Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Indies suck," Says Iron Man

Thus enters the love-hate relationship with Robert Downey, Jr. On one hand, he is a great example of someone who works hard and beat an addiction that plagues some many creative people. On the other hand, he performed in blackface and used the “R-word,” even though the film is a satire on Oscar-winning roles.

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly Radio, Downey calls indie films “exhausting and sometimes they suck.” As an indie filmmaker and advocate, I find myself on the defensive of Downey’s comments. Upon further consideration, I have to admit Downey is somewhat right in his comments. Not entirely, but somewhat.

How Downey is right:
Indie films are exhausting: compared to big budget films, they are. Crews are smaller, which means more responsibilities bestowed on an already stressed out crew. Departments may share PAs, or even Heads. Indie films crews work long hours for little pay. Why do indie crews do it? Short answer: Because they love film.

Inexperience: I’ll concede this point because usually an indie film is the first film for many Hollywood actors and directors. However, inexperience is not a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a lesson in what works and doesn’t work. Most entrepreneurs are not experienced, either. You are not selling the skills set. You are selling the concept.

Low pay: Compared to a Hollywood film, indie films may have defferred payment or little-to-no payment. While I wouldn’t consider low pay a strength of indie films, indie films can be considered start-ups, as opposed to major corporations. The opportunities may offset the pay.

How Downey is wrong:
Indie film budgets: Here’s where Downey’s Hollywood beer googles kick in. $500k is a “Hollywood” indie film. When Downey hears “indie film,” he is probably thinking in the realm of $300K-10M budget. Most REAL indie films are done for much less.

Indie films scheduling: While the shooting days are long, the actual production schedules for indie films are usually short, maybe a month or two on average. This is practical as the longer you shoot something, the more expensive it becomes. Working on your birthday is normal in the adult world. Sports stars play games on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Comes with the job description. My birthday is Christmas Eve and I've worked on it most of my adult life.

Indie films are disorganized: It depends on the set. If an indie film made it to Sundance, odds are the set was run like a well-oiled (yet cheaply built) machine.

The actor’s roles in indie films: Yes, it is partially the actor’s responsibility to champion an indie film. Most indie film actors know this and willingly participate in the Q&As. It’s called marketing and branding.

Inexperience: Downey is wrong and right! Some filmmakers stay independent, but I would not call them inexperienced. Alexander Payne, Spike Lee, Robert Rodriguez, and P.T. Anderson, for example. Some actors like J.K. Simmons are known for their prolific indie film work.

The problems Downey cites about indie film are not exclusive to indie films, or to filmmaking. I think the larger problem is the apathy Downey may feel with the state of cinema today, which is a sentiment shared with other filmmakers, such as Steven Spielberg, Steven Soderbergh, or Spike Lee. Personally, I feel that indie films will save Hollywood from itself.

Happy Filmmaking!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Midnight Rider" Videos

I don't have words today. This video is moments before the train ran into this crew. Director Randall Miller recently accepted a plea deal to serve 2 years in prison and 8 on probation. Executive Producer Jay Sedrish and 1st AD Hillary Schwartz received 10 years of probation each. Charges were dropped against Jody Savin.

This is the scene on the bridge.

Happy Filmmaking, and RIP, Sarah.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Moment of Silence for Sarah Jones

Tomorrow, the parents of Sarah Jones ask those in the film industry to have a moment of silence before the first shoot of the day.  Jones died on-set a year ago while filming in Georgia. If you are affiliated with the film industry, please honor this moment of silence. If you are on-set and you see something dangerous, report it, possibly with this app.

Be safe and happy filmmaking!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Magic Bullet 12 Released!

Need a color job, but can't afford a colorist? While nothing replaces a good colorist, smaller jobs can be done with the use of the proper editing tools. Magic Bullet has been around for a while, and today, Magic Bullet 12 was released. The entire suite looks fantastic for quick jobs, like music videos or wedding videography. Demos are available on Red Giant's website. Check it out! The suite is not cheap ($800), but you may be able to offset the costs if your production volume is high.

Happy Filmmaking!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Year: What Are Your Filmmaking Goals?

We are now 10 days into the new year. When I was at the Richard Lawson studio, we learned how to map out our goals and visualize your career road map. It's a very good practice to me instead of making yet another generic resolution. By zeroing on on how to actually achieve your goals and your deadlines, you are far more likely to complete them. Here are my filmmaking goals as a model:

  • I have a thesis I am working on as a short film. Because I must complete the film and showcase it to graduate, this is my primary goal for the year. I will complete this film by the designated deadline as agreed upon by my professor and me.
  • I'm going to buy a cine lens set by August since I am shooting far more often. I will offset the cost by completing more work.
  • I will advertise for more work by making an updated reel and promoting myself in other cities.
  • I will enter production on a new music documentary by November. I will start preproduction slowly, but I should complete preproduction by July.
  • I will write another script by October.
  • I will update the WGA registration on all of my materials by March.
  • I will collaborate and network with more local film talent, joining their projects and visiting their groups. This will be a continuous effort. I started to work on this goal by joining local "film scrambles."
  • I will try to support as many projects as I can. My network is very talented and I believe in them.
You can always expand on some goals or eliminate impossible ones. Try it. Happy New Year and Happy Filmmaking.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Working for Free: Part II

Again, in case you are bombarded with this "proposition"...

Happy Filmmaking.