Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Flippin' Great Little Camera...the Flip UltraHD

Just before the Cannes Film Festival kicked off, i got an email from Celluloid Dreams / The Auteurs (now called Mubi) about a competition they were opening up to all the film-makers with shorts in the 'Short Film Corner' part of the festival. It was called 'Cannes å la Flip'. They wanted us to send in a 300 word pitch for a 3 min film to be shot on a Flip UltraHD while in Cannes.

Anyway, a 300 word pitch later and i get an email asking me to pick up my Flip camera from their stand in the Palais. What they didn't say though, was that i get to keep it. Result!

The Flip UltraHD is chunky.. it's a bit like a mobile phone from a few years ago. But...considering it shoots 720p HD and has an 8GB memory...and a built-in flip-out USB plug...and a mini HDMI port...it's small really.  It fits in your pocket...but maybe not in tight jeans. Btw - 8GB gives you 2 hours of 720p recording.

Using it is as easy as it gets. Turn it on, press the red button and you're shooting. It boots up in 2 seconds, so it's great to grab it when things happen that you suddenly want to film. You can playback, erase and even use the digital zoom (but i try to avoid it)...it's so easy to use.

The picture quality is quite amazing. It's very detailed and holds up even in quite dimly lit situations.
My only gripe really is the lack of anti-shake. To get the best from it you really have to hold it against something like a wall or a table to keep it steady.

I'm totally Mac, so i can't tell you about the free PC software that comes on the internal memory. It just shows up as an external drive on my mac and i drag and drop the clips just like any others i use.

For me there's some big reasons all directors should get a Flip UltraHD.

1) It shoots very usable 720p HD video but it fits in your pocket.

2) You can velcro / gaffa  it to anything for incredible shots... car shots, helicopter shots...you name it.

3) It's easy to charge on the go and even lets you replace the rechargeable battery with 2 regular AAs if you need to.

4) It's so cheap for what it is... you could buy a few to use as crash cams.

You might have guessed...i highly recommend the Flip UltraHD.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Festival De Cannes 2010....the full story.

I went down to Cannes with the 'Shoot The DJ' team. We were very lucky to have our Exec Producer Derek along as he drove us all there in a 37ft American Winnebago. This thing was huge.. we traveled in comfort from just north of London all the way to Cannes. We did two overnight stops along the way, the first just a few hours from Calais and the second in Avignon. We arrived in Cannes on the 15th and drove right along the Croisette looking for the accreditation office. We dived in and quickly grabbed our passes before driving a few more miles to a beautiful campsite just outside Antibes..about 10 miles from Cannes. We got very lucky with where we parked up the bus. (we started referring to it as the bus almost as soon as we got on it....due to our regular trips on tour buses...it was pretty similar) We were about 20 paces from the little bar which was also a pizzeria that did amazing pizzas as well as steak, kebabs...everything. Perfect.

The first night, we got dressed up (a bit) and headed into Cannes at around 10pm. Luckily, we were only about 1/4 mile from a bus stop where you can get bus right into the middle of Cannes for 1 Euro!
We headed for the Nordisk Film Party. A friend of ours had got us on the guest list and told us who to speak to when we got there. We got there a bit early and there weren't many other people there at first... but it soon filled up. We struggled a little bit to find an opening gambit to get the conversation going with other guests. We enjoyed the free champagne and the free JD, but after an hour of enjoying the drink and the great view from the hotel balcony, we decided it was time to move on. We went straight for the Carlton Hotel. Rick and myself have been to the Midem Music festival in Cannes many times in the past and The Carlton was one of the three hotels where you had to go to meet the right people. This time...it was almost empty. We didn't bother staying for a drink. Next, we headed up to The Majestic. This was a bit busier, but not much. We got a drink and sat outside. A word of warning here: Drinks in Cannes are expensive. The hotels and clubs on the Croisette will charge up to 10 Euros a pint and sometimes 28 Euros for s short with a mixer. Yes...i know, it's mental...but that's what it costs over there. Start saving now for next year cos you can spend a lot in just a few days.

After the Majestic we decided to find out about train times. We knew the buses would not be running late at night, but we had been told we could get a train from Cannes to our campsite at about 1am. We were also told that if we missed this train, the next one was at about 5am! Sooo... we went to see the Concierge at the Carlton... he told us that the last train had left already..(it was 12:15) and the next one wasn't until 4:40am. It was sunday...we forgot. Pants. We considered our options.

1) Taxi. 200 Euros!!! (no kidding...and only one cab company in Cannes..so no options)

2) Walk. It's 10 miles. No chance. We'd get lost.

3) Stay out until the next train at 4:40am. Seems the best plan to me...

So we tried The Grand. The Grand hotel in Cannes is set back a little bit from the road and there's a huge lawn which they had covered with huge inflatable white sofas and an outside bar with some really funky lighting.

Well, this place was a revelation. This is where it is at in Cannes during the film festival. If English is your main language...The Grand is the place for you. The place is rammed with British, American and Australian film people...from producers, financiers, and directors to actors, actresses and crew... this place had them all. The bar wasn't as expensive as some and the drinks were really good. The sofas on the lawn were great and we ended up there every night.

The second night we got invited to a yacht party in the harbour. This is the way to do Cannes...free drinks, free food...amazing industry people everywhere... it was great. We met some very influential people and pitched our next project to lots of people. By the second night we had learnt what not to do...and with a little help from our business guru Derek, we got our patter just right.

Some things you need to know about Cannes before you come:

1) During the day, the Palais is the place to be. Visit the stands, see the Pavilions behind the Palais and generally soak up the atmosphere. There's lots to see and many people to pitch to...(if you dare) and there's even some really good courses/workshops. But deals are rarely done and new business relationships are rarely formed unless you've set up meetings in advance.

2) Early evening is dead...unless you want to go and see a premiere or you have a dinner appointment, give the Croisette a miss before 10pm...even 10 is a bit early. We found getting to the hotels about 11 or 12 was perfect. People are back from their expensive dinners and out of the screenings by then.

3) Don't overdo the pitch. We saw so many people giving it the 'hard sell'...some even tried it on us... they didn't even bother to find out that we weren't looking for other projects to work on.  Be friendly, get a round in, remember where you are.... if you're pitching to someone in a bar after midnight...maybe you should just keep it light...swap cards and try to 'get on' so that you can follow it up with an email... then you can decide who is worth spending time on. It also gives you a chance to Google them... there are lots of players out in Cannes....which is point 4..

4) There are lots of 'players' in Cannes. Rich kids who get a bunch of business card printed up before heading to Cannes in their Lambos and Bentleys to see what they can find. Usually they're on the pull...but sometimes they're looking for suckers to drag into their made-up little world. Keep sharp and stay away from dickheads. Conversely, we met a few young producers who were legit...and they were often totally paralytic and full of ego...but their CVs checked out. Tricky... just use your instinct.

 All in all, our Cannes experience was very positive. We spent 5 days there and we got something positive out of every day. The Short Film Corner was really cool...lovely, helpful people and a really good way to get into the Cannes Festival.  We met a few people from Twitter-land over there...including Chris from LivingSpirit (who did the guerilla film makers books). He pointed us in the direction of a distributor who then gave us some invaluable advice and that alone made that particular day worthwhile. Luckily for us, almost every day was like that...an encounter with one person would always lead on to another with someone else who would turn out to be just who we needed.

So...now we've got lots and lots of business cards and lots of people to follow up with. We're going to meet some people we met over there, over here and hopefully our trip to Cannes in 2010 has been the boost our next project needed and the 'finale' of 'Shoot The DJ'.

Myself and Rick flew from Nice to Germany for a gig before flying home, but André and Derek drove all the way back in the bus. We're already planning how to get the most from next year's Cannes Festival.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

USA...rent 'Shoot The DJ' for just $1.99...

Seeing as we're not offering an NTSC DVD for use in the USA yet, we've set up a rental agreement with YouTube so fans in the US can watch the film right now. You get 72 hours from the time that you pay to watch the film. Cool huh?

Just click the link below:


Saturday, May 8, 2010

4 blokes, a winnebego and a camera...we're off to Cannes!

 On wednesday 13th May...myself, André, Rick and Derek are off to the Cannes Film Festival. Both myself and André have films in the festival and we're also there to promote 'Shoot The DJ' to foreign distributors and to raise investment for our next feature, 'Their Law'.

We're driving to Cannes in a 37ft American winnebego...this thing is huge. It's like a tour bus that got cross-bred with a caravan. We're leaving on the 13th and driving down to Cannes to arrive sometime on the 15th.  Aside from another little project we're filming whist there, we're also going to be shooting a video diary.  The idea is that we're going to document our whole trip from the morning we leave home until we arrive back again sometime on the 21st.

Right now we're prepping, packing and getting measured up for tuxedos. (Yes, you really do have to wear them at the evening premieres).

Anyone who fancies meeting up while we're over there, drop me a mail.. would be great to meet some other film-makers from Twitter-land while we're there.

I'll be blogging every few days too... so pop back now and again to see what goes on.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Looking for crew members for November/December 2010. 4 to 5 weeks.

Recoil-Films (http://www.recoil-films.com) is putting a new feature into production this year and we are planning a 4 to 5 week shoot during November/December. We're looking for some crew to make this possible.

The positions we need to fill are:

Production Assistant - Specifically looking after the camera media. Logging and backing up on-set. Some helping out with the camera set-ups. A good knowledge of Macs is vital. Ideally someone who is very organised.

Production Sound Mixer & Boom operator - We'd like to find a 2-man soundcrew with their own equipment capable of providing up to 4 clip-on radio mic systems and a boom man. We need someone who can totally take care of all the on-set audio and deliver the files in an organised way on hard drives to the production assistant for backing up/transfer.

 Script Supervisor/Continuity - Needs to be someone meticulous to stop continuity errors and make sure we cover everything in the script in each location. No experience necessary, but a real eye for detail. Would need to photograph each costume, location and camera set-up for reference purposes. Will also be required to help out with other on set jobs like making sure the sets are correctly dressed and possibly helping with the lighting set-ups.

Location Manager/Security - Someone who can take care of the practicalities of shooting on location. Liaising with property owners, businesses etc. Making sure we don't get in anyone's way and nobody gets in our way. Will involve speaking to Police, councils and other location related people. Security of crew while on set... keeping public interference to a minimum while causing as little disruption to people as possible.

We're about to start planning, financing and casting and depending on finance going to plan, all these roles will be paid. Being a low budget production the weekly rates for these positions varies between £250 and £400 per week.

Anyone interested in getting involved should email with their relevant experience, CV or whatever you think we need to know in order to consider you.

Email us at:  info@recoil-films.com