The Making of a New Short Film: “As Seen On TV”

There was a time in my life where I could call up a couple of friends with a wild idea, grab my handheld camcorder and make a short film in an evening or a weekend. It was a freewheeling, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style of filmmaking that prioritized creative freedom over everything else — including scripts, plot, lighting,Continue reading “The Making of a New Short Film: “As Seen On TV””

Wiseguys with Fedoras in the Shadows: Why I Love Telling Noir Stories

I’ve always loved a good crime drama. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with the film noir classics — Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep, D.O.A., Dark Passage. There is something about the tense atmosphere and moral ambiguity of the genre that fascinates me. A sense of doom permeated those films, especially theContinue reading “Wiseguys with Fedoras in the Shadows: Why I Love Telling Noir Stories”

What I Learned Making a Short Film on an iPhone

When I started making short films more than 15 years ago, a decent, mid-range consumer video camera was about the size of a brick and recorded either to miniDV tape or mini DVD, which was good for 60 minutes of recording. Tapes got chewed up during playback, DVDs got scratched, and in the general theContinue reading “What I Learned Making a Short Film on an iPhone”

Poverty With a View

Ten years ago, my good friend Ian approached me with an idea for a script. He had an idea to cast our high school friends in a musical and he wanted me to write the script. The resulting epic story of a pirate who gives up his pillaging ways for love, two fighting Siamese twins,Continue reading “Poverty With a View”

Apocalypse Train Through Denmark

This week, I watched two wildly different films. One was the closing night film at the First Annual Destiny City Film Festival. The other was a thriller/allegory with lots of violence and action. One was a carefully-crafted, low-key story about a man who goes searching for his grandfather and the other was a high-intensity rollercoasterContinue reading “Apocalypse Train Through Denmark”

Solstice Filming

Filmmaking is often a fast-paced process. You have to be ready to hit record at a moment’s notice and then run off to set up your next shot. Actors have tight schedules (even more so when you’re not able to pay them). Lighting conditions are in flux. It is constant movement; constant anticipation; constant, simmeringContinue reading “Solstice Filming”

The Most Important Vote You’ll Ever Cast

It took four-and-half hours of planning, blocking, messing up and fine-tuning, but the hard work finally yielded that one perfect take. For some time, a script had been languishing on my computer, unrealized. A riff on the Old Spice Guys commericials, I was hoping to put a cool/quirky spin on my workplace. And as IContinue reading “The Most Important Vote You’ll Ever Cast”

The Year In Focus

When you’re developing film by hand, you always print a contact sheet — a single print of all of the negatives on your roll of film. Every shot is laid out in neat rows, side by side for comparison. You can see which photos are correctly exposed, composed and lit and which ones you shouldContinue reading “The Year In Focus”

Waitin’ On a Train

In the summer of 1882, deep into monsoon season, the first railroad tracks reached a small community at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks in the wilderness of the Arizona Territory. The railroad brought workers and the workers attracted saloons, dance halls and gambling, transforming a few isolated lumber mills into the town ofContinue reading “Waitin’ On a Train”

The Enemy of Completion

As an amateur filmmaker, I occasionally get contracted to film an event. In most cases, this is a simple undertaking. Bring a camera, set up in a corner out of the way, press record when it starts and press pause when it’s over. Other projects are a little more demanding. Take, for instance, the weddingContinue reading “The Enemy of Completion”