» Archive for the ‘Featured Content’ Category

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Blackmagic URSA 4K with PL MountA little over two years ago, Blackmagic Design completely disrupted the cinema camera market, and changed expectations about how much we should be paying for excellent image quality. Their goal with the first 2.5K Cinema Camera was to make something with as much flexibility in post as possible, and would be a companion to cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II — which is why they chose the Canon EF mount. They haven’t stopped with just one camera model, as they have since introduced the Pocket Cinema Camera, Production Camera 4K, and the URSA 4K Digital Cinema Camera, which features interchangeable sensors. At the recent NAB show, I interviewed Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty and asked him all sorts of questions about their camera line, firmware updates, and what he thought about the image issues some people have experienced with the Production Camera 4K. More »

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Bastards of Young Taking a break on set

Through film history, there are those films we qualify as good “party movies” (Sixteen Candles and Dazed and Confused come to mind). But on the low-budget end of the spectrum, scenes taking place at a party can sometimes be the surest way for a film to scream “amateur”. Is it the garish lighting that accompanies party scenes, or the awkward clusters of bored friends posing as background actors? Josiah Signor tackled the party genre with much success in Bastards of Young, and in this No Film School interview, he explains how he created his well acted, well paced, nuanced feature debut — a micro budget “party movie” that’s actually pretty damned good. More »

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TFS

I’ve written previously about my experience producing, distributing and promoting my feature films The Graduates, Turtle Hill, Brooklyn and Drinking Games, and written about the emerging digital landscape for indie filmmakers. One thing I haven’t covered, however, are some of the super-specific, yet far-reaching promotions we undertook to bring new eyeballs to these films, and the net results of that work. So, I decided to put the five best promotions we did for my debut feature, The Graduates into a clear, concise eBook entitled The Free Soundtrack: The Top Five Ways To Sell Your Film On A $0 Marketing Budget, for you, my fellow filmmakers, to download for free. More »

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Film Director

The other day, I overheard someone say that Steve McQueen’s cinematography in 12 Years A Slave was brilliant. As a huge fan of Sean Bobbitt (the actual cinematographer of that film), I wanted to say something, but held my tongue because avoiding the argument that would have ensued seemed like a better option. Despite my inaction, this instance got me thinking about our shared cultural view of film directors, and about whether or not that view needs to change. More »

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hellion cat kandler on set

What’s the most important aspect of a film? Acting? Cinematography? Plot? To some, these are all crucial components that lead into the most important expression of a film: tone. However, setting the tone of a film is one of the most difficult things to do. Kat Candler’s Hellion, starring Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis, and a handful of emerging young actors, is a film that’s all about tone — the 13-year-old, heavy metal, motocross kind. Read our interview with Kat Candler, where she talks about anything from the dance of shooting handheld on the ALEXA, starting Hellion as a short, and the current heyday of independent film in Texas. More »

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no film school summer films grants deadlines screenwriting documentary narrative

Our massive list of grants is back, and for summer it’s bigger than ever — more grants, more markets, and more opportunities for both US-based and International filmmakers to get funding! Looking to finance your next 3D feature? Develop your humanities documentary? Get your script picked up by a top agency? Yup, there’s an app for that. If granting puns don’t get you excited, this list of relevant opportunities with deadlines this summer just might. More »

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Adam Epstein

Frequent readers of our site are likely familiar with the work of the Film Unit over at Saturday Night Live. On multiple occasions, we’ve covered the work of the Film Unit DP Alex Buono, most recently as he talked us through his work on the Wes Anderson parody, The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders. As we know from Buono’s posts, the pre-production and production of these pieces are done on extremely tight deadlines due to the fact that SNL is a weekly show with multiple “shorts” per episode. However, for those of you who thought that those processes were as stressful and hectic as it gets, wait until you hear about (and watch) the post production of a few recent SNL shorts.

I recently talked with Saturday Night Live Film Unit editor Adam Epstein about some of his recent work for the storied television show. We chat about everything from how he landed at SNL to the technical aspects of his work as an editor for the show. More »

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Stripped

Direct distribution platforms have made finding an audience for independent, no budget movies a real possibility. And though much of your effort might be focused on just getting your film online and monetized, there is a whole area of distribution that could provide potential profits that may be slipping past your attention: bonus content. VHX, a direct-to-fan distribution platform, has crunched the numbers on which content options are the most popular for the documentary STRIPPED – a project that has harnessed the power of bonus content to appeal to their fan base, and has put more money into the pockets of the film’s creators.

This is a guest post by VHX. More »

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Layover 1

It’s easy to become despondent when approaching (or thinking about approaching) the uphill battle that is making a film. And although it is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do, it can be done — regardless of how little experience, money, or equipment you have at your disposal. Filmmaker Joshua Caldwell made his feature film Layover for just $6000; he cast his friends, borrowed a Canon 5D, and now it’s competing for the New American Cinema award at SIFF, and he has decided to share what he has learned about maintaining high production value while keeping costs down.

This is a guest post by Joshua Caldwell. More »

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me-filming-rebecca

Though it has been made much more doable thanks to crowdfunding platforms, securing funding and navigating the process to maximize your return can be tricky. DP Katie Maul and the team of filmmakers working on the indie doc Trichster, have run a total of 3 successful crowdfunding campaigns for the film, and Maul has shared some tips on how you could approach your next fundraising efforts.

This is a guest post by Katie Maul. More »

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Steadicam-FS700-Haiti

Leaving your home to shoot a movie in different country is certainly not for the faint of heart, something cinematographer Richard Patterson knows all too well. When he traveled to Haiti from the U.S. to shoot a short documentary entitled Papa Machete about the slowly vanishing martial art of Haitian Machete Fencing, he was met with many different types of issues concerning gear, media management, you name it. Thankfully, Patterson decided to share what he learned with all of us.

This is a guest post by Richard Patterson. More »

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Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 8.11.15 PM

Our festival run is almost complete and we’re preparing for our imminent online launch. Direct distribution is a moving target, and we’re constantly shifting our release strategy and making adaptations we feel are necessary. Our latest adaptation is going to be making the film available on more than one platform when we release. For this post I’ve also put together the first of three videos from hours of interview footage on the cast & crew’s experience of making Menthol. Click through to keep following along and to watch the video. More »

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Heaven Adores You a film about Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith is one of the most prolific and authentic figures in the contemporary singer/songwriter era and is synonymous with intimate, honest folk music. His songs are cinematic in the sense that they are character studies, “little pictures made of words” that capture a certain person, time or place. Many documentaries have tried to have been made over the years, but Nickolas Rossi has succeeded in making the first feature-length Elliott documentary with permission to use his music. Read on for our interview with the director Nickolas Rossi on constructing a portrait of Elliott’s life and work. More »

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DJ-SNAKE.DANIELS-prettybird-treatment-turn-down-for-what

In part two of our interview with the directing duo DANIELS, we talk about forging careers as music video directors, film school, storyboarding, writing treatments, and moving onto feature films. We’ll even share their original treatment for their music video for DJ Snake and Lil’ Jon’s “Turn Down for What,” which has gotten eight million views… since I published part one of our interview last week (bringing the total number of views close to fifty million, a mark it will surely surpass shortly.). More »

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Curtains by Tyler T Williams

Budgets are rapidly coming down for music videos, but some directors still manage to execute their visions on a budget. Tyler T. Williams is perhaps one of the best at this, always putting together interesting images with great music. With his latest video for “Curtains!?” by Timber Timbre, Tyler displays a growing confidence in storytelling and a welcome throwback to the film noir grunge of the 40s and 50s. Hit the jump to watch the new video and for our interview with the director. More »

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Daniels DJ Snake Lil Jon Turn Down for What behind the scenes

Three years ago I posted one of my favorite music videos of all time, created by the directing duo DANIELS, who’ve since racked up many more awards for their terrific music videos and short films. I was excited when I found out they would be at this year’s Sundance Screenwriters Lab with me with their feature film project, but little did I know they’d be releasing a viral sensation shortly thereafter. Their music video for DJ Snake and Lil’ Jon’s “Turn Down for What” has crossed 35 million views as I write this, thanks to its absurd hilarity, excellent direction, and infectious energy. In part one of our Q&A with directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan — the latter of whom is in fact the main performer in the video — we address the expected (how they made the video, the cinematography and visual effects) and also the unexpected (dancing sex organs, crotch bruising, Asian masculinity). More »

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Vincent Laforet Directing Motion

The Directing Motion Tour workshop, hosted by award-winning commercial director Vincent Laforet, goes in-depth with some of the most famous films in history, analyzing why and when the camera was moved or placed in a certain way, and how sequences are constructed from those shots. Not only that, but attendees actually get to work on a scene themselves where they put all of this theory into practice. I recently attended the DM tour, and I was able to sit down with Vincent and ask a few questions about camera movement, being a director, and what really matters when it comes to storytelling. More »

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DamNation co-director Ben Knight avoids a surveillance helicopter while filming the demolition of Condit Dam on Washington's White Salmon River in a scene from DAMNATION Photo DamNation Collection

Being a director requires a certain persistent stubbornness to get a film made the way you want it. In the case of Ben Knight and Travis Rummel, this meant saving money for six years to buy the RED EPIC, having strict rules about shooting on tripods (even underwater), camouflaging oneself to film unnoticed at demolish sites, and editing every frame of the film in unadulterated 4K. The payoff? A breathtaking film that won the SXSW Audience Award and is opening on the big screen this weekend. In the No Film School interview below, find out how the filmmakers of DamNation made their cinematic doc, and where you can catch it in theaters. More »

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Menthol at 18th Sofia International Film Fest

The process of releasing and distributing my first film has been a challenge, and as we enter the last month or so of pre-release work I will be sharing more a long the way. In the previous two posts in this series I talked about cutting a trailer and shared philosophical ramblings after our world premiere. In this post, I’m gonna talk about our international premiere experience, putting on our own screenings and preparing for the next steps before release. Hit the jump to read more. More »

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Documented poster crop

Have you ever thought of turning the camera around on yourself to tell a personal story? What about a personal story that involved outing yourself as an undocumented immigrant and exploring the relationship with your mother you haven’t seen in about 20 years? That’s what Pulitzer Prize winning author and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas did in his latest film, and it wasn’t easy. In the NFS interview below, Vargas talks about anything from writing first-person narration, to earning the right to be on camera, to achieving that delicate balance needed for a successful first-person story in his film Documented, which opens in theaters this weekend. More »