Tuesday, August 26, 2008

RED Rocks

skate - shot on red - 120 fps from opus magnum prod. on Vimeo.

If you are not yet hip to the RED Camera buzz, you've been living under a rock. Film is great, yes, yes. So were fresh, hot-off-the-presses vinyl records. Until you played them once and the diamond needle forever deflowered them. You think the film print you see in your local megaplex is pristine? It's already been digitized twice (at least) by the time you see it, and scratched up by shipping, and running through the mechanical projector five times a day.

Who even gets to see that pristine, high-contrast celluloid?  The developer, maybe.  

Film is great, but film is dead.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Long Tail? WTF?!"

Dude, sell your Blockbuster stock.

If you haven't already. Which you probably have.

PGA's answer to SAG

For actors who thought that only auto plant workers and computer programmers were getting their jobs outsourced, this is food for thought. Here is the Producers Guild of America's (PGA) answer to the next Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike threat: http://tinyurl.com/6pedl7

Also, eerie Tron-Pr0n.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to Shreveport

Drove 7 hours, all of it in a heavy rain, from Austin, Texas to Shreveport, Louisiana on Monday to audition for the new Edward Norton film Leaves of Grass. It was good to get back there, and enjoyed staying in one of the cool casino/hotels on the Boardwalk.

It was scary to see six (!) car accidents on the way up, most of them people driving stupidly in the rain. Conjured up images from my family blog post a few months back.

I stunk up my last audition in S'port, which was a cool role nailed by fellow Austinite Luis Rolon. I'm happy that Luis got the part. He's a good guy, and fellow TAGer. I think I acquitted myself on this go-round. Even though we never know, I was happy with my work, and that's all I can ask.

But man, it's a long drive for a 5-minute audition...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's fair?

Life, and Hollywood, are not fair; but is anything? In this book geek-y post from Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute (FoHI), Eliezer Yudkowsky contends that "fairness" is all in the eyes of the beholder.

Think about that after your next audition. :-)

Monday, August 11, 2008

No server for you!

BSOD sighting in the wild:

I guess $1.5 billion was not enough for a Microsoft support contract. :-)

Fortress of Solitude - For Sale

Mary and I are selling our Austin-cool loft home in the country, complete with 1/2 acre of land. *Sigh.*

I really wanted to keep this, and add an addition, but alas, it did not happen. Still, the house has been great for us, and we've enjoyed living there. But the time has come to move on, and long-distance property management seems like it would be more hassle than it's worth. So we're selling.

Any takers?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Are iFriends worth the trouble?

I hate MySpace.

There, I've said it. It's ugly, even with the redesign. And what's more it's yesterday's news.

I know that I am old, and late to the game. But I have long wondered about the actual value of many social networking sites: MySpace, Facebook, even LinkedIn, the business-focused equivalent, or most recently, Twitter. Recently, I opened a Facebook account, and I was surprised to see just how many people I knew that were on that site. But other than sending the occassional "hello" by writing on their wall or sending a proprietary FB mail message, I am just not sure how I or they are benefiting.

If there is interesting stuff happening in either my personal or professional life, it is on my blog (I have a personal blog for close friends and family). I have a hosted Web site with subdomains and all that, but find that most people visit Web sites regularly only if they are frequently updated; hence, the blog-focused site. If people want to interact with me, they can easily do it via the comments or forums on the blog, or e-mail, if they want a more personalized interaction. Or, heaven forfend, an actual face-to-face conversation over coffee.

I know how to build Web sites that look and function better than Facebook (at least the stuff I need), so I'm not sure what the real utility of social network sites is other than this: to introduce myself to otherwise complete strangers, i..e, a friend-of-a-friend. I guess this is helpful if you want to hook up with some hot guy/girl you spotted in the Photos section of one of your friends' pages, or to get a job. LinkedIn is probably best at this, though it feels kinda cynical, knowing that the main reason someone pings you out of the blue is to hit you up for a job (or vice-versa).

The connections on these sites tend to be extremely superficial. This may be good, from a Tipping Point perspective. Gladwell emphasizes the power of the "loose connection" when it comes to spreading ideas (memes). They usually devolve into a competition for "iFriends." Such activity does not scale.

These sites distract me from doing the important creative work that I is my main job. Creativity takes time. Long, uninterrupted blocks of time, which is the complete antithesis of Internet social communication. IM, e-mail, SMS, Twittering, and mini-posting are all what I call fidget talk, something you can do between thinking blocks, but not a way to have meaningful discussion.

Merlin Mann of 43Folders has an excellent 3-part article which discusses this at length with other artsits:

The power of connecting with people in an authentic way (no, not in that cheesy, half-assed, internet “friends” way) falls apart at the point where its resource consumption curtails your ability to keep making new stuff. [I]t’s be a little like the Beatles skipping the writing and recording of Rubber Soul in order to catch up on 1964’s fan mail.

Put plainer, my sense is that western culture would be a damn sight poorer today if John Lennon had been forced to carry a goddamn BlackBerry.

So please forgive me if I am not a good Facebooker or Twitterer (er?). If you haven't heard from me, it is because I am working on my next book, screenplay, or film.

Erm, as soon as I publish this blog post...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Show me the iMoney

The 2008 LATV Festival, presented by National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) wrapped up last week, and the news was (surprise!) good for Old Media companies.

The Big 4 television studios and Big 6 (5? 4?) movie studios are feeling the pinch from online "new" media, such as Webisodes, podcasts, and videocasts. However, the reports of Old Media's demise were greatly exaggerated, according to Howard Hononoff, who heads the media advisory board at PricewaterhouseCoopers, at a panel covered by TV Week.

Despite growing advertiser skepticism about television's actual reach and effectiveness, TV advertising will grow about 5% per year, to $90 billion by 2012, claims Homonoff. It is difficult to know how many advertising dollars Web content is generating, because there is not yet any organization that accurately collects those figures, partially because Web advertising varies so widely. There are banner ads, referrals, pay-per-click, flat-fee, and CPM (cost per thousand) advertising on many Web shows, but no one has a good handle on how much money actually changes hands.

More concretely, though, Mr. Homonoff noted that Disney made less on all of it's iTunes Music Store downloads in eighteen months ($48 million) than “Desperate Housewives” alone generated on-air in a single season. Well, yeah. When you can sell 30-second spots for about $400,000, it is hard to compete.

For actors, this is a big deal. Literally.

Yes, while we can make movies in our backyards with $50 cameras and free software, the question is, can we monetize them? For most, the answer is "no." At best, our DIY efforts will serve as calling cards.

But to make a living as an actor, you still have to be where the money is. And, like it or not, the money is (still) in unionized productions. The money is still with the Old Media model, particularly television.

And, sad as I will be to leave my beloved Austin, that is why I am moving to L.A.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Post partum

Directing buddy Jon Keeyes has released the trailer for his new feature film project, Angela's Body. Jon directed me in Living and Dying, and is currently enjoying the mild summers in Colorado, instead of the 40 days of 100+ temperatures here in the ATX. Coward!

Check out the movie's MySpace page, or download the trailer directly:

For Windows: http://www.highlandmyst.com/ABpromo.wmv
For Mac: http://www.highlandmyst.com/ABpromo.mov

Excelsior, Jon!

Talk amongst yerselves

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours with our very own, Emmy Award-winning casting director Beth Sepko. It was a very informal and informative session with about 15 other local actors, all sitting around a table at the Austin Studios, inside the Austin Film Society's office.

Beth had some great stories for us all, graciously answered any and all questions, and even provided feedback on a couple of demo reels (including mine!).

What was most fun was catching up with Beth and several other acting friends, like Donnie Blanz, and meeting some new ones. The one key thing I took away from the session was how much fun and how laid back Beth really is. She is just a down-to-earth, cool person, full stop. So if you ever think you have pissed her off, or blew an audition and that she'll never call you again, well, you're probably wrong. I am proud to have worked with Beth, and wish her continued success in this crazy business.

Beth, many congratulations on the Emmy(s)!!!