The Only Tip You Need to Become a Better Filmmaker

As filmmakers we’ve all become in some way involved in the crazy run for the latest developments in camera gear. In the hopes to make better films and become better filmmakers many of us are constantly called to catch up with innovation. But sometimes it seems we are missing the essence of what truly makes a filmmaker better and that is not the gear.

In the midst of the gear craziness at NAB 2015 and in search for an authentic message I got these 19 terrific comments from professional filmmakers during my last round on the show floor. I hope you enjoy the story despite heavy background noises.

This is also a little way to say thank you to everyone who followed our coverage during NAB and a tribute to our friends and colleagues we meet once a year. If you like it please check out last year’s video.

Ironically before everyone is asking, here’s the equipment used for the video:

sony-alpha-a7sSony Alpha a7S

At cinema5D we often use this camera. For this particular job it was ideal. Because of the lowlight strength there was no need for additional lighting. And it was an extremely lightweight package.

Unfortunately I shot on a picture profile I’m not used to. Next time I’ll go back to Slog2 which I personally enjoy for accurate grading.
zeiss-loxia-35mm
Zeiss Loxia 35mm F/2.0

This is a new lens by Zeiss and it’s awesome. It adds virtually no weight to the camera while at the same time being full-frame and offering F/2.0 and a super crisp image.

XLR-K2M

Sony XLR-K2M Adapter

This little add-on that routes XLR audio directly through the hot-shoe is very convenient. I set the mono-mic to both channels with different levels, so I had a backup audio.
Unfortunately I relied on Sony’s kit microphone that proved to have horrible directional characteristics. It picked up all the surrounding noise. I wish I had used one of our sponsor’s mics. It’s kind of embarrassing actually, but this was a really fast shoot.

The footage was graded using filmconvert, as well as a custom LUT and some additional corrections.

Music by musicbed.com
A. Taylor – Ash and Dust

People in the Video:

PHIL ARNTZ
PHILIP BLOOM
CODY BURROWS
RODNEY CHARTERS
DAN CHUNG
BRENDAN GIELGENS
CLINTON HARN
STEVEN KEITH
NINO LEITNER
RICK MACOMBER
DAVID MALLOURE
JOE MARINE
EMMANUEL PAMPURI
EDUARD SCHNEIDER
ELLE SCHNEIDER
JEM SCHOFIELD
JOHN-MICHAEL SENG-WHEELER
ELLIOT SMITH
KLYMENT TAN

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Dan Buck Joyce Reply
Dan Buck Joyce May 20, 2015

Does going to trade shows make you a better film maker?

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner May 20, 2015

No, just a nerdier one

Robert Bogs Reply
Robert Bogs May 20, 2015

Always remember that. period.

Jan Hermann von Bayern Reply
Jan Hermann von Bayern May 20, 2015

So true. Looking at the newest gear sidetracks me from sitting down and being creative. I realized when your ideas and skills are good enough people will give you money to rent all the gear you want.
And before that, rent it yourself. Because it’s better to spend $2000 on a great shoot than $40.000 on a camera that puts you in so much debt that you have to work jobs you didn’t want to do in the first place.

Leo Maria Bauer Reply
Leo Maria Bauer May 20, 2015

geld?!

Jason Brooks Reply
Jason Brooks May 20, 2015

True dat. A welcome voice of reason among the G.A.S. guzzlers. :-)

jason

John Wahoo Reply
John Wahoo May 20, 2015

It´s funny, that right below the video is a list of gear and about the technical process of how it has been made, completely the opposite of the message of the video ;)

Oscar M Reply
Oscar M May 20, 2015

I was more impressed with the shoot and edit you did – Looked really nice.
Cheers´

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber May 24, 2015

Thanks for your comment Oscar!

Deon Prabu Reply
Deon Prabu May 21, 2015

“Unfortunately I shot on a picture profile I’m not used to. Next time I’ll go back to Slog2 which I personally enjoy for accurate grading.”

it’s enough for dramatically color grade with 8 bit only?
no banding, artefak ?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber May 21, 2015

For me accuracy is more important than banding fear. I didn’t get anything of the sort from any grades I did so far. But it surely depends on the scene you shoot.

Deon Prabu Reply
Deon Prabu May 26, 2015

“I didn’t get anything of the sort from any grades I did so far”

Any tricks or procedure often used?

appreciated your works
thanks

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber May 26, 2015

I like to use filmconvert as a basis.

Deon Prabu Reply
Deon Prabu June 3, 2015

And the workfflow?

Deon Prabu Reply
Deon Prabu June 3, 2015

And Luts?
Using Final Cut Pro , Adobe Premier, Davinci, Or Scratch maybe ?

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber June 3, 2015

I used Premiere CC for this and our own luts :)

Shannon Morris Reply
Shannon Morris May 21, 2015

Hallelujah

Roms Prod Reply
Roms Prod May 21, 2015

Great idea and subject. So true. BTW as you mentionned A7S and Zeiss, was it filmed in 4K or 1080 ? :)

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber May 21, 2015

It was 1080p in-camera. Extremely lightweight setup.

 Ash Tailor Reply
Ash Tailor May 21, 2015

Hey there

Just wanted to sag, that was amazing. I don’t think you need more than a few essential bits of kit. If you can get more then it’s great but its not needed.

I think we all aim to be professional and get those shots we’ve seen used in some of our most loved films and productions but its not needed.

I loved the edit Seb. Paid attention and respect. Very inspiring.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber May 24, 2015

Thanks Ash!

Jay Oliveira Reply
Jay Oliveira May 21, 2015

it doesn’t make you a better story teller but it sure makes you look cooler! Imagine showing up to shoot a wedding with an iPhone 6….

Nino Leitner Reply
Nino Leitner May 21, 2015

That’s part of the joke John :)

Jay Oliveira Reply
Jay Oliveira May 21, 2015

… or an interview for a well known politician for that matter Nino ;) They just wouldn’t take you seriously

Reply
William Koehler May 22, 2015

You did a great job, Sebastian. You would have preferred a better mic? It didn’t matter. It was good enough and the subject is compelling enough and the editing was superlative enough that no one is obsessing over how the audio could have been better. It’s a trade show and you can still hear every word. It in fact proves the point of your film.

I have a directory with a small number of clips on this very subject. It is titled “Working with Less (or, Get Out There and Shoot!)”. Your film just got added in. Thank You.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber May 24, 2015

Thanks for your kind words William!

Reply
Mark Patterson May 23, 2015

Here is a tip: “this was a really fast shoot” is a bullshit excuse nobody will ever accept if you mess up the sound. Putting on a wireless lav is 10 seconds, everybody in the shot knows how to do it and where to put the transmitter. you where just careless and didn’t monitor the sound properly.

The end result is pretty good, but I hate the “quick shoot” excuse because it is an insult to the people in front of the camera if you know the sound was not going to be good.

Reply
Barry alexander May 24, 2015

Take it easy, tiger.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber May 24, 2015

No, I didn’t know, I found out afterwards. Couldn’t hear the audio with my iPhone headphones in noisy environment.
And no, I would not go for a wireless lav on a shoot like this if it can be avoided. Had it with me, but interviewed more than the people you saw and it takes too much time. It was priority to get all the people in a very short time and I wanted the natural quick responses. Some interviews took literally half a minute.

Adrian Mahovics Reply
Adrian Mahovics May 28, 2015

“Like” :)

Tom Walsh Reply
Tom Walsh May 29, 2015

Couldn’t agree more! Great little film. Ironically I was thinking what it was shot on as I was watching because it looked so nice, but hey!

Carl Hartman Reply
Carl Hartman June 18, 2015

Most of what I see I call beautiful garbage. You can teach a monkey how to shoot well and apply a bleach bypass filter. (99% of you don’t even know what the true process is, you never worked with film or in a lab to understand why it was used. Yes, after film school I spent a year working and processing film in one of the top labs that, sadly, is gone.) Great storytellers are rare. Yup, most of your stuff is shite. It is really well shot, crap. Everyone is so wrapped up in their toys. One of the great things about 35mm or 16mm is that it limited the number of people that could shoot. There is no more creativity today, there is just more crap to weed through, to find the good stuff. Just bigger piles of crap on Netflix and tonnes of 1 & 2 star failed attempts at really bad, but well shot garbage. The most important thing has NOTHING to do with 4K or any technology…
…its the damn script on the paper. And, as the great ad man David Ogilvy used to say (paraphrase), there are very, very few good writers…
…and we have a glut of people with the technology flooding the market, the customers have no idea that your great reel, actually sucks…because no matter how many slider shots or filters you apply, what is on paper is crap.

Film school (if you can call it that) should be 95% writing and weeding out the pretenders and then allow you to have a camera. That is most of what the great schools did. You had to make it to your junior or senior year and then you could shoot. Then you had to get enough money for short ends. Access was limited. Now, film school is like beauty school. The craft of telling stories has been reduced to something “anybody can do” and the value of what we do is meaningless to the world. When I do a project for an agency they pay a fraction of the fees they did 10 years ago because they think that equipment being cheaper is the bulk of my cost; even though we old geezers shoot in a fraction of the time the young snots do, because they are f—ing around with their technology…the real cost is in me re-writing their crap written by minimum wage copywriters (my turds every morning write better copy) and creating powerful stories that actually work. No 4K camera writes that for me.

Funny, the last big agency job we did, their reason for wanting a 4K camera was that everything they normally get is so poorly framed they want to be able to zoom in on every shoot because everyone they hired to that point couldn’t compose a shot to save their ass. However, everything our 70 year old DP shot was so wonderfully crafted we quickly calmed their fears shooting on HD. We took our time during the shoot (being very deliberate) which disturbed them, until we walked out of the shoot doing in 8 hours what their young crews were doing in 16 hour days. The head of the agency asked me why I was so calm…duh All of us started working in film where we had to do everything with great intention and bad scripts killed your career…now it just seems to be the accepted norm.

Reply
Eric Bogan September 18, 2015

The title of this has nothing to do with the video. Also, why did you cutoff the top of the heads in so many of the shots?