Category Archives: Filmmaking

One Thousand Words

A picture is worth, or so they say. I did the math on this recently for an average feature film length of 88 minutes, and it comes to, wait for it, 126,720,000 words to describe a movie, if you were to take each frame separately.  24 frames per second, or fps, and you can do the rest of the math yourself.

The phrase comes from journalism, and if Mrs. Meiners taught me anything, it’s that sometimes, you don’t get a photo to go with your story.  You might have to write the thousand words to describe the 1/24th of a second that you observe at any particular point.

That makes this, an opinion piece. Simply because I have one, and like the other thing that everyone has, yours may be different. Similar, yet different.

Ready, okay!

My goal for this piece of my opinion may or may not be limited to the aforementioned words numbering one thousand.  That’s not the goal.

It’s simply this: to explain away the travesty that is my current state of mind. For those of you that don’t know, the Mind State lies somewhere between CA, NV, AZ, and quite possibly UT.

That’s right, you won’t find it on any map. Every notice how most sites have a site map? Turns out, all it really is, is an outline of the hierarchy of your web pages. It’s a good thing to have one, so that the appropriate search engines can find things on your site.

Word pictures must be painted.

To continue, as opposed to moving forward in the same direction, it follows that in your average movie, and believe me, most are below average, the picture taken at any point a that is somewhat near point b will contain most if not all of the same information, or data.

Computer Science teaches this, actually.  Everything boils downto zeroes and ones, and Moore’s Law is in full force at any particular time.

If this were to be a picture, at the beginning of this paragraph, I would have had six hundred and seventy seven words left to write.  Fortunately, telling you this fact means that now I have somewhat less left to go.

Here’s some more math for you: A thousand words a day, times 365 in a year give or take, gives us 365,000 words, approximately.  A simple division of 126,720,000/365,000 equals 347.18 years to create the average movie.

I don’t have that kind of time, and probably neither do you.

Of course, this precludes the collaborative process, and if you have roughly 348 people creating the thousand words a day, it may only take one year to bring your vision to the big screen. Or mine for that matter.

Given this fact, and several other variables that may or may not be predicted with any semblance of logic that may or may not be fuzzy, how does anyone get their vision to the big screen?

I’m reminded of an old joke: A guy drives up and asks, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice!” is the punchline.  I heard that for the first time during the 60′s. Yes, I am that old if you’re a first time reader. Or even, the second time as I didn’t mention it last time, either.

Time is God’s provision for everything not happening at once, and space is His provision so that it doesn’t all happen in the same place.  However, within your own life, or the life of any particular average movie, it may seem like a lot of things are taking place at the same time in the same place.

I sure do hope that last sentence parses.

And it won’t be the last sentence, either.  Why the concern with word count, one may ask. If you don’t already know, this is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for those that do.  30 days, and fifty thousand words later, and you have your novel. That averages out to about 1700 words a day, give or take.

As I’m a filmmaker, I choose months that have 30 days in them to write a screenplay instead.  In April, Script Frenzy, or Screnzy as some would call it, is all the rage.  The goal in this case is to write 100 pages of screenplay in a month, and that divides out nicely to three and a third pages of screenplay a day.

I admit, I’m a little behind, as I’ve got 65 dynamite pages of a web series, however, only ten or eleven days left depending on when you read this, in order to get to the finish line, which ticks out to about 3.5 pages a day.

I once wrote on I believe this blog/site whatever it is this week, that it should be possible to write one great page of screenplay a day, at which point in a year you can create 3.65 screenplays if you stay on track.

I’m painfully behind on that one, as I have a life outside of writing as it turns out.  Therefore, it follows that I’ve had to give up most if not all of my social media commitments.  Ironically, you’ll probably see this missive posted about in one of three places first, Twitter, Facebook (or, the book of the face, OR Fakebook as I refer to it), or quite possibly Linked In.

I hope that those that read it out there, will leave comments there, as well as here.  However, I know that most will simply gloss over it, and move on without so much as nary a thought.

So, to review: Word count, page count, and the like are probably not as important as the fact that you’ve read this far, and I’m dangerously close to reaching the artificial word count I established in the title, therefore, I should probably continue to put words in some semblance of order to form sentences to reach it.

The fact that I’m behind may be because I’ve lost my muse. However, that’s probably another post on an entirely different site for another time.

Why, you may ask? It’s, The Law!!!

I’m a Filmmaker, And I’m Okay…

I work all night, and I sleep all day.

If only that were the case. I received an email from the fine folks who press the word, that I’ve been doin’ this for six years. So, HB to me!!!

My problem is, are, was, were, not even grammatically correct. Damn!! Time to go back to English 10AB w/Fred Doucette.

Was @Castle recently, and started playing Fizzbin with random guests, just to pass the time. I have to create a new act that I can film and submit to the entertainment committee in order to qualify to maybe perform Close-up magic @ some point in the distant future, in the only place I truly ever want to perform it.

Life is either performance art, or a broadway musical. Make your choice, and then stick to it. Use stick ‘em if you have to. I told my Executive Producer this once. Two years ago. Well, maybe more than that at this point, as the fine folks in the land of 168 have changed the dates since.

I should hold Chip Chalmers personally responsible for my meltdown this season. He was the last director I asked to direct me, before I resigned to doing it myself. But Chip’s a good guy, so, I would never do that.

Others in the land of granola that may or may not be called out during this not so random rant include but are not limited to, the 1st AD, and the 2nd Unit Director.

We lost 3 hours because of this duo, that propagated throughout the rest of the project.

We had a full post production sound facility ready for us at 9a the day before turn in. We didn’t get there ’til noon. Hard out at ten pm, therefore, well, I’ve already done the math for you.   Sol7 did incredible work under the strangest of conditions. Special thanks to them above and beyond the credits they shall receive somewhere. Well, on the finished product itself. Which may be a film, motion picture, or movie.

Wow.  Artificial word count reached!!! You should all know what that means by now.

Well, if you don’t, it means I can type faster. Like this…. Except when getting a phone call from the fine folks @ the E3 after party I just confirmed attendance. For myself, and two guests. You should know who you are, however, if you don’t, then well, it’s not you.

The thoughts in the previous paragraph may be in the proper order, if not the words. Take this into account when you post your comments.

I know I’m missing something this weekend, however, I do have the capability of walking into the LA Wine Fest with my press pass from the fine folks @Soak Magazine. I should give them special thanks, too.

So, have a lost weekend, then play video games? I wonder if that’s how Ray Milland started….

A random closing phrase here, then the directives. If this were a song, it would probably be in four part harmony.

I’ve gone so far off topic in this one….

That’s my story. Hope You Enjoyed It™

Top Romantic Nerd Movies of Lurrrrv.

Top Romantic Nerd Movies of Lurrrrv..

 

I’ve always been partial to Superman, The Movie myself. For my money, being in a love triangle with yourself is the way to go, I would think.  Batman in ’89 had the opportunity to explore this as well, but it went in a different direction.

 

Michael Gough as Alfred in the Burton/Schumach...
Yeah, this guy.

 

A wrong direction if you ask me. While Alfred is family, it wasn’t his secret to share. Taking Vicki Vale to the Batcave? Seriously??? Bruce should’ve done that.

The rule, law, meme, whatever you want to call it is, disclosed classified information whenever a need to know exists. Alfred didn’t have clearance to share this secret with Vicki. It’s that simple. I’m sure that Burton did this as some sort of time saving device.

That’s basically a mini rant, as it’s all I’ve got in me today. I’m amped about other stuff, however, that’s going to remain in the family for now, and quite possibly none of you that read this site are family. At least that I know of.

Stay sane, so I don’t have to.

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Anyone Can Make a Movie!!!

I tweeted that earlier today.  Figured I should elaborate.

Guy Kawasaki recently gave an interview where he said entry into your field is either free or cheap. Of course, he was talking about technology startups, however, the same goes for movies. Anyone that’s seen or even heard of the ‘Fred’ movie on Nickelodeon can attest to this. He came up with a gimmick, and ran with it.

Of course, for every Fred out there, there’s also a Tom, Dick, or Harry trying to do the same thing. And as we know, Sturgeon’s Law, not to mention The Law!!! itself, is in full force. Shields’ Corollary: It’s Recursive.  And everything is relative. Just ask my in laws.

There are several sites out there, even one or two of mine, that will tell you how to make a movie. Several more will tell you how to make it ‘good.’ Well, that’s all fine and dandy, however, since NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING, as Sir William of Goldman will attest, how do we know who to listen to?

And of course, as with anything else, there are gatekeepers out there, giving you the go ahead, or in this business, not to be confused with, the industry, the proverbial greenlight. And, it’s easier to say no.  Why take a risk, when you don’t have to?

Have I asked too many questions without answering them already? Was that last one rhetorical? I’m starting to sound like the narrator on the old Batman TV series. I almost said, “Tune in tomorrow, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!!!”

Ok, time for some seriousness on this so called comedy blog. If you’ve decided that you want to make a movie, then go ahead and do it. Life is, after all, a Nike commercial. Don’t spend the $40K plus whatever it would take to goto film school, the only reason to attend one of those is for the networking, and we’ve talked about this before, elsewhere. Spend the money making a movie!!! Don’t know how? Well, you can goto Ten Minute Film School, or you can buy this book that I recommend, and get about a quarter from if you buy it from this link. Or, you can do both.

I once attended a seminar where they told me that my first film would be bad, and be willing to make mistakes. Of course, that’s all subjective, simply because the first film I ever made, was never distributed, and the dogs I made it for, and of, liked it. The first film I Co-Produced won Best Picture at the festival it was in. And here we are, almost seven, well, six actual years later, still plugging away, making short films.

Which either proves my thesis, or doesn’t depending on whether or not you like them. You can see two of them right now free, until I take them down and start selling them.

In any case, if you’ve ever watched a movie, and said to yourself, “I can do better!” Then by all means, go ahead and do that. Don’t let me stop you. At the same time, I reserve the right to let you know that it does indeed, suck.

Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Oh, and leave a comment, and let me know that I’m doing it wrong.

 

Tell Me a Story…

That can’t be the right title. I’ll probably change it later, however, the link will remain the same. Feel free to trackback :)

For purposes of illustration, let’s say that until I was eight years old, my great grandmother on my father’s side lived in our home. Well, not our home, but the home I grew up in, as I don’t really know where you lived back then. I don’t know when back then was for you back then either, for that matter.

I came home late one day, and she had asked why. I came up with some wild explanation which to my eight year old mind, sounded believable. There were no monsters involved, or anything. I believed that I simply decided to hangout with my friends on the way home, so, it took longer than normal, so, what I related was simply that I had played at my friend’s house. Which wasn’t actually true, as it just took us extra time for all of us to get home. She replied with, “I don’t believe you. You’re telling me a story.”

Confusing at the time, however, quite possibly relevant now, x amount of years later, as I don’t want to tell you the value of x. You can find that information elsewhere, as it’s freely available.

Why is it relevant, you may ask? Well, even if you don’t, as I’m sure all three of you know by now, I’m a filmmaker. By definition, this means that I make films. Of course, film is dead, but I did that rant on ATPM.com a long time ago. So long, in fact, that most of the links on that page goto sites that either no longer exist anymore, or point to entirely different companies. In any case, for sake of argument, let’s say you’re using film, even though it may be digital video or high def. Over the many years, I’ve heard various things about what you read or see in various mediums, and they all boil downto, “Is it a good story?”

Several definitions out there:

  • Something happens, and it’s interesting.
  • A story is what happens to characters you care about
  • An account or recital of an event or a series of events, either true or fictitious

Ok, three that I had readily available, but you get the idea. I guess by the last definition, both myself and ‘Grammy’ as I called her when I was a kid, were correct, although, for different reasons. I once heard that for a publisher to publish a story, it has to be good. Which of course is subject to interpretation. We are all storytellers in that regard, and as always, Sturgeon’s Law is in full force. And I believe he was making a conservative estimate. More on that probably another time, at a different blog.

So, now that I’ve padded my word count to arrive at some arbitrary number created by those that measure these types of things, I can really write whatever I want. However, if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll probably read the rest. And the point here is simply this: Good, Great, Amazing, etc. are all subjective terms. There may be a quality control issue that we need to address. And, as the aforementioned law, not to be confused with, The Law!!! states, ‘they’ may not know what they’re doing, either. Even if the greatest screenplay in the world is on their desk, and even if it’s yours, you still, might not get your movie made. At least, by them. At least you’re not this guy :)

That may be enough for today, so, as always, adjust your expectations accordingly, and by all means, please retweet. However, before you do, what’s your definition of story? I’m anxious to hear your thoughts….

Have Your People Call My People…

And, we’ll take a meeting, and do lunch. This famous Hollywood refrain has been said so many times as to become cliché. I guess I’m writing about it today, simply because the subject of meetings has come to the forefront, of if nothing else, my purview. Either that or a lot of other people have been writing, talking, blogging, etc. about them lately, and I figured that you, my three readers, would like my take.

I’m reminded of a story I heard once, when I was deeply ensconced in the tech sector, about a meeting that took place. Or rather, didn’t. Several attendees showed up, and waited for the meeting to start. And then, they waited some more. Finally, about ten minutes in, my friend spoke up, and asked, who’s leading this meeting? And he got the classic scene from well, any movie wherein no one wanted to take responsibility that was seated around the big conference table.

He proclaimed it, a Dilbert Meeting, and if you don’t read Dilbert everyday, you should be. Tell Scott Adams I said hello. In any case, my friend ultimately took control, and got something accomplished, and he realized later that a meeting had been scheduled by some generic meeting software that our company was using, if not properly. Turns out there was a similar meeting scheduled a month previous, and the secretary that posted it made it a monthly occurrence.

I had a conversation the other day, well, two days ago, actually, about meetings that exist simply to schedule other meetings. My friend stated that he’s advanced his division beyond that, so that actual work gets done. He wouldn’t explain to me how this works, however, my guess is that there’s only one person in his division that schedules meetings, and they’re responsible for the itinerary and who shows up, and who may or may not be asked to contribute.

In my industry, not to be confused with, the business as we’ve previously discussed, it’s become almost a habit to have a meeting, eat, and discuss what took place at the meeting. In essence, having two consecutive meetings for the price of one. There’s got to be a better way. Until such time as there aren’t meetings to discuss what took place at other meetings, and actual work gets done, in this specific case, getting a movie project greenlit, it would seem that this endless process of wasting time will continue.

I don’t have a good suggestion for making this process of salary justification stop, either. Yet another reason why I think Hollywood is broken, and will continue to be so, until there are fewer decision makers, and more people around to implement those decisions.

Adjust your expectations accordingly.

How To Deal with, The Rules

There’s a book giveaway at the end of this post, so, what needs to happen is that you read the whole thing, first. Most of you will probably scroll to the end and enter, but trust me, I’ll know. I feel it’s appropriate to discuss the three ways to deal with the rules in what is ostensibly, a contest post. Win/win. So, that Guy Kawasaki will read, the three ways to deal with the rules are as follows:

  1. Learn them before you start
  2. Learn as you go, and finally
  3. Make them up as you go.

Simple, right? Not so fast, I’ve got about 700 words to go. Plus, explaining the rules will probably take more than that. Although, they do look rather simple and straightforward, come to think of it. So, maybe we should discuss, how to handle individual situations where the 3 ways can be used effectively.

Learn Before You Start

What’s the first board game you ever played? Chess, Checkers, Monopoly, Chutes & Ladders, or dare I say it, Candyland? In every case, you opened the box, took out the pieces, and there was this page of rules that came with. If you haven’t already played the game, you read the rules, hopefully, all the way through, and then you start. Simple board games that you played as a kid are easy, ones that are more complicated, have more rules and pieces, and finally, games that look simple but have multiple strategy guides/books published, are even more complicated, but that goes to playing the game well. In Checkers and Chess, you know how the pieces move, and you know what the ultimate goal is, however, how do you achieve that goal? Again, that goes to strategy, and I’m not trying to sell you a chess book. You’ve learned how the pieces move, where they go on the board, and what the goal is, so, chess or checkers at its base, is easy, and what are called perfect games, as they are finite to a point. Repeated play at a game like this will lead to improvement in your quality of play, and therefore, RTFM, as we say in the trade.

Learn as You Go

I once had a chiropractor tell me, “Life’s a game. Play the game.” I may have said this elsewhere myself, although, not recently, otherwise, I’d link to it. You’re born, you live, hopefully a long time, and then you die. Depending on your belief system, or the series finale of LOST, that’s not the end. In any case, no one handed you the above mentioned rulebook, therefore, you had to figure out most things yourself. Hopefully, you had a loving set of parents that pointed you in the right direction, for those things that you needed help with. This process continues into adulthood, and in the case of the meddling in-laws, probably long after that. You may find some new ‘games’ that you wish to play, and it’s at times like this, that I take the path of sitting down and starting to play. Like Twitter, or Facebook, for instance. Some of you may have actually read the privacy statement on either or both sites, however, as in at least one case, they’re constantly changing, therefore, you probably just clicked without reading. You got your account, and tried to figure it out. You may have even tweeted or written on your wall at some point. I don’t know, as my experience with Twitter should probably be a whole ‘nother post, if it hasn’t been already….

Make Them Up as You Go

Which brings us ultimately to, the 3rd option. The most fun, and quite possibly, the most dangerous. Sure, Twitter has rules, which are mostly guidelines, and the Twitiquette police will attempt to smack you down if you don’t follow their rules, however, the beauty of the system is, at least in this case, and for me, that I don’t have to play by their rules. I have mine. Mine are better, by definition. And since I’m making them up, I can change them, too. Again, win/win. I win, you win, he she or it, wins. In case of Grammar Police™, go directly to the Free Parking space on Monopoly, and don’t collect any money. Most of you have probably started with a $500 bill on this spot, and you’ve used the community chest money to add to it, however, that’s not in the rules. I was playing the game for a year before I found that one out, as I chose option #2 for that game. How To Win Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh This is probably the part you scrolled to when I said scroll to the end, so, the first rule of the free book giveaway is, go back to the top, and read the whole post. The second rule is, leave a comment, to prove that you’ve read it, and as the book comes out on Monday, by all means, rule #3 is multiple comments only count as one entry, and I’ll be tweeting this post out for the next 3 days. I have only one copy of the book to giveaway, therefore, best comment wins. Rule #4, all decisions of the judge are final, that’s me, and no purchase necessary, as I’m not really asking you to buy anything. I could, but then a purchase would be necessary, and we can’t have that, can we? Well, we could, but then you’d be breaking a rule. Which I’ll probably discuss next time. As always, adjust your expectations accordingly. And, Please, Retweet.