A Kickstart in the Pants

Earlier today I asked about Kickstarter.  While I think it would be lovely if people just gave me money because they're kind, that is not realistic.  The way Kickstarter works best is to offer stratified rewards to people who donate.  Give X, get Y.  It's a good system that seems to have gotten more than a few projects made.

A few years ago I had a somewhat similar idea to fund a project, but there was no mechanism in place to facilitate it.

What I don't want to do is just give out something like a t-shirt.  I want to give out something meaningful, especially to those that are interested in the filmmaking process.

The idea I wish to present to you is that by supporting my project you would, for various levels of donation, get:


  • a weekly audio podcast covering the entire production from script meetings to final post
  • an extended video podcast instead of the audio.
  • access to a forum where production materials ( script, previz, production design, etc ) are available to members and can be commented on, which I will either use or dismiss.
  • access to the set to observe production and meet with the filmmakers.
  • access to final raw materials used in post production for your own experimentation ( professionally shot greenscreen, for example )
  • a t-shirt


Also, because not everyone is interested in the filmmaking process, you will also have your standard vanity credits available for 'purchase', as well as some other interesting ideas along those lines I have that I'm not ready to share yet.

At minimum, everyone donating $20 will get a 1080p download and DVD.  Basically, by pre-buying the movie, you fund the movie.

I currently have close to 2,000 Twitter followers.  If every one of them gave me $15, I would make it to my ballpark $30,000 budget.  I realize that won't happen, but an average along those levels is doable.

I haven't set up the page yet, because I want to get feedback - and get a concrete budget - before I put up the page.  Any and all feedback in the comments section would be appreciated.


Cross the Rubicon

AMC has canceled my favorite new show in quite a while, Rubicon.  But, here’s the thing -  you should follow this link and buy it in iTunes anyway.  It’s 13 solid episodes about interesting characters, that actually tells an interesting story arc.  It doesn’t resolve everything at the end, but it resolves enough to feel relatively complete.

I was seriously bummed about AMC not picking up Rubicon for a second season.  I liked that there was a show about terrorism and spies that didn’t involve Kiefer Sutherland managing to single handedly save the world, while computer nerds constantly ‘released information to other people’s screens’ ( WTF does that even MEAN?? ), all while driving back and forth across major metropolises in four minutes and never once in 24 hours eating or taking a shit.  It was smart.  It was about building tension and never really releasing it.  It never, ever talked down at the audience.  A hard sell to the American audience.

But then I got to thinking.  What if AMC started a new model of American television, closer to the way a lot of UK shows work.  Give a brilliant team a finite 13 episodes ( 10 hours with commercials ) to tell one story.  And that’s it.   It’s not a new concept, actually.  We used to have mini-series, like ‘V’ and ‘North & South’.  THey were events, saved up for sweeps where they would play out over five nights, two hours a night.  But rather than making it an ‘event’ ( Not ‘The Event’ - we are talking about GOOD television here ) just make one good season of TV.

AMC makes many of my favorite shows - and all of it’s shows are among my favorites.  I would love to see them make more, even if it means making only one season.


Yes Camera

I’ve had a few requests wondering what I’m going to be shooting “Yes” on.  I’ll be covering a lot of the process I’m going thru in various posts, but now is as good a time as any to cover the camera.

I’m shooting it on the Canon 7D.  Well, more accurately, my cinematographer Adam Hawk is shooting it on the 7D.

If you are now saying “Haven’t you spoken out against the HDSLRS in the past?  Aren’t you being a hypocrite?”  Yes. And yes.  But let me explain.

If I could shoot on any camera around today, I’d probably shoot on an ARRI Alexa.  It is an extremely impressive machine.  But getting an extremely impressive machine means a.) getting the machine and lenses, which costs money and b.) getting qualified people to work said machine.  The Alexa is so new that qualified camera operators are few and far between.  People who know all the idiosyncrasies of the post workflow for the Alexa are a mystery to me.  And every digital camera has some peculiarities.  Everyone knows that.  Except Executive Producers.  But I digress.

So I’m shooting on a known quantity, with a DP who owns his own equipment.  This means not only do I get them both for a single fee, but he’s familiar with the equipment.  I’ve seen stuff he’s shot with the actual equipment he’ll be using on my shoot and I like it.

The nature of the shoot also allows for a DSLR.  I’m not doing any VFX on my short.  It’s a comedy talking heads piece.  For me, it’s about showing off my writing skills and getting good performances from the actors, not about having spaceships flying around shooting lasers.  Shots are largely lock-offs or as-good-as, since Adam has a Stedi-Cam we’ll be doing a lot of those where I would have done lock-offs.  Because the shots are not going to have a ton of motion in them, rolling shutter will not be an issue.  Rolling shutter is one of the ugliest things about HDSLR footage, and I want to do all I can to minimize it.  Since we are shooting in Hampstead Heath, essentially in the woods, the line skipping and moire patterning that can occur around brick buildings will not occur.  So all chip issues are alleviated.

I’m also not a bit-depth, resolution freak.  Do I like having 10, 12 or 16 bits of 4K resolution?  Sure, if I’m doing a feature.  Maybe even if I was doing a long-form short.  But I’ve pushed 7D footage around in Colorista, and it holds up nicely.  And my final target is 16x9, 1080P.  While having the ability to reframe and to get the cleaner look of down-scaled footage would be nice, I’ll have to deal.

Last is the low footprint of the equipment.  With only five people making up our actual production - two cast, the DP, myself and Matt the producer/sound guy - I’m able to film without a permit.  But only because I won’t be pulling up with a massive grip truck full of stuff.  While not quite guerilla filmmaking, we are trying to stay light and flexible.

The 7D isn’t the ideal camera, and if I could have any camera, it’s not the one I’d choose.  But it’s the camera I have, and that makes it the best one for the job.



Think about your life for a second.  What do you value most?  No, I’m not talking about touchy feely crap like your child’s laugh or the love of your dog.  I’m talking about what physical item in your possession would you be most heartbroken over if it was lost?

Most likely, if you are a reader of this blog, it’s your computer.  But it’s not the physical hardware of your computer you value, though that of course does have an intrinsic monetary worth.  It is the data on that little spinning disc of metal inside we value.  Our pictures, our music, our movies.  If you create anything digital, those things are there as well.  For me, it’s my writing, as well as some VFX work.

And for me, someone who has been made a nomad without a real home, thanks to the realities of outsourcing in the VFX industry, my laptop is the anchor of my my life.  It sits on my shoulder, nestled in it’s neoprene sleeve, a reassuring weight that reminds me I have work left to do in this life.  It is my connection to my home, containing all the TV shows I love, my pictures.  It contains all the notes and ideas, as well as the finished versions, of all my writing for the past 5 years.

It is my life, encapsulated on a little disc of metal which spins around 90 times every second.  A disc which is, in fact, quite fragile.

That’s right, my hard drive failed.  It started like any illness, some weird behavior on Thursday night.  Something out of the ordinary, maybe, but you can’t really tell with these things.  I woke up on Friday, headed to work, plugged in, and waited for my computer to boot.

And waited.

And waited.

Staring at the pale blue LCD sitting there, my heart sank.  “But there’s no way my computer could have a problem, it’s only a year old.” I said to myself.  But the facts were there in front of me.

Now I’m sure you are thinking, “David, you are a technical, nerd type person.  Surely you back up”

Of course I back up.  But ask yourself, when was the last time you backed up?  Exactly. 

Mine was desperately out of date.  But that is where Backblaze comes in.  Backblaze is a passive online backup service that constantly backs up your hard drive online.  You don’t think about it.  It just is there, quietly saving your bacon in the background the whole time, without you ever realizing it.  It’s the Penny to my Inspector Gadget.  All for a laughably affordable $50/year

I logged into the website on my work computer, and checked.  All my data was there.  Safe, sound and waiting to be downloaded.  The psychological relief, the amount of stress and heartache this removed from me, cannot be overstated.

That weekend, I went to the Apple Store Regent Street here in London, and in a few hours had a brand new hard drive in my computer.  I’ve been downloading my information, but with over 140 gigabytes it’s taking a while.  I could have them send me a hard drive, but I don’t think that’d work for me overseas.  So I’m going through, building 4 GB or less packages of files, and downloading them.

This is where I think Backblaze could slightly improve their service.  It’d be nice to just select everything, and have their system figure out how to split it up into easily digestible 4GB zip files that I can download and rebuild my data.

Other than that minor wish, I have to say, Backblaze is the best money I’ve spent in quite a while.  I cannot recommend them highly enough.



I'm going to be filming for the first time in London in 3 weeks.  It's a short comedy piece I wrote a while back called "Yes".  The Producer, DP and Editor are all locked down.  All that's left is casting.  As soon as it's all done, I'll be posting it online, in progress versions as well as the finished piece, along with the script.


Wish me luck!