BTRP Recommends-Looking for Richard

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4749584 by Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

How do you make a movie about a 15th Century King of England in 1990s Manhattan? Ask Al Pacino. He made Looking for Richard, a docu-drama adaptation William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Richard III.

Looking for Richard is Al Pacino’s interpretation of Richard III with Pacino directing and starring  in the title role. The film handles the complicated task of interpreting Shakespeare’s play by telling us historical context in which Richard III Gloucester came to power. It covers The War of the Roses, the victory of the Yorks, and the relationships between various royals, and relatives.  The film does this so well that the movie serves as a live-action Cliff Notes.

Pacino travels to England and visits Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born, but the much of the movie was filmed in New York City. He made the film on a small budget and couldn’t possibly fly his cast across an ocean, so he filmed of the scenes from the play in rehearsal, the actors reading the script around a table, or sometimes in full costume on a stage.  For a few key scenes, he managed to find a Medieval setting in Manhattan. Imagine that.

This is truly resource filmmaking at its best. Pacino filmed his exteriors at The Cloisters, a museum in Manhattan built to resemble a medieval castle, and his interiors at St. John the Divine, one oldest and largest churches in the US. Combined with period costumes and the acting chops of Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, and many others, the movie makes us believe we’re in the world of Shakespeare’s play.

In addition to showing us the inner workings of the play, we also see Pacino’s struggle in making his film which took four years to complete. We see him attempt to conquer the challenge of performing Shakespeare as an American actor, grappling with the language, and the challenge of filming the film’s climax, The Battle of Bosworth Field on a small budget.

This film is an extraordinary achievement considering Pacino essentially made the film in his spare time in between movies. He didn’t have money to buy himself out of trouble, so he employed old fashion movie tricks, creative editing techniques. It’s a lesson to any filmmaker you don’t need a ton of money in order to make an audience understand a 400 year old play about a 500 year old English king.

I highly recommend this movie for anyone who is interested in Shakespeare or for filmmakers interested in making a documentary. It’s one of those movies that can be viewed over and over again. Seeing the Pacino’s process as he and his collaborators battle the play, make mistakes, but ultimately convey his love for Shakespeare and Richard III is both inspiring and entertaining. Much like Shakespeare’s plays, Looking for Richard has withstood the test of time. It was released in 1996, and is still just as enjoyable and relatable today as it was 20 years ago.

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Cinesummit Part Six- Ryan Connolly

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4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

I learned about Cinesummit through Ryan Connolly’s YouTube channel, Film Riot. Connolly has become a master DIY filmmaker, and over the years, he’s created a successful production company. He’s built a million plus subscriber base on YouTube, and has an impressive body of work.

Film Riot breaks down the techniques used to create the special effects used in Hollywood films. They also show viewers practical hacks on how to get cinematic results with DIY equipment. The content is great for every level of filmmaker from novice to expert. I highly recommend his channel.

 

Cinesummit Part Five-Alex Di Marco

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4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

Alex Di Marco is another filmmaker whose advice I found to be extremely valuable. He talked about how to win a job. How do you get clients? How can you better communicate your vision to a clients and your team? His answer, the treatment.

Di Marco went in depth on how to create a compelling treatment, including the overall tone of the piece, a look-book and color palette and the technical aspects of which equipment and shots he’ll use. All of this is done upfront. He does a lot of thinking and work on spec (for free) before he has the job, and that has made all the difference in his career.

Di Marco also mentioned even with a great treatment, the client may not like it, but they’ll appreciate the effort. On more than one occasion, he’s had a client not go with his first treatment, but he got the job because they appreciated his effort and saw the quality of his work.

Many filmmakers balk at the idea of doing any work for free, but in this competitive market, commercial directors and producers have to go the extra mile. It can be time consuming, but it’s that type of well thought out pitch that wins the job.

 

NAB Show 2017

4749584 by Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

I got a chance to attend this year’s NAB Show which is a big gear show held in New York City.  All the major camera brands were there: Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Black Magic Design, JVC. In addition, there are monitors, camera support rigs, broadcast equipment, audio gear as well as displays from major rental houses around the city.

Going to these shows can be beneficial for filmmakers and content creators who want to see the latest gear. They are also a great place to meet other filmmakers. Many of the sales reps at these shows are freelance camera operators and DPs, so if you’re looking for people to hire for your next project, you may find someone. You may also get a chance to meet people from production companies who may want to collaborate with you.

Special thanks for Fernando Castaldi and the good people of Ikan for helping with the shooting of this video using their one of their gimbals.

Cinesummit Part Four- Blake Farber

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By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

Blake Farber is a director who made his way into the industry by making music videos. He’s traveled all over the world and works with everyone from Korean K-Pop bands to Beyonce. The main take away I got from his talk was that we as filmmakers need to see the whole market place. There is work all over the world, not just in New York, Los Angeles and other major American cities, and if you want to be successful, you have to go where the money is.

Another huge part of his success was networking. Farber started out as a musician and was in a band. He went on tour and made friends with other bands and started shooting music videos for them. He built his reel working with people he knew. Word of his talent spread through the music community, and with a reputation as a highly capable director,  he was referred to more and more clients. It’s a very traditional “go with what you know” approach, but it works.

He also wasn’t afraid to go out and find work. When he wanted to work with K-pop bands in Korea, he made cold calls, found connections, and was able to get bands to work with him out there. It’s a lot of leg work, but he was successful because he made the effort.

Every director needs to be his own agent when starting out. If you want to get something made, you have to have that business sense and ability to sell yourself. Building a reel and marketing yourself is essential. This interview again stressed the importance of networking. If you’re a filmmaker, and you don’t feel confident talking to people at an event or asking your friends to work with you, or selling yourself to a new client, it’s definitely a skill to improve. Blake Farber took himself all over the world and built his career on his talent and his ability to sell himself.

If you’re not networking right now, start looking on social media for filmmaker groups. They’re are quite a few on Facebook. Start checking resources like meetup.com to find events in your area. Those are good places to start.

Cinesummit 2017 Part Two- Adam Patch

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4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

CineSummit is an online educational event for filmmakers. It’s an forum that showcases filmmakers from around the world as they give helpful advice to up and coming film professionals. This year’s focus was on directing. One of the directors featured this year was Adam Patch.

You’ve probably seen Adam Patch’s commercial work over the years. In his career as a director, he’s made commercials and promotional videos for some of the biggest names in business including: Apple, Google, and Visa. In his interview, moderator Aviv Vana had Patch critique several commercials, and through his critiques viewers learned about his process and the skills that made Patch a successful director.

I found this to be one of the most valuable talks. As one who wants to direct more commercials and promotional spots, I was hanging on Patch’s every word. Through his examples, one could see that he is a perfectionist who is always thinking about the final edit and how everything will look, sound, and feel in the completed video. He talked about the attention to detail a director has to have and how each and every minute detail is important in a commercial spot. If you’re making a commercial for a restaurant, it has to look perfect, down to each plate of food. Each actor’s performance has to be as well defined in 30 seconds as it would be in feature film. The art direction, costume design, and music all have to tell the story.

One helpful tip he gave by showing a commercial for Whole Foods is using an image or a visual motif that is consistent throughout. The Whole Foods spot used a circle in the center of the frame that gives the viewer a central focus point. All of the circles culminated in the circular Whole Foods logo in the center of the screen at the end. Little touches like this help tell the story and captivate the viewer. In his interview, Patch gave us a real world picture of how high the standards are in the world of commercial directing and what clients are expecting in a competitive market. If you’re a director looking to break into commercials, I highly recommend checking out Adam Patch’s work.

 

CINESUMMIT Part One: Roger Christian

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4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

CineSummit is an online educational event for filmmakers I was able to attend this year. It’s an forum that showcases filmmakers from around the world as they give helpful advice to up and coming film professionals.

This year the focus was on directing and featured directors from around the world including: Roger Christian, Adam Patch, Blake Farber, Alex Di Marco, Ryan Connelly, Martin Rosete, Verena Soltiz, and Matthew Jenkin. Each one had a different perspective and insights on the art of directing and the film industry itself.

Roger Christian is a legend. He is a Director/Art Director/Set Decorator who worked on the iconic science fiction classics, Star Wars and Alien. He has 18 directing credits and was a 2nd Unit Director on Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. He created the iconic light-saber for Star Wars, and is a wealth of knowledge and stories about the film industry.

In his interview, he talked about the way he managed to break into the film industry. For Christian, it was the art department. He has been to art school and connected with friends who were in the film industry. From there he networked as he moved his way up the chain and finally found himself in the director’s seat.

His first short film, Black Angel, was shown as a companion to The Empire Strikes Back. He was able to get the opportunity to direct that film because he had worked with George Lucas who encouraged him to make the film.

Roger Christian enjoys mentoring filmmakers and other industry professionals and saw CineSummit as a chance to pass on his knowledge to those of us who have aspirations to make feature films. His story is a delightful tale and the first one I watched.

Other than hearing about the rich history of the classic films Mr. Christian has worked on, I found the main takeaway was that the industry is about networking. He got the opportunity to work in the industry through his association with people in the Art Department of films and eventually was able to direct a film through his relationships with people like George Lucas. The thread of “it’s all who you know” could be seen in most of the talks given this year. It’s an important lesson to all of us in the entertainment community.

 

IFP Week September 2017

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4749584 by Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

This September I attended the Independent Feature Project’s Market Week.  IFP was founded in 1979 with the purpose is to connecting filmmakers with resources and help them advance their projects.

Recently IFP started connecting filmmakers and content creators with people in the television and streaming/digital world. I attended a program called Direct Access. It was a day full of meetings with some major players in the industry. There were people from  major television and streaming channels as well as media companies.

My main takeaways were that every network/distribution channel does things differently, and they’re all looking for different things. If you’re pitching a network, the network is looking for your idea. They have directives they need to achieve, and they want to buy your idea and mold it for their audience.

In the digital world, I still get the impression that it’s still a bit of the wild west. One way to get your show made is to make the show release it online, build an audience and then bring that audience to a channel, much like the show High Maintenance did. That was a show Vimeo that was later picked up by HBO after it built a following.

Another way is to pitch the pilot script. Let them read it and see if they think it works for them. They want to see how you write and get a feel for your show. They also want to see it at that script stage, so they can make changes if they feel they’re needed.

The speakers gave us an idea of what the world of TV and streaming series is like and how competitive it is. They also gave us the perspective on what it’s like to be on the other side of the pitch meeting.

IFP Week is also a great opportunity to network with other filmmakers. I met people with whom I can potentially work, and production companies I can work for, as well as potential clients.

Networking is INCREDIBLY important in this business. You can say that about any industry, but film seems to be more of a who-you-know business than any other. If you have a personality, and you can talk to people, you’re much more likely to get a job. Film sets can be pretty intense environment. You’re working closely with the same people and working together to achieve a goal often under very stressful circumstances. As a filmmaker you want good people you can get along with who are dependable. Those relationships have to start somewhere.

I would recommend the IFP experience for filmmakers/content creators, but I would also recommend doing research before you go. Choose the conferences and panels that are right for your goals, research the speakers, formulate intelligent questions, and make sure to go to the mixers and after-parties and network with the people there.  You’ll get the most out of the experience that way.

 

 

No Rest for the Weekend-The Series

4749584 by Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

Recently we produced a 22+ minute version of No Rest for the Weekend. We expanded on the web series by adding new footage and interviews.

This is the pilot show in the series where we go behind the scenes of indie film projects and talk about issues concerning independent filmmakers. We’re also looking at doing   a podcast version as well. The goal of  show will to provide helpful information and inspiration to all of our fellow independent content creators.

What’s Happening Now at BTRP.

4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

Here’s a quick update on what’s going on here at Behind the Rabbit. We just finished shooting the podcast/web cast for The Slash Generation.  We also have our new full-length version of No Rest for the Weekend. I hope to make some make more videos like this to keep you updated.