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I’m Published!

I am now in possession of a copy of Audition Monologues for Young Women #2, from Meriwether Publishing.  Guess who has two thumbs and can be found featured on page 18.  This guy! Thanks to this very blog, my serial killer monologue is now in print!

Many thanks to editor Gerald Lee Ratliff for including my work alongside selections from Pulitzer and Tony Winners!



Here’s a little sketch I wrote



Was Pixar Brave To Spend $210 Million To Make A Film?

This is a guest post. Donna is a frequent writer, blogging often about media, still photography, and filmmaking.

Brave

There is an internet conversation going on, querying the expensive production of PIXAR films.  When Toy Story appeared in 1995, its production costs were around $30 million dollars.  The 2012 film Brave cost about $210 million dollars for production.

We think of a $210 million in production costs, we think of big movie makers like James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.  Their movies have big stars, big shots, big explosions and spectacular special effects that blow us away and we seem to nod understandingly, if not a little amazed, at the cost.

When the we hear that the cost of an animated movie about a computer generated Scottish lass galloping over the Highlands on her horse, voiced by some recognisable (but not mega) stars, comes to $210 million dollars, some people seem to wonder why.

What does Pixar get for $210 million dollars? 

Straightaway, you know that some of their published production costs fall to the marketing and promotion of their film.  Marketing personnel, posters, advertisements, flyers, the website, the clothes and dolls would have taken a large chunk of that overall cost.

Since 1998, Pixar has released a movie nearly every year, with a gap of two years between Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc.  On average, the development of these movies from conception takes years.  Pre-production for Finding Nemo apparently began in 1997 for a movie that did not make it to the big screen until 2003.  That is years of creative teams storyboarding, creative narratives, scrapping some, reinventing others until the story is perfect.

Those costs also paid staff to draw and redraw until the scene is as perfect as they can make it.  One scene can take months to create. The detail that goes into making these characters is extreme. Even their hair or fur is created from scratch. Remy from Ratatouille has 1,150,070 hairs all over his gourmet food-loving body.

The research that goes into these movies is phenomenal.  To get the environment or the characters spot on, the PIXAR team travel, investigate and analyze their subjects, until they can move to a point of understanding.  This comes across in their films, from the depiction of the tepui landscape of Venezuela in UP, to the artistic perfection of the dishes in Ratatouille and to the color and depth of Finding Nemo.

The lighting work and sound effects in Wall-E, the sounds of the individual car types in Cars, the movement and creation of being underwater in Nemo; the technology and the artistic detail of these films sets them apart from the others in their genre.

Are the movies worth the $210 million cost?

Since their first movie, the gross profit on their films has never dropped below $360 million.  It is estimated that Toy Story 3 has earned over $1 billion. If investing $210 million into a film is a risk, then PIXAR has the track record to prove they are worth it.

PIXAR is now a huge company and the movies it makes generates jobs externally in DVD production and distribution, the cinemas, the popcorn manufacturers – to a micro level of the costs of public transport to see the event that is a PIXAR film.

Walt Disney took pride in the little details in his animation, which is what makes them classics and an example of modern art – and now most people don’t realize the risk he took with the amount of time spent making a full length animated film.

The fact that we can still watch, and are moved by, Snow White justifies his risk.  PIXAR’s attention to detail in their visually stunning, and structurally strong, narratives similarly prove that it is worth the risk of making something memorable and it’s earning them dividends in more than just money.



Garfunkle & Oates are my very favorite

Don’t watch at work.  Or if you’re easily offended.  Or even if you’re pretty tough to offend.

This is pretty much just hilariousness in the face of hypocrisy, which is pretty much the best thing there is.



Now recruiting for… Everything

In July, brevityTV will be starting production on season six.  (They grow up so fast!)

If you or someone you know is in the L.A. area, please check out brevityTV.com/seeking for information about joining our comedy family.

BrevityTV is sketch comedy for the web



I write myself the best notes

Tonight’s mission is to go through all the little scraps and scribbles in dozens of notebooks, and organize them into useful, cloud-housed documents.

In the attempt to keep the creativity flowing and the productivity materializing, I’m constantly jotting thoughts.  Sometimes they go on a post-it, then into my pocket, to make it to my desk that night and get integrated into a project, or crossed off the to-do list.  Other times they wind up on a napkin tucked into a little notebook in a shoebox under the bed.

A few years later, without context, some of those notes are pretty random.  I can’t necessarily even tell any more what was a story idea and what was a to-do list.  Do please let me know if you think you can decipher any of these, my favorite,  now context-less scribbles to myself:

  • “Get heads lined and floating”
  • “mythical state of Jefferson LA Michael Bell Gina tennis shoes”
  • “Why though?  Doesn’t make sense?” (This was on a page with a sketch of a tree and a skyscraper, and an arrow pointing back and forth between the two.)
  • “MIBYKaI: bugs start mating, kids think they’re fighting.”
  • “Black Coffe, Robe, contracts, ref. pic.”
  • “Mission statement… in bed.”
  • “Frozen Angry Face |  Frozen Angry Face | Norma Desmon to the camera | Frozen Angry Face”

and my favorite:

  • “investigate jetpack options”


How to RSVP if you work in entertainment

1337577_wine_swirlNice person: “Hi all, I’m having a party.  Please come.”

Los Angeleno response: “I will definitely probably try to swing by for a bit.”

Brilliant move, aspiring Tarantino!  You have reassured me that you are sooooooooo busy.  (You must be important! ) And you’ve reminded me that if you show up, I will be very lucky!  And, of course, you’ve cemented the fact that if I should be so lucky, you will need to leave quickly, because you have other places to be, because, again, you are sooooooooo busy!  (And sooooooooo important.)

Just so you know, here’s how the rest of the country responds: Yes.  Or, perhaps: No.  While nowhere near so cool, either of these answers allows the inviter to know how many deviled eggs to make.



Home Recording Vs Studio Recording – Kit Or Pro Studio Sound?

This is a guest post. Avery Bale is a business analyst and media consultant writing on behalf of the Limehouse  Recording Studio in London.  Avery dabbles in writing music using his midi-compatible 1991 Yamaha piano and an old version of Sibelius composition music software.  Avery can be reached on Google+ when not composing his latest masterpiece.

When deciding whether to rent a professional studio or build a DIY studio at home, consider value as well as cost.When it comes to recording your music, you have a number of options in front of you. You could get yourself down to a recording studio, pay out for the expertise and equipment use, and get the results you want. If not, you could buy in all the equipment you need and do the recording yourself. If you are considering whether to go down the DIY route for recording your music, there are a number of considerations you should take into account before you splash out on some pricey hardware and software plug ins. In the following article, we will discuss some of these and hopefully shed some like on the best option for you.

One of the first things you need to think about is the cost. Although be careful, you shouldn’t confuse cost with value. If you go out and spend an amount of cash on home recording equipment and you find you don’t get the results you want, it’s money down the drain. Of course you may have financial constraints, but you shouldn’t go for the seemingly cheaper option and not get the results you want.

To give you an idea on the kinds of costs that are associated with creating your own home recording studio and a professional studio session, below are some figures that have been taken from various providers:

The home recording starter kit

You can go with a bundle kit; this is advantageous in that you know the hardware and software will be compatible with each other and generally this is a lower cost option. The other option is to buy the components separately; this is probably for the more advanced and knowledgeable buyer, but could yield a better quality bundle with distinct enhancements in required areas. Looking at various starter kits available, prices range from as little as £200 all the way up to, and sometimes in excess of, £1,000. It is safe to assume that the lower end is less likely to give you the desired recording quality.

Professional studio

There are various ways to pay for the recording studio sessions, but one common way is by the hour (or in hourly bundles). To give you an idea on the costs that could be involved, we will consider one particular provider www.recordingstudiolondon.co.uk, (although many recording studios we looked at were in a similar price range). This provider uses the following pricing range:

Studio with standard engineer is £325 for the first 9 hours – each extra hour is £35

Studio with senior engineer is £395 for the first 9 hours – each extra hour is £40

Studio with senior engineer, musician and producer is £495 for the first 9 hours – each extra hour is £55

Agreed, a recording studio, ran by a professional, could seem like the most expensive route to take (given you could be looking at multiple sessions over a period of time with various professionals involved), but this is not always the case. Consider the DIY route, without the skills and experience of the professional recording engineer, how long are you going to spend tweaking and manipulating the audio to get it right? Will you be able to give yourself a space to do the recording which exhibits the right acoustics? Do you have the same quality of equipment that will capture the sound in the way that you really want?

There is another issue to consider and this is focus! If you are recording at home, you have all the time in the world, you are in a comfortable environment and the pressure is off. These may all sound like positive aspects, but to put another spin on it, you could lose focus and determination. If you organise and pay for a set time in a recording studio, your focus and determination will be enhanced. You will be well prepared in order to ensure you get the best value for your expense. Your songs will be prepared and well-practiced, you will know what you want to get out of the session, and your recording engineer will be briefed and ready to get you the results you want.

Before we rule out the idea of getting your DIY recording studio set up, there are some benefits to obtaining the equipment you would need. Firstly, going down the recording studio route is expensive and can only offer a finite amount of recording time. Once the session is over, if you don’t have the result you wanted, you need to pay again and hope you get there. If you have invested in the equipment, you have time on your side. You can tweak, practice and change all the variables to get the sound you want.

Another point to consider is mixing. If you have the skills and the equipment, you could attempt this at home, but chances are you are not going to get the quality you are looking for. One route to getting the desired results, and make the professional process a smoother and less expensive one is to do an initial mix on your own equipment before submission to a professional. This way you get the mixing engineer to spend all of their time making your tracks sounds as great as possible and not have to worry about cutting out the obvious flaws.

As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider, and we have only just touched the surface of all the components that would help you make the right decision. The best advice would be to do your research, get some clear goals in mind, decide on your budget and skill level and take the plunge. There is a great deal if information available online, so do your research.

 



3 Benefits Of Video Games

This is a guest post. Dan is a Professional Freelance writer based in Sydney, writing about all aspects of the natural world, specialising in conservation issues.

Thinking of cutting off your loved-ones or children from their video game systems? Well, don’t! Ever thought about what benefits they might be gaining from playing those games? The answers may surprise you. Are you afraid that your children may be playing too many video games in their spare time? This article is for you, then. Here we will discuss 3 benefits of gaming. These 3 benefits may seem strange, but they have been proven.

1.Video games help develop social and collaborative skills

Many video games, these days, are connected to the internet, allowing players to work together like never before. Quite a few of these games actually force players to cooperate together to unlock achievements, pass levels, or beat the game. This is especially true of many games that are directly connected to social networks, or require players to strategize together. Because of this, some researchers say that this is a great way for younger players to connect with peers in a low-stress way, and teach them to work better together. Even in a connected world, working together and collaboration is still a very important skill set in education, the professional world, and in building successful relationships.

2.Video games can be help develop critical thinking skills

When players are challenged to solve puzzles, gather clues, spot differences, or figure out how to get to a goal through strategy in a video game, they are developing critical thinking skills. Some games are specifically made with this in mind, such as educational or brain-training games. Others are not specifically designed that way, but research has still proven that even in those situations, games are still a way to help players develop critical thinking skills. Many modern games can be very challenging, and even older players must seriously think about their strategies before starting to play the game, or they must try several different strategies, selected in a very short amount of time. As opposed to rote memorization of facts and processes, this can help to develop all-important critical thinking, which is very important in the real world, as well as academia.

3.Video games can teach skills and facts

A few video games are specifically targeted to those trying to learn new skills, like flying simulators. Due to the ever-increasingly realistic environments present in modern day video games, some agencies, like governmental ones, are now using video games to teach recruits. Other video games, such as those produced with a specific educational goal in-mind, can help kids to learn math, science, and grammar. All these video games can have practical applications in practicing different scholastic pursuits, helping in tutoring, boosting student confidence, or giving an already gifted student the ability to excel further. Using these types of video games requires little to no teaching skills, because the game is made with for the target audience of students.

These three benefits of video games are only some example. If you know how to play it wisely, then video games can be more useful than harmful.



5 Tips To Shoot Videos That’ll Get You Compared To Tarantino And Spielberg

This is a guest post. Jamie Ironhorn, the chief videographer at a TN video production company, is a techie who dreams of one day being a part of the biggest Hollywood movie productions.  In his spare time, he likes to share his opinions and write about video technology, his favorite subject.

Just like any other art form, making a good video becomes a lot easier if you can master the techniques involved and put into practice the various tips and tricks that you learn along the way. Here are 5 tips to help you shoot high-quality videos that guarantee admiration and applause.

Play with the light, but don’t mess with it

The hallmark of every great filmmaker has been the ability to manipulate light to set the tone for a scene. Variations in lighting can be used to signify a number of things, including helping the audience distinguish between different locations and emotions. However, one has to be careful not to go overboard when experimenting with the lighting. Too much or too little light and the scene will be end up being too dark or appear washed out. Most people are so obsessed with getting the lighting perfect when shooting a video, that they do not experiment with it at all and as a result, the video has a very generic appearance.

The Rule of Thirds is your best friend

Framing a shot is never as easy it seems. You may have the perfect shot in your head that you plan to recreate, but rarely does reality conform to your wishes. If a shot is not framed properly, not only is it visually unappealing, it acts as a massive distraction for viewers. Continue reading “5 Tips To Shoot Videos That’ll Get You Compared To Tarantino And Spielberg” »