Tuesday, March 24, 2015


< I decided to shoot a small 3-camera video project for Austin-based life coach, author and blogger Alicia Hartzell called AWAKENING TO YOUR STORY.  Alicia needed a 45 minute video as downloadable web content, and my traveling plethora of cameras was just the ticket.

< I pulled the one-man band set up, and went with my trusty Canon 5DMKIII DSLR, a venerable Canon 5DMKII, and an iPhone 6+ for a third close-up angle. Alicia only needed quick and easy web content, so the high def capabilities of the Canon DSLRs seemed to be an appropriate solution.  Plus, I was on a fading SXSW road trip, and it was all I had with me.  A perfect mobile set up.

< I brought out the RODE NTG-2 shotgun mic for A-camera sound synced to the 5DMKIII with a JuicedLink pre-amp.  I added a Sanken COS-11 lav mic connected to a Zoom H1 for back up.  I rented one c-stand, and a few affordable lights. I tried to go with a ring light for some beauty lighting, but the reflection off of Alicia's whiteboard was too intense. I moved it to camera left for a nice key, then bounced a few CFL bulbs off the wall for fill.  I even brought out the LitePanels mini to highlight the plant in the corner, hanging it off an extra tripod.

< I used an iPhone 6+ (not shown) as a 3rd angle camera, and was very pleased with the image.  I'm not sure how it will blend with the two DSLRs, but life is an adventure, so it's worth having an extra angle in post.

< Alicia was amazing in front of the camera.  She quickly adjusted to the DSLR's 10-minute limitation, and was able to deliver her great 45-minute speech. I kept a timer on my iPhone, and signaled her when she needed to "wrap up a thought."  If you get the chance, you can check out her book on Amazon HERE.

Photo: Alicia Hartzell

< Director/DP James Boyd (me) tweaking the 5DMKIII DSLR A-camera.

Thanks to Alicia for allowing me to film her web content.  It was great just to pull out the cameras, and make the magic happen.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Here's a quick short film I made with my iPhone 6+ while having lunch.  I was bored, so I made a 240 fps shot from my view of Congress & 7th Avenue.  The phone was handheld, and I give mad respect to the new stabilization features of the iPhone 6+.  I opened the shot in my iMovie app, and cut it for length.  I added a black and white filter for effect, and then added the in-app music track.  I improvised and recorded a first pass voice over that included the restaurant's ambient sounds.  I even added some foley work, with a few sounds of my dinner glasses clinking together, and my knife hitting the plate.  However, this ambience was too distracting, so I re-recorded the exact voice-over in a quiet room.  I played with the voice over timing, and slowed down the intro and exit. Finally, I layered in the "film by" credit, and output to 720p.  This iMovie film was completely improvised, and done entirely in my iPhone 6+.  You never know when the inspiration will strike to make a film, but luckily your phone is well-equipped to handle your muse.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SXSW 2015 - Sights and Sounds

The 2015 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas is one rockin' experience.  Over 20,000 people descend on this city every year for a blurry convergence party of film, interactive, music, sports, comedy and fashion.  My first feature film (THE NEW GODS) played SXSW back in the hazy day, and I always try to return for the fun that Austin brings.

For complete coverage, please follow my Twitter (@JamesBoyd6161), my Instagram (@jrb6161) and my Facebook fan page (facebook.com/JamesBoydPresents).

Thanks for it all, SXSW!

< Austin delicacies at the ZEFR panel with Ondi Timoner.

< Picking up our stinking badges.  It took me all of nine minutes to get from the back of the line to pick up my badge, bags, and exit.  Well done, SXSW!

< The BATES MOTEL promotion for A&E's TV show.  There's always a vacancy here.

< Stopped by the Canon Filmmaker Lounge, and checked out their entry level DJI F550 drone with 1080p camera.  Check out the camera specs with the Teradek transmitter system and custom gimbal.  Not really a commercial product, but interesting. However, I would recommend the DJI Inspire 1, but thanks for playing Canon.

< Certainly one of the hottest films at the SXSW Film Festival was the sci-fi epic EX MACHINA.  It made it's North American premiere at the world famous Paramount Theater.

< Stopped in and showed some love to the PBS Filmmaker's Lounge.  Watch more PBS!

< Loved this shot from one of the many promo booths outside the convention center (I think it was 3M).
< By far, the most emotionally compelling panel of the festival was for legendary Texas filmmaker LM Kit Carson.  The best stories were told that aren't on Kit's Wiki page.  He had his thumbprints on many of the best filmmakers working today (Wes Anderson, Guillermo Del Toro, Owen & Luke Wilson).  #TexasFilm

< If you've ever seen actor Michael Shannon's dramatic work, you know he is one of the finest actors working today.  Every word that came from his mouth was like the golden music of inspiration.  Dig the shoes, buddy.

< Moderator Michael Tully (PING PONG SUMMER, Hammer to Nail) chats with writer-director Jeff Nichols (MUD, AQUAMAN) and actor Michael Shannon (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, MAN OF STEEL).

< The world famous Paramount Theater from above.  Nice sunshine.

< The SXSW Film Festival had a great poster gallery on display.

< SNEAKERHEADZ director, David T. Friendly, stopped by the Canon Filmmaker Lounge for a chat about his new documentary, and the benefit of using Canon cameras.

< Got a great sunset shot from the roof of the Contemporary Art Gallery.  Magic.

< Getting some much needed sunshine in front of the Samsung Studio.

< Great "Meet The Insiders" panel with Craig Schoenbrun (Kickstarter), RJ Millard (Obscured Pictures) and UTA agent Jenny Maryasis.

The best advice came from Ms. Maryasis about not letting your PR "heat" die down while you play your film at obscure film festivals.  Always be working on your next project, and strike while you are hot.  Maryasis was instrumental in getting Lena Dunham's first feature film TINY FURNITURE into the minds of other industry agents and execs, which launched GIRLS.

< The UTA film financing panel, with David Herrin, agent Jonathan Levy and agent Hailey Wierengo.  Levy gave sound advice by suggesting that many filmmakers can get obsessed with their DIY self-distrbution route, and end up spending 7-8 years of their life trying to recoup their money.  He recommended  cutting your losses, and using the PR momentum from your initial industry attention to get your next project made.

< Lurking at the world premiere of director J. Davis's MANSON FAMILY VACATION (starring Jay Duplass) at the Alamo Ritz.  The line was WAY TOO LONG, and the energy was crazy outside the theater.  Lots of good love to go around, and it made me happy to see and feel the energy of this lucky crowd for an indie film.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Interview With Rhonda Vigeant - Home Movie Legacy Project

© Rhonda Vigeant

Rhonda Vigeant is the creator of the Home Movie Legacy Project, and is instrumental in spreading the gospel about converting your home movies to digital format.  We sat down for her podcast, and chatted about my experiences converting my family's home movies, indie filmmaking advice and lessons learned from Hollywood.


Thanks to Rhonda for including me in her story.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

#HomeMovies - My First Music Video in 4th Grade

You wanted the best.  You got the best.  The hottest band in the world...TINY KISS.  From my recent #HomeMovies archive transfer at Pro 8mm Film Lab, comes my first music video shot in 4th grade with the benefit of the Kodak Ektasound 130 8mm film camera.

The stick puppets were created by my mom, complete with real human chest hair for Paul Stanley (not really, weirdo).  We were rocking to "Detroit Rock City."  And, seriously, who doesn't rock to DRC?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Make Your Short Film Now - The #FilmmakerChallenge

If you're a filmmaker, pay attention.  The 2015 Sundance Film Festival short film entry deadline is one week away (Aug 25th, 2014 - $60).  That means you have seven days to come up with an idea, then shoot, edit and submit it.  You don't need permits or a crew or a wealthy uncle to fund your film.  What you need is a brilliant idea.  That's the easy part since you're a cinema genius.  Now for the hard part: tools.  Since necessity is the mother of invention, use your boundless creativity to shoot on your iPhone, or borrow a friend's GoPro camera.  Shoot Super 8mm film.  Go fully digital and animate in a computer.  Use available light and sound.  Friends and relatives suddenly become actors.  Make your movie, and story is everything.

I give you permission to safely shoot in your living room at night, after work, because true cinema never sleeps.  Just you and your genius subject idea.  You may also edit on your laptop during your lunch break because true cinema doesn't eat like the normals.  Do whatever it takes, but...

Tell your story.

The excuses are already building in your mind.  "I don't have time.  I missed the deadline already.  'Game of Thrones' is on my Apple TV."  These are work barriers you create in your mind from fear.   Fear, that prevents you from making the great American 8-minute short film.  That #shortfilm is getting in, kid.  You're gonna do it!  You're gonna crack that 00.002% that gets accepted.  You might even be discovered by Hollywood at America's best film festival.  It happens every year.

I exaggerate to make my point.  But not so much that I can't mention the story of filmmakers Mark & Jay Duplass.  I attended a Sundance Film Festival "Artist At The Table" event, where Mark and Jay gave the intro speech (FYI: I bought a ticket).  They told the story of making their lo-fi, second short film "This Is John." With days remaining until the Sundance deadline, they decided to improvise their film with the materials available to them.  The Duplass brothers filmed in their apartment in less than 1 day for the cost of a $3 DV tape, posted on their home system and submitted to Sundance 2003.

"This is John" got accepted, and the rest is, well, you know.

Good luck, filmmakers.  Don't be boring.  I challenge you to make a film and submit.  Let me know how it goes (#filmmakerchallenge).

Here's Mark Duplass talking about investing $3 into his career, and staying indie until it was time to move up to studio filmmaking.  ***MUST WATCH VIDEO FOR ANY FILMMAKER***

Here's Mark's Guide To Sundance Success (from Buzzfeed).

Here's Film Independent's Guide To Sundance Successful Submissions.

#FilmmakerChallenge is for positive, creative change.  It is not affiliated with any film festival or organization in any way.  It is an open tag for the stimulation of creative thought, with the hope of furthering better cinema.

Here's a reminder from Forest Whitaker, Mike Figgis, Salma Hayek and yours truly to MAKE YOUR MOVIE.

2015 Sundance Film Festival
Official Shorts Deadline: $60 entry - August 25th, 2014 (arrival date)
LATE Shorts Deadline: $80 entry - September 15th, 2014 (arrival date)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kodak 8mm Home Movies: A Short Film

"Dracula Vs The Wolfman" - This horror short film from 1973, shows the eternal conflict between the lawful evil dark lord "Dracul" and his chaotic evil nemeses "The Wolfman."  Shot on 8mm Kodak film, it was thought lost forever, until a print miraculously appeared in a condemned Chilean insane asylum (screening was confirmed by a 1974 "Cray-Cray Bingo Night" pamphlet).  Unfortunately, the young female was devoured during the making of the film.

The film is directed by Patricia Boyd, and stars Tre Hellman as "Dracul," and the first on-screen, magnetic appearance of James Boyd as "The Wolfman."  A five-year old Boyd was rumored to have stayed in character, even as the cameras stopped rolling from production.  Boyd was later seen in THE ROAD WARRIOR, and had a scene cut from THE LOST BOYS.
Photo: Robert Stenger

< Director James Boyd reminiscing on the power of Kodak Super 8mm home movies.  Organic, man.

< Discussing 8mm home movies as our link to the past, and they're slowly dissolving in attics and garages all across our country.  Help preserve this amazing art form by transferring your home movies to digital.  But, be prepared for what you might find.

Rhonda Vigeant, "Home Movie Legacy Project"

< Rhonda Vigeant, creator of the "Home Movie Legacy Project" at Pro 8mm film lab in Burbank, CA.