What I'm Working On Now

Three short films are in Post-Production, soon to be submitting to film festivals.
Producing/editing a pilot for a new web-series inspired by the Alice in Wonderland tales.
Producing/editing a documentary on Gene Roddenberry and the genesis of Star Trek The Original Series.
There are a number of other projects in development, just waiting their turn to be produced.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Freelance

A friend and I finished work on a fundraiser piece for a local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club recently. I use to work with the Boys and Girls Club when I lived in Utah so this project was particularly important for me. The location was amazing, Museam of Flight, and had some great balcony and wide angle opportunities. The interviews turned out great thanks to some simple audio equipment we rented and, of course, our Panasonic HMC 150 which handled the low lighting very well. We even found a glass elevator we could use to simulate a crane shot and add just that much more to our production value. All in all I think it turned out well.
In the end, though, it was the thanks we got from the board members that really made this project worth it. A bit sappy sounding, I know, but it's the moments like this that make me keep at it when times are hard.

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Skills, New Responsibilities

   Over the course of my education at the Seattle Film Institute ( commonly known as SFI) I've made it a point to be a go-to guy. I've taken a fair amount of my spare time to go into school and study more in depth aspects, particularly with editing.
   For editing, SFI uses Final Cut Pro 7 and Adobe Premier Pro CS 5.5. I cut and recut all of my projects multiple times just for the experience with the software, as well as with Motion and After Effects as I added in simple but effective special effects. The extra practice has paid off as, on multiple occasions, classmates and even teachers have asked for advice on how best to achieve a look or an effect in a film. This trust and expertise (I'm not an expert, that takes years, but you can get an idea of where I'm at by watching my films) led to my being put in charge of the graduating class' film reel.
   DVD Studio Pro was a program that I wasn't familiar with, and I only had a week to get the DVD composed. I tinkered for a day to learn the layout, menus and buttons, and then I watched tutorials for another day. I like to tinker first before watching/reading tutorials because I'm a hands on learner. Then, when I did go through the tutorials, I had a better idea of what was going on. I also gained a greater appreciation for the intermediary steps since I'd gained a better understanding of where all the steps were leading. Compressor became my friend as I exported the movie files into workable DVD formats.
   I've gathered the needed films for the graduation reel and my layout should be finalized before the end of today. I'm rather pleased with how well things have turned out. Learning new programs and finding interesting ways of implementing them has always been a joy for me. If I have time early next week, I'm going to put together a custom background animation for the DVD using both Photoshop and Final Cut Pro 7 to make an animated collage of the graduating class and stills from our production sets. It's not that hard and it would add a nice touch to the DVD. Don't get me wrong, the ready made backgrounds in DVD Studio Pro are nice and I'm pleased with the one I've selected thus far but it never hurts to put a little extra work in, especially when I know it would add so much more to the finished project.

   There are a lot of programs that could have been used in place of the ones I listed, these are just the ones that I'm familiar with. They're all great tools; powerful and easy to use (once you've put in the time) and allow you to be creative, rather than getting frustrated with technical issues that stifle your mind.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

30 Films in 30 Days-November Ups and Downs

    Last month, some classmates and I wanted to see if we could make 30 short films in 30 days. We had a camera (Panasonic HMC 150, which, by the way, is a great camera and served us well), an audio recorder (nothing fancy, but it worked when we needed it) and a half dozen committed people. Most of the films I've posted here were from that endeavor, hence the numbering. The films were like a sketch book for us, as we ran around, writing, filming and editing all in the same day. Nothing got terribly fleshed out but we got a lot of really good experience trying new camera angles, lighting, effects, and so forth. Things were going well.
   One of my classmates and I were out filming about halfway through the month. We'd been able to get a bit ahead in our filming and I had the footage stored on an external hard drive in my backpack (along with all the other projects I'd worked on this year). Upon returning to my car, I began buckling my one year old son into his car seat when my classmate said,
       "Your window's been busted."
   I looked and, sure enough, the car had been broken into, both our packs had been stolen along with the memory card and battery for the camera (we had the camera with us, thank goodness). All our footage, gone. There wasn't much we could do but wait for the new battery and memory card to arrive. We threw together a couple more films in the time that we had, including an apology for being late on our films, but in the end the setbacks became too much. People fell away from the project as class assignments came due and so, as I type, I'm uploading one of the last few films we were able to shoot before the end of the month.

   Even though we failed to reach our goal of 30 films, and I had to pay for damages and stolen property, I've learned a lot from this experience and I'm grateful for it.
1) I've learned the value of pre-production, as we didn't get a lot of it and it shows.
2) Find out who you can rely on and share responsibilities. It's almost impossible to make a film alone.
3) Leave nothing in the car, regardless if it's under a seat or in the trunk. If someone wants it, they will take it.
4) Let things go. I wanted to be angry with people when they didn't show up or follow through (when I knew they couldn't be relied on). But in the end it was me relying on them when I knew I shouldn't have.
5) Forgive. After my car got broken into I wanted to hide out in that neighborhood and see if I could catch whoever it was that broke into my car. I wanted some kind of vigilante justice to be meted out on the wrong-doer(s). But in thinking so, I lost my creativity. It wasn't until I forgave him/her/them that I was able to write and film once more.


30Films30Days

As an old friend of mine likes to say, Peace be the Journey.