Monday, December 29, 2008

A Bright Idea and other Stuff

December 29, 2008

One down, one to go. As far as holidays.

2008 has been an interesting year, some good, some not so good. Everybody always writes these year end best of columns and mostly I find them boring. I don’t care what somebody else thinks were the best movies, songs, television shows or whatever. All of this is subjective and I usually disagree with most lists. It’s just how I am.

In 2009 I will be hitting the road again with a vengeance! There are lots of new venues to come to and lots of filmmakers out there I still haven’t met. I am hoping that those of you with projects in various stages complete them in 2009. I know I certainly have a couple I need to finish.

Every year technology moves forward and we do things differently. I have been reading some articles about some of this new camera technology and it all sounds very impressive, but all of these articles that I’ve been reading never talk about one thing. Lighting. You can have the newest and greatest camera out there but if your lighting isn’t any good the camera is not going to help you.

How come people don’t write about using light and shadow to tell stories anymore? Some people seem to think that if you are shooting with this new camera gear you don’t have to worry about lighting. Why is lighting so hard for filmmakers to think about, let alone do?

Personally I would rather own some good lights (I do) than a camera as the camera is going to be obsolete next week and the lights can be used for years.

You need good lights. Good lighting is the difference between amateurs and professionals. People think because it’s video, they don't need lights. Then they wonder why their stuff looks like crap! Use lights.

Many filmmakers don’t budget for lights because they think they don’t need them. Or maybe they think they can’t afford them. Lights are easy to dig up, depending on what you need.

A lot of people have their own lights. Some gaffers buy their own lights because they can pick them up used. It saves them money, and they figure if they have some lights they'll get more work. And that's true.

Check out film schools. A lot of small film programs will have a few Arri or Lowell light kits. They are nice compact kits, and it's amazing how much you can light with them if you know what you're doing. Also look into small production companies. If they're not using their lights at the moment, they might give you a hell of a deal.

There is always borrowing from cable access. Now, I know if you use their gear, you’re supposed to let them broadcast something in return. So shoot a trailer or a short video just to give them something. We'll keep the fact that you just shot a feature with their gear between the two of us.

You will also need C-stands, flags, clamps, and all sorts of other grip equipment. Keep your eyes open. It’s all out there, and pretty cheap if you have to buy it. You will use this stuff over and over again, and it doesn't become obsolete. So, go get it already!

Other stuff…

My work books now exist as PDFs and will be posted on my site soon for a mere $10 per book. The weather and illness have pushed the work on the site back. I’ll let you know when everything is finally ready.

Check out my internet specials and hopefully you’ll find something you like. (, as if you didn’t know)

Don’t forget to check out my tour sponsors, Film Baby (, Show Biz Software, (, Pollard Design (, Zoom Studio (, The Indy Film Co-op ( and Cheezy Flicks ( All great people, all great companies.

If you haven’t checked out their sites and their services, you better.

The first two Workshop DVDs are selling well. You can find them at,, and at

And just a reminder, I am available to consult on your films.

What do you get out of the deal? You get the best value and advice in making your film. No matter what stage you’re in. I’ve been in the business for 25 years, working on everything from animation to live action, Independent features, Real Independent features, Hollywood studio stuff, and documentaries. If you check out my bio and filmography ( you’ll see I’ve worked on award winning films, and films that never got distribution.

I will look at your work honestly and objectively. If there are problems, I’ll point them out, in a constructive way. No one wants to hear, “This sucks!” My goal is to guide you through the process, so that you can see what the problems are, and we’ll come up with ways to fix them. Check out (

As always, feel free to link to my site and you can subscribe to my blog. So what are you waiting for?

Talk later.



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