48 Hour Film Project

48 Hour Logo

Just A Weekend

As most of us know creating a film, even a short film, weather it’s a documentary or something more fictional, takes a lot of time. First you have come up with a concept, get funding somehow, get a crew, shoot the production and then edit and do the rest of post-production. This whole process usually takes a minimum of several months, if not years, for some of the most basic films. Now, imagine trying to do an entire short film, from conception to post-production all in one 48-hour span of time. That is the challenge of the 48 Hour Film Project, where teams have just two days to create an entire story using just a prop, theme and line of dialogue. DC’s annual 48-hour film project was the weekend of May 5th and with other 48-hour film projects taking place across the globe on various other dates.

Mark Ruppert

A Humble Beginning

The Project got its start in May, 2001 when local filmmaker Mark Ruppert came up with the idea to have an experimental competition where teams would have to make a complete short film in 48 hours. He enlisted his film-making partner Liz Langston and several small teams who thought  the idea sounded fun and challenging. Today the project takes place in more than 120 cities around the world, such as Las VegasChicago, Rome and Beijing, and involves many teams, who altogether make up more than 60,000 thousand people. The smallest team was one man who set up a camera and then was in the film, and the largest group was a team from Albuquerque with 116 people and 30 horses.

It’s All About Action

The mission of the Project is refreshingly simple: don’t think, just do!!! The very short time limit encourages creativity and teamwork skills and spurs people to give it their all. It’s through this intense process that the creators of the project hope to promote filmmakers and advance filmmaking. Personally, as someone who worked on a team for DC 48 hour film project on May 5th, I can attest just how challenging and chaotic the process can be. It takes a lot of patience and nerve to make it through one of these films—and a true passion for film—to consistently come back to the project year after year.

48 Hour Trophy

The Process and Prizes

There are a few guidelines that filmmakers have to follow when making their short film. At the Friday party that kicks off the project, each team is randomly assigned a theme, a line and prop that must appear in their short film. Apart from those specifications, they make whatever type of piece they want. The finished pieces need to be complete two days later, that Sunday by 7 pm at a drop off party. The following weekend, the films are screened at AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring over the course of four nights. There are prizes for films that are voted the best and these prizes include best writing, best director and best editing among others. There’s a also an international grand prize which nets the winner $5,000. Ten of the best films of the 2013 tour are going to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner in 2014.

 

 

 




Comparing Affordable Cameras and Camera Rigs

Sony-PMW-F3-left-LCD

The Fab Five

Since Word Wizards, Inc. often deals with new technology, we definitely know how it changes quickly, especially in the realm of video production. While the video production community in DC is incredibly talented and forms an amazingly supportive community, we are also dependent on the equipment we use. It’s not easy to keep track of the latest cameras and camera technology  with so many different camera models to choose from at a variety of prices. Recently, TIVA held a panel at Henninger Media to give people an inside look at some of the different models on the market, and some advice from five very experienced cameramen and DPs who use them every day. This fab five consisted of Jim Ball, Nate Clapp, Alex Ibrahim, Don Lampasone , and Alex Guckert.

lenses

Lens is Main Priority

They brought a wide variety of models with them for display. These included models like the Canon 7D DSLR, a basic model that retails for $1,500 all the way up to the Sony F3 35mm digital camera, shown at the top of the article, that costs $14,000. While the panelists said you should look at camera models depending on your needs, they all agreed the lens should be the main investment with the actual camera more of an afterthought. If possible you should try to get a lens that will last and is flexible enough to work with a variety of different camera models. While new camera models come out every couple of years because of new tech, lens tend to stay the same. Sanyo and Rokinon are companies that make cheap and mildly reliable lenses. Another option is Zeiss, who sell very nice but more expensive lenses.

DSLR vs. Cinema Cameras

The conversation then moved onto a debate between digital single-lens reflex cameras, a.k.a. DSLRs, and movie cameras. DSLRs are able to take both still photography as well as video with the cinema very comparable to more dedicated video. Many in the video industry like SLRs because they have these dual capabilities and are often able to pay for themselves quickly  because they’re so versatile. One concern about DSLRs is that you often have to shoot and then darken the image yourself because of the exposure. However, if your shooting in low light, then DSLRs excel because of their low light sensors. In fact another reason DSLRs are so well liked is because they tend to have larger, more powerful light sensors that give a narrower depth of field, making it easier to isolate the subject and give it a more “filmatic” look. The bottom line is that you should get a camera that suits your needs and fits your work, whether you’re shooting documentaries and “talking heads” footage, or something more action oriented.

Black magic camera

Standout cameras

There were four cameras that were standouts to the panelists and were especially liked for their capabilities. One was the Canon C100, a cinema camera that at $5,500 is moderately priced and is well liked for its compatibility and powerful super-35mm sensor. As far as DSLRs go, one of the top picks was the Black Magic 2.5K, shown above, that goes for about $3,000—although it should be noted that you need a .5-millimeter lens to really make the camera shine.

The Sony FS-700, is a very well liked and versatile camera that may be a bit on the pricier side at $7,500, but has some great qualities, like beautiful slow-motion capture, does action scenes well, and will record it so the footage is ready to edit immediately after you’re done shooting. The fourth and final pick was the Sony F3, which at $14,000 is not a small investment. But the camera is considered to be very versatile and comes with a PL-mount adaptor that makes it compatible with any PL-mount cinematic lense.

DC Camera

Try Before You Buy

Of course, you really should get the one that can best handle the type of work you do, and its good to keep in mind that accessories will often outlast the camera, so go for quality. A good way to test out a camera before you make that big splurge is to rent one and use it on a production to really get a feel for the model. This not only saves you the frustration of buying a model and finding out you hate it, it allows you to try out several different models in a cost-effective way. Camera Rental places, like DC Camera. are great places from which to rent and ask questions. Most cameras are good for renting and shouldn’t be too complicated to someone with at least a little camera experience. There are some cameras, such as the Red Epic Cameras, which cost upwards of $50,000 and is not the kind of model you should just rent unless you have experience with it. When you finally are ready to pluck down your hard-earned cash for the big buy, a used camera can be a smart way to go, since people may be eager to unload the “three” model if the “five” just came out.




TIVA’s Contract Panel

 

tiva banner

On Wednesday night TIVA, the Television, Internet and Video Association, held a panel at Video Labs focusing on contracts and specifically how they pertain to the video production business. While contracts are something that most of us in the media and video industry are something most of us don’t like to think about, they are still a vital part of production houses, transcription companies and other media organizations. The  three  panelists at the event were Jim Pennington, Pam Jacebson and Nancy Prager who were incredibly open about sharing their collective knowledge. Some of the main topics covered were line costs, appearance and location releases and confidentiality agreements. Check out the panelists below for some information on them as well as their main points for the panel.

jim pennington headshot

Jim Pennington, Co-Owner and Business Director at DUO Media Productions

 http://www.duomediaproductions.com/team

As business director, he leads all marketing and proposal efforts, and when projects are awarded, he prepares the letters of agreement (LOAs), personal and location releases, crew and talent agreements, and other contractual documents.  As producer, he provides executive oversight for all aspects of a video project and ensures the project is completed on time, on budget, and to the client’s complete satisfaction. As a writer, he works closely with clients, developing the concept for their videos and the subsequent treatment/script.

Line Costs – Clarity is Key!!! When Jim prepares letters of agreement for clients, he always makes sure are absolutely as clear as possible. One prime example of this would be with Line Costs and how he breaks them down for each project. While many companies would simply list one large sum for the entire project, Jim and Duo Media Productions actually break each individual cost line by line for the project. This way, there’s no miscommunication about whats being covered and the other party can feel comfortable knowing the exact cost of everything. As he says, it’s practices like this that ensures that his company always delivers on their work.

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Pam Jacobsen, Freelance production Manager & Line Producer

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/pam-jacobson/11/856/8b7

Pam has been in the business for almost 20 years working for an impressive lists of companies that include Discovery Communications, Sirens Media and National Geographic Television amongst others. Her responsibilities have included managing all aspects of production operations, balancing a wide range of budgets from the hundred thousands to the millions and negotiating contract compliance and production units. Additionally she has experience advising business units on contingency fund requests, negotiating facilities, assesing deal visibility and supervising milestone payments.

Location and Person Releases – Go with your Gut!! If you have a person or people in the background for a few quick seconds and they are not really identifiable, they are most likely not worth trying to get releases from. However say you’re using a wide lens and a group of people are directly in the foreground with visible faces, then it would be in you’re best interests to get them to sign releases. As Pam stressed, the best idea is to really just go with you’re gut on what you think should be done. She gave similar advice on location releases, saying that if a building is directly in a shot or being used as a shoot location than you need to get a location release from some one authorized to sign such a document. Try to get a release from building management and double check to guarantee that the individual singing it does have the proper authorization.

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Nancy Prager, Esq., Entertainment/Arts Attorney

http://www.pragerlaw.us/

I represent a wide range of clients on matters ranging from intellectual property licensing to estate planning.  Though I am now based in Washington, D.C., I have practiced with firms in Memphis and Atlanta.  Additionally, I have served as a business development consultant to technology companies in both the telecommunications and intelligence sectors. I have addressed the convergence of intellectual property, technology and the creative industries to a variety of audiences including at conferences like SXSW and in publications like news.com.

Confidentiality Agreements – Read before you Write!!! As Nancy astutely pointed out Confidentiality Agreements, often reserved for those doing government work, have started cropping up in the private sector of the media business as well. While these agreements are usually a means to insure that the work involved stays private, the information can sometimes be used against the person who signed them. Make sure to carefully scan through any document you’re asked to sign and especially try to “read in between” the lines to see what information you’re agreeing to. Unfortunately, if someone is not familiar with the language it’s very easy for them to get tripped up. Another good point she had was that today, signing you’re name on an e-mail now counts as a legal signature which is something to be very mindful of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




The Art of Reviewing Film Festivals

 

Unknown

We’re all used to seeing movie and film reviews but reviews for film festivals are not quite as

frequent. What if your a die hard movie junkie who needs their fix of fresh indie cinema but

don’t know just where to turn? Well film festival maven Christina Kotlar has got you covered.

ChristinaKotlar-150x150

Her blog Film Festival reViews, http://www.filmfestivalreviews.com/, fills this niche by examining

all that is indie in films, filmmakers and film festival’s the world over. Mrs. Kotlar, a jersey native who

received her masters in Producing Film and Video from American University in Washington D.C. founded

the site in 2006.  One of her main goals was to give some insight in to the film industry as a viable means of

economic development in the film festival circuit.

 

One of her passions is the work of early women film makers, more specifically Alice Guy Blache, the first woman

film director.

alice-guy-blache

While most would shrug their shoulders and say “Alice who?”, Blache was an important

figure in the then burgeoning industry as she was making fiction films before women could even vote in this country.

Even more impressive, she built, owned and operated Solax Studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey which did work such

as special effets, super imposition, sound synchronization and colorization. Mrs. Kotlar has actually written a story  and screenplay

about Alice Guy Blache titled Madame Director who’s website can be found herehttp://madamedirector.com/   

 

Some other unique features on the Film Festival reViews blog include  the Backstage Pass which looks at unique and rare events

happening at different film festivals. Examples include an in depth look at the eagles in honor of their documentary History of the Eagles

Part 1 which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. There are of course the reviews of films and film festivals such as the recent Athena

Film Festival which are told from a woman’s point of view. Lastly, there is also the Media Madness Workshop which strives to develop leader

ship capacity in the media community.

 

For all this and so much more  check out her website at

http://www.filmfestivalreviews.com/

 




Getting Started in your Media Career

 

Ready set go

Last night at American Universities School of Communications,  several media professionals gathered with TIVA to give out

some very valuable information about how to get your foot in the media industry whether your a college student or a seasoned professional

looking to switch careers. The panelists included:

 

Jason Villemez, Production Assistant at PBS Newshour

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jason-villemez/10/a27/594

Kristen Edgell, Marketing Assistant at National Geographic

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kristen-edgell/31/13b/b88

Laura Mateus, Campus Recruiter at Discovery Communications

http://www.zoominfo.com/#!search/profile/person?personId=1770693696&targetid=profile

Julia Beyer, Career Advisor for SOC Students

http://www.american.edu/profiles/staff/juliab.cfm

 

A variety of issues were discussed which included networking, resumes,

social media and linkedin, age and experience, reaching out and internships.

 

 

  • Networking, As Kristen pointed out networking is very much the name of the game. She very smartly made time to talk to every person she worked with, grabbing a cup of coffee and picking their brains. After these meetings she would inquire about other contacts that person might have that would be a good fit for her to talk to and then sought out those individuals. Another point that all the panelists agreed on was the value of a mentor and really getting to know an individual who will work with you and even advocate on your behalf.  Also, its key to stay in touch with those connections you make and to stay on their radar. They might be looking to fill a spot in an afternoon and if you stay fresh on their radar, you may just be getting that call.

 

  • Internships, the panel unanimously agreed that having at least one internship college is a great way to get some real world work skills outside of the classroom. Make sure that you really assert yourself in the role trying to learn as much as possible about the work your doing and present yourself well. Employers and companies respond well to someone who is eager to learn and want additional responsibilities instead of that person who’s just waiting to go. Many internships are now paying but even those that aren’t are still a valuable way for people to focus on their interests by getting to practice them in an adult setting.

 

  • Social Media, Obviously this is a huge facet of the media and business worlds and will only continue to grow. The best social media to present in terms of professionalism is Linkedin. The panelists all agreed that not only is it the preferred way to present yourself to new business contacts, its a great way to scout out potential employers and new relationships as well. A surprising note came from Laura who pointed that just because someone’s young and of the “plugged in” generation, that’s not a guarantee that they themselves are tech savvy or fluent in the art of social media. Twitter and facebook are also good venues to reach out to contacts, just be weary of  what they may see when they look at your profile. It’s smart to put your website and social media links under the header of your resume to show just how connected and tech able you are.

 

  • Resumes, one of the most important topics discussed was resumes and presentation. As Julia reminded everyone,  the basic look for a resume should be a header with your name, address, contact info and any links to your website or social media. This should be followed by education and most recent or appropriate work depending on the job your applying for. After this should come other work experiences and then your skills.  Unless you have more than ten years experience in the field, resume length should be one page. Grammar, punctation and spelling are also key since many people overlook these and will send resumes carelessly riddled with such mistakes. Also don’t put things that aren’t true, if your not familiar with software or a technical skill don’t put it on your resume. You may be questioned about it during your interview and not knowing anything will immediately make you look unprofessional.

 

  • Age and Media as a second career, Jason pointed out that in his position as a production assistant, one of his duties is to review candidates for internships and job openings. While there are the typical college students and recent graduates in that mix, Jason is also seeing lots of people in their late 20’s, 30’s and some who are doctors or lawyers looking to switch careers and that’s not a bad thing. Jason, who himself started in his job at the age of 27, says age is not an issue and what really matters is the desire to work your way up from the bottom. As long as the drive, willingness to learn, punctuality and professionalism are present, than people will notice your hard work and take you very seriously.

 

 

A huge thank you to the School of Communications for hosting this event and to TIVA for holding it.
SOC
TIVA
Further highlights of the event will soon be up on TIVA’s website at http://www.tivadc.org/



New Website Launch: Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center

The Word Wizards website design team proudly launched http://hollywoodballroomDC.com/ last week.

Screenshot taken from Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center website designed by Word Wizards, Inc.

Nothing is more satisfying to our team of web developers than the launch of a new website. Just as with our graphic design services, our website design efforts are original and customized each time. Translating business objectives into a functional, optimized, and graphically organized website is a unique challenge each time. It requires a meticulous attention to detail and the requirements of the client. It further requires our web developers to think outside the box and come up with effective solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

Some of the web design challenges we faced and overcame in this project include:

  • Organizing a website with many different components
  • Creating an easy to use navigation bar without sacrificing design or functionality
  • Designing stimulating graphics that convey the message intended by the client
  • Coding of advanced custom features, i.e. a calendar that can be easily modified, and a side bar that “floats”
  • Making sure the website functions properly on several different browsers

Word Wizards would like to congratulate our client on the successful new launch of this website. We invite you to explore this web page as an example of our extensive capabilities as a website development firm. If you reside in the DC metro area and you would like to learn how to dance, or rent a big space to host an event, we strongly recommend that you stop by The Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center and take a look around.




2012 Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase

The 2012 IDEAS conference (Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase) is right around the corner, and this year, Word Wizards is preparing an exhibit that demonstrates our 508 accessibility capabilities. The U.S. Government is dedicated, and legally bound, to provide accessible resources for individuals with visual and auditory disabilities on their various internet outlets. Word Wizards has developed an acute expertise at remediating documents, interactive forms, and online videos to achieve compliance with section 508 of the National Rehabilitation Act.

Accessibility vs. Compliance: Whats The Difference?

The demand for section 508 accessibility compliance services has never been greater. With a huge volume of companies, organizations, and independent consultants now claiming to offer 508 compliance solutions, it is increasingly difficult to know who is who in the industry. From our experience there are two different types of player in the world of 508 compliance services.

The first is are firms looking to marginally increase their revenues by accessing the emerging market for 508 compliance services. These companies claim that they are 508 compliance experts, who then turn around and outsource to firms that are very good at meeting the legal requirements of compliance without a concern for the accessibility of the final product. In this case, the client meets its legal requirement, yet fails to provide true accessibility. Unfortunately, the end result is a low cost solution to a potentially expensive problem and people are willing to ignore the obvious short comings for minimal cost savings.

The second type of player are the firms that are honestly dedicated to providing accessible content solutions for their clients. Companies of this nature (like us here at Word Wizards) actually know how this process is done because they do it in house. These companies make it a priority to go beyond the legal requirements of the section 508 accessibility law, ensuring that the services they provide for their customers result in media content that is accessible and of significant value to those with visual or auditory disabilities.

The difference is all about context, its about creating something that takes the limitations of those individuals with disabilities into account. Something could be considered “compliant” with no real advantage to the end user, aka someone with sensory disabilities; and, in our minds, that is worse than doing nothing in the first place. It is our continuing mission here at Word Wizards to work towards a more accessible internet experience for the U.S. Government and beyond.

Some Good IDEAS

So, we invite you to join us this year at the IDEAS conference and decide for yourself, just remember, when your age finally catches up and your senses no longer work like they used to, are you going to expect the bare minimum when it comes time to interacting effectively with the government, or would you rather someone had gotten the job done right before it was to late for you.




TIVA-DC at the Government Video Expo

There were some impressive booths this year at the world famous Government Video Expo, held in Washington, D.C. Big industry names like Panasonic, JVC, and Roland put together incredible demonstrations of their latest and greatest products. Innovation was abounding, and at the heart of it all, TIVA-DC, long time supporter and organizer of the GV Expo, hosted a record breaking promotional membership drive and prize giveaway.

A topside view of the Government Video Expo
A look from above at the GV Expo

TIVA-DC and Discovery’s Military Channel, with the help of Word Wizards, Inc. was responsible for organizing two wildly successful panel sessions this year. This years keynote was “Lights, Camera, Military Action.” When you need to get footage of the real U.S. Military in action, you call one of the Hollywood Military Liaison Officers.

Lights Camera Military Action Guest Speaker Panel
Lights Camera Military Action Guest Speaker Panel

Ken Hawes, (Army Wives, Men of Steel), U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Colonel Jason Johnston (Battle Los Angeles, Avatar) U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Fransisco “Paco” Hamm (Transformers, Iron Man 2) and U.S. coast guard Commander Sean Carroll (The Adjustment Bureau, Deadliest Catch) offered a discussion and Q & A session talking about their diverse work coordinating the private video industry with The U.S. Armed Forces. TIVA-DC solutes all of our honored men and women who serve this great nation proudly, and we thank these distinguished guest for their contribution to this year’s GV Expo.

The TIVA booth signing up new members
New recruts for TIVA

The TIVA booth was hot like spicy sauce this year, as conference goers leaped at the chance to join our ever growing organization. Volunteers worked constantly to inform potential new members and sign up for TIVA – DC. TIVA sponsors donated several different items (usb flash drives, TIVA hats, and a gift certificate for dinner at The Woodmont Grill, donated by Word Wizards) to be raffled off at the end of the day.

TIVA's GV Expo prize giveaway
Jerry Griffith, Current TIVA-DC President (left) Tun Flaherty, Previous TIVA President (Center) Scott Gordon, Word Wizards CEO and TIVA Sponsor (Right)

Another successful GV Expo! Word Wizards would like to thank all of our TIVA-DC volunteers, guest speakers, and new TIVA-DC members who made this year a smash hit!