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Alex M. White

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About Alex M. White

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  1. Hey Matthew, I would recommend you check out Montana State University's School of Film and Photography program in person as soon as possible. The website is rather underwhelming - http://sfp.montana.edu - but I just graduated from the program and I am very happy and thankful for my education. I do not work or represent MSU in any way, I am simply a recent graduate (Class of 2009). The MSU Film undergraduate program, now in it's 50th year, is extremely competitive: freshmen year there are over 200 students, but since the major is in such a high demand only the top 48 students are allowed through "the gate" to sophomore year. The unique thing about MSU is that you are required to take nine courses your sophomore year in every aspect of production: Producing, Screenwriting, Directing, Acting, Cinematography, Lighting, Production Design, Sound, and Editing. You may never have wanted to take some of the courses, but it makes you a much more well-rounded filmmaker. For example, while I knew I would never wanted to be an actor, taking the Acting course made me a better director of photography because I became more sensitive to the acting process and now I handle myself technically in a better way on set: calling out for lights during the setup for a dramatic scene, announcing to the actor when I am moving in for a close-up that would interfere with their personal space, small little things you would never think of if you hadn't had that experience on the other side of the lens. Another great thing is that you can define your own focus/concentration as much as you want when making thesis projects. Some people, like myself, know they want to do one specific thing and can hone their skills. Other people maybe want to do both directing and editing, or writing and sound, etc; you aren't locked into a single track or one filmmaking position. You can gain experience doing whatever your passion is. For me, it was cinematography, and I was DP on more than five thesis films and on camera crew/gaffer on dozens of other projects. The equipment is pretty remarkable for a state university undergraduate program, and one of the best parts is you learn on film. Not to start a film versus digital discussion on this thread, but there is something to be said about the discipline a young filmmaker gains when being taught and learning how to shoot on film. There are Bolexs, Canon Scoopics, Arri S/SB/M, Aatons, ARRI SRI and two great Arri SRII packages; as well as PD-150s, DVXs, and HVX-200s with P2 cards as far as cameras go. There is also tons of lighting + grip kits, sound equipment, camera support + accessories, etc. All of this equipment is available for student projects at no extra charge (besides a lab fee you pay with tuition at the beginning of the semester). There is also a sound stage/studio, sound mixing studio with ADR booth, screening theaters, Final Cut editing lab with over 15 computers with Final Cut Studio 2 + Adobe Creative Suite, as well as two Senior Edit Bays (which have the latest hardware and upgrades for seniors in the film program) as well as an HD Online Bay. The MSU Film program is unique blend of film theory + a large emphasis of hands-on learning. Most classes are setup where you learn the theory behind a filmmaking aspect in a lecture, and later that week you apply what you've learned in studio. The beginning of your sophomore year, I think about the second week in, you are given a Canon Scoopic and a 100' of 16mm film and you have to shoot a project in just those 100 Feet. Lectures have about 48 students in them, and labs only have 15 students in them, so with such a small class size you can get a great deal of face time with the professor if you want to. Once you've made it through the gate, it's a very familial program. Everyone has their professor's home/cell phone numbers and calls each other by first name. You bond and become very close with your classmates who more than likely will end up as some of your best friends and best contacts when you graduate. The school gives you all of the equipment and facilities to make them in, but as far as thesis projects you have to fund them yourself. This made sound like a con, but having recently started making my way into "the real world" and the film industry, it's actually an incredible pro. Other California film schools have student thesis short film budgets of upwards of $40000 to $60000. The average MSU senior thesis film has a budget of anywhere between $500-$7000. What I have come to realize is that during my time in school, we all had to be resourceful and figure out how to have high production value and make a film look great on a small budget, not to mention every film is completely student produced. Other schools hire DPs and entire crews to make their films, but at MSU the entire crew is students. The humbleness and resourcefulness you gain is invaluable once you venture into the real world. If you did well on the ACT, there is a Western Undergraduate Exchange program (WUE) that you should look into if you come to MSU, which at least for the first year or two you can pay Washington in-state tuition while attending MSU. I really don't know the details, but it's worth looking into for certain. It sounds like MSU might be a great option for you: reasonable tuition (around $20,000 for out-of-state tuition per year), near the West Coast & Washington, a four-year university offering dozens of Bachelors degrees outside of filmmaking (students have been known to double major in Film & something else, although not many do since it is such an intensive program), and a film department that puts out good films and great people: Oscar winners, Emmy winners, Sundance winners, ASC members, and more; and on the other end of the spectrum recent graduates who are trained and experienced enough to get work on a consistent basis, which four years from now when you're looking for work is a huge deal. I just touched on the program briefly, but if you have any other questions or want details on specific aspects of the MSU School of Film & Photography, please write me back. I'd be happy to answer. Good luck with your search! Alex
  2. I already have a BA in Film Production, do you know if these other grad programs such as USC or UCLA require you to have some level of experience to get in? Besides simply having a concentration/track, what reputation do these institutions' graduate cinematography programs hold? And the reason/point for me to get an MFA is so I can teach at the university level later down the line.
  3. I am looking for a school (US or International) that offers a specialized, concentrated Master's Degree in Cinematography. After my own bit of research, I have only been able to find detailed information on the American Film Institute in the US, Australian Film Television and Radio School, and National Film and Television School in the UK. Does anyone have recommendations for schools offering a MA in Cinematography? Just for clarification, I am not interested in a Master's program in Film Production alone. Thank you for your time! Alex M. White
  4. I am very interested. Would you be able to post a picture of these?
  5. I am trying to capture my short film with Final Cut Pro 5.1.4. The film originated on Super 16mm, was transfered and telecine at AlphaCine Labs in Seattle, WA. The telecine was finished onto DVCAM with a timecode and keyframe burn, since AlphaCine has not upgraded to HD yet. I am now trying to capture the DVCAM with a Sony DSR-11. I have tried setting the Capture Preset at both 24 and 23.98 fps, as well as the Device Control Preset. Regardless of settings, it appears that frames are being dropped when playing back the keyframes (example: it will run as so - A1, B2, {INTERLACED C}, D3, etc.,). I thought having an editing timebase of either 23.98 or 24 would be better than 29.97, but all of the above all drop frames and are horribly interlaced. How do I fix this? Thanks, Alex Below is a sequence of "5 frames"
  6. I am looking to purchase a 16mm camera in the next few months. Now, there is no expectation of getting work from this: it is strictly for reel development and personal usage. I would prefer a camera that is modifiable to Super 16mm and can shoot crystal sync, but cost is more of a factor than sync sound. Here are some of the models I am deciding between: Krasnogorsk K-3 Bell & Howell Filmo 70DR or 70HR Beaulieu R16 Canon Scoopic 16M Pathé Webo M Super 16 Also, I am most likely not going to buy a Bolex. If anyone can recommend other models, I would be eager to hear about them. Thank you for your time and recommendations!
  7. I am shooting a short film in a month, and I will be ordering 15 rolls of 16mm this Monday, September 10th. I am unable to do personal stock tests myself due to equipment restrictions. I am struggling with whether to pick Kodak's Vision2 5229/7229 Expression 500T or 5218/7218 500T. I have watched Kodak's promotional "Light and Shadow" DVD numerous times, but am still unable to decide what the pros and cons of each stock are. The short film consists of one night exterior, one interior (concert hall), and one studio interior. What are the differences in grain, color saturation, and shadow detail? Any other differences? Thanks for your time, Alex M. White P.S. What is the difference between 52XX and 72XX?
  8. Hey Artur, I just got back from the Maine Media Workshops last night and found it to be incredible. I took the "Feature Film Lighting" from James Carter, ASC and it completely changed my perspective on lighting. Since this was a level 3+ course, more time was spent on the creative realm than the hands-on technical realm. Some of my classmates were frustrated by this, but I found that to be an appropriate balance. The only thing that I was unsatisfied was we were unable to shoot on film, since the lab they used was closed on the Fourth of July. But it shouldn't be in issue with DV! I am guessing you'll be using the Sony F-900 HD Camera in the sound stage and the Canon XL H1 if you do exteriors. Some advice I have is: Take as many stills as you can Bring something to record the lectures you attend The quality of your experience is very dependent on who you choose to work with: be attentive the first day and choose wisely. Buy mosquito repellent and wear it every day! Those are just a few thoughts, but I could go on and on. Let me know if you want me to go into more specifics. Enjoy yourself, it's an amazing experience. Take care, Alex M. White
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