Episode Ninety-Nine: Signing Off

June 21, 2012 by cindy  
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Photo by Ashley Ruskiewicz

Join Cindy Freeman and Jenna Edwards for the last Film Method episode. It’s been an incredible run these past few years as they’ve covered everything from raising money for your film to hiring crew members, running an efficient set, marketing your movie, and much much more. After 99+ episodes it’s time to sign off.


Cindy Freeman – Host/Producer

Cindy Freeman moved to Los Angeles from San Diego in 2009 to pursue a career in the film industry. Upon her arrival in LA she immediately began working with producer Jenna Edwards to create behind-the-scenes content for Jenna’s feature film April Showers. Cindy also directed the behind-the-scenes content creation for Jenna’s film In the Darkness. It was while Cindy was working with Jenna that she was inspired to create the Film Method podcast.

Cindy has worked on a number of independent films as a production assistant and 2nd A.D while in Los Angeles and in July of 2010 she began working at Dreamworks Animation as a production coordinator.

Prior to moving to LA she produced a travel documentary, See Girl Go and a short film, Drips through her production company Soonami Productions.

To contact Cindy you can write to her at info@film-method.com.

Jenna Edwards- Co-Host/Producing Advisor

Jenna Edwards began her film career in Minnesota where she was signed on as talent with Easter Hailey. Quickly after being signed Edwards was hired by the agency as a full time employee giving her a head-start on her Hollywood education. After two years of rising through the Minnesota film community Edwards made the move to Los Angeles.

Soon after Edwards moved to Los Angeles she was hired by Agent Jamie Ferrar. It was while Edwards was working for Ferrar that she developed an interest in the casting process, before long she had moved from talent agencies to working in casting with such industry leaders as Sally Steiner (Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Boy Meets World), Barbie Block (JonasPepper Dennis) and Allison Jones (Super Bad, The Office). During this time Edwards was also able to gain valuable production experience working on shows such as Buffy the Vampire SlayerMalcolm in the Middle, and working with studios like Disney, MTV, FOX and CBS.

After several years of successfully navigating her career through the Hollywood studio system Edwards made the leap to independent film with her first feature April Showers. After her success with April Showers, Edwards formed Mattoid Entertainment with partners Jeremy McGovern and Andrew Robinson where they made, In the Darkness, the first narrative feature to ever premiere on Hulu.com.  Most recently Edwards made her way back to Nebraska, where she shot April Showers, to team up with some new filmmakers on a comedy film called Trunk’d.

To contact Jenna you can write to her at info@film-method.com.

Episode Ninety-Eight: Film Music

January 25, 2012 by cindy  
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Background Image: Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We return to the topic of music in film once again with London based composer Ram Khatabakhsh. Ram discusses his passion for composing music for film and working as a composer for independent film. We also spend a fair amount of time talking about his beloved Casio keyboard.

Ram Khatabakhsh- Composer

Ram started playing the keyboard at the age of six – just to figure out the melody of his favourite songs and themes. His parents bought him a small Casio keyboard at the time. He continued to play on his keyboard as a hobby after school hours and learned to play his favourite songs by ear. By age of 11, he was attending private piano and music lessons and exploring multiple musical genres. At the age of 15, Ram began to compose his own music and was instantly captivated by this. His passion for film music was apparent from the early days. He attended Kingston University in London where he obtained his degree in music composition. In November 2008 Ram was commissioned to write orchestral music and had his music performed by Kingston Chamber Orchestra in public concert.  In June 2008 Ram had his music played and work shopped at Royal Academy of Music in London where he worked along side the conductor Christopher Austin and composer Philip Cashian. In November 2007 Ram’s music was performed in the South Bank Centre as part of the PLG Group season. Ram’s music is highly motivated by film music, as this is the greatest goal in his career. He has been working as a freelance composer for several feature film projects and has written music for number of online advertisements and commercials and short films.

Ram currently directs a music production company (Motion Sound Production) based at Pinewood Studios (UK) where he collaborates with directors and producers and works with a number of talented musicians and engineers.

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Q: What type of insurance would I need…?

January 23, 2012 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Q: Producing 10 minute short with filmmakers I met through a friend and wanted to know what type of insurance I would need for shooting in a friends home and/or a nursing home or commercial building. One day shoot with a cast and crew of about 10 people.  I want to make sure my production company, crew and the property are covered.

Huewilly via Film Method Mailbag

That’s a great question and there are plenty of options for this type of project.  Meaning, you can find another company to co-produce with you who has insurance, purchase short-term coverage or, if you plan to make many of these films within a year, you may consider purchasing an annual policy.

I am not an insurance agent so your best bet is to contact an insurance provider for a quote.  Don’t be intimidated, you do not have to purchase right then and there.  It’s like buying car insurance, you want to shop around and get the best coverage at the best rate for your project.  I will say this; most standard insurance companies do not handle film insurance.  It is a specific kind of insurance and if you are renting equipment from a rental house, you will typically need to cover a minimum of a million dollars just to be safe.  If you are not in Los Angeles, or another major filming hub like New York, chances are you are not going to be able to find coverage locally.  You’ll want to look in LA.  To cover everything you want to cover you’ll probably need liability and work comp.  If you are using union actors, you will go through a payroll company and you’ll want to look into their insurance policies as well.  That will all be explained by SAG.

When you call, you’ll need to know your budget (including how much you have to spend on insurance), how many people you need covered, what length of time and there will be a few other questions.  Don’t worry if you don’t know, just so that and research and get back to the person.

It can be complicated at first glance, but once you talk to the right insurance agent, he/she will be able to explain it better than I can.

Congrats on your shoot and I hope it all goes well.

Thanks for listening,

Jenna

Episode Ninety-Seven: Tom Vaughan On Writing

January 18, 2012 by cindy  
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Screenwriter and Development Executive Tom Vaughan joins us to talk about working as a writer in Los Angeles and teaching screenwriting in LA and Houston. Tom also shares what it’s like to develop scripts at a small production company and gives some advice to new screenwriters as well.

Tom Vaughan- Writer/Development Executive

Tom Vaughan studied at the University of Houston with Broadway legend Jose Quintero and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Albee. It was his work as a writer and director in Houston theatre that got him recognized by Hollywood.

He was soon writing screenplays for, among others, Phoenix Pictures, Spelling Films, Rysher Entertainment, TNT, MTV Films, Castle Rock Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers and Disney/Touchstone.

His productions include BLACKOUT with Jane Seymour for CBS, and CRITICAL ASSEMBLY with Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy, Knocked up) for NBC. He served as writer as well as Co-Producer on ATOMIC TWISTER with Sharon Lawrence and DEAD IN A HEARTBEAT with Penelope Anne Miller and Judge Reinhold, both for TBS. His feature film debut was UNSTOPPABLE, starring Wesley Snipes.  He just completed his directorial debut, PLAYING HOUSE, based on a script written with Kristy Dobkin. They are now full-time writing partners. Most recently they wrote HALLELUJAH together for acclaimed Japanese director Kazuika Kiriya (Casshern, Goemon).

He has been teaching screenwriting for nine years between Los Angeles and Houston and finds it as gratifying as actually practicing it. He is currently the Director of Development for the Los Angeles production company Dirty Robber.

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Getting to Know You: 5 Ways to Introduce Characters

December 8, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Writing Method

December 8, 2011

Time is precious in a screenplay, so you want to get as much contextual information (not expositional information) out as quickly as possible. In order to understand your story, the audience will need to know a decent amount about each character’s personality almost immediately.

The wrong way to do this is to have another character provide spoken exposition like the following. Imagine this scene is the first scene in a movie.

INT. AMANDA’S OFFICE – DAY

AMANDA (30s) sits at her desk. Co-worker DARCI enters.

DARCI
Hey Amanda, since you are too busy and shy to meet anyone since your recent and painful breakup from Mark who works downstairs, I thought I’d invite you to a party tonight. You’ll probably freak out at all the people there since you have social anxiety, but I want to help you since I know that deep down, you really do want to connect with someone.

You will not want to watch the rest of this movie.

The dialogue above is boring, on the nose and takes all the fun out of discovering who a character is.

Following are are five effective ways to introduce your characters to the audience without spelling it out for them. Imagine each example describes the first time we see a character in a movie and notice how much information you can learn without having someone directly say who the character is, what they care about or what they want.

We’ll look at each method with the following characters:
Johnna is a focused and dedicated athlete.
Terri is a fiery and successful politician.
Amanda is sweet, shy and kind of a loner.

Show the character in a situation or environment where they are comfortable.
A character’s positive or relaxed reaction to their environment will tell the audience that this is where they belong, that these are the things that make them happy and, per screenplay logic, the world that will be yanked out from under them later in the movie. You could get a lot of mileage by showing:

Johnna:
• Happily crossing the finish line of a race many seconds ahead of the other competitors.
• Tossing yet another medal onto a pile of trophies
• Doing an ordinary task in an incredibly athletic way.

Terri:
• Shaking hands at an election event
• Posing for pictures in front of festive bunting
• Hotly debating her barista Lincoln-Douglas style over the benefits of soy vs. nonfat milk in their coffee and earning thunderous applause for her position.

Amanda:
• Happily making a reservation for one at a restaurant
• Engrossed in a book in the company break room while everyone around her chats with each other.
• Doing yoga, bird watching or a crossword on her secluded back porch

Show the character in a situation where they are uncomfortable
By showing us what makes a character uncomfortable, we get a different, but equally as informative view on who they are. You would learn a lot about our characters by seeing:

Johnna:
• Frustratedly coaching beginning athletes who are unable to keep up with her regimen
• Slowly walking a 10K for charity with her aging grandfather.
• Arguing with a teacher who doesn’t believe in ranking students by giving them grades, scores or competitions

Terri:
• Working with a deaf coworker who can’t hear her ranting
• Getting restless at a stoic, quiet event like a funeral or classical music performance
• Yelling at the TV while members of the opposing political party are talking about perfectly reasonable points.

Amanda:
• Breaking into a cold sweat while trying to give a speech
• Getting startled when strangers politely speak to her on the street
• Trying to hide on a cramped bus full of her rowdy family on their way to a reunion.

Show Us the Character’s Environment
It’s not always necessary to use other characters or dialogue to help define your character. An audience could get a pretty good idea of who they’re about to meet if they see:

Johnna:
• A state of the art gym
• An extensive trophy collection
• A race track just after a race with foot prints and an awards podium still on the field.

Terri:
• A campaign office filled with posters
• A line of cars in a motorcade
• The UN building

Amanda
• A simple and sparsely furnished home
• A hidden garden, beach or park
• The exterior of an office building with only one office light on

Show Us an Object Meaningful to the Character
Almost everyone has an item or two in their possession that defines or illustrates who they are. Giving these kinds of objects to characters helps define and illustrate them for audiences. Imagine what people might learn if they see these characters holding, looking at, putting away or taking out:

Johnna:
• A gold medal
• Well-worn boxing gloves, baseball mitts or knee pads
• A leg brace that she puts on reluctantly

Terri:
• An historic coin
• A picture of her with the President
• A newspaper with a scandalous headline

Amanda:
• A nearly full journal
• A pair of state of the art noise-cancelling headphones that she keeps at work
• A thank you note written on and sealed in beautiful stationery.

Make the Character’s First Line of Dialogue in the Script Emblematic
The first thing a character says should tell us something about them. Instead of just taking up space in the scene, that first line of dialogue should pull the audience into the character’s point of view immediately. Here are some examples of lines that might do that.
Johnna
• “What do you mean I didn’t win?”
• “I’m only on mile 67, I’ll have to call you back.”
• “I don’t walk cramps off, I scare them off.”
Terri
• “I think I’d prefer them to call me ‘Mr.’ President.”
• “While I appreciated the arguments presented, you may still not attend the sleepover as our family vacation will take precedence.”
• “If he says yes to the bill send a flower basket or beer of the month membership or something. If he says no send him to hell.”
Amanda
• “No…but thank you! I appreciate it, but I shouldn’t…can’t…. I have a … thing…”
• “Can I get three tickets for this flight in a row together…No, just one passenger.”
• Opens her mouth to talk, but can’t get words out—only quiet squeaks. Her coworkers walk away uncomfortably.

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  
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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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Episode Eighty-Eight: Selling Your Film

October 12, 2011 by cindy  
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Many people have lofty dreams of making their own film “masterpiece”. It’s a nobel pursuit to throw caution to the wind, forget all the naysayers, and make your movie the way you want to do it. That is of course unless you have investors that are expecting to be paid back. Join us as we talk to ex-sales agent and founder of The Film Collaborative, Orly Ravid, to hear about her experience that led her to create this fabulous organization whose tag line is “Filmmakers First”.

Orly Ravid- Founder of The Film Collaborative (TFC)

Orly is a 12-year industry veteran whose experience in film ranges from festival programming to acquisitions &  domestic licensing and distribution, as well as business affairs, foreign sales, and digital distribution. In 1998, Orly joined veteran boutique foreign sales company Amazing Movies & Highland Crest Pictures and launched the company’s Art House domestic distribution label.

Orly then joined Maxmedia, producers of Chen Kaige’s Cannes Selection Emperor and the Assassin and the Miramax/Dimension release The Others starring Nicole Kidman. At Maxmedia Ravid worked in production and development and created FilmFixx, the company’s domestic distribution arm that launched with the highly controversial film Baise Moi. Orly subsequently consulted for various independent distributors and filmmakers under her own label, Ravid Film Consulting. In 2004 Orly launched Wolfe Releasing’s foreign sales, theatrical, and digital distribution arms and handled its acquisitions and business affairs.

In 2010 Orly founded The Film Collaborative (TFC), the first non-profit organization devoted to the distribution-education and the distribution of art house and documentary cinema. The Film Collaborative since its launch has worked with over 100 filmmakers.  It has consulted on distribution for films such as Sundance Winners GasLand and Contracorriente (Undertow), Revenge of the Electric Car (Tribeca), SXSW Winner Weekend, to name just a few.  TFC specializes in splitting rights and helping filmmakers navigate digital distribution, and it created the first ever Digital Distribution Guide (TM) utilized by filmmakers and industry alike.  TFC was commissioned to write a report on the topic for uniFRANCE to help its sales agents to navigate new media and has advised Sundance on its new “artists services” digital distribution initiative. TFC is releasing a book about distribution entitled Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul that will be available in multiple digital formats and in paperback as of September 19, 2011.

From 2007 -2009 Orly served as VP of Acquisitions and Distribution of publicly traded Berlin-based Senator Entertainment. Orly regularly moderates or speaks on panels at Sundance and other film festivals regarding new technology and digital distribution. Orly served as a Programming Associate for documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival and as Programming Consultant for Palm Springs International. Orly has served on the Board of Directors of Outfest Los Angeles Film Festival. Orly earned a B.A in English Literature and Film Studies at Columbia University and graduated with honors.

The Film Collaborative Website

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Episode Eighty-Six: Wrapping Up Production

September 28, 2011 by cindy  
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For our last episode of our season about production we bring back the lovely and talented producer and author Eve Light Honthaner. Eve has worked in numerous production offices in the span of multiple years that she’s worked in this industry. We discuss the end of principal photography and transitioning into post-production.

Eve Light Honthaner- Producer/Author/Teacher

Eve’s career in the entertainment industry spans many years, primarily in the field of production management.  She’s worked in every capacity from PA to line producer and as a staff production executive, most recently for DreamWorks.  She’s worked on shows budgeted anywhere from $1 – $250 million and on projects that have been shot throughout the U.S. and internationally, including Titanic, Just Married and Tropic Thunder.

Eve is the author of The Complete Film Production Handbook and HOLLYWOOD DRIVE: What it Takes to Break in, Hang in & Make it in the Entertainment Industry.  And since 1998, she’s combined her many years of practical experience with a love of teaching to help others succeed in this fiercely competitive business.

In addition to the six-week course she teaches at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts each summer, schedule permitting, she does one- and two-day workshops throughout the country.

Eve’s Website- http://evehonthaner.com

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Episode Eighty-Five: Look of Picture

September 21, 2011 by cindy  
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Have you ever thought of everything that goes into creating the whole look of a film? We’ve brought in three experts to tell you all about it. From the placement of the actors, to the set dressing, props, costumes and make-up- all of these matter when deciding what’s going to be in frame.

Oneita Parker- Costume Designer

Oneita Parker has been designing costumes for film, television, commercials, music videos, and theatre productions for more than a decade with zeal and excitement found in everything she creates.  Oneita got her start in Hollywood designing costumes for several award-winning short films that toured the festival circuit. Oneita has gone on to design costumes for several award-winning features that have also received theatrical release all over the world.  Many times she has been blessed to work with such amazing talents as Samuel L. Jackson, Mink Stoll, Angela Bassett, Jazmine Guy, Courtney Vance, Don Cheadle, Corbin Bernson, Piper Perabo, and Catherine Heigle to name a few. She has worked with such great directors as Mark Webb, JJ Abrahms, Jamie Babbitt, Q. Alan Brocka, and Rosser Goodman among others. Oneita Parker got her start in the rag trade catapulting herself into college a week after high school, to pursue her dreams of being a fashion designer at FiDM in San Francisco.  After a year of straight A’s it was either Los Angeles or New York.  She chose New York and continued her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology majoring in fashion design and  textiles. Oneita Parker currently lives in Los Angeles with her lovely wife and three cats.

Oneita’s Website

Charles Haine- Director of Photography

Charles Haine is a filmmaker/entrepreneur who has been working in the motion picture industry since 1999.  After completely his MFA from USC in 2005, he has worked as a freelance director, cinematographer and colorist.  Since founding Dirty Robber in 2008, he has worked tirelessly to grow the company, expand it’s infrastructure and provide cost effective resources including arrange the deal behind their no-cost office space, and recruiting talented staff. As a colorist he has worked with Radical Media, 47 Pictures, Boxer Films, Arclight films and many others for clients including Ford, Jeep, Honda, Mcdonalds, Burger King, AMC, St. Jude’s Hospital, and many others, including several feaures, and numerous music videos.  As a director of photography has has shot three feature films, his most recent receiving distribution through Lion’s Gate, and has shot commercials, music videos, industrials and several short films. He also is an associate professor at Los Angeles City College teaching cinematographer and editing, and he teaches color grading, visual design and stereography at Columbia College Hollywood.

Dirty Robber Website

Michael Fitzgerald- Production Designer

After growing up in theater in Santa Cruz, California, Michael Fitzgerald moved to LA to attend UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, & TV. One of his first jobs was creating Cuba in LA for Josh Evan’s “Che,” where only a theater nerd would make with a tobacco plant out of lettuce, rope, paint and palm leaves.   Michael has created visual stories for directors including a hippie commune and teen punk world for Adam Sherman’s “Happiness Runs,” skate ramps, clubhouses, & a con man abode in Cosmo Segursons “Nic and Tristan, Go Mega Dega,” a bachelor pad loft and Seattle News station for Slamdance 2009 hit Blayne Weaver’s “Weather Girl,” Paris apts, Drag bingo, & and Silverlake artist duplex, in Jason Bushman’s “Hollywood Je T’aime,” a creepy house and a game that comes alive for “The Black Waters of Echos Pond,” and the comic book reality for a high school of jocks and geeks in “The Secret Life of Dorks.”  Michael had the challenge of building two entire New York apartments from scratch on stage for Slamdance 2010 hit “Four-Faced Liar”.  Currently Michael wrapped a 3D version of Fred Figglehorn’s next adventure for Lions Gate and Varsity Pictures and Maya Entertaiment’s “Without Men,” where he created a whole village from scratch starring Eva Longoria and Christian Slater.  Michael has also worked on two web series with Rob Pearlstein “Matumbo Goldberg,” with Anthony Anderson and Extreme Office for Samung Galaxy Tabs.  And spent the last year on Michael Kristoff’s “Live at the Foxes Den,” with Jackson Rathbone, Elliot Gould, Brian Doyle-Murray, Bob Gunton, and Jocelyn Donahue where he got to create an entire den/lounge from scratch..the Foxes Den!

Michael’s IMDB Page

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