Thursday, September 25, 2014

Beyond, The Interview

            Beyond, The Interview

    This Post is number one hundred on this blog. The idea of post one hundred gave me writers block because I wanted to do something huge then it hit me that most film makers have the same problem. What keeps them from making a movie is the quest to make the perfect movie. Just do the best as a film maker each and every day and sooner or later you will get to where hard work and focus has taken everyone who choose to chase a dream.
Q) This is my interview with Raphael Rogers, the film maker behind the impressive short sci-fi film Beyond. The obvious question has to be what is Beyond about?

Beyond is about a woman who has the ability to survive teleportation and is tasked with exploring new planets.

Q) I have seen films with a crew of a few dozen not be able to accomplish what you did with this film. When the end credits roll, it is just you and the lead actress. When you came up with the idea for this film did you imagine that it would end up being a two person project?

Yeah actually. Bianca and I had done projects before together and I really just wanted to make something where I had complete control so I could get my vision out there. So I tailored the idea towards that end goal.

Q) Are you a film school film maker or did you learn the craft through trial and error?
Also it looks like you did all the effects for this film. Effects that I have to say were as impressive at times as I seen on display in any of the Hollywood tent pole films. Did you know before hand that you were capable of pulling the effects off or was it a matter of I am here and I have to get this done?

I went to school at Michigan State for digital media in general which in some ways I think was better. I learned audio production as well as graphic design and some film. A lot I learned was just from trial and error after I was done with school though.

As for the visual effects. I've been playing with After Effects for a few years. By no means am I amazing at it I just know a few tricks. So some of it I knew how to do and a lot of it I learned in post... that's why it took me six months to finish!

Q) You lead actress, Bianca Malinowski, was great. How much rehearsal went into her performance and how much input did she have on the construction of her character?

There was no rehearsal. She's naturally a great actress, one of the reasons I like working with her. She makes strong choices and had a good amount of input on her character. She's also on Halt and Catch Fire on AMC if you want to see more of her. I wrote it for her.

Q) The most overlooked part of film making by the beginner is sound. Poor sound quality is the one thing that has sunk more films than I can count. The sound in Beyond was great. What did you use and would you have made different choices if the budget was larger?

If the budget was larger I would have used someone that is better at mixing than me! I also would have had sound on set instead of just using the on camera mic. Lots of ADR happened as a result. I used Adobe Audition to record ADR, my own microphone (Rode NT1-A) and a ton of purchased sound effects that I combined together. I play music as well so sound has always been important in my mind.

Q) What was the budget on this film and the length of the shoot?

The budget was $1000 which included rental of the camera, food, gas and props/costume. We shot it in 3 days with 1 pickup day for the cave scene.

Q) The readers of this blog will hunt me down if I do not ask the camera question.
What did you shoot with? How did it perform? Would you recommend it and in the perfect universe what camera would you use?

I used the Canon c100. I would definitely recommend it for a short. Super easy in post. The image looks good out of the camera. Good in low light. I'm about to release another short which was shot on epic, sony a7s, gopro and 5D III. I own the a7s and I love it and I bet the new Sony FS7 is awesome. I enjoy being light and nimble for small shoots as well as just using natural light. I have yet to use the alexa, though I adore the image. Amira would be fun too.

BEYOND, sci fi short film from Raphael Rogers on Vimeo.

Q) This will mark my 100th post on this blog. The thing that I have learned during the past two years is that the one thing most beginning film makers will discover while working on their first project is the importance of what is called Post. The things that happen and must be done once the principle shooting has ended. Sci fi are by their very nature post production monsters. What came up in post that you wish you had known about before hand?

How long it was going to take! It was like running a marathon. Every shot has to impress in sci fi so by the end of post I had gotten better at vfx so I had to go back and make my earlier shots better. Plus there are always pickups unless you're amazing. Editing the story in an intriguing way is challenging.

Q) Every film maker should have heroes. Who are the film makers that you most admire?

At the moment Doug Liman because of Edge of Tomorrow. I think he did a killer job with that and I love that he used so many practical effects in it. I'm a fan of LOTR of course too. Probably my favorite movies. Anything fantasy or sci fi with strong characters gets my attention.

Q) What comes next? Any feature film dreams?

I'm about to release another short. Then shooting another one after that in two weeks. Working on writing the feature for both. Yes I would kill to do a feature, just looking for the right opportunity.

Q) Last question. Any advice you wish you had been given before picking up a camera for the first time?

You won't be good right away. Just because you're making stuff you don't like at first doesn't mean you won't get there. Just keep making stuff in anyway you can. Don't procrastinate for any reason.

 Thank you again Raphael for taking the time to do this interview.

To the readers of this blog I ask as always if you would take a moment to share this post with a friend and to post a quick like on Stumbleupon that would be great.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Film Makers Advice, Horror Films

The great thing about being a film maker is that others who have come before you are willing to give advice. Some of the worlds greatest film makers have left behind hours and hours of film making advice. From big budget film makers to low budget masters these men and women have recorded their experiences on video, film and with the written word.
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 I love advice from film makers so much that I do interviews with those whom I admire. I love to learn new things that can only be told to me by those who are out there in the trenches. I wrote a book about film making with the core lessons being provided by the hardest working micro budget digital film makers on earth. I hope that before you begin your journey as a film maker you will pick up the book or the one that is to follow and take the advice of those film makers.

 Okay I admire so many film makers from the past and the presence that it was hard to pick just a few of them for this post so I will do at least three post like this with a different subject being covered in each. The advice today is on horror film making.

The first film maker is Guillermo del Toro. I believe that he is one of the greatest directors on earth. It sort of broke my heart when he dropped out of shooting Hobbit, but I understand his reasons. 


 Next up is advice from the film maker behind the Conjuring, James Wan.


  Next up is the film maker behind the greatest horror film of all time. You can debate this amongst your selves, but on most list, including mine is The Exorcist.


  I am adding his quick interview about the sequel to his masterpiece and how much it sucked.


 Next up is a film maker from my home town Philadelphia. Now cut that out, he has made a few great films. Also I would like to say that he produced and co wrote The Devil, a movie that is a tight as hell character driven low budget horror film. I am talking about M. Night Shyamalan.


 Next is John Carpenter, the great film maker behind The Thing, Halloween, The Fog and Escape from New York.



 Val Lewton is a name that every horror film maker should investigate. He was a producer who built the foundation for every horror film to follow his Cat People. I could not find an interview with him, but he did leave behind some great footage.

 Next is foreign horror film makers and I will limit this to two film makers. First up is Dario Argento the legendary Italian Film maker.


 The second interview is with Takashi Miike, I believe that he is the greatest living director. That is my opinion, most of you will differ. He has directed every genre known to man including musicals and westerns. Here is a littlr interview along with the trailer to one of his films.



 That will be it for today. Thank you for visiting and please take a moment to share this post and to consider checking out my book of interviews.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Mad Max, Fury Road Trailer

Mad Max, Fury Road Trailer 

I know that this blog is dedicated to low budget film making, but I am a fan too and the original Mad Max film was low budget. I could spend a few hundred words trying to sell the fact that Mad Max Fury Road connects to the topics that I normally cover, but why bother. Here is the trailer. Enjoy and the next post will be about fan films.


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  Thank you for visiting and please take a moment to add me to your google plus and to share this post with a friend. 

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gotham City Sirens, Update

The campaign has reaches it goal of 900 dollars, but you can still donate..

Keep in mind that crowd funding campaigns are tricky. You should always aim for more than your goal. Even if you reach it with a day or two left you want to continue to push through to the end. There have been campaigns at kickstarter that hit their goal and then ended up falling short because someone backed out after the fact.

Visit kickstarter and indiegogo. Check out campaigns and if you see one that you really like then get involved.

That will be it for today. Good luck and have a nice day.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gotham City Sirens, The Interview


    Years ago when the words fan film were mentioned you knew that you were in for an second rate film populated by fans of star wars wearing Halloween costumes and fighting with toy lightsabers. We have come a long way since those days. Now fan films are filmed as well as the original material and sometimes much better written. Many great digital film makers have gotten their start shooting short fan films. The truth about film making is that most film makers on one level or another when they are starting out are writing and shooting versions of the material that they grew up watching. Spielberg was making his versions of the movies that he watched as a kid. Tarantino is doing his versions of those gangster and exploitation films from the 1970's that he loves so much. Every film maker begins somewhere and with this post I begin a series of post on the Fan Film.

This is my interview with Terell Culbert, the film maker behind  The Catwoman and the upcoming Gotham City Sirens. Before I begin I would like to thank him for agreeing to do this interview and to remind you guys there is time left to check out his campaign and help out.  You can do so by clicking here.

Q) Because there has been so many versions of each and every hero and villain that populate the Dark Knight universe it has given both writers and film makers more freedom to create their own versions of these classic characters. What lead you to do select this subject material?

A) The diversity. I love the fact that this motley crew tells their own story almost immediately. Selina is a villain with the possibility of one day becoming a hero. Ivy is a boss in my book! She’s got that perfect blend of insanity and leadership abilities. Harley is a mash-up between the Joker and Billy the kid.

Q) The fan short film The Catwoman is a slightly different take on the character than we have seen before. When writing an origin story did you feel any pressure to cling to what had been done before or did you feel free to tell the story in your own unique way?

A) I didn’t really feel pressured. Catwoman has always been this flirtatious vixen with a vague amount of depth. So I wanted to give people a unique origin story that explains why Selina is a villain with the potential for good.

Q) What was the shooting schedule like on The Catwoman? Also I must ask what type of camera did you use while filming it? Where you pleased with the results and will you be using it again on the new project?

A) Our shooting schedule for the Catwoman was pretty rough. The actors were involved in other projects already. So while we used four days to shoot the actual film. We wrapped in about three weeks. The camera I used was a Canon EOS Rebel T3i it’s a Digital SLR camera. I will absolutely be using it for this project and many others. It’s so easy to transport and use.

Q) How important is it to find the right actresses for Gotham City Sirens?

A) It was very important! While casting I found a lot of Actresses who had one or the other, the look, but not the personality or the personality, but not the look. When you do a fan film it has to come off authentic, in a way. My budget is ridiculously small so I can’t depend on great stunts or CGI. My performers have to make you believe that there is a corrupt city named Gotham that inhabits these awesome characters.

Q) I have told anyone who wants to work on a micro budget digital film that they should first watch that old Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. The one where Charlie Brown and Snoopy make popcorn, buttered toast and jellybeans for Thanksgiving dinner and then they should take away the popcorn, jellybeans and butter from the toast so that they will begin understanding how little they should expect to be compensated while working on a film shoot. On any given day how many people are working behind the scenes on your film shoot?

A) (Laughs) Great example. Normally it’s just me, sometimes I am lucky to get a second or third person to help me.

Q) With the help of your crowdfunding campaign you are going to be producing Gotham City Sirens. What is the length that you are aiming for with this project?

A) 40 minutes.

Q) You are going to be taking on some pretty (in more ways that one) iconic characters from the Dark Knight universe in the forms of Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Poison Ivy. Is this a case of going big or go home, or did the story you have in mind when you began demand that all of them be included?

A) This film really did demand that I include other female characters who could stand with or against Selina. I feel like It’s a great installment to Catwoman’s universe.

Q) Some fan film makers only want to make fan films. I understand that you would like to branch out from this area of film making. In an idea world what kind of films are you making in the future?

A) Drama/ horror. I really like both those genres.

Q) Any final thoughts on making fans films in general.

A) There are a lot of awesome fan films out there with amazing special effects and cool movie props. However, this should never be the catalyst for making a film in my opinion. Each fan film that I have done is due to a long experience of reading watching and caring for these fictional characters.

    Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview. We all look forward to seeing the finished film.

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Okay guys that is it for today. As always please take a moment to hit the like button on stumbleupon and to share this post on facebook.  Social media has to become a habit. This is the most important tool to the indie film maker. It is important for a kickstarter or indiegogo campaign to become a success and it is important for blogs like this to grow. By helping to grow an audience for others we grow an audience for ourselves and our future projects.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Check Out These Crowdfunding Campaigns

 There are a few crowdfunding campaigns that I would like to share with you guys today. I usually learn about campaigns from someone sending me a email or on google plus. I do not think that this campaign is more important than that campaign or this subject material is more worthy than that one. It usually comes down to the film maker, their passion for the project and the past work that they have done.

If any of you have a campaign starting up and want to talk about it please drop me a note by leaving a comment or visiting me on google plus and I will get back to you. Digital feature film making does not have to be a lonely business. It is okay to make connections along the way.

Okay first up is an international production. There is a few days left in this campaign so if you wish to get involved you will have to move quickly. I understand that this film maker shot her last film using a T2i, I would like to do an interview about that soon. - ນ້ອງຮັກ (Nong Hak / Dearest Sister) - A Lao Horror from Mattie Do on Vimeo.

  The next project that I want to look at is something that could be something very special. I like new twist on the horror film model. The film Mermaid Down could be that and more.


Mermaid Down - A Film In Pre-Production from Mermaid Down on Vimeo.

  Next up is a horror comedy titled Back from the Grave.

Anyone who knows me personally would tell you that I love Shakespeare. I cannot get enough of Shakespeare and someday I am going to shoot a twist on Hamlet. Okay that takes me to this kickstarter project, Thane of East County.

Next is the campaign for a horror film titled Headless.


  The last film is a Fan film. I think some of the best low budget film making is being done in the area of fan films. This one is from the Dark Knight universe, Gotham City Sirens.

Dominate The Stock Market

That will be it for today. On a personal note I would like to add that my screen writing book is now available again at Amazon. You can check it out by clicking the image on the right side of this page.

 Please take a moment to share this post and to like the post of stumbleupon.