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Flipping The Traditional Documentary Model on Its Ear

By Lydia Hurlbut

Shane and I first met Patrick Moreau at Sundance two years ago when they were both speaking there. There was an immediate connection, the kind where you feel like you have known this person forever when you just met. We both realized his talent as a storyteller and independent filmmaker.

Patrick and the entire Stillmotion team have an amazing project that we would like to share with you. We were so moved by the story of #standwithme, that we wanted to dive into the details of this incredible story.


Stillmotion is a studio that started in weddings and is now taking on the world with a documentary about child slavery. Stillmotion’s approach to this film has been to create their own path and push the genre of documentary filmmaking. Deciding against Kickstarter and other popular crowd-sourced funding options, the film was largely funded by Stillmotion through their commercial work. With a production budget of $250,000, the Stillmotion team chose this route to remain focused on the film and tied both emotionally and financially to their belief in the impact it could have when released. Their hope with #standwithme was to blur the lines of traditional documentary storytelling. That meant how the story was told, how it transitions, how it looks, and how it sounds.

The Story

Vivienne Harr is a 9-year-old girl who saw an arresting photograph of two enslaved children in Nepal and decided to take a stand. She set up her lemonade stand for 365 days in a row, asking customers to “pay what’s in your heart,” sending proceeds to organizations that liberate and rehabilitate slaves all over the world.


Patrick directed this project and took the time to share every detail from initial funding through shooting.


“We got into this film with the idea we could donate our time to a worthwhile cause and help them make a bigger impact. We heard this story of a 9-year-old selling lemonade to fight child slavery and wanted to go down and learn more. It was always going to be a 5 min piece… but when we met them, we knew it had to be so much more. The challenge was that she was making a stand every day – the story was happening now. We thought about Kickstarter but David, our Executive Producer, felt strongly that we should remain focused on the film. As those who have tried crowd funding know, it certainly needs a lot of time and support and our focus needing to be on telling this story.”

“We ultimately decided to dive in and started by tuning the project ourselves. As the scope grew, we formed a corporation for the film and sold stock, or equity, in the film to help fund our remaining production expenses. This was a way to get the support we needed while still shouldering as much of the funding as we could and remaining focused on the film itself.”

Key Tools

“As we approached the film, there were several tools that really helped us push the boundaries of what you’d expect to see in a documentary. Of course, a great tool doesn’t make a strong story, but a strong story that is well told, with the right tools, can be even more effective at impacting the viewer.”

“As a studio, we wouldn’t have been drawn to making a film that was entirely on slavery. Let’s face it, there are tons of dark issues that need addressing, but we wanted a unique angle into the story that would attract a lot of people to see the film, and therefore have a greater chance to really create change. Vivienne was that window. She was the sparkle into the dark, dark world of slavery. Therefore, our approach was to stay in the light – keep the film feeling bright, inspirational, and empowering with a lot of energy.”

Freefly Movi

“Our film’s main character is a 9-year-old. While that means much of what we would be doing would be unpredictable, it also meant we should be ready for lots of action. The Movi would let us get smooth motion, but more than a Steadicam. It would let us quickly and easily get low to the ground (she is 9 after all). It also let us be unpredictable and follow her tricks and turns. More than just following Vivienne, the Movi could be paired with a lot of moving vehicles on our international trips to create a much larger, epic feeling. While in Namibia, we put the Movi in the front of a chopper with open sides and got sweeping scenics that would be much more costly to reproduce in a high budget feature. While one might expect to see a handheld tracking shot of somebody in a documentary, we were able to use a perfectly smooth camera taking flight over the Kalahari is a big, epic, way to open a scene, all for a $1,000 helicopter rental and a Movi Rig.”


Canon C100

“Whenever you take on a project of this significance for your studio (this was our first feature length doc done entirely by our studio) the choice of camera is always a big one. We can be tempted to go Red, bigger, badder – but what serves the story? We knew we had to be quick; we had to be able to travel; and we had to be able to shoot very strong visuals with a small crew. The C100 gave us the ability to pack a 24-70, a couple of cheap 32gb SD cards, and a monopod and get very strong event coverage as we travelled internationally. Shooting in Wide DR, we got great latitude in the image (awesome for bright desert shooting), but we also had built in ND filters to control the light, and great monitoring options like waveforms, peaking, and zebras – all which helped us make sure we were capturing the best image possible. With the higher compression of the C100, these guides were huge in getting it right in camera. Adding on the top handle and running audio into camera let us do some interviews with crews as small as 1 or 2. In Nepal, one of the interviews had to be DP’d, directed, produced, lit, and shot by one person. While we had a volunteer stand in as the interviewer for a proper eye line, the C100 let us handle so many duties quickly and get a strong image. The Red can make great images, but it also takes a while to start up and we would be hard pressed to think it could handle the beating we gave our gear, or the pace of our production.”

Canon 1DC

“While the C100 was by far our main cam, we also wanted something that was even smaller for tight spaces and something that could handle the roughest of weather as we travelled. The 1DC was an amazing compliment to shoot high quality production/BTS stills, as well as shooting for the film in up to 4K. As we shot Viv’s lemonade getting bottled, the 1DC was our go to camera, allowing us to get it literally inside the machines as they were running and spinning out bottles of lemonade. As we go back and review the finished film, the bottling scene has some of the strongest visuals. A large part of that is the strong image (wide range, shallow DOF, and low light) all in camera that could go where others couldn’t. When paired with the Movi, we had a lightweight option that we could lift for extend periods. At one point, we had to follow Lisa, the photographer that took the image that started all of this, as she hiked into the Kalahari on a photography trek. It was a 30 min walk out, shoot, then walk back – in the middle of the desert. Remember, we have no AC, no crew . This was one person with whatever they can carry. Being able to put the Movi in majestic mode (it responds to your movements based on tablet settings instead of using a second operator on a remote) and having it light enough let us work without support for extended periods and got some of the strongest shots you now see in the trailer.”


Westcott Icelight and Scrim Jim

“Lighting for a doc is always a battle of time and crew. While we’d love days to draw a lighting plot, scout, and setup lights, a doc often comes with all of that compressed into a matter of hours or minutes. We had interviews of some main characters that needed to be sourced and lit (with a crew of 2) in less than 30 minutes – and needed to match those that had a crew of 5 and hours of prep. Using small and quick lighting tools like the Scrim Jim and Ice Light let us make the most of some difficult terrain and harsh outdoor conditions. For several interviews in Nepal, having a crew of only 2, we chose to do interviews outdoors outside of magic hour. This fit best into the production schedule and gave us a lot of context in our interview – we couldn’t travel to Nepal and shoot in an area that didn’t feel like we were there.”

Stand With Me

“On the other hand, the Ice Light is a battery powered daylight balanced LED light that offers a nice soft light. While too dim to light large areas, it is a great helper light for treks into the middle of nowhere. While shooting the Bushmen of Namibia, who live in the Kalahari Desert, we were fortunate to spend an evening with them and experience their medicine dance. Lit by only a fire in the middle of nowhere, we could use the power of the C100 to get great low light images. It was easy for the people to fall into nothing with no power or buildings around. Using the ice light and some 12 CTO, we could get a light place in a tree 15’ away to give us a nice edge light and some separation.”

The Kessler Stealth Slider

“We knew going into this that we were telling a story that would be strong in history. We would want to cover the story of how Vivienne’s story started – something documented daily on Twitter and Instagram with images – as well as the history of how Fair Trade USA started. One of our main characters is a photographer with an incredible body of work, and we’d need to show her images in setting up the story of how ‘the image’ that started it all was taken. We knew we couldn’t try and push how documentaries look and feel while having photos that pan and zoom in post. It was too digital and artificial feeling. Instead, we put the images in real and relevant environments and shot them with a motion control slider. This meant our cuts from one image to another would cut perfectly, and we could get very smooth and repeatable slow shots. When it came to shooting Vivienne’s bottles in stores, we went to dozens of stores and again relied on the motion control to get slow, smooth, and repeatable motion across locations. We shot wide, medium, tight in many locations – all at the exact same speed and direction. In the end, we quickly cut through dozens of shots of the bottles across the dozens of stores, and it all flows so well because of the consistency between shots. Add in some sound design in post (kids playing and laughing over Viv’s photo) for a strong emotional depth and compelling visuals of what could have easily just been a photo zoomed in post.”

At its core, #standwithme is a social invitation for people to stand against slavery and invite others to join in doing so. Stillmotion’s hope for this trailer is not that you’ll go out to see this film because it looks like a good movie. Their hope is that 30 million human beings is something you can’t turn away from, and that this trailer will leave you wanting to know more about the issue and how we can all do our part to truly put an end to this suffering.

The #standwithme Premiere Tour will be hitting the road in February, taking the film to 30 cities in the US & Canada. But there’s another tour we think you guys will be even more excited about…

Storytelling With Heart

The Storytelling With Heart Filmmaking Workshop!

The Storytelling With Heart Tour is a one-day filmmaking workshop all about how to use your talent and passion as a filmmaker to tell the stories you REALLY want to tell, and tell them powerfully. The workshop will take place on the day following the #standwithme premiere in each city.

In addition to a live Q&A from #standwithme’s directors Patrick Moreau and Grant Peelle at each premiere, there will also be an educational workshop held the following day in each city, known as the Storytelling With Heart Tour. The workshop tour welcomes anyone who is interested in independent filmmaking and telling meaningful stories, and will be an opportunity to get hands-on instruction and insight from the Stillmotion team on their filmmaking process. Each workshop will run from 9 am-5 pm, on the day following the premiere of #standwithme.

Visit for more information on Stillmotion’s education program and to purchase tickets to the workshop. Use the discount code hurlbut10 to get 10% off of your registration fee. (Code expires December 31, 2013.)

Our friends at Stillmotion put a lot on the line to make #standwithme, but there was never really any question as to why they kept going. They believed in the story, plain and simple.

If enough people are made aware of just how much power they have to stop slavery, even though something as simple as a shift in shopping habits, a global commitment can be made, and together we can make a vital mark. We are proud to be inviting you to stand with us.

Stand With Me

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(Article Source)


Polycarp - Review

Article by Melinda Ledman //

It’s always refreshing to see a film that’s thin on dialogue, but dense with meaning. Polycarp took home the top prizes at the recent Christian Worldview Film Festival, which is no surprise given its frank treatment of first century persecution. A creeping concern among Christians today, persecution of the church in America is a fast-growing fear and slow-but-steady threat. So how can we find hope? 

Polycarp is based on the life of an early church father who studied under the apostle John. A missionary turned scribe in his old age, Polycarp was the anchor of the Christian community in Smyrna. As persecution from Rome encroached on their freedoms, Polycarp and other Christians in Smyrna had to decide whether they would pursue their work in the safety of another town or stand and fight in their local community. Polycarp’s story is viewed through the eyes of a slave girl who immediately receives her freedom after being purchased. 

Three things stood out to me about this film. First, I was intrigued by the dialogue of the Polycarp character. More often than not, he quoted Bible passages as though they were ordinary speech. He didn’t use a preachy, heavy handed, “Jesus said…” style, but simply spoke sacred words in the most natural contexts. This idea wasn’t too far-fetched since his sole occupation was copying the words of the apostles, ie. what would become the New Testament. These God-breathed ideas and phrases would have made their home in his subconscious after numerous transcripts, and he could have spoken them as naturally as you or I would talk about the weather. It intrigued me how Scripture gets into the soul today, even though our culture is now so far removed from “oral tradition.” Like Polycarp, those who memorize scripture often find the Holy Spirit opening doors of conversation with others, and sacred words come naturally in the right context. 

Second, the film challenges us to be brave and true. After watching the movie, my daughter asked me a pointed question: “Would you deny God in order to keep our family safe?” What a loaded question!! Prior to watching this film, I might have said yes. I’ll be honest. When I’ve imagined a world of religious persecution (like what would I have done if I was a Jew in World War II), it always seemed more reasonable to lie to corrupt authorities in order to continue the work of Christ underground. It seemed to me that surviving to preach another day made more sense than needless martyrdom. But this film made me think much harder about that scenario. It raised questions about the internal and external ramifications of denying God, even falsely denying him. I began to consider the bigger picture of “life,” which brings me to the third point…

Polycarp reminds us that as Christians, we are part of something much larger than this temporal life. While most Christian movies today focus on the life we live right now, surviving the challenges and pitfalls of a frustrating existence on Earth, Polycarp reaches beyond the immediate. For one, it shows us that we are part of a much larger, historical story, one that reaches throughout the centuries. Many came before us and fought for the Gospel, and we too will play out our roles in the grand scale of God’s story with humanity. Second (and this is where my answer to the kids came in), our “lives” extend far beyond our time on this planet. We can’t make decisions based on the immediate ramifications of our choices. We have to look into the far, far future. What do our enemies threaten us with, death? Death is to be immediately in the presence of God. Torture? Even those who are being persecuted across the world today endure suffering with a supernatural kind of peace. The apostles of the Bible faced it with joy, singing, and even witnessing. If I am to be honest, I have only ever heard that God gives his people uncanny courage and peace when persecution comes. So, when the power-driven Quadratus fumes his greatest boast, “I wield the power of the gods in this place!” his greatest weakness is exposed. He does not understand God’s protection, provision, end-game or even the nature of the universe. And Quadratus’ threats weigh false on an eternal scale.

Perhaps that’s the vehicle of hope in this film. With today’s increasing religious restriction and a spreading dread of persecution, Polycarp argues the opposite of weakness and fear. It raises up pillars of Biblical truth instead. Quoting from the Bible, Polycarp describes how he deals with his own fear, “Perfect love casts out fear.” When he looks honestly at the God who loved and saved him in his sinful state, the God who walks with him every moment, and the God who will be waiting for him even if he should die, fear is an empty lie. Somehow we emerge from the film with a greater trust in God as our sovereign, protector, and trustworthy advocate. We emerge with gratitude for what Christ did for us, and a sense of belonging in God’s eternal story. We emerge with the courage to resist our own weakness and expose fear for the lie that it is.

Polycarp is available on DVD.
For more information about the film, visit or stop by their church screening page.


The Definitive Guide to Interviewing People For Video Production

I recently wrote a post on The Best Way to Interview people. Today I want to go all out, and write an inclusive guide. I am doing this for a few reasons; Interviews are the backbone of any promotional or documentary style video. The importance of getting amazing sound is crucial.

Let’s face it. Most promotional videos are really bad.

There are a lot of promotional videos out there on company websites that I just can’t make it through. How can I devote 90 seconds of my time to learn more about “Smith Marketing” if I instantly hear a robotic drone of, “We can solve all of your advertising problems.” Within the FIRST SECOND of the video?

No thanks.

Think about your favorite movie. Mine is “The Departed”.

Why do you like it?

One common reason among everyone is that you get lost in the movie’s world. You forget about that last Tweet you sent, or a email you received that morning. You are now apart of the storytelling cinema world. Everything goes out the window and your emotional go for a roller coaster ride as you embark on the journey with the protagonist.

This suspension of disbelief MUST apply to your promotional video in today’s world or you will be left behind. Viewers now have the option to watch your video. The days of the loud repetitive used car salesmen commercial are gone (and I couldn’t be happier).

Today we are going to take a look at how to level up your interview game.

Start with the Emotion First

Before you even show up to the location you need to have an idea of what kind of emotion you want the audience to feel.

Recently, I was meeting with a client who wanted a video for their company. They have a lot of ambition and hopes for their video which made me excited. I explained to them that the most important part of video was allowing the audience becoming apart of their world for 2 minutes.

I showed them this “graph” of the emotional ride we could take the viewers on to share their message.

It’s important that the planning for your video starts way before you show up on location. Just because you don’t know what the people you are interviewing are going to say doesn’t mean you can’t prepare.

Ask any seasoned veteran in video production and they will all say great production comes from great pre-production.

Preparing for the Interview

Before I go to the shoot I go over in my head what my intentions are for the interview. If you focus on the outcome you want you will be much more likely to achieve your desired results.

What is the intention of the interview? — Why are you interviewing this particular person? Are they going to be the main sound in your video? Do you need a specific sound byte to link a section together in your video?

Guideline Questions — I like to have some general questions written down to get the interview started. Depending on how the person is responding and how the interview is going, I will break off from the questions and follow the natural flow of the conversation. It’s a good sign if you are diverging from the questions because the interview has just turned into a natural conversation.


Remember, the conversation doesn’t need to be linear. You can skip over parts and go back and forth. Editing exists for a reason. As long as you follow a natural flow with the conversation you will be fine.

What is the tone of the video overall? What state of mind do you need to help the interview subject getting into? Are you going for a serious dramatic piece, a funny light tone? You are the director in the interview so you control the flow.

Before You Hit Record

When you arrive at the location take the time to scout out the area. Hopefully you were able to scout before the actual day of the shoot, but we aren’t always given that luxury. Have someone familiar with the location show you around to the different rooms and options for shooting locations.

In each room, pay attention to the acoustics, and the action going on. Here are some things I am cautious of:

Acoustics of the room — How does the room sound? Does it have a lot of echo? Is there a buzz from the air conditioning? Music playing? See how much of this you have control over. Generally you can get someone to turn off the air conditioning for a few minutes, and they can certainly turn the music off.


If I know the location is known for being noisy I will ask will if we have control of the sound in the area, and for how long. This is important because you don’t want a change in audio during the interview. Plus you want to keep the momentum going once you get started.

Action in the room — Are other people going to be walking in and out? The more control you have in the location, the better your sound will be.

Comfort Level — Does the person have a comfortable chair to sit in? A bottle of water? These things are all important because you want to keep the interview moving at a natural pace.

Conducting the interview

The number one factor that separates an experienced video production company from amateur is how you conduct the interview. More than likely the person you are interviewing is NOT an actor. Expecting someone to give you a well spoken line from a script when they have NEVER done that in their life before is crazy. They won’t be able to recite certain lines in a natural tone. It will sound forced and contrived. Avoid having the subject read off a script at all costs. This will completely ruin your video. Remember the suspension of disbelief?


There is a way on how to get someone to say what you want specifically. More on that later.

A lot of times the people you are interviewing have never been on camera before. They will most likely be nervous and not used to having bright lights shining in their face.

Take a few minutes to help them get comfortable. As your camera operator is getting set up begin talking with the interviewee in a way that would relax them. Ask them what they did this weekend, or what their favorite part about their job is. The key here is to comfort them as well as build rapport. If they drop hints at something that could trigger a certain emotional state, use that later.

Example: During the warm up if someone mentions they spent some time with the family this weekend and had a good time, see if that’s something they will talk more about. During the interview you could ask, “Earlier you mentioned you like spending time with your family. How has this impacted how your run your business?”

As the interview progresses pay attention to their body language and tone. If they aren’t connecting to the questions you are asking, try moving in a different direction.

If someone is really getting into a topic, and you feel like you are getting good sound out of them, guide them with a few questions. A lot of times you can replay what they just said to show them what part you liked, and then ask a follow up question to get another answer out of them.

Interviewee: I just really love showing up each day. I really struggled showing up each day at my previous job, the connection and community just wasn’t there.”

Me: “I hear you on that. A lot of people share that same struggle with having a job they don’t like. What has this transition between going from a job you don’t like, to one that is very fulfilling done for you?”

The difference in tones

There is a difference in tone between conversational tone, reading tone, and live interview tone. If you are having a conversation with the person before they know you are interviewing you will get one tone, once everyone says “camera’s rolling” their tone will shift. Usually it goes from casual to a more deliberate annunciated tone. This is natural human reaction. Most people want to perform well in high pressure situations so their concentration shifts.


Don’t ask your important questions first. Save those for when the interviewee has gotten comfortable.

Changes in tone throughout the interview can actually cause problems if you are trying to cut up sound bytes from the beginning and end. To fix this, you can re-ask questions at the end in a slightly different way.

Example: If the interviewee has drifted off towards the end and lost their tone I will say:

Me: At the beginning of this interview you mentioned your passion for building bikes is what drove you to start this business. After being in business for 5 years what do you think has been the biggest factor in staying successful?”

This will spark the beginning of the interview feeling where she / he was passionately talking about their love for bikes. Energy will rise again and their tone will be closer to how it was at the start.

In all reality, some people just won’t be good on camera either. Plan for this. Don’t rely on just one person to be on camera if they are too nervous to even say their name. I’ve only come across 1 or 2 people who seem like they are having a nervous breakdown, but we were still able to get at least 1 sound byte out of them.

Getting people to read off a script.

I know I have mentioned how much I am against this. However there are certain times where you can make it sound natural.

Usually deeper into the interview when the person is comfortable, they might say a really good line, but stutter over it. Quickly jump in and say, “can you say that one more time?” And the conversation tone won’t change much. The key is catching them right in the act. Immediately step in and have them restate the line. Going back later won’t work.

If you are shooting in a location where the scenery can’t be beat, but there is a loud generator running or cars driving by you might have to re-record the audio in a separate location. This is usually for shorter sound bytes where you just want them to say one or two quick sentences.

The best way to do this is by moving them to a quiet room and get them to practice the lines again a few times. The trick here is to just be running the audio while they are practicing. They will be more relaxed without knowing the audio is recording. You will hear a tone shift in their voice between a practice session and a live record session.

Becoming good at interviews takes time. Learning how to read body language and engage with people past surface level is a skill. That means everyone is capable of doing this and making great video.

Remember, good production starts with good preproduction.

I would love to know your thoughts on this post.
Leave a comment below or Tweet me @creativedoes.
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The War Room - Theaters Aug. 28

Watch the teaser trailer for the new movie from the Kendrick Brothers (Fireproof & Courageous), WAR ROOM, which will be in theaters August 28.


Beyond the Mask: Behind the Scenes

Here is a sneak peek of a “behind the scenes” featurette about the visual effects in Beyond the Mask. This video is a small taste of the bonus features that will be available exclusively on the Beyond the Mask DVD…coming September 8th!


Fixing Story Problems

It’s impossible to say what makes a film great. Useless to prescribe any rules, since often the best films break them anyway. A more helpful discussion, then, might be to talk about what makes a film bad — and what can be done about it (this is the helpful part).

Lately we’ve been reading Blake Snyder’s classic book on screenwriting, Save the Cat!, to see what lessons a major Hollywood screenwriter offers independent filmmakers like ourselves. One of the most useful sections comes toward the end, when Snyder discusses common story problems and what he suggests writers do about them. Even though we’re not particularly interested in writing the next Hollywood blockbuster, these tips were surprisingly great and helped clarify some story fundamentals in our minds. So we thought we’d share them.

...Read the full article here to find fixes for these common problem:

1. The Problem of the Passive Hero

2. The Problem of Talking the Plot

3. The Problem of Nothing on the Line

4. The Problem of One Thing After Another

5. The Problem of the Emotional Color Wheel

6. The Problem of Primality


CWVFF 2016 - Ticket Sale

2016 Christian Worldview Film Festival tickets are now available for $80 off the regular price for the first 100 tickets! This offer ENDS on Sunday, AUGUST 9TH or when 100 tickets are sold.

We will be lengthening the Filmmakers Guild and making the entire event 6 days long instead of 5!  
Now you will have more time to network with fellow filmmakers and glean from some of your favorite CWVFF speakers including:
Rich Christiano, Nathan Ashton, Stacie Graber, George Escobar, Brett Varvel, John-Clay Burnett, Rebekah Cook, Jurgen Beck, Ken Carpenter, John Fornof, Timothy Jones, Rich Swingle, Mimi Sagadin and more!

Here is how you can help:

In order to lock in these dates we need to put down a deposit on the Conference Center by August 10th.  The only way we can do that is if we can pre-sell enough Filmmakers Guild tickets at a reduced rate by this Sunday!
The Filmmakers Guild passes are $199 for all six days, but if you purchase them now you get all 6 days for just $119! That's $80 off!  That's better than any offer we were able to do last year, but this is only going to be available to the first 100 registrations.
In addition to the reduced ticket price you will also get a free copy of George Escobar's 500 page eBook "Filmmaking for Christians" and you will be entered into a drawing for a number of great prizes!
Here is what is included for $119.00

  • 2016 Film Festival & Filmmakers Guild Ticket ($80 off regular price!)
  • George Escobar's 500 page eBook "Filmmaking for Christians"
  • PLUS each registration will go into a drawing for a number of  giveaways including:
  • Grand Prize: George Escobar's 7 Course Screen Writing Webinar (A $200 Value!) - 1 available
  • A copy of the our documentary "Captivated" - 10 copies available
  • A copy of my new book "Media Choices: Convictions or Compromise?" - 10 copies available
  • A copy of the DVD "HERO" - 10 copies available
  • A copy of the DVD "Come What May" - 10 copies available
  • and more...

Buy your 2016 tickets here.

If you are not able to attend in 2016 or if you can't purchase a ticket at this time, but would like to help, you can make a donation toward this endeavor.  Donations of any size are a big help and are greatly appreciated!


You've Landed Your First Video Job

You’re fresh out of school. You’ve been waiting for this moment for four years, and now it’s happened: you’ve landed your first corporate client. What next? Here are some tips to help you kick things off.

Build your brand

By brand we mean how your company appears from the outside, and what it stands for. A strong brand makes you look credible and helps to create a memorable business that people want to be connected to. Pick a name that stands out, and is related to what you, in particular, offer. Using your own name as a brand is more personable but will potentially attract smaller clients. Also, consider the simplicity of the name: is it easy to remember the corresponding url or twitter handle?

Developing a visual identity is just as important, get a great logo and share it everywhere. Think about corresponding design elements (color, typography, shapes). Finally, a tagline goes hand in hand with your logo and is your promise to your audience - can you explain what you are and what you do in about 7 words?

Promote yourself

When you’re first starting out, you can’t just sit around and hope people will come to you. You need to build a credible online presence.

First, get your website set up. No html or java experience? Fear not. Companies such as Wordpress, Wix, or Squarespace offer stylish and easy-to-use pre-packaged sites.

Next, get your Facebook and Twitter (and other social platforms) presence going, and make sure you post to them regularly. Even if it’s just a “Hey, see what we just did for our latest client!”, or “Check out the new service we’re offering”. This way, clients are always being reminded you’re there and can watch you develop.

Finally, word of mouth is always the best advertising. Every time you deliver a project and see a smile on your client’s face, ask them if they know anyone who might need your services and encourage them to recommend you.

For a few more tips, check out 5 keys to growing your freelance business.

Get your business incorporated

This might sound like a boring bit of admin, but protecting yourself as an individual, or as a husband/wife/parent is critical. When you’re incorporated, if someone sues you for professional reasons, they will be suing the business, and your personal assets will be protected. As a small business owner, you are subject to some of the laws and tax regulations that apply to large corporations. In addition to incorporation, make sure you check out the tax obligations in your location.

Pick your software

While your expertise and comfort levels might guide your software decisions, your budget will also come into play. FCPX (Mac only) is a flat $300 fee, while both Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Avid Media Composer are available on a $50/month subscription plan. Keep in mind that some programs are Windows only (including DVD Architect, pretty much the last prosumer DVD authoring program).

To work out what you need and the best way of buying it, sit down and make a road map of the type of services you’re planning to offer in the first twelve months of your business. Then list the applications you’ll need to do each service. For example:

Jan – April:
Web file creation – Sorenson Squeeze, $X
DVD authoring – DVD Architect, $X
3D animation – Cinema 4D, $X

You may decide that you won’t offer all services right off the bat, as they’ll require more cash up front on software. Update and refer to your roadmap regularly to prepare for the next phase of your business.


It’s crucial to choose the right storage platforms for the work that you’ll be cutting. Many new editors think, “I’ll just get a large system drive and edit off that!”. Bad idea. You should never have media on the same drive as your OS: if your hard drive is damaged, you’ll lose all your files. G-Raid Technology and La Cie are excellent starting places; they have a range of drives covering a selection of interfaces.

The demo

There is a slight difference between demo reels and a showreel, and both are important. A showreel showcases the range of work that you’ve done and is edited in a snappy, creative way. A demo reel shows the work you can do in more detail and with longer segments, giving clients a clearer understanding of your style of editing. Your demo reels will help potential clients decide if you’re the right fit for the post production on their next job. If you’re an editor that works on different types of productions, make sure you have demos that show each genre.

Manage client expectations

As soon as the project begins, you need to establish some guidelines to ensure things stay on track. Without these, you’ll be surprised at how quickly things can unravel. Develop a timeline and agree on a communication schedule (with all key stakeholders!) and milestone reviews  – this way the the client can leave you to do your work, knowing they’ll be brought in at critical junctures. Finally, once you’ve set attainable deadlines, stick to them. Never over promise and then under deliver – this is a sure recipe for disappointment all round.

Quoting and billing

Consider charging per project instead of per hour. This gives the client peace of mind around the project budget but also, if you work quickly and efficiently, means you don’t risk devaluing your expertise on an hourly rate. A Statement of Work shows that all parties have agreed upon the deliverables and the project price (and anything outside of that will increase the price of the project).

When billing, consider using invoicing software to give you a professional look and make sure everything is calculated correctly. Freshbooks or Xero will help track your clients and the amount of money you are owed. Make sure to include a due date and full details of your preferred payment method on every invoice you send.

Golden rule

Lastly, the most important thing to remember is never work for free. Your time is valuable. A credit in someone’s movie or TV show doesn’t pay your rent, or the lease on your equipment. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you feel you deserve. You might lose a few clients, but the ones you deliver for in exchange for a fair price, will be clients for life!

Kevin P McAuliffe is a three-time North American ProMax award-winning editor and has been a media composer editor for over 18 years. He is a senior editor at Extreme Reach Toronto, whose current clients include Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures and E1 Entertainment. Kevin can also be found helping out on Avid Community in the Media Composer and Symphony Get Started Fast forums.

(Article Posted by Wipster)


Woodlawn - Movie Trailer

What happens when football and faith come together in the most relevant, life-changing way possible? The answer to that question can be found in the upcoming feature film WOODLAWN. The Erwin Brothers (Moms' Night Out, October Baby) have partnered with Pure Flix (God's Not Dead, Do You Believe?) and Provident Films (Fireproof, Courageous) to present this undeniable true story surrounding the spiritual awakening that captured the Woodlawn High School football team in 1973.

Starring Jon Voight, Sean Astin, Nic Bishop, and newcomer Caleb Castille, WOODLAWN demonstrates what can happen when true love and unbridled unity meet at the 50-yard line. With the racially-charged early 1970s as its backdrop, WOODLAWN and its groundbreaking African American superstar Tony Nathan experience an unprecedented time of revival and reconciliation that ultimately leads to the largest high school game ever played in Birmingham.

Check out the powerful new trailer for WOODLAWN, coming to theaters nationwide October 16, 2015, and don’t miss out on an opportunity to share its message of hope with friends, family members and football fans alike. Get ready to see what happens WHEN GOD SHOWS UP!


How to Light an Interview

Have you ever needed to do an interview in an area that made it super tough, for one reason or another?

While in a remote village of Nepal for #standwithme, we needed to interview a few girls at a rehabilitated slave center. It was a crew of two with some LED lights, limited access to power, and very little time and space. These interviews had to cut in with that of Lisa Kristine or the Harr family, interviews that we had crews of four to five on, tons of gear, HMIs to recreate a sunny day, and hours to setup.

But for these interviews it was two people with 30 minutes and lighting that looked closer to a flashlight than something you’d find on a film set.

Now of course we couldn’t make something out of nothing. These interviews wouldn’t look AS good as the ones with Lisa Kristine’s, but we did have to make sure they could cut into the same film and story. And to do that we really went back to the basics. We listened to the light and looked for what was there, how we could best use the environment, and then just broke the light down into its core components and made the most of each.


Both of these interviews were lit in a crunch in the same side of a bedroom in a remote Nepal village. They are simple but clean by following each step of the tutorial below. The window as a key, some diffusion to soften it, and then a small LED light to add some fill. But it’s the details that matter here, and that we’ll cover in the tutorial.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years we’ve seen people with huge crews and massive lights spend hours lighting an interview that could have looked stronger by just working with the window light that was there.

Sometimes, we just setup what we think we are supposed to for an interview. Or we feel bad if we don’t use our most expensive and coolest lights.

But, as with most skills, if we master the basics before moving up, we can often do much more and go much further (exactly the same scenario with people jumping into huge Steadicams before they knew the basics).

So today on the blog we have something that really goes back to the basics. How To Light An Interview. It’s a complete lesson from Story & Heart’s Academy Of Storytellers. It shows you how to get setup and get strong results right away. It also breaks it down in a way that is easy to remember and apply on every shoot.

....(Read the Full Article Here)