The Last Christmas Party
Behind the Scenes

The Last Christmas Party was shot using a variety of mini DV 3-chip cameras.  The main camera was Dora Mae Productions pride and joy, the Sony PDX10.  In our next shoot we hope to have enough bucks to get a Sony 24fps HDV camcorder.

Becky constructed a light for the close-ups.  It's made of clamps, a wooden dowel, gaffer's tape, an old lampshade, with a china ball rice paper casing.   Debbie named it "The Panty Light" because of the lace that ran around the bottom.

Max the Dog is a white Miniature Schnauzer. Fergus the Dog is a wheat-colored Cairn Terrier.  Both appear in the film with no formal acting training.


The first time the four partners of Dora Mae Productions worked together in a professional capacity was during the 1988 workshop production of Debbie's play The Breezeway. Sam was 17; she ranprops. Becky was 12. She ran the refreshments at intermission. Her twin sister Jeannine video-taped the performance.

Sean Madden (sound recordist) works as a freelance camera and sound operator in New York City.  He met Jeannine when they were both 14 working on the stage crew at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts.

The view of the Empire State building from the coat room is the actual view from that window.

The recipe for 'Goober' that the character of Denise talks about was actually invented by the actor's real life father.
Click here for the recipe.

The three love stories in the film were adapted from three plays written by Debbie Jones and Jeannine Jones: My Type, The Wing Man and The Marlboro Woman were the original titles.

The outdoor video journals that have the characters of Jim and Denise addressing the camera were originally filmed with doubles of the characters standing in the background. It was too artsy so we cut it.

Vesper Stamper (singer, composer "The French Horn") has a band with her husband Ben.  She was an art major at LaGuardia High School and shared a lunch table just about every day with Jeannine.

The snow shoot was truly a guerilla shoot.  It was shot during one of the biggest blizzards in New York City history.  The shoot lasted from 9:30 PM until 4:00AM and so did the blizzard.  Samantha hooded the camera with a black umbrella so Becky could shoot without getting the lens clogged with snow.  Michael Birch(Jim) and Andrea Reese (Denise) kept warm in between takes in the ATM lobby of the Chase Bank. Fortunately, Michael brought his ATM card.

122 guests, not including the actors and crew, attended the actual Christmas party we filmed.

45 guests didn't attend that year.   They were a little freaked out with the whole 'documentary' thing.  They came back full force for the next Christmas party.

The "ledge shot" with the character of Phyllis in the snow 15 floors up was filmed on the terrace of our dear friends Anne and Jim Perryman's Upper West Side apartment.

The shadow of snow falling when Phyllis is seated on the ledge was a digital effect created by Dean O'Brien and composited in post.

The "ledge" Phyllis sits on was actually constructed by Jeannine using: a folding table from Staples, Styrofoam and paint from Pearl Art Supply and burlap.  She covered the surface with Fleck Stone and fake snow.

When Edwin was being filmed peeking out from under the bed, Jeannine (production designer) raised the bed on 8-inch risers to get the shot.  After the 3rd take the actor playing Edwin realized there was a dog under the bed with him.

Edwin buys Phyllis a pack of cigarettes called "Louisville Lights."  It's a fictional brand that only exists in the movie. It took 3 days and 80 tries to come up with the name "Louisville Lights."  The packaging was designed by Becky.

The smokers sitting on the back stairs are not smoking.  Those are fake cigarettes.  Spray diffusion was added to the scene to give the illusion of smoke hanging in the air.

The group scene where 6 characters discuss the rules of dating was shot with three cameras and 5 different angles.  Another round of takes using 2 cameras focused on the main characters (Sam and Stan).

The Midori Sour that the character Stan (Chuck Bunting) drinks really did taste awful.  It was made out of peppermint extract.

Dan Grennes wrote the song 'Advantages' specifically for the film. He is the lead singer for the band Uncle Pumpkin and plays bass guitar for Arlene's World Famous Rock and Roll Karaoke Band.

The bar scene shot at Blondie's involved many, very accommodating friends, professionals, and friends of friends showing up at 7am dressed for a night out on the town.

The actors that appear in the film attended the actual party in character and in costume.  The scene in the coat room where Phyllis is searching for a cigarette was improvised by the actor (Linda Larson). During the party several cameras caught romantic interplay between the actors playing Samantha and Stan - again, improvised.  The Michael Caine conversation was an improvisation driven by the actor playing Stan (Chuck Bunting).  The entire cast improvised their characters' arrival at the actual party.

Matt Hong plays in the reeds section of David Berger and The Sultans of Swing.  His recording of "Silent Night" on clarinet for the film is lonely and moving. Asked by Debbie to 'sound like' a street musician, his saxophone recording of "O Christmas Tree" adds realism and flavor to the city scene.

During the color correction process at Digital Arts, our digital colorist, Tim Stipan, casually mentioned working on The Departed. That's right - we shared our colorist with Martin Scorsese!

More than half of the camera and lighting department (Matt Kulvicki, Andreas Wagner, Andrew Brennan, and Heather Brown) all went to Syracuse University for Film with Becky.

Due to a mysterious dead pixel, we had to re-shoot two scenes 9 months after principal photography wrapped.  Michael Birch had lost his original Monticello cap which Debbie found online and Jeannine artificially distressed. The two actors involved  (Michael Birch and Andrea Reese) came together like no time had passed.  They were great.

The whole process of making the film took exactly 2 years and involved 156 people from start to finish.

Debbie Jones directed her first production when she was 5 years old out of her friend Susan Peters' garage in Pompton Plains, New Jersey.

We met Nina Schelich (costume designer) while she was doing her day job bartending at Blondie's. (the bar we used for the end of the film)  She designed the wardrobes for the 7 ensemble actors with a budget of $600. We are lucky to have worked with this talented designer. Visit her website.

The food provided on the set was always the same.  Pasta salad, bread and butter, and candy.

The apartment Jenny leaves in the opening scene is Samantha's apartment in Washington Heights.  They were roommates at the time.

When we shot Debbie walking the dogs in the snow it was a few weeks after the party. In the intervening time, Max the Dog had gotten a haircut.  To preserve continuity, we had to buy him a doggie coat to conceal his new hairdo.

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