Filmmaking is for Warriors: Introducing Baby Cam #1

10 years this summer. That’s how long I’ve been living the good life and making films. Yep, that’s my first set. Aren’t we adorable?

Whats Life Worth
Sometimes it’s easy to make films. But mostly it’s like climbing a mountain while getting shot at by snipers and Stormtroopers in the freezing rain without the right kind of ropes and helping a 2-year-old climb next to you. Yeah, I’m not gonna comment on whether the 2-year-old is the cast or crew or your own childlike heart.

Maybe it’s all three.

Filmmaking is for Warriors 1

This is baby #1. She’s the best little workhorse of a camera that I’ve ever encountered. With the look of a cinema camera, the ease of use of a DSLR and the perfect in-between size from consumer to pro, the Sony FS100 gives guerrilla filmmakers like me the versatility we need to make a legitimate-looking film without the hassle of dealing with millions of dollars (what am I talking about, that’s not a hassle…).

Sony Handycam NEX-FS100UK Digital Camcorder – 3.5″ LCD – CMOS – Full HD [Camera]

Now, I didn’t originally get this beast from Amazon, but I have bought several of her accessories through the company and they have all arrived in good condition. Also, Amazon is cool because with Prime you can get things shipped cheaply and swiftly.

You should be asking me now what’s up with me calling a camera my baby. Well, you try braving the wind, rain, cold, snow, water, ice, woods, tics, blazing hot sun, grouchy cast and crew, lack of food, lack of water, lack of coffee (why is the coffee always gone?), car trouble, location trouble, cops, lost actors, lost crew, lost mind and forgotten shotlist and see if you keep thinking of the beast-that-never-stops-going as anything less than your own baby.

This thing is the only way you can tell your story. Treat it with respect. And you can show the world things like this. Filmmaking is for warriors ya’ll, we gotta fight to make the best story we can.

Kevin StillMargie Still

And that my peoples, is my Baby Cam #1.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, comments or projects of your own!


12 Months of Movies: September

In September we made a film that turned out a lot longer than I first anticipated. We worked with a fantastic new actor, who continuously went out of his way to be helpful, offer suggestions and step out into the street to make this film special.

When I wrote this script I was thinking about one of my best childhood friends who was deployed during some of the really bad parts of the War on Terror (not that any part is good, mind you). I am also married to a veteran, my brother is a veteran and my grandfather fought in WWII.

So here is SPC Lisa.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, suggestions or projects of your own!

Fail the System: A short film with a long process

I’m working on the short film for October. I’ve been working on the short film for October since…June 12th. Originally I wanted to write a short about a very controversial subject that I have never seen in a film. But when I started writing Working_Title Red I realized that I had to have a primary storyline that was more accessible to a general audience.

I wanted to write a drama. So I started doing research on dramas, especially dramas that were dialog-driven, which is not the way I have been writing for years. The above show was recommended to me. I watched A LOT of it and found that the representation of family drama is the best I’ve seen onscreen.

This show, Broadchurch, was also recommended to me as a quality drama. It’s about a small English town that experiences the murder of an 11-year-old boy and struggles to come to grips with the reality. It is one of the most cinematically beautiful stories I have ever seen. The editing is superb, the acting is flawless and the writing is arresting.

It’s also one of the most depressing things I’ve ever watched and I had to take it in parts to better deal with the emotions it brought on (I don’t like watching things that make me that sad, but it was very good).

The following images I found as a reference for very good cinematography composition. The DefineFast Productions film will employ this kind of style.

So what is Working_Title Red about? Well, it became Fail the System, and it is about a sister and brother who work together to outwit a devious college professor and deal with some serious relationship issues. Yes, a drama. With dialog. Although it is not as dialog-driven as something like Gilmore Girls.

Since Your Sister Sent Me, a short film DefineFast made in 2013, I have not made anything this intense as a large-scale project. The cast and crew is currently being assembled for this and I am excited to see it become a reality.

Just a little info into the process of making a short film. As always, feel free to comment with feedback, critique or projects of your own!

12 Months of Movies: July

I know it’s been a long time. I’m sorry. I got involved in a project in July that turned out to be a bigger commitment than I realized, along with a lot of other things (Like moving. Which I did this weekend).

Since I wasn’t the writer, producer or director of this project, I was hesitant for it to count as my July film. And it happens to be a web series, so that’s a thing. BUT, I was brought on board as the Cinematographer, which was HUGE. I’ve never been the cinematographer for anyone else’s project (Except commercially and for the TV show JDtR, of course).

So I really enjoyed working with the people from Masked, a modern retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I do have my own short films planned for August, September and October. 🙂

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, suggestions or projects of your own!

12 Months of Movies: March

We set out to make a short drama, but that got put on hold.  So we made this other thing.  I came up with the idea, Cody wrote the script in about 30 minutes, then I revised it.  Paul and I came up with a rough shot list, mostly just coverage.

Then we filmed for about 3 ish hours.  We shot the barest minimum I’ve shot of any film since 2007.  That includes films made for the 10-Hour Film Competition and the 48 Hour Film Competition.  That made editing interesting.

Special thanks to Jeremy Wood, who allowed us to use his office.  And had grace with us when…well, you’ll see what we did.

Enjoy the tiny story that is night.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or films of your own!

A Word on American Universities

I attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  I liked my school.  It was a gorgeous campus, great facilities, good teachers, mostly helpful administration, located not far from my home…I enjoyed my time there.

But it didn’t teach me how to make money.  It didn’t teach me how to get a job.  It didn’t even teach me how to make a good resume, something I learned the hard way when attending an internship brunch and a potential employer went on a rant and wrote all over my resume the things that were wrong.  There’s few things more intimidating than the representative of a TV station telling you how stupid students are getting with their resumes when you’re attempting to impress him.

Didn’t I spend over 5 years and thousands of dollars paying someone else to teach me something as basic as how to craft a good resume?

“Did they teach you about working with clients?” I asked my co-worker about an internship she did in college.

“No,” she said.  “I wish I had learned that…”

She majored in Graphic Design, focusing mostly on print and drawing by hand.  She told me she wished she had focused more on building websites and digital art.  Apparently we both graduated with ignorance, not knowledge.

Here’s the thing though, I knew that I didn’t have to go to college.  I knew that college was just a way to get to where I wanted to be.  I made a calculated decision–based on my introverted nature–that college would be the better option to prepare me to get to Hollywood.  I didn’t think I would get paid more.  I didn’t think it would be easier to get a job, per se.  In fact, I knew that it was in my future to be at working-class income (possibly lower-class, depends on your point-of-view).

Because I was pursuing art.  And really, how many people make a lot of money at art?

BUT.  I did expect that my university would provide a magic list of steps to take to get a job, equip me with a list of all the jobs (like real companies) that I could apply to, and/or automatically place me on the radar of top people in the media and film industry (like Disney, Pixar, Bad Robot, J.J. Abrams, etc).

Why did I expect this?  I have no idea.  I honestly don’t know who told me that.

Why do people keep expecting magic to happen when they just spent 4, 5, 6, 8 years working, studying, testing, writing, running to class, forgetting their parking pass, going into debt, paying a parking fee, staying up all night to fail a test, drinking too much coffee, watching boring class-required movies, eating ramen, lugging brick-like textbooks everywhere and hating their teacher who just assigned that stupid 7-page paper over the weekend?  Seriously.  Why do we expect that after all that–college–we should hop out of school and be ushered into the job force within the week?

Yeah, I paid a lot of money.  Yeah, I’m qualified to film and edit live events, commercials, web videos, training videos, short films, long films, competitive films; write papers, books, screenplays, blog posts; take orders, directions, feedback, and criticism and not DIE (honestly, I’ve not died once from too much work).  But did that entitle me to walk off the podium at my college and into a steady, paying position at a company within my expertise?

Why do we assume that getting a job shouldn’t require work?

I don’t know.  I know that all that time I spent sitting alone before class I should’ve spent chatting with the teachers, staff, anyone, about jobs in Hollywood, how to build a nice-looking resume, and how to sweet-talk a producer into letting me hold lights or equipment on set for a film.  And I should’ve been making calls, sending emails, messages, snail-mail, whatever, to companies and directors and producers BEFORE I graduated and let them know how awesome I am and that they should consider making me part of their team.

I mean, that’s kinda how I got into college.  I pursued it and they couldn’t say no.  I also paid them a lot of money, but hey, I want Hollywood so that might come with the territory.

But I didn’t know.  No one taught me that.  Or maybe they did, and I just wasn’t paying attention.

Rules, Anyone?

Welcome to 2015.  The Earth is still round.  The USA is still my home.  Gravity still keeps us trapped on the surface of the only habitable rock in nearby space.

Stop that.  What I’m saying is this; a new year has begun, but humanity remains the same.

Last time I posted I told ya’ll of my new goals for this year.  I briefly mentioned something I dubbed “12 Months of Movies.”  I’ll elaborate.

In this illustrious 2015 I shall complete a film every month.  A “film” in this instance is anything motion captured that exceeds a minute in length and tells a story.  Whether the story is true (or a version of truth, called a documentary), or fiction, animated (drawn, generated, stop-motion), or live action, silent or full of diegetic sound, filmed by me or another person, written by me or another person…it’s all an open field.  When I say “I” in this instance I mean that I will be the driving factor behind the film, whether I produce, direct, write, edit or shoot it, I must be either the main reason or the partnering reason the film gets finished.


  1. I shall complete a film exceeding the length of 1 minute each month.
  2. The film can be any genre and any medium.
  3. I must be the driving force behind it’s completion.
  4. I must post it here, whether it succeeds or utterly fails.  We learn more from our failures than our successes anyway.

(Joss Whedon)

You may be asking me why I am doing this.  After all, I had a fairly successful year last year with 52 creative projects.  Why trouble my life by seeking out a new way to suck my time and energy away?

There is a terrible burden in being an artist.  It is this:  does my work, my life, my soul and heart and time mean anything?  Is this art actually worth anything?

I don’t know yet.  I don’t know what kind of stories I should be telling.  I know what kinds I like to see, but I don’t always make those kinds of stories real.

What I can tell you is that I shall make some comedies.  I shall make some dramas.  I will hopefully make an action film or two, since I enjoy those greatly.  And I shall want, desire and ask for your feedback.

Tell me what works.  Tell me what doesn’t.  Give me your opinion.  Even if it’s “I hated this movie a lot”, tell me.  And when I ask you why, please be specific.

That’s the only way I’ll ever really know if it means anything.

Following that line, what story or genre or type of film would you like to see, if anything could be made?  A vampire movie?  An epic?  A drama about a big family?  An action movie?

Next time I post, it will be a film.  Talk to you then.

52 Weeks of Creative: Week 32

This was a wonderful project.  We spent a day filming Cody getting chased all over a park.  We learned a lot and I am happy with the result.


Sometimes equipment has technical difficulties.


The Egg Chase Scene

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or projects of your own!

52 Weeks of Creative: Week 25

I hope you don’t hate me, at this point, for subjecting you to yet another week of creative.  I hate myself a little for making me do this, but I’ve learned something new every time, whether it had to do with art or creativity or patience or perseverance or just relaxation.

My life at this point isn’t as open as it was when the year began.  I have a new job I started in January.  I have a fiancé, and a wedding to sorta coordinate.  I have a group of good friends who meet every week–what an amazing idea.  I started long boarding, and oil painting.  I’ve now seen all of Veronica Mars, including the new film, and am almost through seeing it all for a 2nd time.

Every week something crazy happens, I swear, like a schedule change or a sick person or a dude shows up at my house before anyone else has a right to in the morning and proposes beside a fluttering cloud of balloon asteroids.

And I love it.  (And him, just in case you were wondering.)

So sometimes I forget that I have this blog and this commitment.  Sometimes I get to Saturday and FREAK OUT.  But I’m not giving up.  Nope.

(That’s the dad from Veronica Mars, just in case you were wondering.)

This week I filmed my dog.  I got a new lens and I thought, hey, I’m gonna go film outside.  The thing about being outside by my house?  Rory is there.

So Rory is my actor.  Rory’s telling a story.  Everything you see and hear is purposeful, in case you were wondering.  Let Rory tell you this story.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or projects of your own!

p.s. yes, Rory is named for the Doctor Who character.