Behind the Scenes: FSS Student Adam Ward

adamwwOne of my first students, the multi talented Adam William Ward, is directing a new  project here in LA. I was fortunate enough to stop by the set and grab some killer behind the scenes footage of what looks to be a very funny comedy called “Parole Officers”. Believe it or not he even named the main character “Seth” after me! Although since the plot features “Seth” having his life ruined by some ridiculous characters (the Parole Officers), I’m not sure if this is a compliment.

It’s a pilot with feature potential, and Adam is not only directing also co-wrote and playing the starring role.

That may seem like a boatload of responsibility, but Adam’s up to it. He’s extremely focused and driven on top of the talent. I shudder what would have happened to Adam if he’d spent his life’s savings on an expensive film school instead of just taking action and making projects.

As it is, Adam already directed a project called “Three Guys and a Couch” that got him into the Union and got him representation here in LA, as well as meetings with several studios. Now it’s just a matter of creating more work for his directing reel.

The Magic of a Movie Set and The Perfect Take

I was fortunate to capture one of the greatest moments you can experience as a Director. And even though this project is being shot in LA, you don’t have to be here to feel this great feeling. All you need is imagination, some equipment, and a small group of people working together to make a story come to life.

In this case, that visual story involves some slapstick at an engagement party, and one of the older actors getting punched in the face. What’s great about this behind the scenes footage is two fold:

1. You get to see Adam in action, utilizing the leadership training he got through my courses.

2. You get to see a cast and crew focused on a take, doing the take, and then everyone scrambling like little kids to the playback monitor to see what they just shot and laughing about it.

Adam’s the one in white, directing and acting. Check it out:

THAT’S what you want. That’s the juice and the rush of making a movie before it’s complete, getting the right take and everyone coming together to celebrate it.

You don’t need a $100,000 film school degree to experience that yourself. You do need to learn how to be a leader and a visionary and inspire people to work with you on a project of your creation.

The sad thing is that many film school students spend a small fortune to shoot a couple of short films and then never make another movie their entire life. Even fewer actually go on to make even one feature, and almost none get to experience the thrill of promoting their stories to a worldwide audience.

That’s why I created Film School Solution. To help driven and talented directors of tomorrow get a jump start on their career and learn the practical, no BS route towards making their projects happen AND getting them to a worldwide audience of raving fans. If you haven’t signed up for our free webinar to learn more about the course, make sure to head over to filmschoolsolution.com and sign up now.

FSS Student Fabian Santos’ First Feature

I’m mega proud of my student Fabian Santos. He’s done something most film school students never do: he directed his first feature.

The movie was shot on location in his native Brazil and is titled “Na Frieza Do Seu Olhar”. It’s in Portugese, and English subtitles are forthcoming. Here is the trailer:

And here is the movie poster:

What Doors Does This Project Open for Fabian?

Unlike a typical film school alum, who graduates with a tiny short film reel and a mountain of debt, Fabian already has a valuable commodity that he can sell directly to an audience. Yes, even in South America, Fabian can position his movie right next to movies being shot in the States and earn money through digital download.

It’s also the first notch on his belt as a Feature Director, demonstrating his ability to tell a 90 minute plus story.

And the beauty of a First Feature is that it’s his First. Nobody expects a first feature to be a masterpiece. It’s the beginning of a progression that will span his career. His next movie will be even better. And he can use this first feature as leverage as he raises funds for future projects. This is the right “ladder” to climb if you are serious about a Directing career.

Fabian’s Premiere Party in August

In a couple of month’s, the film will have a local premiere in Fabian’s home town. I’ll be sure to blog about it, and it’s going to be great. Fabian already has an active, rabidly enthusiastic fan base from which to build a larger base and leverage his value as a director. It’s also going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

Fabian’s Testimonial

Fabian was kind enough to take a minute and speak about his thoughts about me and my courses.

To learn how to make your first feature, get it to an audience, and be taken seriously as a Director, check out filmschoolsolution.com.

 

“Boardwalk Empire” is a Must Watch for Filmmakers

Television was a bad joke in the early 90s. Predictable sitcoms… procedurals… bad used car commercials. But today, it’s mind blowing how different television has become as an artistic medium.

AMC and HBO have led the way with original programming that is more like watching a 50 hour movie than television. I was just re-watching “Boardwalk Empire” with a friend and was keenly reminded of this fact. Every single episode is shot just like a movie. So every season is a lot like watching a great, in depth, 12 hour movie where you get a chance to explore the world’s of a variety of characters much more so than you ever would in a 2 hour feature.

The biggest thing to notice is the shooting style of a show like “Boardwalk” versus a Network show like CSI. Network shows look like television. They are shot very quickly, with relatively fast 2 shots and some moving shots. But for all intents and purposes they are filmed stage plays that are very predictable. Someone gets murdered, we see the crime scene, then the lab, etc. And there’s a lot of back and forth. It’s very engaging to the “puzzle solving” aspect of the mind but not to the part of our mind that gets engaged into a cinematic experience.

In a show like “Boardwalk”, you are first transported into a different time and place, back into the 1920s. The amount and quality of production design on the show is obscene.  Even the post office where the Federal agents work seems authentically old, even though it just consists of a few chairs and desks. The attention to detail required to pull of this illusion is absolutely astronomical.

But beyond that is the shooting style, which should be noted by any aspiring filmmaker. “Boardwalk” episodes move like movies. There are moments of quiet and introspection mixed up with moments of grotesque violence. The camera is constantly moving. Dollies, Steadicam… strange and interesting shot compositions. The Boardwalk itself is traversed in so many different ways that it appears brand new almost every time, versus a typical television show in which a set becomes a lifeless piece of background filler.

What’s most notable to me is the care that is put into every scene by the creators. Every camera movement is carefully orchestrated to hit just the right emotional note in the story. It’s a level of craftsmanship you can’t find on a Network show with those kinds of deadlines. And it’s the very same style as is done in the cinema. So if you haven’t checked out “Boardwalk Empire”, make sure to do so, and study every episode like you would a great movie.

 

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Readability Test

Readability Test

All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, “Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!” This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.

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