IAWTV Awards

Happy to announce that the early preview episodes of my new sci-fi series CONTINUUM have been nominated for two awards at the inaugural IAWTV Awards.

The show is up for Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects.

Big shout out to our production designer Eric Whitney and to our Visual FX Supervisor Chad Briggs and his team at Element X Creative.

The awards are being given in Las Vegas on January 12, 2012 during CES.

I'll let you know how it turns out!

-Blake

P.S. The full release of CONTINUUM will be announced in early 2012.

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More on "Continuum"

Working hard getting the word out on the exclusive Facebook Preview of Continuum... last night I was a guest on the Indie Intertube podcast (I'll have a download link for that soon) and here's our lead actress Melanie Merkosky talking about her love of all things sci-fi and what drew her to the show...



The first 3 episodes are currently playing on Facebook and a wider release is slated for early 2012. Hope you enjoy!

-Blake

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"Continuum" Preview

Been a while since I posted here.... been busy producing a new genre film called Phobia and recently releasing an exclusive preview of my latest online series Continuum. And that's what this post is about today...

I'm releasing the first 3 episodes exclusively on Facebook to say "thank you" to the fans that have supported the show since we announced it back in 2010, and to hopefully build up the page with new fans as we move forward to a wide release in early 2012.

Here's some nice coverage of the release:

Digital Chick TV:
Blake Calhoun Previews First Episode of New SciFi Series Continuum

Tubefilter:
Continuum Teases Out with Facebook-Only Release

GigaOm:

Is Facebook the way to go for new web originals?

And here are the first two episodes (you need to be logged into FB to see these)...





Episode 3 launches tomorrow and I'll post it here soon.

UPDATE: Here's episode 3...




UPDATE #2: (3-20-12)

The above two FB videos have been pulled as the show is now rolling out on the new indie TV network JTS.tv... to see the entire first season please check out http://www.jts.tv/continuum.

Hope you enjoy!

-Blake

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New Movie

If you're on Facebook and a friend of mine or my company Loud Pictures, then you've probably heard me mention the new feature film I'm producing. It's a mystery/thriller called "Phobia" and will be directed by Jon Keeyes and was written by Anne Gibson.

Casting on the film starts this weekend in Dallas and our LA casting director has been talking to folks for the past few weeks. We'll have an announcement soon on our leads.

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow the progress of the film please "Like" our Facebook page www.facebook.com/PhobiaTheMovie and/or follow the film on Twitter www.twitter.com/PhobiaTheMovie. I'll be posting stuff during production and post, etc.

Speaking of production... we start principle photography in just over 3 weeks! I better get back to work. :)

-Blake

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iTunes Dominates Digital Movie Sales

This is an interesting piece from Variety. Somewhat surprising to me too with all the competition Out There. But also a bit scary to see the real numbers... AND to see how strong DVD sales still really are (although declining, but still far bigger than digital downloads).

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

iTunes dominates digital movie sales
Apple gains market share despite increased competition
By ANDREW WALLENSTEIN


Apple's iTunes reasserted itself as the top seller of movies in the U.S. on digital platforms in the first half of the year, according to new research from IHS Screen Digest.
Even as more aggressive competitors pour into the space, iTunes ticked up after two consecutive years of declines. Apple commanded 65.8% of spending in the category, up from 64.9% in the first half of 2010.

Though also-ran services from Microsoft and Sony registered declines over the same period, Walmart's Vudu service also posted a gain on the strength of increased visibility from the retail giant's stores to a new iPad app.

That there's any growth at all in this category, which IHS focuses on digital services that handle streaming-rental or download-purchase transactions of the a la carte variety, is somewhat surprising given that the monthly subscription model epitomized by Netflix has captivated the industry.

An NPD Group study in February found that 61% of video streaming and downloading on the Internet in the U.S. belonged to Netflix, which doesn't even allow downloading. Apple was a distant third in a three-way tie with DirecTV and Time Warner Cable, all with 4%. Comcast finished second with 8%.

But even as its overall share of the digital-movie marketplace falls behind the dominant but declining DVD, surging Internet subscription VOD and cable/satellite VOD, a la carte entrants like iTunes and Vudu are finding there's still room to grow. Getting theatrical product day and date with homevideo release and positive user experiences may be key reasons why.

Though iTunes' .09% increase may not seem much, it's significant given Apple's market share dropped nearly 12 percentage points in the first half of 2010 vs. the same period in 2009.

IHS attributed iTunes' renewed dominance to a variety of factors, including the increasing popularity of the iPad and AirPlay, which connects iTunes with TVs.

Remaining a distant second is Microsoft's Zune Video Marketplace, which fell from a 18.5% share in 2010 to 16.2% in 2011. Jumping two places to No. 3 is Vudu, which showed the year-to-year gain, moving from 1% to 5.4%.

Walmart has been aggressive in its deployment of Vudu since acquiring it 19 months ago, broadening its footprint across connected devices and expanding its presence on the Web via its own website and Walmart.com.

Falling out of the third spot was Sony's PlayStation Store, which dropped from 8.2% to 4.4%. IHS chalked up the decline to both Vudu's growth and the hacking that disrupted Sony's service worldwide during that period.

Amazon sunk to fifth, having remained relatively flat at 4.2%. That number could potentially sink further as the company shifts gears from an a la carte offering to monthly subscription service Amazon Prime.

Some big names in this space that haven't made the list yet are Facebook and YouTube, which both introduced a la carte options earlier this year. There are still plenty more market entrants just beginning to get their feet wet in this space that have yet to amass marketshare, including Blockbuster, Best Buy and Sears.

One would-be entrant that still hasn't made up its mind as to how exactly to enter the market is Redbox, which has indicated a willingness to go digital but hasn't yet specified a gameplan. It could opt to go the SVOD route like Netflix, but its kiosk business has already accustomed its massive customer base to an a la carte model.

The figures take into account both rental (Internet VOD) and purchase (electronic sell through). IHS projects EST will deliver revenues of $247 million in 2011 versus $240 million for 2011. Combined, that $487 million will put the digital a la carte market for movies well ahead of its 2010 tally of $385 million.

While both sides of the digital business represented relatively even spending levels in the first half of 2011, IHS projects that iVOD will likely eclipse EST going forward as the rental model seems to have much more momentum in the digital marketplace. Regardless, both EST and iVOD together are still just a fraction of spending on DVDs, which may be in decline but are still dominant.

U.S. spending on discs in the first half of 2011 amounted to $3.87 billion, down 18.3%, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.

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

Definitely something to think about as an indie filmmaker too. Should you do a digital distro strategy only or still do a DVD release too?

-Blake

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Streamy Awards on TV?

Yep. Maybe... Seems Dick Clark Productions has teamed up with Tubefilter (the folks who own the Streamys) to develop a show for TV - not Web TV - but television.

At first glance this might seem counterproductive... why would an awards show geared towards "web video" be on (traditional) TV? Shouldn't that be online?

Some will definitely argue yes it should be online, and some will say what the heck are the Streamys? Most will fall in the latter category.

And that's the point.

Most people have no clue what "web video" is... oh sure, they've seen the Evolution of Dance or David After the Dentist... but have they heard of The Guild (some) or The Bannen Way (a few) or even my show Pink (a handful)?

By putting the Streamy Awards on TV with some of the "rising stars of online entertainment" (meaning new media is it's own entertainment or could lead to other forms like TV or film) along with established industry players who have been early adopters of online entertainment (see Joss Whedon, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Pollack, etc.) and this nascent industry we like to call "new media" just might have a fighting chance.

Perhaps mainstream acceptance could mean mainstream revenue streams (and/or ad dollars, sponsors, brand integration, et al) for more shows?

I personally find this very exciting for the space and all the very talented folks involved.

And by the way, my being a Streamy winner for Best Director of a Dramatic Web Series (ahem, for Pink) has nothing to do with my feeling this way. I've said for a long time that we need "the average TV joe" to at least know about web series before things will really start to take off.

Will "average TV joe" watch this new show (if it gets made mind you)? Maybe not. At least not at first. But overtime it will create awareness of the space and ultimately could/should bring new viewers to all our shows.

In the end that's the most important thing.

Here's the full story copied from Variety (you have to have a subscription to read it otherwise)...

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

Dick Clark Prods. eye Streamy Awards for TV


DCP, Tubefilter to shop Internet programming kudos to TV outlets

By Andrew Wallenstein

EXCLUSIVE: With the fate of the Golden Globe Awards in the hands of the courts, Dick Clark Prods. is developing another kudocast.

DCP has pacted to produce the Streamy Awards, a two-year-old franchise devoted to recognizing the best in Internet entertainment. The company is currently looking for a TV home for the event, though some if not all of the Streamys will be situated online. No date or location for the next Streamys has been set.

DCP aims to make the Streamys as big an event as any of the ones currently on its roster.

"The goal is to create another franchise along the lines of our American Music Awards or the Academy of Country Music Awards," said Ariel Elazar, VP of digital distribution and brand licensing at DCP. "I believe in it."

The rights to the Streamys are owned by Tubefilter, an online publication devoted to online video. "It's very validating that a Hollywood stalwart like Dick Clark Prods. is coming on board with us," said Drew Baldwin, co-founder of Tubefilter.

Both orgs see the time as right to expand the Streamys to capitalize on the bustling intersection of entertainment and technology. DCP and Tubefilter aim to mine star power from the overlapping spheres of Internet sensations like Rebecca Black and the increasing amount of artists with legs planted in both the online and offline worlds, from Justin Bieber to the Old Spice Guy.

A relaunched Streamys could also be in position to recognize the increasing number of premium programming efforts that are in development from non-traditional TV sources like David Fincher's "House of Cards," a series in the works that will initially be exclusive to Netflix, and Hulu's "A Day in the Life," from documaker Morgan Spurlock.

Turning the Streamys into a mainstream staple of awards season would amount to quite a reversal of fortune for the franchise, which was roundly criticized after its 2010 edition was marred by numerous technical problems. That fiasco prompted the Intl. Academy of Web Television to disassociate itself from the Streamys after teaming with Tubefilter to produce that event.

The Intl. Academy decided to launch its own event in partnership with the Consumer Electronics Association. The IAWTV Awards will be held in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

The Streamys have been loosely structured like the Emmys or Oscars, handing out dozens of awards for acting, directing and writing in mostly short-form entertainment restricted to the Internet. While mostly a niche attraction for the indie scene that has arisen around digital entertainment over the years, Streamys has drawn appearances from Hollywood glitterati as prominent as Neil Patrick Harris and Lisa Kudrow, who have produced and starred in webisodes of note like "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" and "Web Therapy," respectively.

Back in April, MTV Networks tried a similar concept with the O Music Awards, an online-only event that handed out huzzahs for everything from best tweet (winner: Kanye West) to best viral dance (Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair").

And the appeal of launching a new franchise for DCP is likely further whetted by how even the established kudocasts like the Academy Awards have been supplemented in recent years by aggressive social-media components that are credited with helping to stem the long-term trend of declining ratings for televised awards fetes.

While many of the details of the new and improved Streamys are still being worked out, DCP and Tubefilter are already conceiving it as less a one-off event than a multi-month interactive extravaganza that incorporates audience participation including voting on select categories well in advance of the show itself.

Also in the works is a blue-ribbon panel of digital-minded figures from the music, TV and film industries whose votes would be tallied for nominations and winners. Elazar is hoping to recruit so-called influencers who could be in position to maximize exposure for Streamy winners in the same fashion as the Oscars helps raise visibility for some of the more obscure films the Academy honors.

Meanwhile, DCP and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. await a decision on the Golden Globes. U.S. District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank is said to be close rendering a judgment that will determine which entity will control the future of that franchise.

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

Last year's Streamy Awards bombed and was trashed throughout the industry (I won't relive it with links) and really actually hurt the new media space I think, but that's behind us and we've all moved forward (most of us) and I think now this could be a really great thing.

-Blake

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Cowboys & Aliens Comic-Con Premiere

My friend and actor Julio Cedillo has a nice role in Jon Favreau's new film "Cowboys and Aliens". He plays a character named "Bronc". I haven't seen the film, but here are some cool pics he gave me to share from the shoot and the Comic-con premiere...

















Julio on red carpet at Comic-Con















Julio on red carpet at Comic-Con



















Julio and director Jon Favreau on set


Julio is probably best known for his title role in Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada". If you haven't seen that movie definitely check it out. He also starred in my indie action flick "Killing Down" and my WB web original "Exposed". A very talented and versatile actor!

-Blake

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Cowboys & Freddie Wong's Aliens

This is a cool parody done by YouTube's Freddie Wong (with the help of Jon Favreau and Universal - nice!)...



Direct YouTube link: http://youtu.be/71YsRO6G7Ks

And, a good behind-the-scenes piece too...



Direct YouTube link: http://youtu.be/iRLUY6dMF8k

I really dig seeing these VFX shots on low to no budgets. Fun stuff.

-Blake

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Indie VOD

I've talked about the indie VOD service Dynamo Player for some time now, but have yet to use it - however, I do have a few projects I'm considering it for. So when I came across this very thorough write-up from indie film marketing strategist Sheri Candler about Dynamo and some of its competition, I was intrigued.

If you're not familiar with this online version of VOD (Video-On-Demand) you should definitely check out her excellent article.

From Sheri's piece...

Anyone who reads my blog or follows my Facebook page knows I am dedicated to encouraging filmmakers to take control of their own work and bring it to audiences in the most direct way possible. I especially feel this way when it comes to online digital distribution. Why give the rights (and fees and percentages) away to a distributor when you can easily use tools to distribute your work directly and in the most expedient manner?

Lately, several companies have emerged to help filmmakers do just that. Instead of looking for outside distribution companies to buy your work's rights, hope they treat you fairly, and wait for them to bring it out for sale consider these tools to go direct. When you can cut out as many of the layers separating your work from its audience, you'll profit more.


From there she goes on to detail Dynamo and newer offerings Distrify and Flicklaunch.





Out of the three I think I still prefer Dynamo, but Distrify has some very interesting services that Dynamo does not, like being able to buy merchandise, etc. (but hopefully Dynamo will follow suit).

So if you are a filmmaker looking for a good DIY VOD solution definitely check out the piece.

Oh, btw, just because you use one of these services don't expect to actually sell anything - without a lot of work. The marketing and discoverability is still up to YOU, of course. :)

-Blake

P.S. You should also check out the two additional links Sheri provides at the end of her article from filmmaker Lucas McNelly. He is selling a film on both Dynamo and Distrify and does a nice real world comparison.

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Thinking About Final Cut Pro X

Okay, so everyone in the editing world has an opinion on the new FCP X - most seem to be that it isn't ready for primetime - and I completely concur with that opinion.

I won't go over all the ugly details as by now it's been covered ad nauseam.

Here's my take as a professional filmmaker who makes his living editing and has worked with non-linear editing systems since 1996 (including Avid, Speed Razor, Premiere, Vegas and Final Cut Pro)....


This is a version 1.0 release and should not be marketed as a professional tool (yet).

That's really it. It's that simple.

I think if Apple had not called this release Final Cut Pro X there wouldn't be such a huge uproar. Calling it X makes people assume it's a version 10 release and that it would include at least the same functionality that the version 7 release did. But, unfortunately, it doesn't. Not even close.

This should be called iMovie Pro (or whatever, just not FCP).

Does it have some cool new features? Absolutely. Will it likely be accepted by the professional filmmaking community in the future? Probably. But right now this is huge issue for many, many folks who make their living with FCP. Again, if you don't understand why, then you likely don't make a living in post-production.

A few other things to think about...

1. Apple is likely setting the stage to do away with tower computers all together. Their focus will be on iPhones, iPads and iMacs (and laptops - for a while).

2. Apple only makes about 20% of its revenue off computer sales and 3% off software sales. Everything else is pretty much from mobile devices.

3. If Apple really cared about FCP and editing software they would make it a cross platform application. They don't. They care about selling their computers (and other devices) that will run the software. Avid and Adobe are creative software companies and thus they make it for both Mac and PC.

My last observation to think about is this...

I wonder if Apple has made FCP X too much "in the middle"?


It's currently too dumbed down and lacks the professional features that pros need and expect, but then it's likely too complicated and expensive for the casual iMovie user (yes, I said expensive - do you think your brother, or friends or mom or dad would spend $299 on editing software when they can get iMovie for free and it does everything they'd really ever need?).

It's a product really not designed for either market.

Just something to think about.

-Blake

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Dallas Director Clicks

So, yeah, I guess that's me clicking away in Dallas directing films and web series... What am I referring to exactly? Glad you asked. It's this recent article on DFW.com called "Dallas Director Clicks with Sexy, Nourish Web Series"...

From the article:

In order to get a taste of the fast-paced, action film work of Arlington-raised, Dallas-based director Blake Calhoun, you don't need to line up at your local movie theater, or even wait patiently by the mailbox for the latest shipment from Netflix.

You don't even need to carve a chunk of time out of your day -- three or four minutes should suffice.

Just log onto the Internet, and behold a few of the bite-size curios that Calhoun has been toiling over in recent years.


Basically the piece is about my recent work including Pink, Exposed, Continuum (coming soon) and my features Killing Down, Hit and most recently Spilt Milk. It's pretty darn thorough! :)

Thanks for checking it out.

Btw, for any folks in the DFW area this is supposed to run in the actual newspaper - that's right - the actual paper you hold while drinking your coffee and trying not to spill on it. That paper is the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and I've heard it will likely be in early July (Why July? I have no idea since this was released online last week... but, that's cool).

-Blake

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iPad Interactive Storytelling

Ever since I got an iPad 2 I've been very interested in its future as a film distribution platform.

The most obvious apps are Netflix or Hulu, and those are great, but I'm talking more about creating an app for a single film - and making it interactive. A fully immersive experience. Like in this new app The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Here's a trailer for the app (get used to hearing that too - a trailer for an app):



Now of course this is really more of an "interactive book" based on a short film, but it really could be called a "film" on its own too. Either way you look at it I think it's exciting for the future of storytelling and distribution on tablets.

Check out the full article I found this in from Gigaom here.

-Blake

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"Spilt Milk" LA Screening 5/20/11

I've been making films a while - my first short was shot in 1996 (not counting college short films) and my first feature in 1998. My work has played at festivals around the U.S. and even once in Europe. But none of my films have ever played a fest in Los Angeles.

So when I got word my latest feature film "Spilt Milk" was screening in LA as part of the 2011 LA Comedy Fest I was pretty happy. Not really sure why though (besides it looks like a fun festival)... I guess if you're a filmmaker it's just kinda cool to have your work play in the Industry Town in front of Industry People.

But then again, that does mean your film will play in the (jaded) Industry Town in front of (jaded) Industry People... :)

The screening is on Friday May 20th at 7pm at the Acme Theater.

You can buy tickets here (seating is limited).

And here's the trailer for those not familiar with the film:



Direct link

Hope to see you there!

-Blake

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New Technicolor Profile for Canon DSLRs

I haven't download this yet, but will soon for my Canon 7D. I currently use a variation of a "flat" setting and have had pretty good results. So I look forward to seeing how much better the image can be.

Here's some really good coverage and tips for use by Vincent LaForet:
http://blog.vincentlaforet.com/2011/04/29/technicolor-cinestyle-profile-available-for-canon-5dmkii/

And then also from Planet5D:
http://blog.planet5d.com/2011/04/technicolor-cinestyle-now-available-for-download/

And here's a direct link to download the new picture profile:
http://www.technicolor.com/en/hi/cinema/filmmaking/digital-printer-lights/cinestyle

Happy shooting!

-Blake

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Watch "Restrepo" Now

I'd actually not heard of Tim Hetherington until yesterday when he was killed in Libya covering that war.

So then when I heard he was one of the co-directors of "Restrepo"( which was nominated for an Oscar this year) I was intrigued and had to check it out. Btw, not intrigued because he had died - intrigued because of the way he immersed himself within these situations. And if you watch "Restrepo" (which you need to) you likely won't be surprised that he died the way he did.

Here's the trailer:



(And a direct link: http://youtu.be/zvUdruvbdmI)

This doc is completely apolitical. Let me repeat that... there is NO POLITICAL SLANT in this film whatsoever. It's just about these guys experience fighting. I applaud Tim (and his co-director Sebastian Junger) for this. They let the audience draw their own conclusions.

I watched the film last night on Netflix Instant streaming and I highly recommend you do the same (it's also available on iTunes, etc.). Visit the film's website for more info: http://restrepothemovie.com/

Oh btw, one really weird thing with social media these days is when people die the news often reports what their last Tweet was or Facebook message... it's pretty eerie sometimes to read these, but it's also interesting to see this as their "journal" in a way of their life. Tim's last Tweet was "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO."

-Blake

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Drinking Up the "Spilt Milk" Festival Experience


I had a great time last week promoting and then screening my latest feature film "Spilt Milk" at the Dallas International Film Festival. I'm from Dallas so it was a lot of fun to show off a locally produced movie to the local film scene.

I often rant about how I don't really see a lot of value in film festivals these days - mainly because of the Internet - but also because festivals are everywhere. And I'm really talking about features here, not short films, but those too to a lesser degree. The festival market (and that's what it really is or has become) is extremely saturated. There are literally hundreds (or thousands?) of events worldwide.

So my personal philosophy towards festivals is that I think folks should support their local art scene and all the festivals involved. And then as a filmmaker, I think you should enter the bigger well-known fests (ie. Sundance, SXSW, etc.) and/or your local ones, but don't waste your money on blanketing all the other ones that pop up in your Withoutabox dashboard.

Are these lower tier festivals bad? Of course not. But typically speaking they will showcase their local filmmakers and then retreads from the bigger festivals. That's a generalization I realize, but for the most part it is true. Most of the festival directors and artistic directors are friends (or at least associates) and they routinely pass along referrals for films they like (and don't like).

Do hidden gems come out of nowhere? Yep, they definitely do. But more times than not this happens at the bigger fests (or side "big fest" like Slamdance running during Sundance). Of course if your film is accepted to a bigger fest and then some of the smaller fest come calling to screen your film (and they pick up the entry fee) then by all means I'd do it. But if it's your own dime and time then I would think twice.

Anyway, that's how I feel and I'm sure lots of folks will disagree. But that's for another post... :)

So in saying all that, my experience at DIFF last week was a really good one. The festival organizers really know how to put on a show, and they have the financial backing (ie. sponsors) to really do it up right. I mean free Stella flowing pretty much non-stop at the festival lounge is pretty cool!

"Spilt Milk" screened on Sunday evening as one of the last films of the festival to a packed house at the historic Texas Theatre. I'd guess there were 250 or so people there and we had a very nice Q&A afterwards. Audience really seemed to enjoy the film. It's a sly comedy that definitely plays well to a group of people (as most comedies do), so in that respect playing at a festival was great - that is one thing the Internet can't offer!

The film should be available to buy or rent later this year. So in the meantime, here's some related stuff to check out...

We've had lots of inquiries about the great score, and so here is a medley that our composer Douglas Edward put together:

"Spilt Milk" Score (Medley) by Loud Pictures

Direct link to medley on SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/loudpictures/spilt-milk-score-medley
(btw, we do plan to put an official soundtrack out on iTunes, etc. later too)

Here's a nice little review of the film that's worth a read:
http://www.laststopcomic.com/spiltmilk.html

And here's the trailer if you haven't seen it:



Thanks DIFF for a great week!

-Blake

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SPILT MILK Screening at 2011 DIFF

This coming weekend on Sunday 4/10/11 at 7:30pm at the Texas Theater (yeah, that one) my latest feature SPILT MILK will screen as part of the 2011 Dallas International Film Festival. Here's the trailer...



Direct link to trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1ruJsAxT4s

And here's a link to the film's page on the festival site (where you can buy tickets):
http://filmguide.dallasfilm.org/tixSYS/2011/xslguide/eventnote?EventNumber=5053&

Tickets are $10. Please buy them online in advance, although I do believe they will be on sale at the box office the day of the show. It's a BIG theater too - around 500+ seats - so definitely come out and support the movie!

I haven't been to the Texas Theater yet myself, but I've heard it's a cool renovation and that they have a nice bar too. :)

Hope to see you there... Thanks!

-Blake

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Google's Advanced Camera Tools

If you're a filmmaker and use Google's Sketchup 8 then you'll want to download this brand new plugin, Advanced Camera Tools.

Here's a quick video intro:



From the Sketchup Blog:

It seems that every time I watch a movie’s special features, up pops SketchUp: How’d they figure out the Penrose stairs in Inception? What did a vehicle designer for Avatar use to invent the bad guys’ robot suits? What tool did the production designer for 300 and Good Night, and Good Luck use? The set design for The Social Network? Futuristic environments for Tron: Legacy? The sheer number of films and TV shows that SketchUp’s been a part of is jaw-dropping—and we couldn’t be happier about it.

Since the entertainment industry’s been so good to us, we thought we’d return the favor. The old Film & Stage plugin we built in 2005 has been languishing in quasi-supported limbo for years. We dug it out of the shed, took it all apart, fixed the broken stuff, then... strapped a rocket to its butt. If fact, we made it so much better that we had to give it a new name.


Read entire blog post here.

I personally haven't used Sketchup. I've mainly done previs with FrameForge3D, but this looks really cool and really easy to use. It is on the expensive side at $495, but is likely worth it especially for complicated action scenes, etc. I think on my next project I'll give it a try (or at least a trial).

-Blake

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Interesting Dynamo Player Thoughts/Comments

I'm considering using Dynamo Player for some upcoming projects and happened upon this interesting blog post about using it, and some ideas/comments/theories about monetizing indie film content.

There's also a chart of how a film has done using Dynamo Player which was cool to see.

From the post:

In deciding IF you should bank on a successful online sales campaign for your film, consider these steps…

1. Do you know who your audience is?
2. Can you get that audience to your site somehow?
3. Can you get them interested with your artwork, concept, cast, social proof etc? (and don’t underestimate how long they will give you, I suggest between 2 and 5 seconds on your site before they decide to stay or hit the back button).
4. Can you get them to press the play button to watch the preview?
5. Is what they see SO COMPELLING they MUST pay for it and watch it now?


Direct link to blog:
http://www.chrisjonesblog.com/2011/03/dynamoplayer-after-one-week-thoughts-opinions-and-feedback.html

Definitely worth a read for anyone considering selling indie video and/or film content online.

-Blake

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Felicia Day on Jimmy Fallon Show

Most "web series" folks know that Felicia Day is starring in a new Dragon Age web series, but most "regular" people don't know who Felicia Day is, or what Dragon Age is for that matter.

But being on more "mainstream" outlets like Late Night with Jimmy Fallon can definitely help this situation (although I'm not sure what size audience he has truthfully, but it's still VERY COOL).

Felicia has definitely become The Spokesperson for the Web Series Generation and getting her out preaching the gospel of "TV on the web" is greatness for her, and actually for all of us producing online content.

Check it out...



Direct link:
http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/video/felicia-day-2-16-11/1295315

-Blake

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String Theory (Kindle Book)

If you have a Kindle (or the app) definitely check out the new crime novella "String Theory" from "Pink" writer Mike Maden. It's dark and twisted much like the show, and only $0.99 cents!

Direct link:
http://www.amazon.com/String-Theory-ebook/dp/B004HFRLMO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1297906736&sr=8-1

String Theory
Murder. Photography. Nihilism. The Mob. And a little golf--all set in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. "String Theory" takes a humorous stab at noir fiction. It's a pulpy riff on the death of art, and the art of death. Novella length work of approx. 25k words or 100 printed pages.

-Blake

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Jake Johnson on MTV News

Nice little interview from MTV News with Jake Johnson on working with Ivan Reitman on the recent film "No Strings Attached". Jake is also the star of my latest directed film "Spilt Milk".

For rising comedic star Jake Johnson, who appears alongside Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in the new romantic comedy "No Strings Attached," his personal highlight from working on the film (in addition to having the best lines in the trailer and many of the killer one-liners in the film as well) was working with legendary director/producer Ivan Reitman.

Read the full article and/or watch the video clip:
http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1656374/jake-johnson-raves-about-no-strings-attached-director-ivan-reitman.jhtml

Btw, we're still working on distribution for "Spilt Milk" and believe it will be released later this year.

-Blake

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Andrew Sensenig's Budweiser Spot

One of my favorite Super Bowl ads was the Budweiser "Wild West" spot, here's the extended version...



It stars Andew Sensenig as the Bartender. Who is Andrew you dare ask? Well, he's the book author in Ep 25 of PINK...



I'm sure you knew that. :)

Here's a quick behind-the-scenes look at the Bud spot too...



Nice job Andrew!

-Blake

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Improving Indie Economics?

This Forbes article from Sundance is a few weeks old, but worth a look.

From the piece:

“The amount of equity required to finance a film has diminished,” say Steven Beer, a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig who is helping to sell three films at the festival this year including a documentary about A Tribe Called Quest. “The Jobs Creation Act gives filmmakers a federal tax credit for qualified production. Couple that with state incentive programs which can offer up to a 40% return on a per project basis.”

I hadn't heard of the "Jobs Creation Act", or if I had I probably thought about auto workers or other type jobs that have been hit hard in the recent downturn. I'm going to do some investigating to find out more...

-Blake

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In Other Self-Distro News...

I saw this Vanity Fair article/interview come across my Twitter feed this morning and it's a nice, quick read about someone other than Kevin Smith four-walling his film.

From the piece...

Be willing to get doors slammed in your face and not take no for an answer?

Well, you have to both not take no for an answer and know how to take no for an answer. How to have no’s not affect you at some level, to know the no’s can be temporary, that they’re not a permanent door closing in your face.


Definitely check it out.

-Blake

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Kevin Smith

Enough has already been said about Kevin Smith's foray into self-distribution with his latest film "Red State", but I would probably just add that I have no problem with him giving the finger to "the system". While he likely could have done it in a softer or more welcoming manner (of course this IS Kevin Smith), the overall strategy is actually quite smart... for this film.

But all the rhetoric that Kevin Smith is imploding or done I find amusing. The guy has an extremely loyal fan base that already buy tons of his merchandise, pay to see him speak, and see his movies. He really doesn't need Hollywood, bloggers or the press for any of this today, as he's recently said concerning social media, etc.

I wish him luck (and he'll need it to recoup $4 million).

-Blake

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Indie Intertube's Promo

Good list of lots of shows up for their awards...



-Blake

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Uh oh, Redbox Now Feeling Some Pain

Good read from NewTeeVee regarding Redbox (possibly) now feeling the affect of Netflix streaming.

Direct link:
http://gigaom.com/video/redbox-q4-miss/

From the piece:

For years, Redbox has been flying high with DVD kiosks that offered cut-rate movie rentals for $1 a day. But Redbox might want to launch a digital rental service soon, before it sees its DVD kiosk business affected by Netflix and other services that allow consumers to rent and purchase movies from the comfort of their own homes.

The writer notes that Redbox is hoping their new Blu-ray offerings at $1.50 a rented disk would create more business. To me though, this goes against the demo that I see using Redbox. I'm not privy to their marketing data, but my belief is Redbox caters to less tech savvy folks, and in a lot of cases, less affluent folks. Most probably don't have Blu-ray players.

Heck, I'm personally very tech savvy (and a filmmaker) and I just in the last six months bought a Blu-ray player. Funny thing too, the main reason I bought it was for its Internet capabilities. I primarily use it to stream Netflix movies (and I don't do this very often either - I mainly watch AT&T U-Verse free VOD). I think I've rented one Blu-ray from Netflix when I first got the player.

Personally, and this is really for another post, but I've always though that Blu-ray will be a short lived format. Everything is obviously going VOD via Netflix, AppleTV, iTunes, "The Cloud", etc. Who really wants to rebuild their DVD movie collection from scratch?

Although I will say I do think physical disks will be around for many more years (primarily DVDs). I mean, when the US gov't switched all TV broadcast to digital back in 2009 I was shocked at how many people still got their TV over the air - do you think these folks have Blu-ray players (or even an Internet connection)?

-Blake

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"Exposed" in AT&T Ad

Tubefilter just did a nice story (and quick interview with me) on my WB web original "Exposed" being part of a series of AT&T national TV spots. Check it out here.

Direct link:
http://news.tubefilter.tv/2011/01/10/exposed-web-series-cameos-in-att-u-verse-ad/

They also do a very quick update on my upcoming show "Continuum".

Thanks,
Blake

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1st Annual Indie Intertube Awards

Found out yesterday that the podcast Indie Intertube has created it's 1st Annual Awards... and the teaser trailer from my upcoming sci-fi series CONTINUUM has been nominated.

So, you might be thinking... Another awards show? And the thought crossed my mind too, but the thing I really like about what they do is feature actual indie content.

Nothing wrong with studio produced shows (I've done one), but the main stuff being produced on the web is by indie producers. It's like the late 90s indie film boom all over again, but this time told in 3 to 5 minute bites.

Of course this is one of the things that pissed a lot of folks off with the Streamy Awards, all the larger scale studio fare getting a lot of the spotlight. Rightly or wrongly, there was a lot of debate about it. I personally didn't have an issue. I mean indie films compete with studio films at the Academy Awards too, so why not in the web space? But, I digress...

Even though I don't have a problem with the two competing, it is very nice to have a podcast and awards show geared towards only indie content (sort of like the Indie Spirit Awards in the feature world). And it's also very nice they nominated the teaser trailer to CONTINUUM too. :)

Oh, btw, Blip TV has done a really cool thing by compiling 42 episodes of the nominated series into one player (including CONTINUUM), so definitely go and check that out.

-Blake

P.S. CONTINUUM's post-production is going very well and I'll have info in the near future regarding its release!

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Freemium Web Series Model

Interesting article from Tubefilter on Kevin Rose's (from Diggnation) new show Foundation. He's doing a "freemium" model, which I am becoming more and more a fan of - although it has rarely been used successfully.

Here's a link to the article:
http://news.tubefilter.tv/2011/01/03/kevin-rose-launches-new-web-series-foundation/

I'm currently in a Twitter discussion with Marc Hustvedt (the author of the piece) and several other folks debating the merits of the model.

I personally think it's a great way to go for producers. You offer the content for free to everyone (eventually), but to those willing to pay they get the show earlier or perhaps in HD or with "extras", etc. So really you're providing the best of both worlds.

The main thing though - and this is the thrust of our Twitter debate - is you really need to have a built in audience or an existing fan base to make this work. A brand new show by unknown folks likely won't work on the pay side of things. But then again, it couldn't hurt either since you're still offering it for free too.

Look for more of this model in the future, especially from those of us who think rev share is pretty much a joke (even with Blip's good CPMs).

-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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