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Organize Your Hard Drive

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Keeping your assets organized in your NLE is vital, but now you’ve got to organize your hard drive! Here’s a great way to do it.

Keeping your project nice and organized when editing is essential – you never know who you might have to hand the project off to, or if you might have to come back to it much, much later. If it’s not organized, headaches and cursing ensue. Keeping things organized outside of the NLE – on your hard drive or server – is just as vital for passing off a project or archiving it. Here’s a look at one potential project organization setup that I use, plus a free download of the folder structure!



This folder is for non-final versions that are ready for the client to look over (usually .mp4s in my case).


There are 4 folders inside the Audio folder:

  • Mixes – specifically for mastered & mixed .wav or .aif files
  • Music - for the raw stock or original music used in the project. Even if you use a master library, I recommend copying the songs in here so they stay with the project.
  • SFX
  • VO


I put scripts, interview questions, project briefs, casting notes, etc. in here.


This folder is for any non-footage elements like logos, images, pre-rendered lower thirds/motion graphics, etc.


Directly inside the Masters folder is where I put the master .mov files – ProRes 422 HQ typically.

There’s also a subfolder called Deliverables: This folder is specifically for non-archival delivery formats needed, like H.264 for web, ProRes or XD Cam for TV station delivery, .m2v/.ac3 files for DVD, etc.


Some people prefer to keep their media in a different place/drive than their projects. If you like to keep it all together, put it in this Media folder, organized by “Reel X” folders to separate card/shoot days.


This is for all project files, including Premiere/Avid/FCP/whatever, After Effects, Motion, Cinema 4D, Flash, Audition, Soundtrack Pro, etc.

I also like to add subfolders for each program, like so: PR, AE, FCP, FL, C4D, and so on, plus an XML for any XMLs created for program interchange: FCP -> Premiere/After Effects, Premiere -> Resolve, etc.


This folder is distinct from the GFX folder – I use this for any footage elements like green screen passes, background plates, or non-mograph output from After Effects or Motion (like speed changes, logo blurs, etc.)

Hopefully this system helps you easily manage all of the project assets on our drive. You can download a .zip containing an empty version of this folder structure by clicking here.

If you’d a few more organizational tips fro videographers, video editors, and filmmakers, check out the following links from PremiumBeat!

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(Source Article by Aaron Williams)


MINDCASTLE’s Obsessive Scouting Methods

What’s that thing real estate agents always say? Location, location, location? Well, the same could be said about film. Knowing how to find great locations is an essential element of filmmaking — and it is equal parts vigilance, thoroughness, organization, and plain old luck. In our last conversation with Casey and Danielle of MINDCASTLE, they talked briefly about their, shall we say, exhaustive scouting methods. So we thought we’d call them up again and dig into their process.

If these two seem obsessive about scouting (they put two weeks and 1,200 miles into scouting their film The Journey), that’s because scouting has made such a difference in their work. “All of the projects I want to change afterwards are the ones where we were forced into a location, or we were rushed into something and didn’t have time to properly plan,” Danielle told us. “When you have time to properly plan, I think those are the projects you’re going to be most satisfied with.” Here are Danielle and Casey telling us everything they’ve learned about the art of the scout.


Danielle Krieger: Let’s start by talking about The Journey, which was probably the most complex scouting we’ve ever done. Sometimes a client will give you the location, and you have to pick the best spot within it. But on The Journey, we got to start from zero and go wherever we wanted.

Casey Warren: Our pitch was all outdoor activities. We wanted a plane, we wanted kayaking, we wanted hiking, we wanted a motorcycle, we wanted a ferry.

Musicbed: You had all of these hypothetical locations in mind. What was your first step to start scouting?

CW: The first thing we do is look through our own library of locations. Whenever we have free time, we go driving and look around. We take photos of awesome spots we find. So step one is looking through places we’ve already been. Step two is Google Earth. Or, actually, a really handy way to scout is on Instagram. You can type in different locations and see what they looked like today or yesterday.

DK: You can see if it’s snowy or muddy.

CW: Google Earth doesn’t always help you because the images could have been taken three years ago. Instagram is usually right now. I use it to help with some of the more remote locations, just to see what the conditions are like. So for The Journey, scouting started with our own library and computers, but then we purposefully went out to see places for ourselves. We probably drove something like 1,200 miles. It took about two weeks. Every morning we’d wake up and say, “Hey, let’s go to this island or take that ferry.” We tried to travel and explore as much as we could.

We make sure to go to the location at the time of day when we’re planning on shooting. It’s important to know where the light is going to be.

I know a lot of these locations are places you’ve been to in your normal lives. Do they look different when you’re there to scout?

DK: Definitely. For instance, we take ferries all the time. We live five minutes from a ferry launch. But when we were looking for a ferry to shoot, we rode every single one; and we realized they are all different. There are some from the ’70s, which look really cool, and some new ones don’t look as cool. That’s the first thing you’re scouting for: creative elements. How will this location help tell the story? But you’re also scouting for technical elements. Where is parking? Do I have to pay for parking? How easily can I get there? Is it close to power? Are there bathrooms close by? Those are the things you don’t really think about in your normal life.

CW: The ferry was one of the hardest scouts because we wanted to end up somewhere that had a good road we could drive a motorcycle on. We went on all the ferries to see where they ended up, and there was nothing. Just cities and towns. But we kept driving around, and we finally found this back road that happened to lead to a dock. So we got a bonus. But finding that involved three or four days of scouting where we didn’t end up with anything at the end of the day.

DK: Also, some locations look beautiful in person, but when you shoot them they come out much differently. When we scout, we always take pictures in every direction. We also make sure to go to the location at the time of day when we’re planning on shooting. It’s important to know where the light is going to be. It’s important to know what might change throughout the day. For instance, the dock in the film. We scouted that in the evening and the water was low. We thought, Oh, we’ll go down below the dock and shoot some stuff. But we ended up shooting the dock in the morning, and the water was high. So we had to change our plans. Those are the types of things you need to think about. Tide reports. Fog. If you’re using a drone, you need to think about power lines.

CW: I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing the things I need to be looking for when we’re scouting. There are basically four things: (1) Where are we going to shoot? (2) Who do we need to get in touch with for permits and permission? (3) What info do we need to get this location on our insurance? And (4) Where is the crew going to park and be? If you don’t have a specified place for the crew, you’ll inevitably want to film where everyone has decided to hang out. You always need to keep 180 degrees clear because you might end up shooting the opposite way.

Do you always get permission for the places you’re shooting?

CW: We pretty much make sure we have permission for every spot. It can depend on the size of your crew, though. If you’re two to three people — I’ve talked to the permits office about this a couple times — they’re like, “Yeah, if it’s two to three people, don’t worry about it.” But if you have more than that or if you have extensive gear, then you definitely want to get permission. We have an entire booklet full of forms and contracts just for The Journey locations alone. The biggest amount of paperwork for that entire project was about the locations.

DK: I used to think getting permits was this big, scary process and people were going to say no. But it’s really no big deal.

That’s what we try to do with any location: get people excited and involved.

CW: One of the most important things is not just getting permission, but also building relationships. Don’t call someone up and say, “Hey, how much would it cost to shoot on your land?” Build a relationship with them. Explain your project. Get them involved and excited about it. For the seaplane scene in The Journey, we literally went around knocking on doors at this lake, which led to us meeting the family who founded the first homestead on Lake Wenatchee. I hung out with them for about 40 minutes, and they had this whole homestead area up on the mountain where we could land a helicopter. Plus, they owned all the beaches except the State Park beaches. And then it turned out their son was in film school, so we got this awesome PA who brought us coffee every morning. That’s what we try to do with any location: get people excited and involved.

Do you have to pay for permits?

DK: Yeah. They’re usually somewhere between $25 and $150.

CW: For State Parks, you have to go through a certain film permits office, and that usually takes a while. Using private property is easier because you can just get in touch with the person who owns the land. Like that family I met on Lake Wenatchee. They were like, “Yeah, cool. You can shoot here.” And that’s literally all you need.

DK: But because I’m a nervous person, we decided to rent their cabin so at least we were giving them money and they couldn’t back out. They were totally awesome and wouldn’t have backed out, but it helps lock things down when there is some kind of transaction involved.

For a scene like the boathouse, what’s the etiquette there? You had this real boat maker working in his own shop — do you pay him?

DK: It depends on the project. If we were shooting a little video and there was no client, I think it would have been totally appropriate not to offer any money. Maybe trade some imagery. Edit a little bit of footage together for their website. But if there’s a client involved, that changes things. We negotiated a day rate to shoot in their space, and then I also negotiated a rate with Peter (the boat maker) for his time. It’s sort of a personal preference, but I don’t feel comfortable not paying someone when we have a budget.

CW: We don’t usually come in with an offer. We just explain the project and then ask what they’d like. We’ve never had anyone come back with anything crazy.

DK: Paying people is actually a good thing, because then there’s an agreement involved. You know they’ll show up. If they’re doing it for free, it would be really easy for them to back out at the last minute. Still though, you never know what’s going to happen. You always need to have some sort of backup plan in case something doesn’t work out. What are you going to do if it’s pouring down rain? You’ve got 15 people staring at you like, Now what? Have some thought-out plans so you’re not put into emergency mode.

For example, after scouting Lake Wenatchee, which is where we did all the canoeing and boat stuff, we decided we needed a dock for the plane. So I contacted the lady we were renting the cabin from and asked if she knew anyone. Because it was winter, everyone had pulled their docks in. But she was able to find me a person who had a nonretractable dock, and she sent me, like, 16 photos. I thought, Oh, wow! This is great. It’s going to work perfectly. But when we showed up to shoot, it did not look good at all. To the left and right, there was this red monstrosity of a boathouse. The only way to make it work was shooting straight on. Luckily we had a backup plan: shoot on the beach. All that to say, Plan A didn’t work.

Is there anything about The Journey you would have changed?

DK: I wouldn’t change anything. And that’s because we did so much planning and scouting ahead of time. All of the projects I want to change afterwards are the ones where we were forced into a location, or we were rushed into something and didn’t have time to properly plan. When you have time to properly plan, I think those are the projects you’re going to be most satisfied with.

CW: Scouting is part of the creative process, especially on a film like The Journey. Going to those places helps me become more creative. It became really symbiotic — making a project about exploring helps you within your own creativity.

So I’m guessing scouting for The Journey was a lot different than scouting for From 1994.

DK: One of the biggest differences was that From 1994 was a personal project, so we paid for the whole thing. Originally I thought we could shoot in friends’ houses or maybe even our own house. For that project we ended up looking at, I think, over 20 houses.


What were you looking for?

DK: Mostly the size of the rooms. We needed to fit lighting in all directions and a crew of 10 people, while also being able to move around. You can use a professional location scout to find a house, but we were told it would be $2,500 to $4,000 per day to shoot in some of these houses, and we were going to need the house for about a week. So that was out. We started trying to find houses that weren’t prevetted. We looked on VRBO and Airbnb. I emailed the owners, told them about our project, and asked if they’d let us film. A lot of people said no. But a few people said yes. Anyone who said yes, we’d go scout the house.

CW: In the end it came down to that relationship-building I was talking about before. The main house we rented for the film, we ended up becoming really good friends with the owners. We even invited them to the premier. They were awesome. They keep asking us when we’re going to come back and do our next film. It’s cool to have people like that become a part of your team. They give you this positive emotional support that you’re doing something cool.

We’re given only one light: the sun. That’s the one we use to shape everything else.

DK: That’s also why it’s important to keep a list of your locations. Like, if we ever need a house to shoot in again, we have a house. If we need a boathouse to shoot in, we have a boathouse. That’s so much easier than starting with nothing, which is how we started From 1994. We scouted forever. And even then, the place where we ended up shooting wasn’t really my style.

CW: We brought in all different furniture, props, everything.

Do you think the world is uglier than we realize?

CW: I think it all has to do with light. Often when I walk into a shoot, I’ll shut off all the lights. The producer will be like, “What are you doing?” And I explain that it’s best to start with what’s coming in from outside. It’s better to start there and add, rather than subtract. I forget what filmmaker said this, but they said, really, we’re given only one light: the sun. That’s the one we use to shape everything else. So that’s the mind-set I have when I scout a location. I start with what’s naturally there.

Has scouting so much changed the way you see the world?

DK: I think, more than anything, scouting has helped us hone our style and better understand the things we like. When we scout, it gets us more excited about the things we love; and it helps us make the films we want to make. The more I see new things, the more I want to make films — and vice versa. Scouting opens up creative ideas.

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(Source Article by Music Bed)


Why choose LED?

In 2009 I studied at Nordland College of Art and Film in Northern Norway. I remember that the school had just bought four flat LED lights to make the film productions easier and more creative for us students. The school had already several powerful HMI lights and smaller tungsten lamps, but being able to light scenes in small tight spaces was a difficulty and also to light outside in the beautiful nature of Northern Norway, without having a noisy power generator running in the background. Unfortunately the LEDs back then got rarely used, due to the bad Color Rendering Index (CRI) they had. The light they produced simply looked too green. We needed to use magenta filter to compensate some of the colors that the LED produced, and even then it looked too unnatural.

Now, six years later, the CRI level of affordable LEDs has improved dramatically. Today I’m running my own production company, and LED’s are the only lights we need. It has never been more practical to light a scene like now. The crew can consist of few people, due to low weighted lamps. They are easier to operate because of their size and because they never get warm. In addition, the low price of the LED´s makes the production cost smaller. The technology has made it easier for indie film-makers to light like professionals, and that will eventually let us use more time on the content itself, and less on the equipment. I also think that some actors feel more comfortable when there are less big gear surrounding them when acting a scene. The LEDs are smaller then traditional video lights, and therefore not as “scary” as before.

Stills from the short “Castin Catharsis” using only LED lamps with hight CRI:

Stills Casting Catharsis

I have tried the Aperture Light Storm LS 1S for many different types of scenes, and I get surprised every time I see the footage. It looks clean and natural no matter what the subject is. Due to the high CRI and powerful LED diodes, this lamp is great to use as a main light for larger shots. On my Youtube channel (Andyax) I made a video where I light up a kitchen during night, looking like it’s morning with bright sunlight. Then I tried to make the same scene, with the same setup, looking like the moon was lighting up the whole kitchen. The last test I did, was to light up a part of a forest, to see if I could use it as a main lamp for a scene shot in the forest at night. It worked great! By combining the lamp with a smaller LED with the same high CRI, and a reflector, you may get everything you need to shoot your film. Press “read more” under the video I made about the lamp, to read more :)


What are the potential pitfalls or problems with LED lights in video?

Even though the CRI level of affordable LED lamps has increased, you may be unlucky and get yourself a LED that creates green and unnatural light. So before buying it’s important to be sure that the manufacturer is trustworthy, and that you figure out the CRI value of the lamp. If they don’t write anything about the CRI value in the product specifications, it will probably not produce good light. The CRI value is often what makes the difference from a cheap lamp to a more expensive one. Another weakness of some LED lamps with dimmers, is that they create flickering light when dimming the light. A tip is to look at reviews and tests of the lamp on the internet, and see if someone has noticed it before you. I mentioned that small sized film lamps like the LED´s may help the actors to feel less nervous on set, but maybe it has an opposite effect? What if the actors feel that the production looks to amateurish and that the crew don’t take them serious, because they expected bigger traditional lamps. You never know…

Do you encounter color temperature issues when shooting videos with LEDs? If so, how do you deal with them?

So far, my 5600kelvin LED’s has worked like a charm. Often I use them as main lights, and then add smaller cheap tungsten halogen lamps (3200kelvin) as practical lights for lower color temperature and color contrasts. I will experiment more with color gels to compensate the daylight that the LED produces with other types of light, like sunsets and direct sunlight.

Are there reasons to avoid variable power and variable color temp models?

It may be tempting to buy a variable color temperature LED, because then you can be as flexible as possible on set. The downside is that they often costs quite more then LEDs with one type of color temperature. To save money, you can use color gels to change color temperature instead. I even think it will look more natural to use gels to change the color temperature, then to use LEDs that produce both daylight (5600kelvin) and tungsten light (3200kelvin). Keep in mind that there is a loss of intensity when using gels, so a powerful LED is recommended when using them.

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(Source Article by Anders Øvergaard)


Video Editing on a Zero-Dollar Budget

I as a (beginner) filmmaker usually produce films on a zero-dollar budget. Part-time work and full-time college doesn’t leave much money to spend on filmmaking. It’s hard to produce a film on a zero-dollar budget, but it is possible. Pre-production is nothing in the pocketbook. Everyone has paper, pens, and an imagination. Actual production is a little tougher. Usually everyone has a camera, whether it is a smartphone, mirrorless, or a DSLR. But if you need costumes, props, or even a good microphone, then the wallet takes a dent. But in post-production is where things get difficult. Creative toolkits like Adobe Creative Cloud offer applications like Premiere Pro and After Effects that the big kids use. There is a free trial, but after 30 days of using it you grow so accustomed to it that everything else looks lame. But there are alternatives out there for editing, and best of all, they’re free!

Non-Linear Video Editors

Non-linear is just a fancy word for editing non-destructively. Which is a fancy word for not damaging the original footage. Anyways, Adobe Premiere Pro is a good example of an Non-Linear Editor (NLE). Usually the standard “free” NLE would be something like iMovie on Apple products or Windows Movie Maker on Windows based products. Although both these NLEs can produce good results, I think they can limit one’s imagination. So here are three alternatives to expensive NLEs.

  1. Adobe Premiere Pro CS2 Courtesy of www.imgkid.comCourtesy of

    Yep, that’s right. Premiere Pro is at the top of this list. A while back, Adobe’s licensing servers for CS2 had a technical difficulty, and instead of fixing it, Adobe decided to release that software suite for free. Although it’s 5 versions old, it stills works like a charm. It doesn’t have some effects like Warp Stabilizer, but many of the major features are there like color correction and non-linear editing. There is versions for Windows and Mac OSX, but the version for Mac doesn’t work with newer releases of the OS. The Windows version works all the way up to Windows 10. You will need a free Adobe account to download it, but that’s worth it for the product you get.


  2. BlackMagic DaVinci Resolve 12 Courtesy of www.cinema5d.comCourtesy of

    DaVinci Resolve is a program designed for color correction and grading but recently has included the ability to edit video like any other NLE. Originally, this software came bundled with BlackMagic’s cameras but now they are offering a free version or a paid studio version on their website. They offer versions for Windows and Mac OSX. The software is resource intensive though, so it is recommended you have a somewhat powerful computer to use it to its full potential. Although you have to register to download the software, that is again a small price to pay for a great piece of software.


  3. HitFilm 3 Express Courtesy of Film Riot (YouTube)Courtesy of Film Riot (YouTube)

    HitFilm once started out as a professional NLE, with visual effects, and 3D compositing but now, they split the product into two separate items: Pro and Express. The Express version has all the features of the Pro version like 3D compositing, but to add effects to the program, you need to pay a small amount for a certain package. There is a free built-in effects package that covers a few things, but for serious visual effects you might want to see the next section on compositing software. They have both Windows and Mac OSX versions, but to download it, you need to share a link to their product on a social media network.


For a list of free Video Compositing Software and Audio Editing Software...Click Here.

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(Source Article by Joe Turman)


Winning Awards - Part 3 (Feature Films)

At this year's Christian Worldview Film Festival, I was excited to see awards given to several films that I have had the pleasure to help with!

"POLYCARP" // camera operator, 2nd unit DP, editor, colorist
Movie Website

(Polycarp also won "Best Editing" at the 2015 Pan Pacific Film Festival)

"BOUND" // editing consultant, assistant colorist
Movie Website


Winning Awards - Part 2 (Promo)

At this year's Christian Worldview Film Festival, I was excited to see awards given to several films that I have had the pleasure to help with!

"WHO WE ARE" // cinematographer, editor, colorist
Movie Website


Johnson Strings - Music Video

I've been working with The Johnson Strings on their next set of music videos. "We Three Kings" has just been released! (Role: Editor & Colorist)


Winning Awards - Part 1 (Short Films)

At this year's Christian Worldview Film Festival, I was excited to see awards given to several films that I have had the pleasure to help with!

"WANTED" // editor, colorist
Movie Website

"ROSES" // on-set editor
Movie Website

"SET FREE" // editing consultant
Movie Website


A Necessary Guide to On-Set Protocol

Welcome to your first day on a film set.

Perhaps you’ve gotten a new job as a production assistant. Perhaps you’re still in school and have been given an opportunity as an intern, or you’ve recently been asked to help out with a friend’s production. You probably have some questions.

I’m writing this because I’d like to try to answer some of those questions in advance, and because I have hope.

Hope that maybe the next time I ask someone to sweep up some glass that just broke, I won’t have to explain where to get a broom, how to use a dustpan and what to do with the glass once it’s in the dustpan.

Hope that the next time I’m having a time-sensitive conversation with another department head at the monitor, I won’t have to turn and repeat the entire conversation to someone who, rather than listening, was staring at their phone.

Hope that no one on a film set will ever again ask me where to get a ladder. (The answer is the Grip Department. The answer is always the Grip Department).

But Isn’t This Supposed to Be Fun?

This is the biggest challenge that newcomers face: a movie set can look like summer camp. There are cliques, gossip, casual clothing, planned activities and snacks. Many kinds of snacks.

But a movie set is not summer camp, a slumber party or a classroom. It is a workplace.

Here are things I have actually heard new hires say out loud:

“I don’t think that this is worth my time.”

“This isn’t teaching me anything.”

“I didn’t finish it because it didn’t seem important.”

The misunderstanding implicit in all these statements is that the priority of the day is your time, your enjoyment, your feelings, your creative fulfillment or your education. Instead, know this: Every day on a job in film is an opportunity to prove that you deserve to come back tomorrow, nothing else. Instead of asking yourself if you are having fun, ask yourself if you’ve done everything you can to help the film succeed. Instead of asking yourself if something is worth your time, think about why it might be important to others. If you make yourself valuable, you will begin to be valued.

The Metaphor of the Flashlight

Imagine that you are in a dark cave with a group of people, and all of you are running around in different directions. In a corner of the cave is a flashlight, which is spinning through the room.

Suddenly, the flashlight lands on a single person. Everyone stops. Until that person does his or her job, no one can move forward.

At some point during the shooting day, that flashlight will land on you. Everyone will be looking at you and waiting for you to do your job, or the production will stop moving. That flashlight can feel like a warm spotlight or it can feel like the high beams of a speeding car, fixing you in its headlights, determined to mow you down. It all depends on how well you understand your job and the jobs of others around you.

The Art of Proper Presentation

A film set is a uniquely judgmental place. Everyone is relying on each other, so everyone is constantly evaluating whom they can rely on. It’s not enough to do the job, or even to do the job right. You have to do it right and look like a pro while you’re doing it.

Throw Away Your Trash. A film set is a sacred place where creative people engage with one another and make art. Every bag of chips and empty coffee cup left behind is an act of disrespect to the art-making at hand. It is also a blemish on the film itself, as an errant water bottle, discovered too late, renders a great shot useless.

Keep It Tight. Your dress code should prepare you to walk into a CEO’s office or to climb a 14-foot ladder with a paintbrush in your hand. Do not dress like a pirate at a backyard barbecue; do not dress as if you wish to be discovered as onscreen talent. DO wear a belt and keep a complete set of relevant tools at the ready. DO NOT wear open-toed shoes.

Act Your Age. Do not lie down, do not have tickle fights, do not play with swivel chairs, and permanently set your cellphone on “silent.” If you are making other people aware of your presence by doing anything other than your job (laughing, playing a trailer on your phone, chewing loudly), you’re doing your job wrong.

Put Your Stuff Away. Each morning, identify the least obtrusive place to put your coat, your bag and your personal belongings, and then tuck them away in the least obtrusive part of that place. Never on set, never mixed in with equipment and never in another department’s workspace.

Put Your Gear Away. If you can condense your gear, do so. If you do nothing but organize and tighten up your department’s workspace all day, then that is a victory. Someday you’ll find yourself shooting in a 400-square-foot apartment with torrential rain outside and every department will try to cram their gear into the 100 square feet that isn’t being shot first. Practice for that day.

Be On Time. A late person is a person who can’t be trusted, as well as a person who is excluded from important conversations about the day ahead. All aspects of your pre-work routine, including but not limited to parking your car, eating a breakfast sandwich, getting a cup of coffee, putting your backpack away, reviewing the call sheet, checking in with your department, applying sunscreen or inserting foot warmers into your shoes — all of that must happen before your call time. As the saying goes: “If you aren’t 10 minutes early, you’re late.” And if you’re late, you’re fired.

Take Pride in the Details. Present your work in the way you want it to be viewed: with care. If you have been asked to gather information, compile it into a clear, properly formatted list. If you send photos, label them. Park vehicles carefully. Lay out physical options of props, wardrobe or production tools with pride. Spell check your texts. Create searchable subject headings for your emails (“Locations | Swimming Pool Options | Part 1 of 3,” versus “Fwd: some pics”). If you are delivering an object or a piece of paper, put it an envelope and label it. Save your receipts. Download your attachments.

Be All Business. Keep your private business private, and allow others to do the same. Don’t engage in on-set drama and avoid gossip, and you will win and hold the respect of others.

The Art of the Department

Within each crew, one department is always the “problem” department. Their delays are met with scorn, their problems are met with eye rolls, and they are routinely blamed for everything. A reputation as a bunch of screw-ups and goofballs is easy to earn and difficult to dispel. Your behavior contributes to this. You want to have the tightest department on set, something you can be proud of.

Learn — deeply, truly learn — what each department does and what they are responsible for.

The Art of Asking Questions

Of course, questions arise. But before you ask someone else a question, ask yourself:

Is this the right time? What may be your priority in a given moment may distract from a more important priority for the group. If they’re about to roll camera on a scene involving two explosions and a dog rescuing a baby from a dingo, it is not the right the time to ask the first a.d. what time you are breaking for lunch.

Is this the right person? In general, communicate with your equivalent in the other department, not their superior. “Where is the bathroom?” is an important question, but you should ask a locations assistant, not the locations manager. “What is the Wi-Fi password?” is also an important question, but you should ask a production assistant, not the producer.

Can I answer it myself? Obviously, there are many questions that simply don’t bear asking (chief among these: anything that you could find with a Google search).

The Three Kinds of Listening

  1. Not Listening: If there’s a conversation going on that concerns you and your department, be there, listening and interjecting when appropriate. If you can hear a conversation going on that doesn’t concern you, you are either eavesdropping or in the way. If the director is trying to have a talk with an actor and they walk into the room you’re standing by in, politely and subtly exit. The best thing you can do is give people space when they need it and be there when they need you.
  1. Active listening: Active listening occurs when you — individually or as part of a group — are being spoken to directly. You are focused, you are taking notes, you are asking informed questions when it is appropriate. The most challenging active listening takes place in group situations, where you may be on the periphery, such as production meetings, or a morning announcement. Rise to the challenge.
  1. Passive listening, or, Standing By. Standing By means that you are quietly, nimbly observing everything that is going on, waiting for the instant that you can competently step in and positively add to the situation. It means standing (never sitting) quietly someplace out of the way but within earshot of what’s happening, ideally in a position where your department head can signal to you with eye contact if necessary.

Standing By is not talking and joking with other crew members. Standing By is not eating candy at craft services, waiting to be called back to set. Standing By means not calling any attention to yourself.

When you know information about what is happening now and what is happening next without someone having to take time out to explain it to you, you are Standing By correctly.

Standing By is a state of hyper-aware preparedness. Think about the opening of Le Samouraï and the wide shot of Alain Delon’s hitman lying on his bed, with this accompanying Bushido quote: “There is no solitude greater than that of the samurai, unless it be that of the tiger in the jungle … perhaps.” You are that quiet tiger, ready to strike at any moment.

The Art of Following Through

Just as a film set is broken up into departments with specific responsibilities, departments are broken up into individuals with even more specific responsibilities. Your department head has a million things to be concerned with, and their mind must be clear for high-level strategizing and communication. You are there to eliminate their concerns.

When they give you a task, it should disappear completely from their brain because they know that you are completing it. When you complete a portion of a task and walk away before finishing it, you are, very violently — as if the task is an ice pick being thrust into their eye — jamming that concern back into the brain of your department head.

The Art of The Next Step

What comes next? What could I be preparing for now? How can I anticipate needs and satisfy them in advance? What is the next task in a process, and how can I ensure it goes smoothly? You have not completed this day unless you have completely prepared for the next one. If a change occurs, you must think through all the ways that it might affect the future. For example: “If I move this car here, it will be in the way for the next shot. I should not move this car here.” Many people can solve problems; The Art of the Next Step is about preventing them. Those who master The Art of the Next Step become department heads and superstars.

The Art of Common Sense

  • A production is designed to dominate the space around it, and it’s easy to get lost in the bubble. But you are still in the real world. Don’t run into traffic or leave gear in the street. Don’t leave things sitting on the sidewalk unattended.
  • Don’t assume that safety is everyone else’s priority or that everyone else has already thought through the details that you’re thinking through. If you’re the prop master and the passenger side of the picture vehicle doesn’t have a working seat belt, make sure everyone knows that before anybody starts driving.
  • Just as prior to a crash landing you’re instructed to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others, the best way to keep safe is to make sure you’re putting yourself in safe situations at all times.

What To Do If It’s Truly Not Fun

Sometimes, film shoots are awful. Directors lose control; producers are scoundrels; people have bad ideas and worse communication skills.

But it is a rookie mistake to think that this means it is not worth your best efforts. The production world is like a deck of cards, where everyone is reshuffled into different crews, over and over, a dozen times a year. Soon, that worthless director’s assistant may be in a position to tell her new boss not to hire you; five movies from now, that jerk of an electrician will stand in your way when you most need a favor. Don’t burn bridges.

The Art of Being A Hero

Every day, the set chooses a hero — the person who saves the shot, the person who is there in the clutch. Imagine a crowd of people chanting your name in unison, your colleagues showering you with praise for days, the actor who routinely snubs all human contact going out of their way to tell you that you’re the best they’ve ever worked with. If you master the art of work, that hero could be you.

You don’t plan to be a hero. You are just there at every moment, making things better. One of those moments will turn out to be a crucial situation, the moment where the metaphorical flashlight shines on you so bright that you think you might be blinded. And in that moment, you succeed. You succeed with grace, a positive attitude, even humor. That is when working on movies is fun.

Does being a hero mean being the center of attention? No. Being a hero means going above and beyond in each moment to help make the movie better. People who go above and beyond in each moment to be the center of attention, however, are usually regarded as disruptive irritants, if they are regarded at all. Or, we call them actors.

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(Source Article by Brandon Tonner-Connolly)


3 Places To Get Free Music

A film without music is like a man without a soul. The problem is for a student film, you often don’t have much of a budget to spend on hiring a composer or licencing music. Though those are the best options, you can sometimes get away with using free music. Just be prepared to sort though a lot of – let me say – less than quality music.

Today I want to highlight 3 of the best places I know of to get free music for your films:


  1. The YouTube Audio Library
    Youtube has thousands of free songs you can download and use. Just make sure to keep track which of the different licences the tracks are under. Each track has instructions on whether you are required to include an attribution or not.

  2. The Vimeo Music StoreThe Vimeo Music Store also has lots of free tracks available for download. Under “Price Range” in the search filter, select “free”.

  3. The Wistia Music LibraryWistia has recently been adding more music to their library. Currently they have two albums available for download.

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(Source Article by Andrew Bartlett)