Tag Archives: Dangerous Dust Productions

Web Developer/Graphic Designer Intern(s) Needed

Can you make our web stuff work?

Hey there

We’re looking to beef up our web presence and need someone to make us look real purdy. To that end we’ve put an ad up on Culture Works for a web designer/graphic artist intern. We’ll also be posting an ad for a social media intern in the coming days. Here’s the text to that ad and a link. If the gig interests you or you know someone who it would interest, drop us a line:

 

Web Developer/Graphic Designer

Date Posted: Nov 09, 2012
Application Deadline: Nov 23, 2012
Start Date: Nov 30, 2012

Salary: unpaid
City/Town: Toronto
Term: Internship (Volunteer)

Organization Description

Dangerous Dust Productions

We are a newly established, edgy and ambitious film company in downtown Toronto. This past summer we shot our first feature film, a scifi comedy entitled A Brand New You, which is presently in post-production.

Our mandate is specifically to make films that target under-served demographics in Canada, North America and beyond. We want to make movies where real women have strong leading roles and where non-whites play more than taxi drivers and gang members. And we want to do it through cutting edge, gut-splitting comedy. Besides being the right thing to do, we also believe that it makes good business sense for indie filmmakers to target “niche markets” that are generally neglected.

Job Description

We are looking for an enthusiastic and dynamic intern who wants to put their awesome and creative web design/development skills to work for a film company that, like them, is just starting out. We are developing a slate of films and know the value of having a quality home on the web – both for our company and for the films that we are developing – as part of an overall social media strategy.

But while we have big ideas, we don’t have the skills necessary to realize a web strategy on our own. That’s where you come in. You are ambitious and excited to show your stuff as you build your portfolio. Perhaps you just graduated or are looking to strike out on your own as a freelancer. You love film and film marketing – especially the opportunities that exist in the age of web 2.0. – and you have lots of fresh ideas just looking for an opportunity to be applied.

The selected candidate will work out a development plan as part of a social media strategy with the production team and will be fully credited as part of the marketing team across our media properties, including in film credits, on IMDB, etc.

Requirements:

The successful candidate will have an eye for cutting edge design and illustration, as well as a solid knowledge of web design and web platforms. A techno-geek artist hipster, preferably with a knowledge of film and film marketing campaigns.

How to Apply:

Submit your resume by e-mail with links to your portfolio of work.

Contact Info:

Name: Shawn Whitney
Email: brandnewyouthemovie@gmail.com
Website: brandnewyouthemovie.com

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Filed under About BNY, Culture Industry

We Pitch Raindance This Monday. Come Out & Hear About Our Next Film!

Never ones to rest on our laurels, even though we’ve got our film in the can, we’re still taking whatever opportunities come along to spread the word while we’re going through the post-production process. Well, this Monday there’s an opportunity with the Raindance Canada “LIVE! AMMUNITION! Pitching Contest”. It’s at Revival (783 College St West), starting at 6:00pm and running till 9:30pm. On behalf of Dangerous Dust Productions (that’s us!), Clinton Pontes will be pitching A Brand New You – after all we still need finishing funds and to build awareness of the film. Clinton, of course, played the charismatically vile Murray in ABNY. But, in addition to the ABNY pitch, we’ll also be pitching our next film – a gay-themed screwball comedy. We’ll be pitching in front of a live audience (barf) and a panel of judges, including indie producers Avi Federgreen, and Marc Sanders, as well as John Galway from the Harold Greenberg Fund and Stephanie McArthur from the Hot Docs Forum.

Want to see Clinton rock the house with his pants on for once? Want to find out more about our upcoming film? Well, come on out, show your support and be part of our debut. Hope to see you there!

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Filed under About BNY, development

Canadian Film & TV Needs Affirmative Action

by SHAWN WHITNEY

It’s funny: Just last night I was engaging in that favourite past time of Canadian filmmakers – complaining about the Canadian film industry. Complaining about the lack of government financing and the difficulty of breaking into a distribution market that is locked down by the studios and mini-majors and, here in Canada, where there is now “1.5 distributors” to choose from (as my co-conversationalist described it).

We didn’t even get on to the lack of women and minorities in the Canadian film and TV industry. But it’s true also. For an industry that is widely reputed to be liberal and progressive it is one of the most segregated and exclusionary industries in the country. Just check out this report in Playback Online.

“…out of the 130 Telefilm-funded films made in 2011, only 17% were directed by women, with only two directors being minority women.

Women were only slightly better represented among screenwriters, with 21% of 175 being female, but still only 3 minority women.”

If we were to extend our research into the area of the kind of work that actors get, we would find a similar pattern. I recently attended an online seminar about pre-sales in the film industry and the speaker was upfront: if you want to pre-sell your movie the most important cast to attach are white males of a certain age. (Pre-selling to distributors – ie. before the film is made – is a key way to finance a film and reduce the risk to your investors). As for the rest (you know, the majority of the world population), they get the leftover roles, usually stereotypes whose job is to provide support or target practice to the white, male protagonist. Manuel Rodriguez-Saenz, our lead actor in A Brand New You, is regularly cast as a drug dealer, dishwasher, occasionally a taxi driver. It’s a bit of a joke amongst us – literally every time he gets an audition for a TV series it is as a criminal. Apparently that’s the price of being brown and having an accent. It’s the reason that our mandate at Dangerous Dust is to make films with the kind of cast that don’t get seen in lead roles, even in indie films, by and large.

But, of course, we are a puny company with one film in post-production and just beginning development on our next project. The problem is systemic and massive. But just as one little indie company can’t solve the problem of “under-representation” (the polite way to say racism and sexism when we don’t want to offend sensitive ears), nor can the timid solution of the important study that I quoted above.

“[Women in View executive director, Rina Fraticelli] says it’s vital that we begin rethinking the way we mentor women in the industry, and find ways to sponsor them as well.

“In addition to being well trained, disciplined and having the talent to do something, to really get to the highest levels of work, what you really need is somebody championing you,” she explains.”

To be fair Fraticelli does point towards a tax credit system to promote the advancement of women. But the idea that mentoring is a way to solve under-representation is a non-starter. For one it guarantees that those with the connections to industry players are the ones who will advance. At best that means upper class (usually white) women, at worst it means relying on the people who have benefited from nepotism in the past breaking with the patterns that have helped them advance. Unlikely.

No, it will continue to be difficult for people who aren’t white men until there is an affirmative action program with clear, quantifiable measures. Telefilm financing, instead of being obsessed with market measures that are mostly phoney baloney and reinforce the kind of same-old, same-old that leads to the Hollywood organ-grinder of remakes, retreads and sequels (in both casting and content), ought to be tied to innovation, including in personnel. Films with female and “non-white” directors, producers and/or writers ought to get incentives to foster those projects. It’s only with quantifiable goals that the natural tendency towards nepotism can be broken and the industry opened up to new voices that accurately reflect the character of our changing country and world.

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Filed under Culture Industry, distribution, politics

Watching Our Footage PLUS An Out Take

Watching footage to “check the gate” and make sure we got the shot.

Photo by SHARON MENDONCA

Kathryn and I began the process last night of systematically watching our dailies – all the footage shot on any given day – to decide which takes were the strongest (or, sometimes, which parts of particular takes were strongest so that we can combine them as cut between different angles). It had been just over a week and, to be honest, I was glad to have the distance before trying to approach the footage with a critical eye – distance gives you… distance. I was also dreading it. I mean, what if it sucked? What if we didn’t get the performances we want/need to make a good film? What if…what if… You get the picture.

Not to worry, dear reader, the footage looked better than I could have hoped for. I mean, it has been compressed into low res files to upload it to our Vimeo account (god love the interweb) so that we could share the dailies with Greg Ng, our editor in Richmond, BC. As a result the edges were fuzzy and there are lots of jpeg artefacts that are unpleasant to watch. But the composition, lighting and focus were quite lovely. I’m going to start asking for a commission for all the free advertising that I’m giving to Alex Lisman, our Director of Photography, but he’s done some lovely work with very limited resources and he did it from day one.

And it’s the first day’s shooting so we only saw Manuel Rodriguez-Saenz, our lead, and Dalal Badr, who plays his dearly departed wife. As we watched we were reminded that the first shot on the first day was a scene with them dancing in their living room with Viviana (Dalal’s character) singing a nursery rhyme/love song to Santiago (Manuel’s character). They had met perhaps 20 minutes before shooting this scene, in the context of the furnace room, I mean, dressing room in the basement of our location. They immediately were able to generate romantic sparks somehow. In the middle of the song they began to kiss and you could feel the passion between them. It was as though we were ghosts who they couldn’t see. Such good acting is always a miracle to me. It was also funny to watch because Kathryn and I had just finished watching Almodóvar’s sci-fi melodrama from last year The Skin I Wear with Antonio Banderas. ABNY has a certain kinship to that film in terms of a number of scientific themes, though our film is a comedy, which is why we wanted to watch it. Well, other than the fact that Almodóvar is a brilliant filmmaker. After watching the film itself (a weird and wonderful journey into Almodóvar’s obsessions) we watched the special features that had behind the scenes footage of the film being shot, of Almodóvar working with the cast, etc. He, of course, is a genius and a veteran filmmaker, but I think we felt a connection to his process, seeing those scenes being shot, though I was a bit surprised at how detailed was his work with the actors. He said the lines with them, directing them as to specifically how he wanted them delivered (of course, these are excerpts and those moments may have been the exception – but I have heard he likes to shape, at that level of detail, the performances of the actors). Our attitude, after blocking for camera, etc. was to let the actors follow their instincts and perform it how they had interpreted it – unless they had questions – and then refine and clarify where necessary and request variety in performance whenever there was time. Perhaps we’re too anarchist but I think that we felt that people are professionals – not just the actors, the other departments too – they need to be allowed to do their job and discover new possibilities and meanings. Our job, as directors, was to keep in mind the overall vision and try to facilitate the harmony of the different elements towards that common goal. Not that there is any one “correct” method – every director has a different method (and, no, I’m not comparing “our” method to someone of Almodóvar’s calibre, just musing on approach) – though I think that at our level (i.e. our first feature film) more humility is in order viz the production than for a veteran director.

Back to the dailies. In general directors watch their dailies from the day before at the beginning of the day, while the first shot is being set up and while the talent are in with make-up and wardrobe. So, why have we waited so long to do this process? First off, we did watch some of the footage at the end of the day – but in the face of exhaustion and an early start the next day (and a three-year old who rightfully expected some attention, food, and a bedtime story from her parents) it wasn’t systematic. In the mornings it simply wasn’t possible. First off we were in our house and were often trying to get Beatrice (our daughter) fed and dressed and out the door for 8:30 (crew generally arrived at 7am to start set-up). That was our childcare reality. One of us would focus on childcare and one of us would focus on getting the first shot ready, etc. Cast would arrive at 8am and be ready (in theory) to shoot around 8:45, though in reality it was generally 9:15 or 9:30 before we got the first shot off. In between there was more than enough for the directors to do to fill the time, including reviewing our plan for the day, discussing different performances we wanted to get from different actors, etc. Besides which, our computers were often being used to deal with data management and weren’t available. Such is the reality of a microbudget film. But it is also freeing. We didn’t have the kind of hourly expenses – whether we were shooting or not – of a typical feature film, even a low budget one. There were no lighting rentals, grip trucks, trailers for talent and make-up, et al. In fact, we had no rentals at all (other than a car for one day). So the clock wasn’t our enemy in the same way. And, to be honest, I don’t relish the idea of working 14 hour days. I don’t see how that is conducive to the making of good art. Even 12 hour days are not appealing to me. We worked over one weekend, which was gruelling, but not as difficult as going four weeks without seeing my kid because I leave before she gets up and return after she’s gone to bed. My brain also shuts down after about ten hours – creatively anyway.

Our goal now is to watch at least one day per day while Greg re-organizes and prepares the files for editing in Adobe Premiere, before sending a hard drive back to us. One of the brilliant things about Premiere (I’ve never used it but Kathryn uses Lightroom for still photographs) is that you work on proxy images and the software simply saves a project file that doesn’t include the footage itself but references the edits. It means that once we have a clone of Greg’s hard drive with all the organized files, he can send us a small project file via e-mail and when we open Premiere on our end, it can reconnect to the footage on our hard drive and let us see the work he has done. I’m looking forward to the first assembly!

Now, for a little treat, here’s an outtake from the first day. I’ll try to put one up every day after we view the dailies. Let me just say that no one ruins a pair of pants like Manu.

Manu splits his pants from Shawn Whitney on Vimeo.

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Filed under About BNY, Micro budget, Post Production, Production Diary, Uncategorized

After Production: Wrapping Out

Some of the stuff we decided to sell after the shoot

BY SHAWN WHITNEY

If you’re a first time filmmaker, you’re probably going to be like us and not think about wrapping out production. Oh, I knew in my head that this would come but I wasn’t thinking about it until we hit it. It’s not surprising: we’ve just been through 12 days of intense filming, the euphoria has ebbed and the hangover from the final day’s wrap party has finally subsided. We’re ready to move into post-production with our editor.

Not so fast. Production ain’t over just because the camera’s stopped rolling.

Especially if you’ve used free crew you can expect that lots of things will be left incomplete. They’ve given you the gift of their time and commitment for two or three weeks but it’s hard to sustain that for the paperwork, file prep, etc. – the boring stuff. People need to return to their jobs, move on to other projects, etc.

Not you, oh intrepid filmmaker.

If you know this in advance you won’t be as freaked out and stressed as if it hits you as a surprise that you’re going to end up being the janitor of sorts – cleaning up after the wedding and putting out the trash. Remember, this is your film and your project – you wrote it, directed it, maybe co-produced it. You will be with it through post-production, scoring, mixing, etc. And you will then send your baby out into the world of festivals (if that’s the route you choose to go), screening events, online distribution, etc. Your crew were mostly only with you for the production and the premiere (we are trying to include as many crew and cast as are interested in the pre-release marketing phase of the film also, which I’ll come to in future posts).

Here’s a bit of what to expect and how to approach it to keep your sanity.

1)   Expect a lot of fiddly little bits of BS that have to be dealt with and don’t be surprised when there are.

2)   Remember: your crew was free or cheap. Savour the contribution that they gave to your film don’t begrudge that their contribution came to an end before you would have liked in an ideal world (i.e. one in which you could pay them so that they would stick around and could pay their bills).

3)   Data file management is an excruciatingly boring, time intensive and absolutely necessary task. It’s also fraught with lots of potential pitfalls – especially if you’re not using (i.e. paying) professional data wranglers and assistant editors. We had troubles with our hard drive docks and we had confusions about the file organization system, et al. It happens. And each day’s worth of footage took basically a day to file, rename, synchronize the sound to it, and put it on a timeline for ease of use by our editor. That didn’t even include outputting ProRes format files, which would have added days (weeks?) to the process. What’s the upshot? Martha, our on-set data wrangler, had to return to her job and there were at least four days remaining of syncing sound to video and creating FCP timelines with the synced files organized. I work from home where I read a lot of scripts so I can do a lot of the work while I’m doing my paid job. You may not be so lucky if you have leftover data wrangling. Expect this to take days and days of tedious work if you’re not lucky enough to have it go completely smoothly during production. Give in to it, think of it as meditation and try not to lose your temper (I confess that I punched my monitor ever so lightly yesterday because the syncing process puts so much demand on my processor that I couldn’t do anything on my laptop when I needed to).

4)   Paperwork – yes, I mentioned this before and yes it never ends. Expect to be missing contracts for ACTRA (if you went with union actors as we did) and deal memos, that you’ll have location agreements to get signed and music licensing that needs to be worked out. We also have some photo clearances to deal with because we used an actor’s headshots and the headshot photographer may not have licensed the actor to use them in a film.

5)   Returning equipment. Some stuff may be rented (we didn’t rent anything – one less thing to deal with) or borrowed from family and friends and needs to be returned. You’ll be surprised at how many places you got gear from. We have lenses from three different friends, one camera body, plus a bunch of gear – lights, tripod, gels – that Alex, our DP, brought to the shoot.

6)   Selling Gear. Part of the reason that we didn’t rent gear was because we figured that it was cheaper to buy stuff and then sell it afterwards, even at a loss. Well, now you will have to take photos of the gear and post it on Craigslist, Kijiji and eBay. So far we’ve sold our three piece lighting kit plus extra CFL bulbs as well as one of our spare HDD docks. But we have to sell our shoulder rigs, on camera monitor, a 28 mm lens, and more (we will post all this stuff for sale on the blog in the next couple of days.) It’s extra work but probably will end up saving us thousands of dollars. And we can buy new gear the next shoot again – since it’s probably going to be at least a year between this shoot and the next, why keep the same stuff around gathering dust?)

7)   Thank you notes to everyone. Hey, people volunteered their time, the least you can do is write them a little note thanking them for their hard work. It’s also just nice – the art of thank you letters has been lost (by everyone except Kathryn’s family who write thank you letters for everything). I used to be skeptical but people really appreciate it – take the hour or so to do this, especially if you want to work with these crew members again (people remember being appreciated just like they remember good food). We also thanked our cast and even the actors who came out to audition but whom we didn’t end up hiring.

8)   Keep up the momentum. If crew and/or cast were enthusiastic about the shoot and the film project, invite them to your next production meeting to help out with the marketing work during the post-production phase. Audience building can never start too soon.

9)   Organize a proper wrap party once everything is squared away. It takes a village to raise a film, and villages need celebrations when they reach milestones. If you’ve managed to shoot a feature film on next to no money, that’s a very big milestone.

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Filed under About BNY, Micro budget, Production Diary