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Monthly Archives

September 2011

Basics – Composition

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One of the most frequent questions I get from friends and family not in the film business is “how can I take better pictures and video?” One free thing to instantly have a big impact on the quality of your picture taking and video shooting is to have better composition.
In this installment of tips/techniques, we talk about the “rule of thirds.”

Delivering Your Project

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In the 90’s, when we finished the edit, we would lay off the final to tape and make a VHS client approval dub.  Then when they were happy with it, we would duplicate how many ever VHS copies the client needed.

Ten years later, it’s DVD.  In 2005, we purchased a DVD duplicator, that printed right on the face.  Our clients wanted discs, so that’s what we gave them.  Now seven years later, it’s changing again.

We almost made a decision even earlier this year to invest in another DVD duplicator.  But out of the last ten projects, the primary means of delivering to the client was not DVD for nine of them.  Clients want files.

We learned the best settings for YouTube and Vimeo so that the videos are high def and yet load and play quickly.  We’ve added a service of converting the files to iPhones and iPads so that the clients can take the videos out to their customers.  We email the files or FTP the larger ones.  Maybe they want a flash video for their website.  Or another wants a quicktime for a memory stick giveaway.

Our industry is technology driven, so the tools keep changing.  And it’s important to keep up.

Shooting Greenscreen with Prompter

Corporate Video Productions

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Video Production for training, sales, marketing and more!.

Serendipitous Films has an award-winning track record for producing high quality videos.  We’ve produced national commercials, training programs, marketing videos, viral videos for web SEO, sales training, recruiting, and many others.  Whatever your corporate communication need is, we deliver results.

We’re deadline oriented and know how to work fast.  Usually, companies will ask you if you want it good, cheap or fast, because you can pick two.  Here at Serendipitous Films, we pride ourselves on our ability to deliver all three.

Seminars for Directors and Producers this Saturday!

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Saturday, October 1, only $29 (reg. $49) for each class


We’re going to have a Director and Producer Seminar on Saturday October 1.  Director class is 9 to 11:30.  We’ve dropped the price to only $29.  Producer class at 1:30 to 4pm.  Same price.

Director Class 9am-11:30 [buy_now_button product_id=’132′] Producer Class 1:30pm to 4pm [buy_now_button product_id=’128′]

For Directors, we’ll go over what to look for in auditions, how to approach the shoot, shot lists, vector lines, and the psychology of working with actors and head strong crew members.


For Producers, we’ll talk about nuts and bolts of getting the project started, paperwork needed, how to raise money, how to pitch, pulling a team together all the way through to distribution.


If you sign up for both, bring your lunch and we’ll have a round table discussion answering your project specific questions.  Both seminars will be held at Serendipitous Films—located in the Studios121 building in Haltom City (east of Fort Worth).  Address is 6125 Airport Freeway, suite 211, 76117.


Registration at http://www.s-films.com/pov

For more information, visit the link above or contact us at sales@s-films.com .


Dan Millican has directed 5 feature films, distributed by Sony Pictures, Lifetime, Showtime, First Look Media and others, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Adam Baldwin, Mimi Rogers, Fisher Stevens, Barry Corbin, Joey Lauren Adams, Sean Patrick Flanery.  He has raised millions in producing his own feature films.  For more info on Dan:  • IMDB


Lighting Interviews

Lighting Interviews

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There are two main styles for approaching interview lighting.  What we’re talking about here is a single person talking head– where the interviewer is off camera.  The two styles are Documentary and News.

News is quick.  You’ve got a deadline and no time for pretty.  You’ve got to get the content and get it fast.  Or, you purposely want it to have the feel of news, although you have all the time in the world.  Or you need to get a bunch of interviews in a very short time.  This style is usually one light, probably on the camera.  There are a bunch of lights made for this.  My DP Ron Gonzalez has just gotten a ring light.  It’s like a circle flo.  What this does is give the person a circle instead of a dot reflection in their eyes.  You might think it doesn’t matter, but it really does make a huge difference.

Variations can be a bounce or reflector of some sort.  You’re moving fast, most likely outdoors, and you have a third hand– pop the flex fill in and you’ve got some better lighting.

For the Documentary style, this is where you take the time to make it pretty.  Used to be three point lighting– key, fill and back (or top).  And maybe even a slash on the background.  One style, again one that I’ve seen Ron do, is to use a china ball as a key, no fill and a back or top light.  And maybe something hitting the background.  This newer style is doable now because of the DSLR and narrow depth of field cameras.  You don’t need as much light if you’ve got a fast lens and you can make “pretty” happen fairly easily.

But you better not be in a hurry.  You can still get quantity by just “working the clock.”

Lighting Interviews

In other words, I’ll shoot the first interview, and then just rotate the set a little, tweaking the lights.  At some point, I’ll probably need to do a major turnaround, so it’s still not as fast as news.

You can check out Recent Work.  You’ll see documentary style lighting on Holt Lunsford Commercial, but you’ll see news style on Parish Episcopal School.


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Seminars WorkshopsReel road lessons for actors and filmmakers.  We have offered the following seminars and workshops:

Acting: A Director’s POV — Not actor to actor, but director to actor– real information about what the director is thinking from audition, through shooting to the edit room.  Give yourself a better shot at landing the role and not being left ont he cutting room floor.

Greenlight Yourself — The 6 Phases of Filmmaking.  Perfect for the writer or director looking for information on how to do it yourself.  In addition to the seminar, a 3+ hour DVD is available.

Screenfighting and SFX for Actors — learn to give and take punches, like falls, handle weapons like a pro and learn to take a squib.

How To Direct Features — for the director in training.  We go through the skillsets necessary to pull off directing a feature film.

How To Edit Dramatic — a practical experience in editing dramatic scenes.  We take actual footage from Serendipitous movies and cut together scenes.

Feature Writing — The big factors that can instantly impact your story and make your script more producable and sellable.

Actor Demos — This has been an extremely popular tool.  When you sign up, we consult with you to write a short original scene, then we shoot it in conjuncture with others to make it look like it was ripped from an indie film.