All creative types are predisposed to failure, and filmmakers are no exception. It comes with the territory. We spend years of our lives sweating to bring a project to the big or small screen, and over the course of the weekend, we wait anxiously to see if the numbers will give us a chance to do it all over again. How do we deal with the commercial or the creative failure of a project? Sean Hood, one of the three credited screenwriters on Conan the Barbarian (2011), compared having his film flop at the box office to watching poll numbers come in on election night. At the end of his strikingly honest post (Quora.com), Sean moves on and looks ahead to the next pitch. We may not all be working with $93 million dollar budgets like Conan, but failure and disappointment rear their heads at every level of our industry. I see people deal with failure in one of three ways: Blame everyone around them. Withdraw. Ignore the problem. As you’ve probably already guessed, none of the above are constructive. The people I want to work with again and again are the ones who handle the difficult moments the best. When everything is going well on set and everything is perfect (an impossibility), then you aren’t actually seeing the best of your team. Here are five tips to deal with failure in the commercial, industrial and TV world: 1) First deal with yourself. Handling failure can be a lonely enterprise, and how you manage your internal messaging is key. Fight the urge to beat yourself up and damage relationships. Remind yourself constantly why you got into the industry. For many of us, we can boil that down to one moment. For me, it was watching Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia striding along the top of a lurching train in the desert. In moments of failure, remind yourself of the parts of the job that you live for. 2) You need to have an ego to do well in this industry, although confidence is perhaps a better word. It is a tough line to walk. Confidence in your abilities will get you past the rough spots, but ego has the ability to consume you. Seek a balance between the two. Surround yourself with people who can build you up but will also remind you when you’re being foolish. Don’t worry. Those moments happen to the best of us. 3) Call attention to the problems afterwards. The most valuable exercise for me after I have finished a project is the post-mortem. Look into the eyes of the people you just spent months of your life working alongside and ask them honestly where we messed up and what we can do better. The “we” is important here. This is not a blame game. I don’t care if you’ve just won best picture at the Academy Awards, there is something about your process that could have been streamlined and honed even further. It doesn’t matter if you are a team of one or a team of 200: look at ways you could have completed your last project more effectively. If you aren’t innovating, then you are drifting dangerously close to the assembly lines of the industrial revolution. Many people build their own box and then wonder why they can’t break out of it creatively. 4) Learn from your failures and let it drive you forward. Don’t dwell in the past, and remember that your past mistakes don’t have to define you. Steven Spielberg was turned down three times from the University of Southern California because of poor grades in high school. Now, with over 50 films and three Oscars, it’s safe to say he’s moved on from that initial hiccup. 5) See the signs. In the course of production work, large or small, there are many ways for things to fall apart. The ability to recognize the warning signs, either technical or business related, is the most valuable skill you can have as a filmmaker. How you deal with those signs will be, in the aftermath, what defines you and your career. I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison Do you have any tips for handling those tough moments during production? Tell us below!Read more
You wanna be a better filmmaker, so you wake up early. You drive to set. You spend the next twelve hours shooting. The next day it starts all over again and, if you’re lucky, this pattern repeats itself for years and at some point you find yourself with a career in film. But this is also a recipe for the destruction of your creative process. Read on for some alternative ideas on how to improve yourself as a filmmaker. Do yourself a favor and break the pattern. It is important to also look outside the set for ways to become a better narrative filmmaker. Here are seven things to do that don’t involve holding a camera and each serve only to make your work better: 1) GO TO THE THEATRE: Look at the image of the theatre above. The rectangle around the stage is called a proscenium and it should remind you of something. Looks like the frame of a camera, doesn’t it? We have the Greeks to thank for the last 2,500 years of theatrical productions, as their work spawned nearly all current art forms. Go to your local theatre, choose a drama, not a musical, and watch the blocking and lighting. As a DP, I am always fascinated by gorgeous lighting design in theatre. If I want to move a 1K on a set I can move it, but in theatre this is a complicated process. The results that designers get in the theatre are often extraordinary and can inform your field lighting work. Because of factors such as sightlines, but also the nature of the medium itself, theatrical directors are forced to focus carefully on the blocking of characters as they move about the stage. Directors in theatre always have an eye on composition, and the natural frame of the stage can instruct your work behind the camera if you are open to it. In film and especially TV, I see too many scenes where the character will walk into a room, stand there to deliver dialogue and march out of the room when the scene is over. Movement in all art forms needs to be organic, purposeful and driven by reason. There is a great deal to be learned from plays, but how to realistically block action is one of the most important takeaways for filmmakers. 2) VISIT AN ART GALLERY: Painting is concerned with all the 10 attributes of sight; which are: Darkness, Light, Solidity and Color, Form and Position, Distance and Propinquity, Motion and Rest. – Leonardo da Vinci As filmmakers, we get 24 frames per second to tell our stories. Painters get one. When planning your next production, try to put yourself in the mindset of the painter. Ask yourself: can I do more with less? Can I tell the story I want to tell in a minimal way that leaves the audience space to think and to interpret. Paintings leave a great deal of power in the hands of the viewer. Consider that the time may be right to shift the power back to the audience viewing your work. 3) BREAK YOUR HABITS: Picture: Toni Lozano The film community, at least in indie film, is a wonderfully tight knit group of struggling artists, all working towards a common goal of getting. their. film. made. This like-minded community can be limiting at times precisely because it is so like-minded. The single perspective may promote a cohesive production if you are making films for a select audience. It may make for a congratulatory atmosphere if you are discussing films with your peer group. What it does not do is serve creativity. Change things up. Listen to a lecture from a point of view that is the polar opposite of yours. Submit your project to a festival that is far off the beaten path and travel there if you are accepted. Guide your audience at the Q&A to ask better, different questions that force you and your team to think and ask them questions. Do you have a favorite shot? Don’t use it on your next project. Favorite camera? Shoot with something different. You get the idea. Habits and robotic sameness are the death of the creative process. Change up your routine in all aspects of your life, not just on the set. 4) WATCH TED TALKS: All of them. 5) WATCH DOCUMENTARIES: Documentaries are an incredibly freeing storytelling medium. You don’t need a crew of 40 people and $500,000 to create one and they can tell gripping, personal stories that are every bit as engaging as narrative. There are also pacing lessons to learn from doc projects. Which moments in a person’s life do you dwell on and devote valuable screen time to, and which do you skip? What is and isn’t relevant to the central story? Docs have been known to tell stories spanning centuries in under 90 minutes, and somehow these stories are coherent and engaging. Find similarities in how docs tell their stories and apply them to your work. Docs are limited to the footage they have available to them and they find all sorts of clever ways to use non-literal representative b-roll to tell stories. Don’t have the budget to film the car crash? Perhaps there is a way to show the car crash without needing to flip over a car at high speed. Docs very often have these problems figured out. Watch documentaries for the technique and not just the story. 6) TRAVEL: Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. – Ibn Battuta Meet new characters that will find a way onto your page. Make friends that are outside of the film industry and gift yourself the opportunity to experience the world by plane, train or automobile. Understanding different perspectives on life is a valuable skill, and it is a skill you won’t gain without travelling a few thousand miles. 7) GO TO REAL LIFE: Your life shouldn’t be defined by your career, and I myself am guilty of forgetting this from time to time. Look for ways to deepen your work in the world around you, but don’t let the work consume you. While not always possible in this deadline-driven industry, some of my most rewarding creative breakthroughs have come after setting aside a project for a week or two. Coming back after a break gives you valuable perspective and a distance to the work that helps puts you in the mindset of the audience. What do you think? Are there other off the set activities that you think can make you a better filmmaker? Comment below!Read more
A company called Craft have just announced a new camera. It looks like an intelligently designed, innovative modular camera system. It’s like building your own camera. There are two versions, either 4K or HD. And they are very affordable. Modular Craft Camera Systems Craft have come out with a brilliantly designed modular system, available in either HD or 4K version. The HD version has a Super 16mm sensor with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It has a dynamic range of 13 stops and global shutter. The HD Craft camera operates at high speeds up to 120fps. There are PL, EF, and MFT Speed Mount options, and an ND Sled filter technology. The 4K version is identical in size to its HD sibling, but houses a Super 35mm sensor that produces images at 4096 x 2160 and high-speed rates at 120fps. It is a production-ready cinema camera in a small package. It also bolsters 13 stops of dynamic range, global shutter, PL & EF Speed Mount options, and an ND SLED. Back Lit Control Display: The side display allows for independent operation of the menu and overlays when configured with additional accessory Elements. Intuitive Camera Controls: Easy to use side facing controls work in a Single-Element configuration or in parallel to other controllers in a Multi-Element configuration. Professional Connections: Craft Camera provides the outputs you rely on including SDI and a full-size HDMI connection. Use our tether port to ensure cable and connector safety at all times. But wait…there is more. This is where the fun bit begins. Building a camera to the spec you need. Store Element You can add recording to your Video Element with familiar formats like ProRes and CinemaDNG. The Store Element provides faster workflows and redundancy using CFast media. Record CinemaDNG format on one card while simultaneously recording a ProRes proxy on the other which decreases the post workﬂow time when dealing with CinemaDNG. SSD version is coming soon. Audio Element Your camera expands its audio capabilities when you add the Audio Element. Features include two mic inputs with phantom power, balanced analog output, and 1/8” stereo headphone jack for monitoring. Power Element The Power Element uses the Craft Camera Battery. Use a single Craft Camera Battery on the back of the “basic package” or two batteries by using the Power Element. LCD Element The ﬂip LCD can be oriented to match the position you are holding the camera. The entire LCD Element can be mounted between any Element—allowing for better balance, extended viewing angles, and preferences. Handle Element The Handle Element can control any part of the camera at any time. Core camera functions such as recording and lens control are just one button away. The entire handle can rotate 180º providing a more comfortable position when shooting extreme angles. The Handle can be attached utilizing our proprietary control interface called Control Link. The handle can connect to all the Elements excluding the Display Element. ND Sled Say goodbye to carrying around different ND filters for different lenses. The ND Sled is a significant innovation in camera technology. It is a mechanical device with two separate glass filters which provide 3 ND options. The ND Sled can be installed or removed at any point. Purchasing a Craft Camera to be used in a studio environment won’t need an ND Sled, however, if shooting outside is a regular occurrence then it is highly recommended. Speed Element Need to swap EF lens and MFT lens in between two shots? The Speed Mount provides a quick and easy way to mount different types of lenses to one camera… with no tools! Our Speed Mount technology functions similar to heavy tripod mounts using high-grade materials to keep your camera and lens tight and safe. Every 4K and HD Video Element ships with 1 Speed Mount of your choice MFT, EF, or PL. Purchase additional Speed Mounts to match your lens type if needed. Control Link The Control Link is the communication port that communicates to the Handle. It’s expandable which allows other devices to communicate with the Craft Camera. There are three additional Control Link accessories: Ethernet, Serial with LANC, and Wireless Transmitter. These can be used in place of the handle or along side when mounting it to additional Elements. Control the Craft Camera over Ethernet in a studio setting, use the Serial with LANC on a jib or stabilizer, or use the Wireless Transmitter for long distance mobile app control. We are extremely keen to see this camera in action. Hopefully, we will be able to get our hands on it for further testing. Currently, you can reserve this camera with a 10% deposit, starting at $500. For more information visit Craft’s website. What do you think of this design? Are you interested in finding out more about Craft Camera? Let us know in the comments below.Read more
edelkrone is a company that keeps fascinating us with their affordable, inventive gear ideas. Also it seems they’re in a habit of doubling the size of their booth each year. In 2014 they’re taking an impressive center position in the production hall.Read more
We’ve seen a few motorized modules trickle out over the last few months from Edelkrone. We first saw the Target and Wizard modules, providing us with dynamic motion and real time motion control respectively. Edelkrones latest motorized offering is the called the Craft, a motorized module for timelapse and stop motion photography.Read more
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