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Author: Timothy

Timothy Plain is a full-time Producer at Goodby Silverstein & Partners he produces award-winning commercials for brands like the NBA, Adobe, and Cheetos. He is the writer/director of The Spirit Machine, which was the most-funded short film on Kickstarter in 2012, after raising a $96,737 in just 21-days. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3628282

Episode 114 – Visual Effects Supervisor Kaitlyn Yang

This week we talk Visual Effects with Kaitlyn Yang, an artist and supervisor that opened her own boutique VFX house after working as a freelancer for some bigger places like Zoic, Framestore and MPC.

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Alpha Studios offers services in Compositing, Matte painting, Set extension, Match moving, Rig removal, Motion Graphics, Editorial, Color and more.  This week, we spend an hour with founder, Kaitlyn Yang, to ask her how VFX work and when and how filmmakers should use post effects.

Starting Your Own Company

How did Kaitlyn go from freelancing to starting her own company? What sort of team did she put together?

Working With Visual Effects

It’s very easy to dismiss that things are happening in a computer but what actually goes into a VFX shot? Or it may just seem like magic.

Kaitlyn helps breakdown the VFX process, what sort of artists you need to get a shot done and how it all works.

When should you shoot something in-camera and when should you use post-production effects?

What’s a common misunderstanding filmmakers have about VFX?

When do you need a team of artists and when you can rely on just one person?

If pulling off Marvel level VFX is unrealistic, what is realistic? Kaitlyn says everyone should check out Miss 2059 for realistic expectations.

Working with Filmmakers

What’s the process, how does a project begin?

When should you bring in a Visual Effects team?

What does a filmmaker need to understand VFX to be good at VFX?

What’s something filmmakers aren’t doing that you wish they would?

How to Find Kaitlyn

Alpha Studios Website: http://www.alphastudios.com/

Kaitlyn’s Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/kaitlynyang

Contact Us

Thanks for listening. You can find us on Twitter @timothyplain@alrikb or @mmihpodcast! And on Facebook

We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think. Leave a comment on the episode here or send us an email

And if you dig the show, please leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher

Episode 112 – Make a DAMN Movie!!!

A listener challenges us to just go make our movies already! Plus we talk about how much you should get paid as a professional

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Make a Damn Movie!

One of our listeners writes in:

Make a damn movie! Your first movie doesn’t have to be the alternate or spirit machine or whatever, write around your limitations, to make a movie that can showcase your skills, talents, and tell a story.

Guys… I’m not gonna lie, I’m getting a little frustrated.

Tarantino didn’t start with Reservoir Dogs, he made a terrible movie called My Best Friend’s Birthday.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6MUbRZSg80 So your first movie might be terrible, but it doesn’t mean your second movie has to be.

Make a damn movie guys! It ain’t hard.

 

Plus: How Much Should You Get Paid as a Professional?

How do you decide how much you are worth? What should you get paid when you’re first starting out? How much can you eventually make? We discuss all this and more.

Contact Us

Thanks for listening. You can find us on Twitter @timothyplain@alrikb or @mmihpodcast! And on Facebook

We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think. Leave a comment on the episode here or send us an email

And if you dig the show, please leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher

Episode 111 – Becoming “Professional”

After two years of podcasting, Alrik and Timothy finally get into details about how they became working professionals. We talk about how we got our start after graduating and the steps we took to get to where we are now. Plus we respond to the Filmmaking Sucks Podcast about what it means to be a professional.

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Hey, guess what? Alrik and Timothy just worked together for the second time this year. Alrik produced and Timothy directed a four day shoot. It was the biggest commercial for both of them. Keep a look out for this commercial campaign in August. We will be sending it out. We talk about the pros and cons of commercial work and whether or not we’d do it again.

Working Professional vs Hobbyist

Back in episode 104 we had listeners dial in, one of those was Lindsay Serrano, a filmmaker from New York who also has a podcast called “Filmmaking Sucks” with Manny Serrano. A few episodes ago, Lindsay and Manny talked about MMIH and we had to respond to a few things they said.

First of all, we may be professionals on paper but we don’t feel like it.  We share more in common with Lindsay and Manny than we do with anyone in Hollywood. But point taken, we do work professionally. How does that help us? How does that hurt us? We discuss how being a professional is holding us back and what it means to be a professional. We also point out how the way we work as professionals is no different than being a hobbyist.

Timothy points out that a big hurdle for us to think in microbudget terms is that the crew we have access to costs a certain rate and getting them to work for little to no money is near impossible. The math of microbudget filmmaking for us costs more because of our contacts.

But that’s not to say we can’t do it. Be sure to check out Alrik’s short “Cake” which he made with no money in a short amount of time as part of the Werner Herzog Master Class.

 

Becoming a Professional

We have two new listener reviews to share this week. One of them contains a question about how we got our start in filmmaking. We answer the question in detail. Thank you R.C. Gates for the question.

How Timothy got his start out of college

  • In 2000, Timothy graduated college and went directly to being a full time employee
  • When Timothy graduated he did not have a plan to get into filmmaking
  • After two and a half years of working for a sailboat company, Timothy found a job at Goodby Silverstein & Partners on Craiglist
  • And it wasn’t until 2005 until Timothy made his first short film out of college.
  • In 2006 he moved from facilities to the production department at Goodby Silverstein & Partners
  • For the first two years in the production department, Timothy was a one-man crew shooting, producing, editing and it wasn’t until 2009 that he got a chance to produce his first TV commercial
  • He stopped directing commercial projects between 2008-2015 and was only producing
  • In 2015 he started directing again with the Cisco spot we talked about on the podcast

This is the first commercial Timothy produced: https://vimeo.com/26651556

How Alrik got his start out of college

  • He was paying the bills with work as a bouncer and customer service at Lens Crafters
  • He gave him 3-months to get a job in filmmaking
  • Unlike Timothy, Alrik stepped directly into the world of freelancing
  • His first job was an an AD on a feature film shoot: https://youtu.be/IZdnpQO_Us4
  • Alrik went on to PA on TV and movies, including a position on Francis Ford Coppolla’s crew
  • Alrik then worked for Studio B
  • Alrik tells us about how he met the people he still works with today and how all his early opportunities led to where he is now.

Contact Us

You can find us on Twitter @timothyplain@alrikb or @mmihpodcast! And on Facebook

We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think. Leave a comment on the episode here or send us an email

And if you dig the show, please leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher

Episode 108 – From “Half Baked” to “Monster” with Steven Bernstein

For years, Steven Bernstein was the go-to DP for big budget comedies like Half Baked, The Waterboy, and White Chicks. Then he shot ‘Monster’ with Patty Jenkins which inspired him to get back into writing and directing his own films. Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Steven Bernstein is a writer, director and cinematographer, best known for his work as DP on a huge range of films. After years of being the go-to guy for comedies, Steve finally opted for a change and was hired to shoot ‘Monster’ for Patty Jenkins which inspired him to pursue his own passion as a writer and director. His feature film debut as director is ‘Decoding Annie Parker.’

Career Beginnings

It’s immediately clear when talking to Steve that big budget comedies are not a natural fit. So why exactly did Steve spend so much of his career shooting broad comedies?

When you first start out you assume you can jump backwards and forward but what happens is you become known for doing something well and you become a safe pair of hands. So much of your early career, he says, is based on arbitrary decisions you make.

After years and years of big budget comedies, how did Steve break the cycle and shoot ‘Monster’? It all started while Steve was shooting 2nd Unit Action on S.W.A.T. and thought “I have everything I’ve ever wanted, but I’m not happy.” He says he wanted to jump off the 3rd Street bridge. With the permission of the producers, he left the film and was hired to shoot ‘Monster.’

Bottom line is that as a filmmaker we often have to choose between passion and money. If you only follow one, the other gets pushed to the wayside. On top of that, making the right decision is even harder to do when 9 out of 10 people are lying to you. Alrik asks how we navigate our careers knowing that people may be lying to us.

Should We All Move to Los Angeles?

What’s Steve’s opinion on living in LA to pursue a career in film vs living somewhere else? He says the important thing to have is a production team around you. And if you care about films you need creative stimulation that are oblique and the problem is that everyone in Los Angeles shares the same stimuli. Having said that, you have to weigh the pros of being in Los Angeles like access to a lot of actors and crews, giving you options and allowing you to find the best person for your project.

Getting Name Actors In Your Films

One of the problems Alrik and I have is reaching name actors for our films but Steve says it’s easy: write something good and important. Actors want to be in good films and prove their skills as an artist so if you have great material, actors will say yes.

Sure, but we don’t have an agent or manager, how do we do it once we have that great script? Steve says the key is to get your funding first, then hire a casting director to reach out and book actors.

Lessons from an Experienced DP, Writer and Director

Steve shares some of the lessons he learned from shooting movies including “The atmosphere you engender on set invariably ends up on screen” This works for both comedies and dramas. Timothy asks about working on a comedy set and if things are funny during the shoot, do they translate to comedy in the finished piece? Steve says that in his experience, no, and the same goes for drama. If an actor gives an impassioned performance and the director is crying and the script supervisor is crying, then it’s probably too big, so you have to distance yourself from the situation and evaluate a performance in context of all the pieces.

And we spend a little time talking about what makes for good comedy and for good stories. It boils down to one word: Truth

Steve’s Financing Model

Then we get back to Steve’s model for getting a film made with the actors you want. Traditional fundraising models are contingent on getting the right actor. Steve’s model disregards the actor and secures the money first. Get the money so when you contact agents you can say you have the money and a shoot date. A real offer means actors will read your script and take it seriously, and they would rather work on good material for a little money than not be working at all.

But Wait, How Do You Get Money Without Actors?

You need to convince investors that if you try and secure actors now, you will pay too much. Steve told his investors, that by getting the money first and approaching actors after the funds are raised and shoot dates are set, the movie will get the actors they want, and not just the actors you need. It puts the investors in a position of power. It flips the model. Investors come in on a the movie with a list of actors you want to get and you tell them that with their money you will go to a casting director and access people on this list. The money goes into an ESCROW account and will only be released if you secure one of the actors on that list.

The best thing about this model, he says, is that the investors are not risking any money at all until you secure an actor from the list they agreed to. But it works better than the traditional model because with money you now have negotiating power.

So you get a name actor, will they come prepared? Will they put the work in? What can we expect?

We talk characters vs outlines and the danger of outlining your screenplay.

It’s also important to have a script you believe in and have a vision for. You need to be able to communicate that vision.

 

Contact Steve

If you like what Steve has to say, try one of his on-line seminars. He’s currently offering seminars in screenwriting, directing, cinematography and more. Check out his website for more info: https://www.somebodystudios.com/seminars

Or check out his feature film “Decoding Annie Parker”

Find Steve on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StevenBernsteinOfficial/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stevebfilm
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/StevenBernsteinDirectorWriter/

Contact Us

Thanks for listening!

You can find us on Twitter @timothyplain@alrikb or @mmihpodcast! And on Facebook

We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think. Leave a comment on the episode here or send us an email

And if you dig the show, please leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher

Episode 106 – Stand Up Comedian David Roth

What do stand-up comedy and filmmaking having in common? A lot actually. This week we delve into the world of comedy with David Roth and talk about advertising, finding your voice and the struggles of learning a new craft. Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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From the outside looking in, stand-up comedy looks like a dream. It costs nothing and you can practice it all the time. Wouldn’t it be great if we could practice our filmmaking at open mic nights? David Roth shares the last 3-years of his experience, from getting his start to finding his voice.

A Career in Advertising

David Roth worked for 8 years as a full-time copywriter including a stretch at Goodby a Silverstein & Partners where he worked with Timothy on a Modelo campaign. He now freelances in advertising but is working to divide his time so he can get more and more experience on stage.

The challenge of being in advertising, he says, is finding your voice because of the different layers of feedback coming from Creative Directors and Clients. And at the end of the day, advertising is not personal. It’s about writing for products. Timothy says he believes the same is true for commercial directors. 

During an employee performance review, David’s boss told him “we know you can nail comedy but if you want to be a leader at this organization you need to be able to do all different kinds of ads” and that’s when David realized he didn’t want to do anything but be funny.  

“Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t have to be emotional or smart, he just does funny”

So he quit full time advertising and took a class in stand up. He now works freelance and splits his time between advertising work and comedy. Keep a look out for David’s J.B. Smoove and Jim Gaffigan commercial.

Stand Up Comedy

David is currently performing 4-5 nights a week. He tells us about finding stage time and why San Francisco is a good place for him right now. In filmmaking, we’re often told that if we really want to do it we need to move to Los Angeles. Is New York the same for comedy? David tells us about the different reputations each city has and how San Francisco fits into it.

Believe it or not, Alrik has an interest in trying stand up. Does David think Alrik has a chance of being any good right out the gate? 

Right now David is getting paid very little for stand up, (sometimes it’s only a half of a sandwich). So if it’s not about the money, what is it about? Well, it’s about finding yourself and finding your point of view. And being funny. The goal is to make people laugh. In filmmaking, we only get to practice our craft on occasion. David gets to practice every week. Can we apply that mentality to filmmaking and try to make a movie every month just to keep our skills honed? We break down the benefits of doing small projects but also the value of scaling up.

Finding your voice

Talk about a healthy goals, David is working towards a stage time and not worried about the money or fame. In short, he’s not worried about the results. He’s focused on the craft and figuring out who he is as a comedian. His biggest struggle is finding his voice. He’s got good jokes, but who is this character he’s playing on stage?

He’s currently going for the lovable loser, but is that working for him? He had a conversation with a friend last night who says it’s not and he should try something else. David admits there’s an inconsistency with his performance and that sometimes he’s crushing it and sometimes he’s failing hard. As he thinks about his point of view and how to perform his jokes we have a conversation about David’s real-life personality versus his stage personality and how he plans to make a decision about what his voice will be.

We apply the same philosophy to filmmaking. There’s the voice you want to be and then there’s the voice that’s true to you. The trick is finding that voice and building your skills onto it. But what is your voice and how do you find it? And is finding a voice a conscious or subconscious activity? How self aware do we need to be? 

Contact David

Go see David’s show at Festa on this Sunday, June 25th: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/festa-comedy-night-w-kiry-shabazz-tickets-34965269061

You can find  David on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/seriousboyfriend

His website: http://seriousboyfriend.com

His upcoming comedy appearances: https://laffq.com/seriousboyfriend

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HauntedHummus

Contact Us

Thanks for listening and a big thanks to Rob for being on the show!

You can find us on Twitter @timothyplain@alrikb or @mmihpodcast! And on Facebook

We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think. Leave a comment on the episode here or send us an email

And if you dig the show, please leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher

Episode 105 – Actor/Writer Rob Chester Smith

An insightful conversation with Rob Chester Smith about breaking in as an actor/writer in Los Angeles. Once you’ve reached your goal what do you do with the feeling “I got here, and now what?” Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Rob is an actor and writer from Iowa that currently lives in Los Angeles. He’s been in a zillion commercials and his TV credits include the most recent episode of “This is Us.” His short film I Love You Dad (which Rob wrote and starred in) played at the American Pavilion in Cannes & Rob and Valentyna in Scotland played at Sundance (Rob co-wrote and acted in this one). And let’s not forget Timothy’s short film Man’s Best Friend.


A Breaking-In Story

Rob shares his journey from small town Iowa, to Northwestern University, to Chicago and finally Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting and writing. He moved to Los Angeles when he was 29 years old and kickstarted his career with two things: a role in a Mitsubishi commercial and a recommendation from a friend for representation.

But moving to LA wasn’t an easy decision. Rob hesitated to leave Chicago for many years until his future wife forced the decision.

Next up: How do you get an agent? Rob tells us a few ways you can get a commercial agent and how it happened for him.

We talk about Rob’s mindset when he moved to Los Angeles and his hopes and dreams. His ideas of fame. His ideas of success. The magical thinking “that all you need is people to see you and that will be it.” Rob tells us the story of booking a pilot, getting an agent and manager, taking general meetings, and how it didn’t lead where thought it would.

An Actor’s Life

Rob spends 2/3 of his time Acting and 1/3 Writing. He’s currently writing for FX Movie Download. When he’s not working he spends time with his family.

Rob paints us a picture of his day-to-day life as an actor.

He has a Commercial agent, VO agent, and Theatrical agent.

He acts mostly in commercials and some TV.

How often does he go out for auditions?

What is the audition process like and what is Rob’s advice to actor’s out there?

How often does he get callbacks?

How often does he book a job?

We talk about the isolation of being an actor and writer and the biggest challenge of writing is writing.

“I Got Here, and Now What?”

You claw your way into one aspect of the industry and you have kind of made it where you wanted to be, but at the same time it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. Rob now feels that he’s reached a plateau in his career and he wonders what he’s doing. What’s the next mountain to climb?

“I don’t know anymore what my ideal thing would be.”

Is Rob having a midlife crisis? Alrik, of course, offers some optimistic words and tries to help Rob find his passion.

Is it inevitable that after a certain level of success and experience, everything turns into a job? Is there a way to avoid that? Is this feeling an indicator that something is wrong?

We ask a lot of questions in this section and maybe don’t have a lot of answers for you, but there are going to be a lot of you out there that will relate. Tell us your thoughts. Send us an email or contact us at one of the links below.

Contact Rob

You can find Rob by following these links:

Rob’s website: robchestersmith.com.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/robchestersmith

If you want to check out some of Rob’s work, check these out:

“The Hiccup” (co-written, starring) https://vimeo.com/43431126 (NSFW!)

Trailer for “Rob and Valentyna” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPUR6OmRD1M

Trailer for “I love you, Dad” at https://vimeo.com/109193925

Contact Us

Thanks for listening and a big thanks to Rob for being on the show!

You can find us on Twitter @timothyplain@alrikb or @mmihpodcast! And on Facebook

We want to hear from you. Tell us what you think. Leave a comment on the episode here or send us an email

And if you dig the show, please leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher

Episode 104 – Listener Dial Ins

We celebrate our two-year anniversary by inviting listeners of the show to dial in and talk about what’s on their mind. This week we talk to Lindsay Serrano, Jeff Palmer and John Muth for conversations about low-budget filmmaking, film school and giving/receiving feedback.

Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Episode 102 – Rebecca Weaver and Shooting a Feature with a Two-Person Crew

This week we have filmmaker Rebecca Weaver on to tell us about how she made her  $11k budget feature with a two person crew and went on to win “Best American Indie” at the Sonoma Film Fest and “Best Feature” at both the Lone Star and East Lansing Film Fests. Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Episode 100 – Jared Hess and the Filmmaker’s Dream

Napoleon Dynamite premiered at Sundance in 2004. It was Jared Hess’ first film and the $400,000 indie went on to gross $46.1 Million in the box office and launch Jared’s career. Since then, Jared has gone on to direct feature films, television and commercials. He is currently writing animated films for Nickelodeon and Laika. Jared has the kind of success we all dream of, but is it all it’s cracked up to be? For the first time in Making Movies is HARD! history we talk to a filmmaker that’s achieved the “filmmaker’s dream” and find out if the dream is something we should aspire to, or if it’s just a fantasy.

Listen now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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Episode 98 – Independent Financing with Yumee Jang

So you’ve got a script and all you need is the money to shoot it. Great! But where do you start? This week, producer Yumee Jang sits down to answer all our questions about where independent financing comes from including how to find and talk to investors.

Listen now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.

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