Monday, May 26, 2008

Idiots and New Gear/AF Tip

I’m back. So let’s get to it…

First a little house keeping. I am going to slow down a bit on my blogging. Instead of five days a week I am cutting it back to one or two, depending on how I feel. After blogging 5 days a week for months, I‘ve found that the blogging is getting in the way of my other writing. And I need to make another film. My blogs will probably be a little longer than before, but they will still have all of that wonderful wit, sarcasm, anger and *(!&%^$@* language that you have all come to expect from me.

And for those who do have a problem with my language, don’t read me!

Once again we’ll start with your AF Tip of the Day.

Beware of any idiot that tells you that you NEED the latest stuff.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

This is something that really pisses me off! So many people think that filmmaking is all about the equipment! Filmmaking has nothing to do with equipment! It is not equipment that tells your story!

One question I am asked all the time is what kind of camera do you use? Who cares? A camera is just a tool. Do people ask what kind of a hammer a carpenter uses? A mechanic what kind of a wrench he likes? Or a doctor what type of scalpel he’s going to cut you open with? It doesn’t matter!

What is this love affair filmmakers seem to have with equipment? I mean guys like Lucas, Spielberg, Michael Bay and James Cameron all have access to the latest gear and their movies SUCK!

When we were making Kicking Bird my DP Randy Timmerman was all excited by the brand new Panasonic 24 p camera. He was dying to use it on our movie. I saw the tests he shot with the camera and it looked great. In fact it looked too good. Our movie takes place on the wrong side of town with a kid that has no future. We were shooting in January so that I would have clouds, rain and darkness. I wanted the whole look of the film to be dreary. We talked about using the camera (which we would have had to rent or worse, buy) and I said that if we used it, once we got in to post I would drain most of the color out of it and then add grain. By the time I was finished with the picture no one would ever know that we shot it with the Panasonic. (I always felt that if I was going to shoot Kicking Bird in film I would have gone with 16mm black & white.) We used a Sony PD150, a very un-cool camera that did exactly what we wanted, and it was free.

When I was doing commercials (back in another life time) many of my clients were always asking if we were going to be using a certain piece of equipment, (some insisted we rent some things). Usually these idiots had no idea what the piece of gear did, but they had to have it! They had heard that someone else had used one. I felt sorry for a lot of the post houses as they would have to spend tons of money on all this gear just so they had it. Most of the time it would make no difference whether you used a certain piece of gear or not.

Film cameras have been around forever and they all still shoot at 24 fps. I can take an Arri, an Aaton, a CP, or an old Éclair and run a roll of film through it and it’ll look great. I can also shoot with a Canon XL1 or a Sony PD150 and it will look great as well. As long as I light it correctly.

My point is, you can shoot your movies on older equipment, as long as it is still working well. Your story doesn’t care what it’s shot on. Don’t let other people tell you what you need. Think about what is right for your movie, and what you have access to. Just because a camera is old doesn’t mean that it can’t still shoot.

It is the same thing with software and editing equipment. Find an editing program that you like and learn it backward and forward. Up grade only when you have too. Remember, many classic films were edited with a razor blade and tape.

No matter what new piece of gear you buy, it will be obsolete once you get it out of the box. And that’s the way the manufacturers like it! That way they can keep selling us crap!

Don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ And don’t forget to check out my work books. They can help you…

Monday, May 19, 2008

A few days off/AF Tip

I am taking a couple days off from blogging, don’t worry I’ll be back. Check in later this week.

And now, your AF Tip.

Murphy's Law is going to be working overtime to make sure that even the simplest things don't come together easily.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

And don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ And don’t forget to buy some of my stuff!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tour Sponsors/AF Tip of the Day

It’s my younger sister’s birthday today! Happy Birthday Jamie! I hope your day is a good one.

I am going back to a subject I have written about before.

I am going to be heading out on the road on tour soon and I am looking for sponsors. With gas prices going through the roof I need to do something so that I can continue to tour.

I am excited about the Fall Tour. I am going to be promoting my new book, The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Making the Extreme Low Budget Film. A lot of my old friends are inviting me back and a lot of new places are adding me on to their schedule.

Traditionally, I do a two month tour in the Fall and in the Spring. I appear at 35-50 venues on each tour which will translate to 4,000 – 5,000 people on each tour. I am posting my blog on 5 sites, 5 days a week, where I average at least 700 new visitors a month, plus a daily readership that averages over 150 people a day. Over the last 5 years I would estimate that I have been in front of well over 25,000 film students, filmmakers, and film enthusiasts and I reach many more through my online writing.

In the past I have handed out flyers for reduced price subscriptions to Filmmaker Magazine, and for a New Filmmaker Equipment Grant Program through a Seattle based Camera Rental House.

Does anyone have any ideas and/or contacts at any companies that you think might be a good fit for what I do?

I love touring but the way things are going, if I can’t pick up a few sponsors to help me pay expenses I might not be able to keep doing it. Any ideas are appreciated.

And now, your AF Tip of the Day.

If you really must make a movie, then you should take any money you have and use it to buy more time in pre-production, better sound gear, and food for your crew.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

And don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ And don’t forget to buy some of my stuff!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Workshop DVDs/AF Tip of the Day

Is it true that the camera puts on 40 pounds? The reason I ask is that I have been editing the video of my work shops and after looking at myself for the last few weeks I feel like I look fat, and old! Does the camera add years on as well? I am starting to think I’ll be able to get more work around Christmas; does anyone out there need a Santa stand in?

I hate looking at myself on tape, or in pictures. I guess it’s time to call Kirsti Alley, or Valerie Bertinelli, or maybe Princess Fergie? Are they still hawking diet stuff?

I think as filmmakers we sit too much. The only exercise I ever get is running from my creditors.

Okay, enough of this! The work shop DVDs are coming together well and I hope to have them ready for streaming and for sale soon. I’ll let you know when they are available. My workbooks are doing quite well. Bowling Green State University gave me a bulk order for their film classes and I am talking to Vanderbilt University as well. For those of you who don't know about the work books, they they offer all sorts of helpful hints and things to remember during Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production. I have also wrote one just for Sound. Check them out at

And now, your AF Tip of the Day.

You're not doing your movie or the cast and crew any favors by saying, "I just need to finish this damn thing! I don't care anymore."
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

And don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ And don’t forget to buy some of my stuff.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Scheduling Actors/AF Tip of the Day

Once again we’ll start with your AF Tip of the Day.

If a couple of your characters are going to have a major fight with each other, give them time to get in to rhythm and character on the set before you demand that they emote their brains out.

- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

I am sure most of you know what I mean by this. When you are doing your production schedule during PRE-PRODUCTION, take a hard look at the scenes you want to shoot first. I never put the intense scenes at the beginning of a shoot. I know the actors have rehearsed and know their characters but they haven’t been working on a set together that long yet. And the same thing goes for the crew.

I like to put the intense scenes or any nudity towards the end of the shooting schedule. I want the actors to really have time with each other to really get in to character. I also want my crew working like a well-oiled machine.

Since my shooting schedules are usually only 3 – 4 weeks in length I try to put the really hard scenes in the last week. Sometimes it works; sometimes they go late in the second week. As a filmmaker I am always looking at what is going to be the best for my cast, and for my crew. When I worked as an editor I saw filmmakers schedule really dramatic scenes in that first week, and I can’t tell you how many times those scenes were re-shot. And if they weren’t re-shot I know that most good directors I worked with regretted shooting those scenes early.

Don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ And don’t forget to buy some of my stuff!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Idea Theft/AF Tip of the Day

I want to start this blog with your AF Tip of the Day.

Anyone can and will steal from you and there's usually not a damn thing you can do about it, whether you register it or not.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

I was approached by a fellow at one of my work shops recently. He had this great idea for a movie and he knew it would make lots of money but he was so paranoid he was afraid to even write the idea down out of fear that someone would steal it from him. Okay he was probably paranoid about a lot of things and his story idea probably won’t make a lot of money no matter what. But that got me thinking…

There really is no way you can protect your ideas or your story. So why worry about it. Yes, I believe that you should register your work with the Writers Guild ( or with the US Government Copyright office. (Yeah, we all know that there are no crooks working for the government…). But after that? Art Buchwald is one of the more famous people to get ripped off by the studios and look how long it took him to win his case. And he had money to fight them.

My point is this. Why worry about it? We are the creative ones, not the studios or the producers that are out looking to rip people off. Protect yourself to the best of your ability and move forward. If you really want to protect your story or script, make the movie yourself or publish the book yourself.

It just seems to me that more people are concerned with having a hit movie or writing a best seller that they don’t take enjoyment out of the writing itself. Long ago I gave up the idea of having a hit. It doesn’t matter. Yes, it would be nice to have some money, but I truly enjoy the work. I love what I do and that means more to me then worrying about if people are stealing from me. It’s certainly not going to stop me from being creative. I have something that those people who steal will never have. Creativity.

Yes, I have written notes to people who have plagiarized me and they have stopped. Mostly because they saw that I was on to them and could prove that they ripped me off.

And now you’ll have to excuse me, I need to get back to my writing. I have a lot more creating to do.

And don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ And don’t forget to buy some of my stuff!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blog Assistance/AF Tip of the Day

I am looking for a little help here. As most of you know I blog 5 days a week. I try to write and post Monday – Friday. I am also a working filmmaker. So I am looking for contributions. If any of you would like to write a guest blog for me that would be great.

It has to have something to do with Real Independent Filmmaking, not that Hollywood Independent crap! It can be advice, tips, maybe things you are going through while trying to get you next production going or diaries from the set.

If you have specific questions or topics you want me to write about that would be great as well. I am trying to make the blog interesting and I want to write about stuff that is going to help others. A while back I did a whole week of posts on my dealings with the Sundance Institute and even included a story from one of my readers. A lot of people read those posts and I got some nice feedback. If you look at my background I have done an awful lot of stuff over the last 25 years. Based on that experience I can write about a lot of stuff.

As I tell my work shops, I can blather on about all sorts of stuff for hours, but if you’re not getting anything out of it because you’re not asking me questions then we are both wasting our time.

I will not post solicitations for funding your movies, I don’t want to post stuff that is just a way to promote you (that’s what I do - - if you have a good service you provide to help other independents I want to hear about that), and I certainly don’t want to hear about your personal problems. Trust me I have a steamer trunk full of my own. I can’t help you settle arguments or get some one to pay you.

My blog is pretty wide open. I do ask for certain considerations as I still put in 50-60 hours a week on my own work. Send me an inquiry and if it seems something that I THINK others will be interested in then we’ll figure out how best to approach it.

I can be reached at Or just go to my site, and hit Go Ahead Bother Me. In the subject line please say possible blog subject. I get lots of spam so if I don’t recognize an email address I sometimes just hit delete.

And now, your AF Guest Quote of the day.

No one "goes Hollywood" - they were that way before they came here. Hollywood just exposed it.

~ Ronald Reagan

I can’t believe I just used a Reagan quote…

And don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ And don’t forget to buy some of my stuff!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hiring Crew/AF Tip of the Day

I think one thing that a lot of filmmakers should pay more attention to is hiring crew. I know you all spend way too much time thinking about DPs. One mistake I have seen over and over is hiring a DP that really wants to be a Director. And I see that a lot. The problem I see with hiring and working with crew people (and not just DPs), who want to direct is that so many of them are more concerned with your job then theirs. I have had PAs come up to me on the set and ask me why I am doing what I am doing. They’ve said, “That doesn’t look like a very good shot to me.” Who asked you? They were not asked back the following day.

As the Filmmaker you have to wear a lot of hats and make a million decisions an hour. Surround yourself with crew who are there to support your vision. Not a bunch of people who want to do your job.

A buddy of mine had to fire his DP a couple days before the shoot started. It was obvious that the DP thought he was a better Director than the one who hired him. I always say that took guts to fire the guy, especially since the DP had his own gear! (And no, you can’t fire someone and ask to use their equipment - - really bad form.) But you know what, the production was better off losing this DP (who was really talented).

Remember, a set is not a democracy, there can only be one Boss. I look at myself as a benevolent Dictator, but a Dictator none the less.

Put as much thought in to hiring crew as you do your cast.

And now, your AF Tip of the Day.

You have only one chance to get casting and crew right before you commit to shooting.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

And don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Indiana Here I Come/AF Tip of the Day

Most of you know that in July, in conjunction with The Indy Film Co-op, I will be teaching a Masters Class in Filmmaking at the Franklin Film Institute (, in Franklin, Indiana. It’s a three week class based on my Making the Extreme Low Budget Film Workshop. During the 3 week course we are going to make a 20 minute short. I am working on the script as we speak. (It’s kind of a Star Wars meets Middle Earth on the Titanic with Zombies, based on an obscure Shakespeare play that I am transforming in to a ballet with okay, it’s not any of that!)

The cost for the 3 week work shop is a mere $750 if you are a member of the Indy Film Co-op, (, and $850 if you are not. That’s 3 weeks of filmmaking for a very reasonable price. And we are going to go through all the steps from Pre-production through Post production in 3 weeks. We are keeping the class to a maximum of 20 people. I have been told that the people at the Franklin Film Institute are working to get some reasonable deals on lodging for the participants. (Yes, you will have to pay for your own lodging.)

I am going to be putting my money where my mouth is. Now that ought to be fun.

If you would rather pay more money and sit around for 3 days and just talk about making a film, then maybe this is more your speed.

Sundance Institute holds an annual Independent Producers Conference each August at the Sundance Resort, a 5,000-acre arts and recreation community located at the base of Mount Timpanogos in Utah's Wasatch Mountains. (And if you are not famous or well connected don’t even bother applying…okay that’s my note. AF)

A relaxed yet focused three-day event, the Conference includes panel sessions conducted by top industry professionals, … (Blah, blah, blah…) … Evening events include social gatherings and preview screenings with a discussion with the filmmaker. (
It sounds like it’s going to be just another over priced conference for people who want to TALK about filmmaking. AF)

80 participants will be selected from the pool of applicants. (Be connected or be rejected.) Conference fees are $950, which includes all meals. Lodging at the Sundance Resort is an additional fee. Total cost to participate is approximately $1550 not including airfare.

They had a list of people who were there last year. Agents, hot shot distributors, and people who are going to ask what you can do for them. I spent years going to things like this. Luckily I am not jaded or bitter.

Personally, I’d rather be in Indiana in July making a movie. But I guess that’s just me.

And now, your AF Tip of the Day.

Locations should cost nothing.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Why I Tour.

I open my eyes, slowly. I peek my head out of my sleeping bag and look out the van window. I can't see more than a few feet. I am fogged in. Where am I? I'm trying to remember. My dog Moses is sleeping soundly on the floor. Think... It was late last night when I pulled in. Cambridge. That's right, Cambridge — Ohio. Right about now I wish it was Cambridge in England.

I am sleeping in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

I am on my way to Baltimore to judge a 48 Hour Film Festival for Creative Alliance. I left my home in Portland, Oregon 4 days ago on my Fall Tour. I remember driving last night until it started getting really foggy. I was lucky to find an exit so I could re-fuel and grab some dinner. After dinner at an "all you can eat" Chinese buffet, I took Moses twice around the parking lot so he could get some exercise before we called it a night. I parked next to two big motor homes and crawled in to my sleeping bag. Around 11 PM a semi truck pulled up near us. I kept waiting for him to shut his engine off, but he didn't. After 40 minutes, I look out and see he is watching TV. I realize he isn't going to shut his truck off.

I get out of my sleeping bag, and head for where I think the Wal-Mart is. The parking lot is so foggy I can't see more than 30 feet. It is 6:30 in the morning and I am in search of a rest room.

This is the glamorous part of our business — life on the road.

I have been touring the US with my movies for 5 years. In the early years, I would fly in to a city, rent a car and do a giant loop around that state for 2 - 3 weeks, showing my films at media art centers, art house cinemas, and colleges and universities. I would end up back near the airport I had flown in to, return the car and fly home. On all of these trips I broke even. I wasn't making any money, but I wasn't losing any either. After doing this for 3 years, I realized that if I wanted to make money I was going to have to make some changes.

It’s a very strange time in our business. In my opinion there is no such thing as “Independent Film” anymore. It has all been co-opted and turned in to a marketing phrase. Hollywood stars working on $10 million dollar movies is not independent — I don't care what their ad campaigns say! The promise of the 80's and real independent filmmaking is over.

The small maverick distributors have either been eaten by the big companies or have become part of them. Unless you make a movie that costs millions and have famous actors slumming in them, or you are an actor making your directorial debut, or even a former independent filmmaker making cheap movies because you can afford to, you are never going to get any decent kind of distribution.

Film distributors and marketers have gotten extremely lazy. Unless they can sell your movie easily, they don't want it. The distributors want famous names associated with your movie. Nothing else matters! They say they can sell a movie with William Macy, Parker Posey, or Bill Murray, but don't give them something with a good plot, witty dialog, and an unknown cast. They can't help you.

Unless, of course, you are in your mid twenties, made your movie on credit cards, got it in to Sundance and won. But even those types of movies don't show up anymore. Sundance has gotten so famous and full of itself that they have forgotten why they started in the first place.

Standing in a Wal-Mart at 6 AM, I am trying to remember why I do this.

It's because of my love of movies. If I don't distribute my own films, who will? I spend between 5 and 6 months on the road each year. I drive 40,000 miles, speak to thousands of film students and aspiring filmmakers. I screen my movies and teach workshops where ever I can. At every stop, I try and sell as many of my DVD's and T-shirts as possible. On some days I make money. On other days I won't. I will sleep on friends couches and floors, as well as in strangers’ spare bedrooms. These strangers will become my friends and I know that next year when I am back this way again, I'll sleep in one less Wal-Mart parking lot.

Life on the road has it's own rhythm. When you have been on the road for even just a few weeks, your internal clock gets totally out of whack, as do your relationships.

When I go out on the road people ask, is it fun? Sometimes. Sometimes it's boring. Sometimes it's horrifying. Snow, dense fog, hail, down pours, ice, high winds, and that was just a few hours in Wyoming. I have driven through rain storms for 3 hours where I could barely see the truck in front of me! Once outside of Chicago, I pulled over in to a rest area as a storm went past. Even the truckers were off the highway.

When it's fun, it's great! I was at West Virginia State University a couple years ago. The professor who brought me there is a great filmmaker and a professional wrestler. Danny Boyd (aka Professor Danger) not only had me lecture to his classes, he had me accompany him to one of his practice sessions for an upcoming match. Like all good filmmakers, I took my camera to film the event. The next thing I know I am standing in the ring with Death Falcon Zero, and Danny is behind my camera. I got my butt kicked! I also learned different moves and that professional wrestling hurts! The Death Falcon was gentle – if there is such a thing.

After a screening in Montgomery, Alabama, I found myself in a cemetery having beers at the grave of Hank Williams, Sr. Apparently, there is a tradition to have a beer with Hank around midnight. Our group included musicians, civil rights attorneys, journalists, and someone who was introduced as an heiress. We spent the night talking about film, civil rights, politics and race relationships. It was amazing. I still think I heard some noises coming from the ground.

I have spoken at many colleges and with few exceptions, I have found students eager to learn about filmmaking. I teach four workshops, but sometimes students want me to just talk about what it's like to be an independent filmmaker – how it was working on some of the famous independent films that I worked on, and why I turned my back on the money and success to make my own movies and hit the road.

I talk to them about the lies, the deceit, and the commercialism of the art form. I tell them not to even bother applying to Sundance and some of the other so-called independent film festivals. Just look at the films they have been showing these last few years, and you will see that we no longer fit in. But people like Jake Paltrow do.

I get asked about the promise of the Independent Film movement of the 80s and I have to tell them it no longer exists. The filmmakers of the 70s and 80s have become part of the establishment. With few exceptions, they have joined the companies they fought against and now seem to be making sure that other filmmakers don't have the same opportunities they had.

I tell them to cheer people like John Sayles who continues to make the films that he wants to make. He does it on his own time frame and he doesn't seem to care about the marketing. That’s a wonderful position.

There are others besides Sayles that march to their own drummer, unfortunately we aren't seeing much from them anymore. Where are Ross McElwee, Steven Okazaki, and Les Blank?

It is no longer about the work, it is about the opening weekend. It doesn't matter how good your film might be. If it doesn't open strong the first weekend, it usually won't be around for a second. Just like in Hollywood. When did all this happen? The very nature of independent movies means that they usually take time to get discovered. They have to find their audience. And they do that best by word of mouth. Not all of us can afford to open our movies in New York or LA and take out ads in the papers there.

Finding an audience is still what it's all about. Ani DeFranco had it right. If the powers that be don't want your work, and you believe in it, then take it to the people. I tour like a punk band, minus the punks and the music! I take my movies out and you know what I learned?

The distributors are wrong!

People do want to see good movies without stars. They want to see things that are different from the crap they are being fed. If they get the opportunity to talk to a filmmaker, they like that even more. People come to my shows and when I go back, the people who saw me before bring their friends. I am building my audience base just like a band. And it is rewarding.

If Fine Line sells 10,000 DVDs of one of their movies, they would consider it a failure. But if I sell 10,000 that is a huge hit for me.

For some reason, filmmakers don't feel they have to get their work out in the same way that other artists do. Musicians tour. Actors & Comedians tour. Why do Filmmakers think they are special and that the audience will come to them? I tell all filmmakers the same thing. Get off your asses and get your movies out there. You are not special! You have to do the work like every other artist. Too many people fall for the press releases from Sundance and other places. They are waiting to be discovered. I have been in this business for a long time, and trust me when I say, “The probability of getting discovered sitting on your ass at home is right up there with getting struck by lightning or winning the lottery.” Good luck with that.

Me? I'll be hoping that Map Quest is indeed right and the exit I want is just a few miles ahead. Now, if I can only see through this dense fog and get out of this Wal-Mart parking lot!

See you on the road.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

New Blog Site/AF Tip of the Day

I have just added a new site for my blogging madness. In addition to my other sites (, My Space, Oregon Media Network, and The Indy Film Co-op starting on Wednesday May 7th I can also be read at This is also a great site and you should all check it out. Wow, I wonder if this is what it’s like when you get syndicated…

Anyway, Independent Films Direct has all sorts of cool stuff and it seems like a good way to connect to other filmmakers. I am looking forward to the day when I will be blogging for The New York Times, or The Washington Post, or maybe even People magazine. (It’s good to have dreams …)

Watch my blog on Thursday and Friday I am going to be writing about my Masters Class this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. (

I know you have probably seen this, but being a fan of PBR I have to share it with you anyway. Yes, some dude had a coffin built that looks like a PBR can. I fear the end of the world is upon us… Check it out.

And now, your AF Tip of the Day.

People who shoot in video don't know when to turn the camera off!

- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Pennies From Heaven/AF Tip of the Day

No today's blog is not about fund raising. It is about one of the most amazing and strange mini-series that I've ever seen. Pennies From Heaven is a BBC series that was first broadcast in 1978. It is the story of Arthur (Bob Hoskins) who is a sheet music sales man in the 1930's (it might be late 20's).

It was remade in 1981 as a 2 hour film starring Steve Martin, and it totally bombed! Check out wikipedia ( for more info on the Steve Martin version. There is some interesting and bizarre stuff here.

Pennies From Heaven is one part drama, one part musical, and one part very dark comedy. I saw the Steve Martin version when it came out and liked it a lot, but I must say that I am through the first couple parts of the BBC version and it is amazing. It is innovative, the type of film that more filmmakers should aspire to try and make. Dennis Potter also wrote The Singing Detective another ground breaking mini series that premiered in 1986.

If you haven't seen any of Dennis Potters work, you need to check him out! Are his films easy viewing? No! You have to work at it a bit. But if you stay with him you will be rewarded. All young filmmakers, make that ALL filmmakers should watch these films. There is so much to learn about mixing genres and character study in Potters films.

Check them out and if you don't like them, then as Steve Martin put it so well, "I must say that the people who get the movie, in general, have been wise and intelligent; the people who don't get it are ignorant scum."

And now, your AF Tip of the Day.

First and foremost, you have to learn your craft
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

And don't forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

AF Tip of the Day

Too much going on today and I am working the weekend. So all you get today is…

Your AF Tip of the Day.

Real Filmmakers plan things and have contingency plans for the unexpected.

- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

And don't forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

FCP frustrations/AF Tip of the Day

May 1, 2008

May Day! May Day! May Day!

Everything is actually okay, once a year I just like saying that.

As many of you know, I have been learning Final Cut Pro and that's been going pretty well lately. I am still not of fan of Larry on and I wish he would cut to the chase when he tells me how to use things. It's probably good there isn't a picture of him on the site as I would probably print it out and throw darts at it. I am just that kind of person.

There is some terminology that I can't stand and I do believe that some of the editing tools are lame, (yes, I am an avid fan still, but that company is so screwed up right now that it's really frustrating) but I am finally getting the hang of it. Now my problem is learning Compressor and then DVD Studio. Does it ever stop?

Now that I know how to edit, excuse me, now that I know how to run this piece of software (I have always known how to edit), I am surprised that the only way you can get your material out is to learn more stuff. Is it just me, or does this drive other people crazy too?

As long as I am at it I should probably learn Sorenson Squeeze too. I guess my learning curve is just not going to end any time soon. I have it around here somewhere…

Speaking of editors, maybe I should post a list of books that people should read if they truly want to become editors. Just because you can run a piece of software doesn't make you an editor.

And now, your AF Tip of the Day.

When writing screenplays, I tell students to stop wasting their time watching movies. Forget about movies. Go out and live life, then write about that.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

And don't forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.