Friday, December 14, 2012

Digital Filmmaking, About Paying It Forward

            Digital filmmaking, Paying it Forward

    The thing that we do not do enough of is to just pay it forward. We make our films and are so self absorbed by the process that we do not think about those who will follow us. This is truly a shame since many of us did not attend film school, but learned how to do this from books, articles and online tutorials.

    If there is some behind the scenes footage included on a dvd it is usually silly out takes and the occasional interview with a cast member. Even voiceovers done by directors are largely wasted on everything, but the technical aspects of shooting the movie. I have learned more about shooting a movie from listening to directors like William Friedkin than I have from all the film making books that I have read.

    Today I would like to introduce you to a behind the scenes look at making of a very promising micro budget film. The basic background of this movie is that it was shot using a camera that has been brushed aside too quickly in everyone’s rush to embrace the Dslr revolution. Yes I know that you can make a kick ass movie shooting with a Canon 7d or my favorite a hacked panasonic Gh1, but you can also do some great work with the Canon HV series of cameras. Not only with the addition of a depth of field adapter, but with the bare camera.

    Below is the trailer for, plus behind the scenes footage,  a great looking Canon HV 20 film. I did not think that you could get footage this good looking from just the naked HV 20. I hope in future to interview the film maker and find out what went into the production of the film Throwback.

    Okay that is about it for today. Please guys take a moment to check out their channel on youtube and remember that any advice that we can give about lighting or editing or working with a crew may help someone who is just starting out.

    Last thing for today, I would like to add a coming attractions page, but to do this I could use some coming attractions or new releases to promote. I will put up a clip along with a link to your website or page. 
Just something to think about guys.
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Sunday, December 2, 2012

On Filmmaking and Marketing with Ed Burns

            Filmmaking With Ed Burns

    Hollywood looks at Ed Burns as an indie filmmaker while most micro budget film makers look at him as a mainstream film maker. I look at him as a very important innovator in the world of film marketing.

    Ed was one of the first film makers to understand that the business aspect of the film making process was important. He seems to have figured out early on that if you do not make a profit with your film then those responsible for financing them would not take you seriously.

    Some of you are probably saying, but I have a intimate little micro budget film that must be made and I do not care whether or not it ever makes a dollar. Fine, there are many film makers like this. If you are in it for the one time shot then go ahead and save your money and go out and shoot it over how ever many weeks and or months it takes to get the job done. Hey it took Christopher Nolan about a year of shooting on weekends to finish his first feature. Make your film your way, but if you want to earn a living at this, if you want to make any more films then the business side of things is going to have to be considered.

    Ed Burns is a good film maker. He is at times a very good screenwriter, but his lasting impact will be showing us how to monetize our project through itunes and video on demand. The marketing of your film should be a part of your pre production planning and a major part of post. This is important because this is how we will earn our living as a indie filmmaker. I know that some of you think that you will make your film and find a distributor to handle the financial end of things and maybe there will be a few of your who manage to pull that off, but have you heard the thousands of horror stories about distributors who have cheated low budget film makers out of their profits. If you learn to market your film then you will be in control of the money.

    Okay that is it for today. Good luck with your projects and I am still looking for guess bloggers. If you have a production story that you wish to tell and you can do it in under a thousand words I would love to post it. Look at it as a way of advertising your project. - Great Deals, Just 24 Hours 1 FREE Audiobook RISK-FREE from Audible

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Greatest Independent Filmmaker

            The Greatest Independent Filmmaker

    Some of you will disagree strongly with this statement. I will make it anyway.

    Alfred Hitchcock was not only the greatest filmmaker of the 20th century, but he was the greatest indie filmmaker as well.

   “He worked for studios all of his life. He made the most hated of all types of films to the old world of indie film makers. He made the kind of films that made money. You can’t call that guy an indie film maker.”

   I can and I will.

    Look at it this way, in the world that Hitchcock lived in there was no way that you could be a truly indie filmmaker. The only one who tried it was Orson Welles and he got crushed by the studios. Movies cost a fortune to produce. The only way to distribute them was through the studios and the theaters that they owned and operated. Tv did not exist when he started his career. There was no dvds, no videos, no digital downloads, no internet. He had to work within the system and take his shots when he could.

   In England he had some control near the end of his time making movies there. Arriving in America he was employed by David O Selznick, a hyper control freak who had no problem with re-editing Hitckcock’s films. Some would argue that he re-edited Rebecca into winning best picture. I would argue that it was probably a best picture winner before he touched it and if it had lost Hitchcock would have won with the first of his truly indie productions in America the film Foreign Correspondent.    

   When not working for Selznick his contract was loaned out to other studios. This gave Hitchcock the freedom to do within reason what ever films that he wished to. This allowed him to make the movie that would be his favorite, Shadow Of A Doubt. He took a movie star and turned him into a serial killer before most of the world had any idea of what a serial killer was.

   A few years later Hitchcock would gain his total independence and form his own production company. This did not last long due to the fact that he wanted to be a little too experimental. He made the movie Rope that was shot in ten minute takes. Easy to do now, but a nightmare to do back in the forties. At the turn of the 1950s he was back working for the studios with a new respect for what they could provide and also what it took to make truly independent films. He would spend the next ten years making a few movie for fun and profit and then others for himself. This cycle would allow him to give the studios what they wanted. Massive hits like Strangers on a Train, The Man Who Knew Too Much and the Blockbuster North By Northwest.
His indie type on movies were almost as successful. Movies like The Trouble With Harry, I Confess, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and Vertigo.

   If nothing I have offered has gotten through and you still think Hitchcock was only a big studio director and nothing more please explain Psycho.

    He took a tv crew to shoot a movie. He shot it in six weeks. He shot it in black and white. He used mostly his own money. He took a movie star and killed her a third of the way into the movie. He was the most famous director on earth. Famous for elegant thrillers with Grant and Stewart and Grace Kelly. Nearing the age of sixty he hammered the film going world with a dark and bloody little thriller that despite hundreds of attempts no one has been able to come close to repeating during the last 50 years.

    And he followed that one up by spending a year working on and shooting The Birds.

    Hitchcock could have relaxed. He could have settled into doing the same movie over and over again, but instead he was always stretching and straining to do what had never been done before.

    Indie stands for independent. Doing it your way is what will make or break your indie film. Right now there is a film festival in my city. Except for the Graveyard shift (horror and action from around the world) there is not much independence of thought on display. Do not think about festivals or awards when making your film. Do not think about anything, but what will please you and the audience that you have in mind. This is why Hitchcock’s films have endured the test of time.

    Are their filmmakers today who work within a studio system and still managed to maintain their independence? Have a look at the films of the great foreign filmmaker Takashi Miike. Izo, Zebraman, One Missed Call, The Happiness Of the Katakuris, The 13 Assassins, Audition and Ichi the Killer. He has done a dozen more I could name.

    This post has strictly been my opinion.

    Okay that is it for today. The next post is going to most likely be about Found Footage. I know that we have talked about this subject before, but it has become a Genre that is almost strictly part of the horror film world and I think that it is time to grow the genre.

    Thank you for visiting and I am still looking for my first guest Blog post. If I could pick the subject it would be editing. That is my weakness and it must be someone’s strength.

    Okay good luck and good bye for now.
Digital Cameras

Friday, September 28, 2012

Digital FilmMaking, About Framing

            Digital Filmmaking, About Framing

    Digital filmmaking involves learning most of the basics that film makers have learned for decades. Lighting and sound are a large part of the filmmaking process, but there are other basics that you need to master if you are going to make a quality film.

    Today we are going to talk about framing your shots and scenes. I could use a lot of filmmakers as an example, but the one that I am most familiar with is Hitchcock and I am back from seeing one of his films on an actual movie screen. I just saw the Birds on the big screen and it is a master class in how to frame and re-frame scenes.


    “What is framing?”

    It is what it sounds like. Picture a photo in a frame. See how the image is centered in the frame that is what we are talking about. In film making terms the center of attention should be framed at or near the center of the screen in all scenes. Most digital cameras will offer up a framing grid for you in the basic menu.
    Okay what I want you to look at right now is this basic tutorial on framing.
    Now I hope that you understand better what we are talking about. Next I want to look at Framing a shot in action. Now we will look at scenes from the movie the birds. In this scene called by many the gas station scene Hitchcock not only framed it well it he took it to a completely new level by framing his lead actress within the scene he is framing. Hitchcock is an artist, you can learn a great deal from him and other directors. Take a few things from your favorites. It is not stealing it is imitation. You imitate your favorite hitters in baseball, your favorite quarterback in football. It is okay, your own voice will develop as you do this. Brian De Palma is a Hitchcock follower. He is still Brian De Palma. Clint Eastwood takes from two directors Leone and Don Siegel. The combination makes him the award winning director that he has become.

    Watch how your favorite directors frame a shot and then a scene. Learn from them and use what you have learned to improve the work that you are doing.

    Thank you for visiting, remember to add us to your google plus and to stumble us on stumbleupon.
The Snugg

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gh2 Footage and Comments

                Gh2 Footage and Comments

    This is not the Gh2 post that I promised. I am still working on it. I thought that I would post some footage of the camera going up against some of the competition.

    The first footage that I am posting is the Gh2 going against the Canon 5d. Please note that this is footage that was shot with out any of the added hacks that are available.
    The thing that I like about this camera is that it shoots pretty impressive footage in its basic form. This thing is ready to film a feature right out of the box and the price is going to be the kill shot in most of the battles. It cost less than many of the Canon cameras.

    “Price is not everything.”

    I know, but when you combine price with quality and the difference is in that thousand dollar range that is a huge portion of your low budget indie film budget if not the whole budget.

    Here is a look at footage from one that has been hacked.

    Okay here is a trailer for a film shot with one.

  I guess that will have to be it for now. If any of you have a trailer that you would like to post here, let me know. Thank you for visiting.
  The Snugg

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The GH1 camera.

                The Panasonic GH1, Hacking Away

    This is a pretty nice little camera that has been discontinued by the company and replaced by the GH2, which we will review in the future.

    Let us get right down to it.

    Is this camera in the same league as the Canon Dslr cameras?

    Well no, not it its standard form, but hell yeah once it has been hacked. Once it has been hacked you will have on your hands a digital filmmaking monster. I could tell you about how it stacks up to other dslr cameras or I could offer up a few reviews.

    First up is the Panasonic GH1 going head to head with the Canon Rebel T2i. I love the T2i, but dollar for dollar the GH1 can be gotten for a lower price new or used at some camera shops. I will offer up a link to at least 2 such shops.

    Here is the first tutorial.

    Next up is the GH1 going head to head with the work horse of the Canon family of Dslr cameras, the Canon 7d.  I thought that it would not measure up. Well guys I thought wrong. This camera takes no prisoners as it hacks away at the competition.

    Okay now that we have looked at these two matches. I am going to conclude with one tutorial on hacking the GH1, but before I do that just keep in mind that the camera is not as important as the lighting. You can shoot a great low budget or micro budget film with any of these cameras. With many of the pro-sumer camcorders. Your camera is still just a tool, but it does feel nice to have a super powerful one like this camera or its big brother the GH2.

    I am simply telling you that if you are going to buy your first Dslr or if you are looking to upgrade this is a camera to look at.


    I know the name of this site is Cannon digital film making. The name will not change. We are going to talk mostly about shooting with a Canon. The feature that I hope to shoot before the year ends is going to be shot on Canon equipment. That said, I am going to up grade to a GH camera in the future. I will get one because there will be scripts that demand a certain look. I will shoot with a camcorder when the script dictates it. Like most things in life the situation dictates what we do and when we do it and how we do it.

    Upcoming will be a post on the GH2 and further hacks.

    Final thing for today. I am still looking for more trailers for my trailer park. If any of you have a trailer posted on youtube that you wish for me to add drop me a note by leaving a comment and I will probably post the trailer. Maybe even do an interview. Good luck guys and remember us on stumbleupon and google plus.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Canon hf r10, Great for a Beginner

                Lowest Priced Camcorders

    How low can you go?
    We have looked at Dslr Cameras and consumer camcorders. We have gone as low in price as the Canon HV 20 for our low budget film. The truth is that you could drop down to the HV 10. It will give you most of what the other Hv cameras have to offer. This camcorder sells for 80 to 100 dollars less than the HV 20 and 30, but we can go lower still.

    How about those canon vixia cameras?

    They also shoot native 24p and in high def.

    The problem with them, particularly the one I am going to talk about is that many do not have threads so that you can attach lenses and dof adapters. There is a work around. It is ultra low budget, but we are not here to impress people with how much we are willing to spend on our camcorder, but how good our end product turns out to be.

    Let’s have a look at my favor of the Canon vixia series the hf r10 (do not confuse it with the massive g10).  This little baby has most of the manual setting of its bigger brothers. It can be gotten brand new in the 179.00 dollar range. Used it can be found for around 130 and I got one for less than 100.  I love this little camera, it has the toggle rather than the touch screen. You can record internally or to card.

Did I mention that it shoots 24p?

    Naked with out any additions it is a pretty good camera for the beginning film maker and I plan on using mine this fall as the second camera on the feature I am going to be producing and maybe directing. Here is a quick review of the camera and what it does.

    Now let’s upgrade this kid. We have a camera that does not have threads. We can not add any extras to it unless we are able to add an adapter ring to the camera. I could explain it to you or you could check out the video that taught me how to do it and I have to say that so far so good. I have tried it with a wide angle lens attached and soon I am going to try it with a static depth of field adapter.

    So here is the tutorial. Good luck and be careful when you do this. You really only get one bite of the apple with this DIY unless you want to have to buy another camera.

    Almost forgot to include some test footage shoot with the camera and a dof adapter. Take a look at this. Okay I guess that is it for now. The next post is probably going to be about the GH series and I do not mean General Hospital. Remember us on stumpleupon and google plus. If or when you decide to buy a Dslr consider using one of the camera shops that sponsors this blog. They help to pay the bills and if any of them is reading this if you want a product review contact me, send me the item  and I will be honest about it. If any of the shops wants me to review a Red camera I will happily do so right after I do to it what Peter on the Family Guy did to his Surfing Bird record.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Firmware and Vegas Software

                More About Firmware And Editing Software

    Since the Canon t2i post I have gotten questions about firmware and ways to upgrade (or Hack) your Canon. There is a guy who did a great 9 minute tutorial and he can spell it out a lot quicker than I could. So here it is.

    Let’s try to keep our eyes on the real prize here guys and that is that the camera is only one part of the film making universe. You can make a great film with any camera that shoots 24p or even 30p if you learn how to light properly. Let’s remember that we are constructing a visual world. The lighting that you select along with the setting will be more important than the camera itself. Hitchcock once said that film is a glimpse into a world and not thee world.

In the case of your film it will be the world that you have created. This created world is much like our world, it is a world of light and shadows. What we allow the audience to see and what we keep hidden.

    The tools that you select to edit will be as important as your camera. If you can afford the higher end editing software then go for it. But if you are a micro to no budget filmmaker like myself I would suggest something like Sony Vegas Pro 11. The price is pretty fair for the quality of the software. Features have been cut and edited using this software. If it is still too expensive then you can drop down to Sony Vegas 9 or 10 which you can pick up on Ebay cheap. Given the choice I would go with pro 11 directly from Sony because you will have all the updates easily available along with the fact that when they upgrade to 12 or higher you can buy the upgrades at a discount.

    Here is a look at some footage altered using Sony Vegas 9 and then a brief review of Sony Vegas pro 11.

    Thanks for visiting guys. Remember to recommend this blog to others.

If any of you have a trailer that you would like for me to add to the trailer park drop me a comment and I will contact you or add a link to your comment and if the trailer is good I will post it.

   Okay to close I am going to be looking at the Panasonic Dslr cameras soon. Also I am going to post about the cheapest camcorder that I believe that you can make a feature with. Here is a hint it is a Vixia and it can be gotten for less than any of the Canon HV camcorders. So stay tuned for that and if any of you guys are horror film makers I am starting a blog on horror film making. It will cover special effects and makeup and all the little things that go into making a quality horror film. If you wish to visit that Blog you can by  clicking here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Directing Part One

                The Director in You - Part 1

    Most likely you will be the director of your low to micro budget film. How well you do this job will be the one thing that impacts your movie more than anything else. This is the one part of the process where you are not held down by equipment or budget. You are as good as you are going to be at this moment in time.

    Picture this, a hack direct is a hack director whether he has a thousand dollars to spend on his first movie or a hundred million dollars. It will show through and no matter how good the camera or sound or acting is the director will be noted either positively or negatively.

    I believe that there are only three kinds of directors. Let us look at them.

    First is the Artist. I do not mean the silent film, I mean those special few who stand out from the crowd. The hated one percent who are gifted unlimited. I will name a few, Chaplin, Hitchcock, John Ford, David Lean, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Scorsese, the Coen Brothers and Ridley Scott. If I included foreign directors I could list many more. The two I will mention are John Woo and Sergio Leone. Each director has a signature look and feel to their films. Watch three minutes and you know exactly who shot it. 

    The next level is the technician, these film makers are hard workers who get the job done. It is not always pretty, but they finish what they start. Some of the greatest films every made have been done by these guys.  Here is a list of some, Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz) Robert Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Sound of Music), Billy Wilder, William Friedkin, Don Seigel (Dirty Harry Films, Charley Varrick, The Big Steal), George Lucas and James Cameron. You may disagree by saying that guy is an artist, that guy is a hack and that guy should be erased from history. Fine we can do a list someday and argue each and every choice, but for now let’s just go on.

    The last level is the Hack. For the sake of not getting hate mail I will not mention any of them (okay you forced me into this, they can blame you guys later for this one} Spike Lee is a hack. He should be hacking people home from grocery stores rather than making movies. The next crappy movie he makes will be the next crappy movie he makes. How about thee Gus Van Sant, overrated, smug and did I mention smug. Remake another Hitchcock film why don’t you and when you are done paint a better version of the Mona Lisa.  Ron Howard is not a total hack, but man he is great at stealing defeat from the jaws of victory. Ron close to being a good movie is not a good movie no matter what your friends in Hollywood tell you. I would rather have the Fonz direct a movie for me, I would go on, but your daughter is smoking hot so I am going to stop before I offend you. Not going to leave the women out of Hack territory. Jodie Foster is not very good. Jodie if you invite a guy into a dark theater for two hours with the promise of showing him a beaver you had better deliver more than the Road Warrior with Elmo attached to his wrist. Last is Sofia Coppola, she is a better actress than director. Do I have to say more?

    I know that this reads like my list of loves and hates, but it is not. I want to list you guys amongst the technicians and the artist and not the Hacks, but where you end up is really up to you. Digital feature filmmaking is not easy, but I hope at least a few of you will make it look easy.

    If you are an artist there is no advice for you here, you are gifted in ways that I can not begin to describe.

    If you are going to be a technician which is the majority of us who make low budget movies then my advice will be simple. Surround yourself with people who are better than you when ever possible. Better with lighting, better with sound and editing and better writers. Be a great listener. Part of leadership is not waiting to talk, but being eager to listen to everyone around you. Take advice seriously. This does not mean that you have to use it, but listen and absorb. People love to work for and with those who pay them some attention. Keep it basic. When shooting you do not have to do twenty takes and coverage from ten angles. Woody Allen rarely if ever does closeups and Clint Eastwood rarely does more than three takes of any scene. Have fun making the film and have fun with your crew. If you are very lucky you may do more than one feature film so treat this one as if it is your only child after all it might very well be. Never argue in front of your crew. Be the most enthusiastic person on the set at all times. If you are not who will be?

    Okay in part 2 and 3 of this we are going to look at styles of directing.

    Here is a sample of what I am going to explore. This is  Martin Scorsese’s signature editing style.

Okay that is it for now remember to stumble us on stumbleupon. To check out the trailer park and if you have a movie that you think should be included let me know, maybe we can include the short or trailer and do an interview about it. One last thing I opened with David Lynch for one reason he may be the only director on earth who manages to be all three types of directors in the same movie and or tv series.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Canon T2i Film

               A Canon T2i Feature

    The Canon 550d or as it is commonly known as the Canon T2i has been dismissed by many micro budget film makers as being too low budget. Most would be happy to go off and shoot their movie on a Nikon or the Canon 7d or the 5d mark II, but when the T2i is mentioned it is usually quickly dismissed.

    I have to remind many that the same was said about the Dslr cameras in the beginning and now they are respected by all.  I am not saying go out and buy a T2i unless that is what you want or it is all that you can afford. If you can pull the 7d or the 5d then go for it, but do not spend all of your ready cash on the camera just so that you can say look at me I got the biggest camera. Lighting will be more important than the camera. Learn how to light well and you can shoot a quality film on a Sanyo or an iPhone.  The iPhone filmmaking site is up and running check it out by visiting I also have promised to do a post about making a movie with a Sanyo, I am still gathering information, if someone out there has some Sanyo camera info please drop me a comment.

    Back to the Canon T2i. I just saw a trailer for a feature that was shoot in Australia using this camera. It’s an action film that was shoot on a budget of about 25,000 dollars. I would like to say well done to the makers of the movie Deadtime. Please take a minute to watch the trailer below.

    Okay if you are more interested in shooting with a Canon T2i you can do this with the bare camera and get okay footage, but I would suggest enhancing your T2i with a firmwire update called Magic Lantern, it takes your 600 dollar camera and makes it almost the equal of its big brothers the 5D and 7D. Okay here is a look at what Magic Lantern can do for you.

    Now I would like to leave you with a short shot on the T2i/550d.

Good luck with your digital feature film project and remember to stumble us on Stumbleupon and recommend this blog to a friend. Okay that is it for me, I have to go. Comic Con is in my city this weekend and I need to get going. All 5 Star Trek Captains are here and Bruce Campbell and the reason for me going Jeri Ryan. Seven is my favorite number.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Digital Peep Talk


                You Are Not Alone

    This is about Digital Filmmaking so do not worry I am not about to sing a Michael Jackson song. Instead we are going to spend some time with some of the low budget filmmakers who have made it.

    Micro budget to low budget filmmaking is a lonely job. There is more failure than success. There will be more setbacks than steps forward, but if you push on there will come a moment when you are sitting all alone in the dark watching the end credits of your film rolling by. After the credits roll you may decide to put in away in a drawer or go out and find a way to get it onto a thousand screens. It will be up to you, but the road starts with you believing that it will be done. Can be done gives you time and a way out while will be done forces you to act.

    If you do nothing today, but write a page of your script. Study a tutorial in an area where you are weak. Read a good book on the craft of filmmaking. Network with other film makers. Get a set of lights or even a dollar pack of c47s. Pat yourself on the back, tell yourself job well done for to day and keep going.

    Remember that speech from the last Rocky movie, “You keep moving forward, you keep going forward, that is how winning is done.” Damn right and that is how films get made. Film making is for the relentless and digital feature filmmaking is for the last knights searching for the Holy Grail, dying along the way is always an option, but other than that it is the only reason why the film should not get made.

    Okay no more talk from me today, let’s hear from some guys who got the job done.

    First up is Kevin Smith.

Next up is the king of do it now filmmaking. He got many of us into the industry. Let's go to ten minute film school.

     Last up for today is a guy who has been an inspiration to many of us in the micro to no budget film world. If you live and breath this world then you know about Oklahoma Ward, if not here is the first video in what would become a two year march to the completion of his feature film Crawl. If you want to know what the walk you are going to take is really going to be like watch his youtube post.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lighting Solutions

                DIY LIGHTING

    The art of film making can be summed up as the art of controlling the visual environment. The digital filmmaker is sort of performing a magic trick. It is about what you see and what you do not see. We do this through lighting.

    I understand that there is the matter of location and set design, but in the end they will be defined by how well we light the images to be recorded. Our stars require light. What good is having the most beautiful actress on earth in front of your camera if she is poorly lit.

    We must light well and up until a few years ago this was done with massive banks of lights and softboxes.

    You can get a good set of softbox lights online for under 200 dollars. If you go that route I would suggest getting a set with a jib arm, they really do come in handy. If you cannot afford soft box lights or the most popular lighting set up of the moment Led lights then I would suggest that you do it this way.

    Get yourself some clamp lights and construct a few of the legendary PVC lighting stands. Here is the legendary tutorial on how to make yourself one.

    Next up is one of my favorite lighting tools. I do not own one myself, but I am hoping to order a few for my next project from the guy who offers up this tutorial. The china lantern is a great all purpose lighting tool. Great diffused lighting up close. Face it when you are a low budget or no budget filmmaker you are going to have to do a lot of things yourself and is that really such a bad thing. In Hollywood they get to through money at their problems, in the micro budget world you have come up with ways to get the job done.

    Last note before I go today, if you like this blog and wish it to continue and grow could you take a moment to add us to your Google plus and to please give us a like on Stumbleupon. I am also looking for more trailers for our trailer park, if you know of any please leave a comment and I will check them out.

     I am also interested in interviewing anyone who is shooting a feature using a Canon camera. If it is your first film or your tenth I would like to do my first interview for this blog. Good luck with your projects, next up we will probably look at some more low budget cameras.

Monday, April 23, 2012

iPhone Movies?

Can I Make a Movie With My iPhone?

    It is a question that I had not really investigated since I do not have an iPhone. I am low budget and so is my phone. The question did interest me so I did some investigating during the last month and here is the answer.
    Yes you can.
    You can make a movie with one and someday someone will get one in over a thousand theaters.
    Before you grab your phone and run out and shoot Cloverfield the lost footage I have to remind you that the rules do not change. You still need to remember that you are making a movie. If you want to show it to anyone, but a few close friends and your youtube fans then I will suggest again that you remember what we have learned about light and sound so far.   Get to know your camera whether it is a Dslr or an iPhone before you spend time and effort making a movie.
    Okay let’s get down to it.
    There is a minor industry for tripods and lenses for these phones and dollar for dollar I have to admit some of them produce a image equal to my favorite camcorders. For a tight shoot, I mean both budget and space, these camera phones could be very effective. So far from what I have seen I would rather use them indoors than outside.
    I am going to include two videos for you today. One will give you a great tutorial on the camera phone and all that you will need to shoot you film.  The second video is a sample short film shot using the iPhone. I would like to hear from those of you who try this style of filmmaking. If someone makes a really good one I will put it in our Trailer Park.
    One more thing before we get to the videos. I would like to add a coming attractions page to this site. So if any of you have Feature Films that you would like to promote email me.
    First Video is a Tutorial that is about 10.00 minutes.  To learn more about iPhone filmmaking visit our new blog on the subject at this link click here

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sounding out the Zoom H2

                                    No Budget Sound, The Zoom H2

    You want to have the best quality sound possible for your film. This is more important than your camera.

    Wait a second, get off of that ledge. I know how you feel. Our cameras are our babies. They are our pride and joy and some of us sleep with them under our pillows at night.

    Hold it, I don’t mean me. Just some of the rest of you guys. I am normal, my camera is stored in my wall safe.

    Sound is more important for this reason. Your intended customer will forgive poor lighting or an image or two that they can not make out, but they will lose patience quickly if they have to say on more than one occasion “What was that? What did he just say? Huh?”

    Bad sound will kill your digital film project.

    Bad sound will scream to all involved that you do not know what you are doing.

    Sound will send your film packing faster than visuals ever will. Sound needs your full attention and the best way to get quality sound on the cheap is to use a Zoom.

    You can use the Zoom H4 and attach a mic to it for all your recording needs. Or you can use a Zoom H2 and use it as the mic.

For under 150 dollars you can get a brand new Zoom H2 online, attach a boom and you are ready to compete with the pros.

    Here is a short video tutorial on what you will need and why.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Making Trash Or A Treasure.

            Will It Be Trash or Treasured?

    You are going to make your digital feature film.
    Guess what, so will thousands of other people during the next five years. 95 percent of what gets produced will be trash. It will be dull and mostly poorly produced and terribly acted. That is the facts. Look at Hollywood with tens of millions of dollars to throw at a project and most of what they produce will be crap.
    Out of that remaining 5 percent some treasures will be found and on rare occasions those who believe that they will be producing trash will actually produce a treasure.
    One of the clearest examples of this is the horror classic The Evil Dead. Most of the people working on it with the exception of the director seemed to have thought trash. That not counting family and close friends about eight people would ever see the film. Instead it became a cult classic. It spawned two great sequels and is about to spawn a reboot (thankfully done by Sam Raimi).
    Sam Raimi had a vision and he stuck to it. No one could see what he saw until they saw the film. Just like no one can see what you see until they see your film. You can tell everyone you meet about it, but what ever you say or write down about it will be nothing compared to the real thing. You are going to have to trust your vision even when all around you are shaking their heads.
    Look it, let us be real for a second. The odds are against you, but to achieve anything great the odds will always be against you. I can’t tell you that you will do a great job and everyone will love you. All I can say is that if you do not try you will never succeed. Your trash many end up being just that thrown in the trash, but it could end up being talked about, wrote about and revisited again and again for decades to come. You might actually produce something that may be treasured.
    Good luck with you low budget digital feature film and here is the first part of a documentary about the making of the Evil Dead. If you want to watch the rest of it just visit Youtube.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A field Trip

                A Field Trip

         The size of your crew will be more important than the size of your cast. Look at it this way a small staff of coaches can manage a massive team of players. A staff of six or seven can deal with a team of seventy or eighty players This is perfectly normal in the game of football and will have to become more and more the norm in the world of low budget digital filmmaking.

    You are going to have to wear more than one hat on your set and so will almost everyone else. You will be the director, the producer, the casting director, the entire legal staff and your own PA. You may be the writer as well. Your gaffer will be in charge of both light and sound on most no budget shoots. One person may be in charge of wardrobe and makeup and script editing. You assistant camera person may have to do art direction and set design and location management. You DP may do lighting and in post may become your editor. There are director/producers who are getting by with a four man crew.
    You will figure it out as you go. Just remember there are always unpaid volunteers who can help a great deal if you do not over work them or demand too much from them.

           Right now we are going to visit a short film set. This little field trip will be worth it. This video tutorial is fantastic and will give you a glimpse at all the little jobs that exist behind the scenes.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In The Red Epic?

                LET’S TALK RED

    So many questions about the Red have come my way that I thought that I needed to touch upon them. First things first for those of your who do not know what I am referring to. It is the Red  Epic camera.
    The bad news about this monster is that to buy one with all the little extras you better be prepared to drop around ten thousand dollars. The good news is that you do not have to do this. If you live in or near a large metropolitan area you will be able to rent one for a few hundred dollars per week. Do not let the prices quoted in the following video fool you. It can be rented for less than their quote.
    Let’s begin with the basics. I have never used one or even allowed my self to touch one. I have been in the same room with one, but I was terrified of her. If I got my hands on the Epic I would have to have one and well I did not feel like saving up all my extra cash from now until the end of time to buy one.
    Next and finally on this subject I will be showing you a video on the basics of this camera followed by a behind the scenes look at a Red shoot. 

If you like the making of this short film you can find the entire short on Youtube.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I am a Movie Fan

 This is not a Canon or Digital filmmaking post. This is just the film fan in me posting a trailer that I thought that you would all like. When Ridley Scott is bad he is Robin Hood and Kingdom of Heaven kind of bad, but when he is good he is amazing and I get the feeling from this trailer he is about to show us how amazing he really is with he does what he does best and that is sci-fi.

Lesson is that if you find what you do best why not go back to it again and again. John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock did it. The need to prove that you can do everything well sometimes keep many film makers from doing anyone thing great. Except for Robert Wise (visit Imdb and check out what he directed and be amazed) no one has every mastered all Genres of film making.

Okay enjoy the trailer and turn the volume up to max.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dslr Vs. Camcorders

DSLR Vs. Camcorders

    And the winner is?
    There is no winner.  Sounds like I am being a coward?
    What I am saying is that the winner depends upon the person and his or her needs. Some of you will love Dslr cameras and some of you will love to make your low budget film on a camcorder. I am going to show you both sides of the argument and perhaps you will say screw that and decide to go old school and get a film camera. To each his own.
    The great thing about being a digital feature film maker is that you are going to be doing things your way. That this movie is your child and you can bring that child into the world any way that you wish.

    What about you? What team do you play for?
    Really?  I have to answer this? Okay I will commit to not commit. If I am shooting something that has to be visually stunning and I have time to invest in every shot then I would go Dslr.  If it is going to go theatrical at some point I would lean Dslr.
    If my feature film is going to be online or on demand I would go camcorder. If I only have a limited number of days to shoot and I have to do a ton of set ups quickly then I am going to go camcorder.
    If the budget is razor tight. Meaning I have only 500 dollars and I have to cover my camera and my sound for this price then it is going to be a camcorder. Meaning a Canon hv 20 or 30 and a mic that tops out in the fifty dollar range.
    If I have a grand to spend then it is going to be the Canon t2i or t3i with a Zoom audio recorder.
    Twelve hundred to two thousand dollars and the same Zoom recorder with a the Canon d7.  And if you are going to drop 2500  or more on equipment then it is the Canon 5 markII. Your sound could be the Zoom recorders or you could go for it and use a juicelink audio mixer and a mid range microphone.     I know that I did not
mention camcorders the higher price ranges. I am going to leave you with a video about one such camera and we are going to have to do an entire post on those camcorders.
    Okay the winner of the Dslr vs. Camcorder is to be determined by you guys. Hey post a comment if you have an opinion. If you have a really long opinion drop me an email and I will invite you to offer a guest post.
    That is it for now. Please take a moment to drop by my Trailer park, I added a new trailer that looks interesting and if any of you have trailers let me know. I am about to add a subscribers trailer park.  Also I will be adding a willing to work for food page where any of you can offer your services to other film makers for food and credit and or what ever deals you can work out.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Find A Good Book

                                               Read any Good Book?

    I am going to talk to you about books today.  I know that we have videos tutorials and blog post and articles to aid us, but books are where most film makers get their start. I have read dozens and there are 5 or 6 that I really love and have learned a great deal from.
Let’s begin at the heart and soul of any film. Your movie will begin with a script.The first book is titled The Complete Book of Scriptwriting by J. Michael Straczynski.This is a fantastic book, it has been updated a few times, but any edition will do just fine. He is the creator of the series Babylon 5 and has written many motion pictures. With this one book you will learn all that you need to know about the basics of both television and screenwriting. Second is the Stephen King book titled On Writing, this is a short book that writers of all types swear by. The great lesson of this book is read a lot write a lot.
So do not forget to read a bunch of screenplays. Last note on writing for now, I have a
second blog visit here  that will teach all the basics of micro budget and no budget screenwriting.
    Next book is the gold standard of film making books.  Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez. He is the one who started all of this. He is the one who has made it popular for guys and gals to go out with just a camera and a dream and make their own movies.  Next is Paint with Light by. John Alton.  This is a professional’s book on lighting. Read it and you will learn more about lighting than you will ever be able to use.
    Next is, Practical DV Filmmaking by. Russell Evans. This book will start you off from the point where you pick up a camera for the first time and goes from there.  It is a few years old, but is still very useful.
    Last is a book about the most overlooked part of film making.  The business side.  The book is titled Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era by. John Reiss. If your goal is to make money someday then you better pick up this book and studied it as if your life depends upon it and perhaps your film making life does. You should always keep in the back of your mind the business side of film making. There is so much more to it now that we have to personally deal with VOD and pay per view and digital downloads and countless other ways of monetizing your film. If you plan on making a living with your film then you better get this book.
    Good luck and if you have any suggestions please post them.

1 FREE Audiobook RISK-FREE from Audible

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Talking about Cameras

                Talking About Cameras

    Thank you for returning to my Blog. Trust me we will get our digital feature film made.Each of us who continue all the way to the end of this road will become filmmakers. I will not promise you that you will be great, but I can promise that you will have the tools necessary to finish a project.
    Let’s look at Cameras.  We are going to be looking at a great many cameras over the next few weeks.  For some of you it will be heaven and for others it will be a long trip.
    There are tons of information on digital cameras both online and in books. Begin your search here, but I strongly suggest you look everywhere for the answers that you seek.  Also keep in mind that your next camera is just that.  It is your next camera, it will not be your last nor will it be your only camera.  You will learn from it and grow with it, but you will move on as technology offers us newer and better options. There may be that one camera and or one rig that is your go to rig.  As in if my life depends upon this shoot I am going to use this rig, but you have to start somewhere.
    That is where the good and bad news is. You are going to experiment with many cameras and you are going to work with many people along the way. You are going to love some of what is to come and there is going to be times where you will be seen running and screaming off into the night from a set that you have lost control of.
There will be days where and when you believed that everything went perfect only to find that your camera let you down and that entire 16 hour shoot is unusable.  Be prepared. Grow a thick skin and accept that life is going to be very hard. You may come out the other side to fame fortune and glory, but in the beginning it will seem like ten things go wrong for every one thing that goes right. Most things are difficult in the beginning, but this is why most people never make it beyond the beginning. Like in the movie Carrie people are going to laugh at you, they are going to laugh. They will constantly tell you that you can’t do it while they are sitting around perfecting the art of accomplishing nothing. It will be easy to give up. It will be painful at times to go on, but if you do get up everyday and go on the rewards are truly beyond your wildest dreams.
    Where we are going to start is with the basics.  The Canon hv series of cameras and the added depth of field adapters.  We are going to look at each camera and hopefully at least one short film shot with each camera.  You will find the short films here or in our trailer park.
    This next video is a solid intro to the Canon hv 30 and what exactly is a dof adapter.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Canon filmmaking, Sound Advice

        Canon Digital Feature Film Making, Sound

    Quality sound on a low budget film is the thing that is most overlooked and it is the thing that is most likely to indicate to the viewer where you are an amateur or a professional filmmaker.
    It is a interesting thing to believe that your audience will forgive bad lighting much sooner than they will ever forgive poor sound quality.  You are a pro now and you are going to have to learn about sound as you have about lighting. Depending upon your shoot it will not be that difficult.  Let’s look at the basics.
    Both camcorders and DSLR have built in microphones.  What I strongly suggest is that you forget about them.  The camcorder mics are barely usable and the DSLR microphones are junk.
    You are going to be buying audio equipment.  Here are the two basic microphones you will be looking at.  The Audio-Technica ATR-6550 Video Camera Condenser Shotgun Microphone.  A nice little microphone that can be plugged directly into most pro-sumer quality camcorders. It retails online in the fifty dollar range.  You can then attach it with a mount to the top of the camcorder or fit it to a boom pole. 
    If you are using a DSLR then I would suggest a Rode microphone.  There are a number to choose between and I suggest you do your research before selecting the best one for your needs.  This microphone will mount nicely on a DSLR as well as use with a boom pole.  The problem here is that you will still be recording sound in camera.  I could live with this as far as the camcorders go, but not in the DSLR cameras.  You will be needing a separate recording device.
    As far as the separate recording devices go I have two basic options for you to look at as a low budget film maker.  Both of the microphones that we have talked about can be connected into a Zoom H1 audio recorder.  This is a nice little piece of equipment which retails for around one hundred dollars.  It will give you a good quality sound recording on a low budget.  If you have more money upgrade to the Zoom H4.
    To step up in price and quality I would personally suggest spending the two to four hundred dollars that it will cost to get a JuicedLink DT454 DSLR Audio Solution. The term audio solution is perfect for this piece of equipment.  Combine this with your DSLR and a quality microphone and your audio problems will be a thing of the past.

    This post has been just the beginning of our talk about audio.  We will be re-visiting this subject soon.  There are many more devices to use with both the DSLR cameras and the camcorders, but I thought that I would give you a quick start here.
Now I will include videos on the subject to show rather than tell.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DSLRs, The Canon 7d, The Basics

    DSLR the Canon 7d, The Basics

    Time to talk about cameras again. Today it will be the Canon 7d.  This camera exist in the space between the low priced Canon HV, Vixia camcorders and the T2i. It will retail for somewhere between one thousand and fifteen hundred dollars.  This is a world class piece of machinery.  It can compete with the big boys on almost every level.
    This is one tutorial where I could go on and on about all the things that can be done with this camera or I could hand it over to this fantastic tutorial about the camera. Understand this before you run out and go get one, the camera is a part of the process. The camera is not the begin all and end all of film making.  If you do not have good lighting, great sound and a great script then your film is going to end up looking like crap.  Learn all you can about your camera before buying one and then come back and learn the basics of film making here.  This is not going to be done over night.  You are not going to learn it all and be ready to shoot in a week or two.  Film making takes months if not over a year when you first start out.  As you get better you will get quicker, but for now try to teach yourself patients.
    One more thing before the tutorial begins, if there is anyone out there who has used this equipment and has a story to tell, I am looking for guest blogger.  Drop me a message if you want to add a post.  If you want to write about sound or editing I can almost promise that you will get into the blog.
    Okay here is a 40 plus minute tutorial on the Canon d7.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Canon Digital Filmmaking, A Changing World

Canon Digital Feature Filmmaking, A Changing World

    More and more film makers are coming to the conclusion that digital is here to stay. The time of the classic film maker who went to film school and learned to cut film is all but gone now.  This kind of film making is here to stay.  It is not just because it is cheaper to shoot digitally on the production end with these little Canon cameras, but it is cheaper on the distribution end as well.  Movie prints cost thousands of dollars, while the type of films we are making can be downloaded into a theater’s digital projector.
    If you have started down this road you are now on the cutting edge of a revolution that will be evolving for many years to come.  The technology that you will be learning to use over the next year or so will be important when it comes to becoming an independent film maker.  I would like you all to understand this, you will be learning to use tools.  Tools are great, but at the end of the day a tool is only as good as the person using it.  A hammer and tool kit in one persons hands gets a picture hung on the wall after the tenth try while in another person’s hands they can build a five bedroom house.
    The little video I have included is a Hollywood pep talk about the state of digital film making and how it is taking hold in the industry.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Canon Digital Feature Film Making, A Parking Story

            Canon Digital Feature Film Making, A Park Visit

        This is a short post to remind all of you that we have added a Trailer Park. Visit our trailer park when you find the time.  There you will find trailers for feature length movies shot using different Canon cameras from the Canon Hv series, through the Vixia series and on to the DSLR cameras such as the T2i, T3i, D7 and 5D Mark II.   Some of these films you will find familiar and some you will be shocked that they were actually shoot using these inexpensive cameras. 
        The soon to be released Act Of Valor was shoot using mostly these cameras.  The movie La Casa Muda, remade and soon to be released as Silent House was shot with the Canon 7d.  So please visit our trailer park and tell me what you think and if any other movies should be added.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Canon Feature Filmmaking, About Ed Burns

            Canon Digital Film Making, About Ed Burns

    Ed Burns did the morning talk show circuit today and managed to do a pretty good job of promoting micro budget filmmaking.  Ed Burns talked about how his very first movie cost twenty five thousand to make and it looked like a student film and now thanks to digital technology he was able to shoot his latest movie for 9,000 dollars.  That’s right, nine grand and his movie is in theaters and on demand.  He said that he could go to a camera store and spend three thousand and be ready to shoot a professional quality film.

    Questions anyone?
    What kind of camera was he talking about?
    I can not prove it, but after hearing the price and seeing a clip of the movie I am pretty sure that he is referring to a Canon D5 mark II.  A great camera for every level of movie making.  If you can afford it then by all means go for it.  This camera is the gold standard of DSLRs and it will be that for years to come.

    Hey, I am not Ed Burns or even Ken Burns, I can not afford to spend that much for a camera.  That is the budget that I had in mind for my whole movie.
    Like on Jeopardy, could you make that in the form of a question?
    Is there a less expensive camera available?
    Yes there are many and I will list them all while keeping in mind that you are trying to make a professional quality movie. 
    We have talked about the Mark II so we will let that go and move on to the Canon d7.  You can get this great DSLR for about 1,200 dollars and under most conditions shoots as well as the Mark II.  Next is the Canon T2I and T3I, they are almost the same camera and under controlled conditions they can match up with their big brothers Mark and D7.  They retail for around seven hundred dollars.  Next are the pro-sumer camcorders.  The Canon HV series.  With the addition of a quality depth of field adapter these cameras can play along side the DSLRs.  Footage shoot with a Canon HV 40 that has the dof adapter attached is close to identical of that shot with the T2I.  The price range on these cameras are from 699 dollars new down to 250 used.        In the end go with the camera that your budget will allow.  Ed Burns has his budget and you have yours.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Canon Digital Film Making, Basic Lighting

Canon Digital Filmmaking, Basic Lighting

    I started out with the assumption that everyone knew the basics of film making and all that I had to do was to look at cameras and suggest the best one for the job. Well after fielding almost a hundred questions on a stack of different subjects I thought that I would go back to the basics and review it all.  And post links where and when needed.
    First you will need a script.  A script is like a road map and when going on a long journey you must have a road map. If you do not think so then watch the amazing race and multiply that by ten.  Then go online and do a free read of your favorite movie in script form.  I am not going to teach you how to write a script here.  I have a blog dedicated to that subject, just visited 
and you will get the basics along with list of free and or low cost software that you can use.
    Let’s talk about lights next.  This subject is at least equal and perhaps more important than the camera.
    Hey isn’t this whole site about making movies using a Canon camera?
    Yes and no.  It is about making quality movies using the Canon Hv and Vixia cameras and to do this you need quality lighting.  Let’s get the lights and we will go over how to use them later.  First if you can afford it get yourself a softbox lighting kit.  A kit that comes with 3 separate lights for the classic 3 point lighting set up.  It will probably cost in the two hundred dollar range.  There are even some kits in this price range that come with a boom stand.  Another type of kit in this range is a set of two lights with barn doors.  I like the sets with the barn doors because you can attach color gels and control the look of each scene better.

    Now lets drop down below a hundred dollars in budget.  Many movie makers like to use work lights.  Heavy duty work lights.  They have them at home depot, usually on sale for fifty to ninety dollars.  With these monsters you are looking at two thousand watts of light.  If you choose to go this route do not use them for direct light.  Some people have and like it.  I do not like the look that it gives to a shot.  Use them and bounce the light off of poster boards and or reflectors to soften the light.  If not that then use gels or parchment paper to soften the light.  They are my last lighting option. But if you are just starting out and you got a few gathering dust in the garage or basement then go ahead and use them.  We learn by doing things.
    Let’s drop below sixty dollars.  Let’s go to home depot and get some clamp lights.  They sell for 7 - 10 dollars each.  Get three of them.  Next get some energy saver bulbs, 200 watts equivalent if you can find them.  Pick up some S clamps while you are there to steady these guys and we are all but ready to light our set.  Since this is the ultra low budget way of lighting, get yourself some C47s (clothespins) and a box of parchment paper.  Clip the paper over the clap lights to soften the light and we are ready to light our digital feature film.
    Below you will find a basic low budget lighting tutorial.