did
9:46:47 AM Gerald: He said he was mad at himslef for getting lost
9:46:52 AM Megan Alicia Engle: Oh my
9:46:55 AM Gerald: And that I did not give him my number
9:47:13 AM Megan Alicia Engle: Ha! Your number is included in every email that goes out
9:47:20 AM Gerald: Every newsletter or characer report that I formatted with the pretty stuff had my number on it.
9:47:25 AM Megan Alicia Engle: Yup
9:47:37 AM Gerald: Did you meet Rob Hayes
9:47:47 AM Gerald: The really large guy that showed up a little later
9:47:51 AM Megan Alicia Engle: Yes
9:48:07 AM Gerald: He knew the actor in question and was not really surprised
9:48:21 AM Megan Alicia Engle: aw man
9:48:27 AM Gerald: But he was disappointed in him cause he knows him personally.
9:49:06 AM Megan Alicia Engle: sheesh
9:59:34 AM Megan Alicia Engle: have a great day!

3.6.1 Music

Gerald found a group on LinkedIn named "I Need Music, I Make Music" and posted a message to the members explaining the situation and his needs. There were seven musicians who responded to Gerald's post on the LinkedIn group, but only two continued the conversation after Gerald replied to them.

Danny Gray via LinkedIn Tuesday, July 13, 2010 message

Danny Gray has sent you a message. Hi Gerald, I would be very interested in learning more about your project, and would like to be considered for your composition needs.

Gerald via LinkedIn Tuesday, July 13, 2010 message

On 07/13/10 12:13 AM, Gerald Davenport wrote: Your samples are very professional in sound, clarity, and style, also love the emotional feeling they give off and I can tell yours could make a perfect fit.

Just a note: I am an unusual creative kind of guy... I am thinking about using you for the bulk of the score and adding one more to add additional music -- again, I say maybe, they have not replied, but we are not in critical time yet. Also, looking at several trailers. What do you need from me to final your interest? Story, screenplay, ideas? It would be great if you were closer to California so we can get you to the screening, you might win an award for original music (not too many of these do that and with such professionalism)

Danny Gray via LinkedIn Tuesday, July 13, 2010 message

Hi Gerald,

I'm glad you liked my demos - I spent a lot of time on your company site this morning and I really like the look of this project!

No worries about the "additional music" thing, I've done that sort of arrangement before and it usually works out well. I've found that the one concern is finding two (or more) composers who can match their sounds into one seamless score - if that is even your intention - but with experienced composers its usually only a matter of good communication and a little brainstorming.

Regarding my questions - I'd like to read the complete screenplay so that I could really grasp your ideas for this. Also some practical questions about the production budget: I'm more than happy to do the composing on a for-credit basis, but what is your vision for the musical score? Would I be recording entirely with synthesizers - which would avoid having to pay professional musicians, but possibly limit the orchestral "bigness" of the sound? Or would you be interested in setting aside a small amount - a few hundred dollars at most - so that I could supplement the synths with two or three live players?

The reason I ask all of this upfront is that it would affect the type of score I write. A synth score needs to be very carefully done so that nothing sounds "fake." A score with even one or two live players affords a lot more flexibility and realism, but with some projects its simply not a financial possibility. Personally, I've found that even $300 or $400 towards musicians makes a HUGE difference. Other than that, you can pretty much consider my interest guaranteed. August is a good time for me and I'll be able to put plenty of time into this, if we decide to move ahead. Thanks again for your interest in my work, and I'm hoping we will be able to collaborate! Best, Danny

Gerald via LinkedIn Tuesday, July 13, 2010 message

Danny. It is still under review about additional music, as I mentioned, but there will not be any conflicts, just looking at textures.

Budget is, as I mentioned before, all volunteer work for everyone, in fact, the 34 actors on this project have agreed to be apart of this on certain conditions:

  • No pay
  • drive an hour to the location
  • gather their own period wardrobe
  • and in the 10 minute version some actors may only be seen for 60 seconds or less, but they get a copy of the 30 min and I will isolate their performances for a demo reel if they choose.

The only monies going out of our pocket is for food. A happy crew is a well fed crew. we have $300 for this, but not everyone is at each days production (we have 5 days). So as much as I would love to have real instruments (I profess in that as a musician myself) it is not within the budget to do so.

I was hoping everyone saw the note on the LinkedIn "I Need Music, I Make Music" group's post that it was unpaid at this time to increase one's portfolio, i apologize if I did not make that clear enough.

Thank you for your interest and I do like your sound.

Danny Gray via LinkedIn Tuesday, July 13, 2010 message

No problem about the budget. I always double check up front, since I've seen those miscommunications happen and they never end well!

I should have asked in my last message, though, whether you would offer screen credit to unpaid musicians? Sometimes that is a good incentive.

But at the absolute minimum, I can definitely still produce a very realistic, professional score for you on my own.

I took a quick look at the screenplay and will read it more thoroughly tonight, but I'm enjoying the concept very much, and I'd really like to be onboard. If you'd like to move ahead, I suppose the next thing for us to do is draft a simple contract, and then get down to the more enjoyable part - making all the artistic decisions.

Gerald Tuesday, July 13, 2010 email

From: Casting Director
To: Guitar Noises
Date: Tuesday, July 13, 2010, 2:39 PM
Too darn cool!
Another thing, I work different. I may give you ideas of what I think I want to hear, cause again, I am a composer as well, but I have no time to score this one, plus I want to open it up to more people as I can: actors, crew, post, and so forth.

I am going to leave it up to your creative mind to come up with a few possible ideas to pass by me, but nothing as of yet, cause I would like to get a rough cut to you by the first week of august for you to get the feel of the movie.

If this works for you... We will need to do a contractual agreement for both parties. One I credit you, and it will be big time, and only use the music in conjunction with the movie, such as trailers, teasers, and the movie at projection, DVD's (not selling as of yet, who wants to buy a 30 min DVD)? Any sound track cd's will be negotiated later, again, a 30 min movie will not have much, well, it will, but not yet. This starts out by adding you to the pre credit list on the web site, with links, bio, and head shot, if you wish.

Martin Tuesday, July 13, 2010 email

Everything sounds good and in order. Contact me as needed for info, contractual questions/arrangements or direction. I will eagerly await the first rough for august. - Martin

Gerald Wednesday, July 14, 2010 email

Reply to Danny Gray

I should have asked in my last message, though, whether you would offer screen credit to unpaid musicians? Sometimes that is a good incentive.

WHAT?! SCREEN CREDIT IS A GIVEN! With me anyway. Of course we need to recognize and showcase peoples talents and time. I would not have it any other way.

It is not only illegal without written permission, but just unethical to not give credit where credit is due! Plus you get a copy of the 10 and 30-minute versions on DVD, along with all the other additional content on the DVD, which includes credit on the DVD. Also will be credited on the POSTER, WEBSITE, and where ever else we market it.

If you'd like to move ahead, I suppose the next thing for us to do is draft a simple contract, and then get down to the more enjoyable part - making all the artistic decisions.

The CONTRACT is being looked for now. I have made my decision on the two I will use, out of the seven that posted but have not returned a reply. You and another composer. and I am excited about both your opportunities, as each one will get equal time on screen, with two trailers each, so 10 minutes = 5 for contest, 30+ = 15+ minutes of music.

Steve Barden via LinkedIn Sunday, July 18, 2010 message

Steve Barden has sent you a message.
Subject: RE: Score needed ... for future reference
Hi Gerald,
Apparently I missed this post until now. Although you've filled this assignment, I'd like to ask you to add my name to your database for possible future projects.

I am a Los Angeles-based composer. My writing style is primarily orchestral, but often incorporate elements of electronica and rock into my scores. You can hear audio samples of my work at
I look forward to hearing from you.
Best regards,
Steve Barden

Gerald Barden via LinkedIn Friday, July 23, 2010 message

Sorry for the delay, I have been in production and pre-production of up coming scenes, as well as web design, editing, and family stuff. take a deep breath. As far as too late, I have two on board so far for a 10 minute version and a 30 plus minute. I love your sound and style, very nice. Drunken Cowboy and Narrow Escape are not just audio but visual. I could see it. Heck, all of them were awesome!

There are some great composers out there that need to get their dues and you are one of them, great credit list. You are on the list for the next call. Again this is my first time using music other than my compositions and so far, I am liking what I hear and the free time to do other things, but I miss composing.
- I will keep you posted!
- gerald

Steve Barden via LinkedIn Friday, July 23, 2010 message

Hi Gerald,
Thanks so much for your kind words. I guess I didn't realize that you yourself are a composer. Hopefully we can work on something together in the future.
Take care.
Steve Barden

Danny Gray Monday, August 23, 2010 email

Hi Gerry - I've watched the film quite a few times now, and I have some sketches I'm working on. I think (and hope!) that you will be very pleased.

What is the deadline we are looking at? I know the screening is in October, and I'm sure you'll want a comfortable few weeks to finalize things before that.

If I sent you a product by the end of the first week of September, would that leave you with enough time? Maybe Saturday the 4th or Sunday the 5th? - Danny

3.6.2 10-Minute Version

Gerald used Final Cut Pro 7 to edit THE GOLdEN TREE instead of Avid or Premiere Pro. And with the Canon D7 there were no tapes just SD cards that were easy to offload the video onto the computer and rename the clips as 1A-1 — Scene 1A take 1. 1A-2 — Scene 1A take 2 and so on. This is usually the job of the Assistant Editor labelling the clips, putting them in bins in the editing software, and organizing them for the editor to do his creative job so they do not have to think about housekeeping and logic.

Gerald has a different, unique way of assembling a story together than most people who do the same thing and call themselves "Editors." It is what he is in the mood to accomplish and work on. He never forces a scene and never starts a scene before seeing it in his mind. Gerald views and reviews all the takes — ALL OF THEM — at a minumum of 4 times to acquaint himself with the available material to let each take, angle, and performance soak into his mind — there could be only 12 clips and there could be over 100, but he watches them all many times. He then assembles them in his mind before actually doing it. When he finally does use the editing software, he often ends up with a minimum of 4 different versions of a scene. Gerald plays these scenes for family and himself seeing and feeling which one plays best for the story, not because the angle was cool, the light was perfect, or the actor looked best, but for performance, character & story arch.

A rough cut of action portions of the film was completed in two under two weeks. Gerald felt the transition from scene 11 to 13 was missing Scene 12. And there needed to be more of the Sierra character searching for family history in the bedroom. Additional Photography at the North Star House and the Young's House took place the following days.

After putting scenes 12, 8, 88, 11, and 16 in their respective places in the film, Gerald added the intro and end credits. The completed rough cut was then previewed by the key team members. After a few more small revisions and a Picture Lock was completed on August 19, 2010. The film was exported and sent to Danny Gray to begin adding the music score while Gerald then worked on audio sweetening — as he calls it — cleaning the dialog from the actors, enhancing the audio effects such as gun-cocks, footsteps, gold-pouches, laughter, nature, book-pages, and room-tone. Color-Correction and Color-Grading was one of the last things Gerald does that gives the look of the film. There may have been a few changes in some takes but the length of each scene and such never changed as it could effect the syncing of the music score.

Gerald Tuesday, August 17, 2010 email

I have not forgotten about you ( I now see you everyday)

Well EDITING HAS BEGUN and I am nearly finished with the rough cut. Working with picture, pacing, and performance. After which I will tighten up the dialog then sweeten the audio. What have you been doing since July 31st?

I had to convert the files for THE GOLdEN TREE from h.264 from the camera we used to a format that the editing system can handle which also made the files larger — kind of like blowing up a balloon. If the file was a 2 minute clip at 600MB. It converted to 1.2GB. And we have over 80 clips. So that has been the hold up. The converting part was not a fast process — it took 3 days and many hours each day.

I do want to reiterate to most of you that to get this in under 10 minutes, some of you may just flash on the screen (not really, but pretty short). I do feel terrible about it and I have been working on cutting other things, but there is also a story that needs to be told. Everyone is in it, everyone is seen. I am working on getting everyone to at least have a line of dialog: I am talking about the July 17 and 24 cast (scenes 9 and 13), which were additional scenes that make the longer story, but not all of it will make the 10 minute. In fact scene 14 might just be left out. (ARIA, Aramis, and Claire) but they have scene 15.

I knew I could make this work and I told you all that you may be on screen for a few seconds, 30 or less, but the performances deserve to be seen. Bigger things are destined for THE GOLdEN TREE. Be patient and hang in there. -gerald davenport

Jim Heck, new to filmmaking and audio but not to photography learns of the speed that Gerald finished editing and achieved picture lock.

Jim Heck Friday, August 20, 2010 email

My gosh your fast. I was hoping to see you in action doing some of the video editing. Perhaps you can let me observe some of the 30 min editing.

I always like to learn from my experiences. Since it was my first time doing any sound I'm not sure how the things I did affected the usability of the audio. Ie: the gain settings, how the mike was held, the distance to the subject, the effect of the background noises with the different configurations, etc. (I attempted to keep the sound of the river in the background constant between takes. I don't know if that was effective in a good or bad way) It would great if I had the opportunity to observe you editing the audio to make it usable for TGT. This would give me a lot of good feedback. I won't get offended if I hear grumblings about the audio. That's how I learn.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with you, the rest of the production crew and all the actors. Everyone was always so nice and pleasant, even the director, even at 102.8F. Jim

Ron Cooper Monday, August 30, 2010 email

PCS 2010 filmmakers you should be putting the final touches on your films as we speak. Hard deadline for finished films is next Tuesday (Sept. 7) by Noon.

But if you have them ready now, plan to bring them in this week. If you still have questions about format, bring your film in on a hard drive and Bhim will download for you onto his hard drive. We don't want DVD compressed video because we edit the "show reel" together for high quality, seamless playback onto the big screen. Questions? Call Dev NOW -- no time to waste.

Also, we are using "poster art" of digital stills from your films for our display card we will be placing around town and in the Crest lobby. If you have artwork, send to me as an attachment .jpg 300 d.p.i. Send this artwork NOW so we can use it for advanced marketing.

Even if you don't have your poster art ready yet send us a great digital still of you movie so we can add a title graphic. This will only be used for very small images but we need NOW to be useful. Take the rest of the month for your poster art but send us an image for your film quickly so we can create our marketing pieces.

The Board is planning and after film event at a downtown location immediately following the film from about 4-7 PM. It will have some treats to eat and a no-host bar. We are kicking off out 25th anniversary party and you and your friends are invited.

Each filmmaker will receive five (5) VIP passes. Additional tickets will be $10 each for all seats (no reserved seating). They will be on sale online during the first week of September. OK?

We look forward to seeing your film and promoting the event to a full house of 900 folks. Thanks you in advance for all your hard work and dedication. The finish line is in sight. Finish strong. All the best, ron cooper

Danny Gray finished the music in a relatively short amount of time and sent each segment for approval. Gerald put them into timeline where Danny said to and they should fit perfectly. There were few, if any, changes to the music.

Danny Gray Wednesday, September 1, 2010 email

Gerry - I've played the WAV files against the film in two different programs - Logic and ProTools - just to triple check that everything is in sync. A small problem that occurs in Logic, but not ProTools, is that halfway through the score there seems to be a moment of silence that is missing, and consequently everything following is slightly off.

You can check this easily enough. After the line “And then I saw an angel” there is a small piano riff, and then the playful "bouncy" pizzicato strings should line up with the shot of the children approaching the stream (at 00:05:57:10)

If that lines up, everything is fine. If for some reason, that musical riff begins a moment early, when the mother's giving orders to the kids, you (or I) can splice the entire file in half and nudge the second half up a fraction.

Can't be sure why this happened - if it even did, and its not just something I'm seeing on my end. Sorry for the extra hassle. - Danny

With the music in place, dialog & background audio cleaned up, color-correcting & color-grading done, intro & ending credits triple-checked for spelling, THE GOLdEN TREE was finished — and this was just the 10-minute version.

3.6.3 42-Minute Version

It was tossed around throughout the film's production that the longer version might be up to 30-minutes long, but no one really knew, even Gerald. The longer version ended up at being 42:39 total-run-time.

The longer version included extending scenes that were shortened for the 10-minute version. The actor's performances are seen and heard in full. A 5:30 minute intro credit sequence using the additional photography that Brendan and Gerald captured on September 18, 2020[3] opened the film. And a 5-minute ending credit sequence showcasing each actor with a memorable phrase they spoke was only to be used for the Premier at the Del Oro Theater, but a newer ending credit segment was never created. Giving the final actual film 31 minutes of action to watch.

A preview was created during this time, as was marketing artwork such as posters, flyers, and an Electronic Press Kit.

Danny Gray created the extended music score.

3.7 Access Sacramento Print-To-Tape

Gerald is experienced in exporting video from a computer in many ways. The way that Access Sacramento wanted the films delivered to them was on tape. This was not told to the filmmakers, or at least to Gerald, until they were ready to submit their finished film.

Access Sacramento did not want it as a .MOV, .WMV, .AVI, or on DVD — the most common, simplest, and easy ways for independent filmmakers to submit their films. They want it on tape: HDV (miniDV) tape that is — one of the earliest forms of submitting, transferring, and broadcasting video — and it is easy to do if you have a tape deck — which is quite pricey ($11,000.00 in 2010 for a basic one) — or a camera that records onto MINI HDV tape. Most independent filmmakers do not have either one, and none of the newbie filmmakers that entered a film into the 'A Place Called Sacramento' contest has either item.

The only way for them to output to tape is to go to Access Sacremento with their computer and hook-up to one of their tape decks. Most exported to a video file and sent that into Access who the printed to tape.

Gerald wanted to keep the quality of the image as best that it can be, and set an appointment at 9:30 A.M. on Friday, September 3, 2010.

Gerald Friday, September 3, 2010 journal

- I left home at 7 to be there by 9; got in, set up, and proceeded to export to video.
- 60 minutes later, Bhim unplugged my computer. "Oh, was that yours?"
- restart, set up, and print to video, again, 3 hours later, after lunch, says it is working. but nothing is coming out. 30 minutes later is says it is done -- but nothing on tape.
- 1:30 pm now. Exported as movie, put on their computer to export to video, did an hour thing, to tell us wrong format.
- "OH. I exported as ProRess 422, not HDV 1080i60. CRUD."
- Took 1.5 hours to convert then it says it is working, black screen - GOOD, bars and tone - GOOD, title SWEET.
- It is printing to tape. finished just before 4 pm.

3.8 Crew

Directed by

Gerald Martin Davenport
Brendan Brooks … co-director

Writing Credits

Gerald Martin Davenport … (screenplay by) and (story by)

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) 1848 Sutter's Mill Cast.

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) 1848 Sutter's Mill Cast

l-r: Steven Sommer, Meghan Malia Bird, Grace Rose, Courtney Leonard-Maye, Amber DeAnn, Nolan Bourassa, Dan L. Walters, Adrien Bourassa, and Mark Hoffman

Photo by Jim Heck - © 2010 Aria Pictures

Produced by

Tamara Maureen Davenport … producer
Sandy Schmidt … co-producer & executive producer
Brendan Brooks … associate producer & executive producer
Jim Heck … executive producer
Gary Udell … associate producer
Michelle Burris … associate producer

Music by

Danny Gray

Cinematography by

Brendan Brooks

Film Editing by

Gerald Martin Davenport

Set Decoration by

Kyriè Sierra Davenport … key set decorator
Maureen Adele Young … co-set decorator

Casting by

Gerald Martin Davenport

Makeup Department

The CAST & Moms

Art Department

Aria Leven Davenport … graphic artist / props
Tamara Maureen Davenport … props
Rob Tillitz … additional props (gold pans)
Mark Hoffman … additional props

Sound Department

Gerald Martin Davenport … sound editor
Steve Stubbs … boom operator / sound recordist
Gary Udell … boom operator / sound recordist
Aria Leven Davenport … boom operator / sound recordist
Jim Heck … boom operator / sound recordist
Jeremey Heck … boom operator / sound recordist
Tamara Maureen Davenport … second unit boom operator / sound recordist

Visual Effects by

Gerald Martin Davenport … digital effects

Camera and Electrical Department

Brendan Brooks … camera operator / steadicam operator / crane
Scott Slotterbeck … first assistant camera
Megan Alicia Engle … second assistant camera
Susan Slaven … second assistant camera
Michael Carl … camera assistant
Aria Leven Davenport … camera assistant
Gerald Martin Davenport … second unit camera operator
Tamara Maureen Davenport … second unit second assistant camera
Aria Leven Davenport … second unit grip
Jim Heck … still photographer
Doug Young … still photographer
Scott Slotterbeck … still photographer / cast interviews
George Ann Heck … still photographer
Jeremey Heck … still photographer
Rachel Oldham … still photographer

Casting Department

Aria Leven Davenport … casting assistant
Gary Udell … casting assistant
Tracy Avva … local casting

Costume and Wardrobe Department

The CAST & Parents

Location Management

Tamara Davenport … location finder
Steve Dakota … location finder

Music Department

Danny Gray … composer & performer

Script and Continuity Department

Megan Alicia Engle … script supervisor

Transportation Department

Tamara Maureen Davenport … driver
Brendan Brooks … driver
Jim Heck … driver
Arch's Automotive … transportation maintenance

Additional crew

Noble L. Engle … armorer / weapon safety officer
Gary Udell … bbq master
Tamara Maureen Davenport … craft services & catering
Val Hicks … wrap party catering
Rachel Oldham … wrap party catering
Women of Worth … wrap party donations
Rob Tillitz … wrap party donations


Peggy Levine … location - North Star Hause
Dr. Bill Gallant DVM ret … location - American River Lotus, California
Doug & Maureen Young … location - Bedroom Nevada City, California
Ron Cooper … Access Sacramento

Production Companies

Aria Pictures (presents)


Aria Pictures (2010) (USA) (theatrical)
Aria Pictures (2012) (USA) (Blu Ray)
Aria Pictures (2010) (USA) (DVD)

Other Companies

Brendan Brooks (camera, dolly, crane, lighting, audio equipment)

3.9 Production Photo Galleries

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 1 in the morning at the Young's House in Nevada City

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 1: Young's House in Nevada City

Kyriè Sierra Davenport, Karly Avva, the writer, Megan Alicia Engle

Photo by Jim Heck - © 2010 Aria Pictures

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 1 Afternoon the North Star House

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 1 at the North Star House in Grass Valley

Claire Elizabeth, the writer, Aramis Liam, Aria Leven Davenport, Megan Alicia Engle, and Jim Heck

Photo by Jeremy Heck - © 2010 Aria Pictures

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 2 at Sutter's Fort

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 2. Sutter's Fort in Sacramento, California

Karly Avva, Gary Udell, and Kyriè Sierra Davenport

Photo by Tamara Maureen Davenport - © 2010 Aria Pictures

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 3 in Grass Valley.

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 3 at the North Star House in Grass Valley

Megan Alicia Engle, Brendan Brooks, the writer, Rob Hayes, Haley Hicks, Aria Leven Davenport, and Jim Heck.

Photo by Jeremy Heck - © 2010 Aria Pictures

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Cant and Crew on the American River.

VIEW: THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 4 on the American River on the Gallant Property in Lotus, California Gallery

Adrien Bourassa, Nolan Bourassa, Steven Sommer, Dan L. Walters, Mark Hoffman, the writer, Jim Heck, Gary Udell, and Brendan Brooks.

Photo by Jeremy Heck - © 2010 Aria Pictures

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production on the American River.

VIEW: THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Production Day 5 on the American River on the Gallant Property in Lotus, California Gallery

Brendan Brooks, Grace Rose, and Scott Slotterbeck

Photo by Jim Heck - © 2010 Aria Pictures

4 Marketing

Expanding on his knowledge and experience from marketing Paint 2006, Gerald upped the marketing budget and plan by adding more people to spread the word of the film. One way he was hoping that would extend the word was by adding as many characters he could into the story. “More actors means more friends and family that will attend or at least follow the actor's, and the film's, progress.” Gerald remarked to one person asking why he cast so many actors.

4.1 Website

A specific portion of Aria Pictures website was dedicated to THE GOLdEN TREE's production until the official subdomain of was created and filled with info about the film, actors, crew, genealogy, and teasers.

4.2 Internet Movie Database (

On July 18, 2010, Gerald submitted the film's credits and information to It took a few weeks before the film was accepted into their database.

On September 9, 2010, IMDb responded to the submission Gerald sent on July 18, 2010 stating the film's IMDb listing is live.

4.3 Posters

Several of the actors, the young ones, saw the master poster for the film and asked if Gerald could create a special poster for them, — a vanity poster. Gerald saw this as an opportunity to garner more followers to THE GOLdEN TREE's facebook page. At the time only having 36 fans/followers. Gerald devised a contest to increase the fans/followers of the film by having the actors who want to a vanity poster to invite their friends and family and their friends and family to follow the film's page on facebook and leave a comment who sent them.

The contest started September 10th, and by the 15th there were 73 fans. On the 22nd it was up to 89. 144 by the 23rd. 365 fans by the 27th. 416 on the 28th. When the contest was over at the end of September, there were over 800 fans/followers of THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

The winner of the contest was one of the older actors. Gerald appreciated everyone's effort and loyalty to the film that he created vanity posters for the actors involved in the contest.

Official movie poster for THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Official original movie poster for THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Nolan and Adrien Bourassa vanity poster for THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Nolan and Adrien Bourassa vanity poster

Aramis Liam poster from THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Aramis Liam vanity poster

Carey White Jr poster from THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Carey White Jr vanity poster

Claire Elizabeth poster from THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Claire Elizabeth vanity poster

Gary Udell poster from THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Gary Udell vanity poster>

Steve Dakota poster from THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Steve Dakota vanity poster

Carey White Jr poster from THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

1848 Sutter's Mill group vanity poster

1855 Miners & Outlaws poster from THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

1855 Miners & Outlaws group vanity poster

1859 Sutter's Fort poster from THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

1859 Sutter's Fort group vanity poster

Family Treasure poster from THE GOLdEN TREE (2010).

Family Treasure group vanity poster

The poster design was an idea that Gerald sketched out on paper before heading out to find the perfect tree. Driving from Grass Valley, through Auburn, Cool, Eldorado Hills, and back, Gerald took over 133 images of trees.

The chosen tree was then edited in photoshop to make the leaves look gold. That task was not easy, at least back then. The leaves on the lower portion of the trunk blended with the leaves of the trees in the background. When selecting the color green the background trees were also selected. Those leaves had to be done individually, one at a time. The poster took several weeks to complete because everything on the poster was created by hand with no stole, borrowed, or included effects including the golden flare above the G.

4.2.4 Collector Items

Gerald created many customizable products to share with the cast & crew and anyone else wanting an Aria Pictures THE GOLdEN TREE collector items. T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, sweatshirts, hoodies, clocks, and more.

The Aria Pictures Collector shop for Aria Pictures logo and THE GOLdEN TREE items has shrunk over time as it was meant to be for a limited time to keep the items unique and special — the items given to the cast and at the premiere are no longer available, which makes them more valuable, special, and collectable.

5 Release

The release of the film happened in two ways. There was the initial reason for the film being made because it was one of ten stories selected to Access Sacramento's "A Place Called Sacramento" screenplay contest. The viewing of 10-minute version, along with the nine other 10 minute films, was held at the Crest Theater in Downtown Sacramento, California on October 3, 2020. The 42-minute version Premiere showing was held at the Del Oro Theater in Grass Valley, California on February 5, 2011 to the cast, crew, and many guests outside the production.

5.1 Theatrical

5.1.1 Crest Theater

A Place Called Sacramento 2010 Films thumbs.

A Place Called Sacramento 2010 Films thumbs

Gerald Martin Davenport with Rob Tillitz.

Gerald with Rob Tillitz and the poster for THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Sunday, October 3, 2010
Crest Theater, Downtown Sacramento

The anticipation of people wanting to see the film on the big-screen poured in on Facebook and emails to Gerald. Everyone was asking questions about what was going to happen and was anything planned before or after? Gerald sent out Issue #18 of the Roots of Gold Newsletter to help answer the questions and any others that might come up.

Gerald Sunday, October 3, 2010 journal

“I felt confident with the film we made, probably a little over confident, but I know we will be the one chosen for most, if not all, of the awards and be the talk of the festival.”

“We used 28 actors from Sacramento, we filmed on historic locations, and we made a story closer that is 'A Place Called Sacramento' much better than the ten films they showed last year.” - gerald

The 11th Annual 'A Place Called Sacramento' event took place at the Crest Theater in Sacramento California, on Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 1:00 PM. There were over 600 people at the 900+ theater to view the ten films that varied in story, quality, and entertainment. THE GOLdEN TREE played very well on the big screen. The Canon 7D proved itself of being a decent camera to capture low-budget independant film productions.

A Place Called Sacramento 2010 Films list with descriptions.

There is a rule of thumb that you want to be the first or very last performer for anything. The first one sets the bar — if they are really good then the rest are measured by them. The last one is the last thing people see and the first thing on their mind no matter how good it is, it usually wins. And this was no exception as a film that has a color effect on it, although the story was interesting, it was not worthy of the audience award or the producer's choice award. But it won both. THE GOLdEN TREE was the seventh film played out of ten.

Interesting enough those were the only awards handed out in 2010. They did not say why. View the Crest Theater Image Gallery

Gerald Sunday, October 3, 2010 journal

“Appalling. THE GOLdEN TREE deserved the assembled cast award, best story award, best technical achievement award, and some individual actor awards, but they did not hand any of those out. The last film took the prizes. We were slighted, the cast was slighted. It was the best picture on the big screen.” - gerald

Michelle Barbaria October 11, 2010 article
Gerald with Ron Cooper at the Crest Theater for 11th Annual A Place Called Sacramento.

Gerald with Ron Cooper at the Crest Theater for 11th Annual 'A Place Called Sacramento'

Sunday, October 3, 2010
Crest Theater, Downtown Sacramento

By Michelle Barbaria

The morning outside the Crest Theatre in Sacramento was filled with anticipation and excitement. Friends, family, and film crew members gathered in line to get in to see the 9 films they helped to create on the big screen. Once the doors opened and the people began to flow into the lobby the place was jumpin'. The sounds of Sister Swing could be heard in the background over the speaker system and the scent of popcorn filled the air.

In the lobby there were tables set up with the filmmaker's posters and souvenir flyers for their individual films were passed out. Photos were being snapped left and right and groups of family and friends huddled together to get everyone in the picture.

At exactly 1:00pm the lights went down and there was silence. Out of the corner of the packed theatre a booming voice could be heard with a powerful message. It was the voice of one of six poets from the Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS), a program for expression and creativity through poetry for youth at UC Davis. Ron Cooper, the Executive Director of Access Sacramento then took the stage to welcome everyone. The films officially started rolling with "BarTime" by Wayne Douglas Johnson; it's that 15 minute bar time differential that really has a huge effect for this film.

The films continued and there was such a touching moment when the film "Thugs Need Hugs" by DDSO E+ writing class started. There were so many hoots and hollers from the audience from the thrills of seeing friends and family members on in their movie on big screen. The E+ writing class also wrote and produced "Are You My Girlfriend?" There was a real sense of community and fun as each film came up on the screen and the crowd clapped and yelled for their productions.

Gerald with Ron Cooper.

Access Sacramento, 11th Annual 'A Place Called Sacramento' 2010 Film Producers

br: ?, Dänna Wilberg, Ron Cooper, Guy Pace, ?, Judith Plank, Gerald, Matt Leddy, ?, ?, Sean Stueve.
fr: Wayne Douglas Johnson, Somer Hoke

Each film touched a slightly different sentiment this year with love being a common theme. And not just romantic love, but the love of family and the appreciation of life. Films like "War at Home" touched on the experience of a soldier returning home to friends and family after being in Iraq. "Butterscotch" was a poetic and clever take on the mysteries of life and love.

"The Treasure Chest of South Sacramento" demonstrates personal growth through hardship and overcoming the status quo by looking inward at oneself. "THE GOLdEN TREE" by Gerald Martin Davenport delved into the history of the Sacramento region while bringing family together and "Little Thieves" reminds us to mind our manners and do what is right or else.

The film "Three Words for Dacia" by Sean Stueve really took the crowd by surprise with it's twist ending and modern noir styling. It is the only film to win both the Audience Favorite Award and the Producer's Choice Award in the festival's 11 year history. Each filmmaker took the stage and was honored for their achievements and for winning a spot in the festival. After soaking in all the films the crowd moved into the lobby to enjoy a live performance by Sister Swing and nibble on some treats and drink wine in the Lobby of the Crest Theatre. The lively crowd enjoyed mingling with the filmmakers as everyone shared their experiences on their PCS journey.

Overall, the day was exciting and the hustle and bustle in the lobby gave way to the contemplative and joyous crowd inside watching the big screen at beautiful Crest Theatre. The 11th PCS celebration and 25th Access Sacramento Anniversary Party was a great success. The films were so good this year, I'm looking forward to seeing what great films will be created next year!

5.1.2 Del Oro Theater

THE GOLdEN TREE Del Oro Theater Premiere flyer.

Advertising Flyer for THE GOLdEN TREE's Del Oro Premiere

The preparation for the 42-minute version to play at the historic Del Oro Theater, another gold rush era theater in an actual gold rush town, underwent meticulous details.

Gerald Monday, October 4, 2010 journal

“After the snubbing at the Crest Theater by Access Sacramento of receiving no awards or any accolades, or recognition for the story, cast, or the look of the film, I wanted to make it up to the cast and crew.” - gerald

Collector, hard-stock, premiere tickets were created; Tamara sewed gold nugget bags with the title of the film on them and filled them with gold candies for all the attendies; DVD's with the 10-minute, 42-minute, a production image slide show created by Jim Heck, and the teaser trailer were handed out to the cast and crew. More DVD's were sold before the event and after the showing to those who wanted extra copies or were not given one as part of the production team.

Gerald Saturday, December 18, 2010 journal

“For this premiere, I did not want people to sit and stare at a blank screen. Just like regular movies, they showed trivia and questions about films, actors, and such while you wait for the showtime. I put together my own version with items related to the gold rush, the characters in the film, and a few items of fact. Also, I did not want to just start the film. I wanted to give the attendees the typical movie going experience. When Chardonnay teaser began playing my heart sank. 'What have I done? ' There was a bit of harsh language in the teaser. I will hear about that at the end.” - gerald

Assembling of the 42-minute version went through several changes and alterations from October 2010 through the end of January 2011. Quite a few Final Cut Pro 7 output tests were made to keep the quality of the video as high as it could be and fit on the dvd. Several attempts failed. Final Cut Pro 7 wanted to be the only application running when exporting and any other operation, such as, accessing email would cause it to fail. Then there were issues with burning the output to the DVD. Once a perfect export would finish, the burning of the DVD was also temperamental. Certain settings would get reset to default in Final Cut Pro 7 and the export, although perfect, was a few megabytes to big, or a codec transcoding number was off that the DVD burning app would not accept it. The DVD burning that worked and looked good, finished 12 hours before the event.

Gerald Thursday, January 6, 2011 journal

“The Crest Theater incident was three months ago. I have been too busy preparing for the premiere at the Del Oro Theater to worry about it or to keep it inside. My focus is on delivering a spectacular film and a glorious showing for the hard working cast and crew. They deserve it and more. The time they gave driving to the locations, gathering their wardrobe any way they could, and giving their best on camera or behind it. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful memory of working with such great people. That is all the matters now. That is my award.” - gerald - January 6, 2011

Bill Gallant, Rob Tillitz, Mark Hoffman, Gary Udell, Scott Slotterbeck, and Virginia Hicks & Family supported THE GOLdEN TREE premiere by helping with the rental of the theater and more. There was a small push for marketing and advertising the film's premiere to the local residents with a radio ad, newspaper article, and flyers posted around the community.

The Del Oro put the title of the film on their marquee in mid January which helped outside ticket sales. There were over one-hundred people that attended that no one knew. THE GOLdEN TREE was premiered in the big room that seats 400 people.

Gerald Saturday, February 3, 2011 journal

I greeted everyone who entered the theater for our film. The hundred plus people that I did not know or did not know me looked quizical when I welcomed them. I could see the realization on a few of their faces when I came up and introduced the film, the cast, and crew. It was awesome to view your work: the complex mess of scenes and takes, the perfomances, and music get assembled and finished on screen.

Teasers of Paint, Detective A, THE GOLdEN TREE, and Chardonnay were added to the Premiere edition of the DVD.

5.2 Distribution

5.2.1 DVD

THE GOLdEN TREE was released on DVD at the time of the Del Oro Theater premiere for the cast and their friends and family. Version A disk, not the Premiere Disc, was the disc that was given or sold that day.

THE GOLdEN TREE was one of 9 films on a compilation Blu-Ray of Aria Pictures short-films that was screened at the Sierra Cinemas in Grass Valley, California on April 9th, 2017 — Aria Leven Davenport's 27th birthday. Aria was not in attendance.

Version: A

Out of Print
Released: 5 February 2011
Runtime: 75 min
List Price: $10
Printed Keep Case
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 - Anamorphic Widescreen
Regional Information: 1 - USA NTSC, Color
Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English

• 42-minute version
• 10-minute version from Access Sacramento's 'A place Called Sacramento' Film Festival 2010 Winning Selection
• 19-minute 'Behind-the-Scenes' slideshow by Jim Heck
• 2 early Teasers

Supplemental Disk

Out of Print
Released: 20 February 2011
Runtime - 120 min
List Price: $5
Paper Sleeve
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - Anamorphic Widescreen
Regional Information: 1 - USA NTSC, Color
Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English

• Premiere Trivia Slideshow that viewed before the film
• 30 Minute Behind-The-Scenes Slideshow from remaining pictures including the Premiere at the Del Oro.
• 9 Interviews from the Cast at Wrap Party on July 31, 2010
• THE GOLdEN TREE final Trailer
• Paint, Chardonnay, and World Next Door promo trailers.
• Iron Pyrite Reel [bloopers].
• and more.

Version: B

Out of Print
Released: 9 April 2011 - Aria's 21st Birthday present.
Runtime - 75 min HD reedited version
List Price: $5
Printed Keep Case
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 - Anamorphic Widescreen
Regional Information: 1 - USA NTSC, Color
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English on both 10 and 42 minute versions

• 42 Minute version with Premiere credits.
• 10-minute version from Access Sacramento's 'A place Called Sacramento' Film Festival 2010 Winning Selection
• 19-minute 'Behind-the-Scenes' slideshow by Jim Heck
• 2 early Teasers

The THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) DVD Amaray Keep Case cover art.

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) DVD Amaray Keep Case

The THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) DVD disk art.

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) DVD disk

The THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Supplemental Disk art.

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Supplemental Disk

THE GOLdEN TREE is also on the Petite Chardonnay Disk

5.2.2 Blu Ray

Out of Print
Released: 9 April 2013 - Aria's 23rd Birthday present.
Runtime - 120 min
List Price: $15
Printed Keep Case
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 - Anamorphic Widescreen - FULL HD
Regional Information: 1 - USA NTSC, Color
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English on both 10 and 42 minute versions

• 42 Minute version with Premiere credits.
• 10-minute version from Access Sacramento's 'A place Called Sacramento' Film Festival 2010 Winning Selection
• 19-minute Behind-the-Scenes slideshow by Jim Heck
• 2 early Teasers
• 30 Minute Behind-The-Scenes Slideshow from remaining pictures including the Premiere at the Del Oro.
• 9 Interviews from the Cast at Wrap Party on July 31, 2010
• THE GOLdEN TREE final Trailer
• Paint, Chardonnay, and World Next Door promo trailers.
• Iron Pyrite Reel [bloopers].
• and more.

5.2.3 Video

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Teaser C

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) Del Oro Theater Premiere Credits

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) 10-minute version

THE GOLdEN TREE (2010) 42-minute version

5.2.4 Cast Interviews

Scott Slotterbeck Monday, August 2, 2010 email

Thanks for the opportunity and the great experience, Gerald! The interviews came out fine. My voice can be heard, but I might either edit it so my questions aren't heard, or re-record them in the studio (my's a quiet place with no echos).

I think the actors that I interviewed will be pleased with the outcome. There is ambient noise from the kids by the river, but it's not obtrusive. I'm glad I did use my lav mike. That cut down the noise somewhat. AND: I would like to interview you in the near future. I envision a sit-down in a quiet place. Should only take 15 min or so. Just let me know. I'll have a new and better lav mike. The one I did order, which was supposed to be delivered on Tuesday last, did come on Saturday.

I also think you will be pleased with what the actors had to say about you. To a person they thought you were great. Now I don't have much to compare with, other than watching filming of George of the Jungle in SF a few years ago, but I thought you were great and gracious to me as well. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot. I'm glad you liked the four rolls of film I shot (I think some of them turned out nice, as well). I did have trouble with the different light in the shade and very bright sun; I had to over-expose the background to get the detail in the faces, but all-in-all, I'm not unhappy with the shots. You can have any you want. I shot another five rolls on the last day of shooting. They're being developed as well.

BTW the video I shot at the three days of filming turned out nice as well. One of the dads (Bourassa?) shot some on the last day of filming, and his video turned out well, too. He shot it on a tape I gave him. I have the video he shot. Finally...Shamless hint...if you need any help on any other films, I'd be more than happy to help out. - Scott Slotterbeck

Adrien Bourassa interview - THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Recorded: July 31, 2010

Scott Slotterbeck: Camera & Interviewer

Amber DeAnn interview - THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Recorded: July 31, 2010

Scott Slotterbeck: Camera & Interviewer

Carey White Jr. interview - THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Recorded: July 31, 2010

Scott Slotterbeck: Camera & Interviewer

Claire Elizabeth interview - THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Recorded: July 31, 2010

Scott Slotterbeck: Camera & Interviewer

Gary Udell interview - THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Recorded: July 31, 2010

Scott Slotterbeck: Camera & Interviewer

Meghan Malia Bird interview - THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Recorded: July 31, 2010

Scott Slotterbeck: Camera & Interviewer

Nolan Bourassa interview - THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Recorded: July 31, 2010

Scott Slotterbeck: Camera & Interviewer

Rob Tillitz interview - THE GOLdEN TREE (2010)

Recorded: July 31, 2010

Scott Slotterbeck: Camera & Interviewer

5.3 Film Festivals

5.3.1 Nevada City Film Festival

Email correspondence with the festival director

Gerald Wednesday, March 23, 2011 email

On Mar 23, 2011, at 4:30 PM, Aria Pictures / Gerald Davenport wrote:
I have just gotten all my EPK and other material finished and was on Withoutabox and your website to see when the deadline was and I see it is almost ending.
I am local filmmaker in Nevada City and did a movie with Access Sacramento and their Place Called Sacramento film festival and the 10 minute version premiered at the crest theater.
I lensed it in a way I knew I was going to make a longer version and I have a 40 minute version that premiered at the Del Oro theater in Grass Valley on February 5th 2011.
I was wondering if you could make some concessions or bend some rules to allow a local to show his work?
- gerald
peace and God bless

David Nicholson Wednesday, March 23, 2011 email

On Mar 30, 2011, at 10:39 AM, David Nicholson wrote:
Locals are always welcome to show their work. Please drop it by the Magic Theatre in Nevada City, 107 Argall Way. Put it through the mail slot if no one is around. Also, please put that it's a local entry for the NCFF and I'll be sure that it gets to me.
David Nicholson

Gerald Tuesday, April 5, 2011 email

To: David Nicholson
Date: Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 2:06 PM
Mr. Nicholson.
thanks for the reply.
been busy here and wanted to get my ducks in a row. what is your criteria? format? DVD - NTSC - HD DVD - stereo - surround sound EPK?
you know all that stuff so I get it to you without any hold ups.
- gerald

David Nicholson Tuesday, April 5, 2011 email

Locals can submit for free. If you want to use withoutabox, then you can use our fee waiver code (BCOGI6C)
A standard DVD will do just fine for a screener. If your film gets into the festival, then I will need a HD .mov file from you.

Wanting to be professional and enter it through the proper channels, Gerald did not take the DVD to the theater but registered with WithoutABox.

Withoutabox Wednesday, April 6, 2011 email

The International Film Festival Submission System powered by Withoutabox
2011-Apr-06 06:58:09 GMT

Dear Gerald,
Your submission to Nevada City Film Festival was successful.
Submitted in: Short Film over 5 Minutes
Tracking Number: 11-192
- Entry Form for the project THE GOLdEN TREE in Short Film over 5 Minutes
- No Entry Fee Required
- Online Press Kit

- Submission Copy (send 1 copy)
You chose to submit DVD - NTSC - R0. You are always welcome to submit instead in any of the formats below. Make sure your submission copy is LABELED with Title, Runtime, NTSC/PAL/SECAM and DVD Region (if necessary).
___ Secure Online Screener
___ DVD Region 0 - NTSC
___ DVD Region 1 - NTSC
___ Save Time and Submit a Secure Online Screener Now!
Regular Deadline: 25-Apr-2011
Nevada City Film Festival
c/o The Magic Theatre
107 Argall Way
Nevada City CA 95959
MARK ALL MATERIALS WITH: Tracking Number 11-192

Withoutabox Wednesday, April 6, 2011 email

Congratulations Gerald,
Your submission for THE GOLdEN TREE has been received by Nevada City Film Festival and is now in consideration. This entitles you to a Title Page on IMDb, the most trafficked movie site in the world - with 57 million film fans visiting each month. IMDb is eager to help you publicize and promote your movie right now, as soon as it's ready for the world, not just after you've won recognition for it. Your Title Page on IMDb is free, and the setup is automatic, since you have already linked your IMDb and Withoutabox accounts.
We will notify you once "THE GOLdEN TREE" has been validated by IMDb's data editors, which can take up to two weeks. You'll then be able to upload video to your Title Page, such as trailers and clips. (Video has quickly become an essential part of any IMDb Title Page, so prepare for that.) Got questions? Contact support at:
Enjoy your new Title Page, and make good use of it!
Team, Withoutabox
A Division of IMDb

Gerald never received anything else from the Nevada City Film Festival as whether it was accepted or rejected. He often wonders why they chose not to accept a film about the Gold Rush, about Nevada County, lensed in Nevada County including Nevada City using local crew and actors. He was not going to make money on it, and there might have been allot more people going to their little Film Festival.

6 Thank You From My Heart

Gerald Friday, February 11, 2011 email

TO the Cast and Crew of THE GOLdEN TREE (2010):
I truly have no idea why such amazing people like you agreed to do this when you had no idea who I was or what I was doing. If you though I even knew what i was doing. I am blown away at your efforts, time, and sacrifice for this project and me. I do hope it has met your expectations, needs, and it was worth our time.

Bill Bettenecourt took a day off his NEW job to come up and do his lines — he could have lost his job telling them he had to have that Saturday off.

Rob Tillitz is a man of talent, skills, and connected to more talented and connected movie makers, but he agreed to work with me. And bought his own weapon, gold pans, holster, and brought a professional and giving work ethic. He makes me want to work harder for him.

Jason Michael Shannon brought his casual demeanor to the set and his character, and worked with us until we got the shots. His outfit and facial expressions were over the top. I had no idea if choosing someone because they looked good would succeed. I am not the one to congratulate for the success of his role, he is.

Joseph Baldridge showed up as though he was George Skinner a ruthless outlaw. His costume went all the way to his teeth and really emphasized, not only the character's believability, but Joseph's professional commitment to his passion. I was so wrapped up in that day I did not notice his teeth until we did the close ups. I apologize, but I am glad Brendan saw it and we captured it.

Noble L. Engle came to the set the first day all the way from Red Bluff with his authentic weapons that his daughter MEGAN asked him to bring. We never met before, I mean, I only knew Megan for 2 days, and not full one's by that anyway, and he still brings his collection to an unknown place, unknown project, and let unknowns, to him, the use of the weapons. I did not even want to think about that day, because I had no idea how to thank him or Megan. I was in a daze, could not believe it was really true, he saved the day.

THEN we ask him to come one more day, a three hour drive for him, to Lotus with his weapons, and then we cornered him and put him on the spot to play a role in the movie. I am surprised I did not get belted one for all the things this guy did for us. Noble has exceeded his position in the movie and has far surpassed my belief in people. I still think this is a dream.

Carey White Jr. came to the cast & crew table and I knew I needed teenagers or young adult males for the outlaws and trying to put my hand over his picture to imagine what he would like like with a bandanna on, sort of worked. I said “Well it might work.” Not only did IT WORK, but it worked so well, I knew I wanted more of his take in the scene. With what little advice and direction I gave everyone, and the mass chaos that was the set, I am truly honored at Carey's performance. Cary White Jr. joins Gerald, Brendan, and Jim on The National Exchange film and Oberon's Gold.

Alex Harris gave me a business card at the cast & crew call, maybe he gave all his bio stuff away to more deserving tables, but I got a business card with not much on it. I was not sure what his skills were, although we did talk at length and he also kept emailing me so much that I agreed to a few things and although reluctant in doing so. When Alex showed up he came as though he's been acting for many years and took direction without problems. I then forgot the little banter we had during the negotiation stage as though it was not him that I went through it with — must have been a different person — because Alex was absolutely a thrill to work with. I think he was sandbagging the whole time with his business card and is a secret acting master.

Gary Udell was with me from almost the very beginning, he was on my mind for playing the role of the Dad, but the role was to be much larger, but was cut due to time constraints with a 10 minute version, but also the very first day of lensing was overly exhausting and hectic. But Gary helped me make it through including mastering the BBQ. His expertise and experience at the cast & crew call was welcomed and he helped me shape some of the story and actors. His easy going manner and attention to the smallest details, always asking questions, making suggestions, and fine tuning his performance, as well as, making the other actors feel as equals and his overly supportive concerns is a page I have ripped from his repertoire. it is an honor to have worked with him again and I just wish I could have done more, I see the difference in angles, close ups, and takes from the day he was on camera to the other days when everyone else is on camera and I want to go back and re take all the scenes with him in it to make it match. Gary is beyond a friend and a fellow associate.

Kyriè Sierra Davenport did not even have to act, to me anyway, but others loved her performance, which is why I know she's an actor, because being that way at home is different than being that way in front of others on the spot... she truly amazes me and not just because she is my daughter, but because she is her own self and I cannot take credit for her talents, skills, and professionalism. Again, as with Gary, I would like to redo some of the scenes and although i know she put up with me and my hard line direction, you are harder on your own kids and family than anyone else just because your the coaches son, you need to be better than everyone else so it does not look like favoritism, well, we never even got close to favoritism, she is just that good.

Karly Avva came to the set to play Martha Jane, or at least that's whom I kept thinking about when writing her lines but she had braces and Tracy, her mom, said it may not play well for 1848, so she fit in well as the sister, the sweet sister to the indifferent Sierra that Kyriè played. All her time spending ALL day the first day waiting till the sun was lower and then also showing up at Sutter's Fort for the additional scene. Truly a gem in my eyes and a wonderful family. Karly was so prepared and professional, I just wish I could have done more with angles and close ups.

Toni Corbett came to the cast & crew call not expecting me to confront her with a question of odd proportions. I had been talking to people about Sierra and Dad reference and point to a picture of Grandma and realized I did not have a picture of Grandma. I asked Toni if she wanted to be in the movie, but not BE in the movie but as a picture on the mantle, table, or bookshelf? And she agreed. I was speechless myself for asking such a stupid question then getting the answer I wanted. I did write a scene with her and Sierra to use as a flashback, because i wanted her physically in the movie now, but our dates and timing could not match.

Steven Sommer was one of those email requests and I saw this clean shaven man and that was about the right look to play a father of many, he had the experienced face, a stern look about him, yet, a soft warm undertone that could be fatherly to play Peter Wimmer. He showed up on set with a full beard and I did not know who the heck he was. He did tell me he was going to do that but not in such fabulous way that it grew. His day on set was so sporadic I felt bad when he lost his wallet and sunglasses. He found his wallet and his sunglasses in the bed of my truck. When we did the Sutter's Fort in Sacramento, he showed up in a green shirt like a park ranger, his beard was shaven, and he frightened us all thinking we were going to get caught. That was twice Steven. He is good with changing his looks.

Nolan and Adrien Bourassa have been interested in playing in one of my movies, like Chardonnay, but funds did not come through at the time so i asked them if they were interested in this. They came to the set with a great look and not much understanding of what this old guy was doing, but they went along with it anyway.

Dan L. Walters took the role as James Marshall and kept asking about wardrobe. He finally took a picture I sent him to a costume place and they set him up. He was James Marshall that day one every time you watch it. He was one I gave little direction to at some point he understood the role and I could tell his anxiety was gone. For such a small role on screen he put his heart into it.

Mark Hoffman was cast only by looks alone, and well, maybe a little to do with his experience, but looks was a motivating factor as he had the distinguished European gentleman look that would make Sutter believable. Was I right? Not only did he bring his own costume, weapon, and cane, but he also brought along a Swedish accent that put the icing on the cake. Not to take away from others, but I got lucky with a few actors in the right role and Mark was one of them. Mark's talents go beyond acting, his demeanor on set and else where is not far from his role as Sutter, a gentleman of great stature, and I am honored to be able to say I worked with him.

Meghan Malia Bird was cast on the spot, well, at least in my mind. Of course she was not the only one I cast in my mind, but she was the one I remember off the top of my head, and I just had no idea what role I was going to put her in. I knew I had to come up with a character for her to play. Looking at Mark's picture next to Meghan's I said there is a couple, and she became Anna Sutter. She has that pretty soft skinned look that works well for an upper class high society Swedish woman, and I wanted to see if it would work. She brought with her a great wardrobe and a Swedish accent as well. I just wish we had more takes of her with the rest of the actors and down by the river.

Amber DeAnn was a perfect match for Jennie. She was a breeze on set other than my lack of not getting her an updated script, she learned it as fast as she could and came through it without any bruises, or I at least hope she did. We took time to get her the lines and work with her — it was my fault, but again, she made it look as though she was Jennie Wimmer.

Courtney Leonard-Maye came to the casting table near the end of the day and my heart sank, not because of her, but because of the nature of the movie and the fact that I did not want to touch on or get involved in a racial confrontation in the movie. But something kept bringing me to her when I had her head shot with everyone else. She had this beauty, this aura about her, and her bio of skills, experiences, and talent told me to throw away my comfort blanket and just be open and honest about the role I am asking her to play. She agreed to it. Okay maybe she doesn't know what I was trying to say and sent it again, and she said there is not a problem. So she was the more professional one in the conversation which made me grow up about it. Thank you, Courtney. Your beauty and strength are matched by your talents and humanity. And she was a doll on set and every where else. I am glad I got to work with her and still find it hard to believe she wanted to work with some unknown guy on a western. I am glad she did.

Grace Rose was one of the girls I was going to have as a group of girls that was going to intercept older William, but after reading her age and her experience, I wanted to give her a role more suited to her age and separate from the crowd. Not knowing what she was getting into, as all of you went through, she truly pulled off a great young Sarah Wimmer, and was a pleasure to be around. So polite and quiet. I just wish I had given her more. THE WHOLE MOVIE COULD HAVE BEEN 1.5 HOURS and I still would not have given you all the screentime you deserved.

Aria Leven Davenport is a talented smart kid and that is not just because he is my son, but because he has a solid level headed brain in his head. He knew exactly from the start what I was trying to do. He saw every little nuance, laugh, joke, tie, and connection from the characters. He was also instrumental in some of the story plot lines and character actions, as well as some of the artwork, gold nuggets, and so much more. Just like with his sister, they both out do themselves for me. He has been a big help and inspiration for this movie and my life in general. I can only hope to aspire to be a role model or someone he respects and looks up too, because as it is right now, it is the other way around. THE GOLdEN TREE is his birthday gift.

Steve Dakota is not only a humanitarian at heart, but a darn nice person to boot. A guy you just want around to have him around knowing things are good, fun, and well cozy. His dedication to his craft, hobby, profession, either one is beyond compare taking a week off just to work on his lines, his lines that were so few and in such a small role. Steve is another one of the actors that I short changed. His performance in Butterscotch, along side Rob Tillitz, took me down many notches as I realized I gave someone of such purity a small and short part in the movie. I would have to say this is one of my top five errors, mistakes, and sins in the movie that I will not forgive myself for.

Steve started out as Peter Wimmer, but his response back to me was late and I thought he did not want to part take. When he responded, I found him a role as a drunk cowboy that interrupts William. But then when Yinique came along, he was moved to Samuel Brannan, a more up standing role. And for such a small role, Steve has played a major role in preparing me for PR, extending his welcome, and creating a friendship that will not fall easily.

Yinique Myo-Flores was one of those email requests for a role and after sending her the standard you have to come here, get a wardrobe, and you might not be in the 10 minute version for long, she agreed to it. She was to be Anna Brannan, but after much research I found that this golden brown beauty was not going pass as a European woman as Anna Brannan was in real life. So she became a strong willed Chinese Business woman, who did not back down in the face of adversity. Her charm and childlike joy is contagious and I am amazed at her acceptance over the email to something that was truly unknown to her, as was it to all of you.

Haley Hicks was one of my many excellent casting choices as she fit right into the role of Victoria Maria. She knew the character, the person, the back story for this girl and played it to the hilt, no holds barred. Not even a whimper when it came to working with Rob Hayes as he older dimwitted brother. She stepped up as though she's been acting for years. Very strong willed and full of energy. A captivating young woman.

Rob Hayes was almost the last addition, but he was a needed addition as his, or the character of Zeke's role was to move the scene along so William left, and with such a great stage charisma and strong presence, the energy he brought was a refreshing addition to us filmmakers. Just wish i could have used him more and made Zeke a more involved role.

Aramis Liam was a big pain on the set and what the heck was I thinking? Oh wait, that was me. What was he thinking? Aramis and Claire, were a blast to work with, although he is a young man, and still very much a child, I was easily brought into his world because I never had a childhood, and seeing his free will on the set was a nice addition. Although it would had to have been on the first day when i was scatter brained, stressed, and rushed, but did anyone see that?

Claire Elizabeth as with all the ladies in the movie, is one of the sweetest girls I have had the priveledge to work with. Not sure if she gets it from her mom or dad, but her politeness and extreme attention to following directions was truly a welcomed trait. She is without a doubt an enchanting girl who will no doubt carry that throughout her career. And for her to come up with the idea to have her in the scene with Haley, since they knew each other, I did not have a problem with it as I had that already written but realized when scheduling, I did not want to inconvenience them to come up another day.

You know this is long so i will wait to do the crew another time. I do remember saying that words eventually lose their meaning if you use them too often, and i finally found a voice i could say what i felt about you as individuals. this is in no way everything, somethings are best left to be said in private.

- gerald davenport

oh I forget this email was to tell you we have t-shirts and mugs left over.

8 Unexplained Happenings

From the conception of THE GOLdEN TREE to its completion and beyond, there have been some Unexplained Happenings in connection to the film, story, actors, crew, or locations. These strange, weird, circumstantial oddities are listed below in order of impression not by strangeness or by actual materialization — some manifestations took time to realize what took place before acting upon them or committing them to documentation.

To the outsider, these depictions can be interpreted many ways, but to the people involved and experienced them, they are mysterious circumstances that came about at the time they did. Why?

8.1 Gold in the veins

11:17:58 AM: There was this article i was trying to read without my glasses last night or when the young's were over. I did not read it, but something told me to read it. I set it down and got interrupted or something.

11:18:42 AM: Tamara's dad brings me the article and says this lady is connected to the Wimmer's

11:20:57 AM Gerald: Meet your merchant: Gold in the veins |

The Union December 19, 2010 article

Meet your merchant: Gold in the veins

Lori Somers.

Lori Somers, owner of Athena at 201 West Main Street in Grass Valley, specializes in award winning designer jewelry and art glass.

Photo for The Union by John Hart

December 19, 2010
Athena owner's roots dig back to Coloma camp
By Kyle Magin - Staff Writer

Lori Somers, owner
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday
201 W. Main St., at the corner of Mill Street in downtown Grass Valley
(530) 273-3722

Lori Somers, owner of Athena at 201 West Main Street in Grass Valley, specializes in award winning designer jewelry and art glass. Gold necklaces, rings and artwork gleam in Grass Valley's Athena gallery as morning sunlight streams in on a recent morning.

Gold, which built much of this foothill town, flows through the veins of the store's owner, Lori Somers. Her family traces its roots back to maternal ancestors Jennie and Peter Wimmer, who were present at the camp in Coloma, Calif., where Jim Marshall discovered gold in the sediment of the American River in 1848. The find precipitated the state's Gold Rush the next year and is immortalized in art and literature.

One of Somers' first jobs was working in her father's Marysville jewelry store, repairing and altering jewelry. It was there she developed her taste for working with the metal and its uniqueness. “I love finding unique pieces. I don't carry anything that's manufactured,” Somers said. “If you get something from here, you won't see anyone on the street walking around with it.”

The creativity involved with designing jewelry appealed to Somers, an artistic San Rafael, Calif., native who danced in the Marin Civic Ballet as a child. She attended the College of Marin before studying jewelry making at the Geological Institute of America in Santa Monica, Calif. In 1990, she opened Athena on Mill Street, selling jewelry. Opening in Grass Valley only made sense, Somers said. “This is the heart of the gold country,” Somers said. “I have family history here, and California's history is here.”

Somers designed her display cases with friend and renowned jeweler Pascale Lacroix, who's pieces she showed in her gallery. She frequented shows to recruit more jewelers to show in the shop, before something unexpected began to happen. “They started coming to me,” Somers said. “These creative people were seeing something positive going on here.”

In 2000, she moved to her location to Main Street on the corner of Mill — at a prime intersection across from the downtown clock — and recrafted the gallery. “I wanted to get my hands on something positive,” she said. Somers began adding intricate blown glass to her display cases, pieces with glass spires, glass basins and glass tentacles in the vein of Tacoma, Wash. — based artist Dale Chihuly. She is a great fan of his work, and displays a book of it in the gallery. “I'm very picky in what I show,” she said.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.

Arlene (Wimmer) Hill Sunday, August 29, 2010 email

Will you be selling copies of your movie? Do you have access to a journal for William Riley Wimmer? I would love to have a copy of both the movie and the journal. I am a 1st cousin 3 times removed of William Riley Wimmer, and have done years of research on the Wimmer family.
Thank you,
Arlene (Wimmer) Hill
Boulder, CO

Gerald Monday, August 30, 2010 email

Greetings, ARLENE!
It's a pleasure to email you, thanks for the inquiry.

I do not have access to any journals. The story is based on factual people, events, and locations. I have taken some creative liberties in making the Wimmer's be bigger than life, and they may well have been, but the history books I have read, ten mind you, plus researching the internet, which you cannot believe everything you read, PLUS, going to COLOMA, and talking with their experts and getting books about them, not much mind you, but some, I have come up with an entertaining, somewhat accurate historic story. There was not much about the wimmer's before or after, and during, for that matter.

big time on the somewhat and I know I am incorrect on a few things, but not having much luck finding out about them before and after the gold rush was what I did the creative parts on.

I would love to spend more time on accuracy and actual events before and after because the family is quite interesting, large, and an unsung hero in the discovery of gold and implementation of Sutter's Mill in this area, as I am sure of what ever else they did in life.

In doing this project, I truly made an effort to create a positive look into their lives. I did not want to offend anyone in the family, discredit any historic facts, or embarrass the descendants. And the main story revolves around William Riley Wimmer. You can see more info on the facebook page, you do not need to have a facebook account to view any of the info. - gerald

The 10 movie will premiere at the Crest Theater in Sacramento on October 3rd. I am making a longer version that will also be on the dvd. plus a slide show of behind the scene pictures and video.

9 Miscellaneous?

9.1 Found that interesting

Mark Hoffman via Owen Hoffman via Jay Truman via Facebook Monday, August 2, 2010 message

I got this forwarded to me. Figured you'd be interested.

August 2, 2010 at 6:40pm
Subject: The Golden Tree
Found that interesting. My great great grandfather was in the Mormon Battalion that was part of the Mexican War. 500 were hand picked by Brigham Young to form a unit for the US Army. They Marched from St. Louis across the Southwest and were disbanded in California in 1848. John D Lee of Mountain Meadows fame followed them for Brigham and got their army pay and sent back to Young. IT WAS ACTUALLY THAT WAR PROFIT THAT FUNDED THE FLIGHT TO UTAH!

Anyway, after they were disbanded my ancestor was part of a group that stayed and worked for a while in California to get money to bring their families to Utah to join the mormons who got there the year before. He worked for John Marshall and was there with several other Mormons working when gold was discovered. It also was part of that group of mormons that stayed and worked a while that actually finally buried the pieces left of the Donner Party when they were traveling back to Utah.

I had another great great grandfather who also was in the unit and in fact a Captain of one of the three divisions making it up. He was Charles Jefferson Hunt who is buried a few miles east of here at Red Rock Pass. A grandaughter of his married David King Udall, and another a Truman. Hence my relation to them. He also was a fairly well know scout and trail blazer of the Great Basin, And he and his offspring were also usually not the best at being good little hymn singers and sheep. A good part of that streak carried on with the Udalls.

Do you know if the guy who wrote the film Gerald Martin Davenport has Utah roots? One of the first settlers of Parawon, Utah was Thomas Davenport and his family who went straight from conversion in Englad to Utah and then two weeks later in winter sent 300 miles south to found Parawon. He was a potter and they are currently digging his old pottery site and doing a reconstruction. His Daughter is the ancestor of the whole Matheson clan. Her brother is my great grand father and how I am related to the Congressman. One of John's kids moved to the Grass Valley-Nevada City area. Which is the area the guy who wrote and produced the film hangs out. - J

9.2 Recommendation Letter

Alex Harris Monday, August 30, 2010 email

Hey Gerald,
I'm not sure if this is the best way to reach you but nonethless I wanted to contact you about a couple things.

First and foremost I really enjoyed working on your project. I hope I brought some authenticity and talent to Cyrus for you. I also commend you for being able to direct a fairly large cast. More importantly, I think it is your passion for filmmaking that sides very well with me as I have the same love. I know that people seriously appreciate the effort you put in because it is your best.

I am in the process of applying to film production schools as we speak. Particularly Loyola Marymount which is my first choice. After all the common application and essays are completed, the next step is recommendation letters. I had to take some time to thnk of who I would like to speak on my behalf. I decided first on a couple easy ones, one being my private acting teacher who is also the director for the plays I've had lead roles in. The other was a film professor for a class I thought I put a ton of effort into.

I was wondering if you would be able to find the time in your busy schedule to write my third letter. We had talked through email a fair amount prior to the production, and I would definitely be willing to let you know anything you may want to know about me anfd the projects I have been a part of should you be so nice to recommend me. I particularly liked your writing style and hoped you had seen along the way my extreme passion for this is much like yours. - Alex Harris aka Cyrus

Gerald Monday, August 30, 2010 email

Greetings, ARLENE!
It's a pleasure to email you, thanks for the inquiry.

I do not have access to any journals. The story is based on factual people, events, and locations. I have taken some creative liberties in making the Wimmer's be bigger than life, and they may well have been, but the history books I have read, ten mind you, plus researching the internet, which you cannot believe everything you read, PLUS, going to COLOMA, and talking with their experts and getting books about them, not much mind you, but some, I have come up with an entertaining, somewhat accurate historic story. There was not much about the wimmer's before or after, and during, for that matter.

big time on the somewhat and I know I am incorrect on a few things, but not having much luck finding out about them before and after the gold rush was what I did the creative parts on.

I would love to spend more time on accuracy and actual events before and after because the family is quite interesting, large, and an unsung hero in the discovery of gold and implementation of Sutter's Mill in this area, as I am sure of what ever else they did in life.

In doing this project, I truly made an effort to create a positive look into their lives. I did not want to offend anyone in the family, discredit any historic facts, or embarrass the descendants. And the main story revolves around William Riley Wimmer. You can see more info on the facebook page, you do not need to have a facebook account to view any of the info. - gerald

The 10 movie will premiere at the Crest Theater in Sacramento on October 3rd. I am making a longer version that will also be on the dvd. plus a slide show of behind the scene pictures and video.

10 Moonlighting?

While Gerald was working on THE GOLdEN TREE, Guy Pace, writer of “Treasure Chest of South Sacramento,” one of the winning selected films, sent out an email to the producers of the other nine productions to see if anyone could/would give him a hand to make his film.

Gerald felt sad about Guy's situation that his director/Camera guy bailed on him. Without asking Brendan first, Gerald offered to volunteered himself, Brendan, his equipment, and anyone else who would join.

Once Brendan was on-board, the task was to create story-boards from screenplay and gather other crew members.

Gerald July 8, 2010 newsletter

An excerpt from Roots of Gold. The Cast & Crew newsletter for THE GOLdEN TREE. Issue #11 - July 8, 2010.

As some of you joined more than one PCS movie project, so have Brendan and I. We are going to co-direct and co-camera on “Treasure Of South Sacramento,” and we start at 10 am tomorrow down in Cosumnes River College if anyone is interested in helping, we need crew.

A while back there was a plea for help from Guy Pace who had his Director / Camera guy flaked on him and he sent an email to all productions to see if anyone could help. I asked him what were his production days to see if they conflicted with ours. One part of me wanted them to be knowing I would be tapped with two movies if I commit. The other part wanted to be a part of another production and build my name and portfolio with another project.

I have over many finished screenplays from shorts to trilogies x3; sci-fi and imagination, and the family drama. I have access to equipment and crew from up Burbank and up here to make these films, but when it comes to actors, most of them want to either get paid or cannot do it due to conflicts — having a low to no budget makes things stop for indie filmmaker trying to build his body of work.

When PCS came along — and my story was selected — I took this as a sign, a chance, an oportunity to: take advantage of the poor saps that volunteer for this. I mean: work with talented and skilled actors and crew that was offered to me at a very cut rate — I still have to feed and keep you hydrated — and make a movie that exceeds people's expectations for a film made for PCS. Hence the reason I want to make a 30+ minute version of THE GOLdEN TREE.

So Access Sacramento's "A Place Called Sacramento" is a great place to create THE GOLdEN TREE project to show the money people something else to get $300k or more to make Chardonnay — everyone will get paid but me — and to work with people to see who likes me and who I would like to bring on the project; thus being involved with Treasure Chest of South Sacramento on just adds to the portfolio. Something I thought Detective A would do for me.

11 Footnotes

[^A]She was looking for her denial packet, which was sent out as an email to pick them up next week, as Ron told her. Then she proceeded to tell her sad story about being busy with things and saw the screenplay contest and in two days wrote her story. Gerald nearly laughed out loud at her thinking “Really? You think you can write a story in two days and have it accepted? Even the best, most succesful, and popular writers never submit their first draft, ever. I started mine ten months ago and the version I submitted was version twenty-five.

[^B]tightening means to conflate it by taking several events, characters, or conversations and merge them into one or remove some of the fiddly-bits that slow the pace down or confuse the reader or viewer.