Showing posts from December, 2011

The Unique Voice of Vinegar Hill

I've recently become intrigued by the filmmakers of Vinegar Hill. I first came across their short film "The Cosmonaut", and was captivated by their storytelling style.

THE COSMONAUT from Vinegar Hill on Vimeo.

They are currently working on a feature called Twin Reflex- their successful Kickstarter shows some great ideas:

Twin Reflex — Featurette #1 from Vinegar Hill on Vimeo.

I find this method of filmmaking interesting... it's sort of a fusion of cinéma vérité and role-playing. I like the fact that they have a solid technical background but are now approaching this feature in a fresh, albeit experimental, way. And I love it. It drives me to want to try it.

It's been a re-occurring theme in my posts, but I can't stress it enough: If you want to stand out, approach each piece of work differently with UNTESTED ideas and methods. Break yourself out of your comfort zone and truly challenge yourself. Techniques, like cameras, are only tools- use them to your creati…

...almost there...

It's been a tumultuous ride for Southside of Elsewhere... but I can say that we are 99.999% finished with it- and we are pushing to have it finished by week's end. With that, we're really proud of how it's turning out and we've decided to submit it to the festival circuit instead of releasing it online.

Right now we're in the process of sound design- the hardest and most rewarding part of putting a film together. Sound adds the texture of the world you're characters are in- it adds believability and life to the film.

One of my favorite filmmakers, Walter Murch, talks about "worldizing" sound design in this clip. Enjoy!

Inspiration Monday 12/19/2011: It's not about the toys. It's about the vision.

I'm always excited for new technology as much as the next guy.  Canon C300? Sign me up. Red Epic? Pretty please. As nice as these toys are, without any solid artistic background or talent, they aren't going to improve your work.

Take this short film for example- it's amazing! The cinematography, direction, editing, performance, colorgrading, audio... it's a fantastic piece and it RIVALS many feature length studio released films shot on 35mm film- and it was shot on a little Canon HV20 consumer camera. 

White Red Panic (HD) from Ayz Waraich on Vimeo.
Now, I own one.  I am first to admit that you have very limited control over many of the camera features... but Ayz knows this and he worked within what he was able to do, and the results are amazing.  He relied on his directing, cinematography and editing abilities using only what he had available. His equipment limitations gave him parameters to work within, giving him the chance to explore ways to tell the story by probl…

And All I Ask is a Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By...

If you've ever read Sea Fever By John Masefield, and you have a passion for something, you know what I mean. It's simply time to redouble my efforts and narrow my focus. 2012 will mark finishing Southside of Elsewhere, creating another short with refined and better technique, and starting on my first feature.  If you've been to my main site-, you'll notice it's had a major redesign to reflect that.

So with all of that, I've decided to retire from freelance illustration and web design. While I'll still take on freelance graphic design, photography and video production jobs, they all fall into what I deem necessary to steer my ship to reach my goal- to do filmmaking fulltime, and support my family while doing it. 

In the meantime, please check out and like my new Facebook page-

Lost Skies Demo Reel from Juan Maestas on Vimeo.

Poor thing is sitting patiently, cold in the garage. I am going to replace the carb…

Inspiration Monday 12/12/2011

Well, it's been a hectic week.  I've been busy with some upcoming changes- of which you'll see by the end of this week.  I promise, it's huge!!

So, because of that, there isn't much to show this week in terms of inspiration- but I did find some pretty radical stuff:

EYE OF THE STORM  |  Lovett from Lovett on Vimeo.
This video is awesome- with all the steampunk elements, it blows my mind everytime I watch it.

The Gift from BLR_VFX on Vimeo.
While the FX are seamless in this video- as compelling as the concept is, it is a bit light on story.  Still, I added it here as an incredible example of blending live action with CGI.

I've been on a film noir kick, again lately.  A big part of that is the feature I'm working on with Aaron Colburn... but another is the current script I'm writing, well, rewriting.  This film school student's example of film noir lighting and mood is very inspiring.

Well, I'll be posting more this week- stay tuned for the big anno…

On Set: The Lean Production

Sometimes it's just not feasible to have a giant crew. You may need to work fast and if the actors are willing to work with you (if they believe in the project), you can do it- but it will require discipline, focus, planning, creativity and resourcefulness to pull it off.

Of course, you'll have to make a few concessions- no cast of thousands, no opulent locations, no labor-intensive setups, and cast carefully- you'll want to work with someone who is willing to go that extra mile- and you'd be surprised at how many are willing. Unfortunately, the flip side is that many of those who WERE willing are now not, because their good graces have been taken advantage of by many an unscrupulous filmmaker. Said filmmakers can ruin it for the rest of us. But this post isn't about them- it's about you and your lean production.

First and foremost: You ABSOLUTELY have to have an incredible script with emotional depth. It has to blow people's socks off. A good script i…

Inspiration Monday 12/5/2011

Well, here we are again! I've been looking for inspiration lately- particularly in terms of my new feature script. I want to do this one right: by that I mean I want to BE ABLE to do this by starting with a story that uses only what is available to me rather than spend years finding investors and making shorts or a webseries based on it (which is a strategy with merit, but is time away from just making the damn film).

But even though I've been in screenwriter mode, finding video to help with my visuals often helps me in both writing AND making plans on how to approach the film when I feel like I'm ready.

OFFF New York Titles from Rob Chiu on Vimeo.I was told this is cubist editing- the quick flashes of items with the jittery editing could really give someone a headache if they had to watch an entire feature film like this, but when used appropriately, it gives the sense of dreamlike abstraction.

Canon EOS C300 = Awesome from Jonathan …

Feel what you mean, but not what you say!

So I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I'm going to post today- since I have resolved myself in keeping this blog very active to AT LEAST two postings a week. I was planning on doing a post about ADR or cubist editing.

The day got away from me as started going through my lostskies email (it doesn't hold very much so I'm pruning out old emails) and I came across this advice I had posted on a forum a few years ago. I saved the text in an email so I could keep it for my own records. In any case, my foresight is helping us out here :)

The forum person asked why their dialogue felt so stale even though he felt his plot was exciting. This was my response:


Dear ******,

I know you didn't ask for tips, but I just felt that some advice on scripting dialogue might help you find out why you're running into some problems, and offer advice to others who might be in the same quandary.

Most of the time, as I've seen with many new writers when they …