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Lafango

Jordan Spalding

ELECTRONIC PRESS KIT

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Bio

Did you just find out there's a large gap between your 3 hours of raw footage and a finished product? People like you don't need to use countless valuable hours editing and struggling with your video, you need to act and film and express your creativity. Leave the laborious and technical mess to me. Just send me your raw footage, and a good description of what your looking for in the final product and I'll put it together in a reasonable time frame at an even more reasonable price.

Remember, this is your work of art I don't get payed till you're pleased, and it's not final till it looks like what you wanted. With my 3 step program, you're part of the production the whole way. In the first stage, I'll put together a solid flow of your raw footage so you can see if it is the style and feel you're looking for. In step two we add more effects and tighten up story flow. Step 3 is the final edit to fix any minor errors and give you the final product. You can pay as you go with an invoice at the end of each step. I'll do special effects and depending on the circumstances can get you footage you may be missing.

Send me a message, send me some footage, it couldn't hurt. We'll decide on the price together after you've given me a good idea of what I'm dealing with and what the time frame is like. Whether it's a 30 second commercial, or a 2 hour movie, I'll put it together. Don't struggle through complex and expensive programs, save yourself sometime and come out with a better final product; send me an email at raptor.videos@gmail.com.

Trust your project to a professional I've created over 70 films including some for non-profits, weddings, political organizations, schools, indie films and more.

I've been editing movies for nearly 6 years and doing it professionally for clients all around the country for the last 3 years. I specialize in motion graphics, vfx and non-linear editing techniques.

video editing, Violin, Fencing, michael crichton books, freedom, Genetics, Videography

Start making enough at video editing to have it as my main career, not my break even hobby

Editor in Denver ready to show his skills and make a little dough!

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    • Have a Girlfriend and Eat Some Cake Too

      While everyone runs into the typical bottlenecks to successful video production: schooling, writers block, boredom, budget, chores, job, inability, lack of interest, video games, trips, inadequate memory/ram and a hundred other things there's something to be said about girl friends (girls this may or may not loosely apply to boyfriends too). Some of your have the questionable blessing of being girl friend free giving you lots of time, some of you have a 'convenient' relationship where you're not REALLY together but you're officially dating because she/he's hot or available and you don't have to worry about getting a real significant other till later if ever. And some of us have the mixed blessing of a real girl friend that takes up the majority of our time and has no real interest in video production or standing idly by while you edit, produce, conceptualize or blog about it. Here in lies the problem of, as Reagan famously put it, 'You go in with everything or you don't go at all' (I paraphrase) when applied to the horrendous difficulty of "getting your foot in the door" in terms of professional film production. As much as you lust/love her you can't shake that feeling that those zitty basement dwellers are getting the upper hand on you in this race to get recognized and produce endless content. While you dilly dally in the wonderous fields of love a nagging feeling at the back of your mind keeps telling you unless you buckle down you won't make it; unless you give up everything and go for the goal you're just another hobbyist who still has to work 9-5 to maintain his creative resolve. Atleast that's what I get. Well the truth is it's not necessarily how many videos your youtube channel has, or how many websites you update and maintain in the hopes you'll be noticed out of the millions, in the end it's always the one video, or the one series that get's you where you want to go. Of course the more practice the better.Date:
    • Have a girlfriend and eat some cake 2

      Yes I had some more to say but it may not be related. So my limited viewer base is going to hate me for this but I've found that on average women aren't interested in film production. out of all directors of all time, only about 22% have been female. Out of that 22% 4 have been nominated for best director and 0 have won best director. I don't know what the statistics are for editors or gaffers or concept artists but if this is any indication; it's really really low. I don't know why it's so low and I'd damn myself if I speculated so I won't. But the fact is (actresses aside) women haven't played a large part in pre- and peri-production of film. This is why you're girlfriend (with the exception of a convenient actor) is no help when your making your movies. In some cases she won't understand why it takes so much time or why you produce so many movies below the industry standard or why you have to film for your movie. And many girls are very understanding (some of them are too busy making better movies to hear our woes) so great for you if you're with one. But IN GENERAL it's a bit of a problem that's both confusing and with no apparent solution. Your best bet is to make your editing and filming sessions less scheduled events more scattered breaks when you have time. You'd be surprised how many 20 minute periods you can find in the day between all other activities. That way it'll hardly wear away at your other activities. Projects get done pretty fast even if they're completed in small chunks so just keep cranking away at it till it's done.Date:
    • A Word on Special Effects

      Maybe everyone's smart enough to do this already, but for those few who aren't this came as quite a shock to me just about 6 videos ago and I think it's a crime not to know it. It may sound simple, even obvious when you hear that you must plan for special effects, but I'm here to tell you you really have to PREPARE for special effects. Before my last 6 films i previously spent long hours struggling through over 50 films with special effects that were not prepared for. One time we had Matt driving a car that was actually parked, don't worry, I said, I'll add a background speeding by in post. My green screen was sitting inside the house at that very moment. Another time we'd have a guy shooting an alien in a shaky scene, While I could cut out the alien and get him shot, I should've made it shaky in post. You guys get the idea, as much as we tell ourselves in our minds that we are capable enough to do this in post I must tell you as simple as it seems in your head it'll be ten time's harder when you get there (not to mention longer). If there's not some extra prop or green screen or some sign of extra effort going into your shots that will receive special effects than you're not doing enough. Make it easy on yourself, every extra minute in pre production is a saved hour in post. Believe me, planned for special effects are not only easy, but cleaner looking. Before you start filming don't hesitate to play around with whatever 3d renders, colors or effects you're hoping to apply to your final product. I can't tell you how many times I've run into some new bottleneck because I overlooked some small part of how the special effect functions or if it'll fit or if things'll be running over it or whatever. Save yourself sometime and frustration, save your audience undue boredom and embarrassment at your crappy effects, work them into your storyboard and your shot angle. Before I finish one big word to the wise; special effects are easiest if there is no movement of the camera or if your pans are smooth and in one direction so GET A TRIPOD. Alrighty, thanks for listening.Date:
    • Why You Shouldn't (Try To) Be a Director

      The short answer to this one is so I can get in with less competition of course. But that would also be the wrong answer (atleast that's what I'm telling you). The truth is you shouldn't try to be a Director so you CAN be a director. None of the top twenty directors I researched went in looking at director internships or had the sole purpose of directordom (atleast not that they openly admitted to) so neither should you. They got in however they could, they talked to people, they met people, they put their works into contests and sold them to friends. James Cameron, the king of film, went through atleast 3 other film positions before he got to be a director. A certain Roberta Munroe put it beautifully in her book 'how not to make a short film' when she said that on average less than 1 percent of aspiring directors get into any paid directing. Hollywood's something stupidly smaller than that. Ok so you love film, we all get that, but first what are you good at? All my friends tell me I'm good at directing and editing, so I'm going to direct as a hobby, and edit professionally (someday). The point is lots of people are good at directing, and sometimes those who aren't good at directing get good directing jobs anyway so you've gotta find a niche with barriers to entry. I'm the only one out of my team and all my film friends who enjoys the editing, and lot's of people love to direct and have someone else edit. So that's my personal foot in the door, what's yours? If you don't have one don't worry, that probably means you're doing too many things at once. A good way to fix it is find some buddies who do film to and force them all to take up on position for a few films: director, gaffer, concept artist, props artist, even website manager. You take up one that looks interesting or easy and just focus on it. Work at it so much that you'll impress your buddies, shame them for being interested in film by being professional in it. if you're the concept artist go watch interviews with concept artists, become the member at a bunch of artist sites like devart, watch tutorials on youtube, draw it out professionally. Make sure whatever you do consumes you because if you keep trying different things and you work on it regularly you WILL become an expert at it and it will get easier and it will look better. And then you've got your foot in the door, go advertise your concept artist talent, go ask craigslist people starting on a film, tell them you've got some ideas for costume or that you want to make their storyboard. "There's more opportunity out there if you pigeonhole yourself" that was what one of the two writers of hangover told my class a few months ago. By pigeon hole he meant lock yourself into ONE profession and one genre. More on genre tomorrow...Date:
    • Directordom

      Recently I ran across a comicon interview with several prominent directors talking about what led to their success. Most of it was general and the same stuff we hear everywhere; make a film every weekend, try new things, get good at something, advertise to get recognized, etc... It got me thinking, what specifically HAD they done to get in to the big leagues? After some research I found some surprising results; Only 2 out of the 20 top directors I looked up had attended a film school (they were Michael Bay and Neill Blomkamp). And that's not all, atleast 4 of them never recieved any professional training, after somebody picked them up they were offered a directing spot. This isn't like an assistant spot or anything, this was like multimillion dollar production director. Most of the big directors of our age started out somewhere else enitrely, cameron was a physics major turned truck driver, jackson was a business major taking odd jobs, Tarantino was a Highschool drop out working the cash register at a movie store and the others had similar backgrounds. My search was starting to lead me to believe that there was no hope, it was all random luck. But I did find out that 8 of the 20 produced short films (or feature length in the case of jackson) that got them recognition. And atleast 5 others (Including Spielberg and Cameron) had movie related oddjobs like assistant gaffer or an editor before wild circumstances gave them their brake. It seems like if what you've got is good, all you've got to do is 1st get it out there (enter contests and network through sites) so everyone can see it, and 2nd get yourself out there on small jobs, internships and friends. There that's all I've got to say on that.Date:
    • Copyright

      You know what I noticed? Most of my earlier work is full of stolen copyrighted material, only some of my most recent works are completely my creation in their own right. I could blame Youtube and websites like this for motivating me without showing me the tools that are available on the internet like freeplaymusic.com or a million other sites with free special effects and free music and free b-roll clips. But of course it'd be a little childish to blame everyone else for my lack of ability to find it myself. Of course for all of those sites that have to ban or remove stolen and copyrighted material, you'd get more posts you can keep if you showed people the legal way to do things. So I have nothing against copyright, the way it is now seems like a mess but it works great for me. I want someone to start a website that collects all free works (music, video clips, sounds, special effects, filters, scripts, even storyboards) into one easy to reference place kind of like what [link='http://onlinevideocontests.com/']this place[/link] did with film contests. If anyone wants to do that you need not hesitate any longer; I officially give you permission now get out there and do it! Anyway, my cry out to youtube and studentfilmmakers.com is link us to some free content sites for your own good. Help us help you help us help you. Thank you.Date:
    • GrassRoots Filmmaking

      If a group of serious, interested filmmakers collaborated on a large scale, investing money as a venture capitalist firm might do but into itself with the promise of pay-off then it would be possible for them to create a professional looking film and get it shown in theaters. I estimate a feature length would take approximately 300 vested individuals with varying talents working towards a single goal. The end product would be 1: your ideas and efforts on a big screen and in a professional grade, 2: Pay relative to your position you undertook after the movie is released to audiences, and 3: recognition, perhaps the most important, sought-after, and rewarding effect. Naturally any grass roots project like this would get a lot of aspiring directors, writers, actors and music producers. What it wouldn't get a lot of is editors, gaffers, scheduling secretaries and marketers. This creates two dilemma's: too many directors and too few everything else. Once this rag tag group decided on a script they'd undoubtedly have to pick a director and assistant director. Other directors would likely be delegated into other small groups like props, meals or location preparation. The most important job after this initial investment of money would be donation-seeking. This could be done through a website, door-to-door, or referral. Eventually (pre production will have started by then hopefully) the group could buy all the professionals they didn't have represented. This payment process would also get the group locations, marketing specialists, gear, and set material. It'd probably be 1 year of starting the movement and 6 months to make the film. I would love thoughts or suggestions on this.
    • Herding Cats

      I'd like to say I'm the unofficial expert on actor management because I work with a large group of unreliable, unpaid, immature, no attention span, and destructive actors. And I've made films with them. Before I get to the first thing on the actors, there's something we should all know about ourselves and about directors. There are two types of directors, there are leaders and there are planners. If you are not the type that can lead but you still want to direct than I recommend going the extra mile in the pre-planning department. Scripts that are highlighted and sent to actors a month ahead, and again a week ahead. Full storyboards (even stickman) on the set with you, basically full knowledge of what will happen each day of the shoot. If you're a leader don't worry about it, plan but allow yourself enough flexibility so you still sound authoritative when you're trying to be flexible. Ok so, the first thing that could help you if you have the time to spare and your actors are unpaid is get to know them. You can better manage an actor once you know both how they act and what they do when they're not acting (or when they're supposed to be acting). I'd like to think that aspiring actors that you recruit from the theater department are self motivated but have to be closely watched so they don't look directly into the camera. But the majority of unofficial and unpaid volunteers are your friends, your parents, and the worst: your siblings. So chances are you do know them pretty well already and you need to keep who they are in mind while you manage them. The next step is when you're on the set you've gotta be removed to some degree. I'm not saying zoned out, I'm saying when everyone's joking around you can laugh a little but they won't take you seriously if you chime in repeatedly and THEN try to get everyone together for a shot. Everyone can have their fun within limits; let people not in the shot goof off (quietly or far away), let friends make rude or silly comments and recognize them as funny but in most cases don't add to them. The key is to allow people to blow off steam or stay entertained without ruining shots or extending your schedule. This means picking out those who you need from a rowdy bunch on the set, letting the rest continue, and going off to do a shot. Some people get the VERY wrong idea of getting control of everyone around them, making them recall how extremely serious this situation is and telling them all to behave like adults. Let me reiterate this: THAT IS WRONG. I see it so much it makes me cringe, that's not good leadership. You can still be friendly and understanding but stern and down to business; everyone there is not required to be as involved as you are, just out of the way enough that you can get done what you need to (or in control of themselves enough to act out the part). Second part is the directors' burden and that is to get the shots set up before you drag actors into the mix. figure out the shot, where the actors will be, what they will be saying, what the lighting is and whatever else will be happening during the duration of your clip beforehand. To many directors like to drag in actors just to have them in place and then figure out where everything goes. It's no stretch of the imagination to visualize them. Even if you have semi-professionals that will stand there for 15 minutes as you decide what to do that doesn't mean it's nice. I know sometimes it's unavoidable and you need on or two key actors to act it out so you see how it looks, especially for moving shots but this should be a rare event. Another thing, if you need all your actors for a whole day of filming give them a couple of breaks; often times they'll ask to go get a glass of water or whatever and this is a great time to let everyone go get something rather than making them stand there in the ready position while one guy relaxes. If it was a tough shot to set up then tell them they can right after the take. For poorly thought out productions the first day of shooting is a great day to schedule the NEXT day of shooting rather than waiting till they're all home and trying to call them. Also with scheduling try to keep things close together, maybe one week of shooting (or two depending on size) and then they're done. People don't stick well to 3 months of off and on shoots for the same film generally. You know once you've read this you probably have a really good idea of what actors I work with. I'll take your sympathy if you want to leave anything in the comments.
    • Success On A Tight Schedule Director's Edition

      I've been putting this off all day but here it is. All you directors out there learn from my mistakes. First point is script obviously. It's perfectly reasonable to have a script floating around for a few months, it's good actually. Some of my best scripts have been revisited hundreds of times starting as partial concepts or crappy, full-stories. If you want a good script to work off for a relatively short film with an actual time frame then write up a rough one. Literally just throw something together and put in whatever you could think of at the time. You should have the entire script done in two hours. Then send it to all your friends, maybe make your parents look it over, make them read it all and don't tell them anything about the story before-hand. In the long run it's better to have a writing partner or two (a close friend interested in film) that does know about the film you're working on. You can bounce partial scripts off of him and vise versa; this is a good way to get over writer's block quick. Once you think you have a good script, try visualizing every part of it in your head in order. Show it to people you don't even know; forums, parents (if you haven't already) friends you didn't show, kids in the film department, etc... Once you have a golden script that's diamond encrusted then it's time to get to work. For most short films that don't have more than 4 actors on screen at a time you may not need a storyboard. It's good for longer films with more people involved to at least do a crappy stickman storyboard just so you have a solid idea in your head as for what you are going to be doing. Schedule 1 or 2 more people than you need, a good manager can find some sort of job for 2 extra people, bring along cardboard sections to block out excess light or have more people hold the green screen. When you shoot do as Peter jackson once said "One more time, for luck." or rather as he always says. Take at least once extra take after the good take, maybe two if it's an easy shot. I can't tell you how many times my 'good' shot was terrible and the rest had little problems that you couldn't look over. Putting things off because you think you can fix it in post is another terrible one. But I pretty much covered that in my last post so look back for more details (Success on a tight Schedule). If lighting is important: Outside - film at dawn and dusk or in an area mostly blocked during midday hours but NEVER at night unless you have a full lighting kit. Inside - have no windows within your view. No continuous shots going outdoors to indoors or vice versa. Indoor lights should be avoided in shots whenever possible. White balance your shot till it looks good, make sure to leave the shoot looking slightly brighter than you think it should, this gives you more detail and flexibility in the editing room in terms of color correction. on any panning or flying shots make sure to set your focus and exposure to manual and run through the shot a few times to see how it looks during the course of the shot. Manual focus will save a lot of hair pulling for super-close-up shots when they come up. Steady shots are easier to work with in post then shaky ones. Shakiness is an EASY thing to fake in post unless it makes large movements into the foreground and back, then you may want to use the camera. Shaky shots are a rule of thumb thing and often unavoidable. When picking angles most inexperienced (and many professional) filmmakers are known to stay one one angle for too long. The next time you have a tv or computer near you watch a sitcom or a movie (preferably an action movie) with mute on and pay special attention to when the shots change. You'll find 9.8 times out of ten they're faster switches then you think they are. When you are taking your shots do it again from multiple angles, try far away and really close up. But the most important thing is start recording a second or two early and finish recording a few seconds later. B-roll can help if you don't know the shot progression by heart yet, after you finish filming in one area, just film the furniture, the other actors, the ground, the sky, a reflection of your actor or an object of interest. All of these things can get you out of a tight nitch like shots that switch TO THEMSELVES (even if it's a slightly differnet angle) which is something you can almost never get away with. Last thing is audio; voice over all your far away shots after, same with your noisy room shots, and record b-roll audio, just ambience you can overlay over everything or large sections if you need to. Phew! That should help out all you directors out there. There are some more obvious ones that have to do with scheduling, site preparation and scoping, actor management, equipment management and a plethora of other topics but I don't feel like adding those in now. Maybe another time. Maybe tomorrow's post if I can't think of anything else. Actor management is a pretty big one... ok I'm going to do that one tomorrow definitely
    • Success On A Tight Schedule Editor's Edition

      This is for all you editors out there, this is a condensed how to succeed in a short time frame in terms of delivering a final product. Directors, you can help out your editors by taking a look through this since alot of it will be you. It's really quite simple: plan ahead. But of course it'd be silly to end a blog at 3 sentences so I'll go into a little more detail about what I mean exactly. Editors cannot plan ahead if they're given sloppy footage with a sloppy script or (god forbid) rough outline of what should be done. Directors, work with your editor ahead of time, if that's not possible work with an editor it doesn't matter who just as long as they're skilled enough to be able to work through what your doing even if they won't be editing it. For those of you who will not be able to work with your editor because he's too expensive or you won't even find him till after the filming as a rule of thumb assume they can't fix it in post. In fact assume they can't even modify it in post because unless they're industry grade or you're using the RED or CRIMSON, it simply won't change in post. There's a lot that can be done in post if you set up your shot right; if you're planning special effects go talk to people on forums about it, send me a message and ask me what you should do. It's usually a pretty simple fix that'll save you and your editor countless hours of frustration. Ok now, editors planning ahead for you means what you do with footage that you're either familiar with or have never seen before. First thing is go through all of it and watch ALL OF IT. I know this is a god awful process but you need to see how it turned out, what went right and what went wrong, what you forgot you had and what you need to make sure you have. This way you can go back and demand reshoots and whatever when there's still time. Now that you have a good feel for what is available put down your clips and make your full movie. Don't add any color correction, any special effects, any audio overlays or modification, just the clips right as they are, cut down to size in a linear (preferrably one layer) progression through your timeline. Watch it through once or twice, make tweaks in the flow of the clips, send it to your team and make it clear to them it's not done. They need to look it over and voice their own opinion about the flow of the clips; if it portrays the action or sadness right, if it's an understandable story line, etc... You might even want to show it to someone who has no idea of the story and get their reactions. Now that you have a rough draft save it as a separate file and store it away for later. Depending on the nature of your special effects and other things you may fair better by flattening and exporting your linear progression into one manageable and unmodifiable single clip. Honestly that's your personal call if you can do that or if you need everything fluid still. On your second rendition of the project import your continuous clip or the fluid version from the old project and do your big, nasty special effects. This is stuff like 3d renders, green screening, particle effects and tracking effects. These are a pain to juggle with minor effects like color correction and matte's so leave those for later. The third rendition is again your call; I generally just continue to modify the 2nd file because it seems like such a hassle to export again and make a 3rd file to deal with, I'm just going to delete the first one anyway. Making another separate file is only useful if you want your color correction to apply to renders equally or if you want to do vignettes or widescreen blocks on animated clips (which are bad as fluid form because they move around and your vignette noticeably moves with it). In the third rendition you do color correction, audio modification, music overlay, big visual mattes and other big picture things. Despite the extra work this might seem like it'll help you a lot in the editing room. Yes I'm an editor primarily, I guess I'll write a director version tomorrow since that's what most of you are.
    • Yes More on Copyright

      I was thinking through the moral and philosophical implications of copyright with my buddy josh last night and this is basically what I worked out. There are 3 factors to consider and if you ask me this is some much needed narrowing of the hazy line drawn between copyright infraction and normal, legal production in the electronic world. Ok first is actually some backstory. I would never steal software myself, but if other's have stolen it I'll use it, but not on my computer. Why, might you ask? Because if you went to a friends house used software and then went home happy assuming it wasn't illegal, is the overall effect any different if you go over use it and leave knowing it is illegal? Is it any more ethically wrong towards the company who produced it to use stolen software without knowing it's origins than knowing its origins? Are you at fault every time you use someone else's software because you didn't check to see if it was stolen? Then is the burden of proof on you before you touch any program you didn't purchase yourself to make sure it was attained in an ethical manner? I would have to say no (purely from an philisophical view of people and their place, not contradicting the current legal establishment). This means intent matters even though the outward effect is the same, if someone helped you in order to watch you move around to get sexual pleasure does it make any difference if they helped you out of the kindness of their heart? Outwardly the effect is the same. With that in mind let's move onto the second one I'd like to talk about: youtube. Here is a system where bands (and others but the focus is music) choose to upload their music on their own channels and they do that. People can listen to it for free anytime they have an internet connection as many times as they want. Now let's say a band doesn't want people to have free access to their music, then they can tell youtube and [google now actually] will block anything that comes onto youtube that contains almost any portion of their music. Now using firefox download helper or a plethora of other free youtube oriented programs and websites will allow you to download it and listen to it on your ipod when your away from your computer or from the web. You can share it infinitely just as they were doing originally. now let's say the company wants to share their music but only if they get hits on their channel, youtube can block every single legal program out there from downloading their music even though it's up their (aside from a mike held next to your computer). This is essentially attaining property under their terms. They agree to youtube's standards and practices the moment they put it onto youtube and the terms you can attain their property under suddenly change and expand. Youtube is not a public domain, it is a private establishment for trade. So considering those two we come to the third point. If I leave something priceless on my front lawn (on my property) and you steal it, show it off to make money for yourself solely and then return it to me even without my knowledge is that legal? Of course not. Now if I ask you permission for it, achieve the same results and return it that is legal. Now while it seems to conflict with the first statement about intent it's merely a modifier. If you decided to use a bittorent to get the free music offered on youtube because it was faster, more convenient and easier to find everything I would say that that is illegal. Intent makes no difference if it's under the user's terms (I.E. using stolen software falls under you can use someone else's software and your family can use yours they just can't copy it onto their computers and leave with it). While a bittorent achieves the same results, it's illegal because it's not under the contractually agreed upon terms that are assumed when they add things to youtube. They don't willingly add it to an illegal source (or else it wouldn't be illegal). But I would say it is legal if your friend gives you a copy of bittorented music that COULD have been taken from the free youtube source as long as the provider ultimately promoted free copying and sharing (a.k.a. using youtube and leaving it downloadable). So back to the front lawn: I'm the one that lives in a nice neighborhood or reserves the right to shoot anyone who steps onto my lawn because they are invading my property, gaining use from things I've earned and not agreed to let them use on my terms so I can blow their head off. Thusly inferred: all property of yours must be on your person, within your direct control or on your property Or within a caretaker's control that you appointed or approved, public or private. Outside of that it is illegally attained. If you willingly leave it to the actual public domain than it's totally up for grabs and unmanageable. This is why if legal sources allow the downloading of software it should be rightfully considered your own attained royalty free material that you can use anywhere. (Addendum) About leaving credit of course you should always leave credit for any work not originally created by you. Even if you modify music or video still give credit to the original creator. There that's all of it.
    • Red Flags of the Employer

      Might as well start with the one I was talking about yesterday, the employer who doesn't want you or him to use a contract is generally out to steal from you. Even if he isn't out to extort his workers you guys can run into too many miscommunications without atleast one contract. So let's say you've got your little contract saying this is how many times you'll correct the same video and you won't post it to the web but you will do this limited number of special effects and the employer says 'hey were all friends here, we don't need any contracts, I'll take good care of you' or whatever. And then you're like 'I just want to make sure everything's clear between us let's have a contract set up ok?' and then he acts offended and says 'I'm not going to steal from you I promise, were going to talk a lot, nothing will be lost in translation, just trust me alright?' that's a HUGE red flag and you should probably look elsewhere when they utter something to that effect. But if you wanna keep going with it (and you still can successfully) just say 'Hey this isn't for me, I trust you, it's for you so you have something to refer to if I step out of line. You hardly know me yet so this is just some standard reassurance for you. Plus this is the contract I do for everyone and it's worked great so far, I hope we communicate a lot, this is just solid grounding for us to work off of.' If he/she blabbers any more after that than it truly is time to go. Ok second red flag is too many promises about how much more you'll earn in the future. When an employer couples bad news, let's say; 'hey I can't pay you for this extra work, you messed it up you've gotta fix it.' with this good sounding news; 'I work with some pretty big names in the business, if you keep making quality stuff I can probably hook you up and you'll be making twice as much later on'. Then that's a minor red flag; in all honesty it only turns into a red flag if you hear it every gosh darn time you come in. Or he tells you; 'not to complain about my recent change to your contract demanding that I can't pay you outside of my tight budget so you've gotta finish this one for free and be more efficient in the future' because 'before you know it you'll be getting jobs left and right because I'll put your name out if you do well'. The third red flag is generally something you'll only run into with small start up business or personal callouts in classifieds. That's them asking you to do something outside of your contract and often outside of your area of expertise. Things like working on the website or figuring out other parts of his/her business. Lots of small employers do this so it's not really a red flag unless you react wrong. Don't offer to help, you can offer suggestions or advice but make it very clear you don't know how to because it's outside of your expertise and it's not in your contract. If they nag you about it further, or they blame you for whatever aspect of business not going correctly because you wouldn't work on it or your suggestions led to bad results then it's a red flag and you need to take action. Immediately explain to them that you're not an expert and they'll have to look elsewhere to find help on that but you'll be happy to keep doing video stuff within the bounds of your contract. Again if it continues then it may be time to go. Ok those are the three big ones, I'll add more at the end of future blogs as I come across them or can think of one's I've run into. overall just watch out! make a contract and stick to it, send in regular invoices before the end of the month (or fortnight depending on how much you produce) and then if they aren't returned in time STOP WORKING till they are. Make sure your employer knows everything you've done (written in the invoice) and keep good positive communication with them often. You should be ok.
    • Freelance

      The ultimate goal of film is to make money at it. There I've said it. What's that? You're in it to produce amazing visuals and portray compelling stories? Me too but I can't reach larger audiences or even produce real quality without funding. Welcome to Capitalism, now go out and get money doing what you love. It doesn't matter how crappy you are at making film, all that does is decide your price range. Once you can get yourself out there you'll find alot of people just want their clips but together or something that shows what they do on their site and they'll gladly use you. But I guess you want to know how to get yourself there. The first thing you need is a couple of videos and a demo reel. As much as I support getting into the business early and unprepared there is too early and too unprepared. Now that you have that all you need is a video resume and a standard cover letter. I spent about a week putting together my resumé, basically anything I ever did with video. I won't spend today's blog telling you how to make a resumé, there's about a million sites out there that can do that (just google it). Same goes for demo reels, even poptent.com has a helpful guide for demo reeling somewhere in there. I will tell you that no one wants to read a resume longer than 1 page unless you're steven spielberg; and even then they won't stand more than two pages. So keep it at one, keep your wording technical (not flowery) and keep your font at a readable size. Once you've done all that it's time to go on craig's list. email every job offer that fits you and almost fits you, if you're feeling daring email some that don't fit you, especially if they've been up for a while. Your email needs to say what you've done that relates to what they want done (even if it's already in your resume). It needs to say where you saw their ad, where you are, how you'll work with them and how they can contact you. You'll also need to motivate them to contact you so ask them something simple that they'd know so they can give you an easy response. If you get a response or not 2 to 3 days later you NEED to send a follow up email with some excuse for bothering them again. If they gave you an email back then it's easy, you're responding to that and asking more questions, if not then you may need to provide other venues of contact, extra info about your schedule and/or updates to your channel (youtube or otherwise) or resumé. After you've exhausted your local listings search around elsewhere, the great thing about craig'slist is it's so expansive it can be a daily activity FOREVER. I recommend cataloguing every person you're contacting so you can get all of your follow ups on time and giving up after the 2nd or 3rd follow up if there's no responses at all. There are dozens of other sites (studentfilmmakers is one of them) that contain classifieds, forums, and call outs of people offering services and requesting them. The internet, while a convenient and ever replenishing resource of jobs is by-far the least likely vector to get you jobs (but you should still try it often). The most likely is personal contact referrals, these are your friends, family, and coworkers. Tell your friends you're passionate about film, that you've been making lots of videos and you're looking for work on the side: they're probably your best source for jobs; referring you to their friends, their friends friends, their parents, coworkers, siblings, etc... Before you do this you might want to develop a good pitch on the phone. You may not always know the caller personally even though your sister told him/her about you. Practice with your wife, husband or friend; whoever can give you constructive criticism about how you sound. Make them ask you stupid or unexpected questions and get good at answering them. Remember all those for hire ads you saw either online or in classifieds? Call them and hear their pitch and ask them questions, see how they answer. Most importantly visit professional company's websites, people who film weddings or make dvd's, give them a call as if you were a customer and take notes. Let's say you almost got the job but they wanted someone proficient in the next version of whatever you're working in, or a program you don't have. Maybe you got the job and now they're pressuring you to get (and learn) some expensive program. If ever the only lockout is an expensive program, and you can justify the program expense by the money you'll make from the employer then go out and buy it (after you get the job and say that you have the program)! I know it sounds bad but there is no better way to learn a program then with the pressure of a deadline and a demanding boss. This way you can increase your own skill and your pay. Working freelance is hard because it requires continuous self advertising on your part but it's a good skill to posses. One last thing, when you get a chance write up a contract; I don't care how nice or understanding they are you MUST ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY have a contract. just a simple this is how I work and this is when you receive each invoice and this is what you'll get. I ran into too many problems going without a contract. And it's a big red flag if your employer doesn't want you to have one. But more on red flags tomorrow...
    • How Not to Make Professional Movies

      The best thing you can do for yourself is learn from the internet bubble a few years back. They started businesses left and right on improbable yet cool ideas that were in no way profitable, but hey they were still damn cool. Then they set themselves up in a big office and filled it with comfortable chairs, drink machines, employees and LOTS of computers. Then they filled the computers with some of the most high end software available at the time. And then they attempted to run a business with a zero profit foundation (negative actually after the investment for the hardware) and enough material to support a large corporation. If you haven't caught on yet, this was a BAD idea. When you start a small business for anything you need solid grounding in your idea; lots of research behind it to support it and a good plan for how to carry it out. What you don't need is all the hardware, software and perks that come with a well-established successful business. Any good business will start as a grass roots zero budget operation where you will be the one pulling 18 hour days and your staff might be 2 other people. The same applies for film; if you want to be the next big filmmaker you've gotta start small. Whether it's Sundance or Hollywood you don't need all that stuff you think you need. Start with a dusty camera that's been laying around the house and learn how to use it! Too many people go out and buy final cut pro, adobe studio, 6 professional lights, a hundred dollar green screen, a dolly, reflectors and a 2000 dollar camera and THEN try to figure out how professional film is made. Eventually the overwhelming amount of things to learn and all the dissapointingly bad videos you've made becomes too daunting and you have a craig'slist garage sale. If you stick to your ten year old sony that still uses cassettes and get good enough to learn it's limits, then you can upgrade. What I'm trying to say is go untill you need the upgrade, till you're only limit is the technology available and not your own inexperience. This allows you to pick what you really need rather than what is being advertised at the time. Is Adobe After Effects too expensive to justify? try to get a few oddjobs through craigslist, BDA, classifieds or friends/cowokers/family. You'll rack in lot's of loot and then you can upgrade - sometimes a job will request proficiency in programs you don't have, that could be justification right there. There's no better way to learn a program then with an employer breathing down your neck and asking the impossible. The truth about technology and professional film is to be good at it you've got to earn it. You've got to struggle through your mini-DV and windows movie maker so you know what to do next. The most expensive technology in the world won't help you when you don't know how to set up a shot or run a business. So I urge you please start small so you can grow big. Oh and more on getting into the business of Freelance tomorrow...
    • The Renaissance Man Knows Very Little About Everything

      The title says it all so if decipher it than I guess you don't need to read this blog. But if you want to get more details I'm happy to oblige; all of you practicing film out there, you're probably working on a variety of things and styles and I'm here to tell you that that is a mistake. While it may be unavoidable to make wedding videos or short promotionals for non-profits as you struggle to make money off of your talent, when you're working on your own time you need to adopt one style, one genre and get gooood at it. Now that doesn't mean you can't try new things and improve, that's fine, that's encouraged but it has got to be directed. When I say genre I mean experimental sci fi vs love story vs sci fi thriller vs action movie vs documentary vs musical vs etc... Most of these genre's are so different in their standard portrayal that, how you do the shots, the story and the visual effects will greatly effect how good it is within it's genre, how well it fits into it's style. This isn't a question of mainstream vs cutting edge originality, A romance can simply not be a series of quick blurred shots spaced out between epic monologues that take 2 or 3 shots in total, I know it's an extreme but a war scene is something that takes a long time to get good at and if you then you decide to do short romance movie you will (likely) FAIL. One of the writers of the hangover talked to me and my buddies about the importance of being pigeon holed: when someone wants to make a sci fi thriller, they'll come to the guy who has lots of experience with it and is skilled at it. Same thing goes for getting your foot in the door, you've gotta show you know something and not a whole lotta nothing. If you have a good variety and bulk within the genre of war films you can GET KNOWN for having really good war films and that can get your name out there. Eventually you'll have someone important run across them and see one really good one that gets you in. Style is a not so obvious a thing that must be pigeonholed, that's because it also must be developed. Very few people got anywhere being known as the guy who does terrible editing or unnecessarily shaky camera work. The balance between honing and keeping your style lies in understanding what YOUR style is: your favorite epic angle(s) that you put in every film, your montage style story-telling (or your non montage style), your stylized rack blur laden short film design, your hectic back and forth shots for dialogue, your music overlay choices. These are your landmarks, the points that make your style you and that pull it just enough from mainstream to be original but not undefinable. The things that are not your style are your endlessly long shots (unless they fit well for building suspense), your inability to get smooth story flow out of an action scene, your grainy or shaky look to all your shots; in short your ability to confuse your viewers and embarrass yourself with correctible  (but unforseeable at the time) lack of professionalisms. Now I'm trying for sci fi thriller though due to the length of my films they are more sci fi experimental or just experimental. Early on there were things I liked to do that I thought would be really cool and original, like strange camera angles that are removed entirely from the shot, foot level shots to convey emotion etc... and they all looked terrible. But they were the 'keepers' of my style, once I learned from them and improved my skills overall they started to fit better and I knew better how to wield them. Don't mix up your style and your inability to produce viable film. If you think you're a more skilled filmmaker now then you were 6 months ago then try that cool effect that ruined your previous movie and do it a little differently. I myself am guilty of jumping around between genre, but I urge you (and myself) pigeon hole pigeon hole PIGEON HOLE, it'll pay off in the long run.

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