An Interview with Antoinette Savoie of Pigéon Caterers

An Interview with Antoinette Savoie of Pigéon Caterers

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We conducted an interview with Antoinette Savoie, who is the current Wedding Sales Manager with Pigéon Caterers here in New Orleans. Antoinette is an incredibly skilled, driven professional who was kind enough to share her knowledge of the wedding industry with us.  Enjoy!

1. Please introduce yourself: Who you are, where you’re from, what you do, and how long you’ve been in New Orleans.

Hey there, my name is Antoinette Savoie and I am originally from Mobile, Alabama. Currently I am the Wedding Sales Manager at Pigéon Caterers in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to returning to the Gulf Coast, I was a chef in San Francisco. I came back to get my MBA at Tulane and have been in Nola for two years and some change!

2. Tell us a bit about the world of wedding planning. How did you get in to it? How much time goes into each one? What do you love about it? What is difficult about it?

Wedding planning has been such a rewarding career path! I have always been an attention to detail person and a chronic planner so it truly is a perfect fit for my persona. After attending culinary school I knew I wanted to work events, being able to plan for things in advance takes some of the stress out of the kitchen atmosphere. However, the best part is getting to be an integral part of one of the most memorable days of a couple’s life. Love really is a powerful thing and being able to be surrounded by it constantly makes this such an uplifting profession.

monastery3. What do you find distinct about the job in New Orleans? Are there any unique challenges/benefits to doing wedding planning here? On a side note: do you have a favorite venue? (feel free to ignore this last bit if you don’t want anger anyone haha)

New Orleans is such an exhilarating market! We are actually the 2nd most popular destination for weddings behind Las Vegas, so you never know what type of couple you are going to get. I love being able to expose clients to our culture – my favorite part might actually be explaining what a second line is!

My favorite venue, I am most certainly biased here, is our new venue – The Monastery. It is located on the new streetcar line on N. Rampart and is an old renovated monastery. The original chapel is surrounded by numerous courtyards and a very modern remodel of the interior spaces. The venue almost encompasses an entire French Quarter block and can accommodate up to 2000 guests!

4. Vendors! This is always a big question for people outside of the planning community, as wedding vendors and venues are often seen as the “gateway” into the world of weddings. How do you meet vendors? What are some criteria you have when deciding who to work with and recommend? How often are you helping brides find various vendors?

My strictest criteria for vendors is that they are team players. I work with a plethora of different people and it truly takes us all for an event to come together. If I ever see a vendor helping outside their realm of expertise (i.e. a lighting guy helping put a cake on a stand or a DJ straightening a flower arrangement), that vendor gets placed on my permanent list of recommended vendors!

5. With specific regards to wedding videos, do you find yourself often recommending videographers and videography companies? If so, what do you look for in these companies? Are there any common issues/pitfalls you have seen that make you hesitant to recommend some?

Surprisingly I almost never recommend videographers. Typically the people looking to video their wedding have already looked into and found the videographer that fits their style. Even when I was planning in San Francisco, couples would almost always handle the videographer themselves.

If I am looking on my own, Instagram is my first stop. Social Media is such a big part of weddings now and how a vendor represents themselves on social media is very important to me. Music is also near and dear to my heart. So it never hurts if the videographer has a good ear too.

6. Anything else you’d like to add?

Just a thank you for InDepth media for allowing me to share my story and expertise! Best of luck with any future ventures and please keep Pigéon Caterers in mind for any of your upcoming events.

You can find Pigéon Caterers online! Contact them for your next event – wedding or otherwise!

Check out our latest wedding films here and a recent podcast discussion about a wedding film!

Hit us up on twitter, facebook, instagram, and on our website

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Extra Life 2: Electric Boogaloo

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It’s that time again: Extra Life! inDEPTH Media is partnering with Implicted, NOLAnerdcast, to raise money for Children’s Hospital New Orleans!

 

Come join us and thousands of other teams in support of children’s hospitals across the country with Extra Life. Every dollar is donated to the hospitals to help them continue their mission of providing quality care to the many who need it. The money we raise will be donated to Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

When: Saturday, November 5th, @ 12:00pm CST
Where: LIVE STREAM from the inDEPTH/Implicted Offices in New Orleans, LA 

This year for Extra Life’s big day of gaming we will be playing the Gears of War franchise for 24-hours straight. The entire event will be live-streamed on Twitch while regular social media videos, photos, and more will accompany. NOLAnerdcast will be providing the bulk of the running commentary and humor BECAUSE FILM IS SERIOUS BUSINESS AND WE ARE NOT FUNNY.

Aside from watching our gameplay, jokes, and more, there will be GIVEAWAYS! Last year we gave out video games, gifts cards, and more, to our viewers and supporters!

“So what now, inDEPTH Media!? I’m so hyped and want to act NOW!”

Please share this post and follow us as we get ready for this amazing event!

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inDEPTH Media on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

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Implicted on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook!

I Married a Filmmaker

I’m with a Filmmaker

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This week we decided to do something a little different. Ann Marshall Tilton (Greg’s wife) and Nicole Gaidos (Mickey’s wife) weigh in on what it’s like to “be with a filmmaker.” Needless to say, it’s not your typical relationship. What are some of your stories? Take a look here and share with us what it’s like to call filmmaker – or  anyone with an “unconventional” occupation – your significant other!

 

1) Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and what you do.

AMT: I’m Ann Marshall Tilton, an MBA candidate at Tulane University, and I’m married to a film nerd!

NG: My name is Nicole Gaidos. I am from Metairie and I am a mental health therapist in private practice.

2) Give us a rough overview of what that’s like on a day to day basis (scheduling things, overlap – or lack thereof – of work times, the general vibe of the relationship, etc.)

AMT: Well before I was a student, I worked in a (roughly) 9 to 5, Monday – Friday job. When the person you’re dating is shooting nights and weekends a lot, it can be tough to see each other!  I’m pretty sure some of my friends thought Greg was imaginary for a while! But now that I’m a student and my schedule is more flexible, it’s a little bit easier to coordinate our lives. On the other hand, meeting other people who work in film and drinking at abnormal hours (cause that’s when you have off) is great!

NG: Mickey’s job used to have a schedule that would work for both of us. Even though he was on jobs for long days had late hours, we would still have a lot of time to see each other. Then our son was born! Since mickeys schedule is so inconsistent, it can be difficult to keep Jude on a “school schedule.”

3) What are some of the challenges of being with someone in the film industry? Does it have any sort of negative impact on your home, work, or social life? 

AMT: Sometimes the schedules can be a little tough to coordinate. Other than that, I’d say the impact is positive! I get to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise meet.

NG: Same as #2! It can be challenging, especially when kids are involved, because they need to be on a schedule and it’s almost impossible for a filmmaker to be on a consistent schedule.

4) What are some of the benefits? Does it offer any sort of opportunities or unique experiences? 

AMT: I’ve gotten to go to film premiers, get free photography lessons, and Greg has filmed pretty much all of our vacations together so I get to relive those whenever I want.

NG: There are benefits. I love film and the whole film making process is fascinating. It’s really neat to see “behind the scenes.” Going to screenings and events/parties for projects he’s worked on is also a lot of fun.

5) What are their friends like in your experience? What is it like to spend social time with a filmmaker and their friends/colleagues? 

AMT: They talk about cameras A LOT. I now know enough to occasionally comment on the conversation, which scares me a little!

NG: I consider his film maker friends my friends and have all been awesome. Everyone is easy going, funny and a pleasure to know.

6) What is traveling and vacations like? Watching show and movies? Do they “turn it off” and leave work on set, is it more of a constant presence, or somewhere in between? 

AMT: Greg is pretty much always “on” since clients and producers call him at odd hours. I remember one weekend in particular when it was 10 p.m. and we just finished dinner. He got a call then to go film at 6 am the next morning. That said, he is usually able to turn the “film critic” off when watching a movie.

NG: Haha Mickey never “turns it off.” He’s always checking emails and taking calls. He can also be a perfectionist.

7) What have you been able to teach your significant other that has helped them professionally, and vice versa? How does your experience inform the other’s? 

AMT: I used to work in marketing and now am studying market research/strategy. I definitely think that my marketing background helped Greg figure out how to position the inDEPTH brand… or at least I hope so! On the flip side, I was working for a huge national brand so I have learned a lot from watching Greg put a small business together. He’s very adept at getting a lot done with limited resources.

NG: Not sure what I have taught him but he’s taught me what hard work looks like. I’ve seen him work 30 hours straight with no sleep and barely eating!

Are you dating/married to a filmmaker? Are you a filmmaker seeing someone outside the industry? What are some of your experiences and stories? Hit us up on twitter, facebook, and check us out at our website!

The Wonderful World of Lenses

The Wonderful World of Lenses

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image from premiumbeat.com

So you want some lenses. You don’t? Wrong, yes you do. Like with the post on sound, forget your camera. Lenses are arguably the most important pieces of equipment in your arsenal and can, quite literally, last a lifetime. “Buy once, cry once” heavily applies here. There are so many options out there and so many numbers/letters to learn, so before diving in to the wonderful world of lenses, here are some basic terms.

Focal length” is the “mm” on your lens. 40-60mm is generally a “normal” look, 75mm+ is  considered a “long” focal length (lenses that see far), below 40mm is generally considered a “wide” focal length (lenses that let you see a wider area around you) and may or may not be “fish-eyed” (distorted on the sides, creating sharp angles on the ends).

“Fast” or “Slow” refers to how open your lens can be – how low can the aperture go (letting in more light, giving a shallower depth of field)? Fast zooms are generally f/2.8 and lower, fast primes f/1.8. It’s important to note that there is no number-definition for “fast” and “slow,” it’s more of a guideline. Fast lenses are generally more expensive than their “slower” counterparts.

So with these terms in mind, let’s get to some things you need to consider when buying a lens.

Prime vs. Zoom: A prime lens is a lens that does not zoom. A zoom lens has an “adjustable focal length,” meaning you can zoom in and out. The advantage with good prime lenses is that they are generally more “precise” than zoom lenses as they do not have the multiple pieces of glass that a zoom needs. Primes are also usually more “accurate” and provide a nice cinematic softness while still being sharp, This does not mean zoom lenses are imprecise, though cheap ones often are (as are cheap primes). Primes are also generally faster than zoom lenses, with most zooms tapping out at f/2.8 and even the cheapest of prime lenses being able to go lower. This makes them better equipped for lowlight situations.

Used or New: Lenses are wonderful because if they are well-built (which many are) and the owner takes good care of them (you do, right?) then they can last a very long time and be great used purchases. Many sites have a strict system for rating a lens. The biggest consideration you should have when buying a used lens is the condition of the actual glass. Does it have scratches? Cracks at all? Any fungus (this happens with old glass)? After that, make sure the focus rings and aperture rings are listed as fully functional, otherwise you’ll have poor or no control over the lens. Anyone worth their salt selling lenses will list EXACTLY the condition it is in and will provide several photos. Return policies are always a huge plus. KEH.com is an extremely popular site with some of the best product grading I’ve seen thus far, and Lens Authority (Borrow Lenses’s retail arm) is also a great site for finding used but well-maintained gear.

What Now? You must ask yourself 3 questions: Do I need a zoom or prime for most of my work? Do I need it to be a fast lens? What focal lengths will I be working at? Documentary/Broadcast shooters often need fast, precise zooms. If you’re “making a movie” (non-documentary) you generally need sturdy, fast prime lenses. That being said, you should never restrict yourself to just primes or just zooms – virtually no one does for all their work.

This is just a primer. There are so many considerations to take into account when one is buying a new lens, but we hope this helps you get started. Now go invest in some glass!

This post is an adaptation/updated version of a previous post done by co-founder Greg Tilton Jr. for 52 Businesses back in April of 2014. 

inDEPTH Wedding Films are Here

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inDEPTH Wedding Films are Here

We are incredibly excited to officially announce the launch of inDEPTH Weddings. As a film production company that emphasizes a cinematic approach to our work, combined with years of experience in the world of wedding videography, we bring our own unique style and flair to your special day. Come take a look at some of the work we have already done and contact us for a free consultation today.

Simply put: We are not a wedding video company, but we are team that shoots weddings with the care, professionalism, and style that we put into all our productions. We are confident you will love what you see.

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Contact us today for a free wedding consultation

An Interview with Director Kirby Voss

An Interview with Director Kirby Voss

Director Kirby Voss

We conducted an interview with director Kirby Voss. Kirby is a driven, passionate director who we have been lucky to work with over the years. He is particularly known for his optimism on set, clear vision, and an ability to bring out truly exceptional performances from the actors in his films.  We were excited for this opportunity to discuss his trajectory and method. 

1. Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and what you do currently.

My name is Kirby, I grew up in Atlanta, and I went to college at Loyola University New Orleans. I’ve directed two features, plenty of (horrible) shorts, and other assorted videos. Because of my incredible success, I have a glamorous job … oh wait, I do business sales for a shipping company. Nice job, but not quite A-list. I do however, keep up a steady stream of respectable and paid directing work.

2. You’ve clearly had your sights set on directing for some time – by the end of your education at Loyola you had directed two feature films – what were some of the hardest challenges you faced in your first features? What were the results of some of those projects/how did those films do once they were released?

I realized I was a director at age 14, so it’s been my goal for quite a while. Like (many, many other) filmmakers, I read “Rebel Without a Crew” and decided that I, too, could direct a feature for $7,000 and go to Sundance with it. Turns out, I couldn’t. I directed the feature for about $5,000, but of the 100 people that saw it, 99 thought it was pure rubbish. Unwatchable. Only one person, Felicia Stallard, thought there might be some talent there, and she invested in “Love Me True,” my second film.

Turns out that my biggest challenge (on both projects) wasn’t a lack of money, or incompetent cast or crew, or whatever else … my biggest challenge was 100% me. I’m young, and conveying a cohesive vision to 50 people isn’t easy. Bringing the passion, the leadership – those are easy to me, because I’m passionate about getting the film done. The film literally is my life. But there’s also the stone-cold fact that I’m a young artist, and I make some bad choices. So my biggest obstacle is getting over my ego, detaching myself from my work, and being able to separate good advice from bad advice.

I recently moved out to LA, and I’ve had the good fortune to meet some incredibly helpful, talented, and successful people. A surprising number of them have offered (or been strong-armed) to read my work, and sometimes you just … don’t hear back from them. And you have to recognize that you’re good, but maybe not good enough. Yet. And that’s just the way it is. The industry seems to have a fascination with “first-time” directors who make a film at 27, then go on to make the next Star Wars film. That’s not me. Each of my films has gotten (significantly) better, but I certainly didn’t come into the world a fully-fledged artist. You just have to hustle, learn, and work.

3. What brought you to New Orleans? What is one of your favorite video production experiences here in New Orleans? Any good lessons you learned here?

Truth be told, I came to New Orleans kicking and screaming. I wanted to go to NYU or Chapman University, but I had a scholarship to Loyola – so I wound up at Loyola. And it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Because I knew, deep down, that there was a 0% chance I would do anything with my life other than be a director. I was going to be a film maker, or I’d be homeless. That’s just who I am. And I feel incredibly fortunate, because I was able to witness, on a very ground level, the birth of next-gen independent cinema in NOLA. I really do feel like just as Hollywood saw young film-makers rise in the 70’s, so too is NOLA seeing a birth of cinema.

The lessons I learned are varied, but I took away a few key axioms: feed your people; you can ask people to work for free once, but not twice; always work harder than anyone else on set; get a really good bullshit detector; don’t try and work on Mardi Gras, no matter how badly you want to; trust your gut – if someone is very “talented” but also an asshole, don’t work with them; trust people with no experience if they’re hungry; be passionate always; always keep learning and creating.

My personal rule is simple: read more than you watch, and write more than you read. Creation is more valuable than consumption, and active learning is more valuable than absorption.

4. There is a lot of ongoing debate about film school vs on-set experience. As a graduate of Loyola’s film program, what were some the pros and cons of that experience?

To clarify, Loyola doesn’t have (or didn’t have, rather) much of a film program when I graduated. I took 1-2 classes on basic video production, but nothing that got into the hard-core rules of film grammar. All of what I know about film-making came from books, actually. I have a list of a few essential books (at the end) that I think are the best to establish a core cinematic foundation for *anyone*, regardless if you’re an AC or a costume designer. Film school gives your connections, but just making your own films and working on sets gives you the hustle. If you can make it through film school, then you can make it through film school (in my opinion). If you can make it working on dingy indie sets, and really learn your craft, and hone that into a job, then you’ve gotten two educations – both necessary. One is craft, and the other is hustle. In Hollywood, from what I’ve seen, both matter equally.

What Loyola did give me was a series of film appreciation classes that I *loved*. I was exposed to film makers that I had never heard of, giants of the craft whose work resonates deeply today: Visconti, Wyda, Brunel, Malle, and so many more. I was forcibly exposed to new cinema, and that was an incredible education. Because as important as reading and creating are, studying film is also a core, essential piece of the puzzle.

Having said all of that, I did attend a film training program called the Global Cinematography Institute (GCI), which was one of the most satisfying educational experiences of my life. It was an intensive 2 week program, full of long days and serious critiques. The program was taught by giants of the craft, from Dan Mindel to Yuri Neyman, Bradford Young to Newton Thomas Segal. We were given the opportunity to study theory and practice, from the nuance of composition and exposure theory to the mechanics of lens flares. A director needs to understand all aspects of her or his craft, and working with some of the best cinematographers I can name was incredibly enjoyable. I think the key is that I was forced to step my game up; I always want to be the least-talented person on set.

5. What’s your favorite thing to do on set? Whether an individual position, a fun practice or tradition you have, whatever. The one thing you always look forward to no matter the production.

I honestly have no idea – I black out once I’m on set. I really do. I am so happy, so ecstatic, and so at home, that I wind up on set (usually absurdly nervous), I blink, and the day is over. I do have something of a superstition – I never eat on set. I’m always up, moving, and jumping around (making an ass of myself). I might have some chex-mix or something, but I never have a real meal. Too many better things to do. For me, a day on set is a full-workout.

I will say one thing I never, ever do is make a shot list. I just won’t do it. I keep it in my head, or I make it up as I block the scene, but I think shot lists are a complete waste. Of course, they’re essential for most film makers. What do I know? Also, I never watch my films. When “Love Me True” played at the New Orleans Film Festival, I was across the street at the bar. I can’t think of anything less pleasant than having to watch my films.

6. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting out here in the film industry, especially if they’re just starting out here in New Orleans, what would be your main piece of advice?

Be the first to arrive, the last to leave, and never, ever sit. Film is a job, just like any other. And I’ve had many jobs, and the one that was closest to film is construction. People respect hard work.

Also, if you’re a director, be ready to die for your actors. Really *love* your actors. When they act, they’re baring their soul to you. No one else. Once the camera is rolling, it should only be you and them. Never betray that, and never underestimate the courage that that takes.

7. What are you working on now?

Whoo-hoo! My favorite part! I’m chest-deep into development on my next feature, a war film called FOLSOM, LA. I have a budget, script, and promo packet, and the big investor search starts up soon. If anyone is interested, please reach out to me at vosskirby@gmail.com. We’re aiming to film in December 2016 – and we’ll be crewing up in a few months!

8. Anything else you’d like to add?

My recommended book list:
Story by Robert McKee
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch
Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez
(^^ those are trite, but they need to be read)
Picture This by Molly Bang
Lighting for Cinematography by David Landau
Stanley Kubrick and Me by Emilio D’Alessandro
Every issue of ASC magazine you can find
Cinematography for Directors by Jacqueline Frost
Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
NEVER READ On Directing by David Mamet. Hate that book. He should stick to writing.

P.S. I think you can learn just about everything about directing if you watch JAWS, Jurassic Park, and Schindler’s List enough times. Also David Lean. Watch his work often.

P.P.S. If you want to be a film-maker, you should probably ignore all of this. If not, then … hi Mom and Dad!

Recently Love Me True officially received a distribution deal – be on the lookout! 

Director Kirby Voss

An Interview with Sound Mixer Eric Rice

An Interview with Sound Mixer Eric Rice

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We conducted an interview with sound mixer Eric Rice, an incredibly talented mixer here in New Orleans. Eric brings immense skill, positivity, and just the right level of humor to our sets. We are very excited to have him on the inDEPTH blog and hope you learn as much as we did from our great friend and colleague. If you want to learn a bit more about to get started, check out our blog post on the basics of field recording. 

 

1. Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and what you do currently.

Hello! My name is Eric Rice. I’m a born-and-raised New Orleans local sound mixer with an affinity for both gourmet and gas station hot dogs and clean room tone.

2. How did you end up doing sound? Did you start at an early age? Study it in school? How did you land those first jobs?

I’ve always been fascinated by sound. Much like on set, our brains interpret images with highest sensory priority, but we often do not realize how important sound and our ears are to everyday life. Sound is a visceral experience that affects many aspects of our life whether we realize it or not. Sound can affect our moods, provide warnings or comfort, it allows us to communicate with each other through a man-made system of sounds our brains have been trained to recognize as language, our auditory system keeps us balanced and walking upright. If you were to spend time in some of the best designed anechoic chambers (highly reinforced, specially designed sound absorbing rooms) you can hear your heartbeat and the blood flowing through your head. You can hear your joints move. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

I appreciate sound for the same reason I can look through a microscope at a droplet of pond water and see hundreds of things going on that we never think about. There are nuances in sound that are beautiful if you stop and listen. That’s why I love doing sound; I can shape someone’s mood with different sounds and techniques, and I’m constantly observing and learning. I get to do that for a living.

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Truly the attire of a gentleman Sound Mixer

My first sound job came completely by accident. I was in school at the University of New Orleans for film and found a Facebook post looking for non-paying PA’s. I went out just to meet people and get my feet wet. I spent my first two nights in the extra’s trailer on a no-budget web series. About 4 hours in, I got a call to send the extras to set… and that was pretty much my whole day. I then helped out breaking down set and cabling stingers for 2 hours at dawn in the swamp (got my feet wet). AND I WAS ECSTATIC FOR THE OPPORTUNITY. Same for day 2. On day 3, I went to the 2nd AD (who was also the sound recordist) and told her, “I’m going to be YOUR PA.” She had a lot on her plate so I knew I could help, but more selfishly, I knew sound was going to be a part of every shot. “If I follow the sound person, I’ll hear every conversation between director and crew,” I thought. The sound person is like the catcher in baseball (which I played growing up) in that the sound person is at least in the know on every shot. I figured that would put me in a perfect position to learn from all departments.

The next day, the sound person and production parted ways. I show up and immediately asked, “What’s your name again? Okay, cool. You’re running sound.” I was thrilled and terrified at the same time. This was a simple shoot for sound. “Boom into a Zoom.” No real mixing, just swingin’ the boom and making sure nothing clips, but to me, that was my big break. I was with them for a few months and got my first sound mixer credit (technically). From there, I got on a couple other free shoots working as a boom operator or just as hands on deck and it just kept snowballing.

I did a lot of “fake it ‘til you make it” in my first year or two. Eventually, after being fascinated with this new area of information I had to learn every day, I stopped having to fake it. That was that. I still research new techniques and gear every day and try to find new ways to convey the beautiful information that sound has to offer.

3. How would you describe the sound scene and general film scene here in New Orleans? What are some of the opportunities and challenges that come with working in video production here in New Orleans? What sort of improvements/changes would you like to see in the industry, whether local or beyond?

New Orleans film scene is f’in awesome! Every day I wake up, I’m thankful for ending up in the career I have with the people I work with. Think about it, we get to wake up and make art every day. Even if the current project isn’t all that artistic like covering a convention or filming a political ad, we’re still utilizing these long-honed skills to put our artistic touch on whatever it is that comes across the desk that day.

From my experience, everyone I know, love and work with in our independent film scene here in New Orleans feels just about the same. The low budget features aren’t great on the checkbook, but you get 20-30 of us together that have all grown up working on similar project together, and beautiful times are had. We really are a tight-knit community that enjoys spending our days together both on and off set.

We New Orleans soundies have a little different experience than most other crew positions/departments, in my experience. Fortunately, there’s just less of us around for the same amount of jobs that everyone else is vying for. This keeps the sound mixer community very tight. I get more than half of my work from other mixers who are booked on other projects, and I enjoy passing work to them as well. We are always in contact about what jobs are out there, who’s looking for what, what productions may not be the most sound friendly, etc.

We also are unique in that there is only one sound rental shop in New Orleans, Professional Sound Services at 8222 Maple St. in the Riverbend. Justin Ditch and Lukas Gonzales run not only a tip top sound shop but also offer a place where mixers can meet, talk shop, shoot the breeze and nerd out on gear. A lot of time, as a sound mixer, I’m the only mixer on set, so meeting other mixers is sometimes rare unless it’s a bigger production with multiple sound bags running. Pro Sound is like my Cheers. I’ll show up when I’m bored just to hang out and meet whoever walks in the door. The New Orleans sound scene would be severely lacking in many different ways without those guys at Pro Sound.

As far as improvements, I’d like to see producers move away from relying on their “low budget” status to justify paying people less. Yes, some productions are what they are by necessity; I’ll work on any of my friend’s projects regardless of pay if I’m not booked. But I’ve seen too many productions come in from out of state for tax credits, fly in their big wigs, blowing money left and right while offering rates 1/3 of what they should because “they knew kids are hungry for work.” I was actually told that with audible words one time. Pardon my Cajun, but get fucked. It’s a shame some productions see an opportunity to take advantage of locals rather than being thankful for the money they’re saving on tax credits and taking care of the people who made their movie. I did about an hour and a half long podcast with Greg about this that probably won’t see the air because I get pretty heated about this. The whiskey we shared probably didn’t help either.

I’d like to see us independent film makers hold productions to task. I want to see us all making money and having profitable careers rather than taking whatever pops up because rents due soon. It’s tough and everyone’s path is different, but ‘take-advantage-of-locals’ rates really hits my limiters.

4. What are some of your favorite types of projects? Any particularly fun/interesting stories? 

Okay good, a lighter subject. I enjoy different projects for different reasons, mainly just a change of pace is nice. Narratives are great because I can setup a cart or at least a sound world and have some day to day stability in a given location. Narratives give an opportunity to spend a lot of time on a scene and really find interesting sound effects or mic’ing methods; however it does sometimes get pretty boring sitting around recording a conversation at a coffee table for 12 hours which is why I like reality. Every day is something new to shoot and new people to meet, but the hectic-ness can get tiring pretty quickly. It’s a yin and yang situation.

But in the end, as I said before, we’re on set making cool things with (most of the time ) cool people. “A bad day on set is better than a good day in an office.”

5. What’s your favorite thing to do on set? Whether an individual position, a fun practice or tradition you have, whatever. The one thing you always look forward to no matter the production.

First things first, Taco Tuesday.

Secondly, I try to just have fun. I enjoy my job and most others do as well so anything I can do to keep the positive mood. I particularly like the “how many pieces of lav tape can I stick on ______” game. I enjoy shorts or features where we have interns from the local colleges. Those kids are hungry to learn and just want to be a sponge absorbing all they can.

6. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting out here in the film industry, especially if they’re just starting out here in New Orleans, what would be your main piece of advice? 

DON’T BE A JERK. It’s so simple but seriously, just be a cool person and you’ll get work. Be helpful – don’t think it’s beneath you to help setup crafty or anything like that. Yes, we all have our department and our own responsibilities, but at the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. We’re all trying to make a great piece of work. I’ve seen some of the most accredited people replaced because they’re jerks. People on set have to be able to work and live with you for perhaps months at a time. If you disrupt the flow and mentality of the set, you’ll be gone real quick.

Meet people. Meet everyone you can. Go to the parties after screening of festivals and pass out business cards. Starting out, just get on a set, any set. People I’ve met as PAs are now my bosses. They call me because we go way back. Get on set, be positive, be great at what you do and make friends. Everyone has their own projects or get calls for other friend’s projects and you want them to call you. Think of it like a tree, your first set is your first branch and you’re going to meet 10-30 people. Impress them and get on another set, that’s another 10-30 people. And so on and so forth. The growth is exponential. If you make yourself memorable as a positive,hard-working, knowledgeable person, it’ll just be a matter of time before your career starts to grow quickly.

7. What are you working on now?

My pride and joy is a show called Big Easy Motors which comes on the History channel every Tuesday at 9pm central. One of my closest sound friends in the area Raam Brousard got me on that when he had to return home to Israel for his family to meet his beautiful baby daughter. We’re both very proud of the work we’ve done on that show and look forward to a second season.

8. Anything else you’d like to add?

Have fun today. Work can suck; more for some than others, but it doesn’t have to and it doesn’t always. Life’s too short to not do cool things each day. Find a way to make money having fun.

And last but certainly not least, shut up during room tone.

Safety first

Safety first

You can reach Eric for sound mixing services at Ericrice20@gmail.com

An Interview with Filmmaker Hunter Thomas

An Interview with Filmmaker Hunter Thomas

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We conducted an interview with filmmaker Hunter Thomas, a young filmmaker and photographer based here in New Orleans. Hunter’s knowledge of film and editing tools, his passion for the craft, and his attention to detail makes him a very technically proficient filmmaker that compliments his very evident talent.  We are very excited to have him on the inDEPTH blog and hope you learn as much as we did. 

1) Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and what you do currently.

My name is Hunter Thomas, I am a 19 year old freelance filmmaker and photographer currently residing in New Orleans.

2) You are clearly very knowledgable about cameras, lenses, and general film tech. What brought you into the world of cameras and lenses? What eventually led you to take on film/photography professionally? 

I have always wanted to work in film, I was a “Techie” kid, I like seeing how each camera has different functions that do the same thing. Canon & Sony are completely different cameras, organized differently, and used in some of the same situations. I like knowing & being asked how to change settings. It makes me feel needed.

3) Who or what are some of your biggest influences? Is there any filmmaker or film style you draw from in particular for inspiration?

I take inspiration from lots of different styles, but really they depend on the style of production. One of the great things about NOCCA, (Film School I went to) was we studied all the different styles, and our teachers pushed us to try different styles of film making. My next project is a a thriller, I am using a lot of Fincher’s stylings on the project, from the cool color pallet, to low lit interiors, and smooth dramatic camera pans.

I take most of my lighting styling from Storaro, but I like tailoring lighting and camera style for each shoot differently. When I read a script, I see it as an action, and how each shot would cut together with the rest of the scene/film. I’ve working with stylistic choices from a lot of famous directors, Cinematographer’s and Gaffers.

4) Let’s dive a bit into glass. You are clearly a fan of vintage lenses. Right now, as always, there is a ton of debate in film about new vs. old technology, techniques, philosophies, and more, so these decisions reflect a lot about us. Can you tell us a bit about your lenses – brand, type, year, etc. – and what drove you to build the set you currently have? What are some of the thoughts and considerations that go into building a lens package?

I currently own a kit of Vintage Nikon Primes Revised& VariPrimes (Zooms). Nikon coatings were best in 1955. Some of them are 80 years old. I bought all of them from B&H Photo used Dept. My takeaway from the whole vintage v modern debate, I bought 13 Vintage Nikon’s for less than people pay for a modern 4 or 5 lens Rokinon Cine kit.

Since the lenses are old, they aren’t as fast as some modern lenses. Most of them are 2.8 or slower, but they have 180 degree focus throws. I looked at the way I shot with other people’s lenses to pick my set and knew I needed a wide range of focal lengths. I liked the look of the vintage lenses – they have nice roll off on the corners, some cloudiness, and beautiful bokeh. There’s something about them that just can’t be explained and I have yet to see someone try and not enjoy them.

5) Building a bit on that, how do you feel about the “film vs. digital” argument? That is, some people feel that actual film stock is the best method for making films and reject digital cameras, while others argue that digital cameras are as good (if not better) than their film counterparts (and many lie somewhere in the middle). What are your thoughts on this ongoing debate? 

I like the ease of shooting digitally, I think the quality of the cameras have made it to the point where the untrained eye can’t really tell the difference. That being said, we see high resolution of modern cameras outdated every a few years. When I first bought my Canon T2I, 1080p was high resolution, now 5 years later people are shooting in 8K Raw.

6) If you had one piece of advice for someone new to the film/video industry, what would it be?

Any advice I could give would be to a newbie in the industry, is work on as much as you can. Ask questions, but know when you should ask questions and when you shouldn’t. Learn how to network with everyone you work with. You should know what you want to do in film, so if it’s working on camera, try to get on set as a Camera PA. If it’s lighting work as a Grip, or a Best Boy. If it’s directing, try to go as an AD.

If you are unsure what aspect you would like to work in the film industry, but just know that film is where you wanna go, some of the student films I have worked on are small crew, so everyone does a little of everything. It’s a good way to meet people, and work on some great projects. The 48 Hour Film Project & LA Film Prize are great places to work, they usually have Mixer’s and it will give you a chance to meet people and find a team to work with.

7) What are you up to now?

I am currently on a feature called Meta. It’s a high octane action heist film. It’s kinda like Drive, but with motorcycles. I recently worked on a few music videos, another feature and a TV pilot. Our 48 Hour Film Grown Up Stuff did very well at the festival.

8) Anything else you’d like to add? 

I am always looking to work on bigger and better projects, and looking for people to help on my own projects.

Follow Hunter on instagram and facebookIMG_9181 

An Interview with Writer Sarah Shachat

An Interview with Writer Sarah Shachat

Sarah is an incredibly talented writer with one of the most impressive vocabularies ever (seriously, spend five minutes with her and you’ll learn an amazing new word). She has helped us with some of our projects, writes extensively online, and is a member of the brilliant team behind Wolf 359 – a very impressive and entertaining audio-drama podcast. I am thrilled to share some insights with you today from one of my oldest and most talented friends. Enjoy!

1. Please introduce yourself, where you’re from, and what you do currently.
Hi, all! My name is Sarah Shachat. I’m a New Orleans native currently living up in New York City, and I write for fun and profit. Most notably, I’m a writer and producer for the science fiction audio drama Wolf 359.

2. So this blog post is a bit different in that it focuses a little less on video production/filmmaking and more on writing for audio-only dramas. What drove you to the podcast world (more specifically, audio dramas)? 
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Wolf 359 Recording Session

I very much was driven there, as opposed to driving myself. I explored Welcome To Nightvale and Serial as they respectively entered the zeitgeist, and I’ve been a big fan since college of the Mercury Theater on air stuff, War of the Worlds and Dracula and so on. But the wonderful thing about podcasts is a lot of their drive is word-of-mouth, so it was really on the recommendation of friends in the last couple years that I started getting into the podcasts I follow closely.

What’s wonderful about them is that they have such low bar for entry, comparatively. All you need is a mic, a computer, and a guide to figure out how to set up a feed. There were a couple of times in the last few years that I’ve worked with friends on podcast projects that never really quite got going – we’d record a few episodes and have fun arguing about different movies – but it never quite clicked. And yet, all we out were maybe $70 and a few hours of our lives, enjoyably spent.

Then another good friend of mine from college, Gabriel Urbina, sent me this pilot script he’d written for a radio drama set on a space station. It was an interesting script, very funny, and with the potential to be even funnier. After asking him if I could do a pass on it, I pretty much got hooked. Audio dramas, specifically, are a wonderful writing challenge. You have to rely on suggestion in order to tell the story. Very different from the broader building blocks prose gives you, and way more slinky and fluid than the clarity of an image. The show needs the listener in order to make it come alive. So writing for radio isn’t about what you imagine’s going on in a room on a space station, say. It’s about what you allow to be imagined, what’s going on in someone else’s head – that’s the experience.

3. What are some of the challenges of writing an audio drama? What are some of the opportunities it provides? How does it differ from screen writing, novels, etc.? 

Ha, I was sort of winding there towards the end of that last question. But the challenge is that there are strong restrictions placed on what you can convey with sound alone. We (Gabriel, Zach Valenti, and I, who all write for the show) have conversations all the time about how things would be different if we were doing Wolf 359: The TV Show. There are certain actions you wouldn’t think of – one character passes a piece of paper to another character – that are almost impossible to write for radio. But a space mutant plant monster? That’s real easy. So there’s a give and take to it. You have the ability to be big and ambitious and bold on a nothing budget, but you have to go to increasingly difficult lengths to convey smaller moments or transitions, because everything has to come from a distinctive sound.

That’s a little bit why it’s so wonderful, too. You have a very basic toolkit – the actors’ voices, whatever sound effects you can license, music (and in our case we’re spoiled by Alan Rodi’s divine score), and, of course, silence. But by making things that simple and that restrictive, it actually opens up a lot of opportunities. We’ve done audio monologue vignettes, we’ve done an audio montage sequence, we’ve even done an audio montage flashback sequence. The constraints force you past a lazy or easy solution. It forces you to think about the most intuitive, the most effective way to convey information to the audience. And of course, there’s a lot of opportunity for shock and surprise because you can constantly redefine space in a way you can’t if you have visuals. You thought three men were having a private conversation in a normal looking room? Nope, the walls are completely covered in platypus fur. And nope, the lamplight is actually coming from a green diamond. And nope, the men all have three eyes. You have the ability to force the audience to re-evaluate their image of a scene, and that forces them to dive deeper into it. There’s a wonderful intimacy with radio, and good radio dramas get to play with that.

In terms of how it compares to other forms of writing, it’s most like screenwriting. What you as a writer put on page is a blueprint, at best the Google Maps, to the story. It’s actually on the actors and the editor to produce the “text” the listener will interact with. So you do all the same sorts of things you try to do with a screenplay: write scene descriptions that’ll be helpful for the actors/director, locate them physically and emotionally, write good dialogue, create a structure that makes what happens in a given episode both surprising and inevitable, based on who the characters are and what they’re up against. You know, maddeningly difficult stuff.

4. So what’s it like “behind the curtain”? How much of the process involves producers, directors, actors, etc.? Where does the buck stop? How do you decide where to make cuts, story changes, and all the other elements that come with working with a team? 
It’s a very collaborative process, I find, and a very fluid one. But the buck always stops with our benevolent overlord/showrunner. Gabriel is our head writer, directs, and, though we don’t have a credit for it, does the crucial work of editing everything together. So he has the absolute last word, and even if an episode is credited to another writer, the show is very much entirely his vision. That said, there’s a lot of give and take with the writing process. I was editing scripts long before I started writing them, and some of my favorite lines, beats, and character moments which I contributed are in Gabriel’s eps (or Zach’s, or Emma Sherr-Ziarko’s, our second actor to bravely tackle writing an episode). We tend to float ideas and ‘break’ a series of episodes of the show down together in meetings/online conversations/byzantine google docs – right now we’re finishing up structuring the back half of our third season – and then we divvy up the episodes between us. A single writer will outline an episode, get feedback where needed, and then write out a first draft. From there, Gabriel and I tend to trade draft revisions back and forth until we feel it’s ready to be table-read.
Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

The actors don’t ad-lib a lot – though some great suggestions, especially Zach’s, have made it in – but they do contribute in a huge way through the table-reads/rehearsal process. It’s where we can finally hear our words said aloud by people who do that really well, and that clarifies a lot of the issues a script might have/help us cut things down/realize what we were idiots for missing. Gabriel and I will usually do one or two (or six) more passes of a script after that, before it’s “locked” and becomes a recording script. The actors will perform it, and – barring any last-minute adjustments or cuts by Editor!Gabriel – that’s what becomes the episode. So there’s a structure to the creation of the show and a schedule,  but it’s all a very open process. We’ve had actors give us story ideas or had long, involved conversations about their characters, and that’s been invaluable. Usually story changes will come out of that kind of collaboration. We realize we’re missing something or that an episode as it stands isn’t what it needs to be. Usually one of us is just unsatisfied for reasons we can’t quite articulate, and then in conversation we work out what needs to shift.

5. Podcasting has clearly seen a rapid rise in popularity since shows like NPR’s Serial hit the airwaves. In a time where trans-media content is increasingly becoming the norm, do you see any potential opportunities for podcasts working with or within other mediums to expand further? What are some of the ways it could be utilized along side other forms of content? What ways have you seen this done?
What a fascinating question. There’s a history, even as nascent as the ‘podcast,’ is, for commentaries on other media, for sure. The Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul Insider Podcasts, which editor Kelley Dixon runs, are outstanding. The Lindelof/Cuse Lost and Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica podcasts are both, I think, pretty foundational. The Moth and Comedy Bang! Bang! exist out in the real world, of course.  But you’re beginning to see some real crossover. Lore, which is absolutely phenomenally produced, is moving to TV. You’ve got groups like Nightvale Presents and Audible who want to curate audio content, acting as sort of like an HBO/Netflix for podcasts. Audio dramas are on the rise as well.
There are old (“old”) stalwarts like The Black Tapes, there’s Lauren Shippen’s painfully clever The Bright Sessions, and nothing understands/upends the NPR vibe quite like Limetown. So I think we’re probably going to see podcasts not only acting as companion pieces to other media, but jumping into other media. There again, the conversation about how radio storytelling is different from other kinds of storytelling becomes important. Podcasts have the opportunity not only to be in conversation about other media, but tell kinds of stories and offer windows of insight that visual media/prose may not have the capacity to do. In a media landscape where everybody increasingly has to do ancillary content, actually making it valuable and engaging through podcasting/radio is appealing.
6. If you had to give one piece of advice to new and aspiring writers, what would it be? 
The idea of “Just Do It” was always super overwhelming for me. What if I were to look into the howling white abyss of a blank word document and find that I don’t (yet) have anything to say? What is “it” and how, exactly, do I “do it.” Instructions, plz. Alas, as I found when I went out into the hard, cruel world of creative life, them’s kind of the breaks. If you want to do creative work, you have to just do creative work, in addition to whatever you’re doing to feed/clothe/shelter yourself. And if you don’t (yet) know what the work is or have a story idea of your own, then the best advice I can give is find people who are going to push you to be creative in any capacity. Find friends whose opinions you trust who will offer feedback your shitty, half-baked pitch idea. Find NaNoWriMo buddies. Find counterparts who value your taste and your thoughts enough to send you their first drafts.
Creativity is a muscle as much as it is anything else. So find ways to get in the habit of writing so that you’re accountable, and you learn, and improve. If it’s only to yourself, great. I loathe your willpower. If not, find a way to do work that’s accountable to someone else. You’ll not only start bridging the gap between the writing you see/admire out in the world and what you can do, but start being more comfortable with the “doing.” It’ll put you on the road to whatever the “it” is, for you.
7. What are you working on now?Wolf 359

Season 3.5 of Wolf 359 is most of it, honestly. I occasionally review films for a lovely, silly site called Movieboozer.com, and am working on couple other non-fiction-y projects that should start coming out towards the end of the summer. Also, having a job, paying rent, and learning how to cook things that aren’t curry: those are huge parts of what I’m working on now.

8. Anything else you’d like to add? 

Wolf359.fm. It’s cool. Do it.
Check out Wolf 359 and follow Sarah at @shach_attack!