Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nickelodeon Writer's Script Review

A few weeks ago at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, I was lucky enough to attend a writers conference held by Nickelodeon for aspiring TV writers. The event is designed to help writers polish their spec scripts for submission to the annual Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship competition.

Every year, Nickelodeon, Disney, NBC and a few other studios hold fellowship competitions for aspiring TV writers. In the process, hopefuls submit sample or spec scripts, and the studios will judge the scripts to ascertain those with the most potential. Winners have the opportunity to work for a year under the fellowship, learning the field with an eventual chance to get staffed on one of their shows as a writer.

It's a very heated competition, with many talented people applying. The Nickelodeon Writers Script Review gives people the opportunity to have an actual sit down meeting with the execs at Nick who do the script judging and have them give their honest opinion of your script and provide constructive criticism and analysis of it. This review is invaluable because it allows you to hear from the horses mouth exactly what they're looking for in a winning script, and basically helps you identify problems so that you can build the best script possible to submit to the fellowship.

The two Nickelodeon execs I met with were awesome. Relaxed, friendly and super helpful. I was incredibly nervous, but they made me feel comfortable and provided honest and constructive criticism. It's helped me see the strengths and weaknesses in the script and I feel super-charged to go back and do some quality rewrites.

One of the books they recommended is Story by Robert McKee. He's a pretty popular author (figuring prominently in Adaption, Kaufman's film about the stresses of screenwriting). It's a great tool for understanding story structure and the unspoken meaning within stories. You can buy it here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

IndieFest 2010

Here is the IndieFest video we produced for Citybeat

Film Tip of the day: Online filmmaker resources.

For royalty free, video, music, art etc.. checkout The Internet Archive. Citybeat had an interesting article about here.

The Filmmaker Resource Page

Monday, March 29, 2010

Making of Noah Baumbach's Greenberg

Noah Baumbach's latest film about a well-off socially dysfunctional prepster stars Ben Stiller in the lead role. Although the film's been getting some middling reviews, what I've seen so far looks pretty clever, and we're planning to watch it this weekend. If it's anywhere as biting as Margot at the Wedding, then I'm sure there'll be plenty of hilarious, self-absorbed tantrums to keep us entertained. Making Of's website has a great video showing some behind the scenes action on the film. Check it out.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Film Making - DIY - Track & Dolly - Make your own.

Check out this great camera dolly tutorial on youtube.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I wish Spielberg would "commission" one of our films....

Check this out:

Synopsis: A boy uses his imagination to connect with a girl on a New York City subway.

Special project commissioned by Steven Spielberg. Shot on RED. Animations and compositing completed in Adobe After Effects. Conceived and completed in 10 days.

"Head On" - Spielberg Commissioned Special Project from Michael Koerbel on Vimeo.

Stop motion is awesome...eventually we will get around using istopmotion to create a project.

SNASK from Mike Crozier on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SD IndieFest VI

Starts tomorrow with independent films....Music and everything else on Saturday. We will be covering the event for Citybeat and will footage posted. This should be a fun event to kick off the Spring/Summer festival season in San Diego so you should get off the couch this weekend and go catch some indie flicks and good local music....

Chroma Key Blood and more DIY effects Tips!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beck Record Club!!!

If you are a fan (we are), then you might like the Beck Record Club.... According to his site: "Record Club is an informal meeting of various musicians to record an album in a day. The album chosen to be reinterpreted is used as a framework. Nothing is rehearsed or arranged ahead of time. A track is put up here once a week. The songs are rough renditions, often first takes that document what happened over the course of a day as opposed to a polished rendering. There is no intention to 'add to' the original work or attempt to recreate the power of the original recording. Only to play music and document what happens." We really like the approach that Beck is using when covering these songs and the music videos are very lo-fi and awesome....Be sure to check out some of the earlier record club collaborations...especially their version of Sunday Morning

Record Club: INXS "Guns In The Sky" from Beck Hansen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Burma VJ

We stumbled upon this trailer on the Oscilloscope web site. This looks like an amazing documentary. Find out more here.

This looks awesome as well....

Monday, March 22, 2010

DIY 35mm adapters

I found a cool site that gives some very good tutorials on building your own DOF 35mm adapters. These are some well drafted diagrams and would probably be of great assistance if you are brave enough to build your own DOF adapters. plus you get the awesome look of the video above without paying the high price of a Letus.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tron Redux..

If you haven't seen it, Disneyland is rolling out another 80s retread Tron Legacy. Despite the 2nd teaser trailer looking a bit like a Batman/Matrix rip off I have to say that it looks pretty be the judge.

Technology has come a long way...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chicago Underground Film Festival

A good way to get your work out there is to submit your film projects to lesser known film festivals. Less competition means a better chance for exposure and possible awards. I know that sounds awful, but getting the first "laurel leafs" on your film is an encouraging step and might boost your confidence in promoting your film further. A cool festival coming up is the 17th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival. The "CUFF" festival describes itself as "offering defiantly independent filmmakers a platform for films and videos that innovate in form, technique, or content from the indie mainstream.CUFF's programming is innovative and unique, ranging from the lowbrow entertainment of John Waters and Coffin Joe to fine art, avant-garde works. Highlights from the 2009 program include Spirit Award nominee BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO, AMERICAN RADICAL, and IT CAME FROM KUCHAR"

It sounds like an interesting event and a fun festival at which to present your film to the world.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I want to see it painted...

So we finally got around to watching Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones documentary Shine a Light and we have to say its pretty good. Unlike many of our other favorite music docs, Shine a Light focuses more on a music performance rather than band drama such as Some Kind of Monster or Dig!. Not saying that's a bad...its not. But I would have enjoyed a lot more of the cut-away archival interview footage Scorsese used to break up the performance. Despite all of this nonsense, its definitely worth checking out.

Film tip of the evening....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Heavy Metal in Baghdad

In case you didn't hear our show on KSDT last Friday, we talked about the documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad. The documentary is about the Iraqi heavy metal band Acrassicauda who risk death to play the music they love.

Overall, the documentary has and good premise and is entertaining to watch but the filmmakers could have shown more about the band, its origins, the atmosphere in which they live, and the music. However, despite some shaky camera work and often amateurish questions by the filmmakers, the documentary is still an interesting study and is definitely worth checking out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Alice in Wonderland review

This weekend we sent to see the Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland. I didn't have especially high hopes considering the critical reviews were fairly middling. It turned out to completely fill my expectations: A decent film that's very visual but lacking in story and wit.

Just like at the Avatar screening, we came an hour early, only to find a long line wrapped around the halls had already developed. People are serious about their 3D movies! We had the pleasure of watching the dismayed faces of people arriving after us as they trudged to the back of the snaking line to get into the theater.

The movie itself was very subdued and grim. It's hard to explain. The color palette stays in the blue-gray spectrum for most of the film. And visually its stunning but it felt cold and over CGI'd. Nothing looked real or palpable. I told A afterwards that I felt like I'd just watched a cartoon. That's a big problem with CGI that I still think needs a lot of work. Even the actors all seemed in a heightened state of unemotional detachment. The story starts out ten years after Alice's first trip to wonderland. She meets the same characters in the same sequence of events. But the journey seemed more about checking off story points (i.e. Mad Hatters tea, then meeting Red Queen, then meeting White queen etc.) And at the end of the journey at the point in the movie when the good people win and the characters are supposed to be joyous, everything still seems lacking emotion or urgency.

Now I don't want to appear overly critical. After all this was a huge production Burton took on that was more involved and complicated than I can even imagine. And he has created a visually stunning film. I just think that it would have benefited from a little more wit and and humanity and a little less CGI.

Here's an interesting video on the making of the movie.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Live on KSDT Radio!!

Evening y'all. A is on the radio again tonight talking shop (i.e. politically motivated film and music) with Ian of, you can listen here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Latest Citybeat Video and more!!!

Hey everyone, here is the Lights On rehearsal video we produced for Citybeat.

More project footage will be posted soon!!! We promise!!!

For this week's KSDT, Arte Politik show we are going to be talking about Heavy Metal in Baghdad and Beautiful Losers. Tune in Friday nights from 7 - 8 or in case you miss it, you can download any of our shows on the KSDT site.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The perfect formula for an Oscar Trailer

This video is a perfection. I can think of at least 9 movie trailers that follow these formulas including every Tom Cruise movie ever made.

This also reminded me of a video I saw on collegehumour few months ago, that completely shocked me (as a girl who grew up worshipping Ariel). Turns out, Disney basically uses the exact same animation scheme for all their movies and just changes the characters.


G'night! We'll post our latest vid tomorrow!

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's been a long night of editing...

And we're pretty tuckered out. A is putting the final touches on our latest Citybeat vid. This video was interview and rehearsal footage with the band Lights On, and as can happen, we had some audio issues. Mainly a lot of distortion and hot levels from our XHA1. Thankfully with our second camera, the S11 we were able to grab some decent audio for the vid. It seemed pretty strange to us that the higher-end camera (and professional boom) did a worse job catching the audio than the "consumer" level S11. But normally the XHA1 does a great job with audio, so I'm guessing it was just the small room we recorded in coupled with the strange bounce off the walls of the space. Either way we ended up with solid audio and were able to make a decent cut of the footage. We should have it up tomorrow. I found an interesting article you can read here that has some great tips for reducing audio distortion.

That's it for us tonight. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, as we're going to do some spring cleaning on our Imac. It's funny-now that we're using two HD cams on our shoots, we really didn't realize the space hog it was until a message popped up on our computer that we only had 1GB of space left! Geez. So, we need to clear up some space. Fun, Fun, Fun!!! Ciao for tonight :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Funniest Part of Tonight's Oscars

Poor director Roger Ross Williams getting Kanye'd by producer Elinor Burkett. Click here to read an article about the bumrush. "Security!"

Friday, March 5, 2010

Roger Ebert's Oscar Picks

I have been a fan of Roger Ebert since I was 10 years old. Every Sunday I couldn't wait to open the Arts and Culture section of the Inland Empire Press Enterprise (don't laugh) to read his review of the latest flicks. Even now he has one of the most entertaining and informative websites about film (and life) in general, out there. I often peruse his old movie reviews to see how closely his opinion of a film will coincide with mine. Ebert's been getting a lot of attention lately, mainly because of his struggle with oral cancer. If anything positive has come out of it, I think people have begun to realize what a talented and eloquent writer he is and not just the chubby "thumbs up/down" movie critic. In light of the Oscars coming up this weekend, here's Ebert's picks to win.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The economy has been tough on Independent film...

According to an article in Variety, that even the film industry is feeling the pinch lately. We should point out the obvious, that even though Hollywood has cut down on the amount of films they produce to save $$$, they are still releasing complete rubbish....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Its Monday...

and time for a film review!!!

So I went to a double feature Saturday night when C was away visiting family and since it was a guys night out I was able to see a guy movie...So with all of the great choices in theaters right now...we decided to checkout George Romero's zombie film remake The Crazies. According the the La Times "George Romero's "The Crazies" (1973) has always existed in the shadow of his zombie movies, but this epidemic thriller is perhaps the horror maestro's most provocative exploration of his great theme: the collapse of social order." The remake, directed by Breck Eisner and with the same name keeps it simple and stupid and sticks to what the masses want...which unfortunately is a standard horror/apocalyptic genre flick. And no, despite what the trailer makes it look like, the Crazies is not a zombie film. The infected or crazies keep some of their consciousness and are not trying to eat other people but do try to kill as many people as they can.

Overall, I liked the Crazies for what it is, and I didn't mind that the film didn't explore a lot of the themes that Romero's version contained. Basically the remake was produced well enough to keep you entertained for the length of the film and didn't leave you questioning why you spent $11.50 for admission....well maybe its not that good.

Checkout these upcoming film festival sites:
Reno Film Festival and The Detroit Windsor International.