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Posts Tagged ‘Edd Blott’

On today’s repost Saturday I’m going to update a post that’s 2 1/2 years old when editor Josh McCabe headed out for L.A. after working with me when we were both based in Iowa. He’s now based in Santa Monica and shortly after landing in L.A. was doing work with TBWA\Chiat\Day, but mostly has a regular editing gig these days with the creative team at Smashbox. This week Josh sent me some links to a freelance project he did for Red Bull that is airing this weekend at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.  Here’s the 30 second version:

Josh is still early in his career but has already had some great experiences working for some major brands and advertising companies. But he started out just like everyone else, a beginner sitting in his bedroom working on tutorials and personal projects until someone started paying for his skills. Two things about Josh that helped him beyond his editing talent that I can’t stress how important they are in your career:
1) Josh McCabe never looked down at any project he worked on. That included even doing non-creative things like making DVD labels and dubs.
2) Likeability. People want to work with people who aren’t only talented, but people they like working with. That’s why even many proven directors, actors, and writers don’t work. And the longer the project is, the more important likeability plays in you getting work. Michael Port’s book Book Yourself Solid Illustrated touches on the importance of this trait.

Here’s the post originally posted on January 31, 2011:

“(Vilmos Zsigmond) made his way to Hollywood, where he found work as a technician in a film lab and also as a home portrait photographer.”
Ray Morton writing about the days long before Zsigmond won an Oscar for Best Cinematography
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic Film

Here’s a case study of how to get a start working in production. (And what I wish somebody would have told me back when I was in film school.)

My first interaction with Josh McCabe was about 2 years ago—at about 3 in the morning. River Run Productions was looking for some production assistance and we asked the local college to recommend to us their best student. They recommended Josh. So I sent him an email early one morning and figured we’d touch base later that day.  He emailed me back right away.

I asked him what he was doing up so late. I think he said he was working on some editing tutorials at Lynda.com. That was a good sign to me.

We met and he left his job at a credit union and began working on a regular freelance basis with us.  There is an old concept that employers use that says hire for attitude, and then train the person. Josh came with not only a great attitude, and a willingness to learn, but he was well versed in editing on Final Cut Pro.  He was still in school as an electronic arts major at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) where he worked on various student productions and also did some weddings videos on his own.

Josh jumped in right away wherever we needed him. As you’ll see from some of the pictures here, sometimes he edited projects, sometimes he logged footage, sometimes he helped carry a heavy Jimmy Jib up three flights of stairs, sometimes he was a PA, sometimes a grip, sometimes a cameraman, sometimes he was a technical advisor, photographer, sound designer, sometimes he pushed a dolly, and sometimes he worked 16 hour days—he did whatever we threw at him.

Josh got to work on everything from industrial & corporate projects, commercials, web videos, promotional videos, music videos, and even co-directed a couple short films with me for the 48 Hour film project. (His resume now includes working experience on not only FCP, but Motion/After Effects, Photoshop, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor, Aperture/Lightroom, Soundtrack Pro on top of green screen work, P2 workflow, etc.)

In 2009 Josh spent the summer in LA interning at Entertainment Tonight, a gig he got through ET host Mark Steines, an Iowa native who graduated from UNI.

Josh came back to Cedar Falls to finish his BA and work at River Run and graduated last May.  When an Emmy-winning editor (Dexter opening credits) and UNI grad came to speak at the school Josh not only went to hear him speak but was part of a small group of students who got together with him for drinks afterwards.

When that editor (who works for a broadcast post house in LA) had a friend at an other post house in LA call looking for an up and comer as an assistant editor —Josh’s name came up. In a sea of capable LA talent this kid in Cedar Falls, Iowa got the gig.

To make a long story a little shorter, Josh worked his last day for us Wednesday, headed west on I-80 Friday, made a quick stop in Park City, Utah Saturday night to soak in the tail end of the Sundance Film Festival and arrived in LA Sunday night, and begins his new gig today in Santa Monica.

I’m thrilled for him. So the lesson to learn here is simply have a great attitude, learn everything you can about the tools of the trade (lynda.com is a must)—party less, and do tutorials more, network like crazy, and do the little jobs (PA, logging footage, whatever) in the little places (Cedar Falls, Iowa) and that will pave the way for bigger opportunities.

Here’s the last big project we did together that just went online this week. It was produced for an economic development group and allowed me the opportunity to do a lot of things I talk about on the blog (produce, direct, write, shoot & edit) with the bulk of the work being done by two people as Josh also shot some of the beauty footage and was also co-editor on the 3 1/2 minute video.

Josh, thanks for all your work here at River Run, and I wish you the best in LA. And for all of you starting out in your career, the lesson to learn from Josh is to be not only both technical and creative, but (I know I’m repeated myself, but sometimes you have to shout) work hard /party less, network, network, network, be addicted to learning from Lynda.com, and have a great attitude. (Tattoos are optional.)

P.S. Another young creative that I’ve been able to watch grow over the years (and also use on a freelance basis) is creative director/filmmaker Edd Blott of Chicago. He currently has a short film called A Tale of Delight that is part of the Open Film contest in hopes of being turned into a feature. Today is the last day you can vote for his film—check it out at OpenFilm.com.

Update 7/20/13: Last year Edd Blott wrote and directed his first feature film, A Tale of Delight for which he won Best Director at the 2012 Oregon Film Awards. He just had a table read in Portland of his latest script. See the post Congrats Edd Blott on Best Director Award.

Related posts:
Why You Should Move to L.A.

Why You Shouldn’t Move to L.A.

What’s it Like to Be a Struggling Writer in L.A.

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

Scott W. Smith: What’s A Tale of Delight about?

Edd Blott: A Tale of Delight follows Michael, an illustrator who’s living with post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing his wife tragically killed. It takes place during the holiday season a year later and explores how he is coping with grief while in the middle of what’s considered the most joyous time of the year. He’s longing to celebrate with his family, but he knows that he must first make himself vulnerable and share the pain he’s feeling with others if he has any hope of healing.

SWS: Where did you find your cast?

EB: Craigslist mostly. I was surprised at how much really good talent there is on Craigslist. I had the casting notice up on various channels, but Craigslist easily had the best and, actually, I think in the end everyone I casted submitted through there. I got over 200 responses in the first 24 hours. It was crazy.

SWS: What’s your goal with the film?

EB: Like I said, it really started out as a means of working through all the chaos in me. Throughout the development process, though, how that looked had changed. The core is still the same, because of the sheer number of people NOT talking about it, it’s now a project that wants to take the audience and for 90 minutes make them feel, really feel, like they are living with PTSD. It’s a project that wants to create a voice for those who feel unable to communicate what their lives are like. Shake people up, you know. Get them to see what is being turned away from. The fact is, mental illness still carries a very heavy stigma that forces feelings of shame and loneliness. I want to attack that and make people feel okay to talk about it. I want people to watch this and afterwards be empathetic to the hurting and, ultimately, now know how to more effectively love them.

SWS: A lot of people are more familiar with PTSD because of the soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Has that influenced you wanting to make this film?

EB: Definitely, but I don’t think in the way people would expect. When I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was really surprised. Clearly, if you looked at my life, I had PTSD, but it was something I kind of associated with veterans and nobody else. I felt weak that I had this label because of an experience I felt was, by comparison, trivial. I do believe this film will be incredibly helpful for veterans, because the core of the issue (feeling like you’re being “raped” by your mind) is still the same, but because the tragedy in the film isn’t war-related, I think there will be a greater acceptance from the people who have PTSD that didn’t come from a combat-related incident (job loss, divorce, rape, bankruptcy, car accident, et cetera). We also don’t list PTSD by name in the movie, which I think also allows room for other mental illnesses to fit into it. Although not named, there are other characters who have other illnesses, as well.

SWS: Any distribution plans?

EB: Although we’ll be submitting the film to various festivals, that’s not our main channel. We’re at a really exciting time in filmmaking because how readily available the technology has become. So our plan is to self-distribute A Tale of Delight thanks to the support from some excellent companies who share our vision to make a social issue film.However, our primary goal is for the hurting to find comfort and we don’t want money to get in the way of that experience. That’s why we’re actually giving the movie away, digitally and in its entirety, for free. We want it to be a gift for anyone who sees it as an effective way to address these themes.

SWS: You’re on indiegogo trying to raise $25,000. What’s that money for?

EB: Although the movie will be free, it’s certainly not free to make. We want the quality of this film to be excellent. The $25,000 covers the budget for production, post-production, and all distribution and marketing costs. That doesn’t include equipment costs as we already own our gear, but everything else is included in that. We’re talking the food for the cast and crew, production insurance, labor fees, duplication, online hosting, and anything and everything else. Something that people don’t talk about when they mention Ed Burns or any other mumblecore filmmaker is that the budget listed on these projects is usually only the production costs. Ed Burns’ film Newlyweds actually cost upwards of $120,000 when all was said and done.

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I took this picture of Edd Blott in NYC on a production we worked on together.

One of the enjoyable things about writing this blog is being able to look at films and filmmakers of the past who have achieved great success. Of course, the great hope is that it will help the filmmakers of the future—or even the present. This week I’ll be posting two interviews I did with first time feature filmmakers who happen to be long time readers of this blog.

A few days ago Scott Myers at Go Into The Story had a sobering post titled The Business of Screenwriting where he relayed some numbers about the odds of a screenwriter selling a screenplay being in the 5,000 to 1 range.

“So yes, the odds are against you. Really against you. Way the hell against you.”
Scott Myers 

And those odds are are just for selling your screenplay. It says nothing of the odds of that script actually getting made. Or if it got made, what the odds are of it being any good and/or finding an audience.

But here’s the good news, there are people writing scripts and getting their feature films made. And they’re doing it without having gone to film school (one stat I’ve heard is only 4% of film school grads ever make a feature). And in the cases of Edd Blott and Cindy Gustafson they’re doing it living outside of New York or Los Angeles.

I’ll start today with a Q&A with Edd who lives in Portland, Oregon, and by the end of the week post the interview I did with Cindy who lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Scott W. Smith: How long have you been reading the Screenwriting from Iowa blog and is there anything in general or specifically that has helped you in your screenwriting journey?

Edd Blott: I’ve known you, personally, somewhere in the vicinity of 8 years now. I remember three impressions from our first meeting together in Greenville. The first was your collection of incredible stories. The second was your depth of knowledge and foresight. The third was how much you wanted to see people thrive. That last one, especially, stuck out to me. At that time, few people were willing to take on a mentor-like role for fear of it just being a form of career suicide. You refused to believe that and because of your leadership, I became a better storyteller. You were willing to share your knowledge and experience to this kid long before it became the hot thing to do.

Fast forward a couple years later, I remember clearly when you first mentioned the idea of Screenwriting from Iowa. I totally geeked out. Finally, there’s one place where now anyone can benefits from seeing these elements merge into what I think is one of the most unique blogs on screenwriting that is out there today. I read the blog every day and feel like I am always either learning something new or finding encouragement to keep fighting to get my story told. You even were gracious enough to take a look at an early draft of my script and give me the honest critiques that I needed to hear to make it what it is now. Anything that comes from “A Tale of Delight” only happens because of how much I am indebted to you and your blog.

SWS: So before we get to your film A Tale of Delight first tell us how you ended up in Portland.

EB: I grew up in Spokane, which is about 6 hours northeast of Portland, but for roughly a decade I lived in the midwest in both Minneapolis and Chicago. One of the main reasons we relocated to Portland was the creativity out here. We really feel like what’s happening is kind of a modern day mirror image of what happened in San Francisco in the ‘70’s.

SWS: What’s going on in Portland film-wise?

EB: Well with Leverage, Grimm, and Portlandia all filming here, the television industry has definitely boomed. In film, Gus Van Sant and Todd Haynes both live here. But what I find most exciting is the growing grassroots movement. There’s really an incredibly strong community of new filmmakers who want to help each other make well executed “personal films.” It’s beautiful to watch. It’s less of the “eat or be eaten” competition you find in Hollywood and more about seeing each other to succeed. It’s cliché, but it’s like a family. 

SWS: What filmmakers have been an inspiration to you?

EB:It depends on the project I’m working on, but there’s a small group that I go back to pretty regularly. The dead ones are Robert Bresson, Ingmar Bergman, Charlie Chaplin, Billy Wilder, and Jean Renoir. I actually tell people The Lost Weekend and Grand Illusion are the two films that made me want to be a filmmaker. As for those who are still with us, I’d say Francis Ford Coppola, some of Lars von Trier, and more recently Steve McQueen.
SWS: Where did the idea for your first feature, A Tale of Delight, come from?
EB: It’s inspired by my real-life battle with PTSD. In 2009, I saw somebody die pretty horrifically and was thoroughly jacked up by it. I was invaded, haunted, by the reoccurring images. I became dependent on alcohol. I started to cut myself. I mean, I live with scars all over my body now. I even planned out how I was going to commit suicide. Thank God it never happened because my wife called up a psychiatric emergency service. It was after that very dark season that my wife, Amy, reminded me that I was a storyteller. She suggested that I put those skills to work and try to tackle what was going on inside my head.
Tomorrow we’ll continue this Q&A with Edd and look at some more details about his film. Edd first made this film as a short and has begun production on this indie feature as he continues to look for source funding via his A Tale of Delight site at indiegogo.

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“It’s amazing what M&Ms can do for morale.
Steve Moramarco

Actor, filmmaker and UCLA film school grad Steve Moramarco (@moremarkable) wrote an article last year in Indie Wire titled How to Make Your First Feature Film for $5,000which just happened to be how much his first feature film The Great Intervention cost to shot and edited. He has nine suggestions and that are similar yet different from what I called The 10 Ten Film Commandments of Edward Burns is a post last year.  But #1 on Moramarco’s list is about the script:

“From the moment you start writing the script, be realistic…Keep your scenes and location simple. Really simple. As in, scenes with no more than three or four people that take place in a location that you can access for free. Do not  think you can pay for a location. You can’t afford it.” 
Steve Moramarco

The best recent example of this is Buried—one actor on-screen in one location. (Sure they spent a boatload of money making that film, but Chris Sparling’s original intention was to write a script he could make for $5,000.) So check out the rest of Moramarco’s list and here’s a Film Courage interview with Moramarco expanding on his $5,000 feature film list.

H/T to filmmaker Edd Blott for linking that interview on Facebook and opening my world to Moramarco and Film Courage.

Related posts; Edward Burns’ “Newlyweds (Part 2) 

Filmmaking from a Coffin (“Buried”)

Screenwriting Quote of the Day #124 (Chris Sparling)

Scott W. Smith

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“(Vilmos Zsigmond) made his way to Hollywood, where he found work as a technician in a film lab and also as a home portrait photographer.”
Ray Morton writing about the days long before Zsigmond won an Oscar for Best Cinematography
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic Film

Here’s a case study of how to get a start working in production. (And what I wish somebody would have told me back when I was in film school.)

My first interaction with Josh McCabe was about 2 years ago—at about 3 in the morning. River Run Productions was looking for some production assistance and we asked the local college to recommend to us their best student. They recommended Josh. So I sent him an email early one morning and figured we’d touch base later that day.  He emailed me back right away.

I asked him what he was doing up so late. I think he said he was working on some editing tutorials at Lynda.com. That was a good sign to me.

We met and he left his job at a credit union and began working on a regular freelance basis with us.  There is an old concept that employers use that says hire for attitude, and then train the person. Josh came with not only a great attitude, and a willingness to learn, but he was well versed in editing on Final Cut Pro.  He was still in school as an electronic arts major at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) where he worked on various student productions and also did some weddings videos on his own.

Josh jumped in right away wherever we needed him. As you’ll see from some of the pictures here, sometimes he edited projects, sometimes he logged footage, sometimes he helped carry a heavy Jimmy Jib up three flights of stairs, sometimes he was a PA, sometimes a grip, sometimes a cameraman, sometimes he was a technical advisor, photographer, sound designer, sometimes he pushed a dolly, and sometimes he worked 16 hour days—he did whatever we threw at him.

Josh got to work on everything from industrial & corporate projects, commercials, web videos, promotional videos, music videos, and even co-directed a couple short films with me for the 48 Hour film project. (His resume now includes working experience on not only FCP, but Motion/After Effects, Photoshop, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor, Aperture/Lightroom, Soundtrack Pro on top of green screen work, P2 workflow, etc.)

In 2009 Josh spent the summer in LA interning at Entertainment Tonight, a gig he got through ET host Mark Steines, an Iowa native who graduated from UNI.

Josh came back to Cedar Falls to finish his BA and work at River Run and graduated last May.  When an Emmy-winning editor (Dexter opening credits) and UNI grad came to speak at the school Josh not only went to hear him speak but was part of a small group of students who got together with him for drinks afterwards.

When that editor (who works for a broadcast post house in LA) had a friend at an other post house in LA call looking for an up and comer as an assistant editor —Josh’s name came up. In a sea of capable LA talent this kid in Cedar Falls, Iowa got the gig.

To make a long story a little shorter, Josh worked his last day for us Wednesday, headed west on I-80 Friday, made a quick stop in Park City, Utah Saturday night to soak in the tail end of the Sundance Film Festival and arrived in LA Sunday night, and begins his new gig today in Santa Monica.

I’m thrilled for him. So the lesson to learn here is simply have a great attitude, learn everything you can about the tools of the trade (lynda.com is a must)—party less, and do tutorials more, network like crazy, and do the little jobs (PA, logging footage, whatever) in the little places (Cedar Falls, Iowa) and that will pave the way for bigger opportunities.

Here’s the last big project we did together that just went online this week. It was produced for an economic development group and allowed me the opportunity to do a lot of things I talk about on the blog (produce, direct, write, shoot & edit) with the bulk of the work being done by two people as Josh also shot some of the beauty footage and was also co-editor on the 3 1/2 minute video.

Josh, thanks for all your work here at River Run, and I wish you the best in LA. And for all of you starting out in your career, the lesson to learn from Josh is to be not only both technical and creative, but (I know I’m repeated myself, but sometimes you have to shout) work hard /party less, network, network, network, be addicted to learning from Lynda.com, and have a great attitude. (Tattoos are optional.)

P.S. Another young creative that I’ve been able to watch grow over the years (and also use on a freelance basis) is creative director/filmmaker Edd Blott of Chicago. He currently has a short film called A Tales of Delight that is part of the Open Film contest in hopes of being turned into a feature. Today is the last day you can vote for his film—check it out at OpenFilm.com.

Related posts:
Why You Should Move to L.A.

Why You Shouldn’t Move to L.A.

What’s it Like to Be a Struggling Writer in L.A.

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

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