Shorts About Shorts


Shorts About Shorts

We’re fans of the team at Studio Binder, who offer some pretty amazing online solutions for production resources like storyboards, scheduling software and file sharing, to name a few.

Premiering tomorrow, Studio Binder presents its first Video Series Master Class called “Making It”, a 6-part series that documents the filmmaking experience through the life of a writer-director as he self-produces his short. You'll learn first-hand what it takes to turn an idea on the page into a finished project. The deadlines, the setbacks, the pressure, and the lessons learned — this series covers it all. 

Whether you’ve made a film, are in the middle of making a film or are just curious about how films are made, this series promises offer great insight into the nuts and bolts of the entire process.

Sign up to get alerts and check it out here.


Stunt Doubles vs. Actors Who Do Their Own Stunts


Stunt Doubles vs. Actors Who Do Their Own Stunts

One of the significant debates in the world of movies is whether to use stunt doubles or actors who do their own stunts. There are advantages and disadvantages to both ways of doing things that help make a significant difference. The critical thing that almost everyone agrees on is that this is not a decision that should be made without careful consideration.

Pros and Cons of Stunt Doubles

One of the advantages of stunt doubles is that they have a lesser chance of injuring themselves because of their training, compared to conventional actors. Even though extreme caution is still necessary, they are capable of doing stunts considered more dangerous. Stunt doubles don't have to practice motorcycle safety to the same extent that regular actors would have to. One example would be traveling down a busy freeway without a helmet, a scene familiar in action movies. A disadvantage involving stunt doubles is a possible difficulty finding a double who resembles the actor they are standing in for. When there is not enough of a resemblance, the difference might be visible to viewers and decrease their enjoyment. One way that producers and directors try to minimize this problem is by avoiding close-ups when the double is on-camera or using technology to depict the actor performing a task that would otherwise be too dangerous.

Pros and Cons of Actors Who Do Their Own Stunts

An advantage for actors who do stunts is a greater chance of recognition at the Oscars and other awards events. An actor doing their own stunts helps add to already exceptional performances. Some actors who have done stunts have seen career boosts as well because of their dedication. However, sometimes a regular actor might not be allowed to do stunts that are considered too dangerous, especially from an insurance perspective. Actors also receive training for their stunts for a matter of weeks or months, rather than years. Stunt performers keep training for years to stay at the top of their game.

Who Should You Hire?

The answer to this question depends on the circumstances. Much of the decision will depend on the risks of the stunts performed, any restrictions that actors might have on performing individual acts, and the budget. Stunt doubles are considered the safer choice. They are less likely to end up injuring themselves because of their high training level. The stunts they are allowed to do are often considered too dangerous. However, allowing an actor to do their own stunts helps them get a career boost. In these cases, actors might consider the risks to be worth the possible reward. The decision is one that must be made with the circumstances involving every film kept in mind.

With the varying opinions about whether stunt doubles or actors are better to hire to do on-screen stunts for a film, this is a decision that producers will continue to have to make depending on each individual film. However, both options offer great possibilities regardless of the chosen path.

Here’s another article you might find helpful: How Traditional Hiring Practices Can Help You Hire the Best Actors


The Filmmaking Mentor You Never Knew You Needed


The Filmmaking Mentor You Never Knew You Needed

Recently, as we’ve traversed the web, we stumbled upon the great work of Nathalie Sejean, a self-described audio and visual storyteller (probably how you describe yourself, too). Her blog, Mentorless is full of terrific advice and insight into the creative storytelling process.

Every once in a while, Nathalie runs a program called Accountable, “the program for people who want to cut the BS and MAKE a film.” And when Sejean says “cut the BS,” she means it: Starting February 5, 2020, Mentorless participants will have 25 days in which to make a short film.

With Sejean as your guide, you will receive creative constraints, a deadline, feedback and support during that period. And, perhaps most important: you will be accountable. It’s like having a coach for your next film. And why not? Athletes have coaches, actors have coaches, business people have coaches. Why shouldn’t filmmakers?

We got the chance to interview Nathalie, who explains more:

Why did you start Accountable?

I created Accountable almost 2 years ago now when I realized that filmmaking was one of the few artistic jobs where you often had very little practice before the moment you needed to shoot your "real" project. While the Internet and cheaper equipment have made this storytelling art more accessible, the amount of content shared daily online and the access to knowledge and awareness is paralyzing a lot of people today, aspiring filmmakers as well as established ones in a creative rut. I'm a big believer and user of creative constraints and accountability. It is proved that by making yourself accountable you raise your chances of hitting your goal by almost 90%, which is an insane number. And adding creative constraints are a simple but efficient way to let someone play within a canvas and find out about who they are as a filmmaker, where are their weaknesses and their strengths, so after Accountable they can develop their strengths and decide how to tackle their weaknesses. Accountable became my way of offering an option to the community that I hadn't seen yet. It's not about winning a price, or gaining exposure, it's about working your creative muscle while making a film on a tight deadline and with constraints, and realizing that you can do it.

It's been an empowering journey for all the participants and very rewarding so far for me too.

Who is Accountable for?

To put it simply, Accountable is for anyone who likes to say they want to make films and is not making any and have decided to take control of their creative journey. Accountable is for the storytellers willing to invest in their craft and eager to push themselves. So far, the majority of the participants fell into one of three categories: "aspiring filmmakers" (meaning people educated in filmmaking, loving filmmaking but who have never dared making a film for a whole host of reasons), "procrastinators" (people who always find a good reason not to do it and realize they need support to break their pattern), and working filmmakers in a burnout (at various stages). We often think that the hardest part is to make a living as filmmakers, but the truth is that once your passion becomes your paycheck it becomes easy to stop taking risks and having fun doing it after 5, 10 or 20 years. It's hard to admit we are in a burnout, especially when it comes to creativity. Accountable is a safe space for them because it's anonymous and you don't have the peer pressure of uploading your work online for everybody to potentially ignore it. You can create and fail and produce something minor that can become the seed for something bigger.

In your post from May 8 “Geniuses Work More than Others,” you touch on filmmaking as only part of the creative process. The other, equally essential part, is distribution/getting eyeballs on your work. Will Accountable expose short filmmakers to this aspect? If not, do you have or recommend other programs that do?

No. Accountable is about putting your creativity to work. It's about being in the trenches and doing the work not to produce a masterpiece, advance your career or finally produce the screenplay that is (collecting) dust in your drawer, but doing the work to become a stronger filmmaker before you need to be a strong filmmaker on set for a big project. If you end up producing a masterpiece during Accountable, amazing. But we need a space to create and be supported without the pressure of getting into festivals or making a million views on YouTube or Vimeo. This is what Accountable offers.

There are plenty of programs that tackle all these other aspects of a filmmaking career. The one that will work for you will depend on what you need, at what stage you're at in your career but one thing is for sure, if you don't make films you'll never need any of these other aspects.

For more information or to sign up for the next Accountable opportunity, visit

Follow Nathalie on Facebook @mentorlesspage, on Instagram and Twitter @mentorless


3 Movie Production Locations That Might Surprise You


3 Movie Production Locations That Might Surprise You

With the cost of movie productions going up, the locations you select as your filming sites can drastically increase or decrease your filming cost. Iconic performing arts places such as New York or California can be some of the most expensive places to film your next movie. Instead, here are three movie production locations that might surprise you with their versatility and their much more affordable price tags.


When it comes to film productions, Georgia is one of the best states to scout for filming locations. With the Appalachian Mountains, the Piedmont Plateau, the Atlantic Ocean, and various historical monuments, Georgia has a wide variety of places to offer as production locations. In addition to the wide variety of site options, Georgia also has one of the best tax incentives for filmmakers, according to Film Covington. On top of the base 20 percent tax credit for filming in Georgia, there is also an extra 10 percent if you include a “Made in Georgia” logo into your credits. In Savannah, Georgia, the city even offers an additional $2,000 for moving expenses per household for any film crew members who are willing to move into the city during the duration of the filming. Previous films that have scenes filmed in Georgia include The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, X-Men: First Class, Need for Speed: 2014, and Remember the Titans.


When it comes to tax incentives, Louisiana's tax incentives will beat out California and New York. Not only does Louisiana offer a 30 percent incentive, the highest incentive out of any state, it also offers a 5 percent labor incentive if filmmakers hire Louisiana residents. This place, known as "Hollywood South" is responsible for contributing over $100 million per year to the economy, according to Avis. Some movies filmed in Louisiana include A Streetcar Named Desire, Interview with a Vampire, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.


With a 35 percent tax incentive plus another 2 percent for music expenses in the state, Oklahoma offers one of the best incentives for filmmakers. Some natural sites to film at include Turner Falls, Cogar Ghost Town, Gloss Mountain State Park, The Tropical Observatory, and Lake Tenkiller. Some films that have been filmed in Oklahoma include The Outsider, Twister, Elizabethtown, and Rain Man.

Aside from the top filmmaking locations such as California and New York, there are many other options available with better benefits. If you are scouting for possible filming locations, some of these sites may be exactly what you've been searching for.

If you want to share your next film with the St. Lawrence Film Festival, here’s more information on how to submit it!


How Traditional Hiring Practices Can Help You Hire the Best Actors


How Traditional Hiring Practices Can Help You Hire the Best Actors

If you want to give your film the attention it deserves, it's vital that you hire the right cast for the right roles. While some casting directors are known for their outlandish hiring techniques, the reality is that these unusual hiring tactics really aren't necessary. In fact, there are several traditional hiring practices that can help you find the best actors for your upcoming film. Here's a few of them.

Look at Their Resume

Don't underestimate the value of a resume. Although more associated with traditional job interviews, resumes can still be an important part of the casting process. A resume will provide you with invaluable information about each performer's experience, special skills and training programs completed. When managed correctly, you can use resumes to filter through the applicant list and limit the number of auditions you need to hold. You also may be able to determine if a specific applicant may be better suited for another role prior to auditions.

Source: Employer Resume Checklist | The Hire Talent

Treat the Audition Like an Interview

Certainly, reading lines is an important part of any audition, but it shouldn't be the only part. You really can't get to know a candidate just by having them read a few lines. Instead, treat the audition more like an interview. Take the time to ask each candidate questions about his experience, skills, and abilities. For best results, conduct structured interviews by asking each candidate the same series or close to the same series of questions. This will help to take some of the bias out of the hiring process and better equip you to evaluate each candidate.

Source: A Quick & Easy Guide to Structured Interview Questions | Greenhouse

Use Pre-Hire Employee Assessments

A resume and an audition will only tell you so much about a candidate. It can be nearly impossible to judge how each candidate will handle the pressures of acting throughout the duration of the filming process. Pre-hire employee assessments, however, can take some of the guesswork out of this process. Not only can these assessments test for skills like communication, but they can also test for personality traits, such as motivation, problem-solving and multitasking. These tests can also assess future job performance, stress tolerance and teamwork ability – all which are necessary to be successful in front of the camera.

Source: Want Success With Pre-Hire Assessments? Keep it Simple | ERE Media

Finding the best talent for your film doesn't have to be difficult. These traditional hiring strategies can help you filter through your applicants and identify which ones are right for your movie. Start the hiring process today to find the best actors for your film.


Disney and YOU?


Disney and YOU?

Short format film work is gaining traction as viable IP among major studios - particularly those streaming (soon to be all of them).

The latest: Disney has just made it’s call for entries for diverse filmmakers to submit applications for Disney Launchpad: Search Incubator, a mentorship program with serious upside for eligible filmmakers, including potential screening on the studio’s streaming platform Disney + and possible future development of select projects.

The deadline is fast approaching, though, so click the link above to throw your hat in the ring!


What Kinds of Insurance Do You Need as a Filmmaker?


What Kinds of Insurance Do You Need as a Filmmaker?

Film Making, Cinema, Movie, Car, Chase, Camera, Stunt.jpg

As a filmmaker, you probably spend most of your time devoted to the art of making films, but you must also consider the business side of things, such as insurance. When making a film, it is vital that you have insurance to protect you and everyone involved in the production. If something goes wrong and you do not have insurance, you can face financial, legal and criminal charges. These are a few of the types of insurance you need to make sure that you are covered.

Short-Term Insurance

Short-term insurance is used to cover only one project. This type of insurance is best if your projects are well spaced out, especially if you are doing one project or less per year. You can also get short-term insurance if you need to do reshoots. You can actually get insurance that covers only one day of filming.

Long-Term Insurance

Long-term insurance covers multiple projects that you produce. This option is best if you plan on doing multiple projects in a year. It is also a good idea to get long-term insurance coverage if you own a production company. It can be cheaper to use this form of insurance instead of insuring each project individually.

Legal Insurance

When making a film, you always run the risk of copyright infringement. People can pop up out of nowhere claiming you are stealing their idea. Copyright insurance can protect you and your project from these claims. Legal insurance can also protect you from libel suits.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance covers injuries and medical expenses for injuries as well as damage to property in unintentional film accidents. For example if a scene being filmed involves a motorcycle, you may need motorcycle liability insurance. Costs vary depending on the amount of coverage you need as well as the type of bike being used. There is always a risk of cast or crew getting injured, even in a film with few stunts. You also want to double check that your liability insurance covers any damage to equipment or properties. Liability insurance can protect you from paying tens of thousands of dollars in the event of an incident.

Workers' Compensation

It is important to have workers’ compensation in case one of your cast or crew gets hurt on set and has to miss work. In the event of a workplace injury, workers can seek compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering, among others. Worker's compensation will replace their income during their recovery. Without worker's compensation insurance, you may be paying their income out of pocket well beyond the term of your shoot.

It is essential to get all of your insurance coverage sorted out during the pre-production stages of filming. Make sure to include insurance costs in your overall budget. Obviously, doing everything in your power to keep your crew and cast members safe is what you should focus on. But sometimes accidents and incidents can’t be avoided, and that’s why you get insurance. Insurance will protect your cast and crew in the event of injury, and will protect you from significant financial responsibility. Once you have your insurance coverage set up, you can focus on the important thing: making your film.


How to Put Together a PR Campaign for Your Independent Film


How to Put Together a PR Campaign for Your Independent Film

For the aspiring indie filmmaker, not many moments will be enjoyed more than the one that includes a finished movie in hand. Unfortunately, many filmmakers work with such single-minded determination to realize their dream of film production, that they often neglect to have a PR plan in place.

The promotion of an indie film should begin well before final filming finishes, and the movie reaches the editing phase. The following tips will prove beneficial to the indie filmmaker that needs to create his own PR plan.

Start Online

As with many things these days the successful marketing of an independent film begins with spending many hours online. Whether this means having your own website or utilizing social media to your advantage, there are a lot of options to choose from. There are many apps available to help with streamlining the process for the filmmaker promoting his work online.

For example, one popular web application allows the filmmaker to customize features for visited websites. One way to do this is by using an app setup that provides videos periodically to popular websites.

Enter Contests and Competitions

There are many film competitions and contests available online and at film festivals. Sometimes simply applying for one of these events is all it takes to get your film some publicity. Try applying for online competitions to start, and then if things go well, you can always use each contest you win as a credit to your film in the marketing stages. Additionally, winning contests and competitions means that your video will get online publicity as it remains published on the website pages for other filmmakers and film enthusiasts to watch.

Attend Screenings

Film festivals are an excellent way to obtain reviews of your completed work from critics and movie lovers. There is perhaps no bigger homerun possible when executing a PR plan for an independent film than to show it at a film festival. Showing at festivals raises awareness for the current project while providing the opportunity to network with other filmmakers.

Create Trailers

Trailers can be another great way to create awareness and anticipation for an upcoming film project. Many independent filmmakers have experienced success by creating a social media page or channel for the movie project that can be used for the periodic uploading of trailers.

Take It To The Streets

Independent filmmakers will be required to incorporate many guerrilla marketing techniques to bring awareness to movie watchers. A street marketing campaign is a great technique that can be used by all indie filmmakers.

Creativity is the key to street marketing campaigns. Suggestions include passing leaflets, chalking sidewalks, or having characters in the movie make unexpected public appearances in full costume. The number of possible elements to a street marketing campaign is only limited to the imagination of the filmmaker.

Start a Blog

This is a stage where it truly is critical that you know who your audience is and that you market to them specifically. A blog can be used to share information regarding the movie project while also establishing an emotional connection with supporters. Blogs can be used to report production data and give readers a peek into the daily life of a filmmaker. The filmmaker can also chronicle the many emotional ups and downs he experiences during the process of making the film.

Write a Press Release

Written press releases can be invaluable to any company or project. Among other advertising techniques like flyers, billboards, trailers and the like, press releases can help you target your intended audience. Some filmmakers even act as their own publicists and send a press release to reporters who write about movies or their particular genre of film. Just make sure that your press release catches their eye quickly, and to have a natural story that leads from the press release to your website to give readers some direction if they’re interested in learning more about your story.

Do a Giveaway

A giveaway is an excellent method for list building. An email account that is set up with an autoresponder is all that is needed. The autoresponder can be loaded to send the giveaway to participants, and the filmmaker possesses a valid email address in return. This communication line can then be used to provide the participant with updates or other offers in the future.

Final Thoughts

Aspiring filmmakers are many times much more interested in making movies than creating PR campaigns. While these feelings are understandable, it is important for the filmmaker to realize that a PR campaign is vital to ensuring that the public is made aware of their upcoming film release. The tips mentioned above provide a strong start for the indie filmmaker in need of a quality PR plan. Be sure to submit your movie for the next SLIFF Online competition before the next deadline!



A Guide to Finding The Best Shooting Location


A Guide to Finding The Best Shooting Location

For any filmmaker, finding the best shooting location (even for something like a product shoot) can be difficult and time consuming sometimes. The location and backdrop of a shot can make it truly exceptional, or rather bland and forgettable. There are a few things that any filmmaker can do to make sure that the backdrop and scene are perfect.


Maps and other guides to the area are easy to find with access to the internet. Examine a map of your area to find interesting spots such as varying landscapes, sidewalks, streets, and even specific details such as flower beds or even an incline of the ground. Make note of interesting places to check out, and plan a route to scout out each location. This will save time and gas.  

Look Around

The oldest trick in the book for any filmmaker to find great locations is to just drive and look around the area. Your search for a perfect backdrop may take you through many different locations, from the back alleys of a city to the deep wilderness.

No matter where you go, it is necessary to protect your gear and have a convenient way of carrying it around. As you go to different shoot locations, make sure that all of your gear is easy to carry and is protected—no matter where your shoot takes you. A well-made travel bag can make the difference when it comes to traveling to shoots. Climbing around and getting the lay of the land is important to look at details, but make sure all your gear is stored and shielded while looking about.

Knowing the Popular Areas

In every town or city, there are popular and famous landmarks, gardens, memorials, buildings, or other locations where local history was made. Do some research on the area you’re in to get a feel for these kinds of spots. Ask locals for some of their favorite places to go in the city. Check out the history of the area, and make arrangements to visit these locations to get a feel for what might work for your planned shoot.

Apps and Websites

There are multiple apps and websites that are just the ticket for finding other locations. Instagram, Flickr, ShotHotspot are just a few that can be used to show a variety of locations that other photographers and filmmakers are currently using. It might also inspire you to transform areas you hadn’t thought of into the perfect backdrop.

Technology has made it easier to find the perfect spot for any shoot. While the old fashioned way of driving around in a car can still be used as a great method for inspiration and creativity, it’s not the only way. Use these tips to save time, energy, and money by doing a little research beforehand. Combine all of these ideas to form a different approach and make your own way to find the perfect location for your next shoot.

Do you have great location shots to share? Please submit them to the St. Lawrence International Film Festival!


5 Ways to Prevent Injury at On-Location Shoots


5 Ways to Prevent Injury at On-Location Shoots

If you are doing on-location shoots for your film, then you have a lot on your mind with regards to getting the best shot. However, there are other factors of film production at play, too. You need to make sure to prevent injuries to members of your cast and crew, as hazards can pop up during a shoot that you need to be aware of. Here are five ways to prevent such injuries:

Rigging High Shots

When you are dealing with camera arms, they are contraptions with mostly metal and advanced mechanics behind them. They are built to be powerful, not friendly to humans. Keep this in mind, and don't let anyone's body parts get caught between the arm pivot.

Fall Safety

To get the proper lighting, you might need to climb up on top of a building, rock, or platform. This can involve a lot of dangerous situations. If someone takes a fall, it can mean serious injury or death. Use OSHA approved fall protection equipment that straps them in safely and offers a soft landing in the event of a fall.

Proper Footwear

Shooting in certain locations means that you might have to deal with treacherous local terrain. From mud to boulders to uneven footing in general, these obstacles can cause a number of injuries from ankle sprains to nasty falls. Make sure everyone is wearing proper shoes with ankle support at the very least, and bring a first aid injury kit just in case.

Use Camera Tricks for Heavy Objects

Sometimes, to get the perfect shot, you need to hoist a heavy object above subjects. This means that those objects are one slip away from landing on someone and permanently injuring them. To avoid this altogether, use mirrors and perspective manipulation to make it appear as though those objects are above them when in reality they are off-set a safe distance away.

Hire Safety Advisors

Simply reading through the OSHA manual before a shoot is not something that is sufficient to keep everyone from getting injured. When you hire a professional safety advisor, they can point out potentially dangerous shots that might be putting you and others at risk so you can make adjustments.

When it comes to on-location shoots, you need the right approach to ensure that no one gets hurt. If this happens, it can be a legal nightmare. After all, if you do not take the necessary precautions to protect your cast and crew, you could be held legally responsible for any damages they incur. Use the five tips above to ensure that not only is the bottom line protected, but peoples' bodies and livelihoods stay intact for a successful shoot now and after.



Health and Safety Executive


Craig Swapp & Associates


Add Graphic Design to Your Filmmaking Arsenal


Add Graphic Design to Your Filmmaking Arsenal

Much like entrepreneurs, independent filmmakers wear many different hats and develop a wide variety of skills. Oftentimes, they have to be their own producer, director, editor, even their own graphic designer.

Thanks to continued advancements in technology, filmmakers have access to a host of design tools specifically engineered to be user friendly—allowing filmmakers to turn out professional graphics without suffering a potential learning curve. Here are some scenarios where independent filmmakers might be grateful to have graphic design skills in their creative arsenal.

Titles and Credits

When major studios produce a film, they have entire teams that do nothing but produce the titles and credits. Yes, there are a number of premade titles and credits to choose from in most video editing programs, but they are often very standard looking (read: boring).

Custom titles and credits are one way you can raise the production value of your film without needing additional budget. You can even use Photoshop to create your own original fonts.

Graphic Props

Most films need a collection of signs, banners, documents, newspapers, magazines, and other graphic elements for the sake of authenticity. With quality graphics, you can create these props without spending a fortune to have a professional graphic designer make them for you.

Marketing Materials

One thing that every experienced filmmaker knows is that making a film is only half the battle—getting people to watch the film is the other half. If you invest the energy into raising a marketing budget, the last thing you want to do is blow a big chunk of it just having the marketing materials designed.

With even basic design skills, you can create your own marketing materials. That means you can actually spend your marketing budget on buying and distributing marketing materials—rather than spending it on having them created.

While some independent filmmakers have attended film school, the truth is that many filmmakers are also self-taught—often by simple trial and error. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge into learning graphic design. You may just find that it will pay off in the end.

Great examples of graphic design in film can be found amongst our esteemed filmmakers to watch. Want to join their ranks?  What are you waiting for?  Share your film with the St. Lawrence International Film Festival today!


  • What Do Graphic Designers Actually Do on Major Motion Pictures? | Layers Magazine

  • Brush Up on Your Skills With Photoshop Training | PSD Learning

  • Why Filmmakers Should Learn Graphic Design | DSLRGuide



3 Reasons to Join a Photographic Community


3 Reasons to Join a Photographic Community

Photography is a way to capture life's unforgettable moments and document your individual experience. Due to its intimate connection with personal perspective, many different people from varying walks of life come to enjoy this hobby. Photography is generally a fairly solo pursuit, but there are many potential benefits that come from joining a photography-based community.

1. Find Inspiration for Your Photography

Let's face it: No matter how talented we are (or may think we are), all of us can learn from the viewpoints and ideas of others. Since photography communities unite people from all walks of life, you are bound to interact with other photographers who will refresh your perspective and expand your growth as an artist. Associating with people who have similar interests yet contrasting viewpoints can help you find inspiration and fresh perspectives for your own photographs.

2. Network with Fellow Photographers

As with just about any pursuit, your success as a photographer will depend largely on the connections you are able to make with others. Whether those others are fellow photographers, instructors, or potential clients, there's no better way to expand the reach of your network than to join a photographic community. You might discover the perfect way to pack for a wedding shoot, find a better fitted travel camera bag for your DSLR and extra lenses, or learn how to capture the perfect candid. Doing so helps you tap into a vast pool of knowledge, expertise, and existing connections, all of which can lead you to opportunities you might have missed on your own.

3. Tap into Industry Trends

Whether it's the latest in lenses or filters, trends in the camera and film industry, or details on a cool new camera accessory everyone is talking about, a photography community is going to be your one-stop-shopping source for current information about the field. Connecting with a strong network of like-minded individuals not only can help create opportunities, but it can also help you to stay in the loop and stay up-to-date with everything you need to know about photography. Talk to people about how to store your quality photos from physical storage to digital storage. It is essential to keep your portfolio intact.

The bottom line is: Whether you are just getting started with photography as a hobby, using it to build a side hustle, or are a field-tested, experienced photographer, joining a photography-based community can truly enhance your love for the art and your enjoyment of it. Why not join a local community or club today and see its advantages for yourself?



Why Do Audiences Love Explosions?

Thanks to fire alarms, we never see fire or explosions except for the Fourth of July. High tech fire sensors have taken the fear out of fire. However, if you're in a Hollywood film (especially if it's directed by Michael Bay, of Armageddon and Pearl Harbor fame), you're likely to see more than your fair share. Is this due to a tragic shortage of fire alarms in the world of cinema? Or is it driven by the audience's desire to watch things blow up? Here's why the answer skews toward the latter.

Bearing witness to destruction provides affirmation of life

It's a well-known fact that a near-death experience -- or even the death of a loved one -- can give an individual a newfound respect for the miracle of existence. Watching imaginary wide-scale destruction from the safety of a movie theater makes people feel more alive. This is particularly true when the destruction involves structures that are widely familiar, as in Bay's The Rock (1996) and its demolition of Alcatraz.

Audiences identify with the survivors, not with the victims

In his review of 2003's The Sum of All Fears, film critic Roger Ebert wrote cynically about the film's happy ending, in which the heroes find themselves contemplating their future on a lawn blanket after Baltimore has been destroyed by a bomb. His words: "Human nature is a wonderful thing. The reason the ending is happy is because we assume that we'll be the two on the blanket, not the countless who've been vaporized." If we're around for the ending, we feel empowered simply by virtue of having "survived" when such danger exists in the world.

Special effects are just plain cool

We know, intellectually, that we're not watching the White House being transmuted into a heap of rubble in Independence Day — but at the time, was anyone less than convinced? In the century-plus since the dawn of cinema, the limits of the medium have been pushed steadily higher, so that now such amazing sleight of hand seems commonplace. It's human nature to want to push against these limits, to seek out the next highest peak. Explosions provide a pulse-pounding way to achieve this end.

Whatever our reasons, audiences just can't seem to get enough of watching things get blown to smithereens. Come next Memorial Day, there's sure to be yet another round of nuclear eye-candy to go along with the popcorn.


Film Production 101: What to Know About Contracts


Film Production 101: What to Know About Contracts

filmmaking, stress

The art of making films starts with the contracts that must be signed prior to hands-on production starting in earnest. When a Hollywood blockbuster with A-list stars is envisioned, the producers assemble legal teams to draft a collection of contracts that will cover everything from intellectual property to photo releases and from location agreements to a general understanding of liability claims. Here are some of the basic contracts used in film production projects:

Budgetary Guidelines

When a film studio agrees to host a film project, the executives will approve funding only if the production team can adhere to the budget. Some of the most infamous Hollywood productions in history went astray because the terms of the budget adherence contract were either insufficient or were not properly enforced; a classic example was the 1963 film "Cleopatra," starring Elizabeth Taylor, which went terribly over budget and was only saved from total financial disaster thanks to the tabloid and gossip industry.

Agreements to Produce Cover Shots

Production teams that do not want to risk their artistic integrity to the whims of film distributors should pay close attention to the contract terms dealing with cover shots, which are used to create different versions of films for hotel chains, airlines, foreign markets, festivals, and other venues.

Screenplay Agreements

Established screenwriters may demand that their intellectual property be produced to the very letter of the script. Film studios often demand more flexibility, which leads to negotiation of terms whereby the screenplay authors may agree to receive monetary compensation or promotion in exchange for allowing some leeway in adapting the script. If the studio has faith in the artistic vision of contracted filmmakers, executives may feel comfortable in spending additional funds to secure the rights to significantly alter the screenplay.

Footage Release

These contracts are usually drafted during the post-production and marketing stages. In essence, footage release agreements refer to scenes that have already been shot and edited; in some cases, they may include footage that is created specifically to use for promotional purposes. When a production is screened at film festivals, footage release agreements are mandatory since the festival organizers often wish to show as much footage as possible in order to create excitement prior to the scheduled screenings.


Working closely with entertainment and contract attorneys becomes essential for production teams. The agreements listed are just a few of many legal documents that aspiring producers can expect to become very familiar with during their careers.


How to Get a Permit For Urban Action Shoots


How to Get a Permit For Urban Action Shoots

If you want to film or photograph on location, you may need to obtain a filming permit, sometimes referred to as a location shooting permit. Every city and state has an office that handles the granting of filming permits. The process can sometimes be completed online and generally requires paying a fee. 

When Must You Obtain a Permit?

Casual filming or photography does not generally require obtaining a permit. Similarly, shooting on private property does not require a permit. However, filming on public property or in such a way that it would impact other people does necessitate applying for and receiving a filming permit. 

Permit Requirements for Car Chase Scenes in Urban Areas

If you plan on filming a car chase, you may be required to fulfill additional permit application requirements. For example, filming a car chase scene within the city of Los Angeles may require you to conduct a filming survey. This survey should indicate that you contacted the residents and businesses that may be affected by your filming and discussed any concerns they have. Similarly, Los Angeles requires proof of production insurance, including auto insurance. 

If you plan to shoot any part of the car chase using an aircraft or drone, you may have to submit additional documentation. The City of Baltimore, for example, requires proof that the drone operator has a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA as well as an insurance plan that specifies coverage for an unmanned aircraft system. 

Filming this kind of scene will most likely require road closures and traffic control. Since most chase scenes involve blowing through stop signs and other such violations of normal traffic codes, additional permits may be required for closed-course driving. Dave Abels lists stop sign and stop light violations as one of the most common causes of collisions, so DO NOT try to film without working with police! Requests to film during peak travel times are almost always denied. Similarly, filming a scene using moving vehicles may necessitate a sit-down meeting with the local film office and the police department. These factors may increase the time to process your permit as well as increase any fees associated with the application. 


Permit Requirements for Pyrotechnics

Most municipalities treat pyrotechnics similar to fireworks, so learning about local fireworks laws will be a good start. Licensing requirements for pyrotechnic operators will differ from city to city and from state to state. Most applications for filming permits will ask about what kinds of physical effects you plan on using, and will contain additional information on how to obtain any necessary permissions.

Another time to be careful is when you are using realistic firearms as props. If concerned neighbors see cast members walking around on set with AR15’s, Glock 19’s, and M16’s slung over their shoulders, they are liable to call the police. This is another reason why it’s important to make the municipal government and local police force aware of your intention to film in that locality. You can reduce the risk of scaring neighbors (and reduce risks to your stunt crew) by adding sound effects and muzzle flashes in post, rather than using blanks. While blanks are more realistic and generally safe, nobody wants a repeat of Brandon Lee’s tragic accident on the set of The Crow!

These permit requirements may seem tedious, but they are in place to ensure not only the safety of the community but also the success of your shoot. Without police assistance, for example, your car chase scene would be plagued by unwanted traffic and pedestrians. The best way to ensure your application is accepted is to follow all permit application requirements and provide accurate, descriptive information about your needs. Finally, the more complicated your request, the longer it will take to be approved. Plan ahead and be patient!