Here’s a little screen grab of what my wife and I are working on. It’s for the AMC, “Hey Dish, where’s my AMC?” contest. The photo above is from our recent scene/depiction of Mad Men. I used two 650 fresnels, each with 1/2 CTB. My Key also had Full diffusion. My fill was positioned to the back left corner aimed down at a 32” white reflector for a subtle fill on the right side of my face.
As for color grading, I used MBL along with adding a little bit of artificial film grain. Knowing that Mad Men is shot on Kodak film stock, I wanted to give this scene a slight reddish tint trying to mimic the film stock. That’s it for now. We’ll be putting this out soon.
So here we are, just about mid July and the time to submit your shorts to many film festivals is upon us. The question I’ve been wrestling with and hopefully YOU can help me figure out is: is submitting your short film worth it anymore?
Let’s take a look at what we have at our fingertips as filmmakers today: Vimeo, YouTube, Video on Demand (VOD), Genero.tv, etc. All of these are platforms where a filmmaker can upload and share his or her movie with the entire world. And the best part is, all of these submissions are…FREE!
Now take a look at film festivals. There are LOADS of them now. One pops up every minute of the day (a slight exaggeration), but I think you get my point. Then it comes to where do you submit your film? Do you submit to a low tier festival, mid level, or go for the cream of the crop, SXSW, Sundance, Slamdance, or the “Olympics” of festivals, Cannes? These are important questions. Then there’s budget. If you were to pick 9 festivals you wanted to submit to, some are mid level, one might be a lower level, and the others could your cream of the crop. Roughly it could cost you $35/fest and that’s if you hit the Early Bird submissions. Don’t forget that IF your film is accepted you’ll need a press kit, movie poster, the appropriate screening copy for the festival (16mm, 35mm, DVD, BluRay, HDCAM Tape), travel expenses, all of which costs money. Add up all your submission fees, and the fees it might cost if you have to show your film in one of the various formats mentioned above and you’ll have yourself a pretty expensive short. But with the given times and outlets, is it worth it to submit shorts to festivals anymore?
Since the release of HDSLR’s, filmmakers have been able to get their vision out in a much more inexpensive way. It’s easier to make a short film than a feature, so the short film market is becoming flooded with more content than ever before. Finally those who couldn’t afford to get their vision out now can.
Last year Sundance received 6,467 submissions in the shorts category. Only 81 films were picked. I’ve always been of the mind that if any of my films were to get into Sundance then I would have made it. But as submissions grow, I’m starting to wonder if my film would ever been seen within the sea of thousands of other films? Would it be better to just post your short online, forget the fees, the waiting games and the potential exposure you could be getting? There’s the rule (some are changing their minds) that if you submit to a festival, your film should not have premiered anywhere else, i.e., online, a theater, etc. So you have to play the waiting game, especially if you submit your film within the Early Bird stages. It’s a long time to wait and see if you’ve been accepted or not. During that time you could have been sharing your film with the world and gaining access to festivals that you didn’t even submit to.
Wes Anderson and PT Anderson both made shorts that screened at Sundace and now look at them. Wes Anderson made the short Bottle Rocket, then the feature Bottle Rocket. PT Anderson made Sydney which became the feature, Hard Eight. Back then it seemed the “short” was a filmmakers calling card. Today a short is still a filmmakers calling card, but now they can get more exposure via online.
Yes it’s nice for your movie to gain critical acclaim. It can do that online, not just through film festivals. It’s also cool to see your movie poster fill up with those olive branches that say, Sundance Official Selection 2011, or Best Short! There’s also the chance that you might receive an award that will sit atop your mantle piece or desk for you to look at and enjoy. But out of thousands and thousands of filmmakers, how many of us are going to achieve that? I’ve had many of my shorts premier in low and mid level festivals either as an Official Selection, Nominated, or Won. It also cost me a lot of money to do so. When I posted my short film, Home last year, I was lucky enough to have it selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick. To me that was huge! After that it got into a couple festivals where I never even submitted to. Again, another really cool opportunity. In the end, it cost me…$0. Out of curiosity, I did submit to SXSW and was rejected, but that cost me I believe $25. Not too bad as I didn’t submit anywhere else.
As the years progress, newer, less expensive cameras will come out, allowing more and more filmmakers to share their vision with the world. Submissions to festivals will grow along with the amount of festivals. So where do we go from here? I’ve been wrestling with this very idea since I finished my recent short, The Best Day Ever. I’ve already begun submitting to festivals, but every time I do, I wonder is it worth it? Would it do better online? I’m confident with the story and with the acting. However, with so many submissions will it even be seen by the right person? If I put it online, could that “right” person see it and say, “hey, we’d like to screen your short at our festival, wadda’ya say?” Maybe I should just chalk it up to luck, perseverance, content, and being in the right place at the right time. One or all of the above.
At the end of this write up, I’m curious to know what you think or where you stand. I’m Thanks for reading.
There’s a small enchanting cafe around the corner from where I live. Philadelphia in general has loads of cafes that all do the same thing: brew delicious coffee. However, since living in Philadelphia, I found myself going to the High Point Cafe a lot. One major reason was that it’s right around the corner. So the accessibility of grabbing a good cup of coffee was always appealing. As my coffee horizons grew and the more I sampled Philadelphia’s coffee’s, I realized that the High Point Cafe served, IMO, some of the best coffee the city has to offer.
Today every street corner has a Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, or a Dunkin Donuts just waiting to take your money. Then there’s the hipster coffee shops that look quaint, but when you get in side, if you don’t have at least three piercings and a tatoo sleeve, you’ll get the impression you’re not welcomed. Finally you have your mom & pop, Persian, cafes that takes coffee to a whole new level. Their coffee is Fair Trade, organic, sharp with every sip AND their prices aren’t bad either. They might be .10 more expensive, maybe even .25 more than your chains, but in the end, you’re paying for quality over quantity. This is what the High Point Cafe has to offer.
For a while now I’ve always wanted to do something for the High Point Cafe, but I never had the right idea that I wanted to pitch to owner, Meg Hagele. It wasn’t until a few months ago that something clicked and my creative juices began to flow. I wanted to create a visually stylized mini-doc that would focus on the art of coffee making. Later, my wife would broaden the idea than just focusing on the artistry of coffee making, but what role the High Point plays within our community. You have to understand, Mt. Airy is a small community and at its core is the High Point Cafe. It’s not just a cafe, but it’s a place where people meet, plan, relax. They’re also responsible for the Mt. Airy Fair, the weekend festivals, and large supporters of community programs. High Point isn’t JUST a coffee shop. It’s the heart and soul of a community.
At the helm of the High Point is Meg Hagele. She’s a smart business woman that: 1) knows her coffee, 2) understands what it takes to run a successful business, 3) understands what keeps a community together. When my wife and I sat down to interview Meg it was apparent that she wore many hats. But what’s really amazing is her attitude. At 6am Meg is wide-eyed and raring to go. Her attitude is happy, excited, joyful, through another positive adjective, or many more and you’re beginning to see who Meg is. Besides her excitement, she’s very positive and passionate about what she does.
The way I look at the making of this film is that it’s a thank you to Meg and for all of her services she has done for the community. The interview she gave was an amazing one. One that we probably could have made a much longer film from. However, as it stands, my wife and I are very proud of what we put together. It’s a clear representation of what the High Point and Meg stand for. In Mt. Airy it’s all about the community.
This Saturday, July 7, the High Point Cafe will be celebrating its 7th Birthday. So if you live in the Philadelphia area, stop on by and enjoy the party. It’ll be a good one.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the film.
This is what #TheBestDayEver looks like when the audio is locked!!! Finally! Time for some color correcting then…SUBMISSIONS!!!!
While working on the reality tv series, “Good, Better, Best”, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet a young and very talented musician named, Janelle McDermoth. She’s nineteen years old and sings in the very popular, a cappella group, Off the Beat for the University of Pennsylvania.
During our lunch breaks, Janelle and I talked about our passions, what we like to do, and music. Overhearing her sing when loading in gear and setting up, I was very intrigued by her voice. I approached her to see if she would be interested in collaborating on a music film. She immediately became very excited by this concept and was ready to go.
Since Janelle is a student, and finals were quickly approaching, our window of opportunity to film together was small. We were able to meet up for a couple of hours in late April to film. The location in which Whisper Low was filmed in was at the Psi Upsilon house on Penn’s campus, or as the students call it, Castle.
Going into filming, I didn’t know whether I wanted this to be in color or black and white. I had been listening to Janelle’s demo continuously, but felt a little foggy on colors. It wasn’t until I entered Castle that I realized this film would be in black and white. The basement, or bar area we filmed in was very dark. The room was surrounded by old brown wood paneling. The overhead pool table lights had been switched out to red and green colored bulbs from a past party. Even the surrounding candle lights were red and green. Basically, this was a giant black hole. Needless to say, shooting in color would have been a mistake, let a lone a nightmare for CC work in post.
Filming in black and white gave this film a smooth, dramatic, and high contrast look. I didn’t want to get too fancy with the lighting as my goal was to let the music and artists be the main focus. Having said that, with the songs lyrics and mood, I felt that the dark, noir style really complemented the song in a non-distracting way.
My inspiration for this film was to continue the style in which I shot the last two films, Traffic, and Packed My Bags, but film it in more of the “in studio” documentary fashion. I continued with the handheld and Glidecam work, but didn’t intercut like I did with Traffic as that was filmed in the French New Wave style. Packed My Bags had the story and structure that fit the song perfectly in my mind. As for Whisper Low, what I saw in my head had always been an in studio session. There’s something about seeing an in-studio documented session that has always fascinated me. They’re very personal and intimate.
Accompanying Janelle, or Laila Blake (her stage name), was Greg Oliveras who played the guitar and was the baking vocals. Greg too, is a student at Penn that I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting. He played a major role in this song as he and Janelle both worked together to create and bring this song to life.
I hope you enjoyed watching the film. Again, there’s always more to come. Until next time. Thank you for reading and watching.
I’m one of the many people who have been posting, blogging, tweeting, google’ing/awaiting for the announcement of the new Canon 5D Mark 3. If you haven’t read about it or have been living under a rock, check out Canon Rumors and the 5D3 spec list. It’s looking pretty cool.
A still from yesterdays music video shoot of Liam Gallagher. Again, I’m shooting in the lovely cinemascope 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Moreover, I shot this video in the vein of the French New Wave. I chose this style because I wanted something that was stripped down, and wouldn’t hinder the music. A lot of music videos today seem to overshadow the music, and this was something that I didn’t want to do. The final version of the video will be up soon. I’ll keep you posted.
As my wife and I embark on a new journey; taking over a film company and making it our own, we’ve begun two new projects that will be apart of Zag Films. The still above is from our mini-documentary on the Meg Hagele and her High Point Cafe. The man pictured above is a patron of this fine establishment. This screen grab is from the Canon 5Dmk2 with the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L. The is quite possibly some of the best glass I’ve used. It’s gorgeous, fast, and very sharp even in its wide open stage of a 1.2. This is also the ungraded image from the camera. We are using the Technicolor CineStyle picture profile.
I’ll be keeping you all posted with more information as our days progress. Check out Zag Films on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and hop on over to our website: Zagfilms.com We’re in a transitional phase, so please bare with us. The site will be changing and more films will soon be added.
Talk to you soon.
I don’t normally post these sort of things on the blog, but I thought in a way it did pertain to filmmaking. Two excellent tools used to create amazing moving pictures. Click the link and get started. Enjoy.
As the excitement builds inside me with my upcoming film, I’d like to share that I have officially finished the rough cut to, The Best Day Ever. At this moment, this guy is very stoked! There’s still plenty of work that needs to be done until the film is completed: a couple insert shots, sound mixing, color correcting, etc. But what makes me even more excited about this movie is that I just added the three musical tracks into place, and they work perfectly! I’m talking about Foreigner’s, “Headknocker” and “Hot Blooded” and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Obviously there’s going to be some major tweaking that goes on, but for now, things are looking really good. Especially when you add music from Foreigner into the mix.
With what I have, we’re looking at a 15minute and 34second run time and a 17minute and 24second run time with credits. Either way, this feels really good. I’ll be keeping you all posted on my progress as I continue my pursuit on creating, The Best Day Ever.
One last thing, there will be a trailer coming soon.
PS. If you’re wondering what The Best Day Ever looks like, check out my reel below. There are a few scenes.