Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Equipment I Don't Have

Yesterday I talked about how sometimes it's a good idea to pay professionals for things you can't do or don't have the ability to do.

Guess which of your favorites bloggers does not own a blowtorch:


$630 is a big price tag, but I wouldn't have been able to do what he did. And it only took him a couple of hours and it was interesting to learn about all the latest things going on in the world of plumbing. And everything is working now.

I know what it's like to not have a ton of resources, but if you really want your productions to work it's probably worth a few bucks for someone with the tools and know-how to do it right.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Pay the Professionals

I don't like fixing things or troubleshooting. In my mind, I pay for things so they work, and it really frustrates me when they don't. On the other hand, I do know my way around stuff and so should be able to fix things.

Like, my plumbing.


But over the years, I've learned one thing: Eventually I always have to call a plumber.

I've consoled myself with the knowledge that my snake was only 75' and the clog was over 100' down. I've rationalized that I don't own a scope and so couldn't see the breaks in the pipe. And I've come to accept the fact that when I try to fix things, sometimes they just break.

Like my most recent attempt.

The backflow unit outside my house finally broke, spraying water everywhere and completely eliminating my sprinkler's water pressure. It was old and now really needed to be replaced. I poked around online, compared prices, found it for relatively "cheap" at my local Lowes-Depot, and borrowed my parent's pipe wrenches. Sure, I don't like doing this kind of thing, but I can do it.

And so I started by simply unscrewing the current--broken--fixture from the system. It was really stuck on there. I guess the years had helped the system fuse together. After putting my weight into it and un-threading it about three turns, I stepped back to see what I had accomplished.

The copper pipe was now completely mangled.

I called the plumber the next day. Why? Because I don't have the tools, nor the patience, nor the expertise I need to get my sprinklers working again. And after talking to the plumber, I know what needs to be done and why.

The lesson: Sometimes it's best to hire a professional. As media producers we feel like we have to do it all. But it can make your production so much better if you get someone with the tools and the know-how to help you. It's the difference between good audio and bent pipes... and several hundred dollars.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Another DVD Coming?

We got "official" word today that we're going to shoot another educational DVD.

This one is to cover "advanced math concepts," be shot only half days, and finish in a couple of months with about a month or so of pre-production.

I have my reservations.

Mostly notably: We don't have a clear picture of what this DVD is about. I was chatting with one of the producers today and he pointed to the Production Triangle I have hanging on my cube wall. I nodded and said, "But we don't even have an idea of what 'quality' means for this project. We don't know what it's supposed to look like in the end. And, honestly, we're not even sure about the amount of time we want to commit to this. So, we can't even talk about the Production Triangle yet because we don't have two of the points."

That's a huge problem.

After our chat he went to talk to one of the executive producers of the project.

We will see how this all pans out. If we're still green lit by the end of this week, I'll be meeting with the writer and director to talk over what we want to show in this DVD.

Ah, the world of production. Not too many dull moments <smile>.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor


Essential Gear: Ducky Bag

When you get serious about filmmaking, you will begin to amass equipment. Cameras, filters, lights, stands, microphones, cables... the list goes on and on. There's always more stuff to burn your money enhance your productions.

Eventually you'll have a bunch of C-47s you'll need to keep track of. And I've seen all sorts of methods: clipping them to your shirt/pants, tossing them into a general odds and ends box, filling up a special container, or just getting a new bag of them with each shoot.

My method is far more refined, professional, distinguished, and effective. In fact, I think it's obviously the best method out there. But first, some history:

Back in 2005, I was at nationals with my University's swim team. We were about to enter the highest level of competition of the year, and the girls on the team wanted to encourage us. So they made us little "goody bags" with odds ends to keep our spirits up.

This was especially important for me because the video camera strap had broken, so it was hard to hold the camera.

Video Camera

Well, this goody bag turned out to be incredibly useful. After removing the teddy bear, candy, commemorative Christmas ornament, and other odds and ends, I realized the bag was the perfect size to house my C-47s. And that is why, if you ever shoot with me, you will likely see this around the set:

Ducky Bag

I highly recommend you get something similar.

It's the sign of a true professional.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor