I’ve Started a Second Blog!

1 06 2013

735453_10100527795815001_1731267763_oThis is not really movie related, but I did want to let all my followers over here at Notes on a Film know that I have started a second blog that will run in conjunction with my updates here at Notes on a Film.

Outside of movies, music, golf and being a car enthusiast, I am also a really big pinball nut. I know, I’ve got too many hobbies; my wallet reminds me of that every day. Lately, however, my engagement in the pinball hobby has been in full swing, and I felt it might be nice to have a blog devoted to that interest to cover my collecting adventures, tournaments, game reviews, repairs and anything else related to the playing and collecting of pinball machines. In reality, both of these blogs are partially just a great outlet for me to get some time in one of my other big hobbies: writing.

So, if you have ever thrown a few quarters into a silver ball machine, are a seasoned enthusiast  a collector, or heck, never even seen or heard of one (!), cruise on over to: http://www.thepinballreview.com. I just started it yesterday, so it’s pretty sparse right now, but will continue to get updated regularly as well as here at Notes on a Film getting a renewed portion of my time.

I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to subscribe, bookmark or check back regularly to both of my blogs!





Latest Commercial Project Wrapped!

2 09 2012

For those of you who don’t know,  I serve as the Video/Web Specialist for a privately owned commerce company in Winston-Salem, N.C., Inmar, Inc.  One of the recent projects that I worked on was a commercial spot to try to explain exactly who we are and what we do.  Here’s how trying to answer that question usually goes (hang in there): We are a B2B commerce company that operates three individual, though collaborative, networks; those being Supply Chain, Healthcare and Promotions.  In the Supply Chain leg of our business, we handle recalls, remarketing, reverse logistics, returns, hazardous waste management, business intelligence and supply chain consulting.  For Healthcare, we operate much the same, but with emphasis on healthcare and pharmaceutical businesses. For Promotions, we reconcile and offer a multitude of services for both paper and digital coupons.  Gets a bit verbose, eh?

To remedy this situation a bit, I was tasked with creating a :90 to 2 minute spot that helped condense this down and make it more manageable for the everyday person who was unfamiliar with our business. The average person, however, doesn’t always understand the intricacies of a B2B business, so what would be the best approach?  Well, I thought about it for a bit, and what is the one thing we all are?  Consumers.  With the idea of basing the project from the point of view of the consumer and how we touch the transactions that consumers use everyday, we entered into a series of meetings with our writing team and VP of Communications.  One of our writers, Steve Eller, was nominated for the actual writing of the script.  Once his first draft was in, several revisions were made by various people in the company, and within about a week we had a solid script in place.

The script was to a final draft in very early August.  However, a goal was set to allow our CEO to take this video with him for the GMA Executive Conference – that conference began on August 25th.  The script broke down to approximately 9-11 roles, 4 locations and a voiceover underneath.  I was pretty confidant in being able to find the actors, but the 4 locations, which included a residential home, grocery store, pharmacy and returns counter, would prove more difficult.  Furthermore, I was directing, shooting, producing and editing the project; but, not the first time I’ve been on a tight deadline, so I was happy to take the challenge.

The first order of business was casting our lead actress, who ended up being someone I’ve worked with as both a DP and a director in the past, Lisa Sain Odom.  Getting an actress, who appears in every scene of the spot, that I was comfortable with, and who, likewise, was comfortable with me, was paramount.  From there, I hired out another actor I’ve worked with on several occasions, Tommy Trull.  For their children, we used one of our graphic designers, Kristen Hansen’s, kids.  Knowing the residential home would be the easiest location to fill, I set out asking around the office who was open to a small crew and cast taking over their home for a day.  Our head writer, Shannon Hanington, graciously obliged.  For help that day, I hired out longtime colleague Dan A. R. Kelly, who is literally a film production extraordinare, to be my second set of hands and eyes on set.  Our writing team, Greg, Shannon and Steve, were also on hand to help out.  The first and last scenes were shot at this location, and the first day proved a smooth and easy day for both cast and crew.

The second day on the books ended up being the returns counter segment.  At first, I was very concerned about finding this location; well, let’s be honest, I was concerned about all the other locations outside of the residential home.  But, luckily, Inmar has an in-house digital display that our clients can go through that helps show how our software and technology systems work.  Steve and I went over to see if this looked close enough to what a returns counter would at a store, and thank goodness, it looked great.  Being on site at our headquarters, it was easy to book this location, and the two actresses for this part were none other than our gracious host for the residential scenes, Shannon Hanington, and our Communications Intern, Karla Barnes.  Outside of having to send Greg out for some tough green to match the overhead fluorescents, we had another easy setup/easy shoot day.

Now, we get to the hard locations: a grocery store and a pharmacy.  After multiple false starts on both of these locations (who would have thought a grocery store and pharmacy would be so hard to get permission to shoot in?  We even had a budget for the locations!), I finally found two that would work.  The first, was a member of the IGA, Cedar Lodge in Thomasville, N.C., who I can’t speak highly enough of.  They were so gracious and open in letting us shoot at their store, I really can’t thank them enough.  Being that we needed to shoot once the store closed, our shoot day (night) for that ended up being from 8pm-midnight.  Knowing I didn’t have enough in the budget to replace overheads with color balanced tubes, or cover with 1/4 magenta, I had to use the fluorescent fixtures overhead as part of the scene.  I supplemented the ambience with a Jokerbug 800, gelled with full plus green, bounced into beadboard, and accented backlight with two in-house ARRI 650w fresnels, gelled with a 1/2 blue as well.  For this day, as well as the pharmacy shoot, another longtime trusted film colleague was on set to be my extra set of hands and eyes, Shane D. Smith.

My supervisor found us a pharmacy in her hometown the day before we were going to loose our lead actress due to availability – what luck!  The pharmacy we used was Mt. Pilot Drug in Pilot Mountain, another perfect location, and likewise, very gracious owners who didn’t mind our taking over the place for a few hours after closing.  Again, we shot in the late evening, and a very similar lighting setup was used for these scenes as was done in the grocery store with the Jokerbug 800 and the ARRI 650s.  Since the shoot took place over 5 separate days, over a two week period, I had already begun assembling the cut.  Furthermore, I got the voiceover done by professional VO artist Mark Cardnella (http://cardnella.com/), very early on so I could layer footage as it came in.  So, post on the last few scenes wasn’t too rough.

I ended up finishing the project about 3 days ahead of schedule.  Of course, there were some revisions needed as with any project of this size and scope; the final revisions were submitted Thursday late evening before our CEO was to leave the following day.  But, the video made it with him to the conference and, from what I heard, went over very well.  That’s all that really matters in the end, and makes all the stresses of a tight deadline all the more rewarding.

For those interested, here’s a link to the finished cut:


TECH SPECS:

Camera: Sony NEX-FS700 with 18-200 stock E-mount lens

Capture Resolution: 1920×1080 24p

Post: Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 with process shot and outro graphic composed in Adobe After Effects CS6.  Grading completed in Adobe Speedgrade CS6.





Production Heavy, Just the Way I Like It!

4 07 2012

From our hottest day on Friday. This was the morning though, when it was still reasonably cool.

So, for the last few weeks, I have been super busy with a number of productions, which is always an excellent thing!  With intent not to bore, I’ll give as much run down on the last few projects I’ve been involved in, without comprising any confidential details about the projects or who was involved in each production specifically.

First up, Down Fenix Media, LLC officially wrapped production on a three-video series for a very large client, who will remain unnamed since I haven’t cleared anything with them, this past Sunday.  We had spent the Saturday before filming at the large Farmer’s Market outside of Greensboro, and then spent two additional days shooting various material at the Arboretum near downtown Greensboro, and one day of interiors at our lead actresses’s apartment.  All days went really smoothly, and it’s a good feeling to have everything in the can on this project.  It’s currently being edited by our resident editor extraordinaire Bryan R. “Higgibaby” (not an official nickname, he will likely punch you if you call him this…he punches me often for it) Higgins.  In other DFM, LLC news, look out for our new (and much improved) Web site coming very soon!

Following those two shoot days over the weekend with DFM, I was back in the office at Inmar Monday morning, and busy with an array of exciting projects we have/had going on.  On Tuesday, I traveled with one of our in-house Communications Writers, our Associate Marketing Manager for Digital Promotions and our Assistant Events Planner, who happened to be pulling double duty that day by also serving as an actress, and headed down to Trailblazers Studios in Raleigh.  There, we were shooting a teaser for our Digital Promotions network, but again I will leave very open ended, because I don’t want to leak too much information….just believe me, exciting stuff!  I was really impressed with Trailblazers, a beautiful and very well-built studio – a rarity for this area!  Also, that day, I was wearing a bit of a different hat than I am used to on set – playing a co-producer/technical advisor role for my company.  It was fun coming at a project from that angle, as I find it exhilarating to try out different roles once in awhile, but my technician side got the best of me a few times and I jumped in to Dolly Grip on a few of the moving shots, since I saw the need arose.

Wednesday, I was swamped in pre-production for another series of three videos, but also part of the same Digital Promotions Network campaign.  We shot this series of three videos with the help of a local LLC, and great bunch of guys, at a perfect location for the stories, the Riverpark at Cooleemee Falls in Davie County, on Thursday and Friday.  Thursday and Friday’s shot lists were completely day exteriors, all 95+ degree weather, so it definitely comprised of some HOT shooting conditions, but everything went smoothly and we popped off the final shots right before we had to leave the location at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.  In addition to serving as a liaison between Inmar and the contracted LLC for the shoot days, I also got the opportunity to gaff on set, and it was nice meeting and working with the crew and cast on both of those days.

Candid Photo from Thursday’s Digital Promotions Shoot.

Following the grueling heat of Friday’s shoot, I began a five day July 4th staycation, which is finally winding down today.  I’m happy to report that my novel is nearing its final few chapters of the first draft, and look out for some new reviews here on the blog in the coming days.  Thanks for reading and please enjoy a few of the quick production stills I popped off on my iPhone during our shoot days on Thursday and Friday!





Official Online Short Film Release: Philip K. Dick’s “Beyond the Door”

22 05 2012

It is with great pleasure that I officially announce the online release of my directorial debut, “Beyond the Door.”  The film was produced by myself and Dan A. R. Kelly, and stars Lisa Sain Odom as Laura, Reid Dalton as Larry and Eljiah Chester as Bob Chambers.

Shot over Labor Day weekend in 2010, the film went through a lengthy post-production phase, largely in part to my hectic schedule at the time.  The film was shot by the very talented Jeff Stepp, had production design by UNCSA alum Antonia DiNardo and the score and sound design was completed by Down Fenix Media, LLC member Jon Fredette.  Without the generous contribution of all these people, the rest of the crew, my brother John Mandrano and many others, I could have never completed this pet project.

The budget was completely out of pocket; if memory serves me, somewhere in the $3,500 range.  For some that’s not much, but for me at the time that was quite an undertaking in congruence with my regular bills.  Though it was a lot out of my pocket, all the wonderful people who helped me complete this film took huge cuts on their usual rates, some helping for no pay at all, and for that I am eternally grateful.  Over the three days of shooting, no day was less than a 12 hour day and our middle day was close to 17 hours, so it definitely wasn’t a cake shoot.

Anyway, I’ve got several posts on here that dig a little deeper into the production of this film if you are interested in checking them out, namely here and here.  So, without any further adieu, rambling or behind-the-scenes dialog, I present you with my directorial debut and the adaptation of the Philip K. Dick public domain short story “Beyond the Door”:





The Time is Close at Hand: Goodbye Final Cut Pro

21 05 2012

Logos for Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere. Copyright Apple and Adobe.

Well, I think the time has finally come that I will be weening off Final Cut Pro for good, as much as it pains me to say.  I began using Final Cut, Apple’s professional non-linear editing software, in 2002 during my freshman year in the then Broadcasting and Cinema Department of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Our editing lab at the time had Mac G4s with FCP 3.0 loaded on them, and we ingested the primary form of media, mini-DV tapes, through mini-DV/VHS combo decks that sat on top of 4:3 color broadcast monitors.  It was humble beginnings with the software, but was fostered through my tenure at UNCG and, subsequent, upgrade of our systems to FCP HD (4.5) by my senior year.

Following graduation in 2006, I embarked on a semester long journey into law school at Elon University’s School of Law.  Still to this day, I will speak high praises of their program; law school just wasn’t right for me personally.  In November of the first semester, I made the hard and long thought out decision to drop out, doing so just before the deadline of making the difference between my professional transcript reading “Withdrawl” rather than “Failed” (since I wouldn’t have taken the exams and completed the mini-semester following).  I used what monies I had set aside for my next semester of law school and bought about $11,000 worth of HD video gear including an HVX-200, FS-100 Firestore device, Lowel lighting kit, Azden shotgun mic and my first ever personally owned Mac: an iMac 17″ Intel Core 2 Duo (which has since been bequeathed to my girlfriend) .  I upgraded the stock RAM and processor to as high as I could on Apple.com and then purchased Final Cut 5.1.  About a year and half later I made the jump to 6.0 and then to 7, the last true version release of the software as far as I am concerned, in 2009.

Just last year, the latest official release, Final Cut Pro X, was released.  The new release, a complete redesign of the program, has all but neglected the professional clientele who use the software and caters to high grade consumer-based editing.  Essentially, it’s iMovie Pro.  I tried the free trial version of the software for about three weeks and hated it; it was one of the worst editing environments I had ever used.  Even with some of the firmware updates that were released to clear up some of the original issues, it still wasn’t the FCP I know and love.

Yet, still I persevered and continue using FCP 7 and the rest of the associated programs with FCP Studio 3 as my primary NLE.  I dabbled in Adobe Premiere during this disheartening time, but still found myself coming back to FCP 7.  However, the time has come where I must make the cut for good.  FCP 7, now a three year old software, will only run as a 32-bit program, limits the amount of RAM you are able to utilize and has several other antiquated features that are pushing it further and further into being obsolete.  Meanwhile, competitors like Adobe just keep sweetening the deal.  With their recent release of Adobe CS6, I think they have finally won me over; that, and the fact that my new job will require me to edit in a PC environment.  But, since I am switching for work, I think it is a good time to go ahead and make the switch at home as well.

In reading over the upgrades to the CS6 Master Collection suite, I found my mouth watering.  With updates to Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects and Audition, as well as the addition of Speedgrade, a color correction software, and the ease of use with Prelude and Encore, all programs working seamlessly together, I just can’t continue using an outdated program.  Heck, Adobe even makes the switch easy for you by allowing you to choose Final Cut Pro Keyboard Shortcuts in the Preferences menu!

I’m excited about the opportunity to grow as an Adobe user, but will be saddened to leave behind Final Cut Pro.  It will be like the loss of an old friend, one that I have had a now ten year relationship with.   This is not to say that I will never consider Apple’s wonderful NLE again, but they will have to do some major overhauls to convert me back.  Until then, Adobe here I come!





How to Work with a Creative Person

24 12 2011

Photo by Johnny Magnusson

After years of working freelance and producing content for a wide range of clients, witnessing a barrage of content that is excruciatingly below par both on a micro and macro level and the recent headlines regarding such decisions as CNN firing photojournalists in favor of iReport, I have decided to create a handy guide on how to work with creative people to elicit the best end user products.  I think a lot of left brainers have a hard time working with creative people, and, in turn, the same can be said vice versa.  I’m not trying to put you down or declare the left brain way wrong, I’m just trying to help you all get good quality of work from the money you spend on us to produce the said work.   So, without further adieu, here are things to keep in mind when working with a “creative type”:

1. Let us do our job

This is probably the biggest problem in the creative industry.  As a videographer, editor, graphic designer, musician or visual artist, you hire us because you want a certain calibre of quality brought to the project you are trying to produce.  Henceforth, you feel that our skill level, resume and portfolio speaks for itself to a degree that we can make sound judgements producing content of such a form as you desire.  The worst thing you can do is hire us and then try to take over all the creative decisions.  We want to make your ideas come to life and we want them to be the best they can possibly be!  After all, we take as much pride in our work as I’m sure you do in yours.  Here’s an analogy: if you went to the doctor for an illness, you would be paying for his expertise in the problem that was ailing you.  If he recommended you do x, y and z, wouldn’t you heed his instructions?  You wouldn’t second guess his work, education or treatment plan; a plan he has no doubt likely given to many other patients with similar symptoms.  We are the same way, though on a much less life or death scale.  This is what we do day in and day out and we have encountered scenarios similar to yours hundreds of times.  We know what works and what doesn’t, so if you hire us to do a project, please accept our professional opinions.  We know what we are doing and we promise it will help your business if you can trust in our advice and let us implement the look and feel of the design.  After all, what else are you paying us for?  We are technicians to a degree, but the skill is only part of the package – the vision is the rest.

2. Our dressing the part is different from yours

I understand how important a professional attire is in any professional situation.  However, each job has specifics for suitable dress depending on various circumstances.  For instance, it would be a bit off putting if I hired a carpenter to build a house, and he showed up in a three piece suit to complete the job.  For certain creative professionals whose work is primarily computer driven, the concern about wearing slacks and collared shirts is not too big a deal.  However, for videographers that are out in the field with two to three tons of gear in the middle of the summer in the desert, or musicians that are on stage under bright lights with 20 lbs. of instrument strapped around their necks, the requirement for “formal dress code” is a bit unreasonable.  It isn’t that we are all just a bunch of hippies who can’t stand cutting our hair and wearing a tie (though to be fair, there are some of us out there that fit this bill), it’s that to do our job at times, we need to have the option of wearing a tee shirt and jeans to maneuver properly and be somewhat comfortable.

3. We have bills too

Believe it or not, most of us actually have the same bills you do every month.  We have to keep a roof over our heads, pay for our car when it breaks down, put food in our mouths, enjoy having pets, etc.  So, when I see ads for freelance opportunities asking for creative services that offer little to no money, I am very disheartened.  Most of the creative professionals I know have put years and years of blood, sweat, tears, trial and tribulation into their craft to become good enough at it to call themselves professionals and try to make a living doing said work.  Not everyone can design a Web site, play an instrument, light a set, write a script or take a well composed photograph; the ability to do so takes years of practice.  Picasso said it best to a woman who had asked him to draw a sketch on a napkin at a restaurant during his later years: he drew the sketch and then told her the cost of the drawing would be $10,000.  Exasperated, the woman replied, “But that only took you five minutes to draw!”  To which, Picasso responded, “No madam, it took me a lifetime.”

4. We are not magicians

Though we take our jobs very seriously and work diligently to be the best we can be, there is a point where the boundaries of physics, software, hardware, human will or a mixture of all come to an end.  We are always happy to try our best to make you happy, but there are some things that simply cannot be done.  One time, the team I was working on was asked to “photoshop in” people into a moving dolly shot; things like this simply cannot be done, unless quality is willing to be sacrificed to the point of being laughable.  That’s why it is important when working with a creative person to plan extensively for what you want as an end product.  There are too many facets of our work that cannot simply be undone or redone; we would much rather spend extra time working with you to understand a full idea of your vision, than have to practically redo the entire project after its essentially completed.  In similar regards, please, please don’t ever totally change your vision once 90% of a project is complete.  There is nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of time, effort and energy to accomplish your vision, just to find that you had an epiphany the night of the final deadline and said vision has completely changed.

5. You are still the boss

So, the first 4 steps are generally guides on what is tough for us, but we all understand that you are still the boss.  If we are lagging behind or taking an absorbent amount of time to create something or finish it, it is still your place to push us along.  Also, some creative types have a problem getting so creative they forget what the budget is on a particularly project; this is another great place for you to intervene.  We are not unreasonable people and we want to understand your side as much as we want you to understand ours.  I hope this has been helpful and I love working for you guys, I really do!  It’s hard taking the left brain and right brain and meeting in the middle, and if this has presented any further light on the situation to you guys, then I’m very happy about that.  If you think I’m just a snobby little day-dreaming right brainer who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I can accept that too.  We all have our opinions and thanks for reading!

 





Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

22 12 2011

I apologize for the low amount of posts this month, but it has been quite a month.  I know not all of you care what I’m up to in my personal life, but I figure I’ll fill you guys in on a little bit of my latest happenings.

In addition to the normal routine of work mixed with movie watching, playing guitar, playing golf and working towards a novel, I have also been working on closing on a new house this month.  Having lived in a condo now for over 3 years, the new 2400 sq. ft. home with 1 acre of land will be a much welcomed amenity.  I will finally have the space for a true “man cave,” and have the yardage to grow a garden and possibly even practice my chipping.  If you haven’t been through buying a new home since the economy crash, it is about the most frustrating thing you will ever go through.  When I bought my condo in 2008, it was a breeze; but now, even a well qualified individual for a certain property has to go through more hoops than I care to remember.  However, it looks like all will work out, and we will be moving in just after Christmas into our new home.  To celebrate, we may even adopt a second dog (Maddie, if you are reading this, the key word in this sentence is may).

Anyway, I’ve felt blessed this year and happy with a lot of innovations that have been happening in both my work and personal life.  My novel is making good head way (20,000 words in!) and it’s the first novel I’ve began that I feel is actually a good, well-structured story even this far in.  In addition, I’m still in constant talks with filmmaking buddies about various projects we are hoping to pursue on the horizon and other exciting prospects in narrative and non-narrative film production.  I hope all of you are doing well and to sign out for my five day holiday vacation, I leave you with a short list of some of my personal favorite Christmas films:

5. Love, Actually

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. A Christmas Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Scrooged

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. It’s a Wonderful Life





CLAW Award for “Banks of the Vltava”

1 11 2011

Copyright 2011 Walk in the Park Pictures, LLC

Banks of the Vltava is a short film project that I shot for frequent collaborator, Dan A. R. Kelly.  It’s a very near and dear project to my heart, as every member of both the cast and crew put 110% into this project to make it happen.  From the first read through of the script, we all knew that it was going to be an ambitious film to complete.  However, everyone involved was committed to the story and the determination and drive that exuded from writer/director Kelly spilled onto all those involved.  One of the most ambitious elements of the story is the fact that it takes place in Prague in 1943, but was of course to be shot in Greensboro, North Carolina in 2009-10.  This required numerous period costumes, props and other pieces to sell the time period.  On a large budget production, acquiring these items isn’t a problem, but on a smaller budget it’s much more difficult to secure.  Furthermore, the project required a large ensemble cast, an array of visual and makeup effects (as it is a horror film) and almost a complete schedule of night shoots.

Production spanned over, I believe, about a 15-16 day shoot over nearly a one and a half year period.  As stated earlier, nearly all of these days, outside of about two, were night shoots (6pm-6am).  During the time we shot this production, the commonality of DSLRs had not yet hit the market.  If you wanted a shallow depth of field and cinematic look on a lower budget camera package, a good old DOF adapter was really the way to go.  So, the film was shot on my HVX-200 with a Redrock m2 adapter and Nikon glass; this yielded a relative ISO of about 100.  For those of you not familiar with film sensitivity ratings, it takes A LOT of light to properly expose an image at 100 ISO when you are shooting at night.  We only had HMI availability on two nights, so the majority of the film was lit with an array of 1k and 2k fresnels, 1k PARs, a pair of Blondes, a Redhead, various smaller unit fresnels, a pair of Kino 2-4ft banks and a 750 ZIP light.  There are times where all units we had access to were being powered by a set of generators out in the woods.  In the end, I feel we did a good job of pulling it all off, and some of that was validated this weekend, which is really the true point of the post.

Over the weekend, the film screened at two festivals: the Terror Film Festival in Philadelphia, Penn. and the Buffalo Screams Film Festival in Buffalo, N.Y.  We were very happy to be nominated for awards at both festivals!  At the Terror Film Festival, nominations for their CLAW Awards were given to Best Horror Short Film, Best Specials Effects for the brilliant work by Shane D. Smith, Best Actor to our lead Rami Rothstein, and Best Director of Photography for myself.  At Buffalo Screams, the film was nominated for Best Makeup Effects by the talented Gretchen Adams.  Late on Saturday night, as I was watching an episode of Storage Wars on the couch with Maddie, I got a text from Dan, who had gone to Philadelphia to represent the film at the Terror Film Festival.  Turns out, we won the CLAW award for Best Director of Photography.  Needless to say, it was very exciting news and always a good feeling to be recognized for your contribution on a film.  It was also a very special film, personally, to be recognized for, because of the extra mile that was gone on all of our crew and casts’ behalf to get the film produced.  Also, as with anything, it’s a collaborative effort and I had a wonderful crew to support me in achieving the look I was implementing for Dan.

Check out more about this film and other WiTPP productions at: http://www.walkintheparkpictures.com





I’m as Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take This Anymore

7 10 2011

The title will probably be the closest this post gets to a film.  Rarely do I speak bluntly about my personal beliefs or core values on this blog, outside of the spectrum of film/video production.  But, recently, I have been invigorated by the protests that are going on in their third week on Wall Street.  People, many my own age, taking their time to stand up for what they believe in and show that the working and middle class Americans are tired of being treated as second rate, while we continue to line the wallets of those in the 1%.  Being in North Carolina and bound to work commitments and other obligations, I can’t make it to Occupy Wall Street to share in the warmth of the fight for what is truly right.  What I can do is offer my opinions on how to grow this front into something that truly evokes change.

One of the primary criticisms of the movement itself is the lack of focus in what the protestors are demanding.  However, in contrast to many protests of the past, this is not a protest that demands one single point of change.  We, as a people, have not been wronged by one single wrong.  We have been exploited and denied to an amalgam of rights including, but not limited to, a fully integrated healthcare system that provides for one and all, a refund on the billions of dollars from our pockets that bailed out greedy banks, an education that doesn’t set us behind financially before we can even start our adult lives, homes that can be manageably paid off and protection of our valued possessions in times of struggle or need that is beyond our control, the removal of money from our politics, and an equal tax code in regards to taxation on the rich and corporations.

Though the suits on Wall Street laugh and chide over the protestors’ “meaningless” rants and the Bill O’Reillys of the world refer to our cause as “liberal sludge,” what they don’t understand is that we are the true voices of the nation.  These types of people, however, people that are hinged on one thing and one concept: the growth of their material wealth, can only be educated in the same manner.  Hence, to get the true message across and truly incite change in our country without lending to violent behavior, we have to hit these people where it hurts the most: their pocketbooks.  How might we do this?  Who consumes their goods?  Who truly has control over the markets on a day to day basis?  Us, the 99%.  We are the backbone and the foundation of the country that keep everything from completely falling apart.

How then might our numbers truly hurt these people of power?  Shut it down.  That’s right, let’s just shut it all down, press the “off” switch, quit consuming.  A strike that involves this entire nation.  We’re not asking for justice and an economy that works, not only for the wealthy, but for the working class and middle class people as well.  No positive change was ever introduced without the willingness for taking a risk involved.  I’m not saying muddle your lives to the point of misery, but the foundation of a capitalist economy is consumption and we, the United States of America, are the biggest consumers in the world.  Continue to go to work, continue to provide food for your family, and continue to provide the necessities of life.  If we could cut out the “wants”, however, and I mean completely quit consuming or drastically cut down our daily consumption as much as possible, then the markets would start to reflect the degradation in purchasing.  The longer we could stand without, the longer we could hold off on buying extraneous goods/toys/services that are truly not needed for basic survival, the more the companies, the wealthy, the politicians, and the economy itself would feel it.  We need to show that if they will not listen and abide to our appropriate demands, then we will not abide to their greedy desires and continue to line their pockets.  They can either accept a just amount of wealth, or we will strip their capitalist economy to the bone and they will all suffer losses they have never dreamed of.

If you believe in the idea of this post , please pass along and share with others.  If you feel you could elaborate on this idea, please comment and discuss.  I’m tired of how our country is running, this is not the country I love and I want to see positive change happen now so that my children will be able to be proud of the country they live in.





Project Log: UNC-Greensboro Text Campaign Shoot #3

5 10 2011

My final project on the “Text” campaign for UNC-Greensboro’s Office of Online Learning and my final project during my tenure at UNCG in general has been released.  The idea behind this entry into the campaign was to mimic the trailers of 1950s horror films such as The Blob.  Various ideas were thrown out on how best to go about the project, which was to feature the idea of “Text” (representing text on a page Web sites for educational learning) taking over the country and rearing its ugly face across the nation and beyond.

The first idea was to shoot on the RED One and filmize the footage with grain, color correction and motion blur to help sell a 1950s film look.  Being the DP, I highly recommended that we don’t go that route.  The problem that arises, no matter how well done the digital manipulation is, is that it isn’t film.  There is no way to make the response of added grain natural or the motion blur properly controlled.  The second idea to implement this project was to take public domain footage from various B movies from the Prelinger Archives and other sources and cut the trailer in this manner.  After hours of looking through various footage on Prelinger and other online archives, we found that most of the footage was terribly compressed and, even though there was a plethora of B movie material available, little had the exact moments we were hoping to capture.  At this point, I recommended we just shoot on 16mm film with an older camera and older lens.  This way, there is no lifting in post; the film, mixed in with the older camera movement and 40 year old lens technology, would sell itself.  Patrick, our Multimedia Lead, brought this idea up to the Marketing Director at the Office of Online Learning, Jaap-Jan van Duin, and he gave us the greenlight as long as we could keep the budget under $1,000.  We enthusiastically agreed to keeping in budget and were excited to shoot a project for the division on 16mm film; something very few companies or organizations are doing in this day and age at all.

The first order of business was where to find a camera.  I contacted a few people I knew who owned various film cameras, but most were either hesitant to let it go for little or no pay, or had not run film through it in so long that they couldn’t assure functionality.  Having matriculated though the UNCG Media Studies program years ago, I knew they had a few Bolex H-16s in tote, so I called the Operations Manager, Ken Terres, and asked if we could borrow one for the shoot.  He was very kind and let us have one of the H-16s with an Angenieux 12-120mm lenses for the week.  Over the course of the week, we shot 600 ft. of film (Kodak Vision 3 500T and Vision 3 250D) for our little trailer in about 4-5 different locations.  Throughout filming, I tried to light in a manner reminiscent of 1950s B movies, so many of scenes are lit with hard light and very little diffusion.  Furthermore, there are a decent amount of shots that went handheld to give the extra horror “cheese” factor.  The film was subsequently sent off to Cinelab in Massachusetts, who unbeknownst to us at the time was in the process of a move.  Because of the move, it took longer than usual to get the film back, but we were very happy with their price and job on the processing and HD transfer.

Patrick Griffin and Bryan R. Higgins, by this point the only two members on the Multimedia Team at the Office of Online Learning due to state layoffs, did the edit and VFX work on the piece.  With great pride I give you the final product of our efforts:

WHEN TEXT ATTACKS!  (and you can see the Behind the Scenes here).  I love feedback, comments, criticism and questions, so let me know what you think!

 

 

 








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