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Don’t work for Free

Daedalus Howell tackles the sensitive subject of compensation when it comes certain creative endeavors with a simple motto: Don’t Work for Free.

There’s a problem many of my colleagues have faced of late. With alarming frequency, entrepreneurs, freelancers and others who make their livings proffering talents that have taken lifetimes to develop are asked to work for free.

Such requests, of course, are seldom as forthrightly phrased as “work for free,” camouflaged as they are in chummy badinage peppered with terms like “spec,” “barter” and “trade.” Though all three of these concepts have their rightful place in our recovering economy, the bank tends to frown upon massage gift certificates and cheese plates sent to pay the mortgage.

After witnessing a friend routinely exploited by his own generosity and apparent inability to invoice anyone with whom he’s traded nothing more than smiles, I was inspired to write my own credo as an act of clarification for would-be clients as well as myself.

Having the Money Conversation

As I’ve gleaned from others who work independently, the money conversation is often more difficult than discussing the birds and bees with one’s kid. In fact, I myself have sometimes opted to discuss the birds and bees with prospective clients rather than money since I was getting screwed anyway. This no longer happens to me, which I attribute to the verbiage below. I post a version of this screed on every site I run and it’s worked to great effect. I offer it here to whomever needs it under a creative commons “share and share alike” license, meaning you can retrofit and use it for your personal business needs as necessary so long as you let others do the same with your improvements. Here goes:

I do not work for free.

Creative Lot | Read the Full Article

On RAID, Second Drafts and Storyboards (the Wrap)

John Hess covers the week that past and talks about rebuilding the editing beast, writing second drafts and making drawings in the Southern California Sun.

Episode 44

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Check out my interview with Pablo Pappano!!

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pabcast-ep.-10-filmmaker-john/id493896698?i=112412414

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7. SAG and AFTRA merge to become one Über-Union

The vote is in – members of the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) voted overwhelmingly to combine creating the largest Hollywood entertainment union.

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Automatic Dialogue Replacement or Over-dubbing may get a considerably easier as demonstrated here in this sneak preview of Adobe Audition CS6:

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David Mamet’s “The Unit” ran on CBS from 2006 to 2009 and covered the lives of secret military operatives. Prior to airing, Mamet wrote this memo to the writing staff chock full of useful writing tips.

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How Colors Influence B&W Photography Ep 232: Digital Photography 1 on 1: Adorama Photography TV from AdoramaTV on Vimeo.

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1. Michael Caine on “Acting in Film”

In 1987, as part of a British series on acting, Michael Caine conducted a Workshop where he teaches the art of movie acting to five young actors, who perform scenes from Alfie, Deathtrap and Educating Rita.

See the rest of this video.

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SAG and AFTRA merge to become one Über-Union

The vote is in – members of the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) voted overwhelmingly to combine creating the largest Hollywood entertainment union.

After two failed attempts and 80 years of on-and-off efforts, the members of SAG and AFTRA have voted to merge. The new organization, called SAG-AFTRA, was born Friday afternoon.

The crowd at SAG headquarters in Los Angeles broke into song after the announcement, singing, “We have overcome.”

The vote among SAG members was 82 percent in favor – a stunningly high number — and among AFTRA members, it was 86 percent in favor. Sixty percent approval by each union was required. The newly titled SAG-AFTRA national co-presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon announced the results to loud cheers at 1:35 p.m. PT.

“With this historic vote, members of both unions have affirmed one of the most basic principles of unionism: Together we are stronger,” Howard said. “This merger, the result of months – really years – of planning, brings together the best elements of both unions and positions us well to thrive in the changing 21st-century media landscape.”

The Hollywood Reporter | Read the Full Article

In an resounding show of support, SAG members voted 82% in favor of the merger, while AFTRA members voted 86% in favor. That was well above the 60% threshold needed for the combination to take effect.

SAG represents 125,000 actors, extras and stunt performers in movies and television shows. AFTRA has about 70,000 members who are actors as well as singers, dancers, disc jockeys, sports announcers, comedians and broadcast journalists, among others. About 40,000 people hold membership in both labor groups.

The historic vote comes nearly two years after union leaders began discussions to merge in a bid to gain more leverage in contract negotiations with studios and to end a long history of jurisdictional disputes and feuding over negotiating strategy.

LA Times | Read the Full Article

Various Opinions:

David Mamet’s Notes to the Writers of “The Unit”

David Mamet’s “The Unit” ran on CBS from 2006 to 2009 and covered the lives of secret military operatives. Prior to airing, Mamet wrote this memo to the writing staff chock full of useful writing tips.

Via MovieLine

To the writers of the unit

Greetings.

As we learn how to write this show, a recurring problem becomes clear.

The problem is this: to differentiate between drama and non-drama. Let me break-it-down-now.

Everyone in creation is screaming at us to make the show clear. We are tasked with, it seems, cramming a shitload of information into a little bit of time.

Our friends. The penguins, think that we, therefore, are employed to communicate information – and, so, at times, it seems to us.

But note:the audience will not tune in to watch information. You wouldn’t, i wouldn’t. No one would or will. The audience will only tune in and stay tuned to watch drama.

Question:what is drama? Drama, again, is the quest of the hero to overcome those things which prevent him from achieving a specific,acute goal.

So: we, the writers, must ask ourselves of every scene these three questions.

1) who wants what?

2) what happens if her don’t get it?

3) why now?

The answers to these questions are litmus paper. Apply them, and their answer will tell you if the scene is dramatic or not.

If the scene is not dramatically written, it will not be dramatically acted.

There is no magic fairy dust which will make a boring, useless, redundant, or merely informative scene after it leaves your typewriter.you the writers, are in charge of making sure every scene is dramatic.

This means all the "little" expositional scenes of two people talking about a third. This bushwah (and we all tend to write it on the first draft) is less than useless, should it finally, god forbid, get filmed.

If the scene bores you when you read it, rest assured it will bore the actors, and will, then, bore the audience, and we’re all going to be back in the breadline.

Someone has to make the scene dramatic. It is not the actors job (the actors job is to be truthful). It is not the directors job. His or her job is to film it straightforwardly and remind the actors to talk fast. It isyour job.

Every scene must be dramatic. That means: the main character must have a simple, straightforward, pressing need which impels him or her to show up in the scene.

This need is why they came. It is what the scene is about. Their attempt to get this need met will lead, at the end of the scene,to failure - this is how the scene is over. It, this failure, will, then, of necessity, propel us into the next scene.

All these attempts, taken together, will, over the course of the episode, constitute the plot.

Any scene, thus, which does not both advance the plot, and standalone (that is, dramatically, by itself, on its own merits) is either superfluous, or incorrectly written.

Yes but yes but yes but, you say: what about the necessity of writing in all that "information?"

And i respond "figure it out" any dickhead with a bluesuit can be (and is) taught to say "make it clearer", and "i want to know more about him".

When you’ve made it so clear that even this bluesuited penguin is happy, both you and he or she will be out of a job.

The job of the dramatist is to make the audience wonder what happens next. Not to explain to them what just happened, or to*suggest* to them what happens next.

Any dickhead, as above, can write, "but, jim, if we don’t assassinate the prime minister in the next scene, all europe will be engulfed in flame"

We are not getting paid to realize that the audience needs this information to understand the next scene, but to figure out how to write the scene before us such that the audience will be interested in what happens next.

Yes but, yes but yes but you reiterate.

And i respond figure it out.

How does one strike the balance between withholding and vouchsafing information? That is the essential task of the dramatist. And the ability to do that is what separates you from the lesser species in their blue suits.

Figure it out.

Start, every time, with this inviolable rule: the scene must be dramatic. It must start because the hero has a problem, and it must culminate with the hero finding him or herself either thwarted or educated that another way exists.

Look at your log lines. Any logline reading "bob and sue discuss…" is not describing a dramatic scene.

Please note that our outlines are, generally, spectacular. The drama flows out between the outline and the first draft.

Think like a filmmaker rather than a functionary, because, in truth, youare making the film. What you write, they will shoot.

Here are the danger signals. Any time two characters are talking about a third, the scene is a crock of shit.

Any time any character is saying to another "as you know", that is, telling another character what you, the writer, need the audience to know, the scene is a crock of shit.

Do not write a crock of shit. Write a ripping three, four, seven minute scene which moves the story along, and you can, very soon, buy a house in bel air and hire someone to live there for you.

Remember you are writing for a visual medium. Most television writing, ours included, sounds like radio.

The camera can do the explaining for you. Let it. What are the characters doing -*literally*. What are they handling, what are they reading. What are they watching on television, what are they seeing.

If you pretend the characters cant speak, and write a silent movie, you will be writing great drama.

If you deprive yourself of the crutch of narration, exposition,indeed, ofspeech. You will be forged to work in a new medium – telling the story in pictures (also known as screenwriting)

This is a new skill. No one does it naturally. You can train yourselves to do it, but you need to start.

I close with the one thought: look at the scene and ask yourself "is it dramatic? Is it essential? Does it advance the plot?

Answer truthfully.

If the answer is "no" write it again or throw it out. If you’ve got any questions, call me up.

Love, Dave Mamet

Santa monica 19 octo 05
(it is not your responsibility to know the answers, but it is your, and my, responsibility to know and to ask the right questions over and over. Until it becomes second nature. I believe they are listed above.)"

Michael Caine on “Acting in Film”

In 1987, as part of a British series on acting, Michael Caine conducted a Workshop where he teaches the art of movie acting to five young actors, who perform scenes from Alfie, Deathtrap and Educating Rita.

From Imdb:

Michael Caine talks about how to perform in close-ups and extreme close-ups. He warns about the continuity dangers of smoking cigarettes or fiddling with props. He talks about screen tests, special effects men who are cavalier about your safety and speaking to someone who is off camera. The movie camera is your best friend and most attentive lover, he says, even though you invariably ignore her. The art of movie acting can be summed up in one word: relax!

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