#DustBowlMovie in the Festivals UPDATE

I am thrilled to announce that latest short film, Wrong Side Up, was just selected for the International Film Festival of Cinematic Arts, (IFFCA) 2014. I’ve got the laurels to prove it. Congratulations to the wonderful cast and crew, our festival circuit has officially begun.

UPDATE: March 2, 2015

Rhode Island beware, the dusters are coming to the SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival! This will be our SEVENTH acceptance for Wrong Side Up ‪#‎DustBowlMovie‬, how cool is that?!

I’m over the moon with the places our little film has gone and I am looking forward to the places it will take us. Thank you so much for your continued support and congratulations CAST, CREW, BACKERS and SUPPORTERS.

Keep up to date with Wrong Side Up and its festival list here. http://www.dustbowlmovie.com

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Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival May 2nd, 2015

 

7 Sene

7th Annual SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival April 20-25, 2015

16th Annual Bare Bones International Independent Film, Arts & Music Festival April 10-19, 2015

Trail Dance Film Festival January 23-24, 2015

4 Beaufort

3 Anchorage 2 LA 1 Starz

Checkout the trailer here:

Wrong Side Up Movie Trailer from Crooked Lake Productions on Vimeo.

Where to Start – Accessory Guide to the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K

Production Ready

I am a new user of Blackmagic Design’s 4K Production Camera and I thought it might be helpful to post my transition from HDSLR filmmaking to a BMPC4K production workflow. One of the first things to notice about the BMPC4K is you are purchasing a camera body. This means you will need a few accessories to make it production ready. You have this 35mm sensor with a global shutter that is capable of capturing Ultra 4K resolution via ProRes/RAW files at 12 stops of dynamic range. But you don’t want to just throw a lens on the EF mount and start shooting unless you are prepared for disappointment. There are too many variables that need to be covered before you should shoot your next project.

Out of the Box

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the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K and its packaging.

 

Out of the box you will receive the camera body, a charger for the internal battery, a sun shield, a camera strap and a spiffy new copy of DaVinci Resolve – considered Hollywood’s most powerful color corrector — with the dongle. With the purchase of the BMPC4K you get a license to the application. A few things to keep in mind: 1. The disc that comes with the camera is a copy of Resolve 10. This will not install on your Mac if you are running Yosemite or later OS’s. You will need to download a copy of Resolve 11 from Black Magic Design’s website. Resolve 11 will work seamlessly with the license you have on your dongle. 2. DO NOT lose your dongle. If you don’t have the dongle plugged into your computer when you run Resolve you will not be able to use it. Keep it locked in your safe or leave it plugged into your desktop.

Drives and Docks

The BMPC4K does not come with a drive. To record a shot you will need to purchase a SSD. Since I shoot 4K I am limited in my choice of drives as they need to be fast. I know the brand SanDisk Extreme PRO from the days of when I used to work in a camera store, so I chose the 240GB SanDisk Extreme PRO. 4K is a different animal from HD and it turns out that 240GB only holds about 20 minutes of footage! When you purchase your drives don’t go any lower than 480GB, and it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a 960GB drive too. Unless you are versed in 35mm motion picture and miss the nostalgic feel of switching out a reel every eight minutes. You think Birdman was spectacular? Check out Hitchcock’s Rope, and prepare to have your mind BLOWN.

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Sandisk Extreme PRO SSD, HighPoint Dual-Bay Thunderbolt Storage Dock and a thunderbolt cable.

 

You will also want to purchase a storage dock to transfer footage and work from. I like fast things so I chose the HighPoint Dual-Bay Thunderbolt Storage Dock.

Power

So we got our camera body and a drive, let’s go make a movie! What about power? Sure the BMPC4K has an internal battery, but how long will that last you? An hour at best. I like to look at the internal battery as a buffer between switching out external batteries or for getting that last pickup shot after you’ve packed the rest of your gear. Most folks are recommending a V-Mount battery system. At $300-$400 bucks a pop you are looking at spending a pretty penny on batteries. But never fear, with a little patience and digging you can find some pretty good deals. Use that extra cashflow for a new lens…or rent. 

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Switronix PB70 Pro-X batteries and charger.

 

I found two Switronix PB70 Pro-X batteries on Craigslist for $150 each. That’s two batteries for the price of one and it adds up to roughly 8-10 hours of production time. They came with the charger too. One thing to note is that if you buy a Switronix new, it will not come with the charger so you will need to add that on as an accessory.

Cage

OK! FINALLY! I got my camera, my drive, and my batteries. Can we shoot now??? Sure thing, but where are you going to put your battery? And THIS is probably the most important part of the blog. The design of the camera is very beautiful, but not that useful. It’s OK Blackmagic Design we understand that it pays to be disruptive and because of you we have a powerful little camera that needs a little love to start rolling. Black magic Design offers a $200 set of aluminum handle bars, but I can’t really imagine taking a BMPC4K into the field without a full cage for multiple reasons:

  1. I don’t want to scratch and dent up this beautiful camera body. The mount plate will scratch up the bottom of the body if applied directly to the camera.
  2. I need some handles to be able to go handheld and increase accessibility.
  3. I need more real estate to add accessories.

I’m familiar with companies like RedRock Micro and Wooden Camera from the DSLR days (you’ll recognize their brand from most shoulder mounts). And now you’ll see them on many cages as well. While perusing the web I found plenty of camera cages with handles and base mounts and they were all pretty expensive. I ended up purchasing a Lanparte cage with the handle and base mount on craigslist for a fraction of the price.

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The BMPC4K with the Lanparte cage, handle and base mount.

 

I appreciate the Lanparte model because of its price, quality, universal friendliness, look and the shoe on top of the handle. I plan to add a LED light or a BOOM to that shoe.

Lanparte also makes a battery backpack plate for its rigs. You will want to purchase one of these to mount your Switronix batteries. You can find it over at Amazon.

Glass

Since I’ve been collecting glass for a while all of my Canon lenses are interchangeable with the EF Mount. This is a winner for me because NO ONE wants to replace their lenses, especially when each lens is essentially the same price as the camera itself. Since the sensor is cropped you can even getaway with testing out older FD glass. This is something I couldn’t do with the 5D MK2 full frame sensor because of the vignette the FD lenses would produce. I intend to try it out now that I am shooting with a crop.

Sunshine

Use your sunscreen! No this isn’t your mother talking, this is a concerned shooter who is letting you know that in bright conditions it will be hard to see the glossy screen. Quickest remedy: snap on the sun shield. I have a Small HD DP7 monitor that I use for monitoring, but I plan on purchasing an EVF (Electronic View Finder) in the near future.

Speaking of lenses and sun… If you haven’t started collecting Neutral Density filters, now is a good time to start. The BMPC4K sensor is sensitive and the sun is harsh, so it is important to use ND filters to dim the amount of light that feeds into the sensor. If you do not use the ND filters you may start noticing a purplish hue in your highlights when color correcting. Regardless, using ND filters is a good rule of thumb for any shooter. I just came back from shooting in Antarctica and the filters kept me shooting open so I could achieve shallow depth for a majority of my shots.

Low Light

If I am in the field and I don’t have many lights I will use a DSLR B-Cam for low light. You don’t want to go past ISO 400ASA on the BMPC4K so invest in a light kit and learn to gaff.

Audio

There is a 1/4 inch input on the BMPC4K body. You can insert a microphone receiver at full volume then monitor its levels from the camera. I am contemplating the A-Box adapter for XLR compatibility.

Wrap It Up

I hope this blog doesn’t scare you off! It is meant to motivate you to get out there and put a rig together. Keep your eye open for good deals and you can put a quality rig together for a relatively low price. Your camera is a tool you use to make moving images. We are in an era where Oscar winning films can be shot on iPhones. The technology moves fast and replaces itself annually; its on you to jump in and get your hands dirty. The Blackmagic Design Production Camera 4K produces a quality image and will help increase your production value, but most importantly, just go get a camera and start making movies. Invest in your story above everything else.

– Henry Darrow McComas
After completing his latest short film, Wrong Side Up, in Colorado, Henry moved to beautiful Santa Monica to continue his career in digital production and new media. You can stay up to date with Henry and his work at www.HenryMcComas.com.

Wrong Side Up Movie Trailer

The Dust Bowl was the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history. For Colorado, it transformed the landscape and Coloradan people with a decade long drought.

In my new short film Wrong Side Up,  Mac, a twelve-year-old boy whose fate is determined by his father’s departure and the impending Dust Bowl is forced to care for his family and their farm.

The movie was shot at historic locations all over Colorado on the R3D EPIC and will release later this year. Watch the trailer here.#DustBowlMovie #preserveCO

Blackmagic Design Announces Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is now Shipping with at a Price

I’ve had this camera preordered since July of 2013 with the expectations of a September release. I am a big fan of Blackmagic Design’s disruptive brand; I use their hardware to capture video game footage for many game industry trailers I produce and I use DaVinci Resolve to color correct my live action footage. It was a disappointment when the Production Camera 4K was pushed back but this press release is pleasant and much needed.

Fremont, CA – February 10, 2014 – Blackmagic Design today announced the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is now shipping and with a new low price of US$2,995. This new low price will be available for all customers, including existing pre-orders. Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is available now from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide for only US$2,995.

“The support from the creative community for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and Production Camera 4K has been amazing,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “As with all of our products, we work hard in production to reduce costs so we can pass along the savings, even to our first Blackmagic Production Camera 4K customers. The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K is a perfect companion for ATEM Production 4K switchers and we hope the new low price will help more customers to expand their Ultra HD live production set ups with even more camera angles!”

The Making of An American Terror

The following article is an interview I conducted for the Colorado Film and Video Association with Haylar Garcia about the making of his feature film, An American Terror.

With an undisclosed budget, a 30 person crew made up of 98% Coloradans and a three week shooting schedule, Haylar Garcia’s American Terror took on Denver by becoming one of Colorado’s most well known horror films. “It’s my grim fantasy about what I wish would have happened BEFORE Columbine.” Says Mr. Garcia, writer and director of American Terror. Here’s how it was made.
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Colorado native, Haylar Garcia, was working as a screenwriter in LA during the scripting process of American terror. “As fate would have it, my lit manager Tarik Heitmann and his producing partner Sam Sleiman, came upon an investor that wanted to make a low budget horror film, but wanted a concept that deviated from the typical formula a bit.” Mr. Garcia compared the project to an assignment. “The idea of a Columbine related film had always been in the back of my mind, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to express it.” When Mr. Garcia was describing the pitch meeting he related it to a whirlwind. What started off as a pitch to sell a script culminated in Garcia and team leading the full film production to Denver, Colorado.

Mr. Garcia knew from the beginning that the film was a bait and switch, type of movie. Think Psycho, transforming from a heist film to jumpstarting the slasher genre. And his vision went according to plan except for the late inclusion of references to James Holmes. “The Aurora shooting happened just as we entered into post. It was a huge crossroads for us.” Without spoiling the movie it is safe to tell you that American Terror dabbles heavily with school shootings, always a sensitive topic for Colorado. “As a Colorado native, I needed the characters to call those horrible memories to mind.” Mr. Garcia spoke about the differences and similarities between Columbine and the Aurora shooting and his movie. “Holmes did not shoot up a school and the actual cause of his actions remains to be fully revealed…I found myself stunned by the instant “fame” that he received both on social media and the news.” The media’s portrayal of Holmes motivated Mr. Garcia to add additional footage to American Terror. “In the end I included some court footage of him, as an example of how our characters perceived that promise of instant iconoclastic fame.” If anything, the addition of the Holmes content only strengthened the film. Mr. Garcia is happy to say that he made the film he set out to make. “Overall, it comes off just as the script had hoped. We feel we are watching one movie, then it takes a sharp left, then once we get used to that path, things circle back around to explain how the bait and switch was really not a switch at all.”

Like any good horror movie, the story is as important as the gore. Thankfully, the characters in American Terror had motivation and purpose. “The hero’s arc is critical in that the character, Josh, (the protagonist) is someone who must navigate a series of social and literal hells in order to find strength when the temptation of revenge seem so much easier.” So what does it take to bring these characters to life? The monster in the film is a meth smoking, bath salt consuming, insane person that wears a predatory bird outfit made from parts of people and vintage war attire. The Costumes were created by costume and FX teams run by Jhene Chase, Melinda Piche and Alan Anderson. “They were just amazing at bringing to life the craziness in my head.” Production Designer Ken Jones took the look and feel of the Junkers Lair and other interiors from the world of Imagination to a reality far beyond what had been dreamed. His multiple sets brought terrifying insanity alive. Working closely with scenic artist Briggs Gillen and set decorator Savanna Johnson he helped to create a horrifying journey into madness. “Those guys worked as an amazing team to bring to life the Junker’s lair which was all built in a warehouse just off of 35th and Brighton Blvd in the RiNo district.”

Post Production was just under two months. 30 days to cut the film, 10 days for sound and 10 days for color with an additional two days for pick-ups. American Terror was conceived, shot and posted in Colorado. The crew was made up of veterans and a few newbies. “Once the younger crew settled into their positions and realized they were there to work, not to play filmmaker, things went swimmingly. I feel like we had a great meld of generations working together. I feel like that is what Colorado needs most.”

Mr. Garcia explained how shooting with a Colorado crew was easier for him than using Californian talent. “Using natives instead of bringing in people from out of state, helps us keep the roots hearty and people here are less jaded.” The American Terror crew rose to the occasion, so much so that the producers of the film plan to bring a much larger budget film into Colorado during the summer of 2014. When I asked Mr. Garcia to give me a moment where Colorado saved his ass, he shared this tidbit; a quote that is a perfect bookend to an article about a horror movie from Colorado. “One night during a stunt using a police car we had an HMI refuse to fire, and it would have spun us out of schedule, LSI came out at 11:00 PM to fix it on the spot, for our little ol’ indie production. That’s where hometown relationships pay off.”

Henry McComas is the senior video producer for Exclusive Resorts and owner of Crooked Lake Productions. He is currently producing his next short film, Wrong Side Up, in Colorado. WSU is a coming of age story about a twelve-year-old boy whose fate is determined by his father’s departure and the impending Dust Bowl as he is forced to care for his family and their farm. www.HenryMcComas.com

Wrong Side Up in the Press

The following article was reported by Laura Van Dusen for the Flumethe official paper of Park County, Colorado since 1879.

Dust bowl classroom

Photo by Laura Van Dusen/The Flume)

A coming-of-age film set at the height of southeastern Colorado’s Dust Bowl days brought the cast and crew of “Wrong Side Up,” a short film by Englewood, Colo.-based Crooked Lake Productions, to Como on Nov. 2 to film scenes set in a rural schoolhouse.

The set was the historic Como High School; it was Como’s high school beginning in 1930. In 1940, the one student in the last senior class graduated.

In the scene shot on Nov. 2, a group of seven child actors play 1930s-era students learning Practical Arithmetics in the one-room schoolhouse. During the lesson, a character named Josiah, played by 10-year-old Coby Fox of Bow Mar, Colo. can’t figure out the answer to a division problem.

The student sitting next to Josiah in class is Mac, the protagonist of the film, played by 11-year-old Jason Olree of Denver. While the teacher is looking away, Mac erases the wrong answer on Josiah’s slate and writes the correct answer. Because of his help, Josiah realizes Mac is a friend.

Other scenes to be shot in Como at a later date will depict a circa-1930s outdoor movie theater and an outdoor scene of blowing dust.

Writer/Director Henry McComas based the 15-minute film loosely on family legends about his grandfather’s experience as a 12-year-old living in rural Apple Creek, Ohio, in the 1930s.

Henry McComas said the legend that was passed down through his family was that his grandfather had to intimidate his own father – the great-grandfather of Henry McComas – to get him to leave the home property.

“No one knew what the confrontation was; I heard rumors that perhaps [great-grandfather] may have been drunk. He was not exiled. He was told by his son to come back when he was sober,” said McComas

The film is set in 1935 in the Dust Bowl-era of Colorado’s Baca County in the southeastern corner of the state bordering Oklahoma; it was one of the hardest-hit areas of the drought that gripped the middle of the U.S. in the decade called the “dirty thirties.”

It lasted from 1930 to 1939, when family farms in southeastern Colorado, western Kansas, northeastern New Mexico, and the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma dried up and the topsoil blew away due to low rains and strong winds.

In exterior scenes to be filmed later this month at Campo, Colo., in Baca County, the father of Mac and his sister Liza leaves the farm and travels to California in hopes of finding a paying job.

But even when the father returns with a stack of money in his pocket, there is conflict, resolved when Mac threatens his father with an axe and tells him to leave the house.

One of the few lighter sides in the film is in the character of Liza, who “brings lightheartedness to this dark, dry time,” McComas said. She is played by 7-year-old Annabelle Hafey of Thornton, Colo.

Henry McComas chose a Dust Bowl setting because he is fascinated by the history of that time and has studied it extensively. He said the conflict in the film is mirrored by the struggles of life in the Dust Bowl era.

McComas plans to enter “Wrong Side Up” in the Denver-based Starz Film Festival and the Park City, Utah-based Sundance Film Festival.

Como set

When McComas was looking for a schoolhouse to film the interior scenes, he talked to Shannon Haltiwanger, preservation communications manager at History Colorado. From working with other historic projects in Como, Haltiwanger told The Flume that she thought the former Como high school would be a good match.

Haltiwanger said she contacted Linda Balough, Park County tourism director, who put her in touch with Ann Lukacs, a successful filmmaker who has been hired by Park County to work as a film industry consultant and to establish a Park County Film Office.

Lukacs said her job with the county is promoting it to film industry professionals as a potential location to shoot movies, films, television shows and commercials, and she advises local businesses and property owners on hosting film companies.

When talking about McComas, Lukacs said the county is “excited to help [him] with his film” and described him as a very dedicated filmmaker.

The county, through the tourism office and the South Park National Heritage Area that Balough also directs, has a list of potential sites for filming, both in South Park and Platte Canyon that can be promoted to filmmakers. Balough told The Flume that anyone who wants his or her private property added to the list of possible film sites can contact her for more information. She can be contacted by email at lbalough@parkco.us or by phone at 719-836-4298.

The Como Civic Association, owner of the two historic schools in Como, allowed the use of the buildings – the former high school for filming and the former elementary school for cast and crew check-in, wardrobe fittings and a place to eat lunch.

See the original article: http://www.theflume.com/news/first_five/article_90763082-48cd-11e3-a130-0019bb30f31a.html

Wrong Side Up Location Announcement #1

Welcome to the Como Schoolhouse. If our protagonist Mac isn’t working in the fields or at his job manning an outdoor theater, he’s at the schoolhouse with his nose in the books.

History Colorado has been a great asset in this production and they did a phenomenal job bringing together our movie and this location. Como school operated as a public educational facility from 1883 through 1948. In addition to the grade school is a small building that was moved to the school grounds during the early 1930s to serve as a high school. The complex includes two outhouses and a small storage shed. After closing as a school, the Como Civic Association acquired the property and it remains in use as a community center.

We feel so fortunate that we get to shoot in such a treasured historic location and can’t wait to see this setting light up on the screen.  Thanks History Colorado!

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Wrong Side Up Casting Announcement

Hey Crew,

I’m super excited to announce that we have locked down the cast for Wrong Side Up. In this update I would like to introduce two very important characters: Mac’s Parents. Jude Moran will be playing Caleb, Mac’s father, who is a suitcase farmer. Suitcase farmers were notorious for growing wheat without the proper agriculture education and experience. They primarily worked and lived outside the community except during the plowing, seeding, and harvesting seasons, hence the name suitcase farmers.  When they were in the plains tending to their crops, they were living out of their suitcase.

Katharyn Grant will be playing Suzanne, Mac’s mother. Suzanne – though married to Caleb – is very much a single mother who cares for her children and the house while Mac is away working.  Money is scarce and the land isn’t fertile so Suzanne must do whatever she can to keep her children healthy, even if it means cracker soup or skipping her own meal.

Jude and Katharyn are both represented by Radical Artists Agency. Radical Artists was founded by two of Colorado’s most respected agents, Patty Kingsbaker and Kathey True. Radical represents premier Colorado talent for work in film, television, commercials, industrials, voiceovers, theatre, and commercial print. Learn more about Jude and Katharyn after the jump!

Jude Moran

JudeMoran_C11Out of High School Jude was awarded a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After studying in New York Jude won the IMTA talent of the year in Los Angeles and moved there to work with world renowned acting coaches Adam Hill and Howard Fine. His first movie was The Low Life which was produced by Donald Zuckerman and directed by George Hickenlooper. Jude worked with George a few more times before he moved to Denver to be with his young son. In Denver Jude has worked with probably every theater in town, including The Denver Center, Arvada Center, Aurora Fox and Curious Theater Company – just to name a few. He is a proud member of Actors Equity, the stage actors union and was nominated by the Denver Post for Best Year By An Actor. He was also awarded a “Best of” award by Westword for his work in K2. Jude continues to do film and recently starred as evil twins who run an old western town in the epic short, Emancipation, which is now making the rounds at various film festivals around the world.

Katharyn (“KAYTI”) Grant

KatharynGrantHS13Katharyn currently stars in and directed the feature length film, The One Who Loves You, which is currently playing at film festivals, including: Starz Denver; Twin Cities Film Festival (Minneapolis); River’s Edge Film Festival (Paducah, Kentucky); Knoxville Film Festival; and Red Dirt Film Festival (Stillwater, OK), where it was nominated for Best Dramatic Feature.  She has written, directed, and starred in several short films including The Accoutrement, Dave and Nadine, and The Tao of Pez which have screened on IFC (Independent Film Channel), at Starz Film Center, and at the Broad Humor Film Festival in Los Angeles and Rome, where she won a special prize for “Best Wacky Comedy.”  She studied acting with William Alderson from the Neighborhood Playhouse and Jack Waltzer from the Actor’s Studio.  Grant has appeared onstage in several critically acclaimed plays in the Denver area. Her favorite roles include: Catherine Holly in Tennessee William’s Suddenly Last Summer; Hypatia in G.B. Shaw’s Misalliance; and Sophie in Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant. She was most recently seen in Offending the Audience. She performs in comedies at Adam’s Mystery Playhouse and has toured internationally via Armed Forces Entertainment, performing at U.S. military bases in England, Europe, Asia, Alaska, Hawaii and Guam.  Last year Monkey Puzzle Press published a volume of her poetry and visual art entitled Interior Life, which The Boston Literary Review called “an adventure for the eyes and a journey for the spirit.”  She received her degree in creative writing and visual art from the University of Denver.