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Eric S. Filsonfilmmaker & cinematographer


My friend
Ben Kreis just finished writing a wonderful short story titled Jules. He is giving it away for FREE for a limited time - get it now! Download it for Kindle here. If you don't already have a kindle, then you can get a kindle reader for your smart phone or computer here. Let me know what you think! Do you want to read more by this author?
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Shane Hurlbut recently directed a short documentary about one of the hurlblog's sponsor's SmallHD. I have worked with the now discontinued SmallHD DP6 on my last movie: "The Sound of the Spirit" and appreciated the quality and durability of the monitor. After watching the documentary short, I was thrilled to see how supportive and involved Wes' Dad is in his son's vision and projects. I am inspired by their story, innovation, and perseverance. Well done!

Here's what
Julien Lasseur on the hurlblog says:

"While I was working at Hurlbut Visuals, Lydia came up with the idea of interviewing our sponsors for the blog and gave me the opportunity to direct those spots, as it was my dream to direct.

Our vision was to tell the story of the people who create the tools that we use to tell our own stories. So the quest began! I stumbled across the very unique story of two of our sponsors, Wes Phillips and Dale Backus from
SmallHD. During our discussions of how we were going to conduct the interview, being that they were located all the way out in North Carolina, I heard the incredible story of how they succeeded in winning the legendary “Doritos: Crash The Superbowl Contest” not once… but twice and then how they used their earnings to fund the growth of SmallHD! Wow… as soon as Wes told me the whole story, I called Lydia and said, “We gotta make a documentary about this!” and she was all in.

A couple of months after my discussion with Wes, I found myself flying to North Carolina with a 5DMkII, a 24-70mm l series, a 70-200mm l series, some batteries, cards… and that was it! Managing the very small budget I had to work with, the funds that SmallHD provided went towards a motel, airfare, and a rental car.

Barrett, Wes’ brother and also the head of video marketing for SmallHD, along with Tim, another SmallHD employee, served as my entire crew. Only using one joker light with a chimera and a Lowell pro light, we scrounged up what gear SmallHD had and began interviewing everyone from the guys who worked in the shop to Wes and Barrett’s father, who is now working for the company.

If there is anything I took away from this experience, it was that everyone at SmallHD really loved working there. It was like being welcomed by this big family that is striving to constantly innovate and push their products to the next level. With indie filmmaking, your team and your support is absolutely crucial and SmallHD opened their doors and made the filmmaking process into something very enjoyable. Even the interview subjects had to be substitute gaffers. If anything can be said about indie filmmaking, it is that if you have the support of people like SmallHD and Hurlbut Visuals, you can tell great stories."
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TanNapel-Banner edge
Doug TenNapel is an artist and graphic novelist and does some incredible work. I have a friend, Ben Kreis who is doing the book layout design for The Sketchbook Archives Kickstarter project. Consider supporting this project. Here is the official kickstarted description and a few videos:

My name is Doug TenNapel and I have created video games, animated TV shows and graphic novels. But they don't start as games and TV shows, of course, they start as doodles in my sketchbooks. Since I was in 6th grade, I've maintained a discipline of drawing ideas in these books.

They don't just document the birth of characters you've heard of like Earthworm Jim, The Neverhood, Catscratch and Creature Tech, but HUNDREDS of characters and worlds that have never been seen by the public... until now.

I've taken the best drawings from my 42 sketchbooks and put them together into one 250 page, hard bound volume called the Sketchbook Archives. This isn't just a collection of drawings, but it is a useful tool on how to create characters, worlds and story lines for anything from video games to graphic novels and television shows.

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Josh Garrels: The Sea In Between - Trailer from Mason Jar Music on Vimeo.

I’ve known about Josh Garrels for some time. I was introduced to his music by my friend Ross Reinhardt back when I was in college. I hadn’t really followed him, but I did listen to some of his free songs that I had downloaded to my iTunes library. While I was working on color grading The Sound of the Spirit in March of this year, I rediscovered Josh while reading a Boundless article about a new album that he was giving away titled Love, War, and the Sea In Between. Truthfully I’ve never heard an album that is so perfect. Every lyric, every melody - beautiful.

The story behind the album is just as amazing and encouraging. Josh decided to give away the album for free for one year at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The magazine Christianity Today named Love, War, and the Sea In Between album of the year in 2011. Here is the CT article describing it:

“In the spring of 2011, the album was almost ready, lacking only Josh's final vocals, arguably his best instrument. But he'd been fighting colds and flu, and lost his voice for four months. He tried antibiotics, vitamins, steam, extra sleep, lots of prayer. Three weeks before the album deadline, Garrels began fasting. One afternoon, while taking a hot bath, he said aloud, "Lord, I pray with this album that no one would rob you of your glory."

Garrels says God's reply was immediate: Are you going to rob me of my glory?

"I almost felt like Job," Garrels says. "All that time, Job had been basically raising his fist to God, saying 'What have you done?' And then when God finally answers, Job's humbled and put in his place. It was that kind of experience for me."

Garrels says he strongly felt God saying, "Give it to me." He says, "It was like an offering. I had to weigh the cost of giving away the most substantial work I'd ever done. It all came to me in about 20 minutes, like this big download. It reached a point where I had to say yes or no, and I had to say it out loud. So I said, 'All right. It's yours.' And I knew that meant I had to give it away for one year, like it was a year of Jubilee."

It is exciting to see that Mason Jar Music is working on a documentary titled: The Sea In Between. If you like the album consider donating $5 to help finish the project. Its worth purchasing this album - check it out! On his website you can also download Love & War: B-Side & Remixes for free.

My favorite song on the album is “
The Resistance” What’s yours?
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It’s hard being a creative person. Often I find myself getting discouraged because I am simply “trying to survive”. I get distracted and plod along in the mundane, though always yearning to aspire to something greater; to do something exciting and new. There are things that can be done to get out of the rut. Check out this article (below) by Katie Armstrong titled “Inspiration Motivation - Make Something Now!

If you've ever voluntarily stared at a water stain on your ceiling or spent an entire day refreshing Facebook, it's safe to say you know a thing or two about procrastination. Some folks might say that the dreaded P-word is the result of laziness or inability, but I have a different theory: What if we procrastinate simply because we don't know where or how to begin?

The act of creating something new — whether it be a video, a painting or a soufflé — can be daunting. So daunting, in fact, that even the idea of getting started is capable of freezing every last drop of your creative juices. After all, the only thing scarier than missing a deadline or gaining 15 pounds because you ate the entire contents of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to avoid the task at hand is failing at something you worked really, really hard to finish. Sometimes, to avoid failure, our minds trick us into not starting at all. But where's the satisfaction in that?

John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) once said that "Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating." In this lesson, I will share with you some handy tips for both combating your failure-fears, and utilizing the Internet as a tool for inspiration, not distraction. Creativity is a highly subjective creature, and what works for some of us may not work for all, so don't fret if some of these pointers don't ring true for you.

Without further ado, let's get started. That's what this is all about, isn't it!?

+ Set limits
One of the most overwhelming aspects of getting started is the fact that there are just too many options — it's like staring into the Grand Canyon with an end goal of pinpointing the single most beautiful stone. Avoid paralysis à la possibility by setting constraints or rules for your project. Maybe your next video has to be under 60 seconds and entirely black and white. Perhaps it must only contain still images with a narrative voice-over. Not sure where to get started? Check out these easy (and fun!) Vimeo Projects.

+ Always carry a notebook
Inspiration is literally everywhere. I mean it! You don't realize how often you're stimulated until you start keeping a record. Write. If you've come across a filmmaker you particularly like, put down their name so you can obsessively Google them later. If you overhear a poignant quote on the Subway, jot it down so you can incorporate it into your next animation. The more inspiration you collect, the richer a resource you have to rifle through for ideas later. The more ideas you have on hand, the easier it is to find a jumping-off point for a new project. Plus, we really don't get to exercise our handwriting muscles anymore. Relish the satisfaction of putting pen to paper!

+ Think of every project as an experiment
It's easy to approach each of our creative ventures as the end-all, be-all of our existence, and for good reason! We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into what we make. The tricky part is, this amount of pressure is debilitating. Your inner critic wants to push you toward perfection, but this doesn't leave room for play. When we think of our work as an experiment instead of a "piece" or "film," we give ourselves room to make mistakes. When we're able to relax, we're able to go places we've never gone and surprise ourselves with new ideas. If it doesn't work out, guess what? It was just an experiment anyway. On to the next!

+ Keep your web-addictions at bay
It's no secret that the Internet can become a time-devouring black hole if not kept in check. Even if you come across particularly inspiring content on the web, the rate at which you click links and move through page after page of stuff makes it difficult to retain and use that gold in your own work. Use bookmarks, RSS feeds, and organizational sites like Pinterest or Tumblr to keep tabs on content that moves you. More importantly, give yourself allotted slots of time to browse and stick to them! Set an alarm. When the alarm goes off, step away from the machine and don't turn back. It's time to get in the zone, and it's easier to do so if you eliminate the biggest distraction known to mankind.

+ Work on more than one experiment at a time
It is inevitable that, at some point during your creative process, you will hit a wall or two and will need a break. Utilize that time to switch gears and work on a completely different project instead of heading to your computer to post a series of sad emoticons with angsty hashtags on Twitter.

+ Surround yourself with stimulating people
Something I loved very much about art school was the built in community of creative folks. We were constantly bouncing ideas off of one another, borrowing material, and evolving as a group simply from interacting on a daily basis. Luckily, the Internet makes it very easy to find and stay in touch with creative communities. Take a stroll through Vimeo Groups!

+ Borrow ideas
Don't be afraid to riff off of someone else's awesome idea in your own experiment. The cool thing about human beings is that it's nearly impossible for us to create an exact replica of anything. In fact, one of the best ways to learn is by imitation — most artists train for years by copying the work of the old masters. It's impossible for you to not add your own personal twist. Think of it as contributing to the greater conversation. As Francis Ford Coppala once said: "We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can't steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that's how you will find your voice . . . and then one day someone will steal from you."

+ Embrace boredom, be patient
When all else fails, put on your shoes and take a walk. Don't turn your computer on. Let your mind wander. Allow yourself to feel quiet and open for an hour. Stare out of a window or lie down on the floor until you feel calm and focused. Then get back to work!

Finally, don't forget that all your failed experiments and frustrated hours are just part of the process. The joy of releasing something you've made into the world is unlike anything else — remember that you deserve that joy. Give yourself the time and space to attain it. Bon courage!
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