Film Friendly Hartford

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Hartford, ConnecticutThis past Thursday a client sent me to Hartford to direct the filming of some interviews for a public relations campaign that’s in development for their organization.  I had never been to Hartford, except for the multiple times I’ve passed through it while going to Boston and Maine. Most of what I knew was either the view of the downtown skyline from the highway that runs through the city (which I think might be the Wilbur Cross Highway as it connects to I-91, but since I don’t drive I didn’t pay much attention to the system in and around the Hartford area), or most recently the view from Union Station (both bus and train sections) while on brief stops to pick up and drop off passengers. I was hesitant on taking pictures and video when I got to walking around downtown, because Hartford, after all, is a state capitol and for some reason or another I expect security, police and other such people to jump all over me the second I laid a tripod down or pulled the camera out too close to an office building, as happens in NYC from time to time and LA even more frequently.

As it turned out, I was greeted by very friendly people, regardless of where I went. Not only in downtown Hartford, but also when I ventured across the Founder’s Bridge to East Hartford. One security guard even suggested angles (as I suspect he was an amateur photographer, since he was inquiring about my lens gear). Other passers would say things like “it’s a great day for it”, regarding my constant picture taking and when I laid my tripod down near the Corning Fountain in Bushnell Park – which happens to be laid out just north of the Connecticut State Capitol building- the reception from the passers were smiles and that of general positive interest. I have not been to a town or city, in a long time, where this was the case. Even my most recent visit to my hometown of Portland, Maine was a little weird, since my videography in the Old Port was met with disdain from a local business owner – for no other reason that they were angry that they couldn’t “proof” my photos to ensure that she hadn’t been “featured” in any of the imagery I had produced.

Downtown HartfordFilm, video and photography aside, the people were nice on a general level. There wasn’t an air of snobbery among any of the folks I encountered. When I went to breakfast, the service at the diner I went to was impeccable and even the residents of the city who aren’t so well off were seemingly happy. When I visited the Traveler’s Tower to inquire about the observation deck I had read about on the internet, the security guard informed me that all visits had to be scheduled ahead of time. He seemed genuinely sad that a visitor, in town for the day, couldn’t catch the view and suggested other spots to take pictures.  Perhaps if a client sends me to Hartford again, I’ll schedule some time atop Traveler’s Tower – and post some of the bird’s eye views on this blog.

I do not know the everyday happenings that go on or the general quality of life in Hartford but I do know that for one day as a visitor, I felt welcomed as an artist and tourist. I did not make it apparent that I was a visitor, for all anyone knew I could have been a local artist out taking images of my own town – ‘nor did I engage anyone in conversation. Everyone I spoke with always made the first move. You have to understand that I live and function in this capacity, in a city where security, police and civilians are all interested in sabotaging production (big and small and in their own various kinds of ways). Not to mention many of the people who outright engage you generally have alterior motives – they’re up to something, usually finding a mechanism to get you to “loan them” some “change”.  I did not get that vibe in Hartford and I appreciate the experience that I had.  Perhaps some day I’ll return and make one of my movies there, provided it remains the film friendly city I currently perceive it to be.

Hartford, Connecticut

You can view some of my still photography from Hartford at my Flickr Sethttp://www.flickr.com/photos/norcrossmedia/sets/72157631546120619/

-E

Freelancer Protection Act

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There are pros and cons to everything, but with Freelancing – the danger of not getting paid means making or breaking your ability to survive. I support the passing of freelancer protections and am currently working on a PSA to advocate this as a result of a client who stiffed me on an editing job (not partially, but completely). Check out my story here:

I was referred by a contact of mine for a video editing job for a guy producing a New York City Bus Tour promotional video. The “client” (and I use the word generously), we’ll just abbreviate his name as “Pee-You” had a seemingly legit production company out of Tribeca in Manhattan and promoted his company as a “Viral Video Firm”. He also lived in a relatively high priced condominium where I initially met with him, on a day when he was moving out (Red Flag number one, but I let it go because people in NYC move all the time).  We agreed on $1,000 for the editing job (by e-mail and confirmed this orally).  He gave me a Rugged Lacie Drive of all the raw footage and showed me a couple of videos on YouTube that were like what he was going for.  This is something I’ve done many times over the past ten years – not a difficult project.  He told me  “you can keep the Lacie drive as part of your salary”.  I said “great!”.  A thousand dollars and a free Lacie Drive?  This guy knows how to keep editors happy!

I did three passes before submitting my first assembly to him.  His response by phone was “are you sure this is the footage?”  I said, of course this is what was on the drive!  He decided he wanted to meet, so we met at a shoot in one of his client’s offices. He looked through the Lacie Drive he had given me and the disappointment in his expression was clear and right away I knew he hadn’t looked at the raw dailies before hiring me.  After all, they were relatively low res and not very professional in quality/aesthetics but they were usable and edited right I knew we could pull off an emotionally stimulating work. I suggested some more editing, maybe he could send me some b-roll of landmarks and I can move the narrative around a bit.   He agreed and sent me back to do so but said “leave the drive” (Red Flag number two – I put it into my head that this was a red glad, but settled back on the idea that he wanted to keep reviewing the footage). So whatever footage I had on my own drive I had to use.  I said okay and went back and delivered the next pass the following morning.

I didn’t hear from  Pee-You for about a week and then got an e-mail saying: “I am disappointed to say that I do not wish to continue moving forward with you on the (company name omitted) project. The overall consensus by my editing team was that you lacked the “story-telling” experience required to elevate this project to a level that would satisfy our client.  I do appreciate your responsiveness and eagerness to work hard. For your hard work and effort to date, I will compensate you $400.

Wait – he has an editing team?  So why did he need to fork the work out to a freelancer if he has an “editing team”?  Hmm… I never received the $400 let alone the full thousand I was initially promised.  Mind you, that same week I received an award at the Manhattan Film Festival for my storytelling capabilities.  I have multiple references from small production companies to large national organizations that contradict what this “client” says.  I am a good storyteller and what I believe happened is Pee-You dropped the ball on this project and was using me as a scapegoat. He did not look at the raw footage he gave me and hired me assuming it was what he wanted. He didn’t look at my work reel and went on assumption and not verifying ANYTHING.  Now his production company’s website is down, his e-mail is bouncing back and he’s not picking up his phone.  I’ve begun leaving messages through his social networking sites – let’s see if it pans out (probably not).

Next time folks, I’ll take a non-refundable deposit from new clients I haven’t worked with previously – even if it is a referral!

Chris Marker Passes Away

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Established French filmmaker Chris Marker passed away earlier today, one day after his 91st birthday – according to the French Cultural Ministry. Chris’ films include the experimental award winning short La Jetée (1962) from which the film Twelve Monkeys (1995) came from.  His use of still photographs is what inspired me to pursue the Steinway Street project.

Experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas, one of the founders of the Anthology Film Archives, commented on Marker’s passing, saying (paraphrased) “The sad reality, is that due to the unavailablity of Marker’s films outside of France, very few of us had a chance to see their work in the Sixties, Seventies and even Eighties. I had many arguments with [him] about why [he] had made [it] so difficult/expensive to show [his] work outside of France, all to no avail. So Chris Marker’s work had no affect of any kind on the American avant-garde/independents. But this fact doesn’t diminish his importance as a filmmaker, working in the poetic, persenal, formal documentary genre.

I’ve embedded some of his films on this blog. Keep in mind I have no control over these videos so if they become disabled, it is what it is. Also check out Chris’ YouTube Channel for more material at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Kosinki

La Jetee (1962)

San Soleil (1983)

YouTube and Stock Music

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The following letter, which I’ve sent out this week, should be sufficient to settle this on-going snafu once and for all.

My Dearest YouTube,

My account is not in good standing due to a snafu with your content identification system and I would like to rectify it. My short film “Snow” has had multiple notices placed against it but multiple “copyright holders”. The bot needs to adjust to account for the possibility (and ultimate reality) that this is a piece of stock music, which multiple people have licenses for.

I have made every effort to submit this original film for revenue sharing and every time I do it gets flagged and a new “owner” comes up with a copyright claim. Every time I dispute it, the claim gets released.  This is because multiple people have the same license I have and they know they really don’t have a “claim”.

It needs to stop. My account is no longer in good standing because of this snafu and I need someone to fix it.  I rather like my YouTube account.

Eric Norcross

Filmmaker, Editor, Scientist

NewFilmmakers New York Promotional Video

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Hey all,

So I completed the year long task of putting together a promotional video for NewFilmmakers New York. It took a year because it’s hard to predict when a showing at NewFilmmakers will draw a crowd or be a dud. When we’ll have all the right faces, the smiles and the glorious champagne bottles. Well, we have somewhat of an idea but there’s always a surprise, or some twist or what have you. So I came nearly every week for a year (give or take) and shot video of the events, interviews with the filmmkers (for the Filmmaker Profile series) and general b-roll of the Anthology Film Archives. I shot so much that I changed cameras mid-way through – selling my XH-A1 to a wedding video company so I could get a less expensive HDSLR and be more secretive with my filming (the last thing I wanted was more footage of people waving to the camera).

When I had acquired enough content, I started editing the promo for the New York series. It was a long process, a lot of switching out footage – leaving it alone for a couple of weeks and then going back to it.  It had to be right – both in timing and the tone of the piece.  After all, this is suppose to embody the entire series as it currently exists!

The main reason for my dedication to such a project is that the Los Angeles series has a promo before each of our blocks here in NYC and there’s a statement that one of the politicians says at the end of the LA video “Los Angeles, is the creative capitol of the world” – and it drives me fricken crazy because I have no doubt that New York exceeds LA a million fold when it comes to creativity and true dedication to the arts.  So this promo, will replace their promo at the New York screenings and now I no longer have to hear such ridiculous statements about LA being the creative capitol of the world. Enjoy!

Music Video In Maine

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I had a blast last week filming a music video in my hometown of Long Island, Maine. The project was pro-bono for my sister and an upcoming community festival she’s involved with. In addition I got to shooting b-roll of Portland and Boston before coming back to New York, for use in an upcoming client project.  Got a lot done in two days!

It was a lot of fun and the weather was beautiful. Below are some of the screengrabs of what I shot for the music video (all with an HDSLR).  No budget, no fancy gear.  All volunteers and it came out great!

Thanks for checking out the stills!

-E

 

The Changing Game

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A well established production company wrote on a job posting board that they were looking for assistant editors with no pay – Really? Must own gear and be responsible for own transportation and food. This is an “internship” and you would have a lot of creative control. But you’re not even the “editor” – they can’t bring themselves to give you the title of “editor” or pay you for your labor. They can’t even give you a Metrocard and lunch. They want you to give your all while they reap the rewards. Oh and here’s the best part – use of all materials in a work reel are limited to their approval.

This is ridiculous.

I met with these guys a couple months ago about another project.  They were having trouble getting a corporate client and I had a good video on my portfolio that was exactly what their client was looking for and they wanted to use the video as their own to get this client. I was taken aback by the request and told them I’d think it over. I didn’t know what else to say because I wasn’t sure that I heard their request right.  After I returned home I archived their e-mail and never reached out to them again.  It took the commute back for the request to really sit in and take hold.

I should have seen the signs when I walked into their office and saw a table of Tellys and Hermes statues and pics of celebs with the founding owner, plastered on every wall. No other type of award or even imagery from their productions. It was all faux PR, designed to impress uneducated potential clients.  In the meeting they were criticizing some of their lost clients because they had chosen to go with a “work from home producer” rather than their company.  They then went on a rant about how these “work from home producers” were destroying the business.  I reminded them that I’m a “work from home” producer and they didn’t hear it.  They went on about how the field of production is tapering off into the realm of “kids just jerking around” which is absolute bullshit.  They went on various tirades about YouTube and Vimeo.  It was the most insulting “job interview” I had been to.

The final offer was this: “let us brand your work as our own and if we get the client, we’ll consider hiring you to work on the set”. Huh?

The production company, located between Chelsea and the Flatiron District, may have done some amazing things in the past but times change and companies with high overhead will not likely get the clientele unless they’ve already got a working relationship. To criticize “work from home” producers for taking initiative and starting their own business is uncalled for.  Perhaps if the job market wasn’t full of nopay internships we wouldn’t have to resort to going into business for ourselves and taking your clients!

-E

NYC Shooter | Editor

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August 21, 2011

NYC Shooter / Editor

The beautiful thing about living in NYC is that with enough persistence you don’t need a day job while pursuing work as a film shooter or editor. The work is out there it’s just a matter of having a good work reel to not only showcase your skills, but your dedication to the art. No one wants to hire a nickel and dime phony whose only out to make money. You will not sustain returning clients that way.

I arrived in September of 2003 without this knowledge or belief that someone could just “jump” into it. While pursuing “on the side” video work, I also worked retail. Back in Maine, very few people can actually make a living producing films and video because it’s just not a field that exists up there. Not on a massive scale anyway. Some of the more successful visual/audio producers made their name away and then moved their operation to New England after acquiring a dedicated client list. Not that I intend to ever go back, but if you ever want to make a living in your hometown, it may be worth venturing to NYC first.

When I finally quit and left the horrific world of retail once and for all, I was surprised by how many more people were willing to hire me when I told them that I was producing media “full time“. It seemed to change their perception of me and allow them freedom to trust the services that I had been offering. I’ve now been doing it full time for several years now.

Another aspect of being a full time shoot, editor, producer or what have you is to avoid nickel and diming your clients. Freelancers, especially in NYC, are very skilled at getting blown off by potential clients because they have way too high expectations for compensation and will resort to games to ensure those expectations are met. Many don’t want to have to work on gig after another. They want to maybe do one or two gigs a month and have that be sufficient. I never subscribed to that mentality… I believe in work. Call me crazy, but what’s the point of sitting around all day?

-E

A Home For Brownie

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August 11, 2011

Did you see A Home For Brownie?

This week I released a video called A Home For Brownie – under the Norcross Media Experimental Films name. A Home For Brownie is a children’s story written by Jan Major and illustrated by Madelyn Germosen. It is a wonderful story about a pit bull puppy who can’t find a home because of people’s pre-conceived (and false) ideas on the breed. A daring rescue group makes every effort to place Brownie, only to have door after door shut in the their face. Does Brownie find a home? Check it out here, it’s about five minutes and change.

Also connect with the Facebook Page if you all get a chance: http://www.facebook.com/ahomeforbrownie

Thanks all and have a fantastic weekend!

-E

Understanding Photography Law

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July 22, 2011

Understanding Photography Law

There’s an easy way for everyone to understand photography law. If you’re in public, there’s no expectation of privacy and therefore your picture can be taken and you can take pictures of ANYONE. One of my favorite people on the internet, who I never actually met in real life, is Carlos Miller. He blogs about photographer’s rights and often many of his blogs are about cops harassing photographers and sometimes detaining them on trumped up charges.

A wonderful and rare circumstance ocurred in Alexandria, Virginia – just across the Potomac from Washington, DC. A photographer named Eric Spiegel (wonderful first name Eric – totally cool name) was walking around, trying to get candids of local residents for a street photography series. He comes across this man:

As soon as the picture was snapped, the man leaped up and accosted Mr. Spiegel. With the man’s hand latched to Spiegel’s arm, Spiegel made his way to the nearest police officer and the officer sided with Spiegel on the matter. This is rare and the officer should be commended for actually knowing basic photography laws. It doesn’t happen every day. I’m beyond ecstatic with the outcome of this story and that the photo has been released. The best way to educate people is to put these stories out there and blast these photographs all across the internet.

Carlos Miller’s original blog, which goes into greater detail, can be read at: http://www.pixiq.com/article/man-assaulted-for-taking-photos-cop-comes-to-his-rescue

I don’t have any information on the photographer Eric Spiegel, however, I’m to understand he reads Miller’s blog so you can likely contact him through that venue.

Thanks for reading folks!

-E