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An Auspicious Augmentation

Did I not convey how little time I already had to dedicate to projects? How about adding another side project? Framelines is going to get a little brother of sorts. I’m going to do a cable show too, in what little spare time I have.

Oddly this show started as a precursor to Framelines in 2007. I was doing a public access show in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Cleveland on filmmaking. I was taking any and all existing Behind the Scenes clips and just randomly throwing them together with unrelated short films. It wasn’t much, but any chance to get your movies seen is a good thing. The Behind the Scenes was to try to qualify for the Education Access channels. Since I wasn’t affiliated with any accredited school, it did not get on, and that was my back door to Columbus access television since we have no Public Access.Obviously this means something else has changed too.

So now I have my 17 episodes of this show that was formerly called “Making Movies in Ohio”, and yes I already know how amazingly clever that title was. I have decided to rename the show “Clip Frames” because I have more than enough material since 2007 to create an additional 3-5 episodes of this half hour show. I have overflow content from FRAMELINES that can find a home on this show too, with appropriate watermarking and credits.

The real crux lies with my current standards. The old episodes aren’t anywhere near as polished as FRAMELINES. I want this to be a 2nd cousin to FRAMELINES, but not direct relation. Do I spend time re-editing the show to make it somewhat more current and with my standards, taking even more time away from other endeavors, or do I pretty much change the title on the old episodes and only worry about the 3-4 new episodes and let there be a pretty diverse change in style/content?

I ponder this and also how to outline my first few new classes I am to teach…

Posted by: Peter John Ross on May 12, 2011 at 8:23:32 pm

An Ostentatious Occasion

This past Saturday, I was a guest speaker at the Alliance for Community Media conference in Columbus. I have a passion for Public Access television. It’s something we have gone without for 9 years. In Columbus, we lost our Public Access. We still have the E and G channels from the PEG, meaning Education Access and the Government Access channels, but nothing for the masses. I was at the conference to speak to some issues for indie filmmaking, especially in terms of distribution.

And here I thought I was going to be the bearer of bad tidings.

It seems others share my view that within 10-15 years, cable TV and the Internet will merge into one entity. With that, things like Public Access might wither away, much to my chagrin. At least in the current form, people are far more likely to find content on public access television. Online, your voice will be drowned out by the tens of millions of meaningless YouTube videos… and if Net Neutrality is abolished, then you can expect even fewer people to hear your voice as it won’t be profitable for those paying for advertising to your internet provider.

These are dark times indeed, although the light has always found a way to puncture through. My crystal ball cannot see what else the future holds. All I know I put forth into the time that is given to me.

Framelines starts airing in more markets this week, including North East Ohio and Cleveland. By the end of June, we’ll be on pretty much every PBS in the state. Now, with these new fresh connections, the show may even start making it out of state as well…

Feel free and check out the FRAMELINES website,

Or check out the YouTube channel for Framelines

Posted by: Peter John Ross on May 10, 2011 at 9:12:03 pm

The Grandiloquent Guy

I have to tell you, folks. I am having one really really bizarre week. Doing this show FRAMELINES affects me in ways I could not anticipate. In the same day, because of this show, I reconciled two relationships that I had soured in the past. I interviewed one person for the show that once came to my house to kick my ass. Then for a roundtable shoot for the show, I had two former partners on the panel, neither of which I thought would want to sit that close to me. I put any petty differences aside because I believe in this show. What I may have thought personally seems so distant and unimportant these days. It’s like someone has put Novocain in my soul, but at the same time what I care most about now is doing something bigger than myself. This show is meant to help grow the film community state-wide. It is bigger than me and my ego.

I had no idea what motivated me other than what I thought would make for a good show. I had genuinely good conversations with everyone off camera as well. I don’t see my social coma coming to an end aside from these excursions for the show; alas I am still not fit for long term friendships. I’m still rough around the edges. Baby steps, they say. Now I’m wrapping up post production on episode 5 and immediately going into 6-8. I added an outline of show 9 to the board.

Ah, yes the experiment. Well, in 4 days I have over 1,100 views of my viral video of Vladimir Jack Bauer. This is what I made…

As you can see with the editing, the close ups, wrack focus, music, and title sequence – I could not make a “straight” pet video like the other ones that get 1,000,000 views. I HAD to do some editing and filmmaking. The edit is intentionally rough, and actually doing that bad was probably the hardest part. Not obsessing over it was not easy. I spent 11 minutes shooting it (6 minutes of raw footage), 22 minutes to edit, including titles and music, et al. Will it get 100,000 views, which is my goal? I don’t know. It’s a combination of key words, spreading the video, and some mystical game of chance. Maybe in a month or two, someone influential on the pet video circuit will post it and repost it and it might spread to cat fanatics.

Who knows? Maybe it will languish as one of the undiscovered movies, or maybe people just don’t find it funny.

We’ll see.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on May 7, 2011 at 8:56:16 pm

Empirical Experimentation

Tomorrow I intend to try something, something new. I want to make with total intention, a “viral video”. This one will not be narrative, as that has eluded me thus far. No, I will exploit that which is closest to my heart. My deepest apologies to My Sexy Girlfriend Veronica ™, but I am taking about Vladimir Jack Bauer. Tonight I brought home the trusty Canon T2i DSLR to see if I could make something with my little man.

I will admit, I love a good pet video. Whether it’s :20 seconds or 4-5 minutes, I’ll watch this hilarious romps of animals being animals online. I love them. At the same time, the analytical side of me made some notations.

First, the concept and title are simple. Nothing fancy, just the absolute most obvious aspect of the video is the name you use, like “Cat tries to figure out treadmill” or “Kittens beg for food”. From there, keep it short. Very short. In some ways, the shorter the video is, it almost guarantees views. In my video, there will be some editing. Minor, but still it won’t just be raw footage as I so often see. I’m also going to add some music, licensed proper music, but music nonetheless. Shooting with the T2i means I used shallow depth of field too. I do some focus pulls and tried to get a decent exposure (but alas, I am NOT a D.P. and have not the greatest of skills with the camera itself).

I just cannot help but apply some filmmaking skills to anything I do. It’s something I cannot let go of.These are risks as they break the formula that has been tried and true. If this doesn’t work, then I’ll probably attempt to just upload raw footage later. The experiment will take 3 months to allow the search engines to take in the video, process the key words/metatags, and also for the snowball to head down the mountainside. I cannot guarantee this will work. I am more curious if I can get the coveted hundred thousand views on something I spend little to no time on and quite frankly pander to the masses.Tomorrow, be prepared to see my cat, Vladimir Jack Bauer make his Internet Video Debut…

Posted by: Peter John Ross on May 2, 2011 at 7:38:05 pmComments (1)

The Fissility of Felicitations

Boy, this really is a fallow time for your faithful narrator. I almost missed a screening this past Thursday, and yet again this week I failed to even mention on the blogosphere that the 2nd episode of Framelines is playing in a measly two hours time and I haven’t promoted it yet. Is something wrong with me? Why do I not care more?

One thing is certain. I will make ACCIDENTAL ART this summer. Come hell or high water… although I never thought of Hell as a particularly watery venue or a place where the humidity was high. I’ve made a decision to attract an Ohio actress who is a bit of famous her own self. I have some connection to this actress indirectly and in the past 9 years I never ever dreamed of using that, but this is it. It’s go time. I’m calling the favors on this one, and I’m going ALL IN.

We have $X.XX amount in the bank now and with my last few commitments; we have enough to make the movie. Time to put the band back together again. I’m only going to use the bare minimum crew on this. I’m not out to impress anybody or pretend my production is something big or special. My sole concern is making a movie and telling the story. The more time I spend away from a film “community”, the more I know I don’t care about petty nonsense.

Thanks to this blog, I did make a connection to a local school that is going to provide us with some interns for FRAMELINES and other projects. It will be nice to get some new hands to help…. And possibly initiate.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Apr 30, 2011 at 9:55:03 pm

Preposterous Aspersions

Want to know how messed up my whole thought process is these days? I completely forgot that my own TV show was premiering until less than 12 hours before hand. No promotion, no hoopla leading up to it, I just plain forgot. Some marketing guru I am turning out to be.

I stayed up to watch it. I’ve been trying to recalibrate my body and go to bed earlier, so a 2:30AM start time of my show has now derailed those plans as I sit here in sleepy misery. I have seen this pilot episode so many times. We finished it last July. Still, it is very different seeing it on the television live. I put on the closed captions just to read them and because I’ve never seen them on the show.

I hope we can break through to general audiences with this. We’re trying to focus on the human interest stories of filmmakers and what motivates them to make movies. If anyone is going to see FRAMELINES in Columbus, it will be with the DVR/Tivo. The show aims at the key 18-34 demo that PBS doesn’t attract often. There is also a chance those are the types that are awake at that hour watching TV.

In all the other markets in Ohio, we’re getting much better time slots. In our home town, we’re getting the shaft with a 2:30AM time slot. I think it’s only a matter of time before they will change us to a better time. Once I get to the point of finishing a few more episodes, I can then turn on the marketing machine full blast.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Apr 24, 2011 at 8:38:46 am

an intransigent individualist

Already feeling a bit better. I’ve done some creative work. I had to create an effect where an actor appears outside a large front window of a bar and have a camera travel inside this bar through the window. It’s a pretty common effect these days, but one I have never done. The problem was the actors were shot 7 months apart and with the first actor was shot in a way that was not necessarily conducive to this effect, as it would need to be static on a tripod and we shot mostly (almost entirely) hand held. Also, the “bar” was just a small bar inside a movie theater and did not have a “window”, so I created one in After Effects.

So via much computer generated trickery, I have manufactured the shot I wanted in a way that surpasses much of my original intent. and Andrew Kramer’s tutorials make things like this a lot easier. It opens up the possibilities of what you can do with a simple, non-science fiction project.

That FX shot is the last one in this short. I also editing the opening several bits already, so progress has been made. I feel a bit relieved and relaxed. I’m still behind on the day job work and even FRAMELINES, but feeding this emaciated part of my soul felt good. I want to get these two shorts done in the next 2-3 weeks. Self imposed deadlines help but usually there has to be an end game in mind. I don’t have one. There is no plan for another screening or a film festival or anything like that.

Regardless, my Obsessive-Compulsive side kicks in and I have to work on it and finish them. I can’t stand unfinished projects.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:46:47 pmComments (1)

An Indelible Depression

I am depressed. There are no two ways about it. I have sunk into a mild depression and it affects everything. As I wrote recently, I was uninspired to promote my screening and attendance was lower than anything I have ever done before. Granted, there were still more than I estimated there would be, but it still was below par. Sadly, this did not cause my depression, but represents a symptom of it.

Creatively, this funk prevents me from concentrating on or enjoying the process. I believe this is in part because my day job work is also editing and graphics. It sucks the life out of you sometimes from delving into the long hours and deep focus of creating a movie. I have two short films I have directed sitting in a queue unedited because I am working long days and at the end, I just can’t sit and edit anymore. I have a hard enough time getting through the regular work because of the routine that has sucked me down.

This too shall pass. It’s not as dire as it might seem. Maybe I need a vacation. Perhaps I need something to inspire me. I know not what can accelerate the process, but these phases are never permanent or debilitating for more than a short time.

I’m stuck at an impasse. Whilst we wait to hear about the GET IT MADE 2 COMPETITION, we’re not progressing on Accidental Art as a feature film. I don’t want to get too far along the path of a lower budget version only to stop and find out we have the opportunity to make it for more money…. Even though I don’t believe we’ll win. Of the Top Ten, at least 8 of them are just as good as or better than my short film. This source of frustration only compounds as time goes on. I want to make my next feature. I am ready. It will be in some ways a “last hurrah” as I cannot stomach the heartache and pain of raising money and the rat race therein.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:20:15 pm

The Machinations of a Madman

Damn! Work is beating my upside the head. But that’s a good thing. Keeping busy and making money is not a bad thing, especially given how this economy has been hammering at video production. The downside is that I have failed to promote my upcoming screening as well as I would have liked. The attendance will correspond to the hype, meaning low numbers.

I have tried to maintain the things I need to do to beat my bad habits. There was some success and also some failure this week. I did not work on my new web series every day for 30 minutes a day; however I did some days and not others. I did keep my walking and physical activity increasing daily. It’s not much, but there is a lot to overcome there.Part of “working on” an edit is thinking. The more I tinker or even look at the footage, the clearer the edit becomes in my head. The sad part is that these are each under 3 minutes in run time. I need to be in the right headspace for an edit. I like things to be how they should be. Sometimes this requires being in the right place at the right time.

There are several screenings coming up that my short films will be a part of; at least 4 in Columbus in the next two weeks. I’m still in a seriously anti-social state though. I don’t want to be out and about. I have little to say and what I do want to say pretty much winds up here in a blog. I have no interest in the rumors or speculation of other filmmakers. It has no affect on my movies or what I am doing. My head is turned downwards into my own trenches. So far, the view is much better with the blinders on when it comes to other people’s nonsense.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Apr 9, 2011 at 8:22:31 pm

A Didactic Disposition

Framelines, our PBS show on filmmaking in Ohio is like a freight train that’s going down a hill. I’m faced with deadlines and a workload that dwarves the small trio that is working on something of this magnitude. The struggle is to maintain quality and not have the time to do so. I endeavor to keep my bar higher on this show. I want this to help bring the filmmaking movement into the view of the public.

I hate doing the multicam editing for the roundtables, but don't mind doing the cutdowns for broadcast, so Scott has to direct the multicam in post for those. I step in at that point and pick the best moments of the usually 1 hour taping to create a 3-7 minute segment that has some level of coherence, plus clips and B-Roll when needed.

We found a nice rhythm of Alex the intern doing the A-Roll cut (interviews), then me and Scott on B-Roll, then I master the show with graphics and music, etc. All of the A-Roll is cut for the first 6 episodes, so it's on me and Scott to get them done. Alex hasn’t fully grasped B-Roll cutting, at least not in the way I want for the show, but he's really really good with A-Roll interviews.

Play to our strengths and work as a team. That’s been the most amazing part of the post production process on this show for me – creating and maintaining a workflow.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Apr 2, 2011 at 7:16:51 pm

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