Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Doing this weekly is impractical when there's nothing to update. Things are going slower than I'd thought they would be, but that might be for the best as it gives the time to build awareness.

Update time! 

July 3rd the Facebook page launched. As of this writing, we're at 91 Likes. There was a spike with the release of a teaser clip but I'm happy with the progress so far. People have been responding positively to date.

You can check it out at

This last weekend, I interviewed another two people bringing the total up to five. Four of whom are reviewers. Some challenges with the first interview in the afternoon, but there was some great stuff when the camera did get rolling.

That's it for today!

Saturday, June 8, 2013


I've started putting together the IndieGoGo campaign. I expect it go up in the next two weeks. Doing a lot of reading. The biggest thing I need to figure out is the shipping. Shipping will make or break this endeavor. A friend successfully raised funds for a comic, but ended up breaking even on the endeavor because of the shipping. Should talk with him about this, actually...


More photos!

Another discarded poster version. I like how it turned out, but it doesn't say anything.
Getting closer to Adam better gave communicated the feeling I was going for.
I love Sean in this.
A test angle for Petar's interview. Decided against it for practical reasons.
The traffic sound was being amplified to unworkable levels.

 That's all for now.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


This week was spent on conceptualization of the end film. I love this point in a project, where there things start coming together. A documentary of this kind is modular with a near infinite number of ways it could fit together. It can and will be changed dramatically over the course of production depending on the footage; that process can be exhilarating!

But that does process does mean very little to show.

So here's an unused poster variation for the CineMassochist.

I've also started contacted people to be a part of this project. No interest yet, but I'm still at the early stages.

See you next week!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


And that's a wrap! As of Sunday May 19th, the first phase of Snark is finished.

MAY 18th, 2013 - Third day of filming. Filming Adam from YMS. I met Adam at a party. Cool cat. Solid show. Wicked musician.

Severe insomnia going in to today's shooting; maybe 3 hours. I've operated at worse, but I was sluggish all day. Eight hours of filming. The footage I got is solid and the interview itself felt really good, but I know there were missed opportunities. Less b-roll than any other participant.

Not going to think about reshoots until I know for sure I need it.

Easy to forget that at this stage this is a 5 minute project. What I'm doing is the very definition of over-shooting.

Adam offers to do some score work for the project. His stuff is pro. This will happen.

MAY 19th, 2013 - Fourth and to date final day of filming. Petar Gagic from Cine-Masochist is on today's slate.

We started at the room in his house where Cine-Masochist is shot. A bit cramped, and with posters covering every surface. A lot of fun to shoot here. Nearly got stuck in a laundry hamper while backing up to get a shot. Blocked the door with the futon at another point so I had room to get the tripod in the right position.

As a complete side note, I love the problem solving that happens in this style of videomaking; having no tripod for his show, Petar balances his camera on top of a stack consisting of a yogurt container, two speakers and a chair. His camera is restricted to 9 minutes of recording at a time. I love hearing these kind of stories because they highlight the ingenuity and the sheer filmmaker chutzpa work to just make it work with whatever's available.

After this, we move to the area where the Cine-Masochist intro was shot. A bit loud with the traffic, but workable. Petar is a natural on screen and the interview ends up being the shortest of the three.

As a thank you, I took photos of his friend's band 'Just Off The Grid'.

A background in graphic design, I asked Petar to have a go at taking a couple photos from the shoot so far and turn them into proper posters.

MAY 20th, 2013 - Petar sent me the preliminary poster layout for this first phase of filming. Minor changes made.

I have 3 hours of interview footage and close to 200 b-roll shots.

I'm aiming to get a trailer out for this by the end of the month. This should be fun.
MAY 21st, 2013 - And the finalized versions of the poster layouts. I like them. They act both as promotion for the doc and of each individual show. Remove the name of the show and any one could act as a stand alone poster.

This project is starting to feel legitimate to me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I've started making a documentary project about the internet reviewing community. How ambitious it's going to end up being or the shape of it I don't really know at this stage, but it's coming together well. The progress has been good enough to do some chronicling of it.

Snark will explore the what, the who, and the why of internet reviewing.

The first phase is interviewing and talking to local reviewers. That's what I'm doing right now.

MAY 9, 2013 - First day of filming. Local metal reviewer Happy Viking is first up.

Driving estimated to take an hour. Traffic makes it 90 minutes. It means I'm late. Sean is gracious about it. Has provided pizza and diet coke. Impeccable host.

Relaxed shoot from 5:30pm through 10pm. While light cools, talked about some of the problems in the community as well as potential solutions. Theoretical, of course, but it spurs me on to the next article idea...

Capture footage when I get home. Dust spot on all footage shot with one of the lenses. Fuck.

MAY 11, 2013 - Hear the song 'Bottomfeeder' by Amanda Palmer. Resonates so perfectly with the project that I contact her management about getting use of the song. Cut a 90 second promo piece to the song to help sway opinion.

E-mail takes me 6 hours to write.

Long and kind of rambling, but admittedly the process of writing it helps me articulate what this project is.

MAY 14, 2013 - Response back from manager about the song.

He wants clarification about the project. It only takes me an hour to write this one.

MAY 15, 2013 - Second day of filming with Happy Viking. Concentrate on b-roll. It's impressive just how much this style sucks up that kind of coverage; I always under estimate how much I need to shoot.

Two hours in traffic this time. Shoot from 6pm to 12am. No dust on lenses this time. Also shoot some stills this time. Most don't really work, but a concept Sean came up with is just so evocative of this project and his online identity that I'm seriously considering a series of posters.

Hear back from Palmer's manager. Song is under Creative Commons license for non-commercial work. Feel a bit silly for the 6 hour email, but it means I can use the song.

So yeah, that's it from me for now. Stay tuned for more updates and spread the word!

Monday, October 29, 2012


The group of people I work with are about to focus on a short film aimed towards festivals. This decision was made last week and today we each brought forward two scripts to champion as that next short film. There was no conflict, no anger and a lot of laughter.

It was a meeting of simple, frank discussion about each project. Here's a sampling.

A 3 episode web series. Shock comedy exploiting a niche.
In this open environment my feedback was  "I neither relate to or care about any of the characters, and the handling of the subject matter leaves a bad taste in my mouth." The above is politely paraphrased, of course; I originally used more colorful language.

Afterwards I admitted a scene in the third episode was genuinely entertaining, suggesting it could be the basis for a much stronger project.

A dying man speaks with the devil. Drama.
And in return one of mine was described as "going nowhere" and as being very "film student". This term, for the record, is basically the biggest insult you can lob at a filmmaker.

He was right, of course; to an extent. The dialogue is interesting but isn't strong enough on it's own; the script is a minimalist piece which requires unified production design and a bold visual style to compliment what is otherwise simply talking heads.

In other words, it's an art film.

They tend to walk that line between profundity and pretentiousness.

Two men plot murder. Comedy.
Another of mine. I'd not originally brought it to the meeting, but we were coming up short and finding most we liked were a bit ambitious for the resources we had available. The script's one I'd brought out before.

It met with a resounding "meh", with the criticism that it "goes nowhere" again coming up.

Everyone has an ego. A certain amount of self worth is required simply to get up in the morning and face a world which on the whole cares very little about whether you even show up.

For an artist you put yourself into your work; it's hard to separate yourself from the fruits of your labor and any criticism of it feels like it's directed towards you. The tendency is to retract; to protect your creation from those that would judge it harshly.

And this is fine, as far as it goes, but it breeds stagnation.

Nothing is ever so good it can't be improved upon. To do that, an artist needs at some point to be open to an outside perspective.

Speaking of my own experience with Trenchie, I got so concerned with the minutia that I was completely taken aback when three separate people pointed identified a glaring issue I'd not even considered. This was after a full eight months of nothing but glowing praise for the video in question. Even with the harshest of self criticism, and believe me I am unforgiving in that department, I was too close.

Put a monkey in a cage with only three possible exits and you'll watch the monkey find a fourth.

It's very easy to let ego get in the way of perspective. You are not your work. While you are beautiful, the fruits of your labor can always, always be improved.

The only reason the group of people in the meeting can cut the bullshit out of our discussion is because there is strong mutual respect. We're not afraid of treading on egos because we each want the same thing; a good short film we can stand behind.

The final decision was unanimous.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


It's obvious but I feel it needs to be said: a better camera doesn't guarantee a better video. I've been involved with enough of them to know that in competitions rarely is the winning entry the one with biggest crew and most expensive gear.

The inverse is true, too; in general a half-decent camera can hit above its proverbial weight class. Practically ever year a movie is shown at Cannes that really shakes things up. One documentary used old footage from a family camera and cut together on a $50 editing program caused major ripples some years back.

There are limits, of course. From the side of technical fidelity, you can think of camcorder shopping as flirting with the law of diminishing returns. There is no upper limit to how much can be spent on a camera, but generally speaking the higher you go in price the more you have to spend to get a significant and noticeable jump in quality.

The fantastic thing about videomaking is that the audience neither knows nor cares about technical specs. If anything I find people simply assume it's 'better than what I have' and leave it at that. Heh.

And while not all cameras are created equally (a good camera really does make a difference), there are ways to get more out of yours regardless of the price tag.

Don't believe me? Need proof? This video and this video were made with the same model of camera.


When you hit the zoom button on your camera the pieces of glass inside the lens are physically moving further apart. This effectively making the lens longer, or more telephoto.

Most often this is used as simply a way to get closer to whatever you're recording. Moving in from a Long Shot to a Medium Close-Up, say. If you instead move the camera back so that your Long Shot STAYS a Long shot, some interesting things happen.

If you're scratching your head as to what a Medium Close-Up is, I covered shot sizes in a previous article.

The first thing you'll notice when you've zoomed in is that space is compressed. Jimmy, standing 3 feet behind Bob, appears about the same size as his friend. If you zoom out and move close enough that Jimmy is again in a Long Shot you'll see Bob appearing closer. A Medium Close-Up, say. It's all about ratios and distance from the camera.

The second thing that happens is that the area in focus, the depth of field, becomes narrower. If you have your subject move away from the background until he is the only thing in focus, the audience attention is more sharply focused on the subject and the shot is more intimate.

I won't go into too much detail as to why, but the depth of field is all about how open the iris is. On most consumer camcorders there is no way to control the iris manually. If you shoot somewhere with a lot of light, such as outside on a bright day, more of the frame will be in focus. If you shoot somewhere with less light, such as inside, the depth of field will be tighter. Knowing what's going on inside your camcorder means you have more control of your image.

The most common place people will place the camera is at eye level. Sometimes this is appropriate. Sometimes it's not. Even just getting the camera lower to the ground will often completely change the feel of the shot. Or a few feet higher.

Famously Orson Wells dug a hole in the floor of a set to get the camera lower to the ground. You probably don't need to go that far.

If there is a mantra of this blog, I'd like to think it's "Everything communicates.". Half of what makes movies feel cinematic is the way they move the camera. From a simple dolly to those smooth sweeping shots of expansive vistas. And while you don't have access to the tens of thousands of dollars of equipment the big guys do, I'll bet you've a buddy with a skateboard.

Or a car.

A wheelchair.

A shopping cart.

The basic principles still apply; wheels on a smooth surface gives you smoother movement than hand holding it. And if you want a crane, think outside the box. If you're setting is in a playground, why not get a couple people on one end of a teeter-toter smoothly lifting you on the other end with the camera?

Your ultimate goal is to make the camera man invisible to the audience. If that happens, it ultimately doesn't matter if you achieved it with a $10,000 a day rental package or a broom handle and some duct tape.

Of course, most of the above methods still require an operator physically holding the camera and soften any vibration. The final word on that? Lock elbows to your side and move the camera with your whole body.

Camcorders are pretty incredible pieces of technology regardless of their price points. You're holding in your hands the culmination of 100 years of film history. Pretty cool stuff, all in all. The best thing you can do is push back against the comfort zone.

Give yourself permission to make mistakes.


Huh... Camcorder. Camera Recorder. I literally just got that. Why is it that all the cool sounding words have such lack-luster etymologies

This article is dedicated to Joshua The Anarchist for his comments on articles previous. He's got a pretty good blog of his own. Comments are what keep me writing this blog. If you like what you read, consider posting something simply to say so. It really does make my day.

Hey! Let's make this fun!

Post a comment saying what you'd like to be drawn as and the next article I will draw up to three commenters as they so desire to be drawn!