Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shameless Plug:

So be prepared cuz I like to get my friends work. I also like spreading the word when I've worked with a good person/ company. So to start the shameless promotion:

New social media site for filmmakers. You can meet cast and crew, set up projects, use the sites tools to manage your projects. All kinds of goodies. They just did a big update on the site. I've got my profile set up, took 5 minutes. You all should get on there and Connect up with me. Continuum is looking to work some exclusive deals with Filmbreak. So you know we'll be looking there for team members with our coming projects. Danny Torres, my business partner, is another guy you need to connect to.

The site is no joke. Get in on the ground floor. I've already hired a prospective new producer through the site. Filmbreak party on the 6th. See you there!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dear Canon Camera... WHY?!?!

Canon. Honestly. Since we started working together back in '03, when I bought my XL1S, you have always played with my heart. I know you can build cameras, I know you can build amazing glass. I know you can do all these amazing things.

So WHY can I not get it all in one camera?!

The XL1S. Great glass. Decent ergonomics. BUT no 24p.
The 5D. Great Glass. Adjustable ISO. BUT that H264 compression was beyond brutal.

And now the C300. A $20,000 camera body that has a beautiful sensor and a real mount (PL) for real glass. But I hope I'm reading this wrong because it SEEMS like you're only going to give me 4:2:2 color space and no option for uncompressed out. $20,000... for 4:2:2 compressed. I'm going to put this as delicately as I can... Are you trying to make me cheat on you?

You've officially become the girlfriend who surprises me with breakfast in bed... only to discover you've set fire to my kitchen in the process. It's never simple with you! What the hell??

Every time you release a new camera it's like you intentionally hold back on one key ingredient so I won't get emotionally attached to you or something. Would you PLEASE stop playing with my emotions like this? Are we gunna go steady or not? Because you keep pulling the rug out from under me and then I go cheat on you with Panasonic. You make me do this! Panasonic's do everything I want and it does it well. You do one thing absolutely incredibly and then leave me hanging on the rest. It's like the sex is mind-blowing, but I can't get you to stop picking your nose in public!

I'm serious. If we don't fix this relationship by the time your 5D MkIII comes out, I'm leaving you for good and I'm going off to marry an Alexa. She might not be a cheap date like you, but at least I get 4:4:4 RAW data out of her.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What is going on in Denver?!

Tebow is getting unleashed on the NFL. And I'll admit, I was not a believer. He doesn't throw well, doesn't do the things you expect of an NFL quarterback. But Coach Fox has gone with what works (in this case the Option Offense) and, consequences be damned, they're literally running with it.

Aaannnddd it's working. Really well. Last nights win over a "defense first" team proves it. The Broncos are actually winning with a college playbook. I'm genuinely shocked. I predicted Jets blowing out Broncos.

So the late/ great Teddy Roosevelt said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Coach Fox clearly understands this principal. So does my producer James Duval. So should every filmmaker out there.

It's important to make the best of the time/budget/actors/equipment that you have on hand, and not spend even a moment wishing or thinking, "Man, if I only had (fill in the blank), this scene would be so much better!" Because you don't have (fill in the blank) and it's probably not going to magically appear on set. (However, if it DOES magically appear, call me. You are now producing ever feature I ever make as it's clear you can stop time or manifest cameras/lights/ A-list actors out of thin air.)

But in all seriousness, you have to focus on the present. That is what will get you through the day. Coach Fox isn't filling his days wishing Tebow will magically become Aaron Rodgers. Depend on your creativity, not payroll, to fix your problems. Besides, your creativity is probably what got you this far. Why abandon what works? If a football team is having major success running the ball, they don't start going all air-attack. They hammer their opponents with the run. Do the same. Even if all odds are against you, even if the sun is setting and you've got an entire scene to shoot, do NOT waste even a moment wishing to stop time. Put the camera on your shoulder, tell every one it's two-minute drill time, and you shoot that scene until there isn't an ounce of shootable light left. And if you still need more, devise a way with the lights you have to fake that unreliable sun.

I shot a short back in '09. Good little comedy. My DP, David Gibb, brilliant young guy out of Chapman, is your stereotypical DP in that if you give him an hour to light a coffee cup, he will take that full hour. And it will be the most epic/ beautifully lit coffee cup you have ever seen. Like staring into the face of the baby Jesus (give or take how you feel about babies. I think they all look like little, wrinkled, pink prunes). But we got screwed on time because of equipment malfunctions on Day 1. Day 2, I pull him aside and tell him that we've got a lot to make up, and I need him and his team to pull off a miracle. Keep in mind we're shooting RED and Gibbs is lighting it like it's 35mm, and the footage was looking amazing! So, Day 2, we start outside right underneath the LAX take off lanes with an insurmountable amount of footage to shoot. 10 hours and 32 full set ups later, we actually made our day. And it wasn't 32 set ups in a living room. We were outside, inside, all over the house. Gibbs and his team were at a sprint for those 10 hours. And the footage matched Day 1, no discernible difference. We did what we could with what we had. And when a crew all takes the mindset that we CAN do this, well, nothing short of miracles can happen. You hear about them all the time. Crews that overcame everything and still made their days.

The footage from Day 2 all ended up looking brilliant. It was the power of believing we could do it, that not a single person on that set for one moment stopped to say, "If I only had a 10x10 silk this would go a lot easier.", that fueled us through a break-neck day. And we came out on top.

You've all been on sets where it's happened. I'm saying, there's no reason any of us should wait until the last 30 minutes of sunshine to kick into that gear. Start your day, every day, visualizing where you want to get with the people, budget and equipment you have on hand, and miracles will happen. You know it, you've seen it, you've been there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pay to Play? No Pay? Encouragement for Young Filmmakers...

  Between the Bears NOT paying Forte as the #1 all-purpose back in the league that he is and the NCAA throwing around the idea of "gifting" the students you exploit the living !@#$ out of for sick amounts of monetary gain but insist it's NOT Pay-to-Play, I am  starting to make me feel dirty. I don't want to feel dirty watching my Bears, watching the Illini. I am starting to feel like an enabler. And not the good kind of enabler that enables his friends to do stupid, wild stunts that they will most certainly regret now but will cherish the memories in the future. More like the kind of enabler that keeps giving a friend money that you know he's going to do bad things with.

   I'm giving you my money, buying tickets, watching the games, buying the hats, etc. And you keep doing things with it I do not approve of.

Not. Pleased.

McCaskey's: Pay Forte. His loyalty and professionalism should be rewarded in kind.

NCAA: Yea, a couple of those kids are going on to make $$$ in pro sports. But for the THOUSANDS that won't play another snap, another inning, another quarter, find something in those fat bank accounts to help them make the transition to life without sports. They helped put millions (SEC made $1 Billion last year) in your banks, put a little back.

Which comes back to young Hollywood. The kids out there right now who will be the rockstars of tomorrow.

   In indie film, a lot of young guns end up working for free. You help your friends, you help friends of friends, you help strangers. And you hear a lundry list of reasons for why you should help for free. I don't buy the "paying your dues" bull@#$% some producers will hand youngin's to justify what often times becomes PA abuse. But I firmly believe that, in film, people don't forget the folks that give them a hand when they needed it most. You help people for free, I think, for 2 reasons.

1-It will aid you in the future. Soak up every bit of learning you can on set. It will aid you. More importantly, mine for contacts. I met Continuum Pictures on a set I Produced and AD'ed for free. And my career has skyrocketed since because I found a group of highly motivated individuals to band together with. You will find some amazing people to work with, you will find some crazy people too. There's all types on set. This is our reality. If you meet people on sets that are also working for free, really get a feel for who they are. Because they might be you: An up-and-comer, helping a friend out of goodness, and looking for a team to help them rise to greatness. I have been more blessed in my life from working no-pay and $100-a-day jobs early in my career than working for Sony and Universal (point of fact, I got both those studio jobs from working on $100-a-day gigs)

2-You help because it's never bad to try to make the world a better place. People do not help each other much in this town out of simple kindness. LA can be an incredibly lonely town for being stuffed to capacity at a bit over 13 million folks. That strikes me as sad because, in Chicago, I felt like people were more open to just helping. Not for monetary gain, but for the sake of just being helpful. When you give someone an amazing gift of your time, it is the most compelling gift of all because it is not replaceable. If you help me for free, I can never repay you. I can never refill your clock. All I can do is give you a gift in return. Maybe it's my time later. Maybe its a high paying gig. Who knows where the road takes us, what the Cosmic Muffin has in store for us. But I think people SHOULD help one another. Because when you do, you are making the world a better place. By gifting someone your time, you are removing greed and agendas on a set and replacing it with a positive energy that has no $ equal. Surrounded by people like that, even tiny film crews can make amazing things happen. They create something grand by power of their own creativity, fueled by ambition and the kindness of friends and (sometimes) strangers. Is it bad in this town to bring something positive simply for the sake of being the good guy (girl)? Never.

Wrap it up. Writing the great american novel here. I know. When you start getting older, you lose track of time. Never be discouraged at working on a set for free. If you have the time, do it. Because you are making an investment in your future, and you're making a  greater contribution to that project than anyone can ever give. You are giving them an irreplaceable gift. I think, instinctively, people do not forget that. And your career should prosper from it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Continuum Pictures moving forward on Kids stuff

I #@$%ing loved Ghostbusters. I watched them until the VHS snapped. I played with the toys till the wheels on Ecto1 fell off. I went as a Ghostbuster for Halloween. I cannot imagine the frustration of my parents when I repeatedly rolled "the trap" in-between their feet as they walked by. I was hooked.

So my buddy Derrick Camardo, who I have known since 1995, is a novelist in Chicago. We were talking on the phone and he's telling me about this book he's finished about a girl and her hamster, Mr. Snugglymuffin. It's not the puppy she wanted, but she grows to love the little guy anyway, which becomes a problem when Mr. Snugglymuffin grows to Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man size and terrorizes the city. I thought this could make a great movie, kind of a Godzilla meets Honey I Blew Up the Kid. So I'm real happy when Continuum Pictures agreed to give it a look and see if we can bring "Mr. Snugglymuffin's Rampage" to the screen. Anyone know if Randal Kleiser is avail?

So everyone knows the phrase "You know who your friends are when you need help moving". Last night I had to hang these two gigantic paintings in my place. Danny Torres and James Duval are over going over our latest developments when they spot all the stuff (the drills, the ladder, etc) for hanging. 5 minutes later we're continuing our business meeting while I'm on ladder, Danny's hanging from the stairwell keeping the painting from falling on my head, James is making sure neither of us fall to our deaths, all as if this were normal. I love my business partners.