19 February 2017

Project: Waking Dragon

Filmic Pro low-light tests from Juan Maestas on Vimeo.

I wanted to give this renewed effort a memorable name, so I came up with Project: Waking Dragon. Yes, I know it's cheesy, but I wanted to put some sort of energy, some sort of familiar to it. I've always thought of my familiar as a dragon; I feel my imagination is as powerful as one. And I feel that it has been asleep for a long time, and now it's waking up.

With that, I added this first video sketch- one of many- with clips I already had to get the ball rolling. There's nothing spectacular about the editing or the choice of shots. I had to throw something against the blank canvas to get started.

I have more video sketch ideas coming which I'll get more interesting shots and more creative editing. I also have about 6 mini-docs that I'd like to do profiling interesting people I know. All these projects are designed to get more familiar with equipment, getting out and producing stuff, and basically getting the dragon some momentum. This will lead to doing some short narratives and hopefully lead to a feature within two years.

That's the goal. Here we go.





18 February 2017

Rebel Without a RED

I had worked on a film that used RED cameras- and I can honestly say the equipment is only as good as its operators. Using a RED has always been the holy grail of many indie filmmakers that choose not to dive into film. Those that do often go the Super 16mm route- like Robert Rodriguez. In his book "Rebel Without A Crew", RRod claims he shot El Mariachi for only $7,000, and most of that was for the film stock. He begged, borrowed, and stole everything else to get the film made.

Before DSLRs, using a depth-of-field adapter was the only way to get a filmic look on to digital video. I attempted a DIY version on my little HV20… with mixed results.

Speaking of HV20s- amazing short films have been shot on them- take Ayz Wariach’s WHITE RED PANIC for example- it’s not about the equipment, it’s how you LEVERAGE IT:


WHITE RED PANIC  by Ayz Wariach, 2008

Still, shooting a feature on an HV20 is still going to be massively time and resource intensive. Not to mention it’s getting harder and harder to find mini-dv tapes, which tend to go bad any way. I knew I had to go digital- of course I came to this realization 8 years ago, but bear with me.

I have been balancing budgets and I’m all about resourcefulness. When I saw a little Sundance feature by the name of Tangerine that was shot on iPhone 5s, I knew I could accomplish what I had set out all those years ago- shooting a distributable film with equipment I already had already IN MY POCKET. Robert Rodriguez said in an interview if he had a smartphone, he could have shot El Mariachi for $10.



Tangerine isn’t the first feature film to be shot on an iPhone, but it certainly is the most regarded. There are many, many shorts and a few features that have been shot, amazing cinematography- things I could only dream of back in 2005, much less 2010...11…12. I mean, take a look at this footage from NYLAC.TV- shot on an iPhone 7 Plus! The video itself is gorgeous- shot on a phone for crying out loud- but it took an artist to craft those kinds of shots:


You still need a DOF adapter if you want shallow depth-of-field shots. You’ll need other lenses for long or wide shots. And they’re out there. I’m currently looking at Beastgrip, among other options.

While the equipment is that last 10% polish that can really make a film look crisp and professional, most filmmakers fall short on the other 90%: creativity, vision, and storytelling.

It isn't always about the tools, but the artist who handles them.

17 February 2017

What lights my fire

Lost Skies Demo Reel from Juan Maestas on Vimeo.

As I look over all the endeavors of my creative life, I have often stopped to wonder what it is I am truly meant to do. I don't deny that I am gifted in drawing- but I haven't pursued it because while I do enjoy it to relax, it's only on occasion... and I never get into a state of "flow" when I do it. I'm not passionate about it.

Filmmaking, on the other hand, is something that I do enjoy. I love all aspects of it- from conjuring up a script to directing actors to finishing off the edit. I love it all. It is the art of the times.

I am truly lucky to have a day job where I am able to both draw and do video production. However, if I had to choose, I would definitely pick video... it simply interests me more.

With that, I am rebooting Lost Skies Productions for it's original function, as a virtual base for my filmmaking endeavors. I have a couple of small scripts I'm looking over and I'm planning on perhaps getting something going.

This is what I want to do.

This is what lights my fire.


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