On modern film sets, your smartphone is often the most important tool you have on you. Indie filmmakers have really embraced what a smartphone can do in terms of the sheer density of tools available in such a small package. There are a plethora of tools and apps available on your phone that help the project go smoothly no matter what department you're in.
A large portion of the apps available is for the camera team. In large part, this is because of the technical information needed to operate the camera and because of the speed at which new technology is developed. For example, the "Helios Sun Position Calculator" app is a great tool if you're shooting outside. It can be used in a map view or through the phone's camera to show where the sun is going to be in the sky and how high it will be. This lets you know where your shadows are going to come from and how long they will be.
For art department, continuity is king. If you can't keep everything consistent from shot to shot, the audience will notice and be pulled out of the experience. Because of this, one of the most helpful tools in the art department is your phone's camera. A phone with a fast and great camera, such as the iPhone 6, is your best friend. Before smartphones, continuity was usually done with Polaroids, which are hard to find and expensive to operate now. But today's phones give you nearly unlimited storage as well as the ability to share the information with people around the corner or a hundred miles away instantly.
"Evernote" is another great app to keep your pictures organized. With this app, you can create notes on how you want the characters to dress or their spaces to be filled. Evernote also allows you to share these notes with your team that can be accessed from a desktop or from their phone.
A viewfinder is one of the best tools to have during pre-production and location scouting. If you know your framing, it makes it easier for everyone down the line to quickly and efficiently fulfill your vision. Before smartphones and tablets started making their way onto set, directors used a special handle that attached to their lenses, so they could see what the camera would see. These are great and extremely accurate, but a good one will cost you an arm and a leg. The "Artemis Director's Viewfinder" app changes that. The app uses your phone's camera and overlays various lines to show what a given focal length will look like on whatever camera you are using, ranging from 35mm to Super 8 mm to large format digital sensors. Artemis also allows you to take photos of your view, so you can reference them later or give them to another department head. And it captures your GPS, tilt, cardinal direction and the information used to capture the image, so you can quickly and easily reference them later.
FEATURE FILM Script
THE LOST BOY by Mitch Olson & Matthew Songer
TV PILOT Script
KINGDOM OF GOD by Travis Opgenorth
HAYENA'S BLOOD by Nicolas Caicoya
The video update below contains a full 17-hour
time-lapse of a usual weekday in my life as a part-time YouTuber. A lot
of our audience found it surprisingly compelling and inspiring.
Wow. Four weeks without a written post on the
PoPS blog. Quick recap of blogger rationalization: A lot of traveling
meant I had a lot of work to catch up on at my day-job and I’ve spent
the last couple weeks going crazy on finishing PoPS episode 9. We
premiere on Sunday. Finally. As this trailer attests:
Today, I wanted to talk about one of the
unfortunate side effects of doing a show on YouTube. Don’t worry, this
isn’t a big complain’y type blog post. It’s just that we have a lot of
great actors is our show, and people’s expectations when watching
YouTube is that they’re seeing people who are simply being themselves.
Our actors don’t get credit for acting.
That’s part of why I’m so pleased I got to do a
video update each with the remaining members of the villain crew. The
audience finally got to see them out of character. There were so many
“Wow! He’s nothing like his character! What a great actor!”
They need to get the chance to see what a team
of genuinely sweet natured collaborators we’ve built in order to
understand that they’re really good actors. If they were watching them
on TV or in a movie, that’s something that would be inherently conveyed.
But the very platform of YouTube is largely based on the premise of
watching REAL people express themselves as who they genuinely are.
This is also a reason why many prefer not to
watch web series on YouTube. The very platform makes everything seem
even more phoney and fakey because people aren’t just telling stories
looking straight into the lens of their cell phone or DSLR.
Just an unexpected hurdle on the platform of
YouTube. So, it’s nice that at least the contingent of our audience that
watches the updates finally understands how legit our cast actually is.
Another fun bit in preparing to release episode 9
are the hype’ish previously-ons I put together. This time it’s 21
seconds long and only helps the people who’ve already seen the show
remember where we are and get a little amped. It does NOTHING to help
anyone who’s never seen the show before understand what’s happened. I
Thanks for reading. #PoPSweek
The video update below is a ten-hour time-lapse of me sitting in my tiny home office working on our show.
Today I’ve been thinking about filmmakers.
Filmmakers using the internet to launch themselves into the tent-pole
cinema game, internet filmmakers trying to leverage that same mechanism
into studio deals for themselves. Obviously, I’m not talking from
personal experience. Just observation.
We’ll start with the teaser for The Leviathan.
Everyone went crazy for this thing four months ago. Director Ruairí
Robinson, who’s helmed several animated short films, one of which was
Academy-award nominated, made this proof-of-concept trailer:
The Leviathan -- Teaser from Ruairi Robinson on Vimeo.
A couple days after he put that on Vimeo, Neill Blomkamp (Writer/director, District 9)
and Simon Kinberg (Writer/producer, the latest X-Men movies) signed on
as producers and Fox Studios snapped up the feature rights. The story
told within the short is nothing at all, but there’s no denying the
impressive look of it. It looks like tent pole filmmaking. Plus, Jim
Uhls (Fight Club screenplay) name is on the trailer, so that must mean there’s some kind of story.
Still, the big headline is HOLLYWOOD STUDIO BUYS
INTERNET VIDEO SHORT FILM. This kind of thing happens every once in
awhile and every filmmaker on the internet tries to do the same thing.
Since many studios only seem interested in stories they’ve seen be
successful before (that Leviathan trailer is a sci-fi Jaws, right?) everyone starts trying to churn out shorts or trailers that look like what studios are buying, AKA rehashing stuff.
And it can work, apparently. This article from Film School Rejects
titled “Terrible Trailer for a Movie that Doesn’t Exist Getting Turned
into a Movie” discusses this same phenomenon citing a mock-trailer for a
movie called The Garden directed by E.B. Rhee. The article
states that as a flashy, VFX-heavy, internet video that’s drummed up
some attention Warner Bros. subsidiary Polymorphic Pictures grabbed the
not? The CGI is shitty, but the studio will hire a different company
for that anyway. The acting is all wooden (admittedly because there’s no
story/foundation present), but all of these actors will be replaced.
The story isn’t interesting or new, but Polymorphic will hire a dozen
writers to shape and reshape the script until it’s unrecognizable. Make
no mistake, the most likely outcome is that Rhee gets paid for the
rights, he’s replaced by a known director, his actors are replaced by
known actors, and his script (co-written by Aaron Strongoni) is
workshopped by more established screenwriters until the whole thing is
shelved anyway.” You can check out the rest of that very worthwhile article at Film School Rejects: http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/short-film-the-garden-movie-trailer-bought-by-warners.php#ixzz3iitbZ0ia
In an update awhile back, I talked about how the
studio system used to grab up the new filmmakers of each generation who
were showing the industry what the new generation wanted to see. It was
how the industry evolved. Now, the internet is spoon-feeding the
industry what it’s already seen over and over again in the hopes of
gaining admittance to the studio system. Because of the remake and
reboot culture. We talk about the nostalgia of this time, and part of it
is absolutely that. Just look at Kung Fury:
It looks like VHS (just with great VFX), because
of our nostalgia for watching fantastic movies in the format. That’s
both giving the internet what it wants and proving that you can make
something impressive looking. But the studio systems climate of
nostalgia is mostly just based on grabbing something that has already
been proven fiscally viable at one point. There’s no speculation there.
You can chart the property’s previous box office, adjust for inflation,
balance it with the box office estimations on big name acting talent
attached, and if it tanks like the Poltergeist reboot or The Fantastic Four reboot, you can tell your boss, “Hey, I charted this whole thing. It all worked on paper,” and your ass is quasi covered.
It’s also all about the millions studios have to
spend on marketing, making talent that already has social media
followings in place a bigger draw, because they can send a tweet about
an opening weekend to an entire generation of people that have stopped
watching TV commercials. They talked about that at a South by Southwest
panel with casting directors this year where they essentially said
producers are more interested in finding successful people on YouTube
and Vine than in acting class showcases or comedy clubs. That comes at
the end of this article at The Guardian:
I guess this is all just more on how the
internet and the film industry have to realize what each of those
markets wants. It’s not the same thing. At all.
More on that next week.
Thanks for reading.