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Andrew Kramer gives an inspiring talk

I finally took some time to watch Andrew Kramer's motivational talk from Adobe's After Effects world keynote. He shares stories from his life at Bad Robot and gives us a peek at how far he's come from where he started. I found it both instructional and inspiring. Check it out! 

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"Real Gone" A really good short film.

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"Real Gone" A really good short film.

I tend to have a very dry but also sometimes, very dark sense of humor. So I really enjoyed this short film from director Seth Worley. Warning, there's some mature themes here. Suggested viewing is age 13+. Enjoy it and then check out the behind the scenes which I found to be really insightful (down below). 

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Can you give me a recommendation? If I haven't worked with you, the short answer is no.

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Can you give me a recommendation? If I haven't worked with you, the short answer is no.

I'm occasionally asked by others some variation of the following: 

"My son is trying to get a job working in film. Do you know of any opportunities?" 

"I'd really like to work in movies. Do you know of anyone who's hiring?" 

I understand the reasons for asking these questions. It's hard to get a job working on movies. Arguably more difficult than most other career fields because job offerings are not usually posted online and getting a job usually requires knowing someone. So I understand why others ask me if I know of any opportunities. 

But the heart of this question really is "Can you recommend me?" Because if I tell you that I do know of an opportunity, your next question will be for me to put you in touch with the right people to take advantage. After all, as they say, it's not what you know, it's who you know. 

But let me make something clear - if there was an opportunity I thought you were good for, I would've already recommended you for it. 

That might sound confusing so let me explain because I think most people have the wrong idea about how recommendations work in this business. 

Here's the way recommendations DON'T work -- 

Let's say your mom meets someone involved in the film business. Your mom, knowing that you are interested in working film, is going to advocate for you immediately without solicitation. "Oh you work in film? My Johnny loves film! He wants a job in film. Do you know of any opportunities for him? He's such a hard worker. I know you won't regret giving him a shot." 

Your mom shouldn't be faulted for this. She's your mom and it's basically her job to be your advocate in all circumstances. But let's be clear - I'm not your mom. I'm not going to speak on your behalf just because you asked me to.

If I meet someone else who works in the film business, my first thought is not going to be trying to get someone else a job. I'm probably more focused on my relationship with this person, whether it's personal or professional.

And I imagine I'm asking the same questions most people in business are asking themselves when they meet someone new. How can I help this person? Are there opportunities for us to work together? 

Because I'm focused on my relationship with them, I'm not going to start talking about someone else I barely know. 

Here's how recommendations DO work -- 

Let's say I meet a fellow filmmaker over coffee and they tell me they're looking for a good editor/cinematographer/gaffer/grip etc. Now I'm presented with an opportunity to help this filmmaker out. I want to present them with someone who's actually going to be helpful because I want them to feel like I helped them out with this recommendation. 

So when they ask me for help finding a good person, I'm going to go through the rolodex in my head of people I've worked with that I know to be good. Who could I refer to this person that I know they'd enjoy working with? 

I don't want to take a risk recommending someone I barely know because what if that person turns out to be bad? Now I look bad for recommending them and that filmmaker is less likely to work with me in the future.

And even if I do know someone that could fill that job role, if I didn't enjoy working with that person or didn't feel they were as skilled as they made themselves out to be, I'm not going to recommend them. 

Making good recommendations in the film business is a means of social capital that most filmmakers don't give up easily. As a result, we're only going to recommend people we've actually worked with and that we've enjoyed working with. 

So if you want a recommendation, do good work with lots of people. And I know some of you are saying "Well, that's a catch 22. How do I get work without a recommendation?" Sometimes you have to be willing to do work for free to establish a relationship. This could mean getting an internship or taking on a short job on an indie film and working for free. If you make a positive impression, those folks will recommend you. I've mentioned the P.A. Academy under the Atlanta Film Festival to some of you before as a means of getting started. 

But don't ask me for work or for a recommendation if I haven't seen what it's like to work with you. Trust that if you do good work, most people will talk about how great it was to work with you and work will come from that. 

 

 

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Mission Impossible 5 Editor Eddie Hamilton Shares His Process

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Mission Impossible 5 Editor Eddie Hamilton Shares His Process

An insightful interview here on the No Film School blog detailing how editor Eddie Hamilton, editor on the latest Mission Impossible film (as well as a host of other great action films) does his work. Good read for anyone hoping to edit features one day. 

http://nofilmschool.com/2015/07/how-mission-impossible-editor-eddie-hamilton-cuts-footage-action-features-part-two

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Graava - a camera that can shoot and edit

As much as I love filmmaking, I don't always have time to edit home movies. It's something that I feel a lot of guilt over but like most people, I just don't have hours I can spend on piecing together home videos the way I do on my more professional ventures. So when I've shot hours of footage at a family event, it often sits in an archive indefinitely till I have time to work on it.

Enter Graava - a camera that shoots AND edits. I'll let Graava explain how in the video below. 

What do you think of this? Useful tool? Or passing gimmick? 

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Drago Gear is Ready for Your Mission and also ready for you to see their commercials - by me!

Drago Gear is Ready for Your Mission and also ready for you to see their commercials - by me!

Happy to finally share this project with everyone. I posted pictures of my behind the scenes experience on this commercial a few weeks back and I'm pleased to say we were able to turn it around rather quickly. I was commissioned by Modest to direct and edit a 30 second commercial for Drago gear. 

The original plan was to only do the 30 second spot which would air on The Sportsman Channel. But I got word while we were on set that the client was so pleased with what they'd seen that they were considering doing an extended cut as well. Once they saw what I was able to pull off on the 30 second commercial, they decided they had to see the extended which you can now see as well with this YouTube link.  Hope you guys like it. 

I want to give credit to our composer Daniel Butman for his contributions to the piece. He was a pleasure to work with and really delivered exactly what I was hoping to get. You should definitely check out his work if you're not familiar with him. Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our awesome D.P., Matthew Rogers, who I've worked with before but this was our first endeavor working together where I was the Director. He was very patient with me and helpful in a lot of ways. Special thanks to our producer, Lauren Scharfenberg at Modest as well as the big boss, Matt Pope, for giving me the opportunity. Always grateful to work with such talented people. 

And last, but not least, thanks to our special forces guys Aaron, Derek, and Ryan who had great spirits and a great work ethic. Thanks for your service to your country and for your help on these commercials. You guys rock! 


Why I Keep A Zippo With Me At All Times

Why I Keep A Zippo With Me At All Times

I don’t smoke. Never have and never will. Never saw the appeal although I understand why some have fallen victim to its addictive nature.

Despite my aversion to smoking, some are surprised to learn that I keep a Zippo lighter in my pocket at all times. Any time I leave the house, it goes with me. It’s silver metallic and I love the unmistakable click it makes when you flip the lid open. If I’m stuck on a problem in the edit room or just need a moment to think about something, I’ll often flick it open and shut repeatedly just so I can hear the clicking sound. Somehow it relaxes me and helps me think.

It annoys the heck out of my wife, though. She asked me one time why in the world I kept the damn thing in my pocket to begin with. “You don’t smoke,” she said annoyed. “What’s the point?”

The first time I worked on a film set, like any other greenhorn I wanted impress the people I worked for. If you’ve ever been new at anything, you know what I’m talking about. You hope you do well and impress someone because that’s the only way you’re gonna’ get hired again. I was excited but nervous as hell.

At one point, I was on lockdown duty at a street corner and one of the A.D.’s approached me. I tensed up and got ready to say something smart when he asked me if I had a lighter on me.

Well, I was dumbstruck. No amount of smartness was gonna save me in that moment. I do not smoke and the simple fact of the matter was I had no reason to have a lighter on me. So no. I did not have a light.

But just across the parking lot, the Grip truck was open and one of the Grips was unloading the truck. Lo and behold, he did have a light. He whipped it out, held out the flame, and let the A.D. get his fix.

They then spent the next five minutes talking to each other about the weather, frustrations with the current gig, and what jobs they were taking on next.

Whether that Grip was hired again, I do not know, but do you think the A.D. remembered that Grip? I bet he did. Do you think he remembered me? Probably not.

It’s not that I did a bad job or anything. I held that corner and no shots were ruined that day. But really, any monkey can do that. The question is whether I did anything memorable that made me stick out as someone more useful than a monkey. And I’d say, in that case, no. I was about as memorable as vanilla flavored ice cream.

So in that moment I decided, I would always keep a lighter in my pocket. Because you never know if your boss, an actor or anyone else you’re trying to impress will ask you for one.

Ironically, no one since then has ever asked me for a light but that’s ok. The Zippo itself has always served as a reminder to me to be what I call the three p’s:

Be proactive.
Be prepared.
Be a problem solver.

Be that person at your job that is undeniably useful. Who is always there with a solution and taking proactive steps to solve problems before they happen.

Now, arguably, denying someone their nicotine fix is probably more of a solution than a problem but I think you know what I’m saying. The Zippo reminds me to make sure others recognize me as being proactive and prepared rather than forgettable and average.

So if you ever hear me clicking that lid open and shut and wonder why I have it in the first place, I’m thinking of ways to be proactive for whatever job it is I’m working on. That’s why I keep a Zippo in my pocket.

This is not the Power Rangers from your childhood. Actually, it's pretty NSFW.

This is not the Power Rangers from your childhood. Actually, it's pretty NSFW.

I'm a huge fan of taking the old comic books and cartoons from our childhood and making them dark and gritty in a more contemporary setting. But this video from director Joseph Khan does a pretty good job spoofing that concept with this overly gritty and way dark reboot (or in this case, "bootleg") of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The idea that everything needs to be turned dark and gritty maybe growing old in some people's minds I guess. Starring James Van Der Beek and Katee Sackhoff (a.k.a. "Starbuck"), this 15 minute short film might be a spoof, but I'd probably still pay to see a feature length version of it. Enjoy. 


What Makes Oscar Worthy Editing? (from Oscar nominated editors)

What Makes Oscar Worthy Editing? (from Oscar nominated editors)

What makes an edit truly Oscar worthy? Like many other crafts, it could be seen as subjective and difficult to discern because of the many factors at play (how good was the coverage, how good were the performances, what other factors were outside the editor's control, etc). But there is one thing that you can look for, or in this case, NOT look for, when looking at good editing. Oscar winning editors William Goldenberg, Joel Cox and Gary Roach explain the difference between good editing and bad editing.