Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I've Seen Home Alone A Million Times And Never Caught This

I've probably watched Home Alone at least once a year (probably more times than that) ever since it came out. It is a surprisingly tightly written movie full of far more clever writing than you would expect at face value. The slapstick comedy that makes up the end of the film seems to me like John Hughes inner child coming out and after watching his take on teenagers in so many other movies it's really fun to get his take on kids.

I know it's early in the season but I was watching Home Alone today and it was almost like seeing it for the first time. I was picking up on details I had always missed and hearing set ups and payoffs in the dialogue I had never heard before. I'll probably write at least one more post on the movie before the season is over, but there was one detail I noticed this time around that I had never seen before and it cracked me up. It's a detail so quick that if you blink you'll miss it. I actually had to rewind and pause to make sure it was what I thought it was.

The pizza place in the movie is Little Nero's, a fun jab at Little Caesar's, but what I hadn't ever seen before was their slogan.  Check it out on the car under the title.

This is genius. If you're not familiar with the significance of this here's a quick tidbit. According to legend while Rome was burning Nero, the emperor, was playing the fiddle which demonstrated how little he cared for his empire or his people.

Keep an eye out for more Home Alone posts, and more Christmas movie posts, they're sure to come!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sneaky Detail In Zootopia No One Has Talked About

A few days ago I wrote a small piece about a detail I noticed in Coco. I'm not actually all the observant so I felt pretty good having found something no one else seemed to have noticed. I didn't really expect that to happen again anytime soon, but the other day a detail kind of jumped out at me that I haven't heard anyone else talk about. If you haven't seen Zootopia this will have a couple of spoilers, but more importantly you won't really understand the significance of the discovery.

My kids loved Zootopia when it first came out and we watched it quite a few times. Then they lost interest for awhile and just the other day they watched it again for the first time. I had seen the movie several times over and this still didn't sink in until that time.

In the press conference scene Judy is prepared for the press by Nick, and things are actually going pretty well for her. Then a reporter throws out a question that derails everything. The reporters question is technically a fine question, but seems a bit leading at the same time. It was the leading nature of the question that pulled my attention to the TV ( I was just passing through the room at the time). He says, "So, predators are the only ones going savage?"

The question feels panic inducing. Well, guess who asks that question. Doug. Yep, the same Doug who is going out by night and shooting the predators to induce their savage episodes. He is posing as a reporter just to ask this question and help the hysteria to build. Despite several viewings of the film I had not caught this little tidbit.

Technically it might not be Doug, it could just be another sheep, but that doesn't actually change anything. It was a sheep, and those particular sheep seem to pretty much all be in on the plot with Bellweather.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Detail From Coco No One Noticed that Blew My Mind

As a filmmaker I pay attention to the details in films. Making a film requires so many people, and little if anything ends up in a movie by accident. In live action movies there are accidents here and there, changed lines on the fly, background characters who weren't supposed to be in a shot etc...but in animated movies literally nothing ends up in the finished product by accident. For this reason I try to watch animated movies even more carefully, but it wasn't until I really looked at Miguel from Coco that I noticed something.

     I'm no great artist, but I draw for fun and to amuse my kids (usually when they are getting rowdy at church). One particular week they were getting really bored so I asked what they wanted me to draw and they requested Miguel. I found a picture of him for reference and started drawing.

    I admire Pixar for their incredible storytelling, even the worst of their movies (everyone has a different opinion on which this is) is still great. More than their storytelling though I have come to admire their attention to detail. As I drew Miguel I felt like he looked just like I would expect him to, but then I noticed something that caught me off guard. His clothing is all a bit worn as would be expected, he dresses like a working class boy would likely dress except one small detail. His shoes. As I worked my way down in the drawing I kept noticing how nice his shoes were. They are beat up and worn, but they aren't the typical crappy tennis shoes I would have expected him to wear, they are (or at least were not long ago) fairly nice shoes for someone in his position in life.

     For a few minutes as I drew it didn't dawn on me why exactly this would be, and then it hit me. His family are shoemakers. Naturally the one nice thing he would wear would be his shoes. It actually occurred to the animators to plan for this. I'll include the reference image I used for my drawing so you can see for yourself. It's a micro detail but it floored me, and frankly inspired me to try to work harder on the details of my own projects.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Unexpected Push: Moving From Part Time to Full Time

This last month has been a confusing and tumultuous time. It has also been exciting and exhilarating. For the last 8 years Black Hat Media has been what I have referred to as a hobby business. It was a way for us to bring in a little extra money here and there, but on the whole we left that to day jobs. It has been my goal to move the business into my full time job for a few years now, but I was not mentally or monetarily prepared for that. But sometimes life offers you an unexpected push to make things happen.

Last month on a seemingly normal day things were going just fine when I suddenly got a message from the company HR rep asking for a phone conversation. Immediately my insides started to hurt. My dealings with HR at any company have never been great, in fact I feel the best depiction of HR is Catbert in the Dilbert cartoons. I was hopeful that I was wrong about why she was contacting me, but once she called me a few minutes later my worst fears were confirmed. The company that had taken incredible care of me for the last 5 years could no longer support most of its employees.

Fortunately I had been planning what to do in such a situation for a few months. I was not completely blindsided by the choice, but I did think I would have more notice. I spent the rest of the day planning what to do and we have been working at Black Hat Media full time for about a month now.

The change is difficult and frightening to say the least, but I have spent the last few years developing a skillset that was designed to make me "unemployment proof", meaning that with or without a job I would have a means to provide for my family.

30 days into this new way of life and I can honestly say that I never truly understood the power of networking until now. I had an academic understanding of it, but it was hard to see why it was so crucial. I have been a member of a BNI group for the last few months and until this last few weeks it had not become apparent what a powerful group that could be.

Thank you to all of our loyal friends and customers for helping us in this transition, and here's to many years of Black Hat Media to come!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Phoenix Inc.- Festival Nominations

Phoenix Inc. has been an incredible journey for me as a filmmaker to go on over the last 10 years, and it's very exciting to finally see it getting some attention. I will be doing more writing about this project in the coming months, the journey is worth talking about in greater detail, but for now I just wanted to announce that it has been selected for the 2018 Web Series Festival in 5 different categories! This is a big step on the road I hope to take with this show. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Award Winning 24 Hour Festival Short Film

This was my third time around participating in the LDS Film Festival's 24 Hour Film competition. I feel like each time I learned more, and finally this time around my team and I were able to take home a prize!

If you have never been a part of one of these festivals they have a few simple rules that help ensure that participants aren't using old videos. You have to incorporate a theme, a line of dialogue ("I remember the time when..." was this year's dialogue) and a prop (a cell phone in this case). The info on the rules is released at the beginning of the 24 hours and your completed film must be received no later than 24 hours later.

This proved to be an interesting challenge this year because 4 of the 5 team members had to work 9-5 jobs and so we brainstormed ideas all day from our various work locations. I had planned on using my house to film at all along, neglecting to take into account the 3 children who tend to make filming almost impossible. So we had to change locations at the last minute.

I finalized a script around 6:30 and headed over to film at our location. We filmed until about 1 am, and then our editor Zach stayed up until about 9 am, drove the final to my house where I added sound FX and music and submitted it.

It was a crazy adventure but the team were all champs and I am so glad that I got to work on this with them. Here is the short film for your viewing pleasure!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cooking Videos

This year we've had the chance to learn a few fun new tricks, and one of those was how to make cooking videos. These videos are literally everywhere these days and most of the major food blogs put out at least one per week. It turns out that making these videos is quite an interesting challenge both on the filming and on the editing end of things. In addition to creating a beautiful presentation for the food and making the lighting look good there is considerable art to making the video seem seamless.
     I won't give away all the tricks in the trade, but it has been a fun process to learn about making these videos and to have a chance to make a couple ourselves from scratch. Check out our little sizzle reel below to see some of what we've been up to!