Thursday, March 31, 2016

From The Vault: The Nodance Film Festival In Black And White

Throwback to the Nodance Film Festival YEAR 6 event from 2003.  Nodance was the world's first DVD-projected film festival held in Park City, Utah.  Nodance catered to first-time filmmakers and digital filmmaking.  These stunning black and white photos were recently unearthed from my dank & creepy garage, and with a little spring cleaning, I present them here for the first time seen anywhere.

I was the founder and festival director of Nodance.

YEAR 6 was the year we got involved with the very talented Mr. Forest Whitaker.  Forest was so enamored of the Nodance spirit and enthusiasm, he brought some friends along for the ride.

And what a ride it was...

Nodance is no longer with us, but we can still enjoy the memories.


Photographer: currently unknown

<  Our Nodance storytelling panel with director of photography Matthew Libatique (CHI-RAQ, BLACK SWAN), moderator Chris Gore, director Mike Figgis (TIMECODE, LEAVING LAS VEGAS), and actor-director Forest Whitaker.

< Forest Whitaker giving a passionate speech about making movies with whatever means you have to tell your story.

< Nodance programmer Will Hartman, myself (Mr. Thumbs Up), and Forest Whitaker introduce the Mike Figgis DV world premiere of HOTEL.

< View of the storytelling panel from the back.

< The Nodance Film Festival HQ on Main Street.

< Hanging in the HQ with filmmaker/programmer Will Hartman (right).

< Chilling by the Nodance front entrance with event producer Ali Hileman-Brown and coordinator Francy Kachler.

< Ali Hileman-Brown surveys the scene at the closing night party.

< Me (left) with Nodance volunteer/filmmaker Ron Najor. Ron went on to produce indie classics "Short Term 12" & "I Am Not A Hipster."

< The one Nodance sign allowed on Main Street.

< Actor Jason Schwartzman & friend at the Nodance closing night party.

< Nodance cameraman Kevin Potter chatting with Forest Whitaker at the closing night party.  Kev shot video with Nodance from Year 1 - 6.

< Here's me, overlooking the Nodance audience.

< Event producer Ali Hileman-Brown with publicist Jim Dobson.

< Nodance with our good friend John.  We always threw a good party, open to the public.

< Nodance programmer Will Hartman (left) and me at the closing night party.  We met one day in Hermosa Beach because he noticed the IFP-West sticker on my car.  Good times.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Happy Birthday To Us! Five Year Anniversary Of James Boyd Presents Blog.

Today is the five year anniversary of this blog.  Thank you to everyone who has visited and supported my strange, weird and mostly offbeat adventures in the world of filmmaking.

I've always tried to bring an original slant to everything I post, things you can't find on the many fine camera tech blogs out there.  So I hope you keep tuned in to this blog to find a unique voice amongst the noise.  This blog is completely free, with no ad sponsors, and that's the way it should be to get the straight skinny on what's up.

I'll keep going, as long as you keep visiting.  For additional content, follow my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter stuff.  All of it run by me, and different from each other.

Live long and prosper...and, as always, keep shooting, my friends.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Moondog Labs Anamorphic Adapter for the iPhone 6+ and Sean Baker's TANGERINE

So I just received my Moondog Labs anamorphic adapter in the mail.  Very pleased to give this bad boy a whirl.  It creates a beautiful, widescreen look to your average iPhone footage.  It's perfect for using in a small footprint production, where intrusive cameras can distract from your actors, or even draw bad attention from passersby.

Filmmaker SEAN BAKER successfully shot his Sundance Film Festival film TANGERINE with a good story, the iPhone 5s with anamorphic adapter, the FiLMic Pro app and a Steadicam.  Congrats to Sean, and all he accomplished with his upcoming Magnolia Pictures release.

The micro-budget filmmaking wave is breaking.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Director James Gunn On Writing Like A Pro

Photo: © Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images
Writer-director James Gunn (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, SUPER, TROMEO & JULIET) recently posted to his Facebook page his thoughts on screenwriting like a pro.


James Gunn (via Facebook account):
"For writers (and probably others as well)...
While writing, I have moments of utter excitement, thrills, and inspiration, laughing out loud at what characters say and do in my office, weeping because of their hardships, and feeling as if they are speaking through me. When I'm in the pocket, I'm not a fictionist, I'm a meta-dimensional journalist, just watching what these characters do in front of me and taking it down (it would be difficult for me to be one of those guys who writes in Starbucks because I spend a lot of time laughing and crying while I'm writing, as well as a lot of time pacing around the room talking to myself in different characters' voices). Anyway, those are the good days.
On other days I wake up feeling uninspired and don't feel like writing at all. I feel like everything I write will suck. My inclination is to wait until I am in the mood. But I know, as a professional writer, my feelings are irrelevant. So I'll write anyway. It is my belief that "writer's block" is often the inability to accept that writers write because we must, not because we feel like it, or even because we like what we do. We merely put pen to paper or fingertips to keys, and go. 
It really is ninety-percent effort. The magic is, with that effort, eventually inspiration will come. The paradox is you can't be looking for it.
Have a grand day. And if you don't have it right now, find it."


Don't write because you feel like it...write BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO.  Now, stop reading this and go write for an hour.

Friday, April 24, 2015

How To Make It In Hollywood : YEAR ONE

With producer Peter Baxter at our premiere of THE NEW GODS (SXSW)

With age comes experience.

I was recently sent an email from a young filmmaker on how to gain a foothold as a producer-director in Hollywood.  I decided to publish my thoughts below in hopes that it can help any new filmmakers currently living in Los Angeles, or anyone thinking about making the big move to the ridiculously expensive City of Angels.


I can only give you advice from my own experiences.

There is no one way to be successful in the industry. Everyone's path is different.

When I first moved to LA, I had to intern at three different companies for a full year, before I could find paying work as an office PA. It wasn't until I started writing screenplays that I gained a foothold as a creative. However, even though I had representation as a screenwriter, and had lots of meetings with top production companies, none of it ever paid the bills.

Most everyone is working a day job to afford the incredibly expensive lifestyle of living in LA. There is absolutely no shame in working any PA, bartender, waiter, editing, etc job in order to pay the rent. The only real shame is having talent and desire, and not working toward your goals by getting sidetracked with ego-flattering life events. Don't try to join the "cool kids club" by networking at the nightclubs and industry screenings. Stay home and write, instead.

As a director, watch movies. Educate yourself on the language of cinema by studying the history of world cinema. Become a knowledgeable cinephile by watching current indies, and our history's best films. Directors direct. Period. There's a long line of truly talented directors in front of you, so being unique in your storytelling is the single most important thing in being a new director. Make short films that can be turned into feature films. Follow & attend Sundance, Slamdance, SXSW, Tribeca, and the LA film festivals. Everyone is broke. There is no money in the indie film scene, so everyone has a day job. Yet, they still manage to make films on the side.

Nodance Film Festival with Forest Whitaker, Mike Figgis, Salma Hayek, and me

As a producer, understand the how and why films get made. Understand the relation of the Cannes Film Festival in raising foreign pre-sale money by getting certain actors attached. Understand genre. Understand China's new influence on movie financing. Read scripts and write coverage, if possible.

You can make your own indies, or work for a company that is making films. Be persistent in looking for paying work, but not annoying. Check in with certain companies once every few months, looking for a job opening.

It took almost twenty years for most of my friends to gain a financial foothold on the production side of things (camera, art and AD depts). The jobs will come if you treat everyone you meet with respect, do the best job you can, and NEVER be late to anything. Over time, you'll see the same familiar faces you worked with back in year one. Let people know you want to be a producer or director by actually creating indie projects, and working on other people's films. I want to stress that I gained valuable experience and contacts in the early stages of my career by helping out on my friend's silly films. 

To get representation, I wrote over 500 hundred cover letters to agencies. I have received hundreds of rejection letters. But, I kept going. I missed my friends, and burned relationships to cement myself in LA. I respectfully ignored any rejections, and kept working towards my goals. I begged family for rent. I begged friends for forgiveness in my tardy attention to our relationships. I was not in LA to have fun, or make friends. I came to LA to make movies. I lived a robust lifestyle in order to extract an artistic muse, so don't forget to live your life while pursuing your dream. Attend film festivals, and meet other filmmakers. Shoot films on the weekends with friends with an iPhone, and help out other friends the very next weekend. Give back where you can, and always be nice.  
Directing Tom Arnold on the set of HECKLERS

LA can be a very lonely place because everyone is working so hard on their careers, and the clock is ticking. 

But, you're not alone in being lonely and broke. It's a tough city to gain traction, so love movies, be a fan and enjoy the ride.

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.