“If Your Mom Says She Loves You…”

June 12, 2014 Comments off


Thought I’d do a quick post about what I’ve been doing the last week or so.

The next feature script is about a reporter, and I was a journalism major for about a semester, so naturally I know everything that I need to know about the subject… I’m doing research! I’ve been shadowing a few reporters around town, and talking with others, and watching documentaries, and reading books and… basically anything I can to learn what I can about the daily life of a reporter.

You have to do your research, even just so you know when you’re changing things or making things up. You want to know why things are the way they are so they feel authentic to the audience.

My research for Table at Luigi’s was a 16 week (once a week) professional cooking class that actually ran a restaurant. Along with reading and documentaries (this was back before every other show on TV was about running a restaurant), we also brought in Chef Robert Hall, who had run restaurants and catering large and small. Not only was he a great technical resource, he also had a garage full of plates, silverware, salt shakers… everything from his old restaurant that we needed to for our set design!

Sympathy Pains’ research was into the world of comedy. Though I decided in the writing that we weren’t going to dig too far into the intricacies of that world, I needed to know, so the characters could act and talk intelligently in that world. While I didn’t go so far as getting on stage, I went to a dozen open-mic nights and regular comedy nights, and again read, watched and absorbed as much as I could.

Some of my research: the picture above is a reporter’s notebook – it’s long and skinny so it fits a lot of info on the page, but can fit in your pocket or purse when you need it to. It also allows you to write quickly without having to waste time running your hand all the way back to the left side of the page to start a new line. Though most of their notebooks aren’t that nice – they have the cheap metal spiral loops because the paper buys them in bulk.

No reporter’s desk is ever that clean.

And the quote on the title is part of a well-know journalism quote that I’ve always loved – “If your mom says she loves you – check it out!” Always look for a second source to make sure your information is accurate. Research is how you do that in your scripts!

Kick-Ass Diva Sizzle Reel

May 29, 2014 Comments off

So this is the sizzle reel I’ve been trying to find an afternoon to finish since March. It’s to give a sense of the feel of my short The Kick-Ass Diva (if you want to know about the film, it’s in this post right here). Hope you like it!

For those who don’t know what a “sizzle reel” is (I really loathe that name) – it’s basically a trailer for a show that hasn’t been made yet. It’s put together in pre-production to give a tone and basic concept of the finished project. Sometimes it incorporates some footage that’s already been shot, and sometimes it re-purposes footage from other sources (or both).

There’s a semi-famous sizzle reel that director Joe Carnahan put together for a possible Daredevil film that never got made, unfortunately. It looks like it could be a lot of fun. Here’s that reel:

The Filmmaker Next Door

May 28, 2014 Comments off

Michael Mohan, director of Save the Date, and an old student of mine has an excellent review of Nicholas Stoller’s Neighbors. Whether you’ve seen the film or not, check out the review, because Michael does a great job of digging into a lot of what makes comedy work (and not work), as well as looking at Stoller’s career and where Neighbors fits in. And then Stoller adds a comment, which is kinda cool. Check it out.

Final Cut Studio, redux

May 26, 2014 3 comments

Oliver Peters has an interesting post about recreating the old Final Cut Studio with current non-Adobe or Avid products. I’m not sure what to think about his suggestions. A couple of notes to add to what he says.

First, he suggests Logic Pro as a replacement for Soundtrack Pro/Audition/Pro Tools (I like putting Pro Tools last in that list, just to be a curmudgeon). I did some research on audio software when we were moving from Final Cut Studio (at UCA, we settled on the Adobe Cloud), and found one instance anywhere online of someone doing a narrative feature in Logic Pro. And it was a guy who primarily did music, but thought he’d take a crack at a film.

Please correct me if I’m missing a group doing narrative sound mixes in Logic Pro, but what I kept finding was people saying that Logic is a great music creation tool, but just doesn’t cut it for narrative work. My take on it was that Logic Pro is laid out to handle notes and beats, not dialogue. I suspect that Oliver was suggesting it as a tool to augment doing your major audio mix in Premiere, which for an audio guy just isn’t a pretty concept.

I’m not a power user of Photoshop in any way, but is there any world where people don’t pass photoshop files back and forth? Again, I could be out of the loop, but working in something other than Photoshop feels like whenever someone gives me a file in Pages format, and I have to go bug someone with iWorks to convert it to something usable for me. I could easily use a program other than photoshop, given how simplistic my needs are, but I can’t imagine trying to work with anyone else while doing that.

The post side-steps DVD creation, saying that FCPX and Compressor can make simple DVDs, but that’s hardly what a client is looking for. I’m not using X, but the old FCP and Compressor DVD tools couldn’t completely hide the MS-DOS looking menus, and were pretty buggy. Of course, Adobe has left Encore out of the Cloud apps. Am I really the only person still making DVDs? I’m typing this right now while burning an hour-and-a-half program for a client. Where should I put that online that’s convenient for him to download and watch? DVDs are still relevant, and comic books used to be 25 cents!

Of course, I’m about to get a new laptop which does not include a DVD burner. We’ll see how that goes…

Wow, I didn’t mean this to be a negative reaction – I thought it was an interesting post, but turns out as I dig into it, life without the Final Cut Studio or Adobe is lacking.


Even more Sympathy Pains Screenings

May 23, 2014 Comments off

Sympathy Pains Logo -  for webThanks to everyone who came out to our Little Rock Film Festival screenings of Sympathy Pains last week – talked with some GREAT people and had a good time watching everyone watch the film – it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to do that. It’s always fun to see what people do and don’t laugh at – I still wonder why a couple of jokes don’t get the laughs I think they should…

It’s been a good week for Sympathy Pains news. We just won an Award of Excellence from the La Jolla IndieFest, and will be screening June 19th at the Trenton Film Festival in Trenton, NJ.

It’ll be a while before we hear anything more about new screenings, but if you’re in New Jersey (and who isn’t in a New Jersey state of mind?), check us out! Their website for tix and info is trentonfilmsociety.org

Astaire Unwound

May 21, 2014 Comments off

Can’t believe no one ever thought to do this before. This is Fred Astaire’s famous ceiling dance from Royal Wedding. If you haven’t seen it before a) shame on you, and b) here it is (the good stuff starts about 1 minute in):

It’s a pretty famous scene, and I assume that most people know how it was done, but if you don’t; the room and the camera were both on a cylinder and would turn together. So when the room is turned upside-down, so is the camera. So he’s dancing on as the room (and camera) turns, and when he’s dancing on the ceiling, both the room and the camera are upside-down. Everything in the room is nailed down, except the couple of things that he handles, which are magnetic.

And here, someone composited a behind-the-scenes of how it was done, showing the room and camera as they rotate:

The coolest parts are the magnetic photo, and just thinking about the process. There wasn’t video playback back then, so they’d have to shoot it and hope it looked like what they wanted it to look like. Any re-shoots would be after the film was developed, processed, and projected to see if there’s anything that didn’t work. I don’t know, but I’m assuming they went through a version or two to make it look this good.

Little Rock Film Festival

May 15, 2014 Comments off

I’ve been doing a terrible job of promoting our Sympathy Pains screenings at the Little Rock Film Festival, so here goes: We’re screening TONIGHT (Thursday, May 15) at 8:30pm and Saturday (May 17) at 12:30pm. Both screenings are at The Joint in the Little Rock Argenta neighborhood (301 Main St. #102, North Little Rock, AR 72114). Hope to see everyone there!



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