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Technological Tools for the Filmmaker's Toolbox - NexTV News

Sep 29, 2015 5:51PM

At NexTV, we work with artists who are tired of banging their heads against the wall that separates the BUSINESS from the ARTISTS....and we show them the way in. Check out our Strategic Career Planning Intensive HERE.


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.

Camera Team

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.

Art Department

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.

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NexTV News - Recreating 4 Iconic Looks from TV & Film

Sep 25, 2015 1:16PM

At NexTV, we work with artists who are tired of banging their heads against the wall that separates the BUSINESS from the ARTISTS....and we show them the way in.

From Audrey to Marilyn: How to Recreate 4 Iconic Looks from Film & TV

Fashion and film go together like Bogart and Bacall. Filmmakers and costume designers work hard to create the perfect on-screen looks that help tell the story. "Grease" wouldn't have been the same without Olivia Newton John sporting those skintight good-girl-gone-bad pants, super sexy off-the-shoulder top and a pair of bright red mules in the final carnival scene (and in all the promo material). Can you say goddess?

If you’re looking to recreate the most iconic fashion moments in film, here is some advice to put each look together flawlessly.

Audrey Hepburn’s LBD

Audrey Hepburn perfected the high-end classy look with elegance, style and sex appeal in the 1961 romantic comedy "Breakfast at Tiffany’s." Once film goers caught a glimpse of her Givenchy little black dress, woman's fashion was never the same. Today, the beloved LBD hangs in the closets of millions of women across the globe.

Recreating this look is simple; you don’t have to go Givenchy with this one. Have your costume designer make the dress with a gathered waist, fitted bodice, back embellishment and cutout décolleté with a Hepburn-inspired sewing pattern. The key here is pairing the right accessories with the dress. Black satin elbow gloves, a multi-strand pearl choker, a tiara and a vintage foot-long cigarette holder will finish the look.

Bo Derek’s Sexy Swimsuit

In 1979, a young Bo Derek graced the screen with a second skin nude swimsuit that became one of the most iconic beach looks in cinematic history. At the time, two-piece bikinis were trending, but "10" filmmakers had another idea, and Miss Derek made the one-piece hip again.

To recreate the look, choose a spicy nude v-neck tassels swimsuit. Have your stylist braid your actress’s hair and finish each braid with an assortment of beads.

Sarah Jessica Parker’s Tutu

Who would have thought a tutu would be a celebrated fashion statement? Carrie Bradshaw wore one oh-so well in "Sex and the City" — thank goodness costume designer Patricia Fields took a risk and stuck to her guns when there were reservations about using this tutu in the opening sequence. It was/is/will always be a hit. The entire series is everything style — beautiful brands, dazzling dresses and handsome handbags.

The quirky yet cool look can be recreated with a vintage tulle skirt. Add a pink tank top, some strappy Steve Madden sandals in tan and a pretty and polished designer handbag to finish this modern iconic on-screen look.

Marilyn Monroe’s Subway Dress

“When it’s hot like this I keep my undies in the ice box.” Marilyn’s cheekiness and charm led to her unmatched sex appeal that began in the '50s and still continues today. The William Travilla-designed white halter dress Marilyn made so famous in "The Seven Year Itch" subway grate scene sold for 5.6 million dollars at auction in 2011.

To recreate the look, find an ivory cocktail halter dress with a plunging neckline and pleated skirt. Because it still tops the most iconic looks ever list, there are several replicas available. Pair the dress with large, white pearl earrings and a white clutch. It’s important to get your stylist on the same page to recreate those short platinum curls to finish the look.

Recreating looks from Audrey to Marilyn and everything in between can easily make a statement in film and on TV if done right. Don’t forget the details in the accessories, handbags, hair and makeup.

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Building a Successful Web Series: The Personal Nature of YouTube

Sep 11, 2015 12:58PM

Follow along as we see how Jake Jarvi engages the nearly 40,000 fans of his web series, PLATOON OF POWER SQUADRONYou can see all of Jake's work at:


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 comments like—


“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 love it:



Thanks for reading. #PoPSweek



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Building a Successful Web Series: From Internet Content to a Studio Deal

Aug 13, 2015 4:33PM

Follow along as we see how Jake Jarvi engages the nearly 40,000 fans of his web series, PLATOON OF POWER SQUADRONYou can see all of Jake's work at:


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 rights because…


“…why 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


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.



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Jul 24, 2015 4:24PM

Follow along as we see how Jake Jarvi engages the nearly 40,000 fans of his web series, PLATOON OF POWER SQUADRONYou can see all of Jake's work at:



The video update below is about ADR. I mentioned it in the previous update and a few members of my audience had some questions about it. So here we are.



I’ve been listening to a lot of the Scriptnotes podcast recently. One episode a week just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so I had to subscribe to their app and get access to all of the old episodes. As someone seemingly forever trapped in a fascination orbit around the work of writer/director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), I, of course, listened to his episode first. He talked about scope creep, a phenomenon his work suffers from wherein the scope of a project continues to grow and get more unwieldy the longer he works on it. The effects of scope creep are obvious in Southland Tales and The Box. Southland Tales became practically unintelligible as a stand-alone picture, and The Box gets derailed by unnecessarily exploring the mind-boggling mechanisms used by the shadow organization pulling the strings. Kelly just seems to get intrigued by tangential aspects of the story he’s telling and wants to pull them all in until it’s completely unwieldy and the audience’s investment gets smothered underneath the weight of so much extraneous stuff.


I’ve experienced scope creep over the course of PoPS, as well. Obviously. There were certain plot devices and ideas I wanted to explore at the outset, but other things came into play as we went on. Some of them were direct results of feedback I was getting from the audience. In episode 7, a lot of people were really excited to see the girls up and fighting. Other members of the audience brought my attention to the ways in which the fight scenes were lacking. So the main plot of episode 8 became about proving we could do better fight scenes. The whole damn episode is called Fight. I mean, Eliza had mild whiplash for a few days after shooting her fight scenes we got so specific about the head snapping involved in taking a punch.


Originally, the entirety of PoPS was supposed to happen in 10 10-minute episodes. Episode 8 was 61 friggin minutes long. That’s technically a feature by most film festival standards. I just got more interested in the characters and how they were coping with these powers and with each other. And the more characters we got, the more I wanted to flesh out each of them. Give them more storylines. See how they handle different scenarios.


Most of my scope creep comes down to making sure things feel justified. In order to make crazy things happen, you sometimes have to spend time moving people and circumstances into place. The crazier the payoff, the more time it takes to set up justifiably.


Sometimes you realize that the characters have to take time processing the aftermath of some of these things. We’ve devoted many minutes of screen time to characters discussing things we’ve already seen to try and process them like actual people do. That’s kind of counter intuitive in screenwriting. “We’ve already seen that! Why are they still talking about it?!” But those are some of my favorite scenes.


I think scope creep is justifiable if it’s more about keeping characters grounded rather than trying to make a world larger and more complicated.


Thanks for reading.



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