3 Tips on How You Can Encourage Diversity on a Low-Budget Set

Statistics on the homogeneity of many Hollywood films continue to be lousy.

Filmmaker J. Rick Castañeda creates worlds on screen that accurately represent historically underrepresented people, while still keeping features to a finite budget. One big piece of that puzzle for him? Casting, casting, casting!

This USC Annenberg study points out that out of 900 popular films in 2016, just 3.1% of characters with lines were Hispanic. Ouch! Castañeda decided that on his second feature film, a surreal office workplace born out of his experience temping in Hollywood, he would continue a few tricks he learned on his first feature and would represent more people from more places (and more countries). On some sets, getting out of your comfort zone to create diversity can be a challenge. But other times, it's as easy as keeping the camera populated by actual members of your community.

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How Lauren Greenfield Documented Greed and Personal Obsession in ‘Generation Wealth’

Is the obsessive need to use a camera another addiction in our culture of narcissism and excess?

In her new film Generation Wealth, director Lauren Greenfield (The Queen of Versailles) takes a look at the growing obsession with wealth around the world, and it’s like 1905 up in here. By that, I mean that the worldwide concentration of wealth by the very stinking rich has reached the levels of early 1900s America. Are regular people fed up with materialism? Are the Super-Rich finally happy?

Greenfield is no stranger to the world of this story. In the film, she returns to the expensive private school in Santa Monica where she first picked up a camera to document her schoolmates’ obsession with money. Since then, she’s spent nearly 25 years as an “insider-outsider” to the world of the wealthy, taking nearly half a million photographs. In the film, she follows up with many of the people in those photographs to find out where our culture is headed.

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No Film Industry in Your Town? Do Like Linklater & Start Your Own

Thirty years ago, Richard Linklater started the Austin Film Society and created a thriving Texas film industry. Why not try it yourself?

Thirty years ago, there were few films being made in the state of Texas, let alone Austin. There was maybe a once-yearly film shot in the state which, as Richard Linklater describes in the conversation below from this year's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, tended to be of the exploitation genre like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That wasn’t the type of film Linklater aspired to make, and he didn’t want to move to New York or Los Angeles. Linklater’s response to the question of did you think you could make a living as a film director? “Not no, hell no!”

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Why Making a Good Music Documentary Means Speaking Two Universal Languages

For the filmmakers who captured the historic trip to Cuba by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, it wasn't about translating English to Spanish, but Music to Film.

It’s very hard to make a film about music that’s better than actually just listening to music. That’s the challenge co-directors T.G. Herrington and Danny Clinch took on in A Tuba to Cuba, a documentary the revered New Orleans Jazz band as they travel to post-embargo Cuba. There, the film captures the team, which includes Ben Jaffe, son of the founder of the Preservation Hall as well as its band leader today, as they travel the country, tracing the shared musical roots with their Cuban musician counterparts. The film covers the influence of history (slave ships stopped in Havana en route to New Orleans), the birth of syncopation and jazz (and arguably all modern music) and above all, the strength of music to communicate our worlds to each other without words.

Here's a clip from A Tuba to Cuba that we listen to in the podcast:

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Filmstro & BAFTA Want to Give You $40K Worth of Gear for a Five-Minute Short

If you use Filmstro to score a short film, you could win a package that includes serious goodies from Blackmagic, Zacuto, Rode, and more.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and Filmstro have announced a joint Short Film Competition for anybody from anywhere about anything, as long as you’re at least 18 years old (sorry younger teenagers!). The films will be judged by panelists that include Philip Bloom and Darious Britt, and the deadline is in August with the winners being announced in September.

Here’s the call from Filmstro:

Create a short film about ANYTHING you want. It can be fiction or non-fiction and any genre (including documentary). You must use Filmstro music in your short film. We’re giving ALL of our entrants 100% free 60-day access to the entire Filmstro music catalog. You can get access to Filmstro by clicking on the ‘Access Filmstro’ button on our BAFTA short film contest page.

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4 Takeaways From Director Tim Robbins on Creativity Behind and In Front of the Camera

The Oscar-nominated director (and Oscar-winning actor) has played multiple roles on film sets, often simultaneously.

Tim Robbins has had a towering career. A glance at his IMDB page highlights 73 acting credits, as well as ten directing credits, seven soundtrack credits, four writing credits, and an Oscar nomination for Best Director (for Dead Man Walking in 1995).

The crazy thing? Tim Robbins only got into acting for television so he could quit his job delivering pizza. He started out as a punk-rock pizza delivery boy with aspirations to be a director. But then, he got cast in a film directed by Robert Altman. “I went to the best film school ever, the Robert Altman School,” said Robbins in conversation at the 2018 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Seeing Altman at work, Robbins realized that the idea of the auteur was bogus, leading him to formalize how he would make his directorial debut, Bob Roberts, a satire about the political campaign of a millionaire businessman who loves beauty pageants and wants to save America. Holy Déjà vu, this film was made in 1992?

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Field Recording 101: How to Make Sure Your Documentary Sounds As Good As It Looks (Part 2)

These seven case studies will help you decided what audio set-up your doc needs.

One of the biggest challenges in documentary filmmaking is capturing clean, usable sound on-the-go in live environments. In part one of this series, we outlined how to choose the right mics and equipment for the job.

Here, we share case studies from various documentary filmmakers on how they managed to capture great sound on some very challenging productions. From profiling a famous TV personality to capturing an insanely noisy racetrack, these IRL setups range from super-simple to fairly complex. Each of them employed creative indie filmmaking attitudes and dedication that reign supreme in good documentary filmmaking, and their experiences should help point to which audio setup your film will require.

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Field Recording 101: How to Make Sure Your Documentary Sounds As Good As It Looks (Part 1)

There's nothing more challenging than capturing an unpredictable subject on camera—except maybe for capturing usable sound of that subject!

Documentary audiences are forgiving of picture quality. Shaky cell phone footage? It’s personal. Pixelated Digibeta? Historical. Grainy 8mm? Ephemeral. But if the audience can’t hear someone because you’re standing next to a waterfall where a dump truck is trying to parallel park, people get pissed.

So how do you record high-fidelity sound in a changing environment with a small (or no) crew? First, let's just make sure we are all on the same page with the basics. Below is a guide to choosing appropriate audio gear for docs. In part two of this series, we'll share case studies from various documentary filmmakers on how they managed to capture great sound on some very challenging productions.

If you're strategizing sound for your next documentary shoot, this should give you a great place to start!

The best microphone on a documentary is the one that will best anticipate the challenges you'll be faced with following your story.

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Inside the Edit Room of the Eight-Hour Netflix Series ‘Wild Wild Country’

What does it take to edit an eight-hour movie?

While Neil Meiklejohn was working in the editorial department for The Battered Bastards of Baseball, he stumbled across about 300 hours of footage related to the followers of Rajneesh and their attempts to build a utopian city in a remote part of Oregon. Along with directors Chapman Way and Maclain Way, Meiklejohn knew that this may not be your average black-and-white true-crime story. They wanted it to be a long, complex, multifaceted story...and told in six parts.

Meiklejohn took to creating a sizzle reel, and next thing you know, he was editing rough cuts of each episode to send to the Duplass Brothers and the Netflix team, where the series has since become hugely popular. Wild Wild Country has inspired a full-blown SNL sketch and a flurry of online (and presumably offline) discussions about the Constitution, freedom of religion, and the difference between right and wrong in the small town of Antelope, OR, USA.

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What You Can Do in Distribution to Maximize the Life of Your Film

The magic eight ball suggests that the outlook for independent distribution this year is: don’t count on it. Here’s how can take control of your fortune to make it happen for yourself.

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