This week we have write Katie Johnson on the show to talk about starting a career in writing, working in a writers room and writing on season three of Shooter. If you are interested in a career in writing in Hollywood this is the episode for you!
Born in Taiwan and raised in Tennessee, Katie Johnson obtained her BFA in Writing from Screen & Television at The University of Southern California. As a fine art model, Katie’s work has been seen in Photo Magazine, the Musée d’Orsay, and David LaChapelle’s “anti-commercial” ten-minute long art film and international campaign for Swedish designer Happy Socks, “Happy Accidents: The Exorsocks”. In addition to her writing and acting, she volunteers her time and image with Pin-ups for Vets, a non-profit dedicated to helping the veterans community.
Getting Started in Writing
Katie talks to us about how she got started in writing and why her IMDB is filled with more acting credits than writing credits.
Working in the Writers Room
Katie talks to us about how she got into the writers room at Shooter and how things worked on that show.
Timothy grills Alrik on what he’s got planned for the podcast, we talk over the various co-hosts and some of the guests we have planned. Rather than tell you all about it here, you’ll find out more about it next week!
Making Movies is Hard & Lewberger Live Show!
Thats right, we are doing another live event!
This time it’s in LA with one of our new co-hosts, Alex Kellerman! You can find out more about Alex at his website and twitter and you’ll hear much more from him in a couple weeks! Kellerman also made an appearance on the podcast early one, check it out below!
It’s going to be on Saturday 12/08/2018 at 10pm at the Pack Theater in LA with our special guests Lewberger!
Lewberger is a comedic musical act. They are Keith Habersberger and Alex Lewis accompanied by Hughie Stone Fish on the keys! They are going to be live on stage to talk about their band, music videos and of course their one take musicals.
We started the podcast as two filmmakers wanting to share our experience and knowledge with other filmmakers like us. It’s amazing to think we probably only had 10 listeners when we started and now have more than a thousand from all over the world, including Amir in Malaysia. Hi Amir.
Timothy talks over the major lessons he learned while making the podcast these last three years.
1. This is the best time to be a filmmaker but also the worst.
The landscape for indie filmmakers has changed drastically. In 1994 , there were 315 feature film submissions to the Sundance Film Festival and of those 169 were screened. Currently there are 10 times more films being submitted to Sundance, In 2018, 3,901 were submitted, 110 were screened. So that’s 10 times more films being made with a little more than 1/2 the slots to screen them. Bottom line: more films and less room for them.
This shows me that it’s easier than ever to make a film, but harder than ever to make a career from it. It’s the very rare filmmaker that gets paid to do the kind of filmmaking they are passionate about. Let’s say 1% of the 1% will get paid to make feature films on the level we all dream of. That is – 1% of us will make it into a festival like Sundance, and only 1% of those filmmakers will go on to a career as filmmakers – there are only a few Rian Johnson’s and Gareth Edwards of the world. The odds are, you aren’t one of them.
2. Knowing #1, don’t get discouraged. You still could be one of the greats. You won’t know until you’ve made a bunch of films. You might need to make 10 bad films before you make a good one.
3. Advertising pays the bills. Almost every filmmaker we’ve talked to is surviving by working on corporate or commercial projects. It’s hard to make a career just as a feature filmmaker, so look for a sustainable way to pay your rent and free up your time to work on your features.
4. It’s important to redefine success for yourself; You need to define success in terms of something you have control over. You don’t have control over what the audience thinks of your film, which festivals you get into, finding a producer that believes in you, all you have control over is your film and your story. Success means taking the future into your own hands and making your own opportunities. Success is simply finding a way to make your films, whatever that means for you. Success = finding a way to make your films and keep it going by creating a model based on your own life. If all you can do is making films for $5k, do it! If it means working in advertising, do it! If you have to quit your job and go on unemployment, do that! The only one stopping you from making films is yourself. So the first steps to success is accepting that you are the first hurdle. As the Duplass Bros. said: The calvary is not coming. Do not wait for the calvary.
5. Don’t wait for opportunities, make your own opportunity. This was one of the earliest lessons on the podcast. You, no one else, has to push things forward. You need to be your own producer. If you’re waiting for something before you get started on your film, you are doing it wrong. Take control. Start as soon as you’re ready. Be your own producer.
6. The opportunities that result from each project will feel less like big leaps and more like small steps. It’s natural to feel like you aren’t getting there fast enough but if you keep going and taking opportunities that help you grow, you’ll look back after several projects and see just how far you’ve come. Don’t expect to go from a short film to a Marvel movie. That would be like taking an elevator to the penthouse suire, But a career in filmmaking looks more like climbing the stairs than taking an elevator to the top floor. It’s very unlikely you will make something and take an elevator to the penthouse suite, but instead, each film is a flight of stairs and you have to climb those stairs one flight at a time and there’s no telling which floor the penthouse suite is. Get comfortable with the journey because careers in this industry move slowly and there’s no way for you to know that where a project will take you, so all you can do is focus on improving your skills one project at a time so if you ever do make it to the top floor, you will be ready.
7. If you’re going to ride big waves, make sure you’re ready for it. And if you find out you weren’t as prepared as you should have been, you fall of your board, crash into the reef and almost drown, everyone is going to understand if you need to take a break before you try again.
We also talk over our favorite moments and our favorite guests/segments that we have done over the years.
I won’t go through all the lessons but here are some of the episodes we mentioned throughout the show.
“How do you balance completing your current project while preparing for the next without sacrificing quality on either? Basically, we don’t want to finish our current feature and then have a 3 year lull until our next project. We would like to keep the momentum going without sacrificing on post production.”
“I’ve been working on my first feature for….ever. There are many issues with finishing the film but my biggest issue has been actor’s schedules. Many no longer live where we are shooting. Leaving. Moving. you name it. Generally not being available. One lost his voice – literally to a mystery illness. One died before his last scene, which led to a long hiatus before recasting and starting over.”
Johanny / Struggling with Financing
“Usually I fund my films myself, I have done several short films that have screened in film festivals in NYC and around the world but it has been done all with my own money. I am not rich what so ever, I work two jobs and I often “forget” to pay my rent and bills just so I could do my films. I am not good at crowd funding, I did it once before and didn’t raise much money. I would love hire a full crew, since I usually end up wearing about 10 hats during production because I can’t afford to hire a lot of people to help. I would love to not use my own money but I struggle to find the right resources that can help me fund my films.”
Last year, Alrik and Timothy spearheaded a production of a music video for the band Beautiful Machines. We have two of the musicians with us on this episode, Conrad Schuman and Stefanie Ku, to talk about the process of making music videos, including their latest release “We Have 2 Escape,” produced by Alrik Bursell and directed by Timothy Plain
Beautiful Machines is an Independent Music Award winning band from San Francisco, Berlin and London. They create cinematic sci-fi, synth magic, with soaring guitar textures and pulsing beats (think Blade Runner meets M83) . The members of the band are Stefanie Ku, Conrad Schuman and Veli Matti Mattila.
“If you like enlightening music that makes you think, this band is definitely for you.” ~ Mogul
“Let yourself be carried away by the big sound of Beautiful Machines, a three-piece from San Francisco.” ~ Glamglare
“S.F.’s Beautiful Machines generate a dense arena-sized electro-rock sound that aims to be a total immersive experience, a darkly modern laser vibe with Schuman’s moody mutterings lending the right attitude. “Real Love” shows the band’s ability to create a shimmering sci-fi aura.” ~ Music Connection Magazine
Making a Music Video
Conrad and Stefanie join us to talk about making music videos, from their very first video “Animammal” to the recent “We Have 2 Escape”
This week we have local actor, writer, producer, director and entrepreneur, Tony Gapastione on the show! Tony talks to us about how he got into filmmaking and his new non-profit Brave Maker which is designed to help local filmmakers tell their stories!
Tony has worked on stage and in front of the camera acting, in print and film for over twenty-five years. He is originally from Chicago where I grew my love for theatre (especially Shakespeare), and he lives in Northern California where he works as a SAG-AFTRA actor.
Tony recently jumped behind the camera writing, producing and directing. He has made two short films and is in development on two separate feature film projects, one as a producer and one has writer/director.
While working in advertising Steve Dildarian made a short film that won the Aspen Comedy Fest and eventually turned into an HBO Animated Series. Steve shares the story of creating “The Life and Times of Tim” and gives some encouraging advice on staying inspired and motivated even when things don’t go your way.
Steve is a Los Angeles based writer, producer and artist. During his advertising career, he co-created the Budweiser Lizards TV campaign while working at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, and wrote many other well known commercials for Little Caesars, Budweiser, and Staples.
“Angry Unpaid Hooker,” Steve’s debut animated film, was awarded Best Animated Short at the Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and was later developed into “The Life & Times of Tim,” which aired for three seasons on HBO.
Steve recently wrote and acted in “The Worst Husband,” which won Best of the Fest at the New York Television Festival, and he is currently producing a TV pilot for Fox called “Dan the Weatherman.”
“The Life and Times of Tim” which ran from 2008-2012 for three seasons on HBO.
From Advertising to Television
We’re so excited to talk to Steve Dildarian today. Here are the questions we prepared for him.
What did you study in college?
How did you get started in advertising?
What were your creative goals? Did you always want to be in Television?
Here are some examples of Steve’s work on Budweiser. This iconic campaign was an ongoing series that prepped Steve for what serial television would eventually be like.
When did you start making your animated films?
Explain your method for Voice Recording.
Explain your method for animation.
When you entered festivals, what did you think would happen?
Angry Unpaid Hooker” won best animated short film at HBO Comedy Fest, how did that lead to a TV series?
The Life and Times of Time was a huge deal for everyone at Goodby. It really felt like one of us had made it and we all talked about it at the office.
The series ran for two seasons. What happened after Life and Times of Tim. Where did you pivot to next?
HBO Is going strong, but TV looks a lot different than it did in 2006. Is the new landscape of Amazon and Netflix creating new opportunities for you?
Tell us about Dan the Weatherman (the pilot at Fox)
Advertising pays good money, how does the TV world compare?
What’s your advice for anyone in advertising looking to get out, how do they keep the momentum going? What happens when you get discouraged?
This week we have filmmaker and cinematographer Vinnie Van Wyk on the show, we were introduced to Vinnie through our sponsor Dissolve because we wanted to talk to someone who makes a living through shooting stock footage and Vinnie was the first name they mentioned. We talk about how Vinnie got into video production, shooting his first video and how he approaches shooting stock footage.
Vinnie “crashed and burned” his way through more than 20 different industries before picking up a camera at the age of 24. It was a job as a personal trainer that thrust him behind a camera — the gym he was working at needed help with media. Vinnie didn’t even know what “ISO” meant, but that didn’t stop him from jumping in and starting a production studio.
Now he shoots stock full-time for Dissolve, working alongside his wife, Cindy, whom he met thanks to filmmaking — she was one of his models.
Check out this piece dissolve did on Vinnie and his approach to shooting stock footage.
Getting Started in Video Production
Vinnie talks to us about how he got started in video production.
Going from marketing to video production and diving right in.
Making the leap from a Rebel T2i to fancier cameras.
Discovering stock footage.
Shooting Stock Footage
How do you approach shooting stock footage?
How does the whole process work?
Do you just bring your camera everywhere, are you looking to shoot certain things?
How much stock footage have you shot?
How much have you made on stock footage?
Do you plan on shooting stock footage in the future or just focusing more on commercial footage?
This episode was recorded in front of a live audience right before Ben Wolan screened his film “Rubicon Road” for the first time. We explore what it feels like to share your movie and talk about Ben’s first experience directing a film.
Ben Wolan is an “advertising professional” that’s worked as a creative director and copywriter for Goodby Silverstein & Partners, 215 McCann, Droga 5 and—most recently—DDB. Timothy and Ben produced a Doritos spot in Mexico together. You can see that here: https://vimeo.com/125854709
Rubicon Road is his first short film and his directorial debut. He made the film to try putting his creativity towards something “people actually wanted to see.” The film revolves a stellar location, Ben’s great-aunt’s house. The film follows a couple that books the house using an AirBnB-style website only to find the $99 per night they paid comes with a few strings attached.
This week we have local Bay Area Director Evan Cecil on the show to talk about how he got started in film, his years of directing TV re-enactments and shooting the 21 kills in his new feature film Lasso that hits VOD on November 13th!
Evan has directed over 50 episodes for more than 10 different series, always delivering spectacular, entertaining programming on time and on budget. His current series, WIVES WITH KNIVES, has now become the top ranking show on the network. Evan’s work on these series has allowed him tremendous and varied experience directing both professional and non-professional actors, including deaf cast members on a 2012 episode for WIVES WITH KNIVES and the upcoming series CAMPUS NIGHTMARES for A&E BIOGRAPHY network. LASSO coming out on November 13th on VOD is his first feature film.
Watching Evan’s reel is not at all like watching the reel of a reality TV director, that’s because he directed all the cinematic re-enactments for all of these shows. Evan essentially made short films for every episode, complete with action sequences and even prosthetics for a show like ‘Wives with Knives’.
How did you get started directing TV?
What is it like directing one of these shows?
How much time do you have per episode?
How long did you direct these for?
How did this lead you to Lasso?
Shooting a Good Death
Lasso is your first feature film, that features a ton of deaths, talk to us about how you came up with all these awesome kills?
Writing up the kills, were they all in the script?
Executing a kill, how did they go down?
Breakdown one of your favorite kills for us.
What did you learn about shooting deaths?
What advice do you have for filmmakers who are prepping to shoot a kill scene?
Any final words on shooting these kinds of scenes?
Here is the death scene from The Cult of Chucky that Timothy brought up.