Cinematographer Philip Bloom on LA Talk Radio’s Film Courage

Cinematographer Philip Bloom skypes into Film Courage to tell us how often he is satisfied with his work, why he left a safe and secure job for the unknown, how he has gone about building his website and his audience, and his thoughts on DSLR images in theatrical environments.

Podcast plays below:

Unleash the Power of Your Audience

I was having a conversation with Filmmaker IQ’s founder, Dennis about how to cram a big story into 4-7 minutes. One of the things we discussed was using character “crutches” – actions, places, props, life events that provide “short cut” for the audience as to how the characters on screen are suppose to be feeling.

An example of this is in one of my shorts: Please Accept this Ring on Farmville (below) – I open up with a shot of the lead character Tom admiring an engagement ring and then stuffing it in his pocket when his girlfriend arrives.

With just two actions here (the Ring and shoving it into his pocket), I’ve establish a lot about this male characters, his relationship to the female character and what the audience expects to see in the rest of the short. And I did it without any words in about 10 seconds.

As writers (and I’m certainly guilty of this as well), you must never forget the power of the visual medium to convey information that is not spoken.

I let Dennis go to sleep because he’s been up for 48 hours coming up with the next big IQ thing… and I started working on this corporate piece that I shot a couple weeks ago. I recorded about 10 minute interviews of women who were receiving a “Family Matters” award and I was to come up with 10 sound bite packages around 90 seconds each.

The interviews consisted of what their background was and what they did and anecdotes from their life.

What I learned listening to anecdotes and judging the great ones from the good ones is how it’s so important to boil down the big ideas into small memorable points that the audience can latch onto and use as trigger points for emotion.

Here’s example: One of the women was a hospice care giver. If I wanted to write a uninspired anecdote this is what it would be:

I visited an elderly woman’s home. She was very sad and had a terminal illness but she loved to cook. I baked her a cake, and she said it was the best cake she ever had. Not soon after she died.

This is what she said paraphrasing (by the way, she was a great speaker):

I visited this elderly woman’s one who was terminally ill. Her house was lined with cookbooks all different kinds. So I asked her if I could borrow one and make something for her but she said “no”. She finally relented and had me make a Lemon-Jello Spongecake – the kind where you pour in the Jello in all the little holes of the cake. It might have been her last meal – I kept the voice mail of her saying in her little crackly voice that it was the best Lemon Jello Spongecake she ever had. The next day she passed away.

Same story, but it was the small details – the cookbooks, the Lemon Jello Spongecake, the Voicemail, the little crackly voice that the audience member can latch onto and truly get the emotion of the story. These small details trigger the emotions we may have about the objects themselves. Maybe we had a grandmother that had cookbooks and loved Lemon Jello Spongecake – or more importantly, we have a collective cultural memory of the little old lady with cookbooks that we call share and can feel fondness for.

And that’s what I mean when I say “Unleash the Power of your Audience” – don’t shove “emotion” at an audience and expect them to care – supply the audience with triggers for emotion and they will bring it to the film. Tap into that well of common shared experiences that we all have and you can truly move your audience.

And if you need more proof… This next segment is the most beautiful example of this concept and it makes you really feel deeply for a character that has a block for a head:

For more discussion of this article check out the posting in our Forums area.

Top 7 Worst Movie Moms

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! I know a list of the worst movie moms isn’t an original idea, but give me a break. It’s also Sunday and being hung over I need to save all my energy to take mom to brunch. :P

Norman Bates doesn’t count.

7) “The Manchurian Candidate” Angela Lansbury

6) “Precious” Mo’Nique

5) “Mommie Dearest” Faye Dunaway

4) “Carrie” Piper Laurie

3) “Casino” Sharon Stone

2) “The Grifters” Anjelica Huston

1) “Throw Momma From the Train” Ann Ramsey

Legal Experts Answer Fair Use Questions About YouTube

Youtube invited Anthony Falzone, Executive Director of the Fair Use Project, and Julie Ahrens, Associate Director of the Fair Use Project, answer a selection of questions about Fair Use and YouTube. As always – this is NOT legal advice for your specific situation – if you have an important question, consult a lawyer.

Here’s a breakdown from the YouTube notes:
I am at an event, restaurant, or other public place and a band or the radio is playing in the background but I do not intentionally record the band or radio. I am filming something else. The music is out of my control. Is this fair use?

A movie was filmed in my city a few years ago. I want to film some of the filming location to show people where each scene was filmed. I want to place small clips of the movie side-by-side with my video. Is this fair use?

If I keep my video clip under a certain number of seconds am I in the clear?

Does a parody video fall under fair use when the visuals are almost entirely from a non-original source (cartoon, gameplay), but it is completely rewritten and re-voiced in a humorous manner?

If I dub over an episode of a cartoon with my own voices and change the dialogue for parody’s sake, am I legally in the clear? 

Can one claim fair use preemptively when posting content to avoid takedowns? Also, what non-court options are there for resolving a copyright/fair use dispute?

If I am uploading YouTube videos of captured video and commentary of video games as I play them am I violating copyright?

If I do a parody of a song, can I use the same music, exactly like the original (as long as I or a music composer recreate it from scratch) or does it have to actually sound a bit different (like Conan’s version of “It’s Friday” did)?

If I’m doing a news program where I report on a story am I allowed to use video footage or photos pertaining to that story?

Can you make money off a movie you produced that was inspired by another book or film as long as the story is unique? Like a fan film that exists in the same universe but with original characters and storyline? Is this fair use?

Can I perform a copyrighted song in a YouTube video? Can I teach how to play it? Can I show guitar tablature or music notation?

What kind of categories fall under fair use (review, education)? What if the clip you’re using doesn’t fit into one of them, can it still be fair use?

If I want to make software video tutorials and I record my screen with software being shown throughout the video, does that qualify as fair use?

If I use 2-3 seconds of a video for a mashup but give credit to that video owner, is it fair use?

Can I review a movie based on one element in that movie, and include clips from that movie in my review without violating copyright? Keep in mind, I am essentially promoting that movie and I am not making any money from the review.

Are there any cases in which posting the uncut entirety of another’s content could be considered fair use? For instance, if commentary is located in the description or annotation fields, and not on the video itself?

Is there a way to give credit to the original owners of the content in a mash up, similar to how you make a Works Cited page for an academic paper?

Can a person use actual clips from a movie, i.e. Star Wars, if he green screens himself into them to change them for comedic purposes under YouTube’s understanding of Fair Use?

I’ve heard and seen content owners complaining about content that they don’t own. Is there a way to take legal action or at least right those wrongs?


CIS is funded through the general budget of Stanford Law School and the support of individual and organizational donors, including generous support from Google, Inc.

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