Thursday, March 31, 2005

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Learn Filmmaking in the Film Capital of the World!

Hollywood Seminars - Learn Filmmaking in the
Film Capital of the World - Or wherever you are!
Box 2449, Hollywood CA 90078 323.960.5550

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Best Movie Camera For $3k

So, let's say you have three thousand dollars, burning a hole
in your pocket. It could happen. A relative leaves you some,
you have a refund coming, you sell some stock. You know you'd
just squander it on food and rent, but you're a filmmaker, dammit.
That money must go to make your movie. If you don't spend it,
and right away, you'll never move forward.

You post on filmmaking discussion boards, you call a friend,
and ask, "What's the best camera I can buy?" He asks,
"How much do you have?" You tell him, and rather than
laughing in your face, he asks an odd question.

"Where do you want your movie to show?" A little
soul-searching turns up a factoid: What you really
want is for your movie to play in a theatre.

On tv, sure. On cable and DVD, yep. Maybe a festival,
but it's gotta start in a theatre full of people, watching
your story, sitting in the dark.

Your friend's expression turns serious, because he knows that
you are. "$3k won't make a dent in an HD camera," he says.
"They're $100-200k or so, for a CineAlta, Varicam, or Viper.
Jeff Kreines's 'Kinetta,' which is my favorite, even
though it's not even shipping yet, is $60k."

"16mm is okay, but when it's done, you won't have anything
to show in a theatre. Whether you shoot regular or Super-16mm,
you still need to make a blowup, and that's just as expensive
as shooting 35mm to begin with."

"Video? It's called "digital" now, but it's really just video.
Even HD is really just video. Yes, I've seen the new Sony HDV
camera. To fit HD into such a little camera, they have to
compress the HD, to fit the DV."

"That compression means even a tiny dropout will lose you the
whole compressed data block, that's one-half second screen time.
Ever see a dropout? Sure you have. Take that chance? Not me."

"If you've got $3k, the Panasonic DVX-100A is a great choice.
Leica lens, wonderful award-winning design, easy to use, well-balanced.
Great audio section, for really good sound. You can get them new
for about $3k, or on eBay for less."

"DVX-100A footage blows up to 35mm really well. Make sure to shoot
with the '24p Advance' setting, it makes a better filmout. This is
the best digital video camera, in my opinion. It's a good tradeoff,
and the camera's response curves have been tweaked, so it really looks
like film. A great audio setup, to make a pristine digital recording
of your noisy location. Only problem is the cost of the blowup."
Then he gives you the look.

"If you're a real die-hard, and you decide to really go all the way
with this, you're going to want 35mm.
Real 35mm costs $80/minute to shoot, and it plays on any theatre
projector in the world. It's easier to load, easier to edit,
it's bigger, and you can see the images."

"Maybe you just have a part-time income. Can you shoot 35mm?
Yes you can. It may take a year or more, but the year will go
by anyway. Just buy a Bell & Howell Eyemo on eBay (around
$500-1000), and feed it 100ft daylight spools. The Eyemo is
great, spring-wound so you don't need batteries. All you need
is a light meter, and you're set."

"The next step up is a reflexed camera, for that you want a
Russian-made Konvas camera. That'll set you back about $2500
on eBay. $200 for shipping, $300 for film, and you're go.

You load the 200-ft quick-change magazines in your darkroom, for
twice the Eyemo's shooting length, about 2.2 minutes, just like
your Super 8mm camera when you were a kid. You can even get
scope lenses for it. Loud camera, but you'll be dubbing your
sound, anyway, to make sure you get a great post-sync track."

With that, your friend withdraws. You know he's right,
and he's answered your question.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Movie Cameras and Projectors
Technical Manuals

Hard-to-find and out-of-print
technical manuals for your
favorite cameras and projectors

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Too Bizarre For Words Dept.

So, I was looking for just the right image,
of a snake biting its own tail, where I could
express my loathing for Hollywood endlessly
recycling / eternally reinventing itself.
Instead, I found something even better...
The Infinite David Hasselhoff!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Where Do We Find What Is Lost?

"It's a Mucha, the same poster hung on my wall for years."
One of my favorite filmmakers - Mr. Young Man Kang

Friday, March 25, 2005

Letter From IMAX!

This guy wrote a letter to IMAX, and got a response,
explaining just how many lines of vertical resolution
there are in a 35mm film, and how many more there
are in an IMAX film. The numbers are humbling.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Maybe My Screen Shouldn't Be So Wide!

I'm working all day, and into the night on my new feature.
A few hours each morning, I fool away my time sleeping.
Just before dropping off, I usually read something, lately
about widescreen movie systems.

When I owned a movie theatre, I said to myself,
"My movies should be in 4-perf Scope, so the
Projectionist can't muck them up."

True enough, once that Scope lens is on, all he can do is
frame up and down and focus. If he's wrong, it's immediately
apparent. In a Flat print, there's just too much leeway.
He can frame, focus, put in the wrong matte, oh it's horrible.

Stanley Kubrick framed his movies for a 1:66 ratio, and
Jim Cameron composes his widescreen into the top of the
Silent 35mm frame, (so-called "Super 35," rediscovered
by the late, great John Alcott, Stanley Kubrick's DP.)

Others shoot Academy frame, composing as though 1/7 of
their image at top and bottom won't be seen. Those will
be projected in 1.85 aspect, masking the top and bottom.

Everybody else intentionally distorts their movie, to squeeze
a 2.39 frame into four perfs. All well and good in the theatre,
but when you convert for broadcast or DVD, you must pan-and-scan
or letterbox. It's all a tradeoff, and anybody's guess.
So what would be so wrong to compose in 1.37 Academy?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Been There, Done That Dept.

When I was young, I had the misshapen idea I was "saving"
money by building everything myself. That's because I didn't
figure my time into the equation. Time is free, and I'm immortal,
and yada yada. Here's an article I would have written then, about
using $10k of time to build a poor-quality lens adaptor that makes a
Canon XL2 digital camera perform like a 35mm film camera already
does, to "save" $8k a pro would charge to build it for me. Got that?
Simple math - buy a 35mm film camera and film for $5k, and shoot
a film that will project on a big screen, in any theatre in the world.
Or, if you really insist on having to do it the hard way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Hoo Hah! - Enough with the Power
Of Digital Filmmaking Already!

Yet another site where somebody expounds on how
a computer in your bedroom makes you the equal of
George Lucas - like having a pencil makes you
Walt Disney. Digital makes movies go faster and
easier, but digital is, so far, just not as BIG as film.
Or sharp or punchy or well, beautiful.
The Power of Digital Filmmaking!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Dear Indies, Read This

Every so often, I need to hear somebody else say the same
things I say, so I can smile and nod, and rest. Here's an old
article, that I agree with. If you're making indy movies, you're
not playing the game. You've probably not even defined it.
Don't just stand there, looking depressed. Do something!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Everything Old Is New Again - 3D

Okay, we're there again. 3-D. I spent a year working
so laser beams could come out of Michael Jackson's
eyes in 65mm 3-D, long ago. That was a year well-spent,
but it seems they're talking intraocular, anaglyph, and
polaroid, and LCD glasses, all over again. HELP!
Experience it with your own two eyes.

My Choice For Digital Movie Camera

Still waitin' for it to come out, which is a good sign. Bad things
happen all at once. Good things take a long time. This is one
designed like a real film camera, not a wanky video design.
Check out Jeff Kreines's Kinetta

Friday, March 18, 2005

Cinemascope Widescreen Explained

I may have mentioned my next project will be shot in
an anamorphic variant of the Cinemascope process.

Many wonder how widescreen is achieved, and yet
there is a simple explanation.

Clicking this link shows a short, instructive video.
I hope you enjoy it. Especially the ending.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

What Does 1000 Channel TV Mean?

When my friend bought a digital tv receiver, (late '90s)
with 1000 channels, I was overwhelmed.

Do you know what 1000 channels means?

1000 channels x 24 hours = 24,000 HOURS
of programming PER DAY.

There has never been a better time for a filmmaker who
can make quality programming. From what I've seen
while kilochannel-surfing, that is still true.

Get busy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Who Is Colin Cunningham? I mean really?

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Supercool, my former improv student
and Leading Actor, having a fabulous career and swell time...
The Official Colin Cunningham Resume

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dorky Movie News

And you thought Hollywood was bad...but entertaining.
The Independent Film Blog

Monday, March 14, 2005

HD For Indies

This is a filmmaking blog, but HD becomes film sometimes.
I'm a 35mm film guy, but I shoot HD, and find myself in more
and more HD discussions, so I read more about it now.
This guy is great when he's talking HD, but kind of high
noise:signal otherwise, and I don't get all his TX stuff.
Never mind all that. Take a look. (Great Links!)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Have You Seen The Elephant?

During the Civil War, the question to ask was
"Have you seen the Elephant?" The answer told
whether the respondent had been tested in battle.

We fight for our creative lives.
That is still a good question.
This guy has seen the Elephant.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Eva Longoria Birthday Countdown!

Date: 15 March 2005 (3 days after mine.)
People ask lately if I'm related to Eva Longoria.
According to Esme, her devoted sister who wrote me,
and has researched such things, the answer is "yes."
I had a small role on "The Young And The Restless" a
decade before Eva was on it, (so I doubt nepotism was
involved, in either direction), and I'm glad the public
loves her. She's very talented, I think she's great.
Happy Birthday Eva, and "Hi" to Esme!
(Write her yourself, or tell ABC you like her.)

Happy Birthday To Sam!

Many thanks for the many nice email
birthday wishes. It felt good to
take a day off, and you are great.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Learn Filmmaking in the
Film Capital of the World!

Hollywood Seminars - Learn Filmmaking in the
Film Capital of the World - Or wherever you are!
Box 2449, Hollywood CA 90078 323.960.5550

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Stop-motion Software and Tools

Thinking about stop-motion a lot these days,
as I have a great script with a fantastic setting,
that might only be doable a frame at a time.

Here's a great bunch of stop-motion software
and tools,
for your DV or digital still camera.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

How Bad Can A Film Shoot Get?

Lest we forget, there's no limit.
I re-read this article every now and then
to remember, and to'll love it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Play It Again: Sam likes this one

Winston-Salem NC is a cool filmmaking hot spot,
my old friend Arledge Armenaki teaches there,
and here's a new 20-year old filmmaker,
fully immersed - weird but fun. Swim, Scott!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Filmmaking is my life...

Wanna make a movie?
My Secret Film School gives you
secret tricks to Make YOUR Movie!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Hope my "Raising Money" article
helps you make YOUR movie!

My "Raising Money" article is in the current Movie Maker magazine
"Beginner's Guide to Making Movies 2005," on your newsstand.
Hope you get the chance to read it.
I'd love to hear it helped you make your movie!

If you subscribe to MovieMaker, they'll send you one by mail.
Or it's in big book and magazine stores.

In Seattle, you can find it at the U Bookstore, Bulldog News,
most bookstores and magazine stands.

In Hollywood, it's on most of the sidestreet newstands off
Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.

Here's what you're looking for, a big, black monolith of a
square-bound glossy magazine.

It's good for hours of enjoyment, and with all that money
you can learn to raise - Hoo boy, what fun!

Samples from the article:
Secret list of funding sources,
Find Investors here.
(Even more priceless information is in the article!)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

"No blog today - My muse has gone away..."

Still polishing. Sorry I can't publish the many questions about
this project, but if you email me off-blog, I'll say what I can.
Today, I refer you to this guy,who has a great grasp of writing.
Canadian flavor (Montreal), but he's done the LA thing, so he knows.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tony Bill's Dirty Dozen

Sam is too busy finishing his shooting script today to blog.
Here today, is Tony Bill's list of screenwriting don'ts.
Sam revels that none of them apply to him, on this particular
show. If you know who Tony Bill is, you'll rush to read this.
The Dirty Dozen