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Year End Review

As 2013 comes to a close, it seems like a good time to sweep the dust off this site and reflect on what has been keeping me busy. Beware, many links will follow!

In the beginning of the year I tackled some freelance projects for local production companies in Virginia, while juggling work on:

That Post Show

Scruffy Thinking

The Scruffy Show

NAB Videos

Flight Club

and  Hero Punk

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In the spring, I started producing (and being a regular guest on) a podcast about movies and TV called, Not Just a Movie with hosts, Timmie Cole and Michael Trapani.  We created 28 episodes from April to October and will be starting production back up in January with a completely new format. We’re very happy with the content we provided and have really grown as podcasters. In 2014, we want to take the podcast a different and even more exciting route, opening it up to a larger audience while  maintaining high quality bi-monthly releases.

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In the summer, work started up on the Alaska Native documentary, very close to my heart: We Breathe Again (working title). After wrapping up principal photography and doing a mix of pre-post-production and crafting promotional materials, the creative team converged in Santa Rosa, CA for a week of ‘Edit Lab.’ The trip was very successful as we were able to break down the story structure together and delve into character arcs. 2014 (if funding allows) will hopefully be the year we can finish post production and share it with the world.

In the fall/winter I moved from Harrisonburg, VA, to Jersey City, NJ. Moving is always hectic, but it has been rewarding. As a New York native, being closer to family, friends, and industry contacts again, really gives me a boost. I find the city energizing — I love being able to see independent/foreign films in theaters and the shows/museums/amazing food don’t hurt either.

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This fall also marks the creation of a new company, That Studio — formerly Scruffy.TV. I have signed on as an official member of the team and look forward to working on a ton of new content in the pipeline. I’ve also picked up a somewhat lost hobby, deciding to jump back into 35mm photography. While I love the Panasonic GH2 for video, the stills always leave a lot to be desired, so instead of purchasing a new DSLR, I thought it would be fun to use a high quality format that I already own. I’m very curious to see how some of these early rolls of film turn out. It definitely requires a lot more discipline than digital and is forcing me to take time with each shot. Though 2014 might prove to be even busier with work on NJAM, That Studio, the Alaska Doc, and a new joint venture with Marsh Chamberlain among other things, I hope to get back into the habit of posting photos to this site.

Thanks for reading, and have a happy new year!

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How Trailers Should Work

(Originally posted by Ryan Jacobi on notjustamovie.tv)

 

The majority of movie trailers released today are overwhelmingly absurd. Before I delve into what constitutes a good trailer, let me share two of my gripes:

1) Please, stop using the “Hanz Zimmer BRAAAAMM.” It wasn’t that great even when it was fresh in the Inception trailer. Now it’s laughable, and not in that “let’s use the Wilhelm Scream in everything”  sort of way. At least the Wilhelm cliche is a homage of sorts.  The “BRAAAAM” is stale and a pathetic attempt to pique audience interest. I’m looking at you Pacific Rim trailer!

2) Do not fast forward through the entire plot of your film in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.  I know you think you need to show enough so that people have a clear understanding, but less is ALWAYS more.

Ron Howard’s Rush is a good example. It is based on a true story, but why are we getting the whole story upfront? Perhaps there are many more reveals in the film itself, but I’ve already lost interest. Why not show me one or two interesting character moments instead? Without context, none of this plot is particularly exciting. With too much context, it’s all exposition. It’s really lose, lose when you go this route.

With those bad examples out of the way, I’m going to shift my attention to what GOOD trailers do. ​

​1) They TEASE. Mad Men previews do this to a sometimes ridiculous degree, but I love them for it. They reveal nothing, but still make you want more.

Wouldn’t you rather have your audience freeze frame and try to figure out what the significance of a split second action is, creating more buzz and gossip about your work, than revealing all your cards? The Phantom Menace is no masterpiece, but remember how excited we were to dissect the trailer?

2) They ​TRICK. Am I saying I want trailers to lie? Yes and no. I want to get an idea of the tone and style of a film, but I’m very happy to be set up and even fooled into thinking the story is going to take one route, and then find upon watching the feature that it goes in an entirely different direction.

Sometimes indie films ​do this as a way of getting more of an audience. This is a bit of a gray area for me. I want these films to succeed so I understand why they try to appeal to a broader base, but this tactic is a little disingenuous. Consider Dan in Real Life. It’s a great film, but the trailer sets it up as a Steve Carrell family comedy.

In fact, the film is more of a dramedy, a lot darker than the trailer reveals. ​

​What I’m really referring to as the ideal trailer, is one that fools by omission and juxtaposition. We understand what the film is going to be, before shelling out our $$$ for admission, but have pretty much everything else kept intact to be revealed. I recently saw The Place Beyond the Pines ​and absolutely loved it.

Without giving away anything, after watching the film I had a newfound appreciation for the trailer.  It accurately hints at the genre, style, and tone and better yet, in a subtle way, it cleverly sets you up so that not only are you not spoiled, but more apt to be suprised by a few plot elements.

I’ll leave you with one more trailer technique that I enjoy. Instead of trying to cover a ton of ground, just show us a single scene that captures something about your film. It leaves the rest of the plot open to imagination and feels satisfying to get something fairly complete. (If you’ve written a scene properly, it should have a beginning middle and end all to itself!). Despicable Me achieves this well:

​Finally, I feel like this post would not be complete without this parody of bad indie film trailers. Again, I’m a complete sucker for most of the “SXSW” and  “Sundance” fare, but trailers like this unfortunately exist:

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Creating the ‘Not Just a Movie’ Podcast

After spending half a year editing podcasts for Scruffy.TV, I realized I could confidently make good on a promise to also produce a movie/tv podcast co-hosted by Timmie Cole and Michael Trapani. Since I have an audio/video background, I was not too concerned with the logistics of recording and editing, but moreso with RSS Feeds, audio hosts, and all the other technobabble you have to master before you can consider your podcast workflow sustainable.

There are many ways to quickly create a simple and cheap podcast, but I was more interested in the future proofed methods. Following days of research (podcastanswerman.com being a fantastic resource) and plenty of e-mails to Kanen Flowers and Matt Christensen of Scruffy.TV (who were incredibly patient with me), I was finally happy with my workflow. Kanen also graciously added the show to his Scruffy.TV network, so you can check it out alongside other content such as That Post Show, Scruffy Thinking, and Ruining it For Everyone. If you’re a fellow podcaster and want the full technical details, shoot me an e-mail and I’d be happy to explain our workfow.

It seemed to take forever to create a simple podcast site, get the feed setup, and add “N-JAM” to the iTunes store, but only a few weeks later, Not Just a Movie released its 4th episode. We are hoping to build a like-minded audience of film and TV buffs who love to analyze, compare, rant, and rave like us. It’s been challenging but very fun and rewarding. I have to give a ton of credit to shows out there that have produced high quality content on a weekly basis. I have been listening to podcasts since 2007 or so, and now suddenly find myself on the other side, producing weekly content.

I remember back when I was an audio assistant at a post production facility, that a good portion of my day was spent either commuting to NYC, or while on the job, catching subways, taxis, and buses or running down crowded streets scrambling to drop off the final deliverables. Podcasts kept me company during all my travels, and made me feel that my time “paying my dues” wasn’t wasted, but rather spent learning about my favorite topics and tuning into hear old friends chat. There is something magical about being entranced by an episode of Radiolab, all the while being surrounded by millions of people going about their day. Whether you’re at the gym, commuting, or doing any thousand other activities while listening (especially on headphones), podcasts can be a very intimate experience. Tuning into the same hosts week in and out creates a bond that I’m not sure even TV or film compares to. I’m looking forward to trying to create some of that same magic for Not Just a Movie and in my own way give back to the podcasting community.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and check out our blog. I hope you enjoy it.

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Podcasting about Podcasting

In July 2012 I started editing for Scruffy.TV. What a great company. We do all our collaboration via e-mail and dropbox, so most of us have never met in person, but it feels like a small, fun (geeky) family. 

Scruffy.TV started out fairly humble, with the founder, Kanen Flowers, doing almost all the work himself. Over the past year or so it has expanded a ton, as more and more talented people hop on-board.

Recently, I spoke with two of my fellow scruffy editors, Paul Congdon and Michael Schmidt (and of course the host of the show, Kanen) about the process of cutting episodes of ‘That Post Show.‘ It was a really fun conversation. I hope you enjoy it!

This episode also features the vocal talents of my wife, Timothy Maureen Cole. She kindly agreed to record the sponsorship for me (saving me from doing a billion takes myself). I’m definitely going to have her do future intros as well.

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And here is the direct iTunes link.

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Kelley Dixon on Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is truly one of the best shows on TV. I’ll be sad to see it go at the end of this summer. The writing is incredibly smart, funny, and engaging. I seriously don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad episode. My wife and I found it way too easy to marathon 3 seasons on Netflix before catching up on the more recent seasons. But of course, there’s more to such an excellent show than the writers.

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Videos that Inspire

Happy New Year! 2013 is already off to one of the busiest starts for me that I can ever recall. I’ve been doing a healthy mix of audio editing for Scruffy.TV, some video editing for a local production company, “pre-postproduction” on a documentary currently titled We Breathe Again, and a few personal projects. I’ll also be on an upcoming episode of That Post Show where I talk a little with my fellow “Posties” about editing for Scruffy.TV. I’ll be sure to share a link here when it goes live.

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