Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Old School Columned Paper

Film Budgets never ever stay the same.... EVER..... EVER. So the best thing I can tell you to do is get an Apple Numbers or MS Excel program. Too many young filmmakers think they gotta' have Gorilla Scheduling or Movie Magic Scheduling to schedule their $2000.00 film. I have news for you. I don't think those programs even work with anything less than $10K. I usually buy some columned paper and do about five revisions of it on that paper, then when I get close I would sneak into work early and compute my numbers into Excel for presentation purposes. I finally bit the bullet and bought Apple's answer to Excel, 'Numbers,' and I still use the column paper. I'm so old school. Anyway, anybody interested in how we're going to make this film, (money wise,) here is the 4th Revision. The budget has ballooned quite a bit since this write up, but I plan on working it back down by whoring myself on the weekends.... Kidding... Not Really though.

Here's where OUR money goes for the time being for Jeopardy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jeopardy Begins to Take Shape In Vision

I feel storyboards are a key element in the filmmaking process. It for me has always been better to show than explain. I do Storyboards religiously. For Meter, I storyboarded the whole film, and never looked at one of them during principle photography. The shoot got rushed and I just simply did not have the luxury to take alot of time to refer to my notebook of sketches. But just actually sitting down and doing them made myself visualize my film more carefully. Even having to rush through shooting on Meter, I still had ALMOST every shot in my head. Half of the reason the shots were captured on film they way I envisioned them... Those Storyboards.

Jeopardy's Storyboards are a little different. With this film, I will use them on set religiously. The reason I am so adamant about this is because this film's story will be told through pacing, angles, shots and reaction unlike Meter that was based completely around dialogue. There is no room for error in missing key shots.... Also, my camera man and camera will only be here 4 days. There will be NO reshoots.

OK, besides this little bit of information, my storyboards had other purposes as well, this time around.

1. Business Package- I am taking extra care and time for the Jeopardy storyboards, because my finished cells will be used both in the printed business proposal and I also plan to make a Powerpoint/Slideshow from each cell that I will add music and narration to. It will be included in the Budget Proposal Package and will basically be a Picture Book/Graphic Novel telling of the story to help potential investors visualize my film.

2. My Technique- For some odd reason for as long as I have drawn, I have always had so much trouble with 'Perspective.' Unfortunately, everything I like to draw needs 'Perspective.' I thought this to be a perfect opportunity to force me to learn it because as much time as I have already spent on them, heaven forbid, me go back and draw some of them all the way over because my angles are wrong.

Meter Storyboard Example:

The first sequence of Jeopardy Film in Storyboard form:



More to come.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Welfare Rig

You ever heard of a Fig Rig? If you have you know that Mike Figgis, the famous Digital Vid Director of Leaving Las Vegas and Timecode joined forces with Bogen/Manfrotto to come up with the what they call the Fig Rig.

For anybody that has not heard of it, here you go...

It is basically a light weight ring that your DV or HD camera attaches to that is a operator friendly answer to a 'Steadi-Cam.' It gives you lots of versatility with moving shots because of its size, shape and weight. It's a perfect alternative to use in low budget films where you need mobility with the camera at any given time with out killing your credit card on Steadicam Operators and thousands of dollar rigs just to grab the kinetics of the scene. It comes equipped with vice clips that allow you to put a boom mic, c- light, lunch tray for your sandwich whatever on it. It's a brilliant little invention that works well. I used it once down in Florida. I had planned on buying one when I made my million dollars.... I hadn't bought one yet, if you're curious.

Well, Jeopardy came along where the freakin' whole movie is basically moving shots. When budgeting for Tag Along, I had actually budgeted to purchase a 'Fig Rig' for that shoot, but the shoot did not turn out so here I was in a predicament. Jeopardy was already going to cost alot more than Meter and I didn't find a $700 steadicam rig being an easy sell in a budget already bloating in the equipment account department. So what to do...? I've seen "Fig Rigs" made out of PVC pipe, Hoolahoops, and believe it or not, coat hangers. Although these are all smart innovative ways to mount your camera, let's be serious for a minute. The PVC fig rig I ran a test on was just not firm and stable enough. If you want a climatic moving scene, your tools have to be stiff.... Ha. The guy argued that it was $5.00 to make.
I agree that that's pretty cheap,(but c'mon five dollars? The PVC Glue is $7.00 by itself.) The PVC Rig is cheap but does it do what you need it to do? No. If it isn't bouncing and flemsying around on the beam when you are moving, the pipe glue and joints moan and pop with every stride. This isn't good if you need sound. The Fig Rig itself is not completely bump proof to begin with. With minor bumps on top of a horizontally bouncy camera, due to the flexxy PVC piping, you are better off to hold the damn camera.

Alternative after alternative I looked at just wouldn't do. Finally, I took the specs of the real thing and Went to the CAD board and made my own specs, changing a couple of little things so that my rig would be better fit for my needs. I made a couple calls and ended up talking to a guy I had met at an oyster shuck a year ago who works for his father at metal manufacturer company. I sent him over my spec and told him what I needed:

A Lightweight Metal Support Beam for Video Camera. He said it shouldn't be a problem. Within an hour he had made it. It was spot on in measurements and mounting options. There were, (or are,) two differences between the "The Fig Rig" and "The Welfare Rig." The Fig Rig Ring is made of hollow aluminum and has a smooth black coat of ionized paint on it.

The welfare Ring is unfinished flat rot iron. The Fig, has a built in Camera Rest welding on the stem where you connect the camera to the mount and weighs 1/3 a pound lighter. The Welfare Rig is bare. You will have to go to Lowes and find a $.65 metal washer, (2 to 3 inch, with a 1/4' hole in it.) If you can't find a plate with a 1/4' hole, get a metal plate of the same size and find somebody with a metal drill bit and bore a hole. If you are smarter than me get one before you decide to get the welfare rig made in the first place.

OK, I live in the furniture mecca of the East Coast so finding a Metal Manufacturer for me was real easy. Well, honestly, there are metal manufacturers everywhere and if you call them on a good day and are real nice they won't turn you away. It may take longer than an hour for results depending on their volume. You may be able to find somebody that works with metal at home and is bored on Sunday since footballs over. Either way, it's worth the work. Dan did not charge me a penny for mine. I ask him if I was a bigger schmuck than I already am, how much would it cost me. He said if you were off the streets, I would charge $40 for the job. (It may end up a little more if you bring that plate with you and ask them to weld it on or bore a hole in it for you.) So, $41 for the frame including plate, $8 for Duct Tape and Sponge or Foam for comfort handles and $10 for the universal tripod pin screw is pretty cheap for almost the exact same rig that Manfrotto charges $700 for. With that being your budget, you can probably afford to buy the actual Fig Rig Clips they sell separately for $30 a piece that allow you to connect boom mics, remotes, lunch trays to the rig. (I don't have an answer for that yet.) Either way, after about four hours of cumalitive labor and research, I have a steadicam rig that mirrors the same rig that is becoming an industry standard for music videos and documentaries. Below is a picture of "The Welfare Rig" stripped down. I have not had a chance to shoot any footage with it, but honestly after using the actual "Fig Rig" before, I know there is no difference what so ever beside cosmetics.Underneath the picture of the actual prototype is the spec I gave my guy to make it.

Any Vid guys and gals, I'll make it easy on you. Email me or comment me and I'll send you a PDF of it to use to shop around. "The Fig Rig" or now in my neighborhood known as "The Welfare Rig" works like a champ for a low end makeshift steadicam unit. Learn your movements. Learn your angles. It will change the way you shoot footage. Guaranteed.

The Specs I used.

The Rig in Action...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wearing The Pants on Public Radio

Mandi, Tasha, (Mandi's Sister,) and her mother Donna are huge fans of the Ace and TJ Show outta' Charlotte. Well I get a call Friday Morning around 9:35am from Donna stating that Tasha and Mandi were on the Ace and TJ show this morning talking about push presents and apparently talking about me and how "Mandi wears the pants in the family." That's all I knew. At that point in time I had no idea what was said, who said it and in what context it was used. I was flying blind.

In my house there has not and will not ever be any "pants" worn. We, (or I,) don't believe in that sort of "Make my dinner woman slash Civil War Family" theory. I have always given Mandi all the freedom she wants as long as it does not interfere with the upbringing of our child or effect our family system. I clean laundry because I have time to do it. I cook cause I'm always hungry and don't mind doing it. I clean and try to keep the house straight, because well, it's the first house we've owned and two, Mandi likes it when the house is straight. That is her big tiff. She goes nuts if the house is scattered so I try to keep her happy by not being a guy and leaving shit everywhere. I stay with my kid on the weekends not because of obligation. Not because Mandi expects me to. Not because I HAVE TO. BUT BECAUSE I WANT TO. I am one father who refuses to miss a moment with my kid. My father did the same for my sister and I and he "wore the pants in the family." I could die tomorrow and could say in almost two years I never missed an opportunity or moment where I have to say, "man, I wish I would've been there." Anyway, there are many people that because I am that way, think that I don't wears the pants or I'm not a manly man. Whatever.... BACK TO THE STORY.

So I have ten minutes to defend myself before their show went off the air on Friday. I threw together an email based solely on the idea that Mandi and Tasha stated on Public Radio that I didn't wear the pants in the family and that basically Mandi got her way. I emphasized that the reason Mandi doesn't get gifts are this, this, and this and that I resented the "pants" theory. I sent the email about five ‘til ten which ultimately sank my chance to redeem myself. I listened to the teleplay after the fact and boy was I relieved to know that my email had not made it in time, because, Tasha had basically mauled my name by calling me... "A very weak, weak man..." Mandi did not defend me when asked but had not thrown me under a bus either. The weekend goes by. I wasn't mad about the statements made. I did use a moment with Tasha and Donna to defend my case on Friday but generally, the fifteen seconds of fame Tasha and Mandi experienced had all been forgotten.

Monday morning, I wake up, grab my phone to find there is a text message from Mandi. It read: YOU ARE IN SOOOO MUCH TROUBLE.

I knew right then my scorned email had been read aloud. I had not talked to Mandi so I was sure she was dead serious in her conviction. Apparently, I had missed Ace and TJ defending me by reading my email to the public and commenting that I didn’t seem like such a weak man after all. Then I missed Mandi's call back into them where she defended herself on top of admitting my email was actually true. Then I missed her mother call in to back me up so for a good fifteen minutes this morning on public radio the family was on the radio talking about my wife and I’s love life. I was in the shower and of course, missed all of it. In a way I'm glad. In a way I'm not so much. My original email was not well thought out due to lack of preparation time so I really sounded kind of pissed and childish. Had I known the full conversation I probably would have defended myself better on the "weak man, pants" pot shot. So now I'm just the faceless scorned husband who sent in an email and never surfaced to talk to the press. It put a smile on my face that out of all the people they could have talked to Monday morning and out of all the emails they could have read, Mandi, Tasha, Donna and I's dispute over who "Wore the pants" was the an important fifteen minutes of subject on their show.

I don't think I'm allowed to host or republish the actual segment but if you CLICK the link below and download the mp3 from Monday, February 11th entitled 'Push Present Recap,' you can hear the "drama unfold.” If you wanna' hear the original conversation, CLICK 'Push Present' from the previous Friday show.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Off The Air For A Stint

Every now and again, I burn out of sitting in front of a computer. So much CPU work goes into what seems like everything I do that sometimes it's just good to walk away from it, even if you can't.

I can actually say, this time, when I step away for a bit that I can. I just finished up a slew jobs that have been hanging over my head. In fact, the only thing there is left to unfinished that involves a computer right now is a updating my website and finishing the Jeopardy Business/Press Kit package.

Nobody looks at my website so it can wait. And the Jeopardy Business Package does not matter until I finish all the pencil and paper work so.... YOOO HOOO! I'm gone for a bit.

I've gotta' move the chair over to the drawing desk and get to work on some other stuff like the Jeopardy Storyboards and my daughter's picture I am trying to finish by the time Little Man shows and I go to work for myself.

For Now:


(The DVD Cover)


(I Need Wedding Business to Keep me afloat.)

If you miss me, (highly doubted,) come see me on the other side of my brain.

Shooting 24/7

    follow me on Twitter

    About Me

    My photo
    I shoot stuff. I edit stuff. Period.

    The Junk Pile