Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I'm taking some time off, so just wanted to say Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to everyone!

Thank you for reading my blog and supporting my various projects this past year. It's really been a good one!

A lot of cool stuff to look forward to in 2008 with "Pink", "Killing Down" and several other projects (at least one more web series and another feature film).

Talk to you next year! :)

-Blake

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AFI 2007 Favorites Announced

AFI AWARDS 2007 OFFICIAL SELECTIONS ANNOUNCED

AFI has just announced the official selections of AFI AWARDS 2007, AFI's almanac that records the year's most outstanding achievements in film and television. Ten AFI Movies of the Year and 10 TV Programs of the Year have just been determined by the juries.

The honorees are listed below in alphabetical order, with my comments next to them:

AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR--OFFICIAL SELECTIONS

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (haven't seen it)
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (nope, haven't seen it)
INTO THE WILD (loved this film, not a Sean Penn fan either, but it's great)
JUNO (planning to see it this weekend)
KNOCKED UP (wife has seen and loved it)
MICHAEL CLAYTON (looked boring to me, but heard it was good)
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (loved 85% of the movie, last 15 minutes or so lost me a bit, but still very good - Josh Brolin was excellent)
RATATOUILLE (not a huge animation fan, but looks good)
THE SAVAGES (haven't seen it, but I really like Laura Linney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
THERE WILL BE BLOOD (not out yet, but I'm a huge fan of Paul Thomas Anderson)

AFI TV PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR--OFFICIAL SELECTIONS

DEXTER (my favorite current show, love it, and sad this season is over)
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (never seen it)
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (great show and shot in Texas)
LONGFORD (never heard of it)
MAD MEN (good show, though only watched part of it)
PUSHING DAISIES (I like the look, haven't watched entire episode)
THE SOPRANOS (my previous favorite show, great final season)
TELL ME YOU LOVE ME (haven't seen it, heard there's a lot of nudity so been meaning to check it out)
30 ROCK (is this still on TV?)
UGLY BETTY (I'm a Selma Hayek fan for sure, but only watched this show a few times)

Pretty impressive list of winners. I just need more time to go to the movies and watch TV. Thank goodness for Tivo (but I still don't have time to watch all the recorded shows!). :)

-Blake

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A lot going on...

A lot going on right now...

1. KILLING DOWN - my latest feature film is being distributed throughout Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. Still not sure when it will be showing up on DVD in these places, but it has to be very soon. Also, our domestic release should be this spring. We're very close to doing a DVD deal.

2. PINK - the web series is really doing well. We've now had 3.5 million views on YouTube alone. All told (on Myspace, iTunes, Revver, Metacafe, BlipTV and YouTube) we've had over 4 million views. This all since September - but really since Halloween. We've had several meetings regarding the future of the show, and should have some news by Christmas as to the direction (whether we'll be producing Season Two on our own again, or whether another company will come on board as a partner). Either way we hope/plan to shoot in February.

3. NEW "UNTITLED" FEATURE FILM - the new feature project is moving along well too. Not quite ready to release details of the film, but our script is done, we have an excellent casting director, and our financing is almost in place. In addition, we're already talking to several well-known actors about the project. If all goes well we could be rolling cameras by March - but that's probably too ambitious (see #2 above).

4. NEW WEB SERIES - we're actually looking at possibly TWO new web series. Details coming soon. The first one (which a lot of the footage already exist) will likely be released online in January 2008. The other one we're in talks about for later next year.

Whew! Like I said, a lot going on and a lot to keep up with. Luckily I'm pretty good at multi-tasking. :)

-Blake

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New BLOG for "Pink"

Please check it out:
http://pinktheseries.blogspot.com

Not much content on it yet, but will be a good resource for info regarding the series as time goes on.

Also, we'll be doing polls you can vote on at least once a month, so definitely take a moment to excercise your right.

Thank you!

-Blake

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Wow... Two Million Views Now!

It's been just over one week since we announced the One Million View mark for "Pink" on YouTube. Well, today we just topped Two Million Views. Really incredible.

I can't thank the viewers enough along with the editors of YouTube for featuring the show. I don't know the definition of a "viral" video, but I'd say the series is starting to take on a life of it's own and the views are really starting to pile up. It's sure starting to feel viral to me. :)

You can watch and subscribe on YouTube here.

PLEASE keep spreading the word........ thanks!

-Blake

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Wall Street Journal Chimes In...

Another good article about web series from the WSJ...

Check it out

-Blake

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One Million Views for PINK!

"Pink" reached a cool milestone today going past the One Million View mark on YouTube. This is a total for all the episodes. Not too bad considering we've only been online since September, and we've only been featured on YouTube for two weeks!

Thank you to the fans of the show (and even to the folks who don't like the show) and also thank you to the editors of YouTube and Revver, and iTunes.

You can subscribe to "Pink" on YouTube here. Or subscribe on iTunes here.

Thanks for watching!

UPDATE: As of 11/21 we're now up to 1.6 Million Views on YouTube. Starting to sound kinda viral to me...

-Blake

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YouTube Update

As of today 11/13/07 "Pink" is the 21st most subscribed to show on YouTube, and the 7th most subscribed to show under the "Directors" banner on YouTube (this is mainly for narrative projects like web series, which is great).

Also, we've had 757,339 views since being featured two weeks ago. We're getting close to that 1 million mark. We've actually surpassed that mark if you count all the other places to watch including our Official website, Myspace, Revver, iTunes, and Metacafe.

Not too bad. :) Thanks for watching!!!

-Blake

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Many Europeans Choose Internet Over TV

Interesting article...
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8SSU3AO0&show_article=1

Excellent news for web shows like "Pink".

-Blake

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USA Today Article on "Slick Webisodes"

Nice article in USA Today about "slick webisodes" being the missing link to making web video (web series) make it...

USA Today Article

Hopefully we're onto something (have you seen "PINK"?). They should have mentioned us too. :)

-Blake

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Lone Star Panels

As mentioned in the previous post, I was on two panels at the Lone Star International Film Festival and they both went well.

The first one was quite small, but very interesting. Turns out it was the first panel of the event and they had the address wrong. Plus, it was at 11am on Friday at a first year festival. So, only a few people in room besides us panelist, but again, it was very informitive. This was the New Media panel.

The second one was called Directing Your First Feature and it was much better attended. The room was pretty much full. This was the panel Fred Durst was supposed to be on, but he no showed. Very rock n' roll of him I suppose. However, much to my surprise the other panelist were actually a couple of the guys from Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar and Paul Soter). The comedy troupe behind such films as "Super Troopers", "Club Dread", "Beerfest", etc. and Jay also individually directed the "Dukes of Hazzard" movie. And Paul has just directed his first feature film "Watching The Detectives". Very nice guys and cool to hear their perspective on making films in the studio system versus indie world.

Here are two pictures of me and the Broken Lizard guys:














The top picture of Paul and I is slightly out of focus (thanks Cliff). :)

-Blake

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Lone Star International Film Festival

The Lone Star International Film Festival starts today in Fort Worth, Texas. It runs November 7-11. Never heard of the festival you say? Well, it's the first one. Actually, it's not really the "first" one... it's the first one under the new entity putting on the event.

Back in 1998 a group put on the Fort Worth Film Festival, which was really a great festival. I happen to be fortunate enough to screen my first feature film "Thugs" there. Wes Anderson screened "Rushmore". A lot of good stuff was going on.

The festival being in downtown Fort Worth had such a great feel to it. If you've ever been to Sundance Square you know what I'm talking about. Clean streets. Easy parking. Safe. Very quaint feeling for a descent sized city. And all the theaters are located very close together - a big plus compared to most other festivals I've been to.

But the festival didn't make it. Not sure why. Probably funding. So there have been rumors for some time that the festival would be brought back, and low and behold now it has been in the form of the Lone Star International Film Festival.

Several big name folks will be in town, among them Bill Paxton (he's directly involved with the fest) and Martin Sheen, along with several big name films.

I've actually been invited to speak on two panels. So if you're interested come out to the festival on Friday at 11am for the New Technologies and Media Convergance panel, then Saturday at 3pm for the Directing My First Feature panel - another speaker on this one is Fred Durst (yeah, the lead singer from Limp Biskit). He recently directed his first feature "The Education of Charlie Banks", which will be screening Friday evening at 8pm.

Also, they'll be showing the first five episodes of my web series "PINK" in their "viral video lounge" (or something like that). Not sure where this is, but sounds cool. :)

Hope to see you there!

-Blake

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Woah... YouTube Strikes Again

YouTube has apparently taken a liking to "PINK". A couple days ago they featured the show under the "Entertainment" category, but today I just saw where they put it on their MAIN PAGE. Not the main page of the channels, or categories, etc.... THE main page. You type in YouTube.com and PINK Webisode 01 is right there. Very cool stuff indeed.

One interesting thing I'm finding is that while we are getting lots of views on the first episode, the subsequent ones aren't near as numerous. Now don't get me wrong, they are climbing for sure, but not near as fast as the single episode YouTube is featuring. My belief is that most YouTube users are accustom to the "one hit wonder" videos (mostly the "kick in the crotch" stuff). So, they usually only watch that single video, then go off to another place.

"PINK" is a serialized show. A mini-TV series if you will. Each episode builds on each other to tell the story. It takes a little to get used to (on the web), but folks are beginning to get the idea. And with YouTube's help, more folks are seeing the show everyday. And as a filmmaker that's really all I can ask for.

THANK YOU YOUTUBE! :)

-Blake

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PINK Featured on YouTube!

Just saw today that PINK has been featured on YouTube. Not sure when this happened or how, but it happened in the last day or so I think.

















THANK YOU very much to the editors at YouTube for noticing and featuring the show.

And since we've been featured we've had over 20,000 views on Webisode 01. Pretty cool!

I'm actually in LA this week for several meetings regarding the future of "Pink". Hopefuly more cool news coming soon. :)

-Blake

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PINK on "Viral The Show"

Nice behind-the-scenes story on the show...


Online Videos by Veoh.com

Thank you Sunny Gualt and all the folks at Viral and Veoh!

-Blake

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OT: I love GPS

If you travel at all these days you know the feeling of arriving into an unknown town and not having a clue how to get anywhere. I travel quite a bit and routinely get lost. But not anymore. Last year I bought a portable GPS from Magellan and it's the most liberating device I own (besides maybe my cell phone).

So this week I'm in Atalanta for a video shoot, which I haven't been to in almost 20 years, and I don't know where I'm going. I get my rental car and turn the GPS on and enter the hotel's address.... and boom, the satellite tracks my location and starts telling me where to go (I have one that talks to you). Only problem? I entered the wrong address. I compared where I was going to a map I printed off Yahoo, and something wasn't right. So I pulled over and re-entered my location and figured out I had put in "Avenue" instead of "Street". In Atlanta there are about 20 different "Peachtree" streets. So, the system is not completely fail safe, but once I entered the CORRECT address it took me right there. Nice.

Next day I had to go to the convention center and the hotel concierge gave me directions on a handy little pre-printed 3x5 index card. It also included directions for the return. The directions were good and I got there with ease. BUT, for the return... I had to park in a parking garage that when I exited put me onto a side street that was not mentioned on the 3x5 card. Nothing worse than driving around a downtown area with one-way streets, etc. and not knowing where you are. I just so happened to throw the GPS in my camera bag (glad I did), so I fired it up and got directions on getting back. Worked perfectly.

There are a lot of GPS brands out there and they pretty much all work the same. And the costs are coming down too. I think I paid around $400 for the Magellan over a year ago, and you can now get a good one for probably $250 or so. Tom Tom makes a good one and so does Garmin.

If you're a filmmaker going to different cities and/or varied locations around the globe I think a GPS is a must have these days. In the not too distant future I think the idea of being "lost" will be gone.

Now if it could just drive the car for you then we'd really be talking... :)

-Blake

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KILLING DOWN News...

Okay, so I've been focusing a lot of my time recently on the new web series "Pink". And BTW, episode #6 is out now so definitely check it out.

BUT, my last feature film "Killing Down" has got several things going on with it too...

First, just got an update from my foriegn distributor that so far we've sold these territories for DVD (and some TV):

1. S.Africa
2. Brazil
3. Romania
4. Italy
5. Taiwan
6. Albania
7. Poland
8. Latin America (via an MGM output deal for DVD)

This is all really cool news. The DVD should start popping up in retailers soon.

Secondly, we're EXTREMELY close to inking a domestic deal (finally). I can't release details just yet, but if all goes well the movie will be availble here in the states by early spring.

So, please keep your eye out for the DVD releases wherever you may be reading this. I'll update specific dates when I have them.

In the meantime, I have to go edit another episode of "Pink". :)

-Blake

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Thanks Revver.com!

This week we posted a compilation of the first five episodes of "Pink" - and our friends at the video sharing site Revver put us on their main front page (thank you guys!).

We've had really great response from the show and are continuing to work on building an audience and our brand, which is NOT easy on the Internet. But sites like Revver do make it easier, especially when they help foster a project like ours.

The nice thing too about Revver is we use their RSS Feed for our iTunes account. And iTunes with it's very large market share is really helping us build an audience. But again, without Revver it would be much harder to do.

If you are a filmmaker and want to upload projects to the web I would highly suggest using Revver. Great site and great folks behind it.

-Blake

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PINK Propaganda

More press coverage of "Pink"... this time in a video form.

The new show "Viral Propaganda" did a short piece on "Pink" a few days ago, and they're (possibly) doing a full story later this month (after they interview Natalie Raitano in LA).

Check it out right here!


Online Videos by Veoh.com


Also, a little promo we did for the show (on Veoh):


Online Videos by Veoh.com

-Blake

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BIG NEWS!!! - "PINK" On iTunes


















"Pink" is now on iTunes, which is excellent news - BUT even better - Apple contacted me directly (they really dig the show) and have put it on their main store page under Podcast New Releases. It's right there on the front page for the whole world to see. Pretty cool. I hope we get some viewers from this excellent promotion.

I really need to thank my new friend Tim Street for this iTunes introduction. He's the creator of the web show "French Maid TV" and has been consulting with me, and opened the door to Apple. Great guy and his show is definitely funny and worth checking out (hint, hint - go check it out!).

I also need to thank my contact at Apple (his name withheld to protect the innocent) for helping me get my RSS feed straightened out and get all the proper metadata onto iTunes. He was a big help!

If you have a video iPod or an iPhone you can simply subscribe to the show (for FREE) and when a new episode is released iTunes will automatically download it to your computer - then you simply sync your device and watch it whenever you like. If you don't have an iPod or iPhone, you still can/should subscribe via iTunes because you can just simply watch it on your computer (within iTunes).

And if you prefer to watch the show now, well, here you go!



-Blake

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PINK Webisode 04 - Watch it here!

Young nate dreams of a new doll for her birthday, but her daddy has a different idea for a perfect gift...



-Blake

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PINK on "The Daily Reel"

Nice front page mention of "PINK" on the cool site "The Daily Reel"...

CHECK IT OUT

(And here's a direct link to the story if above main link is gone)

Episode #4 is out today too. :)

-Blake

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PINK Webisode 03 - Watch it here!!!

Oh yeah, "Pink" Webisode 03 is now online too...



-Blake

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All Things "PINK"...

Okay, so a lot going on with the new web series "PINK"...

In the past few days I was interviewed on the FresHDV blog, the producers of the "Viral The Show" have contacted me and are doing a story on the show, the video sharing site Revver put "Pink" as their "Video of the Day" (which got us thousands of views - and they posted a nice blog entry too), and now we're talking to Veoh about rollling the show out on one of their Internet channels.

Additionally, we've been contacted by some other media outlets to do more interviews, and lastly we're working to get "PINK" featured on iTunes (we'll see what happens). However, we will have the show available SOON to subscribe to on iTunes as a video podcast.

So, A LOT going on for "PINK". More news coming soon...

-Blake

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1000 Views for "PINK" on YouTube

Okay, so we just hit the 1000 view mark on YouTube. Not bad for a new show with the only marketing being of the grassroots nature through Myspace, this blog and word of mouth.

The show is also on the aforementioned Myspace and the video sharing site Revver, and the main "PINK" website too - so between all the sites we've had just shy of 2000 views.

Revver has contacted us and loves the project, so they are "featuring" us each week in their Editor's Picks section and in their "Featured" artist section. Hopefully this will help build more of an audience too.

The cool thing about this distribution model is the number of folks who can see your work so quickly - and so easily. For instance, my last feature film has really only been seen by some festival audiences (so far). The DVD is not out yet, so in reality only five or six hundred people have seen it in the past year and a half.

To compare, in the past week and a half nearly 2000 people have seen "Pink". That's really amazing. And I do believe those numbers will continue to grow as the show is released over the next 8 weeks.

Now, if we can just figure out how to make money at this.... :)

-Blake

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"PINK" Webisode #2 Now Online!

Check out webisode #2 now...



Also see on YouTube and Myspace.

www.youtube.com/pinktheseries

Thanks!

-Blake

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"PINK" Premiere Is Online Now!

The premiere episode of "PINK" is officially online now.



There are three other ways to check it out too...

YouTube:
www.youtube.com/pinktheseries

Myspace:
www.myspace.com/pinktheseries

Official "PINK" Website:
www.pinktheseries.com

Please take a moment to watch the show and remember to catch a new episode every Tuesday for the next 10 weeks.

We'll also have it available on iTunes in the near future along with offering high-res HD downloads.

Stay tuned... :)

Thanks!
Blake

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Images from "PINK"

Here are four frame grabs from my Avid timeline from "PINK". These are flashback shots of "young Nate". Used a warm wash, slightly contrasty look to depict a past era in time. These were all shot on my Canon XH-A1 in HDV at 1/48 shutter using the Letus35 FE 35mm adapter. Nikon lenses were used - 24mm, 50mm and 85mm. Color correction was done in Avid using three-way corrector, Magic Bullet Colorista, and Boris Continuum.

















I think they have a very filmic quality. Remember, the show premieres online Tuesday September 4th!!!

www.myspace.com/pinktheseries

-Blake

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OT: Tim Burton


Tim Burton attended a film festival in Guanajato, Mexico and Jason (my step-brother's cousin who is a professional trumpet player) played at a private party for him. Pretty cool.

-Blake

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Lights, Letus, Locust

Three War Stories (and lessons) from the "Pink" shoot:

1. LIGHTS - On our first day of shooting we were at a small farm south of Fort Worth. Most of our setups were outside, although we did have one short scene to shoot in the house. This shoot had been planned for several months remember, but as I've said many times if things can go wrong they often do... Midway through the morning a TXU truck pulls up to the property looking for the owner (his name is being withheld to protect the guilty). :) I told the TXU guy he wasn't home and he proceeded to tell me he was there to turn off the power. Yep. Shoot planned for months. The one day we're actually shooting TXU shows up. To turn the power off. I love indie fimmaking. I tried to offer to pay the bill but he couldn't accept money. I then asked him if he could come back later. Even offered to "buy" him lunch. No takers. He went ahead and turned the power off. So, the shots we needed to shoot in the house... well, we did them guerilla-style with available light. Ended up looking pretty good though. ALWAYS make sure your location's electric bills have been paid!

2. LETUS - This was my first time to use a 35mm lens adapter. We used the Letus35 Flip Enhanced. What this does is allow you to use 35mm SLR lenses on video cameras (we shot on a Canon XH-A1 HDV camera). The footage you get with this looks amazing. Very, very film-like with the shallow depth-of-field. The thing is you have to remember to turn the thing ON before you shoot. By turning a small motor on it make the ground glass vibrate and thus creates the film-like images. However, if you FORGET to turn the ground glass motor on the footage looks like you're looking through a dirty window at it. Well, we forgot to turn the motor on twice. Bad thing was it was on two scenes with actors and we had to reshoot them both. One was MOS and the other did have dialogue. Luckily I watched dailies everyday, so I caught it and were able to shoot again. Just remember, IF YOU USE A 35MM ADAPTER MAKE SURE YOU TURN THE MOTOR ON. We're actually creating a label to put on the adapter to remind us in the future.

3. LOCUST - Okay, so we're shooting a scene in my backyard. It's summertime in Dallas. Behind my house is a fairly large wooded area. A small forest actually. I scouted it for the shoot several times and thought it would work great. And it did. Well, almost. The one thing I didn't take into consideration was the locust singing their tune. They were so loud that we almost couldn't hear ourselves think. We got the mic very close to the actors and so I think it sounds okay. Plus, the sound is constant, so I should be able to notch it out with an EQ. Or I can always ADR the scene, but that cost money. It's a good lesson to remember - ALWAYS check your locations at the time of day (and year) you'll be shooting - not only for light but for sound.

-Blake

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PINK on Myspace

Started a Myspace page for the new web TV show "Pink". Please check it out and if you're on Myspace yourself let me know and I'll add you as a friend...

www.myspace.com/pinktheseries

Also have a new traditional website under construction.

Please check it out too:
www.pinktheseries.com

In the near future we'll be adding still pix from the shoot (some already on Myspace) and then the actual show will play here too. It will play on the main "Pink" website, on Myspace and YouTube.

More info will follow soon. And, I will detail the shoot soon as well.

REMEMBER, SHOW PREMIERES ONLINE TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 4TH !!!

Thanks for the support!

-Blake

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Woah, Tired

Well the shoot is over and I must say I'm very tired. Actually yesterday I was really tired. Today I'm much better. Went to bed at 8pm on Monday night and slept a full 12 hours. Night before I only slept 3 hours. So I needed it.

I will detail the shoot in the coming days, but for now I will just say that I had a good time and we got some great footage. BUT, I really hate production. I really do. So many things can go wrong (and often do). You also have a mix of personalities that can (and often do) clash - especially when you're tired, etc. And we had a descent amount of "friction" on this set for some reason. Really the first time I'd experienced it. And I don't like it. Of course not everyone was affected, but it definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

Anyway, enough with the drama.

It's really all about the show and the work - and like I said, I'm quite happy with that. I also think I've stumbled upon a REALLY good child actor and I'm going to look into helping her find an agent and get more work in the future.

One last thing is I'd like to thank the cast and crew for all their hard work on the shoot. If any of them are reading this just know that you helped the show tremendously and I greatly appreciate your efforts. Nice work!

Now off to the editing suite... :)

To be continued.

-Blake

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The Fun Begins

This Wednesday we begin shooting the new web TV show. It's going to be a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to it - although I must say production is my least favorite part of the filmmaking process. Too many things can go wrong (and often do). But I'm working with a lot of the same crew - and even cast - from previous projects, so that should make things go fairly smoothly. They're all very talented folks, well most of them. :)

I hope to post on the blog some along the way and also get some behind-the-scenes cast and crew video on the web too. But it's funny how things tend to get away from you in the middle of shooting. I'll do my best though.

-Blake

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Steve Buscemi Interview

Great little interview with Steve Buscemi about his new directorial effort "Interview". Click here to check it out.

-Blake

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Gearing Up

I start shooting the new web show on July 25th, so things are really starting to move forward.

Been scouting locations, doing casting, working on the schedule, doing storyboards and shot list, etc. A TON OF WORK. I'm actually doing a lot of the pre-pro myself just based on the budget and availabiltiy of crew. The main person I'd be working with now is the production designer, but the guy I use is on a film in Oklahoma. So, I've been working with a variety of other folks to fill his shoes, and I think we're doing okay.

Next week we build a Jail Cell set. That should be interesting, again, without a production designer - but I know what I want and think it will be fine. Plus, I'm hiring a Scenic (painter) referred by the production designer to make it look good.

I have had some of the normal SNAFUS that come with producing a show, like for example we lost our Church location because it was found to have black mold. We also lost a 80s van I had booked for a scene. And, we're having a heck of time locating a 70s or 80s "farm truck" for another scene.

If anyone has or knows of anyone with an 80s van or a 70s/80s pick-up truck (in the DFW area) please let me know. I can definitely use it in the show! :)

Looking forward to the shoot...

-Blake

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CinemaTech Blog

Man, Scott Kirshner's CinemaTech blog is really a great place to find info on new distribution models - especially dealing with the Internet. He's really on top of his game.

I HIGHLY suggest reading his blog regularly. I'm especially interested in his reporting right now with my new web show about to shoot, and also with distribution opportunities for several of my feature films.

Definitely check it out!

-Blake

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Working with AFTRA

Things are moving ahead nicely on the new web-based TV show I'm producing/directing in late July (still tentative shooting dates). I'll be posting extensively about the actual show in the near future, but for now I just want to comment on working with the actor's union AFTRA (American Federation of Television & Radio Artists).

On my last feature film, "Killing Down", I worked with SAG (Screen Actors Guild). The experience was okay. But SAG is not that easy to work with, well the people are fine, it's all the paperwork and rules, rules, rules you have to deal with. Not that AFTRA doesn't have paperwork and rules - they do - but not like with my SAG experience, and that is very nice.

I understand and appreciate SAG for what they do for their actor members. Heck, a lot of my closest friends are actors and they use SAG for their insurance, etc. The thing that gets me is how MUCH power they have over a given production, and this coming from a union with 96% unemployment! Again, SAG is good and the actors they represent are even better (typically speaking), but they can definitely be a headache.

With the new web series I considered SAG at first, but then talked to a few fellow filmmakers and learned that most "web shows" are going with an AFTRA contract. I found this intriguing so I investigated. Turns out they were right. A lot of big companies like Disney, etc. are turning to AFTRA for their web content dealing with actors.

Funny thing is neither AFTRA or SAG has an agreement yet for the Internet! I really couldn't believe it. I know web TV shows (or shows SPECIFICALLY created for the web) are a fairly new thing, but the IDEA for them has been around for a while. So I was just really surprised that no contracts exist yet for this - so what happened? Well, we got to create our own "custom" contract which worked out very well.

Another filmmaker friend of mine did this on a web show he produced - but he went with SAG - and they created a custom contract for that too. So it can be done with either union, but I must say that SO FAR my experience with AFTRA has been MUCH, MUCH EASIER (than working with SAG). Of course we still have to do all the production paperwork, and then post-production paperwork, etc. (similar to SAG) - but the upfront work has been pretty much a breeze.

Have to give thanks to the local Dallas AFTRA rep T.J. Jones for being very helpful and working things out with me. She's been great, even if at the beginning she really didn't understand what kind of show I was producing. I kept using the word "pilot" and that made her and the AFTRA national reps nervous. I guess they hear that word and think NETWORK TV PILOT and lots of money. So, we dropped that word from the conversation and things went a lot smoother. :)

I'll let folks know how everything ends up after the shoot. But for now I would highly recommend considering AFTRA for web-based TV shows and the like (they're indie friendly too).

-Blake

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Letus Footage

To accompany the stills below (in the previous post), please see the actual test footage...

Quicktime (SD):
http://www.blakecalhoun.com/canon_letus_test01_sdqt.htm

Windows Media (SD):
http://www.blakecalhoun.com/canon_letus_test01_sdwm.htm

-Blake

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Letus 35mm Adapter Test

These shots are with and without the Letus35 Flip Enhanced adaptor on my Canon XH-A1 HDV camera. Subject was standing 6 feet in front of camera. Everything was shot at 1080p 24fps at 1/48 shutter.

There are notations on the bottom right corner of the pictures as to what lens was used and if the adapter was on or not. Overall I'm impressed with the results. BTW, these stills are directly from the raw footage - no color correction or color grading has been done whatsoever...




















You can really see the shallow depth-of-field (DOF) in the shots with the adapter. This give the footage a much more cinematic feel. We found that with the adapter and SLR lens on it is rated at approximately 50 ASA - very slow (2 1/2 stops of light loss). And with the adapter off it was rated around 300 ASA.

I will be posting more information and video from this test soon.

-Blake

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Cool Photos from Julio Cedillo

These shots are from the set of "In The Electric Mist" from Julio Cedillo. Pictured from top to bottom are the DP (with the camera), John Goodman and Julio (second b&w shot), and then Tommy Lee Jones with the director and producer of the film...





















-Blake

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A Lot Going On!

Yep, there is a lot going on right now...

1. The Texas Legislature PASSED the new film tax incentives bill and Governor Rick Perry will be signing it today (or very soon). This is GREAT news for Texas.

2. My next feature film project is starting to take shape. The script has been done for about two months and we're now working on financing, etc. We also have sent the script out to a Casting Director and a well-know actress for one of the leading roles. Just got word TODAY that the actress loves the project and wants to work on it! This can and likely will help us secure the rest of our production funds and help us lure other name talent to the project. More news on this very soon.

3. I've been talking some recently about a new Web TV Series I'm developing and now THAT project is moving ahead very quickly too. We're actually planning to shoot it in late July and "premiere" the series after Labor Day. I'm very excited about this project for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it is so different. We'll be producing 10 three-minute webisodes to start with (aka "the pilot"). It is going to play much like a serialized comic strip or graphic novel and we have several recognizable actors in the leading roles for this project too. If the show takes off we'll move ahead with future webisodes later in the fall. Look for a new website and Myspace page for the show in the coming weeks.

NOTE: We will be casting for this show in the next few weeks if you are an actor and are interested.

4. My latest feature film "Killing Down" was just at the Cannes Film Market in France. I don't have many details, but I do know it's bee playing well to foreign buyers. I expect to see DVDs start popping up around Europe and the Middle East any day. We have not as of yet secured a domestic distribution deal, but we do have several offers - but we're playing the field some and not in a huge hurry. Hope to have good news though in the near future about when the DVD will be available in the US and Canada.

5. Matthew Tompkins, Sheree Wilson and Julio Cedillo have all been VERY busy since we wrapped "Killing Down" back in early 2006. Just this last weekend Sheree starred in a Lifetime Movie Network movie-of-the-week called Anna's Storm. Matthew recently wrapped a costarring role opposite Dolph Lundgren in Sony Pictures' "Missionary Man", and Julio just finished a leading role in "The Electric Mist" opposite Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman and Peter Saarsgard, and also a part in the new Frank Darabont movie "The Mist" from a Steven King short story. It's great to see these guys and everyone else involved with the film keeping busy and doing good work.

This is looking like it's going to be a fun summer! :)

-Blake

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Anna's Storm

On June 2nd set your Tivo's to record "Anna's Storm" on the Lifetime Movie Network. Sheree Wilson, the star of my recent film "Killing Down" is starring in this new movie-of-the-week.

Here's a link to the show on IMDb:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1029097/

-Blake

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Only 90 Seconds?

I pulled this article fromt the LA Times. A good read re: Web TV Series...

---------------------------------------

Eisner wants 90 seconds from you
The former Disney chief's super-short format soap 'Prom Queen' gets the hits.
By Margaret Wappler, Times Staff Writer
May 20, 2007

"PROM QUEEN," a flashy teen-aimed soap opera, wouldn't be out of place on the CW or MTV. Tribes of teens trade quips and barbs at their lockers. Snatches of rock or hip-hop underscore most of the drama, and there's a blink-of-an-eye edit about every three seconds.

But "Prom Queen" is an Internet show that according to Media Week has gotten nearly 3.7 million views on MySpace, the show's leading distributor. With 80 episodes, each clocking in at a lean 90 seconds, and a new episode airing every day until the show's finale June 14, "Prom Queen" shrinks and shellacs high-concept drama for the text-messaging-while-driving-and-eating-a-burger attention span. Episodes can also be downloaded to a video player or watched at Veoh, sponsor ElleGirl and old reliable YouTube.

What separates "Prom Queen" from scores of similar click-hungry projects is, of course, its financing, which comes courtesy of Michael Eisner's Internet production company, Vuguru.

Eisner was burned by Web-based entertainment during his tenure as chief executive at Disney — the company's disastrous Go Network was shut down in 2001 after losing millions — but those were different days. Speaking on a cellphone from a Manhattan sidewalk between meetings, the 65-year-old executive, who started his investment firm Tornante Co. in 2005, said that for the first year or so, the rewards would "be more in education than economic." The money, he hopes, will come later.

Eisner waved away any distinctions between Old Hollywood and New Media. "Old Hollywood at one point meant motion pictures, and then Old Hollywood had Jack Warner and Leonard Goldstein to make the first deal for Old Hollywood to make broadcast television. Old Hollywood and New Hollywood became one.

"It's simply new ways of doing things…. Old media, new media, it's just labels put on older people and young people. I don't think it really means there's a fine division."

Big Fantastic, the Santa Monica-based Internet video collective behind "Prom Queen," first caught Eisner's attention with their self-funded video podcast "Sam Has 7 Friends," the flagship vehicle for their 80-episode, 90-second format. The Valley-based murder mystery about a struggling actress finished with a strategically open-ended resolution in December.

"Like a lot of things in my life, I was attracted to the content," Eisner said. Internet entertainment, he finds, "is not that different than the beginnings of the Movie of the Week that Barry Diller and I were toying with in the '60s…. We were dealing with a new form in an old platform. Here's a new form in a new platform."

As technological hurdles are cleared, Eisner thinks the Internet will become a primary platform.

"Actors realize they can get discovered here," he said. "Is it better to do off-Broadway theater in New York or an Internet show based in L.A. that gets 8, 12 million views and opens the eyes of agents and TV producers?"

Although the financing for "Prom Queen" is fancy, you wouldn't know it from visiting the set at Valencia's College of the Canyons. On a Saturday in April, the shoot buzzed with the scrappy, hustler energy of a low-budget student movie. Production designer Helen Harwell's appropriately cheesed-out prom set with silver drapes, balloons and a disco ball was cobbled together from loans from vendors Harwell knows in the industry, she said. The nonunion actors, palpably giddy about being on a set — any set — joked around in tuxes and strappy dresses.

Big Fantastic's four director-writer-editor hybrids, Chris Hampel, Chris McCaleb, Ryan Wise and Douglas Cheney, all in their late 20s and early 30s, were multitasking to the extreme. Wise and his assistant director lighted the next scene, the crowning of the prom queen. Hampel and McCaleb, former assistant editors for "Miami Vice" director Michael Mann, were outside shooting video for one of the character's MySpace blogs. Cheney, tucked away in a classroom piled with clothes and makeup, was editing an episode on his Mac using Final Cut Pro.

Working with a 10-person skeleton crew, "Prom Queen" is all about running fast. The shoot knocked out four episodes in 12 hours. Filming from a 1 1/2 -page script per episode (whittled from a whopping three to four pages), they often take an episode from script to screen in five to six days, Hampel said. Each of the Big Fantastic members, who met at Washington State University, write and direct 20 episodes and maintain several MySpace pages for the characters.

"We want messages left from character to character on MySpace. We want to hit that viral energy," Hampel said. "It's about what we like to see on the Internet…. YouTube is filled with images like skateboards to the face, girls jumping on their beds. We want things to pop to the camera."

"Prom Queen" is loaded with of-the-minute high school behavior gleaned from Hampel's recordings of his teen brothers and their friends. Plots are heavy on texting, instant-messaging, updating MySpace pages, and recording video diaries with a hand-held recorder.

As an artistic experience, "Prom Queen" doesn't break many rules. The dialogue runs from smartly glib to perfunctory. The displayed rebellion is safe enough for Hot Topic. But to the show's credit, "Prom Queen" doesn't run from teen sex, though it's mostly rendered in soapy, steamy overtones.

BUT for all the tech savvy, mall-princess mentality and backseat relations, "Prom Queen" is still concerned with story continuity and character development. And perhaps surprisingly, it decently hangs together as a feature, bound by its dedication to the cliffhanger-a-minute style.

"You have to get people to watch more than one episode, so it's important that it works as a whole," Eisner said. "You start to understand the characters with the accumulation."

Hampel won't divulge how much Eisner invested in "Prom Queen," but he'll play ballpark: " 'Sam' was done for a little less than $50,000. We got more than that, but not much more."

"These guys are the most fiscally responsible people I've ever worked with," Eisner said. "We're going to make at least one or two more shows with them."

Eisner's support of Big Fantastic officially qualifies as a big break, but so far, Hampel said, "no one's upgraded their lives. We're just paying our rent."

-----------------------------------------

The show I'm developing we're looking at roughly 3 min. webisodes. 90 seconds almost seems TOO fast. Of course I realize that length is really for cell phone users since Verizon is a sponsor of the show.

And if Verizon wants to sponsor my show I'll make 90 second webisodes too. :)

-Blake

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Web TV Anyone?

In between everything else I have going on I'm now developing a new web TV series.

Hold on, let me back up.

We just finished the screenplay for my next feature film and are just about to start sending the script out to actors, etc. And, we're of course fundraising.

Also, I'm continuing to deal with the foreign ditribution of my latest feature "Killing Down", and we're still shopping the movie for a domestic deal.

And of course I'm still doing my bread and butter corporate and commercial video projects.

So anyway, yes, I am going to tackle developing a new web series. I have a good idea. Have some cast in mind. Already working with a writer. Even have a mock-up poster design done (yeah, I really do - on almost all my features I typically work on a poster look way before the movie even exist - helps me be creative).

Why am I doing this? Do I really think it can be successful?

I get wrestless if I'm not working on some kind of narrative project. "Killing Down" has been done for nine months. The next movie (we hope) will shoot in the fall. I need something to do now.

Can it be a success? Have no idea. Odds are definitely stacked against it, but I'm willing to try.

I really like the idea of the Internet allowing fimmakers to be their "own distributor". I also like the idea of keeping control. And keeping costs down.

So we'll see. Right now we haven't even written word one on the page. We've been bouncing ideas off each other and thinking of show titles, etc.

All I'll say now is if it goes as planned it will not be your "typical" web based fare.

Well on second thought, it will have sex and guns, so maybe it will? ;)

-Blake

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Cinetactics

Found this cool little company called Cinetactics. They make very affordable matte boxes and LCD screen hoods for video cameras (mainly the medium to smaller sized ones).

I bought a screen hood from them and it's pretty impressive. I will likely be buying a matte box too.

Great stuff for the budget minded indie filmmakers out there...

Check them out!
www.cinetactics.com

-Blake

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Dazed and Confused

I'm talking the Movie AND the Dallas Mavericks.

Last night's game was awful. I can't believe the way the overall team performed, but especially Dirk. He choked big time. Not sure what the deal was? But yes, the Mavericks definitely looked "dazed and confused". And so did Mark Cuban.

Speaking of the Movie... I watched "Dazed and Confused" two nights ago and forgot how much I like that film. It's one of Linklater's best movies in my opinion. It has that "Slacker" feel of no real story, but somehow it moves forward and you care about the characters and "the story" - even though there isn't one per se.

Seems everytime I watch it too I notice another familiar face that wasn't familiar when the film came out in 1993. On this viewing I realized Cole Hauser played the bully opposite Ben Afleck. Never realized Cole was in the film. First few times I watched it I didn't realize Afleck was in the movie. All the actors just looked so different - partly because of their real age at the time (very young), and partly (or mainly) because of the time period of the film being set in 1976 (and their costumes/looks).

At any rate, I really like the movie and it reminds me a lot of my high school daze, or days. ;)

-Blake

P.S. Of course I graduated a decade later in the 1980s, but we still listened to a lot of the same tunes from Boston, ZZ Top, Deep Purple, etc. and a lot of us still dressed the same as they did...

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Mark Cuban

So I'm sitting here right now watching the Dallas Mavericks play in Game 5 of the 1st round of the NBA playoffs (behind in the series 3-1). At one point we had a 21 point lead in the game. Now, we're behind by 6 points with only a few minutes left to play. I can't stand to watch. I've actually hit pause on the "Tivo" (satellite DVR). I'm debating on going to bed (it's almost 11:30pm anyway). Or, maybe I'll fast forward through the end. Can we pull it out? Not sure. I am pissed off for sure at how the Mavs are playing.

How does this post relate to filmmaking? Mark Cuban of course. He owns the Mavericks and HDNet, and HDNet Films, and 2929 Entertainment (with Todd Wagner). I'm watching this game in HD on TNT.

So there. I'm not completley off topic. I just had to vent. :)

-Blake

UPDATE: Well, we won! Yeah, I went ahead and hit play on the Tivo. We'll see you in Oakland...

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Warmer Than Hell

This is a slighly off topic, but not really...

Spinal Tap is REUNITING for the Live Earth concert in London on July 7th. That's right, all the original members too... Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls. All together once again.

And, with a new song for the event - "Warmer Than Hell".

"This is Spinal Tap" is one of my favorite all time movies. And the director Rob Reiner will also be at the reuninon show in London. AND, the coolest part, he's directed a new short film about the band and what they've been up to recently. The film is actually going to premiere next week at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Al Gore (of course, who else?) will be hosting the opening night events at Tribeca.

Read the full story at Yahoo!

I hope the new film goes to 11. ;)

-Blake

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RED Commentary

Okay, so I went to NAB in Vegas this year really to check out HD cameras and some accessories. I was very impressed with everything I saw from the prosumer models...

1. Canon HDV - I like the XH-A1
2. Sony HDV and their new XDCAM EX (competition for Panasonic's HVX)
3. JVC HDV - I like the HD110U

And all the way up the line...

1. Dalsa 4K
2. ARRI D-2
3. Grass Vally Viper
4. And of course RED ONE

I have been very skeptical of RED since it was announced last year. Why? I'm really not sure. It just seemed too good to be true that you could buy a 4K camera for $17,500. As it turns out, it was, for the price anyway. The body does only cost $17K, but then you need a hard drive, a viewfinder, an LCD monitor, a lense, etc., etc. - so really the $17K camera will end up costing around $35K - $40K. So, that does kinda suck. Well, not really.

You're still getting a 4K camera - a complete camera package - for the price of an old broadcast Betacam rig.

While it will knock a few indie folks out at this price point, the majority of people who understand what high-end stuff cost will be all over this thing.

Onto the RED booth at NAB... I mentioned I was skeptical, and I was - until I went to the NAB booth. My filmmaker friend David Maddox is a reservation holder (#600 something). He plopped down $1000 last year to pre-order an unknown, not yet even built camera. I wouldn't have done that. But he did, and I'm now very glad he did.

The line to just GET IN the RED booth was about an hour wait. It was busy to say the least. We waited and got inside and first thing we were shuttled into a theater. It seated about 40 people and had a 20 ft. or so wide screen. Everyone sat down and then Jim Jannard (the founder of RED and of course Oakley Sunglasses) introduced the screening and in no uncertain terms said that if anyone taped what we were about to see on a cell phone (or whatever) and posted it on YouTube they would get the "shit" beat out of them. So I calmly and every so quietly put my Razor phone back in my pocket... Jim is a pretty big dude.

The lights go dark and up pops a logo for "Wingnut Films" in New Zealand. I'm like, "What?". I thought this was "test footage". Well, as it turns out the "test footage" was a 12-minute short film directed by PETER JACKSON. Yeah, THE Peter Jackson of "Lord of the Rings" fame, etc. He evidentally asked Jim if he could shoot some footage and as it turns out it was an entire short film set during WWI with tanks, explosions, tons of gunfire, aerial shots of old bi-planes, etc. Think of the opening to "Saving Private Ryan" (without the shutter angle and all the blood) and that's how parts of it felt. It was GOOD. Oh, and it looked even better.

I was amazed at what I saw. This from a partially working set of "Alpha" cameras. The theater was projecting on a Sony 4K projector. It looked like Super 35mm film without the grain. I was impressed to say the least. VERY impressed.

On a side note, we ran into Shane Caruth at the booth too. If you don't know Shane, he directed the indie feature "Primer", which WON Sundance in 2004. If you haven't seen his movie definitely check it out. It's not for everyone, but it is good. And, it was shot in Dallas and he still lives in Dallas (gotta get those Texas plugs in you know). Shane is also a reservation holder. He's 200 or so behind my friend David. Shane set next to me and my other filmmaker friend Cliff, at the screening. I can only assume he has a project in mind for RED too?

Anyway, after the screening we checked out several "working" models and I was very surprised at the size of the fully loaded camera (see photo in previous post). It is BIG. Reminds me of a 35mm rig in many ways. This is not a small "run and gun" camera. But that is good. It looks and feels very sturdy. My feeling is it will stand up to the hard work of feature filmmaking duties.

David's RED camera is supposed to ship in August or September. I am planning to shoot a new feature this fall and I'm producing another one. I'm now highly considering shooting both of them with the RED camera.

Like I said, I'm now a true believer. Long live RED. :)

-Blake

P.S. Soon I'll post about Apple's new toys released at NAB. Very cool stuff AND they are working with RED as well.

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RED @ NAB












I just got back from NAB and will soon post some commentary on the RED camera and also the Apple announcements. All very cool things for indie filmmakers!

-Blake

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Good News for Texas Filmmaking!

News from Hector Garcia, TXMPA President:

HB 1634 passed today unanimously. We are so thankful to Representative Dawnna Dukes and the co-sponsors of the bill. Next, the companion bill, SB 782, will be heard in the Senate. We will send updates on SB 782 as soon as those details are available.

So, what does this mean? Read the following piece from the Dallas Morning News...

------------------------------

Action, lights, cameras?

TV/MOVIES: House OKs bill that would fund incentives to bring
productions to state

12:00 AM CDT on Thursday, April 12, 2007

By KAREN BROOKS / The Dallas Morning News
kmbrooks@dallasnews.com

AUSTIN – After a cliffhanger in the Capitol last week led to a shaky premiere for Texas movie incentives, the House approved legislation Wednesday that would shore up an incentive program to bring films and TV productions to the state.

The idea of helping Texas compete with other states to bring star-studded, multimillion-dollar productions and cutting-edge video-game projects is popular, so it was never a question that lawmakers would eventually create the program.

The nail-biter was whether it would be funded.

But this year, the House budget includes $20 million in incentives for a program advocates say will cement the state's status as one of the best filming locations in the country.

Not to mention, supporters say, stop thousands of production jobs from moving to other states every year.

The bill, endorsed by the House on Wednesday on a voice vote with no objection, would let producers apply for reimbursements for a percentage of the money they spend in the state if they use mostly Texas crews and can illustrate, after the production has wrapped, what kind of economic benefit the project had for Texas.

"The movies that are being shot in Shreveport that are about Dallas, or in Manitoba that are about South Texas, or in New Mexico that are about El Paso – we will be able to bring all those productions back home," said Rep. Dawnna Dukes, the Austin Democrat who sponsored the bill.

After a final procedural vote today, the bill heads to the Senate, where an identical measure is awaiting a hearing in a committee.

Texas' TV, film and video production industry employs about 18,000 people each year but has lost 4,500 jobs to states with incentive programs. About $700 million in production budgets have gone somewhere else, and in the nearly five years since states began creating incentives to lure productions – some tax breaks, others reimbursements – Texas' share of the regional production market went from 85 percent
to 18 percent.

The incentive program was created in 2005 by Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, and Rep. Peggy Hamric, R-Houston, and originally promised to reimburse up to 20 percent of wages paid during a production.

The program had plenty of fans, and it won legislative approval two years ago with no objection. But lawmakers provided no money. Gov. Rick Perry's office was pushing for $30 million in incentives to fund it but met resistance from budget writers who were trying to find a way to fund the state's public-school system and had local priorities they were trying to pay for.

Ms. Dukes' bill changed the existing, unfunded program to base it more on how much money the production brings into the state – forcing filmmakers to prove, after production wraps, that they had a positive impact on the state's economy before they can get any money from the program.

The change of heart in funding came when lawmakers began to realize that movies, TV shows and commercials want to come to Texas but can't always afford it. And that spending money to bring Texas to the silver screen – instead of New Mexico or Louisiana or any of the other nearly 40 states with incentive programs – wasn't a job welfare program.

But a political dispute threatened to hold the bill up last week. Once it was resolved, lawmakers agreed to provide $20 million for the program, with the assumption it can be expanded later.

The new, performance-based approach "is changing legislators' minds about the value of the industry to state coffers," said Austin lobbyist Lawrence Collins, a former budget director in the Capitol who is pushing for the program to be funded.

"The industry will have to perform," he said. "We've made no bones about that."

-----------------------------

Good stuff.

-Blake

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Cool HV20 Stuff













Seems the Canon HV20 camera I bought is already starting to get some buzz.

Check out this link at DVInfo...
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?p=657950

A DP out in LA rigged the camera with a Redrock M2 lens adaptor. He has some stills posted of the footage he shot in 1080p24.

I just can't overstate how impressive this is for an $1100 camera!

-Blake

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Palm Sized HD


I recently bought a new "consumer" HD camcorder. I put consumer in quotes because while yes, it is a one-chip camera, and no, it doesn't have XLR audio inputs or an HD-SDI connection - but the features it does have and the images it produces are up there with cameras many more times expensive than it - so I'd call it a "prosumer" camera for a "consumer" price.

The camera is the brand new Canon HV20. Click here for a link to the Canon website.

The main thing (for me anyway) that sets the camera apart from anything else remotely close to it is the 24p capabilities. This is the first camera in this price range offering TRUE 1080p24. This is not some "cinemode" or frame blending technique. This is real 24 frames per second. And I must say, it looks really, really good.

The camera also offers a myriad of other "pro" features like manual white balance, manual focus, manual audio adjustment, and manual exposure.

In the 24p mode (or even in the interlaced mode) you can switch between several different gamma settings to achieve a more "filmic" look. This again is very nice and has never been available on this level of camera. The 1080i video looks great too. Especially in bright sunshine.

Earlier I mentioned the camera only has one-chip. And this is true. But, don't think that means bad image quality. The chip is CMOS instead of a CCD. I won't get into the technical mumbo jumbo here, but I will say that all the major high-end HD cameras like the Viper use ONE-CHIP CMOS setups. The Viper was used most recently to shoot David Fincher's "Zodiac". Now I'm not saying my HV20 can produce those kinds of images. Not at all. What I am saying though is that one-chip cameras are a lot different than they used to be.

A few weeks ago I was in Mexico on a corporate shoot and our crew was shooting at the Pyramids at Tulum (near Playa Del Carmen). We had a JVC HD100 HDV camcorder and couldn't take that in (too big), so we had a second, smaller camera - a Sony VX2100. The officials at Tulum let us bring that in (for a $35 fee), but as we were shooting a security guard approached and said the camera was "too professional" (we had put a wireless mic on it) and they confiscated the tape. We fought it, but as of this writing it has not been returned (even though it was supposed to have been).

So why am I telling you this story? Well, obviously I wish I'd had my new Canon HV20. There were many tourist there with small palm sized cameras and NO ONE said a word to them. EVEN THOUGH the HDV ones will shoot a better image than most of the mid-sized SD cameras.

I personally own a JVC DV500 camera. I bought it in 2000. It has been a GREAT camera for corporate style work (and I shot my second feature on it too). The camera has three 1/2" chips. So it produces nice images. But I gotta tell you, I shot some test footage with the HV20 and I think it looks better. Of course it's HDV and not standard def DV, but the clarity, etc. was just plain better.

The JVC costs me roughly $6500 and the new Canon cost only $1100. Crazy.

Of course understand that I'm not planning on using this new Canon for my main camera on my pro gigs. I mainly bought it for scouting locations, shooting behind-the-scenes footage, and for cast/crew interviews for DVD extras, etc. I also might use it as a "B Camera" on a shoot or two to match in with my main camera.

I'm attending NAB next week looking for a new primary HD camera. I plan on taking the HV20 along to shoot some footage in Las Vegas. Maybe I'll shoot some HD video of my new HD camera? Isn't technology great? :)

-Blake

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The New Movie

As mentioned in several earlier post, I am developing a New Movie and it's going pretty darn well I must say.

Tonight, the writer I've hired and working with on the screenplay, is flying in from LA (to Dallas) to meet with me and our Life Story person (we optioned the Life Story from someone to write this movie). The meeting is tomorrow night and hopefully it should be our last one before the final screenplay is done. Our goal is to have the script finished by May 1st. And we are on target.

Next up, we'll start sending it around to a few select actors and gauge their interest in the project. Would love to make an offer to a couple of folks we have in mind almost right away.

Other main thing we're going to do is have a big "fundraising party" and make an announcement (to the press) about the actual project. We've kept it pretty quiet thus far. Our development money has been secured (that's how we hired the writer, etc.), but our main finances are still being worked on.

IF, and that's a big IF things go well I'd love to be shooting in the early fall. We'll see though. This one is going to be a tough one to cast. You'll understand once you find out the subject matter. :)

-Blake

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Borat

Finally saw "Borat" last night on DVD. Funny movie for sure, but I also think it's a tad too mean spirited for my taste. Now, some of you who know me might think this an odd statement coming from my smartass mouth, but I did find some of the situations hard to watch (knowing the people he was interviewing weren't in on the joke). I much prefer mockumentaries like "This Is Spinal Tap" or even my film "Hit" where the main characters make fun of themselves - NOT other people.

But, all-in-all it was a very funny movie.

One really interesting thing to me as a filmmaker was the fact that the "film" was shot on HD video using the Panasonic Varicam. The HD was then transferred to film and I thought it looked great (we shot "Killing Down" on the Varicam). You could really see the difference when they'd cut to some of their "B" camera angles that were shot on smaller, consumer grade interlaced cameras and also when they showed the actual news cast footage that was also shot on interlaced video.

Panasonic didn't really promote the fact that the movie was shot on their camera I think partly due to the controversy surrounding it. Again, I thought it looked great and no one would know it didn't originate on film.

Check it out if you haven't seen it - and the DVD extras are good too - A LOT of deleted scenes that didn't make the final cut of the film.

-Blake

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On Assignment Abroad

I'm in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico on a corporate editing gig. It's tough work, but someone's got to do it... :) See my edit setup below...




My laptop Avid is near the balcony so I can see view of ocean, etc.





A wide screen LCD TV was in room, so I'm using it as an edit monitor (nice!).






And just in case my back gets sore I'm 3 feet away from a jumbo jacuzzi spa.




I'll be back in the States next week and focusing on my movies, but for now I'll enjoy Mexico and this "tough" editing gig. :)

-Blake

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Busy Times

In the last few weeks I've been to Fort Lauderdale, Puerto Rico, Chicago and in about a week I go to Cancun, Mexico - then a few weeks later to Las Vegas. All these have been or are corporate video gigs. The Vegas trip is for NAB (National Association of Broadcasters). Why am I detailing this? Well, I haven't had much time to work on The Movie side of my life. Been trying to "make a living". :)

But, this weekend I have been able to work on the screenplay for my Next Movie. I've mentioned it a few times here, but still can't give aways too much info. I will soon - when the script is done. I can say it is going VERY WELL. I really like where the script is headed. The writer recently gave me the Final Draft file (been reading PDFs), so I've been tweaking and playing with it some. I find this easier sometimes. Just do it yourself instead of giving pages of notes. It's been a great collaboration and I think it's going to be really good.

If all goes well I hope to shoot in late summer or early fall. We'll see. Things take time and cost money. Time I have...

-Blake

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TXMPA Newsletter

Click link below for the latest TXMPA Newsletter:
http://www.txmpa.org/newsletters/February_2007_TXMPA_Issue_3.pdf

Did you know?

• The current number one at the box
office, Ghost Rider, takes place in
Texas, but was shot in Australia.

• “The business is leaving Texas for
other states.” Lt. Gov. David
Dewhurst


• New Mexico’s incentive program was
worth about $8 million four years ago.
Now, it’s in excess of $450 million.

-Blake

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AFI Dallas Schedule

Here's a link to a PDF of the film schedule on the AFI Dallas website:

http://www.afidallas.com/docs/Final_AFIDIFF_QG_07.pdf

This looks to be a well organized, well thought out, and well, a nice looking event. I have several filmmaker friends with films in the festival.

David Maddox - "The Box" - screenings March 30 and 31
Bill Sebastian - "Midilothia" - screenings March 26 and 30
Jon Keeyes - "Living & Dying" screening March 27 and 31
Chris Hansen - "The Proper Care and Feeding of an American Messiah" - screenings March 24 and 25

For more details about these screening and others please check out the schedule.

-Blake

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OT: Dallas Dust




Is this Iraq? Nope. It's Dallas. We had a major dust storm a few days ago. Eerie, eerie shots...

-Blake

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Bambi Vs. Godzilla

Interesting and funny interview with David Mamet about his new book (about the movie business) called "Bambi Vs. Godzilla".

Here's an excerpt...

Warner: You love movies but seem to hate the movie business.

Mamet: I don't hate the movie business. I'm fascinated by the movie business. It's the only absolutely essential intersection in the history of mankind between art and commerce. You could paint the picture and sell it or not. You can put on plays in your backyard. But you have to have a distribution process for movies.

Warner: You have a special contempt for producers. What makes them so despicable?

Mamet: Everybody is a producer in Hollywood, and there are a lot of people who produce nothing.

Warner: Screenwriters seem to be dispensable in Hollywood, or even interchangeable. Why is there so little regard for them?

Mamet: A lot of people in the business end loathe screenwriters because it looks like they aren't doing much of anything. And if they do it well, it looks like anybody can do it.


Definitely check it out. I'm planning on buying the book too.

-Blake

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Quote of the Year (so far)

In relation to viral video success (from the Cinematech blog)...

"Anybody can become famous for 15 megabytes."

-Blake

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The Status of No-Budget Filmmaking

Filmmaker Magazine has a good article in their "Industry Beat" section about the status of no-budget filmmaking...


"With digital-video cameras, credit cards and Final Cut Pro, any aspiring director can make a movie for $100,000. But few producers can earn a living helping directors make these no-budget productions. "

"This month, for example, InDigEnt, the eight-year-old low-budget production arm famous for its digital output and profit-sharing model, officially closed shop. "

I thought (and actually still think) the InDigEnt model can work. The idea was to make these no-budget movies - although most of thier's ended up being $300K or more - and make everyone, that's EVERYONE, on the cast & crew owners of the film. They all share in the future profits. In return, everyone works for very low wages - including any name acting talent.

My personal opinion is the reason InDigEnt didn't work out was their recent slate of films. They may have been "too indie" - if that makes sense. It's been said before, but this is show business, and that means that more "commercial" films will likely do better in the marketplace. Now understand, I'm now talking "selling out" or anything like that. I'm just talking more mainstream stories, etc. will do better. InDigEnt's most successful films were Tadpole, Pieces of April and Personal Velocity. All very much indie spirited projects, but with commercial sensibilities.

Definitely check out the article though, it's a good read and it does have a happy ending - much like most Hollywood movies. :)

-Blake

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Matt Tompkins New Movie

Congrats to Matt Tompkins (the star of Killing Down) who just landed a co-starring role opposite Dolph Lundgren (pictured left) in the new Sony Pictures film Missionary Man.


The project shoots in Dallas for four weeks starting February 28th.

-Blake

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An Inconvenient Movie

I'd been looking forward to seeing the Al Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth". Heard good things about it. Rented it from Netflix about two weeks ago, and it had been sitting around unwatched until last night.

Kinda wished it had stayed that way.

Well, maybe not. I'm glad I saw it to see what folks have been talking about. Of course I don't understand the praise. And BTW, I'm not talking politics here at all. Purely filmmaking.

This movie was a SNOOZE FEST. As boring of a film as I can honestly recall. My wife actually wanted to turn it off - but I rarely will do that - if ever. Once I start a movie I finish it.

If you haven't seen the film it shows Al Gore giving his "slide show" (his words, not mine) in front of a live audience. Then, inner cut throughout segments are these little "transitional pieces" of Al walking through airports, driving his car, sitting at his desk, etc. - all with voice over from Al. Is this supposed to be interesting or even remotely entertaining?

The subject of global warming is undoubtedly interesting. But could they have presented it in a more boring way? Come on. This is a MOVIE. Please make it visually interesting and at least partially entertaining. To me the best documentaries do just that. While I do not agree with much of what Michael Moore has to say, I do find him a good storyteller and filmmaker. He's stuff is at the very least presented in an entertaining way. Or take Morgan Spurlock's "Supersize Me". Again, a very engaging and interesting documentary that also entertained. Of course my favorite documentary filmmaker is Errol Morris. ALL of his films are very well done on every level. They are MOVIES. Anyone ever thinking of making a documentary should go a rent one of Errol's films ("The Fog of War", "Mr. Death", "The Thin Blue Line", etc.).

"An Inconvenient Truth" was just dull. I mean any Discovery Channel doc is better. Imagine listening to your 8th grade science teacher give a lecture and that's what this movie feels like.

My only guess as to why this film is getting lots of attention are the following:

1. Al Gore
2. The subject matter
3. Politics

Let's take them one at a time:

1. Al Gore should be renamed Al Bore. How can a man who has been in politics his entire life be such a boring and uninspiring public speaker? Now I really know why he lost the presidential race in 2000. At least Bush has a personality whether you agree with his politics or not. But Hollywood and the American left can't let go of his loss. And they want to honor him in any way they can. This is ironic of course. Remember oh, 20 years ago or so? Tipper Gore? Remember the recording industry's vitriol towards her (for the "censorship" labels on CDs) and indirectly at Al? Funny how things turn around. While I do think his intentions for this project are VERY NOBLE, I again just think it was a very failed attempt as a film (the director's fault).

2. Global warming is real. I do not doubt this at all. It's a good topic for a doc. And, I think this is a great thing to discuss and get solved. But, this movie does not do that. Sure, it shows lots of stuff that has happened over time - and it projects things that might happen in the future. But what this film does not do is tell us WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP. In the ending credits it lists a handful of elementary things we can do to stop or reduce global warming. This list could have been created by a kindergarten kid. This is a huge filmmaking flaw on the director's part. Tell us what's happened; what's possibly going to happen if we don't fix things; and then tell us HOW to fix the problems (or at least what they think we should do).

3. This is a political hot potato, and really I don't think it should be. But it is nonetheless. So my belief is Hollywood will reward this film (and has been cheer leading it along the way) at the Oscars. This film in NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM deserves to be an Oscar contender. But it's a film that has political clout - especially on the left. And as most folks know Hollywood is very left leaning. And BTW, I have no problem with this at all. For me take politics completely out of the picture - this is just not a good movie. And should not be up for Oscar contention.

The best thing about this movie is that is has reignited the debate on global warming and hopefully our government and others around the world (it's not just us remember) will take action. This summer Al Gore is putting on a global concert to raise awareness on the topic - supposedly U2 will head line. Sounds kinda like a "Live Aid" concert. I'm sure every band will want to lend their talents to the event. I think this is a good idea.

My only hope is they keep Al behind the curtain so the show can somewhat entertaining.

-Blake

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Killing Down in Indie Slate

There's a piece on Killing Down in the new issue of Indie Slate...


You can buy a copy at most Borders Books and Barnes & Noble. I haven't seen it yet myself, so I hope it's good (I did help write it after all). :)

-Blake


UPDATE 2/20/07: Finally saw the article and it turned out very well. If you get a chance definitely check it out. I will try and get a PDF version of it and post either here on the blog or the main Killing Down website.

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Fissure on FOX

I've been helping consult on a indie film shooting in Dallas called Fissure. It's being directed by Russ Pond. They're first day of shooting they were visited by the local FOX affiliate for a story on Texas filmmaking and the lack of tax incentives (to help bring more productions here).


You may recall I was on a panel a few weeks back for TXMPA, an organization who is trying to get new tax incentives passed this year.

The video of the news story can be seen here.

If you look real close you might just see some crew from my last feature film Killing Down.

-Blake

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Who Am I?

I'm a filmmaker who's produced & directed five feature films including the comedy SPILT MILK (available on iTunes), the new horror/thriller PHOBIA (on iTunes) and the action/thiller KILLING DOWN (which you can buy or rent at pretty much all the usual places).

I also created the Streamy and Webby award-winning web series PINK, which to date has been viewed online around 10 MILLION times at places like YouTube, Hulu, Koldcast and TheWB.com. And speaking of TheWB.com, I also produced and directed an online thriller for them called EXPOSED. It was released summer 2010. And most recently I created a new online sci-fi series called CONTINUUM, which is part of the online indie TV network JTS.tv - Just The Story and NOW available via VOD through indie platform Distrify.

Oh, and I don't shoot weddings. Thanks for asking though.

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