With networks like Comedy Central, HBO and truTV now picking up webseries as full length shows, the race to produce marketable content is on. Here are four tv shows that got their start online:
Drunk History On August 6th, 2007 Mark Gagliardi drank a bottle of Scotch…and then discussed a famous historical event.
True to its name, the premise of Drunk History is based on an inebriated narrator attempting to retell an historic event in American history, with dramatic recreations shot to illustrate the story. The webseries was launched by Funny or Die in 2007 and featured an impressive rotating cast of comedic talent.
In 2010 the episode titled Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln, starring Will Ferrell and Don Cheadle, screened at the Sundance Film Festival and took home the award for Best American Short.
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay came onto the series as executive producers, and Comedy Central picked it up for a series, which premiered in 2013. The show is currently in its third season.
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Let’s say you’ve just graduated film school. You’ve managed to convince investors (AKA your parents) to give you $5000 to start your career. What equipment should you buy for your film kit?
There is really no right answer in this category, it all depends on what you’ll be shooting and your personal preference. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on a camera unless you’re sure it will pay for itself. While REDs and other high-end cameras may be alluring, going the DSLR route is definitely a much better choice for beginners.
Panasonic AF100A: $2000
Panasonic GH4: $1700
Canon 7Dii: $1500
Canon 70D: $1000
Olympus E-M5 II: $1000
If you know what to look for and are comfortable going second hand, this is the area to do it, but don’t cheap out! Your glass is honestly more important than the camera behind it. The focal lengths you choose will depend on the sensor size of your camera, but I would recommend getting a couple good zooms and 24mm and 50mm equivalent primes.
A good set of sticks with a fluid head is another essential for any filmmaker. Manfrotto is the standard but can get quite pricey so shop around. Pay attention to the load capacity and make sure you’re not going to exceed it. The Manfrotto 190X3 is great if you have a DSLR, but put a video camera on it and you’ll quickly pass the 8 lb. limit. Expect to pay $300-$500 for a decent set of legs. I also keep a cheap photo tripod for use in sand, mud and other environments that might be damaging.
You’ll need at least a shotgun mic for shooting with a DSLR, but a couple of lavalieres are a good investment as well. If you’ll be doing dramatic shooting you’ll probably need wireless lavs, but for interviews I love my Sony ECM-77s. The good thing with mics is that if you treat them right, they’ll last forever, so don’t be afraid to spend a little bit of money here. Don’t forget to budget for a recorder and some cables as well.
Lighting, shoulder rigs, extra batteries, data storage… you could easily spend your entire budget again on accessories and specialized equipment. Ask yourself what you’ll be shooting the most and prioritize your shopping list based on that. Will you be doing a lot of corporate work? Then you’ll probably want a good lighting kit. Dramatic projects? Maybe you can get away with homemade lighting and some C-stands and a field monitor are a better choice. Get what you need before getting what you want.
Here’s what I would buy. As most of my experience is with Canon, that’s what I’m sticking with. I do more doc projects than drama, so I kept that in mind, and built a kit that works for corporate jobs as well.
Keep in mind there are always rebates and other deals that you can find. With those I might be able to knock another couple hundred off my final price.
Camera and Lenses
Canon 7Dii w/ kit lens: $1800
Canon 18-135 3.5-5.6: Included
Canon 24-70 2.8 (Used): $1000
Canon 50 1.8 (Used): $80
Canon 28 1.8 (Used): $350
Manfrotto 190X3: $300
Røde NTG2 Shotgun Kit: $250
Shock Mount: Included
1.5’ XLR: Included
Sony ECM-77 Lav: $280
Zoom H4N: $200
20’ XLR: $15
Lowel Pro-Visions Light Kit: $450
Extra LP-E6 Battery: $35
32GB SD Card (x2): $60
Pelican 1510 Hard Case: $165
Total cost: $4985
Go shoot some films and make your parents investors proud!
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It’s no secret that the digital age has radically transformed the film and television industry. With box office sales declining, and people cutting their cable in favour of online streaming, producers are scrambling for ways to monetize their content.
Pull Focus recently had the pleasure of hosting Matt Toner, a digital media producer, entrepreneur and president of social media company Zeroes to Heroes. Matt gave key insights about the new direction of multi-platform content, and the changing landscape of film and television distribution.
Here are a few of his key points for filmmakers and content producers.
1. Your digital strategy may be engaging and interactive. But it still needs to increase your bottom line.
A few years back, the idea of using multiple platforms to tell a story or promote content seemed like a marketer’s dream. Digital media strategists came up with elaborate tie-ins to films and tv shows that included video games, apps, and fan fiction contests. The problem was, these add-ons did nothing to increase the production’s revenue.
Online platforms that help you reach and engage with your audience, and build buzz around your project are still great tools to use. But don’t blow your budget on an elaborate digital strategy that won’t boost your ROI.
2. Our viewing habits are changing. Seize the opportunity.
Yes, we’re accessing content online and through VOD more than ever before and traditional models of distribution are, as a result, effectively breaking down. While it’s easy to merely bemoan this change, the smarter move is to seize the opportunity. As a filmmaker or content producer, you have far more distribution options than ever before.
Matt’s own company Zeroes to Heroes is about to release Wannawatch.It, a web app that aggregates consumer demand to see movies. Filmmakers can directly upload their content to the site, effectively eliminating the middleman. Once there is enough demand to see a particular film, it will be screened in a theatre.
3. Welcome to the Information Age.
Digital, New Media or Information Age – whatever you want to call it, one thing is certain: we have more access to data about people’s viewing habits and interests than we’ve ever had before.
How can this benefit filmmakers and content producers? It can help you find out who your audience is, and where they are. Google Analytics provides a wealth of information about users that visit your website. This info can be used to target specific demographics on social media sites and around the net.
Build your audience and ultimately, a community of supporters for your film, and you’ll be one step ahead of the game. You’ll also have the numbers to back you up when it comes to funding, or distributing your content.
For more exciting speakers, and cutting edge views on the future of filmmaking, stay tuned to this space.
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One of the most daunting aspects of indie filmmaking is casting. You might have a great script and crew – but your cast will make or break your film.
A casting director acts as a bridge between actor and director, and their expertise should not be underestimated. But you don’t have a budget for one. Now what?
Before The Audition
Actors need to work with the character’s raw material. This can include the script sample (sides) that the actor performs during the audition, character bios, and story synopses if available. A well-prepared actor will absorb this information resulting in an informed and truthful performance.
Remember that when a director assumes the role of casting director, it’s important to create an environment where the actor can flourish. You are a facilitator and collaborator not a gatekeeper; enable their full potential rather than intimidate.
Choosing The Scene
Choosing an audition scene is a key decision. It should be a high stakes, dialogue driven, one-on-one interaction. Actors love tension because it gives them the best opportunity to showcase their abilities.
Dialogue is the easiest way to observe the choices the actor is making. Action-based scenes are harder to manage without a set and camera movement. One-on-one moments or monologues allow the character to be the point of focus.
A simple setup is best – use a single camera on a tripod to capture the audition. Make sure the actor knows how the shot is framed so they can freely use movement without worrying about being out of frame.
If you already have an actor cast, use them as your reader. If not, the writer or producer will work. Just be sure the reader you do choose is sitting out of frame. It’s also important that your reader has an understanding of the script and context of the scene being read. The director should be solely focused on observing performances.
On audition day, your preparation will pay off. When the actor enters, introduce yourself and ask if they have any questions. Show them their mark, have them slate (say their name and role they’re reading for) into the camera and let the audition begin!
The Audition: Expect The Unexpected
This is where it starts to get interesting…
Why are they playing this character with a lisp?
This character would never be that harsh!
And really…do they need to be doing a headstand?
Directors often experience moments of terror when actors make unexpected choices. While it may look like the actor is just trying to stand out, any choices they make are ones they believe in.
Greet seemingly odd choices with an open mind. They give you the chance to gauge the actor’s range and ability to take direction. If a character is being played too harshly, see how they adjust to a request for a tender approach. Explain why the character would act in this way so the actor can rationalize the adjustment. Then run the scene again.
If you want to dig deeper with a promising actor or if you’re on the fence, a great exercise to try is interviewing or just chatting with the actor ‘in character’. Actors who have come prepared will relish the opportunity to explore their character. Improv exercises like this can be as valuable a tool as the scene being read.
We’ve only touched on a few aspects of casting. If you give actors the best opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and inform your vision for the film, you’ve made the most of the casting process.
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