(Scroll down to watch StarFruit Productions' video of the "Princess/Star Wars" wedding)
Sage Hall is watching corpses fly through the air.
She’s on location in Port Charlotte, directing a Vegas-style, musical-magic show featuring one of the world’s top Luciano Pavarotti impersonators. An effervescent videographer with an eye for detail, Hall is gushing over the special effects — girls materializing from gondolas; flowers appearing where an audience would sit; and heads falling off of bodies.
“A fantastic opera singer is doing all of the music,” says Hall, founder of StarFruit Productions. “He hired me to shoot a commercial, but thought I had the polish to bring his show to the next level and he hired me on as director.”
The show features Playboy Bunny Lyn Sky, also a stilt walker with Universal Studios, as the magician’s assistant.
“I get to shoot a wedding tonight after I’m done with my musical magician,” Hall says. “I’m heading straight from corpse land to wedding land. There’s a wedding in this film, too. Of course, the bride is 20 feet tall.”
Hall shoots with a photojournalistic style and always looks for natural events to unfold. She never poses her subjects. Location and detail shots are important and are shot cinematically with sliders and steady cams.
“I’m down on the ground; I’m in the bushes; and I’m up in trees,” Hall says. “I sneak into things that say ‘no trespassing.’ When I have a camera in my hand, I feel like I can do anything.”
Two months ago, Hall discovered that The Disney Wedding Blog had named StarFruit Productions the winner for Best Wedding Film of 2010, for a wedding video in which a fairy-tale princess arrives to her wedding in a horse-drawn carriage and walks down an aisle guarded by “Star Wars” storm troopers. It was a full-fledged production — a 15-hour shoot with five cameras.
“She had everything — the Cinderella coach, two dresses and Mickey and Minnie; he had storm troopers and seven ‘Star Wars’ actors,” Hall said. “I spent 100 hours editing that thing.”
Hall always knew she was destined for the theater. Growing up in Alabama, she started acting as a child and was instantly drawn to theater the first time she stepped on stage. When she turned 16, she spent one year in London studying Shakespeare. Her hunger to learn every facet of theater — from lighting and directing to acting — inspired her to pack up her car at age 20, and with $2,000 in her pocket, head off to Los Angeles to be an actress. There, she found her love for film and approached it the same way she did theater, even studying under the same teacher as Robert De Niro. Seven years later in 2007, with her mind set on saving some money before making a move to New York, she moved back home to the Sarasota area.
“When I left Los Angeles, I thought my life was over,” Hall says. “I knew I was an actress, that I wanted to tell stories and make people feel something and be a catalyst. That’s always been so deep inside of me, and I thought by leaving I was giving that up — that’s why it’s been such a wonderful, happy surprise to me that I’ve been more successful in my career since I left.”
Her first short film, “Candy,” was a five-minute funky Halloween piece in which she played the lead. When she originally made the film, which cost less than $500, she didn’t think it would surface anywhere. When the Screen Actors Guild Foundation announced that it would feature the film at its Short Film Showcase in February, Hall immediately booked tickets.
“I flew myself, my honey, producer and writers (to New York City),” Hall said. “New York City had 19 inches of snowfall in the city. We’re all there together to see my movie and it gets canceled. There were three people in Times Square.”
The event was rescheduled for two weeks later.
“This is the award I’m most proud of,” Hall says. “I was with people whose movies had $100,000 budgets. Just to be able to stand up there and be recognized — I felt like it was my graduation.”
Upon moving back home, she got cast in a three-month production of Florida Studio Theatre’s “Brooklyn Boy” and was hired for the theater’s education program. She started StarFruit Productions in 2007.
“I was doing a children’s show called ‘Under 6,’ and one of the cast members was getting married the next day,” Hall says. “I asked to film it for free and put it online. That’s when The Disney Wedding Blog blogger saw it and hired me right away (to do her wedding), and I made StarFruit official. It’s kind of been my film school. I thought, ‘OK, if I can make money making movies about love stories … ’”
She calls it “wedding filmmaking.”
“There’s a big difference between that and a wedding videographer,” Hall says. “When I thought of a videographer, I thought about a sweaty old man zooming in on a bride’s cleavage. But this is really changing the entire industry. More than anything else, I feel like one of the things I want to accomplish is letting other people’s light shine. That’s why I love doing weddings.”
Hall and her fiancé, Grady Reinagle, will be married Oct. 15. The theme is “black-tie hoedown,” and the wedding will be filmed by a husband-and-wife team from Orlando.
“I’m going to allow myself to be a bride,” she says. “It’s hard because I’m a director at heart — I’m sure I’m going to be giving them the eyeball.”
SAGE HALL ON GETTING HITCHED
“My fiancé (Grady Reinagle) and I are having a black tie hoedown. It’s not a day that you want to be generic — it’s got to be personal. It’s going to be real easy.”
While living in Los Angeles, Sage Hall was a dog walker for Drew Barrymore’s pup. “It was a great way to stay in shape,” she says.