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.