Archive for March, 2011

“I’m not scared at all.”
Mei (My Neighbor Totoro, 1988)

How young children (claim to) have no fear of the unknown! Especially when a big sister or brother challenges them to be fearful of something that they know a little more about.

Mei’s declaration reminds me how much we learn to fear the unknown as we grow up. And yet I believe that the child inside us is always there. We only need to reach within ourselves to recapture the perspective, the whimsy, the power of childhood.

And then when you face a challenge, you can say to yourself: “I’m not scared at all!” Wow, with that kind of power, imagine what you could achieve then!

Cheers & a good shoot to you,

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PM101 in TODo you know about the “Toronto Area PM101 Facebook Challenge (for a free book)“? To learn more, click here: http://bit.ly/fGP0fq


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PM101 in TOWhoa, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Well, it’s about time for another contest where I give away an autographed copy of my book, yes? OK! Here’s the plan:

This F.I.L.M. blog is also available on the “virtual porch” of Facebook. So, let’s build the online community there, but also let’s connect virtual life to real life! At the end of May, I’ll be in Toronto where I am planning a speaking/booksigning event (details are TBA).

Here’s my challenge to you:

If you’re already on Facebook, invite your friends – especially Toronto area film friends – to “like” my FB book page/blog. If you’re not on Facebook, come on over and join us by choosing the “like” button on my page at: http://www.facebook.com/DebPatzBooks

If... we gather a FB community there of over 200 by mid-May (when my trip starts), then I’ll give a free copy of my latest book “Film Production Management 101: Management & Coordination in a Digital Age” specially autographed to a random Toronto area FB fan at the “real porch” (the speaking event) in Toronto.

So, it’s now over to you! See you on Facebook… and then in Toronto!


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My (very British) grandmother was born on a Wednesday… and Wednesday’s child is full of woe. So when she lost her budgie, it was just another standard crisis. What was unusual about this event, though, is that the event revealed a great truth.

She looked everywhere for the budgie: up and down around the house, in the back garden. She enlisted a neighbour to help. She asked the nearby chip shop to post a notice in the window. All to no avail. Panic was rising.

Then the neighbour suggested the natural next step: “Now dear, let’s sit down and have a nice cuppa tea.”

Reluctantly my grandmother agreed and so they went back to to my grandmother’s house. They set to making that cuppa tea: boiling the water, warming the teapot, placing the sugar bowl on the table, sharing friendly chatter amid worry. Next my Grandmother opened the fridge to collect the milk. There he was – the budgie – shivering slightly on the jam jar. A moment passed as they regarded each other.

The budgie realized he was rescued, stretched his wings and flew out of the fridge to safety.

My Grandmother realized a truth: stopping for a cup of tea can solve anything.

And she’s right! Take a break for “a cuppa” no matter what your rising panic is: the stress of the production or of looking for freelance work. At the very least you’ll take a few minutes to clear your head. At best… something about that break could solve everything you’re worried about.

Have you ever had a serendipitous cuppa?

Cheers & have a great cuppa tea,

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How’s your call sheet joke file? Do you collect copies of comics, humour and interesting facts or solicit others to send you humour as they find it? I am a great believer of the call sheet joke.

When the next day’s call sheet is handed out at the end of the day – just watch – the crew typically takes note of their particular call time, and then turns the call sheet over to look for the call sheet joke. Often crew seek out the call sheet at the end of the day (motivated to read the latest call sheet joke) thereby making the A.D. job of distributing the call sheet a little easier.

Here’s your opportunity to match the tone of the production you’re on with the humour you supply. Go to doctor’s office, see medical humour. Go to a lawyer’s office, see legal humour. Film productions, however, visit many different locations and subject matter through the script. The are are many numerous genres and sub-genres. On a comedy, for example, you may want the call sheet humour to contribute to the light and playfulness of the story. A joke you would choose to share on the call sheet of a family film may not be the same one you would use on that of a horror film.

Luckily there are a host of sources from which to build your call sheet joke file. Here are five great ones:

1. Single frame jokes
This is the standard fare for call sheet jokes. Comics like The Far Side and Bizarro are great examples. Some folk re-caption the comic to more closely suit the production they’re on. You could even use Gladys Works In The Movies comics from this F.I.L.M. Blog.

2. Weird news (e.g. at: Canoe.ca/CNEWS/WeirdNews)
Amazing what shows up in the news! Fair warning, though: some items will make everyone laugh, whereas others will make some folk feel uncomfortable. Be selective.

3. Snopes.com
A site that researches and dispels urban myths. You can use these two days running, e.g. Day 1 = Myth #1; and then Day 2 = Answer #1 & Myth #2; etc.

4. User-submitted jokes (from the crew)
Open yourself up to contributions, and you could get a wide range of possibilities. At very least you will learn the humour style of some of the crew this way.

5. International weather
(e.g. at: World Weather Info Service or International Weather.com)

What? Weather for someplace you’re not shooting? This idea is useful when you’re shooting entirely in studio and the weather outside really doesn’t matter to you.

Keep in mind that humour can go too far. Jokes can be taken the wrong way. The call sheet joke lasts only a day, yes, but the document itself will be archived with the production paperwork for the life of the production’s files. The call sheet is still an official document. So make your final choice of joke wisely.

What are some the other call sheet joke sources you use?

Cheers & an enjoyable shoot to you,

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Deb visits MIR

How cool to be filming on the MIR Space Station in space! That was my first thought when I worked on the “Mission to MIR” IMAX film. Yet as a non-astronaut, what are the chances of going on a set visit to MIR? Not very likely. As a matter of fact: impossible.

Yes, here on Earth we tackled logistical challenges issues like: the camera goes into the Space Shuttle which is launched into space; the shuttle docks onto MIR and the camera taken into MIR for filming. The Space Shuttle then goes about its business… how do you get the camera and film back to Earth for processing and printing? In what country can you land the camera and how many time zones will it be from the lab? What about the customs documentation? Unique challenges indeed!

And yes, it was very clear I’d never visit MIR except how everyone else here on Earth has been able to see it: on the IMAX screen. The dream of visiting the MIR Space Station would have to remain a dream for the rest of my life, especially since it’s now been replaced by the International Space Station.

Or  maybe that dream COULD come true after all…?

I just visited Toulouse, France where the Cité de l’Espace has a MIR Space Station! The one used for tests on here on Earth! An exact duplicate! Awesome. I was able to walk around it, climb inside it and just plain explore it… the MIR Space Station itself! A set visit after the fact and conveniently here on Earth!

Sure, I could scoff and say the replica of MIR wasn’t the real experience because it wasn’t floating in space at the time. Gosh, I could have decided not to go see it. But sometimes dreams come true in a slightly different form than you originally thought possible. You just need to be open to recognize them in whatever form they present themselves to you as. And because I’m open to them, another of my life dreams just came true today. Now that’s very cool.

What dream are you going to make happen?


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