Episode Ninety-Four: Editing Film

November 23, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

There’s a saying that when you make a movie you actually make three movies by 1) writing the screenplay 2) shooting the movie and 3) editing the film. The editor of a film can serve as one of the primary storytellers of your movie and therefore is a critical role to cast when hiring your crew. Editor Karl Hirsch joins us to talk about workflow, the technical aspects of editing, and collaboration.

Karl Hirsch- Editor

Karl Hirsch is an award-winning picture editor, post-production supervisor, and trailer producer/editor. His boutique post-production company, HirschFilm, opened in 2003.

Karl has worked on films such as For the Love of Money (James Caan, Oded Fehr, Edward Furlong, Delphine Chaneac), Officer Down (Sherilyn Fenn, Casper Van Dien), Fist of the Warrior (Ho-Sung Pak, Peter Greene, Michael Dorn), The Third Wish (Betty White, Jenna Mattison, Armand Assante), Frame of Mind (Chris Noth, Tony LoBianco, Barbara Barrie).  His films have been released by Lionsgate, Echo Bridge Entertainment, Phase-4 Films, Freestyle Media, Lifetime Television, Movieola, FunnyOrDie.com, Mini-Movie Channel, and Warner Brothers Video-On-Demand.

Other editing and post-production credits include Stuart Gordon’s King of the Ants, starring Daniel Baldwin and Kari Wuhrer; Paul Carafotes’ Club Soda, starring James Gandolfini, Joe Mantegna and Louis Gossett Jr.; bio-fuel documentary feature Gashole: Killer Movie, starring Kaley Cuoco and Paul Walker; The Tub, starring Melora Hardin and Dedee Pfeiffer; and HBO Films’ If These Walls Could Talk 2.

Karl has also produced and edited hundreds of trailers, promos and sizzle reels.  Recent work includes Lasse Hallström’s Hachi: A Dog’s Story, starring Richard Gere; 2nd Take, starring Sarah Jones and Tom Everett Scott; theatrical advertisements for the documentary screening series Something to Talk About; Smother (Liv Tyler & Diane Keaton) for Inferno and Variance Films; Jim Isaac’s action/thriller Pig Hunt; and promotional material for The Grammy Awards.  He has also produced sizzle reels for musical acts Il Divo, Bowling For Soup, and Good Charlotte.  Karl was nominated for a Golden Trailer Award in 2002, and was a Telly Award winner in 2008 and 2010.  The short thriller Clown was awarded “Best Editing” by the International Sci-Fi and Horror Film Festival in October 2005.

Karl is also a producer of English dubs of foreign-language features.  Credits include Gen (Turkey), Wolfhound (Russia), and the animated features Goat Story (Czech Republic) and Space Dogs 3D (Russia). Karl’s client roster includes Inferno Entertainment, Epic Pictures, The Recording Academy (The Grammys), Yahoo!, KidZania, Octagon Worldwide, Brainstorm Media, Siegel+Gale, Helio/Virgin Mobile, Future Engine, THINKFilm, VMI Worldwide, and Cutler Enterprises.  He was featured in Paul Osborne’s documentary feature Official Rejection, and in Kim Adelman’s book The Ultimate Filmmaker’s Guide to Making Short Films. He has guest-lectured at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, Film Independent in Los Angeles, and has spoken on film festival panels in Victoria BC, Austin, and Phoenix.

Karl and his wife Lauren have written three monster movies together, made a short film about hiccups, and are currently producing a series of childrens radio plays.

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Q: Now that you have brought on Skye Rentals as a sponsor, you talk about base camp a lot. What is it and why is it so important?

November 21, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Now that you have brought on Skye Rentals as a sponsor, you talk about base camp a lot.  What is it and why is it so important?

Brandie D.  St. Louis, MO

I’m glad you asked this question Brandie because I feel like it might be one of those questions that a lot of people don’t know the answer to, but are too afraid to ask.  I didn’t know what base camp was until I had done a couple of films early on in my career as an actor.

Base camp is the location or area set up where everyone gathers away from the actual set.  It’s like the conference room in an office building if you will.  It is the area where you set up your craft service table, have your walkie station, have some tables set up for people to take a seat for a minute, it might be where you hold extras, etc.  The reason for base camp is so that you have a place for people to gather when they are not needed on set.  If you are shooting at a convenience store for example, you probably wouldn’t have enough room for all of this to be staged inside the building (unless there is an entirely different room) because you will be seeing everything in the shot.  So, you would probably set up base camp in the parking area.

Sometimes, base camp is a drive away from where the actual filming is taking place.  An example of this would be if you are shooting on a large ranch and power for base camp is near the house on the ranch but your actually filming the scenes off in the woods somewhere, you would set up base camp near the house and drive people to the location where shooting is occurring.

The reason base camp is so important is that this is the area the cast and crew come to eat, check in for the day and get their assignments, have the daily meeting, ask any questions of production they might have, grab their walkies, etc.  If you are filming on the side of a road or off in the woods or at a location too small for the entire crew to fit, then you need this area as a gathering place.  It is important to have it to keep order and let everyone know what’s going on.

That is what we are talking about when we talk about Skye Rentals.  I love these guys because they provide everything you would need to have a successful base camp.  I know it sounds silly, but having a table and chairs and some tents or heat lamps makes all the difference in the world to how professional your shoot looks and feels.  It may not seem important, but if your crew knows you took enough time to set up a base camp that has at least the basics, they are going to understand that you take your job seriously and they will treat the production a little more professionally and that will show up on screen.

Episode Ninety-Three: Value Added Film

November 16, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

When making a film it’s important to be mindful of adding value to the project in order to sell it later. Those things, such as actors with names, can be attractive to a distributor who is looking to make a certain profit on your film and will also allow you to pay back your investors. Producer’s Rep Noor Ahmed joins us to give tips on how to increase the value of your project and on working with the MPAA.

Noor Ahmed- Producer’s Rep

Mr. Ahmed began his career in Ohio working as a production coordinator on various television commercials and indie feature films. Before leaving for Los Angeles, he worked on the indie feature Blue Car which premiered at the Sundance film festival and was released by Miramax.

After moving from Ohio, Mr. Ahmed worked at New Line Cinema on various productions including Son of the Mask, Freddy vs. Jason, and Dumb and Dumber 2. Following his time at New Line, Mr. Ahmed worked as an Associate Producer on the PBS documentary, California and the American Dream, a four part series that received a national broadcast in the U.S. After leaving PBS, Mr. Ahmed worked for the distribution company Roadside Attractions traveling to various film festivals as their Acquisitions Coordinator. During his time at Roadside Attractions the company acquired several high level indie films including Supersize Me and What the Bleep Do You Know. Mr. Ahmed left Roadside Attractions to join Reder & Feig where he worked with the firm as a paralegal on films including, Brick, Thank You for Smoking, La Misma Luna, Southland Tales, and other indie features (full list on IMDb) before becoming the firms in-house Producer Rep.

Reder & Feig’s Website

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A Word About Crowd Funding

November 14, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Today, I am not going to answer a question, instead I am going to talk about something that really made me frustrated.  This week someone posted a really not nice comment on Facebook about how if this person gets asked to support a crowd funding campaign for film, they automatically know that said film is not going to be professional in look and in treatment of the crew.  There were some other just plain idiotic comments in this post as well but I really wanted to focus on two things in regard to this.

1.  That is a bunch of malarkey!  Depending on the scope of your project, crowd funding can be an amazing way to raise money for it.  I do not recommend trying to raise millions of dollars, but who is to say that wouldn’t work as well.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have not used crowd funding to fund any of my projects, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t and I know plenty of people who have and their sets were run professionally and their projects looked fantastic.  Some even got great distribution deals.  So, if you are going to go out and raise money via crowd funding, I say go for it!  The key is to know your project and raise enough funds in order to make the experience for the crew and cast enjoyable, make sure you can get the equipment, locations, cast, crew, etc that will make your project look great, treat everyone with respect and gratitude and by all means, let them know what they are getting in to before they sign up.  If they are aware up front of the scope of the project and you have done your best to set yourself up to succeed then there should be no reason the cast and crew wouldn’t be happy to work on it.

2.  The most frustrating thing about this person’s post (aside from the discouraging manner in which he wrote it) is that this person is a consultant for producers.  To my knowledge, this person has not produced anything!  He does not have an IMDb page to speak of (yes, I understand that not all films get put on IMDb but it is the job of the producer to get those credits up there) and whenever you ask this person what they do, they are very vague and they change the subject and just say that they are a consultant.  I do not want to discourage anyone from doing what they love and if consulting is what this person loves, then great.  BUT, I do discourage fraud and at this point, that’s how I feel about what this person is doing.  For all of you just starting in the business, please do not say you are a producer, writer, director, editor, etc., until you have done that job.  I know, this may sound harsh and it is counter intuitive for those of us who have always been told to own what we are doing.  But, you can say, “I am an aspiring producer, writer, director, etc” or “I am studying to be a producer, writer, director, etc”.  Then get out there and make a short film, music video, web series, something that allows you to have done said job.  Then you can claim that title. Don’t start giving discouraging advice on jobs you haven’t done.  This business is tough enough and I can’t stand it when people make discouraging comments on things they don’t know about.  I may be harsh in my advice sometimes, but it is always coming from a place of love and encouragement.  Keep pursuing your dreams and never give up.  If it’s your true passion, then it will be yours one day.  Be patient and don’t put the cart before the horse and by all means, crowd fund away if that’s what you want to do.

Episode Ninety-Two: Tech in Film

November 9, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

As technology advances, the options for independent filmmakers increase significantly, which can make picking a camera or a digital release platform very difficult and overwhelming. Filmmaker Andrew Robinson joins us to talk about everything from selecting the right camera for your project to working with Hulu as a release platform and home theater technology.


Andrew Robinson- Director

Andrew Robinson’s career in Hollywood began eight years ago creating advertising and marketing campaigns for some of the industry’s biggest films and television shows. Upon graduating from The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California Robinson took a job at BLT & Associates working for clients such as ABC, TNT and CNN. Robinson left BLT and went to work for Shoolery Design and their primary client CBS, helping with the launch of the hugely successful CSI: Miami for Jerry Bruckheimer.

Following his time at Shoolery, Robinson worked for Crew Creative Advertising in their theatrical advertising department. During his first three years at Crew Creative, Robinson worked on various hit films, including Harry Potter, Superman, Jarhead, The Island, Rambo 4, Happy Feet, Dodgeball and The Dukes of Hazzard to name a few.

Robinson returned to television advertising as co-creative director of the newly formed Network Department at Crew Creative. While serving as the department’s co-creative director, Robinson oversaw the launch of TNT’s The Closer, Tyler Perry’s House of Pain, A&E’s Mad Men, and FX’s Dirt and Rescue Me, among others.

Robinson’s advertising and film work has been seen all over the world and has been covered by The Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, CNN, Fox, KTLA and more.

During his five years at Crew Creative, Robinson found time to write and direct the feature film, April Showers starring Kelly Blatz (Disney’s Aaron Stone), Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids), Illeana Douglas (To Die For) and Tom Arnold (True Lies). April Showers was released by Warner Brothers in the spring of 2011.
Currently, Robinson is hard at work on his next film Love in Training, which will begin production in 2012.

Andrew Robinson’s Website

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The Sum of All Parts

November 8, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Writing Method

The Sum of All Parts

A fractal is geometric shape that can be broken apart into infinitely smaller versions of itself. They look like this:

Photo by Idea go.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

They show up in land formations, on some animals, in lightning and in frost patterns. They should show up in your screenplays.

How does a screenplay work like a snowflake, you ask? Well, apart from the fact that it’s unique and its existence requires you to often be cold and transient, the 3-act structure that guides your whole screenplay should also guide each scene.

Your characters should be different at the end of your screenplay than they are at the beginning. At the beginning of your movie, an inciting incident forces the character to act. At the first act turn, they should make a choice that fundamentally changes their trajectory. At the end of the second act, they should, because of their own actions, be at their worst so that they can be redeemed by making a new set of choices through the third act.

Each scene should work this way as well.

The changes and choices will be on a smaller scale, but the same emotional movement should apply.

Your character should be different at the end of each scene than they are at the beginning. If they are not different in some way that means that they’re not changing. And that’s boring. If your character is happy at the beginning of a scene and then, regardless of what happens, is happy at the end of the scene, that indicates that either nothing happened or that your character doesn’t have the ability to react to things that are happening. Also, if your character isn’t changing from scene to scene, then it is unlikely that they will be able to change as a person when you look at the whole screenplay.

Each scene should have an inciting incident—something that makes this scene necessary. Whether your character is answering a phone call, introducing themselves to a new customer or planning how they’re going to jump off a bridge, there must be something new that is happening that your character is reacting to.

Your character should take action. Even if the character chooses to be inactive, the character must do something. The character can choose to answer the phone…or not. They can choose to be nice to the customer, ask the customer a question or throw food in the customer’s face. Or they can use tripadvisor to find the perfect bridge.

Something must happen in each scene that is new or different. The phone call can be from someone unexpected, or from someone expected but who’s delivering unexpected news. The customer can deliver a present, detonate a bomb or propose. All the bridges in the country, your character learns, have been washed away.

Your character must have a physical and emotional reaction. They may hang up the phone, call the police on the customer or decide to start building their own bridge. Whatever they do, they must feel differently at the end of the scene than they did at the beginning. If they were happy before the phone call, they must now be embarrassed or defensive or scared. If they were bored before the customer, they must now be titillated or sad. If they were content before the bridge searching, they must now be determined or vengeful. Whatever the change is, it needs to happen so that the larger change can happen by the end of the screenplay.

Support From Start To Finish: Go To Hell

November 4, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Support from Start to Finish

November 4, 2011

After making over a dozen short films, the Vegan Cannibals are gearing up for a full feature film, Go To Hell. Fans of their work know their style as outrageous, visually striking, sometimes gory but always entertaining and thought-provoking.

Their short ‘The Diary of Anne Frank of the Dead was a hit on the horror film festival circuit, taking Best Short Short Film at the DragonCon International Film Festival 2008 and was chosen by Dread Central (www.DreadCentral.com) as one of 8 Short Films to Die For in 2009.

Rationed, a suspenseful, thriller won Best Picture at the Inland Empire 48 Hour Film Project 2009 and went on to place 3rd overall in the International competition.  It was selected to play at Cannes International Film Festival in 2010. And is currently being featured on www.ScariestMoviesOnline.com.

Go To Hell is written by Emerson Bixby (writer of Disturbed) and directed Scott Baker.  It follows groups of individuals as their story lines converge in a demonically possessed old movie theater. Featuring non-stop horror-comedy action, it is sure to please any horror hound and fan of outrageous cinema.

The Vegan Cannibals are independently producing the film so as not to be constrained by the oversight of studios or investors, enabling them to make the film true to their vision. They are reaching out to the horror community and lovers of independent cinema to help them fund their project.  Through Kickstarter (Go To Hell Kickstarter Page) they are looking to raise the intial funds necessary to build the FX and start the production. They are offering incentives to those willing to donate and are appreciative of any help.

Further information about the Vegan Cannibals can be found on their site www.VeganCannibals.com and you can follow director Scott Baker on Twitter @MrScottyBaker.

Scott Baker, a native of Northern California, received a degree in History from Sonoma State University and served in the United States Peace Corps from 2000-2001 in Turkmenistan.  He co-founded Vegan Cannibals Productions with Philip Stimmell in 2002.  Their first film, Brunch of the Dead was a feature-length zombie-comedy. Since re-locating to Riverside they have done several award-winning short films, including Rationed which screened at the 2010 Cannes Short Film Corner and 2 episodes for their new series Findings (think Ghosthunters meets Reno911!). Scott’s film Rationed was 2nd runner-up in the world finals of 48 Hour Film Project, aka, Filmapalooza as part of the NAB Show in Las Vegas. The film was also selected for a showcase at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival (Short Film Corner Marche du Film).

Episode Ninety-One: Super Post

November 2, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

When tackling post-production you want to have someone on board that knows the ins and outs of managing your post-production team and who is familiar with working with a number of different film formats. It’s also extremely important to work with a supervisor who is an expert in film deliverables in order to handle all the requests you will receive should you be lucky enough to work with a domestic or foreign distributor.


Anthony Gore-Post Production Supervisor

I have been the Executive in Charge of Post Production for the independent film production company, The Bubble Factory for over 11 years.  Most notably on the films: Playing Mona Lisa (2000), Bad Girls From Valley High (2005), The Devil’s Tomb (2009) and Creature (2011).  My other post production credits include the Adult Swim hit TV series Childrens Hospital and the cult classic television show, Sordid Lives: The Series, as well as the critically acclaimed independent films, West Of Brooklyn and Revolution Green. Currently I am supervising the independent film For The Love Of Money starring James Caan. I am a graduate of Rutgers University and I am an active member of the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild and Producer’s Guild of America.

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Episode Ninety: Connecting With an Audience

October 26, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

One of the most important things to consider as you’re making your movie is how you’re going to connect with an audience. Whether it be a niche subject or a broader family film, you must know who your audience is and how you will find them. Jon Reiss of Think Outside the Box Office joins us to share his pearls of wisdom on the topic.

Jon Reiss- Producer/Author

Named one of “10 Digital Directors to Watch” by Daily Variety, Jon Reiss is a critically acclaimed filmmaker whose experience releasing his most recent documentary feature, Bomb It with a hybrid strategy was the inspiration for writing Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era, the first step-by-step guide for filmmakers to distribute and market their films.  In that book he created the concept of the Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD) in order create a new crew member who would be in charge of a film’s audience engagement and release.

As a consultant, Reiss is unique as one of the only filmmakers who works with other filmmakers throughout the world helping them devise strategies to release their films.  Reiss has worked with IFP, the Sundance Institute, Screen Australia, Film Independent, Creative Scotland, The South Australian Film Corporation and numerous film schools and festivals to devise ways to educate and help independent filmmakers in the new economic landscape.  He has conducted over a dozen TOTBO Workshops over three continents in the last year and is the year round distribution and marketing mentor at the IFP Filmmaker Labs. He also teaches at the Film Directing Program at Cal Arts.

Reiss is working on two more book projects: the first is devoted to the PMD, the second book takes the structure of distribution and marketing outlined in TOTBO and applies it to all the art forms. Reiss is also a regular contributor to Indiewire, Tribeca Future of Film, Sundance Artists Services, Hope for Film and other publications.

For more information go to: www.jonreiss.com

FB: www.facebook.com/reiss.jon

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Jon_Reiss

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Q: What’s the best way to get names attached?

October 24, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Q:  What’s the best way to get names attached?

Aleisha Gore via facebook

There is no one-way to attach talent and attaching talent can be a daunting task.  The one thing you must have is a good script. It helps if it’s not your director’s first film and if you have some work you can show the agent.

The standard process is to send your script around to agents and have them read it and see if it’s right for their talent.  If you can go through the manager you may have an easier time of it but getting people you don’t know to read your script is a challenge. I know this sounds pretty gloomy, but I just want you to be prepared.  I have sent out scripts from directors that have worked with pretty big names and it’s still a challenge to get a response. There are a couple of things you can do to hedge your bet though.

1.   NETWORK.   You may be thinking “but how do I network with Brad Pitt?” and my answer would be, you probably don’t. But, you might network with his agent or assistant or know someone who knows someone he is close with. You may also know someone who has worked with the talent you’re looking to attach and don’t even know that they struck up a great relationship on set and are now buddies (contrary to popular opinion, people who have the actual relationships with the stars don’t go around bragging about it) so mention your desired talent to everyone you can think of without being obnoxious about it.

2.   BE PROFESSIONAL.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but I am not just talking about showing up for meetings on time and answering your phone properly (very important things BTW), I am talking about having a well put together script and a well put together plan. Why are you planning to attach this talent? Meaning, are you doing it just because their name is Brad Pitt? Have you put any thought into what the actor might get out of it? If you haven’t, then you should not approach them until you can answer these questions and have a well thought out, professional plan including a script that has been read by people other than your mom or best friends, a script that is well formatted and a script that has been proof read for spelling and grammar.

3.   HAVE THE MONEY.  Using an actor as an attachment in order to raise money is a very common practice in this business.  However, if you have a great script, have done some networking and have a plan you might not need an actor attached to raise the money. Sometimes newer filmmakers make the mistake of attaching talent too soon and/or attaching the wrong talent for the role and project. If you can raise the money before casting it will give you a lot more to work with. If you know how much you are wanting for an actor, you can always raise just that amount and do a pay or play deal with the talent. That means they get the money whether the film is made or not.

4.   CONSULT. Make sure if you are looking to attach talent that you consult with a professional. Someone who works in distribution and knows what “names” are actually worth attaching early on. You would be surprised who actually moves the needle when it comes to sales.  Also, the talent that means something to a US audience might mean very little to a foreign audience and the bulk of your sales money will be foreign.

Whether you attach name talent before hand or during, the most important thing is making sure you cast people who are right for the role and who will benefit the project.

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