The White Knight, The Brass Ring, and the Red Camera

I believe everyone, here, can empathize with your post, Nate. What I think people forget is the old adage, 'form follows function'. Your piece does not need to have the most brilliant script, the best equipment, nor the best technician to be a work of art. The most pleasing and revolutionary works are the ones where no one can imagine it *working* beyond the *how* of it's the form follows perfectly with the work's function....that this art piece could not have been presented any other way and deliver the same impact. That's how, say, an artist can construct a simple piece of paper into a breathtaking form no one has ever seen before. I cannot describe such a concrete thing other than to say, once an artist discovers his/her particular aesthetic, it will be revealed in all their works. May take a lifetime for this epiphany, may come as a flash in the pan only to burn out as fast as it came. JMO
At this point I'm actually amazed that someone gets me. Thank god you are out there.

That's exactly correct. Putting story first was so blatantly, blatantly obvious, that I did it first, then moved on to these other components of the chain.

Okay, I didn't get that from your OP. You only said you get annoyed when people talk of the primacy of story but I don't think you said WHY it annoyed you so I assumed you didn't believe the maxim. The reason it's repeated so often is that so many people don't get it. Chamburger thought you meant you got no ROI from 5k spent on story rights. Sorry for the confusion. Glad you're having some success.
The camera is simply a percentile gate at the end of your film that reduces quality. So if I make a 100% story, and run it through a 60% camera, my final score is 60% or F. As opposed to 100% or A. When there's an ever growing number of people that count on you. You do everything in your power to get that A.
Not trying to split hairs here, but wouldn't you get 80% if your using to different factors??:)

Just sent you a PM by the way.

EDIT: to=two;)
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John Waters is one of my favorite directors. The amount of absolute LOVE I have for his early films cannot be overstated. The "stories" are ridiculous, the acting is terrible, the production values are beyond low budget, BUT they just work, he's a genius. Sometimes magic just happens.
"We've got kids that need college tuition funds."

Yep. We have to live the potentially egomanical fantasy that we ARE Eddie Van Halen. That we have got "it" whatever "it" is. I have a "straight" job, making about 80K a year. I wouldn't/couldn't even consider the idea of leaving it to pursue the "dream" of being a filmmaker. What I CAN do is keep making movies, progressively better (I hope) movies, in the hope that eventually they become SO good that I can convince people to give me a few hundred thousand for a low budget feature. If it never happens, well, it was fun anyway.
For one thing Gonzo, you are already good enough to make a 300k film. You should go ask around.

Secondly, If you read carefully, I got a day job, I just got one that allowed me to train in post production on the job. So that every hour went towards film education, even though I worked "straight" employment. I got a job as a filmmaker, isn't that the best of both worlds (van halen reference)

lastly, I really do get what you are saying here. I've just grown to believe that this is more a game of skill than chance, and for that reason, I dedicate. Look at sports. People that do it recreationally almost never appear in the pros. People that win the Olympics practice every day all day, crazy hours. I do that with film. That's not exactly the same mentality as beating my chest and yelling, "I am the one"
I understand where you are coming from too Nate (my name as well by the way). I think this is a very healthy discussuon we're having.

I am pretty close to giving it a shot on a feature. I felt I needed one more film with some aspects like action (an atttack on a girl in this case) I had never done to round out my experience.
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I certainly didn't say that I was upset by anything anyone else is doing here. I wish you all the best, and take no issue whatsoever with any of your methods or viewpoints. My issue with some has nothing to do with filmmaking and has to do with reading between the lines and jumping to assumptions. I mention one slow mo scene and you're all over me as some idiot that can't film and wants to use slo-mo to conceal his lack of talent. Going from what I said, that's a pretty large and unfair assumption.
Ah, well sorry you took offense to that, apologies, how about this, if you lacked talent, I don't think you'd be as successful as you are. Some people get successful through luck. You don't sound lucky, you sound savvy and talented. But, again, I've just seen too much sucky footage shot on RED -- esp RED ONE, so I cannot accept your premise that buying an Epic is transformational. Have you seen Footage from an FS100? Not that much daylight between RED and top prosumer gear any more.

Anyhow, best of luck, keep posting, provocative ideas.
Ah, well sorry you took offense to that, apologies, how about this, if you lacked talent, I don't think you'd be as successful as you are. Some people get successful through luck. You don't sound lucky, you sound savvy and talented. But, again, I've just seen too much sucky footage shot on RED -- esp RED ONE, so I cannot accept your premise that buying an Epic is transformational. Have you seen Footage from an FS100? Not that much daylight between RED and top prosumer gear any more.

Anyhow, best of luck, keep posting, provocative ideas.
Oh, hey, you make a good point. Clarification. Please nobody buy an original Red one based on my advice. The footage looks terrible, and the camera weighs around 50 lb full built. I took one out on a shoot, and it produced terrible results, and was a major hassle to move around, even with some grips.

The Epic is FAR superior, and doesn't cost but 10% more. It weighs 5 lb. You can fly it on an 8k stedicam, as opposed to the 30k stedicam you'd need for a red one.

I looked at the FS100, and it's great, just really great, I don't think it's "almost an Epic" though.

About the bad RED footage. Some of it is from the non MX red one. That stuff looks bad to me also. Even more is from people with more money than skill, who thought exactly what I'm often accused of, which is that you can make up for shortcomings in skill with an expensive camera. For the record, I don't think that. I really hate going to sites to upload pictures to post here, but I think the situation calls for it. Let me go over and upload some comparison frames for you guys. A picture's worth a thousand words right?
But you have absolutely nailed it. Once you have a good story to tell, and the setup to accomplish it, you don't want to dull the final product by 30%. For me it would be like composing this amazing guitar song, and then recording it with a rubber band around the guitar neck.
But if you were doing a lot of two-handed tapping, you DEFINITELY want to put a rubber band around the neck to dampen open strings! We're talking multi-part melodic counterpoint here, not just Van Halen speedy arps (time and a place for that too, but with that style, open strings are more important). And, hey, Sonic Youth were known for shoving a screwdriver through the strings near the bridge (and Godspeed You Black Emperor for bowing with one)...but I digress.

Keeping the music metaphor (gee, surprising), take Nirvana. Kurt Cobain is not David Lee Roth...hell, I know a dozen better guitarists on my street. They were in the right place at the right time to gain regional popularity (put out an indie record, translate that to making a low-budget feature) that caught the right attention. How did they turn that into mainstream success? By going into a big studio, with proper equipment and engineers and producers that could turn their low-fi rock into something that could be a big hit. Translate that to buying the Red and producing the film you've had in your mind for years.

I know getting your hands on a nice instrument makes things that were challenging so much easier to pull off; I imagine having the right camera feels the same way. But in both cases, you really need to skills to make it work. You know, as I'm thinking about it, that's exactly why some people become screenwriters and some people directors. Both take a hell of a lot of work to do at 100%. Learning both can be overwhelming while paying the bills.

Anyway, once again congrats to Nate for making it closer to his goal! And let me know in a year or two if you need a composer...once I have the skills to back it up ;)
Thanks for trying!

Anyone, anyone, Bueller, Bueller (I do a great Ben Stien impersonation, as long as its in print)

Try loading them to photobucket. Then use the direct link button on the image. Then use the insert image button here. Erase the "http" prefix then paste the direct link. I think.:) I haven't used Flicker
(Edit: Nevermind, thought I had a fix for the pics)

Regarding the thread; you raise some interesting points and I don't know you from Adam so please don't take anything below personally. Just stating things as I have experienced them after many years on the outside of this industry and all too few on the inside so far.

I will say that for every one of you there are a thousand of these guys:

I don't mean the guy doing the joke specifically, I mean guys who get money from wherever, buy a RED, and call themselves a DP without any of the experience to back it up. Hell, I met a guy who owns a RED body, several aks, a steadi-cam kit (not heavy enough for the camera fully built), and a ton of other crap. He came out to a shoot with this steadi gear and flatly said he had no interest in operating. Wait, what?

This is what I wanted to avoid. Being that guy who gets calls cause he bought some gear. I want to be the guy that gets called for skills. I'm not there yet, and if July is any indication, it might never happen. Hard to say. It's tough to work crews right now and there is a lot of good competition in the type of work for which I am qualified.

All of those are excuses though, fake reasons for me to hold myself back, to keep telling myself it can't be done. In that respect I find your thread rather refreshing. I'm not the only one out here going broke, taxing relationships with the ones I love (only now realizing you were speaking metaphorically about the abused pregnant "DSLR woman"), and generally driving myself crazy. For better or worse it is the path I choose to get where I want to go.

The bottom line is that I can think of at least 5 RED bodies in NorCal that never see any work at all. In LA I'll bet there are more RED paperweights than there are ones working on any given day.

You are enjoying some great success, but it isn't the camera. It's you. Your determination and discipline got you where you are, the tools are simply tools. If you had not gone through all of those failures, you would not have garnered the experience you need in order to parlay your gear into success.

I'm one with a LOT of failures in my life. I try as hard as I can to not let it get me down, but it does. I'm only human, and not a particularly good one at that. Failure though, is still more important than success. I hate bringing it up, but it's valid: Jordan missed more shots than he made, and was tossed off the court the first time he ever tried out for a basketball team as a child. It's not our success that defines us, it is our failure and how we deal with it that does.

Bear in mind that I agree with a lot of your points, but would be disingenuous to imply that anyone with a financial plan can replicate said success with nothing more than a financial plan and a camera on pre-order.

Murdock hit the most important take-away from this thread though. It is important to be clear in this business about your goals, and then to let nothing stop you from getting there. I'm actually a complete fucking failure at that second part - but that is another story entire that deserves no further mention.

That point is; however, why I always ask what people ultimately want to do when they ask what camera to buy. If the answers is "I want to direct." I suggest spending their camera $$ on their film, and finding people with whom to work. In fact that's my suggestion for anyone who answers anything other than "Ultimately I want to be a DoP." Cinematography is a specialty, so buying a camera to learn how to use it only to ultimately become a writer seems counter productive.

All in all, good thread with a lot of food for thought from various angles.

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Triple Edit, there is a convoluted way to get your pics to hotlink from flicker. You have to use the HTML/BBcode version of the "share" link, paste that in and remove everything except "http://farm7.static ..." through the trailing *.jpg tag at the end of that section before the next <aref> command, or whatever.
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The rest of your pics, because I'm feeling - er something - today. :D

They are great shots, and I will say that you do some great timing work, but look at the scene itself. Nicely lit, very nicely production designed (which is arguably VASTLY more important), solid model with what appear to be good body position skills, and composed by the talented Mr. Land.

Color timing options would definitely suffer on a lesser platform, but if you gave Jarred Land an 8mm camera he'd still make images that are that compelling. Maybe not as technically amazing in versatility and IQ (owing to RAW on those) - but still compelling and beautiful. For example, take a look at the cowboy shots of the model where she is on frame right. Both the same shot with different timing. Given a non-RAW camera you couldn't do that sort of timing, but you could still light for your end result in the second shot. (Okay, I seriously have to stop editing these posts) RAW gets us closer to the methodology used in film, where one shoots to the negative, then times and chooses a print stock in order to get the desired effect. Cameras that can do RAW can simulate this workflow, cameras that cannot do RAW cannot and one must be even more diligent in getting closer to final image at acquisition.

FWIW: Turn this:

<a href="" title="Comp 2 (0;00;00;00)_2 by Mobius/Quark Pictures, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="281" alt="Comp 2 (0;00;00;00)_2"></a>
into this

to hotlink from flickr. (basically extract the url from the "<img src=" tag without the "")
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