Indie Advice So Good…It’s Scary!

With over seventy-five producer credits to his name, longtime independent filmmaker and master of the low-budget horror flick Jason Blum has learned a few tips and tricks in his journey to founding his successful production company Blumhouse. So how exactly do you take $15,000 and turn it into a billion dollar success story?

The creatives over at IndieWire distilled some of his and his executives advice to up and coming filmmakers from the 2015 Produced By Conference and despite being a master of the horror genre (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister, Oculus), the super-producer’s prescription for success is anything but scary.  Check out some of the ways in which indie auteurs of all ages can turn production nightmares into cinematic dreams.

Think outside the box…but within the budget.

Blumhouse executives insist on two things: giving director’s freedom to bring their vision to life and strictly staying within a set budget. These pairing of rules often spark collaboration as directors open themselves up to all ideas in order to get what they want.

“”We say, ‘You’re a MacGyver. You have two Popsicle sticks and a roll of duct tape — what do you want to make?’”

Then the production house gets to work on trying to get it done, while keeping the monetary restrictions in tact so that they can still “take chances” but there’s not too much at risk.

Commitment to crew.

Blumhouse believes that consistency in crew members reaps rewards. Whenever they can the production house tries to provide work for crew who have been a part of previous productions as it brings a “certain level of stability” to the shoot and provides young directors some extra creative insight to help them achieve their goals.

When you take care of your crew, they will take care of you.

Keep it flexible and keep it fun.

When working on a smaller budget sometimes you need to bend to the will of those not making a ton of money to be a part of your project which means you’ll need to be fast and flexible in order to accommodate the schedules of those you have chosen to work with. Blum notes that sometimes you may need to be ready “at a moment’s notice” in order to get the time you need with the attached talent and crew so be prepared.

At the same time, a run and gun operation can lead to some fun – you should embrace that. Lower budget productions can take some of the pressure off.

“ I really feel like there is a real correlation between not spending a lot of money and having fun.” Blum noted citing the fact that everyone has a little less to lose and everything to gain.

Looking for even more insight from Blum and Co,? Check out the full article over at IndieWire!

New PowerFinder Puts Shot Perfection In The Palm of Your Hand

Find your perfect shot anywhere, anytime with the ultimate viewfinder.

PowerFinder from PowerProduction Software

Directors are perfectionists.

With so many details to juggle, directors are always looking for the best.  The best actors, the best equipment and perhaps, most often, the best shot.

With the newest professional filmmaking app from PowerProduction Software, filmmakers everywhere can now capture the ultimate shot anywhere they go, anytime creativity strikes.  Introducing PowerFinder by PowerProduction, the ultimate director’s viewfinder for the iPhone.

Click here to check out the new PowerFinder

Far more than a simple aspect ratio and location photo, PowerFinder takes directors deep into the shot offering them any camera sensor, any lens, any aspect ratio for any format you may be shooting in.

With it’s professional grade interface, PowerFinder allows you to select from any prime lens and sensor you may be shooting with: Arri, Canon, Cooke, Fuji, Panovision, Red, Rokinon, Schneider, Vantage Zeiss and many more including modern and legacy prime lenses.

In short if you are shooting with it, you can preview your shot instantly with PowerFinder.

Additionally, directors can select the exact lens to match any sensor size. From half-inch to 8K and beyond PowerFinder includes settings for Alexa, Arri, Blackmagic, Canon, Panovision, Red, Sony and much more.

The PowerFinder app even allows you to attach any lens add-on and all of your primes will be updated to give you a true angle for every shot.

With both auto and manual focus, directors can experiment with different exposures and provide absolutely all the data you need to execute on set.

The ultimate director’s tool, from your pocket to the palm of your hand right into your production – PowerFinder from PowerProduction the leader in digital filmmaking tools. 

For more information or to download PowerFinder visit the website today.

Check out more professional mobile filmmaking applications from PowerProduction.

 

Simple Shots Can Make For Powerful Images

AnthonyHopkins Tell A Deeper Story.

Just about every director of feature films, independent shorts or viral webisodes  - that include dialog – is going to find themselves setting up to shoot a pair of actors, in a room, simply talking.  The exchanging of information or emotions that are crucial to the development of the characters or essential in moving the story forward is an extremely common storytelling device , right?

But often times, in scenes that may seem like an easy setup and shoot, there are opportunities for filmmakers to augment their creativity by careful and deliberate framing of the shots to tell a deeper story. A story aside from what’s being spoken.

Take for example this well-deconstructed scene from Jonathan Demme‘s classic “Silence Of The Lambs.”  As Academy Award winning actors Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins meet for the first time in the film, a tense primary  exchange of major character is not only told through the words on the page and the performance of the actors but the carefully calculated shots from behind the camera.

It appears that Demme leaves nothing to chance in absolutely any of the frames of this pivotal scene. He shows us that even scenes of conversation, two people in a cell, leaves plenty of room for enhanced storytelling.

You too can build a visual plan before you shoot (you don’t think the great directors “wing it” do you?). Get started working on your next film today with the storyboarding help of StoryBoard Quick.

For more amazing insight into some amazing shots, check out Every Frame A Painting.

Get Your Indie Aspirations “Together”

The Brothers Duplass, Mark and Jay, have been on a storytelling tear in the past few years both behind and in front of the camera. As the season finale of their critically acclaimed (and recently renewed) HBO series “Togetherness” aired this past weekend, we thought we would share some filmmaking tips from the dynamic duo from a recent article on Indiewire

If you are looking to get your indie short or feature off the ground, it’d be a good idea to heed the advice of a couple guys who have written, directed, produced and starred in just about every kind of film you’d like to make!

It’s not all about money…

“Embrace the microbudget sphere,” said Mark. “It’s painful to be waiting around six years for a $20 million film. Instead, why not make a $150,000 movie where three quarters of the points are shared with the crew. Just find a rich person to fund it!”

When it comes to financing a movie, you shouldn’t wait around to work on that blockbuster you’ve been dreaming of.  Make smaller movies on more modest budgets so you can get working while you’re pitching more ideas.

Make more movies!

“Make movies, not meetings,” said Jay. So many Los Angeles film executives “have long-winded careers of lots of development meetings, but they don’t make movies.” Sure, filmmaking can be “terrifying and traumatic,” but “always jump off the cliff.” 

It’s important to remember that making movies is about doing just as much as it is about dreaming.  Tools like StoryBoard Quick and StoryBoard Artist can help you lay the foundation for being more productive and kickstart your project.

Knowledge is power!

Study up and use your “left brain, right brain,” said Mark. “Read the trades. Gain a knowledge of the industry. Knowledge is power.” He said he and Jay are constantly studying the trades to find potential partners. 

It’s important that you have a good feel for what’s going on in the industry.  Additionally, taking in info about the industry can help drive you to new creative heights, so take a little time each day and see who is working on something new!

These are just a few of the great tips that Mark and Jay have for up and coming filmmakers.  Check out the entire list over at Indiewire!

Unleash Your Creativity Today!

There’s no better time than right now!

With the biggest night in mainstream Hollywood now behind us and filmmakers from all walks of life realizing their dreams of being recognized for contributing to the history of film, there’s no better time than right now for you to embark on your own cinematic journey and share your stories and ideas with the world.

Of course, sometimes there can be mental blocks keeping you from unleashing your creativity.  You may have an idea or even the desire to start, but there’s something holding you back.  Here’s a couple ways, courtesy of Freeman LaFleur, that can help you breakthrough the congestion in your brain and get both your ideas and your activities moving in the right direction!

Flex Your Creative Muscle.

When it comes to creativity, perfection up top is not a necessity.  In fact, it’s practically impossible so you are better off working out that creative muscle by churning out ideas – even if you trash them – all the time.  Just like with your body, you need to work those creative muscles in order to make them stronger and the more you create, the better you will become.  Don’t let the thought of your idea not being perfect prevent you from generating ideas, it’s necessary to be constantly creating.

Believe in daydreaming.

We’re so busy in today’s world that we often times lack the freedom to simply think.  To daydream.  To let our minds wander.  Whether it’s meditation or engaging in a repetitive physical activity like running or hopping on an elliptical, find the space to let your brain be “bored” for a while.  In this free space creativity can spring forth and greater ideas can be generated.  This can also be helped by taking a break from all those emails and tweets we so often feel need an immediate reply.

“A study done at the University of Lancashire showed that people who were asked to do “boring” activities like reading and daydreaming before being asked to complete a task that required creative thinking, came up with more creative solutions to the task.”

 Write it down.

Take all those ideas you have whether it be for a full length script or even a scene you see in your mind and write it down.  Use as much or as few words as you’d like but simply taking the time to take pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard more likely) will solidify the idea in your mind and also allow you to open up your creative channel and allow for more to come forth.  Writing leads to visualization, visualization leads to imagery.  That’s what movies are all about.

Looking for more ways to unleash your creative side?  Check out the full article, you’ll be glad you did.

When it’s time to start building that creative blueprint, check out StoryBoard Quick and StoryBoard Artist – the easiest, fastest and most creative ways to generate cinematic images for your next film, TV show or webisode!

More Powerful Mobile Movies!

If you are looking to create compelling content you need look no further than your own mobile devices or tablets to help you get going.  As smartphones and tablets just keep gaining power there’s the moviemaking market on apps and accessories are keeping pace.  From storyboarding to sound boards, monitors to movie mounts there’s so much useable technology out there at extremely affordable prices that leaves creatives no excuse not to yell “action!”

StoryBoard Quick Direct for iPhone and iPad

StoryBoard Quick Direct helps you plan every shot and develop a fast and easy blueprint on any mobile devise.  Complete with characters and camera direction, the app harnesses the cinematic power of your phone or tablet to provide backgrounds to complete a series of amazing storyboards.  You can literally create storyboards anywhere and get started making your movie right away.

When you need “studio-quality” sound on set the team at computerworld.com suggests you check out Mic Lightning.  Compatible with your iPad and works with GarageBand but due to it’s use of the Lightning cord and a cardiod mic this is a low-cost solution for mobile video makers of every level

Looking for more ways to edit down all that footage?  The guys from Stuff Magazine offer upa six-pack of ideas on easy-to-use editing apps.  Of course, for you iPad users iMovie is readily available but if you want to take the next step in mobile editing take a look at Pinnacle Studio for “more complex transitions” and “fancy picture-in-picture” effects.

Check out both the computerworld.com and stuff.tv articles for even more suggestions on how to take the next step in realizing your cinematic visions harnessing the power of your mobile devices!

New Year’s Resolutions For Filmmakers

2015With the New Year right around the corner, it’s time once again to take a look back at what you’ve done this past year and take a look forward to how you can improve your filmmaking efforts and overall creativity. 

Filmmaker Scott Macaulay penned a pair of New Year’s Resolutions lists (which you can check out here and here) for filmmakers for Filmmaker Magazine and in them he focuses on being bold, being creative and expanding your proficiency of different mediums.  

Here are a couple of our favorites that we think, as an independent filmmaker, you should keep in mind when you wake up refreshed and ready to roll on January 1st.

Amplify Your Voice.  Be more inclusive and reach out more.

You have a voice… Spread it wider and connect it to more people. If you are working within your own little crew, spread out. If you’ve gotten into a pattern of relying on the same agents or producers or colleagues, enlarge the perimeter of that circle. If face-to-face is your preferred medium, get out more. Do you email or text too much? Call people more. If you’re an online presence, define the ways you’ll be able to reach more people and do them.

Make More.  Not money, but media.

 I’m talking about work, not money. How much did you make last year? One film? Make two. Six shorts? Make seven. Don’t worry about format. If you made one feature last year and it looks like it will be two years of development before the next, make two shorts instead. Commit to just shipping.

Learn A New Skill.  Expanding your skill set enhances your vision.

Both beginning filmmakers and veterans could do well in this economy to enlarge their skill sets. If you run a blog, learn SEO. Learn more about mobile platforms. If all of your scripts are features, read some television scripts and learn how they differ in form. Learn to edit. Learn to shoot with a DSLR. Learn to podcast. Learn something new.

Build your own distribution.  You’ve build something great, let people see it!

 “It’s not self-distribution, it’s distribution,” a filmmaker who I won’t name now but who is featured in the new issue of our magazine said to me. He may be right. 2013 may be the year where self-distribution loses the “self,” meaning that the fact that the filmmaker is spearheading his or her own campaign will no longer be something out-of-the-ordinary and deserving of comment.”

While these articles were written in the not-too-distant past the bulk of the suggestions still hold plenty of weight as we head into 2015.  So, do yourself a favor: check them out and make a plan.

The New Year is right around the corner and that’s a fantastic time to rededicate yourself to the art of filmmaking.  Looking to get that jumpstart?  Better movies are made with storyboards!  Check out the easy-to-use power of StoryBoard Quick and StoryBoard Artist to help you get ahead in 2015.

Women In Film – Be The Change You Want To See

DirectorsChair

While Hollywood is still growing in it’s quest to provide equally great roles and opportunities for women, there’s still a lot of ground to gain.  Over at Indiewire, film industry “multi-hypenates” Helenna Santos and Alexandra Boylan have come to the realization that if you want something in the film industry you don’t wait for someone to give it to you – you create it yourself!

If we want to see stronger female-driven films, if we want more opportunity for women behind the camera, WE need to make that happen.

We need to hire more women on our sets, write films with more female roles, and continue to educate ourselves in our particular fields to the best of our abilities so that we are armed with knowledge and are equally as qualified as the men around us.

It’s also about the creative process, the pair declare that “If you can imagine it, you can create it.” Obviously that’s something we wholeheartedly agree with as there are tools out there that can make communicating and creating ideas faster and easier.

Additionally, collaboration is key, both women and men should look to surround themse

lves with a diverse group of the best people they can find.

Filmmaking is a collaborative process, and we all need others to cheer us on so that we can create the best possible projects and as a result become the strongest women in the industry that we can become.

The pair offer a number of tips for women in the industry, but the fact is – these tips work for anyone looking to get what they want when it comes to the art of making film.

ProTip: Find Your Key Frames

Justin Schwarz, the writer-director of “The Discoverers” talked with Indiewire.com and as he was distilling his top 12 tips for first-time feature film makers, he talked about the need for storyboarding and, as he put it, “finding his key frames.”

“Prepping “The Discoverers,” I shotlisted and storyboarded, but I knew we wouldn’t have time to do everything I imagined on paper. I developed a key frame system, which became extremely helpful on set. The idea is to try to distill each scene down to a single image that represents what the scene must achieve dramatically. It may be an extreme wide shot that acts like a punch in the gut, a lyrical tracking shot, or the close up you’re saving for emotional impact. When you have to start combining shots on set, you’ll know the essential image you’ll need for each scene to serve its dramatic function.”

discoverers-pps

“Discover” you own key frames.

Along with storyboarding and pre-production Schwarz delves into collaboration, finding the perfect “looks” for your film and the process of “overpreparring”. Check out all of Justin’s tips: “Attention, Filmmakers: Here’s 12 Tips for Directing Your First Feature Film“.

You can find your own key frames and build better storyboards when you use the power of StoryBoard Quick so check it out today.

For Advertising Agencies, StoryBoarding Is A Necessity

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You’d be mad not to storyboard you ads.

Filmmakers know that the secret to filmmaking success is to plan out your story and shots visually using storyboards.

As talked about in Nextgov.com, there reason storyboarding is gaining so much steam is that it does so many things right!It’s the visual sketch of your film and the blueprint to a better end product.  Well, when it comes to adverting, the concept of storyboarding is beginning to find a broader base.  While it’s always been the tool of savvy advertisers, “storyboarding” is becoming is buzzword and thanks to easy to use solutions like StoryBoard Quick and StoryBoard Artist, more and more agencies are adopting the technique to create a better brand for their clients.

Communication: “Storyboarding gets everyone on the same page, presenting a shared vision…The visual and narrative nature of a storyboard is easily understood and elicits clear feedback. The storyboard also acts as a focal point for productive dialogue and promotes a proper context around input collection.”

Organization: “As an organizational or brainstorming tool, storyboarding ensures your end product tells a story…Storyboarding brings the focus back to the customer’s needs. Project misalignment, creep and other risk factors can be mitigated if the customer’s problem can be clearly described and visualized.”

Rapid Development: “Storyboarding, when done correctly, is iterative and quick. Think a self-organizing, rapid and evolving development methodology…As a brainstorming or organizational tool, the storyboarding process quickly and naturally drives the format into a narrative structure.”

It’s a fact that storyboard help propel the creative process and ensure that everyone is on the same page.  But don’t be fooled, you don’t need to be a great artist in order to share your vision, just check out StoryBoard Quick and you’ll see – storyboarding can be quick, easy and visual helping your communicate ideas more effectively.

Masters Of Cinema Offer Words Of Wisdom

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Stanley’s words of wisdom.

Filmmaking at it’s very best is a very personal art form.  From the stories that are being told to the emotion conveyed in capturing the perfect shot, when you step into the role of creating any feature film it is imperative that you make it your own.

But you don’t have to figure everything out yourself. Along the way it may be a good idea to listen to words of wisdom from those who came before you so you can hear what they have learned and apply it to your own artistic sense.  That’s exactly what is being offered in this recent article featured on Flavorwire: “100 Famous Directors’ Rules of Filmmaking“.

The piece takes the “golden rules” of 100 famous directors who have learned how to hone their own artistic voice by trial and error and so if you pay attention while picking and choosing, perhaps you too can learn a thing or two and apply it to making your next feature a little better than your last.

We picked a few that we enjoyed but urge you to sift through the whole lot to see what resonates with you.

Sofia Coppola: I try to just make what I want to make or what I would want to see. I try not to think about the audience too much.

Frank Capra: There are no rules in filmmaking. Only sins. And the cardinal sin is dullness.

Stanley Kubrick: The director’s job is to know what emotional statement he wants a character to convey in his scene or his line, and to exercise taste and judgment in helping the actor give his best possible performance.”

 George A. Romero: Collaborate, don’t dictate. Every department head has something to offer. Listen and gratefully accept their offerings. They’re moviemakers, too.

There are amazing words of inspiration and guidance from these filmmakers that can help you craft your own story.  So, what is your golden rule of filmmaking?

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Free StoryBoard Quick & Artist Update

Attention all Quick 6.1 and Artist 5.1 users
Yosemite Ready!

SBQBox1StoryBoard Artist - the pro previs choice

Fully tested on the latest Macintosh 10.10 Yosemite and Windows 8.1, the new versions are ready to go. The #1 easy-to-use digital storyboarding lines of software, StoryBoard Quick and StoryBoard Artist.

The free update is easily accessible right from within your application, launch your applications and select the HELP Menu. In the menu, scroll down and select the Check For Updates option.

The application will then automatically detect if you are on the latest version and, if not, will assist you with the easy download and install process.

If you are not on the current version of StoryBoard Quick or StoryBoard Artist and need to upgrade, you can purchase and download your upgrade online.

Mavericks










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