Whirlwind Weekend – 3-30-2020


What a ride. Since my last post, so much has changed.

I was devastated on Thursday after my friend flaked on me. I had just posted episode 1 and intended to enter a 1 minute film contest. I spent all of Friday promoting my video and finding avenues to reach other actors.

Then two things happened –

#1 – another filmmaker pointed out that the audio on my video was only playing through the left headphone

#2 – My flaky friend texted me that he would be able to film on Saturday.

For the rest of the weekend, I went to work. I convinced my friend to come down on Sunday, as I had no film or props prepared. During breaks between developing a script and working I combed through my video over and over again sprucing up the audio. A major drawback of youtube is that once the video has been published, you are not able to tamper with the audio. You can trim the length of the video or add one of their music tracks, but that’s the full extent of your power.

After amassing a whopping 60 views, 4 likes, and 5 comments, I knew I had to take the video down. I finally got the audio right yesterday, changed the name of the series to “Mountain Cult”, and republished it yesterday. I’ve included a link below in case you’d like to check it out.

For the shooting on Sunday – oh man was I overwhelmed. I wrote the shift during my work shift Saturday night. I got zero sleep and barely had it completed by the time my scene partner arrived. It was my first time shooting outdoors and presented an entirely new set of challenges. I’ll have to do a separate post about all that.

But as it turns out, my friend really enjoyed the process. He’s going to make the trip again next week so we can finish up the scene. I got some incredible footage that I can’t wait to share with you.

On top of that, my younger brother is going to come and shoot with me on Tuesday. We should have the majority of the day to work. I want to film all of episode 2 that day. So far, the most I’ve been able to complete in a single day of shooting is 3 pages, which amounts to 3 minutes. I want each episode to be 5 minutes, so that’s the length of an episode’s script.

I have a strong idea for what the episode will be about, so I’m excited to write the script. But still, I currently feel very overwhelmed. My two favorite camera angles from yesterday feature shakiness from a handheld camera in one shot and a tree blocking me from the scene in the other. I also think I need to purchase a lens filter for future outdoor work – we were hampered by my sony a6300 overheating, which I believe was a result of filming in direct sunlight.

Anyway, I’m grateful for anyone who’s been keeping up with my journey. I know it’s laughable on the surface but I take great pride in every youtube view I get. I haven’t felt so passionate about a hobby in a very long time. I’m loving the fact that I’m in charge of how much success I can have – I write the script, direct the action, perform the acting, do the editing, promote the video, and recruit the actors. I’ve always felt that the pursuit of an objective is more fun than the actual attainment of it. I hope that you can feel some joy in following my journey as well, because nothing about this is easy – but that doesn’t mean I’m not loving every minute of it.

Crash & Burn – 03-27-20


So I completed my first true short, currently called “White Heads”. It took a ton of work for 4 mins 30 seconds, much more than I anticipated. I screwed up a few things during filming that I wasn’t able to make up for in the editing room –

#1 Using a BB gun

#2 Shooting a continuous scene in 1 location on 2 separate days (lighting)

#3 Using an action sequence that had subpar emotion from the actors (myself included)

There were other things that could’ve been done better, but these are the things that stand out to me. My number one takeaway from this experience was that the importance of getting good shots in person cannot be fully made up for with solid editing. I spent hours upon hours on an ‘action sequence’ only to make it look less corny than it was on film.

I’m not going to lie, I felt some major depression around the time I was completing the video. I had a new scene partner who was going to film with me on Wednesday before completely flaking. On top of that, the video has well under a hundred views. I anticipated this and am okay with it, but I’m figuring out that viewers don’t respond well to self promotion (cue the dislikes).

I really felt deflated because I was hoping to edit this weekend. My original plan was to create a few of these episodes with friends, build up a foundation of viewers, than recruit people who actually want to act. I’m realizing quickly that I don’t have the patience to deal with anymore flakes.

So I have to go and find real actors. And by real, I mean community college kids taking an acting class. That means I have to get out of my comfort zone and reach out to others. Unfortunately for them, they will find out that my production team consists of me and my camera. On top of that, I don’t feel it would be wise to pay anybody as of yet. I can afford maybe $40 for one days work of an actor. But I’m also not a fan of dumping money when it doesn’t need to be dumped.

In the meantime, Film Riot has posted a quarantine challenge for a 60 second short film due by April 2nd. I plan to submit to that. My new goals for the coming week are going to be A) learn about search engine optimization in order to organically build and audience and B) reach out to aspiring actors who would be interested/comfortable developing this web series with me. I’ll keep on updating you as I’m a big believer in persistence, even when you’re feeling hopeless. If you’d like to give my short film a view, a like, or even a subscription, I would be overjoyed. Here it is, please feel free to tell me your thoughts and any advice is always much appreciated.

Location Scouting – 3-20-20


The first episode of the web series is all but wrapped up. I’m really happy with how its turned out but I still have some colorgrading and music to add before I post it. In the meantime, I’m preparing for the next day of shooting.

I have a different friend who’s willing to participate this upcoming Wednesday. That’s not a for sure thing, however, as he lives quite far from me and there’s also a statewide stay-at-home order here in California.

Regardless, I’m formulating plans for the second episode. I want to get ahead of the curve so that I can post regularly to youtube. It’s no secret that consistent & regular post help you build an audience on social media.

I don’t want to give the plot to the first episode away entirely, but I’ll share some of it with you in case you’re interested in my process. In episode 1, My character’s wife has gone missing, so he kidnaps a hiker with a high index of suspicion that the hiker was involved in her disappearance. My character believes this hiker has links to a mysterious cult that performs human sacrifices deep in the wilderness. The first episode takes place in my characters barn yard-turned-prison cell. The second episode will take place at one of the locations below. I went on a hike today and took some pictures around the area I’m considering. Feel free to share any ideas for which area I should select for the episode. As of now I’m limited to myself and one other actor.


I like the rustic look of this little outpost


The multiple directions really appeals to me artistically, but I’m afraid this area would get interrupted by drivers during each take


This is a pet cemetery. Is that creepy or cute?


More cemetery 


This will probably be my spot. Trees and hills go on for days, it easily accesible, and far enough from the main road audio don’t pick up the vehicles trudging along below. 


A miniature dog walking park that nobody uses. Kind of unsettling. Small chance for some interruption during filming. 


Another solid spot. That horizon line looks amazing. I like how the trail disappears right behind the bushes, too. 


Some kind of hawk flying overhead. Not a film location but the bird is pretty bitchin’. 

So, there you have it – a regular trail with scenic background, a pet cemetery, and an unused dog walking park. Also that rustic looking barn. Not sure which spot I’ll use, but I need to figure that out first before I can develop an episode for it. I’ll also need a reason for me and the other actor to be at that spot, searching for clues about my character’s wife’s disappearance. I better get it sorted out quick, because my golden day to film is only a handful of days away.

Editing is a nightmare – 3-19-20


If you’re a writer you know the feeling of crushing procrastination. You love your story but there’s a certain roadblock you can’t quite wrap your head around. Why does your antagonist take this action if what he really wants is this? Why doesn’t the protagonist make the reasonable decision to contact the authorities and instead take matters into their own hands? The lists of rock-and-a-hard place choices is endless.

Well I’m finding out swiftly that goes the same for video editing. There are two action sequences in the short I’m editing (if we can even call them that). I already spent my entire Sunday afternoon cleaning up a simple sequence that features me unclasping handcuffs, unlocking a latch, picking up a rifle, and entering a cell room. As the week progressed I moved deeper into the scene where I’ve met my next major sequence obstacles.

My scene partner looks at the piece of jewelry in his hand, continues on with his dialogue, then hurls it into the cell wall and flees the cell. That’s it, it sounds so simple (and maybe it should be) but it’s turned out to be the crux of my scene. We have multiple takes of the same sequence, but none of the pieces seem to fit together. He pulls out and looks at the jewelry at different times. He practically jogs out of the cell after distracting me. And I am slow to flinch and grab for the jewelry.

It amazes me how such a simple action can make my scene look so f*king stupid. You remember The Office, when Michael Scott shows the James Bond type movie to his coworkers and they all laugh at him? Yeah, this is what that feels like. Funny enough, my only goal right now when I make a short is to keep it from looking like some teenagers put it together on one boring afternoon with an Iphone.

Anyways, thought I’d share my bullshit with you before I get off work and try to figure this sucker out. I’m messing around with different editing effects on Adobe pro premiere, such as zoom in/out and slow motion/speed up. Some of them look really good. An issue with slow-mo is I shot at 30 frames per second, when it appears much better if you shoot at 60 fps for that. When I decided to start directing, I made it a goal to let the story come first. I’ve never seen a film where insane visual effects improved the emotional impact of the story, so I’m trying not to get too invested in that aspect of the process. Anyway, thanks for listening to my complaint.

An Onscreen Minute – 3-18-20

gun on the ground

As I mentioned we filmed again this past Sunday and I had high hopes going in. Brad and I were on night shift the hours before and began production on zero sleep. We planned to have our 3 pages filmed and completed by ten AM, when it would start raining. We weren’t done in time. I was supposed to have a black costume but we weren’t able to find one. The new, extended XLR cable I purchased wouldn’t attach to my recorder. After seeing the footage and audio on my computer – I couldn’t be happier.

I made a genuine effort to give an passionate acting performance. Brad surprised me because he did an awesome job and had some incredible takes. Keep in mind I drag him out for this and pay him nothing. He’s never acted in a single thing in his life.

brad stare

Everything I uploaded and watched I have been completely happy with. Don’t forget I already filmed and edited the first minute of the scene one week prior,so the angles and wardrobes had to be continuous in appearance. But dear God is editing a pain in the ass.

If you’ve never edited anything before you might be shocked at the amount of time that it requires. It’s tempting at first to just throw the pieces together like some shitty quilt and sow, but after one brisk re-watch you will see that your video looks like something Michael Scott would make on the Office. Then, you learn a few tricks – like how to zoom or adjust the focus of the picture – and all of a sudden every little scene has an effect. Now you’ve got Gremlins 2.

Going into this, I knew I wanted story to be the emphasis of whatever I shot. Think about Martin Scorsese and how crisps the images are. There’s not a lot of big effects or crazy slow-mo shots in his films. They are focused on raw human emotion & reaction. That’s the kind of story teller I would like to aspire too.


The really wild part about editing is the amount of time it takes to make your film feel shareable. My total cut is going to be about 3 minutes 30 seconds. That’s fucking nothing. But it’s taking me since Sunday to finally get it to a place where I’M able to watch the entire thing and feel alright about it. Anyway, just wanted to update you. I want to have it posted before next Wednesday, when I’m loosely planning to film a second episode with a different unsuspecting friend who has no interest in being actor.


Focus on Story 3-15-20


Our location

Today we are shooting part 2 of the first episode for my web series. I posted about the first shoot 1 week ago and how much I learned. I’m hoping to have a better experience this time around.

The biggest difference this week should be our focus on story. Instead of just writing a script that seemed interesting than acting it out, I returned to my roots as a writer and put the best script together for the resources I have available.

I’m a big believer in keeping the story simple – give your main character an object of desire that he’s willing to derail his life for. Put many overwhelming obstacles in his path. Whatever lesson he learns to help him overcome those obstacles is your theme, and the attainment of his desired object will be your climax.

For the scene we’re filming today, I changed almost all of the second half of the script. Instead of the incessant back and forth that existed to make the viewer question the sanity of my main character, I’ve given the secondary character an object that will help him in his quest.

Instead of simply handing him this object, the secondary character uses it for leverage to regain his freedom and trick the main character into letting up his guard. I’m especially excited to see how this improvement in story plays out for the camera. I spent the better part of a week editing what we shot last Saturday. It took a lot of effort to clean up unemotional acting and cringeworthy lines.

Another big difference this week is that I’m going to encourage a stronger more emotional performance from my friend. It’s easy to just let him deliver his lines how he pleases – since he is my friend, he is performing for free, and I don’t like being a dick.

But I realize now that’s a huge part of the director’s responsibility. The performance of your actors reflects on your ability to coach them and get the best delivery. I’ve posted the updated script here, for you to check out. When I finish editing the video I’ll post it here as well. Wish me luck, and feel free to point out any critiques you may have. We begin filming at the time of this posting.

Rain Day – 3-13-20


I’m currently finishing up the 1st shift of my weekend night shift tour. It’s 4 am over here and I’m tired as hell.

Well the video is online and I managed to get some views through some shameless self promotion. 2 dislikes which may or may not have been due to my self promotion style of advertising. I can deal with that.

I’m aiming to create a channel that pumps out 5 min shorts on a weekly basis. I want to create an efficient, reliable source of entertainment to build an audience and improve my filmmaking and story telling skills. I can’t understate how fun and eye opening it is to write a story then see how it plays out with human actors. I learned from my experience last Saturday that giving a main character repetitive lines such as “You’re crazy dude” and “When was the last time you slept?” really do hinder the drama and conflict you’re trying to build.

Over here in Riverside it’s supposed to rain until Saturday. My scene partner says he may be available on Sunday. We shot the first half of our scene last Saturday.

There’s a few obstacles here I’ll have to confront. The major challenge will be finishing a scene in the same location with different lighting. If it is not cloudy outside, it will be a noticeable difference. We could cut to a shot of him hiking and use voice-over to finish the scene. Maybe I could cut the scene early then show the second interrogation as if it’s a separate day. I’d love to reshoot the entire scene but finish it through its end, but that’s when the time and efficiency factor comes into play. For now I don’t really know what we’re going to do.

I do know this – I have to plan better. I should have the script fully fleshed out days in advance and have any materials needed already purchased. I can take pictures of the location we will film in and have a strong idea for where I will be placing my camera. These are factors that I can control.

If we don’t shoot on Sunday, I think I’m going to build a DIY dolly. I also need to work on recruiting real, legitimate actors. I’m partially procrastinating on that end, but I also feel that building up a resume of quality short films will build a reputation for my channel that it’s worthy of people serious about film. That’s all for now, I’m going to try and stay awake as we finish this graveyard out.

Below is my first short scene. If you want to check it out and give it a like, I’d really appreciate that. But if you give it a dislike I will spend the rest of the day boiling with rage and contemplating deeply about the direction of my life until I find a reason to validate my own filmmaking decisions and belittle those who criticize me no matter how justifiable their opinions may be. And then I’ll tell my shampoo bottle and he’ll agree with me. He always does.

My First Short Film – 3-12-20


I’ve had a lot going on this week, but I’m excited to announce I’ve finally posted my first short film to youtube. It’s more of a scene. My internet is up and running at a snail’s pace of 25 mbps, but it was enough to upload my short to youtube.

Quarter Million Bust was filmed and shot the day it was born into existence. But if I had a full week to prepare for it I wouldn’t change shit. Why? Because its shortcomings weren’t  visible to me until I watched it on the screen. But let’s start with the positives.


  1. My friend Matt did a fantastic job acting. His changes in speech pattern and voice pitch add to the dynamic range of his character.
  2. My B-roll footage. I love the shots of the beer can, the table, the cigarette smoking, and the bird chirps. I’m also thrilled about how an easy 3 note guitar tune sounded as the score.
  3. My camera – it provides clear, excellent picture that responds fluidly with effects.
  4. My recorder & microphone – our voices were much too quiet during the shoot, but I was able to add 15 db of audio to each clip without a heaping serving of white noise.
  5. I learned – Oh God did I learn. What did I learn, exactly?


  1. Act better – I need more emotion when I’m on scene, and I need to realize the emotional significance of the words coming out from my mouth. The emotions need to be a reaction to my scene partner.
  2. Write better – There were a few lines that made me cringe and didn’t make it to the final product. The one that eats to me is my line “Are you in or are you out.” It was partially an exercise in flipping the scene on its head, where I enter as the uncertain one and trade confidence with Matt. But when I deliver the line I seem like the main provocateur, who has been intent on committing the bust the entire time. The line ignores the uncertainty my character entered the scene with. This line should have been a pivot point that showed my transformation. Instead, my transformation is completed entirely with a long, deep pondering pause.
  3. Better shots – Get a close up! I shot our scene from three distinct distances – long, mid and close. Unfortunately, my close up captures about half of each character’s torso. Ideally it should be face only, to display the most emotion. Conversely, my long shot was so long that it was hardly usable. I’m still happy with it, and will do it again, but it is too  far away to consider as one of my primary takes.
  4. Speak louder/position the mic better – without the ability to add audio gain, our voices would have been impossible to detect, and the clip would have been worthless.
  5. Color grading – Oh God, this is the big one. I’m only beginning to understand how color grading works. My skill level is not even on par with “amateur level” – it’s straight up beginner. You can see in the final product how orange our skin tones become throughout the clip. Even with the same takes, the effects change throughout the scene. This is something I’ll have to learn. In retrospect, I wish I colorgraded each take before my final product was completed, so that they remain consistent. I’ll have to do some research and figure out the best way.

So, there you have it – my first short film. Obviously 2 minutes is not long at all, and the lack of action is apparent. I don’t consider either of those cons as this is my first short film ever. I knew going into this that the experience would be mostly about learning my equipment, learning adobe premiere pro, and discovering how to edit my work. I’m overall very pleased with the product.

I filmed the first half of a scene this past Saturday. I’m hoping to film again this weekend and have something new to upload by this time next week. My youtube channel was launched yesterday. I’d like to add a graphic to it as well. I want to dedicate it entirely to short films. I hope that I can maintain the courage to post less-than-perfect short films. I want to stay extremely far away from becoming a youtube vlogger, so for now I’m going to resist the urge to post reality style clips – at least to that channel. I want to build an audience for short films/scenes. Another objective of mine is to post frequently with highly efficient editing – even if that means sacrificing quality. Much like a screenplay, I believe it’s easy to become obsessed with perfection and dwell too long on a project that is only as good as its subject matter.

Anyway, that’s all I got for now. I plan to return to regular posting. Thank you for reading, and if you checked out the clip thank you some more. It really means a lot.


Boring Update – 3-6-20


I promised I’d have the short film edited and uploaded before this weekend. I lied. The truth is that I have it ready to go and fully edited. But I moved into a new place and have to sign up for a new internet service provider. I want to take care of this ASAP, but realistically I think it will take until next week. I do have the practice short edited and ready for upload, I just don’t have any way to upload it from my desktop computer. Maybe I can save it on a flash drive and upload it from a my laptop.

There’s a 50/50 chance I begin filming my web series tomorrow morning. My friend is available for filming and I want to take advantage of that. When I first pitched the idea to him he was completely game – but he’s begun dating a new girl and I think his availability and willingness is suddenly being hindered. Pretty scary considering I want to make him the main reoccurring character.

I wrote the first draft of the script tonight. That’s slightly daunting considering how many drafts of previous scripts I made before I felt they were ready to submit to contests. I know want the story for episode 1 to play out like this – I catch Brad in the woods with a simple rope trap, lock him up in a barnyard stall, interrogate him, and discover a pivotal piece of information that will set up the next episode. Many of these shots I can get at a later time, but I’d like to film the interrogation scene (3 minutes) tomorrow so that I will be able to edit it during the week. Saturday and Sunday will most likely be my filming days.

What worries me right now is not just writing the script, but ensuring I have the appropriate resources. I want this thing to look good and not be shoddily put together. At the same time, if I miss out on filming tomorrow, I will have to wait one more week to make sure he’s available. I do not want to make a habit of flaking out on things.

Anyways, thank you for your patience especially if you’re excited to see how these short films turn out. The practice shoot looks pretty good, but more importantly I learned a lot for future projects. As soon as I have internet service in my new place I will post it here.