A new website

So, I’ve had Words From Here.com for about 12 years or so. I believe I purchased it in 2000… and if I wasn’t completely lazy, or feverish (I’m fighting an infection in my foot), I’d look it up.

But, it’s 1am, and I’m not sleepy, and I just wanted to give a quick update.

At first, WFH was a site for screenwriters. I had contests, a forum, and a nice little following of very nice people, some of whom I’m still friends with.

Over the course of a few years, though, I saw that I was spending so much time on WFH, without the possibility of making money. I could have charged people for the contests I was running, but it was so absurd to think that way since I was basically a self-taught screenwriter, and not a professional deserving money.

So, I shut the site down.

It wasn’t until last year that I decided to revive WFH, when we made 8 for Vegas. Not to mention, with all of the film we’re doing, and will be doing, having an LLC is an important part of being a business.

So!

I started it up again, and had as basic a layout as possible. But, after all the shooting I’ve been doing over the past year, I needed a good site to showcase not only my footage, but the company itself.

Here’s the new site.

Hope you like it! Now, here are some great videos I’ve seen over the past week or so, that I thought I’d share with you all.

This first one is a very clever 1st person music video.

This second is a new series directed by Drake Doremus, who directed Like Crazy (shot on a 7d), and put out by Intel and Toshiba. The first episode is very well done.

The third and final video is just so much fun (and gory and violent, so be warned). It’s claymation at its finest.

That’s about it for tonight. Thanks for reading!

John

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Birthing a project

Hey all.

So, this afternoon at around 3:00pm, I finished editing the music video. I had to go out and shoot some additional footage, because I’m batshit crazy, and ended up not using a single piece of it.

And I can tell you why.

Because I didn’t need any of it. The footage looked rushed, half assed, and uncompelling, which is not a word, but, whatever.

I went back to the apartment, shot the 5 second intro, pieced it together, gave it a once over to make sure the cuts were right with the new music, then exported it. A 6 minute video took an hour to export at 1080p.

So, I took a nap.

Now, maybe it’s because I slept a while and didn’t really need it, or maybe it’s because a project I’ve been conceptualizing for five and a half months is finally over… but I am beat.

To my core. I’m at the World Financial Center relaxing with a cup of coffee, and I feel like I’ve been run over.

In a good way, though. I feel like I accomplished something.

After I uploaded it, I found a handful of very minute things I would have changed… but I had to let it go. I could obsess about half and quarter seconds in the video until I went blind. Karen watched it and at the end I said “What did you think?”

And she hesitated. I think. I may have imagined it. I don’t think I hallucinated… because that would really be a boring hallucination, and I’d have to start seeing a therapist.

“It’s good!”

I looked at her with steely eyes that wished the body it was attached with had the energy to interrogate her like a Mossad agent.

“You hate it, don’t you.” It was a statement. Not a question.

“No, I like it a lot.”

Uh huh. Well, you missed that half second where the color looks weird.

Eyeroll.

Hours have passed and I know that I have to send this video out into the world, and I’m just nervous. Julie and I did the best we could with what we had available to us. In the end I spent around $500 on the video. Equipment rental, purchasing some editing software, feeding my actors, paying for props and our trip to Coney Island, and transportation costs.

We started shooting July 8th. I feel like I just passed the world’s biggest kidney stone. I would have said ‘had a kid’ but Karen said that I’d never know what that feels like. The joke’s on her!

Not sure what that means…

Anyway, I’ll be able to release the video once the musician has seen it and sent it to his PR people. I’ll be in touch! Now on to Season 2 of 8 for Vegas!

John

Scrubs, my reel, film burns and grains, and film festivals

Blah.

Got word tonight that we didn’t make it into the New York Television Festival. We submitted to Telluride, too, but didn’t get in there either, for The Difference Between.

That sucks.

I got laid off, essentially, about a month ago. That sucked, too. I bring it up because I cannot afford to drop more money on another festival… and I don’t want to show The Difference Between until we have at least 5 episodes finished, so, there you go. More projects for me to work on.

On July 6th, I found out that Netflix has the entire Scrubs series available for streaming. Since July 7th, I’ve watched 146 episodes. I’m on Season 7, episode 7. Less than 2.5 seasons to go. Yay.

Let’s see, what else.

Last night Julie and I showed the music video to two different people. Same result.

“I don’t get it.”

Part of the problem with a narrative film/video is that the creator(s) has spent so much time crafting the story, that it makes sense to them. When you show it to someone and they don’t get it… well…

There’s a difference between people getting it and being bored, which is basically an editing problem (unless the story sucks), and people not getting it at all.

People not getting it is a much larger problem.

How many people do you have to show your work to, to get a good enough cross section of what’s wrong with the work? I can safely say that 2 is not enough… and, given the circumstance, which I won’t get in to, I do feel safe to say. But, what, 5 people?

10?

If it’s 50/50, do you still have to reconsider your film?

Making sure that most people understand your story is essential. Sometimes people might not be paying attention at crucial moments. Other times, the imagery is too vague. Sometimes, people just want to watch something and not have to think about what they’re watching.

And, of course, sometimes simple is best.

At what point do you decide to stay true to yourself, and move past what is best for large public consumption?

Here we are. We were given the opportunity to make a music video. I’ve spent a ton of money, and Julie and I have spent a lot of time on the project.

After showing it to the two people, to my girlfriend, and to Marc Palmieri, whose web series I’ve been DPing… I got a couple of different opinions. One was, differentiating the past from the present.

It’d be easier to show you, but I cannot, so since we’re talking, let’s just say that the video shifts from present to flashback past shots.

Now, because I felt we’d established a plain truth in the beginning of the video, I didn’t think it was necessary to establish a difference between the present and past, during the main part of the music video.

I was told this had to happen. Because that truth was not established well enough (bullshit).

So.

Imagine a film/video where everything is constant, but now has to change so that the viewer can differentiate between past and present. BEYOND what they’ve already been told.

I figure you can do this one of two ways. Three, if you want to get into tones (blue hue, sepia, etc).

One is, turn the past footage black and white.

To me, it’s so obvious, and devoid of style, that I decided against it.

The second is, a vintage grain look to the film, to give the feeling of ‘the past.’

I did some research and found two different sites that gave up some great grain and burn footage in PRO RES.

Gorilla Grain and 5dLeaks. Gorilla Grain has great Vintage grain footage, and 5dLeaks has some great flares for video.

They’re also both very reasonably priced. I spent the day pouring over the footage and editing it just right so that it’s stylistically fun, not heavy handed (at least, not TOO heavy handed) and gave the feeling that the footage was indeed different from present day.

Does it work? I don’t know. It works for me. But, then, it worked for me before.

So… we’ll have to wait and see. We have some additional b-roll footage that needs to be shot. From there, I’d just like to get this in the can, because it’s the project that just won’t die. No offense to anyone. I know this happens. But it can be very frustrating to put your time and money into something and have it torn down in minutes. I know this happens, too. Doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

Solving problems is a big part of filmmaking. But I’m running out of money. And time.

Over the weekend, I pieced together my reel. Thought you might like to see it:

John Painz Cinematography Reel from John Painz on Vimeo.

Thanks for reading! We’ll get there. Perseverance is the name of the game.

John Painz

Preferences on a 7d

Hey all.

So, over the course of the last month or so, I’ve been shooting a music video for Jack Roscoe, who’s known as Northern Introvert.

It’s been a learning experience, to say the least. At least a dozen locations, 5 characters, flash backs, coordinating, traveling, trying out new equipment and, now, editing.

We’re 95% finished with shooting footage. Just a couple of straggler shots, nothing too serious. The bulk of the video’s been edited, and I’ve been tweaking it like a mad man.

First cut, I wanted to jump out the window. I was not happy with it at all, and figured I’d failed at even the simple task of creating a reasonable pace. Now, don’t get me wrong… that isn’t a simple task. But, having listened to the track about 72 times, written out the script, timed the shots… I figured there was at least something that would flow reasonably.

I was wrong.

At least, I was wrong the way it was cut. I shared the video with my producer, Producer Julie, and she said “I love our video!”

So… one of us was wrong. Julie’s been cutting down on the drinking, so I thought she’d lost part of her mind.

I did a re-edit, watched it three more times, and I saw something interesting.

You see, the song is set up in a nice 16 second loop. I don’t know the music lingo, but there is tempo change, or whatever you’d call it, every 16 seconds. So, I did what anyone who is given a problem to solve would do. I shut the computer off, grabbed a bunch of groceries that had to be returned, and went to Whole Foods.

It was the walk, you see. Getting away from the computer, giving my mind something else to do, like shopping… I was able to clear the cache that was sticking in my head that the problem was insurmountable… came back fresh, with a cup of coffee and said “I have an idea.”

A teacher of mine at SVA taught me that very simple lesson. His name was (is) Denny O’Neill. He was an editor/writer at Marvel for many years, and found that if he was having a hard time with a plot, or a story line, or characters, or whatever, he’d walk amongst the brownstones in Cobble Hill.

I’ve found, over the last few months, that those walks have helped clear my head, and allowed me to look at things without the THING being in front of me, easier.

I mentioned this before, but the storyline for the music video was broken up into 4-second clips.

What I was seeing was, there was no way to establish a character in 4-seconds, so that the audience would recognize them in future clips.

So, before the major change in the music, that changes the imagery of the video, I had 4 16-second parts to play with… and used that time to make a nice coherent and evenly paced story for each of the characters, so that when things changed, they’d be up to speed.

Worked like a charm. I was able to cut those 16 second clips into tighter mini-stories, and had a couple of awesome happy accidents along the way, that made the edits much tighter.

So, we’re almost there.

Why is this post called ‘Preferences on a 7d’? I’m glad you asked.

Last weekend, I shot a web series for Marc Palmieri, who, if you’ve been watching commercials any time in the last two or three years, is a successful commercial actor. I was referred to him by the creator of Off Off.

Now, there are many facets to filmmaking. I purchased a camera so that I would be responsible for the look of what I was shooting. I enjoy being behind the camera. But I don’t know much about it. I’m learning, as I go.

The first thing I knew I had to do was get the settings just right on the camera. Out of box, there are a couple of settings that I was told need to be fixed, so that you would get a flatter picture, which is easier to color correct in post.

I had no fucking idea what in the hell any of that meant. Color correcting? It’s already IN color…

Yeah, super naive. Especially coming from someone who’s been working with Photoshop for 12 years.

So. I did some research, and I found this video.

After making presets, I went out into the world and started shooting 8 for Vegas.

One of the problems with 8 for Vegas was that I was constantly using a white balance setting (cannot remember it right now), because it was giving me a warmer video, and I thought that was cool. It takes place in a bar, and I figured that a duller video wouldn’t be as compelling.

The problem was, by using that white balance setting, changing things in post (at least, with my knowledge of post) was much more difficult. Whites were getting blown out, darks were turning black and making things look weird… and so I left the color correcting to a minimum.

But, as I’ve been using the camera in better lit situations, I’ve found that the flatter image I’ve been shooting with has produced some fantastic results with just a little bit of color correcting in FCP (3-way color correcting).

Here are two screen captures of the same scene from Marc’s webseries The Thing:

I couldn’t believe the difference. While I was shooting it, I didn’t really see the grayed out difference between what is coming out of the view screen and what the raw footage looks like. But once I did a little tweaking, the colors were more saturated, the blacks were crisper, and the whites looked more natural.

Oh, that’s Marc and his co-star Curzon Dobell, both of whom were phenomenal.

So, yeah. Those settings are pretty interesting. Takes some getting used to, but I’ve been looking at past footage, like the music video, and tweaking the footage, and I’m quite happy with it.

There are color correcting software programs out there, like Magic Bullet… I’d like to get my hands on that one of these days. But I’m not ready, and I’m unemployed again. So, I’ve got that going for me.

Thanks for reading!

John Painz

Good god

Just got the production schedule for the web series I’m shooting this weekend. This, on top of shooting the remainder of the music video Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I’m going to be a lump of non-moving clay on Wednesday. Sigh.

I’m importing Off Off footage from last weekend’s shoot, asked the creator Stephen if I could post some screen shots, he said sure. Wanted to show you all some of the lighting issues we had on the shoot, and how we solved them.

Tomorrow’s my birthday, so I won’t be around. Hopefully, I’ll be seeing The Babymakers tomorrow night at 10pm, with a Q/A with both Jay Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan. That’s if I’m in a position to walk/think straight.

Here’s a couple of cool short films I saw on reddit.com for you to check out:

Le Miroir from ramonandpedro on Vimeo.

John

Off Off – episode 3 – shooting outdoors in NYC

I was lucky enough to get a chance to direct, photograph, and edit episode 3 of my friend Stephen’s web series, Off Off.

Here it is:

The beginning of that episode, that was interesting to shoot. We picked a spot in downtown NYC, after Stephen did some recon on finding a place to shoot that would be out of the way, and quiet.

Found a spot, got set up, and ended up being across one of the smallest cemeteries in the city. One of the smallest cemeteries who just happened to have groundskeepers working that day with the world’s loudest lawn mower.

So, we moved a couple of blocks away and found the location we shot at. It was early, and outside of a restaurant, so we were lucky.

The thing is, shooting on most any street in the city, you’re bound to have sound issues. Unless, of course, you can shut down the street and prevent cars and pedestrians from interrupting your shoot every few minutes.

So, you have to pick your recording times accordingly. Sometimes it’s better to have multiple cuts and keep the quality up, instead of getting that one long take. Putting style aside, especially in a situation where your sound is being affected by outside forces, may be your only option.

Our sound guy did a good job, and our actors were patient enough to allow us to get everything we needed.

This particular episode was shot in two parts. One, a couple of months ago in Central Park, and then this shoot. The cast is a lot of fun to work with. We have an additional 3 episodes, now, in the can. 4, 5, and 7. We just shot 7 this past weekend and I think it’s the best looking episode so far. Once they’re up, I’ll post them.

Thanks for reading! This weekend, I shoot a web series for Marc Palmieri, who is an accomplished actor in his own right. Should be fun. I’ll let you all know how that comes out.

John