So I set out to make a movie by myself with just my friends. No outsiders. This was due in large part to the trouble I've had with working with people from school. Somehow I got two professional film people to sign up for the project. I didn't reach out to anyone they reached out to me. It's an amazing feeling and one that I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous.
It's not a done deal yet. I have a meeting with them today at five and depending how that goes dictates what happens next. I've never been much of a meeting person myself. I live a great deal of the time in my head and only share information that has to be shared in order for me to get people to do what I need them to do when on set. Today I have to outline my whole plan for the film and dive into detail on how I hope to accomplish the huge tasks I have ahead of me. I've never really had to explain myself or my method to anyone before, least of all someone who will be working for me so this is new. But exciting. It is a small taste of what going to pitch meetings will be like and the truth is I can't wait!
So how many of you out there enjoy my Warzone series? I've been working on them for about two years on and off. They take a lot of time and work but I love the characters so much. Little known fact, it was originally supposed to be a comic book series. I even have the first issue drawn out but I'm not the best artist so I put it aside and turned it into short stories.
Well last night Lawrence from Uncanny fans called me up and told me he wants to start making indie comics. More importantly he wants them to be about vampires. Can you say Warzone? I can! So now we are planning to reboot the series in comic book form. It will be a while before we have anything to show you guys but I can't wait! This is an exciting time for Blueroof Productions!
So I have great news Podcasting Fans!!!!!! Blueroof Productions just recorded a brand new podcast by the name of Sunnydale Live! It's a podcast where we go episode by episode of the show and tear the episode apart, in the most loving way. We talk about everything that happens and how much we love it.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer is the show that made me want to be a writer. It's what got me into exploring characters and learning how things work. My whole career is born out of my love for this show, so what better way to express my love than by doing commentary for every single episode. I can't wait for you guys to listen to it and give me your thoughts. Watch a long with us!!
Apartment hunting is always a hassle. It seems like more and more of the apartments surrounding us are all being bought up by the same company. I'm not anti-big business. I support going out and making money but I also believe that competition is the key to making your company better. If you have a monopoly on your projects than you have no need to improve yourself.
Build your brand but also build your rivals. The better they are the better you will have to become. I don't understand why people always try to tear down the people you go up against. They are only hurting themselves. There's a lesson in there somewhere.
Hope you guys have a great day!
So I have great news Blueroof Nation!!!!! Our facebook page, Blueroof productions is finally over 100 likes. Over night it got to 101. I know that might not seem like a lot but we were stuck at 98 for so long! Every day I would log on and it would tell me that I was 2 likes away from my next goal and it would drive me crazy! But we finally made it! I can't tell you guys how much I appreciate all the love and support you guys have shown us over the years! Now lets see how fast we can get to 200 likes!!
So I told you guys today's blog would be about what I learned about production from school. Let's jump right in. Now Before going to film school I went to the University of Texas in Arlington. I studied broadcasting there and almost finished with my degree before deciding that I hated news. I mean hated!!!! So I took a semester off and then went to film school.
You might be asking why this is important? Well it's because while there I learned how to edit. I learned how to frame a shot, I learned how to sync audio and video. I also learned a lot about setting up lights, be it mostly for interviews. So when I got to film school I was a bit ahead of the game so to speak. Now the first class I took was After effects and the only thing I really learned in that class was that there was a program called after effects. I downloaded the program and taught myself how to use. I may not be the best at it but I'm a lot better than everyone else in that class was. They went at a snail pace.
After that I took Intro where I met some really cool people but really just relearned a lot of stuff that I learned in broadcasting school about cameras and audio boards. I guess if you never learned that stuff it would have been fine but they helped you understand it a lot better at the university. I figured it would be worth retaking all these classes so I could take the film classes. I remember when I took field and got to make a short! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9mr5dq6RXg It was so much fun! But the rest of the class went right back to news. They told me workshop was where the films get made.
So I signed up for workshop and sure enough it was the film class. Even had the head of the department as my teacher. I had him for a few other classes and he always seemed like a good teacher. People would go on and on about how amazing he is. . . I don't see it. He gives us an assignment and then just lets us go. Now keep in mind that everything up till now had been about news, where was the school part for film making? I mean the only class they even teach that sounds anything like a producing class is really just a class where the teacher takes the kids to a bunch of places they could intern at. She doesn't teach a thing.
And neither did our teacher. He told us if we have any questions to come to him. I went to him and all I got was the run around. I emailed him and he ignored me, time and again. Now my first project could have been better but we had trouble with some of the actors so I take the blame for project one, even through I still love it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGBRmmojxdI But what he did next was beyond reproach.
There was a 24 hour film race and he told us all to sign up. He then went to members of my team and offered them extensions and extra credit if they jumped ship to work with the TA's. He also took away half of the equipment we reserved. Talk about messed up right? At least our short came out good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyrcMwPQ6vY
The last project is the one that made me the most upset. Now I had to scrape my original idea due to some behind the scenes problems and that's fine but I had a cool backup. It was the first scene in a movie I wrote. It is about two bad security guards who work at a military base and are talking about their love lives as a monster escapes. I only had the location for two days and my teacher knew that. Now since I had to change ideas at the last minute I had to change my preproduction stuff, which the teacher demanded to have but never really looked at. I'll get to that in a second, but first on with the story. So I rushed my team into getting it done and sent the material off to him. He told me he would stay at school for an hour, we were done in twenty minutes. But wait! He was gone. He wouldn't answer his phone or email and he told the TA's not to let us use equipment we checked out till they get his say so. What the hell is that? We all emailed him to no avail. About an hour and a half later he emailed back my DP and asked her if she did the prep work for his TV show that the students have to work on.
Yes you read that right! He could email us back about our project but he could email about his own. Great teacher right? So lets go to week two! The last day I had the location. We show him the stuff before class and he says bring it by his office after class. During class he fired our producer because she wasn't enrolled in the class even through he said it was fine for us to have her help out. So my lighting director takes the preproduction to him while I went and got the keys to the location. I get a call that the front of it needs to be fixed. So we fix that, then the sides, so we fix that. Then he will only read it from the producer who he just fired. She went to talk to him and he reminded her that she was fired so I went back. I got there five minutes after he shut her down and he was gone. Once more he never answered or replied to any forms of communication. Lucky one of the TA's was a friend of ours and just let us use the equipment we needed. The project came out ok but could have been better. Something our teacher was quick to point out. He even suggested that we put something in the beginning to set it up. I pointed out that we had that, and he replied with oh, I didn't bother to read it. Great teacher right? This is the guy everyone raves about. I don't get it. Check out the video for yourself and let me know what you think. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cik9pE0cMpY
Maybe other film schools are better. Maybe they really teach you about film and all the behind the scenes stuff but the one I'm stuck at is a joke. I've managed to get myself onto some real sets. I worked on a documentary that just won an Emmy, called missing moon rocks. https://www.facebook.com/MissingMoonRocks I also worked on a short film by my friend Larry Stanley called Gospels of Thomas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2LcdCWfjKo and am currently working on his film The Gray Agenda. I learned more on these sets than I have my whole time at "film School". So my advice is if you want to do this for a living, just go do it. You can learn more from tutorials online than at higher education. The school really tries to fit you into a box and make you like everyone else but that isn't what is best for you. You want to be different and stand out otherwise how will anyone ever notice you? I guess the only advice I can give is just go do it!
So when I first decided I wanted to be a screen writer I started out by buying books on screen writing like anyone else would. I then moved on to commentaries and reading scripts I could get my hands on. By time I started writing myself I felt I had a good understanding of what I was supposed to do and how the format should look.
That's when I took a screenwriting class just to make sure I was doing it right! I had a great teacher who seemed like he knew what he was talking about. He even made his own indie flick that was beyond funny. Throughout the two semesters I took with him he taught me that pretty much everything I've been doing is wrong. You can NEVER use screen angles. Don't describe the characters or give them inflection. The actors can figure out the emotions you want them to have delivering a line by reading the script. They don't need you to point it out. Don't make a wordy movie. People want to watch a movie not hear one. So don't have too many monologues or long conversation scenes because no one cares.
I really believed what he taught me till I started listening to the scriptnotes podcast. http://johnaugust.com/podcast or you can listen on ITunes. Well they told me the opposite of pretty much everything my teacher had taught me. You can describe your characters. If it's good conversations you can let it breath a bit. If you need to put a camera direction to make a point than by all means do it. The only rule in scriptwriting is to make it good. If it's good and you follow the proper structure you'll be alright. The worst part is he didn't even teach us that. I always thought that a voice over should look like this;
Random shit to say yo.
But that isn't right. He never once corrected me. He let me go on thinking this was how it should look when the correct way is like so;
Random shit to say yo.
When you put it under the name like in the first one, well that is for inflection. You know, what he told me never to do.
Random shit to say yo.
So I didn't learn what I was doing wrong in the class, which is the reason I paid for it not once but twice but he also taught me wrong. And every time a student would ask how he got an agent he would change the subject. He told a friend of mine that he should only write one type of script or he would never get signed. What is up with my school? It's like they want to put us in a box and keep us from achieving our goals. Making it in the film industry is hard. Harder than you could ever believe what with it slowly turning into a hobby instead of a career now a days. The last thing we need is for our teachers who are supposed to help us, to guide us, sabotaging us.
Every writer knows that 1 page = a minute. Except when it doesn't. It's more a guide than a hard fast rule. But my school swears it's always true. No matter what. The crazy thing? They don't have a set font for when you write scripts. So every page equals a minute, even when every page doesn't even equal another page. The font you are supposed to use is Courier but at school more often than not they use Time New Roman. Which will add at least ten pages onto a normal sized script.
These are common sense type concerns that no one at the school seems to understand or care about. Tomorrow I'll talk about what they teach us about production.
Sometimes I can't help but look around and notice just how much has changed in my life. It seems that every time I get comfortable with the status quo it changed on me. I think that's all that life is in the end. Change. Sometimes good sometimes bad but always different. If life doesn't change than what would be the point?
With life constantly moving and shifting around us it can give us hope. True it can also lead to fear but that is also a good motivator. You have to keep moving forward, keep trying to change everything to get what you want out of life. To get where you need to go. No one is going to hand you your dreams on a stick no matter how important you think you are. You have to go out there and fight for it. Go out there and be the change you want to see in the world.
I've always been the type of guy who puts friends before myself and lately I've started to really notice that friends are part of my ever changing life. There are a few friends who I'm just as close to now as I was half a decade ago but most have fallen to the wayside and even the ones I still talk to by and large aren't apart of life anymore. It has taught me a great lesion. You can be there for your friends, but don't put them above yourself. Keep moving towards your goal or you will end up with nothing and your "friends" won't stick around. Sounds sad I know but it's just what I started to notice.
Yesterday was such a great day! Half Price Book Store has finally come back to Irving Texas! Inside I found a retro machine that plays Nintendo games. Yes Nintendo! As in NES. Afterward I had to run off to set where I'm working on my friends movie. It was a great day! We filmed action scenes all day. A fight between about 10 characters all happening at once. It was an amazing experience, I learned so much on set yesterday. I wish everyday could be like that.
After filming went out for drinks and exchanged set stories. It's the life of a film maker and I couldn't love it more if I tried. Honestly it was beyond enjoyable. A lot of Dallas filmmakers seem to have spent a lot of time in Europe. I would love to go there some time. Man this is the life for me! I can't wait till it's my set that people are blogging about.
The night ended perfectly. I hung out with Ashley and Lawrence and played Super Mario Brothers 3. What better way to cap off a great night? It felt like wearing an old glove playing that game. Like a long lost friend who has finally come back into my life after so long. It was life changing. I've never been so happy. If only everyday could be like yesterday!!
What's up Blueroof Nation! So yesterday I promised an update for the read through. I'm glad to say that it went great!
We lost an actor which is a set back but everyone else is in board. The cast seemed to have really got into the script. Laughing when they were supposed to and being shocked when I wanted them to be. It was an amazing experience watching people get into the story and enjoying it. There is nothing like it. Creating something and getting the reactions out of people that you want. It was one of the highlights of my life. I can't wait for us to start filming! Then I can relive the experience with you my Blueroof Nation!
Jonathan Gutheinz vents about everything under the sun.