It's been a busy couple of months for us at Vinegar Hill. Here are two new spots we produced for Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
We at Vinegar Hill love all things BBQ. That's why getting to work on this really fun spot for Homewood Suites and Destination America was a total blast. Thanks to our friends at Visualante and Fogomotion for bringing us on to "get our grill on".
Client: Destination America & Homewood Suites
Production Co: Fogomotion
Director: David Altrogge
Director of Photography: Michael J. Hartnett
VINEGAR HILL wrapped up production recently on a new spot for the NAB Show®. We were privileged to partner with our friends at VsTheBrain to come up with and execute the concept for the 30 second spot which will be shown in advertising at The Sundance Film Festival in January!
We enjoyed working with the ARRI Alexa, which gave us a kick butt image for a high quality end product. We look forward to showing you the finished spot!
When we started The New American Storytellers Podcast we had NO IDEA the response we would have. And it has been exciting to see a fairly new resource get so much traffic.
We are now on episode 3 and the podcast has already become the #3 most downloaded audio podcast in the iTunes TV & Film Category! Of course we intend to continue to grow the podcast and the resources available on The New American Storytellers in the coming months! We look forward to continuing the discussion on the creative process with you!
All of us at Vinegar Hill are excited to announce the inaugural release of The New American Storytellers Podcast! Each week myself and the guys at Vinegar Hill will be discussing filmmaking, storytelling & the creative process.
On this episode of the podcast we discuss the importance of learning to watch movies to become better filmmakers & storytellers. Enjoy!
Be Sure to follow The New American Storytellers on Twitter!
The responses to the music video for Aaron Shust's latest hit single have ranged from simply stated "That's really good." to asking us for a tissue box. Now that it has premiered online we would love to know what you think of the new video?
We enjoyed working with so many talented people to make this happen. On behalf of myself and the entire Vinegar Hill team: phenomenal work every single one of you! We could not have done this without the hard work, the acting, the coffee & the vitamin water, and the gracious demeanors of so many cast & crew.
We're just wrapping up post on a music video for Aaron Shust's new single "My Hope Is In You". It's a great song and we hope the video does it justice! Check out the write up on Today's Christian Music!
Just wanted to drop a little hello to the "Blogesphere" (yeah I said "blogesphere". Sue me...) and showcase a couple of the projects we've been working on here at Vinegar Hill this last month. I would write up a big paragraph for each of the videos, but I know you won't read 'em anyway...so just enjoy the videos and have a great weekend!
Director of Photography, Michael Hartnett, ushers in the new week at the Vinegar Hill Offices...
We're almost to the finish line with our new short film THE COSMONAUT and we are pumped out of our minds about it. It's 90% complete. We've shot it. We are in the process of editing it. Now we just need to raise $1,500.00 to take the film to completion.
Once completed we will be sending the film to major film festivals including Sundance.
To get in on the fun visit our page on kickstarter.
Thanks for considering being a part of this!
[UPDATE 4/11/11]: We have reached our goal in less than 4 days! Thanks so much to everyone who contributed! There is still time left on the project to contribute if you like as every additional amount will go towards festival entries and promotion of the film once released. Thanks again, you guys rock!
We at Vinegar Hill have learned so much about creativity and innovation from our friends at Pixar. This is a little article from FastCompany about Pixar's motto: go from suck to non-suck...and fast. I hope you are as inspired by this read as I was.
Pixar's Motto: Going From Suck to Nonsuck
BY FC EXPERT BLOGGER PETER SIMS
In a world that is obsessed with preventing errors and perfection, perhaps it's ironic that despite 11 straight blockbuster movies, Pixar cofounder and President Ed Catmull describes Pixar's creative process as "going from suck to nonsuck."
That's because Catmull and Pixar's directors think it's better to fix problems than to prevent errors. "My strategy has always been: be wrong as fast as we can," says Andrew Stanton, Director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E, "Which basically means, we're gonna screw up, let's just admit that. Let's not be afraid of that." We can all work this way more often.
So, for instance, Pixar does not begin new movies with a script. Far from it. Film ideas begin on rough storyboards until they work through thousands of problems throughout the process in order to take films from suck to nonsuck.
People at Pixar describe storyboards as the "hand-drawn comic book version" of a movie, a blueprint for the characters and actions. Storyboards are three-by-eight inch sheets of white paper upon which Pixar's story artists sketch ideas. As Joe Ranft, who was one of Pixar's master storyboard artists described it, "Sometimes the first try works, while other times a dozen or more passes are required."
They must persist. Pixar used 27,565 storyboards on A Bug's Life, 43,536 for Finding Nemo, 69,562 for Ratatouille, and 98,173 for WALL-E.
This process of rigorous critique, and even major change, doesn't end once the initial script has been approved and the first version of the film has been created on what are called "reels." Reels contain the work-in-progress storyboards, combined with a voice track, that are shown internally before Pixar moves to the expensive digital animation phase.
"Every time we show a film for the first time, it sucks," Catmull will say. People then email their comments to the director to explain what they liked, what they didn't, and why, and substantial changes are made.
In fact, directors say that Pixar's films will suck virtually until the last stage of production--problems are constantly identified and fixed. Finding Nemo had a massive problem with a series of flashbacks that test audiences didn't get that had to be fixed, while Toy Story 2 had to be completely rewritten a year before it was released. (Pixar film release dates are set in stone, which serves as a constraint.)
What we see is not effortless genius. Through tireless iteration, toil, and (often) sleepless nights, the films start to come together.
Depending on the form it takes, perfectionism is not necessarily a block to creativity. Agrowing body of research in psychology has revealed that there are two forms of perfectionism: healthy or unhealthy. Characteristics of what psychologists view as healthy perfectionism include striving for excellence and holding others to similar standards, planning ahead, and strong organizational skills. Healthy perfectionism is internally driven in the sense that it's motivated by strong personal values. Conversely, unhealthy perfectionism is externally driven. External concerns show up over perceived parental pressures, needing approval, a tendency to ruminate over past performances, or an intense worry about making mistakes. Healthy perfectionists exhibit a low concern for these outside factors.
Pixar's culture is defined by a pursuit of excellence and quality. Being able to go from suck to nonsuck when developing a new film is a process of ongoing prototyping, a process that facilitates experimentation by the animators as it allows for a rigorous and continual scrutiny of the work in progress, enabling Pixar to practice healthy perfectionism.
The point of describing Pixar's creative process is not to say that we should all implement such a process on our own. It is not always possible to have people assemble regularly to offer feedback, for example. But finding ways to fail quickly, to invest less emotion and less time in any particular idea or prototype or piece of work, is a consistent feature of the work methods of successful creators. Despite the myths, it's hard work.
As Pixar's chief creative officer John Lasseter expresses his perfectionism, "We don't actually finish our films, we release them."
So it's been about 3 months since I've blogged. The reason is mainly because we've been crazy busy with some really exciting projects. In addition to wrapping up a new short film entitled THE COSMONAUT, we just delivered a fun new spot for S&T Bank. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Also, check out the score for THE COSMONAUT by the brilliant Roger Hooper!
LE REVE RÉVIELLE (the dream awakes)
We are pumped to officially premiere the new short film from our very own Shepherd Ahlers! He shot it in LA in December and totally rocked it!
We'd love to know what you think!
Oh, and we're giving away a BMW to the first 100 viewers...that was a lie. But you'll feel like you won a BMW after watching it.
A brilliant little bit of advise from a young Mr. Spielberg...
It's going to happen. Sooner or later (in most cases sooner), as a filmmaker you will have all your plans blow up in your face. Yes, it's crucial for you to have a really good plan of how're you're going to get your story from the page to the stage (or from the script to the screen...) But to one degree or another, those plans aren't going to work out. Some times it's only partially, a line of dialogue isn't working for example. Other times, it's absolutely disastrous, your plans dying in a blaze of glory...
So what do you do when your plans explode in a million pieces? As a filmmaker, you've got to learn to be flexible. You've got to learn to ask yourself the question: what is the objective of the film or scene and how do I accomplish it in light of the unexpected. Let me share two examples from my own experience. One in which I failed to ask this question and continued following my original plans despite the fact that they were failing miserably. And one in which my team was forced to scrap our original plans and chart a new course...
Last year I wrote and directed a short film called The Interventionist. The film opened with these two rubes breaking into the house and exchanging a bit of witty dialogue. My Director of Photography and I planned to cover this entire conversation in one long take. As we started filming the scene, it was apparent that covering it in one take wasn't working...the actors weren't hitting their cues (which was due only to the fact that we hadn't be able to rehearse the scene enough)...the lines were falling flat...it wasn't working. Now, as the director I should have said, "This approach isn't working. What's most important in this scene, what's the objective, and what is a different way we can accomplish this?" The most important thing certainly wasn't doing it in a long, single take. What was most important was the humorous dialogue and the tension between the characters (which wasn't being accomplished). Well, I didn't stop to ask this question. Rather I did take after take after take after take of the scene as I had originally envisioned it. In the end, the actors were frustrated, I was frustrated, and we had to move on without getting the scene right...
It was an utter disaster. I was directing a web-spot about a couple of kids who go on a road trip driving a gold, '93 Volvo. The entire piece surrounded that glorious, vintage Volvo. But on day two of the shoot my brilliantly crafted plans went down like the Hindenburg. While filming, the driver of the Volvo rear ended another vehicle and the Volvo was totaled. It was devastating. The clock was ticking, we had two days of production left and no way to get another gold, '93 Volvo. As my team and I watched our plans smolder in a heap, we began to ask ourselves the question what's most important in this piece? What's the objective? Was the objective to show people driving in a Volvo? No. The objective was to tell the story about a couple of kids on a road trip...the team was awesome...we sat down for forty five minutes, figured out how to tell the story of the road trip without the Volvo, and resumed the production...
Learn to be flexible. Ask yourself the question (and don't wait until your plans explode): what is the objective of the film or scene and how do I accomplish when my original plans die.