Buddha Jones’ Dan Asma Speaking on “Feature Trailers That Bring Them In” at #chifilmsummit

October 26th, 2015

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.”


Producers say movie-making has never been better in Chicago

Dick Wolf defends using L.A.-based writers, post-production for his Chicago shows at film summit

50 Years and Counting

May 30th, 2014

“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…

Let me know if you are interested!
Stephen Kastner
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