Like my short film "Celeste"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

HDR

Not exactly film, but related to photographic theory.

There are ways to show High Dynamic Range in a digital picture.

Simply put, you take 3 (or more) digital stills with bracketing on (-2EV, 0EV and +2EV) using a tripod (if not just try not to move while shooting because Photoshop has an alignment option to cover your back).



With these 3 (or more) shots you can create a really nice still shot.

Just import these shots onto Photoshop and go to file->automate->merge to HDR...
Select Local Adaptation in HDR conversion menu.
Next, manipulate the light values by using the curves in the toning curve and histogram.

By doing this, you can achieve an incredible range that you cannot with a single image.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Goyband

I've been capturing footage from this new indie movie about an ex-boy band singer and his experience with a Hasidic jewish community in a peaceful Catskills Hotel.

So far the footage looks great! I truly believe that this little film can become the next "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" phenomenom.

The movie stars Rent actor Adam Pascal, American Pie's Natasha Lyonne and Chris Judd among many amazing actors.

To find out more about the movie, log on to www.goyband.com
It's a true lesson on movie marketing.

Catch you later.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hip Hop Hold'em

The show in which I'm working as an assistant editor just premiered yesterday.
It's called Hip Hop Hold'em and it involves famous people from the Hip Hop scene playing No Limit Texas Hold'em.

We're using Avid systems Media Composer for the offline and Symphony Nitris for online at the MPE offices in Midtown Manhattan.

The new website is up and running so check it out!

www.hiphopholdem.com

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Paranoia Website

I just updated Paranoia's website. Check it out!

www.paranoiashort.com

Monday, September 25, 2006

Future Shorts


My short film Paranoia was shown at the Lisbon edition of Future Shorts yesterday. From what I heard, it was a success. I was unable to attend, since I'm New York, but I'm glad that people were able to take a look at the film.

It was Paranoia's first public showing, but I hope to start touring the film in the festival circuit here in the U.S. pretty soon.

Visit www.futureshorts.com for more information about this short film screening program throughout Europe.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Will the Sun Dance?

I just fedexed my short film Paranoia to Beverly Hills, CA, where it's going to be partially viewed by one of Sundance's staff members.
I didn't really have any intention of submitting it to Sundance. My festival strategy for Paranoia was more based on where I could afford to go if my short were to be accepted. So, I was only thinking about submitting to New York, Miami and Canada festivals; because I live in New York, I have a place to stay in Miami and Canada is just too close not to go!
The thought came to me at work, at production company RedSky Pictures (who are currently producing the syndicated TV show Hip Hop Hold'em and documentaries and concerts), when a director at RedSky mentioned that he had to run to Fedex his short to Sundance. The deadline is Monday, so I guess he wasn't the only one submitting it in a hurry. And these are within the late entries category, people! So I got off work and ran home to submit my film.
But submitting my film meant I had to replace the old non-cleared-Bernard-Herrman soundtrack with the great new score! I did all the submission stuff online, but the process of finishing the soundtrack and final sound-mixing took about 8 hours. I also fixed the opening credits animation. If my laptop hadn't decided to flip out(!!) I would have not gone to bad as late as 5 AM. But I did.
It got to a point where I just gave up and decided to burn the previous version (Herrman soundtrack and bad sound mix) and just send that instead. But as soon as the DVD was burnt, Premiere Pro decided to give me a second chance (after a careful rebooting) and rendered the final movie!
I woke up 4 hours later to go to the nearest Fedex and send the f****** DVD. But even when the lady put the envelope in its place I wasn't happy. Maybe a live feed of the package's tiniest motions might help. Just to make sure it gets there! I know, I know, you can track it online. Not the same, OK?
And that's my little last minute submission story.
Anyone care to share theirs?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Back in NY

I'm finally back in New York!

It's been great catching up with all my friends and coleagues; it was nice to know that they're still here and that they're part of my life in New York.

Tomorrow I'm starting to work for RedSky Pictures, who are currently producing the TV show Hip Hop Holdem' airing in October on CW. I already had a little briefing on what I'll be doing this week and sounds like I'm gonna be pretty busy!

My friend Lucas wants me to be a DP for his new short film. I can't wait to go back behind the camera, where I feel incredibly confortable! Hope I'll have time for that.

Meanwhile, my short film Paranoia has a new entirely original soundtrack, made thanks to the musical genious of Mariana Norton and Marco Pombinho. Yeah, Mariana is my sister and she's one of the most incredible voices I've ever heard. And I may be her brother, but I'm not the only one who thinks so. She is really a star waiting to be discovered.

The next step for Paranoia is just mix the new soundtrack in and fine tune other pieces of the soundmix. I am proud to announce that the short has been selected to be part of a international screening of short films in Portugal. Since it's not part of a competition, I can still premiere it in festival as if it was it's debut. And actually it is, for the film will show in its older version (without the new soundtrack).

Alright, that's all for today. I'll keep posting updates.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Emmy's

Just watching the emmy's live, except in a 5 hour ahead time zone. So now it's about 2:30 am over here - Lisbon time.

Since the last post I've finally completed my thesis on "Self-Branding" for my portuguese college ISCEM (www.iscem.pt) and I've also written a new short-film called "Surprise Party", about a man who got stuck in a unexpected situation on his birthday's surprise party.

Just a couple of days away from returning to NY, I've gathered some extremely talented musicians to complete the soundtrack for my short film "Paranoia" (www.paranoiashort.com). Hopefully by the end of the week we'll have the soundtrack ready, for Bernard Herrman is my composer so far... Which is great, don't get me wrong, but totally illegal!

Well, gotta go back to laughing with Conan. Love that guy.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New York Life

Quoting New York Magazine's article on celebs in NY:

"New York has never professed to have the most celebrities, just the coolest ones. L.A. had sunshine and Burt Reynolds; we had autumn and Woody Allen. We had Scorsese and De Niro (Taxi ­Driver, not Rocky and Bullwinkle). We had Blondie, for crying out loud. Naturally, these luminaries could walk among us unmolested—they were New Yorkers, too."

Can't wait to get back, even though I almost threw up as I surfed craigslist for a new apartment. Why are the best apartments always owned by smoking, cat loving, "you must be left-wing supporter" old men? Oh wait, the best apartments are always taken, that's why. Like precious gems, people hold on to them with every breath they have.

At least it's good to know that I'm staying at some friend's place while I'm search for an apartment. That makes it less painful.

What's that got to do with film? Not much.
But here goes something film-ish. OK, my plan for this new year will be to work in film or TV production and try and do decent stuff in the city. If by the end of this year I'm not able to accomplish my goals or I don't feel fulfilled, I'm either:
  • Going back to Portugal and accept the offer as a director at Republica das Bananas production company and get a nice little reel so I can travel through Europe and just direct ads;
  • Or - I'll try and enter Tisch for a Master in film production; but for this I'm gonna need serious scholarships

So those are my plans for now. Let me stress, FOR NOW. I know that plans always change and things happen, so hopefully something more exciting than these 2 options will come up.

Alright, that's all for today. Peace.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Box Office Thought

A lot of people question why so many sequels are made every year. Some even complain over the lack of creativity in movies and the narrow-minded studio execs.

Well, I'm sorry to tell you, but movies are a business. And a major one! So who can really blame studios if when faced with these numbers, they choose to go for the sequel?

Something else you might consider is the actual audience. Aren't they as narrow-minded as the dreadful studio execs? The only non-sequel in the list, Spider-Man, is based on existing comic book novel and whole franchise of its own.

Why aren't people more brave and whilling to take chances on different things? A possible answer to this would be that we're only looking at openers and not overall box-office. So as far as taking chances, people wait for somebody else to go see the movie for them and make up their mind days later. Or they bet on previously known franchises.

Will the day for a hundred-million dollar opening of a movie like "Pulp Fiction" ever arrive? Damn you Bruckheimer!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Toyota Shoot




This past week was time for a Toyota shoot. Madhouse, a Manchester based agency hired portuguese Republica das Bananas for this production.

It all started Monday and not according to plan, we immediately started shooting.
The week went on and stuff got funky Wednesday morning when a RAV4 got stuck in the sand, followed by a 4x4 tow truck and then even a bulldozer almost got stuck. Word of advise: avoid the tricky sands of Adraga beach!

Even though Adraga was a nightmare, we got some great shots with the same concept somewhere else later that day. In Sao Pedro do Estoril we got the perfect sunset by the beach where model Kelly Brearley did her yoga poses.

After Adraga and with the exception of a midtown shot in old Lisbon, everything went really smooth. The only thing that's not as clear as when you're shooting film is when they're actually shooting stills. There is no calling for action or cut, so you have to really pay attention to what's happening.

Photographer David Seed did a great job on the shoot; he even put himself in a somewhat risky situation (see photo below), hanging on a ladder over a cliff. The art director, Phil Rogerson was in charge of the shoot.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Underwater

If you're considering shooting underwater... think again!
Or plan ahead (usually the better option...).

While shooting a commercial for a portuguese credit card, it became pretty clear that shooting underwater takes twice as much time. Just loading the camera and changing lens requires removing the camera from the water, taking it out of the waterproof bag and then the opposite when putting it back in. It took us close to 15 minutes to load the camera everytime. And we were losing time fast!

Luckily the crew was great and even though everybody was working overtime, we still kept our spirits high.

Meanwhile, I've learned that I'm going to have to stay in Portugal longer than expected. My thesis got delayed (or derailed) and my new deadline is September. I'm hoping I can get back to New York by early September, though. I just completed the first draft of a new short film. It's about a guy who has to cover up for a crime he committed during his own surprise party. I'm just waiting for my producer's feedback on the draft so I can get moving on making it better.

There's just one thing I'm worried about: how do I top "Paranoia"? (www.paranoiashort.com) This script is a lot less complex than Paranoia's and it leaves less leverage to show off sophisticated editing and camera moves. Since it's all set in one uhm... set, my inspiration is obviously Hitchcock's "The Rope" except here will be cuts in between scenes or it would be crazy! I've found the house already, or better yet, I wrote the script thinking about a house in particular (which is great, 'cause you already have the set on your mind to work with). And hopefully I'm going to be able to shoot in that house; it would mean greater production value since it's an awesome house.

Gotta go sleep because apart from celebrating Portugal's victory against England yesterday I went sailing for 7 hours with a huge hangover...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Auditions + HD Tests

When you're an actor or model, there comes a day when you're gonna have to kiss a stranger on camera. For me, yesterday was it.

The day started off with a photo shoot audition for the portuguese post office company. I hate having to dress up in classic clothes, I always end up looking like a nerd...
But anyway, there I was standing in front of an Hasselblad with a digital back of 23 Mpixels and smiling as if I was relaxed. I do get relaxed nowadays, I think I'm pretty comfortable on camera. But somehow I just can't stop thinking of things like "is this the right expression?" or "are my teeth showing a little too much?" At least the good thing about photo auditions is that they're really short.

Afterwards I went to a set where my brother was directing a commercial. He wanted me to test his new HD camera, the Canon XL-H1 with a lens adapter for professional film lenses. Luckily, I had Javier Aguirresarobe to light the set - he was responsible for the amazing photography of Alejandro Almenabar's "The Others". He wasn't lighting it for me, but still it was something great to take advantage of.

Javier peeking through the Arri LT's viewfinder


I felt embarassed when Javier apolodgized every time he would cross in front of my humble little camera; it's amazing how the bigger people are, the more humble they seem to be. I guess it has to do with confidence; someone who isn't sure of himself usually isn't nice to other people because he or she believes that being nice and humble is a sign of weakness. But not this guy and not the other big DP I met the other day, Jose Luis Alcaine, a guy that works with Almodovar all the time ("Mala Educacion" and "Volver"). They were both amazing guys, not stars at all.


Me testing the Canon XL-H1

The tests worked out great, the little HD Canon looked like film, thanks to Javier's lighting and to the film lens. And thanks to the beautiful ladies we had on set, too. I noticed that because these were prime lenses, you kinda have to think in a whole different way; especially me, that I'm used to shooting on video with zoom lens, where I just zoom in for the framing instead of moving the camera forward. And that's something that my teachers all told me - to move your camera instead of zooming in or out when setting up the frame. Now I know why you HAVE to do that in film. I also learned how to set up the lens, the camera assistants helped me out with that. It's really an unbelievable privilidge to have all these people around, who've been in the field for years, willing to teach me all the stuff they love to do.

Later in the day, with my fashionable clothes on, it was time for me to get in front of the camera - I went to the kissing audition. There was this girl who didn't know she was supposed to kiss someone else and she was totally surprised when the casting director said she would kiss me. First he had asked her in front of all the models in the waiting room if she'd be OK with kissing; she finally answered yes after a nervous pause. The audition was terrible; she kinda ruined it because she was really nervous about it. It's just a kiss, not a marriage proposal! And a technical kiss, no tongue involved! Even so, she was completely stiff and didn't seem like she was in love with me at all...

Oh well, I guess she just didn't deal well with that. To me it was also new, but I really saw it as work and nothing else. I know the audition didn't go well, but the good thing about having a lot of auditions is that you get to forget about it and not stress if you're gonna get the job or not. So for all you actors who are in crummy agencies and want to get more camera-comfortable, try and get yourselves into a modelling agency because they get you a lot of auditions for commercials. And that's a good practice.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Start/Começo

Welcome to my blog!

I've been keeping a portuguese blog, but now it's over so why not start a new one?

The reason I'm starting this blog is because I really miss writing online! And so I will share my experiences from now on.

The gist of it is: moviemaking! Every single aspect of filmmaking will be covered here. From writing, financing, acting, pre-production, shooting, post, sound, score, cinematography, EVERYTHING! There isn't an aspect of film that I don't like and I truly believe that it is the most complete art in the world. When done beautifully, cinema works with the best in all arts to create a single masterpiece, rich in every detail.

So get ready to experience an in depth look at moviemaking.

I hope you like it!





Benvindos ao meu blog!

Tenho mantido um blog em português (www.zecanyadventure.blogspot.com) mas agora acabou por isso porque não escrever em inglês?

A razão pela qual comecei este blog é que sinto mesmo falta de escrever online. E assim posso partilhar as minhas experiências daqui em diante.

O blog é sobre: moviemaking! Cada aspecto do cinema vai ser retratado aqui. Desde a escrita, financiamento, representação, pré-produção, filmagens, pós-produção, som, banda sonora, fotografia, TUDO! Não há uma única coisa em cinema que eu não goste e acredito que é a arte mais completa do mundo. Quando bem feito, o cinema alia o melhor de todas as artes para criar uma obra prima rica em cada detalhe.

Por isso preparem-se para um olhar em pormenor para a magia do cinema.

Espero que gostem!