Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Nebbies 2007

Today we headed down to Lincoln to check out the “Nebbies” which are the short film submissions good enough to be screened created by the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at UNL. All of the films made at the film school are eligible for submission to the board and the best films are chosen to be screened on the big screen at the beautiful Ross Theater. We were treated to eight short films and two senior thesis films. This is the second year that I’ve attended this event and the quality of the films increased dramatically after last year. Attendance was about double from last year as well so the word is getting out about the screenings and seeing the participation of the students was cool as well.

Congrats to all of the filmmakers for a great job this year and congrats to Matt Harrell and Tory Lenosky for a great job on the film “Off Broadway.”

Saturday, April 21, 2007

“Unconditional” auditions

We had the open audition call for a new short film called “Unconditional” today. “Unconditional” was written and will be directed by Derek Baker of Avenue Pictures and the auditions were held at Christopher Norton’s beautiful 510 Cinema Studio. We had a fantastic turnout and saw lots of great actors so the decision making process is going to be a tough one. Decisions will be made over the next week-or-so as we have a pretty aggressive shooting schedule planned.

Derek has a fantastic crew assembled so the whole process ran very smoothly. Thanks to all of the actors that came out today and a big thanks to everyone that helped behind the scenes.

Preproduction is ongoing for several other projects as well, so stay tuned. Summer independent filmmaking is underway.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Omaha Team Slam Off 04-14-07

Had a great time Saturday night at the Omaha Healing Arts Center checking out the slam off that determines the Omaha Slam Team that will be heading down to Austin this fall. After some open mic stuff, the 11 finalists drew numbers to determine the performance order and five judges at random were selected from the audience. As long as an audience member wasn’t affiliated in any way with a particular poet, they were eligible to be a judge. Whiteboards and dry erase markers were given to each of the five selected judges and they were told to rate each performance from zero to ten, using only one decimal point. After each poet, the judges hold up their scores and the host writes each number down, then announces each score to the crowd. The crowds at poetry slams are very interactive and if the crowd doesn’t like the scores, they let you know. The highest and lowest score from each round gets kicked out and the middle three scores determine the final score for that performance (anywhere from zero to 30). Each poet has three minutes to perform their piece and if they go over, points are deducted, so the last of the judging group is a timekeeper.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. My first real exposure to slam poetry was the documentary “Slam Planet: War of the Words” that we screened at the Omaha Film Festival. I really dug the performances and the characters and thought it seemed like an interesting lifestyle. Two of the local slammers came out to the festival and after our two screenings of the documentary, they got up and did a little slam demo for the audience. After talking to each of them after, they let me know about some of the big performances coming up so I wanted to be sure to check at least one out and I’m totally glad I did. Most of the pieces were fantastic and it’s cool to see the amount of passion on whatever subject given by the poets. The field of 11 went two times, then the field narrowed to seven, then got cut to the final five. The final five will represent Omaha at the nationals in Austin. For the most part, I agree with the five that were chosen, with the possible exception of one, who, for whatever reason didn’t make it into the field of seven. The judging was hit-and-miss and I couldn’t agree with them all.

I will tell you that I’ve spent some time on myspace this morning checking out some of the poets that I liked. Don’t quote me on this, but from memory, I believe the five finalists were Dan Leamen, Jarvis, Katie FS, Zedeka and Johnny Tornado. The one that got screwed and should have made the team was Ross! It was Katie FS and Ross! that came to the Omaha Film Festival this year, so thank you very much to both. Fortunately, Ross! is the captain of the Lincoln team so he will be in Austin anyway.

Great night, tons of fun. There are lots of slam events happening in Omaha. Check out for information and try to catch an event.

FNB commercial shoot – day 4 – that’s a wrap - Friday 04-13-07

7:00am call. Only eight people on the call sheet today. Since this is the last day of the shoot, the afternoon was scheduled as tear-down. One of the people scheduled wasn’t able to make his time though, so that pushed the entire production back three hours and accordingly, pushed everything else back, but everything that needed to be shot got accomplished so it was another successful day.

It’s amazing to me to see how an entire sound stage of gear, four truckloads worth, can take a day to offload and set up, and only a couple of hours to completely dismantle and repack on their respective trucks. Granted, the motivation to get out is there, but to have things clean-up that efficiently speaks volumes to the professionalism of the Lights-On crew, as well as all of the other groups involved.

Today was supposed to be the shortest day, but it ended up being the longest because not only did the set have to be torn down, but all of the other areas needed to be cleaned out as well. All of this got accomplished though and it ended up being a great experience. Major thanks to Craig at Lights-On for getting me involved. Big thanks also to Lynn and Kirk in the production office, making the whole experience a good one. And also a huge amount of thanks to Roland for helping guide me through the week. Everyone was professional and courteous and I had a great time. Here’s to more projects in the future.

FNB commercial shoot – day 3 - Thursday 04-12-07

7:00am call. Today, twenty-four people were scheduled to be in front of the camera, so it was a lot busier for the AD department. We had six people scheduled to arrive at 8:00am so we hit the ground running. Having all of us wired up on walkie-talkies was a huge benefit as we were all able to communicate with the necessary people throughout the building. As a person arrived, at whatever entrance, a call gets made and immediately everyone knows who’s there and can prepare accordingly. This makes for a very efficient flow and hopefully makes the talent feel a little less like a deer in the headlights. As soon as they arrived, there is always someone there to escort them from one station to the next so hopefully their performance is more natural and less scared. All-in-all, it was another good, albeit long, day.

FNB commercial shoot – day 2 - Wednesday 04-11-07

Wednesday was the first day that we had talent coming into our main soundstage. I arrived on set at 7:00am and got right to work helping organize the day. Ten people made up the talent pool for the day, spread between a 7:00am call and a 4:00pm call. When talent arrives on set, everyone in the AD department is immediately made aware to aid in the flow from their arrival to when they leave. When someone shows up, one of us will intercept and bring them to wardrobe and makeup to be made “camera ready.” During this time, all of the necessary paper work and documentation is completed. As soon as they’re through this area, they are escorted to the set where they meet the Director and AD for the first time and get in front of the camera. In some cases, wardrobe changes are necessary depending on the feeling from “video village” an area set aside for the clients and the agency that is able to see everything that the main camera sees on their array of monitors. Dozens of wireless headphones are also available so that everything that happens on the set can also be heard here. After a number of takes, the talent is then ushered off set and back to wardrobe and makeup to be made “street ready.” Any final signatures and such are accomplished here and the person is escorted from the premises. Repeat nine more times and you have your day.

FNB commercial shoot – day 1 - Tuesday 04-10-07

When people think of vacation, it’s often a trip somewhere nice with family or friends. A time to relax, a time to see a different part of the country or world, a time to get away from it all. Vacation is often a time to recharge your batteries and not worry about the clock and the pressures of the day. Or at least, that’s MOST people’s idea of a vacation. I chose to spend a four day vacation working harder than I do at my regular job. I had an opportunity to work with a film crew from LA in town shooting a commercial for a local business.

It was the first set that I’d been on that was shooting 35mm so it was a great opportunity to be exposed to that format. Most of the four days were shot on a sound stage against a green screen so once the lights were set on the first day, only minor tweaking was required throughout the week so I didn’t get a chance to see too much from the lighting end, but the exposure to a much larger crew was great experience. The overall crew was close to fifty people and that didn’t include the clients and the talent, so at any given time, there were a lot of people on location.

Tuesday, day one, included picking up the LA crew from their hotel to see the set for the first time. After spending some time meeting and greeting and getting everything set up, the entire crew drove to Lincoln to shoot coach Bill Callahan and some other UNL folks. Most of the day in Omaha was spent prelighting the sound stage. My day started at 6:00am and ended somewhere around 6:00pm.

Omaha Film Festival volunteer party, 04-05-07

We held our volunteer appreciation evening at Dave & Busters Thursday night and a good time was had by all. It was fantastic seeing so many of the volunteers again, a month after the festival. I loaded up around 300 photos on a laptop and projected a slideshow all night on the big screen in our party room (thanks to Mark and Julie for taking so many pictures during the festival). We had close to fifty people come out and we were treated to a full buffet of food and $10 game cards. After some socializing and some good eating, Jeremy, Jason and I got up and personally thanked everyone for coming and for their participation this year at the festival. We also made some announcements about next year’s festival and had a small Q&A. After that, I had everyone in the room introduce themselves, state how they heard about the festival, if they’d been to other festivals, and to give a funny or interesting story or memory from the festival. It took around 45 minutes to get to everyone, but it was totally worth it and it was great having a chance to hear from everyone that helped. It’s always fun to hear some of the stories and see how the festival affects everyone in a different way.

The enthusiasm and passion of our volunteers helps us press on to do bigger and greater things in upcoming years. This year was fantastic and we’re only going to get better.

Huge thanks to everyone at Dave & Busters for the beautiful room, giving us incredible service and for throwing us a fantastic party. We will see you again.
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