Monday, August 24, 2015

New State, New Projects

Earlier this month, I relocated from my hometown of Mobile, Alabama, to Omaha, Nebraska. This makes my second cross-country move in five years. As I adjust to the film culture in a new state, it hit me: just a decade ago, a move outside of New York or Los Angeles would have set my career back. Nowadays, we can live anywhere and find work! Where you live is no longer an excuse.

I am ADing on a local Omaha project and enjoying the entire process. I still work on other projects outside of the feature realm. It's a new adventure and I am up to the challenge!

Happy Filmmaking!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why Make Films Against All Odds?

Have you ever been discouraged as a filmmaker? I have just this week when I walked off a set for the first time in my nearly decade-long career. The following video made me feel better. Even with all the setbacks, you have to ask yourself, "why do I do this?" Here is your answer:

Happy Filmmaking!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Best Advice I Received While in Film School: Set Etiquette 101

I recently wrote the following simple set etiquette guide for a project I'm working on. Many people on this particular project are first-timers. Sets are intimidating places, even for seasoned vets. But I found that the following advice works fairly well for a set, regardless of the size.
  • Arrive on time! Once the production schedule is made, you will be given a calltime. The time you are given is the latest you should arrive on set. If you are running late, you have to alert the AD.
  • Report all issues and concerns to the AD. Safety issues should be reported immediately to the AD.
  • It is considered a major faux pas to direct issues to the director or producer. Ideally, the director will talk to certain people one-on-one. Talk to the AD instead.
  • Do not bring unauthorized people or animals to the set. This is a safety precaution.
  • Do not take photos of the set without permission from the AD or producers.
  • Only smoke and eat in authorized areas.
  • Drink water. Drink water. Drink water.
  • Tell the AD when you are leaving set to go to the bathroom or handle personal business.
  • Film sets are known to be “casual workplaces.” Language and jokes that may be inappropriate in routine office settings may be heard on sets. If you find some language offensive, alert the AD. We want to make set comfortable for everyone.
  • Listen and obey all of the AD’s commands. Commands may include “Quiet, please.”
  • Do not pick up or handle any equipment, unless authorized to do so.
  • Do not touch the camera.
  • Do not use a cell phone while on set. The vibration setting on a phone may disrupt sound equipment. Turn phones on silent or off.
  • Keep up with your trash/water bottle. You will be given a sharpie to write your name on your water.
  • Do not block the “video village.” This is usually a monitor set up for the director, the camera crew, and the script supervisor. If not present on-set, do not block the director’s view.
  • Crew members should dress in dark colors to avoid bounced light.
  • Closed-toed shoes only!
What do you think? Happy Filmmaking.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My 5 Favorite Field Apps for iPhone

Below are my five favorite apps I like to use when working in the field. I use an iPhone 6, so sorry, Android users. Some of them are on Android, but I’m not sure which ones.

  • DSLR Filmmaker Toolkit is a app that includes a slate with shot log, a viewfinder, and a depth of field calculator. I mainly use it for the slate and shot log, as I can email the file to myself as an Excel sheet. It’s a paid app. 
  • The Magic Hour app alerts me an hour before and during the magic hour. It also gives me the angle of the sun at my exact location and a countdown to sunset. It is free. Can’t beat that.

Magic Hour
  • Dark Sky tells me almost to the minute when rain is coming my way. On the Gulf Coast, this is useful, whether you are shooting or not. You can request a weather report for a particular address and even receive UV and wind reports. I received it for free at Starbucks, but it's a paid app.

Dark Sky

  • Google Maps is a no brainer, but it just gets better and better. The app can now calculate your drive time while on route and can let you know if a faster route is available. You can also get public transit routes and bike paths if you lack a car.
  • Adobe Hue CC is the newest app in my toolbox. It only came out days ago, but I have already fallen in love with it. It allows you to make LUTs on the go with your phone’s camera. If you are an Adobe Creative Cloud user, you can sync your LUT collection to use back in Premiere Pro or After Effects. App is technically free, but is better with the Adobe CC.
Adobe Hue CC

 Happy Filmmaking!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Best Advice I Received While in Film School: Embrace Magic Hour

Natural light is amazing, especially in the summer. We cannot live without it, it illuminates the world around us, and it delights us with its color spectrum. As manipulators of light, we learn to embrace its properties while controlling its path. We tell stories with it, but often we rely on artificial providers of light, believing natural light to be insufficient or weak for our purposes.

That’s why indie filmmakers should pay homage to the beauty of natural lighting by embracing the “magic hour.” Magic Hour is roughly the minutes after sunrise and before sunset. The sun is at a flattering angle in the sky, resulting in reduced shadows over the face and beautiful natural coloring.

I consider myself a mise-en-scène filmmaker, which means I prefer to use my surroundings rather than edit a look in post. Mise-en-scène filmmakers embrace a cinéma vérité or “true-to-life” style filmmaking. Planning your shoots around magic hour makes use of the beautiful lighting with little manipulation. I took the following photographers about 4 minutes into magic hour. 

Magic hour. Actually #nofilter.
Slightly different exposure.
The following video was also taken at magic hour. Note the color in my skin tone and the vibrant greens. Skin tones tend to have either a blue or green undertone, which magic hour brings out nicely. The result is glowing skin.

Although daylight is bluer than indoor tungstens, magic hour light is usually a subtle orange. Mobile, Alabama, nearly has perpetual summer, so depending on the climate and season, your location’s magic hour may be grayer/bluer or warmer in tone.

I use the Magic Hour app which tells me an hour before magic hour occurs and when I am in the magic hour. It’s my favorite astronomic tool for field videography/filmmaking. 

Happy Filmmaking!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Release of Google Photos: Good News for Indie Filmmakers!

DISCLAIMER: This blog is hosted on, a Google product.

I love storage clouds! The files are virtually accessible everywhere, and clouds make collaboration easy. Clouds have become cheaper and larger over the years (just like physical storage), which for filmmakers is a godsend.

Online storage is not without its flaws, however. Servers can be hacked and your videos and photos leaked, which may be detrimental to your business if your clients' projects depend on confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements. Your creative work may also be stolen. While unlikely, servers COULD be wiped clean by hackers. So, even if you are backing up to the cloud, it is important to still use physical storage (such as a hard drive or data disk) for your most important files. That way, you have both.

As a Mac user, I also use iCloud and Photos for many of my personal photos and videos. While Google Photos appears to be a direct competitor, I see the advantage of both systems and will plan to use both. Google Photos will be able to store unlimited videos in 1080p, which should make every indie filmmaker rejoice. If your files are bigger than that (such as 4k), then physical storage may still be the answer. However, I would recommend using Google Photos to make an archival copy of your final projects.

Happy Filmmaking.