Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Need to know about modern shooting

So many times I get questions about how to use DSLR cameras such as the 5D, 7D, or T2i. I don't mind them but people think I have taken courses on them or something. To be honest I got my 7D in the beginning of the whole Hdslr awakening. I'd taken cinematography one, which was of absolutely no help to me in regards to camera, but other than that I was still in camera virgin land other than using cameras with dv tape. I just got into the whole letus adapter thing right before it became obsolete.

So how do you go about learning how to use a dslr? Basically, you have to learn about cinematography. That's going to be your main asset when using any camera. I had my 7D for a couple of months and everything was extremely overwhelming. I didn't find a book that spelled everything out for me but basically you need to know these things like the back of your hand:

Focal lengths
Shutter speed
Frames per second
White Balance

and the most important thing...
Post Production workflow. You can shoot the next Inglorious Basterds but have nothing to show for it if you don't get this down.

Also DSLRs have MANY hidden costs.
Harddrive for storing footage. $100+
Lenses $300-$2000
Want to shoot hand held? HH rig $250-$800
Follow Focus? $150-$450
Outside during the day? ND Filters $100

And thats just off the top of my head. These are all estimates by the way. So the nitty gritty. Where to obtain the knowledge of how to actually use your investment. I say investment because thats what it is. If you are just buying one to take cool pictures or cool video then save your money. But the source of all dslr information is...

the internet.

The one thing that is free with a dslr is knowledge. That's if you know where to look. I know that Philip Bloom gets a lot of flack because he's not the best filmmaker but man has this guy championed the age of DSLRs. He's made it mainstream and he has even put together a thing called Vimeo Video School. I wish these videos were out when I was starting out. Would have helped me lots.

The other guy I follow really closely is Robin Schmidt, AKA, El Skid

This guy is really in the same boat as all of us right now. He has done numerous music videos and things but still finds himself without a job. He wants to do narrative dramas and he understands how hard it is to break into that. He is currently embarking on a youtube angle to gain a crowd following. He also regularly posts problems and solutions he runs into along with reviews of products and of course some guides to dslrs.

And lastly everyone should sign up for the weekly email from
They have saved me when I was in a bind and didn't have time to set up a steadicam for a pushin type shot. Luckily I learned a magic trick from these guys that let me pull it off and ultimately turned out to be the best shot of the movie.

Ultimately, to get better at what you want to do, go out there and do it. You can get into intellectual arguments about frame rates and exposures and what not but to be honest nobody gives a damn. They care if it looks good, not if your frame rate was 30 or 24. (NEVER do 30). But in all seriousness go and test it and you will see what problems come up.

And don't ask me for help when I've given you everything you need to get started here. Lol. Thanks for reading.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Film in Relation to Theater and Vice Versa

As soon I started to make films I was always warned about theater actors and actresses. Not in the way you might think. I remember being told that theater actors don't want to have anything to do with film...


...was my first thought. There are very few jobs for theater actors that pay anything substantial. 85% of all acting jobs are through film. It just didn't make sense to me.

Going through the years in the film program I've discovered a few different perspectives.

I can validate why some theater professors don't want their students in short films. Its simple. Directors do not know how to direct actors. This, however is only true at the beginning of their careers. By their third year you can start to see who really takes their directing seriously. I would make the argument with the theater also. You can start to see who is going places. So my solution to this would be to: GROW TOGETHER.

If you don't want to be involved the first two years I would suggest to immerse yourself in the opposite department in the last two years.

Now here I am saying these things about how the departments never come together. This is not true. It happens. But it should happen a lot more. I've worked with production designers and actors from the theater world. It's great. However, I have to point out that these team ups were voluntary and were the product of those people putting themselves out there.

The theater is a place to grow and a place to be around other actors which helps greatly. However, I know actors in the theater that have never been in a play that are now in their last year. And these actors are TRYING to work. They audition and make an effort. This is where I have to point out the opportunity of film. WE WOULD LOVE TO CAST YOU. Really. We would. If you can find a decent script and learn to director-proof yourself well enough then jump onto the project. And then keep your eye out for the good directors.

I have worked with many actors film and theater. I love them both. When I look to cast I look at the work that I have seen, I look to both.

Now for the fun part.

My complaints:
NEVER say that one is better than the other. They are not the same and should not be treated as such. A great theater actor could be horrible on camera or vice versa. Richard Dreyfuss had a horrible time in the first act of a play he did and do you know why? He couldn't project his voice. He was ineffective. He learned to do it...on the spot I might add...and killed in the rest of the play. He GREW. And I think that is what people are mistaking. They have conquered one medium so the transition to the other should be painless. Don't be fooled.

When a PRODUCER emails you about AUDITIONING do one thing even if you can't make it. REPLY. Do it swiftly. It makes our lives easier and if we have to wait to the last minute to cancel your audition it can really irk us. And if we have to hear back from a third party that has nothing to do with the film that you can't make it...then I'm sorry, you are probably not going to get the chance again.

And never say that you don't have enough to work with in an audition. It's not our fault. We know. We hate it too. It's how auditions go. And I would definitely not say that when the last five people were amazing.

All in all I would love for a closer world between theater and film. Comment. Let me know what you think. I'll follow up.

Till next time