Continuous lighting is the term used to describe a constant light source to light your subject, meaning that your lights will stay on during the entirety of your photo shoot. This is essential for the videographer. Fluorescents or LEDs stay cool even if left on for hours. We started with a set of these…
Being able to focus and direct ambient or direct light sources when you need fill lighting under any circumstances is easy to do with a set of reflectors. These can even be made with tinfoil stretched over cardboard or white foam board for softer light.
For the past few weeks I have been searching for the key to what makes a horror film truly scary.
My research was motivated by a recent film festival challenge, one among many that are launched in Fall as Halloween approaches and we celebrate monsters, ghouls and witches. I decided to try digging deeper than cliche horror, beneath the blood, gore, zombies and vampires… to explore the psychology of horror. I never expected to find my answer in a film about the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
Witnessing the inevitable disintegration of a complex technological system is micro/macro, metaphorically like watching the end of civilization as we knew it. There are plenty of Deepwater monsters including the corner-cutting executives at BP who literally got away with murder-by-negligence, or the ultimate Godzilla, the wounded Earth Mother unchained, a raging, fire-breathing dragon.
The reason this film is so much scarier than a Hollywood slasher film is because it is not a conjured-up fiction. Sit back and witness one of the epic horrors of the decade. Like the visions of war, terrorism or a natural disaster, this man-made cataclysm is real and it unfolds like a nightmare. As we sit back in our comfortable recliners munching popcorn and a soft drink, the silver screen presents an eye-witness observation of death on a massive scale.
The Deepwater Horizon blew up on April 20, 2010. I remember watching the days become months as the oil continued to spew millions of barrels of oil out into the Gulf each day while attempts to cap it off failed. This film only depicts the initial disaster and very briefly touches on the findings of the initial trial. It doesn’t cover the cleanup or the devastation to the shoreline and the creatures that once inhabited the waters of the Gulf.
Director Peter Berg was challenged at each step in the making of Deepwater Horizon, most notably by the executives at BP or British Petroleum who did everything they could to stop or impede the film’s production.
“Because the explosion and oil spill was so huge, that’s what dominated the area. You would go to these small towns in southern Louisiana, places you had never heard of, such as Port Fourchon, and you would see harbours full of boats with brand-new shiny engines, new trucks, people wearing brand-new Rolexes and new shoes. So many lawyers had moved in, there were so many lawsuits, and everyone who lived in that area had sued BP and made millions of dollars. They called them “spillionaires.” A lot of people got rich – some deserved it, some probably didn’t.”
That was just the first impressions Berg gathered up as he began exploring the region where the disaster took place. He had no idea then how difficult BP planned to impede his effort. Paid consultants would show up for a day of two and then call in sick, never to be heard from again. He was barred from accessing any oil rigs.
“We couldn’t even fly by one,” says Berg. “At one point we were in a helicopter on a tour of a rig called the Nautilus and were told if we got any closer we would be perceived to be a threat and they were going to defend themselves.”
So, production designer Chris Seagers and his team of welders spent 8 months building an 85% scale replica of the Deepwater Horizon using 3.2 million pounds of steel plus a functioning helipad!
It would get worse, much worse. His studio, Lionsgate had a wall of attorneys assigned to the film. He had as much trouble fighting with them for what he could DO and he did with BP over what he couldn’t do. Deepwater Horizon makes one specific point absolutely clear and Berg fought for a week to be permitted to say it. This disaster was caused by corporate greed.
America’s “Mainstream Media” (MSM) is now owned privately by six corporations; the public must go elsewhere to find news sources they trust.
“The real mass media are basically trying to divert people. Let them do something else, but don’t bother us (us being the people who run the show). Let them get interested in professional sports, for example. Let everybody be crazed about professional sports or sex scandals or the personalities and their problems or something like that. Anything, as long as it isn’t serious. Of course, the serious stuff is for the big guys. ‘We’ take care of that,” wrote Noam Chomsky in What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream, almost two decades ago in 1997.
After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the failure of New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller to report an accurate and critical analysis of the lead-up, many American’s turned to offshore news sources like the BBC, RT, Aljazeera, or to small independent producers like Democracy Now!
“In the 21st Century, Corporate and Alternative Media Sites publish news paid for by the highest bidder – without regard for facts or truth. Americans have become tired of reading yellow journalistic editorials and front page falsehoods. In a free society, people need to know what is actually happening in their country, in their county’s government and in the world.” – Justicegazette.org
The latest example of nationwide news fraud was distributed on June 6, 2016 by the AP and then published in turn by every other major news outlet, announcing that Hillary Clinton “clinched” the Democratic presidential nomination on the Monday night before the California and New Jersey primary elections. Shane Ryanexplains how this took place…
“What happened is that one AP reporter, Stephen Ohlemacher, called up some superdelegates—those party bigwigs whose influence in the primary is both undemocratic and overtly stifling— and extracted their commitment to support Clinton at the convention. With these new superdelegate supporters, he padded his numbers and essentially manufactured a Monday night win hours ahead of his competitors. This all went down on the eve of the last major set of primaries, when states like California and New Jersey were set to vote and play a major role in determining the mood of July’s national convention. The AP announcement was perfectly timed, if the goal was to have a chilling effect on those voters.”
If the MSM no longer provides authentic, investigative journalism, it’s time we learn to do it ourselves…
Guerilla Media Production
With the inception of live streaming and smart phones, on-the-spot documentation and news coverage may now be done by anyone with a bit of bravado and a steady hand. Camera evidence captured by on-the-spot bystanders has become the new norm, despite efforts made to curtail their activity with threats and intimidation.
Writing “It’s Your Right to Film the Police. These Apps Can Help” for Wired magazine, Allesandra Ram says, “In 2012, the ACLU created an app that allowed anyone to film interactions between police and citizens and upload footage to the ACLU’s website. Similar apps have cropped up since then, with new features allowing for quick and automatic upload to the Cloud or to YouTube, in case of confiscation or destruction of your device.”
But the Cop Block project founded in January, 2010 by Ademo Freeman, takes the concept of guerilla journalism to the combat level, providing film crew strategies and other educational material, as well as a decentralized publishing network that seeks to advance their motto, “Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights.”
NHC’s BroadWaveaudio and BroadCam video streaming software led the way before Facebook and YouTube decided to extend their live streaming options. With advances in smart phone technology, live online video has exploded in popularity. If you are ready to join the ranks of grassroots reporting, Streaming Media magazine has a collection of 10 Best Practices for Live Streaming Production.
As we approach the summer of 2016, hoping to get newsworthy new coverage from the MSM, I am reminded of the classical definition of insanity that you have already heard too many times in the past. Rather than repeat the same thing that has failed in the past, it is time to get out in the street, camera in hand and begin collecting and sharing your own footage. We at DesignWise Studios have blocked out the time and made plans to be in Philadelphia for the full duration of protests and resistance expected to take place at the DNC Convention. Watch for our own grassroots coverage on our YouTube channel from July 23 – 29, 2016.
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Dan Asma‘s work leaves an indelible impression and includes such memorable film campaigns as those of The Shining, No Country for Old Men and The Hangover, to name but a few.
I was fortunate to attend the 1st annual Chicago Film + Media Summit in October of 2013, still memorable years later because of all that I learned from personal interaction with talented and experienced industry leaders like Dan Asma. His prominent Hollywood feature film trailer house Buddha Jones, works with major studios as well as indie clients. The trailers they produce are created to “excite, provoke and ultimately compel an audience to see movies…” and they do just that! Dan warns against taking the “studio route” in his #chifilmsummit presentation, “I Gotta See That!”
“Take the agency route,” he advises. “Flight (trailer) was a challenge because in the movie, Denzel Washington is far from a hero, not ‘audience-friendly.’ How can you present this in such a way that sells the real story when nobody wants to see that story? By using the dips, the peaks and valleys. It’s all about compression,” Dan explains. “Editors are the ones who are primarily responsible for creating that emotional reaction in the viewer …and the music was tremendously important. In this case, the (Rolling) Stones let people know that it was a darker story.”
He cautioned against feeling satisfied with your initial effort. “Try to do it again, in any number of different ways. We call that burn and turn. Trying to be creative amidst seeming chaos can be really fun!”
“Buddah Jones does a great deal of horror movie trailers,” Dan explains. “With The Strangers (trailer) I thought, Let’s take the movie`s strength and stretch it.”
“Motion graphics is tremendously important… We are often asked to come up with a promotion for a film that hasn’t even been shot yet! Check the trailer for DaVinci Code (trailer) and The Prisoners (trailer), a Hugh Jackman film. Inglorious Bastards (trailer), had several different routes that could have been taken in the trailer.”
“Market your movie before making the movie… A pseudo-trailer is often done to raise money in advance. Consider showing the most marketable part of your story first, as was done with The Bridge (trailer), a doc on suicides on the San Francisco Bay Bridge.”
Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is a detective working for a corporate police state in 2077 when she gets sucked into a time warp along with a gang of condemned terrorists. Fleeing their impending execution, they escape to Vancouver, in 2012 by leaping back in time. But, they did not plan to bring a cop along. Continuum, 3 seasons now streaming on Netflix…
Liber8 radicals leap back 65 years, on a revolutionary mission take down the corporations which have come to rule the world by 2077. The problem with this series rests within a deep inner conflict. Who are the bad guys and who are the good guys, when corporations have taken absolute control over government by way of a reverse bailout? In the future, world governments became so cash-strapped that wealthy corporations simply bought them out. It all seems way too likely from a 2015 perspective. What would a patriot do in 2077 but fight for freedom?
Liber8 hopes to avoid death while altering future history by waging war on the corporations in 2012 that would come to rule world by 2077. Cameron is a corporate “Eagle Scout,” a cybertronic lethal weapon, charged with protecting a way of life that she believes in. Suffice to say, this series won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Visual Effects and more…
Creator Simon Barry originally wrote the script as having a male lead named ‘Kyle’ – not a deadly female enforcer named Kiera. Continuum is Time Trax on steroids.
“I like these strong female role models,” says Rachel Nichols. “Carlos (Victor Webster) had a shower scene the other day, without his top on. He gets to do all the fun eye-candy stuff, and I get to kill people. It’s gritty.”
It’s also a very thought-provoking, well-crafted vision of a perfectly safe future, one efficiently sanitized by corporations for profit and without waste. But, not everyone is willing to accept the terms of citizenship. The series is entering it’s 4th season and for very good reason.
First episode date: May 27, 2012
Runtime: 45 min
(2012 Season One, 10 episodes)
(2013 Season Two, 13 episodes)
(2014 Season Three, 13 episodes)
Posted in TV Productions|Comments Off on Continuum, a Corporate World Government Threatened by Time Travellers
Death of a President, a fictional documentary covering the October 19, 2007 assassination of George W. Bush in Chicago, Illinois, premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival where it garnered the International Critics Prize.
Despite the fact that Death of a President captured a total of 6 awards, Newmarket Films, who paid one million dollars for the U.S. distribution rights, failed to sway Regal and Cinemark, two of the largest U.S. cinema chains, to screen the British film. CNN and National Public Radio refused to broadcast any ads. Thus, you probably never even heard of “the most controversial film of 2006.”
Although she had not bothered to see Death of a President, Hillary Clinton, then junior Senator from New York, was also quick to condemn it. “I think it’s despicable. I think it’s absolutely outrageous. That anyone would even attempt to profit on such a horrible scenario makes me sick.”
Now, we have Kim Jong-un, threatening cyber war over The Interview, as Sony briefly cancels its planned Christmas release, citing threats of violence by hackers who ironically call themselves the Guardians of Peace. The FBI and the White House both claim that North Korea is behind the initial computer hack waged against Sony Pictures, as well as the threats of 9/11 type retribution should Sony permit The Interview to play in theaters.
Senator John McCain called Sony’s decision to cancel the movie a “troubling precedent that will only empower and embolden bad actors to use cyber as an offensive weapon even more aggressively in the future.” But, I wonder what he said back in 2006 when roles were reversed.
The Bush assassination film is technically considered a docudrama while the Jong-un assassination film is categorized as a mockumentary, a comedy like Spinal Tap. Death of a President intends and succeeds to appear as a historic record of the events that led up to the October 19, 2007 sniper shooting in Chicago and what followed in the year thereafter. President Dick Cheney extends the powers of government surveillance with the passage of Patriot III, a Muslim is framed with the crime on weak evidence, hardly comedic. Because there are no immediately recognizable star actors in the cast, it presents with the look and feel of an authentic collection of news clips and interview footage. The film re-purposes archival footage of Bush and Cheney, along with historic photographs of the President, Photoshop-ed to include the film’s actors, interspersed with Chicago street scenes in which hundreds of extras effectively portray fierce anti-war protests and other fictional scenes staged by the filmmakers. And it works!
Critics who liked the film include Rex Reed of The New York Observer who called the film, “clever, thoughtful, and totally believable. This is a film without a political agenda that everyone should see.”
It was not the director’s intention to make a political film. As Gabriel Range explains, “The purpose of the film was not to imagine how the world stage would reset with the assassination of George Bush. The intent of the film is really to use the assassination of President Bush as a dramatic device—using the future as an allegory to comment on the past. If people go to the cinema expecting to have some great moment of catharsis watching the president being shot, I suspect they’re in for a pretty big surprise. I think that anyone who’s expecting this to be a liberal wet dream is in for quite a shock… It was very important that the film was not a political rant. It was not just a condemnation or polemic because I think that polemics are easy to dismiss.”
Peter Howell‘s review in the Toronto Star said, “The film’s deeper intentions… elevate it into the company of such landmark works of historical argument as Peter Watkins’s The War Game, Costa-Gavras’s Z and, closer to home, Michel Brault’s Les Ordres. Every thinking person should see Death of a President.”
I first discovered the film in 2006, a bootleg DVD among the wares of a Chinese street vendor. I bought it for less than a dollar and got my money’s worth. It wouldn’t load or play, but I have kept the dust jacket for all of these years since returning to America. I always wondered what the film was like and with Sony’s latest self-censorship, I was determined to discover what it was like in 2006, when the shoe was on the other foot.
You can rent or buy Death of a President on Amazon or on YouTube for as little as $2.99. Hulu streams it with commercials for free or watch it without commercials on Hulu Plus. It was a $2 million dollar production with a musical score by British musician Richard Harvey, that concludes with a surprising turnaround (no spoilers). It screened in the U.S. for only 14 days, showing at 143 theatres. The motion picture ethics committee in Japan prevented Death of a President from being shown in most cinemas there in 2007. Worldwide, it only grossed $869,352.
Regarding that other assassination film that we have yet to see, Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana) has written President Barack Obama with the aim of getting the White House to screen The Interview just to prove that the US “will not bend to the will of bad actors.”
“The policy of rewarding terrorists, authoritarianism and cruelty with concessions should not be the legacy we pursue. Therefore, I ask that you host a screening of comedy film ‘The Interview’ for members of Congress in the White House the week of January 5, to be followed by a serious discussion of the strong, substantive retaliatory measures we plan to take as a nation against cyber attacks,” Vitter writes.
But the best response so far is that of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt who says that he’ll be starting his own production, a porn parody of The Interview.
“I’ve spent a lifetime fighting for the First Amendment, and no foreign dictator is going to take away my right to free speech,” Flynt told the Hollywood Reporter. “If Kim Jong-un and his henchmen were upset before, wait till they see the movie we’re going to make.”
While everyone wants to discover the magic secret to creating a viral video (if there truly is one), about 4,040,000 resulting pages suggest they have answers. The following suggestions popup above the SERPs…
Don’t be “too good” for marketing. I almost didn’t put together a marketing plan. …
Understand how things go viral on the internet. …
Release on Monday or Tuesday. …
Figure out who has a stake in your video. …
None of this matters if your video isn’t good. …
Tell a story. …
Make your video shorter. …
Write a viral title.
The Huffington Post talks about everything from Gangnam Style to Justin Bieber as the most watched videos, but what is it that makes people share a video after they watch it?
“Videos eliciting positive emotion, including joy and humor, are most likely to be forwarded,” says Rosanna Guadagno, Program Director for Social Psychology at the National Science Foundation. “Videos eliciting feelings of alertness and attentiveness are the next most likely to be forwarded. Clips that evoke negative arousal are near the bottom of the hierarchy, but still more likely to be forwarded than dull, non-emotional videos.”
The “arousal hierarchy” that she and her colleagues describe in their study, is not a hard and fast rule as evidenced by the wide range of subject matter in the following collection of top shared videos of 2013. The ever-rising views tallied below are accurate as of the day of this post – but the number of views is not always proportional to their standings based on measured social sharing. Thanks to Unruly Analytics for providing the Viral Video Chart which continuously plots and displays stats on the most popular shared videos online. They have tracked over329 billion video views and provide the insight needed to analyze what content is getting consumers talking.
Here are their current top 20 shared videos of 2013:
One Saturday morning in 2006, they dropped 500 Mentos mints into 100 bottles of Coke in front of a video camera. Their video went viral in a matter of hours, and before they knew it, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and NPR were calling.Since then, more than 100 million people have watched The Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments. Why? Because Voltz and Grobe did everything right.
“These guys are the viral experts, and they show you the way in clear, concise language. This is the first recipe for virality that I buy.” — Kent Nichols, cocreator of viral phenomenon AskANinja.com
Now, in The Viral Video Manifesto, they explain how you can make a video guaranteed to pack a major punch by applying four core principles:
Be True . . . Don’t fake it. Make it real.
Don’t Waste My Time . . . Get down to business right away.
Be Unforgettable . . . Show us something we’ve never seen before.
It’s All About Humanity . . . An emotional connection is the key to sharing.
“50 Years and Counting” …that’s my working title anyway. It started out as a lark, a fantasy-op, a video feature film show kind of like the Tonight Show hosted by our own class letterman El Blanco, aka Dave White and produced by me, Stephen Kastner.
Over a year and then some, before an official Prospect High School Class of ’64 50th Reunion had actually begun to materialize, Whitey and I and MaryLou DeMoch had been talking about getting grads together for a casual 49th alternative – like pizza and beer at Mother’s Pinball.
But, thanks to a whole group of grads who picked up the ball and ran with it, many of us are now looking forward to enjoying the upcoming weekend of festivities and events at the Meadows Club. I am still searching high and low for a sport coat in order to be suitably attired. Nonetheless, I will be there with my sidekick and best friend Alisa and we plan to be armed and somewhat dangerous. No fear!
She will only be packing a Nikon D-3200 DSLR. I will be porting a Sony HVR-Z1U and a few concealed-carry Kodak Zi8’s (pocket cams). We’d really like to shoot you, but only if you are willing. Here’s the premise:
In 1983, Meryl Streep gave a commencement speech at her alma mater and said that “…life is like high school. Not like college. Not a box of chocolates. Not a brief candle. Not an actor who struts and frets her hour upon the stage.”
But, it was Kurt Vonnegut who first said it in a 1974 interview: “Life is nothing but high school … you get into real life and that turns out to be high school again – class officers, cheerleaders, and all.”
Vonnegut began exploring this theme in 1950 in his novel, “Welcome to the Monkey House.” He simply said that life is high school, the highest point in your brief time on Earth and from there on, it’s downhill all the way.
Here’s where the courage comes in…
I’d like to capture your opinion. Do you agree with Vonnegut? Within the span of your own “50 Years and Counting” do you feel that you have hit a peak moment somewhere along the path , one that you will never surpass? Or, do you believe that you still have untapped potential for even greater greatness ahead?
Don’t be shy…
At this age, you have nothing left to loose but fear itself! Stop me or Alisa anywhere you feel an overwhelming urge to speak your mind and we will record your testimony. Start with “Hi, I am ‘First Name, Last Name’ and then… share any of your favorite peak moments or experiences on camera. Don’t worry, We’ll edit out the stumbles and any false starts. The results will be a masterpiece film starring us, the Class of 1964, fifty years later.
This is us working… very, very serious!
Filming a live chamber music concert at the largest mansion in Wisconsin.
If you agree with Vonnegut, we’ll have our cameras along on the PHS tour and we’d love to record some grads speaking at the alma mater. We will have them handy everywhere. One way or another, “50 Years and Counting” may be your 15-minutes of fame…
Executive producers James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have recruited an all-star cast for an important documentary event. “Years of Living Dangerously” will air at 7 PM on Showtime this Sunday.
The Guardian calls the “Years of Living Dangerously”a global warming blockbuster.“This new Showtime climate change documentary is a nonfiction thriller you won’t want to miss! …perhaps the most important climate change multimedia communication endeavor in history.”
It features major (rich) celebrities talking to real (poor) people who have been negatively effected by global warming. Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, America Ferrara, Harrison Ford, Michael C. Hall, Olivia Munn and Ian Somerhalder are just a few of the celebrities who travel the world learning about this issue and sharing their thoughts.
…and DesignWise Studios has been selected as a public screening location. The first of nine episodes is being streamed for free on YouTube (and at 350.org/watch-years). Future episodes will be on Showtime. But the difference is that we’ll also tune into a web-chat with people involved in the show and leaders from the climate movement afterwards ...and some great popcorn!
we’ll also tune into a web-chat with people involved in the show and leaders from the climate movement.
My Slik tripod had to go… ever since I heard the words “fluid head.”
I have had it for more than a few decades and small parts were falling off. Then last week, one of the leg locks broke off into a handful of small bits! As one reviewer says, “Sure I’d love a Manfrotto or Sachtler, but I don’t want to spend 3-5 times more for it.”
But, as a photojournalist turning filmmaker, I need to be able to pan and tilt a live-action shot without any hitches. I had to feel the action, so I did the evil-shopper dance down at my local Camera Corner store, asking questions and testing out all of the stuff in stock. I even checked on the rentals.
Above and beyond all of them, the smooth and silky feel of the Benro head was like the taste of rich, dark chocolate. I cannot stop thinking about the leap forward it will add to my work.