Teal & Orange: The Blockbuster Look

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I have stumbled across a couple of articles that I’d like to reblog here, as I feel they pertain to an important trend in mainstream cinema right now and that trend has made its way into the indie film sector. As a program adviser for several film festivals and because I write about the current and future state of film for several publications, I end up receiving a lot of films, often sent to my by filmmakers or press agents. More than sixty percent of the indie films I’ve seen since January are “guilty” of the color grade practice discussed in these articles. Please give them a gander and then let me know your thoughts.

Into The Abyss: Teal & Orange – Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness

Those of you who watch a lot of Hollywood movies may have noticed a certain trend that has consumed the industry in the last few years.  It is one of the most insidious and heinous practices that has ever overwhelmed the industry.  Am I talking about the lack of good scripts?  Do I speak of the dependency of a few mega-blockbuster hits to save the studios each year, or of the endless sequels and television retreads?  No, I am talking about something much more dangerous, much deadlier to the health of cinema.   [read more at Blogspot]

robinhood

Digital Cinema Foundry: Why the So-Called “Blockbuster” Look (Color Grading Explained)

Note: This article provides a tutorial on how to achieve the “Teal & Orange” look.

It seems that artists are beginning to notice the trend of the so called “Blockbuster” look that’s becoming more and more popular in feature films and in personal projects with the advent of plugins like Red Giants Magic Bullet Looks & Mojo. For those who are just discovering the look, are plastering it all over their creative projects and those discovering the trend in feature films are beginning to bemoan its overuse. But nobody (to my knowledge) has explained yet why the look is popular. [read more at Digital Cinema Foundry]

-E

An Introduction To OBJECTS

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More info:

Crowd Funding Video for OBJECTS, a new feature indie film I plan on shooting in October 2014. Please be a gem and donate and spread the word about this film and the funding campaign. Check out the links below for deets.

IndieGoGo Funding: igg.me/at/objectsmovie
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/objectsmovie

Eric Norcross: http://www.EricNorcross.com / http://www.NorcrossMedia.com

Also check out our cast:

Joshua: http://www.JoshuaScottGriffith.com
Mary Ashley: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5385559/

Seed & Spark | Following Up

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[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

It’s been 30 days since I launched my Seed & Spark campaign to raise fundingfor the post-production phase of my feature indie film The Spaceshipand as promised, here is my follow up review of the service.

The funding campaign didn’t make the required 80% minimum it needed to receive a green light and I’ll talk about this in a moment. First, I just want to give the people over at Seed & Spark props for the service and their killer efforts to make this campaign a success. They really went above and beyond the call of duty to help me get the word out.  They were actively tweeting, re-tweeting, favoring tweets and FB likes – and a few staffers even pledged (try getting a Kickstarter staffer to pledge – it won’t happen).  In the campaign’s second week, they elected my campaign to be featured as a “Staff Pick” which was incredibly generous and helped us gain some traction… Read the entire article at Renegade Cinema…

[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

2nd Week Push for Seed & Spark

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[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary]

Hey everyone,

Now that we’re in the middle of our second week of fund raising through Seed & Spark, I thought I’d send in an update and give the project another push. I have been in communication with the high brass over at Seed & Spark about the progress of this campaign. It turns out that their success rate on getting projects funded is 70%. That’s a good ratio (better than Kickstarter). I would hate for us to wind up outside of that 70% – so here is the second push for this particular blog.

Additionally, I wanted to thank everyone who has pledged to the campaign and helped spread it to their contacts. It means a lot. You folks recognize how important this film is for everyone involved and I’m beyond happy to see that. Thank you so  much.

Direct Link URL:  http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship 

Best,

Eric

[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary]

Seed & Spark | My First Observations

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I have a Seed & Spark campaign going on right now, which is lacking. Would love and appreciate anyone who can help me get the URL out to as many people as possible. As you all know, crowd sourcing art is a numbers game. Here is the URL: Visit & distribute the Seed & Spark URL: http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship

Below is an article I wrote for Renegade Cinema on why I chose Seed & Spark over other platforms.

-Eric

FACEBOOK     |     TWITTER

[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

I found out about the new website Seed & Spark from Sundance award winning filmmaker Matt Harrison, who suggested I check it out after I informed him that my work in progress sci-fi movie The Spaceship was currently on hiatus. I was skeptical at first, because I had previously tried all of the other crowd funding platforms and it has never worked out. Kickstarter? Forget it, unless you have a celebrity attached or serious PR people involved, this under connected filmmaker isn’t flying. When I met the founders of the now defunct website Passerby, they went as far as to feature an interview with me on their blog to help promote the funding campaign I launched with them. No dice. Good people but it wasn’t happening. It’s been well over a year and a half since then and they’ve gone under. IndieGoGo helped us out a bit, bringing us just under four thousand dollars to help pay off some of the bills from principal photography. But still, we never even came close to a quarter of what we needed to see the production home.

When I signed up and began plowing through the content on Seed & Spark, I was immediately floored by just how dedicated to the cause these folks are, they truly love indie film. Even their promotional video, which is featured on their main page, choked me up. For the first time, I feel like I found an organization whose mission is the same as mine: to strengthen the independent film community and ensure a future for the few of us that are willing to dedicate our lives to making films. I reached out to them and began working on my campaign, to see if maybe we could try something a little different – if the platform and the audience is influential in the final results. They’ve been incredibly helpful and hands on in the process of building up the campaign before it went live. Their staffers even went as far as to ask me to redo my pitch video – which I LOVED. It’s clear that they know what will work, what won’t and that they truly have my back in this. It is safe to assume that they’ve been this detail oriented with everyone who has submitted a project for funding and I do hope that this aspect of their service doesn’t go away. Treating the filmmaker as your client, in concept, is so unique and important to making these kinds of things work and I’m surprised no other platform has gone as far as these guys have in this regard.

… read more here.

Visit & distribute the Seed & Spark URL: http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship

[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

Seed & Spark | The Spaceship

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[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary in its entirety]

Hey everybody,

We’ve launched a campaign to raise finishing resources through the website Seed & Spark. Please help us by contributing and just as improtant, spreading the word about our film and funding efforts. We’ve found the people for a Seed & Spark incredibly helpful and delightful to collaborate with and some of our peers have really jumped on board to get the word out. I hope you join us too!

-Eric

https://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship

[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary in its entirety]

No Budget Filmmaking

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[Reblogged in its entirety from Renegade Cinema]

No/Low budget independent filmmaking is a necessity for most filmmakers who want to produce work that will help break them and their friends into the film business, or at least, be recognized by what’s left of the film business. Robert Rodriguez, the king of no budget cinema and the master professor on how to avoid spending money on your indie project even goes as far as to feature a “Ten Minute Film School” on the DVD release of his breakthrough film El Mariachi. The audio commentary in and of itself is one example after another on how to cut costs down to zilch. Although I am a film school graduate, the Rodriguez approach has always been far more helpful and yielded far more positive results. I’m not alone.

There has always been a basic system in place, a journey so to speak, that every filmmaker attempts to traverse: a filmmaker gets a bunch of people together, all with different talents and interests and all of them go out and make a movie. This is one of the hardest activities in the world to engage in because a lot of these kinds of projects are achieved through trial and error and generally go against the grain of society’s normal functions. Those with the knowledge and experience to make life a little easier for these cats only work for financial compensation. More on that later. So let’s say that the movie does find its way to completion. That movie enters the festival circuit and wins a few awards or at the very least gets an honorable mention, which in this day and age is considered an award in and of itself. This recognition is not lost upon distributors and soon the film gets picked up and everyone wins. Sure it’s an outdated, bullshit system that doesn’t really work as much as it used to, but the route is still possible and still attempted by many independent filmmakers.

It would seem that the production culture of some of these smaller films have driven the “professional” and “working” freelance community to the point where there is now an unofficial and unannounced war against these no/low budget filmmakers.  It would seem that, at least in the big cities, anywhere a filmmaker can go to find help with his or her project is being taken over by freelancers who are crying fowl, engaging in vicious attacks against the filmmakers. An example of this is the decreasingly popular website Craigslist,  where both no budget and low budget filmmakers can list their projects and production needs for any and all to respond to. CL even offers the option to list an ad as “Pay” or “No Pay”. It would seem that some of these pay only freelancers are sick and tired of sifting through the hundreds of no-budget calls for crew and the CL website has unofficially developed into a sort of anti-no-budget zone.

New Jersey filmmaker Chris Notarile said, “I believe that while it is improper to abuse or take advantage of free labor, a filmmaker should not be penalized for being resourceful and making a no budget film with willing participants.” Notarile went on to say, “If we just blindly crack down on all no budget productions, the only people we hurt are ourselves and our own community.” Notarile is correct. Without an outlet for filmmakers to inform the community that they are making a project and that they have a need for various talents, the very existence of independent filmmaking is threatened. Of course there are some that would welcome this depletion of projects from the pipeline. Another crewing website, Mandy.com, no longer allows for the listing of No Pay productions at all, unless it’s a short or student film.

Beanie Barnes for Salon.com, pretentiously wrote an article, labeling independent film as America’s “next Wal-Mart”, arguing that there needs to be less independent film made for the entire film industry to survive. “Anyone who says we need more of this, without offering any solution to make it better, is part of the problem.” Barnes wrote. “Many in the industry still refuse to acknowledge that film is subject to the economic laws of supply and demand.” For Filmmaker Magazine, John Yost tackled the subject of low/no budget indie filmmaking by taking on the no pay aspect, in his article The Microbudget Conversation, Unpaid Crew vs Underpaid Crew. Yost wrote, “It’s amazing how much of a difference even $50/day will make to some of us. Just knowing we’re not working for free goes a long way in making us more likely to give our best effort to some poor, inexperienced, yet passionate filmmaker. ” While there is a sort of wisdom and logic behind this thinking, and a great deal of collective examples of this, across many industries, this is only a fraction of the truth. In my experience and in the experience of others I’ve collaborated with, the animosity from crew members who weren’t my friends previous to the project, were nearly identical in both no pay and low pay productions. The common mentality with these specific crew members who were getting paid x amount a day was that they felt they were getting stiffed, regardless of the amount. They’ll always think you can afford to give them a little more and that’s problematic when there are so many other expenses on these projects than payroll. Going back to some of Robert Rodriguez’s comments on the El Mariachi commentary, “once you start spending money you’ll never stop” and this is absolutely true.

The other side of this is a much more serious problem. So many filmmakers are not capable of raising what the freelance collective would consider “proper financing” for their projects and some of these worker bees, while incredibly talented, are a bit sociopathic about this reality, insisting that if you can’t pay everyone to help you make the film then you shouldn’t make it at all. This line of thinking is incredibly dangerous, both to film and the art world as a whole. Many filmmakers take their projects very personally and some that I have talked to have no interest in having people on board their projects who’s dedication to the film is only commensurate with the capacity of a paycheck, or exists only when a paycheck exists. No money = no passion is not something that sits right. “You can pay a person to do anything” says one independent filmmaker who asked to remain anonymous, “anything goes, if the price is right. There’s something different about films made by people who are engaged in the project for reasons other than what they can get from it or whether or not it gets picked up.”

While I’ve dedicated my life to the pursuit of understanding and demystifying film through making films and writing about film, I have no intention of surrounding myself with people who’s hearts aren’t in the right place. With that said, I agree with both sides of the aisle because I am both an indie filmmaker and a freelance editor. How do you establish a peaceful balance with both sides when freelance film and video makers and pseudo journalists are rising up against the very existence of no and low budget filmmakers, even going as far as to relabel these cats as “bum filmmaker wannabees”, who also often become the victims of cyber bullying in the very forums where they post ads seeking out collaborators. How do you establish an acceptable balance when the hatred for one-another continues to grow. How do you establish a mutual understanding when these same freelancers are publishing media content like the spiteful and mean spirited video that has been gaining views on YouTube. It’s clear that a peaceful discussion among filmmakers and would be collaborators and service providers is desperately needed. Money is tight but we shouldn’t let that threaten the output of independent cinema. From a personal perspective, if I had waited until I had sufficient funds in place for all of my projects, I’d have no projects at all to speak about and I can safely claim that my truth is the truth for most filmmakers.

Bibliography: Salon | Filmmaker Magazine | Filmmaker Magazine |

[Reblogged in its entirety from Renegade Cinema]

Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is FilmFreeway.com

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Reblogged from RenegadeCinema.com | Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is FilmFreeway.com

If you’re a filmmaker or film festival that has grown disgruntled with the online submission service WithoutABox, you’re not alone. Thousands of filmmakers from around the world, including yours truly, have grown tired of the overpriced and appalling service the Amazon owned website provides and up until recently there hasn’t been any viable alternative. No competitors were willing to take WAB head on. Of course there has been the increasingly popularFilmmakers & Festivals Against WithoutABox, but the petition-oriented site which is more of a declaration platform, doesn’t provide any real world solutions to the problem. The status quo remained the same for many years: there had been no other trustworthy, online solution for filmmakers and filmfestivals to connect with one another.

Thankfully times are changing and the good news for all of us is that FilmFreeway.com has launched and acquired quite an impressive crop offestivals. The new service is in full operation and today I had the opportunity to interview Zachary Jones, one of the founders of FilmFreeway, about this very ambitious project.

Renegade Cinema (RC): What inspired the idea of creating the long overdueFilmFreeway website?

Zachary Jones (ZJ): FilmFreeway was created, quite simply, as a solution to a problem.  In our view, festival submissions were broken.  The industry was dominated by a market leader with grossly outdated, dreadful technology, a miserable user experience, backed up by an unfair, predatory business model.  We saw an opportunity to create a product that would make film festivals’ and filmmakers’ lives easier.  FilmFreeway was created to simplify and improve film festival submissions with modern technology with a fair business model.

[read more at Renegade Cinema]

Film Location Spotlight: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Broad StreetI first visited Philadelphia a few years ago for a two day trip of exploration. I used to go on a lot of these kinds of trips and plan on resuming the practice. They’re great for getting to know places you’re not intimately familiar with. Through these brief visits I’ve been introduced to a lot of fascinating places, including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Montauk and everywhere in between. Philadelphia stands out the most, as it is clearly one of the most underutilized locations when it comes to film.

In 2012 I decided to set a portion of a short film I was working on in Philadelphia, or at least, on a fictional island located in the Delaware River, reachable from Philadelphia. “The Island” was created by using two different locations in New York. I ventured to Philly for a second trip so that I could shoot b-roll and other establishing elements for the movie so that I could visually connect the city with the story’s fictional island. The footage has brought up the production value of the project immensely. You can tell this is Philly… not Boston and not New York. It’s Philadelphia. You can watch the short experimental film on Film Skilllet. I am now writing a feature which I plan on setting in Philadelphia. This one is a cop movie/courtroom drama and I’m very excited about it.

What might interest you about Philly? It’s hard to say, but here are some facts to start out with:

Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the second largest city on the East Coast of the United States and the fifth-most-populous city in the country. Philadelphia is located in the Northeast at the confluence of the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, and it is the only consolidated city-county in Pennsylvania.

Within the Delaware Valley, the Philadelphia metropolitan area consists of five Pennsylvania counties. Philadelphia is nicknamed Philly and The City of Brotherly Love, the latter of which comes from the literal meaning of the city’s name in Greek.

Philadelphia has an enormous history and both historic and modern locations to boot (although some of the more notable locations are operated by the National Park service which isn’t film friendly in the least). I couldn’t even begin to describe the variety of locales available to your average independent filmmaker. Because of its role as the center of economic activity in the commonwealth, the city has spawned a diverse culture on par with New York. Similar to NYC, the city cannot be defined by the sum of all its parts and it’s really up to every individual filmmaker to find their own reason for bringing their project here.

via WikipediaAt the visual level, Philly is diverse. The city has a remarkable architectural history that dates back to Colonial times and includes a wide range of styles. The city also features more than ten thousand acres of parkland, adding another feature that gives the Philly a hand up.

Across the Delaware River is Camden, New Jersey, which has a variety of other location options, including the Battleship, New Jersey and an aquarium.

The most notable productions shot on location in Philadelphia, for me at least, is PHILADELPHIA (1993), MANNEQUIN (1987) and ROCKY (1976). There are others too: 12 Monkeys, Trading Places, Unbreakable, National Treasure… and one day maybe your film will be on this impressive list

*Have you filmed in Philadelphia as an independent producer? What are the pros and cons? Tell me about your experience in the comments section.

Sources: Wikipedia | Greater Philadelphia Film Office

Finding Music

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From the get-go, I have always understood the importance of music in film and video media.

I made my first independent film in 1999, completed the first pass in 2000 and re-edited in 2002 when I got access to new technology. In 2002 I made my second film. In 2005 my third. In 2008 my forth, 2009 my fifth and sixth and so on. Regardless of the difficulty of the production of the intricacy of the script, the only constant with all of these productions is that it was easy for me to acquire music that I could lay into the soundtrack of each project. For Sixteen Stories, my first movie, I was able to get a friend from a neighboring town to compose three original pieces and on top of that I acquired, free of charge, the sync rights to a handful of relatively popular songs that were getting airplay in the Portland, Maine area the year I shot it. For the second film, Hero for a Day, I once again was able to obtain an original score and had a new score re-done when I re-cut the project in 2009. Every single project I’ve tackled, I’ve managed to pull through with some of the most kick-ass music tracks an indie filmmaker could expect on a no-budget production.

In 2011, for the first time, I paid for a music score when I hired a very talented musician named Peter Dmitriyev to compose themes for my medium length fairy tale film Caroline of Virginia. Additionally, I was able to acquire the sync rights to three different pop songs that to this day I’m still listening to on my MP3 player. Lipstick Lies had one of the best scores I’ve ever had in a movie, a variety of original compositions by the incredibly versatile Omer Ben-Zvi. Omer managed to mix an old fashioned sound with a contemporary feel to create an emotional work that aided in holding up what I consider to be a very fragile story. His cue in the last scene of the film plays perfectly over Samantha Cole’s performance, which is heartbreaking and inspiring. Omer went on to create an original piece for the mission video I directed for the American Lung Association, again adding a level of production value to a remarkably underfunded project and making my work seem a million times more professional.

Something has changed in the past two years since then. I have had the darnedest of trouble finding music and I do not know why. With my feature film The Spaceship in post-production, I’ve been prowling the forums and reaching out to everyone I’ve ever known, in an effort to find the right tracks for scenes that require different genre songs. Because of the kinetic nature of the story and its hop from one location to another, I have made it a point to find music from artists based out of or at least originally from the areas in which scenes are set. These are in no way areas of the globe that are strapped artistically – Maine for one, has numerous indie bands with professional sounding records that could easily be made available for consideration and New York… well get outta here, we know there are musicians a plenty. So why is it that this one film seems to be getting the snub over all of these other short and experimental projects?

I would love some of your ideas on how to find good, original, independently produced music and if you’re a filmmaker, your experience in dealing with the situation of music, specifically score.