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David Mawson

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Everything posted by David Mawson

  1. I suspect that depends on who you are. The odds are much worse for would-be cinematographers because the investment needed to achieve basic competence has dropped so hugely. Exposing a tricky scene for film with nothing but an exposure meter requires a couple of orders more magnitude in skill than doing the same for video with a field monitor, false colour, waveforms, etc. Just the ability to see what you shoot changes things hugely. And the cost of developing each level of skill has dropped - because shooting film was expensive and video is free. So the guy could reliably shot that tricky scene you needed on film was really special. He'd learned at the cost of $100K's of Kodak's best and he'd only got that chance because he'd impressed the hell out of everyone. But now there is no cost. So the so-so guys who would have been winnowed out weren't. They took twice as long to learn, but so what? Video is free. So between the job being generally easier to learn and the cost of learning being lower, and therefore there being many more people able to function at middle levels of competence, camera skills have become relatively low leverage. And this trend will continue as eg tracking AF becomes better and starts to become an option for reasonably budgeted narrative. (Which has arguably already happened with the C200.) Otoh, if you're a comedian who writes his own material, your leverage has probably gone up.
  2. Or to give another example of how ridiculous Robyn's argument is, you're got into an aircraft and notice that the pilot is drunk. You tell him that you want to get off and he refuses to listen because you're not a pilot. Does this make sense? Or your wife is sick, you check the treatment she's been given and based on her symptoms and a lot of research, question it. Do you really settle for a reply like "I'm a doctor. I don't care if you do have a major study on your side saying this drug causes side-effects exactly like the ones she is experiencing: shut up"? (Which is a true story btw. Except that the doctor I spoke was smart enough to deal with facts, unlike Robyn.) Now, it's reasonable to assume that an expert knows more than someone who isn't - that's what an expert is. But when someone responds to a concrete fact they don't like by saying "I'm an expert, the person quoting the fact I don't like is not, therefore we shall ignore" - then they should only expect odd stares. At best.
  3. Why should I need "credentials" when I'm not arguing from personal opinion but from facts? Do actually understand how logic works? If I say "Canada is a large country next to the USA" and I have give good sources for my beliefs, then whether I am Canadian is irrelevant. That you are a paid camera operator and I am not is irrelevant to the question of whether documentaries like Sirracha can be shot without a director. Because they have been. This is reality. If you keep saying "I'm Canadian and I say that Canada is an island off the coast of China the size of Belgium" - which is exactly what you are doing - then, really, the only response you can expect is not a positive one. Intelligent people are going to look at the map and the Canadian embassy's website and then ask why you're capable of believing something so silly.
  4. Well, no. If you only consider an opinion based on how much you like the person it comes from, then you're not being rational. Also, from my POV this thread quickly became "We don't like what this guy is saying so we're going to ignore facts and attack him for not being one of us." Whether or not I have ever been paid to operate a camera is irrelevant to the fact that people have shot one man documentaries successfully. In fact, your little club is the one with "geniality" problems. And like most would-be bullies, you don't like it when people push back.
  5. I was skimming over cheap horror films on Amazon a couple of nights ago. Many had bad acting or blocking or storyboards. They all had poor scripts. But not one was incompetently shot or had a glitch with editing. There were two with sound problems - one a super low budget SF movie and the other a UK horror film where they were trying to record "low ennunciation" regional accents that don't record easily and some of the actors were unskilled. ..In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw a bad film where the problem was camera work or editing. Lots of amateurs are now excellent at both these. There's a whole "AMV" scene where teenage kids cut apart anime and make alternate trailers for them on their laptops, and the results are often outstanding. (Check youtube for examples.) Fifty years ago, virtually no one edited for fun. Now you've got seventeen year olds with hundred of hours of editing time on their laptops behind them.
  6. I have to disagree. Bad camera work and bad editing LOOK the same as they did 50 years. But it's much easier to achieve competence using Lightworks than a Steenberg. Ditto for shooting on a C200 instead of an Eclair. A huge mound of hassle and learning of technique has gone away. It's much easier to get the high level stuff right now the low level stuff is easy. ..If you asked me to shoot a film Breathless style with a film camera, I'd run. But with a C200's low light ability, DPAF, and ability to fly on a gimbal or shoot from the shoulder without frequent changes of film cans? Much easier, yes?
  7. I think we're past that phase now. Decent video cameras are extraordinarily cheap to buy or rent. You can shoot on a Fuji XT3 at 400Mbs. Or a BMPCC16K in raw. Or rent a C200. Or buy an old 7D for a fraction of the price of that phone - that was the camera used for Tiny Furniture and it's in the Criterion collection. Then you sell the 7D when you're done, if you're really broke. You're more likely to have problems affording decent sound gear than a camera. Zombie Orpheus specialises in films for D&D players. Their first film in their main series - Journey Quest, which is sort of Pratchettish - looked very creaky. The latest one looks completely professional. They've had no trouble funding on kickstarter.
  8. Actually, crunching the numbers, you SHOULD be able to raise money quite easily for a wide range of films based on most of your revenue coming from VOD. As long as you make low budget horror, family films, and other genre films, and qualify for those tax breaks. BUT - it's not going to happen on any scale. You can make a decent UK movies for $500K, get an immediate $250K tax break for investors, then another $150K if you have a disaster. Fine. And without stupid union rules and with modern production technology you can do a lot for that money. Again, fine. The problem is that you need good scripts. And where will you get them from on the regular basis you need for an industry? The US TV and movie industry are offering absolute fortunes to successful writers. So people will shop their scripts there first, you'll get the leftovers, and the moment you have a success the writer will go to LA or sign a deal with Netflix. You can't make a good movie without a good script and you won't be able to hold on to writers. Or directors, either. And that will only get worse. Camera operation requires radically less skill than fifty years ago. Editing is vastly easier than when you had to cut film. Animation is easier (or least less manpower intensive) than ever before. But these things mean that the talent for the purely creative roles is just stretched more thinly than ever.
  9. In other words, you can't think of any fact-based defence for your ridiculous argument. And I note that Phill, who is a camera operator and dop, agrees that a film like Sirracha doesn't need a director. So even if only a camera operator's opinion can be valid, you've been contradicted. But, sanely, that doesn't matter. Because Sirracha exists.The film maker shot it without problems. It succeeded. So saying "It can't be done" is arguing against reality. Which is just not an intelligent use of time. Now - YOU may not be able to shoot that way. But that doesn't mean that other people shouldn't. It just means that you're in serious danger of being shaken out of an industry where that may become an increasingly required skill. (Which is perhaps why you are trying very hard to believe that something has already happened is impossible.)
  10. ..So you're the Mark Dunn who is even less important than that guy. Wonderful! Just the person to argue from "authority." I don't quite see how being Kenn Dodd's stunt double qualifies you as an expert on documentary making...? Are the catering department for the film all experts too? No. Again, you seem to become confused easily yourself and assume such things. Once again - leaving aside your embrace of double-standards - Sirracha exists. It was made by one man who seems to have had no problems making it alone. So where on earth do you get the idea from that documentaries can never be made by one man???
  11. But the gyroscopic force could replace IBIS if you designed the camera right.
  12. Then he should learn to write. Because if he says something as silly as "No doc can be shot by one man, EVER!" then his arguments will have no credibility. The only sensible approach is to create a meaningful set of guidelines for when more than one person is needed. Which is in fact what I've implicitly done with the criteria I cited. Eg are you just shooting or actually investigating? Are you in safe environment? Does it change unpredictably? Etc. So Sirracha is a one person shoot, Flint isn't. So in fact you're not "on the fence" but agree with me....
  13. ...Also, why I haven't shot a project like Sirracha, I haven't in fact "produced" several. Because a documentary about a sauce like this is no different to a corporate video for a product. The idea that you need a separate director for an on-the-rails shoot like this is one that makes sense only to talentless people hoping to make a living from doing a non-job. You do not need a director as well as a camera operator for static pre-planned shoots in safe environment with a cooperative subject!
  14. But it's a stupid question, isn't it? Because what does the answer have to do with anything? Because - - Sirracha (sp?) was shot by one person and was a success. - No one can point out a failing based on it being shot by one person - The film maker's comments don't seem to indicate any problems being caused by his working alone. - When he speculates on shooting more titles, he assumes that the cost base will be the same - so again, he'd be working alone. Frankly, as we're abandoning diplomacy, you come over as threatened. If more talented people can do alone what you need a two or three man crew for - which seems to be the case given that Sirracha exists and you seem committed to the idea that you couldn't have shot it alone - then why should people employ you or invest in your projects? If shooting worthwhile projects on such a low budget alone is possible, then you have to ask yourself why you haven't done it, too, of course. Because while you're very ready to ask what other people have done, you seem to never have shot a documentary yourself - at least one that anyone has heard of. Your entire IMDB record consists of a crew job on a 13 minute short shot in 2012. And the job there was only "Additional Photography." So I really don't think this is a smart issue for you to raise, "squire". (Also, if you're any sort of film maker, aren't you supposed to be able to at least write a meaningful sentence? How can asking a question like this be "much more diplomatic" than not?)
  15. Film is a business. That means costs have to be kept down to what the investors and markets are willing to pay. What you call "better" is irrelevant - if an extra cost doesn't add enough profit to pay it's way, it should get scrapped. That's your duty to your investors. No, you don't wonder that. You're looking for a way to win an argument rather than engaging with facts. (And you took one of the worst possible routes. Although trying to "win" rather than exchange ideas is bad enough in itself.) A doc like this isn't Flint. The shooter can plan every shot before he goes, he's not "investigating." He isn't exploring a fast moving non-cooperative environment. He arranges meetings, can discuss where to shoot and ask for phone shoots, he can ask all his questions and get answers in advance before he flies out. So, Robyn, based on your awesome track record of shooting Ninja Shadow Warriors - which I wouldn't have realised was a documentary from the name - What an earth would a director do to justify doubling the budget??? And can you explain why this low budget documentary is so much more popular than anything you've worked on if it needed a director and didn't have one??? ...Arguing with reality, Robyn, is rarely profitable. (And, yes, there are shoots where you need more people. But we're talking about this one and shoots like it. The point is that some projects only need one person.)
  16. They're not the only ones: it works for National Geographic - https://www.desktop-documentaries.com/gear-kit-for-a-one-man-documentary-film-crew.html And one man can fit in with his subjects in a way that even a small crew can't: https://www.indiewire.com/2017/03/shooting-documentary-by-yourself-city-of-ghosts-quest-hooligan-sparrow-1201797506/ Maybe they just weren't good enough. There are so many people who want to make films that discarding 99% of them really isn't a problem. It won't always be a fit, but it obviously is sometimes because it has been successfully done. As for the BBC - yes, if you're in the habit of giving jobs to your friends rather than people with talent and drive, they'll need the support of a crew. But in the last ten years has the BBC produced a documentary as vital as Cartel Land? I can't think of one.
  17. Which opens up another question: should a $13K budget for a 30 minute documentary really be looked at as "unprofessional"? Shouldn't it be possible to shoot this type of film with a single man crew using a C200 and swapping between radio lavs and a mic on a boom stand? Two weeks for pre-production - which is mostly just setting up interview dates and booking flights for a project like this - two weeks for shooting, two for editing? $13K should easily pay for that. Shooting two minutes a day for a doc shouldn't really be a strain, should it? (These figures would NOT apply to more complex topics or less cooperative subjects, of course.) Also: the film made a LOT more than $13K! It would still have been profitable - from its first year alone - if it had cost $60K. Or even $120K with UK taxbreaks for investors.
  18. Are the standards for these markets higher than for UK and US dubs? Because I've been horrified by the quality of most film dubs. Stalingrad's main character seemed to be voiced by Eric Cartman. Solaris was unwatchable. And The Wandering Earth has bizarre acoustics - you just can't believe the voice comes from inside the scene. ..Which is very strange indeed, because the anime industry operates on a very tight budget but their dubs, voice acting and translations are normally superb. "All I know is the Joads' lives were depressing enough - then they filmed them in black and white." - Crow T Robot, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Talking of dubs and the BFI, their Amazon channel has just one Bergman movie. And it's dub only - no original soundtrack. This is like an organisation for the promotion of vegetarianism sponsoring a slaughterhouse...
  19. It's a lesser version of the problem with scripts. Writers now need to spend years building contacts - working as a producer's minion or whatever - before they can get someone who matters to look at a script. My suggested solution, based on raising investment in the past, would be to offer someone a Very Expensive Dinner as a get to know each other. Spend most of the time bonding, rather than hustling, but give a brief summary of your credentials and the project. Try to fit in some funny stories that make useful points about your capabilities - especially your strict control of cash. Then ask about setting up a second meeting where they sit through your escalator pitch (which is like an elevator pitch but a bit longer) and then eat more expensive food. The escalator pitch should be more about niche, marketing plan, risk management and returns than story - at least, in the industries I'm familiar with. Film may be different there, I suppose. But when in doubt, I'd always talk about money. Second best solution: find someone who has already achieved credibility with the people you want an in with, take them out for dinner, then offer them a %.
  20. I have to ask - Why? Voice actors are cheap on fiverr. And couldn't re-mixing be done in the Phillipines or India at a low cost? There are quite a few low wage economies with film industries. The world already has more than enough "gritty" urban dramas and films about upper middle class teenagers taking drugs, yes.
  21. It could be an interaction between the camera and the light. Remember that LEDs have a spikey colour output. The BM might be fine with a halide light. At a guess, the the 120D might be putting too much blue, preventing that underexposure you need: I think this is reasonably typical for an HMI - Did Hurlbut discuss what type of light you should use? You could try the alternate technique Fury Road used instead - https://www.fxguide.com/fxfeatured/a-graphic-tale-the-visual-effects-of-mad-max-fury-road/#dayfornight ..If I was you, I'd ask on a BM forum about this.
  22. To give an example of the sort of film that can do very well without name talent, "What We Do In The Shadows." I doubt many people who saw Pontypool recognised a name either. Or Hostel. Or Saw or The Human Centipede. As for "No marketing plan" - well, yes, you need one. But that's not same as having big name talent in the flick. A marketing plan starts with a reason people should watch the film and a way of getting that message to them. Eg this is a comedy about vampires and we'll communicate that in the poster, the VOD image, the trailer. We'll get stories in the horror press and build buzz and use that interest to get distributors to talk to us. Etc. A marketing plan can involve stars, but it certainly doesn't have to.
  23. My estimates were about the same. There are some freak cases - if you have a great script for a Rope one-roomer you can do it for a lot less. And El Mariachi was shot for $8K, but that required extraordinary talent and a lot of unpaid-for preparation. Which you're not going to get on a production line basis. But $300K after those taxbreaks isn't a lot of money. It falls to $150K almost immediately, and then the government covers another $100K of your potential losses. That should be somewhat attractive. You could shoot Faster Pussycat or Phibes (if you were imaginative with your location scouting instead of building sets) or Carry On Screaming for only a $50K risk. I suspect that the problems are - 1. Talent drain, especially of writers. You need good scripts, there isn't much talent to go around, and it goes to the US. And then TV and now Netflix get what's left. The idea that there are lots of good un-made scripts floating around is laughable to anyone who has ever had to read them. 2. You only get the tax breaks for theatrical release(?) Which means making prints. Expensive. 3. Unless you're careful with your concept, you pay a big penalty in the US for not being set there. You can work around this by eg shooting cheap period horror like Hammer or "An American Werewolf In London" plots or maybe even faking being in America, but it's a complication 4. Supervision cost. You need someone competent representing investors to make sure money isn't being mis-spent. This adds a lot of overhead to lower budget productions.
  24. The benefit the artist sees is that he gets to make a film and he is paid to do so. Yes, the tax relief goes to the investors - but it's to cover money paid to crew and cast members, and without the tax relief, that money probably wouldn't have been available.
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