What would Francis do?

Okay it’s been awhile. I like others have begun to re-evaluate myself. We all do. The cinema and filmmaking in general has had a significant impact in my life. It started with photography at 8 years old, and has morphed into the monster it is now. The above is a lecture of some interviews that Francis Ford Coppola had done. Arguably he is the most prolific and skilled filmmaker of our time. I find comfort in his words and in his wisdom. Listening to him I find myself still drawn to the flame which we call filmmaking, and after a lifetime of reaching out and striving to include others with some successes and some failures I still want to ride this horse.

The digital realm offers a multitude of possibilities to create stories, and so I find myself at a point of reflection. Where do I take this? How do I continue to make stories I want to hear about, and how do I find others with the same passion? All the while trying to balance work, home & family. These are the questions? I’ll leave you with Mr. Coppola’s comments that inspire me and thrill me at the same time. I hope you find something in it that helps you. I have been an ardent admirer of Coppola’s and if his words can still stir me then maybe there is hope for me to achieve what I want.

Till next time friends. I promise I won’t be this absent or quiet till the next time I post.

The Future of Film-making II

I’ve been looking into what film-making is now.  I’m kind of that dinosaur that shot things on film, so film ISO, film latitude, emulsion were nothing I didn’t know about.  Yet I feel out of touch in today’s film-making climate.  It’s all become digital, and we no longer cut physical film.  In a way it’s become a bit easier, yet with that being said shooting digital can be anything but easy.  You’re dealing with resolution, different editing codec’s, file size, and let’s not forget the 24, 30 and 60 f.p.s you can shoot with.  Then there is the different media you’ll need to store your files on.  For example ScanDisk 32GB 95 mb/s or 128GB 170 mb/s or 32GB 80md/s are all things a filmmaker needs to know.  The faster your media is the superior your image will be.  Confused.  We’ll let Dave McKeegan explain it to you.  I find his explanation enlightening and easy to understand.


Now that that has been explained it all came down to camera, and let me tell you I researched the crap out of it to the the point of over researching it.  It came down to this what do I want the camera for?  I wanted something with a dual purpose.  One My old DSLR was old and did not take video, but the main purpose was video.   At least it was for me, and of course I could have gotten better, but I did not have the funds to go hog wild.  I wanted to open an avenue where I could shoot shorts, and to some experimental stuff with the camera.  Being a Nikon guy I really was leaning toward that, but I went with Canon.  I know you say sacrilege, but Nikon does not have a camera that is both good with video and stills.  Canon had it both.  When I finally got my hands on the Canon I knew I made the right decision.  It’s auto-focus is stunning, and it really is a run and gun type of camera.  I got an older model the Canon EOS 80D.  The 90D is out, but I got a package deal that included a Rode microphone, and also a scan disk card and a beautiful 18-135mm lens.  The speed of the lens is 3.5.  Not the fastest, but still good enough for what I want to do.  Also I’m looking to get some better lenses, but in due time.  There is still much to learn.  With that I also upgrade my computer.   File sizes are big when shooting video, and you’ll need processing power and a good video card.  I choose a DELL.  I’m familiar with them, and they never have let me down.  Again money was tight, but I managed to get something that I think I can use, and in the coming months I hope to post stuff here and try to see what I can do, and of course on how it works.

Here’s an example by Lohit Mohanta.  Here he shoot his lovely model Kira at 60 fps, and the video is about the auto focus.  See how quick the camera can focus.


Now for my last example.  Me being a film student and a film snob I know I will never get the quality of an Alexa type cinematic camera, but here is a comparison between the two, and as Gene Nagata shows in his video the 80d is not that bad, and the visuals are quite pleasing.  I will push the camera a little more, but I’m not expecting Black-magic or Alexaquality images.  But I need something to experiment with.  I will be using DaVinci Resolve for my editing.  It’s free and the color grading is pretty cool, and I intend to use it as much as I can, and see what results I get.  SO let’s see how it goes, and I’ll try and put up my success, and failures up here for all to see.


So thanks for listening and I hope to see you around.  The one thing I truly believe is hat through all of us we learn a bit more,, and hopefully something will move us to create something unique.  Remember my belief is what Francis Coppola once sad about a “Fat farm girl from Iowa will make something that will blow cinema away”.  So be that girl or boy.  The technology is here.

The future of media…

Streaming content on demand (VOD), Blue Ray, 4K, YouTube, Netflix, and Vimeo. All video delivery systems that didn’t exist a few years ago. The next generation will have a variety of platforms to go to for content. Already today studios and media outlets are scrambling to create their own streaming service. Disney, CBS, NBC & ABC are all getting into the streaming business to squeeze money out of consumers and try and provide niche markets where they can make money on.

With all these outlets streaming companies are producing their own content for that market. How do these streaming services make money? Easy subscribers. The more the better, but with all the streaming services available now are they shooting themselves in the foot by competing with one another. CBS Access has several programs that are exclusively made for them. Such programs as Star Trek Discovery, or The Twilight zone are programs made for the platform. Netflix has a plethora of movies such as “In the Shadow of the Moon”, and “In the Tall Grass”, or series like “Mindhunter“, and “Black Mirror”. Of course both platforms also have older content such as past series, and shows like “Breaking Bad”, and NCSI or Blue Bloods. It is the age of home entertainment and streaming is leading the way. FIOS & INFINITY already offer a NETFLIX package along with your subscription. So it seems that streaming will be an integral part of any cable companies repertoire. Since it is the cable company that is providing the signal for both cable and internet they will do what is more profitable for them. The good news is we now have choices in what we want to see. Will this cause more and more people to cut the cord, and just go with internet for their streaming purposes? I doubt that this will be the end of cable since many of us derive our internet through them, but more and more people will supplement their internet connection with different streaming systems. What the cable providers are doing is trying to give their customers faster services, and it is already reflecting that in their advertisement.

And where do SmartPhones come in? For a lot of the world many use only their phones to communicate and or to watch content. Companies are all touting 5G, and the fastest network around. Sprint and T-mobile will soon merge and with that they will have acquired the Dish Network which is expected to be the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the US.

So how does this all pertain to guerrilla filmmaking, and content creation? Well I’d say a lot. There are more platforms for content then there is content. As a filmmaker you need to be smart and figure out your niche. Where do you want to be? A filmmaker should be diversified and know what’s hot. Is it horror?, romance?, or possible some other genre?

The object is to be seen. However you do this will depend on how you survive and make a living at content creation. I just recently came across PLUTO TV, and now have it on my phone. It’s exactly like free TV was back in the good old days. The company makes money by selling commercials like terrestrial TV did way back in its infancy and in a way still does. The content does not seem to be edited, or bleeped. It’s the one thing I really find appealing. After all cable TV is suppose to be for subscribers. It’s only the on air channels that are censored for content. I understand the FCC rules, but long ago cable provided its customers with uncensored content, It’s only when the superstations became a thing such as USA, or TBS that content got butchered. But that’s another discussion entirely and I’ll leave that for another time. Romance, horror, standup, comedy, news, & sports are all on Pluto TV. Something for everyone. Even an indie film channel, and that’s not all that they have. The content is old and new, and did I mention free. It will be interesting on how well the company does, but I’m certainly in their corner. The commercials are also not endless like they are on some terrestrial stations. If you can live with having a few commercials occasionally I think you’ll enjoy some of the content. I do believe that the nostalgia factor is also involved since there is a lot of content that hasn’t been seen for many years since it was first shown on TV.

Again you need to scream above the noise in order to sell your content. There is a lot noise out there and all that noise is your competition. I never believed or thought that it would be easy. I’ve sited YouTube as a platform where you can show you’re work . YouTube is definitely a tool where you can sell your message, and drive possible people to your content. You have to be smart and it has to be good. By making interesting and good content you may catch the eye of one of those streaming services or even a studio and that maybe all it takes to get you noticed. But you need to show the numbers to them, and prove that there is an audience for your films.

Also don’t forget to make content that you’re passionate about, and what interests YOU. You’ll be working on it for a long time, and if you’re not interested in what your working on or producing how are you ever going to make the rest of us interested. Back in the good old bad days of exploitation films producers made films for the drive in circuit. The 80’s were fueled by low budget horror knock offs where some of the films became classics, but in all honesty a lot of those films were subpar, and pretty awful. It was the videocassette market that made that all possible. Maybe in the future there’s a market for a streaming company for bad films so bad that their good. Create streaming parties, for fans is already happening to some degree over at Facebook. Whatever it is you need to find a way to break out, and reach your audience.

Today older movies seem to be wanted, and revered. Such distributors as Shout Factory, or Vinegar Syndrome, are finding old films to resurrect and make what was old new again. I believe Shout Factory partners up with several streaming companies to provide content. I’m sure by providing this free content SHOUT uses that as advertisement on their brand. It’s a niche audience where Shout Factory is making money on the films they have obtained while streaming supports their distribution arm of the company this in turn drives the sales of DVD’s and Blue Rays. Maybe that’s a key to selling your film or films. Streaming acts as another tool that companies or filmmakers can use to get seen. Filmmaker Fred Olen Ray runs his own film company called Retromedia Entertainment where he also distributes older films that he has acquired along with his lower budget films such as “Chainsaw Hookers”, and “Phantom Empire”. Through Udu Digital channel content they have set up Retromedia TV on Roku. Mr. Ray also has a site on Vimeo, and sells his films through Amazon as well. This is how a filmmaker survives. It is a great example of how you can sell your films and get seen.

You need content, and you need content people would like to see. Maybe your a film enthusiast who loves old movies. Maybe along with your films you would like to distribute these films as well as your own. It’s an interesting way to try and break through the clutter.

I do feel that the opportunities are out there and you as a content producer need to be obsessive enough to make your content speak to others. Now is the time of the guerrilla filmmaker. The opportunities await you. You just have to be crazy enough and smart enough to take advantage of the new media landscape that is emerging.

These are only my observations.  I’m trying to figure it out like the rest of us, but I’m optimistic that the marketplace will fracture more and more, and filmmakers and content creators will have a pipeline to their patrons.   The elephant in the room is how to make it cost effective for the filmmaker while still keeping the lights on and the filmmaker feed.  Who said it would be easy?  Oy vey!

Check the following link on how to stream & sell your movie.  Quite informative.