Staying on Track

Hey Everyone!

With 2018 freshly upon us, I thought I’d take this time to talk about New Year’s resolutions. Luckily I’m not planning any crazy diets or hoping to spend more time at the gym. But rather, my goal for 2018 is to focus on the work that makes me happy, keeps me productive, and keeps me on track for my long term career goals.

I briefly talked about my job situation a few months ago when I did my Life After Film School video (link here) and how I was working two part time jobs: one video related and one retail job. I didn’t mind the work but I felt frustrated that there was no growth in either positions and I ultimately wasn’t very happy. I made it my goal to get a full time job by the end of 2017 and I wasn’t going to give up until I got one. I went to about 5 or so job interviews back to back in the span of a month, which was the most I had ever been on since graduating from NYU’s film program, and I ended up getting a full time offer for a sales position from one of the companies by the end of the year. Sadly, it still wasn’t a film industry job, but I knew it would still be good work experience. But since I started there,  I have realized how important it is to not lose focus on film and video projects.

The job takes up about 9 or more hours of my day for 5 days of the week. That means that when I get home, I have about 4-5 hours of free time before I have to go to bed. If you know me, you know that I love to relax, and procrastination is second nature to me, and after a long day, honestly the only thing I feel that I have energy for is bed and Netflix.

I was using this new job as an excuse to not be productive and ultimately I was being unfair to myself because I wasn’t making time for the projects that make me happy.

In school, I procrastinated homework because I didn’t enjoy it and I thought it was a waste of my free time ( I still did it, though, and you should totally not listen to me and definitely do your homework). But now when I put off doing things for myself, it feels wrong. Sometimes it is hard to push yourself into a creative mindset, but my resolution for 2018 is to push myself to write more and edit more videos and work on things for myself. Since I’m not working in a video related job right now, I can’t be creative throughout the day. Coming home and working on personal projects is almost more important than relaxing at the end of the day.

That’s not to say that I’m not totally tempted to just go right to bed after work and watch netfilx for 5 hours, but that doesn’t get me anywhere in the long run if I spend all my time doing it. This week, I’m trying to stay on track to my long term goals by spending 45 minutes each night with uninterrupted time to work on my personal projects.

I will check back in next week with the updates on how successful I’ve been. 45 minutes doesn’t feel like a lot of time when you’re being productive. It only feels like forever when you are watching the clock. If you are hoping to stay on track with your goals in 2018, join me in the 45 minute challenge and let me know how your first week goes.

Here’s to getting stuff done this week!

https://i2.wp.com/78.media.tumblr.com/bec15a06780c526496a3c4adc274eab8/tumblr_inline_mxwy19nFkh1ro0zrp.gif?w=525&ssl=1

 

My Top 6 Favorite Movies from 2017

6: Disaster Artist

Almost two years ago I went to a midnight screening of “The Room” with no knowledge of what it was and no clue as to why people were buying a ton of plastic spoons before we got to the theater. I could tell from the start that the film was terrible, but the packed audience in the theater made me realize how much of a cult following it had, and I respected it for that in a weird way. Jumping ahead to 2017, I think James Franco’s parody film “Disaster Artist” actually pays its respects to Tommy Wiseau (writer and director of “The Room”) while still making fun of him a little bit. The movie is decent, it gets a good laugh, and if you’re part of the cult following, then you’ll have a hard time telling Franco apart from Wiseau. Overall, I loved the message about never giving up on your dream and making it happen even when people tell you that you won’t be great. It is worth seeing for this reason because Wiseau proves that hard work pays off.

 

5: Murder on the Orient Express

I love a good murder mystery and this one did not disappoint! Following the perspective of a top notch detective who is just looking to go on vacation, we spend the majority of the film on board the train watching him interrogate every passenger with every possible clue he can drum up in such tight living quarters. The ensemble cast does a great job playing their respective personalities and bouncing energy off of each other. While I would say the end is fairly bittersweet, it is unexpected and quite satisfying. This is a fun movie to watch overall!

 

4: The Big Sick

I am a sucker for romantic comedies and I’m not ashamed to say it. Unlike most romcoms, though, “The Big Sick” actually shows the lovers apart for most of the movie, and I think that’s what makes it so great. Actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani teamed up with his wife, producer and writer Emily Gordon, to write the script for this film based on their real-life courtship, and you can tell how personal and realistic it actually is. When Gordon’s character in the movie falls ill and is put into a medically induced coma, Nanjiani is forced to spend time with her parents for the first time ever. The only two complaints about the film are 1. I don’t feel like the female love interest is very likeable a lot of the time and 2. Once she’s in the coma, it’s hard to get a sense of the relationship that she had with Nanjiani’s character to begin with. Aside from this, the film is sweet and funny and I love seeing a man acting as the lead in a romcom. I definitely recommend this film!

3: Get Out

What makes “Get Out” so special is how unique it is and how much it changed the game for independent movies. I am honestly so proud of Jordan Peele for making this movie, which sounds like a silly thing to say, but he was working on this project for years and I think it surpassed any hopes that he had for it. Ranked as one of the highest grossing indie films, “Get Out” is a thriller that falls more in line with “The Shinning” for me in terms of the scariness factor. It has a few jumps scares, but they are purposeful and not overused at all. The underlying story and message are so rich that the movie succeeds in making you feel as traumatized as the main character without having to rely on CGI, poltergeists, or the normal stuff that you’d find in a horror film. The only reason I put “Get Out” at #3 and not #1 for 2017 is simply because I felt like I knew what was coming in the end, but that does not detract from the fantastic plot that plays out for the rest of the film.

 

2: Blade Runner 2049

For being a sequel, “Blade Runner 2049” was fantastic and played off of the original story nicely. What I love most about this movie is the world that is created. It’s so strange and almost post apocalyptic, but the filmmakers don’t waste time trying to justify or explain the rules of this futuristic society. Aside from gorgeous cinematography and fantastic set design, “Blade Runner 2049” works because it has a great story that doesn’t feel like it is wasting time while it builds up to surprising story arc towards the middle/end. Additionally, there are not a lot of fighting or action scenes in the film, which I really appreciated because I don’t see a lot of need for the main character to constantly fight with his enemies. All in all, it’s a great film!

 

1: Baby Driver

Hands down this was my favorite movie from 2017. If you are a fan of witty visual comedy and snappy jump cuts, then this is the film for you. Written and directed by Edgar Wright (“Scott Pilgrim”, “Hot Fuzz”), this film is unlike any other action movie I have ever seen because it doesn’t focus on the heists or the crimes, it focuses on the carefully choreographed and expertly soundtracked getaways. Additionally, the film has a lot of heart because it is so character driven. We are almost in the mind of the main character, following him as he drives to repay his debt to a criminal that he stole money from a few years prior.

As someone who loves Wright’s other films, it was no surprise that “Baby Driver” impressed me so much. I am a sucker for directors that can show their individual style through their editing, set design, and cinematography. His snappy, fast-moving scenes work well for this genre while still fitting in with the main character’s narrator and his ultimate objective. What else can I say other than go see this movie!

Filmmaker’s Wish List

Hello Everyone!

As I’m sure you all know, the holidays are fast approaching! If you celebrate Christmas, or any other holiday that involves gifting this season, you might still be deciding on what you want to ask for. To help make your decision a little easier, I wanted to provide you with a short selection that you can add to your filmmakers wish list. I’ve included a variety of items, mostly useful things for small budgets, so have a look and see if there’s anything you like!

  1. Mini lens kit for your cell phone: Priced at $28.99
    https://www.amazon.com/Apexel-Telephoto-Fisheye-Samsung-Laptops/dp/B01N1INMPI/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1513117207&sr=8-4&keywords=cell+phone+lenses
    I recently received a similar cell phone lens kit to this (mine only has 3 lenses and no tripod) and I find it a really neat accessory. If you take a lot of photos, or if you want to start filming short videos on your phone, this kit will definitely increase the quality and crispness of the images/videos. While I don’t personally use my cell phone for filming all that often, this is still just a great option if you can’t afford a larger camera or large lenses for a camera.
  2. Editing software: $19.99 – 49.99/month
    https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/plans.html?promoid=4SC998JB&mv=other

    A few Christmases ago, my grandma sent me money for a year’s subscription of editing software. I signed up for the student deal that Adobe offers on their website (which is currently priced at $19.99 per month for access to all their apps) and got a lot of use out of it! If you are looking to try out Adobe Premiere or any other Adobe products, this is certainly one way to do it. I still pay for a monthly subscription to use all the apps (which is $29.99 per month for me) and I swear by it because I think it’s the best. If the pricing is still a bit much for you, definitely check out options like iMovie (which is FREE for Mac users) and VEGAS Movie Studio (which is a one time fee of about $50 for the basic package). http://www.vegascreativesoftware.com/us/vegas-movie-studio/

  3. Mini, flexible tripod: About $8
    https://www.amazon.com/Flexible-Lightweight-Tripods-Bendable-Adjustable/dp/B06ZZ2GYWB/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1513187016&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=bendable+tripod&psc=1

    My dad got me this flexible tripod a few years ago and I think it’s a nifty gadget that can come in handy. I wouldn’t recommend putting huge cameras on it, but for your cell phone or small DSLR, it works well. If you are filming on the go and don’t have a full sized tripod with you, this one will do in a pinch because you can wrap it around things and it will stay attached.

  4. Film School Book: Priced at $12
    https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/101-things-i-learned-in-film-school-neil-landau/1100298242#/

    This book is great to leave on the coffee table or bedside table. It isn’t a huge book, so it makes it one that is easy to read casually. It is full of illustrations and useful advice, almost like a quick go to when you need a refresher on the basics of movie making.
  5. Camera lens mug, clapper board, movie posters: Various prices
    Lens mug- https://tinyurl.com/y7cyqn2x
    Slate/clapboard- https://www.amazon.com/PMLAND-Professional-Photography-Clapboard-Director/dp/B071HG9Z4Y/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1513192892&sr=8-5&keywords=slate+clapperboard
    Movie posters- https://www.amazon.com/27-Moonrise-Kingdom-Movie-Poster/dp/B00GYP0HVM/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1513192958&sr=1-1&keywords=Moonrise+kingdom+movie+poster

The last few items are just for fun! The dry erase clapboard and the lens mug can come in handy if you want to or already work on movie sets. The movie poster that I linked is one that I purchased for myself a few years ago and it is really high quality and is a great size for putting up on the wall. Check out the Amazon link here for other types of movie posters by the same seller: (https://www.amazon.com/Movie-Posters/b/ref=w_bl_hsx_s_ho_web_8504237011?ie=UTF8&node=8504237011&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=Movie+Posters)

That’s it for my holiday gifts for filmmakers! Check out the website below for additional gift ideas for yourself or for that special filmmaker in your life: https://www.filmsourcing.com/best-gifts-filmmakers/

Happy Holidays!

 

Equipment Haul Review

Hi Everyone!

A few weeks ago I released an equipment haul video for a DSLR camera package that I received for my birthday this last summer. In the video, I explained what exactly was in the package and gave a quick look at my YouTube set up. In an effort to keep the video short, I didn’t include my review of the equipment, so I figured I would use my blog to share my opinions.

First off, as I mentioned in the video (click the link below if you haven’t seen it already), the previous camera that I was using (the Canon Rebel T3i) was one that I purchased in my junior year of high school (which was back in 2012!). I needed an upgrade mainly because the model was very out of date and the camera was having difficulty recording in low or poor lighting. Despite this, the camera still worked perfectly and looked great in proper lighting- which makes it one that I would recommend to anyone- I just wanted something that I could use without worry of graininess on my footage.

While I do a bit of freelance work with my equipment, my main use for a camera is filming YouTube videos. After doing a bit of research, I learned that most YouTubers that I watch use the Canon 70D. I liked that their videos were really sharp and crisp in terms of image quality, and I assumed they were easy to use cameras that held up well because it didn’t seem like the YouTubers complained about them at all. While I do have other friends that swear by Nikons or other brands, I am partial to Canon because it was the first brand recommended to me. Honestly most DSLR brands are incredibly similar, so it’s just a matter of finding one that you like best.

Ultimately I ended up with a Canon 80D rather than a 70D (they were actually closely priced on Amazon) but I think the two cameras are fairly similar. While I haven’t played around with a 70D before, it probably just has fewer features than the 80D. One feature that I like most about the 80D is that it has a touch screen that focuses on whatever you touch in the video; and it stays locked onto the subject when it moves. When I film myself for YouTube videos, I can’t really glance back and forth from the preview screen to the lens to check if I’m in focus or not, especially not when I’m talking. But ever since I started using the touch to focus feature, I don’t have to worry about the camera losing focus on me or accidentally focusing on the background because it is locked on my movements.

After using the 80D for a few months now, in addition to the added equipment that I got as part of the Amazon package, I can say that I love everything! It’s definitely a very basic setup of equipment- I’m not looking to spend thousands of dollars on lights and things- but it has boosted my quality significantly. If you look at my videos from 6 months to a year ago, you’ll see that they look a lot more flat- the color is off and the lighting isn’t great. Now that I have lights and the 80D, everything seems more vibrant and definitely not grainy when I shoot in low light or limited natural light. I also feel more confident when I record videos for myself or for freelance work because I feel that with better equipment, it makes me look more professional.

I wish I could speak more to the tech specs about my equipment but sadly I’m not a very tech-y person. I’ll just end this post by saying that the camera and added equipment are easy to use and I would recommend this package, or anything similar, to someone looking to do YouTube videos, small freelance projects, or simple short films. If you have tried this equipment for yourself, or anything similar that you really liked or dislike, please leave your comments below! I’ll see you all again soon!

Link to the camera/lighting packages that I have:

https://www.amazon.com/Canon-80D-DSLR-Video-Creator/dp/B01LC08K62/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1508520687&sr=8-18&keywords=canon+80D+kit

https://www.amazon.com/Savage-LED-SB-SAVAGE-LED-Portait/dp/B01IAA8UXK/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1508522307&sr=1-2&keywords=savage+lights

Link to my YouTube video: