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Free Film Studies at Ghetto Film School Online

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The academy award nominated director, Spike Jones, has been invited to the Ghetto Film School, to offer a free online film studies Master Class for the Ghetto Film School. This is a unique program where young filmmakers from around the world get together in order to discuss more about filmmaking and storytelling. Spike Jones accepted their invitation and held a conference, talking about this business and about the main challenges that they need to overcome. He responded to several questions and he gave them a creative assignment created by himself.

The first lesson he wanted to share with them was that every actor is different, so each one of them works differently. This is why a director should know how to give specific notes. Jones showed them the importance of the rehearsal, not only because they get to repeat together and see how it works out, but mainly because during that period the coworkers get to bond with each other, creating friendships and developing a common language. In this way, they’ll be able to get a better understanding of each other while working together at a project.

When it comes to the writing part, Jones had an interesting insight, saying that it’s essential to share the writing with the others. In this way they will not only get the others’ feedback, but they will also get their own feedback. He emphasized that by sitting down and telling someone a story, he gets the opportunity to actually hear it out loud. Therefore, he may hear what works and what doesn’t work. The same thing happens with the test screening. So those who want to work in this industry should share their ideas.

Working in the film industry may be exciting, especially because people get to do what they like. A great advice was the necessity to choose role models and to focus on great movies. He exemplified by saying that whenever he sees a great movie, he keeps it alive in his mind, taking it everywhere. Such a movie may rest in his mind for a week, a month, or even years. In this way, whenever he will need inspiration, he will go back to that movie.

Another essential thing that can be related to any kind of activity, and not only with filmmaking, is definitely the ability to make friends. After all, coworkers spend a lot of time together and it’s important to work in a relaxed and friendly environment. Besides the work with his team, he also likes to get the opinion of a group of writers and directors, mainly because he loves their work. Thus, he values their opinions so he tries to get a feedback whenever he finishes a script or when he’s editing a movie.

Between the questions posed during this conference, there has been a question about story boards. Jones expressed his personal opinion about these, by saying that they are important as long as there is a complicated sequence. Otherwise, there are many sources of inspiration and one shouldn’t stay too focused on a fixed idea.



Filmmaking Video: Rutger Hauer Intro to Short Film Making

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This filmmaking video features the renown Dutch actor and writer, Rutger Hauer as he offers his professional insights with an introduction to short film making. He begins the video with a memorable quote by a colleague, Robert Rodriguez: “what you need to know about filmmaking can be taught in a week.” In response to that quote, Hauer proposes to create this video with the objective of teaching the essentials of film in a 13-minute video.

Hauer starts by proclaiming that if you want to be a filmmaker, then just print your name and the title, “filmmaker” on a business card. Pass around the card to your friends and tell people that you’re a filmmaker, because once you convince yourself that you are, you will be. Seeing yourself as such is important to embarking upon your filmmaking career.

RutgerHauer_OdFest

Rutger Hauer
Photo: http://oiff.com.ua

In addition to seeing yourself as a filmmaker, Hauer adds that you need the right blend of creativity and technical knowledge. Creative people are born creative, says Hauer, that’s “luck” as he calls it. Most technical people haven’t a clue about creativity. On the other hand, creative people have a difficult time thinking high-tech and they often rely on tools and methods they don’t fully understand. However, as Hauer emphasizes, if you have both creativity and some technical skills, then no one can stop you.

This leads to Hauer’s second point of insight: you already have some experience by watching movies, but watching films isn’t enough if you want to make them. You need to grab a camera, make movies, and more importantly, make mistakes. Making mistakes is what makes us good. If you have a scenario in your head, just start writing.

The following are some of the topics that Hauer covers, with the intention on touching upon all the essential aspects of making a successful, budget film.

Making a cheap film. Making budget films always force you to be creative, especially when it comes to finding the right location. Hauer suggests that you write a screenplay that doesn’t require a lot of money. Instead, look around you and evaluate what you have in your immediate environment for use: a pet, your parent, a butterfly collection, a garden, etc. “Even the smallest balcony garden can be your film jungle” he says. Hauer’s first film, Starfish Tango, involved a small story, two dancers, two actors, a village, and seven dolphins and yet was a success.

Getting the plot “out of your head.” Hauer’s third point of insight involves creating storyboards for getting the film out of your head and onto the screen. More importantly, you need to think about the frames and what needs to be present in each scene in order to tell the story–close your eyes, focus and make up the pictures. You should also think about whether or not the story moves you, if all the characters are present, or if the plot is too fast. More importantly, creating a storyboard for the movie allows you to see whether or not it makes sense. The quicker you get your idea onto the storyboard, you quicker you can begin to shoot.

Cameras. You don’t need a sophisticated camera for your first or second film. In fact, just using a Flipcam is enough, and if you need to create steady shots, just use a tripod. If you want more movement in your shot, you can try mounting the camera on a skateboard, having someone push you in a wheelchair, or drag the camera on the floor atop a towel or blanket. Lastly, act “softly” in front of the camera: avoid overacting or crowding the camera with too much action. As a rule, the closer the camera is, the less acting you need to do.

Lighting. Experiment with the lighting. Walk around and see what spots are best left dimmed and which ones need a lot of light. As you move the light around, do it softly so it will look nice and natural on camera. You filters like curtains in order to get a dim effect. Use the reflections in cars, windows, the color of a table cloth, or even the movement of leaves to help you play with lighting. Hauer demonstrates how one can play with lighting by placing a towel over his computer’s camera and noting the slight, but important difference it creates.

Editing. It’s important to be patient and take your time in order to ensure a film of high quality. This is where you can add sound or music (either make your own music or own it, so as to not infringe on copyright).

After all of this you will have your first, simple film. He ends with saying that while you cannot make simple films in Hollywood, you can make them in school and on your own time, so take advantage of this freedom. He wishes the viewers success and fun in their project endeavors.



Where to Get Free Soundtracks to Download

Downloading music is a tricky issue these days. With internet authorities acting fast to shut down illegal music downloads sites, you have to be careful where you get your music files from. One wrong move and you could end up in more trouble than you bargained for.

However, you could just want to get free soundtracks to download for your art project or school assignment. Well there allot of free music sites on the web.  First check out my music and then here are several more  sites with safe high quality music and a good selection:

Freemusicarchive.org

This site has a large selection of free production tracks to choose from, and you only have to click on your selected track to download it. Sample tracks on the site’s database, and if you like it, you may be able to use the track. If it is offered under the Creative Commons license, you may be free to copy and distribute tracks.

Funkyremixes.com

Like the title suggests, this site has a variety of great quality remixes to choose for your production. Downloads are free and legal, and you have wide selection of music genres to choose from. You can rip, download, remix or share tracks, all for free.

Jamendo.com

Another free music site that allows you sample free tracks online. All music on the site is royalty free, and the easy to navigate website makes it a joy to make use of.

Opsound.org

This site allows you to upload your own original or remixed track after registration, thus increasing the volume of music you have at your disposal. Download music in order to play, and browse from one of the largest free music databases on the internet.



How to Write Songs for Film and TV: Online Course

The Emmy award winning composer Brad Hatfield shares his songwriter experience, starting an online course that is available for those who want to make a career in writing songs for film and TV.

Brad Hatfield started his career as a professional musician, having the opportunity to accompany many big names, such as James Taylor. Even from the beginning of his career, he attended major jazz festivals, next to well-known jazz artists. With time he began to get placements in film and television, realizing that he has a passion for visual media. At the beginning it was a great challenge to succeed, but right now success seems to be his middle name. Right now, while you are reading this, there are hundreds of his songs that are playing somewhere on the planet. Speaking about money, it seems that for this amazing composer it is enough to get an income that will allow him to sustain his family.

Right now he is excited because he has the opportunity to teach this course that will cover many techniques and skills. Even if some of them will be already mastered by the students, there is an entire set of skills that are necessary in order to succeed. For instance, in visual media you will have to start thinking like a director, having the chance to step back and to look at the song from a different point of view, mainly because in a movie the song can’t stay alone, but it rather has to enhance what is going on in the screen.

Another thing you will learn is how to collaborate effectively, since the communication is an essential skill and the key to succeed in this course. You will have the chance to meet other musicians and writers, and not only. There will be a whole new web of people that will come in your way. Even if this business is for those who are passionate, and not for those who are looking for more money, you will learn how to negotiate. In this business, people try to find a common ground.

This is a unique course that will teach you more than just how to write songs, it will teach you how to give and to receive feedback, and constructive criticism. You will have to listen each other’s songs and tell your opinion regarding what you hear. You will learn both what to do and what not to do, and many of the examples will be Brad Hatfield’s in person. Therefore, you will have the unique opportunity to learn from his 30 years’ experience. He is ready to give you all his secrets, as long as you agree to take them. Every student will have the opportunity to internalize the information, and with some luck their names will appear on the big screen. This is the purpose of this course.

Even if you are a song writer, after this course you will be able to improve your songs using the new skills and techniques that you acquired during this online course.



9 Freeware Music Sites: Free Songs for Use on YouTube Videos

9 Freeware Music Sites  Free Songs for Use on YouTube VideosI get lots of questions about freeware music sites. If you have listened to my music and you still need more options, here are some suggestions for free songs for use on YouTube videos from Russell Hasenauer at Indy Mogul:

In this segment of “Friday 101” Russell tackles the often asked question of where to find free online music that users can legally add to their Youtube videos, movies, or other projects. As a result, Russell presents his “Friday 101 Ultimate Awesome Free Music List F’Real 2012” along with a brief introduction to Creative Commons licenses.

All of the music sites that Russell presents in this episode of “Friday 101” provide free music. This is made possible by Creative Commons Licensing, which allows people to use content if they abide by the terms of the content’s creator. In doing this, the creator maintains the copyright on his or her own work. The only requirement for using Creative Commons music is that one needs to maintain the license of the creator’s choosing. While you can visit CreativeCommons.Org for more information, below is a synopsis of all the kinds of CC licenses you may encounter:

Attribution license: this is the simplest license to work with, because it allows you to do whatever you want with the work. You can alter it and use it for commercial purposes, and all you need to do is attribute it back to the original creator, usually with a link to the person’s page.

Share-alike license: This license stipulates that if you use a song or other piece of content, the work in which you use it should itself become a Creative Commons work. This means that if you use a song with a share-alike license for your movie, then your movie should also be available via Creative Commons.

NoDerivs license: This license stipulates song or content may be used in different projects, but that you cannot alter it in any way or remix it.

The last license is called the NonCommercial License, which allows free use of a piece of music (and it allows alterations), but only if that music will not be used for monetization purposes. If you plan to monetize your videos, be especially careful with these kinds of licenses.

In terms of finding great sources of free music for your videos, movies, and projects, Russell’s first suggestion is Kevin MacLeod from Incompetech. MacLeod has over 2,000 songs on his website, all of which are free to use for Youtube videos, commercials, or films. If you’re a Youtube partner using his music, you have the option to monetize your videos. MacLeod’s only requirement is that users give him credit for his work, whether in the movie titles or in the description of the uploaded video. MacLeod’s Incompetech is one of the largest music websites (providing the music for this very “Friday 101” video) that allow users to search for music by genre and by field.

In addition to MacLeod, Josh Woodward at JoshWoodward.com is another source for music. Woodward generally does acoustic music with lyrics, but one benefit of using his site is that almost all his songs have an instrumental version. This comes in handy when you’re making a movie and suddenly need to fade out the lyrics and only leave in the music.

Another source for a variety of free music is Free Music Archive. Because this particular site has many licenses, when searching for music, so do through the site’s search bar on the right-hand side. After clicking on “search music” you will get a search box, in which you should check off “commercial purposes” so that the results will give you songs that are fine to use for monetized projects.

Royalty Free Kings is another website that offers a wide selection of free music. When searching the site, Russell recommends that you scroll down the menu on the left-hand side of the website to find the free music section. If you use their music, be sure to give them credit and link back to their website. Be aware that they have a $250,000 budget cap, which means that if your project’s budget exceeds $250K, you cannot use their music for free.

Matt MacFarland at MattMacFarland is another easy-to-use website for free music. This is an attribution-only music website, and they sort their music according to the tempo. Audionautix, like Matt MacFarland, just requires you to place a link back to their website and currently features over 250 songs of different genres. Anthony Kozar also has a few tracks that may suit the tastes of those looking for experimental-sounding music.

FreeMusicForVideos is yet another site that offers free music for your video projects. They offer a wide selection and their interface is user-friendly. Another website recently found by Russell is BeatsRoyaltyFree. This website features all kinds of genres, but especially hip-hop and electronic beats. All music on this site is free to use commercially, unless the page from which you download the song states otherwise.

There are also new websites from which to choose. Make sure to contact the following artists first before using their music: The first is a group recommended by a viewer, Tyler Johnson, who recommends music by a group called Noize Index. The group makes a wide array of their music available through their YouTube page. There are two other SoundCloud pages worth mentioning: the first is by Abhilash Buch who owns the page, SoapandFoam and has created music for Indie Mogul. He’s recently made his music available for creative commons, along with his brother, Tanmay Buch at TanmayBuch. Tanmay also just opened up a music page available for Creative Commons usage.

Russell recommends that if you like the music all of the above artists provide, and find yourself using it over and over, you can donate a few dollars to them. The majority of these artists have a Paypal account linked to their music websites. An attribution, as well as a small monetary donation, is a great way to show your support. Below are a couple of videos that Abhilash scored for Russell, so you can get an idea of his work.

In addition, here is a list of all the above-mentioned sites. Make sure to check these sites carefully, as some rules may have changed since this video was filmed:

Incompetech.com
JoshWoodward.com
FreeMusicArchive.org
RoyaltyFreeKings.com
MattMacFarland.com
Audionautix.com
AnthonyKozar.net/Music
FreeMusicForVideos.com
BeatsRoyaltyFree.com
YouTube.com/NoizeIndex
SoundCloud.com/SoapandFoam
SoundCloud.com/Tanmay_Buch



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