When one choice does not work, try another

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Film Anthropology:

One filmmakers opinion on FilmFreeway.com and I agree – if something doesn’t work, go another route. So happy people are taking a liking to the new festival submissions platform.

-E

Originally posted on Cypriot Abroad:

My first Kickstarter campaign ended on Sunday March second, at 11:46 EST. My documentary, My Life in Black Rock, Buffalo, New York, was to continue to be stored in my LaCie external drive. I had no funding to proceed with film festivals submissions.

A cold virus had accompanied me home the week prior. I think it sneaked into my system while i was riding my bike. I felt weak and got fever shivers. Gradually, I lost my voice and developed a coarse cough.

I stayed home to recover. I watched TV and made lots of comfort food and pop-corn. At one sitting, while eating the pop-corn, i broke my tooth. The size of the enamel was alarming.

It is mandatory to remain calm when a succession of disasters take place.

On Monday morning of March third, i booked an appointment with a local dental facility. Then, i  reviewed all e-mails…

View original 262 more words

Good Morning…

Eric Norcross filming The Long Island Project in Syosset, New York
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I just spent the past four hours walking around a very empty and extremely frigid lower Manhattan. The financial district between the hours of 1am and 4am is my favorite time to be strolling about NYC. In these hours I feel like the city belongs to me. All these skyscrapers, subway infrastructure and everything that goes with is there for me and only me. I can hear and see things that I might not pick up when the hustle and bustle begins around 6am. There’s a Chase Bank in relative close proximity to the Bowling Green where the door lock grinds loudly and the card reader consistently beeps – clearly these two security mechanisms are malfunctioning. This Chase branch has been this way for several years now. This is part of what I know of MY New York. It was broken when I was 29 and it’s still broken – even tonight, while I’m 32.

I thought a lot about my time here tonight – my entire time since I moved to this town on that fateful Labor Day weekend in 2003. Fresh from Maine, without a dime in my bank account – like most major decisions in my life, I didn’t take the financial aspects into consideration. If I had, I wouldn’t be here. Somehow, someway, it all has worked out in one way or another. You see, I moved here with the promise to myself that no matter how hard, complicated or crazy it got – I wouldn’t regret anything I did while I lived here and I wouldn’t let any kind of fear dictate my decision making. RISK IS KEY. Being an independent filmmaker in New York City has always seemed like such a special thing and IT IS. It’s not easy and you’re not guaranteed ANYTHING. Too few people ever have or ever will understand why it’s so important. It’s just that this is something that some of us HAVE to do. It’s the mother fucker at the top of a bucket list chock full of impossible shit and holy shit! I’ve made some films! I’ve screened some films! I’ve helped filmmakers get their films going, inspired other filmmakers, volunteered in service to the indie film community and encountered the kinds of people I never thought I’d mix up with. I did it all in NYC! I did it all as a New Yorker! As a New Yorker, I’ve lived in four of the five boroughs, in some of the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods and for all of it I am grateful.

I’ve worked with some of the most kick ass people and some of sleaziest individuals on the planet. I’ve interviewed senators, assemblymen, district attorneys, heads of state and even convinced a sitting congressman to improvise a cameo for one of my old no budget movie projects. This guy, he was hot shit, the Illinois congressman that went after Clinton for the Lewinsky thing. Henry J. Hyde. Can you believe that? For all these years I forgot about this and it just hit me tonight – WOW! I’ve had commercials go to air here, in Long Island, Connecticut, upstate as far as Rochester! I’ve never even been to Rochester! On top of that, video spots I’ve directed have appeared on those small screens in the back of the NYC taxi cabs. That’s so weird but cool and to put this into perspective of where I came from, just a few years ago… WOW!

I lost all this for the past year or so because, well, I’ve been pre-occupied. It’s this monster project, THE SPACESHIP. You see, it has driven me batshit crazy. Some of you close to the project know first hand that “batshit crazy” is the understatement of the year. This bastard is as big as my move to NYC. It has all the same risks and cockups and doesn’t guarantee much of anything, at least not for me as a writer or director. But that’s okay. It’s one hell of a project and unlike everything that came before, I’ve really stuck to my guns on so many aspects of it: technical, aesthetic and approach. I’ve lost a lot of trust, friendships and credibility as a result of how this project has been handled so far and that’s okay too. You see, all these inconveniences, pains and emotions are a distraction. They’re meant to be, a distraction, created by fear and none of it really does anyone any good. These fears won’t exist when this is all over because all that will matter in the end is the final result – the finished film. Few will remember any of the cockups, the late checks and the hard days and those that pine over it or base their future professional decisions based on their experience with this project and with me should rethink what they’re doing with their lives.

I have little pride – I don’t much care for it. I find it hysterical actually. I am especially amused when someone claims to be proud of something they have no control over, like their heritage or something. But I do recognize something about me that I am proud of, a couple things actually. The first is that I’m proud that I’ve stuck it out in NYC as long as I have. It has been an “against all odds” kind of thing. This past September was my ten year anniversary and although I didn’t get to celebrate it in style like I was hoping, none of it was lost upon me. The second is that I have never, ever, chosen a project, either client or personal, based on its monetary value (to me). My dedication to a project has never been commensurate to the capacity of a paycheck, even in the worst of times. Maybe that’s why I ended up moving around so much or maybe that’s why my client work is so eclectic. Who knows. Maybe it’s more than that or maybe it has nothing to do with anything. All I can say is that as hard as it has been, I don’t regret a single day of it. It’s like that broken security lock on the Chase Bank – it isn’t perfect, but it’s part of the experience I was after when I made the decision to come here.

It’s approaching 5:30am so I guess I should be getting some sleep now.

-E

Film Location Spotlight: Astoria, Oregon

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Astoria, Oregon

This month our location spotlight is on the city of Astoria, Oregon and the nearby Pacific Coast. Astoria is the seat of Clatsop County and sits at the mouth of the Columbia River. Astoria offers unique scenery for any film, large or small and is just across the river from the State of Washington. With Portland, Seattle and Tacoma easily accessible and mild year round weather, it’s clear why so many productions have gone to Astoria in the past.

Astoria is home to many artists and historians that are easily accessible, should your production require their talents and expertise. In addition, many locals are often involved in productions, working as extras or production assistants whenever needed. According to Wikipedia: “Since 1998, artistically-inclined fishermen and women from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest have traveled to Astoria for the Fisher Poets Gathering, where poets and singers tell their tales to honor the fishing industry and lifestyle.

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Southward view from Ecola State Park, Northern Oregon Coast / IMG from Wikipedia

The Oregon Coast is diverse geologically and stretches for more than 360 miles. The north coast, which stretches from the Columbia River to Neskowin, is the most accessible from Astoria.  Next to the State of Hawaii, Oregon is one of the only states to pass laws that make all of the beaches in the state accessible to the public, which many indie filmmakers can benefit from.

You can read more about the Oregon Coast by visiting: http://visittheoregoncoast.com/faq/

The Goonies

Some of the more well known productions that have utilized Astoria as a backdrop include THE GOONIES, which made the coast and its beaches famous to the world and KINDEGARTEN COP, directed by Ivan Reitman, who maximized his access to Astoria Elementary School. There are many others too, like FREE WILLY and the third installment of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action movies (the one where they go back in time).  You can learn more about productions that filmed in Astoria by visiting the Oregon Film Museum.

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Essential: #09 – Nosferatu (1922)

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9Making the number 9 slot in the first installment of our top ten essential cinema list is the 1922 German expressionist film NOSFERATU by F.W. Murnau. The film stars Max Schreck as the title character in a film that managed to survive war, depression and a lawsuit from Bram Stoker’s widow. In fact, the negative and all official prints were destroyed as a result of the lawsuit and the only reason the film exists today is because other prints surfaced over the years. It has since been digitally restored to its original condition (as original as technology & existing production records allow) and is available in a special DVD release through Kino Video.

Some interesting facts about the film: Nosferatu was banned in Sweden until 1972, due to excessive horror. The concept that vampires die when they come into contact with raw sunlight came directly from this film and the title character of Nosferatu is seen on film for no more than nine minutes. This film is the cornerstone of the horror genre, at least as far as film is concerned, and the dramatic lighting, make-up and feel of the movie is an achievement that has inspired and spawned many films (some that have also ended up on our essentials list).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcyzubFvBsA

Film Location Spotlight: Nova Scotia

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Cabot_trail_2009kNova Scotia (or New Scotland) is the most populous Atlantic province of Canada. Nova Scotia offers great maritime scenery and the charm that comes with its quaint central city, Halifax. Although it’s the second smallest province in the nation, it’s not at a loss from fresh views as it  is home to 3,800 islands including Cape Breton. Nova Scotia is surrounded by three different bodies of water: the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of Maine.

Halifax, NightWhile Nova Scotia has been used by mainstream movie producers in the past, it is often overlooked by independent filmmakers, specifically the lot of us producing work in the United States. The perspective this part of the world offers to outsiders helps make any project produced here unique, solidifying it as a historical happening locally and allowing it to exist on a pedestal above most other indie work for location originality.

Notable films and shows that have filmed in Nova Scotia include:

Margaret’s Museum starring Helena Bonham Carter

Forever Young starring Mel Gibson

Haven (tv series)

Titanic directed by James Cameron

Bag of Bones

and of course many others.

Facts about Nova Scotia:

Nova Scotia is located almost halfway between the equator and the north pole.

Most of the population of Nova Scotia (approx 950,000) live in or close to Halifax, leaving a lot of open space in other areas of the province for your movie production to move about and set up gear. :)

Nova Scotia is a peninsula jetting out from New Brunswick and includes the massive Cape Breton Island.

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Star Trek vs. Spaceballs

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StarBallsVideo editor Jason Einert has a created a gem of a mash-up short film utilizing footage from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Spaceballs. I don’t normally promote mash-up videos but after stumbling across this beauty I had to give the guy props for making it – it had me in hysterical laughter all morning.  I’ve since checked out many of the other videos he’s put up on YouTube and they’re phenomenally funny. Jason is a self-taught editor and uses off the shelf software to create his work.

Check out his channel and subscribe:  http://www.youtube.com/user/seifer2846/videos

Enjoy,

-E

Direct Link URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NiXe0VIXts

Teen Titans Fan Film

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teentitans1Film Anthropology had a chance to talk with Omer Ben-Zvi about a Teen Titans fan film he and his friends are producing. Currently they’re in the fund raising process via Kickstarter and while we don’t normally back Kickstarter projects, we rather liked the idea and thought we’d give them some face time. We sent over some questions for Omer to answer, with the help of the Teen Titans crew, so we could throw this up to our readership. If it appeals to you, they have a long ways to go in 18 days to make their funding. Check it out:
FA: What is Teen Titans for those who have never heard of them?
OMER: The Teen Titans are a team of teenage superheroes based off of characters in DC Comics, including Robin (from Batman and Robin), Superboy and Wondergirl.
FA: What is the project you’re raising funds for have to do with Teen Titans?
OMER: The project that I’m composing music for is a live action fan-film/web series based off of the characters from the Teen Titans.
teentitans3FA: Why Teen Titans? Why put all this effort to creating a fan film about this specifically?
OMER: Besides the fact that we are all superhero geeks on the team, the reason why Teen Titans was chosen for this fan-film is because it has never been adapted into a fan-film or any sort of live action film in the past. Our director Chelton Perry wanted to create something that has not already been done in the past.
On my end, I’m interested in working on this project because I am a huge fan of superhero film music. I have always wanted the opportunity to create a heroic superhero theme and build a score based off of it. There are also character themes which will be used in the project which can be found on our director’s youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpYPtf_Vb6iCUHHCHq0Kb5Q
FA: Where will the finances go?
OMER: All of the money which we are currently trying to raise goes solely to production, and nobody on the team will be profiting from it. Most of the money will go towards renting equipment such as lighting and cameras, and the rest will be for miscellaneous equipment, food on the set, and the Batmobile which is going to be built.
FA: Tell me about the previous work that both you and your producing partners have done (provide links if available).
OMER: The works which I have done in the past can be found on my website: omer.ben-zvi.com.
OMER:. We are using Kickstarter to raise money for the project. People interested in contributing should go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/teentitansproject/teen-titans-project-a-fan-film
The site contains all of the information necessary to know for those who are interested in learning about it.
FA: Who can people reach out to if they want to learn more?
OMER: We have a Facebook page where people can post any questions they have about the project: http://youtu.be/UIbR9JFXsj0
Besides that, all of the information about this project can be found on our Kickstarter.
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From The Pen Of: Alexander Jacobs

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The_Seven-Ups_1973In the forth installation of the ongoing series  designed to spotlight that “brutally neglected” figure “most often forgotten” in the film making process, the screenwriter, the Anthology Film Archives recently screened films penned by the late Alexander Jacobs. Last night they screened HELL IN THE PACIFIC, THE SEVEN-UPS and FRENCH CONNECTION II. Last night, NYPD Detective turned actor, turned author, Randy Jurgensen was there to introduce the film THE SEVEN-UPS and participated in a question/answer session afterward.

THE SEVEN-UPS is a feature length thriller from 1973 starring Roy Scheider and directed by Philip D’Antoni. Buddy Manucci (Scheider) is a police Detective who has been getting reprimands from his superiors in the NYPD because his team of policemen, known as The Seven-Ups, has been using unorthodox methods to capture criminals; this is made clear in the opening of the film as the gang of cops destroy an antiques store that is a front for the running of counterfeit money. The name “Seven-Ups” comes from the fact that most of the convictions done by the team heralds jail sentences to criminals from Seven years and Up.

In his introduction to the film, Randy Jurgenson talked about some of this experiences working on the film as well as his experiences working on the original FRENCH CONNECTION.  Mr. Jurgensen was one of the detectives on the real life French Connection case and is one of the men who figured out that heroine was being smuggled into New  York and New Jersey through Marseille.  Mr. Jurgensen made it a point to talk about the film’s famous car chase scene. Back when the film was made, every cop thriller had to have a car chase. It was the hip thing to do. He talks about how the chase in this film was created “real to reel”, meaning there isn’t anything in the sequence that’s fake, apart from creating intensity with the editing. What we see is what they filmed. The chase takes the audience from Hell’s Kitchen/Midtown West, up the Upper West Side, crisscrossing the streets from one avenue to the other as cops and bad guys make their way uptown to Morningside Heights and then West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, we laugh as the the bad guy’s car plows through a haphazardly built police barricade and enters the on-ramp that leads the chase further onto the George Washington Bridge and we are in awe as the chase continues onto Interstate 95 through Fort Lee, New Jersey. Quite remarkable actually, because there’s no way in hell this could ever be done today. Many producers, yielding millions of dollars to the city, have tried but to no avail. What we see in THE SEVEN-UPS is not only history, but something you will not ever see again in New York City.

Serpico CardsLike many NYC made films from that era, New York City was the star of the show. It was clear that the filmmakers made a conscious effort to keep the camera outdoors as much as possible.  I enjoyed seeing some of the old neighborhoods – areas of Manhattan I have lived or worked in these past few years, as they used to be.  It’s quite grounding to see them in such dilapidated, under-developed states.  Anthology screened the film with a crisp 35mm print, that was in such good condition one would think the film was just finished yesterday. You wouldn’t think several decades had gone by.  This helped enormously in trying to figure out which neighborhood the actors were in, because imagery of building facades were projected onto the screen with such detail and street names that would usually be blurred on a DVD came out crystal clear. The format in and of itself was key in making it clear that this was REAL.

The film screened as part of Anthology’s FROM THE PEN film series, which puts an emphasis on the screenwriter. Today they are screening films penned by Waldo Salt, including MIDNIGHT COWBOY, SERPICO and COMING HOME all in 35mm format so if you’re interested in viewing these films how they were meant to be, stop by 32 Second Avenue this afternoon and give them a gander.

For screening schedule visit: http://anthologyfilmarchives.org/

-Eric Norcross

Future of Television Conference East

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FOTV 12This year I was in attendance of Future of Television East, which is an industry conference held at the Holocaust Museum in New York City.  This one day annual conference is comprised of various panel discussions featuring selected industry participants who discuss the current state of the television industry and work to predict where it’s headed.

My roll was to support NewFilmmmakers New York and enhance their presence at the event.  As their Media Director and Social Networking Ambassador, I thought it best to take professional quality photographs for archiving on their Flickr and Facebook accounts.  Although I wasn’t there as a photographer, it seemed to be the function I participated in for the most part.  Many of the photographers who were in attendance seemed to gravitate towards the type of shots that portrayed the conference as an epic event, so in response I chose to stay small, concentrating more on the people who were in attendance and trying to portray them as individual characters rather than a part of the larger mass. Although I did take a few wide shots with the intention of using them on this blog (both of which are featured on this page).

Future of Television EastMany of the images I created are close up head shots with expressions of people in deep thought or engaged in thought-provoking conversation.  It was important for me to convey a sense of on-going dialog between the people I photographed, or with one’s self.  I ran into so many different people from so many different sectors of the industry. From the freelance “media producer” whom I related to on just about ever level  to the studio executive who I found I had to swallow my pride just to keep quiet when it was clear we could not agree on topics such as copyright law.  The gamut of people who are impacted by the future of television is massive.  I can’t help but to remind all of you that the people in attendance is just a fraction of the people out there who should have been but weren’t for one reason or another. The discussions being held at the FOTV events are vital to the future of media, whether we’re referring to technical formats, the art and entertainment that is created or the various professional fields the term “media” encompasses, for producers large and small and all the trades that come in between concept to delivery, we all have a responsibility to guiding the future of television in a direction appropriate for both industry professionals and the consumers, without whom our industry wouldn’t exist. We’re responsible to the entire gamut of people affected by the future of television – because it is essentially the future of all media.

Please view all of my selected photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/norcrossmedia/sets/72157632042178940/

You can view a raw set on the NewFilmmakers Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/newfilmmakersny/sets/72157632037633141/

Eric Norcross | November 18, 2012

Frankenstorm Photo Set

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Shipwreck On Staten IslandHey everyone,

Now that I’m back up with power and internet, I thought I’d share my experience during Frankenstorm 2012 aka Hurricane Sandy. First off – this fickel bitch was crazy. I spent the entire time (and continue to spend such time) trapped on Staten Island, the fifth and most under-known borough of New York City. Many areas of the island are still dark and the ferry service remains shut down so I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. Lower Manhattan is still dark and the subways there are supposedly flooded – not just a little flooded – but very flooded.

I did a lot of walking around the past few days. A little walking during the first parts of the storm that took place during the day, but most of it afterward and I used a little Nikon point in shoot at wide lens. Comparing my pics to some of the pics emerging from the island’s south shore, I can see that even with our power loss for two plus days, we made out A-okay. You can view the entire set on my Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/norcrossmedia/sets/72157631903806987/

Yesterday I was taken aback by the amount of trick or treaters that ventured out, without a second thought on what people were going through. As businesses pumped out their flooded basements and home owners were working to repair damage to their buildings or fish vehicles out of bushes, some residents had the audacity to come up and ask for candy. Every single person I witnessed was turned away. It’s astonishing, the lack of common sense in some people. I’m a big advocate of telling your kid that there is a major problem right now, so Halloween is off or at least postponed. Unfortunately, as I’m aware of who my readership is, I’m positive my views will go unseen by those who would do this.

Gas Shortage

The day after Sandy, we saw people driving around just to gawk at the devastation – wasting gasoline. Those same people showed up to Citgo when the power was turned on, only to get into fights with one-another about who was there first. Craziness from folks who weren’t thinking ahead or calculating resources.

Another interesting note before I end this: I find disturbing, the number of people who were driving around the island the morning after the storm, for no other reason than to gawk at the devastation. It occurred to me almost immediately that there was something wrong with this – why waste the gas if you’re not coming out to lend a hand or give coffee to those without the ability to generate hot water? Mind you those same people are now getting into fights at the few gas stations that are open, because they’re now desperate for fuel. In the future I would hope these people might think ahead before blowing their resources on such silliness  It makes not sense to me why there is such a massive lack of common sense and ability to gauge how bad the current situation is. I haven’t even ventured to the South Shore (and won’t for some time with train service suspended) but just hearing about what it looks like out there makes me want to donate my time to helping them out. If I had a car I’d be down there seconds. You think any of these gawkers feel the same way? Probably not.

You can read up on other details of my Sandy experience by visiting my Facbeook Page: http://www.facebook.com/ericmichaelnorcross I urge you to give me a “like”!

PHOTOGRAPHY: Being on the bastard end of this storm and seeing how much it has hurt other people’s lives, the idea of some snarky photographer profiting off this natural disaster pains me. So to combat any future “picture sales” I’ve decided to release my entire Hurricane Sandy/Frankenstorm 2012 portfolio into the public domain. All I ask is that you provide a photographer cred, as is the widely accepted normality.

SUGGESTION: If you’re on Staten Island and your power and communications are still down, I suggest venturing to the ETG Book/Cafe in Tompkinsville. They’ve got hot food and FIOS internet. I was able to keep my business running, at least via e-mail, because of this establishment. Remember to bring cash, their credit/debit machines were still unresponsive at last check.

Best to you and your loved ones and if you’re on the east coast, hope you all fared well.

-E