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Film Sculpter Michelle Millay

Sculptor Michelle Millay talks with us about her work sculpting sets and statues for film and television. Millay’s movie work includes Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hangover, Domino, Batman and Robin and I love You Man. For TV she worked on the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.

Millay designs and creates her own sculptures for some film projects. On others, she works from someone else’s design. “It depends on the art director or who is making the film,” she says. “I've had the opportunity to design off of their ideas, and make maquettes (small preliminary models). Sometimes, Production has a certain thing they want fulfilled for the look they need.”

Millay says she tries to add a little of herself even when an art director gives her the initial direction. What influences her work? “I love classical sculptors,” she says. “Michelangelo, Bernini, Canova, Rodin. Nineteenth century sculpture is my favorite.”

READ MORE of Millay...

Film Sculpter Michelle Millay Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on May 15, 2013 at 2:27:03 pm

Storyboarding Artist Jean Claude De La Ronde

We asked Montreal-based storyboard artist Jean Claude De La Ronde why storyboarding (pre-visualization) is so important to the filmmaking process?

“The storyboards are the building blocks,” he says, “for ‘building a film or any video game cinematics or even TV advertisements from the ground up’. They are literally a crucial visual reference point to all the departments involved in the project.”

Scene by Scene
“A storyboard’s main purpose,” says De La Ronde, “is telling the story scene by scene and helping the director proceed with the multiple camera action sequence. It also helps to establish the proper camera angles to maximize the desired shot/shots sought by the director.

“But it has so much more value in terms of production costs, VFX shots to be done, and other useful information for all the artists that are involved on the project. And it also serves the purpose of letting everyone involved in the project know where we are at, what has been done so far, and where we are headed in the following days of production.”

Storyboards and Financing
De La Ronde says that the storyboard also is an asset when presenting itself to potential financiers who would be interested in investing money in the project. “They have the ability and the chance to visually see how the final product could look like at the end and have a pretty good idea of the story flow and pacing as well.”


Posted by: Bob Gillen on May 6, 2013 at 2:40:23 pm

Writer/Producer Julie Ann Sipos on Storytelling

Picture the scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary, when Mark and Daniel square off in the street outside her apartment. One of Bridget’s guy friends throws open the doors to a nearby restaurant to tell everyone inside, “Fight… a real fight!”

“The most critical element of any story since the dawn of time is conflict,” states writer/producer Julie Ann Sipos.

She is a widely produced and published screenwriter, author, editor, blogger, digital content creator and part-time professor of cinema and television.

“Being very nice people, we screenwriters - regardless of skill level - like to avoid this at all costs. Unfortunately, lack of some measure of conflict in every moment of every scene - even a passionate love scene, or the uplifting resolution of the feel good story of the year - is the hallmark of the novice writer. (Imagine Rhett kissing Scarlett against the backdrop of Atlanta failing to ignite; or the big on-stage finish of Little Miss Sunshine without the threat of arrest).”

Sipos presently teaches at California State University Northridge. “I teach a technique called the ‘Wa-Do-Gee’ that I in turn learned from venerable screenwriting professor Hal Ackerman. Short for ‘What does the character want and what is he doing to get it,’ the Wa-Do-Gee must be met with direct opposition by another character or event at every significant point along your hero's journey.”

“This metaphorical dance propels every story ever told toward a satisfying resolution. Obviously, in an action piece the conflict builds in a series of ever-louder explosions the hero narrowly escapes; while in a deftly-written character piece, the fireworks are gut wrenchingly subtle.

“Master this age-old storytelling technique, though, and you will master any genre technology may throw your way, now or in the future.”


Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 29, 2013 at 9:47:08 am

Choice Skinner on His Short Film

Director and writer Choice Skinner talked to us about his award winning short film, about story, and writing for web series. Skinner’s short film A Second Thought recently screened at the SoHoFilmFest.

Skinner shot the two-minute film on an iPhone during a two-hour ride on a city bus last year. Using the iPhone “…definitely opens some doors and makes it possible to be able to take an idea from conception and bring it to fruition.”

Skinner’s story centers on a young man’s romantic chance encounter with a beautiful woman who shows interest in him during a bus ride. The problem - just moments earlier he received some terrible news. Test results reveal that he is HIV positive.

Skinner says, “I decided to shoot it on an iPhone because I knew I would be stealing shots and shooting it on a bus without permits. I also didn't have the money or the resources to do what I normally would have done, which is hire a crew and shoot on the Red Epic or Canon 5D.” 

Choice Skinner on His Short Film Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 24, 2013 at 9:44:28 pm

Producer AnnmarEe Bell on “Teenage Kicks”

Annmaree Bell, producer and founder at Azure Productions in the Sydney, Australia area, is presently developing the feature film Teenage Kicks. Bell says, “The film came from a short film we made called Drowning.” In the short, teen Mik has suddenly lost his older brother. The one solid thing in his life is his best friend Dan. But Dan has a new girlfriend…

Bell says, “Craig Boreham, writer and director on the short film, spent some time with the characters, and the feature-length Teenage Kicks was born.”

We questioned Bell on what makes a story producible.

“Firstly I look for characters that I want to spend time with. As a producer you spend anywhere from three to 20 years with these characters. You need to want to go on the journey with them. Then I look for the story: are we taking these characters on a compelling story?”


Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 15, 2013 at 12:12:09 pm

Susan McGrath on Line Producing

Toronto-based line producer Susan McGrath talked to us about her work line producing for series television. For the last decade, she has produced, line produced, story produced and production managed series and documentaries airing on A&E, CBC, Court TV, CTV, Discovery, Global, HGTV, History, OMNI, Oxygen, SLICE, SunTV, TVO, Vision, and W. 

Recent Projects
“The last two series I’ve line produced have been wild and challenging in very different ways. The series I just finished (Never Ever Do This At Home) involved slowly destroying a house over 14 episodes. It involved pyro-technics, a first for me. We were dealing with a 150-year old house, very unpredictable.

Susan McGrath on Line Producing Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Apr 7, 2013 at 10:50:32 am

Ruud Elmendorp’s video stories

Stories of the Poor
A woman uses a long stick to pick through garbage in a Nakuru dump site, west of Kenya’s capital city Nairobi, where 800,000 people are crammed into a slum of densely packed tin shacks. Poverty, illness and crime are rampant. The woman, part of the Minyore Women’s Group, searches for discarded plastics and fabrics that can be crafted into sellable items. Any money earned goes to her children’s education.

In the slum of Korogocho, grandmothers gather to learn karate. The skill will help them ward off sexual assaults from young men who believe the older women are HIV-free.


Ruud Elmendorp’s video stories Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Mar 30, 2013 at 12:06:07 pm

Makeup Artist Natalie Hayes

Makeup artist Natalie Hayes joins us to talk about her work in the film, TV and corporate arenas.

Communication is Critical
Key for Hayes on any project is communication. “I find that, too often, there is no (prior) communication about lighting.” It’s all about doing good work while being efficient. “It is much easier,” she says, “to make adjustments to the makeup on the front end versus reacting to it later when seeing the talent on camera (and then everyone is waiting on you).”

Hayes says, “Ideally I would be communicated with before applying makeup about what lighting conditions would be, and then I'd be given first glances at the talent through the monitor as soon as they are in the environment so that I could tweak anything necessary before filming began.” 

Her reality is often different. “What I usually find is that I'm tied up still doing makeup apps on additional talents/extras when initial shooting begins on talent I’ve already done makeup on. By the time I'm on set and looking through the monitor, I may see some things that could've been tweaked. For example, the cheek color isn't showing up under this lighting, and so the talent looks a little pasty.” The magic word is continuity. “That can be a little frustrating because for continuity's sake, I can't change someone's look after shooting has started. Yet I know they could've looked even better had I gotten to view them and tweak if needed when they first stepped under the lighting.”


Makeup Artist Natalie Hayes Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Mar 21, 2013 at 9:41:47 am

Cinematographer Ben Cole

Making Films With a Positive Message
UK cinematographer Ben Cole has established himself as a spiritually oriented, one-man film crew, often working around the globe with first time directors who want to make films with a positive message. “This mission is still my quest and life seems to point people who have heard of my positive adventures towards me.”

Cole’s latest effort will take him to Cape Town, South Africa to lecture at a screening (on February 7, 2013) to spread his message of positive filmmaking.

Traveling Light
To accommodate his extensive travel, Cole is constantly fine-tuning a high quality, light-weight digital film kit compact enough to take as hand luggage on a flight.

Presently Cole owns and operates RED and DSLR camera equipment that allows him to be mobile, to get into remote locations. “The Epic camera I love, but it's not a documentary tool. On the RED, I love to shoot feature dramas and commercials, to pay my rent and support my family, and because I have many years experience as an actor to bring to the table.” But for Cole the RED has its limitations. “The cooling fan on the Epic makes a loud noise when you’re not filming, which often interferes with the event you’re supposed to be a silent witness to.

“My philosophy is to disappear when I'm shooting documentary, so that the people being filmed can get on with their life without feeling self conscious of the film crew. The DSLRs are wonderful for that. 'I'm just a tourist taking photos approach'. On many projects I'm asked to shoot some of the footage 'guerilla style’. That means no permissions, just wander in and shoot. Of course sometimes this can compromise one's integrity, but most of my films are trying to make a positive comment on life and I find a good excuse in that, to shoot first and ask permission later. I often shoot on my Nikon D800 and then shoot some beauty shots on the Epic once I have permission.”


Cinematographer Ben Cole Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Feb 9, 2013 at 2:30:13 pm

The Short Film Dog It Down

Pearl Harbor
In the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the warship USS West Virginia sustained six torpedo hits and two bomb blasts. Over 100 men died on board. Seventy sailors were trapped below decks, never to be found until the ship was raised from the harbor bottom six months later.

Two seasoned screenwriters, Adriane Coros and Jim Landis, developed the award-winning Dog It Down, a story about several men trapped in a storeroom on the ship. “It was a heartbreaking and little known story,” Coros says, “that needed to be told. It’s not about the larger picture of World War II, it’s an intimate story of three men facing death in unimaginable circumstances.”


AARON, his arm in a make shift sling, is awkwardly dealing out poker hands. He drops a card. Without comment IOWA picks up the Ace of Spades, wipes off a smear of blood and adds it to one of the hands.

“The story is about courage and human adversity,” says Landis. “What do you reach for in yourself, when all seems lost.”

The Short Film Dog It Down Republished by Bob Gillen

Posted by: Bob Gillen on Jan 29, 2013 at 5:06:07 pm

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