Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dry Erase Clapper Slate for $8

Here's a very useful tool that I was forced to rebuild when my last one was damaged in a production. Essentially a laminated card slapped onto a clapper slate, this can come in very handy when identifying your footage in post. I blogged about this in the past, but when those old links died, I decided to take matters into my own hands--literally!

If you would like to make your own clapper board based on the graphics shown in the above video, I've made them available for download.

Slate it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Recap Link List 10-25-10

"Stick 'em in a corner" lighting technique

Making mud sound effects

DIY Camera / Lens formed cases

Hal Hartley on the lessons of "The Unbelievable Truth"

Why episodic TV is bad

YouTube Leanback officially launches on Google TV

Router to camera slider for $2.17

Fake rock

Disciplines of sound design

Releasing "Person of Interest" free on Vodo

The Frugal Filmmaker: Free world distribution strategies

Netflix considers streaming-only in U.S.

New book: "From the Shadows of Sound"

A practical guide to field recording (part 1)

Digital bootcamp with Ingrid Kopp (A MUST READ)

5 myths about copyright

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Free World Distribution Strategies

Lately I've been high on the fact that for very little effort and no money, any movie we make can be seen by literally millions of people. It's a very exciting prospect and while the trick is still to make money, global exposure is a good first step to realizing this goal. The idea is to drop your entire film on the web, available to anyone who wants it.

This thought totally flies in the face of the old model that's been in place for years, but for us microbudgeters, that old model doesn't even apply. If you are a small studio or an expensive indie, the old "find a distributor to buy your film" might work, but is still a crap shoot. Movies with big name talent frequently get into prestigious festivals, then never get purchased. Even if you do get picked up, there are so many shady dealers out there, that you often get no money or the money promised is soaked up in fees and you've lost the rights to your project for 25 years.

A better idea is simply this: give your film away, let lots and lots of people watch it for free (which is trackable) and use those numbers as leverage to fund your next film. You can also develop an audience this way, an audience that will want to support you (like any artist) if they like your work. This can be through merchandising or making your film available in different "containers" (like a DVD) which provide a better picture and bonuses like extra content.

I don't know if you can make a living this way, but others are proving this is doable. Stick to your microbudget roots (say $5,000-10,000 raised on Kickstarter) and you could turn a nice profit. Take the aforementioned viewer numbers and get sponsors and product placement in your next film. It could be a nice, healthy, profitable cycle. Add some grass-roots marketing and you could go into the stratosphere.

If you have your film done, then what? There are several places you can start to deposit your movie that will start getting you an audience. Some are easy, others take some work. Vodo is a new site that will place your film in peer-to-peer networks often used for pirating mainstream material. It costs nothing. Since your film is owned by you, you may even get featured! YouTube allows feature-length product (20GB file size and no time limit) if you are a partner. Create a channel and get busy building your audience and views. Apply for a partnership, get it, and post your film. Submit to Netflix. They offer streaming content now and your film could get seen that way as well.

Another exciting prospect is that TVs are now becoming conduits for internet content. "Apps" that play YouTube and Netflix streams are being introduced on modern televisions, video game system and set-top boxes. Now you can reach people who want to be entertained while nestled on their couch instead of at their computer (a better viewing experience anyway). Your potential audience is growing exponentially on a daily basis.

This is a very exciting time. Your film could be seen all over the globe. Computers, TVs and mobile devices are more plentiful than all movie screens combined. That should be our target. No one other than your family will pay to see your microbudget feature. They might pay something afterward, however. Getting your film in front of people is becoming very easy. Just let go of old myths and embrace the now. I truly believe it's our best shot at success.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Build a Camera Crane / Jib for $30

Whew! THAT was a lot of work.


1- 10' length of chain link top rail
2- training wheels with rubber grooved tires
1- dumbell handle with screw collars
1- Simpson Strong Tie A24 angle (Home Depot SKU# 590007)
1- roll of 50lb. test fishing line
1- small hook & eye turnbuckle
1- quick plate from your tripod
2- 1/2" PVC plugs
1- 1/2" PVC end cap
1- 1/2" PVC tee
1- 1/2" PVC elbow
1- 1/2" PVC pipe (3" in length)
1- 1/2" PVC pipe (5" in length)
3- 1/4" machine screws (1 1/2" in length)
4- 1/4" nuts with nuts
1- 1/4" lock washer
2- 1/4" fender washers
1- 3/8" bolt (3" in length)
1- 3/8" bolt (4" in length)
7- 3/8" nuts
2- 3/8" fender washers
1-4 3/8" washers
1- 3/8" lock washer
1- knobbed 1/4" bolt with 5-6 exposed threads
1- 1/4" screw (2 1/2" in length)
1- 1/4" wing nut

Weekly Recap Link List 10-4-10

Three link lists in a row? I think I need to get busy...

All aboard the piracy bandwagon (alternative distribution)

Independent film's path to a viable new business model

Designing Sound: "The Town"

The misadventures of Charles Maynes: Sonic Terrain

Recycled pulp egg tray (sound dampening)

Find the PVC fittings your local hardware store won't carry

"The Social Network" sound-for-film profile

DIY dolly for Canon 7D (or any camera)

Creative challenge II: brainstorming

Recording of the week: Senegal Doves

Three lessons from three films

Kickstarter campaign for the new film "Triptych"


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