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Julia Camenisch's Blog

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Fair Use & Filmmakers

I recently received an e-mail asking about the use of logos in both narrative film and documentaries. Not being a lawyer or a well-versed student of copyright law, I had no clue. So, the Sherlock hat came out of the closet, and I began to do some research. Here's what I discovered: From the Saper Law Firm blog: "Trademarks are words or symbols that identify the goods or services of a business in commerce...As a film maker, you have broad free speech rights and will be given some flexibility in displaying trademarks in your movie. However, watch out for scenes that may disparage another company's trademark or in any way imply that the production is affiliated that other company. It is best to ask your attorney." From a Center for Social Media document: "...Fair use should protect documentary filmmakers from being forced to falsify reality. Where a sound or image has been captured incidentally and without prevision, as part of an unstaged scene, it should be permissible to use it, to a reasonable extent, as part of the final version of the film..." And finally, in comic book form comes "Bound by Law", a publication of Duke University: "...to infringe a trademark, you would generally have to use it in a way that confuses viewers..." Hopefully this whole post is not an infringement of copyright! I'm claiming fair use...If anyone has more information about this subject, send it my way. It's something we producers MUST be aware of before embarking on a project.

Posted by: Julia Camenisch on Jul 24, 2007 at 11:20:51 am
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Art for Art's Sake?

Talking to a fellow media professional recently, and they commented that the type of art they prefer to do now is simply for artistic expression rather than for communication. And that got me thinking about what the role of art in our (often) very utilitarian profession is and should be. I guess I default towards art only being a worthwhile investment when it clearly communicates. And yet I'm beginning to feel that there may be value to self-expression that doesn't have as its primary goal communication. Exploring and discoveirng - that's how our craft is honed, and how our creative ideas get fuel to grow. Sculpters learn through practice. Painters wield their brush to bring forth many a picture that no one sees. Writers scribble ideas, musings and thoughts in their personal journals. Can't video artists create just for the sake of learning and personal growth? I'm not saying you won't communicate - art naturally springs from your worldview and philosophy. You might have a very clear message come through your work. I just wonder if maybe sometimes we need to create simply to create, grow and learn. So in that vein, here's a title sequence from the OFFF 2007 Title opening - yeah, it had a purpose and was created for commercial reasons, but it's a fun and inspiring look at artistic styles and trends. So watch, be inspired, and create!

Posted by: Julia Camenisch on Jul 17, 2007 at 12:47:56 pmComments (1) television, movies, documentaries, business, commercials, indie film
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Lighting Faces

Watch this.When you first watch through the commercial, you hardly notice the faces, but on the second run, watch differently. Pause on the clearly seen face shots and identify whether the lighting is hard, soft, motivated, unmotivated, stylistic or natural. It's amazing how a light's color and texture can so tranform the feel of a scene.

Posted by: Julia Camenisch on Jun 28, 2007 at 5:06:28 pmComments (1) commercials
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I hate painting

...and I hate cleaning up afterwards. Just thinking about the massive clean-up effort after this Sony Bravia Commercial makes me tired. But all that being said, when you see an amazingly executed commercial, do you ever wonder how they did it? Take a look at this behind the scenes short and you'll discover how.

Posted by: Julia Camenisch on May 26, 2007 at 7:32:35 amComments (1) commercials
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Tired of Prime-time programming?

Mark Cuban, owner of the HD tv channel HD Net wants your show ideas. All he asks is that you don't offer yet another tired knock-off and that you be familiar with the programming of HDNet. Seems fair enough. If you've complained about nothing good being on TV, then maybe you should leave an idea at at his blog.

Posted by: Julia Camenisch on May 18, 2007 at 11:16:21 amComments (2) television
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Doc that inspires me, #2

First, watch the trailer. Want to do a Cinema Verité project? Spend an evening watching Lost Boys of Sudan first. The film follows several Sudanese young men as they leave their homeland and try to start life anew in the US. You almost never feel the intrusion of the camera, and the interviews are so organic and natural, it seems as though the subject is just talking to himself or a good friend, not to a producer. I'd love to watch another "Making Of" for this film - something specifically dealing with the techniques used to keep the camera in the background and to capture so many transparent and honest moments.

Posted by: Julia Camenisch on May 15, 2007 at 11:42:48 amComments (3) documentaries
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Films that Matter

What's your favorite film that matters? I'm looking for movies that have more to them than cool special effects, interesting plotline or A-list cast. Why? I'm building a viewing list of films that were made for more than just profit. Example would be Hotel Rwanda and the way it forced you to look at news reports as more than just something to shake your head over and instead put a human face on suffering. So what are your favorites?

Posted by: Julia Camenisch on May 11, 2007 at 12:34:17 pmComments (3)
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Learn from the Pros

It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That may be true, but copycatting is also an effective way of improving your video skills. Try it out. Watch this commercial.

Caught up in the story the first time you watched it? Now watch it again, this time with the sound off. Concentrate on the lighting, the framing or the editing.

What did you learn? You may have to watch the spot a few times, but when you've picked up something, go try and imitate it. Set some friends or family down for supper, and try to light the scene to look like "Stranger". Try to get the DOF on the rolling artichoke. Try to recreate the suspense in a short script of your own.

Companies like Epoch get paid big bucks to produce spots like this - they obviously know their stuff. You can gain from their experience by watching and imitating. Get this mindset, and TV watching will never be the same again

Here's few more of their spots to watch:

Quest Divider


Posted by: Julia Camenisch on May 9, 2007 at 10:51:10 am
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Ask a Filmmaker

I always thought IMDB was nothing more than a huge listing of people and movies, cross-referenced ad infinitum. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon +Ask a Filmmaker+. Very cool feature.

Posted by: Julia Camenisch on May 3, 2007 at 11:16:05 amComments (1) editing, television, entertainment, business, blogs
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Storytelling with Real Life

Life is stranger than fiction, or so they say. And even though my day to day existence doesn't contain much fodder for prize winning television, there are many true stories out there that make for riveting viewing. If the term "documentary" makes you yawn, you might need to shed your preconceived notions of picture slideshows. This genre is full of creativity and artistic expression. In fact, I'd say that watching documentaries is one of the best ways to learn the elusive art of storytelling. So before you go to Blockbuster for yet another Hollywood crafted fable, take a few minutes to sit down with real life and learn what truly makes "better TV". If you can make a compelling story from real life events, you can probably make a pretty good fiction story as well. A good example of this can probably be found at your local library. My Flesh & Blood is one of my all time favorites. The filmmaker, Jonathan Karsh, followed the Tom family over the course of a year, and was able to become almost a "fly on the wall", capturing very personal moments. The storyline intrigued me so much, I can't say I focused on much to apply to my own filmmaking, other than that your subjects have to be willing to be open with you. If they're not comfortable with the camera, you're not going to be able to capture the range of emotions which will connect with your audience.Update: After a little more searching, I was able to locate the trailer Made me want to watch it again. I think the power of a story like this is that it takes you into someone else's life that is vastly different from yours. I guess that's what all good documentaries accomplish, at least in some measure or another.

Posted by: Julia Camenisch on May 1, 2007 at 12:29:26 pmComments (1) editing, documentaries, entertainment, indie film
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Video Producer, Writer & best of all, a mom.
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