Saturday, March 24, 2007

Film Production Guide FAQs Pt. 1

A mostly serious, somewhat tongue in cheek, guide to helping you think about your future marketing or promotional film. Below we have included some common things for you to consider when developing a film or video project.
1. Who is the audience for this?

Is your audience already familiar with your work or are you trying to reach a new audience. Is this a one-off screening (for an event) or will this project have a shelf life of several years? Straight to DVD or CD-ROM? Ipod or web video? Maybe it is a vanity project for the boss? If that’s the case everything is a great idea and budget is no issue.

2. What do you wish to accomplish?

“It’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping,” an old Saturday Night Live sketch once said. It is very hard to create a film that covers everything for all audiences. While it might seem like a no-brainer to have one film serve multiple masters, our experience shows that it rarely pans out that way. Leave the two-fers to the late night comedians, the film and video production to us.

More to follow or go to for the complete guide.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Blogging Red Sox Nation

Baseball season is a week away. Look at these two creative blogs and tell me your thoughts.

It's Doonesbury meets The Office and it's fabulous. A 2005 SxSW Blog Award Finalist.

BUT if you like you Sox a little more human and less cartoon look at

Voted the Best Sports Blog of Canada in 2006.

Lots of Sox to go around.


South by Southwest Festival

I found this post from an NYU film student's blog. Good info for anyone going to a festival.


The Future of Film?

Yesterday I wrote about getting screwed by You Tube. Shortly after publishing I met with Richard, a current student, who is hot to make a feature this summer. He is a decent writer and wants to make a film on the cheap using a Panasonic P2 camera or even mini-dv.

It is hard not to encourage him, but at the same time I want him to not rush into anything. 20 years ago when I graduated from college, making a feature was a pipe dream. It took me 5 years to get it all together- and then I barely had enough ($150,000) to get through production. Editing was another challenge- 6months cutting 35mm film on a flatbed.

Today, you can buy a pro-sumer P2 camera for about $5500, a good computer, editing software and back up hard drives for $2500 and you are set. I am envious of Richard, yet concerned at the same time. My gut tells me he would be better off waiting and exploring all his options before rushing into production.

My gut also tells me I better get one of those cameras and get going or I am going to left behind.


Thursday, March 22, 2007


Check out Pete Townshend's blog! Not only is The Who great, but what Pete is doing with Rachel and In the Attic is pretty cool. If you can track down some of their webcasts from last summer's Who tour it will be worth your time.

Screwed, Koobed and YouTubed

A few years ago we were working for one of our favorite clients- WJE. We were going to drive from Chicago to Omaha and shoot on the I-80 bridge crossing the Missouri River. From there we were going to continue on to Lincoln, NE and shoot on top of the capitol dome. Mike Koob was our WJE connection, and coincidentally a neighbor of Jim's in Lake Forest. We scheduled an interview on the bridge with a man from Iowa D.O.T. and
were going to shoot from a basket hanging off the bridge. It was a big production- a lot of time and favors called in. The day before we were going to head west Jim ran into Mike at the grocery store. Jim said, "See you in Omaha," and Mike casually dropped, "Oh that job was canceled."

Thanks for telling us. We had to scramble to cancel everything we had lined up. Since then whenever something breaks bad for us we say, "We've been Koobed."

I am reminded of this because You Tube is doing to the local film producers what Mike Koob did to us. We are getting screwed. With great regularity we get phone calls from clients looking for on-line content. More than once we have heard, "My son can do that." Sure, he can. But there is something to having experience. Film production is more than point and shoot and crap it on to the internet. There is a big difference between a cat flushing a toilet or a fat guy lip-syncing opera and true film production. Sophisticated- and not so sophisticated- audiences appreciate the difference between professionals and amateurs.

Please, we are tired of getting Koobed by anyone with a digital camera.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In The Beginning

I met Jim Fiester in the summer of 1992. I was trying to make a go of it as a TV commercial director at a Chicago film production company. To that point I had written and directed a feature film, Victimless Crimes, starring Craig Bierko (Cinderella Man, Boston Legal) and more recently I made a 75-second film featuring the performance artist Denny Dent painting a giant portrait of Mick Jagger, I was using the trailer to the film and the Denny piece as my commercial reel and was getting no offers.

One day that summer Jim came into the studio to be the DP of a commercial another director was about to shoot. As I was the only one around we began to chat. Jim asked me what I had done so far and I showed him "Denny." Without missing a beat he said, "Cut that to 30 seconds and you have a TV commercial." I argued that I couldn't cut it to 30 seconds, maybe 37 if I was lucky. Jim said, "Look it (a favorite phrase) I have an editing system at my house come on up and let's try. We will know very quickly of it will work or not."

Two days later I was at Jim's house in Lake Forest re-cutting Denny on a VHS AB-roll editing system. Two days after that we did an on-line edit of a 30 second TV spot that ended up being a series of commercials across the US and Canada.

Jim and I have been working together ever since.

To see the finished TV spot as well as some of our favorite TV commercials visit


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Opening Day

Hello Blogosphere is anyone out there?

At the beginning of the year my film production business partner, Jim Fiester, and I decided to
update our company website As part of this update we created a film production primer. Simple stuff like how to shoot interviews, some of our favorite production stories, etc.... The next natural step was a blog. So here we are.

The next posts will be much more about the film business, and more specifically the Chicago Film business. In the process we will probably talk about food, sports, travel, politics and anything else that strikes our fancy.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.