Monday, December 17, 2012

Is The Hobbit the Future of Cinema?

High Frame Rate, or HFR, is the latest "new thing" being pushed to try to draw audiences into the movie theater. The Hobbit: And Unexpected Journey is the first blockbuster film to be shot and released in 48 frames per second (fps). It does this in combination with being shot stereoscopically for release as a 3D movie. The HFR of The Hobbit doubles the long-time US film standard of 24 fps (in Europe it has long been 25 fps). So is this the future of cinema? Well, I've got a theory about what has worked so well about the long-time cinema standards of 24 fps and 25fps.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Eve Reflection

At the end of this summer, I spoke on a Sunday morning at the new church plant I am involved with in Quincy, Massachusetts, called The River. I talked about this word that linguist and The Lord of the Rings author, J. R. R. Tolkien, coined. The word is “eucatastrophe.” It means “good will overcome.” Tolkien coined this word because of his own Christian worldview. If you would like to hear that talk, please check it out here: 

Wrapped up in the word eucatastrophe is this idea that redemption only comes about by the facing of great obstacles. Tolkien saw the central eucatastrophe of human history as the birth of Christ, what we have taken to celebrating at this time of the year. And for Tolkien, the central eucatastrophe of the life of Christ on Earth was his death and resurrection.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Shooting a Sci-fi Thriller Guerilla Style - Part 2

As promised in part 1 of this series, I want to explore in more depth the use of Magic Lantern firmware for Canon DSLR cameras as well as Technicolor’s CineStyle specifically designed for use in Canon DSLR cameras. In May, I show a new short film called “Stop.” It is a a sci-fi thriller, and I opted to shoot with a minimal crew and do the cinematography and directing myself. There are new tools that open up new possibilities for DSLR filmmakers. So read on, and find out what I learned about using these tools in conjunction with my Canon T2i.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

12 Movies that Changed Me

Recently, I was reflecting on films the have profoundly changed or redefined how I watch movies and approach filmmaking. I thought it would be interesting to assemble a list of the films that have been of most impact for me. So here is a dozen films, and reason why. But being a person that has a hard time making lists of such things, I hesitate to call these the definitive top twelve movies that have changed me. The top six certainly have been of such deep and lasting impact to me that I feel confident in listing them in such high ranks, and have indicated in italics the prime reason I feel they have been of such formative influence on me as a film viewer and filmmaker. There are, of course, a vast number of notable films that did not make it on to this list. That is not to say I haven't found profound value in them. But I thought I would put this out here for discussion and further exploration.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shooting a Sci-fi Thriller Guerilla Style - Part 1

This past May, I took on the challenge of making a new short film. It had been three years since I last directed a narrative film. I was itching to get back into some of my own creative work. Intrigued by the idea of making a really short film, I took on the challenge of being the director and cinematographer for this new project called “Stop.”

Here is the teaser trailer for the film, which will be released on the web on June 24:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Technicolor and DSLR Filmmaking

In my last post, I talked a little about Canon's announcement that Technicolor would be releasing a custom-made Picture Style for Canon DSLRs specifically designed for HD video shooting. The idea is basically to shoot with a flatter, less contrasty picture setting so as to acquire as much information as possible since the camera will significantly compress the video information before writing it to CF or SD cards. Why do this? So you have as much detail to work with when you are ready to color correct your footage. This is something that much nicer, higher end cameras like the RED cameras, the Arri Alexa, or Arri  D21 allow for as they can record or output uncompressed signals.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Canon’s HDSLR News

Canon recently announced some updates for DSLR filmmakers. You can check out the video bellow if you are curious as to what was said exactly. But the two main things that are of immediate effect are that Canon has released a new E1 plugin for Final Cup Pro for Log and Transfer workflow right from Canon DSLRs. The second is the introduction of a new Picture Style for HD video created by Technicolor for higher detail levels.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Should We Be Waiting for the Scarlet?

It's been quite a while now since RED announced their 3K prosummer priced Scarlet camera after the very successful introduction of their RED One camera. I've worked with the RED One, and it truly is as amazing as all the hype. That's hard to find in this world. But here we are, three years out from first hearing about plans for the Scarlet and still no sign of it. By all reports, it sounds like the camera is still being worked on. And there are some prototypes out there being used. However, RED has pushed back and pushed back their release date of the camera. They made the choice to delay release and go back to the drawing board to be able to compete with DSLR cameras that can shoot HD video when the Canon 5D Mark II first took off as a new tool for digital cinematographers. Ironically, this might have been the first stept toward the failure of the Scarlet as so much time as gone by, and more HDSLRs continue to hit the market.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Video Production Evolution

It seems like video is everywhere these days. As the Internet evolves, bandwidth speeds increase, more and more companies, organizations, bands, and individuals opt to integrate video into their web presence. For someone like me, where my day job is freelance video production (while I passionately chase my long terms goals as a filmmaker), this is good news. So I was little surprised when a friend sent me a link to an article titled: "Video Postproduction is 'Dying Industry.'" My friend, also a video production professional, wondered what I made of this article. Here's a link to the article, if you're curious:

Here's essentially my reaction ...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Interview About The River Film Forum

This past Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege of being a guest on the web radio show “Cultural Diplomacy” by CeaseFireStrategies. Host, Eric Bumpus, asked me to come on to the show so we could chat about the work I’m doing with The River Film Forum. This is a quite an honor, and I had a great time explaining a little bit about what The River Film Forum is all about and what we have been doing as well as some of our plans for the future.

Friday, March 4, 2011

On Making a Director's Reel

As I dive into developing my first feature film and seek to connect with investors and other potential team members, I have decided to put together a new demo reel that specifically showcases my work in directing narrative film projects. In fact, just this week, this new reel just hit my IMDb profile, along with my Cinematography Reel. Click here to see the reel on IMDb or watch it bellow:

But an important question comes to mind. Are demo reels as effective for directors as they are for cinematographers, editors, and actors?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Micro Budget Features and Film Festivals

Probably one of the most daunting things any independent filmmaker has to deal with is finding funding for projects. This is why many new filmmakers opt to make what I would call micro budget features (films with production budgets in the tens of thousands). I've done several short films to date, and all of those have been projects that my fellow producer Andrew Gilbert and I have funded ourselves. I would definitely classify them as micro budget shorts. But you can do that with short films. Most often the main expenses are some rented gear, a location or two, and food. Everything else is either borrowed, donated, or deferred. In our case, we've done a lot of deferred deals with cast and crew looking to gain more experience in filmmaking. In those cases, the act of being involved in the project tends to be payment enough with the added bonus that should the film manage to turn a profit, there could be some payment down the road. 

But what about feature films? Can you do this with features?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cliches and Lazy Filmmaking

Recently, I was drawn into a conversation with a friend about this idea of “cinematic shortcuts” or “film cliches.” These are some highly visual devices used in storytelling in movies and on TV fairly often. Like all cliches, they were at some point effective in communicating an idea. But now they have been over-used. And savvy audiences roll their eyes and grow tired of seeing these cliches time and again.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My New Cinematography Reel for 2011

2010 was a great year for me where I got to do a lot of new, challenging, and exciting cinematography work. So I wanted to take a moment share here my latest demo reel for such work. For those of you who have been following this blog, you've seen my entries on shooting narrative films with the Canon 7D and T2i. Here, you can see some footage from those projects as well as some other projects I'm sure I'll be writing about soon as well.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Favorite Video Projects of 2010

2010 was busy year for me on the freelance video production side of things. It was also a year new things both in terms of types of videos and in terms of starting to shoot a lot of material on DSLR cameras. Here's a quick look through some highlights of projects I worked on in 2010 in my freelance video work.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The River Film Forum

As 2011 begins, I find myself in an exciting and unique position of being able to help run a program that feels unique, new, and sort of throws out some old conventional ideas of what it means to be a follower of Christ (or in the more common terms, one of them church-going folk). For the last portion of 2010, I helped launch and lead something called The River Film Forum, hosted by The River Church ( in Quincy, Massachusetts. We gather once a month, pop some popcorn, and watch a movie. When the movie's done, we hang out and discuss the film as a group, reacting to what we've just experienced. Some very exciting things have been happening with all of this, and I have some very high hopes for 2011's full year of Film Forums.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Distribution for My Lastest Short Films

Just released in the United States today by Indie Media Entertainment, my award-winning (Best Screenplay at Terror Film Festival) psychological thriller short film, "Cold October," and my dark and dramatic short film "Always Reaching" are now available as VOD (Video on Demand) on-line streaming rentals. For "Always Reaching," this is the first release of the film. It has played in festivals and had special on-line test screenings, but has not been made widely available to the public until today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is Your Movie Ticket a Vote for Lousy Cinema?

Summer movie season is upon us again. And, as has been the case off and on in years past, I find myself almost paralyzed with boredom by the offering of films this year. Yeah, sure, there’s a few movies that look interesting, and even a couple that look definitely worthwhile. But the majority of films coming out this summer have little appeal to me, or at least don’t seem worth paying the price of a first run movie theater ticket to see them. Now that’s just my opinion.

Friday, May 14, 2010

7D and T2i Cinematography

Okay, let’s talk narrative filmmaking with these new DSLR cameras. You may be hearing a lot about the great video capabilities of DSLR video cameras like the Canon 5D, 7D and T2i (aka 550D in the Rebel line), as well as such cameras from Nikon and Panasonic. But how do these cameras really perform when it comes to the careful art of cinematography?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The DSLR Revolution

If you happen to be like me, a total camera nerd (or at least an enthusiast), you’ve probably been following some of what’s been going on with new DSLR still cameras that are capable of shooting HD video. These cameras are now being referred to as HDSLRs. Some of you, however, may not be following this quite so closely, or may have heard of the concept but are wondering ... what’s so revolutionizing about DSLR cameras that can shoot video?