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Category: Life

Calgary Airport Baggage Claim

Dinosaurs in the Airport

Calgary Airport Baggage Claim

Have you ever been to the Calgary Airport? They have my all-time favourite baggage claim in the world: a display of dinosaurs completely tearing up luggage and their contents.

Now, what do dinosaurs (and this exhibit) have to do with filmmaking? It’s a story about what the general public never see:

Behind-the-scenes.

In story, we have the opportunity to – and we really like to – go to places we don’t have access to in every day life. How many shows are behind-the-scenes in hospitals, police stations, morgues, space? How many of us have been behind the rubber flap doorway in the airport into where the luggage transfers from passenger to plane to passenger again? Not many… but I bet any image that comes to mind for you comes from the movies: “Die Hard II,” “The Terminal,” etc. So if you’re writing, go behind the scenes!

And if you’re working in fiction, you don’t have to stick to every day logic. You could have some dinosaurs help you move that luggage… although I think the Calgary Airport got it right. I’m not sure they’d be much help!

Cheers & happy imagining to you,
Deb

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Deborah (Deb) Patz is the author of Write! Shoot! Edit! for teens and Film Production Management 101 for the industry – both books are published worldwide by MWP. She’s also part of the editorial board for Prism International and loves, loves, loves to travel.

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
July 29 – Aug 2, 2019 – UFVA Conference: Land of 10,000 Stories, Minneapolis, MN – Panelist
July 31, 2019 – The Future of Story – Panel & Social Hour, Minneapolis, MN – Panelist
Aug 25, 2019 – MWP Author Summit, Hollywood, CA

WHERE TO FIND DEB’S BOOKS?
Paperback or eBook: AmazonBarnes & NobleChapters/IndigoWaterstones, direct from the publisher and from plenty of other great bookstores worldwide.

Deb’s 31-Day Pasta for Filmies (The Only Pasta Recipe You’ll Ever Need)

A recipe from a non-cook, am I serious? Yes, I am. I love to bake, but cook? Not so much. Still, we do need to feed ourselves… especially when working on production and there’s no time to be creative or experimental in the kitchen.

I do know good cooks, though. I even married a fabulous one (lucky me)! One of my friends cooks like a painter, crafting food – primarily visually and sans recipe – in the pot, building from base to highlights. Another friend cooks like an opera, orchestrating numerous exotically complex dishes that all make it to the bedecked dining table for the grand finale. Again, no recipe. My hubby cooks like a cross between Scientist and Treasure Hunter, finding food gems (in cupboard or fridge that looks empty to me) and fusing them together with daring sense of experimentation and innate sense of what flavours and textures can truly compliment each other.

Then there’s me. I follow the recipe.

Well, until…

A friend taught me a pasta recipe that is so adaptable, that I’ve made 31 different versions of it. As an experiment one year, I made the “same” pasta every night for the entire month of January – each one being different every night. Here ‘tis for you to try out your own variations:

Deb’s 31-Days of Pasta
(a.k.a. “The Only Pasta Recipe You’ll Ever Need”)

1. WARM THE OIL IN THE SKILLET
You can use Olive Oil, or experiment with Other Oils. Use a large skillet (a lot will be going into it… and it looks cool to use too).

2. SEASON THE POT
Can add crushed or sliced Garlic, and/or Green Onion.

3. ADD MEAT (optional)
I typically don’t use meat and instead add protein instead (at step 5). If you choose to use Meat (Chicken, Ground Beef, etc.) then you have to brown it in the skillet first.

4. ADD VEGETABLE(S)
Cook the harder vegetables first so they soften. There are plenty of vegetable choices to go with; some or all of: Carrots, Celery, Sundried Tomatoes*, Sweet Peppers (green, yellow, orange, and/or red), Zucchini, Mushrooms, Peas, Mini Tomatoes.
*For sundried tomatoes, I pre-cook them in the other pasta pot water before I cook the pasta so the tomatoes are soft enough for the skillet combo, and the flavour infuses into the pasta too.

5. ADD PROTEIN (optional)
Again a lot of choices here: Fish (like canned Tuna or Salmon), Nuts (like Almonds, Pine Nuts, etc.) and/or Chickpeas. I’ve never tried Beans, but you could… there’s a whole variety of beans to experiment with. You could also go entirely vegetarian and skip the protein step, too.

5. ADD SPICES
Off to the spice rack and sprinkle in a mix-n-match of spices like Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Pepper, Cilantro, Dill, Parsley, Oregano, Tarragon, etc. or use a spice blend like Italian Seasoning or Herbs de Provence.
Turn the heat down to simmer and cover the skillet; it’s time to…

6. COOK PASTA (in another pot)
Oh, the varieties of just pasta out there! Choose some or even a combo of: Penne, Fusilli (spirals), Farfalle (bow ties), Rigatoni, Shells, Spaghetti, Linguine, Macaroni, Ruote (honeycombs) – or even Orzo or Risotto – and cook according to the instructions on the pasta package.

7. COMBINE PASTA AND “SKILLET COMBO”
Drain the pasta and add to the skillet, mixing it with the meat/veg/protein.

8. ADD FINAL FLAVOUR (optional)
If you have fish in the skillet combo, squeeze the juice of a Lemon or a Lime into the creation. Another final flavour you could use is Parmesan (aka “Shaker”) Cheese sprinkled on top.

…and you’re ready to serve! Enjoy.

So, what do you think? Do I cook like… an organized person (who thinks in layers)? Or a baker (who loves to put all the parts into one container)?

At any rate, over to you now. Ready to experiment with a month of pasta variations? Write down the combos that you love the best, and if you find one you didn’t like – no biggie – there’s always tomorrow to try again! You can even start with February; you’ll only need 28. 🙂

Cheers & happy cooking variations to you,
Deb

– – – – – – – – – –

Deborah (Deb) Patz is the author of Write! Shoot! Edit! for teens and Film Production Management 101 for the industry – both books are published worldwide by MWP. She’s also part of the editorial board for Prism International. She’s cooked variations of this recipe a couple of times this month.

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Feb. 9/19 – Author Participant with Biz Books at Digital Media Youth Expo, North Vancouver BC
March 2019 – Emerald City Comic Con, Seattle WA
July 2019 – UFVA Conference, Minneapolis, MN

WHERE TO FIND DEB’S BOOKS?
Paperback or eBook: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, Waterstones, direct from the publisher and from plenty of other great bookstores worldwide.

Date Stamping A Movie Scene… Creatively

So you want to suggest what time of year it is in a movie scene? Sure, there are the standards:

  • blossoming flowers = spring
  • green leaves on trees = summer
  • coloured leaves in piles = fall
  • snow = winter

Beyond location weather, you can – of course – use clothing to signify weather and time of year. All useful but rather ordinary, no? Well, how about going a bit more creative and using bus signage?

If the bus says:

… you gotta know it’s the first two weeks of November!

So, exercise the creative brain of yours. How else might you date-stamp (or location-stamp) a scene creatively?

Cheers & a creative scene building to you,
Deb

P.S. Oh yeah, and if the bus says “Sorry…” you’re probably in Canada. 🙂

– – – – – – – – – –

Deborah (Deb) Patz is the author of Write! Shoot! Edit! for teens and Film Production Management 101 for the industry – both books are published worldwide by MWP. She’s also part of the editorial board for Prism International. She thinks that Remembrance Day is probably the most important holiday of the entire year.

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Nov. 18, 2018 – Guest Author – Reading Event at Tomes & Tales, Pitt Meadows BC
Feb. 9, 2019 – Author Participant with Biz Books at Digital Media Youth Expo, North Vancouver BC
July 2019 – UFVA Conference, Minneapolis, MN

WHERE TO FIND DEB’S BOOKS?
Paperback or eBook: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, Waterstones, direct from the publisher and from plenty of other great bookstores worldwide.

Treadmill

But Movies Aren’t Real, Are They?

Fiction movies? Of course not. Movies can’t be real. But…

TreadmillWhen you think about it, treadmills aren’t real either.

Treadmills simulate a walking experience for us in a climate controlled environment; they help to improve our physical fitness and overall sense of good health – that sense happening inside our heads, because a positive self-image contributes to our overall physical health too.

Now look again at movies (and VR, if you like). They take us on an emotional ride through simulation. We are entertained, emotionally-moved and often learn about ourselves and neighbours from the experience. That’s a lot of activity going on in our heads. You might even call it emotional fitness? Well, THAT’s certainly real and invaluable to our overall societal health!

So, here’s to you, working in the film, TV and VR industries! Thanks.

Cheers & a good shoot to you,
Deb

– – – – – – – – – –

Deb Patz is the author of Write! Shoot! Edit! for teens and Film Production Management 101 for the industry – both books are published worldwide by MWP. She’s also part of the editorial board for Prism International. She knows the emotional exhaustion that comes from watching four movies back-to-back at TIFF on a single day.

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Sat.Feb.17 – Author Participant – Digital Media Youth Expo, North Vancouver, BC
Mar.26-28 – Instructor – Write! Shoot! Edit! Screenwriting Workshop for Teens – VPL

WHERE TO FIND DEB’S BOOKS?
Paperback or eBook: AmazonBarnes & NobleChapters/Indigo, direct from the publisher, and plenty of other great bookstores worldwide.

Black Production TShirt

Black Friday Christmas Gift Ideas for Teenage (or New) Filmmakers

Black Friday always makes me think about black production t-shirts (which I love!), and new filmmakers need all kinds of stuff to make their movies, especially teens without paying jobs. So, in the spirit of empowering black-clad filmmakers to experiment with and make better movies, here’s a gift idea list for the new filmmakers around you in time for Black Friday:

1. WRITE! SHOOT! EDIT! BOOK (approx $20 – $30) – I guess I have to start with my book, if you don’t already have it: a complete guide for teen filmmakers, useful for new filmmakers of any age because it distills the entire process down into a short, focused, entertaining book. It’s written for the reader to follow one of three paths: the Writer, Director/DOP, or Editor, so you could present each of the three key crew with a copy of the book to use from their own perspective. It’s available in paperback and eBook versions. For more into, see my book’s webpage: https://www.debpatz.com/book/write-shoot-edit/. If you want to shop straight from the publisher, the book’s even cheaper: http://mwp.com/product/write-shoot-edit-complete-guide-teen-filmmakers/

2. COLLAPSIBLE REFLECTOR (approx $20 – $30) – Even before buying any lighting, a reflector is essential. Useful outside and in, it can to bounce light and reduce shadows giving you the illusion of a fill light. Because it collapses, it’s wonderfully small and portable.

3. CLIP-ON UTILITY LIGHT (approx $20 – $30) plus LIGHT STAND (approx $30 – $40) – The next step from a reflector is an entry-level studio light (or two). The most affordable alternative has to be the clip-on utility light you can pick up at a hardware store and a light stand from a photography store. The stand gives the filmmaker the ability to light from any height and location – or use it to rig other objects (like curtains or other set pieces) for the film frame… which is why two stands are even better than one.

4. VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE (a huge ranges of prices, e.g. from $20 – $120) – You may have a free video editing software on the computer already, but new filmmakers will soon appreciate the extra tracks and features of a software that more closely emulates professional editing software. I personally use VideoPad by NCH (which apparently has a sale until the end of November), but honestly, that’s not the only one out there. PC Magazine did a survey of video editing software for 2017: https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2397215,00.asp

5. GROCERY STORE GIFT CARD (whatever price you’d like!) – Sounds like a strange idea for a gift, but it’s for buying “craft service” supplies for set. Since new filmmakers are tapping into volunteers to make their movie, food is one of the largest expenses on a low-/no-budget production.

6. EXTERNAL MICROPHONE (huge price range, depending on quality and type of camera) – Improving sound quality greatly improves the movie experience, and so an external mic is the way to go. Best to chat with someone at the store about best choices when you know what the film camera is (a cell phone, Gopro, video camera, etc.).

7. BLACK PRODUCTION T-SHIRT (approx $18 – $25) – Hey, while we’re talking Black Friday and recognizing that black is THE colour to wear on set (not only because it’s cool, but because it doesn’t reflect light and show the crew’s presence in reflected surfaces), why not a black t-shirt of sweatshirt to wear on set? I’ve made some Write! Shoot! Edit! T’s, sweatshirts and hats on Cafepress for you. Admittedly, Cafepress doesn’t appear to have a Black Friday sale (sigh…), but you may just need one anyway: http://www.cafepress.com/debpatz

Now it’s over to you. Bring a smile to the new filmmaker in your life!

Cheers & shopping to you,
Deb

– – – – – – – – – –

Deb Patz is the author of Write! Shoot! Edit! for teens and Film Production Management 101 for the industry – both books are published worldwide by MWP. She’s also part of the editorial board for Prism International. She’s worn many a black production t-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket over the years.

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Wed.Nov.22 – Graduate Reader – UBC Graduate Reading Event
Sat.Feb.17 – Author Participant – Digital Media Youth Expo, North Vancouver, BC
Mar.26-28 – Instructor – Write! Shoot! Edit! Screenwriting Workshop for Teens – VPL

WHERE TO FIND DEB’S BOOKS?
Paperback or eBook: AmazonBarnes & NobleChapters/Indigo, direct from the publisher, and plenty of other great bookstores worldwide.

Location Scout Time Warping

Saw a field of daisies recently and it make me think of location scouting for the movies. Huh?

Every morning the daisies open their petals to the sun. The vast field of green becomes carpeted with sparkling, white miniature flowers. As the day wears on, the tiny flowers turn and face the sun on its path across the sky. In the evening, the flowers once again close up for the night.

So, depending what time of the day you visit, you see the all the flowers facing east, west or closed up. If you were scouting the field as a location, you’d want to see it at the same time of day that you’d intend on filming it, or on the shoot day you might be surprised that the field looks different than planned.

Now, in this particular field, the flower change is rather subtle, but the sun’s position and the shadows could make a difference to usable shot angles.

On a bigger time scale, this field scouted in spring (with flowers) vs a shoot in the summer (with no flowers) would also make a more significant visual difference. No sense in having surprises when you show up for the shoot. You can’t exactly paste the flowers back in… well, without CGI. 🙂

So, when considering locations for filming, consider time-of-day for the projected shoot day. An intersection at rush hour does not look the same as when it’s Sunday morning. A parking lot at the mall during mall opening hours it also totally different after hours.

So, time warp yourself to the shoot day when considering a location. What are you going to see then? The daisies tell us it changes for every hour of the day.

Cheers & a good location scout to you,
Deb

– – – – – – – – – –

Deb Patz is the author of “Film Production Management 101” and the upcoming “Write! Shoot! Edit! A Complete Guide to Filmmaking for Teens” both published by MWP Books. She found it hard to choose when daisies to photograph…. there were so many!

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Jun.24 – Book launch party for “Write! Shoot! Edit!” at Chapters Pinetree, Coquitlam, BC
Jul.30-Aug.3 – Panelist – UFVA Conference, Los Angeles, CA