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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old January 22nd, 2002, 04:28 PM   #16
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<<<-- Originally posted by Chris Hurd : Ozzie --I learned production the hard way, by shooting and editing PSA's all by myself, for Channel 7 in Austin. These were buried at sign-off but it was a good feeling to be on the air learning from my own mistakes while my classmates were struggling with their little group projects that weren't guaranteed to show at the student film screening. .... I'd love to go back to get my master's, because I really enjoy writing and being in school, but I can't afford the time. I have too many fishes to fry as it is. Still have the Remington Rand, though. I don't type on it anymore but it reminds me where I've been. -->>>

Chris,

What has long been missing is the concept of apprentice. Very few professionals, or companies that employ professionals, are willing to formally hire apprentices and keep them learning for several years until they are "ready" - much as you did at Ch. 7. The closest we come is hiring "interns" that get partial credit for working as PAs for a few months. That's fine, but interns are never in one place long enough to really get to master any aspect of production. All they get is a good overview of what it's all about. That's not bad at all but to master anything one has to do the grunt work that you did. Unfortunately few ae willing to put in the long hours, years, of low pay and little recognition. It used to be students were happy just being "gofers" for a couple of years. Now I'm getting students who want to be producers right off the bat!

****
I want to delete the message I've started because I can't finish it at the moment, but I don't know how to delete it. Sorry, I have to tend to a union crisis. Our client woke up a sleeping dog by letting lawyers get into the act. Now our cast budget is threatening to quadruple. Ouch!

Now, how and where does one learn THIS aspect of tv production?
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Old January 23rd, 2002, 06:14 AM   #17
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Chris & Ozzie,

Ofcourse it is my intention to talk as much
on these boards for everyone to learn. As
I have done all these posts. I was asking
for a personal mail conversation because
it was gettnig a bit personal. Directed to
my live and curcumstances. My appologies
for it.

Hope this explains it a bit better :)

I've finished reading Rebel without a Crew
and must say that it's a pretty nice book.
He repeats some information a couple of
times too much though imho. Otherwise I
can say it was a good read. It is even more
difficult for me now to choose between going
to school or not... sigh.. live isn't always easy
huh. Oh well, I'll figure it out in the end.

Thanks for all the response.
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Old January 23rd, 2002, 11:04 AM   #18
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I, too, have occasionally resorted to emails with the belief that I'd be boring others. However, that is the true beauty of a community such as this -- we can all learn much from the questions and comments of others, usually without fear. It's encouraged.

Ozzie's initial response to the "Master Editor" question was amazingly inciteful. I shared it with my bride, who teaches both written and verbal communications at the college level. She pointed out that virtually everything Ozzie mentioned could be applied to editing skills in her curriculum, as well. Seems like a common thread here.

For those of us that still do this part-time or as an avocation, and haven't yet made the plunge into the "produce or don't eat mode", this community brings into focus where I need to concentrate in order to get to the next level.

I may never get there, but it's been a lot of fun so far....

Vic
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Old January 23rd, 2002, 11:34 AM   #19
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Lohman : Chris & Ozzie, Ofcourse it is my intention to talk as much on these boards for everyone to learn. As I have done all these posts. I was asking for a personal mail conversation because it was gettnig a bit personal. Directed to my live and curcumstances. My appologies for it. -->>>

Rob,

No apologies expected nor necessary. Hell, after I've poured my most personal thoughts in this forum, what can be so personal? The answers you get to your questions, even if you think they are personal, can very easily be of help to others who lurk but seldom write.
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Old March 18th, 2005, 06:51 PM   #20
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Rob, I know this post is a few of years old but it is still of interest. Funny how something you started a 3 years ago can still be on the internet as public information. Anyway, I was wondering which direction you actually took. School or practical experience? Obviously you are still into this because I have traded a few posts with you.

I joined the Army right out of High School because I couldn't afford college and didn't really know what I wanted. I chose audio video as my career field and went to a pretty neat school. We learned some old style film and tape splicing but mostly analog video. The school was interesting, but I really learned everything once they sent me to do the practical work. I made training videos for a couple of years. Then I went to Germany and worked at the American Forces Network in Frankfurt. I started out runing master control which meant following the program log for everything we aired on the station. Then went to the news room to do camera and lighting, ran the tape room, audio, switcher/TD and eventuall the directors chair for the news and a few other things.

I saved up my money while in the service and got out and went to flight school. That is where I learned the real discipline of learning technical stuff by reading until you not only understand, but can teach it. I flight instructed, flew cargo planes, then went the regional airlines for four years. Of course all of this was a huge change but there are some very surprising similarities to directing a live newscast. The level of multi tasking required at times is the same. In the studio, you have a wall of monitors and switches everywhere. In the cockpit you have instruments with of course more buttons and switches. I am now furloughed (laid off with recall rights) from airlines and am very happy about it.

It seems that I developed a passion for making movies over the last several years and now have my next 20 years of work planned out. I am building a production company from the ground up. Starting with the business aspect and pretty much doing all of the work myself. Digital has changed much of the way work is done, but my strength lies very much in the seven years I spent learning how to shoot, edit, light and direct while serving the man. I also did some corporate work while in flight school. Tried the networks but they did'nt pay half of what the corporate stuff did. This message board has helped me quite a bit in understanding how the digital world works. It will become in very useful from here out.

The road is long but all we can do is keep walking and hope that someone gives us a ride now and then. BTW if any of you plan on making movies about airplanes and need a consultant, I am your man.
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Old March 19th, 2005, 09:26 AM   #21
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How interesting to return to this after 3 years. I can't believe it
has already been 3 years. Wow.

On the one hand a lot has happened, on the other it seems not
a lot has happened.

I didn't go to any school. For a number of reasons. First, schooling
(in the traditional sense) really hasn't work for me in the past. It
seems I'm more of a learn my self, learn with the help of others
or learn by doing kind of guy. Another major reason was that I
really did not want to return to school for 4 years (after having
worked 3 already) and then wondering if I was going to get a
job and what kind of job that would be.

The film scene here in Holland is quite small, both in number of
(interesting) movies being made as well as the number of people
who can actually support themselves with the craft. This also
means not a lot of positions seem to open up (but could also be
my lack of understanding of the very closed film scene here).

There where three things I would've been interested in. Directing,
but that was impossible to get in. Editing and camera work. But
these two only really started to develop in myself in the years
between then and now. In those two fields I doubt I would've
found much work.

Althought the TV industry is quite big here, it really doesn't seem
that interesting, unless it is fictional series. Those only exist here
as soap shows here which I really do not want to work on.
Seems to be a lack of that here, quality TV or film (although film
is slightly increasing over the last couple of years). I'm talking way
below the Hollywood standard, and even a lot find that to be too
low most of the time.

The final nail in the coffin of the filmschool was money. It can be
quite expensive to go and I already had some other financial
commitments I would not have been able to get out of. So I doubt
I could have afford it in the end.

So I decided to pursue the way to inform and learn myself with
help from others (here on DVInfo.net and books etc.). I can't
believe what I've learned in those 3 years, although I would've
liked to gained more experience. Problem is time. I'm still at the
same IT (computer programming) job and that takes away a lot
of time.

But I've managed to complete one movie, shoot another, edit a
few other things I had lying around and do a bit of color correction
work for somebody else. The greatest thing I've done was the
Lady X series (see link in signature), both as an executive producer,
but also in making my own episode (learned a lot, again).

Unfortunately I had to get rid of my XL1S due to some choices I
had made (two hobbies are expensive! heh) and this put me into
the following phase.

I'm trying to work out a few movie ideas I have (although it is
going too slow in my opinion) so to be better prepared when I
return to shooting, whenever that may be.

The last thing I'm working on is actually leaving the Netherlands
behind and going to the US, to try my luck there. I've learned a
great deal about that as well (that this isn't going to happen
easily) and we'll see where all of this takes me between now and
a couple of years.

All in all I'm pretty proud of what I've done and learned over the
course of these last 3 years. I've become a moderator here on
DVInfo.net and hopefully have helped others on the way of their
dreams and hopes.

Thank you very much for your interest! You seem to have had an
interesting journey yourself as well. The aviation industry seems
to be interesting! All the best with your production industry!

As they say in astro-imaging: clear skies!
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Old March 19th, 2005, 01:17 PM   #22
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Rob,

It certainly does look like you have gained a lot of experience.
I have been watching some of those Lady X episodes. While they are pretty cheezy, some of them are very well put together. I really liked the one you did. It was brilliant how you got around the use of dialogue. Everything was implied with nothing spoken. Like the part where the cell phone rings and that guy hangs up and executes the guy in the chair. All you know is that the order came from above.

The producer aspect of all of this must have been quite a learning experience. I would be interested to know a little more about how you and John got started on all of this. Is Lady X played by a different girl in every country? I checked out John's site and I can imagin how you two may be teleconfrencing. You may not even realize the potential of the work you have already done on the series.

Right now I am working on story for a low budget movie that I believe has the potential to scare millions of people and they will take thier kids to see it. Once I finish the script (which shouldn't be more than about a months or two) and copyright it, I'll show it to you if you are interested. Maybe it would be a good reason for you to come to the States. Anyway, Thanks for the speedy reply.

Ozzie, if your still around this forum, I just want you to know that I have been watching your work all my life. Even as an adult! When I was at AFN Frankfurt I watched re-runs of Sesame Street every morning. That is quality entertainment and I still learn something from it every time I watch it. My wife would like to compliment the elegance of your writing. Well, so would I but I don't want to sound like a sycophant.
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Old March 19th, 2005, 04:00 PM   #23
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Wow Rob. I started reading this thread without looking at the dates until about half way through when you said "it's been 3 years"!

It's strange, because your situation is almost exactly as mine was and is. I've been mulling over things for a few years too. I am a programmer, with some ever growing force trying to pull me into film/tv (Basically I need more of a creative, collaborative life than what software engineering offers me). I currently have all the dilemmas you do/did. Do I give up my good job and go to film school? (I've been thinking about this the last few weeks) Do I give up the job and get some other job somewhere, at least in the industry (But probably on almost no salary given my lack of skills in the industry)? Do I just try and do it myself? (School has always been hard for me) It's a hard one to answer, and the fear is paralysing at times. With a mortgage and stuff (And I'm nearly 34), trying to make that transition into an unknown area where you have no idea if you're going to be any good, or can make a living in it, can be a very difficult process. One thing I wondered, was have you thought of keeping your job (i.e. some financial security) but only part time. Trying to find something where you can work a couple of days or so a week (I'm assuming your programming is reasonably lucrative enough to do this) and then spending your spare time either on your own projects, or volunteer/low pay assisting in production houses to get some hands on experience? That's the situation that I have decided I am going to try to make for myself as a first step. If I can get that, I can actually have time, outside of my work life to be creative and from there build my skills/reel etc. Then when the time, confidence, security and all that feels ready, make a full transition.

Whatever you do, I wish you good luck!
Aaron
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Old March 20th, 2005, 05:18 AM   #24
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Cleveland,

Thank you for your complements. I actually thought some of that
was a major weakness in the movie, heh. Producing has definitely
taught me a lot, however, we weren't involved in the details of
the production of all the episodes. We layed down the rules, made
sure scripts where written (and read) before shooting and try to
do our best to keep everything on schedule. Which didn't always
work. The final step was compressing (we received all episode
on tape and/or DVD in DV format) and uploading it to the site.

We then held a voting round where producers could vote on their
favorite episodes in the serious for the various categories. They
could of course not vote for their own. The Executive Producers
where not allowed to vote.

Paul Sedillo and John Locke started the project and idea. They
asked Ken Tanaka and me to join during the design stage. So we
all had some say in how the series developed.

Yes, Lady X is played by a different "actrice" in each country. Due
to logistics. One of the rules that was layed down was that Lady X
should not speak or be clearly visible, due to the different actrices.

For more of the guidelines for shooting see this page:
http://www.ladyxfilms.com/whatisladyx2.html

We did not control the stories, however some general guidelines
where layed down besides the one above. Like that somehow
the operative(s) should receive an instruction in the beginning and
hand whatever they should retrieve to Lady X at the end, where
she should disappear without the operative being able to follow etc.

Thank you for the offer, always nice to read scripts people write.
Just shoot me an e-mail (see signature below) and we'll take it
from there!

Ozzie should still be around, not sure he'll read this thread though.

p.s. I am the guy on the receiving end of the bullet....


Aaron,

Funny how people from so far away can be in the same kind of
situation, no? I'm 27 at the moment. New Zealand seems to have
a pretty good movie industry starting. If the shooting of King Kong
is going anything like Lord of the Rings they will require a lot more
hands soon *grin*

Starting to do some more parttime work is not really possible for
me at this moment. Over the course of a couple of years costs
have risen a lot here to the point where the income starts to feel
too low. Since I am single this is even harder. Lots of people here
who are together have double income, which would certainly help
tremendously in such situations.

If the move to the US is going to happen I will need a pretty large
amount of money to actually move and get a life started there. So
I'm currently saving as well.

Even with a parttime job I have no idea how I would be able to
really do anything in the film industry overhere. It is that closed.
I already know more people in the film industry in the states than
in my own country, haha.

I still want to make my own "indie" movies, but I want to make
sure the story is sound first (at least for me, haha). Also working
on some big ideas which I couldn't execute at this point in time
anyway.

Thank you for your kind words as well Aaron and I wish you all
the best with your career as well! Hopefully you'll make your dream
come true over in beautiful NZ.

All the best,
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Old March 20th, 2005, 11:04 PM   #25
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It almost looks as if you are trying not to laugh at one point during the electrocution scene.
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