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Archive for the ‘webisodes’ Category

Sunshine Superman

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, but we’ve had some ups and downs in these changing media times. In fact, many days it’s felt like the photo above from the documentary “Sunshine Superman.” One Big Leap of Faith.

A special shout out to this heart racing doc “Sunshine Superman,” directed by Marah Strauch that Magnolia Pictures/Universal is releasing theatrically on May 22. The awe-inspiring story is about Carl Boenish, the father of the BASE jumping movement, whose early passion for skydiving and filmmaking led him to even more spectacular – and dangerous – feats of foot-launched human flight. I was the Line Producer for the Los Angeles portions of the film.
Nice mini review from Rolling Stone Magazine. In fact it’s been getting great reviews everywhere. See the trailer and follow the film on Facebook.

Another project I recently Line Produced/Produced was Nicholl Fellowship winner Alan Roth’s directorial debut “Jersey City Story” for Lexus. The dramatic short film is now available on the Lexus website, L Studio.

Our original comedy series “Love & Loathing: Adventures in Divorce Land” premiered February 14th through Mi Shorts distribution as part of Dailymotion The series questions if two middle-aged romantics can find true love flowering through the cracks of divorce? It’s pretty funny. Written and created by Tony Soltis (“The Shield”) and produced by myself, Tony and Mark Manos. I directed 3 of the episodes. The series stars Bonnie Burroughs and Christopher Hatfield. Love to hear your comments and thoughts. Watch it on the Love and Loathing Series site. Follow us on Facebook   Twitter @Divorceland

Inspired by these online showings and viral sharing, we’ve released some previous projects now for FREE online viewing. Many that I’ve written about on this site in the past. Check it out.

The Emmy Documentary on oil and the American men and women that make energy their business “Houston We Have A Problem” on Vimeo

My multi-award winning short narrative blues film, “Travelin’ Trains” Click on “Screening.” Also, the thought provoking short film I produced in 2005 starring Willie Garson and Misha Collins “The Crux”. Directed by Jeff Seckendorf​, Cinematography from Tom Houghton, ASC,​ Production Design from Edward L. Rubin.​ I think you’ll like both films.

The award winning 13 episode PBS series “Senior Year” on 12 young people in their last year of high school at Fairfax High School are now all available at a special Siteroll web site, SeniorYearShow . Also, from Displaced Films our documentary on race relations in the south “Displaced in the New South” continues to play on the wonderful preserve of documentaries on American roots, Folkstreams.

The documentary, “Go Public: A Day in the Life of an American School District” has been airing on PBS stations across the country since last May, 2014. The true stories of those hard working people in education; Teachers, advisers, students, etc. My favorite is the piece I directed on the janitor, Felix Lopez. Find us on Facebook for updates.

A television pilot “Kids2Kids” about children and their parents making a difference in their communities. Facebook

Enjoy and certainly spread the word! I promise to be back to the blog more often, but first you’ve got some watching to do!

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On Tuesday May 8th, 50 directors and their teams spread out among 28 public schools in Pasadena, California to document “Go Public: A Day in the Life of PUSD.”  The plan was to follow a wide-ranging group of individuals who participate in the School District, be it Teachers, students, principals, administrators, school workers, volunteers and any others that make a public school district function. An introduction to all of those that think they know, but haven’t actually stepped into a public school for a long time. Each Director is assigned to make a short film of their subject which will then be presented on the website, afterwards all the footage will be collected by Producers Dawn and James O’Keefe of Blue Field Productions to create a feature documentary that will (according to their Mission Statement), be “a window into the world of one urban school district, the many dedicated people, the myriad of opportunities available and the complexity of effectively serving the needs of all students.”

When I was introduced to the project I knew immediately I needed to get involved. My two daughters have gone through the Pasadena Public School System from kindergarten to high school graduation and now are successfully getting their degrees at Occidental College, (in fact, my eldest just graduated “Cum Laude” with plans to teach in public schools).  Both my parents were public high school teachers. I believe in public education, especially in Pasadena.

However, after co-producing the 13-part series, “Senior Year” in 2000-2002 for PBS and just recently completing “Senior Year: Ten Years Later,” I wanted to follow a different story then students and teachers, which had been the center of our series. I had recently been amused by a statement from then Republican Candidate Newt Gingrich, “most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising.” Well, I wanted to explore that idea, on a regular school day in Pasadena could a kid do a janitor’s job.

My team (of 2) and I met the custodian Felix Lopez at Washington Middle School at 5:30 am on May 8th, the day of filming. He unlocked the chains and opened the gates to the parking lot, just like he does every morning and just like each day at the school, he never stopped working once the gates were open. “I like to see this place clean,” he told me later in the day, “the environment clean really helps.  When the parents say what a beautiful school, it makes me feel good.” Lopez is a Mexican immigrant, one of ten brothers and a sister, he grew up poor and attended school only up to 4th grade. “English language was so difficult for me, but I learned by listening, especially PBS. The proper English from England, so many good shows.” He still donates to PBS every year. I liked that.

Vice Principal Eric Gothold said, “Feliz Lopez goes out of his way to provide a clean and safe environment for our kids, but he also takes every opportunity to teach them as well, life lessons, skills, conversation and compassion.” He’s right, everywhere Mr. Lopez went around the school (picking up trash, sweeping the floors, washing down the lunch tables) students and teachers greeted him and he knew each of their names. One eighth-grader we interviewed said, “Felix, he’s an awesome dude. I came here every morning, he helped me with Spanish a little bit. He keeps you out of trouble, he influences me.” His friend added, “Nobody wants to be bad in front of him, it disappoints him. Some kids are disrespectful to their teachers, but they’re never disrespectful to Felix. He’s a good person.”

We didn’t go to Felix’s house out of respect for his wife. Her Mother was very sick and she was emotional and concerned about the possibilities of losing her. That wasn’t the documentary I was making. However, we did follow Mr. Lopez as he picked up his daughter at John Muir High School in Pasadena. She is a Sophomore and is a terrific writer for the school newspaper. Her plans are to go to college to study Architecture. He also has two grown sons in their twenties who no longer live at home. It isn’t hard to see the love he has for his family, especially his daughter. “If we want to learn, we’re going to learn. If we don’t want to learn, we won’t. I want someone to be better then me, anyone, I’m so proud when someone does well, doesn’t matter rich or poor, but you have to want it. I’m keeping this place nice and clean for all of you.”

To Felix Lopez, he helps children learn by giving them a clean, beautiful place to be educated. He cares about his job and the school and it shows. The hallways sparkle. We joyfully filmed reflections of students on the floors of the halls because of how clearly we could see them. It was a cameraman’s dream. Recent budget cuts have forced the school system to cut back on janitors, but it hasn’t stopped Felix. He now does the job of two custodians. At the end of the day, we were exhausted just following him around the large campus. But as we watched and interviewed the Principal Marion Stewart, the Librarian Christina Diaz, the Vice Principal, the security staff and many of the teachers, we were struck by how hard all of them worked. Nobody had time to kill. My team was usually the only ones in the Teacher’s Lounge. They all have a job to do and that is to educate the next generation. The same job that all those that work in public education, teaching 90% of the children in this country.  Everyone who thinks they know about public education by presenting a few bad apples, needs to spend a day at their public school before judgement. It certainly realigned my opinion. Go Public.

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As a follow up to my previous blog on mentoring, I had the privilege yesterday of attending a director’s retreat sponsored by the DGA.  The subject was the best tools for directing actors in feature films and television.  It was a wealth of information that I’ll only be able to touch on here.

I came into the retreat with more experience then some from my theater directing background (I’m still a directing member with Theatre Neo) and having read Judith Weston‘s wonderful book “Directing Actors” and Sidney Lumet’s important book, “Making Movies.”  Both books were mentioned more then once.  I’ve never taken any of Weston’s workshops but have worked with director’s that have gone through her course and met her a few times at the International Film and Video Workshops (now Maine Media Workshops).  I can’t recommend it enough.

Director John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, War Games), opened with a keynote address promoting his new book, “I’ll be in My Trailer.”  Badham, now directing episodic television, has been in the business for over 35 years.  He outlined five common mistakes director’s make that the other director’s (Neil LaBute, Kimberly Pierce, Jamie Babbit, David O. Russell, Jeremy Kagan, and Gordon and Helen Hunt) reiterated in the panel discussions.  First mistake, especially common in television is the “anonymous” director.  They all discussed the importance of introducing yourself to the actors, especially the nervous Day players.  Many directors get caught up in the technical and get flustered when the actors appear on the set with their own ideas.  Rehearsal is the most important thing and time with the actors must be scheduled into a production.  Television is harder because of time, but even a read through will help the director and actor’s relationship.  Come in early and go to the trailers while the actor is getting make up, introduce yourself, address their concerns before you go to the set at call time.

All the directors found it better for the production if they had enough rehearsal time.  Neil LaBute discussed respecting the actor’s process, no matter how crazy it seems.  Casting is so important especially with short rehearsal times, but if an actor is forced on you because of financing, you’ve got to research what that actor is capable of doing, rethink how you’ll approach the project.  At least, get a lunch meeting before you meet on the set.  Some actors know the camera, understand lenses.  They can deliver their performance in a few takes, others only really deliver after many takes.  The more you know about the actors personalities and previous work, the better you can plan your schedule, shooting the coverage of the actors based on their strongest ability to deliver.

The second mistake is hiding behind video monitors and yelling out direction or saying “nothing,” which is even worse.  Now, I’ve worked on a few feature films with directors like this and it never fails that the end product suffers.  If nothing else, say “great” after “cut.”  “More energy” is not good direction.  Action verbs that mean the same thing but at different degrees works much better then “Make it bigger” or “Make it smaller.”  Directors need to be by the actors.  Kimberly Pierce wears a small video monitor around her neck, so that she can do both.  Helen Hunt felt a little distance is good for sex scenes, certainly a limited crew around the actors.  All the directors hate the “village of idiots” that gather around a video monitor.

Both David O. Russell and Neil LaBute are doing their next film on digital so that they can just keep rolling, let their actors play, but Helen Hunt has been on a couple of digital features and finds them “too loose, not enough focus.”  Kimberly Pierce likes the ability to do more takes by changing the film lens and asking for the actor to give a different performance.  She sees no use in having the same take over and over again.  All agreed that having a second camera (B camera) will save you in the editing room.

Another big mistake is the director wanting to be the nice guy and never creating his or her authority.  Discipline actors that haven’t done their homework or learned their lines.  Failure is OK, but not reading the script is not.  It’s also useless to explain the scene to the actor, they can read that in the script.  They need to understand what their character wants in the scene and why?  But don’t give them the answer, they need to own the reason, then they can bring it to their performance.  Notes are important to the actor, but give it to them privately, a secret note, not a public shout out.

What if the actor doesn’t do what you want them to do, for the blocking of the scene or the line reading you expect.  It’s a big mistake to just tell the actor where to go, you need to help them find it out on their own.  Another big reason for the rehearsal process.  Gordon Hunt, Helen Hunt’s father and a long time television and theater director, including numerous episodes of “Mad about You,” suggests using the term, “how about” when prompting actors to try a blocking idea.  If the actor states that his character wouldn’t do that, then ask what his character would do, most of the time it isn’t the action, but a word that bothers the actor.  Hunt also revealed his secret to getting a line reading.  On the next take, if you are the director, you yell out to begin the next take at the particular line you want corrected and you give the exact line reading you desire.  It’s worked for him almost every time for close to fifty years.

The fifth mistake is saying “No.”  You need to help the actor get out of their personal polite space.  If an actor has an idea, let them discover it doesn’t work on their own.  I certainly have discovered this technique in many of my theater productions.  Actors have come in with some strange concept or prop and usually discover if it isn’t working.  On the other hand, they sometimes added a richness to the character that I didn’t think about before.  Be open.  “We will do it” is better then “you will do it”.  Also, realize that if an actor has a problem with his or her wardrobe, don’t ignore it because usually it has nothing to do with wardrobe and everything to do with the character they are portraying.  That’s an issue that needs to be resolved immediately.

Helen Hunt added much to the day because of her experiences from both in front and behind the camera.  In her view, all directors should take acting classes to understand the actor’s point of reference.  I agree and certainly find myself falling back on those Emerson College acting courses to guide my directing work.  Neil LaBute started as a student actor and many of his best films have been done working with actors like Aaron Eckhart that he has known since those days.  One of my favorite times directing was when I made the web series, “Unconventional,” because I pulled about fifteen actors that I had worked with in the theater, here in Los Angeles, and we created these characters based on my notes and the actors ideas.  There was no script, it was just me, a camera and the actors.  It was exhilarating and fun.  It’s the reason I got into this business in the first place.  It was nice to be reminded.  To quote director Martha Coolidge, “the most important role of a director is to work with actors.”

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ceeI just finished watching David Merrill from MIT demonstrate cookie-sized, computerized tiles called Siftables that can be stacked and shuffled in your hands.  Anyone, even a young child, can do math, play music, and interact with their friends with these amazing digital blocks.  I watched in awe at TED.com.  The next generation of the computer and communication.

The yearly Technology, Entertainment & Design conference, now in year seven, is an amazing gathering of Today’s real thinkers.  This year’s conference, which was just recently posted on their Website, was once again filled with incredible inventions and new thoughts on issues that affect our world today.  If you don’t know much about TED, I highly recommend seeing Daphne Zuniga’s documentary on the 2006 conference, “The Future We Will Create: Inside the World of TED.”  A review can be found on my friend Stefan Rhys blog, Signal>Noise.

Although I haven’t actually been to a TED conference, I did recently have the opportunity to go to two other forward thinking conferences.  A few weeks ago, I joined director/producer Nicole Torre of New Angle Media at the GoGreen Expo and was impressed with the advances and possibilities for a better, greener future.  I was raised on Earth Day and traditional American Indian philosophy (see my upcoming documentary project, “Witness Trees“), so a lot of this was as old as when Jimmy Carter was President talking “Green,” but it is wonderful that the masses are finally stepping out of their SUV’s for a better, cleaner planet.  I firmly believe that anyone looking for a job and with the new Economic Stimulus Bill, “Green” is the future.  If you’re interested check out Earthprotect.com.  That’s why I was at the conference promoting Unconventional Media and why I decided to help produce Nicole Torre’s upcoming documentary, “Houston, We Have a Problem.”  It’s a feature film on the energy crisis from the perspective of the Houston oil man.   We’re in the final stages of post production, research clearances, music rights, but if anyone wants to hang their hat on an important film, we sure could use the pocket change.

Last weekend, I attended the Conscious Life Expo.  Once again, I was impressed with this wave of spiritual thinking and world peace.  People were truly promoting change for our planet.  Now I admit there were a few “weird” and wild ones at the conference and I met more psychics in one day then I’ve ever met in all my years working with the International Society of Paranormal Research (ISPR).  I’m certain we can now cast our show “Psychic Boot Camp” for the Paraplex in New Orleans.

We were at the Expo to capture an exciting, upcoming DVD for BrandU’s Conscious Entrepreneur Experience.  I’ve known W. Vito Montone and Kim Castle of BrandU for a long time.  These guys know what they are talking about when it comes to understanding your business as a creative universal expression, regardless of the product or service offered.  Much of what they cover in their lectures and workshops has been the inspiration for me in my own creation of Unconventional Media.  It was Kim Castle and her insights that created the original Eric Mofford logo.

This DVD will explain and show the greater path to financial freedom and personal fulfillment.  “CEE” can almost guarantee the growth and profitability of your business while still making a powerful and positive impact on the world.
Kim and Vito have always been ahead of their time with new ideas.  Kim has been helping clients with their company identity for over twenty years.  Vito has spearheaded projects for Disney Interactive and created the first Virtual Convention for Star Trek, among many other projects.  I remember Vito and I getting together and talking about the possibilities of interactive media, kiosk point of sales and brand marketing in Atlanta in the late 1980’s when no one would listen.  This DVD not only includes their own knowledge and expertise, but includes a TV talk show format featuring irreverent and witty interviews by Kim with multi-million dollar conscious entrepreneurs, Spike Humer, Marcia Miller and Joe Sugarman.  The live music was supplied by the wonderful techno artist Coco O’Connor.
These guys took risks and succeeded, an inspiration for any business, be it independent filmmaking or bracelets like the “I Love Bracelets” launched by Marcia Miller out of her apartment while pregnant with her first child.  Since its inception, “ILB” has sold more than 2 million bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, exclusively to more than 7,000 retailers, gift stores and fashion boutiques.  Mr. Humer has been the behind the scenes life coach for several of the world’s leading experts in the field of personal and business development.  He has hands-on experience leading both public and private companies throughout North America.

I’ve got to admit my favorite was Joe Sugarman, who created BluBlocker Sunglasses and ran JS&A (forerunner of  Sharper Image), a highly successful mail-order company in the 1980s, the largest supplier of innovative electronic products in the U.S.  He pioneered many of the sales and marketing techniques widely used today, as well as introduced household products like the calculator, cordless phones, and digital watches to the world.  His world-class drive, business acumen, insatiable curiosity, and uncanny ability to tap the buying mind, keeps him ahead of the pack and always forging new frontiers.  This guy didn’t always succeed, but he was always willing to chase the dream.

The Conscious Entrepreneur Experience DVD is going to be a valuable tool for anyone ready to start or rethink their own business.  The whole experience was an incredibly worthwhile experience for me.  I guess it will soon be available at Intention Products.  I truly believe I had a rare opportunity to hear and see two speakers before they present at a future TED conference, and for that I feel privileged.  These are amazing times indeed.

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rippedbannerThe music/reality television pilot “Stone Cold Sober…In Music City” is picking up steam and it looks like we’re headed into production later this Spring.  I’m excited because this is a project I’ve really wanted see get off the ground ever since Michael Catalano introduced me to Brian Adams and Jared Blake over six months ago.  In fact, it was my trip to Nashville to meet these guys and the band, The Levees, last summer that I decided to open Unconventional South.  I’ve always loved the music energy of Nashville, ever since I was working there doing music videos with Think Pictures (Martin Kahan and Venetia Mayhew) in the late ’80s and early ’90s.  I’m glad to be back.

Check out the Stone Cold Sober Music website and you’ll hear what an amazing roster of musicians creator Brian Adams has gathered for this series.  Anyone that has seen my film “Travelin’ Trains” knows my love of Americana roots music and with this show, we plan on delivering not only the music, but the stories of the struggles to get the music heard.  When talking about “Stone Cold,” I keep referring to documentarian James Szalapski’s late 70’s film, “Heartworn Highways,” which followed artists like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Steve Young and Steve Earle before any of these guys were household names.  They’re all so young, sitting around the living rooms and small studios, smoking cigarettes and drinking, playing music and espousing the importance of the back-to-basics movement  in Country.  This is intercut with performances by the Charlie Daniels Band and David Allan Coe in sparkly outfits.  I think of “Stone Cold Sober…In Music City” as a retelling, but now it’s thirty years later.  The show will touch on all the dramatic aspects of a musician’s life— including the secrets, challenges, competitiveness, successes and failures.  The struggle to get your music heard has not changed, only the musicians.

Brian Adams has been the catalyst in keeping the momentum of this project moving forward.  Unlike so many good ideas that fall away without a champion, Brian has lead the charge and continues to ignite interest in the possibilities of the show.  Adams comes from a financial background and has always specialized in managing projects from the development stages, but I’ve worked with many that call themselves “producers” and I truly believe Brian has found his calling.

Brian recently brought on Jennifer Rachidi, Owner and Brand Developer for TRUST, to provide promotion and branding.  The plan now is to line up shows throughout the Southeastern United States for Spring 2009.  The reality tour series targets a wide range of venues, sponsors, and fans.  As Brian said in the Press Release, “I felt drawn to expose the public and fans to the secrets and developments of a singer/songwriter on their way to a star career. It’s the untold and unseen sides of a performer that will be exposed.”  Audiences will be able to watch clips and interviews via online streaming, adding comments and ideas, during this phase of the production.  Public involvement at this stage will be the key to the success of the completed show.  Check out the MySpace site to hear the music and become a Friend.  It’s going to be a wild ride.

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Last Friday I had to join all the other fans and watch “BattleStar Gallactica” at it’s normal scheduled airing time on the SciFi Channel.  Down to the final 10 episodes, I now have to wait a week to get my next fix.  I’m not use to this, you see I’ve only recently discovered this gem of television.  One of the best written shows I’ve ever seen, even better then “The Wire,” “Gallactica” blends fantasy with issues of religion, politics and human psychology.  It’s nearly an 80-hour, ever-evolving mythology about the few survivors of a nuclear genocide wandering the universe in search of sanctuary.  Heads up, if you haven’t seen the series you may not want to watch the YouTube recap attached to this blog.

Just like Steve Erickson writes in the January 2009 issue of Los Angeles magazine, I discovered the series this summer.  My friend Stefan Rhys had the mini-series and the first three seasons on DVD.  Once I started watching, I was hooked, sometimes watching 4 or 5 episodes at one time.  I couldn’t believe how good it was, with such a brilliant cast and beautiful women.  What the “frack” had I been thinking?  Even though many had raved about the show, I couldn’t get past the original ’70s cheesy show produced by Glen A. Larson and starring the late Lorne Greene.  I also don’t usually like science fiction but like Erickson writes, “Galactica is that thing that always seemed possible in science fiction but for whatever reason hasn’t been: an adult drama, built around adult relationships, that happens to be set in a science fiction context.”

It might have been Glen A. Larson’s attachment to the series that stopped me from watching.  I had never been a big fan of his television shows, (Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Magnum P.I.) but back around 1997, I was hired as the Assistant Director on a syndicated television show, conceived by Larson, entitled “Night Man,” based on the comic book character.  Matt McColm played Johnny Domino, the misunderstood musician who battled crime as Night Man with a limited amount of super power.  He also drove a really cool car.  We had a lot of fun making the series in San Diego and I was introduced to many of the Assistant Directors that I still work with today, including on shows like “24” and a few feature films.  I also assisted for the first time, one of my favorite directors to work with, Rob Spera.  The problem was the cheesy visual effects and the writing and continuity.  I remember in one episode Johnny’s father, played by Earl Holliman, was eating a steak, even though in previous episodes his character had been established as a vegetarian.  Or when Michael Woods, who played Lt. Dann, was handed rewrites after we had shot the scene.  Funny memories now, but not at the time.  The next year it didn’t matter because Larsen took the whole production up to Canada to save a buck and we were unemployed.  The show was cancelled the following year.  On a side note, another former Glen Larsen television show, “Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century,” is being created as a 20 webisode series to premiere in 2010, as reported in Fan Cinema Today.

“Battlestar Gallactica” has never won a major Emmy, but it is no “Night Man.”  The premise is something we’ve seen dozens of times before, “Man has created robots (in this case Cylons) and the robots get smart enough that they start to be like humans and seek revenge,” but this show puts to question what it even means to be human, to have emotions.  It ties myth and imagination to the political issues of our times.  As Erickson writes, “exposing humanity at its wisest and most ruthless, its most compassionate and murderous.”  Now that’s the kind of television I’d like to be a part of, but for now I’ll enjoy the genius of Ronald D. Moore each Friday night.  For those who haven’t seen it, start with the mini-series on DVD and just try to stop, I’m warning you.  There’s nothing else like it on television, well, except maybe “Lost.” Doesn’t that start again this Wednesday?  Oh man, how am I ever going to get any work done?

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The amazing musical artist, once again known as, Prince has recently been quoted as saying, “the Gatekeepers must change.”  This was in reference to his frustration with the major labels and the creation of his own record label and his three upcoming, yes three, releases.  The man is prolific.  He’s got a new interactive website, www.lotusflow3r.com, that has some of his new music and soon will carry videos and idea blogs.  It really isn’t that different then what any musician can create on a MySpace site.  He and many musicians have found the Internet to be the best home for their personal creative visions.

There was an article a few days ago in the LA Times by Randy Lewis about music Industry A&R guys.  Don Gierson, a music label veteran that teaches A&R classes at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, believes that it is critical now to understand and learn how to anticipate trends and harness new technologies to better serve the artists.  Jeff Blue, another seasoned pro and teacher there is quoted as saying the music industry is “evolving – and devolving-and more and more artists have to be their own record label.”  The article goes on to state that the harsh reality today is that few record companies have the time, money or interest to nurture acts anymore.  As I posted in a recent blog, we all have to be our own distributors.

We’re hearing the same thing in the film and television industry.  A new webisode series, FilmFellas, showcases influential and emerging new filmmakers discussing the challenges of the new independent film scene.  The full screen HD tells the story, it looks fantastic (I’m guessing the RED), a viewing pleasure.  We’re not going to be looking at compressed video much longer on YouTube.

The FilmFella guys and the A&R guys at the Musicians Institute are mentoring us all in how the Internet is changing entertainment.  I try to do this with this blog and the courses I teach at the Maine Media Workshops and with Jeff Seckendorf at One on One Film Training.  As the studios and record labels get bought up by congloms like Time Warner, News Corp., Disney, Viacom and Sony, we’re all discovering that we don’t need them anymore.

Well, okay we still need them financially, but hopefully not for long.  It still seems like the only way to make any money for your Internet projects is through sponsorships and advertising banners.  In these economic times, that money is not readily available.  Look at www.Hulu.com.  It’s television on the Web, with advertising.  It’s a great source for finding a television show or episode we may have missed, but at this point, no one is making any money from the convenience.  Which brings me to the potential SAG strike.  Because of all my actor friends, I promised myself I would stay out of that mess, but as I see traditional production slow down with the talk of another strike, I feel I must speak out.

I’m pro-union, a proud DGA member and certainly believe there are issues that need better resolution in the current contracts.  One of the biggest is how money is to be disseminated to the creative parties when projects are produced for the Internet.  The problem is, at this point in time, the Internet is a creative playground, but few are making any money including the big studios.  I think the WGA and DGA and even AFTRA were wise to table Internet discussions until the next contract meetings.  SAG should do the same.

Now is not the time to strike.  Too many other non-actors in this business will be affected, including Unconventional Media.  Few have recovered economically from the Writer’s strike.  SAG needs to work out their divisions within their own union first.  It’s getting ugly, according to the January 12th, Hollywood Reporter, SAG board member Frances Fisher (Mother in “Titanic“) distributed an email suggesting that SAG members use their upcoming SAG Award ballots to punish nominated actors — including Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell and Sally Field — who have advocated abandoning the strike-authorization vote.  Making it political, not about acting performance – for the SAG Awards.  Come on!  That’s just one example, it’s really become civil war.  Unify first please, before you put everyone out of work.

SAG needs to work with all of the other union members to get through these tough economic times instead of making them tougher.  Don’t sink the ship, Mama!  Go to www.nosagstrike.com for more information or go to the SAG website for SAG’s MembershipFirst side on authorizing the strike.

I agree that the Gatekeepers must change, let’s just be responsible and know what those changes really are going to be first.  As Tina Fey warned on The Golden Globe Awards last night, “there’s this thing called the Internet…”  It’s still in development.  I don’t believe you should set the rules before you know if the actual experiment worked.

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