The Golden Age of Creative Distribution Is Upon Us, Use These 5 Tips to Stay Ahead

PJ Raval offers 5 tips to keep in mind the independent distribution game.


It’s true. Distribution is a hard road for any independent film and perhaps more so for a documentary – and even more so for one about gay seniors and the aging community. Despite these odds, we’ve been feeling good about our distribution strategy, and we continue to gear up for our May 30th theatrical release. However, one person speaking that day could potentially make me feel like I made all the wrong decisions – John Sloss. I assume for many of you reading this John Sloss needs no introduction. But for the few that do, John Sloss is a lawyer, an executive producer, founder of Cinetic Media and co-founder of FilmBuff, media maverick and “dealmaker.” To say Sloss is a film industry heavyweight would be an understatement. So sitting through a conversation about distribution moderated by #ArtistServices’ Chris Horton (also former assistant to Sloss at Cinetic) was truly an informative session. But a few key points in particular from the conversation struck close to home and are worth mentioning:

1. “The Great Sundance Moment” has passed and is never coming back.

Sloss and Horton reminisced about the 2006 Sundance Film Festival when a “little” film they were representing called Little Miss Sunshine sold within 24 hours of its world premiere, making one of the biggest sales in the history of the Festival to this day. As the two recounted a colorful story of a physical sacrifice for the sale (just ask Horton about an odd scar on his hand) it became clear they were speaking fondly of a fun and fleeting time. Not only are those days of feverish sales over, so are the dollar amounts. But it’s better to look back fondly than look forward disappointed. Times change and so does distribution. Takeaway: stories of big sales are just that – stories, and no longer a reality for most filmmakers. | Read the Full Article

You Can’t Do It Alone: Tips for Creative Leadership

Andy Baker, the Senior Vice President and Group Creative Director for National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD gives some thoughts and insight into hiring, managing and leading a team of creative people.



Whether you’re looking to build a team from scratch, replace someone who left, or fill an entirely new position, there is nothing more important than hiring good people. Obvious, right? But it’s obvious because it’s true – you’re only as good as the team you surround yourself with. I am a firm believer that you can always find great people to work for you, even if you may be challenged by things out of your control – as long as you excel at a few key areas:

1. Be transparent. You can’t be fully transparent about everything, (salary, etc) but it’s important that you are upfront and honest with as much as possible. People can sense when you are honest and not playing games, and when you act that way, they will be too. Cut through the bullshit – tell people where you stand on their skills, what you think they have or don’t have on their resume/reel that you’re looking for, and allow them the opportunity to own it, or defend it, or respond to it. Bottom line – most people want to work for other honest people. It’s an attractive feature when looking for creative talent because most creative people don’t really want to play political games, they just want to do great work and have fun. “Transparency” is a term being used more and more often – both in the creative process, and everyone from the CEO to the President of the United States professes transparency. It’s not only become something that’s a ‘bonus’ but also standard operating procedure for most of successful companies.

The Client Blog | Read the Full Article

Creating Characters: The Behavioral Paradox

Benjamin Broomfield explains how to use behavioral paradoxes to make your scripted characters come to life.


Character or characterization has been described as contradiction. Although this is the truth, it is – crucially – not the whole truth. The first thing to understand about character is:

Character is created through exploration.

Character exploration occurs through presenting the hero with a challenging situation; a dilemma that each individual person would handle differently. The way in which the hero chooses to deal with this dilemma, characterizes him by revealing to the audience a particular virtue.

The hero normally reacts in a way far superior to that of a normal human being – with both the course of action and the execution of the chosen course. We envy them for this quality, and, as an audience, we grant them this fantastical authority because it is the making of great fiction.

Let’s set-up a situation for a hero now: Our hero Howard is waiting on a busy railway platform. Opposite him, on the adjacent platform, a 9 year-old boy suddenly falls onto the track. Howard instinctively looks to see if a train is coming – there is! A train is heading full pelt towards the injured boy…

How Howard reacts to this event will tell us a great deal about him: Will he panic or stay calm? Will he be the first to act or wait for others to intervene first? If he does help how will he go about it? Will he yell to a station assistant, fall to his knees and pray to God, or jump down on the track to save the boy while risking his own life?

Each of these reactions gives us a different sense of character – a different Howard. We will be able to tell – among other things – if he is brave or cowardly, authoritative or timid, selfish or selfless. In this scenario, lets say that Howard – without hesitating – jumps onto the track, runs to the other side and lifts the young boy to safety, all in time before the train rolls into the station. From the way Howard has reacted to this situation, we can deduce that he is selfless, heroic, brave and humanitarian.

ScriptMag | Read the Full Article

Making a Fight Scene in 5 Easy Bullet Points

Jason Satterlund punches through 5 bullet points to creating cool action fight scenes especially when working with untrained actors.

Here’s the Stunt Punching tutorial mention in the video:

Jason Bourne

1) Assess the actors’ physical abilities.

Don’t start designing a scene before you’ve had a chance to meet with your actor, and assess his or her skills. It will be a colossal waste of time because you don’t know what they can do. A frequent mistake that directors make is they assume that if the actor is in shape, he or she will be good at throwing and faking a punch. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE.

You could choreograph a fight, and then find that the actor can’t do it because of shoulder issues, or bad back, or, even worse, has no control over his or her body.

What I mean is you need to find out if an actor can throw a punch consistently in the same place. You don’t want him clobbering anyone, and if he is all over the place DON’T GIVE HIM A WEAPON TO SWING AROUND. If the guy can’t even control his fists, he’ll never be able to control something attached to the end of his arm.

The best way to figure things out is to have a stunt coordinator work out these kinks. An experienced coordinator will recognize an actor’s strengths and weaknesses, and help the actor correct any issues, or give them moves they can do well.  He will build the scene with them and rehearse until it’s ready.

(For more on these techniques, check out the stunt tutorials at the end of this post.)

Now, I know what you are thinking. “But Jason, I don’t even have time to rehearse the dialogue! How can I find time/money to have them rehearse the fight!?””

Big Puddle Films | Read the Full Article


Bonus – Another tutorial from Tuts+ Photo & Video on the more technical side of shooting fight scenes:

Celebrating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Finest Creation

Laya Maheshwari looks at the life and times of Sherlock Holmes and the restoration of a rarely scene 1922 version starring John Barrymore.

Sherlock Holmes 1922

The Scottish author and poet wrote many stories and brought many characters to life. A classic novel like The Lost World would be enough to guarantee its creator immortality, while few authors have sketched a character more memorable and likable than Brigadier Gerard, that gallant buffoon. Yet, in the case of Doyle, these are merely accomplished aperitifs. For one creation of his towers above all other entries in the list, and that’s what he’ll always be remembered for.

Using superlatives is generally a recipe for disaster; exuberance and enthusiasm maim judgment, and proclamations are made that can’t withstand any inspection. However, when referring to Doyle’s greatest achievement, they are justified—even necessary. Sherlock Holmes is one of the most iconic characters in fiction. He is definitely the most famous detective of all time. (Sorry, Hercule Poirot acolytes.) And the stories supposedly written down by Holmes’ trusty companion, Dr. Watson, are the biggest milestone in crime fiction.

Published in 1887, A Study in Scarlet was the first Sherlock Holmes title penned by Doyle and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes the last. The author passed away in 1930, three years after the publication of The Case-Book. Over those forty years, Sherlock Holmes appeared in four novels and fifty-six short stories by Doyle, which were until recently the extent of the canon. Of course, there are innumerable extracanonical Sherlock Holmes titles, as artistes all over the world have repeatedly sought to pastiche Doyle, parody him, put their own stamp on their favorite literary character or invert him.

The first Holmes adaptation was the Mutoscope film Sherlock Holmes Baffled, which released in 1900 and set in motion a train that hasn’t stopped since. Not for nothing has the Guinness Book of World Records often recognized the world’s first “consulting detective” as the “most portrayed movie character.” We can talk about any number of iterations of the crime-solving duo residing at 221B, Baker Street. Should we delve intoSherlock, the BBC show set in present day that stars (and made stars out of) Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman? A quick glance at Tumblr and Facebook reveals this series has already received more than its fair share of attention. How about the 1984 Granada Television series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes? For many people (some colleagues and my mother included), Jeremy Brett’s portrayal remains the definitive version of the character. Therein lies the rub. Something that’s definitive, by definition, doesn’t need more light thrown upon it.

Fandor | Read the Full Article

Freezing Action With Speedlites

The Slanted Lens shoots world famous trick roper Will Roberts with speedlites trying for shots that both freeze the rope and shots that blur the rope.

I have chosen to place the direct sun as a rim light. In doing so, I have turned the negative of direct sun into a positive rim light and my ?rst light in the lighting setup. When I get a proper exposure for the rim light, it darkens the sky and helps it turn dark blue.

I don’t want to see so much of the ranch house, so I will get low to give me a simple blue sky as the background. Choosing a 24mm lens also allows for a very dramatic action ?lled frame. I’m using the Tamron 24-70mm lens at 24mm. I love this look.

For my light source today LensProToGo sent us two Speedlights to use for our shoot. I’m using the Speedlight because it’s portable and will sync at 200th of a second and freeze the action of the rope. Most strobes will not sync at this speed.

To soften the light I am using the Portable Speedlight Kit by Photo?ex. It gives me 2 OctoDomes, stands, and brackets to shoot with Speedlights. Adding this one light to the rim makes a more interesting image. It opens up his face and body. I am using the Speedlight on manual and set it to full power. This gives me a correct exposure. I am syncing with pocket wizards.

The Slanted Lens | Read the Full Article


Writing Screenplays from the Height of Your Intelligence

Improvisational actor Brett Wean shares how the concepts of improvisation, in this case the concept of “Height of Your Intelligence” can be applied to the work — and play — of writing your script.


On stage, in order to discourage audience members from yelling out stupid things like, “Boobs!” or “Farting,” improvisers often ask them for a one-word suggestion “from the height of your intelligence.” And the intelligence doesn’t end there! When improvising on stage, good improvisational actors shy away from going for the easy laugh, playing their characters earnestly, and behaving as they would in real life…or at least in a way that makes rational, intelligent sense within the context of their created environment. “Playing from the height of your intelligence,” is an oft-repeated commandment that works, even when the aim is to create silly comedy.

Writing from the height of your intelligence is an equally practical and powerful strategy for creating screenplays that keep viewers engaged. When you speak “up” to viewers, making the assumption that they can not only keep up, but are in fact probably two steps ahead of you, writing from the height of your intelligence serves to keep them surprised and make them feel respected. It’s also a useful trick for cutting the fat off of your script when you need to trim down page length, and keep the action moving. Here are some quick tips on how to apply this philosophy to your screenwriting:

Skip the Explanation

Viewers (and readers) don’t need a constant verbal explanation as to why characters are about to do what they’re going to do. Let the audience fill in the blanks whenever they can, and skip ahead to the action. We are far more interested in the doing — and then the consequences — of a character’s action than the discussion of what they’re about to do. If your character’s immediate decision involves serious conflict with someone else, sure, let us see the blow-out fight leading to their decision. But more often than not, keep the pace moving by leaping ahead to the action…and let viewers come to their own conclusions.

Script Mag | Read the Full Article

Announcing The All-New RØDE Blimp

RØDE just announced an upgrade to their popular blimp which features a new microphone suspension system (no more rubber bands!), a unique cabling system, and is 25% lighter than before. Check out the demo video below.

Rode Blimp

Rode Blimp2

Press Release Below

Australian microphone manufacturer RØDE has today announced a fully updated version of its award-winning Blimp system. The new model is now twenty-five percent lighter, with Rycote® Lyre® suspension and premium Mogami cabling.

The original RØDE Blimp as launched in 2008, and quickly became the best-selling system of its kind. Upon release it was awarded both the European Red Dot and Australian International Design Award – two of the world’s most respected product design awards – recognising the Blimp as a product of sophisticated design, solving a number of challenges faced by location sound recordists.

This new version of the Blimp sees a range of functional improvements that make it unquestionably the best windshield and shock mounting accessory available.

Building on the system’s existing high level of performance, the Blimp’s shock mounting is now performed by the robust and user-friendly Lyre system, licensed from Rycote. Constructed from a single piece of hard-wearing thermoplastic, the Lyre provides superior acoustic suspension to traditional elastic solutions, and will never wear out, sag or snap. Whereas the previous Blimp required users to reconfigure the elastic suspension for heavier microphones, the Lyre is able to accommodate a range of microphones without any modification, making adjustments in the field even easier.

The Blimp’s handle has also been completely redesigned, reducing the product weight significantly, while increasing the ergonomics for handheld use. Housed inside the grip is a heavy-duty Mogami cable which splits via a junction box to a highly-flexible thin cable inside the Blimp, to minimise the transference of vibration to the microphone.

In addition to RØDE’s range of shotgun microphones – the NTG1, NTG2 and NTG3, the Blimp also accommodates most shotgun microphones up to 325mm (12 ¾”) in length. It attaches to any standard boompole via 3/8″ thread attachment at the base. RØDE also offers the Universal Blimp Mount as an option to remove the handle when the Blimp is being used primarily on a boompole to reduce weight.

An artificial fur windshield (affectionately known as a Dead Wombat) is included for outdoor use to minimise wind noise. Additionally a compact folding brush is supplied to maintain the Dead Wombat’s artificial fur.

For more information, check out RØDE’s official site.


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