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.
To contact Cindy you can write to her at email@example.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 (Jonas, Pepper 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 Slayer, Malcolm 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Film Method Hosts
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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,
Producing animated content is a much different process than producing live action. The concept of creating a whole world is the same, but in CG animation, every aspect of the production is created in a computer. The process is vast and very fascinating. Join us as we speak to animation producer, Ellen Coss about her experience in the world of CG art and animation.
Ellen Coss- Producer
Ellen Coss is a 25 year veteran in computer generated imagery, starting her career at the seminal Digital Productions.
In the 1980s feature films were not using computer imagery, but theme park attractions were. Ellen spent 2 years at Universal Studios as the production manager of the film for Florida’s Universal Park Attraction “The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera”. The film, a motion based race through three of Hanna Barbera’s cartoon worlds employed computer backgrounds and 2D characters, optically composited. This was one of the first projects to combine 2D and 3D animation.
Ellen then joined Rhythm & Hues as a producer for theme park attraction films such as Seafari, which won first place at Imagina that year. She later became the Executive Producer of the theme park division and was responsible for bringing in multi-million dollar projects to the studio.
As many of the projects she worked on became creative milestones in the industry, Disney Feature Animation brought her in to produce their theme park attraction films. Magic Lamp, employed exaggerated squash and stretch techniques common in 2D but not common in cg, and Mickey’s Philharmagic, a stereoscopic film which took nine of Disney’s beloved 2D characters and created them in 3D. It is currently playing at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando and is the number one audience rated attraction.
Ellen then joined Dreamworks, as a Production Executive, where she worked for a year on various studio initiatives. Subsequently she was the Associate Producer on the feature film Over the Hedge, released in 2006. Hedge was heralded by Jeffrey Katzenberg as the smoothest running production ever at Dreamworks Animation. During a second stint at Dreamworks, Ellen produced the Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special, which aired on NBC and Secrets of the Masters, which was the companion DVD to Kung Fu Panda 2.
Seeing that overseas production was the wave of the future Ellen headed to Prana Studios, a 325 person animation studio with offices in Mumbai India and Los Angeles. As Head of Production Ellen contributed with her years of production pipeline experience as well as her new role as a voice in the process of the company developing their own I.P. Prana is currently producing, as a 1/3 ownership partner, three direct to DVD features entitled Unstable Fables being distributed in 2008 by TWC. Under Ellen’s direction all pre-production including script writing, storyboarding and visual development occurred in Los Angeles, with physical production currently taking place in India.
Ellen then got a call to produce The Tortoise and the Hippo at Walden Media with John Dykstra directing. She developed the project for 7 months until it was put on hold because of the writer’s strike.
Ellen then provided producing consulting services for the animated feature Arthur Christmas an Aardman Animation film to be distributed by Sony.
Ellen’s reputation in the industry is one of an excellent executer, and a nurturing manager, as well as a supporter and contributor to the creative vision of all projects. Her goal on every project is to produce an excellent creative product, on time and on budget and to have the people associated with the project feel that it was one of the best working experiences in their career.
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Q: I’m new to LA and everyone is always talking about going to networking parties but I feel uncomfortable.
Billie M, Los Angeles
With the holidays upon us, it’s an opportune time to network as there are parties galore. But, if you are living in Los Angeles (and I’m sure this rings true in other places, just on a smaller scale) there are networking opportunities daily all year around. It’s really important that you get out there and meet people in your industry. It’s an industry built on who you know after all. A few tips to keep in mind:
1. Always have business cards. There is no excuse not to have a business card and if you don’t have them, people may not take you as seriously. If you don’t put what you do on the card, make sure you are able to write on the card so that you or the person you’re talking to can write it down.
2. Don’t be afraid of networking. When I first came to LA, I thought networking was so slimy and impersonal until I realized that it’s really all about getting to meet people. Don’t go into it thinking “what can that person do for me”, go into it thinking “what can I do for them” or “cool, I get meet a new person”. If your intentions are good, you will usually have a good time.
3. If you are bad at meeting and talking to people, practice! It is part of your job to interact with people. You are in a collaborative field after all.
4. Invite a friend along who is good at networking and pay attention.
5. Have Fun! It’s contagious and who doesn’t want to be around someone who is having fun?
I hope you are successful at meeting new people, welcome to LA and Happy Holidays!
The podcast on editing made me think of what’s been happening with on-set digital work-flow and I was wondering if you all had noticed. The possibility of on-set dailies is leading towards on-set editing and for some Indie productions and companies who produce small corporate commercials it is already happening. Editing on-set as shooting is going on is now within reach of the low budget filmmaker.
Craig T. via Film-Method.com
I have noticed this as well and it can be a dangerous practice to get in to if you haven’t thought it all the way through. For some forms such as commercials, it might be a great thing. But, for film, it is not a good idea to have your main editor cutting things together on set.
If you do decide it’s a good idea to cut dailies together on set, then I suggest having an assistant or 2nd editor who does that while keeping your main editor away from this part of the process.
This could actually be very helpful because you can make sure that you are getting all the shots you will need in order to cut the film together. However, if you have done your due diligence in pre-production and you have a competent Director, DP and Script Supervisor then you should be fine. People are people and mistakes do happen, but they can happen even if you’re editing on set.
It is a great idea to be sending your main editor all the footage as you go (this is what’s called “editing behind camera) so that they can get it all arranged and be working on their first cut while filming is still taking place. But, it is important to keep the editor clear from any outside influence in regard to the edit. What I mean by that is; if an editor is on set with you and knows it took 12 hours for you to get that one shot but the shot isn’t serving the film at all in the edit, what’s to keep him from leaving the shot in the edit?
The editor’s only focus should be on telling the story and it is your job as a producer to make sure they are not unduly influenced.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
November 29, 2011
A good producer knows his/her strengths and more importantly, they know their weaknesses. Why do I think knowing your weaknesses is more important than knowing your strengths? I don’t if you really think about it, because, knowing your weaknesses is a huge strength. It allows you to fill in the gaps creating a stronger team and therefore a stronger production.
When I first started, I didn’t know the first thing about giving script notes. I knew what I liked and what I didn’t like and was very good at pointing out what I didn’t like. But I was not good at pointing out why I didn’t like something. Because I knew my weaknesses, I was able to find producers who were strong in the area of script notes. Through surrounding myself with others who had that skill set, I was able to learn and develop my own skills at giving script notes. If someone were to come up to me right now and ask me what my weaknesses were, I would be able to list them right now. But, then I would also be able to tell them who I have surrounded myself with to balance those weaknesses out.
We are all imperfect and no one is good at everything, therefore, it is important for you to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to fill in the gaps.
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 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?
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.
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.