I just wanted to take a quick moment to announce something that has been in the works for a little while. I recently moved back to California from Phoenix after 4 years. Besides the obvious reasons for ditching a desert for a beach county, we also missed our friends and family terribly. One of my best friends, Joseph Summers, has been a constant collaborator over the last decade-plus. Whether he was acting in something I was producing, writing alongside me, being my second shooter at weddings, or any number of other jobs he’s had, he has always had a passion for filmmaking. This is giant reason why I’m so excited to be back in Southern California. The two of us live only 2 miles away from each other, so now our collaborations won’t involve 5-hour drives for either one of us.
Needless to say, I’ve had to make some adjustments with moving back. It will be a new adventure looking for new clients to shoot. It is like starting all over. It feels good. Scary and exciting all wrapped up in one! And what better way to start anew than to announce the company that Joseph and I just launched?
Poets and Kings Productions is a full-service film and video production company based out of Orange County, CA. For more information, click the links below and follow along as we build this organization from the ground up! All sites are still under construction, but the general info is there. I just couldn’t wait to share with you all!
In an attempt to blog more, I thought I’d give you a little extra behind the scenes look at some of my projects. “Pale Blue Dot” has definitely been a favorite of mine (can you tell?) and is picking up steam in the festival circuit as well. We released the video March 21st of 2012 after filming it in December of 2011. Initially, I was offered two other songs (“This is Not A Home” from Saudade and “Old Man Perez”) to direct before finally ending up on “Pale Blue Dot.” I had gone as far as writing a full treatment for “Old Man Perez” and scouting the location out. We were good to go until The Find Magazine had settled on releasing PBD as a limited edition blue vinyl. Then it was back to the drawing board. The problem was, I was in love with the location. When I first heard PBD, I chose “…Perez” over it because I thought PBD sounded too futuristic and special effects-oriented. That’s how it appeared in my mind. That was, until I found these locations. (Where we filmed and how I found it is a loooong story and one I like to keep off the internet. Ask me in person.)
Mr. J. had expressed an interest in the locations after I shot him over some photos, and gave me a couple vague ideas of a man in an astronaut or hazmat suit. I really liked the thought of an astronaut crashing onto an abandoned planet that just happened to be earth in the near future. I even had an alternate scene in mind for the choruses where a child would be playing in a 50’s era kitchen with a rocket ship, dreaming of becoming an spaceman. The problem was, authentic astronaut suits just did not fit in our budget. When we had decided on the alternate costume, I had to come up with a brand new story that would incorporate the suit and the location.
The hard part in all of this was that I was working my 9-5 AND taking care of a 6-month old little girl. When J. would shoot me an email, it would take me a day or two to even respond. I’m sure on his end, it seemed like I was slipping. My hope was to storyboard the whole project and send it to him as soon as possible. In the meantime, he was getting anxious. Deadlines were approaching, and seasons were changing. He began to send me ideas that were very different from my concept. I knew I had to get him the storyboards quickly. I started out hand-drawing them, but once I realized I am great at drawing inanimate objects but terrible at people, I switched to an iPad app. OF COURSE the app I was using was having all sorts of problems. It wouldn’t export once I was done. I had to individually copy and paste every single picture from the iPad onto a template on my computer and type in directions for each shot. Ten minutes before it was ready, Mr. J. sends me his lengthiest email with ideas yet. One involved a horse, one a Speedo. As soon as I was done, I shot it over to him hoping for the best. Long story semi-shorter, he really liked it and was excited for it. We prepped for about a month and shot on a couple freezing December mornings.
I guess why I wanted to share this is that, normally, I don’t storyboard. I have ideas in my head. I sometimes write a shot sheet down, but I don’t take the time to actually draw the shots out. With a music video, there’s not always a set structure. Once you get things filmed, a lot of times, you can rearrange events or even do jump cuts to the same exact shot without throwing the viewer off. We did that in “Pale Blue Dot” in the second verse because it is a huge crescendo in the song, but the rest of the video is very much a narrative story. I think that’s why the storyboards worked so well. I was able to shoot every single angle and know that I didn’t need filler. One or two takes of the narrative content was all that was needed. (The second verse, on the other hand, had over 35 takes filmed from about 8 or 9 angles.) It made it quick and easy to get a lot in a short amount of time. In the end, I sent Mr. J. Medeiros a first cut of the video and saw this on Twitter only a few minutes later:
I don’t know if I could have sold him on the idea without the storyboards, and I doubt I would have been able to visually accomplish everything we did without them. As a little bonus, I’ve included a link to the ACTUAL STORYBOARDS I sent him that day so that you can download (sorry, kind of a big file and a few typos) and follow along with the video HERE. You may see a few distinctions between the boards and the finished product, most of which was decided while filming. For the most part, I think you’ll find the two translated VERY well from page to screen. Needless to say, I’m definitely employing the technique a lot more on projects to come. Enjoy!
The other day I saw a post on Craigslist looking for music videos to submit to a film festival with NO ENTRY FEE!!! Those of you that don’t make films may not know that for nearly every film submitted to most film festivals in the world, the filmmaker must pay between $25-$60 just to have it watched. That’s on top of the cost to print a DVD or Blu-ray and ship it to the festival. Then they decide whether it’s good enough to be screened. THEN you pay to print even more copies, ship those, along with printed materials for their use to promote in-festival AND materials like postcards and posters for your own promotion of that specific screening. Multiple festivals means BIG money the filmmaker has to fork over. Just think of how much Sundance raked in last year with THOUSANDS submitted (over 7,500 short films alone…). As you can see, a FREE SUBMISSION means a lot.
I submitted “Pale Blue Dot” through the ad and got a response about 24 hours later. They loved it and wanted to show it. Immediately. The festival itself, The Unexpected Film & Arts Festival, is a weekly showcase of short films and music videos hosted at the Karma Lounge in L.A. My video was selected for the January 30th screening. The cozy little bar projected “Pale Blue Dot” along with 4 other shorts for the patrons, filmmakers, casts, and crews followed by a Q&A with each director. This was my first Q&A, and I was a bit nervous… At the time, I thought my answers were pretty good considering my nerves. Looking back, I think I rambled on far too long. Following the screenings, the singer of one of the other music videos – the incredibly talented L’Marco (as seen on “Duets” alongside Robin Thicke) performed his versions of songs by Kimbra and Beyonce. Stand-up comedy rounded out the night. I did have to take off before the comedians wrapped, but all in all had a phenomenal night celebrating art! I left inspired too. I honestly can’t wait to submit again… hopefully next time with a dramatic short film – something that I’ve been itching to do for a while. If you live in the L.A. area, have a look at Unexpected’s site and visit some Wednesday night… And get the Karma fries! I will keep you in the loop if I get in there again. For the most up-to-date info on my screenings, follow my Twitter and Facebook pages!