Friday, October 30, 2009

What I'm Working On Now

Tim and the Space Cadets: Superhero

I started editing the music video I shot late last week. I waited because I ordered a new drive system to edit off of. Usually, I buy an inexpensive MyBook or something comparable from Best Buy. I use it to copy all the footage onto during shooting, then transfer everything onto a GRAID when I start editing, and ultimately return the original external hard drive to Best Buy.

However, while on the shoot, the Steadicam Operator, Sergei, suggested a new system. Basically, he uses internal drives that pop in and out of an external drive reader. It looks like this:

It runs about $80 - you can buy it here Then, all you have to do is buy the much less expensive internal hard drives. What I realized is that with the expensive GRAIDs, you're essentially paying for the enclosure with the brushed metal design. What’s the point of that!?

I bought a 1 TB Western Digital internal HD for $84!

WESTERN DIGITAL Caviar® Green WD10EADS 1TB SATA II 7200 RPM 32MB Buffer Hard Drive Bulk at ZipZoomfly

$164 later, this only cost me ha fraction of what a GRAID would have; furthermore, half of that is money I won't have to spend again, since it was an upfront investment for the reader. And, it's totally plug-and-play, so I don't have to restart the computer to switch between drives. It's amazing. I am very excited. Thank you, Sergei!

Anyway, I obviously highly recommend it. It's ideal for photo and video, but could be used for anything. Not only is it economical, but and it's also much easier to store these smaller internal hard drives than the bulky external ones.

So, when this new system finally arrived, I got started...and then stalled....and then started again.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of footage I shot. We had about 15 different takes and angles for the band performance and cutting through all that footage kept preventing me from getting anything significant accomplished.

I finally pushed through, and I cut the last chorus (which has a different performance). That done, I moved on to attacking the main performance. I puttered around for a bit, played with some of the narrative stuff, and finally made my way back to the performance. I just barreled through it and finally got it cut over the weekend.

I forget whether or not I've already written about this on the blog, but in the early stages of editing every new project – guaranteed – I will get depressed about the footage I shot. I'll see mistakes - what I didn't shoot or how I should have done a shot in two takes instead of one. And then, I just have to sit down and figure out a way to edit what I shot, not what I wished I shot.

What I'm struggling with right now is finding a way to cut down the narrative footage. I could literally just have the narrative footage and not show the band. In fact, I probably have enough narrative footage to run through the song twice through. And still not show the band. So, I have to find a way to make space for everything and maintain the flow of the narrative.

Usually, I start by cutting things longer than they need to be and then trimming and trimming and trimming until it gets down to a place that works time-wise. I've gotten a large majority of the narrative filled in. There's a section at the beginning that's filled with random shots - the kid walking around, etc. - that's suppose to be a general mix of stuff, that I haven't tackled yet. Not to mention cutting in the random shots throughout the song as well. I also have to figure out how to cut the opening, a section I haven't even touched. The ending, however, is pretty much good to go.

My plan is to have a finished rough cut by Friday, send it to Tim to preview over the weekend, make changes towards the end of the weekend, have a fine cut by Monday night, and send it all off to color sometime next week.


Due to the music video, Travis and I haven't had a chance to really get together to write but we did meet up last week to discuss what's next.

It's funny because we wrote our first script together based on the only idea we had at the time. Then we wrote our second script, Glory Days, because that was the one idea we had next.

But now we have five different ideas that we could move on, and all of them are in different genres and industries:

We have a big feature comedy that we're halfway through (and got stuck on, resulting in us needing to go back to the initial drawing board).

We have an indie feature that we'd like to write, get funding, and I could then direct.

We have another indie feature, a very cheap one, but it needs rewriting, preferably from a playwright, which could be done very quickly. This is exciting to us because I also have strong leads to funding, and we would obviously like to take advantage of that.

Also, because of some connections I’ve recently established, we also have a very direct road into television. Working with a good friend of mine, we want to develop a TV show pitch, and take it into his boss. The great thing about this is that we wouldn't need to write the script on spec. Instead, we can put together a pitch, and if they like it, we can try pitching it to networks and get paid to write it, with this guy on board as an EP. So, that is a very real possibility if we have the right pitch and we want to try and take advantage of that avenue, since it's open to us.

Those are all very different things. What we've realized is that if we're not jazzed about something, we're not going to get anywhere with it. And that's what happened on the big comedy feature. We haven't written on that since July, when I did the W&CK video. We haven't actually written anything since then. Which is not good. I mean, I've been doing music videos, but music videos aren't going to get me a feature. So, it's important we keep working.


During all of this, because I've directed three projects in a row, I've started getting that itch to do something narrative. A feature is a long way off and even though I've sworn off shorts, I've got a couple ideas that might work every well, and now with the introduction of the RED camera, I can get a very high quality looking project for not that much money.

I had a long talk with my manager last night about this. The music videos just aren't really going to do much for me...but there is the potential to do something bigger off of a really successful short. I don't know. I've always thought that, to do a short now, it really has to be something simple and something special. In college, I could experiment and play around; but now, since I'm married and can't burn through my own cash the way I did in college, I didn't think shorts would be worth it.

But now, I'm rethinking that. I won't do one unless I think it's something very special, something unique, or something that could go out and do well. I have two short ideas that could be both, but I have to discuss it with Travis and see if it's interesting and worth it to us.


As I write this, I've just been informed of two things:

1) A friend of Travis's was at a meeting at a management company and saw the receptionist doing coverage on Glory Days! Ha!

2) This news is a bit more disappointing though. Travis told a friend of his, who read and really liked Glory Days, and who works for a big comedy director, about our feature comedy idea. Apparently, the director is attaching himself to an already greenlit picture of the same subject, and this friend recently read a script that, from what we can tell, is nearly identical to ours.

It's a bit disappointing, really. You spend several months working on something, only to hear that we shouldn't work on it anymore, because there's already several things out there, including a go picture.

I feel lost right now.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

3Questions: Matthew Krol - Editor at mtvU

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Matthew Krol, a staff editor at mtvU. Most of the work he does revolves around the editing, finishing and delivery of various shows for air on MTV, MTV2 and mtvU.

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

MK: I got my start interning for MTV back in 2005 during my senior year of college, but I have been editing projects both independently and professionally since I was 16. After my internship was over I knew a few producers in need of editors. After shopping my reel around, I ended up cutting Sucker Free on MTV along with a few other projects for the channel. Then in 2007, I heard of a staff editing gig opening up at mtvU. I went for it and I've been here ever since.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

MK: The most difficult challenge I've encountered is not actually during my working hours, but rather managing my personal life outside of MTV. The required time I have to put in while editing network content is truly daunting. Sometimes on larger shows with shorter deadlines, I can pull upwards of 60 hour "days". And even my more regular hours are so unpredictable that 10 hour days can turn into 14 hour days on a whim. While the work itself is very rewarding, the erratic nature of the biz makes it hard to explain to my "9 to 5 friends/loved-ones" why I can't spend as much time with them as I'd like.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into editing?

MK: The main piece of advice I would give to any aspiring editor in high school or college is edit your freakin' brains out! Keep churning out projects and content as often as you can. Even if it's just fun stuff you created to pass the time. There is no better way to learn new tricks and hone your technique and work flow than to constantly be engaging in new projects. Especially those where, when you start them, you have no idea how on earth you're going to complete it. That's part of the challenge and the only way you'll grow as an editor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Green Zone Trailer

I'm a huge fan of Paul Greengrass. I love the style he brings to his films, I love his handheld work, I love how he shoots action. All in all, he's a great director. So, I'll watch everything he makes (much like Michael Mann, as I've mentioned before).

I really didn't know a whole lot about The Green Zone when it was announced but I was happy to wake up this morning to the release of the trailer and I have to say, the film looks fantastic. Can't wait to see it.

Check out the trailer below:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to make a Wild Thing

There's a fantastic article over at on process of making the Wild Things in Where the Wild Things Are, with the Jim Henson Creature Workshop taking the lead.

Unfortunately, for all I've been posting about it, I have yet to see the movie. I hope the wife and I can check it out next weekend.

Meanwhile, you can check out the article here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mateo - "Get To Know Me" Official Music Video

The video I directed and edited for MySpace artist Mateo has now been officially released on his MySpace page. I've embedded it below. I apologize for the quality. For some reason, the way MySpace encodes their video, even if it's from an HD master, just doesn't make it look very good. I have no idea why the quality sucks.

We originally shot the performance on the Canon 5D as part of Mateo's DVD for Get To Know Me: Live from Swing House. I took that footage and then edited in b-roll of Mateo on tour. I think it looks pretty good. However, none of the b-roll was shot by me. That was all Mateo, his manager for one of his friends.

I think the video turned out pretty well and I hope you enjoy it.

Get To Know Me (Live at Swing House)

MATEO -Get To Know Me LIVE EP out now! | MySpace Video

Friday, October 23, 2009

White & Crazy Kids - Get Your Drink On [Official Video]

Well, you've been able, if you tried, to see the W&CK Music Video I directed everywhere but here. However, it's safe to say that it's probably okay if I post it on the blog. And, as a treat, I'm not just posting any old upload but the one I uploaded to YouTube myself, which for some really, really strange reason is super high quality.

I'm extremely proud of the upload quality, which is another reason I want to show you guys. Anyway, finally, the official music video for White & Crazy Kids Get Your Drink On."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

3Questions: Erik Bork - TV Writer-Producer

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Erik Bork, a writer-producer on Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon.

"I'm a film and TV writer who comes up with ideas for movies and series pilots, and either writes the script "on spec" (i.e. nobody pays me and I hope to sell it when it's done), or I 'pitch' the idea (in television) to a chain of people starting with my agent and going up through producer, TV studio executives, and finally network executives -- and if it goes all the way, they pay me in advance to write the pilot script. Then, if I am very very fortunate, they decide to produce the pilot episode, and possibly beyond. I've been writing professionally for about ten years, including features, cable movies, and miniseries, much of which I was paid for but was
never produced.

He also runs the website, Flying Wrestler, where he provides professional script consultation and feedback. "He's not interested in telling you what’s wrong with your work. But he can and will coach you into making it better – more satisfying to you and more marketable professionally – from the point-of-view of a successful writer-producer who’s been where you are, and knows the process from the inside."

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

EB: I worked my way up as a temporary office assistant on the 20th Century Fox lot, eventually landing as an assistant at Tom Hanks' production company, Playtone Productions. I got an agent by writing sample sitcom scripts (Frasier and Friends) on spec, and ultimately Tom Hanks read those and offered me a big promotion that led to me helping write and produce the HBO mini-series From the Earth to the Moon.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

EB: Nobody ever loves my ideas or drafts of outlines or scripts as much as I want them to and I have to keep working on them! And often they don't sell at all, and if they do, they don't get produced.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to become a television writer?

EB: Keep writing things you love and be very open to feedback, especially from people who really know what they're talking about (and which you may have to pay for in some way, since they're busy and you don't yet have anything to offer them in return). Understand that it's a journey and it's all about improving your craft, which can take a long time and many scripts -- but that ultimately, if you stick it out, and reach a level where the marketplace would be interested, they will find you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gordon Paddison: Moviegoers 2010

There's a fascinating article over at IndieWire about the shape of Moviegoers in 2010. What does that mean? Well...

"The Moviegoers 2010 research study, from Stradella Road, is intended to provide film marketers with actionable insights into how to best reach movie consumers over the next decade. It was presented on Tuesday, September 29, 2009, at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills."

It's basically a breakdown of the movie going audience. Now, when you're creating your own thing, you can't rely too much on this kind of info because it seems like often, the breakout films tend to be the ones that defy reason and the data. But, it's an interesting read. And even if you don't pay attention to it...the people who buy your ideas, scripts, and movies, unfortunately, do.

Gordon Paddison: Moviegoers 2010

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tim and the Space Cadets - Music Video Shoot - Part 2

As part of this post, I've included a two part behind-the-scenes doc on shooting the video. I shot it with the flip cam and put it together quickly, so there's no interviews or anything...just gives you a little insight into what we did. The first part of it is below, followed by the blog. Part 2 is somewhere below.

Saturday, October 10th, 4AM
E 93rd St.

I wake up. I shower. I get dressed. It's extremely early and an hour later I find myself sitting on Tim's stoop, waiting for the pick up from Todd and Milos.

But perhaps the best thing about being up extremely early at this moment is that it's NOT raining.

Saturday, October 10th, 5:45 AM In the back of the grip truck.

I'm leaning against several equipment cases in the back of a CC Rentals truck on my way to set. (How do other director's get to set?) We are on our way to Montgomery PLACE, not STREET, even though we still have a permit for Montgomery St., and Todd and Milos will have to go get the two cops assigned to our shoot from Montgomery St and bring them over to Montgomery Pl and somehow tell them there was a mixup and even though our permit says one thing we're actually suppose to be doing this.

Saturday, October 10th, 6:15 AM On set.

We have a courtesy breakfast scheduled from 6:15 to 6:45, which is when official crew call is. While everyone is eating, I start telling people where we're going to set up the band performance. I meet with Richard, our AD, and Paul, the DP, to go over my shot list and the schedule for the day; Sergei, our Steadicam Operator, starts prepping the camera and his steadi rig; and Tim and his band begin setting up their equipment.

Mornings on set, for me at least, are always tough, especially when you're in a new location (meaning, you're not just coming back to a studio and starting where you left off) because I like to shoot, I don't like to wait around, and it usually just takes a little bit of time to get everyone and everything going.

It took us about an hour and half to get our first shot off, which is an angle on the guitar player for the performance section. For me, this felt like a really long time to get going, but to keep my sanity, I always check in with the AD and see how we're doing, since he's the one keeping the schedule for the day. Richard said this is about what he expected, so we're good.

We decided that we'd knock off the band performance first and the move onto the narrative. And, we had two performance pieces to get through. The first had the band in normal clothes singing the majority of the song. The second had a costume change, where they were now in their own low-rent, homemade superhero costumes, singing the last chorus, with the kids from the narrative dancing to the song with them.

These are some of the photos I've got from the shoot. If you want to see more, you can check them out here.

We finished shooting our performance around 11 AM. Now, when I sat down the day before and worked on my shot list, I took the treatment, and using the scenes I had written up, detailed out a list for each scene, as well as any random shots that I thought up or had written in the treatment.

However, because the rule of shooting is that you try and shoot everything you need in one location before moving on to the next, I couldn't just leave my list like this, because, for instance, the stoop appeared in three different scenes. I didn't want to keep coming back to it.

So, I prepare and organize myself, I took shots and grouped them by location and then scene. So, I had Stoop: Scene 3: Shot. Stoop: Scene 5: Shot. Etc. This way, when we were on the stoop, I was shooting everything I need at that time, and also KNEW what I needed to get. You follow me? Here's a scan of my shot list from the end of the day:

You guys get the idea. So, we just moved around in this fashion. I pretty much shot the majority of everything on the Steadicam, using it as a dolly, a tripod, and so on. Sometimes we broke off and got a little bit of handheld stuff, but we were just able to move much faster on the Steadi.

"Shoot this. Okay. Cut. Now, we're gonna shoot this. Ready? Roll. Action! Cut! Great. Next!"

Our two kids were not only extremely cute but were also real pros. Cameron, our Heroboy, who had just finished a Broadway run of Waiting for Godot with Nathan Lane. What?! Other than for lunch and a bathroom break in the middle of the afternoon we just kept shooting and shooting and shooting.

For one, I had to. We got a little behind and were racing to get everything done before the sun went down. We were also faced with some technical difficulties on set. Rather than use the RED harddrives, we were shooting on cards, which had to then be downloaded. For some reason, our card reader wasn't working correctly, and there was one point where I was told we only had enough storage space for 20 additional minutes of shooting. I was like...uh, what? Then it became about shooting as little as possible...and the problem with that, is that when you're working with kids, it's best to keep the camera running as much as possible, because, they're slightly uncontrollable and they're best when they're not trying to hard.

6:30 PM

We literally finished shooting all of our outdoor stuff around the time the sun set. We were out of light. Did I get everything that I wanted? No. Did I get a lot of great stuff? Yes.

However, even though the sun was down, we still had a few more shots to get, as you can see in Part II of the little making of below:

We finally finished and got it all done. Phew.

Everyone did an amazing job on the video and I can't wait to start editing it so I can show you guys the final result. In the meantime, I'll keep you updated on how editing is going.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tim and the Space Cadets - Music Video Shoot - Part 1

Part 1: Getting There

Wednesday, October 7th, 9 PM


I've only flown a red-eye flight twice in my life and for good reason. I hate them. When I was headed to the airport, I tweeted the question, "Would you rather take a red-eye, not get much sleep, but arrive at your destination in the morning with the whole day ahead of you? Or would you rather sleep in your own bed but wake up at 4 AM to catch a 7 AM flight, and then lose the whole day flying?"

I thought maybe the former was a great idea. But after my experience getting to New York to direct the music video for Tim and the Space Cadets, I'm no so sure anymore.

The only reason I scheduled myself on a red-eye to begin with was because I wanted to maximize my New York prep time as much as possible. Thought I lived there for four years, this particular street in Park Slope, Brooklyn was unfamiliar to me. I wanted to make sure I had time
to see the location, check out and approve costumes, sit down with the producers to go over everything, meet with my DP to discuss looks, and so on.

So, that's how I came to find myself arriving at LAX at 9:00 PM for my 10:45 PM flight. Before we left, my wife suggested that I check the flight status since a lot of flights have been arriving and leaving late due to weather in the East. "Nonsense," I replied. "I'm flying into Detroit. There's nothing going on in Detroit."

(Oh yeah, forgot to mention that my red-eye was NOT a non-stop, but rather had me suffering an hour long layover in Detroit at six in the morning. However, I would be arriving at JFK at 9:15, I had the whole day to get done what I needed, as mentioned above.)

Well...there's a lesson in here and that is always listen to your wife because now I was at the airport at 9 PM only to find out that my flight had been delayed until 1:10 AM. Awesome. To make things even better, the delay was longer then my layover in Detroit, which meant I had to get on the phone and change my flight in Detroit. Then, I got to sit around for 4 hrs until we finally boarded the plane and took off.

Thursday, October 8th, 8:30 AM
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

After an awful flight, I finally arrived in Detroit looking to die and maybe find some coffee. The night before, I had rescheduled my flight to New York for 10 AM, and to get to my gate had to go to, literally, to the other side of the terminal.

There, I was welcomed by the news that my connection was delayed 40 minutes. Curious which airline I flew? Delta. Delta Airlines sucks. (I was also late flying home out of JFK for LAX because the flight attendants were late.) What irks me is that because forming an airline is such an expensive endeavor, there's a limited number of ways to really challenge the existing status quo. Unfortunately, people need to fly and there's only so many airlines, with so many routes, to choose from. So, if an airline has really bad service...odds are it will probably stay in business...which is unfortunate...because, to have three flights out of three be late or delayed...that's just bad service.

Okay...done with the planes.

Anyway, I finally arrived in New York around noon, where Tim picked me up and drove me into the city. One of the reasons I did the red-eye was because I was still trying to work on my shot list and wanted some time Thursday morning to work on them before a scheduled production meeting at 2 PM.

Now, all I had time for was a quick (and much needed) nap and a cold (yet much needed) shower, after which we headed down to Canal St for the production meeting with Todd and Milos of Hayden 5 Media.

The meeting was quick, everything seemed to be in order and everything was coming together nicely. (I should have Flip Cam'd it but my mind was literally half awake at the time and I didn't have the energy to formulate that thought.) One of the big questions (and fears) facing us was weather. It was suppose to rain Friday, with it fading off on Saturday. I don't think I mentioned this, but initially this was to be a two day shoot. One day for performance, the next for narrative. Due to the size of the budget, we had to cut it down to one day, and this one day happened to be on Saturday.

We agreed to keep watching it. If we HAD to, we could push it to Sunday for a minimal cost, but it was a cost nonetheless and if we could get away with Saturday, we'd go for it. We just didn't know what kind of rain we might be in store for.

After the meeting, I had planned to meet up with the producer of Glory Days for drinks at 6 but they ended up having to push it to breakfast the following day. So, finding myself feeling sick, tired, and with nothing to do, I met up with my brother-in-law and headed an hour upstate to my in-laws house for a delicious home cooked meal and a warm, comfortable bed.

Friday, October 9th, 10AM
Bubby's Restaurant, New York City

I'm early for my breakfast with the producer of my script, Glory Days, so I'm sitting outside the restaurant next to Liev Schreiber and one of the sons he has with Naomi Watts. I'm hopeful that she might show up but that never comes to fruition at some point he disappears.

Finally, TK, the producer, shows up. Having never met before, but spoken numerous times on the phone and via email, it's a somewhat awkward hello, if only because you're introducing yourselves when you already know each other.

We had to wait a bit for the assistant to show up and he finally does and we all grab a table. It's actually extremely lucky I even get a chance to meet him. His wife is pregnant and due at, literally, anytime, so he's been on call for the last week. Then, not five minutes after we sit down, he gets a call from his wife and steps away. Two minutes later, he comes back all smiles.

"I gotta go," he says.

We're like, "Go! Go!"

And that was it. Ha ha. He said he's name the baby in my honor but it ended up being a girl, so that...just wouldn't work. But congrats to him. I had a great breakfast with the assistant and then I headed back out into the rain, at which point I realized I had forgotten my rain gear in Los Angeles.

Friday, October 9th, 12PM
Neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn

If any of you are thinking about shooting a video on Montgomery Place near Prospect Park make sure you go to Montgomery PLACE, not Montgomery STREET. That is, unless you want your location to look like the exterior of several crack dens. This was the mistake I made when I went to scout the location. I had "Montgomery" in my head and assumed it was Street. Thankfully, the real location we had chosen was just across the park, so after a 20 minute backtrack, I finally made it to Montgomery Pl in the neighborhood of Park Slope.

Which is an awesome neighborhood. There's nothing but townhomes here, with huge stoops. There's a great amount of tree cover, as well as a lot of naturally fallen leaves. If it weren't pouring rain, this place would be perfect.

One of the issues we were still facing was finding a stoop, which would be the second biggest location behind the actual street itself. We hadn't managed to secure a stoop but had planned on knocking on some doors the day of the shoot. I saw a couple stoops that I thought would work, which you can see below:

With the location in my head, I could finally sit down and finish my shot list. So, I found a Starbucks a couple blogs away and sat down to pound it out. (Our AD, Richard, had been hounding me for it for a week.)

Work done, I decided to head up to the Time Warner Center, my old stomping ground, for lunch at Whole Foods and a cigar at Davidoff. It was in the middle of just such a cigar when I got a phone call from our producer Milos:

"Hey, question for you," he said.
"Is the location Montgomery Street or Montgomery Place?"
"Montgomery Place."
"It's always been that."
"As far as I know."
"Oh. Um, well, for some reason, things got mixed up and we got the permit for Montgomery think that could work?"
"If we change the music video to be about the evils of industrialization, grafitti and drugs, then yes it could work. I made the Place/Street mistake this morning when I was scouting the location and it will not work."
"Okay, I gotta figure this out."

Awesome. I guess we'd wait and see. On a happier note, the weather report was now showing AM Clouds/PM Sun for Brooklyn, with the rain from today tapering off around 8 AM. At this point, we decided to push ahead with Saturday. The "rain" that was called for Friday was there but it was off and on and wasn't really that bad. I figured that we'd be fine Saturday since it wouldn't be raining heavier then today.

After drinks with Jeremy Redleaf, dinner (alone) at Thai Basil (a place I probably helped keep in business while I was in college), I headed back to Tim's apartment, where'd I'd be crashing on a air mattress. Finally in bed at 11:30, I had a wonderful 4:00 AM alarm set for the next morning.

Check out Part 2 tomorrow...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

3Questions: Aaron Weber - Executive Producer at Wander Films

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Aaron Weber, an Executive Producer at Wander, a production company and design company.

On the production side they work in short form, commercials and promos - for broadcast and online. Their clients include Nintendo, Yamaha, Apple and online creative community Behance. On the design side, they do a lot of work for the entertainment industry, including the official Charlize Theron website.

As he puts it "being a small company, I wear many hats; overseeing all of our projects, handling day to day tasks to keep the business running smoothly and constantly networking to try and drum up new business. I also occasionally will line produce our individual production projects, which has a whole different set of challenges to keep things interesting."

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

AW: In a very roundabout way! I have always had that entrepreneurial spirit, but was never sure where it would find its place in my life. I went to the School of Visual Arts for computer art with a focus on special effects and motion graphics. By the end of my junior year I was so burned out from sitting in dark rooms and staring at computer screens for days on end that I began to think about other things I may enjoy doing.

My senior year I produced and lead up the visual FX effort on a senior thesis, titled Wander. I immediately fell in love with the producing process. Seeing a project from inception to delivery was much more appealing to me and after graduation I moved to Los Angeles with the director of Wander, Joshua Clark, who was now my business partner, in our newly formed company, Wander. I had no connections and a short film, which was doing great in the festival circuit, but was not what potential commercial clients want to see. There were some very lean times early on and out of necessity I took an assistant job at CAA.

I realized very quickly that this was not a good fit for me and left with a new energy to make Wander work - which at that time meant generating just enough money to support Joshua and I. We conveniently landed a very large, well timed, design project which allowed us to save up some money. We made the decision to set aside enough to shoot 3 spec commercials (Carls Jr. - Phone Call, Nikon - Closer Look and Fedex - Accent) for our commercial reel and then began getting out there with the work, which by the time the spec spots were completed also included a few client projects (Yamaha - Acceleration, Behance - Invitation to Creativity). Since the completion of the spec spots I have been fortunate in meeting some great clients, but I still look at myself as being at the beginning of my career.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

AW: For me, timing is a big part of success. It is being in the right place at the right time - with the right work and skills. Only some of those elements are in your control and we were just finishing up our commercial reel as the world's economy began falling apart. This has greatly changed how companies advertise and spend their marketing dollars. Some of this has worked to our advantage, with some companies opting for direct to client work, and circumventing the age old advertising agency model, but it has also been really hurting us in the work that is handled through ad agencies - which is quite a bit. Traditionally, this is where the majority of a commercial production companies work would come from, so we have had to be creative in the work we are seeking, who we are seeking it from and even to some degree, the type of work we are looking to be a part of.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to start their own production company?

AW: I would suggest learning to collaborate very early on in the creative process. No single individual can do it all by themselves, so it important to focus on what you enjoy and become the best at it that you possibly can. Find others whose skills compliment yours and surround yourself with the most talented people you can.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

News: How To Make A Film In 5 Days

There's a really interesting article over at Screenrush about a movement called the Five Day Feature Project:

How To Make A Film In 5 Days

From the website: "Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee is an improvised, comedic rock mockumentary that was filmed by director Shane Meadows for Warp Films as part of their 5 Day Feature project. The idea is fairly simple - you have just five days in which to shoot a film - and Meadows and Mark Herbert, who created the 5 Day Feature movement, are hoping that Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee (see the trailer below) will be the first of a series of guerilla film projects that will act as an example and inspiration to amateur and experienced filmmakers alike to pick up a camera and start shooting whatever takes their fancy. But what do you need to make a successful five-day feature? It's time to look to the masters for some hard-earned words of wisdom..."

At the website, is a series of seven steps they took to make the film. You can check out the trailer for Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee below.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Lovely Bones

One of the most anticipated movies of this year has to be Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones. I've never read the book but I heard great things and when I saw the trailer I was definitely intrigued. I would guess that one of the most challenging aspects of this story is, how do you present heaven in visual terms?

Check out the short behind the scenes look at The Lovely Bones.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Informant!

Great article at about Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! Check it out here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Steve Newman's World in Miniature

Great article, once again on Where the Wild Things Are, about shooting the miniatures in the film. Check it out:

Steve Newman's world in miniature

Thursday, October 8, 2009

3Questions: Avi Youabian - Editor on Flash Forward

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Avi Youabian, an editor on the hit ABC drama series Flash Forward.

His job "mainly consists of editing the footage that has been shot by the production crew. In short, I wittle down hours and hours of footage into a 42 minute program. I collaborate with directors, producers, writers, composers, and even the sound designers. I love my job. It was a hobby of mine before I started getting paid for it.

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

AY: I interned at various Post-Houses right out of high school. I worked for free for almost two years before I got my first assistant editing gig. From there, I slowly worked my way up to editor.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

AY: My age is usually a stumbling block. I'm younger than most editors out there and I've realized that some producers are scared to hire someone like me because they feel that I lack "EXPERIENCE". I often point to my credit list and refer to them to my other clients for references -- that usually helps put them at ease.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into editing?

AY: Just intern and network. You will learn more on any job than you will at any film school -- Seriously!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bill Mechanic On Moguls' Bad Decisions

Over at Deadline Hollywood, Nikki Finke has posted a great speech by Bill Mechanic, former chairman/CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, about the future of indies from the Independent Film & Television Production Conference. Check out the link below:

Bill Mechanic On Moguls' Bad Decisions

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When Spike met Maurice: 'Bringing Where the Wild Things Are' to the screen

Where the Wild Things Are
is one of the few fall releases that I'm looking forward to seeing. If for some reason you know nothing about this film, check out the trailer below:

There's a great article over at about bringing the 10 sentence long book to the big screen.

When Spike met Maurice: Bringing 'Where the Wild Things Are' to the screen

Monday, October 5, 2009

Update: Superheroes, Getting to Know Mateo, and writer's guilt

I haven't always done it but I'm trying to make Monday my 'Update' day. Sometimes there isn't a whole lot to update thought. And even though I have a lot going on right now, I feel like I covered most of it last weekend. Nonetheless, there are always new things going on, updates on old things, and there's the holy grail of blog posts: the personal shit.

Let's go through a few other things first:

Tim and the Space Cadets: Superhero

Wednesday night I fly out to New York to direct the music video for "Superhero" by Tim and the Space Cadets. I'm taking a red eye from LA to NY with an awesome hour long layover in Detroit at what will be 3 AM for me. I then get in to New York at 9:16 AM. I don't think I've ever flown a red eye before (other the whole traveling internationally thing) but since I sleep on the plane whether it's 10 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon, it shouldn't be that much different.

I hope to sleep as normally as I can, since I have a full day ahead of me once I arrived. Location scouting, production meetings with the producers, DP, costume designers, assistant director and so on. Then up to visit the in-laws Thursday night, then back to the city Friday for more prep and finally shooting Saturday.

Due to budget constraints what was once a two day shoot has been knocked down to one. I've never shot a video in one day, so it should be good for's just going to be a long day. Hence all the prep. With only one day to get enough footage to fill a 3 minute video, I want to be prepared.

We're shooting entirely outdoors, so once that sun goes down, we're wrapped. Which means we'll be starting early and going as hard and as long as we can. When you only have a single day to shoot your music video, you just need to be extra prepared.

As I mentioned before, I'm going to be tweeting and flip caming from the set and during prep so check back here next week for all the info.

Mateo 'Get To Know Me'

The last couple days I've been editing a music video for Mateo. We're taking the live video from Mateo's Live at Swing House DVD and editing in footage Mateo shot on his flip cam while on tour.

It's looking pretty good and I sent off a rough cut to Mateo and his management team yesterday. I should be getting some notes back today and will then try and finish the video before leaving for New York on Wednesday.

So, it should be coming out soon and I will, of course, let you know when it does.

Writer's Guilt

With all of this going on, I haven't had any time to write. It's very difficult to find the time and energy to sit down and write and with Travis busy with our musical treatment, trying to do it on my own is even harder.

Even though I haven't been actively pursuing directing gigs, they just seem to follow one another, I've decided that once I finish Tim's video, I'm going to spend the rest of the year and January (2010!) writing. Travis' and my goal is to finish our current comedy by then so we have an additional script when we go wide with Glory Days. Once we do, GD will start generating meetings for us and it's just better to have a finished script, rather than a half finished one or a treatment or an idea.

So, I really want to push through and get it done. Hopefully, once we finish that, we'll have an idea of where we're at with the musical and then have the low-budget project I want to start putting together (but, of course, we need to write a script first). So, plenty in the pipeline, we just need to start knocking some of these projects out.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

3Questions: Matt Siegel - Senior VP of Production for EQAL

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Matt Siegel, currently the Senior Vice President of Production for EQAL, the social entertainment company behind LonelyGirl15, Kate Modern, and Harper’s Globe.

At EQAL, Seigel oversees production and creative affairs on all of EQAL’s properties and their partners’. Prior to joining EQAL, Seigel spent over six years as a producing partner to feature film director, Luke Greenfield (
The Girl Next Door). During that time he Executive Produced Universal Pictures’ hit comedy Role Models and oversaw development of projects at major studios and networks such as Fox, Universal, Sony, HBO, ABC and CBS.

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

I initially wanted to be an actor and managed to get into the BFA Acting program at USC. I was a young, na├»ve student who thought he made it into some sort of “elite” arts program and was on the fast track to success. Well, I soon found out a few things:

1) “Elite” is bullshit. No matter what school I was at or how many people were selected into my so called “elite” program...nobody else gave a shit where I went to school or what program I was in. It wasn’t going to get me any job above serving coffee or answering phones...for free. Yup, it helped me get internships. However, that has more to do with me going to school in Los Angeles than it does the school I was at (I’ve hired many an intern over the years who weren’t at any school during the internship). So that’s what I did...I got internships at different types of entertainment companies every semester I was in school. My first internship led to my second biggest takeaway from my freshman year at college.

2) I wanted to produce. It’s funny, I can’t see myself acting at all now, but back in the day it was a big part of my life. My career focus changed during my second semester at USC, when I interned for a producer, John H. Williams (not the composer). At the time, Dreamworks was brand new and he was one of the first producers with a deal there. He had produced “Seven Years In Tibet” and was starting work on an animated movie that had Chris Farley attached as the voice of the lead character. I soon found myself in heaven.

Now, this wasn’t your typical internship. There were no coffee runs or photocopies being made (I ended up doing plenty of those in later internships, but not this one). I just read. I read scripts, books, anything and everything they would give me. Once a week I would give my opinions on everything. I just loved it. They allowed me to be a real voice in their development process. Everything revolved around finding and developing stories with cinematic potential. I just fell in love with it. Soon after, I realized that a career in acting wasn’t for me and transferred out of the theatre school and into the film school.

By the way, after Chris Farley passed away, another actor came on board to that animated film. It was Mike Meyers. And that little animated script that they were working on when I first arrived at the company, later evolved into one of the biggest animated franchises in history --

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

I’ve been working in the industry for about thirteen years. And I have encountered a slew of challenges. Some I’ve conquered, others...well, not so much.

I’d probably say that biggest and most difficult challenge for me personally was the same thing that turned me onto the film business in the first place: feature film development. I remember hearing the warnings from others when I first expressed my love for development. It took me a while, but I eventually learned why they call it development hell. The long and the short of it is --you can work on a script forever and no matter how hard you work and no matter what actor agrees to wanting be a part of the film or how powerful the person is who says they want to make the film, 99% of the time the script never gets made. And the reality of this, began to tear at me over the years.

After developing over a dozen features and watching several “greenlights” miraculously turn red again and again, it started to wear on me. Much of this is attributed to my own personal challenge of getting too emotionally invested in the work itself. It’s a double edge sword. You need the passion as the fuel to get things done as best they can be. And you also need the personal connection to maintain a strong point of view as a creative. However, if and when you take things personally (e.g. A project being passed on, negative notes being given, a great project getting lost to politics, etc.) you will be disappointed and distraught time and time again. And no matter how many times I’ve been told or I’ve told myself, “It’s not personal” (and it almost never is), it’s been my biggest struggle. And it’s that investment combined with the realization that no matter how hard I work, I may never see a project come to fruition (e.g. The movie being made and released in theatres).

But, as I have learned (by finally getting to see a movie I worked on for years come to this so-called “fruition”), perseverance, patience, drive, and the art of not taking things personally are all requirements in conquering the everyday challenge of film development.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into producing?

MS: The number one piece of advice I’d probably share with any creative (albeit in Film, TV or the Internet), is to sharpen your authentic voice at every opportunity. Whether you are simply reading a book, an article in a pop-culture magazine, a blog post, a script, a movie — whatever it is — have a point of view.

Notice the world and all its colors (mannerisms, behavior, society, music, art, etc.) and ask yourself what you think of it. Don’t be afraid of having and sharing your point of view. It’s one of the few things you do have that makes you you. There are a ton of actors, writers, directors, bloggers, casting director, cameramen, editors (... the list goes on) in this town. And one of the few things that separates one from another is that unique, authentic personal viewpoint that powers the individual’s creative expression.

You may not get the job, your script may get rewritten, your movie never made, but as cheesy as it may sound, nobody can take away your authenticity. It’s the most rich and compelling asset you have — foster it.