Tag Archives: Filmmaking

Expansion of SNL Magazine

While I love filmmaking, lately I am dipping my hands into many new ventures personally and becoming involved in artistic projects with others. Going with the screenwriting rule: Write what you know, I decided to expand the magazine to involve not only my own endeavors but that of others as well.

The new magazine is called Sunny Style Magazine at sunnystyled.com. It will contain articles, interviews, and news pertaining to Clothing, Music, Filmmaking, Non-Profit, Photography, Comedy, and Extras such as podcasts, theater, etc.

What makes this magazine different? We are following and interviewing those creating their own paths in their respective industries, not the typical mainstream players. The magazine is designed to inspire and inform about the individuals that are making big strides in today’s world. One of our main goals is to keep the reader optimistic and motivated about his or her own goals, which is how the name Sunny Styled came into development.

I hope this magazine will offer the inspiration and information needed to help you push past limits and impact the world with your artistic endeavor.

The new site will be launched on December 1, 2012. Looking forward to seeing you there.


Chief Editor


Webseries — Marketing

So you’ve made a webseries, now what?

I am going to list what I believe is most important for the marketing of your webseries. Some may be irrelevant to your project, or you may need additions. Adjust it according to your project.

First and foremost, make a website for your webseries. Place the series on as many sites as possible, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv, etc. Different viewers go to different sites, so opening it up to as many people as possible should always be your goal. You should know about youtube’s partnership program that allows you to gain some “sponsorship” from them. They will likely not pay you much, but it is definitely worthwhile.

Maybe try to enter it into film festivals, especially those specializing in new media. I see the publicity for media heavy festivals as publicity within the industry, which can certainly help you with future collaborations.

This is kind of obvious, but make a facebook for the series. Twitter account. Tell your family and friends to share it with their families and friends.

If you find that your locale may be to your advantage, approach local media sources. If not, or in addition to, approach relevant blogs and other similar media sources or possibly any random but somewhat relevant sites on the internet.

Sign up for Cynthia Turner’s cynopsis media for the latest breaking news about everything digital…it’s called Cyn Digi for the sign up. I highly recommend it to stay up to date on the happenings within the industry. It’s the insider’s news source.

Think about attending different new media festivals to meet other artists.

Read read read all that you can about webseries. And watch! Know what else is being aired online. Maybe you can ride the wave with someone else that’s already popular. Or maybe you can fill a void that you believe exists. Maybe there is a wave of content about a subject, but nothing more than news sources about it….and you say to yourself, “how cool would it be if there was a show on this subject?”

This leg of the game is all about putting yourself out there. Be scared, but realize fear can drive you. Come up with other creative ways to get the word out there. Make sure to get people’s opinions on it. Let your audience be interactive with it. Let them feel involved. Who knows, they may be able to help you more than you can imagine.

Morgan Spurlock’s Tips for Filmmakers

At the Sheffield Doc/Fest, Morgan Spurlock, director and creator of the documentaries Super Size Me and POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold gave some great tips to filmmakers during his film’s panel. Those of us that know the Academy Award nominee from the hills of West Virginia know that he loves to push boundaries in his docs, and he has made quite the name for himself for that very reason. We’ve learned to love him and respect his work. So we certainly appreciate any advice he offers.

If you’re in your own movie, don’t be afraid to cut yourself. He surrounds himself with “no men” those that will honestly tell him what they think. I had a friend and mentor tell me, never be afraid to kill your babies in the editing room. You may love it, especially if you yourself is in the film, but if it’s not absolutely necessary for the movie to progress forward, chop it. ​

Keep it on the fly. They don’t shoot anything multiple times. Everything is shot in real time. Rarely do they use a tripod. ​

Love thy lawyer. Spurlock says, “I love lawyers. A good lawyer will keep you out of trouble. A great one will help you cause it. We want to make sure we can dance as close as possible to that edge of that line, but stay on the side of the law.”

Do what needs to be done. Everybody worked for free on Super Size Me. He did odd jobs during the production to keep it flowing. His grandparents paid for the crew to fly out to the premiere at Sundance. ​

Keep it positive! He recommends keeping a good team surrounding you. Drop all negativity, no matter what. His biggest goal is to always hire people smarter than he is. ​

Envision how you’re going to market the film before completing it. This is something I repeat constantly, both in my own head and in the Filmmaking Blog. I believe it is vital to the success of your film. ​

Listen! Listen to people. Make sure that everyone has the opportunity to chime in whenever possible. ​

Trust your editor. Spurlock says, “If you want to empower the editor, don’t hover over them. The more you leave the room, the more they’re involved, the more they’re invested. That’s the reason all of our editors want to come back. They get a real sense of creative freedom, which makes all the projects better.”​

​Great advice! Do you have any advice you would add to this?

For more on Morgan Spurlock advice, check out this video about his doc POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold How I sold out

The Online Presence

I’m going to change gears a little bit with DIY distribution to talk more about online presence. At Ingen Pictures, we are filming our first web series now. It has been an exciting process, and we hope that it will better our company. We will be airing it on youtube, but decided to do a hybrid between youtube styled video and a television show to accommodate our mixed targeted audience of youtubers and traditionals. So, I decided to not only write about our experience of making this new series and how it works out in the long run but to also write about all of the research I will be doing regarding that series. So here it goes…

I think one of the greatest things about making online content is you are not controlled by the network OR by distributors OR by the market. If you’ve ever worked with a television network, you know that they have the final say and will manipulate the content however they please. It is a VERY frustrating process for the artist. It’s about what will sell for the highest ratings. With the internet, all of sudden we have a freedom to develop content that no one has ever seen before…ORIGINAL. If you are passionate about one thing in particular, create content around that. Go with what you know and what you love when you write the story.

Next, who is your audience? It’s always best to have a niche audience to target. You can start with that niche audience and then hope it grows outward from there. Come up with a plan before you start filming….or as soon as possible.

The Tom Cruise blog is a great read. When talking about how important the story is, it states:

Mike Ajakwe jr, founder and Executive Director of The LA Web Series Festival, has watched more than 500 web series. He’s endured and enjoyed more web originals than most mortals, and he is unequivocal about what works: “The story has to move. The same rules of film, television and theater apply. You want a three-act structure—a beginning, a middle and an end. Every scene must mean something, must drive the story forward,” he says. ”You can have a show that looks great, but if it’s not about anything, then it’s not taking your audience anywhere.”

Felicia Day is the creator of probably the most successful webseries to date, the Guild. In her blog  she writes that four questions should be asked before you start. How is my project unique to the Web? How is my series unique to ME? Who is my audience and how will I reach them? Do I Know what I’m getting into?

A great quote clarifying just how important the audience is from Felicia Day’s blog: “If you can’t sit down and easily identify what kind of person will like your show and name 5 places that person might go to on the internet, you will have a hard time getting the word out, no matter how good it is.”

Two great guides are: How to Build An Audience For Your Web Series and Youtube Creator Playbook. You can download both of these books. I will write separate articles about these reads coming up.

Michael Henry’s blog post about the formation of his production company Quandary Productions and the making/promotion of his latest film “I Work” is a great read about the importance of online presence and the importance of getting creative with your advertisement. They took their advertising to another level of creativity. And…it seemed to work. He made a great point: he took a much needed break after filming to travel. It gave him some time to gain inspiration and motivation again to push through post production. After he finished post, he had a one time premiere at a local school. At that point, he had only promoted the film locally, but directly after the screening, he set off to travel Southeast Asia for 7 months. He was able to build his plan over those 7 months, not to mention the reach expanded to worldwide while he met people from all over the world on his trip. Michael Henry posts, “Over the course of the seven months I slowly built a strong Twitter following, set up the Quandary Productions Filmmaker Support Scheme, made the decision to support charities around the world which we had visited, with 5% of all our profits, and made a thorough list of promotional material I would release in order to get the film the attention we felt it deserved. When we returned, all the hard work paid off. We made back the (modest) budget in the first ten minutes of release, and ‘I WORK’ has started to receive something of a cult-following online.”

Now they are using their online following to support a kickstarter (but on their personal website) for their future projects. In this article, he writes about utilizing social media at every step of production. People love to watch behind the scenes, so even before filming begins, flood (or generously post) about casting announcements, crew announcements, thoughts, or any message pertaining to the film. During production, keeping an on-set blog up-to-date peaking interests. Post messages, announcements, pictures, anecdotes, actor and crew profiles or even short clips of video. Make sure to have varieties of high resolution press photos, allowing the media to easily write up a story about the production. Remember publicity is free advertisement!

Coming to the bottom line, online presence is what will propel your filmmaking products beyond anything in the past. If you utilize to its potential, you can truly make something powerful move. Remember as filmmakers, all we dream for is to get as many people as possible to view our work. Now we have the opportunity via the world wide web. Let’s figure out how to make it work for us.

Have you had the web help you with your film? Or have you heard of it hurting someone’s film? Do you know of any success stories? Looking forward to your comments below.

Web Series by Ingen Pic

We are working on our first web series titled “123 UnderGround.” We are extremely lucky and thankful that we have a great crew and cast working for experience only. ​It has been quite an experience for us. First off, we offered positions to many of our friends that have never worked on a set before. I filled many of the positions myself: Producer/Co-Director/Production Manager. Definitely a way to keep me busy. Even though I explained responsibilities to the newbies on set, I should have offered more training to keep them busy. Learn for next time.

I’m not sure we would change anything on this round. We procrastinated a bit too much and ended up not being able to use a good portion of the equipment we were offered, but it turned out great. Thank you so much to our friend Mark Totten for offering his equipment. ​

One thing I didn’t expect….we said no budget but it ended up being a heavy chunk of a budget out of mine and Kevin’s pockets. Equipment is expensive. Luckily we had lunch donated, which is something I will have to lock down for any future shoots as well. But to keep budget down, we decided on the rule that if it’s not a full day, people will have to provide their own lunch for the next few months or until we can afford to provide it. ​

The great thing about indie filmmaking is that a small crew allows you to move fast! Luckily we had enough people on set that Kevin and I could direct without having to worry about minuscule bits​, but next round I will teach my friends exactly what we need help with to make things move even faster. I believe that if we continue to do this often, people will learn, and we will be more efficient than I ever dreamed.

Planning was key to being efficient. We posted the broken down script on the wall to analyze scenes the week before. All props and equipment were prepped and ready during the week prior. All cast and crew were locked down several weeks beforehand…actually it was more like a month. I changed the script at least 10 times to make things easier on us to shoot. Lunch was arranged a month ahead of time. We had table readings arranged weeks ahead of time to prep the actors. We practiced with the equipment beforehand to make sure everything was in working order. We bought plenty of extras (media cards, cables, batteries etc.). We brought everything to set we could possibly think may be needed JUST IN CASE. We notified the police department. We made sure everything was arranged with the location owner as needed. And nothing went wrong. ​

The only bad thing out of the entire experience was the sound. We chose a location on a major roadway, and wow was it loud. I was hoping we could work while the church crowd was off the roads, but that only lasted for two hours. Sunday’s are just as busy as any other day on the road. ​We will have to ADR everything, build the sound from nothing. But, I don’t necessarily think that will be a bad thing. We may end up with amazing sound. Who knows…we will find out soon.

Mark Totten covered the behind-the-scenes footage for us. He will cutting it together to provide tutorials. Check back soon.​

If you would like to stay up to date with us on our webseries, please follow the facebook page.

Shoots and Ladders Filmmaking Emagazine


Maybe you attended a movie premiere, watched a television show that rocked your world, imagined the perfect commercial for a brand, or maybe you’ve been obsessed with filming since you can remember. You watched the credits roll, just thinking “How cool would their job be?”

My epiphany was similar. As soon as I realized I wanted to work in the industry, I hit up the local film office asking how I could get started. After working for 9 months, I decided to attend school for theatre…that being the only thing that was available and similar to film. While in school, I worked on projects here and there, gradually gaining more and more experience. None of my classmates were doing the same. 75% of them wanted to work in the film industry, but all of them had the same mentality, “Move to LA after school. Then get jobs.”

So I started talking to the chair of the department and another professor about this situation. After months of developing an idea, I started a project with the goal of helping people get started in the film industry. We came up with a web series rotating around interviews with industry professionals. I attached people I never believed I could attach. The expense of it though, was astronomical….at least $400,000 to cross the country and shoot/edit the entire thing. So needless to say, it fizzled out.

Since then, I graduated and have been hard at work. And now, I’m back to the project. I will not be doing the cross country version of interviews, but gradually compiling interviews as I go. I will link articles, magazines, books, videos, anything that I find will be helpful to anyone getting started. Also, for any videos that I film, I will make sure to compile plenty of behind the scenes and tutorials for all of you.

Here we go!