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Film

“The Calvary Isn’t Coming” -Mark Duplass

I ended a very successful pre-planning week tired, but excited to meet my new students on Monday. The walk from the 800 building where I teach to my car is a nice little stroll. Certainly long enough to run through the first day checklist and go through the motions of what it would take to get 63 5th graders from bell to bell and then safely to their homes. As I turned on the car I was greeted with the familiar sound of my favorite Podcast, Indie Film Hustle . A smile crept over my face as I settled into my 2nd job. You know, the art job that doesn’t pay a dime, but fills so many creative holes in my soul.

The IFH episode today was a throwback. As always, Alex Ferrari drops so many “knowledge bombs” and in sharing his own filmmaking journey is essentially modeling a potential path forward through the difficult world of the film industry. At the end he suggested listening to Mark Duplass’ SXSW Keynote Speech, which I did, and quite literally changed my day. Duplass’ description of steps to a career in film were so well described and with a go-getter mentality, totally do-able. What hit me straight in the heart today?

  • Make your passion project.
  • Don’t wait for the calvary.
  • Be your own calvary.

So, I’ve pulled my passion project off the shelf and am now headed to pre-production.

“Dream it. Write it. Shoot it. Share it.” -Me

 

Film

Film School or No Film School: That Is the Question

One Saturday afternoon about 3 years ago I was out and about, walking around Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. when I decided to dip into one of my favorite bookstores, Kramerbooks and Afterwords. I was in pursuit of a book on photography. As I meandered through the busy aisles I finally found it: Photography Books! However, what caught my attention was the section right next door: Film. All of a sudden I was transported back to the year 2000, when I was fresh out of high school and newly on the campus of University of Central Florida as a Film Major. It only lasted a year. I bailed because of youthful ignorance and lots of voices convincing me that film would never be a fruitful career path. Standing there in the book store it suddenly hit me like a truck: I don’t want a book on photography. I want a book on film.

I bought the book, “What They Don’t Teach You at Film School,” written by Camille Landau and Tiara White. The thing that I read in the book that made the most impact on my life is that it’s hard to tell stories if you haven’t lived much of a life. I paraphrase, of course. When I bailed on film school it was because I was scared, young, and inexperienced in life. I’ve now been places, experienced things, and am now better positioned to actually tell stories. Most importantly, I’m ready to tell stories at a time when technology is so accessible and there’s so many ways to distribute films.

I moved to New York City, because I wanted to further delve into the world of independent film. (I didn’t have a solid plan for how I was going to survive financially, but I’ll save that for an entirely different post.) I worked at The Peoples Improv for a short time and took a Sketch Writing Class and a Video Production class at The PIT. My experiences there further strengthened my knowledge and passion for filmmaking. I also met wonderful filmmakers at a Meetup and was able to work on a short film. What an incredible experience!

While living in New York I found myself on public transit for long periods of time and thus needed something to shove through my ear buds. This was the summer of 2016 and that was when I discovered the Indie Film Hustle Podcast 

This may sound like an exaggeration, but Alex Ferrari’s Indie Film Hustle Podcast has been the most important source of information and inspiration on my film journey. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker and are not listening to this podcast, what are you doing?! Check it out. I promise it will change your world. “Keep that hustle going, keep that dream alive.” -Alex Ferrari

There’s nothing wrong with film school and all filmmakers have very different career paths. For me, it just wasn’t the right time. Would I go to film school now? Absolutely not. Why? It’s simple. I will write stories that I feel need to be told, pick up my camera and shoot stories that have the power to change lives, and work with other creatives to bring forth stories that highlight those whom many times are underrepresented. I can do all of that without film school.

Film

“The Lake Shoot”

When I was in high school my favorite thing in the world to do was go watch movies. I decided in my senior year to get a degree in film. However, Little Christy did not truly understand the film industry, nor what a job in film even looked like. After a year of being a film major and lots of people telling me to “Runaway from the drugs and corrupt film industry!” I bailed for a more “suitable” profession: teaching.

I have devoted many moons to teaching children and quite honestly, they have taught me too. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for any money in the world because those experiences helped shape the person I am today. As it turns out, I had a bit of a “Come to Jesus” moment in a bookstore in Washington, D.C. about 2.5 years ago and that burning desire to be a filmmaker crept back. So, of course one drops everything and immediately moves to NYC, right? Well, I did, because that’s how I roll. Balls to the wall. My time was short and I learned a few film things and when the money ran out, I bailed.

Lessons learned from New York City? Filmmaking is a difficult field to break into and teaching needs to be my main source of income. You know what? That’s totally cool. My epiphany was that I could continue to work in a job that means so much to so many people and can make such a huge difference, but also pursue my dreams as a filmmaker during my “teacher breaks.”

The point of this post? In year 3 of my pursuit to become a filmmaker I have finally accomplished a few goals that once seemed out of reach: 1. I wrote a screenplay. 2. My team filmed said screenplay. 3. Oh, and I got to DIRECT that screenplay. What?! If only Little Christy had known in 2000 that a life well lived would bring about the experiences and guts to really fully understand filmmaking and what it would take to be a filmmaker. It’s fine, though. I’m living life without regrets.

Earlier this month my film friends and I shot my short screenplay, “The Lake.” It is currently in post-production and I hope one day soon to be able to share the sweet story of a couple who realize that sometimes moving forward means moving apart.

Film

DIY Fig Rig

Happy Female Filmmaker Friday! It seems an appropriate time to share a really cool project that I just recently completed in time to shoot a specific scene in “Home Invasion.” The shot consisted of following the lead actor from behind as he got out of the car and all the way up to the front door at about ankle height. It was challenging, but the Fig Rig did the trick!

I can not take credit for the design and want to give full credit to Marc Silber. Check out his YouTube channel for more information. DIY Fig Rig DSLR Stabilizer

In the meantime, here’s my adventures in making DIY film gear!

Step 1:  Visit your local hardware store for the following:

5 foot long PVC pipe cut into the following specifications:

  • 6  (6 inch pieces)
  • 2 (3 inch pieces)
  • 4 (2.5 inch pieces)
  • 2 (1.5 inch pieces)

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Caution: Be VERY careful when working with sharp objects.

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Additional items from the hardware store:

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2- T-PVC

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10- 45 degree PVC elbows. CAUTION: Get the 45 degree elbows. I may, or may not have accidentally bought the 90 degree elbows. OOPS!

1- Conduit Box

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Lastly, a can of spray paint for a finished look, PVC cement, splicing tape, 1 washer, 1 3/4 inch bolt, two nuts, and a quick release plate for your camera.

Other materials that you may have lying around: Power Drill, 3/4 inch drill bit, sharpie, hack saw, and clamp.

Step 2:

Drill a hole into the conduit box as seen in the above picture.

Step 3:

Measure and cut the PVC into the specified length as seen in the above picture.

Step 4:

Dry assemble the Fig Rig and mark with a Sharpie. It will ensure that the alignment is correct when it is glued in the final stage.

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Step 5:

Assemble and glue top first. Then, assemble and glue bottom. Finally, glue the top to the bottom.

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Step 6:

Spray paint for finished look.

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Step 7:

Use splicing tape to wrap around the two handles, creating grips for the Fig Rig.

Step 8:

Attatch the Quick Release Plate. (See video demonstration) Fig Rig Vid

Tada!

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There you have it! It really was pretty easy and only cost about $30. I don’t have footage to share, but check out the link above to see the Fig Rig in action.