Making a trailer for nothing

It’s a very popular practice for independent filmmakers to shoot a trailer, just the trailer, in hopes of using it to raise money for the full film. The idea is to show what the movie will look like once completed. You know, once you give them money to make it.

Nice idea. Except for two problems. I’ve never actually seen this work and it still takes a huge amount of work to shoot a trailer. A trailer is a great marketing tool. But it doesn’t show you can properly and compelling tell a story. I think we’ve all experienced a promising trailer, only to be disappointed by the actual film.

Before committing one minute or one dime to making your trailer I have a couple of ideas that might help.

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Kickstarter: there goes the neighborhood


There’s been a lot of flack over Veronica Mars and Zach Braff using Kickstarter to fund their movies. But they’re not the first. Last year Charlie Kaufman raised over $400,000 for his animated film Anomalisa. Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi raised nearly $137,000. David Fincher raised $442,000 to start production on an animated project, The Goon. Colin Hanks raised over $50,000 for a documentary about Tower Records. The internet is a buzz with condemnation, and yet they reached their goals. Is our rage misplaced? Read More

Pan vs Tilt

I’ve heard far too many filmmakers and supposed screenwriters say things like:

“… and then it pans up and you see …”

“… the camera pans in on her face and …”

Here’s the thing: you can only pan left and right. That’s it. If you’re talking about movies, writing screenplays, or anywhere near me, please use the correct terminology.

Pretend your head is the camera. Look left. Look right. That’s panning.

Now look up. Look down. That’s tilting.

Both are from a fixed position.

The camera does not pan in on anything. If you’re describing the frame “moving in” on a subject it either zooms or physically moves (dolly/steadycam/crane/etc). But I wouldn’t bother referencing a zoom or dolly in a screenplay. It will only detract from the read. Find a creative way to paint a mental picture for the reader without need of technical specificity.


Your videos suck

I watch a lot of videos by, shall we say “non professionals”. With the rising quality and low price tag on video equipment and editing software anybody can make a video and post it on the web. Our world is increasingly crammed with webisodes, shorts, and diy feature films. You can post ’em on Facebook, and YouTube, and Vimeo, and Google+, and probably eventually LinkedIn and Twitter. Problem is nobody knows what they’re doing. It’s a cacophony of monkey shit assaulting my soul. But fear not, I have a few tips on how you can improve your crappy video. Let’s run down…


I’d like to put these in a descending order so as to build to something, but let’s face it, you’re probably not going to read all of it anyway, you lazy bastard. Let’s just start.

#1 Editing

This is by far the largest problem. These are the most common editing mistakes. Read More

Victim’s Song, out in the world

Victim's Song on Gigaplex HDVictim’s Song on Gigaplex HD!

Victim’s Song on your iPad

My award-winning film, Victim’s Song, is now available on your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and soon your Android phone through an app called Gigaplex HD. The app was created by Animatix Studios, Inc. and it can be downloaded for free through iTunes.

Victim’s Song
When a man’s family is brutally murdered he becomes the prime suspect and falls prey to a pair of low-lives turned vigilantes.
Runtime: 90 minutes
Genre: suspense/crime
Starring Tom Tansey, Norman J. Pfizenmayer III, Nicholas Wilder
Rated R for violence and strong language